Ode to the Shepherd’s Conference

The Shepherds’ Conference is a ministry of Grace Community Church (GCC).  This year featured speakers include GCC’s pastor-teacher John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Paul Washer, Steven Lawson, Phil Johnson, Tom Pennington, and Nathan Busenitz..  According to the website:

The mission of the Shepherds’ Conference is to provide the opportunity for men in church leadership to be challenged in their commitment to biblical ministry and to find encouragement as together we seek to become more effective servants of our chief Shepherd.

Conference attendee JD Hall declared: “The Shepherds’ Conference might be the biggest conference on Earth where being uncool is cool. It might also be the largest gathering of theology nerds on Earth” and JD loves every minute of it.  “To me and the rest of the men there, it’s sheer awesomeness.”

So JD wanted to share his experience with others.  He writes:

Shepherd - JesusMuslims have Mecca.

Hindus have the Ganges.

Budhists have the Bodi Tree.

The Greeks had the Oracle of Delphi.

We have Shepherds’ Conference.

Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly a religious pilgrimage, but for evangelical inerrantists and expository preachers it’s the closest we’ve got. Every year, thousands of pastors and church leaders flock to the Mecca epicenter of a serious, grown-up Christianity and seek it as an oasis in a desert of, well, what is pretty much the opposite of that.

What strikes you when seeing the campus of Grace Community Church isn’t the palatial estate in the middle of an urban metropolis, or the pristine landscaping or buildings the size of what you would expect them to be on John MacArthur’s home turf. Largeness isn’t what impresses most Shepherds’ Conference pilgrims, and neither do thoughts of the resources necessary to build something like that given Los Angeles real estate prices (although the thought of what the parking lot would cost crossed my mind). What strikes you at the campus of Grace Community Church is that it is crawling with people who are perhaps the most hospitable, friendly, inviting and truly humble people you’ve ever met.

Oh, sure. The speakers are incredible. I remarked to one compatriot this week, when sitting outside listening to a morning speaker, how astoundingly uncharismatic most of the speaker lineup is. And by that, I don’t mean cessationist. I mean, in terms of personality. The expositional and theological skills of men like Albert Mohler, Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson and MacArthur himself cannot be questioned, but let’s face it – the public perceives these guys as scowling fundamentalists probably vying for president of the “Get Off My Lawn” club in their local HOA. A bunch of fuddie duddies with their bow ties and fancy suits and their combed hair. I kid you not, there was not a single spiked or bleached hair-do in the entire lineup. Not a single speaker said words like, “yo, dude, bro, bruh, homie” or solicited Instagram followers.

A world record-shattering deficit of coolness aside, the fact is that Shepherd’s Conference might be the biggest conference on Earth where being uncool is cool. It might also be the largest gathering of theology nerds on Earth. You know, people walking around with their Bible covers and ogling Systematic Theology books like teenage boys with a MAD magazine. Guys comparing fountain pins and waxing on about how they’ll one day get that lamb-skin Bible they always wanted. You know, fellows excited about journaling their meditative thoughts from the Psalms and talking about the Impassibility of God like most men talk football. And I love every bit it – every awkward, wincing, nerdy, geeky geek, nerdness nerdity of it. To me and the rest of the men there, it’s sheer awesomeness.

What else stands out to the Shepherd’s Conference attendee is the reverence of it all. The prayers are reverent. The speakers are reverent. The attire is reverent. The songs are reverent. It’s just all so…reverent. It is a beautiful, wonderful, respectful time.

And although Shepherds’ Conference has many fine qualities that makes it the number one destination for stuffy religious fuddie duddies like me (okay, I’ll quit with that – enough with the stereotypes), there’s one resounding reason I return year after year. And that reason is not John MacArthur (although, let’s be honest, that’s a pretty good reason) or the other speakers. It isn’t the book tent that’s bigger than my home town. It’s not epic talks like what was given this year by Phil Johnson, or the fact that Paul Washer preached so intensely I thought viewers at home might have their computer screens catch fire. At one point, his face turned so red in passion it resembled the face my toddler makes as he’s sucking in air before he screams, and I was afraid Washer was going to pass out from lack of oxygen or a coronary…but I digress. As awesome as all those things are, the reason Shepherd’s Conference is so special to me is the hospitality, love and service demonstrated by the volunteer members of Grace Community Church. Continue reading

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7 years ago

What a rosy picture is painted for us by Mr. Hall. Sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Remember what your momma used to tell you “if it sounds too good to be true it’s because it ain’t”? What a show they put on for the unsuspecting, naive, and previously duped crowd—duped by the very ones running the show at the shepherds conference.

I wonder if Mr. Hall realizes that out of the same pulpit that he heard such impressionable and lasting sermons also comes the words of the most sophisticated angel of light known to the American “church”? I speak directly and specifically of the same John MacArthur that is pastor of the GCC who has for decades taught damnable heresies from that same pulpit———and everyone gives him a pass. Heresies like the blood of Jesus does not save a person, but is nothing more than a euphemism for His death. Or that repentance is unnecessary toward salvation and he himself admits to never having ‘felt the need to repent’ because he never “rebelled” against God (gty.org sermon # 80-33). Or that one can receive the mark of the beast and later be regenerated, never mind that this is totally contrary to the Word of God. There are other heresies beside these, but the point is made. Read all about these and the others in MacArthur’s books, his “study bible”, in the archives of gty.org.

