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On Revoice and Matthew Lee Anderson

Since I was mentioned….

I would like the chance to clear up what I mean by “apostate” as it relates to Matthew Lee Anderson. First, I am not proclaiming that I have knowledge of his eternal destiny. Here’s what I do mean. MLA is:

1. So liberal that the thoroughly milquetoast Nashville Statement was too conservative for him. The Nashville Statement wasn’t bad, but it was a consensus document if there ever was one. You can tell that much of the language was watered down so they could get more signers. Anderson attacked the statement from the left.
2. An unrepentant speaker at and supporter of the antichrist Revoice Conference. He didn’t only speak at the conference one time (which could be forgiven if he repented). He is on the Revoice Advisory Board. Even if you wanted to try to make the tortured argument that Anderson wasn’t endorsing the conference by speaking there, or that he wouldn’t agree with everything said there, his membership on the Advisory Board makes it perfectly clear: he’s a true believer in the Revoice Heresy.

So he’s clearly outside of Christian orthodoxy in his profession, and he’s on the board of Revoice, a conference that exists to be a stumbling block to vulnerable people. Those things, taken together, mean that Anderson is in the category of people who Jesus said would be better off if a millstone were hung around their necks and they were thrown in the ocean. He’s also in the category of people who would be under intensive church discipline at any Bible-believing church, culminating in his excommunication if he didn’t repent.

So if he’s better off with a millstone around his neck, and he’d be excommunicated by a biblical church, what else can we call him, except “apostate?”

For clarity, that question isn’t meant to be rhetorical. I’m open to feedback on this. Perhaps I’m drawing the line in the wrong place. But it’s kind of astonishing how outraged people get at the fact that I think Revoice Conference speakers are outside the camp. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not obviously wrong.

One final point: I recognize that I’m not a famous pastor or a seminary professor. I’m just a regular guy who watched a bunch of well-connected people launch a full frontal assault on Christ’s church, and then everyone just went on like nothing happened. If you ask me, speaking at Revoice should have been career ending. It should have been the kind of thing that shatters the speaker’s entire ministry, such that they’re having to start over from scratch. Nothing like that happened.

So maybe I’m drawing the line in the wrong place, but it seems glaringly obvious that I’m doing better than basically all my critics, who haven’t drawn any lines at all.

Update: I edited that post to add this: I’m leaving the original post in place (unaltered), since it’s been up for two weeks. But on the advice of one of my elders, I’m withdrawing my charge that Matthew Lee Anderson is an apostate. I maintain every bit of my position on the Revoice Conference (it’s wicked, evil, and a stumbling block that could send people to Hell by encouraging them to make provision for the flesh). But it’s premature and presumptuous for me to render a judgment on Anderson himself. May God grant him repentance, and be gracious to him by placing elders above him that will immediately begin church discipline unless and until he ceases participation in the Revoice Conference.

Tim Dukeman

Tim, thank you for your work, and for the clarification.


On RHE

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. So many in my circle have gone to either extreme—including an odd branch that have started memorializing her in quotes and sainting her because she is dead while in life they would not weigh in one way or the other. How would you suggest we talk to those who object to any disagreement because her death is recent?

Kate

Kate, when a public figure dies, it is noteworthy, and if it is noteworthy, we should talk about it, and should be able to say something other than ummmm. When the death is recent, we should seek to speak respectfully.


