Tuesday, August 05, 2014

DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED WITH NONBELIEVERS
...what it means and how its truth impacts and shapes our ministry partnerships and alliances

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?

Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

What accord has Christ with Belial?

Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

-Paul, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

The Apostle Paul above gives us one of the key principles in all of the NT concerning our role in the society in which we live: “do not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers.” It is echoing the imperative of the Apostle John we he says, “be in the world and not of the world.” Rightly understanding its truth has a profound impact in how we live, engage culture, and most importantly with whom we partner with in ministry.

At the outset, when dealing with controversial and potentially divisive passages like this one, there can be ungodly attitudes expressed by name calling, cheap shot invectives, and attacking the person without ever having to wrestle with the actual text of Scripture pertaining to the matter at hand. I have sadly witnessed this as of late when a nugatory blogger took it on himself to point his sharp, unbridled tongue towards a pastor and a woman commenting on his blog about this issue for simply voicing a different view. Let me assure you, that will not be happening here in this article and will not be tolerated in the meta either. As you know, I am not shy when it comes to taking on issues and engaging in profitable, vigorous, even sometimes heated discussion. But careless venting and ranting designed to attack the person rather than biblically deal with the issue will not be allowed here (please read my blog rules if you are unclear of those guidelines).

Therefore, due to the recent confusion that some have made concerning this text, let me begin by stating what this passage is not teaching with the hopes of producing clarity on this important subject.

1. It is not a call to isolationism. This is not Paul’s call for all Christians to create an alternative society whereby we only by gas from Christian gas companies; pay taxes to Christian governments; drive cars made by Ichthus Motors; or purchase groceries from Galilean Grocers. Christians working for nonbelievers in an employee/employer relationship is not prohibited by Scripture. Doing business and trade with nonbelievers is not prohibited by Scripture. Being involved in community projects and events with nonbelievers is not prohibited by Scripture. But what is prohibited, is any kind of partnership in a spiritual enterprise or ministry involving making Christ known, preaching of the Word, evangelism, worship, the furtherance of the local church, etc. I will unfold that in just a minute.

2. It is not a call to divorce your unsaved spouse. This passage isn’t specifically addressing the marriage issue (though it would apply) for the Apostle Paul has already given the command in 1 Corinthians 7:39 to “marry only in the Lord.” Considering marriage is the most intimate and binding of all human relationships, it would go without saying that it should be reserved for only believers to marry other believers. BUT, if you are married to a nonbeliever, the Apostle is not giving you an automatic out here. You are not to divorce your unbelieving spouse, but remain in that union praying for their regeneration.

3. And, it is not a call to avoid contact with nor having fellowship with nonbelievers. Paul again tells us for that to happen we would have to go “out of this world” (1 Cor. 5:9-10). How are we to love our neighbor if we don’t have contact with them? How can we serve them and do good works to them if we are not involved with their lives?
So those are three things that the Apostle is not meaning by the command: “do not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers.”

Paul using the Greek word: heterozugounten (bound together or unequally yoked) draws this analogy, however, not from the usage of the Greek term but from a concept back in Deuteronomy 22:10. When God was laying out prescriptions for the conduct of His people, He gave them a lot of prescriptions that on the surface are not particularly spiritual, they had to do with the uniqueness of Israel's life. But some of them were very practical and wise and one of the things that He instructed them, recorded in Deuteronomy 22:10 is that they were not to plow with an ox and an ass yoked together. And the reasons for that are obvious. Those two animals have two different natures. They don't have the same gait, they don't have the same disposition, they don't have the same strength. They don't have the same kind of instincts, completely different natures. You can't yoke them up and expect to plow a straight furrow.

To then “yoke” with a nonbeliever in a spiritual enterprise or ministry of any kind would be counterproductive wouldn’t it? Christians are new creations; walk in a newness of life; have different goals and purposes in living as born again followers of Jesus Christ. We live to please Him in all things and not ourselves. We see this world as not our home, but the land of our sojourning. Our lives have been separated from this world and unto Christ to now do His will, according to His Word, by His Spirit, in living out His gospel. It is undeniable - we are a new people. Therefore, Paul is giving a basic tenant for Christian living in whatever we do for the Lord; it cannot be in partnership with nonbelievers.

Now just in saying that, I am certain it opens up all kinds of questions and pragmatic considerations. Let’s begin to deal with them.

In the 107 THESES that I penned ten years ago inspired by the wholesale buyout of Christian record companies in CCM (and publishers, bookstore chains, and greeting card companies have joined their ranks) I specifically addressed this issue in section six of that document. Here are some of those theses for your consideration:
75. We cannot partner with the unbelieving world in a common spiritual enterprise or ministry. To harness unbelievers and believers in a Christ-centered endeavor is to be unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

76. We must be separate from non-Christians in positions of ownership, authority or influence in the advancement of the gospel. (Ibid.)

77. The kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness are two mutually exclusive worlds; two opposing societies; two converse communities that are incompatible and incongruous with each other in regards to the faith. (Ibid.)

78. One is characterized by righteousness, light, Christ, believers and the temple of God. Lawlessness, darkness, Belial, unbelievers and the temple of idols distinguish the other. One is based on God's truth-the other on Lucifer's lies. In matters of Christian faith and belief no partnership does or really can exist between these two realms. (Ibid.)

79. "To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being detestable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work." (Titus 1:15-16)

80. God is our Father and we, as His children, must disavow all praetorian religious and spiritual alliances with nonbelievers or we will forfeit the joy and blessing that flow from obedient fellowship in the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)

81. Satan's number one assault on the church is to infiltrate with error. He doesn't want to fight the church - he wants to join it. (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 11:12-15; 1 Timothy 4:1)

82. Undiscerning believers think it a profound ministry strategy to join forces with unregenerate people in forwarding the gospel. Unwittingly, they harness Jesus Christ, the Worthy One, with Belial or Satan, the worthless one, in an unholy alliance - the very essence of being unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:15)

83. "Ephraim is joined to idols. Let him alone." (Hosea 4:17)

84. We are not, however, called to isolationism. We are called to be salt and light in the world. We are to be faithful witnesses of God's mercy, love and grace to the lost and dying. We are to cultivate personal relationships with unbelievers, love our neighbor and our enemy, serve them and share our faith with them. (Matthew 5:13-16; 40-44)

85. We are to be in the world…but not of it - and this is our greatest challenge. Separation is not being divorced from contact with the world, but from complicity with and conformity to it. (1 John 2:15-17)

86. For instance, it is not unbiblical to consult non-Christian experts in matters of business, craft or trade (though whenever possible, Christian experts respected in these fields are preferable because of a shared integrity), but we can never engage in intimate binding, indissoluble relationships, alliances or partnerships that result in shared responsibility or authority for ministry purposes. (Deuteronomy 22:9-11; Philippians 2:14-15)

87. The promise of increased financial resources, wider distribution and a larger audience is not a justification for the surrender of our spiritual autonomy. (Luke 4:4-12; Ephesians 5:8-12)
This is what Paul is essentially saying in this passage: there can be absolutely no partnership with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry - none. That would include trying to meld other faiths with the Christian faith for the sake of an ecumenical unity (syncretism). This would also include secular businesses who want to purchase Christian ministries or entities.

When it is fashionable for unsaved people representing multi-national conglomerates, to buy up Christian based companies founded as ministries for the furtherance of the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that have functioned in music, book publishing ministry, etc. - then we as a church today need to take a step back and evaluate this trend carefully through the lens of Scripture.

We must remember Paul's words in 2 Cor. 2:17,"we are not like many who peddle the Word of God for profit."
IOW, we are not like those who want to wholesale
the truth of God's Word as bargain bin merchandise
for the purpose and motive of financial gain.


There has never been a time where the gospel has been a popular thing in the world in which we live. There is an inherent offense to the cross beloved.  It is not an acceptable nor enticing message to say to a lost world:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. -Luke 14:26-27

Let's see someone put that on a greeting card.

