Apologist Defends Group at Center of Tattoo, Beer ‘Church Plant’ Fundraisers Amid Growing Concerns

James White-compressedA well-known apologist and debater whose son-in-law was recently shown in a live online video obtaining a tattoo at one of the fundraisers for his congregation’s proposed church plant has let loose on those questioning the group over the matter, and is calling out media reports—including the one from this publication, which first released the report—as being “partial.”

Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries took to his webcast on Monday to speak about the issue after releasing an assertive blog post with his daughter on Saturday.

Screenshot from video
Screenshot of video

As previously reported, on June 22, Marcus Pittman, the head of Apologia Studios in Tempe, Arizona, posted a provocative live, public video of the tattoo fundraiser to social media, which he gave the questioning title “Apologia Studios Tattoo Parlor?!” (View here.) Apologia Studios is a part of Apologia Church, led by Jeff Durbin, which is seeking to plant a new church in Kauai.

In the footage, a supporter named Thad is having a Greek “Chi-Rho” symbol tattooed on his arm while in the ministry’s studio, as a tattoo artist from the congregation had offered his services to help raise funds for his part in the church planting effort.

“This is actually a fundraiser for our Apologia Kauai church plant, so people of the church are donating to have another member of the church tattoo them so they can go to Kauai and we can plant a church there,” Pittman explains. “So, it’s pretty cool.”

Weeks prior, on June 1 – 4, Pittman and Durbin, along with Les Lanphere of Reformed Pubcast, also hosted a conference called ReformCon, which included a time of “talking theology over beer” at a local pub. Attendees could participate in a beer flight, which is a sampling of various beers.

“This ticket allows you to get a beer flight from Boulders on Broadway. All the proceeds from this benefit our Kauai church plant!” the website for the event outlines. “Boulders is all about the food, craft beer, bike riding, rock climbing and adventure! With 30 draft handles and 70 plus bottles of craft beer. Bring a friend and check out our selection.”

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Bible-cross-pdPittman had outlined in detail his belief that Christians should drink in public and even take over the brewing industry for Christ in a 2014 article on the site “Gospel Spam,” of which he was a contributor. He explained that he opposes drunkenness, but disagrees with those who find drinking in itself to be a worldly activity.

“Alcohol has become so synonymous with worldliness that it is almost impossible for anyone to imagine that alcohol is a gift from the Lord to be enjoyed by Christians even when Scripture is indisputable about the topic,” he wrote. “Drinking in public does not make you ‘look like the world;’ it makes you as Christ.”

“Christians need to be in the business. We need to be the ones brewing the beer, creating the wine,” Pittman continued. “We need to be the ones owning the fine taverns and kicking out drunkards. We need to be the ones who reinvent the industry and take control from the world. It’s time that we stop the silence and cowardice on this issue. But first we need to drink in public again.”

In a statement that Durbin wrote opposing Christian News Network’s news report, he released last month’s correspondence with the network’s publisher, during which Durbin outlined, “I believe that drunkenness and addiction to drugs is a very serious sin against God and I have exercised church discipline on a member for unrepentant drunkenness.”

“Perhaps you think having a beer is ‘worldly’? Or that going to a pub to have a drink to have a drink is ‘worldly’? I respect your opinion and tradition. I strongly disagree with you and do so on the basis of the word of God,” he said.

Jeremiah Roberts, an Apologia member, recently noted in online comments that the congregation was “90% drug addicts coming out of rehab” at its inception.

Durbin also took to Facebook this week to outline that he does not seek to be “cool,” and that the only time he promotes the fruit of the vine in church is during communion.

“I confess, every Sunday might qualify us as ‘regular drinkers.’ We call it: C-O-M-M-U-N-I-O-N. I confess to pushing alcohol in this context. I confess to trying to get everyone to drink. And I do not repent,” he quipped.

But on June 4, Durbin live streamed the pub meetup/beer flight at Boulders on Broadway, which had been offered as one of the fundraisers for the church plant, and posted it online. (View here.)

“I think this is probably the largest pub meetup. What do you guys think? I think so,” he notes in the footage, being met with a reply by an attendee who hoped it would be “bigger next year.”

Live #reformcon Pub Meet-up in Phoenix!

Posted by Jeff Durbin on Saturday, June 4, 2016



Apologia’s ReformCon conference covered a host of issues, such as the importance of the sovereignty of God and Sola Scriptura, and featured a variety of discussions with invited guests.

But on point with the issue, during the Q&A session with Darren Doane and Nate Wilson, and in the context of discussing whether or not theology can be fun, Doane shared a story of how he concluded that “theology gets you drinking,” and if not, “you’re gay.”

He said that both studying wine in the Bible and considering the words of a friend shaped his conclusion.

“All of a sudden it hits me that wine burns,” he explains during the session, which is posted on YouTube. “I take grape juice, it’s sweet, it’s fun. My kids love it.”

“But when you take wine, whew, it burns. It’s fire,” Doane continued, comparing it to Scripture’s notation that “God is a consuming fire.”

He said that he continued sorting through the matter in his mind, and later, during a visit to Idaho, the words of a friend persuaded him to begin drinking.

“I know you don’t drink and all, but you’re all for it. But if you don’t drink, who’s going to teach your daughters to drink?” the friend asked.

“I got on the plane and I was like, ‘Teach my daughters to drink?’ Why would I…” Doane thought through. “So they’re going to look at me—I’m the Jesus guy in the family. I’m dad, and they’re going to look at Jesus in the Bible and it looks like ‘Jesus drank wine.'”

“And then I was like, ‘Wow, I need to start drinking,'” he said. “I need to learn how to do it, be responsible. ‘Cause I want to be a part of this theological picture God has created and designed. He said, ‘I am wine.'”

Doane said that he told his wife that he needed to start drinking, and that he now has a “way better marriage.”

