Arrowood, Dever, and Me

As you can tell, blogging has not been at the top of the priority list for life lately. The past month has had some extra life and ministry commitments, so something had to give and blogging was it. I wish I could say that I’ve passed through the “extra” period for a while, but I’ll be on the road for parts of four out of the next six weeks as well. I wish more of them were going to be somewhere in the sun!

Some of you may know that Pastor Rick Arrowood has written an open letter expressing his concerns about what he perceives to be changes in fundamentalism. In that letter he writes, “I emailed Dr. Doran, asking him to explain his decision to preach with Dr. Dever. In his answer he justified it on the basis of Dr. Dever being a ‘conservative’ that fights for biblical truth in the SBC.” I figured that since my reply to him was mentioned openly, I’d supply my full response for those who might be interested in reading it. I never heard back from Pastor Arrowood regarding my reply (which is fine since he was under no obligation to do so). Anyway, here it is (with two grammatical errors in the original corrected):

Pastor Arrowood,

Thank you for your email and the kind words it contained. And thanks for asking me directly about the basis for my decision to participate in the ATC event at Calvary Lansdale.

I think it is fair to interpret your question as assuming that speaking with Mark at ATC is something that is not proper, hence your request for a biblical justification. The reason I interpret it that way is simply that I’ve never been asked for the biblical justification for speaking at an FBF meeting or BJU Bible conference—such events are assumed to be okay, so no one would ask such a question. That it is asked here suggests that there is a presumption of wrongdoing that needs to be explained. Obviously, I don’t agree with that presumption or I wouldn’t be speaking at this conference.

That said, let me offer my thinking about why I don’t believe my speaking there needs to be justified. For context, I’ve spoken at all of the annual conferences at Lansdale since they started way back when, so it was something of a given that I would speak at this one. In other words, the burden of proof was on the side of why would I not speak (vs. why would I speak). I’ve posted something about my rationale for making speaking decisions on my blog, so you can read that for a longer explanation. The shortened version is simply the answer to these questions:

(1)     Do Mark Dever or CBTS extend Christian recognition and fellowship to those who deny the Faith?

(2)     Do Mark Dever and CBTS oppose the granting of Christian recognition and fellowship to those who deny the Faith?

(3)     Do Mark Dever and CBTS obscure the distinction between the church and the world by denying the transforming power of the gospel, by embracing worldly approaches for the church’s growth and/or worship, or by failing to articulate and practice genuine church membership and discipline?

I suppose someone could disagree with me about these, but my answers to these questions are, respectively, no, yes, and no. Since I believe that Christian fellowship and recognition is limited to those who embrace the Faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3), that we cannot ignore or disregard God’s commands about separation (Rom 16:17-18; 2 Ths 3:6-15), and that the distinction between the church and the world must be guarded (1 Cor 5; 1 John 2:15-17), these are the biblical justifications for and biblical boundaries of ministerial cooperation and fellowship.

I am no fan of the Southern Baptist Convention, but I also will not categorically assign everyone in it to the non-separatist category. Just as there were committed separatists within the Northern Baptist Convention for decades fighting for its purity, and just as there were men who fought for a long time within both the Presbyterian and Methodist churches, there are men of separatist conviction who have been fighting to remove liberalism and compromise with it from the SBC. Mark Dever is one of those men.

I trust that you will have a blessed Christmas.

For the sake of His name,



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