The false comfort of fatalism 26

One aspect of NewSpring’s apologists that has genuinely surprised me has been the repeated appeal to fatalism, the idea that because everything is predestined it is inevitable, uncontrollable and acceptable. It has been invoked to disqualify criticism of NewSpring’s leaders’ bad behavior on the basis that God made them do it.

For example, one commentator said we dare not judge because God ordained NewSpring’s pastors’ bad language:

I do know that God knew about what Perry and Brad were going to say trillions of years ago. If they are in sin about anything that has been communicated from stage or any other medium then they will be held accountable…BY GOD, NOT YOU!!!

If God doesn’t want what’s going on at NewSpring to happen…it WON’T. He’ll wipe it off the face of the earth if He pleases.

Another said

There’s only one way to explain how this is happening – God is completely in control. Like many others have said here on your site, if God doesn’t want NS to continue, then He will shut it down. [Emphasis added]

  1. It blames God for sin. If you’re going to argue that God approves of something you like merely because because it exists, logical consistency insists that God is also on the hook for evil.
  2. It contradicts Scripture. 2 Peter 2:3 tells us that God’s punishment for false teachers is certain, even if not evident now.

    Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

    If we make the lack of judgment our litmus test for truth, we are susceptible to all the false teachers Peter warned us about. The whole point of verse 3 is that false teachers do endure for a while without punishment.

  3. It invites unthinkable punishment. If we wait for God to wipe our false teachings off the face of the earth, in the words of one commentator, we are inviting fearful punishment for them. 2 Peter 2:4-6 tells us what kinds of eventual judgements await false teachers by comparing them to the angels’ fall from Heaven, the Flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. False teachers need to be confronted and corrected, not passively encouraged along a sleepy path to destruction.
  4. It fails an important test. False teachers have a purpose, as explained in Deuteronomy 13:3-4.

    You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

    It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

    This explains why God will not wipe false teachers from the face of the earth; He uses them to test our discernment. If we favor fatalism, we fail that test and leave ourselves and our leaders defenseless.

Just to be clear, I am not making an argument here that Perry Noble is a false teacher. I’m sounding a warning that it doesn’t appear to me that some NewSpringers would know it or care if he were.

26 thoughts on “The false comfort of fatalism

  1. Tommy F. May 13, 2009 8:10 am

    JDuncan: If God does not want your post (or my comment for that matter) to be on the web, I trust that he will delete it. Now!!

  2. Tommy F. May 13, 2009 9:48 am

    What? It’s not deleted. That confirms it. It must be from God. JDuncan and PP are doing God’s work!!!!

  3. Jess May 13, 2009 11:06 am

    Are you guys saying you don’t think God can or wouldn’t delete your post?

  4. Tommy F. May 13, 2009 12:00 pm

    My prediction is that he won’t delete JDuncan’s well-composed post. It is on target and biblical. I imagine there are other sites that he has on his 10 most wanted (to delete) list, anyway. I think he can delete posts, I just think he has a busier schedule than normal today (I think he’s getting ready for Wed night at church).

    It’s an odd sort of discussion isn’t it? God deleting internet sites, posts, comments, etc. Does anyone have any evidence to support such miraculous web involvement from God? My friends FBacon and DHume are always asking me for evidence.

  5. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 1:24 pm

    As the “one commentatior” that was quoted I feel like I need to make sure everyone sees the entire comment/conversation on my part with out having to click on a link…

    I thought I did a decent job of denying the fatalism arguement the first time…guess not.

    There’s a difference between fatalism and trusting in God’s sovereignty. I don’t simply accept things as inevitable and ignore sin. However, I do know that God knew about what Perry and Brad were going to say trillions of years ago. If they are in sin about anything that has been communicated from stage or any other medium then they will be held accountable…BY GOD, NOT YOU!!!

    If God doesn’t want what’s going on at NewSpring to happen…it WON’T. He’ll wipe it off the face of the earth if He pleases.