The gospel has never been profitable for the world to own for its own profitability - until now. What does it say then about the content of the gospel that is being presented today so that unsaved people find it so attractive rather than offensive that they want to own the very ministry who is supposed to represent faithfully that same gospel? Could you imagine Nero ever wanting to meet with Paul to buy his ministry? Could you imagine Peter cutting a deal with the Judaizers to expand his market platform? Never!

The servant is not greater than the Master beloved;
and the Master suffered greatly because the world hated Him.
Now if the world hated Him, they will hate us;
and even demand our blood for knowing Christ and making Him known.
All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

I think it is not unlikely conclusion to assert that when the world around us finds the gospel we proclaim as an invitation for building up their bottom line, then the gospel that they are hearing is not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at all.  Just a watered-down substitute; a diluted glass of cheap grace masquerading as the genuine article.

My dear friend, Dr. John MacArthur, offers the following wisdom on this issue when saying:
”It's very much like modern Christianity today, by the way, that seeks to blend Christianity with popular culture, wants to make Christianity more popular, less different, more palatable, less offensive, less narrow, less exclusive. And the result of it is that true Christianity in the purity of God's Word gets corrupted by compromise and the church can become useless and shameful and blasphemous in mocking the truth. For believers there can be no compromise. We cannot engage ourselves with unbelievers in any spiritual enterprise. That's the issue. "Do not be bound together with unbelievers," that is what he commands that sets this text in motion. And it is an unmistakable call to believers to separate from unbelievers. No one could miss that that's what it's saying. The question is, what does it mean?

And as I said last time, it is essential to understand what it means but first of all what it does not mean. Paul is not saying, cut off all contact with non-Christians. He's not saying that because we have to reach them with the gospel. That is not the issue. He's not saying don't evangelize the unconverted, don't confront people in false religions. He's not saying that. We must do that.

The issue then is religious cooperation...

He is also not saying that you can't work or play or do business or be engaged in common earthly enterprise with unbelievers. He's not saying that, of course you can. What he is saying is you cannot link up with unbelievers in religious causes...or religious enterprises... You can't engage them in anything that involves ministry, teaching, or worship. Where there is ministry, teaching and worship there has to be absolute separation.

So he's referring in actuality to harnessing up believers and unbelievers in any common religious, spiritual enterprise. The two cannot be yoked together anymore than an ox and an ass can pull a straight furrow when under the same yoke, as Deuteronomy 22:10 forbids. But that is precisely what the Corinthians were doing.”
This is the issue before us. When secular companies see Christian companies, designed for ministry in making Christ known, grow to a place where they are generating a lot of money, it is understandable why they would want to buy them up; expand that marketplace; and profit financially from that acquisition. I do not fault the world for that; I do fault, however, the believers for selling it to them - they should know better.

There will always be a “Simon the Sorcerer” who sees the crowds and the effects of the gospel and wants to “purchase with money the gift of the Holy Spirit.” But genuine ministry cannot surrender its spiritual autonomy and authority to nonbelievers - never.

This is what I told several CCM executives ten years ago when the Christian music industry was being bought out in accelerated rates. It is why I left the industry. I would be unequally yoked with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry if I would have stayed. Now I realize that the standard pragmatic, Arminian argument is: "but think of how many more CD’s or books or greeting cards we could sell? I mean, if EMI or Sony or Rupert Murdoch hadn’t bought us out, our Christ-centered products wouldn’t have made it into mainstream stores and think of how many wouldn’t have been reached if we didn’t do this?”  Blah, blah, blah.

The world cannot own, operate, control, or manage Christian ministry designed to further the gospel; preach the Word; encourage worship; evangelism; discipleship, etc. It is forbidden. Those would seek to justify their alliances with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry are violating the clear command of God’s Word.

Be in the world; be doctors, and lawyers, and factory workers; bankers; and politicians; and salesmen; and educators; and stock brokers; and models; and actors, musicians, and entertainers; and auto-workers; etc. that are honoring the Lord as faithful witnesses of the gospel to your employers and co-workers. BUT, if IBM, AT&T, General Motors, etc. wanted to own a Christian ministry it would be prohibited by God’s Word.

But don't be of the world: why would any Christian involved in ministry go to nonbelievers to solicit their financial support to further their spiritual enterprise or ministry anyway? Can you imagine Paul appealing to Nero to bank roll through corporate acquisition the ministry? Unfathomable. That is for individual believers and the local church to fund (1 Cor. 9:1-18; 3 John 5-9). What the world needs to hear is not a business plan by Christian publishers, music companies, greeting card companies and the like to expand their bottom line, shelf space, and market Q; what they need to hear is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ - to repent of their sins, forsaking all to follow Him.

Be in the world; be involved in your communities; love your neighbors; do good work at your place of employ; honor the Lord with excellence in those things. 

But don’t be of the world. If a nonbeliever is touched by the young people being changed in your area, don’t seek to approach them for co-ownership of your work, approach them with the life-giving truths of the gospel.

Amen?

The combox is yours.

74 comments:

The Spokesman said...

82. Undiscerning believers think it a profound ministry strategy to join forces with unregenerate people in forwarding the gospel. Unwittingly, they harness Jesus Christ, the Worthy One, with Belial or Satan, the worthless one, in an unholy alliance - the very essence of being unequally yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:15)

The issue then is religious cooperation...

So he's referring in actuality to harnessing up believers and unbelievers in any common religious, spiritual enterprise.

There will always be a “Simon the Sorcerer” who sees the crowds and potential revenue and wants to “purchase with money the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

87. The promise of increased financial resources, wider distribution and a larger audience is not a justification for the surrender of our spiritual autonomy. (Luke 4:4-12; Ephesians 5:8-12)This is what Paul is essentially saying in this passage: there can be absolutely no partnership with nonbelievers in a spiritual ministry or enterprise - none. That would include trying to meld other faiths with the Christian faith for the sake of an ecumenical unity (syncretism)...

Amen! We are to have contact without contamination and biblical separation without ecumenical cooperation.

Sports4Him said...

Biblical separation oftentimes comes with a great cost--albeit earthly. Thank you, my brother, for your godly and consistent example in this area.

Steven & Faith Long said...

Amen & Amen!

Carla said...

gvThis is a very good and very helpful post on such a disputable topic. I know that for myself when I was first saved and then for many years afterward, the only time "unequally yoked" was ever referred to it was in the context of marriage. For many years I never heard (or read) anyone really expand this principle into the various, diverse relationships we have as Christians being in the world but not of the world.

Thank you for taking the time to post this today.

Indieheaven said...

Good discourse.

I would add that those in the CCM industry will tell you that the secular companies that own them do not manage or run the Christian divisions. They simply want the profits from the activity.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

Great article, Steve!

As another example of a God-dishonoring union, Warren's PEACE plan, I believe, clearly violates this biblical command from Paul.

Joining forces with the unregenerate to further the work that the church should already be doing goes contrary to the fact that we are to be IN the world, but not OF it...not to mention that it's a slap in the face to our great Savior who proclaimed that HE would build His church. And He doesn't need help from those in the darkness to do it!

Paul's instruction here also brings forth the truth that it is virtually impossible (if not completely) to truly have fellowship with an unbeliever. A relationship, sure...I guess so. But real fellowship can only exist between those who have the mind of Christ. And I think this applies across the board from marriage, to business, to ministry, etc.

Great job, my brother. Keep fighting the good fight.

SJ Camp said...

the spokesman
Contact with nonbelievers is vital for us to have; but complicity with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry is quite another thing altogether.

Thanks always for your post and encouraging words.

SJ Camp said...

sports4him
Love the nic and thank you for your kind and gracious comment. Tough to stand against the crowd when so much of the crowd isn't getting it or refuses to see it.

Sadly, seems like pragmatics is the winner most every time. I know that I am so sinful in my own heart and life, that I could justify anything that would profit me financially under the nomenclature of ministry.

Truth allows for no such negotiation of ideals though. I have many unsaved friends, but I can't imagine allowing any of them (no matter how kind and financially solvent they may be) to own my ministry.

Thanks David...
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Carla
That was my upbringing as well. I only heard 2 Cor. 6:14-15 used for marriage - but marriage isn't even mentioned in that text and was settled in 1 Cor. 7:39.