“That’s what theology does. Theology makes things better. Theology gets you drinking,” he said, evoking laughter and smiles. “Theology gets you dancing. Theology gets you just celebrating things, enjoying food–that’s what theology does. And for all you married people, you know what I’m talking about. It makes it better.”

“That’s what theology does,” Doane repeated. “And if it’s not doing that, you’re gay.”

Those on the stage laughed and replied, “Mark that.”

“You’re theology’s gay if it’s not doing that,” Doane repeated as Durbin chuckled.

Wilson had also quipped during the segment when it was noted that he is a Presbyterian, “Presbyterian just means that we drink bourbon and you drink light beer.”

“Theologically speaking,” he added after drawing laughter. “It’s a metaphor.”



James White-compressed

While some saw nothing objectionable with the concept of offering tattoos as a way to raise funds for a church plant, nor making a beer flight available at a gospel conference, others remarked that they found the unconventional ideas to be inappropriate for church fundraising.

Sonny Hernandez, a military chaplain and adjunct professor of theology, provided his view on the subject of church fundraising and whether the two concepts should be accepted or allowed by the Church.

“The message of Scripture is about holiness, having a contrite heart, and being a Christ-centered model—to be like Christ as Ephesians 5:1 tells us,” he explained to Christian News Network, as outlined in the initial report. “And I just don’t think those methodologies and those practices are commensurate with the testimony of Scripture.”

But following the release of the news report, James White blasted the article as being a “hit piece” against specific people. He outlined that he knows Durbin well and noted that his son-in-law was the one obtaining the tattoo in the video.

“[T]here is a reason Thad was getting a chi-rho. I have a chi-rho. My son Joshua is getting a chi-rho. And Thad wanted to get a chi-rho as well,” White wrote in a blog post on the matter. “Originally it was a discussion we had over Christmas, that we would all get chi-rhos, since Josh is my son, and Thad is my son-in-law. In fact, I’m fairly sure I had already provided the funds for that chi-rho.”

Among other contentions, he and his daughter, Summer Pinch—who is a member of Apologia—took issue that the report did not include the other fundraisers at Apologia, such as the bake sales and dinners.

“I’ve gained weight participating (read: purchasing and consuming) in bake sales, cotton candy sales, and dinners, the financial beneficiaries of which are the Apologia Kauai church plant,” Pinch wrote. “The members of the church are coming out in droves, giving of their time, talents and energy, and all they ask is that you donate to the church plant in return.”

White also noted that the tattoo fundraiser was three weeks after ReformCon and was not advertised to the public.

“There is a conflation going on between one thing that was offered as a fundraiser at ReformCon and something that took place weeks later that was not advertised,” he asserted in his webcast on Monday. “There weren’t, like, people walking down the streets going, ‘Hey, come to our church; we’re a tattoo parlor now.’ And that was three weeks separate!”

Therefore, those that posted commentary on the matter, such as Pastor J.D. Hall of Polemics Report, were chastised as going on “partial information” and “judging from afar.”


JD Hall-compressed

But in his post on Monday, Hall stated that he found White’s contentions to be deflective of the focus of the article, which was whether these two specific types of fundraisers should be acceptable for church plants and if they should be considered being “of the world” or not—a biblical prohibition—as Hernandez opined. White did not mention Hernandez in his post or webcast, nor did he address Hernandez’ remarks.

“As polemicists, deflections avoiding substantive discussion typically come from either (1) misdirecting accolades of the good qualities of the person or institution questioned or (2) firing accusatory bullets toward the messenger,” he wrote.

Hall said that White’s response could have included thoughtful discussion on answers to questions such as “What happens when Christian liberty issues (alcohol consumption, for example) conflict with Christian maturity? Are there limits to Christian liberty? Should we associate our private or personal Christian liberties with functions of the church, given the complications that necessarily arise?”

“Boy, that would have been a helpful discussion I think we all would be eager to hear,” Hall stated. “But we didn’t get that.”

Hernandez also expressed concern about the response, stating that the issues were important for the Body of Christ to discuss.

“It is imperative that Christian liberty should always be exercised with a true affinity for God alone as Lord of our conscience,” he said in a statement to Christian News Network. “The fruition of Christian liberty is humility, discernment, reverence, sober-mindedness, and a vehement love for others that will not allow them to stumble because of our practices, and nothing that will bring reproach upon the bride of Christ.”

“Young men and women need mature examples that will teach them biblical maturity, reverence and purity that will guide them to perfecting holiness in fear of God, and not leaders that deflect the underlying issues of Christian liberty by categorically decrying everyone who disagrees with them as being judgmental, slanderers, liars, bigots, and Pharisees,” he said.

Pastor Justin Pierce of Grace Life Church Tri-Cities in Blountville, Tennessee likewise wrote on the subject as he talked about what he called the “golden calf” of Christian liberty.

“[L]iberty is to be set aside to responsibility,” he wrote. “That is where we desire to stand, as Reformed brothers and sisters who desire to display modesty before the world, and would ask James White, Jeff Durbin and Apologia to respect that stand enough to agree that broadcasting their freedom across the airwaves causes many of their beloved brothers and sisters in Christ to be uncomfortable and offended.”

“[W]e would like to see biblical liberty in modesty and modesty in self-control and self-control in unity, to the glory of God,” Pierce said.

Jeff Durbin, along with Luke Pierson, the discipleship pastor at Apologia, told Christian News Network that leadership is unable to respond to the matter until later this month due to their full schedule.

Among the variety of news reports presented, Christian News Network has covered a number of unconventional activities in congregations worldwide, such as the Colorado Bible study group that smokes marijuana over the Scriptures, the female pastor who hands out cigarettes and condoms on the street, and the U.K. assembly whose signs quote from secular rapper Kanye West, Winnie the Pooh, Winston Churchill, Gandhi and Spongebob Squarepants because the Bible “puts people off.”

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  • Christian Curcio

    White likes to point to the puritans as his forefathers yet they would have rose up and condemned this activity!

