Several days ago I posted a quote from John Calvin that I applied to the Manhattan Declaration (“And at this day I wish there were more judgment in some good men, who, by seeking to be extremely kind to wicked men, bring great damage to the whole church.”) This quote spurred me on in a particular direction of thought that was brewing in my mind.
Galatians 2:11-14 contains Paul’s brief mention of his gospel-confrontation with Peter. Several things jump out at me. First of all, Paul confronted Peter for eating with false teachers. That’s right: eating. having a meal. For this act, it was worth the risk of rupturing apostolic fellowship. One thing I notice about this is that Paul lived what he taught. In 1 Cor. 5:11 Paul commanded that believers were not even to eat with those who perverted the gospel. In Galatians 2:11-14 we see how Paul lived what he taught, and how he responded to those who disobeyed the apostolic commands. Even when they were themselves other apostles. So I have to wonder, if it is wrong to even eat with gospel-perverters, is it okay to enter into dialog and release joint statements of unity? It seems that is doing overtly what table-fellowship merely implies. You write books, lead schools, preach sermons about the gospel: but will you stand for it?
Secondly, it was public. Yes Paul confronted Peter “to his face” but it was also “before them all.” What Peter did publicly, Paul rebuked publicly. Paul saw no reason to be coy or demure about the nature of Peter’s error and blasted it with the same boldness that Peter committed it with. The M.D. was proclaimed with all the fanfare and ribbons that such a group of “Christian” leaders could muster. If they are in error, Packer, Duncan, and Mohler should be denounced with just as much public clarity.
Thirdly, and here is where many have failed in my estimation, Paul clearly denunciated Peter’s sin as sin. Peter was “condemned” because he was acting in “hypocrisy.” Paul did not say, “Well it is just not right for me”, “I just don’t think it is best”, “It just is not very prudent at this time”. No, Paul “condemned” Peter. Paul did bashfully say, “It is wrong for me” he clearly stated, “It is wrong for anyone!” Peter was “to be blamed.”
So as much as I have appreciated the clarity and conviction of statements by MacArthur, Sproul, and some others; I wonder who is going to step up and actually be a Paul? Will it be MacArthur? Sproul? Piper? Ferguson? Dever? Or (gulp…) Driscoll? (And it has to be someone like one of these men: someone with recognizable cache within the community of faith.) Who is going to say “You were wrong and you need to repent?” Who is going to do so publicly with conviction and authority? If no one does so, why not just stop the charade of all the Gospel Coalitions, Together for the Gospels, etc.? Because clearly, if one of these men cannot take the stand for the gospel that Paul did, they are united around something else.