Philip Deller - Chipping Campden Baptist Church

Philip Deller is the senior minister of Chipping Campden Baptist Church. Chipping Campden Baptist Church belongs to the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB). BUGB churches are autonomous local churches, not centrally controlled, and they do vary widely. But, generally, it would be fair to say that the BUGB has become liberal, jettisoning many non-negotiables of 'the faith once for all given to the saints'.

I visited Chipping Campden Baptist Church in January 2011, and heard Philip Deller make some disturbing assertions in his sermon.

I attempted to talk to Philip in person about these issues on 2.1.11, we talked briefly but as soon as I said, '...but Roman Catholicism is a false religion', he sighed, 'ok Dave' and walked away, making clear he wasn't going to have this conversation with me.

I have no doubt that many people in many so-called 'evangelical' churches would not be disturbed in the slightest by Philip Deller's comments in his sermon of 2.1.11. Many would applaud his remarks. The message he preached sits well with much 'evangelicalism' today, because it aims to be widely inclusive and accepting of all shades of so-called 'Christian' opinion, and many post-modern 'evangelicals' love this kind of inclusivism, it squares nicely with being politically correct.

The problem is that Philip Deller's comments, quoted below, strike at the very heart of the gospel, as clearly set out in God's word, the Bible. Christians are supposed to look to the Bible as authoritative in defining what it means to be a Christian. It is the Bible which proclaims the true gospel. False gospels cannot save anyone. The Bible itself instructs believers in many places to contend for the true faith, and expose false teaching for what it is. There is too much at stake not to.

For this reason, I have prayerfully decided to reproduce on this webpage my side of an attempted email exchange between myself and Philip Deller. I never did receive a response from Philip, although after three emails from me, one of his associates responded to essentially decline to engage with me on any of the issues.

Here's the quote from Philip Deller's sermon:

'There are many who are confused about the denominations - I've had people come on an Alpha course and think that different denominations are different religions - 'what's the difference between the Catholic religion and the Protestant religion?' - and we need to be able to explain that to people, that actually those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are the church of Jesus Christ whatever label, whatever flavour they have'

There are two (related) serious denials of the gospel in Philip's statement:

1 Philip Deller asserts that Roman Catholicism is just another truly Christian church. But the Roman Catholic church teaches heresy, as I have pointed out elsewhere. There may be some individual true believers who identify themselves as Catholic, who have not yet realised the contradiction because they haven't understood what Rome is really teaching. But the fact is that at the level of its systematic theology, Rome teaches a false gospel. The loving way to interact with people who believe a false gospel is to pray for them, and show them their error, using the Bible to do so. Not to pretend that they are already saved when they are not.

2 Philip Deller asserts that everyone who calls Jesus, 'Lord', is a Christian. Jesus himself specifically rejected this idea - see Matt7:21-23. A Christian is someone who has turned to Christ in true repentance and faith, which is only possible by God's grace. Philip's 'lowest common denominator' reduces the definition down to mere verbal confession of Jesus as Lord, and Jesus himself contradicts Philip Deller on this point.

I am reproducing below the subsequent emails from me to Philip Deller on these issues, because Philip Deller's statement above is so typical of much so-called 'evangelicalism' and 'ecumenicalism'. The church needs to wake up, start believing the Bible as God's inerrant word, and start preaching the true gospel, to the glory of God. I pray this would happen.

Dear Philip

I hope you are well.

I've wanted since our post-meeting conversation on 2 January to find time to send you links to official Vatican sources so you can see for yourself what Rome today actually believes and teaches. I am sure you are a very busy man, but I hope you will be able to find time to read through my email as these are important issues.

You may well be a far more Godly man than I, who has devoted far more time to faithful service of Christ than I have. But as God can even speak through a donkey, then he can even use me if he wills to.

I wanted to be fair to what you had said in your sermon, so I downloaded the mp3 of your talk on 2.1.11 to listen to it again.

I still have two very serious concerns. Here's a transcipt of what you said which is relevant to my concerns:

'There are many who are confused about the denominations - I've had people come on an Alpha course and think that different denominations are different religions - 'what's the difference between the Catholic religion and the Protestant religion?' - and we need to be able to explain that to people, that actually those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are the church of Jesus Christ whatever label, whatever flavour they have'

First concern:

I agree with you that there is 'only one right way', that is, Christ. I agree that the universalist idea that different religions are merely taking different routes up the same mountain, and that at the summit we will all meet up, is false.