  • Gena B

    There are no words..I wouldn’t even know where to start with this article other than to say how embarrassing for Satan to sift people and they allow it with no repentance.

  • Amos Moses

    I like White very much…………. i like JD Hall very much ……… this is unfortunate ………. really a tempest …… not a major thing yet ……….. hope they can extend some grace to each other and return to a right relationship with each other ……………

    • Charles

      I don’t always agree with Dr. White.. But he’s got some great knowledge.

    • Well said..

      • Amos Moses


  • TheBottomline4This

    This doesn’t bother me. The reason I say this is these are not Bible believing Christians in this story. There are many who claim to be Christian, but aren’t. They are showing their fruit. These are Charlatans. Don’t be surprised when they live this way. they are of the world.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Tattoos and alcohol coexist with some pseudo-christians in America just like demon-worships co-exist with some pseudo-christians in Africa and South America. True Christians follow the Word of God with purity instead of living out the evil culture like non-believers. (Psalm ch.119)

  • James White has at least one tattoo himself and apparently his daughter attends Apologia. Sometimes those “who judge from afar”, to use his words, see more clearly than those involved.
    The problem with Apologia is the same problem evident in Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. Neither can distinguish the holy from the profane. A Christian can drink biblically and a distinction ought to be made between a business that serves alcohol with meals and a tavern devoted to drinking alcohol. While it is true that Luther and other Reformers would gather with students and friends at taverns to discuss the Bible and theology, remember in those days water was usually unsafe and the beer, like the wine in the New Testament times, was diluted. Tattoos are explicitly forbidden in the Old Testament and implicitly forbidden in the New.
    If Apologia and Dr. White can not recognize these things, they are not sound expositors of the Scriptures, or they are not objective interpreters (more likely). Apologia, like Mars Hill, revels in their “Christian liberty” and uses it as a cover for worldliness. In fact, many of the “young, restless and Reformed” appear to use the Great Commission as a cover for worldliness (contextualizing the Gospel, and “being all things to all men”).

    • Well said…

    • Ariel

      Stephen, correlating Marc Dricsolls past actions to those of Jeff Durbin and James White demonstrates that you can’t see things clearly at all. There is vast difference in action between the mannerisms of those you mentioned. Have you even heard these men speak at all or teach or what they have been doing in ministry?

      There is clearly a difference of opinion when it comes to tattoos and alchohol and what scripture allows.But Your claim that they are sound expositors demonstrates that you have not heard any of their teachings.

      • No, it’s a difference about commitment to the Scriptures and Jesus Christ. It’s a matter of self deception and worldliness. The tattoos and beer are merely symptoms of the disease.
        You all want to make the clear Word of God into a matter of opinion and liberty. I’ve seen it many times before. It’s called antinomianism. But you can’t see it because you’re in it.
        -pastor Anderson

        • Ariel

          Stephen, Your reply of not answering my question demonstrates that you are ignorant of the work of James White Jeff Durbin. I have heard both men speak and teach extensively and they have a high regard for holiness and being accurate with scripture. I have heard and listened to the things that Marc Driscoll had said in the past and was shocked at those events. Applying the articles title “young, restless and Reformed” to Jeff and James further demonstrates your inability to distinguish between those that abuse thing vs solid teachers of the word.

          Again I ask are you familiar with James and Jeff ministry and work they have done?

          Next in your first post “A Christian can drink biblically and a distinction ought to be made between a business that serves alcohol with meals and a tavern devoted to drinking alcohol.” In scripture there is no distinction on where one can drink. I think your view is one based on your cultural upbringing of the US in light of prohibition and is carry through in certain Christian mindsets. Your making a standard by your own thought on the matter. I don’t disagree that we should be wise in areas but to condemn others when they don’t fit how you it is rather legalistic.

          The issue of tattoos, This is one where Christians fail to read the full context of that Leviticus law. Lev 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.”

          What is the qualifier of the text Stephen ? you shall not do these things for the dead. The issue was the pagan practice that was associated with these rituals. People these days don’t do it for that purpose let alone Christians. If you disagree, fine. But don’t start accusing myself and the apologia crew of antinomianism. That is insulting when you do not know my character or that of Jeff and James. Thoroughly disappointing coming from you being a pastor yourself. I don’t drink nor do I have tattoos.

          This is one issue we can have disagreement on, but when you take it to the level that you have as well as the condemning comments posted by others on the site only divides the body. The Church is already under pressure and attacks from the liberal left and their sexual agenda, we shouldn’t be ripping apart our own.

          If you do some searching via apologia radio site you can see the article Jeff Durbin posted regarding the author of this article and you can see the full text conversation between Micheal and Jeff.

          • How long have you been a Christian? Can’t you see there are underlying issues and principles at stake? The fact there is such a knee jerk defensiveness indicates a nerve has been struck.

            There is now a history of this kind of stuff among the YRR crowd and it has been noticed by many mature Calvinist pastors. It just isn’t a matter of theology, though there has always been an errant antinomian stream in Calvinism. The problem is a lack of mature Christian character, discernment and wisdom. “Talk is cheap”. Being edgy, cool and hip costs nothing. And that is what YRR appears to be about. I think many of these guys are “Calvinist” because it is a form of rebellion against a sick and uncool Evangelicalism rather than Spirit formed conviction. The Emergent Church is not cool any longer, so rebel in the opposite direction. And “cool” has always been about rebellion.

            Do you really imagine this is about beer and tattoos? This is about the age old attack of Satan on the Church from within. It begins with compromise and cosying up to the world (often in the name of evangelism). Satan uses zealous young ministers, tempted by pride and the appearance of success to corrupt the Church and sound doctrine. Those of us who have been around for awhile have seen it many times and often been caught up in these types of deceptions in the past. We have the battle scars to prove it. But then we are too old to be “cool”.

