The Craftsmen Of The Trade (Response To Rick Baker)
Yesterday, July 15, 2022, I released an article titled The Craftsmen of their trade. The article addressed the attacks and criticisms coming against the faithful churches that remained open and in defiance of the government’s overreach between 2020- 2022 and currently, with some remaining in effect. The attacks during the lockdowns were from the men who complied with the government’s requests. Some were in vocal or written opposition then, and now there is a resurgence of these attacks and criticism.
Dr. Rick Baker took the opportunity to challenge my article on a Facebook forum in which I engaged with him. However, Facebook is not the best place to address charges made, so that they will be addressed here.
he main criticism was a false witness against a brother. Baker complained that I did not interpret Stan Fowler correctly and was in sin for using the term “appearing to affirm same-sex unions.” I assured Baker I would revisit the article to ensure I was not mistaken.
The interpretation came from the midsection of Fowler’s article. I have bolded what struck me as the reader.
So, where does the difference in same-sex relationships fit in this scheme? I know that there are persons committed to Trinitarian orthodoxy and an evangelical understanding of the gospel who also believe that faithful same-sex unions can be affirmed, so I see no basis for declaring that they are condemned, even though I am convinced that they are wrong. .
In the interpretation of this, in the context of the rest of the article, I submit that using the term “appearing” could have been better worded but in no way was false testimony. I worked out several different ways to articulate this vague language. The reason being is Fowler keeps the matter fuzzy. The position he seems to be making is distracting for a reader, as it is blurry and nuanced that one could believe his position may lean one way though his words point to another. Fowler did use the term; “I know there are people that are committed to Trinitarian orthodoxy”. Please explain how this is possible—”having an evangelical understanding of the gospel”. How so? Any person living in any sin freely, without conviction, does not understand the gospel. How is one supposed to interpret this comment without being distracted from the rest of the article? Further is the comment “I see no basis for declaring that they are condemned.” One major issue my original article was speaking on shows up here. Scripture Condemns same-sex unions (Lev 20:13, Rom 1:26-27;32, 1 Cor 6:9-11).
Further, Romans 1:32speaks of those who approve such things as sinful. As stated in the social media engagement, it does not matter how many letters are after a man’s name; Scripture condemns living in known sin (Gal 5:19-21). Fowler does admit he disagrees with certain opinions in his words, but again there is a doubt with the blurred lines to which I will admit – I missed. I have contacted several brothers who read the article and they have come to the same understanding as my attempted articulation.
Regardless, Scripture says that we are to flee the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Christians are to avoid any behaviour that anyone could perceive as evil. Of course, there are different interpretations of this verse to what is to be avoided, but regardless, being charged with false testimony is serious and is an appearance to be avoided. Considering the ninth Commandment (Ex 20:16), putting off the old self (Col 3:9-10), and being new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) these are examples of why these accusations are to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, this charge can be thrown out easily when matters are so blurry. However, I kept my commitment to Rick and reviewed his comments.
Regarding the original article linked above, I have sought counsel from men I trust, and asked the direct question, “have I taken Fowler out of context on purpose, and does his words come come off as (potentially) affirming?” To which I have been told Fowler’s words can come across as such. Therefore I do not see this as false testimony but a matter of Fowler’s words being fuzzy and open. Therefore, I do ask Rick to to take back that charge. Regardless, I edited the original article to address any potential blurred lines regarding my concerns because of my desire to be right with Christ and to flee the appearance of evil. The cite is still present within the footnotes so that the reader may work through such matters on their own.
Another matter for clarity. Rick’s social media rebuttal implies my (or anyone elses) ministry energy is invested in critiquing others. While it is true doing so is not profitable, this is a false statement. Just as Rick has every right to criticize and disagree with me, equally valid is my right to hold positions and address them even if he does not agree. As Calvin said, “a dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” However, I do not charge my brother with false testimony as he is making a perceived generalization. Again, I edited the original article to remove “appears” to accept the allowance for others to navigate the blurry zones without moving away from the main concerns.
Lastly, Rick posed the challenge of why I or others cannot simply move on from COVID and how the (Canadian) churches handled it. It is fairly simple. Churches that took money from the government and locked down their churches and mandated people to comply with specific regulations to attend corporate worship services was a public denial and betrayal of Jesus Christ. Since it was done publicly, there needs to be public confession and repentance, which the original article stated. To be fair with Rick’s statement, the energy that certain men take to call faithful pastors out for their theonomy and anti-restrictions positions could be better spent repenting and simply telling folks they got it wrong.
In closing, I will not respond to some of the cheap shots Rick threw out, as I, too, can throw some pretty good ones myself. However, I will state clearly. I have not attacked the longevity of one’s ministry in the original article but called out that compromise and soft positions will interfere with other ministry decisions, such as views on government overreach-church and state matters. No one is saying the men mentioned are not saved, as this would be an attack on the work of Christ in their life. But there are concerns that need to be examined and worked through. If the majority of churches are silent to all the attacks facing it or aligning with dangerous teachers – what they have to say about faithful pastors must be weighed but also, at times, unheeded. So, since my original article could have appeared to some as poor wording, it has been changed.
 Fowler, Stanley, The Challenge of Unity and Diversity, January 21, 2020, https://heritageseminarycambridge.blogspot.com/2020/01/the-challenge-of-unity-and-diversity.html?spref=fb