An analysis of Noble’s unrepentant apology 32

Perry Noble and I agree on something important: his Christmas Eve sermon was no accident.

Noble wrote a letter to his church apologizing for part of his Christmas Eve sermon

Noble wrote a letter to his church apologizing for a small part of his Christmas Eve sermon

Late last week, Noble published a letter to his church that looked like he was apologizing for the sermon, though a careful reading shows that the apology was very limited, and the important theological problems created by the sermon were not only retained, but embraced. As I noted in a previous post, I wanted to give Noble the benefit of the doubt, so I contacted him privately to offer him the opportunity to clarify it in case I was missing something. NewSpring’s response was clear: he didn’t want to explain anything else, so at this point it’s not only fair, but important, to analyze the apology and the continuing theological disaster that is NewSpring’s Christmas Eve sermon.

To review quickly, Noble claimed that there was no word in Hebrew for command, which led to the main premise of the sermon that there weren’t really any Ten Commandments. My response, which was confirmed by many others who also critiqued the sermon, was that he was wrong on both counts. Denying the commandments was by far the worst part of the sermon, though the first claim about the Hebrew word was so obviously wrong that it hardly needed refutation.

Noble’s apology retracts nothing that wasn’t already obvious to us all. Let’s analyze it a little.

So I did this sermon on the Ten Commandments once and everyone loved it…  🙂

How many people loved it isn’t the standard that Noble should be using to measure his work. Was it faithful to Scripture? Was it true? Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word even out of season (2 Tim 4:2), indicating that there would be times when people would neither love nor respond to his preaching, even though good and right.

If by everyone Noble includes the leadership of his church, that’s troubling in itself. Did anyone on staff detect a problem with his message, and, if so, did anyone have the opportunity to confront Noble with corrective criticism? This blog didn’t publish anything about the sermon for more than a week afterwards, so there was plenty of quiet before the controversy hit for NewSpring’s internal governance structures to have fixed or anticipated this.

Before I give finality to this issue (it’s time to move on) I want to address a few things first.

#1 – I am imperfect.  I make mistakes and fall way short of who I should be each and every day.

#2 – I fully understand and feel the weight of James 3:1 that clearly says that people who teach God’s Word will be judged more strictly.

Why, then, the antagonism towards people who do critique his preaching? A few days before the apology, he boasted to other pastors that through this controversy he was bravely taking a hit for Jesus, favorably comparing himself to the suffering Christ.

#3 – I take teaching the Bible very seriously and desperately want to always put forth my best effort as I really do believe that when God says “don’t” in Scripture it is more like Him saying, “don’t hurt yourself,” because, as a friend of mine often says, “choose to sin, choose to suffer.”

This mind-blowing paragraph showcases much of what’s wrong with Noble’s preaching. After asserting that he takes the Bible seriously and gives it his best effort, he proceeds to paraphrase it beyond recognition on the authority of a friend. Look at that line again: “when God says ‘don’t’ in Scripture it is more like Him saying, ‘don’t hurt yourself.'” How inconsiderate of the Holy Spirit to have expressed himself so carelessly in the original manuscripts, and how fortunate that we have Perry Noble now to clarify–mainly, to soften–what God said.

That being said I want to go back for a minute, try to shed some light on a couple of things and then make two apologies.

“That being said” is rather important. Noble has demonstrated his habit of arbitrarily rewriting Scripture to make it say what he thinks it should say, so from here it’s no surprise where the apology goes.

On Christmas Eve I really did feel The Lord pressing into me to do a different message than we had previously done in the days before. I wrestled with this for several hours before finally saying “yes.”

Noble doesn’t apologize for the false claim that he heard from God. Even if you think God does give people messages like this, you have to disqualify this one because God surely wouldn’t have asked Noble to proclaim such a huge error. The claim that God told him to preach this message has made it practically impossible for Noble to retract and properly apologize for the sermon. To do so would be to acknowledge that he can be wrong about his claims of divine revelation that are an important source of his authority within the church.

A quick point about hearing from God while we’re here. Noble reports that after hearing God speak to him, he wrestled with the revelation and asked his entire leadership team to confirm that it was God’s voice. It is interesting that the Bible nowhere tells us how to recognize when we’re hearing direct messages from God, yet we know that God did reveal himself to the men who wrote the Scripture. We don’t know exactly how that happened because the Holy Spirit didn’t tell us, though when God spoke to his prophets and apostles, they knew without a shadow of a doubt and didn’t need to poll their associates.

Instead of giving us advice on how to hear from God, Scripture gives plenty of advice on how to test the claims of people who say they heard from God. If God spoke to you, you wouldn’t need to test it, but we always need to test the people who say God spoke to them.

As I began writing down what I felt like He wanted me to say, I began to reflect on the teaching I have received while in Israel and how I had been told there was no Hebrew word for “command,” but that the 10 commandments were actually then ten sayings or the promises of God.

