Now, I realize that there are nuanced arguments to be made on both sides of this debate and that there are reputable scholars who doubt the confessional Reformed doctrine of God’s Law. But I just want to say that if the popular organs of Reformed teaching are going to promote this kind of doctrine, then we should not blame Perry Noble for endorsing it. After all, when he completely discards the Ten Commandments of God on the authority of a taxi driver, Noble is only spreading the ideas that more reputable Reformed figures are teaching.
The internet world exploded earlier this month when South Carolina mega-pastor Perry Noble informed his attendees that the Ten Commandments are not commandments after all but promises. Noble gleaned this insight not from a careful study of the Scriptures – he admits that he did not do that – but from a conversation with a Jewish taxi driver. There are a number of reasons to be upset about this. For one thing, in order to redefine the law of God one must first assume the prerogatives of deity, something that Noble seems to have assumed due to his godlike celebrity status.
Second, it brings us to near despair about the Christian culture today when the most popular preachers are those who admit that they are both untrained and irresponsible in handling the Scriptures. Third, the claim that the Ten Commandments are not, well, commandments is not only rebutted by a 30 second Bible software search (see Dt. 4:2; 4:40; 5:10 just for starters, not to mention Jesus’ description in Mt. 5:19 and 19:17) but provides one more instance of a narcissistic age recasting the message of the church. With these things in mind, I cheerfully add my voice to the chorus denouncing Noble’s teaching and urging all sane believers to leave their nearby emotion-driven mega-worship-center as soon as possible and start attending an actual church, preferably a Reformed one.
With that said, however, I want to say to the internet world of popular Reformed teaching today: “Don’t blame Perry Noble.” After all, the message that he so unartfully spewed upon his holiday worshipers is more or less the same message going out from respected mouthpieces of Reformed teaching. It is well-chronicled both by Kevin DeYoung at TGC and also here at Ref21 how PCA pastor Tullian Tchividjian seeks to liberate Christians from the burdensome idea of practical obedience to God’s Word. More recently, Justin Taylor has posted an interview with David Dorsey seeking to dismantle completely the idea that God’s Law has any bearing on the Christian life. What we are seeing in Perry Noble, then, is simply a crass version of what is apparently a permissible idea within popular Reformed theology today: the belief that the Christian owes no obligation to live according to God’s Law.