These lectures get used to weed out and destroy not just ministries who believe the views being condemned, but those who don't get in line and fire off the same strong rhetoric. That's not a theory. It's happened to us, and it's happened to several other graduates I know. The problem isn't that I've lost my respect for MacArthur and written him off - it's the opposite. I continue to refer to him in a praiseworthy way so that when he says that some label ("the New Perspective" or "Emergent" or whatever) represents the next thing rolling off the anti-Christ assembly line, those who love him (rightly) take anything less than his wholesale rejection as partnering with the Devil and possibly golfing with him on Wednesday afternoons. Hear that again - the problem with his presentation is that it encourages people to think that anyone who offers a more mild critique, or who chooses to focus on what can be learned from the movement without adopting its failures, is every bit as heretical as the most extreme elements of it.
In other words, practically speaking, the fruit of true belief becomes something other than faith in Christ evidenced in the fruit of the Spirit. A believer (or a minister) must now not only accept a basic statement of faith, but reject and denounce entire movements and organizations in order to be considered worthy of fellowship. That, my friends, is heresy. Do a word study for "factious" in Titus 3:10, and you'll know what I mean. Its divisive fruit can be seen in the way churches have been devestated, not for adopting the views being criticized, but for refusing to condemn people who see some good in it. Those who do not say "I am of MacArthur" (cf. 1 Co. 1:10-17) on the issue are thrown onto the pile of burning liberals in the valley of Hinnom. Again, this isn't a theoretical observation. My church has been torn apart by those sporting this attitude in respect to the last faculty lecture series (on the NPP). In other words, the reason I've been thrown to the wolves in my ministry in the past isn't because I don't respect these men, but precisely because I do. I'm fully aware that the divisive and decietful actions taken by those who use these lectures can't be laid at the doorstep of the ones giving them, but I'm not willing to say that they have no responsibility for the way that their words will be used.
So, for the record, when I've begged for more measured words, some more acknowledgements of positive contributions, and more nuanced critique, it's not out of some abstract or pedantic longing for "academic integrity" - it's certainly not out of bitterness. It is, instead, out of a) a genuine longing for God's kingdom to be advanced through a local ministry which is entirely focused on the advancement of the Gospel and b) an intimate knowledge of the consequences of these presentations which ultimately hinder that work among Biblically faithful ministries (to the discouragement of even those who make them).
One final note - anyone who responds to this post by reminding me that "the NPP redefines the Gospel" or "the Emergent Church doesn't know the Gospel" has already missed the point. The spectrum represented in both movements have valuable contributions to offer, and we can safely leave aside the extremes and obvious errors. There are also various elements in both movements (NPP and Emergent) that believers may safely disagree about without invoking the word "heresy" or "separation". Yet as much as they might be grieved by it, the effect of these sorts of presentations is just as often irrational suspicion as it is "discernment" (though offenders will often equate the two). Ultimately no amount of protesting and clarifying one's position from the Scriptures will do unless the opposition is thoroughly and completely rejected using the same words issued by MacArthur. Again, don't mistake that for postulating possible negative outcomes. My family and others who I love have experienced the devestation. Similarly, any insinuation that my personal experiences have simply provided me with an "axe to grind" shows that you haven't heard what I'm saying - read the fourth paragraph again.
In any case, those are officially my last words about the issue, and perhaps my last words on Soylent Green. As I contemplate shutting her down, I'm thankful for the insightful remarks, patient reproof and thought-provoking comments offered over the last 8 months.
I SHOULD ALSO CLARIFY THAT THESE SENTIMENTS, AS ALL OF THOSE FOUND ON THIS BLOG, ARE MY OWN, AND NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF THE ELDERS OF MY CHURCH.