This set my heart on fire and I put the message together, believing it was from the Lord, and we saw over 200 people come to Christ as a result.

Noble’s heart, which like all of ours is sick and deceitful (Jer 17:9), told him that this was an excellent message. The important question is why the erroneous message so inflamed him.

As for the 200 people, they are why this is so important. Our argument is that Noble did not preach the gospel on Christmas Eve, so it’s not a useful defense to point to people who took an action (signing their name on a badge) that Noble claims represents their salvation. If the gospel wasn’t preached, by what means were they saved? Perhaps NewSpring’s pastors have contacted each one of the 200 and presented the true gospel to them, though if so, it would be proper and encouraging to see that mentioned in the apology.

And then it hit the fan!

Actually, before it hit the fan I had reached out to Noble with a private encouragement to fix the Ten Commandments problem quickly. His apology could have come well before the social media tsunami hit, and before he had twice more reaffirmed the sermon (here and here). I had published the original article on Thursday, Jan 1, and received the brief statement from NewSpring on the morning of Jan 2 that I appended to the first article: “We do stand by the message Perry gave to our church on December 24, 2015, and we do believe the Lord prompted Perry to deliver it as he did.” By that stage, the post hadn’t been read or shared by many, possibly because this blog had been dormant since the beginning of August, and I hadn’t written anything about NewSpring since April. Traffic was very light. On Friday afternoon, I sent my contact at NewSpring the following plea:

I’d suggest that Perry finds a way to gracefully back away from the commandments sermon. It’s pretty obvious to most observers, I think, that the claim is wrong (you can’t read far into the OT without seeing that word, so how does he explain what the underlying Hebrew is?). As I wrote in my post, I think he misunderstood a point about the Torah not labelling the Exodus and Deuteronomy passages as “The Ten Commandments,” which is indeed something that came later. Even so, everything on those lists is a commandment, which is what Perry erroneously denied.

The Ten Commandments are obviously a central part of the Bible and, therefore, of Christianity. Perry is quickly going to become known as someone who has disavowed them, and that reputation will be isolating, damaging and memorable. The mistake is explainable (he can even blame the 10-minutes of prep time, as he has already done in the preface to the sermon), so the faster he comes out with a retraction and apology, the better, I think. If he’s going to dig in on it, he’s going to be clinging to something that is obviously heretical, yet that I don’t think he really believes.

I’d rather Perry get it right and set the record straight than for him (and those of you associated with him) to be embarrassed by such a big and serious error.

If he does it, I think you’ll find that his critics will praise him (I will), not kick him. If he doesn’t, he’s going to be criticized on this for a long, long time.

The commandments teaching is a much bigger deal than the N-word thing and something that he can fix honorably and look good in the process.

The response to this was the statement from the pulpit a few days later, both affirming the message and characterizing his critics as angry and mean. The purpose of reproducing my message to Noble is to show that well before it hit the fan, Noble had the opportunity to forestall all of this. It was the day after this message to Noble that the post went viral.

Back to Noble’s  apology:

I had no idea that I had stepped into a debate in which godly people are on both sides of the issue.

This isn’t a debate. The Christian church has always recognized that the Commandments are essential to the gospel and has always condemned teachers who attempt to preach grace without law. This post pulled together some examples of a diverse range of godly people who would be surprised that Noble thinks this is even an issue.

I have been on the phone, on the internet and on my face this week trying my hardest to see if what I preached in that message was true, as well as seeing if I made mistakes in that teaching.

Which leads to my two apologies.

#1 – I apologize for saying there was not an actual Hebrew word for command.

In way more research than I have ever done I realized that statement was not correct. (The original Hebrew is “metzaveh”.) In no way was I deliberately trying to mislead or deceive anyone. I simply recalled a conversation I had (which I now see I did not fully understand), looked back at my notes and taught the message. I now realize I should have put way more time into doing research before making that statement.

On one hand, it’s encouraging that Noble did listen to criticism and respond to it. This paragraph in the apology represents the only meaningful retraction from the sermon, though he’s simply acknowledging what many of us knew immediately: of course Hebrew has a word for command, otherwise most of the Old Testament would vanish into the air.

Although he now realizes he should have done more research, he’s not taking responsibility for the incompetence displayed in how he prepared, delivered, and even responded to criticism of this sermon. What will change now? What measures will he implement to ensure this doesn’t happen again?

However, what I am not apologizing for is saying that the Hebrew word for “command” is not used when the 10 commandments were given.

At first glance the lower-case c in commandments looks accidental until you realize the the entire statement is again denying that the Ten Commandments are a legitimate biblical concept. Noble is still insisting that there is no such thing as the Ten Commandments.

It literally means “sayings” – and, according to Exodus 34:28, can also be interpreted as promises.

Not according to Ex 34. It’s only according to his friends that it can be interpreted that way. Here, Noble is being either deliberately deceitful in his handling of Scripture or inexplicably careless with it. Here’s what Ex 34:28 says:

So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.

