Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Separation and Patience

Some people like to think that separatists love separating to the degree that they are looking to separate.  A true separatist looks to unify, but it must be unity, that is, it must unify on and in the truth.  Truth is the basis for unity and separation.  You try to unify and if it doesn't work, you separate.  Noah tried to unify for 120 years and then at a fateful juncture in history, he separated from everyone on earth in the ark.  No one else would take the truth, but those eight people.  I see myself believing the same idea and the same strategy.

When you are a separatist, you can't wait forever, and you've got to learn when to stop attempting to unify, because you will waste your time.  You might call that dusting your feet, as Jesus did.  Then you stop sowing pearls before swine.  You have to move on.

I have said many times that I'm a separatist, but I don't cut people off.  Paul commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, "Be patient toward all men."  Again, that's a command.  We've got to be patient with people.  I recognize that men don't think I'm patient.  It's tough to say you're patient.  Who can really say that?   Men don't think I'm patient, I believe, merely because I do separate.  Their idea of patience is never separating.

Some patience waits until the coming of the Lord.  You won't be truly vindicated until the end.  This is James 5:11, "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy."  Any genuine believer must keep putting up with unpopularity and rejection his entire life.  He must keep enduring the unbelief of the world and the company of a very small minority.

The point of patience of separation is the same point God has with our sanctification.  We are waiting for knowledge and maturity, as we can see in 1 John 2 with the little children, young men, and then fathers.  You don't jump straight to father, but you go through a process of maturing, which is why 1 Timothy 5:22 says, "Lay hands suddenly on no man."  Even Jezebel of Thyatira was given space to repent.

For so many doctrines and practices, I never heard it even preached for a very long period.  I didn't even know what I was missing.  I was responsible to believe these doctrines and do these practices, but I didn't know about them.  I'm still growing.  There is still more to learn.  I'm not expecting any big doctrinal changes, but I know I understand the Christian life better now and know Jesus more than what I did one year ago.

When someone doesn't believe and practice like you, you don't just cut that person off.  You try to persuade that person.  You help that person.  You go through steps to get him there.  Sure, if he shows he doesn't want to listen, you might have to separate.

Separation occurs much faster in your local area.  Why?  You see those people more.  You find out faster whether they are listening.  By sheer lack of proximity, you can't find yourself on the same page as some men.  This is not an excuse to ignore false doctrine and practice, but you can't get everyone on the same page quickly.   Again, you must be patient.  The goal is understanding, obedience, true faith, unity, and fellowship.  You want that with as many people as possible.  In general, this is Romans 12:18, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."

What I'm writing here is not an excuse for fellowship with those with whom you should not fellowship.  Patience is not ignoring the problem.  Along with the concept of patience, you've got that truth in Hebrews 3:13, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."   Exhort daily.  Don't call what is silence and cowardice, patience.  It isn't.  You don't just dismiss false doctrine and practice to get together.  This is part of patience as well.  Before you cooperate and fellowship, you work at unity.  You teach, instruct, and correct with patience.

Part of a right understanding of love is 1 Corinthians 13:7:  "Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."  You don't assume someone has a different doctrine than you and just cut him off.  At the same time, this doesn't mean you don't ask questions.  The example again and again in scripture is 1 Thessalonians 5:21, "Prove all things."

Unity and then fellowship don't come from remaining as oblivious as possible.  They come from shining the light.  We walk in the light and have fellowship.  Fellowship is not keeping everything as dark or grey as possible so no one can either see or knows what is going on.  That is just practicing horrible discernment.  It's walking into a problem when you know it is there.  "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished" (Proverbs 22:3). You have an obligation not to fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph 5:11).  If you want to be a honorable vessel, meet for God's use, then you must purge yourself from dishonorable vessels (2 Tim 2:21).

Patience is not dismissing doctrine and practice.  It is attempting to unify in the full light of day. When Jesus laid out church discipline in Matthew 18, He did it in three steps.  I have seen folks turn back at each stage -- after the first confrontation, after the two or three, and then at the time of bringing it to the whole church.  Even at the very end of Tribulation on earth, if someone calls on the name of the Lord, the Lord will deliver Him.  He saved the thief on the cross.

People who never separate are wrong.  They don't really love the people from whom they will not separate.  However, a crucial component to the practice of separation is patience.

Be patient when you discipline.  Be patient when firing an employee.  Be patient with another pastor and another church.  Be patient with a missionary you might drop support.  Patience goes along with the doctrine and practice of separation.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Megyn Kelly and the Concept of the Female Role Model

Unless you just don't keep up, and perhaps congratulations are due anyone who doesn't, then you have heard about the media enhanced conflict between Fox News personality Megyn Kelly and businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.  One narrative encouraged by Trump opponents says he dodges a tough confrontation or question from Megyn Kelly out of fear.  I will not comment on the truthfulness of that assertion one way or another, but I want to consider her role as a woman in that function.  Some conservatives seem supportive of Kelly for the fulfillment of that duty.

