Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dress Standards Matter: Case Study Bob Jones University

Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University, just announced changes in the dress standards especially for females, two in particular:  (1) permission to wear pants or slacks to class and (2) "shorts" for athletics that rise to two inches above the knee.  It didn't seem odd, but representative of BJU and the churches that send their students there.  This really is who they are and where we are today.  Most seem to celebrate this news.

A board member reported firsthand that BJU polled "Christian schools" with students there and over 50 percent took themselves something akin to the new standard.  Pettit implied that BJU would allow for students to take a higher standard of dress than required. Those young people would suffer, I would guess, ridicule on campus even worse than a state university.

I don't want to startle you, but the more Christians look like the world, the easier it is to get along with it.  The less they do, the harder it is.  Lowering standards makes it easier for kids especially to get along with the world.  Christians should be different.  The world doesn't dress the same as a Christian.  Its views, motives, goals, and philosophy are different.  Christians should turn the world upside down, not vice versa.  We shouldn't want it to be easier to be like the world or even get along with it.  We aren't friends with it.

DISCERNMENT

Some of what I've read from supporters of the new regime is that they are very happy because now young people can learn discernment by relaxing the standard. It doesn't work as an argument.  Discernment is judgment based on a standard.  If you can judge, then you have a basis for judgment.  If you can't judge, then it doesn't matter.  Part of the implementation of this change comes with implication that you can't judge by any objective standard.  Why two inches?  Why not three or four? Why no pants for class before?  Was there a biblical reason behind that?  What changed in thinking about those passages?  This is how discernment is developed, not be lowering the standard.

If standards harm young people's ability to make decisions for themselves, then you might drop all standards.  Any standard could be hindering discernment.  It is reductio ad absurdum.  Nudists walk across campus.  How could clothes be required?  It hinders discernment.  Someone is saying you can't judge things in the matters where the changes are occurring.

If something is right, then you stick with it.  You defend it.  You lose students to keep the standard, because it was right.  If it isn't right, then you explain how it was wrong.  That's how discernment is learned.  Some are using discernment and it is the leadership at Bob Jones University.  They discern that they will lose students if they keep the stricter standard.  They've studied that.  They don't believe the old standard themselves, so they won't keep enforcing it. Maybe they haven't believed it for awhile, but they did at one time believe that women should wear only dresses or skirts, and not pants nor anything above the knee.

There's a new standard for men on campus too that went unmentioned.  They are permitted now to look at women's thighs, at least two inches of them, except when a volleyball girl dives or stretches out for a ball and several more inches are exposed as the hem hikes up even further.  How much female thigh can a man be expected to see without lust?

THE STANDARD

When you look at history, it's easy to see that in dress Christians have moved with relativity to the world.  As the world changed, Christians stayed a few steps back, so that now Christian dress is more lax than the world not that long ago.  There are a few related good questions to ask.  Was the old standard a non-biblical standard?  Is the basis for the new standard the actual biblical one that overturns the old unbiblical one?  Or is this just a reaction to keep up enrollment?

The Bible is the standard, so something should be able to be proven from scripture.  It would seem that should happen either direction.  What is the objective standard?  When I watched Pettit in his presentation, he related change to the business world and asks what comes across in a professional manner.  This reads something modern and innovative into appropriateness.  The biblical concept of appropriateness relates to God and conforms to biblical living.

I believe it is true that the so-called cultural fundamentalists, which for the longest time was all fundamentalists, had not done well at instructing the biblical basis for the way they dressed.  Part of this was a widespread lack of expositional preaching.  Fundamentalists assumed rather than proved.  When dress became a major problem, it was tough to put this back in the bottle.  I don't remember my leadership in fundamentalism providing a basis for how we dressed, except for rule books.  Now fundamentalists treat dress standards like they did originate from a rule book, independent of scripture, which is false.

Two inches above the knee isn't explained from the Bible.  Whatever the reasons for skirts and dresses, there should be biblical reasons to go the other way, other than "scripture says nothing."  Scripture teaches coverage of the human body with detail about the female.  It also instructs about designed gender distinction, both Old and New Testament.  God wants His design approved by His people. It differentiates Christians from unbelievers.  Clashing with the historical teaching is also unbiblical.  Church tradition that proceeds from scripture shouldn't be overturned.  This is sola scriptura versus nuda scriptura.  Jesus was sanctified by the truth, and He expects that of saved people.

IMPORTANCE

Many others say the move by BJU puts the focus back on what's important.  It's true that anything you do takes your focus off of something else.  Adding competitive sports could do that.  I played them and they take a lot of time out of your day that could be used for learning a foreign language.  BJU, I noticed in its dress standards, spends some time prohibiting tattoos and piercings other than the ear.  I say this tongue in cheek, but while I read that, I felt my consideration of the gospel waning, yet forcing myself to snap back to attention.

You can think about more than one thing at a time.  I can hold a right view of the gospel and still think about how I should dress.  They even go together.

This gospel focus reads like Pharisaism.  "I want you all to know that I can't take the time to discuss this like you can, because I am just too focused on the gospel, unlike you."  If you are focused on the gospel, you don't have time to tell people you can't focus on dress.  You just focus on the gospel and let your focus speak for itself.  Stop announcing it to the world.  It's just a scare tactic against those who want to talk about dress, to embarrass them, a kind of spiritual correctness.  I've noticed today that unless someone is talking about lowering a standard, he can't be serious about the gospel.  It's another means of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.  People who believe the gospel want to live the gospel, so they talk about how to live holy.  Dress is part of that.

Something else new that I see with the changed standard at BJU is the lost sway it once held over its graduates and all of fundamentalism.  It's lost that.  Now the school takes its cues from its constituents and feels the danger that comes with taking a stronger stand.  Rather than applying pressure, it is receiving it, and folding.  I remember when it applied it in severe fashion.  The sting of institutional censure points at the stricter churches now.  BJU is cracking those eggs to make its new omelet.  Part of it is the competition.

BJU loses more students to state universities where there are virtually no dress standards.  It can compete with schools with stricter standards by attracting students with looser ones.  It seems to be looking for its own niche that is in line with a majority of its supporting churches. It isn't leading anymore.  That's something that some would say is good.  The churches should provide the leadership.  They have the authority.  The changes at BJU are a symptom of changes in the churches.  If supporting churches want a stricter school, they'll need to provide that leadership.

My three daughters will stick out on a state campus by wearing skirts and dresses below the knee.  They're different.  Good for them.  Too bad for the others.  It's not our job to capitulate.  We take the historical, biblical view on dress.  We want others to do the same.  It's part of living for God, being a light, which only reinforces a testimony, a witness, and evangelism.  It's often a conversation starter in a world that is ignorant about what the Bible teaches about almost everything.  Jesus calls us to be with Him outside the camp.

We're saved from something unto something else.  True salvation yields sanctification.  The from something is the world, the flesh, and the devil, and the unto something is the teaching of scripture, in precept and principle.  We know how we're supposed to dress. It isn't relative.  The objectives of it actually never change.  It does matter, because old things are passed away and all things are become new.  All things.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Lutherans and Anglicans: True Gospel?

This last week going evangelizing door-to-door I encountered a young family, who attended an Anglican church in San Francisco.  I had just been in the U.K. and visited a few well-known cathedrals there, including Westminster, so the Anglicans had been on my mind.  I could not remember ever talking to an Anglican in California -- Episcopalians yes, and many of them, but Anglicans no.

The Anglicans said they were very involved in their church.  The husband and wife had both graduated from Asbury University in Kentucky and lived in California for about 6 months.  They claimed to believe the gospel, didn't think salvation was by works but by grace, and that the Lord's Table was only a symbol.  They couldn't keep talking at that time, but their church interested me, so I went home and looked it up.

The church of the young Anglican family believed the 39 articles, which date back to 1571.  They were better than I thought.  From history and my knowledge of Henry VIII, I thought they would be worse.  They have good differences that distinguish them from the doctrine of  Roman Catholicism.  The following article is the biggest problem:
BAPTISM is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or new Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed; Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God. The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ.
How does this relate to Lutherans?  I lived in Wisconsin for 13 years -- jr. high, high school, college, and graduate school.  We played several Lutheran schools in sports in jr. high, high school, and college.  After games, I evangelized players on their teams.  They were not saved.  I never talked to a saved Lutheran.  My next door neighbor, really a rarity in our area, is a Lutheran, conservative one, and not saved.  He's depending on his works for salvation and doesn't need any help -- nice guy but lost.

