31 January 2012

The Elephant Room Continues to Stomp On Its Critics

My, it certainly is difficult to eradicate an elephant, isn't it? The ER2 drama continued today, as I'm sure many of you are already aware. I wonder if anyone is videotaping all of this, documentary style? It sure would make for better entertainment than the proposed movie about "a church" that James MacDonald is hoping to produce. But I digress.

Over the weekend, it was reported here that Pastor Voddie Baucham, who had been scheduled to speak at a Men's Conference being held at Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC), had canceled that appearance due to "differences regarding ER2." This apparently began when, in response to questions regarding the T.D. Jakes ordeal and ER2, Pastor Baucham posted the following on his Facebook wall:
(Online Source)
Well, apparently Baucham's honest (and biblical) comments didn't sit too well with HBC or James MacDonald. Yesterday, in Voddie Baucham Responds, a portion of Baucham's own blog post was shared, wherein he stated,
I have a regular practice of posting notices of upcoming events in my monthly newsletter, and on my Facebook fan page.  These have been invaluable tools that keep people apprised of when I’m coming to their area (or the area of friends and family whom they’d like to invite to one of our events), how they can pray for me, and what kind of doors the Lord is opening for the ministry. 
As per my practice, I posted a link to the Men’s Conference and asked, “Any fan page members planning to attend...”  As you can imagine, there were more than a few questions about my position on ER2, my relationship with James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, and a whole host of other things.  I answered those questions as honestly as I could.  I made it clear that I opposed the decision to invite Bishop Jakes; pointed out what I saw as his masterful ‘dodge’ on the trinitarian question (and subsequent affirmation of modalist language), and gave a brief explanation of my reasoning for keeping this prior commitment (see here for a recap).
This did not go over well with James MacDonald.  Upon my arrival at the church the next day, he and I sat down (along with my assistant and several members of his staff) and had a candid conversation about my decision to answer questions in a public forum.  Ultimately, we agreed that it was not a good idea for me to speak at the conference.  We  prayed, shook hands, embraced, and ended the meeting as brothers.  James also insisted on paying the agreed honorarium (Added 1/31/12). MacDonald had already made arrangements for a replacement speaker.  My assistant and I were escorted to a waiting car and taken back to the airport. (Online Source)
Now, you may have noticed that this final paragraph contains an emboldened sentence which was not present at the original posting. In this sentence, Baucham states,  "We  prayed, shook hands, embraced, and ended the meeting as brothers. James also insisted on paying the agreed honorarium." This morning Baucham shared a little more detail as to why this brief statement was added.

Okay, fair enough. Although, it is my personal opinion that Pastor Baucham had already made it very clear in the final paragraph of his blog post that he and MacDonald had not parted with any animosity between them. As for the payment of the honorarium, really, that is ridiculously beside the point. The offer of a mere check hardly provides any sort of restoration to the credibility and integrity that has already been lost by the leadership of HBC due to the manner in which this situation was handled. Yes, I realize those are somewhat harsh words. I say them because, not long after Pastor Baucham updated his already gracious and loving, yet forthright blog post, per James MacDonald's request, James MacDonald published a brief blog post of his own.

In this post, entitled Post-Elephant Room Interview, Part 1, James MacDonald interviews three African-American pastors in an attempt to ascertain their opinions on what transpired at ER2. One of these pastors was Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago. Jenkins is the pastor who was brought in as Voddie Baucham's replacement at the Harvest Men's Conference.

