"... I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view."

Mark Dever quoted by Justin Taylor

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I'd be prepared to agree that in some locations--even many--it would be a sin.

But where people have multiple sound churches to choose from, I don't think there's anything wrong at all with saying "this particular belief is included it what defines us as a body" even though that belief is not...
a) necessary for salvation
b) widely agreed on among faithful believers over the centuries[br ][br ]

Personally, I've been thinking lately that several doctrines belong better on a "what you may not teach contrary to here" list rather than a "what you must believe to be a member here" list.[br ][br ]
Edit: Should probably clarify that I'm talking about our church, not SI... though the idea of that sort of distinction appeals to me for SI as well.

Jay's picture

I'm not prepared to agree w/ Dever's statement on this. I'll read what he wrote in it's context, but to call it a sin to teach a particular millenial view? I don't think so.

BTW, I'm Pre-Mill, Pre-Trib.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Well, he didn't say 'teach'... sounds to me like he's talking about what you put in your doctrinal statement as a membership requirement. But I confess, didn't read his whole post. Thought I'd leave that to you, Jay. Biggrin

Brian Jo's picture

Jay,
He's not against teaching a certain millenial view, only requiring it of church members.

Mike Harding's picture

I wonder if Dever would be willing to acknowledge that stating a view on believer's baptism or immersion is sin. I think Dever will retract this statement. There are many fundamental and evangelical churches that are premil and state such in their doctrinal statements. Others, such as myself, state we are premil and pretrib. Personally, I have trouble with Dever's amil position. However, I would not say that to declare his position was a sin in and of itself. Is he going to allow premil and pretrib guys to present those views in his pulpit? I don't think so. Dever has inadvertantly condemned thousands of fundamental and evangelical churches not for holding their views, but for stating their views. This is strange. It shows that the CE guys are very much human.

Pastor Mike Harding

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Mike Harding wrote:
Dever has inadvertantly condemned thousands of fundamental and evangelical churches not for holding their views, but for stating their views. This is strange. It shows that the CE guys are very much human.
Yeah I guess we all get a bit of hyperbolitis once in a while in making a point... sometimes it's even necessary. But before I say that's the case here I'm waiting for Jay's analysis of the whole piece... since I'm too lazy to read it myself.

Greg Linscott's picture

Mike Harding wrote:
I wonder if Dever would be willing to acknowledge that stating a view on believer's baptism or immersion is sin.

This statement from Dever was highlighted here in the Filings at SI when it first ran a few months ago:

Quote:
11. Infant baptism. I cannot live with infant baptism. Having said that, if I were the pastor of the only church allowed in Mecca, maybe… But even then, I simply lack the authority to admit someone to the Lord’s Table who has not been baptized. It is, as one said not too long ago, “above my pay-grade.” I have many dear paedo-baptists friends from whom I have learned much. Yet I see their practice as a sinful (though sincere) error from which God protects them by allowing for inconsistency in their doctrinal system, just as he graciously protects me from consistency with my own errors.

Source- http://9marks.org/CC/article/0,,PTID314526|CHID598014|CIID2468850,00.html

So he is at least consistent with himself by stating it. Unlike Mike, I do not believe he will back down from this one, either. He didn't from the infant baptism statement, even when there was a lot of pressure to do so.

http://theologica.blogspot.com/2009/03/dever-and-bird-on-baptism-and-sin...
http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/770_are_paedobaptists_unrepentant/

(Run a Google search on "Dever infant baptism sin." There's a whole lot more out there...)

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Charlie's picture

I agree that it is unlikely that Dever will retract. He's not the type to run off at the mouth, so he's probably thought this for years. I'm uncertain about how to take this. As a Reformed person, I subscribe to the Westminster Confession, which does not specify a millennial position. A pastor in the PCA may be pre-, a-, or post- mill, and may teach his view, but may not compel other elders to adopt his view. So, Dever's article doesn't really address me.

On the other hand, I would like him to extrapolate more about how he came to regard this particular issue as divisive. The only two options that I can think of are

1) the issue is unclear in Scripture - "good men differ"

2) the issue is peripheral to theology and Christian practice

It seems that #1 would include a number of issues that Dever feels strongly about, and I'm not sure whether or not I would agree with #2. The NT is quite eschatological in character. I suppose, though, most of that eschatology is not devoted to specifying a precise sequence.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Jay's picture