The contention as Kelly relates to Trump is that he disparages her merely based upon her gender, that is, Trump disrespects women.  It follows that whatever reaction of Trump against Kelly is simply because she is a woman.  I would say instead that Trump is old school to the degree that it still bothers him to be forcefully questioned by a woman.  Should it be happening?  No.  Any man who is a real man is the same. Everyone should know that.  Fox News backs that expedient explanation about Trump. In an election, some hope that will further poison women toward Trump.

Again, my purpose isn't to analyze the politics, but it is good to provide context for everyone to the point I wish to demonstrate.  I contend that Fox News and Megyn Kelly herself already dishonor her as a woman, because they exploit men with her physique, her special female charms, appealing to the lowest common denominator.

When a country and culture forsake God and the Bible, they welcome delusion and then degradation. God's Word establishes the role of the woman, and how does Kelly match that role?  On one hand, against the plain teaching of the Bible, she's supposed to execute the traditional male role of combat.  She challenges and interrogates men in power.  The men she confronts must treat her as men have dealt with each other in the past, except not really.  Every man knows he can't treat her just like a man without denunciation.  Media critics praise Kelly for her toughness and in so doing encourage more of this from women.

On the other hand, Kelly herself and Fox News uses obvious sexuality to build audience for her show.   They do this many ways.  First, they back up their camera perspective to show her bare legs under her news desk.  They don't do this with any other main anchor at Fox.  What do Kelly's legs have to do with the veracity of her arguments or the value of her presentation?   Does this not objectify her as a woman?  How does this make her a more serious delivery instrument of news and opinion at Fox?  This is a practice of an overt seduction of a male audience.  You can't ask to be respected as a journalist and then use carnal allurement to increase your ratings.  You are a hypocrite.

Imagine attempting to use male sexuality as a feature of building an audience to watch a news show. Fox wouldn't do it, so why do they do it with a woman?  You can't want people to treat you the same as men and then function in the mode of using feminine allure.  If it really is all about her arguments and her force and her reasoning, those superior talents, she shouldn't need these ancillary inducements.

Kelly doubles down on this idea with her 2010 spread in GQ magazine (warning on this link).  How is someone to perceive a news anchor who poses in such fashion?   Everyone watching Fox News knows they do the same with the other women as they do Kelly.  No other news agency works women in this manner close to this same degree.

In my analysis, the value of Megyn Kelly is either found in her seductiveness or her combativeness, neither of which reflect the biblical, God-ordained role for a woman.  Even if she exemplified the role of a man, she doesn't convey the professionalism expected with the seriousness of a news anchor.  If someone intended for her to serve as a role model for young women, a goal to aspire to, her two most defining qualities fail in that regard.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Damning Danger in Asking Christ into Your Heart: The Testimony of Baptist Pastor Ovid Need, part 2 of 4

In a futile attempt to justify the perverted gospel, there are many verses offered by the devil which are commonly wrested from their context: “Behold I stand at the door and knock…” [Rev 3:20]. Notice the context is speaking to a church with no reference at all to salvation; therefore, any effort to make it say more than it does is similar to Satan’s efforts against the Lord. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” shows the result of trusting Christ as one’s Substitute and Saviour. Any effort to make it stand alone not only does great harm to the context, but removes salvation from the passage. [Rom 10:9-14] “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” [Jn 1:12] Within the context of the gospel, this is receiving His redemptive work as payment for our sins in our stead. To use it as “receiving Him into our hearts” changes the plan of salvation and makes salvation a result of Jesus coming into one’s heart, which it is not. The Spirit of Christ coming into the believer’s heart is a result of salvation.

John 3:16 is probably one of the greatest verses in Scripture. But again, the devil is no fool as he uses even this precious verse to present his another Jesus. How? By changing the meaning of a word. The meanings of words change with their usage. Again, the dividing line is only a hair, a word or two, but enough to miss salvation.

I have read how new editions of the dictionary are assembled. The editors have “listening stations” all over the country, and when the usage of a word changes enough, the dictionary is updated. An example of this would be II Thessalonians 2:7, where letteth means hinder, but today, this word means to permit. The Scripture gives us a fixed language where the meanings of words like letteth, believe, and many others, do not change. However, the meanings of these same words have changed in our usage over the years, and is reflected in our dictionaries. Our enemy then uses these changes to subtly present his another Jesus.

