The Impressive Compass Bible Church and Their Future Apostasy
“Ministries are in their greatest danger when things are going well.”
I am encouraged about one thing this week. I remember a pastor asking me about Compass Bible church’s pastor/teacher Mike Fabarez four weeks ago: “Hey Paul, what do you think about this guy? He really seems to get it.” I remember thinking after reading the email: “What? Are you kidding! This guy is great! How could you be such a pessimist? I thought I was the one who sees this doctrine behind every bush!” Reflected in the pastor’s use of “seems” is his realization of how subtle this doctrine is. That’s encouraging; some get it, but Fabarez is not one of them.
As any reader here knows, I have been vigorously promoting the “Aggressive Sanctification Conference” hosted by Compass Bible Church that took place this past weekend. I even contemplated flying out there for the conference. Susan and I watched the conference together on live video stream. We were greatly encouraged by what we heard for the most part, but throughout the conference, we both perceived some red flags. Before I elaborate, let me tell you what happened in the final message of the conference by Compass elder Bobby Blakey. It was practically a full-blown New Calvinist sermon. In fact, the primary target of Fabarez’s criticism, Tullian Tchividjian, would have fully agreed with it.
Blakey clearly presented the following thesis in his message: in essence, “Yes, we need to be aggressive and all of these imperatives we are learning are awesome! Ya man, aggressive sanctification rules! And I am going to show you how to kick butt from the fourth commandment! You see man, like, we need a day of rest so we can contemplate the gospel and how great God is, and how little we are, like, we are just grasshoppers. Then that empowers us and invigorates us so that Jesus can do His work….[and don’t miss this]….”through us.’” Missing was the balance that reminds us that Jesus will not be judging His own works at the Bema Seat. Missing were the biblical words, “colaborers,” and “Helper.”
Blakey’s thesis also strongly suggested an “invigoration” that is always present with our works as a result of taking a day to meditate on God’s greatness and what he has done for us through the gospel. This element of his message could have just as well been preached by John Piper himself. Missing was the Apostle Paul’s description of how he served God through a multifaceted array of emotions, weaknesses, and circumstances. Missing was Christ’s agony in His obedience to the cross as one who knows the Father as Himself. In addition, Blakey’s rendition of the exodus to make this point could have just as easily been penned by Graeme Goldsworthy. The whole message reeked of New Calvinism. And shockingly, he implemented a New Calvinist staple to further his point foisted on the book of Ephesians: the indicative/imperative hermeneutic which is a mainstay of Gospel Sanctification and Sonship Theology. I sat dumbfounded and shell-shocked.
New Calvinists have no problem with aggressive sanctification whatsoever, just so it all goes through the cross first and is ALL performed by Jesus “through us.” Apparently, Christ misspoke and really meant to say, “Good contemplating my little grasshopper…,” instead of, “Well done faithful servant.” The Conference started with a message by Fabarez who apologized for being an apologist by erecting his upstart Aggressive Sanctification blog. He said it wasn’t his “forte” and he didn’t enjoy it at all. He obviously wanted to make sure everybody knew that he is above the fray. Nevertheless, his contention against the fusion of justification and sanctification was outstanding, but over-simplified. Most New Calvinists will have it for lunch, especially since nobody knows who the New Calvinists are because as Fabarez mentioned, he doesn’t like to name names. This is like the aids epidemic that flourished between 1969 and 1979 because it didn’t have an identity. Somehow, New Calvinism doesn’t pose as much of a danger. Apparently, it’s like catching a cold—no need to get ugly about it and start naming names.
The second message was by associate pastor Pete Lasutschinkow. Compass’ website states that he studied biblical counseling under Jay Adams at Westminster Seminary. That’s good if it was the only reason he was there at the time. The message was outstanding and very Adamsesque. He cited a lack of leadership among men as the greatest danger to the Christian family today, but I have news for him; teaching that elders have more authority in the home than the husband—and one spouse believing in synergistic salvation constitutes a mixed marriage is not helpful either (as others such as New Calvinists teach).
Other than Blakey, another one of Fabarez’s boy-elders, Lucas Pace, started out strong by describing obstacles to discipleship. Susan and I took notes vigorously, but then he got into framing disobedience via David Powlison’s Heart Theology which is the counseling application of Sonship Theology. The Bible never frames misplaced priorities in regard to idols in the heart. Again, another example of New Calvinist leaven permeating Compass’ eldership.
Therefore, Compass is destined to go the way of ministries like NANC, Coral Ridge, Grace Community Church, and Clearcreek Chapel. Leadership always thinks it can toy with a little bit of leaven. Things are going good for Compass right now, but like Dr. John Street when he was at Clearcreek Chapel, Fabarez is asleep at the switch. Ministries are in their greatest danger when things are going well. When John Street allowed Powlison’s Heart Theology into Clearcreek Chapel’s NANC training program, that was the beginning of the end—as an elder, I saw it happen with my own eyes. Fabarez is well on his way to being a mega-sellout like John MacArthur Jr. unless he reins in his boy-elders, but let me tell you why that’s not going to happen.
I have recently learned how our present church culture is dominated with the neo-evangelicalism that evangelicals were decrying in the 60’s. Basically, neo-evangelicalism rejected biblical separatism. From it, truism’s like, “All truth is God’s truth”; You can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater [even though the baby is a Canaanite]; Don’t be apologetic, focus on the “truth” and the rest will fall in place [kindred to Fabarez’s approach at the conference]; take off the shelf what is good, and leave the rest there; etc.
And this is the reason Compass will go the way of all the others—they don’t get it: “sanctification” means to “set apart.” And obviously, they are not aggressively setting apart. They allowed the spirits of the very doctrine they decry to speak throughout the conference!