Justin Taylor quoting Dever wrote:
I think that millennial views need not be among those doctrines that divide us. . . . I am suggesting that what you believe about the millennium—how you interpret these thousand years—is not something that it is necessary for us to agree upon in order to have a congregation together. The Lord Jesus Christ prayed in John 17:21 that we Christians might be one. Of course all true Christians are one in that we have his Spirit, we share his Spirit, we desire to live out that unity. But that unity is supposed to be evident as a testimony to the world around us. Therefore, I conclude that we should end our cooperations together with other Christians (whether near-ly in a congregation, or more at length in working together in missions and church planting and evangelism and building up the ministry) only with the greatest of care, lest we rend the body of Christ for whose unity he’s prayed and given himself .Therefore, I conclude that it is sin to divide the body of Christ—to divide the body that he prayed would be united. Therefore for us to conclude that we must agree upon a certain view of alcohol, or a certain view of schooling, or a certain view of meat sacrificed to idols, or a certain view of the millennium in order to have fellowship together is, I think, not only unnecessary for the body of Christ, but it is therefore both unwarranted and therefore condemned by scripture. So if you’re a pastor and you’re listening to me, you understand me correctly if you think I’m saying you are in sin if you lead your congregation to have a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view. I do not understand why that has to be a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation.

As a layman, I get what he's saying and don't see any problem. As someone who hopes to be pastoring, I don't think it's an issue to have people within my congregation who have come to differing opinions on the matter; I know there are people in my current church who are either Post or AMill [don't remember which ]. I also understand the point he's making about it being a sin to unnecessarily divide the Body of Christ [and wrote about that once for this website ] so I totally 'get' what he's saying.

All that being said, I'm not sure and don't think that I would stoop to the level of calling it a sin to put Pre-Millenialism in a Statement of Faith. If I ever taught it in any kind of systematic way in a church, I would express it as my opinion and as a theological system that I believe is best, and as a result I'm not sure that I'd could put it in a church constitution. I do not think that I would invite someone to preach in my pulpit who was AMillenial.

Apparently Devers is AMillenial, so he probably hasn't been raised w/ Pre-Mill teaching. According to the http://theologica.blogspot.com/2009/07/dever-you-are-in-sin-if-you-lead-... GARBCQuest :

Quote:
Those of us in the GARBC, which zealously endorses a dispensational pre-Millennial view, certainly raise our eyebrows when we read such comments. Dever, who personally holds an amillennial viewpoint, held no punches in this sermon. Before we are tempted to have a knee-jerk reaction, there are a few things we should keep in mind.

1. Mark Dever is a conservative Baptist brother who supports and upholds baptistic distinctives.
2. Mark Dever cherishes Scriptural authority and aggressively insists that our church doctrines and practices must conform to its clear teachings.
3. Mark Dever loves the local body of Christ and has dedicated his life and ministry to making the local church Biblically healthy.

Therefore, Mark is a brother who is to be respected, cherished, and honored. With that said, I still hold some major disagreements with his comments. While I could perhaps be convinced that he is right when applied to church membership, I would argue that such an approach for church leadership is tantamount to confusion in the pulpit. It is one thing to say to the membership, “We understand that you may have a different ends times view than us, but that won’t bar you from membership.” However, it is an entirely different matter to say, “We are so open about this that you will probably hear different perspectives from the pulpit.”

The big crux of the issues are these:
1. Is dividing over eschatological opinion a matter of fundamental belief, or is it a matter of personal preference and therefore a secondary issue, as Dever claims?
2. Are we really supposed to strive for unity to the point of disregarding eschatological systems when we 'do not have a clear teaching on the issue' [I think Pre-Mill is clear, so I'm playing devil's advocate. ]
3. Is it possible to be a Baptist and be AMillenial? I've never heard of any such thing.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Mike Harding's picture

Jay,

Thanks for the additional info. Eschatology is a doctrinal matter, not a matter of opinion or preference. Regardless of one's position, it should be arrived upon based on biblical and systematic theology. Dever is a reformed Baptist, many of whom are amil. His position is not out of the main stream for reformed Baptists. I am a classic dispensationalist--Baptist who is Calvinistic on the Gospel. Therefore, Dever and I would have our doctrinal differences as well as the right to clarify those differences both verbally and in writing. Amil has to discount the literal hermeneutical approach to the entire definition of the KOG in the major and minor prophets. Therefore, the amil position is even more significant than post-trib or pre-trib. A church has a right to state its eschatology in their doctrinal statement. Also, since Taylor brought up the subject of drinking, a church has a right to state their position on the recreational use of alcohol in their church covenant as many church covenants do. This is not sinfully dividing the body of Christ. A person can decide whether or not they want to join with that congregation. If there is a matter of disagreement, at the very least the person should not teach contrary to the church's stated position nor engage in a practice contrary to the church's corporate position.

Pastor Mike Harding

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Dever also recently responsible for advancing the grossly erring view that it is not just acceptable but possibly desirable for the church to receive earmarked support from government?

Me thinks it may be sabbatical time.

Dennis Clemons's picture

... although I think it is maybe overstated to call it sin. Nevertheless, I love that he condemns it. I've been in 2 churches where the doctrinal statement didn't take a specific millennial position and we fellowshipped just fine without it.