Note the word believe: The usage of this word today indicates, “to believe something as a historical fact.” James 2:19 points out that the devils believe there is a God – they know the fact that He exists. A good secular humanist education is required to know more than the devils do: There is no God. Scripture teaches that even the devils will bear witness to who He is and that they will confess and praise Him, but He will not accept their praise. Therefore, just because someone acknowledges, confesses or praises God and Christ does not mean he loves God or is saved. [Mat 8:29; Ma 1:23, 24; 3:11; 5:7; Lu 8:28; Ac 16:16, 17; 19:5]

Consequently, if a person claims for salvation, “I believe Christ died, was buried and rose again for sinners and I now confess that with my mouth,” he could have nothing more than the belief of devils. The Bible definition of saving belief must be trust or reliance. Thus Paul’s statement, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” Acts 16:31, would mean to place one’s complete trust or reliance in His payment for his sins, “To endure what we ought to endure.” Anything less is not Biblical salvation.

Matthew 7:21-23 strikes at the heart of the matter. First, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The sinner might have cried out, “Lord, save me,” or, “Lord, I trust you to come into my heart and save me,” but he did not have a clear understanding of the substitutionary, redemptive work of Christ. Or maybe he did not have the Holy Spirit’s light to enable him to understand the substitutionary death and payment for his sins. [1 Cor 2:10-16; 2 Cor 4:3-6. God’s judgement will be according to His one standard of truth, Rom 2.] Whatever is prayed must be firmly grounded in understanding and receiving what Christ has done for the sinner, or he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

An objection to our argument for the necessity of a clear understanding of Christ’s work might be: “I didn’t understand about Christ’s redemptive work when I made my profession, but I do now, so I’m OK.” Observe: Ephesians 1:13, “In whom ye also trusted after… ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation,” and Romans 10:14ff, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed (trusted)? and how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? . . . So then faith cometh by hearing.” Clearly, according to God’s word, trust and reliance, thus salvation, can only come after hearing and understanding the truth of Christ’s atoning work.

Another objection might be “Well, how about children? The atoning work of Christ for the sinner and the sinner’s trust in His atoning work is too difficult for them to understand; therefore, we must place it down on their level by telling them they must ask Jesus into their hearts.”

It is an absurd devil’s lie to say that the Lord has provided two plans of salvation: one for children, one for adults. Romans 2 clearly tells us that all judgment is according to God’s one standard of truth. Furthermore, when we lower the gospel to the level of natural understanding, we depart from the truth and exclude the Spirit of God from regeneration. Is not one of the reasons for standing against modern perversions of the Scripture their reduction to the level of the natural man? In an honest evaluation, rather than placing the true plan of redemption through Christ’s atoning work on a child’s level, we see the false child’s plan ask Jesus into your heart, etc. brought to an adult level.

Note that we are not speaking against reaching children for the Lord. Obviously, our future hope lies in reaching young people for the Kingdom’s sake and teaching them to observe all the Lord’s commands. We must do all we can to reach children for Christ, [Lk 18:6] but for us to say there is a way for anyone to come to Christ other than through His substitutionary death corrupts the gospel.  “[He] that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” Everlasting life comes only through trusting Christ as our Substitute and Saviour. We cannot add or detract anything, for His revealed plan is complete. [Jn 6:37-40; Rev 22:19]

Consider this example. A little girl about six years old heard that she had to ask Jesus in her heart in order to be saved. She expressed her desire to her mother and followed her mother’s instructions to ask Jesus into her heart. Her mother then assured her that she was saved.

Only by violently wresting Scriptures beyond all recognition from their obvious contexts can we believe that there is any Scriptural redemption in the actions of the little girl. [Wrested, we might add, to the destruction of all involved, Ps 56:5; 2 Pe 3:16.] We cannot find one hint in contextual Scripture that this “gospel” will save anyone. Certainly, the believer has Christ in him, the hope of glory, but only as the result of trusting Christ as his sin-bearer or substitute. [Col 1:27]

To tell a child, as this mother did, that she can be saved by “asking Jesus into her heart” presents to her the other Jesus. Although the other Jesus undoubtedly did come into the girl’s heart with good feelings and works, he is not the One who died for sinners. We receive that Spirit of Christ by trusting in His payment for our sins, not by asking Him into our hearts. Jesus Christ lives in the believer only through faith in His atoning work not through faith in a prayer. [Ac 20:29; 2 Cor 13:5]

Have we not been warned that he passes himself off as an apostle of Christ and a minister of righteousness? He may even stand in the pulpit preaching righteousness, but, regardless of his righteous appearance, the total of Scripture exposes him for what he is: a false teacher. [2 Pe 2:1-3]


See here for this entire study.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Trump, Meaning, and Evangelicalism

Different title today, but this post relates to Monday's.

Individual Americans look at their presidential races through different lenses.  The spectacle factory couldn't hold all the glass necessary for this 2016 contest.  To cut to the chase, let's go right to Trump. One poll says 37% of white evangelicals support him.  Support.  You may have noticed the foam coming from some of their mouths.  Then you have those who disapprove of him with the white hot disapproval of a thousand suns.  Both call themselves evangelicals.

