Dave Doran on “appreciating the strengths of a man’s ministry”

JP: Dave Doran is the Pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church and the President of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. Here he comments on a blogger’s criticism of his (Dave’s) appreciation of aspects of John Piper’s ministry.

I post this because I believe this is the kind of Christian charity that should be a mark of a mature Christian.

Dave Doran on John Piper

Excerpts:

A few posts ago, I asked this question about John Piper: “is it possible to appreciate this man’s heart for the Word, expository preaching, people’s souls, and God’s glory without being questioned about one’s fundamentalist convictions?” Shortly afterward, I provided the following answer: “I definitely think so. For those who don’t, I’d simply point them to the Apostle Paul’s response to the Corinthian believers—he rejoices before God about the grace that was on display in them while at the same time being fully aware of the many other problems among them. Acknowledging and appreciating the grace of God does not mean that you don’t see problems too.”

But, much to my surprise—yeah, right—not everybody agrees with me. Another blogger noted my question and decided to open a discussion on it (partly due, no doubt, to the fact that I don’t allow comments). Here’s his answer: “So I would answer the question, No.”

This, I think, is only profitable in that it reveals something about part of the division among present day fundamentalists. I think his answer says more about his perception of fundamentalism than about anything else. He answered in one word, but that one word represents a fuller thought, which when turned positively is this: “Yes, I believe it is legitimate to call into question a person’s fundamentalist convictions because that person appreciates John Piper’s heart for the Word, expository preaching, people’s souls, and God’s glory.”

Frankly, it seems almost unbelievable to me that anybody could answer in this way. And I really think it may be unbelievable because in the comment section that follows, the same man writes, “Well, I am not saying don’t appreciate the good that such men do, although we may debate what is good and what isn’t.” So, unless we are really down to splitting hairs between appreciating a “man’s heart” for good and “the good” that the man does, we really do agree that we can appreciate the good without endorsing everything. And that’s the point of all this.

It is my contention that as long as we try to demonize our Christian brothers who disagree with us on matters of ecclesiastical separation, etc., we are pursuing a strategy that is not only unbiblical, but is very unproductive. This is not a new problem—most of us who’ve been around for any amount of time can recall instances where the case against new evangelicalism, or so-called pseudo-fundamentalism, was marked more by personal invective than substantive use of Scripture and careful application of the same to the case at hand. That approach has resulted in a “speak no good of your opponents” approach that is wrong and misguided.

My original point, and continued argument, is that there is no conflict between appreciating the strengths of a man’s ministry while still drawing the conclusion that that same man is wrong in some significant areas, perhaps even significantly wrong enough to cause us to withhold ministerial fellowship and cooperation.

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