Updated: Aug 1, 2019
And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. 2 John 6-11
The Bible makes this point very clear: DO NOT TOLERATE FALSE TEACHERS! With how accessible we are with each other in today’s society, it is very easy for false teachers to gain traction across the world in a very short period of time. The acceptance of false teachers by “the good guys” is not helping matters.
For example, John Piper has given his stamp of approval and has endorsed Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Carl Lentz, Brian Houston, CS Lewis and many other false teachers (or at the very least those espousing horrible theology). Now, I’m not citing Piper for any other reason than for the fact that he is probably the most widely known “good guy” who has a track record of partnering with pastors of this nature.
The first question we must ask is this: Is it Biblical for John Piper to partner with false teachers of this nature? Those who deny vital tenants of the faith, are disqualified from ministry and/or are changing the Gospel into something God never intended?
I hope that you will agree with me that we should not partner with pastors like Rick Warren, Carl Letnz and the like. If you are reading this blog, more than likely you would never speak at the same conference with these men.
That leads me to my next question: How do we deal with pastors who speak with and partner with false teachers? Clearly, this kind of behavior is forbidden in passages such as 2 John 6-11. However, we need to be able to decipher how God wants us to deal with pastors who are in violation of 2 John 6-11.
Now, before I answer the question, there are some pastors who claim that there should only be 1 degree of separation. This means that we only are required to separate directly from false teachers, but not from those who may speak with them or partner with them. There are others who make an argument for 2 or 3 degrees of separation, but that we can’t take it too far or else we’ll have the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon! So where does that leave us?
Now what we can’t do is have different standards for different people. For example, in the GOBC, it’s popular to be critical of Charismatics like Michael Brown. They’ll say that, while he himself doesn’t necessarily preach a false gospel, he speaks at conferences with those who do. Or, at the very least, he speaks at conferences with those who speak at conferences with those who do. Are you following? So that would be 2 or 3 degrees of separation that they expect him to hold to.
However, when it comes to Pastor John MacArthur, they make the staunch claim that only one degree of separation is required, and then if there is an issue even with the one degree of separation, they make light of the false teaching to be “just a difference of opinion” or “it’s not related to the Gospel,” even if it is.
For example, Pastor MacArthur will be speaking at Together For The Gospel. At this event will be multiple pastors with questionable theology and partnerships. But let’s take the example of John Piper. Let’s hypothetically say that there’s no theological issues with him (which there are). Should Pastor MacArthur speak at T4G alongside Pastor Piper when he is endorsing false teachers and partnering with them without even a confrontation or clarification?
So here we are with the GOBC holding Michael Brown to a standard that they won’t hold one of their own to. Here’s the thing, as soon as we start holding different people to different standards, we become no better than the politicians who us identity politics to play to our base and take down our enemies. This has no place in the church.
A standard is a standard. Truth is truth, no matter who you are. If the standard applies to Michael Brown, then the standard applies to John MacArthur. You don’t get a pass based on how revered you are. God’s standards apply to everyone. As James wrote: My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. (James 2:1)
So, ultimately, we know that 2 John teaches us to separate from false teachers. Verse 11 says that if we do partner with false teachers we are taking part in his evil works. So, then, ultimately, that would mean that the pastor who partners with a false teacher should be separated from, too, correct?
As we decipher what is biblical truth, let’s make sure that we are not blinded by our prejudices, friendships or favorite pastors (I.e. celebrity status). If a standard is good for one person, the same standard is good for all believers. I pray that those who are scheduled to speak at T4G will take a stand and, at the very least, make a clarification that they are concerned with Piper’s associations. Unless, of course, they really don’t have an issue with his endorsements of Warren, Driscoll, Beth Moore, Carl Lentz and CS Lewis.