A Reformed Minister Preaching at Non-Reformed churches?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Here is my layman's concern about this, and I realize this is a general concern and doesn't necessarily pertain to the experience of any of the ministers on this thread.

It's been my experience that people hear sound teaching and preaching through the grid of whatever false beliefs they tend to hold. Thus they may cherry-pick and embrace a bit of reformed thinking, a bit of charismatic thinking, a bit of mysticism, etc. (bits of leaven in the lump! Which the apostles didn't tolerate.) Even apparently regenerate Christians do this.

It keeps people continuing to hold to and spread false doctrine, as they have not been plainly corrected. I realized some time ago that it's not enough to teach the truth positively to people who are in error; they must also, negatively, be plainly told that their false beliefs are wrong, that they are holding to error.. Otherwise, they don't get that what the sound teacher is telling them is the opposite of what they believe!

It's a fact in teaching that people must come to know that they don't know, that they are wrong, before they can learn and embrace the truth. So, for a minister to continue to speak to groups of people who are in serious error, and for those people to remain unoffended, can be a bad sign, can't it? I have seen this first-hand, coming from and being in churches where charismatic/mystical beliefs are embraced. The people liked John Piper and Joyce Meyer and Tommy Tinney equally- they took what they liked from each teacher. In God's mercy some may see the inconsistencies and start to dig deeper, and come to a better knowledge of the truth. But does this possibility or hope absolve the minister of a duty to plainly tell people they are in serious error? I'm just asking.

I know a minister doesn't want to lose his opportunity to speak to groups with false ideas of God, but Paul didn't seem to make retaining that opportunity a factor in what he told deceived people. He told the truth always, not just positively but negatively. So I'm wondering, should a minister be willing to speak to a group about the gospel, without the up-front understanding that this includes speaking to the false beliefs of the group- with the possibility of never being invited back (or maybe being stoned by the resulting angry mob!)

I've seen first-hand what can happen when, for instance, a reformed sbc minister came to an arminian/decisional leaning church and began teaching, though subtly, the doctrines of grace, and didn't get around to telling the people plainly that their false beliefs are wrong. It caused a long, drawn-out process where division and hurt were the painful and relationship-damaging fallout; not that good things didn't happen, as well. God is gracious.

So looking to the apostles (particularly Paul), and to Christ, wouldn't openly telling the people the truth in every way. both positively and negatively, so they walk away with no confusion or misunderstanding about what the minister is saying the Bible teaches, be the way to go? I understand that to really do this, fewer occasions to speak to such groups might be the result. I'm just positing that perhaps there's more damage done by giving deceived audiences the option to add to their cherry-picking than is realized. And I don't think any of the fine ministers here on PB would disagree with this.
 

lynnie

Puritan Board Graduate
I wonder if this would have any relationship to something like this: http://www.alliancenet.org/mos/1517/now-im-really-confused-about-complementarianism#.Vow-5VUrLIV

Could a Reformed minster preach at a conference like Passion 2016 in good conference if asked to do so?

Yikes. Did you see the quote at the bottom where the woman preacher extolled Joyce Meyer?

I am woman and I could not even go to a woman's conference with word of faith teachers on the line up. Arminians and Dispensationalists are one thing, they have what Machen referred to as a deficient gospel. But Meyer and the positive confession people? They have a different gospel entirely.

Full gospel and charismatic used to be just arminian plus tongues and other gifts. If that is all it is, you can be a blessing to them talking about our great and sovereign God. But be really careful not to even give a hint of endorsing the word of faith teachers. (See D R McConnell's book " A Different Gospel" for further study)
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Lynnie, that's a good example (for the how many-th year in a row for John Piper, in this case) speaking positively of the gospel but not speaking the truth negatively, i.e. publicly denouncing the false teaching heard and embraced by the attendees.
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
Jack,
"Remember that as long as the worshipers were willing to listen and yearning for truth, Paul happily preached in Jewish synagogues."