I follow the Pyromaniacs twitter feed, because I like to look at their linked articles.  I noticed that Phil Johnson was at a Lutheran church in Minnesota and preaching at a conference with Lutherans.  The mention of Martin Luther at times by these conservative evangelicals has been disconcerting to me.  I evangelized many Lutherans when I was in Wisconsin and they were not saved people, not friendly at all to evangelism.  The Lutheran Church where Johnson spoke was American Association of Lutheran Churches.  It has a short doctrinal statement with these sentences.
The Holy Spirit, through the Word, reveals our sinful nature and God’s perfect, eternal nature.  Through Baptism, the Word works through water to bury our sinful nature and raise us to a new, eternal life in Christ.  In the Lord's Supper, the believer receives the forgiveness of sins through the presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in bread and wine.
The church claims to believe the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, which is very similar to the Anglican Church of the earlier young family.  That confession says:
Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace.
The Anglican statement on baptism might be a little better than the Lutheran one.  This is a corruption of the gospel by adding a work to grace.  When I have talked to those who believe like Anglicans and Lutherans, I have gone to Galatians 1:6-9 and Galatians 5:1-4.

How many works need to be added to corrupt the gospel?  Just one.  Adding circumcision corrupts the gospel.  Christ becomes of no effect.  You replace circumcision with baptism and you've got the same, very serious problem.  Paul says if someone preaches another gospel, let him be accursed.  That's different than preaching with them.  Preaching with them is not saying, let them be accursed.

Evangelicals and Catholics together have violated Galatians 1:6-9.  Evangelicals and Lutherans or Evangelicals and Anglicans together do the same.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Evan Roberts: Confusion on Assurance of Salvation, Part 12 of 22


Note that, since Roberts was a Methodist, it is not surprising that “Wesley and Fletcher” held to a related doctrinal error of an improper “immediate enjoyment of personal assurance” (pg. 180, The Doctrine of Justification, James Buchanan).  Noll explains Wesley’s error:
[Early in his ministry,] John Wesley summed up his thoughts on this subject in a letter written in January, 1740:  “I never yet knew one soul thus saved without what you call the faith of assurance; I mean a sure confidence that by the merits of Christ he was reconciled to the favour of God” [pg. 200, Wesley’s Standard Sermons].  Thus the cognition that saving grace had worked in a life was seen as the final means to ascertain if saving grace had indeed been present. The implications of this teaching, taken by itself, seem to lead to a condition in which superficial self-analysis (“yes, I’ve got the witness”) results in spirituality while the kind of doubt which assailed such people as Luther and even at times John Wesley himself results in a loss of the hope of salvation. (pg. 171, “John Wesley and the Doctrine of Assurance,” Mark A. Noll.  Bibliotheca Sacra 132:526 [April 1975])
However, by 1755 Wesley had moderated his position slightly, so that one could be shaken in his assurance without losing his salvation, although a total lack of assurance was still only compatible with a lost estate:
I know that I am accepted: And yet that knowledge is sometimes shaken, though not destroyed, by doubt or fear. If that knowledge were destroyed, or wholly withdrawn, I could not then say I had Christian faith. To me it appears the same thing, to say, “I know God has accepted me”; or, “I have a sure trust that God has accepted me.” . . . [Nonetheless,] justifying faith cannot be a conviction that I am justified. . . . But still I believe the proper Christian faith, which purifies the heart, implies such a conviction. (pgs. 452-453, Letter DXXXII, July 25, 1755, in The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, Vol. 12, 3rd ed., with the last corrections of the author.  London:  John Mason, 1830)
Furthermore, Wesley affirmed that objective marks cannot be elaborated to distinguish between the witness of the Spirit to one’s regenerated state and self-delusion.  “[T]his kind of defense based on intuition . . . raised the specter of enthusiasm for some of Wesley’s critics” (pg. 174, Ibid.).  In this doctrine of assurance Wesley’s view was similar to that of Jacob Arminius:  “Arminius thought that no one would be a true Christian who did not have a present assurance of present salvation. He wrote:  ‘Since God promises eternal life to all who believe in Christ, it is impossible for him who believes, and who knows that he believes, to doubt of his own salvation, unless he doubts of this willingness of God.’” (pgs. 164-165, “John Wesley and the Doctrine of Assurance,” Noll, citing pg. 348, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation, Carl Bangs.  Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1971.  Compare The Doctrine of Assurance, with Special Reference to John Wesley, Arthur S. Yates.  London:  Epworth, 1952).
Wesleyan confusion about conversion and assurance appeared in various preachers influenced by his theology, not Evan Roberts alone; thus, for example, Seth Joshua wrote:  “[People] are entering into full assurance of faith coupled with a baptism of the Holy Ghost. . . . I also think that those seeking assurance may be fairly counted as converts” (pg. 122, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan, citing Mr. Joshua’s diary.  Of course, some people who think that they are in need of assurance truly are unconverted, but such clarity appears to be lacking in Mr. Joshua’s comments.  Spirit baptism has nothing to do with obtaining assurance in the Bible.).  Methodist confusion on assurance passed over into the Pentecostal movement, which taught that assurance was of the essence of saving faith:  “If God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you your sins, you know it.  And if you do not know it better than you know anything in this world, you are still in your sins.  When you go down in the atonement, in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, you are accepted.  And if you are accepted, and He has given you a clean heart and sanctified your soul, you know it.  And if you do not know it, the work is not done” (pg. 2, The Apostolic Faith I:2 [Los Angeles, October 1906], reprinted on pg. 6, Like As of Fire:  Newspapers from the Azusa Street World Wide Revival:  A Reprint of “The Apostolic Faith” [1906-1908], coll. Fred T. Corum & Rachel A. Sizelove).
Scripture teaches that all believers can have assurance of salvation, but that assurance that one has personally passed from death to life is not of the essence of saving faith (cf. London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689, 18:1-4).  However, Wesley’s acceptance of baptismal regeneration was an even more dangerous error than his confusion on assurance (see “John Wesley’s View on Baptism,” John Chongnahm Cho. Wesleyan Theological Journal 7 [Spring 1972] 60-73).




Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Christian Liberty and Its Relationship to Honor of Parents

Parts One and Two and Three

As I've written within the previous posts on Christian liberty, many adhere, especially evangelicals and many fundamentalists, to the notion that Christians have liberty wherever scripture does not speak in an explicit manner -- meaning that if the very words of whatever it is that is possibly prohibited are not found in scripture, then someone has liberty to do it.  That's not good for people to be thinking, anyone and particularly Christians, because it isn't true.  It goes further though.

Professing Christians are so messed up about the grace of God, that they think that they are partakers of more grace when they participate in these activities that they say can't be proven by scripture.  As the shorts on a woman creep further up her leg, they are showing how deep and wide she is embracing God's grace, diving into His broad river of love and letting it wash all over her.  Grace almost exclusively shortens her skirt, not lengthens, makes his rock music rock even harder, and expands their list of alcohol choices.  In reality, this viewpoint is an old perversion.

The most common deviation from God's grace in the United States is not adding works to grace, but what Jude says the ungodly do, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude v. 4).  2 Peter 2 is similar to Jude, and Peter says that these servants of corruption promise liberty.  They allure through the lusts of the flesh.  It's a popular grace that isn't about God, but about what you want to do.  This brings me to the main point of this post.

Eight times scripture commands either "honour thy father and mother" or "honour thy father and thy mother."  It's all over the Bible, both Old and New Testaments -- Exodus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Ephesians.  There are also verses like Proverbs 23:22, "Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old," several like that one.  What if a father tells his child to do something that he doesn't think is taught in the Bible?  He might not be sure, but he thinks he might have liberty.  In many cases today, it isn't even liberty, it's just one of these "fake areas" of liberty, that relate to no direct, word-for-word prohibition, as I talked about above.

Does a child have liberty to dishonor his parents?  When I say this, I'm not talking about disobedience or transgression of scripture.  I know young people right now who aren't obeying scripture because their parents told them not to.  They know they are disobedient, and yet they don't want to "dishonor" their parents by obeying scripture.  That is in the category, I've mentioned in another post, obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Just the opposite today, the world is full of young people, 18 and older, who don't honor their parents in either areas of liberty or areas of "fake liberty" or a perversion of liberty.  It isn't the grace of God, but turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.  They're all over the place.  They think it's even what it means to be "out on their own."   They call this "having their own convictions."  They aren't convictions.  They are violations of Christian liberty.  No one has the liberty to dishonor his parents.