Does Mr. Hall realize that the same campus he loves so dearly is the same campus where the annual “regen conference” is held for teenagers where satanic symbols are freely used and encouraged and TAUGHT to the attendees and while also playing with (worshipping) a severed pig’s head? Does JDH know that the same people who were so nice to him have been documented to turn on their fellow church members who dare to object to anything that goes on at GCC and act rather like SS Storm Troopers or some sort of Gestapo Goon as they force the objectors into submission? Dirty little secrets that “outsiders” like you and me and JDH are not supposed to know, but thanks to those who have escaped this cult we are now finding out the real thing that happens at GGC and all it’s affiliates.

It would be nice if people would wake up, but for the most part (99.999%++) no body cares.

7 years ago
Reply to  Darrel

Darrel, I would have to agree with you. Another cult, men worshipping men instead of The Lord Jesus. To many people worship John MacArthur and others as if they are on equal grounds with Jesus. By the way, my name is Darrell and I take the word of God seriously and don’t worship any man or Pastor and I ‘m thankful Jesus blood and death was for the whole world (not limited atonement) and those by free will who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ will have everlasting life. My email is dearly72@gmail.com.

7 years ago

J.D. Hall is abrasive and haughty; his twitter exchange with Ergun Craner’s late son was simply horrific. Hall badgered that young man and was merciless in doing so {http://www.christianpost.com/news/after-braxton-caners-suicide-baptist-preacher-says-he-regrets-twitter-battle-with-teenager-124130/}. He is another one who appears to be in the ‘inner circle’ of JMac and his associates. That alone is reason enough to shun him.

I know if/when Darrel reads your comment he will address your view on free will. The bible does not teach this heresy, it is clear God elects those He saves. “But we are bound to give thanks to God alway for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” 2 Thess. 2:13
I would not call it ‘limited atonement’, rather, particular redemption. If Christ died for the whole world, as you believe, then why is it most will perish in their sins? This faulty view is a spin off of the damnable free will theology. Christ was the propitiation for sin, He satisfied God’s wrath for the sins of all who believe. All of God’s wrath was poured out on His Son, meaning there remains no more wrath; it was spent on Christ. If Christ died for all, and yet, most will perish, then Christ has failed to save. We know this isn’t so, so we must reject universal redemption. Christ died for His elect.

Mat 20:28 “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Notice what our Lord Himself says, ‘give his life as a ransom for many’ – He does not say ‘all’.
Here is another verse to consider – Mat 26:28 ‘for this is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many unto remission of sins.’
‘… For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many.’ Romans 5:15
‘so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.’ Hebrews 9:28

Jim McClarty has some in-depth writings concerning ‘all’ and ‘free will’. He answers questions concerning John 3:16 at his website – http://salvationbygrace.org/current-qa/. I recommend clicking on the Q&A tab, then click on ‘about John 3:16’. This will help clarify much of the error you presently cleave to.

7 years ago

Sorry to see that you are trapped in the cult of the “free-will” of man in regards to the saving of his soul. This is another form of idol worship, the idol of yourself. To say that Christ died for the sins of the whole of mankind-no exceptions-and yet knowing that the vast majority of this same mankind will spend eternity in hell is the same thing as saying that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross was insufficient for the purpose that it was intended, people still end up in hell despite His death and resurrection. This is clearly a different gospel than the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. It states that ALL men will be saved whether they repent or not, whether they believe on the Lord Jesus or not and thus becomes the gospel of the damned rather than the Gospel of Life Gal 1:6-9.

Most in the Arminian cult will dare to say with the Scriptures that a man is saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), but will immediately proceed to negate the entire verse by denying that such grace and faith are gifts from God. Further, they totally ignore verse nine, “not of works least anyone should boast” by injecting the “necessity” of the “cooperation” of the “free-will” of man to make a “decision for Christ” or to “accept Him as personal Savior” thereby trumping Grace with their own work of the action of their “free-will”. This damnable, heretical cult of Arminianism will ignore multiple Scriptures that speak directly, emphatically, unambiguously, and repeatedly that the saved are predestined before the foundation of the world to salvation, SPECIFICALLY chosen by the Father for salvation (election), given the gifts of repentance and faith unto salvation AND that this is the only way any man will ever be saved. See Acts 13:48; John 1:11-13; John 6:44; Rev. 17:8; Rom. 9:9-13 and a few hundred more found throughout the Word. The word “election” has achieved ‘curse word status’ in the ranks of the Arminian cult, but they ignore the fact that Jesus Christ was and is GOD’S ELECT and that from before the foundation of the world—Rev. 13:8.

If your interested in the truth of the Scriptures on this matter, then read the Word over and over and over again until the Arminian lies are demolished and Christ reigns supreme in your heart and mind. Lyn’s reference to McClarty is a good one. If you prefer a book or two there are Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God” and John Owen’s “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”. Owen’s work totally destroys all the lies and heresies found in the Arminian cult, step by step and piece by piece.

If a man thinks himself to be ‘saved’ because he has ‘made a decision for Christ’ or has ‘accepted Jesus into his heart’ by the action of his “free-will”, then that man has no need of grace, for he has attained his goal of ‘salvation’ without grace. Yet such a man has believed THE LIE that salvation is of his own doing and God’s Grace is spurned, is not needed by him, for he found another way to enter God’s Heaven—John 10:1-18. The sacrifice of the Savior is not sufficient to such a man, for he must augment it with his own works———That’s the very definition of heresy.

7 years ago
Reply to  Darrel

Sorry to see that you are trapped in the cult of self, not us.
God gave us free will, (see Garden of Eden), that is for the fall and repentance.
So take it up with Him.
It is those who are self important that think they have been chosen for no reason at all. Try reading the bible without the glasses shaded by the heresies of calvinism and it’s apostate promoters.