    Don’t be nit-pickety. The lack of God’s instant destruction is not endorsement of anything. I never said it was…I said if God doesn’t want it to happen it won’t. Don’t put words into my mouth…or I guess I should say at the ends of my fingers.haha. God didn’t approve of Israel’s slavery in Egypt…didn’t destroy Egypt instantly, but He did eventually. God didn’t approve of Nazi Germany…didn’t destroy the Third Reich instantly, but He did eventually. He doesn’t approve of all the sin on earth…He hasn’t destroyed it yet, but He will eventually. If He doesn’t approve of NewSpring He’ll stop it…may not instantly, but He will eventually.

    The whole point of these conversations and these posts in particular were supposed to be about humans not being able to judge, rather, letting God do the judging…(Matthew 7).

    I do NOT let obvious sins go without attention, accept them as inevitable, etc (fatalism)…Neither did Nathan let David’s sins go with out attention. He called out OBVIOUS sin (adultry and murder). If there is something OBVIOUS going on at NewSpring I would call it out. If it is a matter of interpretation that cannot be proven…I’d probably be more tactful in my approach…maybe even turn it over and let God deal with it.

    Thanks for the recognition though…

  6. Tommy F. May 13, 2009 1:33 pm

    Nolan: You agree, then, with JDuncan’s post? All of it? So, you are not a fatalist, you just sound like one?

  7. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 1:47 pm

    @Tommy F…You are VERY good at what you do. You are great at keeping the conversation going. I didn’t want to comment on the post…I was just clarifing for all the PP readers what I was saying and the context of the conversation in which it was said…

    James Duncan included this in his post…”If we make the lack of judgment our litmus test for truth, we are susceptible to all the false teachers Peter warned us about. The whole point of verse 3 is that false teachers do endure for a while without punishment”…I just want everyone in blog world to know that I understand and comprehend this. Unless my whole arguement was clearly stated someone could mistake my understanding of this fact that I wrote about earlier…

  8. Tommy F. May 13, 2009 1:49 pm

    Nolan: Thank you. So, you agree with his post? If not, which part(s) bother(s) you?

  9. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 1:51 pm

    “Eventually”, as stated in my comment, doesn’t have some specific time table attached to it…

    “Eventually” may not happen until the day Jesus comes back for us…but IT WILL HAPPEN.

  10. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 1:57 pm

    1. I’m not and never have blamed God for sin…

    2. I don’t feel like anything I’VE said is contradicting scripture…

    3. I don’t want anything to have recieve the wrath of God before…

    If you can show me where I said any of those things I’ll recant…

  11. James Duncan May 13, 2009 2:22 pm

    Nolan,

    I think the key to understanding the apparent contradiction in your comments may be in distinguishing between judging and testing. You say humans aren’t supposed to judge, only God. If you’re talking about judgment in the sense of ultimate spiritual punishment, I agree. If you’re talking about judgment in the sense of discerning and testing, I disagree. God clearly calls us to do that. It seems from your comments that you’re leaving the testing up to God, not just the judging/punishing.

    You may be deceiving yourself in being certain that you will confront obvious sin. (I left a comment in the original discussion on how Nathan didn’t confront David over obvious sin.) 2 Peter 2 tells us that false teachers introduce their teachings secretly. If you think it will be obvious, you’re half way to being snookered.

    To give you your due though, I assume you’ve already acted on your intentions by confronting the very OBVIOUS sins of profanity in your church.

  12. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 3:30 pm

    I see what you’re saying about Nathan…to someone who isn’t fimiliar with the story and doesn’t know what’s really going on it isn’t obvious. That’s what’s cool about the whole thing…it was only by God’s prompting that this was brought out into the light. When it was…David quickly became sorrowful. Why??? Because the call out was true and valid, and David was a man after God’s own heart. The murder was, in fact, sin…it wasn’t a matter of preferance or interpretation (adultry too).

    I’m not against testing. In fact…I appreciate testing myself. Everytime I’m asked to speak somewhere, I ask someone who I trust is knowldgeable about the truth to give me some critique. I like making sure what comes out of my mouth is truth.

