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Saturday
Nov262011

Mickey Connolly’s Deceitful Use of Scripture and Commentaries

This is a serious column.  There will be no humor.  No sarcasm.  No poking fun.  No tangents.  Mickey Connolly should be tried by the church he leads for deceitfully using Scripture and commentaries in justifying his use of Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 1:17-18 to “mark” me and have the church “shun” me.  For a pastor/teacher, there could hardly be a more serious breach of trust. 

Mickey misled the church and it was intentional.  I am not being “judgmental.”  I am judging, that is, I am making a determination based upon clear evidence.  Being judgmental and judging (coming to a conclusion) are not the same thing.      

First, I want to present Mickey’s words without comment from the Member’s Only meeting at CrossWay Community Church in Charlotte, NC on November 13.  I’ve transcribed them verbatim from the audio recording.  This section covers minutes 31:05-45:48.

Remarks by Mickey Connolly

So positively, we are called to unity.  Negatively, the Scripture forbids speech like gossip, slander, scoffing, mocking, and corrupting talk that would divide us.  So the question then becomes what is a church to do with a person who persists in such sins that divide.  And I think the key passages here are Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 16:17-18. 

Titus 3:10-11 (ESV) As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, [11] knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Romans 16:17-18 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. [18] For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Now both of these passages seem fairly self-evident.  But three very good questions have arisen from you, and actually from myself, as I went to study these passages and the other pastors weighed in.  And I want to spend some time on these three questions because we have been accused of wrongly applying these passages.  So I want to explain our study. 

First question that has arisen.  Is this passage only for false teachers or heretics?  The answer to that question, I believe is no.  Now I do want to be clear that commentators differ on these questions, but I believe there are many commentators who would answer this question in the negative. 

For example, John MacArthur, “Although false teachers certainly are the most devastatingly factious, Paul is here casting a broader net, which includes anyone in the church who is divisive and disruptive.”

John Stott, regarding the Greek word used here for divisive says, “The Greek word later took on the meaning of heretic.”  In other words, a false teacher or a heretic.  “It later took on the meaning of heretic but this early only somebody who is factious, contentious or divisive.”  And Kelly and Fee would agree on that point.  In fact, Gordon Fee said this well.  “Because the adjective ‘divisive’ in later times came to be used of those who held to false doctrines, the KJV translated it heretic.  But that is to read later ideas back into the text.  The context makes it clear that the problem is with these people’s behavior, not with their theology per se.” 

And so MacArthur, Stott, Fee, Kelly would all agree that this isn’t only about false teachers or heretics but it is about behavior that is disruptive or divisive.

John Calvin says, “Thus under this name he includes all ambitious, unruly, contentious persons, who, led away by sinful passions, disturb the peace of the Church, and raise disputings.  In short, every person who, by his overweening pride, breaks up the unity of the church, is pronounced by Paul to be a ‘heretic.’”

So teaching here, I don’t believe just means systematic theology.  It means living, in according to, or behaving in according to, sound doctrine.  One example of this is would be in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 where Timothy writes, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the  law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers,” (and listen) “and whatever else is contrary to  sound doctrine.

So what is Paul doing here?  What he is doing is giving us a list of sins.  A list of behaviors and saying that these behaviors themselves are contrary to sound doctrine.  It’s not just systematic theology, it is behavior that denies the truths of the gospel.  It is behavior that is contrary to teaching of Scripture. 

In 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Paul uses the phrase it’s the teaching “that accords with godliness.” It’s not just the teaching about godliness.  It is teaching that accords with godliness.

So I believe we stand on firm biblical ground when we say that these passages aren’t only for false teachers or heretics, but they have to do with behavior that is contrary to sound doctrine. 

The second question that has arisen is this, “Is this akin to excommunication?”  I want to make this very clear.  The answer is no.  It is not akin to excommunication.  But first, we do not have the authority to excommunicate anyone who is not a member of this church.  We don’t have the authority to excommunicate anyone that we want to, but we do have the responsibility and the authority to protect this church against people that are disruptive or divisive.  So certainly we can say that Brent is acting contrary to sound doctrine in the sense that he is acting contrary to the appeals to unity, to the injunctions on how offenses are to be handled, that is keeping them private, going to the person you are offended with, talking to them face to face before taking any further steps, is also acting contrary to instructions on proper speech: gossip, slander, and such disunity is contrary to the gospel of grace.  It denies the gospel that says the gospel is the power for our reconciliation not only with God but with one another.

So this is not akin to excommunication.  John Stott says “’nothing to do’ means whether this refers to a formal excommunication or to social ostracism as in Romans 16 is not made plain yet to repudiate them is right.”  Don Guthrie’s says, “Have nothing to do with’ is a vague term which does not convey the idea of excommunication but means merely ‘to leave out of account.’”

I think it is interesting that in 2 Thessalonians Paul uses a similar term twice.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 it says, “Now we command you, brothers,  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is” (What?  Teaching false doctrine?  No.) “who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

 In other words here Paul isn’t hear saying “Hey these people need to be excommunicated – they are false teachers.”  What he is saying, hey look there are brothers in the church that are idle and you need to stay away from them. 

In 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter.” (And there are both doctrinal and moral imperatives in the letter.) “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” (Now this is the critical part.) “Do not regard him as an enemy, but  warn him as a brother.  Do not regard him as an enemy but warn him as a brother.” 

Brent Detwiler is not our enemy.  He is our brother.  He is our brother and he is to be warned because he is sinning in ways that divide.  Because of that until he ceases to do so we need to avoid him.  We need to cease to imbibe his divisive speech. 

Okay, so first question, we considered, “Is this only for false teachers and heretics?”  No.  “Is this akin to excommunication.”  No.  I will say this again very clearly, we are not excommunicating Brent Detwiler.

Thirdly why do we need to do this?  Why do we need to do this?  I think there are two very critical reasons.  One, well first of all it is commanded in Scripture, but to allow this to continue will foster division and destroy this church.  Division will destroy the church.  Disunity will destroy a church.  Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump.”  It only takes one person to hear and then to repeat and for that person to repeat pretty soon the leaven of gossip, slander, scoffing, false accusations, and impugning of motives, and critical judgments, passes through the church, effects people in the church and divides the church.  It only takes a little bit of leaven.

Galatians 5:15 then tells us, “If you bite and devour one another watch out that you are not consumed.”  This will consume us if we don’t put an end to it.  This will consume us if we don’t obey the Scriptural injunctions to avoid it.  So it fosters division that will destroy the church.  Secondly, it distracts from our mission.  We have a mission.  It is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Sovereign Grace Ministries has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours dealing with these issues and it has distracted from the mission.  I will not be distracted from the mission.  I will not allow this church to be distracted from the mission and neither will your other pastors. 

John Stott says this, “After two warnings further efforts would not be a good stewardship of his” (the pastor’s) “time and energy and would give the offender an undeserved sense of importance.”  This is not a good use of my time and energy to be  defending myself against accusations that Brent might choose to bring against me.