Re: RHE, RIP. Reading your article about this woman’s death reminds me of the black plague song “Ad Mortem Festinamus,” the chorus of which is, “We hurry into death; let us quit sinning.” I heard that song this Easter, and have been pondering that perspective, one which is not common even in the Church in our culture. I’m twenty-four, and have struggled with self-injury since I was thirteen. I became regenerate at age eighteen, but this is my most persistent sin pattern, and the longest I’ve been able to go without falling back into it has been a little over a year. I just recently fell again after about eight months clean. Now, I have wonderful friends and mentors who have helped me with this issue when it crops up, but your writing has always been very helpful to me: you have a gift for getting to the heart of the issue without forfeiting important details, and the way you write somehow makes me think about even very familiar subjects in a new way. I’ve done a lot of searching online for explanations from Christians of why this is such a terrible sin (which I do not question, to be clear), as opposed to simply a “maladaptive coping mechanism,” as the world says; I’ve not found anything except a reference to Leviticus 19:28, which doesn’t really seem to apply in my case. Everything else just assumed it was wrong and offered solutions for Christians struggling with this sin, but part of what helps me not sin is understanding why exactly it’s so bad to do so. Yes, it is always right to obey God even without a full understanding, but it’s also good and right to seek that understanding where possible—I believe that’s part of loving God with all my mind. I don’t have any demons, like the man in the cave, though I’m aware that such an action is a nice invitation for them. I can assume that it must be an act of worship to some false god, but I’d like to think that I’m not quite the same as the priests of Baal. I also know that blood is very important symbolically in the Bible, but I only have a vague understanding of how important it is, based on the ceremonial laws about it that don’t make much sense to me (and Jesus’ blood, obviously). I know the verses about our bodies being temples of the Holy Spirit, and I know that comes into play here, but those are in the context of sexual sin. Basically, I have a bunch of loose ends, and I’m having trouble tying them together. I know that the issue goes way deeper than anything I’ve read on it—from pagans and Christians alike—and I was wondering if you would ever address such a topic, or if you know of a good resource that actually explains the matter in depth. This is a very old problem, so I’m sure Christians have written well on it before, but I can’t buy every book searching for the truth. Any direction you can give would be appreciated. Love your ministry.

L

L, yes, that would be a good topic to address in detail at some point. It is much needed. In the meantime, let me just say this. Guard against the assumption that you are sinning against self, as though your body belonged to you and you are sinning because you are going against the manufacturer’s instructions. Rather, your body belongs to Him, and it bears His image, not yours, and so attempts to injure yourself are attempts to strike at Him. Now that raises the question of why you want to strike at Him, and in your prayers I would suggest that you investigate your relationship to another image of Him, which would be your father.


Rachel Held Evans: In trying to follow your train of thought on RHE’s death, you were clear in your post that: 1) death is not an all-purpose disinfectant for sin, i.e. Hell is real 2) unfaithful men use death as an occasion to lie 3) many funeral testimonies evidence a strong disconnect between the life lived and the testimony given (are we speaking about the same scoundrel?) 4) Paul would not speak about Alexander the Coppersmith’s death in the same way as Euodia and Syntyche, 5) we should not use death as an occasion to score doctrinal points or rejoice when our enemies fall. My question is related to the following statement in the letter, “So the best thing we can do in a circumstance like this is to stand by the gospel we profess, walking none of it back, extend genuine condolence to the Evans family, hope for the best with regard to RHE, and put all our disputes, whether weighty or insignificant, into a context of a momentous and everlasting glory and joy.” And your response to a letter on the subject in which you stated, “I don’t think we have any business speculating on what was the case, and should just limit ourselves to what we hope was the case.” I have trouble with the idea that the only way to accomplish the five objectives listed above is to refrain from any sort of speculation about the eternal destination of a sinner and simply hope for the best with regard to Alexander the Coppersmith’s death. This is problematic to me because: 1) it seems to involve a strange double standard. When a believer with a long track record of faithfulness dies, do we not rightly, as those who grieve with hope, express a strong scripturally-based and evidence-based confidence that we will see them again, knowing full well that we are not God and cannot judge these things absolutely. Why is this wrong on the other side? Why the asymmetrical standard here? If Jezebel dies, then we simply hope for the best and ignore the lifelong evidence that indicates to any sane person the contrary? Can’t a person make an equally scripturally-based and evidence-based calculation that allows for surprises on the last day? 2) how are we to distinguish this posture from wishful thinking? 3) doesn’t this diminish the seriousness of Hell if the rules of the game are that when a notorious sinner dies with no evidence of repentance we need to bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best. Clearly hoping for the best is different than whitewashing Jezebel’s life, but doesn’t an asymmetrical agnosticism here (because we don’t do this with those who exhibit strong evidence) undermine the actual danger of apostasy for those who would imitate the life of the apostate? The reality is, RHE taught many, many people to doubt the existence of God and in her last few days indicated strong skepticism about the reality of the resurrection. To retreat to total agnosticism at this point seems to trivialize the danger people face who would follow her in unbelief. It seems better to acknowledge with a heavy heart that based on everything we know about her life and her last days, no Christian has any reason for confidence that she not burning in Hell. We take no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked, and hope that somehow she might have repented at the last moment, but we have no strong reason for a confident expectation that this is the case and that is what makes this an unspeakable tragedy that we are reduced to hoping against all evidence that there is more to the story than we know. And this is obviously why it is so important to repent and believe the gospel while you have time because a day will come when you run out of time. For the life of me, I cannot understand why this is either insensitive or trying to score theological points. It seems like there is some sort of middle ground between dogmatically declaring a person is either in Heaven or in Hell, on the one hand, and on the other hand refraining from any speculation and hoping for the best. If we speak with measured confidence about believer’s destination in death, why is it wrong to speak with measured confidence about notorious heretics in death? Thanks for your ministry.