The idea of a conviction among evangelicals has become very personalized.  A conviction is yours with the emphasis on you.  It's yours.  To have it be yours, the thought here among the youngest adults is, you can't have it be your parents.  That would theirs and not yours. That would make you too much of a child.  Almost definitionally, children want to do something different for the conviction to be theirs.  This signals independence to them, what it means to be an adult.

A conviction to be an actual conviction must be scriptural and what I see from many young people today is that they want their own convictions, but they haven't taken the time to study the Bible, know what it says, about the convictions.  Young adults look around at what other people are doing who call themselves Christians, and practice like they do.  Now they have their own conviction, except it isn't a conviction.  They treat it like a conviction, because they keep doing it even if someone encourages them to take a conviction, an actual conviction, like their parents have done, which means something studied out from scripture and likely in agreement with the rest of their church.

I believe and have instructed that as children become adults that they take the same positions as their parents.  They should change only if they have a conviction, an actual conviction to do so, and that is only where they see the change as necessary for obedience to scripture.  If it is a Christian liberty, children should just keep practicing like their parents out of honor to their parents, because scripture commands to honor parents.

There is a specific passage that will help on this.  Read Jeremiah 35 and the tale of the Rechabites.  Verses 6 and 8 of that chapter say,
But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever. . . . Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters.
It wasn't just drinking no wine, but a few other particular instructions of their father that they did, just because he told them to do them.  Some of them are in the category of non-scriptural issues.  Read them.  They obeyed them alone because he had told them to do these things.  Read the whole chapter, but this is how it turned out for them (verses 18-19):
And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Because ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you: Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever.
They honored their father and God honored them for honoring their father.  They did this for hundreds of years over many generations.  One generation after another passed down the same beliefs and practices, that weren't necessarily biblical commands or explicit to practice, and God honored them for it.

A family could be preserved if it honored its father.  A nation could be preserved if offspring honored its father.  We wouldn't be seeing the degradation of society, the downward trend and trajectory toward destruction.

How again does honor of parents relate to Christian liberty?  If the parents instruct to disobey scripture, of course adult children don't do that.  If the parents instruct in non-scriptural, not unscriptural but non-scriptural, areas, the children honor their parents and do what their parents instruct.  Children do not have liberty to dishonor parents.

As a parent, I attempt to allow my children or give them Christian liberty.  I want them to have liberty in those areas.  I try to speak not in my preferences, but in what scripture teaches.  Now, my children might think they have liberty in areas I don't think they do, but either way, they don't have the liberty to dishonor me or their mother.  I'm giving myself as an example, I know.  It's something I expect of my own children, but I also expect it of myself with my own parents.  It's been important to me that I honor them with what I do and how I treat them.

Christians don't have liberty to dishonor their parents.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Christian Liberty and Its Relationship to Church Autonomy and Sola Scriptura

Parts One and Two

The fundamental of Christian liberty is that we are free from something unto something else, which is that we are free from bondage to sin, including the causal factors, the world, the flesh, and the devil. We are no longer citizens of this world, but heaven. Our god isn't our belly any longer. We don't mind earthly things, as someone who is building his own kingdom on this earth through his own efforts.  Our affections are set on things above -- we are free to do that. We get to do that.

Christian liberty is liberty not to sin. We don't have to sin anymore and don't even want to sin anymore. In Romans 7, Paul said, when he would do good, that is when the law of sin in members rises up against that desire.  You are worshiping and serving the Creator rather than the creature.  God didn't save you to serve the creature, yourself.  Liberty isn't being able to serve your self now; it's being able to serve God.

Hebrews 2:2 divides sin into two categories:  transgression and disobedience.  Those are the categories of sins of commission, doing what you aren't supposed to do, and disobedience, not doing what you are supposed to do.  Sin isn't just not doing wrong.  It is also not doing right.  Liberty isn't getting to do what you want, but doing what God wants, what pleases Him, which is of the highest value.  Your life takes on greater value, eternal value, versus the bondage to temporal things, which waste your life.

All of what I said above is what Christian liberty is about, that is, finding out what God said and doing it, because you can do it now that you've been set free to do so.  This lines up with the great sections on Christian liberty by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:1-11:1 and Romans 14.  It also fits into what we read about in Galatians 3-6.  Your liberty serves others, not yourself.  As his prime example of this in Galatians, Paul says it is restoring someone taken in a fault (6:1).  That requires confronting someone for doing something wrong.

Liberty is contrasted in the New Testament with license. Liberty isn't license. License is permission and some today confuse it with liberty.  They think and then say that you are restricting their liberties in a kind of legalistic fashion, because you are not giving them license.  They want to do something that they don't have liberty to do, and when you say, no, they say that you are teaching some type of salvation by works.  They are depending on grace, which is why, they might explain, you can't bring that restriction.  By doing so, they feign that you are an opponent of the grace of God.  This is an abuse of God's grace, turning it into a garbage can into which pours their own lust.

RELATIONSHIP TO CHURCH AUTONOMY

Alright.  Think about what I've written so far, but I want to relate Christian liberty to church autonomy.  We don't have liberty to disobey scripture, even if our church takes an unscriptural position.  The Bible is the final authority.  Church is about the Bible and not vice versa.  Church isn't an excuse for being unscriptural.  Quite a few independent or even unaffiliated Baptist churches seem to treat scripture as if it has a major purpose of protecting church authority, sort of putting the cart ahead of the horse.

In Acts 15, correction of the Jersualem church came from Antioch.  You see this at the beginning of Galatians when Paul came in to correct Peter.  I've heard something to the effect, "You can't talk to me about that, because I'm not part of your church, so it's none of your business."  Because of the nature of the media and social networking, churches have more effect on each other than ever.  One church can harm another church, because of the connection between members, and it is rampant.  What one church is "allowed to do," which isn't in fact a Christian liberty, can affect another church, when one of its members is influenced by the membership of another church.  Very often, it spreads through family members who are in various other churches.

Church members are going to go outside of their church for teaching and materials.  They will watch or listen to podcasts.  Most of the time today, they're going to get a bad influence from outside of the church.  As a pastor, I don't want my church to get a bad influence from outside of the church.  It happens.  They can hear almost anything that disagrees with what our church teaches.  A church member doesn't have liberty to listen to or watch harmful materials.  Autonomy of a church is justified here, because it protects someone from unscriptural belief and practice.

In a less significant way today, one church could affect another church in a stronger way or in a biblical way.  Someone is sinning.  He doesn't have liberty to sin.  He needs to change.  He reads that in a blog or receives that influence from another family member on social networking.  Maybe he believes it or receives it and it clashes with the teaching of his church, so that now he puts his own pastor on the radar.  The pastor of his own church is being judged by this teaching that he hasn't taught.

Let me give you an example.  Our church sings psalms.  We use the versification of a psalter.  It isn't the King James translation that we're singing to God.  By the way, that would make me not KJVO, even though I take credit for being KJVO.  It's obvious that technically I'm not.  I think that the versification we sing of the Hebrew Masoretic text is scripture.  However, it's hard to sing psalms if you haven't done it.  It's not like riding a bike.  You have to acquire the ability through some labor, because you believe in it.  Lots of churches won't want it, sometimes because they want those 7-11 songs, the same seven verses sung eleven times.  They'll want to stick with something else that people like and is easier for them to do.

So the church member of the psalm singing church through social networking affects the member of a non-psalm-singing church.  He quotes Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19.  The influence leads the member to pressure his pastor toward psalm singing.  The pastor doesn't want to sing psalms for whatever reason.  This seems to trouble a church.  The church can do what it wants to do because it is autonomous.  It isn't required to do what some other church is doing.  It has liberty not to sing psalms based upon its own autonomy.  Or does it?  Autonomy is not for disobeying scripture.  Finding out something you are not doing, that you could and should be doing, is not trouble for you.  That's a good thing happening to a church, to find out how to be more scriptural.  Autonomy is for protecting a church against unscriptural practices not scriptural ones.