John Calvin said it this way, it is a rather long quote but I think it is helpful, “There will be no end of quarrels and disputes, if we wish to conquer obstinate men by argument; for they will never want words, and they will derive fresh courage from impudence” (means not showing due respect for another person, I had to look it up) “so that they will never grow weary of fighting.  Thus, after having given orders to Titus as to the form of doctrine which he should lay down, he now forbids him to waste much time in debating with heretics,” (remember what Calvin said, heretic is not just a technical term) “because battle would lead to battle and dispute to dispute.  Such is the cunning of Satan, that by the impudent talkativeness of such men, he entangles good and faithful pastors, so as to draw them away from diligence in teaching.  We must therefore beware lest we become engaged in quarrelsome disputes; for we shall never have leisure to devote our labours to the Lord’s flock, and contentious men will never cease to annoy us.  When he commands him to avoid such persons, it is as if he said that he must not toil hard to satisfy them, and even if there is nothing better than to cut off the handle for fighting which they are eager to find.”  So that’s a biblical understanding of what we are dealing with here.

Now here is the last thing that we want to talk about.  What are we going to do?  John Murray says “the injunction component of an error of such character, they are to mark the proponents so as to avoid them and they are to turn away from them.”  From our biblical study, which we have presented to you tonight, and our prayerful perspective, we believe, sadly, that Brent clearly fits the definition of a man who is causing divisions and because of his refusal to cease has the potential to cause even further division and therefore must be marked as divisive.  We are certainly not called to debate and dialogue endlessly with such a person.”

My Fervent Appeals to Joe Lechner and the Pastors to Help Mickey

Last Saturday, I did the transcription above and began to study Mickey’s “biblical” justification for marking me as divisive and commanding everyone to turn away from me.  It wasn’t long before I noticed the presence of deceit in Mickey’s presentation.  By the end of the day, I was alarmed.

As a result, I called Joe Lechner twice on Saturday night, November 19.  The second time, I left a lengthy message on his cell phone clearly outlining my concerns.  I told Joe he was dealing with a senior pastor who had been dishonest with his church at a fundamental level.  I could not talk to Mickey because he wants no contact with me until I am ready to be “reconciled.”  That means repenting of my “divisiveness.”  I am a “marked” man.  

I wasn’t calling to correct Joe.  I wasn't calling to challenge the “marking.”  I wasn’t calling because I was upset.  I was calling because I was deeply concerned for Mickey’s deceitful use of the Bible and commentaries.  I asked Joe to look into this with the other pastors.  I was calling to help Joe so he could help Mickey repent and prepare a public confession.  I invited Joe to call me but he did not return my call.  As a result, I sent this email to impress upon him the need for immediate action since Mickey’s transgressions were serious.

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Saturday, November 19, 2011 6:48 PM
To: Joe Lechner 
Subject: Mickey

I am going to release my findings on Tuesday unless Mickey agrees to publicly repent.  This not a threat, just the right and necessary thing to do.

On Monday, I continued my examination of Mickey’s use of Scripture and commentaries.  With each new discovery my sense of shock, anguish and concern  grew.  I called Joe a second time on Monday evening.  I left an even lengthier message.    

I told him how Mickey could lose all his credibility and how great harm could come upon the church if this was not dealt with properly.  I told Joe, I wanted them to address Mickey in private and give them time to figure out how to address the matter in public.  I made clear I did not want to release my findings in public but would do so if they took no decisive action.  I affirmed my sincere love for Mickey and the church.  I followed up my voice mail with an email.  I asked Joe to call me again but he never did.

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Monday, November 121 2011 9:45 PM
To: Joe Lechner 
Subject: Mickey

Please call me!  I am available until 10 pm. Mickey’s credibility and the well-being of CrossWay are at stake.  So too your credibility.  If you don’t deal with Mickey impartially you will also lose the trust of the church.

Finally, I received this response from Joe on Tuesday morning of this week.

From: Joseph Lechner 
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:15 AM
To: Brent Detwiler 
Subject: Re: Mickey

Brent -

I love this church dearly, but the fact is I stand by what we’ve said regarding the family meeting last week.  I’m willing to entrust those decisions to the Lord - as well as this church - as well as my life and credibility.  I still believe the way to move forward in reconciliation is through all of us sitting down together and beginning a process of talking through the issues together – I’m not sure how any needed illumination, conviction, repentance, or reconciliation can happen without it.

In grace,

Joe 

I wrote Joe back.  He avoided my every concern. 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 2:56 PM
To: Joseph Lechner 
Subject: Re: Mickey

Joe,

Your response is totally ill relevant.  It doesn’t address anything I brought to your attention the last three days.  You totally ignore all my concerns. 

Joe, you are not facing up to Mickey’s recent deceit.  By now, you and all of the pastors, should have thoroughly investigated Mickey’s comments at the “marking” meeting.  My phone calls to you on Saturday night and last night had nothing to do with “marking me” or past issues that are unreconciled.

My calls were all about Mickey’s deceitful use of Scripture and commentaries on November 13 at the CW Member’s Meeting.  I was desperately trying to get ahold of you about only one issue. 

Instead you bring up matters than have no bearing on Mickey’s behavior at the meeting.  It is frightening that you express no alarm for him and no earnestness in investigating the matter.  By today, Mickey should have been confronted and discussions begun regarding the future.  Instead, you turn a blind eye.  Mickey’s recent deceit has nothing to do with “sitting down together” to talk about past issues.  It has to do with Mickey’s dishonest presentation to CrossWay a week ago.

This in now my fifth appeal for action.  I plan to release my findings in public since you and the other pastors appear unwilling to do anything about them.    

I also sent Joe some additional thoughts.

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 3:26 PM
To: Joseph Lechner 
Subject: Re: Mickey 

Some additional thoughts.

I had a face to face conversation with Mickey just three months ago.  Once again, I brought up his longstanding claim of sinlessness, and once again, he defended his innocence.  I have brought so many things to Mickey’s attention.  Each time I am rejected, abused or labeled by you (the pastors) and him.  Mickey has maintained he has done nothing wrong and everything right for over 5 years and you men openly support his position.  I will “sit down with you” but only if I can make my case to others in your presence.

This is necessary because you have shown yourselves to be extremely partial and blind to Mickey’s sins and your own. 

You better change your ways with Mickey.  This recent example of deceit is extremely serious.     

Yesterday I sent a final appeal to all the CrossWay staff.

 

From: Brent Detwiler 
Sent: Friday, November 25, 2011 7:49 AM
To: Mickey Connolly; Lechner, Joe; Larry Malament; Swan, Nick; Shea, Jonathan; Oddy, Jeremy ; Moore, David
Subject: Mickey's Deceit
Importance: High 

Mickey’s deceitful use of Scripture and commentaries at the “marking” and “shunning” meeting on November 13 is an extremely serious matter.  He violated the trust of the entire church by his manifest lack of integrity.  Please call me this morning to talk about it.  I don’t want to go public but this is now my 6th appeal.  I’ve received one response from Joe in which he defended Mickey’s actions.  The other pastors have made no effort to contact me.  None of you have shown any concern for this matter including Mickey.  By now, you should be completing a plan for Mickey to confess publicly and a disciplinary course of action to follow.  Please contact me via phone this morning.   