But perhaps the most outspoken of the three men in this video was Bryan Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Memphis Church. As you may recall, Loritts has most recently been catapulted into the spotlight for his blog post entitled, My Day With James MacDonald, T.D. Jakes and the Elephant Room. In this post, Loritts called for the reformed community to “repent” of their harsh criticism and one-sided attacks on Bishop T.D. Jakes in regard to his beliefs about the Godhead’. In response to this call to repentance, Daniel Neades of Better Than Sacrifice wrote,
Loritts has apparently failed to understand that it is because we love people – including T.D. Jakes himself – that we want to be sure that they are neither inadvertently trusting in a non-Trinitarian god of their own imagination, nor being deceived by a false prosperity gospel, such as the one Jakes preaches. Loritts uncharitably judges the inward thoughts and intents of his opponents. (Online Source) 
Precisely. I couldn't have stated it more accurately myself. Also in his blog post, however, Loritts played the ever-popular, and ever-inappropriate, "race card." It seemed that this issue had been adequately dealt with throughout the weekend, however, and many of us hoped that it would be laid to rest. Unfortunately, in the video posted on James MacDonald's blog, the "race card" was played again, and in a most fast and furious...and illegitimate, manner. About four minutes into the original video as it appears on MacDonald's blog, one will hear the following dialogue between Loritts and MacDonald:

Bryan Loritts: “Some of the strongest reactions were African Americans in the blogosphere….um, I’ll just go ahead and say it, who strike me as wanting so bad to be in the white theological world. And to take a little bit of a tangent here, and I’ll get back, the loudest voices in the conservative evangelical world, in my estimation right now, are your older, white reformed voices. And so that implicitly sends the message that mature Christianity in the conservative evangelical world is ‘older white.’ And you’ve got some African Americans who so idolize that – what some people would call white idolization – that they then feel as if they’ve got to be the voice for black culture to speak against people like T.D. Jakes. So what happens is, you kind of prop them up. When the truth of the matter is, the term ‘black’ is very complex…….We’re different, we’re different. So my concern is, African Americans, a small minority speaking against Jakes, and then leveraging that in the white theological world for some of these older white theologians….”

 James MacDonald: “What would they be leveraging it for?”

Bryan Loritts: “To fit into their circles….” 

James MacDonald: “Opportunity…?”
Bryan Loritts: “We want to be in their circles. And so we’ll allow ourselves to used as a puppet. That is my perception of some of this backlash.” 
(Partial transcript courtesy of Sola Sisters. Note the video below has been edited to only include the conversation referenced above).   
As Ken Silva noted earlier today, it indeed seems that James MacDonald is attempting to "sneak modalism in the back door" as "we're essentially told that if we reject T.D. Jakes as a Christian brother, it's because we're racist" (Online Source). Yes, it certainly does seem that way, doesn't it?

Not long after this video appeared on MacDonald's blog, Voddie Baucham responded on his Facebook page:
(Online Source)
How sad that the conversation above was indeed a "full-blown expression" of what Voddie Baucham spoke about and warned against in his original blog post. Also disappointing is how this veiled slap in the face was posted so soon after Baucham had accommodated MacDonald by updating his own blog to more accurately report on Saturday's events. Once again, I am personally thankful and even humbled by the gracious, yet firm response and assessment offered by Pastor Baucham.

Friends, this is not about race. At all. To manipulate this situation into one that is rooted in race is absolutely absurd. It seems to reveal an immature reaction to criticism of any kind and, more importantly, it demonstrates a lack of biblical conviction. This is about biblical truth. The concerns that have been raised regarding the theology of T.D. Jakes are based solely upon the fruit of his very public ministry, one that has taught not only the heresy of modalism, but also that of the Word-Faith prosperity gospel...a false gospel.

So while everyone else is getting fired up over the dangerous dealing of the "race card," I would ask the reader to remember what is really at stake here: the Word of our God.

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul offers some important words to those men who would be elders. Now tell me, who among the pastors involved in this controversy are actually heeding Paul's instruction?
For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 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. (Titus 1:7-9)
**UPDATE 01 February 2012**
The following was posted this morning on Voddie Baucham's Facebook page:


SEE ALSO
Voddie Baucham's Scheduled Appearance at HBC Men's Conference Canceled Due to "Differences Regarding ER2"
Voddie Baucham Responds
"We Can Work it Out:" Is James MacDonald Qualified to Have this Conversation?

