Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Open Letter to David Cloud

Those who did not grow up in the Independent Baptist tradition may find this whole thing a little odd. But lately, my church has come under some heat from some IB's for various things. I have grown somewhat weary of it, and wrote an open letter (violating my long-standing rule about not e-mailing blog/site owners for the same reason that I do not call into radio shows). Below is the letter:


I had previously told myself I wouldn't email you for the same reason I don't call in to radio shows with a dissenting opinion--because the host controls the narrative. But in this case, I'll make an exception. In your most recent Friday Church News (Vol. 12, Issue 46), you print commentary on Trinity from people who have attended services at Trinity. In some instances within these comments, they contain outright fabrications.

I will not claim to know your heart, or your motives, but I thought you should know that these errors should not be tacitly endorsed without comment (it damages one's credibility). Again, I'm just trying to be helpful here. For instance, an unnamed Trinity graduate claims, "There was . . . certainly no invitation to repent and serve our Holy God!" Really? I have attended literally hundreds of services at TBC in the last ten years, and I cannot recall a single service where there was not an invitation. Each and every invitation concerned both salvation and conviction of sin in the lives of believers. These are objective facts, not subjective interpretations. Claiming there was no invitation is about as likely as saying TBC did not take an offering, or there was no sermon, or no prayer, etc. These things happen literally every sermon. It is not OK to fabricate to make a point, even if that point is correct and the person meant well.

This leads to our next point. He speculates about the work of the Holy Spirit amongst the people, saying, "There was no conviction of the Spirit . . . ." How could he possibly know this? One would think he was speaking of himself, but his sentence before about the corporate body coupled with the later phrase within his own sentence that "no honor of our Lord" took place indicates he felt this was corporate. Even if he only meant this for himself, one may ask: why would this not tell us more about his own heart than the hearts of those at TBC?

Next, there is the "no honor of our Lord" comment. Just as I have been to hundreds of TBC services, so have I heard hundreds of Pastor Messer's sermons. I have not always agreed with every last thing he said, but I highly doubt the sermon was anti-biblical. I would challenge his thinking here, asking him which text Messer preached from and why he dishonored the Lord. I realize he did not target Messer specifically, but the church service as a whole (referencing both the music all the way to the invitation), but it nonetheless follows that so long as Pastor Messer preached faithfully the Word, there was at least some honor of our Lord.

Finally from this comment, he asks if contemporary music were to be eliminated if it would have any detrimental effect upon any ministry, answering in the negative. I, however, do not find this to be so obvious. If the reason is purely legalistic, then doing nearly anything would be spiritually detrimental. Of course, this reflects a heart attitude, not the actions themselves (and it should go without saying that it's not the case that there are no morally wrong actions, but rather that good and/or permissible actions may also fall under the category of sin if done with a legalistic attitude).

The next comment about Trinity from the same issue is from Jeff Royal. I am unfamiliar with the man so I will assume he is well-meaning. People aren't really uptight about raising their hands at TBC. We don't get offended at people who do (I personally don't raise my hands, just not my thing), and we don't think we're better than people who don't. This sentence tends to be disturbing, however (and it is from you, as far as I can tell, not Mr. Royal): "...The church eventually casts off all semblance of being fundamentalist and wholeheartedly embraces the contemporary philosophy, renouncing the old paths that church once stood for and boldly letting the new 'evangelical' flag fly." Really? You think it is only a matter of time (perhaps 10 years according to your later comment) before Trinity renounces "any semblance" of fundamentalism, like, I don't know--the fundamentals of the faith? You really think TBC will jettison the virgin birth, Jesus Christ's deity, His Second Coming, the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, the Tri-unity of God (the Trinity), salvation by grace through faith (not of works), etc.? Or do these have nothing at all to do with fundamentalism?

Sir, I am not writing this to demean you. I am only writing this to help. I can not know your heart. I only know that one should not allow false anecdotes and fallacious reasoning to go unnoticed and unchallenged. Unfortunately, this amounts to condoning and/or facilitating a place for gossip and slander (libel).

God Bless,

Randy Everist
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1 comment:

  1. I have to note I have received an interesting update via indirect correspondence with the person who wrote the email to Mr. Cloud. I have not obtained permission to reproduce the email, and it was not sent to me by the original author.

    That said, I must say that I was mistaken concerning one aspect of my critique above: I assumed the man was speaking of a Sunday service. This was incorrect. His updated email to Mr. Cloud states he attended a mid-week service. Mid-week services do not usually have a formal invitation, but the preaching and closing prayers contain the informal invitations to serve God (which in our correspondence Cloud maintained this was the meaning). But in any case, I was incorrect about this, and it's only fair to publish it! I stand by the rest of my critique, and I'll be more than happy to share the rest of our correspondence to anyone who wishes.


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