I do not think this is an apples to apples comparison. The synagogues were the true visible churches of those cities when Paul arrived. Had they accepted his message, they would have remained the true churches and incorporated Gentiles, etc. Only when they rejected the message were separate churches formed.

If one is going in order to preach contrary to the doctrine of these churches, then one should at least be completely honest about this up front. My concern is not with preaching to a particular group but with whether the preaching is understood to be to the church or on behalf of that church.

Yes, I agree the example from Paul does not exactly fit the situation we're discussing here. But I suggest the principle is similar and is worth our consideration.

-------------------

Although I am not a minister, I think my experience can partly address some of the concerns about a guest speaker being seen to represent a church when he speaks. On a handful of occasions, I have been invited to speak at the local Adventist church/school, and I have always said yes. The reaction to this has been as follows:

- Several times, people at the Adventist church have expressed thanks and said my talks enlarged their appreciation of the gospel or gave kids there some badly needed teaching. Some of them have shown up at my church later. Some of those kids from the school have ended up attending Bible camps I teach at or are part of my church (though I can't know if any of that has to do with me).

- Always the reaction in my home church has been positive. People there figure I'm sharing good material with the Adventists and are glad to see it happening. They don't think I'm becoming an Adventist or starting to speak for them.

- Never that I know of have I had someone mistakenly think I was an Adventist.

- Once I had an acquaintance hear I was speaking there and tell my wife, "I guess that means it's a pretty good place, if Jack speaks there."

I consider that last scenario to be a valid concern. It is possible that people see a speaker's presence at a certain church as a semi-endorsement. However, I think that reaction is fairly rare. Most people recognize the difference between a guest speaker and representative of the church. And the positives are strong enough to outweigh the concerns, in my experience.

Did those people at the Adventist Church see any difference between what you were preaching and what they believe the gospel to be?
 

Toasty

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't think a non-Reformed church would allow a Reformed guest preacher to preach things that are contrary to what that non-Reformed church teaches. The non-Reformed church would allow him to preach on anything as long as it does not contradict what that non-Reformed church teaches.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Jack,
"Remember that as long as the worshipers were willing to listen and yearning for truth, Paul happily preached in Jewish synagogues."

I do not think this is an apples to apples comparison. The synagogues were the true visible churches of those cities when Paul arrived. Had they accepted his message, they would have remained the true churches and incorporated Gentiles, etc. Only when they rejected the message were separate churches formed.

If one is going in order to preach contrary to the doctrine of these churches, then one should at least be completely honest about this up front. My concern is not with preaching to a particular group but with whether the preaching is understood to be to the church or on behalf of that church.

Yes, I agree the example from Paul does not exactly fit the situation we're discussing here. But I suggest the principle is similar and is worth our consideration.

-------------------

Although I am not a minister, I think my experience can partly address some of the concerns about a guest speaker being seen to represent a church when he speaks. On a handful of occasions, I have been invited to speak at the local Adventist church/school, and I have always said yes. The reaction to this has been as follows:

- Several times, people at the Adventist church have expressed thanks and said my talks enlarged their appreciation of the gospel or gave kids there some badly needed teaching. Some of them have shown up at my church later. Some of those kids from the school have ended up attending Bible camps I teach at or are part of my church (though I can't know if any of that has to do with me).

- Always the reaction in my home church has been positive. People there figure I'm sharing good material with the Adventists and are glad to see it happening. They don't think I'm becoming an Adventist or starting to speak for them.

- Never that I know of have I had someone mistakenly think I was an Adventist.

- Once I had an acquaintance hear I was speaking there and tell my wife, "I guess that means it's a pretty good place, if Jack speaks there."

I consider that last scenario to be a valid concern. It is possible that people see a speaker's presence at a certain church as a semi-endorsement. However, I think that reaction is fairly rare. Most people recognize the difference between a guest speaker and representative of the church. And the positives are strong enough to outweigh the concerns, in my experience.