30 January 2012

ER2 Claims First Acts 29 Casualty

The following was written by Daniel Neades of Better Than Sacrifice and is published here with permission:
ELEPHANT ROOM 2 CLAIMS FIRST ACTS 29 CASUALTY 
Chad Vegas, lead pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Bakersfield, has spoken out about why he left Acts 29, a church-planting network founded by Mark Driscoll:
I knew Mark was the primary voice for Acts 29 and that I was not comfortable with how some of his comments represented the network. I also knew Mark and many of the other brothers are faithful ministers of the gospel, disagreements aside.
I want to be very clear. I don’t think Mark Driscoll is a heretic. I don’t think Mark has bad intentions. I think Mark is a faithful, orthodox pastor who is well-intentioned. I know many pastors in Acts 29 who are taking a different approach to this issue than I am. I believe they are faithful, well-intentioned brothers. I didn’t leave Acts 29 because I question the integrity of any of these men.
I do think Mark Driscoll is wrong on this issue. I think his failure to defend the gospel and the nature of God in the Elephant Room, as awkward and unfortunate a setting as it was, was a major failure in his duty as a spokesman for Jesus, the church, and Acts 29. I can not follow a leader who will not act on Titus 1:9 when so many young pastors are looking on. It is for this reason I left Acts 29. I pray Mark will see the grievous error that took place that day. I will still love him, pray for him, and admire him in many ways if he doesn’t.
Vegas’ move echoes that of Dan McGhee, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Detroit West, who earlier in January led his church to dissociate from James MacDonald’s Harvest Bible Fellowship over concerns that MacDonald ‘seems insistent in pushing boundaries in the area of associations with men whose ministry philosophy, practice, and even theology we can’t endorse’.
Read Vegas’ full post, here:

FURTHER READING

Note: The original blog post by Pastor Chad Vegas has since been pulled and is no longer available at the link provided above.

Voddie Baucham Responds

As the reader may recall, it was reported over the weekend that Pastor Voddie Baucham, who was scheduled to speak on January 28 at the Harvest Bible Chapel Men's Conference, ultimately did not appear due to "differences regarding ER2." Many were thankful and grateful for this decision.

This morning, Baucham has offered a gracious and thorough explanation of the entire situation. The reader is urged to visit the Grace Family Baptist Church blog for the complete post. Regarding the Men's Conference, Baucham states,
I was naive to think that there would be no fallout if I decided to go forward with the Men’s Conference.  The Men’s Conference was scheduled to take place two days after ER2.  Once my worst fears were realized at ER2 (i.e., Jakes equivocated on modalism, was not even challenged on WOF gospel, etc. see here for a detailed analysis), there was no way for me to 1) keep silent on this growing controversy, and 2) attend the Men’s Conference, without giving tacit approval to ER2.  The decision to go public was inevitable.  The only question was how.
I have a regular practice of posting notices of upcoming events in my monthly newsletter, and on my Facebook fan page.  These have been invaluable tools that keep people apprised of when I’m coming to their area (or the area of friends and family whom they’d like to invite to one of our events), how they can pray for me, and what kind of doors the Lord is opening for the ministry. 
As per my practice, I posted a link to the Men’s Conference and asked, “Any fan page members planning to attend...”  As you can imagine, there were more than a few questions about my position on ER2, my relationship with James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel, and a whole host of other things.  I answered those questions as honestly as I could.  I made it clear that I opposed the decision to invite Bishop Jakes; pointed out what I saw as his masterful ‘dodge’ on the trinitarian question (and subsequent affirmation of modalist language), and gave a brief explanation of my reasoning for keeping this prior commitment (see here for a recap).
This did not go over well with James MacDonald.  Upon my arrival at the church the next day, he and I sat down (along with my assistant and several members of his staff) and had a candid conversation about my decision to answer questions in a public forum.  Ultimately, we agreed that it was not a good idea for me to speak at the conference.  We  prayed, shook hands, embraced, and ended the meeting as brothers.  James also insisted on paying the agreed honorarium (Added 1/31/12). MacDonald had already made arrangements for a replacement speaker.  My assistant and I were escorted to a waiting car and taken back to the airport. (Online Source)
Again, I would like to speak on behalf of many and thank Voddie Baucham for so humbly and lovingly addressing the situation. Indeed, his concern for his own flock, as well as his unwavering dedication to the truth and authority of Scripture should be a great example to us. Finally, let us also acknowledge Baucham's final words, so to be certain that we do not misconstrue the situation in any way:
I’m not angry with James MacDonald.  He’s my brother, and I love him.  We disagree.  We both understand that.  Ironically, that’s what The Elephant Room is supposedly all about.  Brothers should be able to disagree with one another and still be brothers.  There’s just one problem:  Embracing Jakes while rejecting others because we question his history of modalism and Word of Faith teaching... that’s the real “Elephant in the Room”? (Online Source)