But the principle is true for other areas Christian ministry as well. When it is fashionable for unsaved people, representing multi-national conglomerates, to buy Christian based companies that have functioned in music, book publishing ministry - then we as a church today need to take a step back and evaluate this trend carefully through the lens of Scripture.

We must remember Paul's words, "we are not like many who peddle the Word of God for profit." IOW, who retail truth for financial gain.

Thanks again for your thoughts,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

indieheaven
But the dirty little secret is that no CCM company has autonomy - none. They are beholding to "New York" for all they do. IOW, they can't commit to do anything without the parent company's approval.

You don't pay $100,000,000 for a company and say to them: "now go play and send us the profits." No way. They own them, they run them, they manage them, they control them. They may keep employed some key individuals, but everyone is expendable in their world.

Just ask the tens of executives that thought they were beyond their long arm who were given pink slips.

The gospel has never been profitable for the world to seek its status - until now. What does that say about the quality of the gospel that is being presented today?

SJ Camp said...

brian@voice of the sheep
Joining forces with the unregenerate to further the work that the church should already be doing goes contrary to the fact that we are to be IN the world, but not OF it...not to mention that it's a slap in the face to our great Savior who proclaimed that HE would build His church. And He doesn't need help from those in the darkness to do it!

BINGO!

reformationfaithtoday.com said...

Steve, thanks for this article. Great words and a needed reminder for us all. your blog is constantly an encouragement to me.
Les Prouty

David Dutton said...

Wow Steve! You put a ton of thought into this article great job.Made me think.

Dave
home Based Greeting Card Business

SJ Camp said...

Les
Thank you brother for your encouraging words.

David
Thank you as well. This is an important subject and needs to be addressed considering the current evangelical climate.

Steve
1 Corinthians 8

DaWildBoar said...

Steve
I am so saddened by what is happening at another blog on this issue. Such a contrast between your blog here. The blog host there is one of the most disrespectful people I have ever come across. I won't comment again over there and was very hesitant of commenting here for fear of attracting some of that ire here.

Please keep on speaking with grace the truth of God's Word rightly divided. You could have responded by sounding off on your blog but did not. You took the high road and focused your post on what the Bible says on this issue. Very well balanced.

Thank you for letting me vent a little here.

Robert

meritymes said...

Steve
I just left a comment on the Gay Sex Book article. This one kind of sheds some light on this too. When secular companies own Christian ministries things can get confusing and the purpose for why they once existed may get lost sometimes.

Thanks for taking a stand on this many years ago on your music.

With thanks,
Meredith

SJ Camp said...

meritymes
Thanks for your comments here. You are a new commenter here at COT I believe. Welcome aboard.

This is simple as you have stated it: Christian ministries of any kind should not be owned by nonbelievers. Even people in Arkansas are bright enough to know that :-).

Grace and peace to you,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Robert
No worries here brother. Glad you commented here and I do appreciate your sensitivity to not wanting to have the nonsensical banter from the other blog come to COT. Something MacArthur told me years ago that time after time after time proves helpful and true is this: "truth can always stand the test of scrutiny; error never wants to be challenged." That is why we are not afraid here to engage people on the actual text of Scripture and the issue at hand and can leave the personal attack and invective by the wayside.

This is an exercise in the difference between a personal attack and rant vs. dealing faithfully with the text of Scripture on any issue that may come our way. The reason I haven't responded anymore over there is that you do not answer a fool according to his folly. My father used to tell me that "a bulldog can whip a skunk anytime, but it's just not worth it." Sometimes it's just not worth it... you know what I mean?

However, this issue biblically is an important one and IS worthy of our attention and discussion. The issue has never been for me one of whether Christians can be involved in government, work for nonbelievers, serve a boss that is ungodly, etc. The issue is religious partnership--religious complicity. Idolatry is in play here no question; and whom we partner with in ministry - whom we are "yoked with" in a spiritual enterprise or ministry is very much in play here as well. That shouldn't be difficult for anyone to comprehend when reading this passage of Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14ff).

In the scenario at the bijou blog lobbing the personal insults, one question that is being asserted but never answered is: "is Hallmark a nonChristian company or not? And the answer is? no one seems to know. One of the original founders of Hallmark Cards from the Hall family had Methodist roots. But are they Christians? Don't know. None of the material at Hallmark Cards reflects any tenants of faith conviction.

Thanks again for your thoughts here and be encouraged brother. All for His glory and for our good... Amen?

Steve
2 Timothy 2:15
Campi

SJ Camp said...

Andy
1. Your blogger profile is not enabled. Please do so for I do not allow anonymous commenters here.

2. I gave some guidelines for my post here: But careless venting and ranting designed to attack the person rather than biblically deal with the issue will not be allowed here (please read my blog rules if you are unclear of those guidelines).

You have chosen to ignore the rules of this blog and have made a person the issue here, not the issue itself. That will not be tolerated. Please comply with these two things or risk having all future comments deleted.

Your present comment has been deleted for noncompliance.

When you honor the rules of this blog, I will be most delighted to dialogue with you.

Thank you,
Steve

StoneCreek said...

Steve
Amazing article! Living here in Nashville and seeing the fruit of the Christian music industry owned by nonbelievers has produced more than proves the point.

I just read what Cent was writing about you on his blog. Dude, what is his problem? Ok, I do agree that you could have just posted your prayers for the people who are getting laid off and not bring up this issue all in the same comment, but still, he treated you as if you committed the unpardonable sin. What you said was right on and he can't handle it. And most of the stuff he said that you said you didn't even say or imply. What an ___.

Don't let him get you down and don't feed the trolls man by posting over there. Not worth it.

I thought it was really interesting that in all of his rants he never produced any concrete info on whether Hallmark was owned by believers - not one. I wonder why?

Stay strong.

SJ Camp said...

stonecreek
Thanks for your thoughts here and I hold no ought against my brother.

As to the Hallmark thing: I have looked and looked on the web and haven't found anything pertaining to their faith convictions at all. That doesn't mean the Hall family aren't Christians, but I can't say they are either. I also thought it was interesting that Cent didn't offer any specific affirming proof of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If he has personal knowledge of their faith in the Lord, why not just share it and be done with it?

The greater issue here is how do we as Christians function in public ministry when in so many arenas nonbelievers are buying up Christianly established companies and ministries...

Grace and peace,
Steve
Psalm 37

Daryl said...

"Let me assure you, that will not be happening here in this article and will not be tolerated in the meta either."

Then again, maybe it will be tolerated. Just a little...

SJ Camp said...

Daryl
This article and thread are light years away from what is going on at the other "blog." I think you would agree.

The commenters here have been most kind and have really stayed on topic as well. I thank the Lord for the daily commenters here at COT - they are really do stay on topic 99% of the time.

This is an important issue today. It affects almost every aspect of Christian commerce and trade within evangelicalism. The world will always try to profit from any venture that they financially maximize to their benefit whether it mentions Jesus or James Brown.

But again, when dealing with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word and His gospel and His worship and His praise - they can have no ownership or partnership. There can be no "yoking" in any spiritual enterprise or ministry with those who do not know the Lord.

I would be interested in your thoughts on this. I appreciate you Daryl and thanks for your comment.

FYI, I do pray for Cent and wish him only the Lord's grace and blessing in all that he does (though I don't appreciate how he has handled this current situation.)

Contra Mundum,
Steve
1 Cor. 4:1-2

SJ Camp said...

To all

For those who may want to know what Contra Mundum means and who originated it - click here.

Steve

Daryl said...

Mr. Camp,

I'm sorry but I can't agree. Certainly there is a different personality to this blog (so what) but there are no dissenting views represented and you have neatly avoided Frank's arguement even as you insist that it is somehow deficient.

My previous comment was merely to indicate that, while you had indicated the no trash talking towards Frank would be permitted, still it appears, unchallenged.

Daryl said...

Regarding the issue at hand, I've seen no answer to Frank's contention that not knowing the status of the Hallmark ownership disqualifies you from employing the "be not unequally yoked" arguement. Nor have I seen a response to his contention that what has happened at Dayspring cannot reasonably be tied to any unequal yoking (even if it is an unequal yoke situation).
Nor have you addressed how that a greeting card company constitutes a ministry in the same way a church is a ministry. Just because we label something "ministry" doesn't make it so.