    But the thing is…(unfortunately)I’m resistant to any “opinion” criticism even if it’s in the ballpark of being backed by scripture…UNLESS there is a conviction on my heart from the Holy Spirit. Example…I used to always hear from my grandmother that a good christian boy would always have a nice clean haircut. She would point to some type of scripture, but I wasn’t buying it. It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit prompted me that this changed in my head. Now I have a haircut…personal conviction. I feel like people take my message more seriously if I look like I take pride in the body God has given me. If I lived somewhere else other than America God might prompt me otherwise, but that’s where I am now.

    Similarly, you have every right to test for yourself what is good and pleasing to God. If he convicts you…great…don’t go to NewSpring. But if you feel like it’s bigger than that and you make your voice known and nothing happens…move on. It may be that nothing is going to happen with Perry or anybody else unless/until God convicts them personally. You can’t do that…So make your point and move on (Which I think everyone gets now…you don’t approve of NS)Pray that God convicts them of thier sin (if saying crap and butt-paste and Doodoo and BAMF and anything else is in fact sin…I’m not convinced that it is, because I know them and I don’t think they are intentionally sinning out of rebellion, but I could be wrong. Only God knows).

    You are a smart, well spoken man…use those talents and communicate the Gospel. Tell me what awesome things are going on in your church, life, school, etc. rather than straining over somthing that may be a matter of opinion and preference…

    If Perry is a man chasing after God and your call outs are valid then God will convict. You’ve done your part…let God do his.

  13. James Duncan May 13, 2009 3:52 pm

    Nolan,

    You said you’d confront something obvious. Let’s just deal with Cooper’s public BAMF statements, both of which were used to describe God’s church. In case you don’t know what that means, he said that God’s church is an incestuous sinner, and he meant it as a compliment.

    You’re NOT CONVINCED that’s sin? (Sorry for raising my voice there.) You’re not half way to being snookered. You’re all the way there.

    And why? Because you know them. So much for your obvious test.

    Like I said, you don’t appear to be willing or able to test what they say if you can so flippantly give this a pass. And for as long as there are people who aren’t sure that that’s a sin, I doubt I’ll be moving on.

  14. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 5:42 pm

    Next time I’m in SC I’ll talk to him about it…

    How’s that???

    This isn’t the forum to do that with a friend. What if he say’s that it was a poor judgement call…would you stop??

  15. James Duncan May 13, 2009 5:52 pm

    Nolan, that could be very useful. Until you get up here though, isn’t there one of the other 14,999 who would do it? If not, we’re happy to have you be our PP ambassador.

    If he says what you propose and stops doing that, then sure, I’ll stop calling that out.

  16. Tommy F. May 13, 2009 7:16 pm

    Nolan: Back to my 1:49pm post. I thought you’d simply say “yes.” I thought you might want to clarify your intent and simply affirm JDuncan’s post, which is thorough and accurate.

    And I think it’s interesting that Matt 7 speaks about not judging and then explains how one should judge (discern, correct, etc).

  17. James Duncan May 13, 2009 7:30 pm

    Nolan,

    I didn’t catch this earlier when you said, “I’m resistant to any “opinion” criticism even if it’s in the ballpark of being backed by scripture…UNLESS there is a conviction on my heart from the Holy Spirit.”

    That’s some standard. You’re smarter than Scripture?

    You seem to be in a place that makes correction impossible, so I understand why you must also refuse to test your leaders.

  18. James Duncan May 13, 2009 7:33 pm

    NewSpringers,

    If you are uncomfortable having Nolan (or Seth, or JT, etc) represent your church (he seems to have the ear of the leadership), you are certainly welcome to jump in and clear things up. Your silence isn’t helping, unless you agree with him.

    If he were speaking for my church, I know what I’d be doing.