29 January 2012

Elephant Room 2: The Emergence of Pachydermism

The following was written by Daniel Neades of Better Than Sacrifice and is published here with permission:

ELEPHANT ROOM 2: THE EMERGENCE OF PACHYDERMISM

In a piece entitled, ‘Reformed Crowd Asked to Repent for Attacking TD Jakes’, the Christian Post reports that Elephant Room participant, Bryan Crawford Loritts, is ‘asking the Reformed community to “repent” of their harsh criticism and one-sided attacks on Bishop T.D. Jakes in regards to his beliefs about the Godhead’.
The Post reports:
To the adjunct professor at Crichton College, those “gospel centered” people elevated love for doctrine over love for people. His words for them were this: “Your conduct is out of step with the gospel,” referring to Apostle Paul’s words to Peter in Galatians 2 when he avoided the Gentiles only when he was around the Jews.
Loritts has apparently failed to understand that it is because we love people – including T.D. Jakes himself – that we want to be sure that they are neither inadvertently trusting in a non-Trinitarian god of their own imagination, nor being deceived by a false prosperity gospel, such as the one Jakes preaches. Loritts uncharitably judges the inward thoughts and intents of his opponents.
Revealingly, in his application of Galatians 2, Loritts has cast himself as the Apostle Paul. Some might think that his seeming lack of concern for the integrity of the Gospel better suits him to the role of Peter.
Loritts also advised the “middle aged white Reformed guys” to be extremely careful of the messages they sent, both implicit and explicit.
The age and skin colour of those questioning Jakes’ beliefs and teaching is irrelevant. In fact, those men and women expressing concern represent a broad spectrum of the Church, including Baptists and Confessional Lutherans, as well as the Reformed. Loritts here is merely engaging in an ad hominem attack, mischaracterizing the Elephant Room’s many opponents as originating from a narrow clique. He also sows the utterly unfounded idea that latent racism may be motivating those with whom he disagrees. This disgraceful tactic merely highlights the intellectual and doctrinal poverty of his own diaphanous arguments.
The Post continues:
Though he was not accusing anyone of racism, he found that the “Reformed crowd’s” actions (refusing to come to the Elephant Room event or having an honest dialogue) sent an implicit message to the public – “theological bigotry.”
If Loritts is not accusing anyone of racism, why does he even mention it? Again, he is transparently engaged in the desperate antics of those feeling the quicksand of their own position rapidly dissolve beneath their own feet.
Loritts also seems to have conveniently forgotten that independent apologists endeavoured to attend the Elephant Room but, despite having reserved tickets in advance, were refused entry and, in one case, even threatened with arrest. It is the organizers of the Elephant Room who have proven themselves unwilling to engage in honest dialogue. And, by his baseless personal attacks, Loritts himself demonstrates the very fault that he ascribes to those with whom he disagrees.
Loritts is apparently unmoved by the informed and reasoned assessment of scholars such as Dr. James White, who declared on Twitter:
McDonald [sic], Driscoll, etc., showed such disrespect to the Trinity and Church History that they did not even ask the most basic questions.
White later devoted an hour of his popular Dividing Line webcast to scrutinizing Jakes’ statements at the Elephant Room.
Dr. Carl Trueman, Departmental Chair of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, likewise gave his assessment of what White called the ‘MacDonald/Driscoll disaster’:
This request that we ask hard questions in the right venue, and consider the ER to have signally failed in this regard, will no doubt evince cries of ‘Hey, hater!’ from some quarters. That is apparently the standard reaction now when anyone questions the actions of a successful pastor of a large church. If, however, we take true doctrine seriously, then surely we will see false teaching for what it is: soul destroying. Reflect on a parallel situation for a moment: let us say that, week after week, I see a congregant’s wife with a black eye and an arm covered in cuts and bruises; eventually I ask her husband, ‘Did you do that?’ to which he says ‘No, I abhor violence and despise the sort of people who beat their wives’; in such circumstances, is it unloving, Pharisaical or hateful of me to press the question a little further? I think not. Indeed, failure so to do would be moral delinquency of the highest order. To press the matter is actually responsible pastoring. The same thing applies with those whose public teaching seems to be deviant. It is not hateful to press the hard questions, and to do so with appropriate competence and in a suitable context; rather, it is right and necessary.