Until then, I'm not sure what I would respond to. I don't think your post related significantly to the issue Frank originally posted on.

I'm sure you disagree, you have that right. But I will say this about Frank. When he insists that folk don't run you down on his site, he enforces it.

Daryl said...

Steve,

First define a Christian company. If you mean "a company owned by a Christian", I don't see a problem. Providing a service to the community (ie. a mechanic) wouldn't constitute a Christian company in my mind. Nor would a greeting card companyt for that matter. If it were purely a ministry, prices would surely reflect that. As you are aware, card prices in Christian bookstores far outstrip what you find anywhere else (at least in Canada) which clearly demonstrates to me that that business is a business, much like the mechanic down the street.

I realize my previous post was a bit off topic, nonetheless, it tells me something when you insist on a certain behaviour, until it happens. That tells me that your previous insistence is a smokescreen.

SJ Camp said...

Daryl:
A few quick thoughts for you:

1. I have written on this issue for eleven years and have actively put it into practice within the CCM and Christian publishing industry for 14 years. I did not write my post because another blog mentioned a few things.

2. When a Christian company is founded by believers to "make Christ known" and function in that capacity - though it is not a church, it is a ministry. Just like Grace to You is not a church, but a radio ministry. Crossway is not a church, but through their books and bibles they have a tremendous ministry.

3. When any company that is not a Christian company purchases a Christian entity, that partnership due to ownership in a spiritual enterprise or ministry is being unequally yoked (2 Cor. 6:14). You cannot submit your autonomy or authority to nonbelievers when it centers around worship, evangelism, the preaching of God's Word, praise music, books and Bibles, etc. and yes, greeting cards. Anything that involves ministry a nonbeliever cannot be complicit in. None.

4. Until then, I'm not sure what I would respond to. I don't think your post related significantly to the issue Frank originally posted on.

Wasn't meant to. I am dealing with the text of 2 Cor. 6:14-16 he did not.

Grace and peace,
Steve

Daryl said...

Did you ever respond to his query about your knowledge of the spiritual condition of the owners of Hallmark?

SJ Camp said...

Daryl
Read the thread here brother. I have answered that here.

One thing though, no one has provided any information that would confirm that the Hallmark family are believers. No one seems to know.

I would be delighted if someone did step forward with any information relating to their beliefs concerning the faith and if they really do know the Lord.

SJ Camp said...

Craig and Daryl:
Gentlemen. Stay on message here. You will not be allowed to hijack this thread for your own agendas.

These comments are being deleted. If you so choose to comment about THIS post directly I welcome your feedback.

Thank you,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

To All:
I have contacted several bookstores within the Nashville area (about ten or so) and even spoke to Hallmark Cards directly as well.

1. The Bookstores: When I asked them if they knew if Hallmark Cards was a Christian Company, they all without exception said they have never heard that; and they all said "they own DaySpring which is a Christian company." Again, all, without exception. They were all really nice people - we had fun talking together and about this issue.

2. Hallmark Cards: When I spoke directly to someone at Hallmark she said the following: [quote] We are a family oriented company that distributes all kinds of cards including some Christian cards because we bought a company called DaySpring several years ago. We also have special religious cards as well for those of the Jewish faith and for Catholics too. I am a Catholic and I especially like those cards. But I have never heard and don't think it would be fair to call us a Christian Company. We did purchase DaySpring which is a Christian Company though, but carry a wide variety of cards for every walk of life. [end quote]

Again, a very nice person to talk to and we had an enjoyable time visiting.

3. My Conclusion: It is fair to say that the common knowledge of folks in general within the bookstore community and at Hallmark would not be to classify them as a Christian Company. But they all recognized DaySpring as one which I thought was interesting and very good. IOW, they understood there to be a difference in what they are about and what DaySpring was/is about.

My findings here are not a statement at all on whether or not the Hall family is a Christian family or not. It is only pertaining to the Hallmark company. Hallmark has an excellent name in business and they guard that reputation well. I personally enjoy many of their cards and have used them in the past for birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations.

That is all that will be said here about them in particular.

Now, to the issue at hand and the theme of this post: what about the general principle of secular companies owning Christian based ministries and companies that do have a spiritual enterprise and ministry as it relates to 2 Cor. 6:14-16? Does it apply? Should we be concerned? What about the massive buyouts that are taking place within Christian publishing and have taken place within the Christian music community? What say ye?

Your comments are welcome.

Grace and peace,
Steve

Andy Dollahite said...

Steve,

It's nice that you have now done some "research" into whether Hallmark is a "Christian" company or not, but that is not the original issue that Frank brought up. Again, his point was that you made *assumptions* about people you had no real knowledge about.

SJ Camp said...

Andy
I made no assumptions about Hallmark my brother. I have been in the industry for many years and have never heard anything about them being a Christian company.

That is why I asked a few times for anyone who has knowledge about them truly being a Christian based company to come forward and offer their assistance. None did - not even Cent.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

What are your thoughts about secular companies owning Christianly based companies or ministries? Is it biblical? Does 2 Cor. 6:14 have any bearing on that at all? Is it an amoral issue, or one that should concern us believers in the Lord?

I look forward to your thoughts and thank you for posting.

Steve

Carla said...

Steve,

you asked:

"What are your thoughts about secular companies owning Christianly based companies or ministries? Is it biblical? Does 2 Cor. 6:14 have any bearing on that at all? Is it an amoral issue, or one that should concern us believers in the Lord?"

Well, those are really good questions. While I'm certainly not a big business, I do have an online business that is primarily Christian based. Someone asked me once "if a non-Christian company wanted to buy your designs and mass produce them, would you sell?"

For me, that was a no-brainer and the answer was absolutely NOT. I wouldn't be able to justify (before God) why I'd sold out to an unbelieving company, regardless of the fact that they'd be able to market and produce in mass quantities, what I can only do in small measure. For me, it's not about mass producing it's about integrity in what IS produced. Selling to a secular company (for any price tag) is simply out of the question.

I do think this is an important topic that should concern every believer, and does actually affect us all in one way or another, and I'm glad you're as outspoken on it as you have been over the years. Of course it matters, how we live and do business in an unbelieving world ALWAYS matters. There are all kinds of pragmatic excuses given for why folks do what they do, but at the end of the day what does 2Cor. 6:14 actually say?

And, what matters more, pragmatics or the written word of God? It's a black and white issue for me, and the fact that Christians even have to discuss it to explain why it's wrong, is disturbing.

Andy Dollahite said...

Steve,

Concerning 2 Corinthians, I will post a more detailed opinion tomorrow. Tonight I must study for an important exam.

SJ Camp said...

Andy
Sounds great. I will look forward to reading your thoughts.

Grace and peace,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Carla
For me, it's not about mass producing it's about integrity in what IS produced. Selling to a secular company (for any price tag) is simply out of the question.

Bingo!

These aren't widgets that we are about producing; these are materials that directly are tied to the gospel and person of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that sets a more profound biblical standard of whom we partner with in that endeavor than just another business venture.

Thanks for your thoughts here.
Steve
Col. 3:17

Daryl said...

Steve,

Would you have the same issue if the "Christian" company in question made windows?

SJ Camp said...

Daryl:
Great question and thank you for it.

Two things:

1. If it is a Christian selling a business to another business whether they be Christian or not, that is not a problem biblically. It is a matter of trade and doing business. There is no yoking, just a sale.

2. But, when it is dealing with an aspect of ministry - proclaiming the name of Christ, worship, discipleship, evangelism, etc. - then in that spiritual enterprise or ministry there is a yoking that has occurred placing ministry under the authority of a nonbeliever.

Jesus and His Word are "widgets" that the church may sell to the highest bidder for the promise of greater shelf presence at WalMart; increased sales; securing the brand; or greater profits.

"We are not like many who peddle the Word of God for profit" 2 Cor. 2:17

Does that make things a bit more clear or clear as mud?

Let me know,
Campi

Daryl said...

It does clarify a little.