  19. Nolan Gottlieb May 13, 2009 10:01 pm

    By saying in the ballpark I mean that if there’s any obscure scripture out there about the topic…Kinda like OT laws about the length of your beard. There is scripture that speaks on physical appearance, but not really in the context of what we (grandmother and I) were speaking about…

    I submit to scripture that is speaking specifically to the subject. If it’s just “in the ballpark” there needs to be some conviction of the Spirit.

    PS- You left out the part where I said “unfortunatley”…It’s not something that is perfect in me…God is continuing to shape me in that area. I’m human…so unfortunately I’m lacking. I would love to just take people’s word for it, but I feel like, at this point, I need God’s direction via the Holy Spirit and not just take man’s word for it…

    PSS-I’m not representing anything…I don’t even live in the same state. My comments are directed towards readers and commenters of PP. If anything, I’m just defending friends…not representing NewSpring.

  20. James Duncan May 14, 2009 1:27 am

    Nolan,

    How can the Spirit possibly convict you of something that’s not clear in Scripture? Didn’t he leave enough there for us to live by?

    It sounds like you’re making up legalistic rules as you go along. It also sounds like you’d let pastors tell you stuff that they say they got via the Holy Spirit (like big visions), even if it isn’t exactly in God’s ballpark. (Where you say ballpark, I think your leaders say ‘box,’ as in, ‘We can’t keep God in a box.’)

    Peter calls those kinds of leaders false.

  21. Seth May 14, 2009 11:30 am

    Duncan

    You said that if he stopped doing that then you would stop calling him out, news flash, Perry, Brad, the whole of NS staff are all poeople, they area all sinners, no different from me and from you. we are all sinners, so since they arent perfect and wont always get it right, you will always be around to critism what they do. I think everyone needs to be reminded that not one of us writing in this blog, not one preacher out there, is perfect, only Jesus. So, you are going to spend you life attacking someone who wont always be right all the time or correct? Do you think that you will always be right and correct? I will be the first to admit that I have messed up, whether it being speaking or whatever, so let me tell you, in case you dont know this, you will wpend you life attacking NS, and i seriously doubt it will change anything, people will keep getting saved, the gospel will keep getting preached, and lives and the community will be impacted, until/if/when God says enough is enough for NS or Jesus comes back, which ever happens to be first.

    Also, let me ask this, apparently you dont think the Holy Spirit can convict someone of something? So, based on my oast posts and this, what do you think the Holy Spirit can do? What do you think its suppose to do? I’m going to say nothing, which is wrong, the Holy Spirit is there to teach, inform, and remind believers. It is there to give us comfort and is a mark that we are saved. So yes, it can convict any believer on any passage of scripture it wants to.

  22. Tommy F. May 14, 2009 11:55 am

    Seth: I have a lot to react to in your post. Here are 2 reactions.

    1) Here’s a big one: the Holy Spirit is not an it. The HS is a person who can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and is another “comforter” (John 14).
    2) What does this mean? “until/if/when God says enough is enough for NS”

  23. James Duncan May 14, 2009 12:02 pm

    Seth,

    Your post is a good example of exactly the kind of thinking that fatalism engenders. Of course we’re all sinners. Of course PN, BC and the rest will mess up. That doesn’t absolve us of the need to test them. You again rely on God shutting them down so that you don’t have to think about it.

    As for results, which you’re sure I won’t get, does that really matter? God first calls us to test and to proclaim truth. Those two things often lead to no or to poor results. I’d rather say something that’s true and ineffective than use results to justify a lie.

    You have misread my comment to Nolan about being convicted by the Holy Spirit. My point is that the Holy Spirit is not going to convict him of a sin that’s not also condemned in Scripture.

  24. Matt Jun 9, 2009 11:14 am

    Duncan: Interesting site and very challenging material. Thanks for stretching me. I do have a question about your thoughts on Acts 5:38, 39 in regards to this case. It seems to be saying, in fact, that if it is of God then it will prosper, if it’s of man it will fail.
    Would you consider this a different context than what is going on Acts?
    I have struggled a bit with ministry philosophy at the churches that you have mentioned, but I come back to this passage and I’m not sure what to do with it.
    Let me know what you think.

Comments are closed.