LifeWay Pastors: No Contending For The Faith Here
LifeWay Pastors is currently promoting what it calls a “GINORMOUS Christmas Giveaway”.
“With Christmas rapidly approaching we do not want LifeWay Pastors readers to be left without a giveaway!”
The “loot,” as they call it, includes 16 books particularly geared towards pastors. Most of them are published by B&H Academic, the SBC’s scholastic publishing indicia and part of the LifeWay Network. Other than the included HCSB Bible – often referred to as the “Hard Core Southern Baptist” version – I’ve read zero of the other texts. So, this in no way serves either as an endorsement of or a warning against any of the tomes listed.
To enter this contest, all you have to do is “Leave a comment in the comment thread below this post. Only comments on this post will be entered. Deadline to enter is [before] 11:59 pm Central Time, Tuesday, December 13, 2016.”
So … I left a comment. (It’s included below.)
And … it promptly got deleted.
It seems that, although LifeWay Pastors is a particular and narrow niche within the otherwise massive LifeWay operation, and though it likely has little voice in selecting the profit-producing heresy promoted in the retail stores and online, its website overlords do in a 21st-century way what Roman Catholics did to Protestants in the wake of the Reformation.
They delete them … if they can.
The defense of the establishment (and its profit) is paramount. The defense of sound doctrine? Ehh, not so much. Sounds like medieval papists, huh?
The warp and weave of the status quo within the SBC, you see, is not altogether unlike the current spirit of the age in the pagan culture. TOLERANCE is the by-word. However, that “tolerance” is – just like in culture – one way.
For LifeWay, it is “tolerant” to sell works of known charlatans, to profit from publications that are distinctly opposed to SBC doctrine (such as that seems to be these days), to boldly market materials that fold, spindle, mutilate, and mishandle the Word of God, and to offer the public a wide array of books, music, trinkets, and bric-a-brac that all carry the self-monikered, though undiscerning label of “Christian.” That’s apparently what tolerance means. (It helps promote UNITY, you see … perhaps the second-most prevalent ambition in the wider evangelical church.)
“Fellowship with known and vital error is participation in sin. Those who know and love the truth of God cannot have fellowship with that which is diametrically opposed thereto, and there can be no reason why they should pretend that they have such fellowship.” Charles Spurgeon
But what TOLERANCE doesn’t mean to LifeWay Pastors is allowing discernment to dare creep in or to listen to legitimate concerns about, as Spurgeon would’ve put it, “known and vital error” in what LifeWay sells for profit under the guise of “Christian.” One cannot voice a concern of protest, bombastic, snarky or otherwise, in defense of Biblical truth, against the broader marketing practices of LifeWay and expect to receive the benefit of TOLERANCE. (How long, again, did it take to get heaven tourism heresies off the shelves of LifeWay? That they ever showed up is evidence of LifeWay’s thorough disregard for Baptist doctrine, much less Biblical truth.)
I propose to you, however, that Christians are not called to be “tolerant.” (For your cogitation on this, I suggest THIS ARTICLE by John MacArthur.) We are called to be obedient. We have been saved by God’s grace via an intentionally divisive Gospel (Matthew 10:34) that comes to us in Scripture. We know that Scripture is sufficient. We know that its teachings are clear. We know that Scripture alone is the authority for the believer. We know that Scripture is necessary. (Christians are, of course, called to defend Scripture’s truth in places such as Jude 3, 1 Peter 3:15, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Titus 1:9, Philippians 1:16.)
When you know these things – which only a regenerate soul can grasp by the grace of God – defending Scripture’s truth is a preeminent endeavor. God both saves by the power of His Gospel in His Word and He sanctifies those saved by the same Word.
To get the Word wrong, then, is spiritually dangerous to our witness and potentially toxic to our own growth in faith. It’s why we see the soon-to-be executed Paul admonishing Timothy to “preach the Word,” (2 Timothy 4:2) for “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 3:3-4)
Elsewhere Paul would show his own INTOLERANCE for error and those teaching it. See Romans 16:17 or Galatians 1:6-9 or 1 Timothy 6:20-21 or Colossians 2:8, for example. Peter agrees with Paul in 2 Peter 2:1-3, and so does John in 1 John 4:1-3 and 2 John 1:7-11. Tolerance for error wasn’t particularly high on the apostles “to do” list. Though we are, as believers, to show grace, love, and understanding in our witness of that truth to an unregenerate world (See Colossians 4:6), we are never to sacrifice the truth or tolerate error in its place. (I refer you again to LifeWay’s shelves as evidence for a tolerance of error.)
But LifeWay is the contemporary fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s prophetic declaration to Timothy. It is replete with false teachers, unsound doctrine, and Scripturally-erroneous – though marketed as highly “spiritual” – myths. Its shelves are full of falseness because itching ears abound … and those ears have credit cards.
Anyway, for your own pondering, below is my now-deleted entry on the GINORMOUS giveaway. You may have similar or different opinions. If you’re a pastor, I hope you’re paying attention to what your flock is learning outside of your shepherding earshot because they are being bombarded with dangerous doctrinal error from “Your Trusted Source Of Christian Resources Since 1891.” (Maybe a class on “how to remove your email from LifeWay” would be in order.)
But whatever you do, don’t rely on LifeWay to contend for the faith … or even to permit you to do it on their ecclesiastically-managed website. That, it seems, is anathema.
By the way, if you disagree, feel free to do as LifeWay Pastors has done.
Delete this post. Maybe it’ll give you a warm-fuzzy.
And, if you agree (and want to win some books) there’s still time to add your own comment … but just be tolerant, undiscerning, and full of laudatory praise for LifeWay. They don’t seem to be deleting those!
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]