Autonomy doesn't guide Christian liberty.  The Bible does.  We are all under the same truth and the same authority.  Churches are not allowed to function in a different way just because they want their own way, that they call autonomy.  If someone can prove something from scripture, the answer to the argument isn't church autonomy.  Churches are not to protect themselves from biblical practice.  Professing Christians shouldn't join a church or even stay for the cover it gives them for their sin or lust.

RELATIONSHIP TO SOLA SCRIPTURA

I ended the last post with the biblical and historical teaching of sola scriptura.  Scripture itself does not denude a church or individual Christian from the influence of the church past and present.  Scripture doesn't start teaching something different after centuries.  The displacement of the church from its agreement with the past teachings of the church is differentiated from sola scriptura with the terminology, nuda scriptura.  The same Holy Spirit who guided the church four hundred years ago and two hundred years ago is the same Holy Spirit today.  Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit considers the unity with the church five hundred years ago in its application of scripture.  Divorce from former teaching is divorce from reliance on scripture.  That is not sola scriptura, but nuda scriptura.

Sometimes you'll hear of the "heresy" of a particular false religion.  Heresy is division.  I see in scripture two types of heresy.  There is the factiousness in a church, dividing from the unity of a church and the leadership of its pastor.  This is the heresy of Titus 3:9-11.  However, it is heresy to divide from historic, established, orthodox teaching and practice.  The new teaching that differs from biblical belief and behavior is the heretical teaching.  The Bible teaches this.  This is one of the aspects of Paul's teaching, walking disorderly against the traditions that you received.  These are not the traditions of men, but the means by which God delivers His one faith or doctrine to you.  You don't have liberty to veer off already established teachings, unless you can show how that those people had been wrong all those centuries.

A human tradition is one originated outside of scripture, like infant sprinkling or transubstantiation.  You can see when those entered into the belief and practice of churches.  They didn't start with the Bible.  Something that has been believed and practiced from the Bible isn't a human tradition, but it is a tradition nonetheless, like the ones that the Thessalonian churches received from Paul.  We don't have liberty to disobey those traditions.  They are part of sola scriptura, because teachings of scripture cannot be nor should be extricated from the context of the church, the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Sola scriptura does not rightly justify dropping the rightful applications of the bible by the church for centuries.  Immodesty then was immodesty now.  Forbidden gender indistinction then should be the same now.  Skirts or dresses on women then should be skirts or dresses on women now.  Scripture is being either transgressed or disobeyed because it isn't being applied like it has been for all of church history.  This is a violation of Christian liberty.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Trip to Europe Continued (Eleventh Post In Total)

One   Two   Three   Four   Five   Six   Seven   Eight   Nine   Ten

We four, my wife, two of my daughters, and I, stayed the second Wednesday night of Europe trip at the York Priory House in York, England, of course. We all stayed in the top floor, the outside of which is in this photo.
It was the third floor, represented by the row of windows at the top right and reached by a very, very narrow winding wooden staircase, that seemed over a hundred years old.  We had pre-paid for an English breakfast for three of us four, which had everything I had previously described in an English breakfast:  the banger, blood pudding, tomato, baked beans, eggs, and fried bread.  It was enough to discourage further English breakfast.  I'm sure if I grew up there, I would enjoy it all, much like I love the American breakfast.

I like the banger, but not for breakfast.  I had another one the next day, which I'll describe when I get to it, and I loved it in an entirely different combination.  English tea is good, better than U.S. tea.  My wife and I have still not concluded what makes English tea better and why Americans can't seem to imitate it.  We had it for breakfast and then later that day.  She says it is stronger than American and that you can come close with two tea bags.

We still had our rental car, which wasn't due until 1pm.  I had read there was a locker in the train museum.  The National Train Museum is in York.  I've heard only good things about it.  A man in our church has one of the most amazing model trains I've ever seen, taking up his entire two car garage.  His dad was from England and they went to this museum one of the times they visited the U.K. way back.  He highly recommended it and we walked in with our luggage and they said it was only for those touring the museum and only when at the museum.  Most women wouldn't like it.  I'm just saying.  There is a give and take on a trip like this, and I mainly catered in that fashion, because there is enough overlap.

We have a train museum, the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento, that is very good, as good as any in the U.S., the train a major factor in California history.  The big four, railroad magnates of the Central Pacific, made their fortune through the transcontinental railroad.  All four of them built palaces on the top of Nob Hill, very famous in San Francisco.  Leland Stanford became governor of California and started Stanford University.   The location of Mark Hopkins's house became the Mark Hopkins hotel, the top of which is famously called the top of the Mark.  The cable car famously travels through this neighborhood with some of the most famous hotels in the city.  The population of California grew rapidly for two reasons, the gold rush and the railroad.  Once the transportation was built, people poured into the state, and its builder, the four tycoons, became rich.

Instead, we paid to put our luggage in storage at the train station and we returned our car.  Right there I had found the previous day the steps to the York wall, the exterior of the old city, and we walked on the top of it all the way to center of the old town, and we took steps down to cross the old bridge over the river Ouse.

York 's history begins with the Romans, founded in AD 71 when 5,000 men of the Ninth Legion set up camp.  Later Constantine came to Britain with his father, the emperor Constantius, in 305, who died in July the following year there.  Constantine was crowned emperor.  In the 10th century York was a Viking capital. William the Conqueror, on his first northern expedition after the Norman Conquest in 1066, built a number of castles across northeastern England, including one at York, and Clifford's Tower, the keep of York Castle, still stands there.  My wife and I walked the steep hill up steps to this high point of the city.

York offers a slice of varied aspects of all of England's history.  The York Minster, which we toured, is one of the largest Cathedrals in all of Northern Europe, the second largest Gothic one.  Below the Minster, in an architectural task of reinforcing the building not long ago, archaeology yielded the Cathedral as the very location of the Roman center in Northern England and in Christian symbols the testimony of Christianity in England to the fourth century.

Probably the most popular part of York is known as The Shambles, which second floor overhangs the road between its timber-framed shops, dating back to the fourteenth century.  The street itself is mentioned in William the Conqueror's Doomsday book of 1086.  We did a lot of window shopping and had afternoon tea at Betty's.  The tea and cakes do not disappoint, even for a large man sitting on a tiny wooden chair with three much smaller women.  Just be sure also to take small bites.  It's the experience.  Remember.

These shambles at York were the model for the shops in J. K. Rowling's novels.  They did give you the impression that you were sent back to medieval times in real life.  York is also one of the major chocolate or confectionery centers of all of England and then the world, the history of "sweets" coming through this town, the Kit-Kat invented here, and Yorkshire the site of the oldest surviving, continuous operating confectionery shop in the world still here.

We got back our luggage and boarded the train to Alnmouth to stay that night on the coast of the North Sea.  At the small station, we stood at the door, waiting for it to open, waiting and waiting with all our luggage.  I was wondering what was happening when the train started again, and learned from the conductor that we had to open the door.  He was very nice.  We could embark at Chathill and take the next train back. The way to open the door on this train was to open the window on the door, reach out the window, and open it from the outside.  Right.  I'll do that the next time.  It took us about 45 minutes longer as a result.  It did yield an interesting conversation with a conductor at the next train station, a man from Scotland.

Our place of stay was in the country on a rural road about 400 meters from the tiny station, more of a train stop.  An older local walked his dog past our odd group.  We traveled very light on this trip, everything carry-on for the entire 3 1/2 weeks.  We arrived at a room for a family of four for that one night.  The next day we would tour Alnwick Castle in the town of Alnwick, pronounced Annick, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Help Get the Gospel to the Ends of the Earth

On my FaithSaves website, I have a post where people can ask for a free King James Bible.  I explain that it is not always possible to get a copy to one who asks, and that if we can get one out, what would happen is that we would contact a "believer in your area to bring you a Bible in person and try to study the Bible with you if we are able to get you one for free.  If you want a free hard copy, please provide your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address, and expect to be contacted by a trained Bible teacher to help you understand God’s Word."

Being able to offer this to people has been a great blessing; for example, one solid Baptist world evangelist / missionary in Africa told me that someone who had contacted me on my website, and whom he had given a Bible, is now involved in trying to organize a church in an area where no foreign missionaries are.  Praise the Lord!