My Findings and Mickey’s Deceitful Behavior

In Joe’s final response to me yesterday he said, “I love this church dearly, but the fact is I stand by what we’ve said regarding the family meeting last week.”  This means he has  no misgivings about Mickey’s teaching or any concerns for Mickey’s deceit.  This underscores the problem that exists among the pastors under Mickey’s oversight.  They don’t deal with Mickey’s sins.

In this final section, I comment on Mickey’s remarks which are in blue ink. 

So positively, we are called to unity.  Negatively, the Scripture forbids speech like gossip, slander, scoffing, mocking, and corrupting talk that would divide us.  So the question then becomes what is a church to do with a person who persists in such sins that divide.  And I think the key passages here are Titus 3:10-11 and Romans 16:17-18. 

Titus 3:10-11 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, [11] knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Mickey does not instruct the church to open their Bibles.  He does not point out the context of either passage.  This is particularly egregious when dealing with the passage in Titus.  The context is critical to a proper understanding of the passage.  Mickey leaves out verse 9 which is connected to verses 10-11.  He knows better.  This is not an oversight.  It says, “But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”  Paul is describing heretical teachers who were causing division among the churches on the island of Crete.  But because everyone’s Bible is closed, no one is likely to notice how 3:10-11 is quoted out of context. 

This was one of two “key” passages used by Mickey to discipline me.  If he was interested in properly interpreting Titus 3:9-11, he would have cited verse 9.  He would also have cited 1:9-16. 

Titus 1:9-16 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. [10] For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. [11] They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. [12] One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” [13] This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them  sharply, that they  may be sound in the faith, [14] not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. [15] To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both  their minds and their consciences are defiled. [16] They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

The English Standard Version (ESV) is the “authorized version” at CrossWay.  Probably  half the church owns the Study Bible.  Read the introduction to Titus.  Study the outline provided.  Examine the commentary. 

If this was the only source anyone had at CrossWay it is enough to refute Mickey’s unsound exegesis.  And most basic of all, just study and think about each word in each verse.  The fundamental meaning is not obscure.  We are dealing with false teachers whose doctrine was causing great harm and division.  In effect, we are dealing with the “liberal Protestants, committed Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and Muslims” of their day on the island of Crete. 

These false brethren in Titus were preaching a false gospel.  This understanding is so basic to a sound understanding of the book.  This text has nothing to do with what I have done in relation to C.J. and SGM.  Mickey is “proof texting.”  That is, looking for Bible verses that he illegitimately uses to support his unbiblical actions.   

“The false teachers appear to be the particular occasion [reason] for the writing of the letter.  Discussion of the false teachers frames the heart of the letter (see Outline.).” (ESV Study Bible, Introduction to Titus)

“The works of the false teachers prove that they are unbelievers, despite their claim to know God.  Paul is not the least bit hesitant to make such a judgment.” (ESV Study Bible on Titus 1:16)

Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. [18] For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Mickey makes the same mistake in Romans 16.  He omits verses 19-20 which are necessary for an informed understanding of verses 17-18.    

Rom 16:19-20 For  your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. [20] The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Now both of these passages seem fairly self-evident.  But three very good questions have arisen from you, and actually from myself, as I went to study these passages and the other pastors weighed in.  And I want to spend some time on these three questions because we have been accused of wrongly applying these passages.  So I want to explain our study. 

Here is what I said, “These are the very verses [Titus 3:9-11; Romans 16:17-18] we used back in the 70’s and 80’s to silence our critics and tell people to stay away from them.  The repercussions of that teaching, and the wrong-headed use of those verses, still effects how people are treated in SGM.  That is one of the reasons leaders who are “disqualified,” or people who leave a SGM church, tend to be shunned or abandoned.  Mickey is stuck in a time warp.  His exegesis has not improved.  These texts are reserved for heretics and false apostles.”  (see “CrossWay Pastors Threaten to Excommunicate Me for being Divisive” for November 3, 2011 at BrentDetwiler.com)

Mickey is going to explain his study, and that of the other men on staff, because I “accused” them of “wrongly applying these passages.”  Mickey is about to mount a defense because my accusations are false.  You must trust him in this regard.  He will tell you the meaning of Titus 3 and Roman 16.  He will tell you what the Bible commands.  He will tell you what commentators say.  Mickey will make clear “what we are asking you to do biblically.”  In reality, he does none of these things.  Instead, he deceives the church with a dishonest presentation.    

Here is what he said.  “You need to decide whether you trust your pastors.  You need to decide, I can’t decide that for you.  I can’t tell you what to do here.  I can tell you what the Bible says.  I can tell you what the Bible commands.  I can tell you what commentators say.  I can’t tell you what to do here.  You need to decide whether you are going to trust your pastors…. If you cannot trust your pastors, if you cannot obey your pastors and what we are asking you to do biblically then you need to find another church because we cannot function without your trust.”

First question that has arisen.  Is this passage only for false teachers or heretics?  The answer to that question, I believe is no.  Now I do want to be clear that commentators differ on these questions, but I believe there are many commentators who would answer this question in the negative.

Which passage?  Mickey uses the singular.  He doesn’t tell us but he is talking about Titus 3 and not Romans 16.  I don’t think the typical listener is able to catch the nuance.  I believe a listener is left with the impression that Mickey is referring to both passages.  That is, both passages deal with divisive Christians like me.  Not only to false teachers or heretics.

Let’s deal with Roman 16 first.  I just pulled 20 commentaries from my shelf on Romans (Barclay, Boa, Boice, Bruce, Calvin, Clarke, Cranfield, Davidson, Dunn, Edwards, Harrison, Hendriksen, Hodge, Hughes, Kruidenier, MacArthur, Martin, Moo, Murray, Sproul, Stott).  Barclay and Boice apply the text across a spectrum of people that includes divisive Christians and false apostles alike.  Barclay’s is a “lite” commentary.  Boyce’s is an expository commentary, not an exegetical commentary, so such imprecision might be expected.  Otherwise, no another commentator agrees with Mickey’s interpretation including John MacArthur. 

With 2 questionable exceptions, the other 18 commentators believe Romans 16:17-18 is about false teachers and heretics not about “divisive” Christians.  Furthermore, most commentators make it clear these false teachers were not genuine Christians because they were preaching a false gospel.  That is why such strong actions are commanded by Paul.  This text has no bearing on someone like me raising concerns for the character and actions of leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries.  This is an abuse of Scripture that results in the abuse of people.  Such erroneous interpretation and application must be renounced.      