I'd have to say that greeting cards, particularly overpriced ones qualify as widgets in my book.

SJ Camp said...

Daryl
I'd have to say that greeting cards, particularly overpriced ones qualify as widgets in my book.

You are right - they are terribly overpriced.

But when those greeting cards carry Bible verses and Christian themes - they were designed for that and for the purpose of "to make Christ known" - to me, that moves beyond just being a widget.

If I am wrong about that, then I want to be teachable. I just always have believed that when we name the name of Christ as our vocation that carries with it a more weighty responsibility than "just doing business."

Help me out here Daryl. Where do you think I am biblically missing this?

Campi

Daryl said...

It seems to me that (perhaps) we have to broad a view of what constitutes ministry. I'm not sure I have the answer to where you draw the line.

Example: I knew a guy who worked for a septic pumping company, owned by a Christian. When this guy worked, he made sure that after he had left it was impossible to tell that anyone had dug up the yard. That is far from standard business (even good business) practice.

To my mind, that could be called ministry. It will necessarily lead to questions about why that guy operates his business so differently.

Now, I'm not arguing that that is a ministry per se, I'm only using it to demonstrate this one thing. Who is a more "Christian" business, that guy, or the overpriced card dealers who slap a verse on their product.

In my view the problem is a big one in North America, in large part, due to the fact that so many ministry's are not under the direct covering of a local church, making that line we're talking about very unclear.

You could call any well run, biblically operated business, a Christian business. Or you could say only those with a verse on their product are Christian businesses. It seems to me that once you enter the market square in order to turn a profit (besides staying afloat I mean, after all, even a Christian book writer needs to feed his family) you're in another realm altogether.

I think Luther's 2 kingdoms theory fits very well here. The guy making a good shoe at a fair price isn't in a Christian business, he's a Christian who happens to be a businessman. I'd put Dayspring in that same category.

SJ Camp said...

Daryl:
In my view the problem is a big one in North America, in large part, due to the fact that so many ministry's are not under the direct covering of a local church, making that line we're talking about very unclear.

Bingo!

We are making head way here man... Very well said.

I guess the main difference that you and I would have on this issue is 1. about what constitutes as biblical ministry; 2. when does it cross the line from business into ministry OR ministry into business, 3. does the content of what is being marketed have anything to do in qualifying it as a ministry, and lastly, 4. if then a non-Christian company purchases that kind of Christian owned company has 2 Cor. 6:14 been violated?

If you are up for it, let's continue on having more dialogue about some of those questions and maybe coming to some conclusion. I would appreciate it.

In the meantime, here is how I define ministry:

Ministry can be defined as: service to God and His creatures as we employ our Spirit-given giftedness, according to the instruction of Scripture as good stewards of the manifold grace of God for the advancement of His kingdom; that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-12).

Grace,
Steve

Daryl said...

I'd have to challenge your definition. That definition applies to the Christian operating a machine shop as well as it applies to your local church.

I'd narrow that down to the ministry of the gospel to the elect for the purpose of edification, and to non-believers for the purpose of conversion.

That is...I wouldn't consider a non-profit organization, working to feed the hungry, a ministry, even it was run by Christians, unless the feeding was secondary and spreading the gospel was primary.

The Christian mechanic has a business primarily to fix cars and feed his family, not primarily to spread the gospel. (The business I mean, not him personally).

The preacher, while paid, is doing what he is doing primarily to spread the gospel and/or teach believers. That's a ministry.

You mentioned the content of what is being marketed. I agree that is important, but I also believe that where it is being marketed matters.
That is, putting a verse on something and selling it doesn't make it a ministry thing. I've seen tradesmen's trucks with verses on them as they drive around town. Does that make it a ministry? No. They are in the business of their trade, not ministry.
Would it be wrong for that guy to sell his business to General Paint? I don't think so.

Incidentally, relative to your research on Dayspring and Hallmark. It's a little disingenuous to go asking non-believers if a company is Christian or not. How would they know? Do they know what a Christian is, really? Would they say 'yes' if they thought it was a business run by the Catholic Church? or Mormons?
And does a non-believer's opinion on someones "Christianness" really matter?
The people to ask are the owners of the company themselves. And then don't ask if it's a Christian company, ask if they themselves are Christians.

Here are the questions you raised:

1. about what constitutes as biblical ministry;

I answered that above.

2. when does it cross the line from business into ministry OR ministry into business,

If the sole (or primary) purpose is the gospel, then, for the purposes of this discussion, it is ministry, if it's primary purpose is money, it's business.

3. does the content of what is being marketed have anything to do in qualifying it as a ministry, and lastly,

Not necessarily. Content can certainly disqualify, however.
If I hawk bibles at the local flea market because I know they'll sell and I need the money, is that a ministry? I don't think it is.

4. if then a non-Christian company purchases that kind of Christian owned company has 2 Cor. 6:14 been violated?

No. A company, in business for the purposes of making mone, is a business, not a ministry. Buying up a company that happens to have Christian slogans on some of their stuff doesn't violate that in my opinion. Buying "Desiring God Ministries" does.

Where you are off is two-fold. Your definition on ministry is simply the definition of Christian life.

You were to quick to label a company (Hallmark) as a bunch of non-believers and, really, you still don't know if you are wrong, and, conversely, you've identified DaySpring as a ministry, and I don't see that they fit that description.

SJ Camp said...

Daryl
You were to quick to label a company (Hallmark) as a bunch of non-believers and, really, you still don't know if you are wrong, and, conversely, you've identified DaySpring as a ministry, and I don't see that they fit that description.

I didn't call Hallmark a bunch of nonbelievers. I said they were not a Christian Company. There is a difference between a company that employs some Christians and one that is Christian from its inception that may even employ some nonbelievers.

Instead of ranting and venting, here is how cordial, clear thinking people would address this issue (and this is not directed to you):

"Steve, though Hallmark is not a Christian company per se, you might not be aware that the Hall family themselves are very dedicated Christians and truly are regenerated believers in the Lord. That may change yours, and most likely a widely held position in the public, that they may not be because the product they manufacture is not overtly Christian in content."

How hard would that be Daryl? I can't even find one of the Hallmark employees or individual store employees who would say they are a Christian company and none of them knew anything about the Hall family's faith convictions - not one.

So no one, including Francis, has said clearly the Hall family are believers. So the onus is on Cent. If he has knowledge that would bring clarity to this situation, then he should simply state it for us all and remove all doubt. But again, he hasn't - and why is that? It communicates to me and a whole lot of other people that he really doesn't know. But, if by chance he does, then why not just say it instead of continuing the ranting, the name calling, the invective against me and others?

I have spoken to some friends of mine in the KC area, and they tell me that the Hall family are Methodists (which I knew) but they don't know if they are really Christians. That's honest and I appreciate that.

As to this issue: DaySpring was established as a Christian ministry using greeting cards "to make Christ known."

Here are their own words: "DaySpring Cards was born in a small commercial print shop in Covina, California, in 1971. The company was founded by four Christian men — Dean Kerns, Don Leetch, Russ Flint, and Roy Lessin. These men started DaySpring with a common vision, to make Christ known through the printed message.

That is a ministry purpose statement my friend and one which I wholeheartedly affirm. And by my definition I submitted earlier is a completely biblical one. That is not just slapping a verse on a greeting card, that has real biblical purpose attached to it expressed in those bible verses on those cards. That was their vision. (BTW, my definition of ministry is 95% Scripture so you would have to show me biblically how it fails to qualify a group like DaySpring.)

Though DS is a company and though it makes greeting cards; those greeting cards have an undeniable spiritual purpose to them - "to make Christ known." You may not be aware of this, but the good folks at DaySpring referred to their cards as Christian cards - not just greeting cards. Again, it was ministry to those men, not just a widget.

I disagree with you here that this is just business dealings - it is ministry within a business framework - but ministry nonetheless.

Andy Dollahite said...