In a pithy blog post, Tom Chantry, pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, and Elephant Room attendee, gave his assessment of Jakes’ performance:
Jakes masterfully deconstructs the entire practice of theology. Don’t be fooled by the panel members who insist that he affirmed the Trinity. What he did was say, “I’m Trinitarian so long as I am free to express it in Sabelian terms.” He repeatedly insisted that Oneness folks and Trinitarian folks are all saying the same thing. He dismissed the question as secondary – not worth division among the people of Christ, among whom he clearly counts the Oneness churches. Once he has deconstructed the very idea of systematic theology, he can affirm anything. So yes, he answered “absolutely” or “yeș” to each and every one of Driscoll’s questions, but what does that mean? Not much.
The Elephant Room débutantes’ ball has seen the public emergence ofpachydermism, the belief that clearly defined and defended sound doctrine is harmful to Christian unity. This lethal disease contrasts sharply with the Biblical doctrine that true unity of faith arises from a shared understanding of the objective truth taught by Scripture (cf. Ephesians 4).
In fact, there have been very few, if any, attacks upon T.D. Jakes himself – I am aware of none. Rather, it is his belief and teaching that have been subject to intense scrutiny. Pachydermism is regrettably characterized by its inability to distinguish between improper attacks upon a person, and the legitimate comparison with Scripture of what a person believes, teaches and confesses.
In a Facebook discussion of the Christian Post article, Pastor Gervase Charmley, minister at Bethel Evangelical Free Church, Stoke on Trent, UK, and perhaps best known for his ‘good sermons’ featured on the Fighting for the Faith Internet radio programme, gave this assessment:
I would say “Woe unto them who say ‘peace, peace’ where there is no peace.” Because that’s what MacDonald and co. are doing, saying that there is peace where there isn’t any.
Yes, the criticism of Jakes has been substantive and doctrinal, not ad hominem. What has been criticised is what the chap has said and not said, not the colour of his shirt, or even the style of his preaching. It is disgraceful to characterise it as personal attack, though not in the least surprising.
One of the effects of Postmodernism is the loss of the ability to actually engage in meaningful conversation; by saying that all positions are equally true we are left with only one avenue of criticism – the personal attack. And that is where you are left by the compromise of the Elephant Room. You can only accuse of ad hominem, while usingad hominem yourself (the implied accusation of racism, for example).
If anyone asked me what I believe about the Trinity, I would be able to point to multiple sermons addressing the question, and historic credal statements that express my beliefs. When someone can’t, we have a problem. No one in public ministry should leave any doubts about their views on the Trinity. Who God is happens to be extremely important.
Loritts’ call for repentance amounts to asking Reformed, Lutheran, Baptist, Confessional Anglicans, and other Christians, to repent for caring about the doctrine of the Trinity and for objecting to Jakes’ false prosperity gospel. Loritts is asking sincere Christians to repent for loving sufficiently so as to be willing to speak the truth, even when it is unwelcome and contrary to the prevailing spirit of the age.
The critics of the Elephant Room have presented substantive, carefully argued and Biblical critiques of what occurred, rooted in the creeds and confessions of the historic orthodox Christian Faith. The defenders of Elephant Room, like Loritts, are able to respond with nothing other than tawdry personal attacks and unfounded slurs and insinuations. It is Loritts who should repent of his reprehensible accusations, and he who, along with James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll, ought to repent for participating in the Great Doctrinal Downgrade of which pachydermism is the herald.
May the Lord open their eyes and grant them repentance and the forgiveness of sins in His Son, who died that even these sins might be forgiven. May He grant us all the grace to speak the truth in love to one another, that we may ‘grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.’ (Eph. 4:15–16)
Readers may also be interested in my earlier coverage of T.D. Jakes and The Elephant Room 2:

POSTSCRIPT

The term pachydermism was inspired by the title of my friend Erin Benziger’s post,This ‘n’ That – Pachyderm Edition.

UPDATE

The Christian Post article was apparently based upon this blog post by Loritts.
View the original post with comments section here.

Sunday Morning Praise

Be Thou My Vision

28 January 2012

Voddie Baucham's Scheduled Appearance at Harvest Bible Chapel Men's Conference Canceled Due to "Differences Regarding ER2"

Voddie Baucham, pastor at Grace Family Baptist Church, is known for his clear exposition and teaching of Scripture and for his no-nonsense way of preaching the truth. Indeed, he is a trusted teacher of God's Word, and someone who many would be eager to hear preach and teach live. In the midst of the T.D. Jakes "Is he a Trinitarian or not?" controversy, an interesting revelation was noted earlier this week on Baucham's Facebook page.
(Online Source)
There's two points of interest here. First, it is commendable and important to note that Baucham was actually invited to participate in this year's Elephant Room 2, but rejected the invitation because of T.D. Jakes. Well done, sir, thank you for standing firmly upon the truth of the Word of God.

The second interesting point is found in Baucham's response to a request for more thoughts regarding Jakes. He clearly notes that Jakes "dodged the question," and was allowed by Driscoll and MacDonald to "use modalist language." He then makes this interesting observation: "He [Jakes] was NEVER going to be confronted. He was an honored guest. He was not going to be penned down." Baucham nails it here. By bringing in big-name Jakes, the men of the Elephant Room were able to widely expand their audience, and there was little chance that they would actually confront Jakes in his multiple heresies. I appreciate how Baucham highlights that, even if Jakes had clearly affirmed Trinitarianism and renounced Modalism, there still is one problem that was utterly ignored, and that is Jakes' propagation of the prosperity gospel. In the words above of Voddie Baucham, "Jakes does not hold to the biblical gospel. He is a false teacher." Well, if the men of ER2 saw that statement, I'm sure they breathed a sigh of relief that Baucham wasn't on the panel last Wednesday. Imagine how embarrassing it would have been if he had confronted T.D. Jakes, MacDonald and Driscoll's "honored guest," with such harsh words!

This story gets more interesting, however. For quite some time, Voddie Baucham has been scheduled to speak with James MacDonald at the Men's Conference taking place this weekend at Harvest Bible Chapel.
(Online Source. Following this screen capture,
the above post was removed from the HBC website.)
We found out this morning, however, that Baucham, after traveling to Chicago to participate in this speaking engagement, has found himself on a plane back home.
(Online Source)
The reason for this was offered just a few moments earlier on Baucham's Facebook page.

(Online Source)
From this, it seems that the cancellation of Baucham's speaking engagement was indeed a mutual decision between him and MacDonald. Nevertheless, can we now conclude that James MacDonald would much prefer the embrace of a money-shilling prosperity preacher than that of a sound, trusted preacher of God's Word? Indeed, it seems that James MacDonald has clearly demonstrated who is allowed to join the new "tribe" that he sought to create with the Elephant Room, and this writer fears that it is not a membership roster of which he ought to boast.

I hope I speak for many when I say to Voddie Baucham, thank you, sir, for placing your commitment to God and His Word above all else.

The Credentials of the Apostle Paul

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God's gospel to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence, I say not as the Lord would but as a fool. Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast. For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that!
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.
(2 Corinthians 11:3-31)
Yes, Paul, this is nice, but how many people "asked Jesus into their heart" at your last "spontaneous baptism" event?