Did those people at the Adventist Church see any difference between what you were preaching and what they believe the gospel to be?

There are some significant differences between Adventist beliefs and Reformed or even typical evangelical beliefs, which makes my speaking there a suitable example for this discussion. But I don't think many Adventists I know would say, even after listening to me, that they believe the core of our idea of the gospel is different.

However, I will say that in many places I speak (to not single out any person in any church in particular) people seem to find my teaching refreshing because I focus less on what we should do to be good and more on Jesus, the only purely good person I know. Sometimes I say things about Jesus and his saving work they've never heard before. Is this a different gospel? Well, it is at least a different emphasis and a bigger gospel, and it does get noticed, even if folks don't call it a different gospel.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
2 John 10 and 11 should be borne in mind when dealing with false teachers:
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

Gill writes:
For he that biddeth him God speed
Wishes him well, and success in his ministry, or in a friendly and familiar way converses with him:

is partaker of his evil deeds
He has fellowship with him, instead of reproving or shunning him, as he ought; he is an abettor of him in his principles, and so far joins in the propagation of them, and helps to spread them, and gives too much reason to think he is one with him in them.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
I think it's pretty fruitless if there are contrary doctrines. For unless one is given unrestricted permission to preach the sense of the reformed gospel, then really the sermon will be a sort of general surface gospel which essentially instructs no-one, and compromises ones own position. It depends also if the church shows a willingness to reform. Preaching two or three times will reveal that, and a negative response will be a signal to discontinue supplying. I when asked, make it plain that I either would be allowed four Psalms in the worship, or else an elder would have to announce the hymns which I would refrain from singing. I go to a hymn singing church which permits the 4 Psalms, sings them enthusiastically, even repeating a verse that touched the heart. Afterward it generates discussion about EP. On the other hand, being asked to preach at another church the Minister assented to my request, but being asked back the second time, the Organist refused to agree to the psalms.Organ tyranny! I was more than happy to have no musical accompaniment, but the Minister now had a problem. So I declined the invitation to save him embarrassment. Strange how Christians object to singing the word of God.

So if no restrictions were put upon what is said, and the congregation shows willingness to reform, you would not be opposed to the idea.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Although perhaps not the most qualified, I will be the dissenting voice. Certainly any true minister desires to preach to anyone and everyone, but the circumstances matter. To preach as a guest preacher of a church that confesses a different gospel is ostensibly to endorse that church as a true church holding forth a true gospel.

A DIFFERENT Gospel? Or the same gospel at a non-reformed church?

The example given was called a "Full Gospel" church. They are announcing in their name that they have a different gospel.

"Full Gospel" is a phrase used generally in Pentecostalism. Would you pronounce the anathemas of Galatians upon all Pentecostals?
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it wrong for a Reformed minister to preach at non-Reformed churches?

For example, I was asked to preach at a Korean "Full Gospel" Pentecostal church when the preacher (a woman) was on a mission trip. I accepted the invitation and preached a thoroughly Reformed sermon to the congregation.

Is it right for me to preach in these situations? On the one hand, I think it is good to preach the gospel whenever and wherever one can. On the other hand, if a visitor likes the sermon, it may encourage them to attend that church. What do you think?

If the church does not proclaim a false gospel, then I don't think it would be wrong.

Even if we grant it is not wrong, the question still remains, is it wise?
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it wrong for a Reformed minister to preach at non-Reformed churches?

For example, I was asked to preach at a Korean "Full Gospel" Pentecostal church when the preacher (a woman) was on a mission trip. I accepted the invitation and preached a thoroughly Reformed sermon to the congregation.

Is it right for me to preach in these situations? On the one hand, I think it is good to preach the gospel whenever and wherever one can. On the other hand, if a visitor likes the sermon, it may encourage them to attend that church. What do you think?

If the church does not proclaim a false gospel, then I don't think it would be wrong.