Timothy

Timothy, thank you for the measured and well-thought-out question. I do not have a problem with what you are saying, depending on the circumstance. But even hard-boiled heretics in Scripture get two and three warnings before they are cut off. In RHE’s case, I believe that she was a confused woman who initially got a tremendous volume of accolades for going in a problematic direction. If she was the Jezebel you describe, then all is as you describe. But I see a distinct possibility that God in His mercy cut her off before she finally got there.


Thank you for this. I have been struggling with her illness and death because she has helped to lead so many astray (including my own daughter). I have prayed that in her coma, she would see Jesus Christ for who he really is rather than who she wants Him to be and thus repent of her sin. I do know that today she has absolute clarity.

M

M, thank you.


Deeply true, sir. I was blessed by these words. You didn’t speak only to those who followed through the discussions with RHE, but surely spoke to hearts like mine too.

LA

LA, thanks.


What’s the Deal?

Ever since I read Life After Google, I have been using Brave browser. It has a “tip” feature for tipping websites that one visits often. I’ve used the BATs (basic attention tokens) from my account to tip your website but I get a message that—“this creator has not signed up.” I was hoping that the BAT would actually be some kind of a support for your work.

Jason

Jason, didn’t know about that. Let me check into it.


Trump, the Ever-Ready Topic

With regard to King David and Donald Trump, I’d have to say you rather failed to answer the question which you posed as the one that ought to have been asked by David French. What would Nathan say? Or do? As best I can tell, Trump has in some ways reformed his behavior compared to, say, ten years ago. But as best I can tell, there’s no repentance there, merely a greater public role inhibiting further escapades and perhaps a decreasing libido with age. So, ah—it’s all well and good to say Nathan supported David, but David repented. What would Nathan say to an executive who refused—or at best, failed—to so repent? I am not going so far as to say a man could not vote (as you seem likely to decide) for Trump in 2020 in good conscience, but we really need to do so understanding the choice as a least of evils (or perhaps divine-scourge/blessing-in-disguise, as your other recent writings suggest). This piece really comes off as pushing a Trump-as-David narrative that belies your serious warnings about taking our rulers’ sins seriously. I don’t think it’s intentional, but it’s alarming. Also, apologies—my reading’s a bit behind the times, and I think it likely others have made this point and likely better already.

Jonathan

Jonathan, thanks for the opportunity to make it clear that I do not believe that Trump is a man after God’s own heart.


