New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:
New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:
One brother wrote on FB saying that Bryan Chapell is a “brother,” meaning a fellow Christian, implying we should not criticize him this way. To which I responded:
Dear Dan, what Bryan did is wrong on a number of levels and no one would blame him a bit or rebuke him if he were an unbeliever. The church is to be sanctified—not left in Her filth.
Behind our criticism is the fact that we have sat through many ordination exams where Bryan’s inability to teach men how to preach has been glaringly evident. As I said to one of our top denominational leaders about fifteen years ago (a dear friend), “Bryan Chapell is going to be the death of the PCA. His graduates can’t preach themselves out of an envelope…”
So we tear our hair out at Bryan’s conceit that he can teach men how to preach. He hasn’t and he can’t. Many would disagree with that judgment, but Bryan’s fruit is as clear as Mark Dalbey’s.
Again, Mark has been a friend of mine and fellow presbyter, but look at the fruit! It’s awful, but no acknowledgement of its defects is coming out of your presbytery and city.
Beyond this is the very idea of selling better preaching techniques, and doing so as Bryan has, which is individually. What is the Apostle Paul condemning? Bryan writes: “I have created new, very affordable and flexible pricing”
The Apostle Paul says, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17).
I could keep going, but I’ll leave it at that. That Bryan is a peddler in his own personal ad linked above is indisputable. He reads like a huckster. It’s an embarrassment to him, but does he know it? It matters not a bit whether he tithes his income or supports a Compassion baby or his local crisis pregnancy center. Greed is greed whether or not the income from greed is tithed. And greed is a subjective judgment.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12, ESV)
Thank you, @tbbayly, for being a brother who faithfully models this for us.
Dan responded to the above with:
I share a number of your concerns about our situation here in St. Louis, but I have never been a student of Bryan’s, so I can’t comment on his teaching methods. I assume you have discussed these criticisms over the years with Bryan and in the presence of a few witnesses before taking your rebuke public before thousands. If that’s the case, you’re in line with 1 Timothy 5:20, which says, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.” Still, the internet as a worldwide publishing platform presents us with a different challenge and audience than the context of a local church setting where everyone knows the offender personally, as was the case of 1 Timothy. You could validly argue in response that the Internet has shrunk the world and anyone who uses it opens himself up to public criticism. I could follow that.
Where I’m seeking clarity is on the issue of the egregious sin that warrants the public rebuke. Forgive me for being slow or ignorant of the past, but are you saying that Bryan is persisting in the sin of being a bad teacher and selling his workshops to get filthy rich? I think we can agree that the latter, if true, would certainly be wrong and there are plenty of examples of pastors doing just that. I would not say, however, that being a bad teacher is inherently sinful unless that means one is also a false teacher. Thanks for taking the time to respond.
Dan, I’m porting your challenges over to Sanityville where I’ll respond. FB discussions are ephemeral and I don’t want your questions or people’s responses to be lost to history. Love,
Dan writes above:
“I share a number of your concerns about our situation here in St. Louis, but I have never been a student of Bryan’s, so I can’t comment on his teaching methods.”
We all pick our authorities based I hope (since we are Christians) on the fruit of their work. One doesn’t have to have had Pastor Chapell as his homiletics instructor to know the fruit of his work. What one must have is experience with the preaching of his students. They are his fruit.
As several of us have testified, this fruit is evident to us who have sat in presbytery meetings listening to his students’ sermons year after year. Also through the preaching of other men who have had him at Covenant, and listening to their stated views on preaching.
Unless they agree with Pastor Chapell’s vacuous (cheap) grace mantra as well as his opposition to the preaching of God’s Law he decries as “moralism” and his BFF Tim Keller condemns as "elder brotherism,” most pastors in the Reformed world now have all the evidence they need to conclude that the ability to preach God’s Word and guard the souls under their care shown by Covenant men produced by Bryan and his faculty is so deficient as to necessitate the replacement of the leadership of Covenant Seminary or its complete closure. Certainly a middle step would be to remove it from its association with the Presbyterian Church in America, something I’ve been proposing for years.
So no, you don’t need to have been a student of Bryan’s to comment on his teaching methods. As our Preliminary Principles state, “our Savior’s rule is ‘by their fruit ye shall know them.’"
"I assume you have discussed these criticisms over the years with Bryan and in the presence of a few witnesses before taking your rebuke public before thousands.”
This is a sort of game, dear brother, in which the player moves his piece only to discover he’s checkmated. But since the goal of neither of us is to win, personally, I’ll simply point out your bad move and then respond to it anyhow.
You have faulted me with several things in your last two comments, both times in front of thousands. Why didn’t you approach me privately; then if my response was inadequate, repeat your private appeal in the presence of a few witnesses?
Which is to say sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If I was wrong to take my judgments public without first taking them private, so were you.
But of course, you weren’t wrong in what you did and I take no offense. What I did was public and public confronation of public figures and their fruit is appropriate. Private sins and failures are something else entirely, as Jesus makes clear by saying “if your brother sins against you.” Pastor Chapell’s sin is not against me, but Jesus Christ, His Church, and those souls he is called to guard.
Still, because you have asked, I will tell you that I drove several hours to meet Pastor Chapell halfway between St. Louis and Bloomington, IN several years ago and there, in a Starbucks, spent four hours talking with him. He told me his concerns with my work and I told him my concerns with his work. So Pastor Chapell is aware of my criticisms of his leadership and has been for years. Other men in the leadership of the PCA also are aware of my judgments concerning Pastor Chapell and have been for years.