The Hebrew word behind the English Commandments in this verse is dabar, meaning word. This is the basis for Noble’s claim that the commandments are just ten words, but the only way that you could claim that they’re promises is if you reason that word means promise. But I could argue that words can also be jokes, so they are really the Ten Jokes, or the Ten Curses, or the Ten Prepositions. Or whatever else kind of thing a word could be.

Though you might want to say that dabar gives you license to substitute anything you want in its place, the context of Scripture forbids it. The listings of the Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, so someone reading Exodus from start to finish would have learned about the Commandments in Chapter 20. That means that when we get to Chapter 34, Moses is summarizing events that have already been revealed in explicit detail earlier. The ten words in Chapter 34 point us back to what we already learned from Chapter 20–they are the Ten Commandments written by God’s hand.

Let’s say I told you that Payton Manning threw two touchdowns in the first half of a game and another three touchdowns in the second half. After telling you a bit more about the game, I mention that Manning’s “five scores” were the most he’d had in a game this year. Would you be free to assume that he’d scored five goals, five baskets, or five runs? Of course not. The context of the account constrains you to interpret scores only one way: they were touchdowns.

As a friend from Israel shared with me…
“The word command, as well as commandment, is used to translate the Hebrew word mits’vah but does not properly convey the meaning of mits’vah. The word command implies words of force or power as a General commands his troops. The word mits’vah is better understood as a directive. To see the picture painted by this word it is helpful to look at a related word, tsiyon meaning a desert or a landmark. The Ancient Hebrews were a nomadic people who traveled the deserts in search of green pastures for their flocks. A nomad uses the various rivers, mountains, rock outcroppings, etc as landmarks to give them their direction. The verb form of mits’vah is tsavah meaning to direct one on a journey. The mits’vah of the Bible are not commands, or rules and regulations, they are directives or landmarks that we look for to guide us.”

Benjamin Shaw did a good job of dismantling this yesterday, so if you still suspect this is a sound argument Noble’s making, I recommend his post. Noble continues…

However, regardless of what Bible scholars and Hebrew speaking Christians in Israel believe the list of God’s 10 points in Exodus…

Again with Noble’s refusal to recognize them as Commandments.

…should be called (I have heard conflicting positions), the points themselves are clearly written as imperatives—“You shall…you shall not….” I did not, and would never deny that!

He did deny that. He told parents they were wrong to teach their children that there was a biblical imperative to obey them, and he told nonbelievers that “instead of Ten Commandments that you have to keep if you’re going to be a follower of Jesus, they’re actually ten promises.” According to Noble, they are not imperatives to obey, only promises.

The reality of it all is that all of us have broken all ten commands.

Again, he will not call them the Ten Commandments. This is careful and repeated biblical rebellion.

The Old Testament was not given to us to show us how awesome we are, but how sinful we are and how much we all need a Savior.

Yes! This is correct, but what in the Old Testament shows us that we are sinners needing a Savior? The Ten Commandments. If you eliminate them, there’s no sin and no Savior.

None of us are perfect.

All of us fall short of God’s standards for our lives.

All of us need Jesus.

My desire in sharing this message was to point people to Christ. And, it’s so awesome as I reflect back on this and know that even though I said an inaccurate statement…

Noble frames this as a minor mistake, just an inaccurate statement. The problem is that his inaccurate statement that there was no word for command led to a sermon that rescinded the Ten Commandments, and that’s the wider lesson that he continues to promote.

…to know what Paul said in I Corinthians 1:21 is true.

“For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.”

What Paul said is indeed true, but not in the way that Noble is using it here to justify his foolish preaching. The foolishness is the preaching of the cross, through which Christ becomes our righteousness, our sanctification and our redemption.

If there are no commandments, Jesus cannot be said to be righteous for keeping them perfectly.

If we have broken no commandments, there’s nothing to be sanctified from.

If there is no penalty for breaking the commandments, there’s nothing to be redeemed from.


The Christmas Eve sermon was, and continues to be, a theological disaster. In other spheres of life, people or corporations associated with accidents and disasters do more than just look at the damage and issue a limited and late apology. They fix the damage then try to figure out what conditions caused the problem. Perhaps this is happening behind the scenes at NewSpring, though Noble’s insistence that this is the last time he will talk about it suggests this is a closed issue for him.

Given that there are other pastors like Noble and many others who want to be like him, it’s important to think about how this happened. Even if Noble won’t listen (and we still hope he will), this episode might serve as a warning to other preachers, and, just as importantly, to other Christians who see similar things happening in their churches.

(Update: Chris Rosebrough, who was first to raise the alarm on this sermon, has also analyzed the apology here.)

32 thoughts on “An analysis of Noble’s unrepentant apology

  1. Mary Catherine Willis Jan 13, 2015 8:19 am

    Glad that you gave him fair warning.

