In the comments of my previous post, Dr. Steve Lemke has responded to my comments regarding the factual errors in his journal article. I was going to leave my response in the comments but at the conclusion felt that it was better to write a follow-up post here. I will not reproduce Lemke’s comment here, although I will post some quotes from his comment. My response is as follows:
I assume that, despite all the qualifications, you are offering a retraction on what you have written about Bethlehem Baptist Church. If my assumption is right, then your bearing false witness against Piper and BBC has secondary implications–your charge of theological compromise. The only right thing to do in a retraction is not only to correct the factual errors but also retract your falsely derived conclusion as well.
By the way, I do think you misunderstood what I was saying, although my statement could have been clearer. I was not saying that the CHURCH approved the motion, but that the ELDERS had adopted it.
Elder approval of a motion an a policy enacted by the congregation is not the same thing, at least in Baptist polity. To say that “an amended policy was finally enacted in 2005 is simply not true, even with your argumentation (in the same paragraph you call it “the new policy“). BBC holds to Baptist polity with congregational rule while being led by plurality of elders. Simply because the elders approved a motion does not mean it was a policy in the church, as Piper and the documents clearly explain. Having done a paper on the differences of Baptists and Presbyterians, you should know this.
The fact is that there were numerous ways which you could have contacted BBC, not the least of which is actually calling them (Sam Crabtree is the staff person you would want to talk to). The information is clear as day on their church website, and any search engine would get you in the information within 30 minutes of searching. The other site I referenced indeed was a blog–one that happens to be the most informative and reliable source of information on the internet. Because it is a blog, it is any less credible? “Not an internet site but a blog . . .” – what’s your point Steve?
Because the issue is not resolved does not mean that the church or elders are in active deliberation about this matter. You argue that this paper was presented in February of 2007. That was over a year after the motion was withdrawn and a year and a half before it was published in the journal article. As an editor, is it not your responsibility to make sure that the information you present is up to date and accurate?
Piper’s continued advocacy of allowing people into their church fellowship without having practiced believer’s baptism is the point, whether or not he temporarily backed away from it for pragmatic reasons.
Piper personally holds to a different position, but his advocacy of that position does not mean he allows people to be members apart from believer’s baptism. There is a difference from a personally held belief and the policy of a church. He said in the interview that BBC indeed does NOT allow people to join apart from believer’s baptism. He did not back away because of “pragmatic” reasons but because of a right understanding of Baptist ecclesiology–precisely what you charge him of compromising on! He was not going to force this issue but respectfully considered the disagreements among the plurality of elders and concerns of the congregation.
Your circumlocution does not strengthen your argument nor change the error you have made. You have not presented the facts or accurately represented BBC and John Piper. You owe them an apology and should not be defending your rationale with such justifications.
Finally, you are correct to say that your paper does not contain “inflammatory language,” but Dr. Lemke, you have wrongly presented a whole host of people. I have shown that you were not fair in the journalism of Collin Hansen, you falsely labeled “streams” of Calvinism, you wrongfully explained TULIP, you misrepresented Timothy George on ROSES, you bore false witness regarding BBC and John Piper, you missed the point of theological triage by Al Mohler, and you wrongly presented by the Presbyterian beliefs of infant baptism. So yes, no inflammatory language, but don’t you think that being wrong on all these points will not be considered a real provocation?
I, too, am willing to have good dialogue about these matters. I never questioned your salvation, although I said your scholarship did not represent Christian virtue. You are not telling the truth and representing the positions of those with whom you disagree accurately and fairly. Until you are able to do so, I do not see how anyone will be able to enjoy a productive and engaging discussion with you on these matters. Thanks for your comment, and I do hope that the future holds promise for charitable dialogue for the benefit of all people interested in the gospel, the church, and unity of faith in the fellowship of the saints.