On a regular basis, I go to twitter feeds of conservative evangelicals.  As the Iowa caucus neared, they took a break from promoting or reviewing Hollywood movies, hyping their favorite rock bands, plugging a prized television series, or acknowledging a cherished comic book character in order to protest the vulgarity of Donald Trump.  At Teampyro, Dan Phillips and Frank Turk hate Trump at unmatched fahrenheit.

Trump though really fits evangelicalism.  It shouldn't surprise someone Falwell Jr. endorsed him. Trump and the junk of Jesus junk have a lot in common.  Trump is vulgar.  Trump could be the picture next to vulgar in the dictionary, and yet nothing is as vulgar as what evangelicals do with Jesus.  At least Trump smears himself with his own vulgarity.  They sully Jesus with theirs. They top Trump's vulgarity by subject matter alone.

We should use rock music as an example.  Evangelicals rock.  They do.  They approve of rock.  They promote rock.  They use it in their churches.  A trap set will dominate a tiny platform in a small evangelical auditorium.  The post-millennial Douglas Wilson talks about his eclectic playlist with Dylan and Clapton and playing in his own band.  Dan Phillips can't get enough of or get over his beloved Chicago.  Grace Community and John MacArthur now feature the rock (not blaring but still rock) of the Gettys at their Shepherd's Conference.  The pianist channels Billy Joel.  I'm not talking about Charismatics here.  Mike Huckabee, who plays in his own rock band with his electric guitar, shares some commonality with Trump.  At least he's consistent in his lack of offense.

Rock music is vulgar.  Why protest Trump?  He's vulgar.  So what?  Or may be better, how do you know?  How can anyone judge anything to be vulgar?  If you say Trump is vulgar, it means there is some standard of vulgarity.  What makes evangelicals, who love Marvel comics and promote Hollywood movies and have no problem bringing rock music into church, protest vulgarity?  Sit down.  You have relinquished that right.  When you love worse than Trump, you can't complain or criticize.  You are then a hypocrite to a similar degree as the Pharisees.

In philosophy, evangelicals are right with Trump, worse than Trump.  At least all Trump does is besmirch himself.  He doesn't use profanity to blot the name of Jesus like the banality of evangelicalism.  How can folks fine with Dylan and Chicago and Clapton not like Trump?  He's right in their wheelhouse. 

Trump says "Two Corinthians" and throws his cash on the communion holder, thinking it's the offering plate.  Evangelicals guffaw.  They're so smart, so discerning, meanwhile rocking to Jesus, singing to him like the holy Son of God is their boyfriend or even girlfriend.  All approved.  Sick.  Sad.  Vulgar.

I've never seen more or worse vulgarity than evangelicals produce and approve.  They're worse than Miley Cyrus at a music award show.  How?  She shames herself.  They drag Jesus into the mire of their vulgarity.  Their motive is young people, the youth culture.  The yutes can't participate in praise without their brand or taste of commonality.

I would say to evangelicals.  Zip it on Trump.  Look in the mirror.  You are a joke.  A sad one.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Capitulation to Meaning Obliviousness: A Case of Berkeley and Oakland

Last Saturday I joined my wife in taking my youngest daughter down to Oakland for orchestra rehearsal at Laney College with the Berkeley Youth Orchestra.  We had three parts to our plan, the first being to stop in at a bakery in Oakland we'd not visited, walk around Lake Merritt in downtown Oakland, and then sit in a downtown McDonalds to work while we share a single mocha frappuccino and large french fry.  Believe me when I say this kind of plan in an urban area is an adventure.

We started with Arizmendi Lakeshore in Oakland, which is a cooperative.  Have you ever been to a bakery that is a cooperative?  Growing up, I understood farm coops, perhaps the Grange, but there is nothing like the cooperative bakery.  I had already been to a cooperative bakery in Berkeley, the Cheeseboard.  To begin, these two places, Arizmendi and Cheeseboard, make a good product.  In the end, people won't eat there if they don't like the food.  The employees would cooperate alright -- in mutual bankruptcy.

I've talked to the participants of cooperation in Berkeley and they would say the beauty of their endeavor is found in mutual ownership, that is, when everyone owns, each does better work. Conceivably every person working knows that he could profit more with greater contribution to the cooperative.  I think this concept can succeed in certain local only situations.  Everyone else right there provides accountability.   However, overall, the idea is a fail, because in general, if everyone shares equally in the profit, some by nature tend to slough off, like they did when the common store concept flopped in 1607 Jamestown.  You reach a tipping point when takers outnumber producers. But I digress.

