Some Unfinished Business

Yesterday was one of those rare Sundays where I didn't get to finish my sermon. I don't plan my messages with the clock in mind, but it is uncanny how when I edit the sermon to put on our website, I come in often at 31 or 32 minutes. Go figure.

I am finishing a series of sermons on Paul's exhortations in 1 Thessalonians. I was preaching yesterday on 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 and got "stuck" in a good way on my second point, which was about discernment. I had some illustrative material from an article by Tony Campolo (his school is about 30 minutes from here) espousing an essentially Open theism view of the Hurricane. I had debated whether or not to use his comments, but felt that it was important to since he is a well-known speaker in our area. Talking about the implications of his teaching, which I personally reject as unbiblical, took a little more time than I had planned. But the fact is that there are people within the boundaries of contemporary evangelicalism whose views don't square with historical, orthodox, biblical Christianity. When Dr. Campolo advises that we take the view of a Rabbi who indicates that God is not as powerful as we have given Him credit for, he is clearly over the line.

Paul, knowing that there would be false teaching after he left Ephesus, commended the elders and their people to the Word. Enough side-stepping or re-interpreting Scripture. Enough denying what Scripture clearly teaches. If it doesn't square with the Word, it is to be rejected, no matter what a person claims about his or her relation to Christ. I read this quote by Donald Carson to our folks (thanks to the folks at for the tip) :

Read discerningly. Read everybody discerningly, whether you're reading my books or his books. Test everything by Scripture. Don't believe somebody just because they're nice and write well, or just because they're scratching where the current culture is itching. Always, always, always if you're a Christian, come back to the test of scripture, so far as that is humanly possible.

If you want to read Dr. Campolo's article, it is here. Those of you who feel that it would be nice for Evangelicals to stay within the bounds of theological orthodoxy ought to read this interview as well. I agree with Tim Challies statement about him being dangerous and promoting false teaching. And I don't give the proverbial rats hind quarters whether Dr. Campolo is a) more educated than me, b) a better speaker, c) more popular, etc. I can't do my job as a shepherd if I don't warn the sheep.

Compare Dr. Campolo's viewpoints to John Piper's. His words were dead-center honest and upheld the biblical glory of God. May God bless him for that.

Anyway, next week I'll finish the series, talk a little more about discernment, and talk about the need to have not only 1) an open heart, 2) a discerning heart, but 3) a responsive heart to truth. The text of my sermon is on our website at in case anyone is interested.

- - -
The next hot thing, of course, wading through the evangelical pool, is to accept Mormons as co-believers. Phil Johnson has some thoughts. Tip of the hat to Milton Stanley for his contribution on reading the Bible and preaching. A good quote from John Stott.


Milton Stanley said...

Glad you found something helpful at TS, Peter. Peace.

Bumble said...

Here's another really good article on narrow orthodoxy that I adopted from Keith Drury:

I learned Open Theism in seminary, but I wouldn't buy the limited God because it violates what were written in blood: "I believe in God the Father, the ALMIGHTY, creator of heavens and earth."

Tony Myles said...

Campolo is drawing some heat on this... we should pray that we find something productive out of it.

Peter Bogert said...

Thanks, Milton.

Bumble - great read. Thanks for the link. Need to print that out.

Tony - His comments on Katrina pale in comparison to his reinvention of the Gospel in the other article I referenced. Thanks for stopping by!