“Discord was the work of Satan, and these men were servants of Satan (2 Cor. 111:14); but if the Roman Christians kept them and their teaching at a distance, God, who is the God of peace, not of discord (cf. 1 Cor. 14:33), would give them the victory over Satan and all his works” (F.F. Bruce, Romans, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 263)

“There is great emphasis in the New Testament on maintaining the unity of the body of Christ.  Many times in church controversies [like mine with C.J. and SGM], if somebody protests an action or a teaching of the church, they are immediately silenced with the charge that they are being divisive.  But Paul says here that the ones who cause division and who upset people’s faith, are those who go against the apostolic teaching.  When apostolic teaching is attacked within the church, it is our duty to stand up for the truth of the Scriptures, and if a division comes as a result of it, the cause of that division must be laid to rest on the shoulders of those who deviated from the apostolic truth.” (R.C. Sproul, The Gospel of God, p. 253)

“Paul is not talking about hair splitting over minor interpretations, or about immature believers who are divisive because of personal preferences, as disruptive and damaging as those things can be…. Paul is here talking about something immeasurable more serious.  He is warning about those who challenge and undermine the teaching which you learned, that is, the divinely-revealed apostolic teaching they had received.” (John MacArthur, Romans 9-16, The MacArthur NT Commentary, p. 372)

“As false teachers usually do, they create disunity in the Christian Community.  But more serious is their heretical doctrine.  They create, Paul says, ‘stumbling blocks,’ which translates a word that Paul uses in Romans to refer to a spiritual problem that has the potential of leading to damnation.  By further describing these stumbling blocks as being ‘against the teaching that you learned,’ Paul makes clear that he is thinking manly of false doctrine.  The seriousness of the threat they pose demands a correspondingly serious response from the Roman Christians: they must ‘turn away from them’; ‘shun’ them…. For Paul well knows that these false teachers are clever at dressing up their heresies in ‘smooth talk and fine words.’  Those who are not on the watch for these people and who do not listen closely enough to what they are teaching might be led astray and into ultimate spiritual ruin.’” (Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, pp. 930-931)   

For example, John MacArthur, “Although false teachers certainly are the most devastatingly factious, Paul is here casting a broader net, which includes anyone in the church who is divisive and disruptive.”

MacArthur has already said that Romans 16:17-18 is not about “immature believers that are divisive.” What about Titus 3:9-11?  In this case, MacArthur takes up an unlikely interpretation.  He separates 3:9 from 3:10-11.  Not a good idea.  Mickey follows the same error.  In fact, Mickey never even mentions the “foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions and quarrels about the law” that comprise the false doctrine. 

This is a grave error and can hardly be consider an oversight.  Mickey knows verse 9 goes with verses 10-11.  He knows verse 9 describes the false teaching and this serves as the context for understanding verses 10-11.  In addition, he knows you can’t understand 3:9-11 without understanding 1:9-16 of which he also makes no mention.

Mickey’s exegesis is reckless.  It is one thing if Mickey tries to explain how verse 9 deals with heretics but verses 10-11 include Christians in general.  In context this makes little sense, but I am happy for him to make the argument.  But it is deceptive not to even mention verse 9 or make any effort to justify his decoupling of verses 10-11 from verse 9.  Reading in context is the most basic rule of hermeneutics.

This issue is critical to a proper interpretation and application of the passage.  Are we allowed to excommunicate, cut off all contact with and call warped, sinful, and self-condemned a Christian brother who loves the gospel, has sound doctrine, and is seeking to live a godly life?  No.    

The radical action prescribed in verse 10 and the radical assessment given in verse 11 are reserved for the kind of heretic described in verse 9.  When you separate verse 9 from verses 10-11, you end up with abusive practices.  These three verses apply to heretical teachers and their followers who were causing divisions with their false gospel and false doctrine. 

This passage is not applicable to someone who faithfully appealed to C.J. in private for over a decade or to the SGM Board in private for over two years with no success before he finally shared his concerns with the SGM pastors and now writes a blog that provides truthful commentary on developments in SGM.

This kind of faulty interpretation leads to faulty application and is more likely to occur when the teaching pastor fails to exhort congregants to open their Bibles and does not deal with the context or background of the book.  Mickey should have exhorted the members of CrossWay to be like the Bereans.  “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV).  Instead, Mickey tells the church to trust his interpretation.  He should have exhorted them “to see it these things were so.”  In others words, to check and see if he was interpreting and applying Scripture rightly.  This is the responsibility of every church member.  My “marking” and “shunning” can only occur when people are not studying their Bibles carefully.  It open the door to all kinds of abuses.

John Stott, regarding the Greek word used here for divisive says, “The Greek word later took on the meaning of heretic.”  In other words, a false teacher or a heretic.  “It later took on the meaning of heretic but this early only somebody who is factious, contentious or divisive.”  And Kelly and Fee would agree on that point.  In fact, Gordon Fee said this well.  “Because the adjective ‘divisive’ in later times came to be used of those who held to false doctrines, the KJV translated it heretic.  But that is to read later ideas back into the text.  The context makes it clear that the problem is with these people’s behavior, not with their theology per se.”

Not only does Mickey quote Titus 3:10-11 out of context when he leaves out verse 9, he does the same thing with the commentators.  This too is deceptive.  He is twisting the Scripture and commentaries in order to justify his harsh application.  For example, Mickey quotes Gordon Fee completely out of context.  In so doing, he perverts Fee’s  commentary on the text and implies it says the opposite of what Fee intended. 

Fee and Kelly, like Stott, are making the point that the Greek word, hairetikos, should be translated “divisive person” not “heretic.”  But here is the critical point and the issue Mickey purposely distorts.  Fee and Kelly are NOT saying this passage is about heretics and Christians.  In context, they apply Titus 3:9-11 to false teachers only.  Mickey conveys the exact opposite.  He quotes them out of context in order to make a point that Fee and Kelly do not make.  In fact, they take the opposite view.  They apply the passage only to false teachers (heretics) and their followers who are divisive. 

When you read Fee and Kelly’s commentaries it is apparent Mickey has intentional quoted them out of context.  There meaning is clear.  It cannot be missed.  They don’t agree with Mickey’s interpretation of the 3:9-11.  Of the four men Mickey references, only MacArthur clearly agrees with Mickey’s take on the passage when he separates verse 9 from verses 10-11.  Mickey references Fee and Kelly and says they agree with his interpretation but nothing could be further from the truth.  Here is the proof.     