  2. An Anderson Native Jan 13, 2015 8:46 am

    I have many friends who attend NS in Columbia and Lexington, however I just don’t understand the draw to Perry and HIS church, not THE church as it should be addressed (if it were a church). As I have been reading here and on the web about the Christmas Eve service, I have wondered if Perry is purposely stating these things as a means to stir the pot, and create attention for himself. If so, that is still cause for concern. Just a thought in all this mess. I am still waiting for the proverial shoe to drop, and I am beginning to think that the strings on the shoe are beginning to loosen as the stuff he says gets weirder and weirder and it seems more attention is given to it.

  3. Matt Jan 13, 2015 9:19 am

    I just want to submit that I do believe that the first comment about everyone loving the sermon was meant to be sarcastic. I know that’s probably the least important of these points, but just wanted to attempt to clear that up.

    • James Duncan Jan 13, 2015 5:33 pm

      You’re probably right about the sarcasm. I read the “hit the fan” comment a bit later as suggesting that all of the feedback was positive until then, though whether the whole world loved or hated it, all that he needs to do is prove that it’s consistent with Scripture.

      • Not confused Jan 13, 2015 9:43 pm

        His writing was grammatically poor, a problem which contributes to problems with interpreting meaning.

  4. Neal99 Jan 13, 2015 9:30 am

    This is, I fear, the kind of thing that is all too rampant in “independent,” usually charismatic and/or Pentecostal churches. A religious entrepreneur starts a church, puts his family on staff and starts to build a little kingdom. He disdains “book learnin'” and depends on what “God told me.” He gathers a group of acolytes who never question what he says – there may not even be a church board of any kind – and the heresy flows. I bet there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of such churches across the country.

  5. CL Jan 13, 2015 10:53 am

    I also believe that Perry’s comment about everyone loving his sermon was sarcastic, which is disturbing that he can be so flippant. I was very disappointed that he didn’t apologize for using the n-word. It’s obvious that he did, but I think he sees that as being more damaging to his reputation than the actual sermon, so he truly can’t acknowledge that.

    No matter what anyone thinks of Perry or what he teaches, there’s no denying that he’s a funny, entertaining, charismatic man. It’s a shame that he’s taken his God-given talent for public speaking and used it to achieve celebrity status and material luxury rather than using it as a means of getting to know his congregation and truly pastoring them through the word of God.

  6. JH Jan 13, 2015 12:53 pm

    I’m glad you addressed the direct revelation aspect. It’s scary that Perry states this sermon was given to him directly from God – meaning God said, “whoops a daisy – what was I thinking Moses! I know, I’ll just use a preacher in SC who drops the N word on Christmas Eve to correct this mistake. What was I thinking with all that do not kill, steal and commit adultery and idolatry stuff? That’s way harsh. Here Perry, you re-write them and make it easier for my people and we’ll just forget about the last several millennia.” I actually fear this will be his next book.

    It’s scarier that his executive and campus pastors also said that they asked God about this and every one of them felt God told them to have Perry go for it. That tells me there is little hope for NS as a church (though as a nightclub/country club they may continue to flourish). Not ONE of these pastors saw anything wrong with this.

    Question? Since our current criminal justice system is based on Moral Law which is based largely on the 10 Commandments, in Perryland, are his congregants now free to kill, steal, commit adultery and idolatry, etc. His new improved promises don’t prohibit any of this.

  7. PDM Jan 13, 2015 2:05 pm

    I appreciate this blog. Despite having a claim to, you don’t seem to attack from a vendetta but from a desire to see genuine correction in love happen at NS. I also have found, by doing my own due diligence, that your analysis doesn’t take things out of context nor do you misquote the people involved. Thank you for that.

    A friend posted a link to one of your blog entries about the Christmas Eve message and, after watching the video, I was blown away. From my several forays into the culture at NS, I have found that PN works on a very basic premise: Say something shocking to draw attention then explain it in a way that makes everyone see he’s not really all that crazy. It works for him (32k attendees per week) and I’ll even admit that he’s mostly a dynamic speaker. His style is easy to listen to and if you’re not really paying close attention he can convince you he’s right. So, I approached this message with the same attitude. Certainly he brings it all back home, right? But in this instance i believe he out Perry Noble’d himself. He just went too far.

    It would have been so easy for him to address the “promises” as something that follows as we attempt to let the Holy Spirit guide our lives and keep the 10 Commandments. I remember the one for “Do not steal”. He said the promise was, God will provide. What kills me is, yes! this promise is a good thing to teach, but not in place of the Commandment, but as following from obeying it.

    He says he prepped this sermon in 10 minutes, and I believe him. He fell short in his duties. He created confusion, not clarity about God’s Word. However, looking back at his blog post from Jan 6th, 2015 “Is Grace Really That Amazing?”, I believe we get a sense of what Christmas Eve was really all about. PN is a marketing machine when it comes to his church. His 1/6/2015 entry says this, “Grace is for the person who is tired of trying to keep all of the rules and regulations associated with religion.”