To begin, I agree with your first three points about what the passage is NOT saying.
However, I do not agree with you that “Paul is giving a basic tenant for Christian living in whatever we do for the Lord; it cannot be in partnership with nonbelievers.” Taken at face value that is an impossible task. If we are to do everything unto the Lord (1 Cor. 10:31), then we could do nothing with an unbeliever. But even when nuanced there seems to be a fundamental issue. In what way is the work of a Christian janitor different than the work of a Christian bookstore owner? Aren’t they both responsible for doing all they do unto the Lord? This is also why I disagree with your later statement, “This is what Paul is essentially saying in this passage: there can be absolutely no partnership with nonbelievers in a spiritual enterprise or ministry - none.” There seem to be serious definitional problems with your dichotomy between spiritual ministries and enterprises, and some other nebulous category. I agree that there are circumstances where a partnership with specific unbelievers would not be a wise decision, a la your hyperbolic Nero and Paul examples. But I see no prohibition in this passage against all partnerships.

Broadly speaking, my understanding of 2 Cor. 6:14-15 mirrors much of what Calvin says in his commentary, which is that Paul’s primary point is that believers should have no fellowship with unbelievers in their idolatries and “pollutions.” As Calvin says, “to be yoked with unbelievers means nothing less than to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Later he adds, “Paul speaks of the yoke of impiety, that is of participation in works, in which Christians cannot lawfully have fellowship.” In that context, I contend that this passage does not address the specific “yoking” of Christians and unbelievers in “spiritual enterprises or ministries.” Paul is simply not that specific. All of the qualities you discuss which are to distinguish Christians from unbelievers should be true in any and all circumstances, whether we are engaged in “ministry” or not. Which begs the question, how could a consistent Christian not be engaged in ministry, whatever his vocation?

So, my view is that the problem Paul is addressing is when Christians, in their diverse pursuits, give in to the sinful idolatries of unbelievers. In the context of the Corinthian church this was a huge issue. Quoting Calvin again, “When, however, Paul says that a Christian has no participation with an unbeliever …[he means] those things that are peculiar to unbelievers, from which the Lord has separated us.” Then, in his concluding comments on this passage Calvin repeats this idea, stating, “…we are not to quit life with the view of departing from all uncleanness, but must simply avoid all participation… If with a true affection of the heart, we aim at the benefit of redemption, we must beware of defiling ourselves by any contamination from its pollutions.” Partnership with unbelievers is not the central point. Corruption because of partnership is the point.

Please pardon a couple of tangential comments. I find it strange that you make a big deal about the offensiveness of the gospel (with which I agree in most contexts), quote Luke 14:26-27, and then say, “Let's see someone put that on a greeting card.” Doesn’t it strike you as odd that you are saying this in the context of the controversy about DaySpring and its supposed spiritual compromises? Really, in what way is the DaySpring “ministry” any different than any vocational pursuit by any Christian? Are not all Christian to do *everything* they do unto the Lord?

Also, regarding the offensiveness of the gospel and the purity with which it is preached, I’d be careful about the standards you use to judge the faithfulness of Christians you do not know. Statements like “I think it is not unlikely conclusion to assert that when the world around us finds the gospel we proclaim as an invitation for building up their bottom line, then the gospel that they are hearing is not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at all…Just a watered-down substitute; a diluted glass of cheap grace masquerading as the genuine article,” are characteristic of the glib moralism prominent in Christian apologetics. Just because a secular person finds your company attractive does not mean that you’re a compromiser. In fact, I hope most businesses run by Christians are admired for their business savvy. Isn’t that a quality praised in Prov. 31?

AlRight said...

Steve
You are dead on target with this issue. Exegetically there is no other conclusion you could make. Don't let the postmodern undecisive thinking of some here discourage you. We are to be in the world; but not of it. Nonbelievers cannot own or have indissoluable authority over a believer on issues concerning ministry.

I agree with Carla here: that fact that this is even being discussed shows how things have digressed in out day.

Lastly, don't let this little blogger Frank get to you. He has the total readership of a large baptist choir - keep your eye on the prize man. The guy is completely out of line and out of control. You are the bigger man for not lowereing yourself to his level.

I do have a question for you: do you think we are witnessing another downgrade like Spurgeon faced during his day because secular companies now own so much of evangelicalism's music and publishing companies?

Thanks,
Alan

Daryl said...

Again Steve, I remind you that you stated at the outset of this post that attacks on anyone would not be permitted.
And yet, you allow people to go after Frank undeterred while deleting posts that ask you why.

I've answered your questions, as have others, and I find your responses lacking.
There is no Biblical passage that says "This is a ministry, this is a business" so your summary dismissal of my definition, in order to preserve your own, without providing any defense of your own is completely of base.

I understand why you haven't replied to Cent's complaint.
You have none.

This will be deleted I'm sure.

Andy Dollahite said...

Alan,

Your summary dismissal of those of us who disagree with Steve as postmodernists is laughable. Was John Calvin a postmodernist? Are you interested in engaging our arguments, or just patting Steve on the back? Seriously, where in the text is there an inescapable connection to what we call a Christian ministry? Did Christian ministries even exist in Paul's day the way we think of them today?

SJ Camp said...

Daryl
Have been out with my daughter Mary having some dinner and a little Starbucks for dessert. Just got in and saw your lengthy post and follow up post.

I will respond to you later tonight or first thing in the morning and thank you for taking the time to really think through this issue.

One quick thing: Cent's complaint is pragmatic, not biblical. He is reacting emotional and not thinking biblically on this (status quo). I am dealing with the textual issues here brother. I know that I have asked here if you or anyone else has information about the Hall family if they are true Christians. All I get are crickets.

The weight of this text of Scripture in 2 Cor. 6:14ff is profound and deserves our attention. BTW, when I first wrote on this issue 11 years ago, I contacted many different individuals about this text (MacArthur, Sproul, Mounce, Piper, Begg etc.) to name a few. At that time, all agreed on the meaning I am stating to you here.

The burden is now with you my brother.

Think biblically, not culturally.
Steve
2 Tim. 2:15

To All:
Please make sure you are honoring my wishes here that you do not make derogatory statements about Frank here. Though he relishes in doing so against anyone who may disagree with him, that is not the sentiment of this blog here - we are better than that.

So, keep it on the topic of Scripture and the text of 2 Cor. 6:14ff adn what it means on this issue. (You too Daryl) :-)/

Steve

SJ Camp said...

Alan
Thanks for your encouragement - it is appreciated. Please be careful to honor my guidelines for this post. I want this discussion to be on what the Word of God teaches on this subject and not on what some bloggers want to vent about. Thank you for being respectful of that...

I do see Daryl's concern about your post. But I just think it needs to be unpacked more thoroughly. The reference to postmodernism is a familiar one and one that I share. Meaning, postmodernism is pragmatic at its core. So it usually begins with cultural considerations first, and then tries to read them back into the text of Scripture as opposed to knowing what the Word teaches first, then examining cultural considerations in light of its truth.

It's a subtle difference but oh so important.

As to your question: do you think we are witnessing another downgrade like Spurgeon faced during his day because secular companies now own so much of evangelicalism's music and publishing companies?

Yes I do. What Spurgeon was facing in his time was a methodological shift in ministry, similar to today. The worldly aspect to that methodology he warned his other clergy would be entrance by which a skewed theology would finally be developed to support the worldly methods. Spurgeon was absolutely correct and history has vindicated him though his own brother voted him out of the Baptist Union of his day.

That is precisely what we are wrestling with concerning the emergent/emerging church AND this issue on being unequally yoked by secular companies owning Christian ministries and companies that are engaged in a spiritual enterprise. Religious cooperation for pragmatic concerns with nonChristian entities will be devastating in our day if not repented of and corrected.

As it relates here, when you begin with "our company has grown, we have more resources for marketing our ministry products, we have better visibility in the general marketplace and profits are up and besides, if they didn't buy us and get us out there not as many people would have heard our message and maybe come to know the Lord" blah, blah, blah.

That is pragmatism. It is Arminianism run-a-muk and certainly has no footing in the Scriptures or the Reformed faith.

Our primary concern in ministry is truth first; what does the Word teach and instruct us about ministry.

Thanks for the question... And welcome to COT. Make sure you read the rules of this blog as well.

Steve

Mark Patton said...