“At the same time, however, the contrasts in verse 9 also reach back to 1:10-16, thus bringing the whole letter to conclusion…. Although the imperative is to Titus personally, the context makes it clear that the imperative is intended for the whole church as well.  It is also evident, both from the language itself and from verses 10-11 that follow [verse 9], that the false teachers are once more in purview.” (Gordon D. Fee, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary, p. 210)

“Apparently some Hellenistic Jews on Crete, who had “accepted Christ,” [i.e., false conversions] were also promoting continuing connections with Judaism, especially in the form of speculative teaching and rigorous devotion to rules and regulations.  This is not only the theological aberration (1:10-16) of the false teachers, but the unprofitable (the opposite of ‘profitable’ in v. 8) and useless behavior as well that distresses Paul.”  (Gordon D. Fee, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary, p. 211)

“3:10 / Having mentioned these evil deeds (obviously of the false teachers) that Titus and the people are to avoid, Paul turns his attention once more to the teachers themselves.  Here they are described as divisive person[s].  Because the adjective hairetikon (divisive) in later times came to be used of those who held to false doctrines (as these teachers obviously do), the KJV (cf. NEB, NAB, et al.) translated it heretic.  But that is to read later ideas back into the text.  The context (v. 9) makes it clear that the problems is with these people’s behavior, not their theology per se.  Hence it is their divisiveness (cf. RSV, ‘factious’) that is in view (cf. the use of the noun in 1 Cor. 11:19; Gal. 5:20).  Unfortunately, all too often in the church the “orthodox,” in ferreting out “heretics” (i.e., people who hold different views from mine), have become the divisive ones!” (Gordon D. Fee, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary, p. 211)

“In persisting in divisive behavior, the false teacher ‘has become perverted’ or ‘turned aside’ (Gk. perfect tense) ‘and is continuing in his sinning’ (Gk. present tense) thus being self condemned.  That is, by his very persistence in his sinful behavior he has condemned himself, thus putting himself on the outside, hence to be rejected by Titus and the church.” (Gordon D. Fee, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, New International Biblical Commentary, p. 212)

“The advice he [Paul] has just given Titus [in 3:3-8], to concentrate on the wonderful truths of the gospel reminds Paul by contrast of the sectaries and their teaching, and so he embarks on a brief digression aimed at them [in 3:9-11]…. The verse [3:9] gives us a few more, though all too meager, details to supplement the tantalizingly vague picture of the heresy sketched in 1:10-16.  Evidently it was broadly similar to the one which troubled the Ephesian church, and Paul characterizes it in similar terms.  For speculations, see on 1 Tim. 1:4: cf. also 1 Tim. 6:4; 2 Tim 2:23.  For genealogies, see on 1 Tim. 1:4; they are probably the same as the Jewish fables mentioned in 1:14.  As in 1 Tim. 6:4 and 2 Tim. 2:23, concern for these things only results in dissension (some MSS give the plural).  The Jewish colouring of the heresy is again brought out in controversies about the law: for these, see on 1 Tim. 1:8. What is perhaps the chief reason for Paul’s anxiety emerges in the next piece of advice, As for a separatist, have nothing to do with him after giving him a first and second warning [3:10].  The word translated separatist (Gk. hairetikos) occurs only here in the Bible….. In the second century…it came to connote false theological doctrine, and hairetikos the holder of such doctrine, i.e. ‘heretic’ in the modern sense.  There is, however, no sound reason for giving hairetikos this later meaning in the present context.  The sense of separatist or ‘sectary’ fits the passage admirable… What is disturbing him [Paul] in Crete is the tendency of the false teachers to form dissident groups, thus dividing the body of Christ.” (J.N.D. Kelly, The Pastoral Epistles, Black’s New Testament Commentary, pp. 255-256)

I find John Stott’s commentary ambiguous on how he views Titus 3:9 in relation to 3:10-11.  Like Fee and Kelly he writes about the proper translation of the Greek word, hairetikos, but it is unclear whether he agrees or disagrees with Fee and Kelly (and many others) when they view 3:9-11 as a single unit. 

Here are some comments on Titus 3:9-11 from William D. Mounce and George W. Knight III who are world renowned conservative scholars and exegetes.  Their interpretation of the text is representative of the majority of commentators.  

“The person spreading foolishness [heresy] should be confronted, and if there is no repentance, then that person should be avoided.  The problem of a church separating into smaller divisions was common (cf. Acts 6:1-7)  In Corinth the divisions were based on a party spirit.  In Ephesus [1 & 2 Timothy] and Crete [Titus] the divisions were along the lines of the heretical teaching of myths, genealogies, and asceticism.  It is no wonder that Paul’s instructions were so stringent.  If people subscribe to what is described in v 9, Titus is to warn them once.  If they do not listen, he is to warn them a second time.  If they still do not listen, he is to have nothing to do with them.” (William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary, p. 454)

“Paul gives instruction in this verse [3:10] and the next on how to deal with a [divisive person].  The adjective [divisive] (a NT hapax) is used here of one who has chosen to follow the false teachings and practices described in v. 9 over against the apostle, Titus and others in the Christian community who embrace the true teaching and its good deeds.  Thus it may properly be rendered ’heretical,’ as long as we do not read later ideas back into the text…. Since this choice with regard to teaching and practice sets the one so choosing against apostolic teaching, it also makes such a person “factious” and one who is ‘causing divisions.’” (George W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, p. 354)

And so MacArthur, Stott, Fee, Kelly would all agree that this isn’t only about false teachers or heretics but it is about behavior that is disruptive or divisive.

This is a blatantly untrue statement!  It is a lie.  It is the opposite of what Gordon Fee and J.N.D. clearly teach in their commentaries.  It can’t be missed.  Both of them apply Titus 3 to false teachers in verse 9, who are also the schismatics in verse 10.  That is, false brethren who divide the church by teaching false doctrine and in particular a false gospel.  They do not apply these verses to “disruptive or divisive” Christians. 

Mickey doesn’t address Romans 16:17-18 but he does not make this clear.  He says it is one of two “key” verses for his actions but he doesn’t make any attempt to interpret it in context.  He must know he has no support from commentators but without a clarification, his reference to MacArthur, Stott, Fee and Kelly gives the impression that all four men believe Romans 16 is applicable to Christians in general.  For a fact, that is not what MacArthur and Stott believe.  I don’t know Fee or Kelly’s position on Romans 16, but as pointed out above, I do know the overwhelming majority of evangelical commentators apply Romans 16 to false teachers and not Christian believers.  Mickey confuses the listener and appears to mislead them.    

John Calvin says, “Thus under this name he includes all ambitious, unruly, contentious persons, who, led away by sinful passions, disturb the peace of the Church, and raise disputings.  In short, every person who, by his overweening pride, breaks up the unity of the church, is pronounced by Paul to be a ‘heretic.’”

So “teaching” here, I don’t believe just means systematic theology.  It means living, in according to, or behaving in according to, sound doctrine.  One example of this is would be in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 where Timothy writes, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, [9] understanding this, that the  law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, [10] the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers,” (and listen) “and whatever else is contrary to  sound doctrine.”

Mickey now references 1 Timothy 1 to help explain Titus 3 but this is an improper use of 1 Timothy 1.  In the context of Titus 3:9-11 we are dealing with “systematic theology.”  The “person who stirs up division” (ESV) is a reference to the false teachers and their followers.  It is not a reference to divisiveness in general.  In verses 4-8, Paul spells out the gospel and its effects.  Verse 9 begins a contrast.  Specifically a contrast between the true gospel and a false gospel that corrupts and brings division.  The word “doctrine” means “teaching.”  Sometimes it refers to specific doctrines.  Sometimes it includes behavior in keeping with those teachings.  The context determines which meaning is best.  In 1 Timothy 1 it deals with doctrine and living but this has no relevance to a sound interpretation of Romans 16 and Titus 3.  This is a misuse of Scripture. 