At a recent church social gathering, we had a wonderful and gracious conversation over the various millennial positions. Our guest speaker from the morning service is leaning Postmil; a pastor who was there is leaning Amil; I am Amil; and there was at least one Historic Premil. The Premil remarked to me later how respectful the conversation was and how much fun the conversation was without any hint of contention. I couldn't help but crack up when he mused that there wasn't a dispensationalist in the mix to ruin the unity. Bleah

Dennis

The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. ~ Proverbs 18:17

Jack's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Dever also recently responsible for advancing the grossly erring view that it is not just acceptable but possibly desirable for the church to receive earmarked support from government?

Alex, I've been a member of CHBC for more than five years and have never heard anything approaching this view. In fact, given our elders' written position on the church's social responsibility, I'd be very surprised if this is an accurate representation of Mark's view.

Bob T.'s picture

Dever will not be advocating this position during the millennial kingdom. There is no reason to allow his present uncertainty, based on his old European theological prejudices, to be given any consideration. A local church has the right to make those scriptural doctrines it deems as certain and necessary as part of their doctrinal teaching position. It can then require that members be those who embrace the entire statement or only be born again and acknowledge the salvation aspect of their position. If there is any sin involved it would be with anyone arrogant enough to demand a local church conform to their own doctrinal opinion or limitations or be in sin. Mark Dever will not allow anyone who does not believe in limited atonement to speak at his church. That is his privilege. He should refrain from calling others who hold to a particular doctrine for a church as sin unless the doctrine is contrary to an essentials of the Christian faith. However, this is to be expected from a Hyper Calvinist Dortist.

Becky Petersen's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
[Yeah I guess we all get a bit of hyperbolitis once in a while in making a point... sometimes it's even necessary.

When another pastor made some statements of similar hyperbolic strength, there were blog posts all around the country about him. I really don't want to detract from this thread, but the contrast in way it is being received by various people is interesting.

Greg Linscott's picture

Bob T. wrote:
Mark Dever will not allow anyone who does not believe in limited atonement to speak at his church.

What about the fact that Paige Patterson has spoken there?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Greg Linscott's picture

Becky Petersen wrote:

When another pastor made some statements of similar hyperbolic strength, there were blog posts all around the country about him. I really don't want to detract from this thread, but the contrast in way it is being received by various people is interesting.

A quick search of "dever millenial sin" on Google Blogs will indicate that this has caused a much greater stir in the blogosphere than the "other" scenario you refer to, especially amongst the sphere of influence Dever is most influential in.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Charlie's picture

The more I think about this difficult situation, the more I am convinced that congregationalism is indeed the problem. Dever says that the sin is "a statement of faith that requires a particular millennial view." But, he places that in the frame of reference of "a matter of uniformity in order to have Christian unity in a local congregation." Stemming from a congregationalist/Baptistic view, the statement of faith is binding on all the members. Dever doesn't think a particular view of the Millennium should exclude Christians from fellowship in a local church.

I conclude that the problem here is the assumption that all members should be equally bound by the statement of faith. In Reformed denominations (particularly the English-influenced), only the elders must strictly adhere to the Confession. Since all people are in different states of progressive sanctification, a church cannot expect all its members to consciously hold all the same beliefs. This practice is always applied inconsistently. A new believer, for instance, is unable to really critically examine the entire statement of faith and come to an educated, firm conviction regarding it. They will just shrug their shoulders and accept whatever they are told. A 6 year old is likely unable to understand certain parts of the statement of faith, but that does not prevent him from being baptized in most Baptist/congregationalist churches.

So I think my answer to Dever would be to suggest different levels of membership. If a church believes strongly in a certain Millennial view, I see no reason why they shouldn't be allowed to put it in their statement of faith, as long as the statement of faith is only strictly applied to the elders, and membership in the congregation is open to all who have a credible profession of faith and are willing to live peaceably under the government of the church.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Brian Jo's picture

My thoughts are along the lines of Charlie's. I don't necessarily have a problem with a church wanting to put a Millennial position in its doctrinal statement, but I do not think it should be a requirement for membership (or else I would have to leave my own church!)
To me, it seems that a church's doctrinal statement should be a summary of what will be taught from the pulpit so that people know what to expect. So, if you will teach Premillennialism, put it in your statement, but don't require anyone other than the pastors to agree to it.

Tom's picture

I will relate my story. In the late '90s I began studying Reformed Theology and began to notice things about our Independent Fundamental Baptist church that began to bother me. It began to dawn on me how man centered our services were. Sermons were about the importance of "doing" in the church or "not doing" in our personal lives. Our pastor, If he said it one time he said it a hundred times, "I am on my way to heaven because I put my trust in Jesus Christ." I knew what he meant but it bothered me that I was not hearing what Christ had done, it was about what he had done.