          • Ariel

            Stephen, no one is discounting the wisdom of elders at all. But I do think there is also an arrogance that can be had with those that are up in years to not listen or hear the wisdom of the next generation. James White is not of the younger crowd either. From your avoidance of my question you demonstrate you know nothing of both ministers and seem to be going by articles or books written by other people. Did you have a look at reformcon ? it seems to be a wide range of age there.

            A nerve has been struck, you mean when the ministers under attack defend themselves and give a response then yes there is an issue, an issue of not going to the source and finding out what went on.Read the last line below.

            You bring up this “Do you really imagine this is about beer and tattoos? This is about the age old attack of Satan on the Church from within. It begins with compromise and cosying up to the world”

            Actually yes it is about this because that is what the whole premise of this attack on Jeff has been about! You are making a claim of compromise against these minister and at this point I believe you are ignorant of their work seeing as you have not answered my questions and your info is based on a hit piece by Christian News. This discussion is not about other reformed leaders period so you bringing up other failings such as Marc Driscoll and whoever is irrelevant to this discussion. It is called broadbrushing. This is basic common sense.

            Now if you claim it is not just about “alcohol and Tatoos” then what are your other charges against these two minister then? What are your grounds for saying that they should not be elders or ministers? based on what? You have provided nothing of the sort.Your asking how long I have been a Christian is irrelevant as well, you need to deal with the points I have brought up and not deflect the issue. I gave you an example on how to go about discerning where someone is at by doing your research and not basing it off of CNN. I do hope you take this to heart.

            Saying that, Are you reformed in your theology? If not then I would say part of you issue is that you take issue with calvinism which is why you are responding the way you are.

            You can google the responses by Dr White as well as Jeff Durbin on this article. Here is an excerpt from Jeff

            “Let me make this abundantly clear: this man DID NOT contact me. As a matter of fact, I had to do some looking and asking around to find him. Then, it was me who contacted him. I initiated contact and had hoped to be able to answer his questions and perhaps guard him from making errors in any “reporting” he had planned to do. He (nor anyone affiliated with him) never initiated contact with me to verify any of their claims. It was Apologia Church who had to seek him out after getting word that he was about to post an article attempting to malign us. It was clear in our interaction (as you will see) that this man does not like Apologia Church and has theological disagreements. Therefore, apparently, a hit-piece was in order.”

            If you go to apolagiaradio site (cant post links here) you can see the full text between the man writing the hit piece. Stephen you also have to factor in that a certain segment of Christianity loathes and hates reformed theology, so the issue is of them trying to find something to discredit those in that line of belief is more of the issue here.

          • I have read their responses. I recognize immaturity and worldliness when I see it. You, apparently, do not.
            Tattoos have always been of the world. And not even the respectable world at that. They do not come from the Scriptures nor Reformed theology. James White is old enough to know better.
            A Christian News site does an article critical of a Church promoting beer and tattoos to raise money and you think you are being persecuted for righteousness sake? Because you’re “Reformed”? You are carnal and headed for greater trouble.
            How old are you?

          • Ariel

            Your lack of response to some of the questions I have brought up as well as my objections to some of your thoughts obviously have been ignored by you and for a reason at that. I challenged your opinion and thoughts and you come back with a one liner of “How old are you?” then you accuse me of being ” You are carnal and headed for greater trouble.” When I do not drink and have no tattoos. This reminds of when a person is called out and instead of dealing with things brought up they end up with attacking the persons character. So this is revealing of how you think and operate in certain situations. Is this how an elder should behave. Christian Adults have civil dialogue and are to not result in name calling of sorts. Now that is childish.

            I already brought up the application of tattoos from old testament, you never responded. You made a broadbrush attack intimating they are even more problems with Jeff and James. I asked you to prove it. No response there on your part.

            No one has said that this is persecution either. But an unfounded attack from one Christian to another. You bring up age constantly as factor which again is irrelevant to the discussion instead of dealing with some of the things I brought up. I have met with fellow Christians that have been of faith fro 40+ years which have such a shallow understanding and no witness to those around them. age is not always a qualifier for understanding. To answer your question I was a witness of black and White TV’s, teletype machines and I don’t own a cell phone either.

            I think what you need to understand is that there can be a difference of opinion on this matter, If you think these 2 things are worldly that is your choice but don’t start condemning these men of faith in the way you have and as well as myself included. Maturity is when you grow up and realize some may have different views on things and learn to still be respectful in these matters. I think this is where you and the rest of harsh commentators need to “mature” in yourself.

            We can witness through James White and Dr Micheal Brown’s leading in how to have differences but still have great respect for each other.I hope you can do that as well.

          • All right, let’s look at the text:
            ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (Lev 19:28 NAS)
            Why do you believe you can disregard this commandment? Do you understand how this commandment hangs on the two Great Commandments?
            Before you answer, consider this:
            “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1Co 6:19-20 NAS)
            1) Why are tattoos not worldly?
            2) How do they glorify God?
            3) It’s not your body to do what you want with.
            4) I assume you claim to be Reformed. Would not the regulative principle apply?
            5) Exactly what is your positive biblical case for why a Christian should mark “their” body with tattoos?
            6) The pro-abortion movement claims women have a right to do what they want with their bodies. Do you agree?

          • Ariel

            I previously responded but i will copy it it here.
            Leviticus law. Lev 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.”

            What is the qualifier of the text Stephen? you shall not do these things for the dead. The issue was the pagan practice that was associated with these rituals. People these days don’t do it for that purpose let alone Christians.

            Now Going through Leviticus 19 as whole, what is the moral law that still binds us today and what is for Israel back then and how do we apply it today. What do we pick and choose and how have many dealt with that issue and how it applies to us today is a big topic for sure.

            The Leviticus text also tells the Israelites to not round off the hair on the side of their heads nor shave the edges of their beards. Apparently, this is what the Egyptians did and God’s people were called to be separate from them.

            Today we should not shave as this also could be considered worldly?

            We need to be careful when we apply the text and how we do it. You say tattoos are worldly but not shaving? Honest question, why do you pick one over the other? I see by your pic you shave.

            tattoos can be worldly depending on what they are depicting just like secular music as well. A Christian getting scripture on their body is not worldly, neither is getting the trinity symbol.

