Chris Rosebrough and Nadia Bolz Webber: Would You Take A Picture With A Heretic?

” I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. [1 Corinthians  5:9-12]

In September of 2010, Chris Rosebrough attended an Emergent Church conference called Christianity 21 put on by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones to do primary source research . As a vocal critic of the movement and having specifically called out and condemned the aberrant theology of several of the speakers, the fact that he was there caused no small uproar. Several people wanted him gone from the conference, specifically Jay Bakker. In an attempt to calm things down, Tony Jones suggested they take a breather and go outside and take a picture with Chris in front of his PT Cruiser, along with Nadia Bolz Webber.

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What happened shortly thereafter is that Tony Jones, tweeted out the picture with the following caption:

TJ

Some took this to be a form of betrayal. “Together in Christ!? With these people?!!”Three of the people featured were gay-affirming progressive heretics and Chris received a great deal of criticism for this picture, the vast majority of it unjust and unfair. Afterwards, in an episode of Fighting for the Faith, Chris Rosebrough set the record straight and lamented that he took the picture in the first place, particularly because of the way it was twisted and made to seem like he supported these people, when he did not. He expressed deep regret for it, for the way it looked and for the confusion that it caused as a narrative that would confuse his listeners. He made it very clear that did not agree with these three and rather regarded them as unbelievers and lost.

Fast forward 5 years.

As the Christian conference “Liberate 2015″  closes out and wraps up, Daniel Emery Price, one of the attendees, posted this picture to his Twitter feed yesterday.

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The picture is notable for one reason – it again features Chris Rosebrough with his friend Pastrix Nadia Bolz Webber, who instead of having repented and moved towards Christ and biblical fidelity, has instead sunk deeper into apostasy and has continued a trajectory of destruction and wolfishness. It also brought to mind the picture that Tullian Tchividjian had taken of himself with Nadia a few months ago back in November, which likewise has left people confused and asking some legitimate questions, particularly:

Should we take pictures with heretics when it could be construed as support?

Should we be friends with them and invite them into our homes?

Does friendship and pictures with necessitate a promotion of them and tacit endorsement?

Should we instead rebuke them sharply so that they might be silenced?

This isn’t a topic that is discussed much. I would love to see a Christian conference on this, something like “Handling the Heretics” that examines how we ought to respond from a Biblical perspective to all manner of situations revolving around this theme [including what to do when solid, faithful speakers attend conferences with really bad teachers]. But as a result, because there hasn’t been much dialogue and teaching, several people have become concerned and confused by this, much like the way they had back in 2010. Chris had indicated regret that he had posed with these people, and yet history is repeating itself once more. Recently, this picture popped up on Chris’ wall, which immediately sparked discussion.

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In this case, I find the aforementioned image needlessly provocative and in poor taste, functionally serving as a snarky questioning of Chris Rosebrough’s character and integrity, even as Chris is on the record as rebuking and speaking out against her and her beliefs HERE.

I love Chris Rosebrough and have the utmost respect for him. I have listened to every episode of Fighting for the Faith on podcast [and you should too] and have financially supported his ministry for years, [and you should too]. He is as solid a discerner as they come, and even though I’m not Lutheran, his faithfulness and biblical work he does strikes the right balance every time, and he is an invaluable treasure to the Church body who has labored and proven himself for years. I’ll lay my cards on the table – I have nothing but unashamed love for this man. His work has blessed tremendously and I will defend him against all attacks and aspersions. I do not ask these questions to criticize or question that, but rather because I want my brothers and sisters to work through this with me. I want us to ask ourselves, “What does taking a picture signify, if anything, and how should we respond?”  This recent brouhaha just so happens to provide a great opportunity to do so.

It’s important to always assume good intentions on behalf of our Christian brothers – to love them well by looking at all their actions in the best possible light. We can disagree on these situations and how they ought to be handled, but that abundance of grace ought to always be at the forefront of our minds. Personally, I would not have taken a picture with any open heretic or false teacher. I’m not saying it is sinful or wrong, but rather I think it causes confusion and, much like what happened back in 2010, can easily be used to promote an agenda or be taken out of context for mischievous purposes. It also tends to create a welcoming and inviting environment for false teachers, where they can feel comfortable and rest without fear that they will be rebuked and called out.

What I would have done [and we can likewise debate the merits of this] is that once I saw that she was attending, I would have waited until everyone was seated, and then once everyone was quiet and in attendance, say, “Before we begin, It’s important that the purity of the gospel be unsullied, proclaimed and protected. For this reason we invoke Romans 16:17-18: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” Nadia Bolz Webber – you in the third row, two seats down – you are a false teacher who defames and defies the word of God. You are an unrepentant wolf among the sheep. You are not a Christian and we will not tolerate your heresy and perversions.  Leave this building or you will be escorted out.” And then I would have filmed the whole thing and disseminated it online with a blog post documenting and chronicling the vast swath of evidence against her which proves my claims.

Is that the right choice? Perhaps? Should we rebuke at every chance we get? Is taking a picture with a false teacher wise and advisable? Is it harmless and loving? Is it confusing? Is it a non-issue or does it tacitly promote? Is the friendship itself problematic? Is the very question itself nitpicky and needless parsing?

Please let us know what you think. Comments will be open for 24 hours, so feel free to interact, but any comments suggesting that Chris approves and agrees with this woman’s teachings or cast aspersions on his character will be heavily moderated and deleted. 

{special guest post by Dustin Germain}

 


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15 Responses

  1. olasjc says:

    Good thoughts Dustin,

    Im not personally worried about Chris compromising but strongly believe more discussion has to be had on the difference between conversing with Joe Pagan and Joan Heretic and how 2John 1:11 is to be practically understood. Perhaps Chris could have this as one of his topics at RefMT 2015.