There are not lots and lots of people who find this section on my website and contact me.  However, I have not had time to keep up with them.  A fellow believer was helping out with this ministry, but this person can no longer help.  If you would be willing to help me with this ministry of getting back to and getting God's Word and Bible studies to people who contact me on my website, please contact me here and let me know who you are and what Bible-believing separatist Baptist congregation you are a faithful member of.  You do not need to be some kind of computer expert, nor have lots of connections with foreign missionaries or churches in the USA.  Nor do you need to spend any money sending Bibles to people.  All you have to do is see where the person lives, then look at the church directory/directories on my website, and contact a church that is reasonably close.  Tell the church by e-mail or phone that the local person contacted FaithSaves.net and was asking for a Bible and someone with whom to do Bible studies, and then let the church there follow up.  If you cannot find a church in the area, and/or the church in the area does not get back to you or follow up, then you have done what you can do, and my webpage specifically states that we may not be able to find anyone.  This should only take a few minutes.

I believe that providing God's gospel and truth to people in this way is a valuable ministry, and I would hate to not have it go on because I do not have time to do it.  This is a ministry a shut-in person, an elderly Christian, a wife with an unsaved husband who does not allow her to go out soulwinning, a young person who wants to help get the gospel to the ends of the earth, or any member of a sound church with a heart to reach the lost can help with.  The only thing that is required is a little bit of time and being responsible to actually take that little bit of time and do what it takes to reach out to the church and give it the information.

If you would like to be involved in this, and you are a member of a sound Baptist church (and your pastor/pastors are fine with it), please contact me and let me know.  Thank you for your willingness to glorify and love God and the unconverted by helping out here.

"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." (Rev 5:9-10)

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

The Presuppositions for Text and Canon of Scripture, the Same: Jeff Riddle

Again, read the last few full posts written this week.

I don't know him, never met or talked or interacted in any way, but I have read and listened to Jeff Riddle in the last year or two.  We take similar if not identical views of the text of scripture.  When we wrote and published TSKT in 2003, I wrote the chapter (19), "Test of Canonicity as Applied to Words," which I hear from Riddle too.  He wrote a great article on the ending of Mark in the Puritan Reformed Journal (look for it), published here.  He interacts with a conversation between James White and Michael Kruger on the canon argument here, which will point out the contradiction in the evangelical presuppositions for canon and text.  It's important.  An index to all his materials is here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Love This Victor David Hanson Column

Don't ignore the last few articles written here, but I didn't want to wait to link to the Victor David Hansen post, entitled Progressive Regression, at American Greatness.  There's almost nothing I disagree with his characterization of the state of the United States.  Read it and save it as a reference, because he nails it in a succinct and eloquent manner.

The Truth about Christian Liberty

Post On Christian Liberty Last Week, Entitled "Evangelicals (and Most Fundamentalists) Are Completely Messed Up About Christian Liberty and Then Mess Everyone Else Up By Pushing Their Perversion"

God forbids activities.  When someone does one of them, he's sinning.  Whatever activity God doesn't forbid in His Word, someone has the liberty to do that without it being sin.  That isn't quite Christian liberty though, because someone still doesn't have liberty if he's in bondage.  Only Christians have liberty.  Liberty is not just about not sinning, but it's also about pleasing God.  It's impossible for a non-Christian, an unbeliever to stop sinning, and he can't please God.  In Romans 8:8, the Apostle Paul writes, "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

A Christian, a true believer in Jesus Christ, pleases God because he can through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He is now led by the Spirit of God, the same Spirit of God that led Jesus, the Son of God, while He lived on this earth.  He now has the ability not to sin.  He can do good, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.  A Christian pleases God as a son, like Jesus pleased God the Father, doing everything the Father wanted Him to do, because he has received the Spirit of adoption.  This is the liberty in which he stands.

Christian liberty is freedom to please God as a son.  The Christian wants to please God and can.  However, that liberty is not an occasion to or a base of operations for the flesh of the Christian, that he still has.  He doesn't use liberty as a cover to do evil.  Liberty is to please God, which is the Apostle Paul's point to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6 through 10, where he limits the liberty of a Christian.

The first limitation on liberty, however, Paul makes in Romans 6:1-2, which is that a Christian doesn't have the liberty to sin.  He is truly dead to sin.  He is free from sin, not free to sin.  Sin is breaking God's law.  All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).  Whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

Someone does not have liberty to violate scripture.  That is sin.  He has liberty in non-scriptural issues.  That doesn't mean that he has liberty in every non-scriptural issue, but his liberty is at least limited to non-scriptural activity.

Much of what scripture teaches requires application.  The Bible forbids corrupt communication, but it doesn't tell us what corrupt communication is.  We are assumed by God in scripture to know that.  Just because God doesn't say what corrupt communication is doesn't mean a Christian has liberty to use corrupt communication.

"Be not conformed to this world" requires application.  "Abstain from fleshly lusts" requires application.  "Make no provision for the flesh" requires application.  "Mortify therefore your members upon the earth" requires application.  "That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter" requires application.  "Keepers at home" requires application.  Not being "effeminate" requires application.  "Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father" requires application.  There are dozens and dozens of these.  Christians don't have liberty to disobey them, just because they require application.

In the context of a church, a Christian doesn't have liberty to disobey his pastor (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Corinthians 11:1), as long as it is a non-scrriptural issue.  Of course, he obeys God rather than men (Acts 5:29), but he doesn't have liberty to be factious (Titus 3:10-11) or cause disunity in the church (Ephesians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 1:10).  A Christian is required to fit into the body of Christ, the church (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 4:18).

There is no verse that says a Christian must go to the movie theater.  He can obey God and not go.  If a church says its members can't attend the theater and gives good, godly reasons not to do so, a member shouldn't go.  That shouldn't be a problem for a Christian.  Whatever argument someone might give for attending a theater, not going to one isn't going to stop him from living his Christian life.  This requirement is not a violation of Christian liberty.  Principles of Christian liberty can be applied.

Someone might say, scripture says nothing about going to a theater.  It's true.  However, scripture, as I wrote above, requires application, and there are many principles that do apply.  So, a church says its members can't go, rather than leaving it up to each family or individual member to judge.  A prospective member says, "I've got to have a church that allows this, because it is restricting a liberty I have," so that he doesn't join that church.  He looks for a church based upon its allowing its members to go to the movies.  The Apostle Paul commanded on matters of Christian liberty, be ye followers of me, imitators of me (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Paul wasn't harming their Christian liberty by ordering them to follow the way that he handled liberties.

If the pastor says all the ushers will wear ties, that doesn't violate scripture.  He's not saying that you are a better person for doing it.  He's not saying that you've got to wear a tie in order to get to heaven.  He's in charge, what scripture says is "ruling," so ushers should wear ties.  This requirement is not a violation of Christian liberty.

There are several other limitations on Christian liberty that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 6 through 10.  Something might be good other than God, but a Christian doesn't have liberty to be addicted to it (6:12).  In 1 Corinthians 10, it's not just doing evil, but associating with it that a Christian doesn't have the liberty to do.  By mere association and proximity, he could easily fall.  In 1 Corinthians 8, he doesn't have liberty to cause a weaker brother to stumble or to violate his or someone else's conscience.  These don't even have to be a sin.  He doesn't have the liberty to be a bad testimony to an unbeliever, even in something that might be permissible (10:30; Romans 14:16).

A Christian doesn't have liberty in whatever he does except to bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 10:31).  It goes back to living like a son, that Paul emphasizes in Romans 8 and Galatians 3-5, and children are not only to obey their parents, but honor their parents.  We can know what honor is or God wouldn't have told us to do that.  If we can judge honor, we can also judge dishonor.

Christian liberty isn't about doing what you want to do.  It's about doing what God wants you to do.  It's about pleasing God out of love as a child of His.  To practice Christian liberty will require applying principles in scripture to honor and glorify Him.

What I'm writing about Christian liberty isn't new.  The abuse of Christian liberty also isn't new.  Paul talks about it in Galatians 5, Peter in 2 Peter 2, and Jude in his one chapter.  The grace of God can be turned into lasciviousness and that's rampant in evangelicalism and fundamentalism today.

Many times today professing Christians will choose their church by how much liberty the church allows.  Alcohol, check.  Rock music, check.  Immodest clothing, check.  Movies, check.  Hit and miss church attendance, check.  Little to no evangelism, check.  Churches cater to this, and they call it Christian liberty.  It's not.