            Christians in the middle east in the minority in Muslim countries have gotten crosses on their foreheads not for fashion but a reminder of faith. You should look into that, That is a bold stance in that environment.They’re not just a symbol, but also a form of ID. For safety reasons, many churches station security personnel at their doors to check that those entering have the tattoo as a guarantee that they are in fact, Christians. By your stance are these fellow believers are being of the world?

            Equating tattoos and abortion is vastly different. My previous replies should answer this.Your reference to 1 Corinthians 6, you failed to look at the whole text and the message. Read 12 to 20. the context is with sexual immorality. Your isolating things out of it’s original meaning. You need to be careful about taking one sentence out of a whole section and applying into a completely different matter.

            Christians use that text and use it as a charge against things they don’t like as a matter of taste and not out of proper understanding.

            Thanks for your replies and your time for discussing this topic, I mean that sincerely.

          • ‘You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead, nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. (Lev 19:28 NAS)
            You do err in your understanding. You shall neither cut your self for the dead NOR tattoo yourself. The first is not a qualifier. Both clauses are about marking the body and the body belongs to the Lord.
            I suppose you regard the very next verse as not binding also:
            ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land may not fall to harlotry, and the land become full of lewdness. (Lev 19:29 NAS)
            The YRR hate the idea of the separation of God’s people from the world. They call worldliness being “missional”.
            You want tattoos to be a matter of taste. God made it a matter of obedience and Law. You must demonstrate that Lev 19:28 is not relevant today based on clear Scripture. You must demonstrate that you are free to do what you want with your body from the Scriptures. And I don’t care what some so-called “Christians” in the Middle East do. I have seen many such “Christians” worship before images and icons. Is that a matter of “taste”?
            Again, your obligation is to demonstrate that Lev 28:19 is now nullified as being instructive in sanctification for Christians. You simply cannot do that. Our bodies belong to the Lord. Tattoos are a denial of His ownership of our bodies.
            ” I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom 12:1 NKJ)
            Tell me Ariel, is God pleased with blemished offerings? Tattoos are a blemish more than skin deep.

          • Ariel

            Ill have to leave my response as I stated before or we will end up in circles, obviously you have no first hand understanding of things in the middle east. My wife has been a missionary in that area of the world, So I have second hand insight into that. We need to be careful in judging others and their faith. Yes I take issues with Roman Catholism greatly, but those inside can be part of the body in-spite of what Rome teaches. Why they would stay, I can’t answer that.

            As we are dealing with Levitcus, and what is binding and what is not, Is shaving still binding like tattoos? As a pastor How do you pick which is and is not. If everything is binding today as it was to them then how about Lev 19:27 “‘Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”

            Stephen your in violation of this law yourself if you hold all of 19 as to be binding. This leviticus text is something that we all have to grapple with and has been one of the outside attacks/mockeries by the secularists. We need to think through these carefully.

            “The YRR hate the idea of the separation of God’s people from the world. They call worldliness being “missional”. really Stephen? None of the reformers I know think like this or have uttered the sentence. They lead very holy and separated lives and have a high view of the word. In fact in my circles all of those that are actually evangelizing and involved in missions tend towards being reformed in their thinking. Now I cant say this always the case.

          • Sir, I have been to the Middle East and I was 10 years on the Mexican border. I know and have seen the false Christianity called Orthodoxy and Catholicism, and have studied Catholicism closely. You’re grasping at straws trying to justify tattoos by the practice of some ignorant so-called Christians.
            You clearly don’t want to deal with the text of Scripture. You completely ignore the New Testament and the God’s ownership of the body. You completely ignore the fact that tattoos are from the pagan and seedy side of the world. You refuse to give positive Scriptural justification for getting a tattoo. You refuse to scripturally demonstrate that Lev 19:28 is annulled. I would say this debate is over.

          • Ariel

            Pastor Stephen,

            I am in agreement with you on RCC and Orthodoxy, but I can only deal with what they deal with scripturally. I can’t look into another mans heart as to where they are at. I would be in agreement they need to hear the real gospel not one based on works etc.

            I did deal with the text and the background of why they were in place. You don’t accept it. I gave grounds already that the practice of tattoos were related to pagan practices of that time which also included shaving of the face and trimming the hair that the Egyptians had done as per Lev 19:27 which gives greater insight as to why this was commanded.

            Now You willfully have ignored my question on Levitcus 19:27 and how faceshaving is annulled today but not tattoos.This all connected,If you don’t answer me then you need to give a reason to your congregation if and when they ask why tattoos are not acceptable yet shaving is. I already gave proper application to 1Co 6:19-20 which you sited before.

          • Lev. 19:27 purpose is maintaining the separation of God’s people from the world. Much of the Law deals with that. The New Testament also repeatedly deals with it. Would keeping verse 27 today serve that purpose? No. Would keeping verses 28 and 29 today serve that purpose, Yes. Does getting a tattoo demonstrate you are separate from the world and belong to Christ? No, exactly the opposite. The lawful use of the Law is not difficult, if you love God more than you love yourself.
            The YRR people, like neo-evangelicals don’t believe in biblical separation. Expect continuing shipwrecks. Expect justifying homosexuality and gay marriage. Keller is already teaching lots of heresies. Driscoll crashed and burned. Piper and others have lost their discernment dabbling in the Charismatic delusion. James White no longer separates the holy from the profane on his webcasts but spends the first 10 or 15 minutes talking about his hobby.

          • Ariel

            Stephen, You just demonstrated an aspect of picking and choosing based on what you see fit as being worldly. I disagree with that. We can leave it at that now.