Does this
"Though he relishes in doing so against anyone who may disagree with him"

and this

"Please make sure you are honoring my wishes here that you do not make derogatory statements about Frank here."

seem to contradict?

What I mean, does an exagerated statement of the truth count as derogatory?

I haven't been around these parts very long, but I doubt that it is anyone -- but I could be mistaken.

Mark Patton said...

Oh, I forgot to sign my name and add a verse so it sounds less condesending.

Mark
Hezekiah 43:3

By the way, I did enjoy reading your post. It gave me much pause. I enjoy reading exegesis.

SJ Camp said...

mark paton
Please address the theme of this post or do not comment on this thread.

Respectfully,
Steve

SJ Camp said...

Andy:
I do not agree with you that “Paul is giving a basic tenant for Christian living in whatever we do for the Lord; it cannot be in partnership with nonbelievers.”

But this is what the Apostle Paul is saying: "do not be bound together (unequally yoked) with nonbelievers." (2 Cor. 6:14)

That is a general principle for living and ministry. My friend, William Mounce, in his Greek analysis of this text gives that same axiom. Listen, participation with and being complicit in are two different things. We can work with nonbelievers; have friendships with nonbelievers; go to games, events, have a meal with, etc. every facet of life with nonbelievers - save a few. We cannot marry a nonbeliever; we cannot partner with them in ministry; we cannot be given over to a syncrestic faith with nonbelievers; and nonbelievers cannot own and have authority over any spiritual enterprise or ministry. No religious cooperation - that is for the Christian.

What don't you understand about this?

In what way is the work of a Christian janitor different than the work of a Christian bookstore owner? Aren’t they both responsible for doing all they do unto the Lord?

None in terms of doing all to the glory of God.

I agree that there are circumstances where a partnership with specific unbelievers would not be a wise decision, a la your hyperbolic Nero and Paul examples. But I see no prohibition in this passage against all partnerships.

The term partnerships is tripping you up I think. Work with, play with, be friends with, serve in government with, do business with, etc. but not intimate binding alliances with nonbelievers in any spiritual enterprise or ministry. "Do not be unequally yoked with nonbelievers." That is a command Paul is giving, not a casual suggestion.

Broadly speaking, my understanding of 2 Cor. 6:14-15 mirrors much of what Calvin says in his commentary, which is that Paul’s primary point is that believers should have no fellowship with unbelievers in their idolatries and “pollutions.” As Calvin says, “to be yoked with unbelievers means nothing less than to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” Later he adds, “Paul speaks of the yoke of impiety, that is of participation in works, in which Christians cannot lawfully have fellowship.” In that context, I contend that this passage does not address the specific “yoking” of Christians and unbelievers in “spiritual enterprises or ministries.”

Ah but it does. Where is your biblical proof that the Lord or the Apostles ever surrendered the ministry or work of the gospel or the leadership of the local church to any nonbeliever? You must demonstrate that and cannot draw our inference from silence but from specific reference.

All of the qualities you discuss which are to distinguish Christians from unbelievers should be true in any and all circumstances, whether we are engaged in “ministry” or not. Which begs the question, how could a consistent Christian not be engaged in ministry, whatever his vocation?

No argument. I agree. Someone's vocation may not be specifically a ministry (construction worker, stock broker, educator, etc.;, but every Christian in any environment can be about the work of the gospel in sharing their faith, giving a reason for the hope that is in them, pointing others to the Lord, loving their neighbor, etc. IOW, every true believer is in full time ministry right where the Lord has sovereignly placed them to be used for His glory and do good works that benefit all people (Eph. 2:10; Titus 3:8).

Quoting Calvin again, “When, however, Paul says that a Christian has no participation with an unbeliever …[he means] those things that are peculiar to unbelievers, from which the Lord has separated us.” Then, in his concluding comments on this passage Calvin repeats this idea, stating, “…we are not to quit life with the view of departing from all uncleanness, but must simply avoid all participation… If with a true affection of the heart, we aim at the benefit of redemption, we must beware of defiling ourselves by any contamination from its pollutions.”

Partnership with unbelievers is not the central point. Corruption because of partnership is the point.


It is a both and, not an either or. I agree with Calvin; and the converse is true also; no nonbeliever can have authority over a Christian ministry or enterprise involving worship, evangelism, discipleship, etc. That would lead to a corruption of the truth and a possible corruption of life. "Watch your life and doctrine closely..." Amen?

Please pardon a couple of tangential comments. I find it strange that you make a big deal about the offensiveness of the gospel (with which I agree in most contexts), quote Luke 14:26-27, and then say, “Let's see someone put that on a greeting card.” Doesn’t it strike you as odd that you are saying this in the context of the controversy about DaySpring and its supposed spiritual compromises? Really, in what way is the DaySpring “ministry” any different than any vocational pursuit by any Christian? Are not all Christian to do *everything* they do unto the Lord?

To your last question first: yes, no question - abasolutely. DaySpring IS a ministry, it was founded as such and with a biblical mandate: "to make Christ known." They were not making a widget that they hoped to come out with a special card about Easter of Christmas card twice a year to capture holiday traffic (as Hallmark would...). Everything about DaySpring was to "make Christ known." They just weren't slapping verses on pieces of paper; the verses were their mission statement expressed to the greater public in proclaiming Christ and God's love for a lost world through the gospel. That is the difference.

Also, regarding the offensiveness of the gospel and the purity with which it is preached, I’d be careful about the standards you use to judge the faithfulness of Christians you do not know. Statements like “I think it is not unlikely conclusion to assert that when the world around us finds the gospel we proclaim as an invitation for building up their bottom line, then the gospel that they are hearing is not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at all…Just a watered-down substitute; a diluted glass of cheap grace masquerading as the genuine article,” are characteristic of the glib moralism prominent in Christian apologetics.

I couldn't disagree more. Glib moralism. The moral majority was glib moralism; political remedy for moral malady is glib moralism; family values over Christlikeness is blib moralism. Nonbelievers profiting directly from the gospel and biblical ministry is disobedience to the standard of God's Word (see 2 Cor. 2:17).

Just because a secular person finds your company attractive does not mean that you’re a compromiser.

If you sell it to a nonbeliever and place them in authority over your ministry it does. If you simply are selling a business to others Christian or nonChristian - not a problem. That is trade, not a spiritual yoking in a ministry.

In fact, I hope most businesses run by Christians are admired for their business savvy. Isn’t that a quality praised in Prov. 31?

I do too. Exactly. And may all Christian wives be as entrepreneurial as that woman was :-).

Hope this helps clarify further for you brother. Thank for this chance to interact with you.

VIVAT,
Steve

Andy Dollahite said...

Steve,

The point is what does being “yoked” mean. As Calvin points out, and as I’ve stated, being “yoked” does not mean partnership in all circumstances. It means a specific partnership in corruption. Christians cannot be yoked to unbelievers in idolatry because they are supposed to have been saved out of that lifestyle. Of course I believe this principle should be applied to prevent Christian/non-Christian marriages, or prevent the merger of a Christian magazine publisher with Playboy. But, I do not think that it is a principle that would make it wrong for a Christian medical practice from becoming a partner with a non-Christian hospital.

From what I can tell, you don’t disagree with my last statement. But this is because you seem to continue to draw a distinction between what Christian doctors, lawyers, janitors, etc do and what Christian “ministries” do. For example, you say, “We can work with nonbelievers; have friendships with nonbelievers; go to games, events, have a meal with, etc. every facet of life with nonbelievers - save a few… we cannot be given over to a syncrestic faith with nonbelievers; and nonbelievers cannot own and have authority over any spiritual enterprise or ministry. No religious cooperation - that is for the Christian.” I’m saying this distinction is not a biblical one, because all Christians are involved in declaring the gospel in ALL parts of their lives. Christian’s lives are not compartmentalized into religious parts and nonreligious parts. All parts of a Christian’s life is a part of how they declare the gospel of the glory of God. This means that when a Christian shares a meal with a nonbeliever it is part of sharing the gospel, or when a Christian doctor performs a surgery, it is part of sharing the gospel.