*************
I'm adding to this post, at least two more points that are important, first some might say is positive and the other negative. I reread the above and like it, believe it, but other thoughts came to mind.  A whole book could be written on this.  Whole books have been written.

A positive is what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7, where a woman, whose husband has died, has the liberty to marry whoever she wants in the Lord.  The liberty is restricted by "in the Lord," but the liberty is highlighted by 'whoever she wants.'  I'm not quoting here except where I put quotations, and I'm taking liberty to do that. Biblical authors did the same.  This is a woman previously married, not a daughter still under the authority of her father, that Paul explains in the same context.

Christian liberty is a subject that relates to a biblical view, a right perspective, on the will of God.  God allows for you to do what you want to do.  You are free to eat meat, but you are also free not to eat meat.  If you want to be a vegan or a vegetarian, you are free to do that.  You can use paper or plastic.  God allows for these choices.  Principles apply -- "in the Lord" -- but that still allows for Christian liberty.

I talked above about attending the movie theater.  I've said that someone has the liberty to do that.  However, if the church says, "no," a principle applies.  The church shouldn't be judged for doing that either, because principles do apply.  The church has liberty to limit based on principles.  This is the historic teaching of the church.

When considering what I wrote above, I was thinking about the list of activities Paul commanded a Christian to mortify in Colossians 3:5.  God doesn't allow uncleanness and evil concupiscience, but those have to be applied.  A church can say, no dancing.  That's an application. There are other principles they could use, but that's a direct application of those.  When Paul commanded, "flee fornication," he wasn't saying that it's permissible to do everything short of fornication.  This is where evangelical and fundamentalist churches fall short today on Christian liberty.

I understand that someone might think that limiting Christian liberty means not having liberty.  Liberty isn't being able to drive as close to the side of the cliff that you want.  It isn't being able to play in the road since there is no law against it.  Liberty has a purpose. When that purpose is not fulfilled, then it isn't liberty, but bondage.  I understand there is a paradox here and scripture is full of them.  This is something that evangelicals and many fundamentalists, it seems, are playing dumb.

The second point to which I gave thought later is the often used verse for evangelicals by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6, especially parking on the particular phrase, "above that which is written" (I've written on topics related to this many times -- here, here, here, here, here, here, here).  Using selective relativism, evangelicals will say, "the Bible doesn't say anything about that, so you're adding to scripture -- you're above that which is written."  The Bible doesn't say you can't drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, doesn't say you can't hip thrust, doesn't say that you can't wear bermuda shorts to church, but it also doesn't say you can't smoke crack pipes.

You are not going or moving "above that which is written" when you apply scripture in the right way.  Scripture writes that.  Nowhere does scripture prohibit abortion.  You've got to piece together "that which is written" to make that application.  Scripture prohibited, but not in so many words.  Evangelicals today, even by quoting 1 Corinthians 4:6 as a means of not applying scripture, show their fundamental perversion of sola scriptura, what they very often trumpet or hang on a banner in their auditoriums.  They should go back to the Westminster Confession of Faith, where it says (1:6),
The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
The Bible is to be used to interpret the world around us, that is, everything is to be seen within the framework that the Bible establishes.  You are wrong when you are not doing that.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Engagement of Others on the Modern Versions or King James Version

For the Apostle Paul to leave Judaism for faith in Christ, he had to count his old religion as dung.  Paul's life and lifestyle was woven into Judaism.  It was a major break to say he had been wrong and now he was going an opposite direction and taking a different position.  Today you don't see that much.

I'm confronted with the consideration of wholesale change every time I evangelize in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I sat in the living room two days ago and talked to a Hindu man from Nepal, who had been in the United States for two years.  We talked for about an hour and he was about 75% sure on his English.  It would take awhile to get across everything he needed to know to leave his family religion.  This kind of situation is more common than ever in the United States, where a person is further away from sufficient salvation knowledge, including for multi-generation Americans.

I grew up in a home where my parents were saved when I was a toddler, so I grew up in a Christian home.  In one sense, my parents, sister, brother, and I grew up as a family.  However, since I've been saved, even since I've been a pastor, I have made changes in beliefs and practices, and so has our church.  I would say 5 to 10 pretty major changes, that really affect our lives personally and drastically.  If the Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice, Christian growth means a willingness to change when you see something in the Word of God.

I haven't noticed that most men and churches are willing to change, unless it is a leftist direction or someone might say, downward direction.  It's easier to get more loose or become more like the world, and that's happening.  People are sliding to the left or downward.  It's easy to see that churches are changing.  It's not a reaction to the Word of God, which means it doesn't fit with the historical positions and practices of Christianity.

Mark Ward wants churches that use the King James Version to change, and he has just written another post encouraging them instead to start using a modern version, which was published by The Gospel Coalition, an organization from the left of evangelicalism.  Each new post seems to go a little further than the last.  The last time he challenged fundamentalists to separate from churches and leaders that use the King James Version only (KJVO), based upon their disobedience to 1 Corinthians 14.  In this very latest, in a translation to the gospel coalition crowd, Mark adds both that "KJV-onlyism is not a Christian liberty issue" and that it "makes void the Word of God by human tradition."  He implies KJVO are weaker brothers, whose consciences are bound by extra or unscriptural scruples.  He didn't challenge The Gospel Coalition to separate from KJVO like he did the fundamentalists.

To change, it is true that I would need to be convinced by scripture and this is something, it seems, that Ward maybe notices about his target audience.  However, would Mark Ward be willing to change based upon the teaching of the Bible?  I and my church use the King James, based upon scriptural presuppositions.  I am not convinced that Mark takes his position based on scriptural presuppositions, but he's arguing like this is important.  This is new for modern version proponents.  They didn't come to their position from scripture and yet here Mark Ward is using scripture to persuade textus receptus proponents to use a modern version.  I want to stay on that track.

Some commented on Ward's essay.  They discussed how to persuade a King James Only person.  One wrote:
Often they have strong built-in assumptions, and if you can ask them some good questions, and thereby pull out a few of the key pieces in their house of cards, it will crumble. I like to ask (if the conversation seems to be headed a direction where this question is helpful) "Which Textus Receptus edition do you believe is the perfect one? The answer might be 'I didn't know there was more than one?' or 'I guess the one that the KJV is based on' and either of these responses can lead to the collapse of the house of cards.
He's right.  This is the kind of question that eclectic or critical text, modern version, adherents will ask.  It doesn't do what Mark Ward does.  It doesn't try to persuade using scripture.  On top of that, it's a straw man -- it doesn't prove anything.  Those who use the textus receptus know there is more than one TR edition.  That's not a stumper.  I'm differentiating from a Ruckmanite, double inspirationist, or English preservationist, someone who thinks the English corrects the original language text. Scrivener published an annotated textus receptus that actually shows the tiny number of differences between TR editions.  Since eclectic or critical text or modern version proponents don't start with scriptural presuppositions, they assume others approach the issue the same way they do.

A house of cards analogy alleges everything built upon some kind of single, thin element, which removed would bring down an entire viewpoint.  When we wrote our book, Thou Shalt Keep Them, we very purposefully presented the biblical doctrine of preservation.  We didn't answer questions, like, "which TR," because the answer to that question won't matter if someone won't accept or doesn't even care about what the Bible teaches about its own preservation.

I like to read the doctrinal statements of churches.  I read them and I read a lot of them.  If someone sends me his doctrinal statement, I almost always read it.  Very often, the statement on the Bible is right toward the top.  I have also read historic confessions and creeds.  It is easy to see what men said in the past and what's left out today.  Did scripture stop teaching some of the doctrine of the past?

Bibliological statements have changed.  Today people act like nothing has changed.  It has.  And if it has changed, someone should start explaining how the Bible stopped teaching what people once said it did.  I started off by talking about change, because that's what Mark Ward wants KJVO to do.  He gives them a doctrinal basis and he warns that if they don't, he and others are going to separate from KJVO.  He makes some harsh conclusions about these churches and men.

By the way, in not a single instance have I heard anyone on his side interact with Ward's commentary, except to say something inane, like, it was really good or they really liked it or you've really got to listen to him.  I actually have a hard time believing that anyone really believes him.  They like the outcome, but I haven't heard specific support for his exegetical basis.  I've found that's normal for that crowd of people.

