Coming down off the wall 40

Noble, Furtick and many other church leaders are often eager to invoke the example of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem to justify their refusal to engage critics. Nehemiah is asked to meet with his enemies outside the wall, and replies in Nehemiah 6:3

I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”

Leave-me-alone leaders use this example to convince themselves and others that they are doing the right thing by staying on the wall and ignoring everybody who points out problems.

An example from Noble:

People are hating on you.  They are attacking you.  They are flat out lying about you.  They’ve never been to your church and they attempt to judge your character by listening to selected portions of your sermons.  (Which would make them superficial!)

Pastor…church leader…don’t come down off the wall!!!

Noble uses the idea to encourage Rick Warren:

Keep up the incredible work…and not to come down off the wall & get tangled up in the web that the enemy seeks to spin through detractors.

From Furtick:

Maybe you’re a pastor squaring up with a carnal deacon board, trying to pursue a God given vision in the face of tremendous scrutiny and opposition.
Stay on the wall, Nehemiah.  That deacon board can’t stop you.   God is fighting for you!  Dream, implement, preach, evangelize, cast vision.
It will come to pass.

There are a number of problems with hiding behind Nehemiah 6.

  1. Jerusalem is not analogous to a church. Nehemiah was building a wall that served as a real physical defense against its enemies. By the beginning of chapter 6, the wall was strong enough to withstand an assault, though the doors were not finished yet, so he was racing the clock. Nehemiah’s enemies needed to draw him beyond the walls to be able to attack him. If Perry Noble wants to think of himself as Nehemiah, why is he building a wall to keep people out of church?
  2. Nehemiah was responding to a lie. Nehemiah’s enemies falsely offered to talk, but they were really trying to kill him.
  3. Nehemiah did reply. Four times Nehemiah engaged them by asking them to justify their request. He wasn’t so busy that he couldn’t respond; he was wise enough to know when he was being deceived. Nehemiah 4 also details how Nehemiah responded to complaints from his own people, even removing people from the work on the wall.
  4. Nehemiah faced real enemies. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem were setting up an ambush to kill Nehemiah. Chapter 4 tells us what their motives were, then chapter 6 details the means of their conspiracy to defeat Nehemiah and attack Jerusalem.

The problem with using Nehemiah’s wall as an excuse to ignore criticism is that it’s unnecessarily divisive. It says that critics are lying mortal enemies of the church. Rather than framing Christian critics as being outside the wall, it would be more accurate and constructive to consider them inside-the-wall co-workers looking for the best way to perform the task.

On many occasions on this blog I’ve been asked to affirm that Noble and I are on the same team. I’ve answered in the affirmative.

What do you think Noble and Furtick would answer if the same-team question were asked of them? Their use of Nehemiah 6 suggests that they would say no.

40 thoughts on “Coming down off the wall

  1. MW Jul 17, 2009 11:54 am

    Anthony,

    I have said the same thing in the past and I agree that if we just bash then we shouldn’t name names unless they are false prophets. So, I don’t agree with David J. Scripture reserves that for false prophets only. If he can prove they are false prophets then he has the right to do that. Otherwise they are brothers on the same side of the battle line as us. It’s not smart to shoot people in your own regiment. We lost Stonewall that way!! haha!

    But, If we can give them healthy, kind and loving counsel with what we say then I’m all for that on here. That’s why I suggested what I did in my last post. What we are talking about here could really help their ministry and ours through these conversations. I’ve already considered things for my own ministry from some of these conversations.

  2. keitho Jul 17, 2009 1:22 pm

    James Downing,

    “I don’t think my involvement in this blog will ever change the way Perry Noble does things, but it can be a warning to others to question what they are seeing, and allow all of us to examine how we practice our beliefs, and why we do it.”

    Well said. How dare we think that just because we prayed Jesus into our heart that we somehow think its right to withhold our minds from God. Only when we submit our minds fully to God can he teach us to discern what we are being told and how to make better decisions; ultimately taking responsibility before him for what we think and what we do.

    Given some of the comments on this post, I wonder if some are really beyond the Jesus in their heart stage (btw, this is not far from Jesus in the imagination). David said earlier in this post “Perry Noble is an amazing man of God, and has pumped me up!” I wonder if that will be his happy thought to lean on later when life really throws him a curve, and he goes through the storm alone, and Perry isn’t there to “pump him up”.

  3. David J Jul 17, 2009 3:03 pm

    MW,

    False prophets? Where did I say Noble was a false prophet? We are on the same side. I have never said Perry Noble was not a Christian.

    Romans 16:17-20 (NASB)

    16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.
    18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
    19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
    20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

    Perry Noble does not obey Col 3:8

    Perry Noble distorts what “do not love the world” means in the Scriptural meaning. 1 John 2:15-17

    To call Perry Noble out on his rebellion(refer to his foul mouth) and his false teaching about the world and Christians, is not to call him a false prophet. It’s simply issuing a warning to all follow Perry Noble using the Holy Scriptures. It’s a plea to him to follow the authority of the Scriptures vs his thoughts that are contrary to the Scriptures.

    1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NASB)

    1:18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,
    19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
    20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.

    Where in the world did you come up with we can only be critical of preachers who are false prophets and only call out a false prophet by name? It’s clearly not a biblical teaching.

    Yes, we are to call out false prophets. Yes, we are to warn people against false doctrines. I would love to meet Noble in private and discuss this, BUT he will not meet anyone except the inner circle. Perry blast the orthodox church in public(remember the middle finger remark), cusses in public(refer to Perry’s blog and twitter post), and cast stumbling blocks to weak Christian in public( the sex craze ads etc…worldly music AC\DC), therefore we are critical of Perry Noble in public because it is the forum that Perry Noble uses to blast all who disagree w/NewSpring and him. If there was a way to talk to him, I would be one of the first in line because I love him in the Lord. The rebellious path Perry is on is laid out in the Scriptures.

  4. David J Jul 17, 2009 3:11 pm

    To correct a brother in Christ(private or in public) is not to call him a false prophet.

    Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV)

    2:11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
    12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
    13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
    14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

  5. MW Jul 17, 2009 4:08 pm

    David J,

    Sorry, didn’t mean to misquote you if I did, but earlier you said that we are to call them out and name them. I took this to mean call out a brother in Christ and name him in public. I meant that naming names is reserved for false prophets, not brothers. With brother, we cover their sins with love.

    I do see that you are calling his actions public, which if you are correct in rebuking him for them then it should be a public rebuke but a public rebuke always needs to be directed at the person. A rebuke must not go out unheard by the party. I don’t know if Perry is reading this, but a public statement of rebuke should go something like this. “Hey Perry, I know you are reading this blog so since you won’t let me come talk to you I’ll rebuke you here by saying…” I’m not saying that’s the only way to say it but that way gets across a point. A rebuke is pointed and the person being rebuked in scripture hears it. Otherwise it is not a rebuke. It’s complaining, or sowing seeds of discord or something similar to that.

    All I’m saying is if you name names it better be because the person is a false prophet or because you are rebuking them and they can hear the rebuke.

    That’s my thoughts

  6. David J Jul 17, 2009 5:08 pm

    MW,

    No problem :)

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