Bible Reading Challenge Question

I’m hoping to do the Summer BRC with my wife and (Lord willing) any willing men in the small group that I lead. Out of curiosity, is there any specific rationale behind how the readings are ordered? I looked on the Christ Church website at the link you posted but could not find any additional info. Thank you,

Cody

Cody, yes, there is. We start with John because it is the Genesis of the New Testament. Then to John’s letters. Revelation is kept for later because of all the people who are reading their Bibles for the first time. That book is not exactly the ideal starter kit. Then Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians as a group. Luke and Acts are together because they have the same author. The remainder is just to fit the rest of the NT into the available spaces—so that we don’t leave unfinished letters hanging before a catch-up day, or before a Saturday.


Baptism and Church Discipline

I’m still trying to fully understand the implications of bifurcating covenant members of the church and actual believers, particularly adults who have been baptized at some point in their life and how the church is to respond with discipline when they get involved in blatant heinous sin or apostatize. I have exercised the discipline of withdrawing glad fellowship from both family and friends who claim the name of Christ and are also found to be practicing heinous sin. My challenge to them has usually been to drop the name of Christ or drop the sin. As long as they do one or the other (depending on the sin) I will reenter glad fellowship with them. Sometimes I lose the relationship altogether and sometimes the person’s eyes are opened and they forsake the sin. Not until I began researching the doctrine of infant baptism did I begin to consider new implications for this sacrament and how the church was to function. Does this doctrine call for us to treat baptized members of the church as forever members? If they apostatize, are Christians still allowed to offer a blessed relationship with them because they are outside the church by dropping the name of Christ and therefore classify them as non-believer, a group we are no longer required to judge? Or is it because they are baptized, we are to maintain their status of “believer” and continually discipline through the withdrawal of glad fellowship until they come back to Jesus, even though they do not claim to be Christians?

Rope

Rope, I believe you have the basic principle correct, but the covenantal view of baptism does add an additional layer to this. A baptized person who has not been excommunicated is still a Christian in some sense. And that person cannot get off the hook simply by saying that he is not a Christian anymore. His baptism is still talking, in other words. But it must be acknowledged that the resultant confusions are the responsibility of a Church that has not disciplined as it ought to have.


More on Evolution

This is off-point relative to this post, but knew you would like to see this: link. It is a further explanation of something you explained very well in The Other Side of the Coyne. Sadly, Gelernter is not a believer, but I pray his conversion through the Spirit’s drawing. https://www.claremont.org/download_pdf.php?file_name=1513Gelernter.pdf

Jim

Jim, thank you.


Religious Liberty in Public Spaces

Granted that religious freedom is a Christian value, would it be wrong for a town in the throes of Christian revival to ban the construction of non-Christian buildings of worship, on the grounds that such false worship is harmful to the common welfare? Is that too slippery of a slope to start on?

Matt

Matt, I have not reached a final settled conclusion on this, and I believe that is it a complex subject that requires thoughtful treatment. But I would say (tentatively) that if Muslims should have the right to own property (as they should), then they should be allowed to pray in their own spaces. But in an ideal biblical republic, minarets would not be allowed, because the call to prayer is laying an ownership claim on the public spaces, whereas church bells would be allowed.


Different Reactions

Just as a point of curiosity, I cannot help but notice that unlike pro-life fury at Roe v. Wade, which has blazed unabated for nearly half a century and has produced unremitting rear-guard actions to undermine Roe at every turn, I’ve heard nary a peep recently about the Supreme Court rulings on those other great social issues, gay marriage and sodomy laws. I’m not aware of any bills being introduced to undermine them at the state level. There are no attempts by the states that I’m aware of to make those practices more difficult. I’m not even seeing conservatives run for office on that issue. Other than Westboro Baptist and Steven Anderson (and occasionally you), nobody is even talking about it anymore. So, is this another example of incrementalism—first we work on abortion, gay issues can wait—or is there some other reason for why abortion remains a major issue but gay rights seems to have faded from view?

Mike

Mike, I believe that it is because with the advancement of ultra-sound technology, the humanity of the victim is obvious. Christians need to learn to be more motivated by the Word than by the image.