Arizmendi leaves a tiny area for customers to sit, ala Paris, with two rows of tiny circular tables crammed into a small front area.  I squeezed into a spot and waited and watched the multitude as my wife chose our samples.   Facing the front window in the second row, I was wedged next to four millennials on my left, who conversed about their jobs in the state school system, sprinkled with profanity.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, entering Arizmendi, looked the same.  If you don't know the geography of the East Bay here, Oakland next door neighbors Berkeley, and it felt like Berkeley.  It can't be a coincidence that everyone looked the same.  What I'm saying is that you could see, feel, and hear a culture there, it's very own culture.  I can also testify that I have witnessed this same culture -- identical -- in Greenwich Village in New York City, in San Francisco, in Portland, Maine, in Santa Cruz, and even in Park City, Utah.  I just saw it in a short documentary of Burlington, VT, the political home of Bernie Sanders.  It looks, sounds, and even smells the same. As much as people laugh at Bernie Sanders's hair, a lot on some parts of his head and not so much on others, it reflects his culture.  Yes, Bernie Sanders's hair signals a message to his followers.

If everything means nothing, how does everything look the same in the above mentioned places?   Uniformity does mean something.  If someone dropped you down into the middle of Tehran, you would look around and know that you were someplace with great homogeneity.  I see the same thing in modern evangelicalism today.  A culture has emerged and then formed in evangelicalism.  It is not biblical culture, but it is a distinct look and feel.  You could step into an evangelical meaning and recognize many similarities from Hartford to Seattle.  Evangelicals will say that none of this matters. It's all non-essential, and so non-essential that it looks like you must have it everywhere.  It's not essential, but it is everywhere.

By the way, I'm not arguing against a culture.  I'm not even arguing against homogeneity.  I'm saying that culture does matter to people as seen in their absolute conformity to it.  They should stop calling it a non-essential, when it's obviously essential.  Labeling it non-essential means tolerate it even if it is essential to "me." The folks in Oakland and Berkeley want to express their solidarity with a particular point of view and you see it and hear it and feel it.  Everyone really does know this.  When you are in Berkeley, you know you are in Berkeley.  Big time.

Let me throw some words at you.  Bohemian.  Shabby chic.  Beat culture.  Folk.  Hippie.  You, like, get my drift, I'm sure.  It's very similar to what you would have witnessed in the rise of the proletariat in the Russian revolution and even quite similar to the cultural revolution of Mao or Che Guevara.  It is a protest culture against the man, against industrialization, and postmodern in nature -- the noble savage, the idealized outsider not yet corrupted by civilization.  Modernism didn't work for them, so they live in a constant state of protest.  The various pieces to the costume exude the meaning.

What you see in Berkeley and Oakland does mean something.  It expresses a particular point of view, a world view, that is quite uniform.  As much as Bernie Sanders emphasizes democracy, which he sees the same as socialism, you don't get the kind of difference you might expect where supposedly you are allowed choices.  How could everyone get a choice and then turn out the same?

Two millennial women met up at Arizmendi, friends, joined later by two brothers.  One woman taught the disabled and one man taught freshmen in high school.  They had graduated and launched out to change the world.  Reality might have been smacking them in the face as evidenced by exhaustive complaining and whining, the educators employing four letter words, identical ones as both nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, the same two or three again and again.

The expletives characterize the culture.  The adherents punctuate their dissatisfaction with foul words in harmony with their appearances.  They spoke about nothing.  Their conversation was perpetual superficiality -- shared grief and frustration and exasperation, or what Solomon called vanity.  The culture doesn't function without debilitation and a mythical boogieman.  They are entrenched victims where real solutions would eliminate their reason for existence.  The uniform expresses their misery in a never ending struggle for utopian society.  For now, they share pain with no real hope for shared pleasure.  They find pleasure in sharing similar struggles.

Christianity once too expressed its own meaning, possessed its own sacred symbols of salvation and sanctification.  Now the false front Christian embraces the culture of the world, attempting to harmonize its message with the disparate expression of paganism.  By identifying with the various forms of utopianism, Christians have joined the hopelessness and vanity of the world.  They defend their capitulation with meaning obliviousness.  They "don't know what you're talking about."  Many, if not most, do, but they play dumb like a petulant primary buoyed by superficial popularity and doctrinal ambiguity.  They have embraced the uncertainty of postmodernism and shared its expression.

I hear evangelicals and fundamentalists complain about the vulgarity of Donald Trump and sometimes in a hostile way.  They long ago embraced that very culture, the Trump culture, and still promote its perpetuation.  The culture shapes the affections which generates a new doctrine and practice.  They are the spiritual enablers of Trumpism, which I don't see that much different than Cruzism.  Evangelicals capitulated to church growth, even professing Calvinists, and out of desperation to remain relevant in a lost world.  They already sold their birthright for a mess of pottage.

