Reply to a Preacher Who Says I'm Arrogant and Vindictive
I received the following e-mail in reply to the article “Turning Doctrinal Issues into Man Issues” (August 15, 2011) --
“Regarding your complaint piece today about personality issues.
“Maybe you should step back and try and perceive how your articles come across. You can wrap yourself in piety and self-righteousness, claiming you are dealing with doctrine, but "a vast number of men" perceive your articles to be hit pieces, and in fact they are.
“Your arrogance is abrasive. Who appointed you to sit in judgment over other brethren?
“It is my understanding that you have never taken the time or effort to visit Lancaster and that you have never met Paul Chappell. Yet you sit in judgment of the man.
“The word is that you have never been to a Sword Conference since Shelton Smith took the helm of the Sword or have ever met him personally. Yet you sit in judgment of the man. You have distorted his position about repentance and with sarcasm. That offends "a vast number of men." (BTW, since Smith took over, the Sword is stronger doctrinally and its position than its ever been. I know Brother Smith and he is a man of integrity.)
“It is apparent that because a staff member at West Coast has a difference with your son that you spare no chance to drop negative remarks about them. You routinely accuse them of promoting "easy prayerism," as you call it. Well, if you ever took the time or trouble to go there, you would find that that is not taught or condoned there.
“Furthermore, it is my understanding that with maybe one exception, no major fundamental Baptist college will carry your materials. So you therefore retaliate against them with your hit pieces. But they observe how you attack just about every one and every school in the IFB movement. I don’t blame them.
“Arrogance and pride are abrasive and that is how you come across. That is why "a vast number of men" no longer view you or your ministry kindly. It is not a doctrinal issue; it IS a personality issue — yours.”
REPLY FROM BROTHER CLOUD
1. You have proven my point entirely by your sharp personal attack against me.
2. As for how my articles “come across,” they come across in different ways to different people. To those who don’t like what I preach, they come across one way; and to those who agree they come across another way. My aim always has been to write and preach graciously in a manner that pleases the Lord, and many have written to thank me for hitting that target. Others, like you, think I am pompous. Go figure.
3. As for who appointed me to sit in judgment over other men, what a very strange question for one fundamental Baptist preacher to ask of another. God appointed me. He has appointed every preacher to sit in judgment over men. Have you never read 2 Timothy 4:1-2 and Titus 2:15 and 1 Peter 4:11 and Jude 3 and a host of similar Scriptures? You and other fundamental Baptist preachers who criticize for me “sitting in judgment over men” are hypocritical, because you sit in judgment over New Evangelicals and Neo-Orthodox and Christian rockers and Emergents and Pentecostals and Charismatics and many others without a second thought.
4. That “a vast number of men” agree that I am merely writing “hit pieces” does not make it so. These matters will not be decided democratically. If a large portion of the Independent Baptist movement is truly carnal and man-centered, then the majority could not be expected to have the right attitude toward a ministry that points out their sin.
5. My having not been to a Sword conference since Shelton Smith took over is true but it means absolutely nothing. It is a straw man. It does not mean that I cannot read the Sword and read the materials published by the Sword and make a biblical judgment on them.
6. While it is true that I have never met Paul Chappell, my warnings about their dangerous, long-standing, and wide adaptation of Contemporary Christian Music was based on the music that they published via CDs and the church’s web site and YouTube, etc. Their public ministry has influenced churches in many parts of the world, weakening the stance of biblical separation. Whether or not I have personally met Paul Chappell is beside the point. Have you ever met Billy Graham or Rick Warren? (See http://www.wayoflife.org/adaptingccm/index.html ).
7. I have NOT distorted the position of Curtis Hutson and Shelton Smith in regard to repentance. The Sword is guilty of promoting and encouraging the heresy of Quick Prayerism and will give account to God for it. It was Curtis Hutson and Jack Hyles who changed the biblical definition of repentance that had been held by John R. Rice and Lester Roloff and practically all other Baptists in the past, and the Sword continues to distribute Hutson’s pamphlet containing this heresy. In his recent series on repentance in the Sword of the Lord, Smith supports Hutson’s error.
8. I believe that it is true that the Sword is stronger since Bro. Smith took over, but that is neither here nor there; it’s a red herring.