    I think this points to the real reason for the switch. He remembered a conversation he now says he didn’t really understand, and he found a way to “promote” the first series of 2015 – Too Good To Be True.

    The part that make my heart hurt the most is…we, as Christians, really want these guys who are PN and his peers to get it right. They are the one shaping the future perception of our faith, and it’s just too important for them to get it right. God doesn’e need them, but if they were willing, man, what a future we could have. If the leader of a church that is said to be among the 10 most influential churches in the WORLD took the time to get it right…what amazing things would follow.

    Again, Mr. Duncan, with all sincerity, thank you for your perspective.

    • Dan Jan 22, 2015 11:38 pm

      PDM,

      I’m right there with you in wishing that Noble, Furtick, Warren et. al. would actually preach the gospel and cease promoting falsehood (heterodoxy at best, heresy at worst).

      However, I must admit that I think that “if the leader of a church that is…among the 10 most influential churches in the world took the time to get it right,” then his church would experience a quick and precipitous fall from the ranks of the most influential churches in the world. And that, right there, is the reason (or at least one of the reasons) that Noble, Furtick, Warren, and others of their ilk will continue in their false teaching and Bible-twisting — it’s profitable for them personally, in terms of both finances and influence/prestige. The gospel is not popular, and those who faithfully proclaim it may find superstardom hard to come by. Preaching me-centered messages which essentially boil down to moralistic, therapeutic deism is a much easier way to gather a large crowd. And for those who are all about “the numbers,” then the ends ultimately justify the means; whatever it takes to get people to “make decisions for Jesus” (itself a patently unbiblical, bordering on Pelagian, phrase) is what they’ll do — even if that means rescinding the Ten Commandments or disingenuously scattering plants in the audience in order to spur “spontaneous” baptisms.

      Dr. Duncan: fine work, as usual. Thank you for fighting the good fight and contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

  8. rm Jan 13, 2015 3:45 pm

    Just have sat and listened to one of Perry Nobles talks can’t call it a sermon because I do not consider him a true Preacher and he is definitely not a Pastor because his people cannot talk with him or have contact with him. My Pastors and Preachers have always taught the Ten Commandments as they were written by our Lord and Savior. If we do not have the Commandments what are we to direct our lives by?? Where does he come off saying everyone has broke these promises?? I would think that the Pastors and Preachers should talk with Perry and show him the error of his ways and he definitely needs the prayers of every Christian. Stop worrying about seeing how many numbers you can get and save the souls that are lost stop leading people astray as the Bible teaches of false teachers. Just my thoughts.

  9. Marcus Jan 13, 2015 3:52 pm

    I made the unfortunate mistake of posting the original PPages critique of the sermon to my facebook page. It took literally a minute and a half to have 3 people on descend on me like bloodhounds, accusing PPages of “always attacking PN and NS” and how “it’s always out of context” blah blah blah. At the time I didn’t realize how typical (and wrong) those excuses are until I went back and read ALL of the entries on this blog. I deleted the post not wanting to engage in a flame war, but I may post this just to see what happens now that Mr. Duncan has done all the exegetical work for PN AND has dissected his false apologies.

    • James Duncan Jan 13, 2015 5:30 pm

      Thanks, Marcus. I’m sorry for the grief this caused you, but your experience is very common, as are the objections. They all will complain about PN being taken out of context (despite the links to the context), but never actually provide an alternative interpretation of whatever it is that has been so misinterpreted.

  10. Bob Jan 13, 2015 6:59 pm

    Geez James, don’t you have anything else to do in life? I mean can’t we all agree you think Noble is a heretic and move on to something else.

    • LT Jan 13, 2015 11:36 pm

      Hi Bob,
      If you are an atheist or agnostic I understand your sentiment as most of my atheist/agnostic friends have a strong “live and let live” philosophy. However, if you are a Christian I’d like you to consider something you may not be aware of. Although Perry reaches 32,000 attendees a week across 11 campuses, what really concerns me is that Perry bills himself as a Pastor’s Pastor. He puts out a Leadership podcast for other pastors every month plus he teaches thousands of young impressionable pastors at Pastor Conferences throughout the US. He isn’t just leading his own 32,000 flock astray, he is exporting his heresy to thousands of churches at home and abroad. Add to this that his “personal pastor” is none other than Robert Morris of Gateway Church. Morris has claimed that God has ordained him to “save” 300 million souls and Perry is along for that ride. You can go to Fighting for the Faith to hear about some of Morris’ heretical teachings. Morris takes in over a hundred million a year, so neither man is going to voluntarily stop teaching such lucrative heresies.