The people most concerned with meaning in the loudest way denounce the importance of meaning in culture.  They push comics and movies and rock music and whatever form of entertainment as indispensable to Christian liberty and the grace of God.  They are the apologists of Charismaticism and deficient discernment.  They too have trashed our culture and then defended those who have joined them, attacking those who criticize.  They should sit down in silence in the mess they spawned, luxuriate in the the postmodern soup they have brewed.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Southern Baptist Evangelism and Unregenerate Evangelicals

I receive in the mail the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary Messenger, the free periodical of this Southern Baptist seminary.  The Winter 2015 issue was entitled: "Focus on Evangelism."  On page 5, the "Practical Missions Report" indicates that all seminary students at the institution between August 2015 and November 2015 witnessed to 1,725 people.  That does not sound like all that many in terms of the number of students enrolled at the seminary, although one can be glad that some evangelism is going on.  Followed by this not especially high number, the striking figure follows that of these 1,725 people witnessed to 185 made "professions of faith," according to the magazine.  This practice of 1 in 10 or higher of the people witnessed to making what the periodical calls "professions of faith"--that is, repeating the "sinner's prayer"--is something that has been relatively consistent in this Southern Baptist periodical, as I have noticed over the course of quite a number of issues.  On page 9, one student testifies that he has seen "more than 54,000 precious people ask Jesus to save them, over 1,000 this year alone."  On page 19, the seminary promotes a vision of having Southern Baptist pastors and other church leaders "share the gospel with at least one person per week."  This terribly low goal would be considered "revival," and the president of the seminary invited "all 46,000 Southern Baptist pastors to join us in sharing the Gospel an average of once a week . . . [i]f only one in 20 of those hearers prayed to receive Christ, that would be more than 200,000 professions of faith in Christ!  Friends, we are going to take our nation back!"  None of the statistics given in the magazine indicate how many of the people who said the sinner's prayer were baptized or continued stedfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers (Acts 2)--probably because the number was very, very low.  Nowhere in the magazine is there the slightest warning about false professions.

What is striking for anyone who seeks to practice Biblical evangelism is that these statistics are astonishingly high.  There is no evidence that anywhere close to 1 in 10 or 1 in 20 of the people Christ or the Apostles preached to was genuinely converted.  Nor do I know anyone who practices Biblical evangelism in the United States that sees conversion statistics such as these, that is, if conversion is defined as a lost person, enabled by God's grace, coming to genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  If, however, "professions of faith" are defined as manipulating people to repeat a "sinner's prayer," then 1 in 10, at least in certain socio-economic strata of America, is not surprising, nor especially difficult.  It can be done without any help from God at all.

Statistics such as these indicate that Hyles-type "evangelism" is, sadly, not restricted to certain segments of fundamental, independent Baptists.  Such "evangelism" is rampant in Southern Baptist evangelicalism and in many other evangelical circles.  For instance, Bill Bright's Four Spiritual Laws was explicitly developed by a salesman with salesmanship in mind.  The only major difference is that Hyles-people typically do more salesmanship than one person a week, the goal for the Southern Baptist pastors.

Just as Hyles-style salesmanship disguised as "evangelism" has led to huge numbers of unregenerate people in Hyles-churches--explaining the large amounts of sexual immorality and other perversions at such religious centers--so Southern Baptist salesmanship "evangelism" has led to huge numbers of unconverted evangelicals and unconverted Southern Baptist pastors and other religious leaders, just as huge numbers of non-Baptist evangelicals are unconverted.

A 1976 Master of Divinity thesis at the Southern Baptist flagship Southern Seminary by Noel W. Hollyfield, Jr., is illuminating. Of diploma students, 100% knew that God existed without any doubt, that Jesus was doubtless the divine Son of God, that He would return to earth some day, and that there is a life after death. 96% believed miracles happened just like the Bible says that they did, that Jesus was born of a virgin, and that He walked on water, and that the devil actually exists. Of final year Master of Divinity students, only 65% knew that God existed without any doubt, 63% said that Jesus was doubtless the divine Son of God (the percentage that believed in His theanthropic Person as the only begotten of the Father was certainly lower than this; "divine Son of God" is easily twisted into neo-orthodoxy and liberalism), 56% believed He would return to earth some day, and 67% believed in life after death. Only 40% believed that miracles happened just like the Bible says they did, 33% believed He was virgin born, 44% believed He walked on water, and 42% believed that the devil exists. The figures grew even worse for Master of Theology and Doctorate students; of these, only 63% were sure that God existed, the same percentage had no doubt Jesus was the "divine Son of God," 53% believed He would return to earth some day, 53% believed in life after death, 37% believed miracles happened just as the Bible declares, 32% believed He was virgin born, 37% believed the devil existed, and 22% believed Jesus walked on water.