I do think that the modern version position, the eclectic and critical text view, is like a house of cards.  It isn't built on anything substantive that will hold someone firm.  It didn't start from scripture.  Only recently have some arguments been invented, so not a priori, but a posteriori.  I'm not saying they didn't start with arguments -- they just weren't scriptural.  They started with naturalistic or rationalistic presuppositions.  They have come to the party late with their scripture, like a revivalist preacher who has a sermon and then goes looking for a text to back it up.  I still have not read a single laid-out, scriptural, doctrinal explanation or presentation for the eclectic text or modern version position.  What Ward does is like throwing out a proof text, completely out of context, and KJVO are supposed to jump on this very flimsy raft with him.  If we don't, The Gospel Coalition or John McWhorter might laugh at us.  We might lose a platform privilege at a big fundamentalist event.

What really does get someone's attention when it comes to the doctrine of the Bible.  What matters?  Inspiration?  We should look at what someone says the Bible teaches about inspiration.  That has changed in the last few hundred years.  The statements have changed.  Why?  Did someone learn something from the Bible or what happened?

Something missing that is very, very noticeable is a doctrine preservation.  If you go to a conservative evangelical church website with a very thorough doctrinal statement, like Grace Community Church, you will not see anything about the preservation of scripture.  Nothing.  Why is that?  The Westminster Confession of Faith and the London Baptist Confession both have preservation in their statements.  Those statements have been expounded upon in great detail through the centuries.  I'm picking that church out, because it is well known.  This is not unusual.  Sure, many KJVO churches have some wacky statements about preservation, that are unscriptural, but other churches have nothing.  Nothing is a change too.

I haven't looked at the statement of our church for a little while, but this is the first sentence under the section on scripture:
We believe that the Holy Bible as originally written was verbally inspired and product of Spirit-controlled men, as well is Divinely preserved in the same fashion, and therefore, has truth without any mixture of error for its matter.
By "in the same fashion," we are saying "as originally written" and "verbally."  It's a short statement for a website, and we have a longer one, but we say something about preservation.

If I were going to ask questions about this issue, the house of cards would start falling for me, if someone couldn't provide some kind of systematic scriptural basis for his position.  I could ask a lot of questions like that, which people cannot answer.  Sometimes they will not answer.  Most of the time, I've found that they don't care.  They do. not. care. that their position has never been buttressed by scripture and especially that it didn't start that way.  It actually goes further.  Most of them are annoyed when I ask, and they want to end the conversation, because bringing up appropriate scripture on the subject is an unacceptable inclusion into the discussion.  The Bible triggers them.

So.  What is important to me is a scriptural doctrine of preservation.  The doctrine must also must be historical.  If it is new, it better be very, very persuasive from scripture.  It should be both, but if it isn't historical, the scriptural part ought to do away with the old, wrong position.  That's how change happens, don't you think?  I don't separate over the use of the modern version.  God promised to preserve His Word.  I believe God.  I don't want someone to imply God is a liar.  I don't want people to doubt what He said.  I want to guard the doctrine of preservation.  It's the wrong doctrine over which I separate.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists are changing the doctrine of preservation without a scriptural basis, mainly by just leaving it out.  To tell you what I really think, I believe they are dishonest in just leaving it out.  It's like Mormons leaving out the part about the special underwear.

I have a difficult time, I must admit, believing that someone, who never started with a scriptural or historical position on the preservation of scripture, wants me to change my position based on scripture.  He's got a lotta lotta work to do.  A lotta.  He can show up on multiple podcasts, in exciting and noticeable varied other media, and before Trump-like stadiums of people and it won't start a ripple of change on the surface of my pond.  He's using the wrong or faulty pebbles.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Evan Roberts: 100,000 "saved" by his false gospel? Part 11 of 22


      Indeed, even the widespread circulation of the idea that 100,000 people were converted in the Welsh holiness revival was a product of a “mystical experience” of Evan Roberts where he “receive[d] from God a piece of paper on which the figure 100,000 was written—giving rise later to the belief that 100,000 would be converted during the revival.”[1]  “Evan Roberts had asked the Lord for 100,000 for Jesus Christ, and . . . he had actually seen Jesus presenting a cheque to His Father, and on it the figure ‘100,000.’”[2]  One who accepts Roberts’s prophetic status would be quite correct in promulgating this figure, while those who believe that the Apostles and prophets were the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20), and, in consequence, their offices have ceased, would want far better evidence for 100,000 people being regenerated than a vision of Evan Roberts—evidence which is, however, lacking.[3]
            Roberts himself, because of the lack of evidence of the new birth in many, eventually “saw that [many] had been touched emotionally but not truly convicted and converted during [many of his] revival meetings.”[4]  He “lived to see many of his converts, some of them the most striking among the records of the Revival, go back, tired of their new home,” to the world, the flesh, and the devil.[5]  However, this recognition came too late and did not affect the fundamental errors in his methodology during the holiness revival, as throughout he continued to employ techniques that were certain to produce many false professions.  Consequently,  “Evan Roberts grew more and more discouraged as he saw some groups of converts following after cults in which they barked at the devil, danced and swooned, or followed healers and prophetesses.”[6]  Likewise, critics of Roberts affirmed that he erred greatly in “assuming that remorse and confession were the same as true regeneration” as it “became sadly evident that the Spirit of God had been quenched.”[7]
            Roberts’s practices contributed to laxity in guarding the membership of Calvinistic Methodist assemblies and other denominations influenced by his ministry, thus filling them with unregenerate members[8] and ministers.  Indeed, Roberts did not merely confuse regeneration and Spirit-produced repentance and faith in the crucified Christ with an outward response in his methodology, but his message itself was confusing enough that it could well be considered—by those who rejected his prophetic status and went by Scripture alone—a very unclear gospel.  Evan Roberts did not regularly preach with any kind of careful clarity the gospel of salvation for totally depraved sinners based on the substitutionary death of the crucified and resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  He did not proclaim the need for miraculous regeneration and call sinners to a supernaturally produced repentant faith through which they looked away from themselves to the Lord Jesus for redemption (John 3:1-21).  Instead, Roberts taught that the unregenerate must both sympathize with and love Christ before they can come to Him for salvation, thus denying the Biblical depravity of man (Romans 3:11) and affirming Pelagianism.[9]  It is not at all surprising that Roberts “did not at any time emphasize the necessity for the creation of a new will in and by the power of Christ.”[10]  On the contrary, he commanded:  “[Y]ou need to turn that sympathy . . . I know you . . . listeners [already have] . . . into a flame of love before you can embrace Him as Saviour.”[11]       Furthermore, he taught:  “Christ . . . has a rope of three strands.  First ask him to take you as you are.  Then ask Him to forgive your sins.  Then ask Him for strength for the future.  This three-stranded rope of salvation is enough for the present, the past, and the future salvation of every sinner.”[12]  Along these lines, Roberts counseled his helpers to find people who needed to stand up to be saved, and act as follows:  “Put one hand on their shoulder, and the other hand in their hand.  Ask them to pray God to forgive their sins for Jesus Christ’s sake.  Then ask them, do they believe in God; and if they will say they do, ask them to thank God for that.”[13]  However, the Biblical response to the gospel is not “ask,” but “believe,”[14] and belief in “God” is not enough (James 2:19); one must be supernaturally enabled to rest upon the crucified Christ and His substitutionary atonement (cf. John 3:1-21).
            Worst of all, Roberts’s salvation message was summarized by those who heard him as:
He says that if we would have Jesus save us, we must save ourselves first. He says that we must do all that we know is right, first. He says that we must leave off the drink and all that is bad; he says that we must pray and we must work, we must work hard. He says if Jesus Christ is to save us we must work along with Him, side by side, or, he says, the saving will never be done.[15]
That is, “‘He says we must save ourselves first.’ Here is indeed a different Gospel from that of 1859.”[16]  Thus, the Welsh revivalism under Evan Roberts “is of a social and altruistic nature, and . . . differs from those [revivals] which have preceded it whe[re] the doctrine was one almost exclusively of faith rather than works.”[17]  Jessie Penn-Lewis recounted:
Mr. Roberts would “test” the meeting, and put to it the four definite steps necessary to salvation . . . (1.) The past must be made clear by sin being confessed to God, and every wrong to man put right. (2.) Every doubtful thing in the life must be put away. (3.) Prompt and implicit obedience to the Holy Ghost. (4.) Public confession of Christ.  Forgiveness of others as an essential to receiving the forgiveness of God was often emphasized, as well as the distinction between the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion, and in baptizing the believer with the Holy Ghost . . . the full Gospel as preached at Pentecost.[18]
Indubitably, a radical discontinuity existed between Roberts’s message and the Biblical gospel of free grace in Christ, for he equated the new birth with people simply standing up.  He changed the preaching of repentance and faith to the spiritually dead to calling on unsaved men (who somehow loved Christ) to ask Jesus to help them have strength for the future, work hard, and then receive forgiveness.  By his reduction of miraculous regeneration to a merely human decision, however, “hundreds of souls would rise”[19] to receive salvation by standing up and be counted as converts every night.[20]  In a poor meeting, “only 760 decisions had been recorded”[21]—in better ones, many, many more were recorded.  Furthermore, believers did not obtain assurance of salvation by looking to Christ and also by seeing in the reflex act of faith[22] the evidences of regeneration recorded in 1 John; rather, the doctrine of Roberts and his followers was, “Believe you are saved, and then confess it” to obtain “assurance of faith.”[23]  Apparently, only those who possess the ability to see people’s hearts can rightly conclude that the lost standing up is the same thing as the supernatural production of repentance and faith within a dead sinner’s heart by the Spirit of God, enabling a sinner to spiritually come to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in His work on the cross for justification, a new heart, and eternal life.  Furthermore, Biblical assurance is not obtained by simply convincing oneself that he is saved and then saying to others that he is.  Consequently, the practice of equating people’s standing up with conversion will produce horrific numbers of false professions and spurious conversion decisions when practiced by anyone who does not have the kind of insight into the heart Evan Roberts claimed he had.