Even if we grant it is not wrong, the question still remains, is it wise?
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
The Reformed should never miss an opportunity to preach truth. If a Jehovah's Witness or Mormon congregation ever allowed me to give witness, that is exactly what I would do. Return visits would be doubtful. [emoji41]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Yes, you would do so in way what made clear that you opposed their false organizations.

But If you are preaching to true churches with errant theology, would you preach the same way?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
A good test case would be baptists invited to preach at Presbyterian churches or Presbyterians invited into Baptist pulpits. It is no sign of compromise if they preach a basic gospel message and entirely leave off any mention of baptism. One is not a "compromiser" if invited into the opposite pulpit and he fails to tell the other denomination what is wrong with their view of baptism (i.e. he fails to correct their errant theology)...it is mere politeness, because both sides recognize the other as brothers. Plus, the purpose of the invitation may have been to preach upon a designated topic.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Allow me to suggest that the context of the invitation may matter a great deal. Is the other church attempting to use the Reformed minister to somehow promote its errors? Then be wary.

But if the other church sees something they like in the Reformed minister and asks him to speak because they are hungry for truth and instruction (even if they don't quite agree with him yet), I would think the minister practically has an obligation to go and preach. How can a minister of the gospel say "no, I won't preach the truth to you until you agree with me first"? Remember that as long as the worshipers were willing to listen and yearning for truth, Paul happily preached in Jewish synagogues.

Yes, although Paul directly preached about the change that was required in their doctrine and was often kicked out because of what he said.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't know if it was Spurgeon or someone similar, but I heard someone say "I'd preach in the Vatican (or in Mecca) if they let me preach Christ fully."

So what does he mean by preach Christ "fully". How would he have preached that sermon? Would he have been content to preach the doctrine of justification by faith alone positively, without directly saying that that their church was in error? Would that have been fully?

Also, the Roman church is apostate, while non-Reformed Protestant churches are not necessarily so.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
If given an opportunity to preach or teach to anyone who claims Christ then I will do so. It's an opportunity to preach the Gospel. The fact that they claim Christ makes it even more urgent if the Gospel is not being preached in a given Church for they are under greater condemnation and their undershepherds are leaving them impoverished.

I don't say this to be prideful but I literally blow the minds of some Christians when I teach them. They just never hear the Scriptures taught the way the Scriptures themselves teach. They are so accustomed to "contextualization" that they never hear the Scriptures taught in the language of the Scriptures. There's a particular group that I teach on occasion and they are accustomed to everything being focused on ethics and Christian witness. I teach them on faith and repentance or indwelling sin and they're blown away. They just don't get it regularly.

Yes~ I see the need and have a desire to teach sound doctrine to those who need it. But if we go about it in the wrong way, the effort could be counterproductive.
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
I once met a minister of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), one of the most warm-hearted and powerful preachers of the gospel I have met. In the days before the fall of the Iron Curtain, he used to make regular trips to preach in Reformed and evangelical churches in Eastern bloc countries, especially Hungary.

On one occasion, the local Roman Catholic priest attended his preaching and was delighted with what he heard. He implored the Free Church minister to come and speak to his own congregation, saying they needed to hear what he had to say. The minister was in something of a quandary, as you can imagine, but the two of them managed to arrange a mid-week meeting that would not include any celebration of the Mass, and the priest was able to bring his whole congregation to hear the gospel preached powerfully and winsomely.

I understand some of the concerns expressed on this thread, but honestly, with the safeguards that were put in place, I cannot see how the Free Church minister could have done otherwise without failing to uphold his duty to preach the gospel. On top of the obstacles inherent in a Catholic setting, these people were also living under the shadow of Communist oppression, with the many opportunities we take for granted unavailable to them. Humanly speaking, how would they have heard the gospel otherwise?

That's an interesting story. It's great that he had the opportunity to share the gospel with those people. But he must have done so in a manner that was positively preaching the gospel only, rather than directly pointing our the errors of the Roman church.