So what is Paul doing here?  What he is doing is giving us a list of sins.  A list of behaviors and saying that these behaviors themselves are contrary to sound doctrine.  It’s not just systematic theology, it is behavior that denies the truths of the gospel.  It is behavior that is contrary to teaching of Scripture. 

No, that is not what Paul is doing in Titus 3.  Paul is not saying their sins are contrary to sound doctrine.  He is saying their gospel is contrary to sound doctrine (1:10-16, 3:4-9).  He is not giving us a list of personal sins; he is giving us a list of doctrinal errors.  Sure, he cites their divisive actions but this doesn’t come under the heading of doctrine in this text.         

In 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Paul uses the phrase it’s the teaching “that accords with godliness.” It’s not just the teaching about godliness.  It is teaching that accords with godliness.

Let’s remember what Mickey is doing.  He is building a case that Romans 16:17-18 and Titus 3:10-11 have a broad application and include any behavior that does not accord with godliness.  He is bringing in other passages of Scripture to buttress his argument.  Here is 1 Timothy 6:3-5 (ESV) since he does not quote it in context, “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, [4] he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, [5] and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

Once again, Mickey uses a phrase, “that accords with godliness,” for his advantage without reading the passage or explaining the context.  If he did everyone at CrossWay would quickly see that 1 Timothy 6 is also about false teachers and not about Christians in general.  It is their false doctrine that leads to “false” living.  I agree with Mickey that unsound doctrine and unsound living go together in this passage, but it is the “different doctrine” that will never produces godliness.  If you disagree with teaching of Paul and Jesus, you are “puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.”  But this only proves my point.  Like Titus 3 and Romans 16, 1 Timothy 6 is talking about false teachers not about people like me. 

So I believe we stand on firm biblical ground when we say that these passages aren’t only for false teachers or heretics, but they have to do with behavior that is contrary to sound doctrine. 

This is a baseless conclusion in three respects.  First, Mickey does not interpret 1 Timothy 1 and 6 in context.  Second he imposes his erroneous interpretation upon Titus 3.  Third, he says “these passages [Titus 3:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; 6:3-5] aren’t only for false teachers or heretics.”  He is dead wrong.  That is precisely who these three passages are about.    

Mickey is no dunce.  His study is an example of dishonest “scholarship” or proof texting.  That is, taking verses out of context to support a faulty belief or practice.  This much it true, no biblical scholar would let Mickey get away with this kind of exegesis.  Nor should any layman.  Not even a new believer for that matter.  I don’t know how Joe can support Mickey’s exegesis.  Like Mickey, he knows better.  As noted in the ESV Study Bible, “The false teachers are the primary occasion for the letter” (i.e., 1 Timothy).  Both should be ashamed.

2 Timothy 2:15-16 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker  who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

In Mickey’s case, however, my concerns transcend bad interpretation.  I believe he is deceitfully using Scripture and commentators to justify his sinful actions.

The second question that has arisen is this “Is this akin to excommunication?”  I want to make this very clear.  The answer is no.  It is not akin to excommunication.  But first, we do not have the authority to excommunicate anyone who is not a member of this church.  We don’t have the authority to excommunicate anyone that we want to, but we do have the responsibility and the authority to protect this church against people that are disruptive or divisive.  So certainly we can say that Brent is acting contrary to sound doctrine in the sense that he is acting contrary to the appeals to unity, to the injunctions on how offenses are to be handled, that is keeping them private, going to the person you are offended with, talking to them face to face before taking any further steps, is also acting contrary to instructions on proper speech: gossip, slander, and such disunity is contrary to the gospel of grace.  It denies the gospel that says the gospel is the power for our reconciliation not only with God but with one another.

Mickey is wrong once again.  He does not treat the passage equitably.  From my studies, it is apparent a majority of commentators view Titus 3:11 as excommunication or the fourth step of Matthew 18:15-17.  But Mickey doesn’t cite this evidence.  Instead, he arrogantly answers his own question in a categorical fashion.  He says, “Is this akin to excommunication?  I want to make this very clear.  The answer is no.”  He offers no proof and an unsuspecting church probably believes him.  So not only is Titus 3:9-11 akin to excommunication, many commentators believe it is excommunication.  For example, consider the ESV Study Bible.

“3:9-11 The Problem Restated: False Teachers.  Paul returns to the problem of false teachers.  The discussion of gospel living (2:1-3:8) is flanked by discussion of those who claim to believe this gospel but fail to live it out.

“3:9 But. The reference to the usefulness of correct doctrine in v. 8 sets up the contrast with the worthless nature of the false teaching.  As elsewhere in the letters to Timothy and Titus, the exact content of the false teaching is not clear.  The point is that it is foolish, unprofitable, and worthless.

“3:10-11 Have nothing more to do with him describes the final stage of church discipline (see also 1 Corinthians 5).  A divisive person who refuses to repent and change after being confronted (see Matt. 18:15-20) shows himself to be twisted by sin (warped); thus, he is self-condemned.  The NT is clear about seeking the repentance of such people, but it is equally clear that refusal to receive rebuke eventually shows that one is not in Christ [not a Christian] and must be exclude from the Christina community.” (ESV Study Bible on Titus 3:9-11)

So this is not akin to excommunication.  John Stott says “nothing to do” means “whether this refers to a formal excommunication or to social ostracism as in Romans 16 is not made plain yet to repudiate them is right.”  Don Guthrie’s says, “Have nothing to do with is a vague term which does not convey the idea of excommunication but means merely ‘to leave out of account.’”

Stott is uncertain.  Kelly, Hendriksen, Hughes, Knight, and others disagree with Mickey and think this is a reference to excommunication.  The point is this – Mickey emphatically states this “is not akin to excommunication” but he’s read Kelly and other commentators who disagree with his conclusion.  Honestly requires an open acknowledgment that 3:10 probably includes excommunication.  He gives no hint of this in his comments.  That is deceptive. 

I think it is interesting that in 2 Thessalonians Paul uses a similar term twice.  In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 it says, “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is” (What? Teaching false doctrine?  No.) “who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”

In other words here Paul isn’t hear saying “Hey these people need to be excommunicated – they are false teachers.”  What he is saying, hey look there are brothers in the church that are idle and you need to stay away from them. 

In 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15, “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter.” (And there are both doctrinal and moral imperatives in the letter.)  “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.” (Now this is the critical part.)  “Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.  Do not regard him as an enemy but warn him as a brother.” 

Here again Mickey fails to read 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15 in context or say anything about the context.  Here is the passage in context. 

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. [7] For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, [8] nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. [9] It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. [10] For even when we were with you, we would give you this command:  If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. [11] For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. [12] Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. [13] As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. [14] If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. [15] Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Here is how the ESV Study Bible explains the context.

“3:6-15 The Problem of the Idlers.  Paul instructs the Thessalonian community to exercise church discipline on those refusing to work.  Although there is nothing in 1 or 2 Thessalonians that explicitly links the idleness with the confusion about the end times, many think that the Thessalonians stopped working to await and proclaim the Lord’s coming.  Others believe that the problem was merely one of lazy Christians exploiting the charity of wealthier Christians, and using their free time to meddle in other’s affairs.  Whatever the cause of idleness, Paul’s patience’s has evidently now run out.”