            But I seriously take issue when you continuing your attacks to fellow brothers as a constant dig and then continue on with your YRR rant. Your making assumptions based on different views with wine and alcohol that would lead to gay marriage? Seriously these men have been vocal against it. Your attacks now on Piper and Keller demonstrate that you have an anger towards these men as well as the others and you will look for any gnat you can strain out to disparage their name. Why did you bring up the others they have nothing to do with this subject and who is involved.

            You sir have shown yourself to be very immature in how you discuss things. I may have my concerns with the charismatic movement but I will still respect Piper and his work. Now you attack James White because he adds a little bit of a human element to his podcast and you claim it as being profane? You call it profane, someone who talks about biking . wow this truly reveals your heart and thinking. You are very legalistic and most of the time your responses seem to want to attack others character and draw assumptions and broadbrush things. Shameful Stephen. I do hope you reflect and think on how you go about living life as a Christian brother.

            My prayer is that God would continue to refine you and grant you more wisdom, compassion and understanding. I mean this sincerely.

          • Sounds like the attacks made on John MacArthur after His Strange Fire conference.
            If you bother to search using “new calvinists” you will find I am not alone in my concerns.

          • Ariel

            Brother Stephen, My words have nothing to do with strange fire but dealt simply with your comments that you make. I take issue with how you go about doing things. If you have different opinion on scripture or an issue that is fine. But for you to incessantly harp on this new calvinist thing has nothing to do with the topics and people – keep it focused ! I already said that and you don’t seem to listen do you. Are you teachable yourself? Going from your last response I think not. You seem to have this desire to spew out nasty barbs to everyone. Seems like a path of anger and bitterness is creeping in.

            Stephen your statement of James White spending time on his show talking about biking equates to being profane is way off base and ludicrous. His show is not a Church gathering, it is a talk show of sorts. You lose credibility when you come out with stuff like that. you need to change your thinking as this reveals your heart and what is going on. I don’t know you but you seem to have a heart for holiness and what is good which I can respect but you need to dial some things down and self reflect. I do it all the time as I reflect on past attitudes.

          • When you put out a regular video on Christian apologetics (and White is very good at it), it is wrong to mix that with personal stuff.
            ‘You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together. (Lev 19:19 NAS)
            “Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you may not die– it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations– and so as to make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean, and so as to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses.” (Lev 10:9-11 NAS)

            But I suppose that is more obsolete Law stuff.

          • I’m seriously wondering why you never answered Ariel’s question about shaving. It’s like you are purposely avoiding that or have never considered it.

          • Umm, the Bible does not forbid shaving. In the OT it forbids trimming the corners of the beard, now interpreted as the “side-burns”. This was part of the code to maintain a separation between God’s people and the world, a principle the “new calvinists” have forgotten. Tattoos are permanent marking of the temple of God and James White’s attempt to restrict the prohibition against tattoos to pagan mourning rituals is baseless. Your body is not yours to defile at will. It belongs to the Lord and as such the regulative principle ought be followed. Seeking to be accepted by the world is enmity toward God. The “cool” and the “hip” go to hell.

          • John

            Stephen likes to take extremely unorthodox and unsupported interpretations of scripture and use them as if they are obvious and clear. He’s done this many times.

            Please don’t expect honesty from him with regards to scripture.

          • Ariel

            Thanks for the insight John, with his almost 1000 posts on disqus it seems he spends a lot of time arguing most likely.

          • timetorun

            amen, correct.

          • cadcoke5

            I generally don’t like tattoos, and it may be foolish to get one. But I have done some research in the bible, and can only find a prohibition that is strongly assocaited with morning the dead. Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you”. So, perhaps a tattoo as a tribute to a loved one who has passed away is prohibited.

            There is a related topic, piercings. I was surprised when I came across a passage in Ezekiel 16:12, where God is describing, in analogy, how he loved Israel, and adorned her and “put a ring on your nose.” Apparently God thinks nose rings look good. Well, hopefully this is an area where God give us liberty, because I don’t like nose rings any more than tattoos.

          • Lev 19:28 contains two prohibitions, both related to permanently marking the body and ends with the words: “I am the LORD”. According to the New Testament, who does your body belong to? And when you decide to mutilate it, who are you saying it belongs to?

          • cadcoke5

            Regarding the Lev 19 passage, all the commentaries I have seen on it, put the tattooing as part of the “on account of the dead”. Though, at least one translation put it in English in such a way that it could be interpreted as a separate prohibition. The lack of repetition elsewhere in scripture also weakens the case for tattoos being completely prohibited.

            Though, like you, I tend to think of tattoos as something like drawing a mustache on the Mona Lisa. You are messing with someone’s else’s art work, only in this case it is God’s artwork. Still, I think that is a personal judgement, rather than a teaching from God.

            As for mutilating, well at least piercings are OK, as per the Ezekiel 16 passage.

    • Tim Donelli

      Wisely spoken Stephen!

  • Excellent! Well done! Thanks for setting the record straight.

  • huwwuh

    Father forgive them. They know not what they do…
    On the other hand these people will cause many little ones to stumble. They would be advised to hold a mill stone festival on a ship in mid atlantic.

  • Josey

    88 John 15:12 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” 88

  • Amos Moses

    OK ……. its a kerfuffle ……….

  • These young men ought not be pastors and elders. They are not proven and don’t meet the biblical standards for elders. A theology decree only puffs up the new and untested believers. There is a reason they are called “elders”, and that is maturity, wisdom, and a tested faith and faithfulness. Those things can’t be obtained in a seminary.

    • Ariel

      No Stephen, these things cant be attained in Seminary, but obviously your massively ignorant on the work Both Jeff Durbin and James White have done. Your basing things off an article that was flawed from the get go? Do your research on people before you cast stones. Ill give you an example. People were claiming John Crowder as a Heretic. I took the time to look into this man and not take things for face value so I am properlly informed. Yes I am concerned with Crowders theology after looking into it and some of his irreverent behavior. I think this is an area you need to gain wisdom in yourself how to rightly discern where someone is at.

