ShepCon 19 Follow up: Discernment Out the Window

The Shepherd’s Conference panel featuring Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, and Mark Dever is all the rage in reformed circles throughout the U.S. The video below is the interaction that sparked the recent controversy. Keep in mind that Al Mohler has a position on literally every other topic under the sun. Ask yourself if his response provides any “clarity.”


Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Anything more comes fromthe evil one.

– Matthew 5:37

I previously wrote about why Mohler & co should not have been invited to the conference. I believe it was not only a mistake, but a mistake that has hurt the credibility of the conference hosts. The reasons are as follows:

  1. All three  are deeply involved in the Social Justice movement
  2. Ligon Duncan wrote the forward to Woke Church by Eric Mason, which has been declared and recognized as heresy by nearly everyone else in the audience at ShepCon 19.
  3. All three accepted $$ from C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries, and not only came out in support of him when he was accused of covering up child molestation and pedophilia, but viciously went after those exposing it.
  4. All three men are deeply involved in the Revoice movement, which recognizes the gay identity as being legitimate for those who call themselves Christian.
  5. The men have rejected the reproof of many other Christians. Proverbs 10:17.

The Social Justice Gospel

What is the problem with the Social Justice Gospel, you may ask? In short, it a false, heretical gospel. When elders, leaders, and public figures of a church hawk a false gospel, they need to be rebuked out in the open (there is a difference between the followers, and those leading them astray). See Galatians 2:5.

The Gospel Coalition claims that “Christians are engaged in social justice when we advocate for issues such as abortion, racial reconciliation, religious liberty, and sex trafficking.” The problem with this statement comes with reconciliation, and religious liberty. The focus of the SJ Gospel proponents is racial reconciliation. Advocates claim we live in a racist society, which benefits whites, and therefore whites must repent of this, and then must perform numerous actions to make up for perceived and undefined grievances. In short, vague language was used to create a void for proponents of cultural marxism and intersectionality to come into the church, and tear it apart. Its also now being used to justify shifting theological stances on gender roles and sexuality.

The social justice gospel:

  1. manufactures sin, which not only is not biblical, but it adds to scripture.
  2. The “sin” is not applicable universally, proving its illegitimacy.
  3. The “sin” they create is not something you can atone for – even if you repent, you must always “check your privilege.”
  4. This “checking your privilege” is a demand for works. The SJ gospel is a system of works-based righteousness.
  5. #3 is a direct assault on the sufficiency of Christ, and the power of Christ.

Here are some relevant verses:

  • Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it. Deuteronomy 12:32.
  • Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar. Proverbs 30:5-6.
  • For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24.
  • I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.                           – Galatians 1:6-9.

  • Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20. 

The Defense of Mohler’s Response at ShepCon 19

Unfortunately, there are many prominent people chiming in, trying to explain away Mohler & co’s position, in hopes of reviving their image, so that we can be friends. The arguments in defense of Mohler & co are:

  1.  Something is happening behind the scenes, and in secret, and we should just wait it out and see what happens.
  2. Mohler is concerned about his seminary (SBTS), and in order to defend the truth, and preserve conservative teaching, he must remain silent and muddy his words.
  3. the 11th commandment of the SBC is that you do not talk bad about other members of the SBC.
  4. the discussion was good, because it provided clarity, bla bla bla
  5. we need to preserve unity.
  6. Al Mohler’s own defense that Phil and co have known Al Mohler, and the people he hangs around with, and his reputation.

My Response: 

  1. There is no reason for this matter to be settled in secret, and behind closed doors, when it is an incredibly public issue, with public consequences, made by teachers and elders in the church.
  2. There are many problems in the SBC. Quite frankly, it needs to fracture, and the conservatives need to separate from the prosperity gospel frauds. This argument acknowledges how bad the SBC is. Why would Mohler stay?  If you have to hide and be secretive to preserve your cause, you have already lost. There is also no biblical support for men of God to do this, especially in the midst of other self described Christians who hold themselves out to be teachers of God’s word.
  3. The 11th Commandment of the SBC is a disgrace, and those who practice it should be shamed. It is a direct contradiction of scripture. Titus  is clear as to rebuking those who contradict sound doctrine.
  4. Another point of contention is this desperate desire to always have clarity – which will never acted upon, but the clarity provides clarity so we can have clear, clarifying clarity. It’s nonsense. People want to sit around and wait, as if people will soon come out and admit they did wrong. The only clarity you need is to draw a line in the sand, and see where everyone is. (Ironically, all 5 of these defenses are thrown out the window when the reformed camp goes after those outside of it, Clearly revealing their double standards when it comes to discernment. Yes, I am looking at you,
  5. Unity should never come at the expense of the truth. At the conference, John Macarthur stated he would fight error, but not his friends. It appears his friends are in deep error.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy

– Proverbs 27:6

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.– Galatians 2:11-13

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party.They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. Titus 1:10.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

-Galatians 1:10

6. Quite frankly, appealing to a person’s knowledge of your reputation is a bad defense. In this situation, Phil Johnson, who “knows” Al Mohler, DOES NOT KNOW where Al stands on this issue. People who deceive dont come out and admit their error, lies, or heresy. They usually act and say the proper things, as a way to establish themselves so that they can wreak havoc later.


You can see Dr. James White’s reaction and commentary here:



  • Deuteronomy: 12:32
  • Proverbs: 10:17; 27:6 30:5-6;
  • Matthew: 5:37; 7:15-20; 24:24
  • Galatians: 1:6-10; 2:5; 2:11-13
  • Titus: 1:10
  • See qualifications for an Elder

3 thoughts on “ShepCon 19 Follow up: Discernment Out the Window

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