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Jane
Member

Well, since nobody else has commented on anything, I’ll get things started by saying kudos to Tim Dukeman for recognizing the difference between legitimately judging someone’s words and actions, and lacking the authority to make a judgment on the person’s standing before God, and being humble enough to admit his error.

Nathan James
Member

Shouldn’t there be a way to unequivocally condemn a person’s public identity without needing to defend that condemnation as a authoritative about the person’s innermost heart and destiny? That is to say, if a person plants their flag on some issue, is it wrong to take them at face value? It’s always possible that there is something we do not know. I think it’s more honest to say, for example, that a Christopher Hitchens is destined for hell, than to suggest that there’s some reason to doubt that.

demosthenes1d
Member

Nathan, I think it is fine to call someone apostate, if they are clearly apostate, if they no longer claim Christ. Christopher Hitchen’s is a great example actually. He was baptized into the body of Christ and later rejected the faith. But using the same language to describe Anderson and Hitchen seems like a gross injustice to me. When someone claims Christ I think we should be very careful when passing judgement. You should always take someones position on various issues ar face value but rather than condemn them an apostate you can just disagree (forcefully if needed) with the… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

This is good, and entirely different from saying “we shouldn’t make pronouncements on people’s eternal destiny.”

demosthenes1d
Member

Re: Anderson and Dukeman I am not at all comfortable with the practice of argument through anathema which appears to be what Dukeman is doing. I realize that publications have to decide what content, and what authors, they will publish, but drawing too tight of a ring leads to ideological incest. On this case in particular I have a couple of concerns: 1. I don’t think Dukeman is representing Anderson accurately when he says he criticised the Nashville Statement from the left. Of course we don’t know what Dukeman meant, as FROM THE LEFT was used as a scare phrase… Read more »

Jane
Member

FWIW, I have no opinion on the accuracy of Dukeman’s assessment, because I haven’t read any of the relevant articles or documents. I’m just happy to see someone simultaneously be willing to take a very strong stand on someone’s actual words and actions, and understand the limited role of the individual in making pronouncements on the state of others’ souls. So often the strong stand is argued as justification for inappropriate pronouncements, or the unwillingness to pass personal judgment is viewed as failure to take a stand. It’s actually a pretty fundamental point of ecclesiology with large ramifications, and too… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Anderson spends most of the article faulting the Nashville Statement for not drawing more lines of exclusion. But he also complains that it excludes those who hold one can be faithful to Christ while identifying as gay. ‘…I do think it a prudential failure in the face of the crisis this document outlines to pre-emptively winnow our ranks of those individuals who agree with our conclusions about the integrity of marriage and the morality of same-sex sexual behavior, but disagree about the meaning and significance of a “gay identity.”’ This is worrisome to say the least. He does make a… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

Nathan, I agree, Anderson has some really bad positions around Spiritual Friendship and Revoice. He has written really extensively on this and I have only read a fraction. However, I still don’t think the statement tha he attacked the statement from the left is accurate as a general description. He is against IVF, surrogacy, contraception, most divorce/remarriage etc. these are things he has spent much of his writing in. You may think these positions are wrong but it ia very hard to say they are “to the left” of the statement. Even though I often disagree with Anderson he is… Read more »

Matt
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Matt

“… is there some other reason for why abortion remains a major issue but gay rights seems to have faded from view?”

The question is really why abortion is special. I can’t think of any other religious conservative issue that has survived the passage of time. At one time a significant portion of people opposed things like birth control legalization or legal divorce, but those are tiny fringes now. Maybe it is that all of those are victimless crimes, but then divorce has a lot of collateral damage if nothing else.

demosthenes1d
Member

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/pro-life-pro-science/549308/ I think Dougs answer about technology is part of the answer. A lot of the “lump of cells” type talking points are no longer tenable. This is one reason I think heart-beat bills are politically savy – they bring the fact that the fetus has a beating heart right to the fore, and some lower information people might be shocked to hear that the “abortion stops a beating heart” talking point is true. Also, with the exception of a particularly satanic modern movement abortion has never been celebrated per se – it has been seen as a tool of… Read more »