    • Todd Carter

      Mr. Anderson, I’ve read your recent post and there is a clear bias on your end to divide the believers over trivial matters. I sense a high level of arrogance in your words and have found your witness to lacking in love and self control. Although it is part of our jobs of Christians to discern when a fellow believer is in error, it is also our job not to allow division among our faith (1 Cor 12:12-31). You may find Mark Driscoll or Jeff Durbin to be unconventional in their approach to share the Gospel but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, have they adequately shared the Gospel? From my perspective they have done so clearly and I praise God for their continued passion to further the kingdom of God. Although I do not drink or have tattoos, I can not as a believer condemn those who do. There are many versus in the OT testament where wine is considered a blessing from God (Deut. 7:13 & 1 Chron 12:40). You identify tattoos as being worldly but one must ask in what manner it is done in. A Christian who tattoos a bible verse is doing that same thing that a person who put a Christian bumper sticker with a verse on their car. They are, in a very small way, promoting the kingdom of heaven. Tattoos are a way that the youth of today begin conversation with strangers. If a tattoo of a cross leads a Christian to witness to a non christian and invite them to church, how can you deny this ministry. Please consider the words of Paul in 1 Cor 9:12 – To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

    • George

      I have enjoyed some of Whites teaching, but as Tozer once said, “make no man your guru” Even the best men of God can get it wrong, Martin Luther taught some terrible things about jews, and at times, he used language probably not best used in church. Even Peter had to be rebuked by the apostle paul for his hypocrisy. My point being, any of us can fall, you, myself, even the most mature, as paul states “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 cor 10:12.
      At the end of the day, I think any Christian getting a tattoo is a stupid thing to do, and mark driscoll does need to stand down because he hasn’t shown much discernment, but I have read many of your posts and you are very sound in what you say, but, you can come off sounding a little holier than thou, (no offence) I too like to “contend for the faith” but I try to take the one sinner to another sinner approach, (I look at the log in my eye first, I try anyway, and I have been rebuked for being a little ‘strong’ in the past with people)

  • kenster777

    Abstain from all appearances of Evil. I Thessalonians 5:22
    A little leaven, leavens the whole Lump Galatians 5:9
    Also a Chi rho is a Pagan symbol
    It is always better to avoid anything that is related to this world
    Preaching or participating in these sort of things can cause others to stumble
    The only hope is they repent of this and start Teaching Christ and him Crucified

  • michael louwe

    It is general knowledge that alcoholism, cigarette/nicotine addiction n drug addiction will shorten n degrade life, eg liver damage in alcoholics, lung damage in chain-smokers n brain damage in drug addicts. Such immoral practices r common among the Gentiles. It is uncommon among the Jews bc LEV.10:9 n DEUT.29:5 of the Old Testament prohibit intoxicating drinks or chemicals.

    Salvation unto the kingdom of heaven is solely thru faith in Jesus Christ, n not thru the works of keeping the OT Law or Moses Law, but the Law ensures blessings from God which will result in a good n long life on earth.(DEUT.28) It is only logical for Christians to achieve both, ie a good n long life on earth plus being saved from hell when they leave this rotten earth or die((= resurrected (or raptured)at the 2nd Coming of JC to earth – 1THESS.4:16)).

    Some Gentiles may hv been chain-smokers or alcoholics or drug-addicts b4 coming to Christ. For them, salvation or eternal life is more important than long life thru the Law. Hence, at ACTS.15:24-29, God has exempted such new Gentile Christian adults from any law of Moses which will be a burden to them.
    …….Quitting smoking, drinking or drugs suddenly would likely kill them or cause more mental problems for them, eg Delirium Tremens n cerebral hemorrhage/stroke. So, it is OK for them to be addicted or dependent. It’s not very different from a Type2 diabetic being dependent or “addicted” to artificial insulin for the rest of their lives bc of damaged pancreas, eg from a lifestyle of laziness n gluttony. Similarly, the exemption from the law of circumcision(cf; GEN.34:25), food laws, etc.

    In comparison, Law-abiding Jews who come to JC r required by God to continue to keep whatever OT laws they hv been keeping bc it is not a burden to them. They will end up worse if they live like Gentile Christians, eg become chain-smokers, alcoholics or drug addicts.

    • kenster777

      No Gentile Christian’s need to get on the cross and be Purified by faith

      I Corinthian’s teaches we are a new creation’s in Christ Jesus
      God through the Blood of Jesus Christ has redeemed us
      We have power over the enemy which is Satan and the world

      Meaning a new Christian can and need’s to overcome these addiction’s through the Power of the Cross and the Blood of Jesus
      I was one of those Chain Smoker’s, drinker’s you speak of

      No drug’s needed just the Cross of Christ and the power of the Holy spirit and his word
      As it say’s on the back of my business card Philippians’s 4:13

      I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me

      • michael louwe

        R u taking prescription pills from yr doctor for a long term mental or medical condition.? Sleeping pills, anti-depressants, opium-based painkillers n other psychotropic pills r also intoxicating chemicals prohibited by Moses Law. There is also caffeine addiction from drinking coffee or tea n eating chocolate.
        ……. IOW, one drug/chemical addiction can be replaced with another drug/chemical addiction. Eg a weed-smoker or Rx-pill popper can falsely claim of being “healed” of cigarette-chain-smoking.

        If Jesus Christ has truly n miraculously healed u of yr nicotine n alcohol addiction, then Praise The Lord.

        • kenster777

          No none of those either I look to Jesus for all things.
          Through the washing of his word it is not an overnight Process Romans 12:1 & 2
          Faith comes by hearing the word of God
          Roman’s 10:17
          A person needs to taught to Overcome

          Greater is he that is in me then he that is in the world I Jn 4:4
          Yes I do still drink Coffee and always liked chocolate but I have not used them as substitutes.
          Unless it causes another Brother to stumble
          Philippians 4:6-9 is a good place for a new Christian to start
          Along with Proverbs 3

    • I must respectfully disagree with your third point. In the nearly forty years I have been dealing with alcoholics and addicts, it has been my first-hand experience that the detrimental effects you describe are only associated with early withdrawal and can be medically managed. I think it would be unconscionable to suggest to a chronic alcoholic that he or she should continue to drink. Consequently, the analogy with type II diabetes is completely wrong. Alcoholics do not need alcohol to stay alive. Diabetics do need insulin.