But universalism has been entrenched in Roman Catholic doctrine ever since the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 (Vatican II). The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is stated in their 'Catechism of the Catholic Church', first published in English in 1994.

The RC Catechism is freely available from the Vatican website here:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_INDEX.HTM

I've posted below some examples of what the modern day RCC believes and teaches (all taken from http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P29.HTM )

Extracts from the RC 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' in red.

Para 841: '841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day"'

So Muslims are all saved, as they are of the faith of Abraham! This is a contradiction of the gospel, shows a failure to grasp exactly what the faith of Abraham was, and asserts the universalism which, Philip, you rightly rejected.

I have met and had conversations with some Muslims who are lovely and gracious people, but I have to say are sincerely and gravely wrong - their religion is a works based religion - if their good outweighs their bad, then Allah will accept them. This is nothing like the faith of Abraham: 'What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”' Romans 4:3.

Para 842: '842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:' 'All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God.'

But we do NOT all share a common destiny or a common end! This is universalism again. God is the destiny for his people alone, e.g. Rev 21.3. For those who are not God's people, their destiny is very different, e.g. Rev 21.8.

Para 847: 'Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.'

Again, this is universalism - that if people are sincere in following the light they have, they may still be saved. This is not the gospel!

The Roman Catholic Church of today teaches an inclusivist 'gospel' - that Christ is indeed the only saviour, but that people can be saved by him without explicit faith in him. This is a false gospel.

I don't doubt there are those within the RCC who may have (by God's grace alone) truly turned to Christ in repentance and faith. But at the level of systematic theology and it's official teaching, the RCC is a false religion, utterly in disagreement with the true gospel.

For an excellent and scholarly assesment of how the RCC moved from the Council of Trent through Thomism and Neo-Thomism to it's Vatican II position, I would recommend a talk by Dr Nick Needham, who teaches church history at Highland Theological College:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/has_roman_catholicism_changed

It is irresponsible for us to suggest that Roman Catholics are Christians too, because given what their 'church' officially teaches, we are then endorsing a false gospel, and giving false reassurance to people within the RCC who may never have turned to Christ in repentance and faith.

It can be shown that the post-Vatican II RCC is heretical without even needing to mention the Council of Trent and the issue of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.

Second concern:

You said that,

'those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are the church of Jesus Christ whatever label, whatever flavour they have'

My problem here is that Jesus himself rejects this as a defintion of what it means to be saved:

Matthew 7: 21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

This makes very clear that the fact that someone confesses Jesus as Lord does not guarantee they are part of the true church. A true believer is someone who has turned to Christ in repentance and faith, which is only possible by God's grace. Yes, Paul wrote:

'If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.' Romans 10.9

But scripture, in referring to true saving faith, does not isolate verbal confession of Christ as Lord from true repentance and faith in him. You are using the notion of confessing him as Lord to define true Christians in a way which includes all Roman Catholics, even though Roman Catholicism preaches and teaches a false gospel. That is not what scripture means by confessing him as Lord, and this mis-use of claiming him as Lord is the one to which Jesus speaks when he warns that calling him, 'Lord, Lord' is not conclusive of someone being part of the true people of God. Jesus clearly declares that calling him Lord must be matched by true repentance and faith in him alone or we are not saved.

Sincerely

Dave

No reply from Philip Deller or Chipping Campden Baptist Church

The above email received no reply.

Second email from me:

Hello again Philip

I would like to show you a genuine quote from someone else on a discussion forum, the main topic was Rob Bell's new book, but on the subject of how people get to heaven, please see the comment from 'gloves1212'. ('john17v17' is me). 'gloves1212' is very clearly appealing to the Roman Catholic Catechism, the very one I referred to previously.

See what 'gloves1212' says about how someone gets to heaven. Do you not see clearly from this how Rome is deceiving people? If we truly believe the gospel, how can we partner with a 'church' which teaches such things?

The person below, 'gloves1212' is being totally faithful to the official teaching of Rome. Can you not see clearly from this that it is wrong to tell people that Roman Catholicism is a genuine Christian church?

Regards
Dave

No reply from Philip Deller or Chipping Campden Baptist Church

The above email also received no reply.

