WEST’s guilt by association

An article by R E Palgrave, published in both Sword & Trowel (2013, No 1), entitled Abandoning Separation from Biblical Error, and in Bible League Quarterly (October 2012), accuses Wales Evangelical School of Theology (WEST), of mixing truth with error. The main point of the article is that because of its alliance with false teaching, WEST can no longer be considered to be a sound Reformed theological college.

To quote from the article:

‘Given the ongoing associations of Pastor Oh and Rev Sam Ko with Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven teachings, the charismatic leanings of the SaRang church, and the New Calvinist theology of Acts 29 with the worldliness of its leaders, one wonders at the type of teaching to which the Welsh Valleys are about to be introduced.’

The article concluded:

‘we are witnessing a global collapse of the biblical doctrine of separation and a great mixing of truth with error resulting in spiritual confusion and apostasy… WEST can no longer be considered a reformed college as it is closely associated with dangerous false teachers, the Emergent Acts 29 Network, the ecumenically compromised Lausanne Movement, and charismatic and Emergent philosophies. The non-separatist stand adopted by Affinity and WEST can only lead evangelicals into association with error, apostasy and ecumenicity.’

 The WEST response

WEST responded by claiming that the only issue is that of guilt by association. To quote from ‘Negative Publicity’ posted on the WEST website:

‘Her argument is all about guilt by association… Ruth Palgrave’s central thesis is that Jonathan Stephen and WEST are to be condemned because of guilt by association with bodies and individuals that are ecumenically compromised.’ And, ‘Her conclusion is that WEST has gone astray.  Her ONLY argument is guilt by association.’

We should note that WEST completely fails to address the issue of biblical separation from false teaching, which is the main point of Palgrave’s article. With a dismissive wave of the hand, WEST asserts that the concept of guilt by association is completely irrelevant in a Christian context. But is WEST right in its confident assertion? What does Scripture teach about guilt by association?

So let us summarise the main associations mentioned by Palgrave’ article.

WEST’s association with Rick Warren

The chairman of WEST’s board of trustees, Pastor Sam Ko of SaRang Church, Korea, has translated Warren’s infamous book Purpose Driven Life into the Korean language. In 2010, at an event in Saddleback Church, Rick Purpose driven life in KoreanWarren with Pastor Sam Ko, rejoiced to hear that one million Korean copies of Purpose Driven Life had been sold. In the book, Warren presents a ‘believe and receive’ version of the Gospel. He invites his reader to pray:

‘Jesus I believe in you and receive you. If you sincerely meant that pray, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God.’ (p58-59).

Rick Warren is promoting a false ‘believe and receive’ gospel that does not mention the need for repentance. In like manner, at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Swansea, Pastor Sam Ko preached a ‘believe and receive’ version of the gospel.  Pastor Ko:

‘You don’t have to bribe to God! You don’t have to beg to God. You don’t have to bargain with God. You don’t have to uh bribe to God. Only thing you’ve gotta do is, you only BELIEVE! You only BELIEVE! You see God made it so simple that nobody could say it was too hard to understand.’

 WEST’s association with Mark Driscoll

WEST has recently appointed to its faculty Steve Timmis and Tim Chester of Porterbrook Network. Timmis is the leader of Acts 29 Europe, a church planting network established by Mark Driscoll.  The relationship between Porterbrook and Mark Driscoll is extremely close. Significantly, Steve Timmis sent the manuscript Screen Shot 2012-07-10 at 17.30.11of Total Church to the president of the Acts 29 Network for comment. Significantly, Mark Driscoll arranged for Total Church to be re-published in the USA, and the book has become required reading for community group leaders of Mars Hill Church.  Significantly, Tim Chester has posted articles on Mark Driscoll’s Resurgence website. Both Chester and Timmis are part of Driscoll’s Re:Lit publishing and media enterprise. Significantly, both have appeared on conference platforms with Driscoll. Despite the outrageous nature of Driscoll’s ministry, carefully documented in The Driscoll Controversy website, the Porterbrook Network remains faithful to Driscoll’s false version of the Christian faith.

So here is the issue. WEST has formed a close alliance with Pastor Sam Ko, the man who translated Warren into Korean and a close alliance with Porterbrook, the organisation that is promoting Mark Driscoll’s brand of Christianity in the UK.  Is WEST being faithful to the teaching of Scripture? The attached article provides a biblical understanding of guilt by association.