      If I have misconstrued your point, I apologize.

      • michael louwe

        Does not medically managing the detrimental effects of early withdrawal involve a substitute drug/chemical/pills.?
        Alcoholics need alcohol to stay mentally alive bc their addicted or damaged brains hv stopped producing alcohol-analogue neurotransmitters like GABA, melatonin, endorphin, etc.

        • Managing withdrawal involves TEMPORARY and gradually reduced doses of drugs designed to manage the symptoms. Once fully withdrawn, there is no more need for the addictive drug. I was severely physically addicted to alcohol yet I have been completely sober for 34 years. I do not need alcohol to stay “mentally alive.”

          You are clearly not familiar with addiction and are completely out of your depth. You would do the world a great service by not spreading false information.

        • Upon reading your last reply more carefully I am not sure if you are saying that alcoholics need alcohol temporarily only or long-term. Your responses seem contradictory.

  • cadcoke5

    1st let me define “strong drink”… since there was no distillation in biblical times, when we hear “strong drink” it refers to undiluted alcoholic beverages like wine.

    The New Testament does not forbid strong drink, though intoxication certainly is forbidden. However, there is no express approval of strong drink either. Though, there is clear approval of wine, it is important to realize this would normally have been diluted to the point that it would not even be considered an alcoholic beverage by todays laws in the U.S.

    The Old Testament does have plenty of disapproval of strong drink. And though we are no longer under the ceremonial laws, the moral admonitions against strong drink are so plentiful that they cannot be ignored.

    There is one other important factor. I have a relative who is finally, after some years of effort, overcoming their alcoholism. For her to be around others who are drinking, it would be a MAJOR problem for her. She would be foolish to attend Dr. White’s ministry. A ministry that is OK excluding people who are overcoming alcoholism is not getting any high ranking from myself.

  • Rick

    Unfortunately, AA is full of people who couldn’t leave social drinking in it’s place. It consumed their lives, it became an outlet for difficulty, abuse, depression, loneliness, exclusion, emptiness and so on. Alcohol is a stumbling block for them, why would we promote it to those who have been mastered by it’s influence.
    Our call is to exalt Christ, to show them that God can and will heal their infirmities without any outside influence or worldly attempt.
    If we are the light, we are reflecting God’s glory to the world. Everything else is a cheap substitute.

    • As a Christian and a recovered alcoholic I have to take minor issue with your first statement.

      Alcoholics are responsible for their own sobriety. I do not consider the consumption of alcohol to be sinful per se, but for someone like me it is a sin because I have proven again and again that I cannot drink in moderation. But arguing that a church should not promote the use of alcohol because it might create a “stumbling block” for people like me is not a valid argument. Alcoholics must live in a world that promotes alcohol all the time. Sobriety is not about resisting temptation, it is about developing a relationship with God (and for me that is through Jesus Christ) that removes the obsession to drink, allowing us to live in freedom.

      On the other hand, I agree completely that we are under an obligation to show ourselves as set apart from this world. As Paul points out regarding freedom from the law

      All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 1 Cor. 6:12

      If Christians engage in worldly behavior ostensibly to reach the world, the line becomes very indistinct, and who’s to say just who is influencing whom.

  • The following words from Paul apply to this situation, though I suspect some will deny it:
    1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up.
    2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.
    3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
    4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
    5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth– as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”–
    6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
    7 However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
    8 Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.
    9 But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.
    10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols?
    11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.
    12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
    13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. (1Co 8:1-13 ESV)

  • timetorun

    the old testament forbids the marking or cutting of flesh. so why would a man or woman of God seek to intentionally break this commandment? to me this pushing the limits on the grace of Christ. those who mark their bodies are getting themselves very ready to willingly accept the mark of the beast.

  • Don Hamilton

    Everyone is looking at this whole thing as if Christian News is fair and impartial and doesn’t have an axe to grind. From what I’ve read on their site, they seem to be incapable or unwilling to spot light heretics, false teachers and cultists, for what they are. They seem to be the poster boys for what James White calls the “mere Christianity movement”. They throw in Catholicis, Oneness Penecostals, word of faith, NAR, anything that claims to be Christian. Many of their articles seem to be allergic to the exclusivity of orthodox Christianity.

    Dr White claims that this article is a misrepresentation of the facts. I know brother James is a little crotchety and confrontational sometimes, but I think his theology is sound. Apologia TV, is not my cup of tea and seems a little immature sometimes, but then again it seems that there theology is sound.

    Martin Luther — ‘Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.’
    This just doesn’t seem to be where the battle is raging.

    I thank the Lord, that he loves me, such a wretch.

  • Michael Falsia

    James White is a disgrace for his pathetic defense of this pagan and STUPID practice! This is what happens when you are a law unto yourself and one too many have looked to as a religious guru. This Christian tattoo thing is UNGODLY and an offence to the Savior and what He came to establish! Guys like James White would never have considered this 10 20 years ago!No Reformed Baptist church would have accepted this utter folly of tattooing. I guess the great apologist seems to have forgotten what ” BE NOT CONFORMED TO THE WORLD ETC…” means? Shame on him for bowing to the pressure of this generation. Maybe the fool thinks he needs to do such things to be relevant to the sensual youth of this perverse world we live in? I have no respect for him any longer. This also comes with a revivalist mentality that desperately wants revival and to take in as many converts however questionable their profession may be so they can convince themselves that they are useful servants and still have reason to live in this wicked generation. The great compromise of the so called reformed Churches is well under way! And they too will go by the wayside with many false converts in their midst. May God bring White to repentance! He is promoting sin and worldliness at this point!