[1]              Pg. 523, “Demythologizing the Evan Roberts Revival,” Pope.  This figure is an instance of the “folk memory of the revival, much of it elaborated by the passage of time” so that the recollection of events “as time progressed, became increasingly divorced from the events themselves” (pgs. 516, 534, Ibid.).  Unfortunately, such inaccurate folk tales too often pass for real history and are propagated in many popular-level Christian biographies, histories, and other narratives, so that, far too often, the people of God accept as factual what is merely legendary.  See also pg. 20, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Brynmor P. Jones; pg. 48, The Revival in the West, W. T. Stead.
[2]              Pg. 60, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan; cf. pg. 66.
[3]              Apart from the visions of Evan Roberts, evidence for the 100,000 figure is derived from people who have sought to keep track of the numbers of people who stood up in meetings (cf. pg. 153, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905); some have also tried to tally, at least generally, increases in membership rolls.
In the Bible, only those were counted as converts who professed salvation through repentant faith in Christ alone, submitted to believer’s immersion, and then continued faithful to the Lord in His church and manifested evidence of a new heavenly nature (cf. Acts 2:41-47)—a standard not a little higher than that of standing up under extreme emotional pressure in a meeting, or than receiving a vision with the number 100,000 in it.
[4]              Pg. 147, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[5]              Pg. 80, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[6]              Pg. 158, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[7]              Pg. 175, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[8]              The rigors of early Calvinistic Methodist assembly membership are set forth on pgs. 103-122, Fire in the Thatch:  The True Nature of Religious Revival, Eifion Evans.
[9]              Roberts carried his Pelagianism with him into his doctrine of the Christian life; e. g., while Philippians 2:13 affirms that God works in the believer both to will and to do, Roberts believed:  “God . . . will work in you up to the point of willing; but He cannot ‘will’ for you!  He works in you up to the point of your will, and then through your act of ‘will’—He will energize you for the ‘doing’ (Phil. ii. 13.)” (pg. 5, “Revival and Prayer,” Overcomer 1910).  It is astonishing that Roberts would refer to Philippians 2:13 and in the same sentence deny that God energizes the believer both to will and to do.
                Jessie Penn-Lewis likewise, with the Keswick theology in general, denied that God works in believers both to will and do, affirming rather that the Almighty is helpless without our independent choice:  “God must get the consent of our wills for everything He does” (pg. 181, The Overcomer, December 1913; she misinterpreted Philippians 2:13 in a manner similar to Evan Roberts, pg. 132, The Overcomer, 1914).
[10]            Pg. 88, The Welsh Religious Revival, Morgan.
[11]            Pg. 53, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[12]            Pg. 143, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[13]            Pg. 49, Voices from the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.
[14]            Much of modern fundamentalism and evangelicalism also replaces supernatural conversion by repentant faith in the Christ who died as a Substitute for sinners and rose again with the repetition of a “sinner’s prayer,” based upon a misinterpretation of Romans 10:9-14 and Revelation 3:20.  Note the careful discussion of these passages and defense of justification by repentant faith alone instead of justification by faith and prayer, in “An Exegesis and Application of Romans 10:9-14 for Soulwinning Churches and Christians,” by Thomas Ross, available at http://faithsaves.net/soteriology/.  While Evan Roberts affirmed that to “confess Christ was . . . an initial act of faith” (pg. 145, An Instrument of Revival, Jones), the Bible teaches that one must believe and receive Christ’s righteousness before he can genuinely confess Christ (Romans 10:10-11).   However, at other times Roberts would, at least according to certain writers, correctly state that the gospel is to believe on Christ (cf. pg. 134, Ibid.).
[15]            Between College Terms, Constance Louisa Maynard (James Nisbet & Co.: 1910).  Elec. acc. http://welshrevival.org/misc/maynard/01.htm.  Compare the salvation message taught by the Pentecostals of Azusa Street:  “When we preach a sinless life, some people say we are too strict.  They say we will not get many to heaven that way.  But, beloved, God cannot save contrary to His Word.  All salvation contrary to the Word is not saving salvation” (pg. 1, The Apostolic Faith I:9 (Los Angeles, June-September 1907), reprinted on pg. 37, Like As of Fire:  Newspapers from the Azusa Street World Wide Revival:  A Reprint of “The Apostolic Faith” (1906-1908), coll. Fred T. Corum & Rachel A. Sizelove).
[16]          Between College Terms, Constance Louisa Maynard (James Nisbet & Co.: 1910).  Elec. acc. http://welshrevival.org/misc/maynard/01.htm.
[17]            Pg. 167, The Great Revival in Wales:  Also an Account of the Great Revival in Ireland in 1859, S. B. Shaw.  Chicago, IL:  S. B. Shaw, 1905.
[18]            Pgs. 48-49, The Awakening in Wales, Jessie Penn-Lewis.  Note that Jessie Penn-Lewis found acceptable such a method of receiving salvation, although it is clearly a false gospel.  These four conditions of receiving “salvation” were also the way that an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” was received (pg. 51, Revival in the West, W. T. Stead), further evidence that Roberts confused post-conversion Spirit baptism with the gospel, even as in his own personal history a great confusion of conversion and Spirit baptism is evident.  Indeed, the four conditions also were the way through which ecumenical unity among those holding false and true doctrine would come to pass, and the one-world Church—a desirable goal, in Roberts’s view (but cf. Revelation 17:1-6)—would be inaugurated (pg. 53, Revival in the West, W. T. Stead).
[19]            Pg. 49, The Awakening in Wales, Jessie Penn-Lewis.
[20]            Pg. 128, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[21]            Pg. 129, An Instrument of Revival, Jones.
[22]            Charles Hodge correctly states:
By the direct act of faith, we embrace Christ as our Savior; by the reflex act, arising out of the consciousness of believing, we believe that He loved us and died for us, and that nothing can ever separate us from his love. These two acts are inseparable, not only as cause and effect, [but as] antecedent and consequent; but they are not separated in time, or in the consciousness of the believer. They are only different elements of the complex act of accepting Christ as He is offered in the Gospel. (pg. 100, Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge, Vol. 3)
Likewise, Beeke notes:
[T]he direct act of faith is occupied with the object presented to it, the promises of the gospel in Christ, and the reflexive act, being of a different nature, is concerned with looking back on the direct act which assures the soul of personally being a partaker of Christ. This reflexive act of faith is the gift of the Holy Spirit also, and must be ratified by His inward testimony. (pg. 68, “Does Assurance Belong to the Essence of Faith?  Calvin and the Calvinists,” Joel R. Beeke.  Master’s Seminary Journal 5:1 [Spring 1994] 43-73)
[23]            Pg. 107, Voices From the Welsh Revival, 1904-1905, Jones.