The separation of spiritual ministry from everyday living is a major problem in Christian thinking. Everything we do is a spiritual ministry (which isn’t to say that Christians should just go to work and never verbally proclaim the gospel). You make this distinction is multiple places. For example,

“The term partnerships is tripping you up I think. Work with, play with, be friends with, serve in government with, do business with, etc. but not intimate binding alliances with nonbelievers in any spiritual enterprise or ministry.”

“Someone's vocation may not be specifically a ministry (construction worker, stock broker, educator…),”

“No nonbeliever can have authority over a Christian ministry or enterprise involving worship, evangelism, discipleship, etc. “

I’m claiming you are making a distinction that is not biblical. Everything a Christian does is part of his worship to God, and in many ways is part of his evangelism of the unbelieving world observing him, and discipleship of Christians watching him. Even Christian’s making widgets are worshiping God and performing a ministry unto the Lord.

Having said that, I have no disagreement that there will be many, many circumstances where partnership with nonbelievers would make corruption a likely probability, and so it would be wise to never have such a partnership. This is why I do believer that it would never be wise to “surrender” the leadership of the local church to any nonbeliever. Where I even said something that would suggest I believed that would be a possibility is a mystery to me.

Finally, about glib moralism, I don’t disagree with your assessment of the moral majority, etc. However, my complaint against you is when you use universal statements to judge people you don’t even know. It’s one thing to say that “all people who deny Jesus divinity are compromising the gospel,” because that does cut at the heart of who God is. But it’s another thing to assert, “when the world around us finds the gospel we proclaim as an invitation for building up their bottom line, then the gospel that they are hearing is not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ at all,” because the attractiveness of our business is not definitional to the gospel. The words in your article talked about the mere appearance of a business to unbelievers. A financially prosperous business may be perfectly faithful to Christ, or it may be compromising. You cannot tell by its accounting ledger. Your statement turns complicated issues into superficial issues, and that is why I called it glib.

SJ Camp said...

Andy
You are confusing the responsibility that every Christian has in his duty before God and what the nonbelievers may participate in as a result of that interaction with us.

I.e. - we may invite a nonbelieving friend with us to church on Sunday. BUT, a nonbeliever could not own a local church or serve in a position of authority within the church. One is an act of friendship, one would be to duty in ministry.

I go to Publix to buy my food; but Publix can not in any manner own my ministry - I would be unequally yoked with them if that were to occur.

There is always the secular/sacred dichotomy Andy. R.C. Sproul has an excellent audio series on Christians in culture that I think would help you tremendously to move away from a pragmatic view of this issue to a biblical view of this issue.

Steve

Andy Dollahite said...

Steve,

Firstly, I've already said that unbelievers cannot serve in the leadership of a church. I've also already said they cannot own a Church, if such a thing was even desirable. Stop telling me this because I already agree, and I have not said anything to the contrary. Of course, we can derive that principle from texts other than 2 Cor 6:14.

And secondly, stop dismissing my view as pragmatic when that has not been my argument. I'm sure Sproul has great things to say about Christians in the culture, but to my mind you are still ignoring my main criticism of your claims about 2 Cor 6. My position has been that you have set up a scheme where certain vocations are Christian ministries, while other vocations are in some other category that is "not ministry." Daryl's criticism was also aimed at your fuzzy definition of ministry. Show me where the bible makes a distinction between a business like DaySpring and what a Christian doctor is supposed to be doing, because I can't find it. All Christians are called to minister the gospel, whatever their vocation/profession. Christian ministry is not a 9-5 job or a compartmentalized segment of our lives. In other words, I've already heard you say that it's fine for Christians to sell their business (implication being it's not a ministry) to nonbelievers because that is simply trade, not ministry. To me that is not possible, because ***all things*** we are doing are part of our ministry of the gospel.

Also, have you given more thought to my previous comments about glib moralism?

David said...

I was just going back through your recent posts, Steve. This one is brilliant. Hats off to you.

Mark Patton said...

Mr. Camp,

Tried to send an email. Please forgive me for responding to the meta and not the post. The post was thought provoking, although it did leave me with questions that others have voiced. I was wrong to not advance the discussion of this important topic through my sarcasm. I will strive to post with Col. 4:6 (Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, [as it were,] with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person) in mind.

Thank you,
Mark

Jim Peet said...

Used on Sharper Iron here

rebeccaluellamiller said...

Thanks for your thoughtful post, Steve. As a writer, I've thought about this subject to some extend. I have a bit of a problem with this statement, however: "Anything that involves ministry a nonbeliever cannot be complicit in. None."

I think, for example, of parents whose chief ministry is their kids. It would seem to me that secular schools would then have to be excluded."

When it comes to secular companies owning Christian publishing houses, or Christians writing for secular companies, I have a friend who likens this to the Israelites taking the spoil of Egypt on their way out.

While I think your warning is right on for the most part--I don't think we should have prayer breakfasts with Muslims and Hindus or other such ecumenical efforts that require watering down the gospel (or ignoring it altogether, most likely)--I don't believe I could be as categorical as you are on this matter.

Just a different opinion for Daryl to read and see how it's received. ;-)

Becky

Gregory S. Gill said...

Government is a biblical, spiritual, Christian, enterprise and activity for the cause, and kingdom of Jesus Christ. Righteousness (which is obedience to God's word only) exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. Also the nation that forget God will be turned into Hell. Christians are not to join up with non-Christians in political parties and governments. The aims and goals with be very different between the two camps. Such as well are unequally yoke relationships and God can't bless such. Also if God don't want us to be taking our brothers to the civil courts of unbelievers then definitely God will not want us to contribute to or put them over us as our leaders and rulers which is even greater than we making them our judges.

Christians are to have their own political parties.

John Maartense said...

Would it be considered financial support of a ministry that leads people to hell if your church wants to buy a building from a cult?

John Maartense said...

Would it be considered financial support of a ministry that leads people to hell if your church wants to buy a building from a cult?

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The Smith Family said...

I am very concerned about Christians becoming Foster parents.Do they know that they are unequally yoked with a secular government?CPS is coming under more and more scrutiny for removing children that are in perfectly healthy,intact families.Christians are well intentioned,but there are better ways to help children AND their parents...keeping the family together.We,as Christians,need to help on a more intimate level,without government.Instead of calling a report on a neglectful mother,find out how you can help her more,be there for her.Joining hands with government officials just proves that we as Christians,don't want to get up close and personal,like Jesus did.

The Smith Family said...

I am very concerned about Christians becoming Foster parents.Do they know that they are unequally yoked with a secular government?CPS is coming under more and more scrutiny for removing children that are in perfectly healthy,intact families.Christians are well intentioned,but there are better ways to help children AND their parents...keeping the family together.We,as Christians,need to help on a more intimate level,without government.Instead of calling a report on a neglectful mother,find out how you can help her more,be there for her.Joining hands with government officials just proves that we as Christians,don't want to get up close and personal,like Jesus did.

Nick Isenhour said...

Hi, I am not trying to correct or anything, just wanna learn. When it comes to the examples Paul gives like what communion does light have with darkness or what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness. Unbelievers are lawless christians become righteous. Then the last on is when Paul says what does an unbeiever have in common with a believer. Can you explain why this is talking about ministry rather than something like fellowship where Paul pitted lawlessness against righteousness. Why dont you think fellowship refers to friendship with believer(righteous) and unbeliever(lawless) here? Thanks so much.

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Gary said...

Imagine growing up in a culture that has never heard of Jesus or Christianity. Imagine a conversation with a Christian missionary attempting to convert you to Christianity:

Christian: Hello, Friend. Do you have a moment?
You: Sure. What's up?
Christian: I would like to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with you.
You: Who?
Christian: Jesus Christ. He is God's Son who came to earth to die for our sins and to make it possible for us to live forever with God after we die. He loves you and wants to save you.

You: Save me? Which god are you talking about?
Christian: There is only one God, my friend.
You: Are you joking? There are many religions and many gods. So which god are you talking about?
Christian: The god of the Hebrews, Yahweh.
You: Never heard of him.

Christian: Yahweh is the one and only true God.
You: How do you know that?

(Conversation continued here):
http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2015/11/how-would-you-react-to-hearing.html