Third email from me:

Hello

I sent you an email Philip back in Feb, but haven't heard from you, nor to the follow up from 11 March. Perhaps your email address is no longer valid, or you are away, or perhaps you are unwell, or perhaps you chose not to respond? Not having heard from you I dont know which of the possibilities applies. I do hope you are well, and not incapacitated somehow.

Anyhow, as a way of communicating my message on the vital issues I raised, I am sending this to the various joint leadership emails addresses I see on your church website.

I was pleased that in the talk you gave to which I referred in my first email, you rejected universalism. I can think of some BUGB pastors not a million miles from me in Hull who, last I heard, were fully paid up members of the Rob Bell fan club. His latest book Love Wins promotes inclusivism/universalism, a view you seem to rightly reject.

But the irony here is that Roman Catholicism today IS inclusivist/universalist, yet you say it's a Christian church.

Telling people that Roman Catholicism is a Christian denomination, when Rome preaches a false gospel (Gal1.8-9) is irresponsible at best. Telling people that anyone who confesses Jesus as Lord is a Christian, when Jesus himself specifically rejects this definition (Matt7:21-23) is also irresponsible.

I do hope that someone at your church will be willing to consider the evidence from Rome's official Catechism, some of which I have presented in my first email, and compare it to the Bible. We need to be like the Bereans (Acts 17).

If we want to understand Roman Catholicism today, then I’d *highly* recommend having a listen to an excellent and very scholarly talk entitled, ‘Has Roman Catholicism Changed’, given by Dr Nick Needham, a British reformed baptist pastor who also teaches church history at Highland Theological College in Scotland. Here's a link:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/resources/a/has_roman_catholicism_changed

In far too much 'evangelicalism' today there is a disturbing trend towards unity at the expense of truth. False gospels cannot save, which is why we have to get the message right, and also expose false gospels for what they are. Don't be like Jehoshophat (2 Chronicles 17-19), who was basically the Lord's man, but foolishly formed an alliance with the wicked Ahab, and was rebuked by a prophet for doing so. We're not supposed to attempt to partner with false 'churches' or call people 'Christians' who believe a false gospel.

Spurgeon in his day knew the importance of holding to truth. It's a shame there aren't more Baptists today like Spurgeon. The BUGB is all over the place theologically, it's truly pitiful. Unity is good, but never, ever, at the expense of the true gospel.

The loving way to respond to people who believe a false gospel is to pray for them, and show them their error by using the Bible to do so. Not to pretend that they are all Christians really because we don't want to upset anyone. Avoiding upsetting people was never the prime concern of the Lord Jesus himself, or of the apostles, not when truth was at stake.

best regards

Dave

Still no reply from Philip Deller, but a reply received from Edward Ibberson

I did receive a response to the third email above, from Edward Ibberson, an associate of Philip Deller. I prefer not to display the content here, as whilst I am free to publish my own words, Edward has not given me permission to publish his private communication to me. But I will summarise it. Essentially, Edward's email was a graciously worded statement to the effect, 'we are not going to debate this with you'.

Here is my response:

Hello Edward

Thank you for your reply.

I appreciate you are very busy. Of course you are not answerable in any way to me, so I respect that you have chosen not to give me a reply. But there is One to whom we are all answerable, so I would point out the following for you to consider:

If we say that Roman Catholicism is Christianity too, then either we don't understand what Rome teaches, or we don't understand the gospel, or both. In the light of the RC Catechism, those are clearly the only options. So which is it? (you don't have to answer me, but we all have to answer to God).

If we say that all who confess Jesus as Lord are Christians, we are offering a definition of 'believer' which Jesus Himself rejected - Matt7:21-23.

False gospels cannot save, and so if you wish to reach the lost, be careful it is the true gospel you are reaching them with.

You may well be a true believer, but if you offer assurance of salvation to a Roman Catholic who doesn't know Christ, or to anyone who confesses him as Lord but has never truly repented and believed, (and Philip's preaching has done both of these) then you are not reaching the lost but encouraging them to continue in their self-deception, with eternally tragic consequences.

best regards
Dave

N.B. The email addresses disclosed on this page are all addresses already in the public domain. The addresses shown here for Philip Deller, Edward Ibberson, Duncan Akehurst and Alan Slough are all ones which they advertise on the Chipping Campden Baptist Church website.

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