  2. Will Sanders says:

    The issue is not the photograph in and of itself. The issue is Rosebrough’s ongoing friendship with Nadia. To quote him from Twitter today, “Can you point out the part of this photograph that says I support women’s ordination or are you ignorant of the fact that Nadia and I have been friends for several years now?” (https://twitter.com/piratechristian/status/569571815560859648)

    How is this friendship acceptable in light of 1 Corinthians 5:9-12?

  3. Well said Dustin. 1 Cor 5:9-12 was written to prevent this very scenario. In these instances, pictures taken on social media really beg the viewers to read certain things into the picture because there is no context. It would be wise for the sake of the Gospel and the Church for the faithful to go out of their way to prevent such occurrences.

  4. shklwhs says:

    I think 1 Cor 5:9-12 is clear that it is a sin (contrary to the will of God) to have company with those considering themselves but not being brethren, as taking happy photos demonstrates. But I’d consider Chris an unbeliever to since he affirms baptismal regeneration (even of infants according to a document I read on the AALC site) and therefore adds work to salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. As Tony Miano wrote “I responded by saying that I believed the doctrine of “baptismal regeneration” is a “Galatians 1″ heresy and that those who subscribe to such a doctrine are lost.”

    • Pulpit & Pen says:

      Believing in regeneration by baptism is not the same as believing in salvation by baptism (this may be confusing, considering the average church person doesn’t understand the ordo salutis, but think regeneration = salvation). Chris believes in sola fide salvation. And he is my brother in Christ, and a good one at that. – JD

      • shklwhs says:

        Yes I don’t get it. It seems to me that it is saying that one who comes to faith in Christ before baptism isn’t saved because regeneration is surely part of justification? Do you have any link or article that explains how what Lutherans like Chris believe is compatible with salvation by faith alone? I’d like to believe that they are believers but it just seems as if they are saying that faith prior to baptism doesn’t save. I thought order of salvation in terms of justification was some order at an instantaneous point.

        Also regarding taking photos, I think the best response would be “No thanks, I’d rather avoid the appearance giving credibility to you”. Just like Dr Brown shouldn’t have appeared on Benny Hinn’s show.

  5. I would look for an older elder to come along side Chris and give him good counsel.

  6. Mark Prez says:

    The dangers of social media are apparent. Pictures can be deceptive and in no way represent intentions. Dustin, what I like about your post is the question that arise on sharing platforms with those whom preach heresy. Is it wise to attend and preach at a Hillsong event? Or TD Jakes? Or TBN? Common sense says “no”. 2 years ago I reached out to Ray Comfort who was shown in support of ISOM.org, an international organization that represents the best known heretics worldwide to 3rd world pastors, etc…Ray had pictures that were on the ISOM website along the founder, plus Ray’s materials were available in the teaching books along Joyce Myers, etc. Ray’s position which seemed hostile to me was that his stuff could benefit Christ followers contrary to the others whom taught falsely…and in his last missive, Ray stated it was no different than his book being next to Joel Osteen at a bookstore. Some truth there, yet, it is the undisputed fact that some instances it seems you are validating the false teaching by being involved with their ministry…I would highly disagree with SHKLWHS about Christ…and like yourself Dustin, have heard most podcasts over the last 3 years and find Chris’s discernment and ministry quite rock solid and something that one can learn from…there has never been a red flag with Chris and he is a gem…but again…do pictures communicate to those whom know less…validate Nadia and others…all good thoughts to ponder…and I am uncertain if there are easy answers but instead provoking discussions to determine what to do forthcoming….(and of course to post using Facebook is the pits…because I try and avoid logging on that site or twitter all when possible…)

  7. terriergal says:

    I would say Tullian and Price are more the problem here. Rosebrough is just ‘there’ and happened to get his picture taken and did not post the pic. Price posted it with a silly “oh snap!” caption (flippantly dismissing any concerns preemptively IMO). Tullian’s consorting with and quoting heretics and outright non believers as if they understand grace is long established.

  8. Good blog post. Chris Rosebrough does not have control over what pictures others take and when/where/how they might post said picture. All he can do is keep is conduct above reproach and continue preaching Law and Gospel. In the second photo, the awkward image is that of Tullian with Ms Webber. Chris is just standing there being polite. Chris’s position on their teaching is open for anyone to research and listen to on his website. Those of us who aren’t vocal in our positions and who aren’t actively practicing Biblical Discernment are at more of a risk of being misrepresented by, say, our Facebook profile images. As for caring for these apostates, are we not to love the individual while rebuking the false teaching of the world? Yes, yes we are. As for the false accusations against Pastor Rosebrough based on images without context, Matt 5:11 comes to mind.

  9. 1 Thess 5:21But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
    There are of course many other Scriptures, but considering Chris had problems with a picture before I would think he would not stand with them for another picture. We all have a choice to walk away, especially knowing how this photo would be construed and manipulated. So yes, it is confusing.

  10. Eliza says:

    You said that he was friends with this woman. How can a believer in Christ be friends with a heretic who is disparaging Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible, attacking the work of Christ, harming His beloved Bride, and leading the lost from the way of righteousness into the way of death and eternal destruction in hell?

    17 Therefore

    “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17

    11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He say: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” 15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:11-16

    Inordinate, unbiblical love of any man or woman is a snare and a trap, because we elevate them and Christ is not in His rightful place in our hearts. The passage from Ephesians proves that avoidance of this evil appearance is necessary to reprove and expose the works of darkness. Reproving and exposing her wicked works would, by the grace of God, hopefully be used to bring her from death into life and light. Compromise in this would be seen as tactic approval. God bless you:)