Brent Detwiler is not our enemy.  He is our brother.  He is our brother and he is to be warned because he is sinning in ways that divide.  Because of that until he ceases to do so we need to avoid him.  We need to cease to imbibe his divisive speech. 

Mickey is watering down his usage of Romans 16:17-18 and Titus 3:9-11 by saying they are not about excommunication and therefore he is not treating me as unbeliever.  But Romans 16 and Titus 3 are dealing with excommunication (Matt 18: 17b “Let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”) or worse, a false brother who is preaching false doctrine in a divisive manner.  Then he uses 2 Thessalonians 3:15 to say I am a brother and not an enemy.  But this will not do either.  2 Thessalonians 3 has nothing to do with Romans 16 or Titus 3.  It may be interesting but it is not relevant.  2 Thessalonians deals with idle brothers.  Romans and Titus deal with false teachers and their divisive followers.  The milder treatment in 2 Thessalonians is due to the nature of their sins.  I agree with the NIV Study Bible on 3:6.  “Not withdrawal of all contact but withholding of close fellowship.  Idleness is sinful and disruptive, but those guilty of it are still brothers.”  Romans 16 and Titus 3 are far more serious!

Okay, so first question, we considered, “Is this only for false teachers and heretics?”  No.  “Is this akin to excommunication.”  No.  I will say this again very clearly, we are not excommunicating Brent Detwiler.

But here are the correct answers.  Are Roman 16 and Titus 3 only for false teachers and their followers?  Yes.  Is this action by Mickey akin to excommunication.  Yes, if not worse. 

Thirdly, why do we need to do this?  Why do we need to do this?  I think there are two very critical reasons.  One, well first of all it is commanded in Scripture, but to allow this to continue will foster division and destroy this church.  Division will destroy the church.  Disunity will destroy a church.  Galatians 5:9 says, “A little leaven, leavens the whole lump.”  It only takes one person to hear and then to repeat and for that person to repeat pretty soon the leaven of gossip, slander, scoffing, false accusations, and impugning of motives, and critical judgments, passes through the church, effects people in the church and divides the church.  It only takes a little bit of leaven.

What Mickey is doing is not commanded in Scripture.  Titus 3 and Romans 16 do not apply.  Furthermore, this is a false characterization of what I have written and the action I have taken which has been warranted and necessary.  Galatians 5:9 does not apply either.  It is about the leavening effect of a false gospel being preached by the Judaizers.  In contrast, what I have written in my documents and on my blog has exposed serious errors of character and practice that are present in leaders like C.J., Dave and Mickey.  I’ve not passed on gossip or spread slander.  I was forced to go public after countless appeals in private.

My blog post entitled “The Mona Lisa of Spin” is the most sarcastic.  Biblical writers employ sarcasm, mockery and shame when needing to confront the unrepentant about serious issues.  My use is totally appropriate given the repeated and grave deceit of Dave Harvey.  Mickey is concerned about “scoffing” but he is not concerned about lying, deceit, cover-up and manipulation including his own.

Galatians 5:15 then tells us, “If you bite and devour one another watch out that you are not consumed.”  This will consume us if we don’t put an end to it.  This will consume us if we don’t obey the Scriptural injunctions to avoid it.  So it fosters division that will destroy the church.  Secondly, it distracts from our mission.  We have a mission.  It is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Sovereign Grace Ministries has spent hundreds and hundreds of hours dealing with these issues and it has distracted from the mission.  I will not be distracted from the mission.  I will not allow this church to be distracted from the mission and neither will your other pastors. 

What I’ve written won’t “consume us” it will reform us and unite us if men like Mickey demonstrate a little humility.  The actions of C.J., Dave, Mickey and the SGM Board are destroying Sovereign Grace Ministries.  Mickey can blame me but that is not where the fault lies.  I only know a part of the whole, but over a dozen churches are seriously thinking about leaving SGM.  It could be more and many pastors are concerned for C.J.’s “tone and posture” at the Pastor’s Conference, Dave’s letter to the SGM pastors regarding Joshua Harris, Mickey’s excommunication of me, and the overall actions of the SGM Board.

John Stott says this, “After two warnings further efforts would not be a good stewardship of his” (the pastor’s) “time and energy and would give the offender an undeserved sense of importance.”  This is not a good use of my time and energy to be  defending myself against accusations that Brent might choose to bring against me.

This quote is not from John Stott.  It comes from D. Edmond Hiebert.  “Further efforts would not be a good stewardship of his time or energies and would give the offender an undeserved sense of importance.” (D. Edmond Hiebert, Titus, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, p. 448)  For such a serious evening, I don’t understand why Mickey was so sloppy in his attributions.  Here’s the important point.  Mickey should be very concerned with my “accusations” - past, present and future.  But that is the problem.  Mickey has not taken any of my concerns to heart over the last 5 years.  This is just one more example.  Instead, he maintains he has been without sin.    

John Calvin said it this way, it is a rather long quote but I think it is helpful, “There will be no end of quarrels and disputes, if we wish to conquer obstinate men by argument; for they will never want words, and they will derive fresh courage from impudence” (means not showing due respect for another person, I had to look it up) “so that they will never grow weary of fighting.  Thus, after having given orders to Titus as to the form of doctrine which he should lay down, he now forbids him to waste much time in debating with heretics,” (remember what Calvin said, heretic is not just a technical term) “because battle would lead to battle and dispute to dispute.  Such is the cunning of Satan, that by the impudent talkativeness of such men, he entangles good and faithful pastors, so as to draw them away from diligence in teaching.  We must therefore beware lest we become engaged in quarrelsome disputes; for we shall never have leisure to devote our labours to the Lord’s flock, and contentious men will never cease to annoy us.  When he commands him to avoid such persons, it is as if he said that he must not toil hard to satisfy them, and even if there is nothing better than to cut off the handle for fighting which they are eager to find.”  So that’s a biblical understanding of what we are dealing with here.

This is good advice from John Calvin when dealing with sectarian cults.  It is terrible advice when it comes to my concerns for Mickey and Sovereign Grace Ministry.  I don’t think John Calvin would appreciate how Mickey applies this quote to me.

Now here is the last thing that we want to talk about.  What are we going to do?  John Murray says “the injunction component of an error of such character, they are to mark the proponents so as to avoid them and they are to turn away from them.”  From our biblical study, which we have presented to you tonight, and our prayerful perspective, we believe, sadly, that Brent clearly fits the definition of a man who is causing divisions and because of his refusal to cease has the potential to cause even further division and therefore must be marked as divisive.  We are certainly not called to debate and dialogue endlessly with such a person.”

Once again Mickey misquotes a commentator, but far more importantly, deceitfully quotes another commentator by quoting him completely out of context.  This is so serious!  He uses John Murray to support his abusive actions “to mark the proponents” and “turn away from them” by citing “an error of such character.”  But Murray is not taking about Christian character.  He is talking about doctrinal error of such a serious nature or character it must be dealt with in the strongest terms possible.  Murray has in mind people who are preaching another gospel as spelled out in Galatians 1:8-9.  “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”  It is hard to overstate Mickey’s duplicity.  He twists Murray’s meaning like a nose of wax.  Here is what Murray says in context.