The criticisms of the past are the same criticisms of the present, and now those criticisms have spread to the present president of Covenant, my longtime friend and fellow PCA presbyter Mark Dalbey. I trust this assuages your fears.
“Where I’m seeking clarity is on the issue of the egregious sin that warrants the public rebuke. Forgive me for being slow or ignorant of the past, but are you saying that Bryan is persisting in the sin of being a bad teacher…”
Yes. Not only being a bad teacher and preacher himself, but leading many into copying his errors. Selling them, even.
"selling his workshops to get filthy rich?”
I don’t think anyone has used the word “filthy” or even the word “rich.” The word we have used is the word used by the Apostle Paul, "For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 2:17).
The simple fact of Pastor Chapell “peddling” is, I believe, indisputable. Read his text. Watch his video. If you come away thinking this is the sales pitch and wording of a man to be trusted with the care of immortal souls, you and I have an entirely different understanding of the Bible, the Church, and Church history.
“I would not say, however, that being a bad teacher is inherently sinful…”
Again, we disagree. The man whose mantra is “grace” is a shepherd who heals the wounds of God’s sheep falsely, crying “peace, peace” where there is no peace.
What is at stakes in pastoral ministry?
Calvin makes this point in his comments on Hebrews 13:17—“for they keep watch over our souls as men who must give an account”:
As hardly one in ten considers this, it is hence evident how great generally is the neglect of salvation; nor is it a wonder how few at this day are found who strenuously watch over the Church of God. For besides, there are very few who are like Paul, who have their mouth open when the people’s ears are closed, and who enlarge their own heart when the heart of the people is straitened. The Lord also punishes the ingratitude which everywhere prevails. Let us then remember that we are suffering the punishment of our own perverseness, whenever the pastors grow cold in their duty, or are less diligent than they ought to be.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic “Cost of Discipleship” warned against cheap grace as all God’s true servants have through the centuries before him and as Scripture does itself. May God give us zeal and love for His sheep so that we take the steps necessary to replace men who are cold in their duty and less diligent than they ought to be, men who close their mouths when their people close their ears and make their hearts stingy and loveless in response to the cold and loveless hearts of their flock with men whose love for the sheep is so great they are willing to suffer as He did, Himself, and as the Apostle Paul did after Him.
Thank you for this opportunity to respond to your questions. May God give us wisdom to honor Him in all our work. With love,
Thanks for the thorough reply and for clarifying your position. I was close with Bryan’s sons in church and school growing up, so your accusations surprised me. I do not know much of anything about him as pastor or president, but I have seen first-hand the fruit of his work as a father. That was the starting point for my perspective on this issue, thus my inquiry into the facts supporting your position on his role in ministry.
When I wrote, “I can’t comment on his teaching,” I meant that literally as a way of saying, “You and most people here know a lot more about this than I do, so I have no issue with you commenting on his pedagogy.” I did not mean to insinuate that you should not have an opinion unless you’ve taken Bryan’s courses. I agree that would be illogical. I was inquiring about the issue of sin tied to pedagogy, and you have clarified that. So thank you.
A fair point also about my own public comments. Know my heart in this is to understand your position by learning the facts. I simply do not know them, and I assumed that if I didn’t, others out there might not either, since your audience is so wide. Since your criticism of Bryan was short and severe and several comments that followed were in the spirit of mocking Bryan, I wanted to know why. Thanks for taking the time to explain.
Hello, Dan. I’d like to jump in on two things here. You said above:
We are in fact saying that he is a false teacher, not just an inept teacher. The point of our justification is our sanctification. The content of Pastor Chapell’s teaching muddies that at best, repudiates that at worst.
As one who commented on that Facebook thread, I was not mocking. I was simply quoting.
However, this is exactly the kind of teaching that should be mocked. As Tim said, souls are at stake. The apostle Paul modeled pastoral care in his epistles, and he is not afraid to use mockery, ad hominem, threats, etc., etc., etc. He tells us to imitate him. Again, souls are at stake.
I agree with your point about the role of satire as a legitimate form of argument. The ability to make audiences laugh is an art that is quite difficult to pull off. The best satirists know their audiences well. They are familiar with their personal experiences, prior knowledge, insecurities, and fears. And the same is true for the best expository and legal writers. And, when they publish, they know anyone and everyone may be reading their work, so they meticulously support and edit their jokes and claims before publishing.
Tim, I thought about our conversation today quite a bit and am grateful for your hospitality here. I apologize for being a bug. Responding to my request for support for your claims regarding Bryan, you said, “We have sat through” and “several of us have testified.” Are those accounts somewhere in the blogs? Could you point your growing audience to where can we can find these testimonies so we may evaluate them?
Dear Dan, you might start by typing “Bryan Chapell” into the search box of Baylyblog.com. Here are the results: http://baylyblog.com/search?search_api_views_fulltext=Bryan+Chapell Then too, you could type in “Covenant Theological Seminary” or “Covenant Seminary.” You could type in “Jack Collins,” “Jerram Barrs,” “David Jones,” etc. You could look at the “preaching” and “gelded discourse” categories. You could type in the search box and read the posts on “redemptive historical preaching.” That should be a good start. Love,
Thank you. Do you have any external resources to support these claims? I would be interested in reading them, as well.
They’re right above this request. Read the links. They’re all linked to the external sources you request.