We have to also think about the unintended consequences of taking such invitations. By preaching at a Catholic church, the people could have reasonably inferred that the minister viewed the Catholic church as a true church, just different from his own. I wonder how the local Protestant missionaries thought about what he did. The people would have been less likely to listen to Protestant missionaries who called them to break with the Catholic church and join a Protestant one. Also, even though he refused to preach at a mass, he probably didn't challenge their idolatrous practices directly, or the priest would not have invited him in the first place.

So even if they heard the gospel once, they were not challenged to leave the false church. Since the church brought in such a dynamic guest speaker, it bolstered that church's ministry and encouraged people to continue to attend the Catholic church. And so, they would have gone on attending a church that teaches a false gospel and practices idolatry, thereby contradicting the gospel message that he was able to preach one time.

I realise it's a very cynical spin on the story, but are these not real concerns?
 

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman

Jonathan David Foster

Puritan Board Freshman
Here is my layman's concern about this, and I realize this is a general concern and doesn't necessarily pertain to the experience of any of the ministers on this thread.

It's been my experience that people hear sound teaching and preaching through the grid of whatever false beliefs they tend to hold. Thus they may cherry-pick and embrace a bit of reformed thinking, a bit of charismatic thinking, a bit of mysticism, etc. (bits of leaven in the lump! Which the apostles didn't tolerate.) Even apparently regenerate Christians do this.

It keeps people continuing to hold to and spread false doctrine, as they have not been plainly corrected. I realized some time ago that it's not enough to teach the truth positively to people who are in error; they must also, negatively, be plainly told that their false beliefs are wrong, that they are holding to error.. Otherwise, they don't get that what the sound teacher is telling them is the opposite of what they believe!

It's a fact in teaching that people must come to know that they don't know, that they are wrong, before they can learn and embrace the truth. So, for a minister to continue to speak to groups of people who are in serious error, and for those people to remain unoffended, can be a bad sign, can't it? I have seen this first-hand, coming from and being in churches where charismatic/mystical beliefs are embraced. The people liked John Piper and Joyce Meyer and Tommy Tinney equally- they took what they liked from each teacher. In God's mercy some may see the inconsistencies and start to dig deeper, and come to a better knowledge of the truth. But does this possibility or hope absolve the minister of a duty to plainly tell people they are in serious error? I'm just asking.

I know a minister doesn't want to lose his opportunity to speak to groups with false ideas of God, but Paul didn't seem to make retaining that opportunity a factor in what he told deceived people. He told the truth always, not just positively but negatively. So I'm wondering, should a minister be willing to speak to a group about the gospel, without the up-front understanding that this includes speaking to the false beliefs of the group- with the possibility of never being invited back (or maybe being stoned by the resulting angry mob!)

I've seen first-hand what can happen when, for instance, a reformed sbc minister came to an arminian/decisional leaning church and began teaching, though subtly, the doctrines of grace, and didn't get around to telling the people plainly that their false beliefs are wrong. It caused a long, drawn-out process where division and hurt were the painful and relationship-damaging fallout; not that good things didn't happen, as well. God is gracious.

So looking to the apostles (particularly Paul), and to Christ, wouldn't openly telling the people the truth in every way. both positively and negatively, so they walk away with no confusion or misunderstanding about what the minister is saying the Bible teaches, be the way to go? I understand that to really do this, fewer occasions to speak to such groups might be the result. I'm just positing that perhaps there's more damage done by giving deceived audiences the option to add to their cherry-picking than is realized. And I don't think any of the fine ministers here on PB would disagree with this.

This is helpful. When one is invited to a non-Reformed church, and even told that he is free to preach what he wants, there usually is an unspoken expectation that the guest speaker will not directly teach against the doctrine of the church. So the preacher can only preach positively the correct doctrine and not negatively point out the incorrect doctrine.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top