9. I don’t doubt that Bro. Smith is a man of integrity, but that does not mean that he commits no errors and it does not mean that other men cannot test the Sword of the Lord by God’s Word. And we should be able to do so without being counted as enemies and maligned as fools. King David was a man of integrity and so was Peter, and both had to be reproved by preachers.
10. No staff member at West Coast has any sort of “difference with” my son, and I am amazed at the callous manner in which you dismiss this serious matter. What was said about my son was nothing but a lying slander; it was an attempt to injure me; and the man who repeated the slander got caught and had to repent of it. Instead of mocking me and pretending that this is not an issue, you should have simply said that it is wrong under any circumstances to slander a man when he is trying to preach God’s Word, and left it at that. You wouldn’t want to be treated that way.
11. As for West Coast and Quick Prayerism, it is a mixed bag. Some of the men are careful in evangelism and are not guilty of practicing Quick Prayerism, while some men of influence most definitely do practice it and are not reproved by the leadership for doing so. I have undeniable evidence of that. If I were a pastor and I said that I was opposed to Quick Prayerism and I learned that someone who taught at my school and who had influence in my church practiced it, I would not get upset at and malign the one who pointed it out. I would thank him for bringing the matter to light and I would approach the man who was guilty of practicing Quick Prayerism and warn him that if he does not stop this practice he will be fired.
12. As far as I know, it is true that most of the larger fundamental Baptist colleges don’t carry my materials. But to say that “you therefore retaliate against them with your hit pieces” is a cheap lie. In fact, the warnings that closed the doors for me began in the early 1990s with my reproof of Jack Hyles and Quick Prayerism. I wrote about Hyles’ “give me unquestioning loyalty” strutting Poobahism and “look at how big I am” numbers-crazy Quick Prayerism and “let’s turn the house of God into a circus” Promotionalism and “soul winning covers a multitude of sins” carnality. I believed then that he was the leader of a man-centered cult, and I am even more convinced of it today. Those warnings closed a tremendous number of doors, since Hyles is so widely and inordinately revered among Independent Baptists and since Quick Prayerism is so widely practiced and countenanced; but by God’s grace I have never regretted it. In fact, I do not want to associate with men who think so highly of Jack Hyles or any other pastor that they put them above reproof. That is idolatry, and God warns us to keep ourselves from idols. And I do not want to associate with men who practice Quick Prayerism, because I believe it is a grievous error. I care too much for true biblical evangelical and genuine salvation not to hate Quick Prayerism. (See the book Repentance and Soul Winning, which is available in print and eBook editions from Way of Life Literature.)
Beyond that, the doors to some of the bigger fundamental Baptist schools have been closed because they do not allow criticism, even the most gracious, even from those who appreciate much of what they do and stand for. They simply do not allow “criticism” (except privately). And those who offer any sort of reproof of their ministries are maligned and shut out entirely. That is a fact that no amount of huffing and puffing will do away with.
But in spite of all of the doors that have been closed by man, Christ is the one who opens doors that cannot be shut, and He has kept many doors of ministry open for this unworthy servant. Way of Life is not a mega-ministry, but it is also not a small ministry. God being my judge, I have never tried to have a mega-ministry and never even wanted one. The larger a ministry gets, the more difficult it is to be faithful to the whole counsel of God and lets the “chips fall where they may.” The more places one is invited to preach, the more tempted one is to keep his mouth shut on certain issues.
13. Godly reproof is not an “attack” or a “hit piece.” That is a gross mischaracterization and is one of the carnal tactics that are used to shut the mouths of those who would offer any warning whatsoever about anything they are doing, and it is very effective.
14. I surely hope I do not come across as arrogant and pride, and I am convinced that this is not true except in the eyes of those who simply don’t like me. If I know my own heart, I have never warned about the error and compromise of a fellow preacher from an attitude of pride. In fact, I am so deeply aware of my own failings and my own insignificance before the Lord that I know for sure that this is not true. I have so often asked the Lord why He would call such a nothing man as me to have such a ministry.
15. The issues I write about are most definitely doctrinal issues and they will not go away.
16. I will conclude where I started. Your e-mail proves my point that many fundamental Baptists turn doctrinal issues into personality issues and love to shoot the messenger instead of heeding the message, and that is why I am printing it for all to see.
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