This isn’t something I really want to write about and I’ll let you know on the front end that if you get ugly I’ll block your quote (i.e. Ugly does not mean you see this differently from me, it means you are being ugly). Please understand up front that I am not mad at anyone as I write this (except at one person, but I’ll get to that later). A couple of months ago I was invited to speak on a program that if you looked at the speaker line up you’d probably think most of the guys were pretty far to my right (meaning, more conservative than I am). Notice I didn’t say they are to my right, just you’d think they were. I say this because looking over the list there were not many of the guys I’d ever spoken on programs with. I did not see the list of speakers prior to agreeing to speak. I went, I preached truth and I think I even said some thing from what I know of them that they needed. And is it bad for me to say that I was treated royally and that I had a great time? While I spoke some truths that I think they needed to hear I do believe they would have me back.
In a couple of weeks I’ll speak on a program that if you look at the speaker line up you’ll probably think most of the guys were pretty far to my left (meaning, more liberal than I am). Notice I didn’t say they are to my left, just you’d think they were. I say this because looking over the list there were not many of the guys I’d ever spoken on programs with. I did not see the list of speakers prior to agreeing to speak. I plan on going and speaking truth and even saying some thing from what I know of them that they need.
I got a couple of comments prior to my engagement a couple of months ago indicating surprise that I’d be on that program. I have gotten some comments prior to the one in a couple of weeks indicating surprise that I am on that program.
I want to be very clear: I’m not sure what to do. Do I have an obligation to vet every other speaker on a program before I go and if so what percentage of matters do they have to agree with me on for me to agree to speak on a program that they are also on? Do I have to ask for a lineup before agreeing to be on a summer series, or on a lectureship? If everyone took that stance no one would ever speak on any program cause no one would ever agree “first” to be on the program. It would be an endless circle. Do I have to go through every lecture ever presented to see if anyone has ever spoken that which was not truth.
I have a strong standard and conviction: I will preach anywhere that a) I can physically make it to, b) that my elders will allow me to be at and c) that will not stricture what I say. Now, if you have a different standard, I won’t be upset with you - I’m just sharing mine with you.
I’m going to say this as humbly as I know how: Preaching is all I know, it’s all I’ve been taught. And I made a vow to God sitting in my little office in Eva, Alabama back in 1986 that given the energy and opportunity to preach God’s Word I would never turn down a chance if asked. I preach truth. That is my primary goal. And I don’t slice and dice truth. In fact I always try to taylor what I say to what I believe the audience needs to hear. I have NEVER held back for fear of any man or so that I would get paid (Mel says I’ve got to stop doing “non-paying gigs” - the most expensive one I’ve done lately cost me over $1500 in travel and lodging. But I got to preach three times - so I don’t care) or invited back. I think only a coward would do that. I actually get pretty disgusted with guys who “bravely” berate those who are not present to “prove” how sound they are or on the other side who plow into those godly men of the past just to belittle the past!
I also want to address a couple of other issues here:
1. I don’t play the “guilt by association” game. It just doesn’t work. I can link you on either side (liberal or conservative) in two moves to either side! It is ironic that one of the master’s of this approach died this morning. For years, Malcolm Hill was well known for this approach. He passed away Tuesday morning. Back in May of last year he wrote a major piece that showed his change of mindset on this: “Being on a program with a false teacher does not mean I agree with him. Worshipping in the assembly with non-Christians and unfaithful brethren does not mean I am in fellowship with them. Eating in a restaurant does not mean I am in fellowship with all others eating in that same restaurant at the time I am eating. My, how some of us have missed the teaching of II John 9-11 in days gone by” (If you’d like the full edition and articles that go with this quote send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. The second issue I want to address is a mindset that is so ugly I find it incomprehensible that a person claiming to be a disciple of Christ would take. It goes something like this: “Well, I’ll preach anywhere I’m asked to but when I’m done they won’t have me back.” First of all, that’s just stupid. I have a chance to share the Gospel with someone and I plan on, in advance, being so ugly, being so invective, so inflaming, I plan on making them so angry that I won’t ever have a second chance to come back and speak to them again. Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not advocating a position of ever compromising the truth. And I’m sure at times I’ve said things that have made it where the people did not want me to come back. But think about it. Think of the worst setting you could imagine. Would you want just one time to preach the truth of God’s glorious Gospel to them or would you want multiple occasions?
OK, now for what you’ve all been waiting for: Who is Dale mad at. Probably myself! I got an envelope in the mail the other day - it copied one of the programs I mentioned above and then on it was typed: Jerry A. Jenkins would not appear with these men. It was postmarked Nashville but the person who sent it forgot to sign it. I really hate that for I would love to know how he or she knows that. How they know Jerry A. Jenkins better than I do. I’d love to know if they are speaking to him from the grave - cause I’d love to talk to him again. I think I could say I would know more what dad would or would not do about as much as anyone (there may be 5 or so who knew him as well). He believed in preaching and said: “Take any chance that causes you to prepare, to study and preach.” Now, if you sent that and forgot to sign it give me a call, I’d love your insight. If you didn’t sign it on purpose - low blow - it hurt. How dare you use my dead father and my greatest hero, the person outside of God who I want to please the most and try to pull him from the grave into this! I suspicion you are the same person who heard me preach a couple of months after mom died and said: “You’re mom would not have been proud of you.” Incidentally I know who did that - and they had only met my mom one time in their life. And anyone who knew my mom knows I’d have to murder a village for her to not be proud of me. So, why do I say I’m mad at myself? Here’s why - for letting a statement like that bother me at all.
There are two schools of thought. One indicates that if you speak on a program it means you agree with others on the program and are “wishing them godspeed” that you are promoting the “unfruitful works of darkness.” The other says “preach truth.” I’m going with the Jesus, Peter, Paul school on this one - preach! I think I’d preach in hell if I thought I might have the chance to save a soul from there. I've explained my position on this and asked so many of my mentors what they would advise and every one of them has said if you can preach, preach.
Now, if you feel differently then that is fine, but please pray for me.
I do not want to be belligerent on this issue. I am still learning and studying on it. I am sure there are strong points and positions that differ with where I am on this and I want to hear them (as long as they don't get just mean). God has been good to me. There’s enough division already in this culture for me to press it.