In the first quarter of 2000 the adult Sunday School Class began a series on Revelations. In the second or third week of the series, our pastor related a story of how a couple was visiting our church. After several weeks of visiting, they stopped to visit with him on the way out of church and the husband made the comment that they were thinking of applying to join the church but that he wanted the pastor to know that he was a-millennial. Our pastor then made this statement, "If you are a-millennial, you will not want to worship with us so you might as well not join our church". The very next Sunday, my wife and I began looking for a new church. We joined a PCA church 45 minutes from where we live and are thankful we made the move. Our new senior pastor at the time was a-millennial. The associate pastor was historic Pre-mil. I have never seen a group of people who love each other more but who love the Lord more than all else. After several weeks of visiting and prior to joining, my wife made a statement on the way home from church that completely floored me. She had difficulties with my studying of Reformed Theology and she was having difficulty coming to grips with the Doctrines of Grace. That week on the 30 mile trip home after church, she said, "Thank you for finding this church where for the first time since we have lived here, we are in a church with God-centered worship". We are still making the 30 mile trek one way and do not plan to leave this church until God moves us.

KenFields's picture

Bob T. wrote:
However, this is to be expected from a Hyper Calvinist Dortist.

Interestingly, Dever's book on personal evangelism is the best book I've read on the subject.

Especially interesting coming from the pen of a "Hyper Calvinist Dortist".

Bob, that is an illegitimate and uncalled for label. Its is also unfounded and disparaging. I'm a bit surprised the moderators have allowed it to remain.

Ken Fields

Pastor Harold's picture

Charlie wrote:
So I think my answer to Dever would be to suggest different levels of membership.

Would this be like the Masionic Lodge?

I am 33 1/3 degree Baptist.

Charlie's picture

Pastor Harold wrote:
Charlie wrote:
So I think my answer to Dever would be to suggest different levels of membership.

Would this be like the Masionic Lodge?

I am 33 1/3 degree Baptist.

Funny. You must be quite immersed in your club by that point.

I meant to say that there should be a distinction between the level of subscription required for membership and that required for eldership.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jack wrote:
Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Correct me if I am wrong but isn't Dever also recently responsible for advancing the grossly erring view that it is not just acceptable but possibly desirable for the church to receive earmarked support from government?

Alex, I've been a member of CHBC for more than five years and have never heard anything approaching this view. In fact, given our elders' written position on the church's social responsibility, I'd be very surprised if this is an accurate representation of Mark's view.

Jack,

Thanks for the response and now I am tasked with attempting to find the source of what I believe is a memory of an article or statement. If I do recall, it was on the old Sharper Iron, maybe archived, let me look, possibly under filings and while I look...DOES ANYONE ELSE recall the article or thread?

Greg Linscott's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Thanks for the response and now I am tasked with attempting to find the source of what I believe is a memory of an article or statement. If I do recall, it was on the old Sharper Iron, maybe archived, let me look, possibly under filings and while I look...DOES ANYONE ELSE recall the article or thread?

This may be what you have in mind, though I don't believe you are correctly interpreting what he said:

http://20.sharperiron.org/showthread.php?t=9722

http://blog.9marks.org/2009/04/index.html

Quote:
We, as a congregation, are not required to take responsibility for the physical needs in the unbelieving community around us. We do have a responsibility to care for the needs of those within our congregation (Matt. 25:34-40; Acts 6:1-6; Gal. 6:2,10; James 2:15-16; I John 3:17-19) though even within the church, there were further qualifications (e.g., II Thess. 3:10; I Tim. 5:3-16). Paul’s counsel to Timothy (in I Tim. 5:3-16) about which widows to care for seems to indicate that the list was intended for Christian widows. One qualification seemed to be lack of alternative sources of support. Thus the instruction that family members should care for the needy first, if at all possible, shows the kind of prioritization of allowing for families—even of unbelievers—to provide support so that the church wouldn’t have to do it (I Tim. 5:16). We can extrapolate from this to conclude that support that could be provided from outside the church (for instance, from the state) should be preferred over using church funds, thus freeing church funds to be used elsewhere.

I understand him to mean that caring for the needy should be done by means outside the church should be the first order of preference- that is, that people in need have those needs met by the other source (state, family, etc) before they go to the church for assistance. I do NOT understand him to be saying that the government should give to the church so that the church might give to the needy.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Greg,

Thanks for the link and I believe the quote you posted is that to which I was referring which leads me to my second thanks, namely a clarification of the statement I read in a cursory manner which now offers me the reminder of the virtues of more careful reading, hence my view of the statement is now modified.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
However, this is to be expected from a Hyper Calvinist Dortist.
Dever is not a hyper-Calvinist. Find his series of talks on evangelism at the 2008 Bethlehem Pastor's Conference. I was listening to them again this morning. It will dispel this false notion presented by Bob T.