      Dr Duncan is one of the only voices out there raising a red flag that could save souls in the future. If Perry was limiting his “Decisional Salvations” and alternate 10 Commandments to SC maybe this wouldn’t seem so vital (assuming you don’t live in or have family in SC). But he and Morris aren’t. They’re going after the 300 million. You should also be concerned about Perry receiving direct revelations from God. Like Mark Driscoll he is slouching towards Charismatica. Check out Robert Morris’ Empowered21 group. Robert claims to be Charismatic but he is Pentecostal and he and this group seem to be seeking to become the one world religion.

      You shouldn’t fear one professor at a small Christian college clanging the bell on this. You should fear that no one else is. I’d also like you to consider Perry’s dangerous book Overwhelmed. If you read Dr Duncan’s blog you’ll see why it’s so dangerous. Add to this that this book was endorsed by two of the largest mega-church pastors out there. One had a child who successfully committed suicide, the other’s child attempted but survived. If even those men will still endorse such irresponsible teachings on a topic where the stakes were so personal, who else do you think will do this? Dr Duncan writes as his conscience dictates and he has not been abusive or slanderous in any way. To the contrary, given what NS did to him, it’s unbelievable that he can write with so much grace.

      Perry Noble is dangerous and he’s getting more dangerous over time. Dr Duncan has a family and students. He has plenty else to do. I thank God Almighty that he does take the time to help others before it’s too late. I am heart-broken for all the executive and campus pastors who aided Perry on this 10 Commandment rewrite. It reminds so much of Mars Hill.

    • Dr. Tom LeGrand Jan 14, 2015 4:37 pm

      Dr. Duncan hasn’t posted on this in 4-5 months. I’d say he’s been pretty busy with other things.

  11. Escaped Jan 13, 2015 7:29 pm

    Bob, it’s about facilitating a public discussion among people who are disturbed by what passes for biblical teaching–in a place where you are attacked for questioning. The visibility affords the opportunity for the less courageous to see that their thoughts and beliefs are shared by many others. I’m not sure how many have seen the evolution of NewSpring into the current state, but it is disturbing and there is a real, cult-like following in Anderson. Maybe not all, but many follow blindly in this community and there is no accountability otherwise. I appreciate the opportunity to see that there are those who have the same concerns.

  12. Stephen Jan 13, 2015 7:36 pm

    Dr. Duncan is practically the only vocal critic of NewSpring in South Carolina. You should be thankful for that, Bob, not sarcastic.

  13. JANTTTEAS Jan 13, 2015 9:01 pm

    I want to start by saying that I love my Church. That does not mean that I blindly follow what my Pastor says. He is imperfect and he does make mistakes. I search the scriptures for myself and have my own opinions about how certain passages should be interpreted. Whether or not Pastor P heard from God on Christmas Eve or not is not for me to decide. But it is for me to decide whether or not I trust him. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of the Living God. And I believe 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 where it says:

    “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

    That part about “always trusts” is so very important to me because it is, in a way, a command from God to fill the gap between what you know and do not know with trust (in love).

    I have always and will always be open to critique in whatever form (save slander) and welcome the opportunities to grow personally and help the church that I love grow. However, something about making claims about the salvation of others souls and claiming that someone else did not hear from God does not sit well with me. I think the Church in America is in a very delicate place and that rather than tearing each other down that we should do our very best to build each other up. Your claim that Perry did not preach the gospel on Christmas eve and that the 200 plus people did not experience the life saving grace of Jesus Christ is a very hard thing for me to stomach.
    The point of my post is, I think that you Dr. Duncan, as a teacher, should reread James 3:1 and evaluate yourself. You are not the Holy Spirit, you are not Jesus, you do not decide who gets saved in what circumstances. If Jesus wanted to blow a hurricane through Anderson, SC and save people, He could. Jesus says in Luke 19:40

    “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

    Jesus can do whatever HE wants, and if He decided that He wanted to see 200 plus people accept Him in a message riddled with error, He alone could do it. I will praise God for that every day and I hope you could do the same with me Dr. Duncan.

    God Bless.

    • Sonja Jan 13, 2015 10:00 pm

      Very thoughtful and gentle post.

      However, you do not address the point of Dr. Duncan’s first post — the rewriting of the Ten Commandments because God gave PN special revelation. Yes, PN has walked that back but not near enough.

      PN is a clanging gong. What does I Cor. 13:4-8 have to do with anything? I hate false teaching! Wolves are to be shot not cuddled.

    • John Jan 14, 2015 12:36 am

      @JANTTTEAS who wrote: “Whether or not Pastor P heard from God on Christmas Eve or not is not for me to decide. But it is for me to decide whether or not I trust him.”

      Actually it is for you to decide, just as you must decide whether Mohammed, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and others actually heard what they claim to have heard from God, or from their own imagination or pride, or from another spirit:

      “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4:1

      Read the entire book for context, note the immediately prior verse, 1 Jn 3:24 even includes: “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,4 and God5 in him.” Can you picture NP saying that?