The most notable fact about these (yes, now somewhat dated) statistics is not that theological modernism was being taught at Southern Seminary–it is the fact that such a high percentage of those who think they are called to preach, pastor, etc. in the Southern Baptist Convention are able to be convinced that such fundamental Christian doctrines are false. Only a lost man will ever deny the resurrection, and other doctrines of the gospel (1 Cor 15:2, 14; Gal 1:8-9, etc.).  The fact that these Southern Baptist leaders are able to come out of their seminary as modernists shows that, going into the school, of the 96% or so that were orthodox, very, very many of them were orthodox but unconverted. Why? Not because the Southern Baptist Convention does not have orthodox doctrinal statements, but because of weak or false evangelistic methodology that confuses the repetition of the "sinner's prayer" with, drawn by the Spirit of God, coming to Christ in repentance and faith for justification, sanctification, and eternal life. And if a majority of prospective Southern Baptist pastors were, in the 1970s, unconverted, what is the situation among their church members? And what is the likelihood that the Convention's evangelistic methods have drastically improved since then?  What percentage of Southern Baptists is unconverted now? And who is to think that other evangelical denominations do not have similar percentages of orthodox but unconverted members? The sea-change in evangelistic methodology from the 18th century to today–which has influenced fundamentalism as well as evangelicalism– has produced a terrible epidemic of false professions. In conclusion, it is very likely that the average Southern Baptist and the average evangelical is lost, in large part because of corrupt substitution of salesmanship for genuine Biblical evangelism, just as the average member of a Hyles-church may be lost. (That most Southern Baptists are lost has even been recognized by some SBC leaders.)  Indeed, the average evangelical pastor may even be lost.  The "evangelism" of Mid-America Baptist Seminary will never take the nation back--instead, it will produce vast numbers of false professions and hardened hearts who think Christ "didn't work" because of the false and confused gospel presented to the lost by undoubtedly well-meaning evangelicals.

Readers of this blog are encouraged to pray and then to witness to far more than one person a week. They should work with their churches to preach to every single person in their community through public evangelism and through going house to house, to practice Biblical evangelism that seeks to point the lost to Christ so that they come to Him in repentant faith, rather than manipulating them to repeat a "sinner's prayer," and to have specific resources to give to the lost evangelicals that they are likely to run across as they practice Biblical evangelism (and specific resources for other types of lost people).  A survey of the history of how we got to this terrible point in evangelical evangelism is also worth the study (see here and here). Readers should also only consider partnering with other churches in training men for the ministry at institutions that recognize the severe problems with modern salemanship "evangelism" and the epidemic of false professions (while still maintaining a zeal for genuine Biblical evangelism).  Finally, they should be very careful in dealing with evangelicals or Hyles-type fundamentalists that wish to join their churches, so that they can, as much as possible, only accept into their membership genuinely converted people.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Problem among Independent Baptists with the Gospel, pt. 2

Pre-Part.  Part One.

The gospel isn't a range of options between a and b.  It's either a or b.  It's not one or the other that contradict each other, that both could be right. There is no "both could be right" with the gospel.   Offering a range is convenient for holding together a coalition, but it misses the goal.  If it were darts, the dart hits wall, misses the entire board.  Only in some form of Christianity is that a win.  It doesn't work for God.  He isn't glorified and it is messing around with eternity.  Missing a dartboard is missing a dartboard.  To use an educational metaphor, heaven doesn't grade on a curve.  You're in or you're out.

Fundamentalism started, the story goes, because the line should have been drawn at least to the fundamentals.  Belief could not be allowed to slip past a certain minimum, like pulling back to Helm's Deep in Tolkien's Two Towers. Christianity retreats to its food, water, and ammunition, and stands for a defense of what it will take to survive.  I don't see that strategy in the Bible, but I'm just reporting.  I surmise that line was supposed to be the gospel, so I would look for at least the gospel to be defended.  I almost exclusively don't see it.

I see two main parts to what is happening with fundamentalism:  Size and Survival.  A wide range to the gospel, sort of like a wide river of God's love, can include more people.  Politicians call it a bigger tent.  Evangelicalism claimed to be saving Christianity from liberalism.  Fundamentalism, I believe, sees itself as saving Christianity in this way too.

When I talk to people in false religions, I know I often say to them, "we can't both be right."  If two beliefs contradict, they can't both be right.  They can both be wrong.  The gospel doesn't have the range that fundamentalism is giving it.  These are two different messages and both are being accepted.  Mostly they hold to the wrong message.  Many who do not hold to that same position allow for it as within the acceptable range.  Eternal souls and God's glory are at stake in this.

I don't fellowship with a lot of so-called Christian religion -- Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Church of Christ, Greek Orthodox -- because they don't preach a true gospel.  It's an easy call.  The threshold here is the gospel.  Even with Charismatics, I don't fellowship, most of which I've noticed don't believe eternal security.   Why do we include those who fall short of a true gospel?  Shouldn't we start thinking of this as the same, even among independent Baptists, if we are trying to preserve the gospel?

WHAT IS CHANGED OR MISSING?

John ended his gospel by saying in 20:31,

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The gospel of John was written so that people would believe Jesus is the Christ.  John is an apologetic or a kind of evangelistic tract to persuade people to believe Jesus is the Christ.  "The Christ" is left out or at least redefined or dumbed down in most of modern independent Baptist fundamentalism.  This has invaded every circle.