“We have here false teachers and propagandists.  These are not envisaged in chapter 14.  Hence the stumbling is that caused by false doctrine and falls into the category of the error anathematized in Galatians.  The injunctions comport with an error of such character: they are to ’mark’ the proponents so as to avoid them and they are to ‘turn away from them’.  No such exhortations are appropriate in chapter 14.  These teachers were skilled in the artful device of ‘smooth and fair speech’, a common feature of those  who corrupt the purity and simplicity of the gospel.” (John Murray, The Epistle to the Roman, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, p. 236)

Conclusion

Mickey and the pastors claim my marking and shunning were expression of their “sacred duty as shepherds who are charged with protecting the flock of God entrusted to our care.”  In reality, their actions were heavy handed and without biblical warrant.  They are also keeping the truth from the people of CrossWay Community Church.  One day, I hope all the pastors at CrossWay renounce their action and publicly confess their sin.

But that is not my main concern, nor the reason for this blog post.  Pastors are given a sacred charged to protect the people of God from error.  Particularly from exegetical  error and the faulty application of Scripture which can be just as dangerous.  Mickey is guilty on both counts as it pertains to Titus 3 and Roman 16 but even that is not my major concern. 

A church assumes they can trust their pastors/teachers to formulate doctrine and practice with the greatest integrity.  That is, not use Scripture to fulfill a self-serving purpose (e.g. health and wealth teachers).  Mickey’s teaching had an obvious goal which was to implement C.J.’s instruction at the Pastors Conference to discipline divisive people.  Of course, I am public enemy Number 1 on the SGM 10 Most Wanted List. 

In order to do this he had to abuse Scripture and misled the congregation by not having them open their Bibles, by not citing verses 19-20 when quoting Romans 16:17-18, by not dealing with the meaning of Romans 16:17-18, by not mentioning Titus 1:10-16 or 3:9 when interpreting 3:10-11, by giving the impression his statements and quotes about Titus 3 also applied to Romans 16, by badly exaggerating his claim that “many commentators” agree with him when the opposite is true, by intentionally misrepresenting commentators like Kelly, Fee and Murray, by saying Romans 16 and Titus 3 are not about excommunication, by misusing 1 Timothy 1, 6 and 2 Thessalonians 3, when comparing 2 Thessalonians to Romans 16 and Titus 3, and by wrongly applying Galatians 5 to my writings and actions.      

Mickey knows there are few commentators, not “many commentators,” who support his exegesis and thereby his actions.  His “many commentators” come down to two  commentators (John MacArthur, John Calvin) regarding one passage (Titus 3:9-11).  He also cites J.N.D. Kelly and Gordon Fee as supportive but this is a purposeful distortion of their commentary. 

Mickey wrongly uses Titus 3:9-11 and Romans 16:17-18, which are about heretics and their followers, to forbid church members from reading my documents or blog, looking at my Facebook page or interacting with me in person.  This is a complete abuse of authority.  Moreover, if people don’t agree to follow Mickey’s commands they must leave CrossWay Community Church.  This is lording at is worse.  Church members who disagree with Mickey should expect the same kind of mistreatment.

I made every effort possible to talk to Mickey, Joe and all the pastors about these matters but they repeatedly refused to discuss my concerns.  That is impossible to understand.  As a result, it is up to the members of CrossWay Community Church.  They need to study this matter and call Mickey and the pastors to account.  It is time for men of conviction to stand up and lead. 

What Mickey has done is ever so serious!  He has destroyed his credibility in my opinion.  If you can’t trust your pastor to be honest when he is teaching Scripture, you can’t trust him to be honest about anything.  I hope Mickey confesses.  I hope he comes clean. 

But based upon my experience, I think Mickey and the pastors will accuse me of “judging” and offer no detailed defense to my charges.  They will tell people they disagree with me but that is all.  Otherwise, they will ignore me and continue to warn people to stay away from me and my writings.

If Mickey feels wrongly accused by me, he should provide a defense and ask to be  examined by the church.  I’d suggest a panel of five men selected by the church who will report their findings back to the church.  Instead, I fear Mickey will hide behind the pastors as they circle the wagons. 

What Mickey has done is tantamount to a partner at an accounting firm embezzling funds, a Congressman perjuring himself under oath, or a doctor diagnosing and treating a condition that does not exist for the money.  Mickey should step down as senior pastor and work to regain the trust of the church over time. 

Finally, since the pastors are unwilling to address Mickey, the church must address the pastors and require accountability to the congregation in the future (look into what Covenant Life Church and other churches are doing in SGM).  From my perspective, the church should ask for Mickey’s resignation and the other pastors should be put on probation for not dealing with Mickey’s deceitful use of Scripture and commentaries in justifying his unbiblical actions. 

Better yet, Mickey should step down in keeping with his promise.  “If I ever lose the trust of this church I will resign that very day.“

Lastly, I’ve taken the time to write this post because I care for Mickey and the pastors but also for the people at CrossWay Community.  They are being misled and kept in the dark by the misuse of Scripture and commentaries.  The radical action prescribed in Romans 16 and Titus 3 is reserved for false teachers and cultists of the worse kind.  I don’t care what the CrossWay pastors do to me.  I do care about the church and I care about people at large.  Mickey is not protecting the sheep, he is abusing the sheep and putting them in bondage.  They are locked up in pens with no freedom to roam in green pastures. I don’t want other pastors in SGM to follow Mickey’s example and C.J.’s instructions and ruin the lives of more people who publicly disagree with C.J., Dave, Mickey or SGM.          

Postscript - November 26, 2001 4:54 PM 

From: Brent Detwiler
Sent: Saturday, November 26, 2011 1:05 PM
To: Aron Osborne; C. J. Mahaney; Craig Cabaniss; Dave Harvey; Jeff Purswell; John Loftness; Mark Prater; Mickey Connolly; Pete Greasley; Rick Gamache; Steve Shank; Andrew Mahr; Bob Kauflin; Gary Ricucci; Tommy Hill; Tony Reinke
Cc: Ken Sande; Ted Kober; Edgar Keinath; Bryce Thomas; Adam Malcolm; Ben Wikner; Bob Schickler; Braden Greer; Corby Megorden; Dave Brewer; Don DeVries; Eric Sheffer; Eric Simmons; Grant Layman; Greg Somerville; Issac Hydoski; Jamie Leach; Joe Lee; Jon Smith; Joshua Harris; Kenneth Maresco; Mark Mitchell; Matt Maka; Robin Boisvert
Subject: Mickey's Deceitful Use of Scripture & Commentaries

The CrossWay pastors have primarily jurisdiction over Mickey but they have failed to act.  The SGM Board employs Mickey.  For these two reasons the SGM Board must carefully investigate this matter and if found guilty take appropriate action which should result in Mickey’s termination from my perspective.

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