      We are not called to trust men, the true love of which Paul speaks does not call on us to entrust ourselves to sinful men (and women) but to God! Jesus did not entrust himself to men (though he loved his own ultimately) “because he knew what was in man.” (John 2:24-25) Trust God and his Word. Have holy distrust of men.

      Choosing to not call NP to repentance directly, or via withdrawing offerings and attendance is actually a judgment about which spirit that spoke to him on Christmas Eve. The Bible does not actually tell Christians not to judge, it actually tells us that we must (and do, whether we admit it or not) judge both behavior and sins. What the Bible teaches is that we must judge rightly, by biblical criteria, as we ourselves would be (and will be) judged. Judging NP/NS’s teaching is not judging their souls, that is for God alone. But Christians are called many times in the NT to judge teaching and behavior and to correct, rebuke, and sometimes withdraw support and approbation.

    • DH Jan 14, 2015 12:48 pm

      JANTTTEAS, as someone who has attended a Newspring service and a conference or two in Anderson, I appreciate the charitable nature of your post and agree that it’s too easy to criticize others it would seem. I’ve loosely followed this blog since the year or so ago since I discovered it just to keep abreast of a counter to some of the voices of Newspring.

      What concerns me about your post is the semantics of saying that it’s not up to you to determine if God actually spoke to Perry versus trusting him.

      I would have to disagree here. Precisely because Perry took this supposed (using that term a bit legally here) revelation and preached it from the pulpit, it does become a determination that his congregation is responsible for making. I’m not certain that “but he was my pastor” will be an acceptable excuse when we’re all standing before God’s throne someday. In fact, if it was, we’d all still likely be praying the rosary, paying our indulgences quite merrily, and remarking about our pope.

      The pastor is a man of God and should be respected, but he is precisely also a man and open to mistakes. I don’t expect a pastor to be superhuman, but I do expect him to be cautious.

      Perry is pastor of the largest Southern Baptist Church in the world. It is important for him to remember this and leverage this for God. I am certain that he does take that responsibility seriously, but I worry that he often doesn’t do the homework or consider the consequences of deliberately playing the rebel. In this case, he wasn’t just bucking something even unpopular or quasi-traditional – this literally challenged all major Christian traditions’ (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, academic and even Jewish) consensus on what the 10 Commandments are.

      In this case, he literally admitted to taking the face-value word of a Messianic Jew friend from Israel without much second thought, and it comes off as more or less because he’s Jewish, knows modern Hebrew, and lives in Israel. That’s an interesting take on authority. He did not consult any trusted pastoral friends or mentors and he seemingly did not consult any resource to check up on what this guy is saying. Our culture longs for Mr. Miyagis to lead us and thus I think this is an error many of us make, but it is an error nonetheless that is magnified in the pulpit.

      At issue is that when Perry makes this mistake, it influences ~30,000 souls in Newspring, countless podcast listeners and many pastors. If he really was somewhat hazy on this conversation, then perhaps a second chat with his trusted friend and a little research would have given him pause or provided the necessary backing to go forward.

      I’ve heard of famous Godly men making last second sermon changes, but for Perry to admit that the details were a little nebulous either means that he went ahead anyway and threw caution to the wind, or he’s fudging the details a bit to make the error more palatable.

      Last but not least, in all of this I am greatly troubled by the continued excuse-mantra that God can save whomever however. Of course he can, God could bring the gospel with little green men in spaceships should he so desire, but these hypotheticals open up an infallibility problem for the pastor that effectively renders them free from the possibility of ever simply being wrong.

  14. Not confused Jan 13, 2015 9:47 pm

    It is perhaps more likely that a Narcissist, rather than someone else, will take himself down.

  15. LT Jan 13, 2015 10:47 pm

    I can’t believe no one else is pointing out that God PERSONALLY inscribed the words on the tablets that were chiseled out by Moses on Mt Sinai, with His Godly finger! And He did it twice, once again after Moses destroyed the first set in disgust over blatant idolatry and blasphemy, New Springers. Isn’t anyone else afraid of God? There is NO other case of God inscribing anything else in stone (although in Daniel 5 He wrote on the King’s wall). But this was engraved in stone so as to last through the millennia. Add to this that during King David’s reign, the Ark of the Covenant was guarded around the clock and they were considered so Holy and so powerful that to even touch the Ark (which was only the container of the 10 Commandments) meant instantaneous death. Then his son Solomon built “Solomon’s Temple” to house them. It was truly magnificent and worthy of the Ten Commandments. This was all on the Temple Mount and thousands of years later that land is still so sacred that it has remained the source of constant feuding.

    In a way, I wish Perry would just claim Jesus didn’t die, or He had children with Mary Magdalene or some other rubbish. But to rewrite the Holy 10 Commandments? Please Dr Duncan? Am I foolish for believing that God will not be mocked on this?

