Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mea Culpa

It has been brought to my attention that Dr. Kenton Sparks is connected to Church of the Saviour. He is either a member or has been a regular attendee. I do not know which. He has also served as a teacher in the young families department.

If I had known this I would have contacted Dr. Sparks before posting a link to Andy Naselli's post on his book. I would still have posted the link because I believe it is a very important issue for God's people. I would imagine that this is why Dr. Sparks wrote his book. He knows that our doctrine of Scripture is very important for us.

However, I regret not knowing that Dr. Sparks is, or has been, connected to Church of the Saviour.

So I offer my sincere apologies to Dr. Sparks. I am sure he is a fine and godly man.

* Update:
Without divulging any confidences I will simply say that I have corresponded with Dr. Sparks. He was very kind which won't surprise anyone who knows him. He is not a member of COS and is currently attending another church. I am sure Dr. Sparks and I will maintain very different understandings of the doctrine of inspiration. That said, I am thankful to call him my brother in Christ.


Mainline Mom said...

Thank you for this, I for one do appreciate it. I'm sure in your short time at COS it's no fault of your own that you didn't know Kent was teaching at COS...he keeps a very low profile. And I respect your disagreement with him, but I guess not the "Off the Reservation" title. Haven't read the book, but of course now you have my curiousity peaked. Glad you posted the Chicago statement, since it has been referred to a lot. I think it makes sense, although it does seem a bit conflicted to me. I know it's not to you, but to me this seems more like an issue of symantics...different definitions of a lot of specific words. I saw a quote from Kent's book somewhere that expressed concern about "over-conservatism" which I happened to agree with. Doesn't mean I agree with his interpretation of inerrancy...since I still haven't heard from the source what that is. Of course I think protecting and defending the Truth is essential, but I think there is a difference between conveying some grace and just being "nice" Christians who allow untruth to spread.

Anyway I encourage you to reach out to Kent, get to know him, he's an awesome guy who I consider a friend.

Incidentally, my best friend is working on her PhD in Old Testament at Vanderbilt, and mentioned using on of Kent's other books in a Hebrews class, I think. I can say this because I love her, but she is seriously "off the reservation".

Todd Pruitt said...


Always good to hear from you. Inerrancy can be a slippery term depending on who is using it. Some would say that I am not an inerrantist because I do not believe the Bible insists on a young earth. But my conclusion is not based upon the fact that I believe the Bible errs. Rather, the creation account is not intended to give us a strict chronology of events. Anyway, that's just one example.

Kent and I have corresponded and are planning to meet for lunch. I have no doubt that I will have a high opinion of him personally. This is one of those occasions however where two brothers in Christ will simply have to disagree about an issue that is very important to them both. That will not keep me from valuing him as a brother in Christ however.

seeking said...

This is very disconcerting to me, you are a Pastor at a very large and influential church in our area. Yet, you seem to imply by this 'mea culpa' that had you known Mr. Sparks was a COS member you would have treated the situation differently.
Why treat it differently? That is a double standard. Either you handled your literary and Biblical criticisms appropriately or you did not. If you would have treaded more lightly or been more gracious, just because it was someone at your church, is an indication that you did not handle it well. I realize that your heart in this matter is as a Pastor guarding against error, but what are you then teaching your people about how to disagree with those in the body of Christ, if there is double standard simply because someone is a member of COS. How can they then trust what you say from the pulpit?

Todd Pruitt said...


First of all I am not crazy about annonymous comments.

Secondly I made it clear that I would still have posted the review. That would not have changed because I believe the thesis of the book to be in error. But I have a higher responsibility toward those who are members of the COS flock. If Dr. Sparks had been a member of COS then I would have wanted to contact him first but I still would have made the post.

I do not understand your implication that I cannot be trusted from the pulpit. People can judge whether or not I am being faithful to God's Word by what I preach.

You seem to have taken this personally. I understand. When someone criticizes someone I respect I can tend to take it personally at first. However, those of us who write and preach for public consumption have to be willing to be criticized. I get it all the time.

I think you will find also that my words to you have been more charitable than were yours.

Kent Sparks said...

Dear "Seeking":

Even if it were true that Todd treated me unfairly, this certainly would not disqualify him from leading a church and preaching the truth. All of us make mistakes (I, foremost), and in this case Todd has issued a very kind apology (whether needed or not).

More than anything else, we need churches that accept error as the inevitable consequences of life among human beings. Apart from that, we wouldn't need grace at all.

MikeAwad said...

As someone who has been greatly blessed by the teaching from both Todd and Kent at COS, I thank God for both of them and particularly for the exemplary way in which they both have respectfully yet honestly dealt with their theological disagreement, both in public and in private.

I also think that Seeking gets it wrong when he claims that Todd had some kind of a double standard in saying that he would have spoken with Kent privately before posting the link criticizing his book. Of *course* it would be totally inappropriate not to have done so, had he known that Kent was affiliated with COS. And as Todd said, he still would have posted the link afterward.