But to get to my point, it became very clear to me back then that many fundamentalists have a hierarchy for what conference participation implies. Inviting someone to speak at yours means pretty much full agreement on everything. Speaking at somebody else's implies broad agreement but not necessarily full agreement with the inviter. If you're speaking at somebody else's conference you'll likely agree even less with the other people you're speaking with, but it's cool as long as their get music and separation right. And finally, you can attend conferences where people even disagree on music and separation as long as you don't make a big deal about it.
[This is one way we learn what's most important to fundamentalists. It's one way we learn that applications of separation and musical styles are more important than soteriology and bibliology. And it's where we learn from statements like . . .
"I can tell how spiritual a guy is by the length of his hair" and "Am I saying that you ladies shouldn't wear pants because my wife and daughters don't? Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.". . . what some fundamentalist colleges and camps really believe about sanctification and biblical authority. Somewhere along the way, you begin to sense that the hierarchy has more to do with preserving a culture than advancing a coherent, robust theology. But I digress . . .]
Ok people, get this because it's revolutionary [kidding]: Not everybody thinks about conferences that way. Some people don't think having someone on your conference platform or speaking alongside someone means you agree on everything or even most things. Some people even think that there's value in displaying disagreement without minimizing it. The point is to show that disagreement on some issues doesn't necessarily impede or preclude all levels of fellowship and cooperation.
I know one pastor who's a master strategist. If he's speaking in a conference or pulling one together, there may be an obvious strategy on the face of it, but you have to know that there are many layers of less obvious strategies in play at the same time. And that gets right down to very minute details of what people have in common, what they don't, and how they talk about it. Amazing.
And then there are guys like Piper, who seem to use conferences to resolve matters of personal curiosity. He often uses his conference to publicly work things through in his own mind. It explains why one of the most intense, serious preachers of the day asked Mark Driscoll to talk about humor. Yikes. It may explain why the guy who's done more than any living person to clarify the biblical doctrine of justification could collaborate with Doug Wilson, who, I think it's fair to say, is not on the same page.
That doesn't justify Piper, any more than personal relationships justify John Vaughn and Mike Schrock. There is a stewardship of influence that has to be a consideration in these sorts of decisions. Is my personal curiosity worth the price of a perceived endorsement? The answer may or may not be clear, but it must not be disregarded. Now, fundamentalists are the ones who say conferences mean something. As far as I know Piper has never claimed that his conferences imply mutual affirmation or endorsement. In fact, he's been quite clear that they don't. You can say he's wrong. You may be right.
So having said that, I'll merely observe that there are people who have credibility to criticize Piper. And there are people who don't.
And there are people who deserve HTs. (Seriously, fundamentalists, you all need to read that blog. Every word.)