    Listen, if Perry won’t read or heed the bible because it goes against his 2008 messy bedhead, homeless chic, too hip for hipster deal, could someone at least explain to him that the Ark was important enough for Steven Spielberg to launch his whole career on them. Maybe the pop culture reference will resonate. It’s clear that like his personal Pastor, Robert Morris he has no fear of God’s wrath. But someone at the Spring should.

  16. MKS Jan 14, 2015 2:29 pm

    First great article….

    When I hear “God told me”… I run, if you can’t stand by it with out saying that, then you are using God as an excuse if things don’t work out.

    If you notice…when he makes these type decisions…he ALWAYS says “so and so say it’s fine…” or “so and so says this…” I loved when he took his sabbatical, he then said Robert Morris told him… He needs to own this…with no other name mentioned.

    What bothers me is he states there is an argument about this… what planet? If there is it’s from the Rob Bell side of things and I certainly don’t put that in the mix.

    Lastly…does he really have to use the word “awesome”.

  17. Alexkenas Jan 15, 2015 10:29 am

    Perry Noble is the personification of a false teacher as 2 Peter 2 describes. He and many other emergent/seeker-sensitive megachurch pastors want more members so that they can live like multi-millionaires at the expenses of their congregant, who are often more interested in the entertainment than seeking God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    People like Noble, Jim and Tammy Baaker, and Peter Popoff made me despise Christianity in my teen years, but my faith was revived after I saw the humility and austerity of Catholic and Orthodox clerics, who take vows of poverty, chastity, and celibacy.

  18. Pingback: A Tale of Two Christmas Sermons – The Afikomen Project

  19. Bella Beth Feb 8, 2015 8:42 pm

    May each of you be filled with God’s love and peace instead of legalism. May you learn to love one another. I was taught in an SBC growing up from one week old, “For God so loved the WORLD,” and “Jesus loves the little children, ALL the children of the world,” and as stated in Romans 13:10 “Love does NO wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of the law.” To me it is clear: by FAITH in the resurrection of Jesus, all may be saved and LOVE everyone. That is all. ????

    • Alexkenas Feb 9, 2015 9:55 am

      Like it or not, Christianity is a religion with commandments to abide by. Afterall, Christ Himself told us in John 14:15 that we should keep His commandments if we love Him. We must judge in order to differentiate true pastors (shepherds in latin) from self-serving con artists masqurading as pastors so that they can take advantage of religious people who will do whatever they are commanded to do by their leaders.. True pastors must study, understand, and abide by the teachings of Christ and His Apostles to lead His sheep to Him.

      It is safer to follow a professing denomination than a so-called non-denomination because denominational churches have a unifying creed instead of following the personal interpretations of Scriptures from a single fallible man who may be a wolf leading lost sheep to slaughter.

  20. Chris Feb 9, 2015 11:39 am

    I would hate to be you if you are wrong!!!
    Nobles never told anyone not to follow the 10 Commandments he simply told them the good that comes from following them.
    I believe your opinion on this matter is uninformed and ignorant of the facts and probably based on the fact that you don’t like the music or the dress code or something else that is not in the bible. I do not think I am in anymore danger than you are when I say i think you are a hypocrite!

    • Daniel G. Feb 11, 2015 2:23 pm

      “I believe your opinion on this matter is uninformed and ignorant of the facts and probably based on the fact that you don’t like the music or the dress code or something else that is not in the bible.”

      Unfortunately, this line of thinking is typical of the crowd that is led by the likes of Noble and/or Furtick. The criticism leveled couldn’t possibly be because we are concerned with the way the gospel is being presented or with the lack of maturity in dealing with spiritual issues. No, it must be that we just “don’t like the music”.

      Of course, music is no issue if it is worship music. There is only an issue when songs that are clearly not worshipful or helpful in presenting the gospel that is a problem. But that’s not a problem with the “music” per se. That’s a philosophy of worship problem that ultimately reverts back to the concern about the way the gospel is presented and the lack of maturity in dealing with spiritual issues (repeating myself).

      Overall, your statement lacks maturity and an ability to rightly to see the issue here. I would encourage you to be a little more open to what the actual criticism is here, instead of just attacking motives and throwing out specious hypotheticals to support that. Most of us are in any way “ignorant of the facts” and you would be better off pointing out what you think is wrong about our interpretation of this issue rather than just going into attack mode.

      As far as “dress code”, who has ever said anything about that? That must be a straw man you saw fit to build up to support your vitriol at some of us. Nobody has ever said anything about a “dress code”, nor is it something that anybody assumed existed. Do you know of some dress code at NewSpring that we are not privy to?

  21. AUGrad Feb 9, 2015 1:38 pm

    @CHRIS – please watch the 10 commandments sermon again(i’m assuming you were in attendance or watched it online)and let me know if you still think ‘he simply told them the good that comes from following them.’

    I’ve watched it and can tell you he didnt put it that simply.

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