If someone believes that Jesus is the Christ, then he believes Jesus is the Lord, just like Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-13, which the presentations almost always miss.  They quote the verse and proceed to miss the point. This all relates to authority and the kingdom and Jesus as King, Jesus as the Son of Man.  If Jesus' reign doesn't change in someone's life, even though the person accepts Jesus as Savior, then he has missed it.  This is left out or distorted.

Some include what I just wrote above, and some leave it out or twist it.  Some who include the above don't separate over exclusion of it.  They act like not including it remains in an acceptable range, as I stated above.  This permissibility of something less than Jesus as Christ and then less than "believing" Jesus is Christ, what true faith is---the intellectual, volitional, and emotional aspects, all three---truly, scripturally defining faith, is part of changing the gospel.  It is not keeping the truth, which occurs with belief, teaching, and practice.

Most of you readers know that independent Baptists have been rife with methods and approaches that have distorted the doctrine of salvation, turning evangelism into a type of salesmanship.  The end of all of that has been either perversion or amazing superficiality.  Some might call it a lack of precision or carefulness, but what is being preached excludes necessary elements, enough to make it wrong. It's like when someone tells a lie because he does't tell the whole truth.  You can leave parts out of the story so that it isn't a true representation.  This is what has happened, and now those who leave those parts out are considered not enough wrong to exclude from fellowship.  Some of have turned to all out defense mode on their distortion and it hasn't mattered.

What John said was necessary to believe is left out.  Is that fine?  Does that matter?  Does it affect fellowship?  Why is it being left out? 

DESTRUCTIVE FELLOWSHIP

Almost no one today really separates over the gospel.  About ten years ago, we wanted to go a little further out from where we are in order to evangelize, so I called a Baptist church in the area to see if it was necessary even to go there.  If there is a church there that is preaching a true gospel, actually evangelizing, I wouldn't go there.  However, my phone call went about how it often goes with churches I might call.

I asked the man what he believed about repentance.  That should be a simple question for a pastor. When you start in Matthew, Jesus preached repentance, and if you read the gospels, it's not hard to understand.  The man said to me, "Wow, repentance, that's a controversial subject."  I wasn't finished with him right there, but I was very suspect already.  He would not define it.   He gave me some options about what it could mean, several, none of which were actually what it meant.

My position about the above type of church was that it was not preaching the gospel to that area.  I treated the pastor's church like it was not a church.  Maybe it was in a sense, because there may have been saved people there, but for purposes of evangelism, I wanted his church to stop preaching what it preached.  Today, men wouldn't even say something like what I said to him to someone, because they wouldn't want to be an offense.  What is the offense, saying a false gospel is wrong or the false gospel? 

When I included the doctrinal statements in part one, I didn't include some prominent churches and pastors.  It was already pretty long with the samples provided.  For instance, one circle of fundamental, independent Baptists relates to Falls Baptist Church of Menomonee Falls, WI, Baptist College of Ministry, and the Van Gelderens.  The Van Gelderens champion Keswick theology among fundamentalists.  The Van Gelderens represent a segment of independent Baptists in understanding of salvation.  In one sense, the bad statements that I quoted in part one would be defended in a very careful way by what you might read from John Van Gelderen at his website in a three part series on repentance (part one, part two, part three).   There are so many things wrong with his presentation that it would take a booklet to answer it.  It is very confusing and contradictory to itself in numbers of ways.

You could read the presentation of John Van Gelderen yourself at the links provided, which is believed by Wayne and Jim too and leads the Holiness Conference movement.  It is a relatively new understanding of salvation in the history of Christianity and Baptist history.  They take passages and shape the meaning of these into some key components to leave out certain necessities.  Repentance is a "change of mind" only.  Repentance is a turning (in the mind) from sin, but with the real emphasis on "to Christ."  When they say "Christ," they mean Savior and saving a person from the penalty of sin.  Van Gelderen sets up a strawman that says that "turning from sin" sounds like "doing good" or "turning from committing sins."

Sometimes in the midst of a statement or a presentation, you might read something that is better than others or at least adds something that others do not have, at the same time falling short of what it should say.   Temple Baptist Church, Crown College, and Clarence Sexton say the truth about salvation in what I've read in their short doctrinal statements, but they miss some important scriptural components in their explanation.  You don't leave knowing and then believing in the Christ.  They will use the word "repent" or "repentance," but it is barely mentioned and not explained.

I wanted to give Temple, Crown, and Sexton the benefit of the doubt on this, so I zoomed through a presentation by Sexton on the front page of the church website, which directs to the youtube, "How to Lead Someone to Christ."  When he gets to the end of this (about the 39 minute mark), he leads someone in a prayer, and that prayer is "to ask for forgiveness of sins, for Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior."  This is what salvation is, and I think this would be mirrored by a majority of independent Baptists.   On top of this, in 2011, you have the following unrepentant association of Clarence Sexton with the work of Jack Schaap.


Why show the Sexton picture with Schaap?  Sexton had Schaap to his Baptist Friends conference, along with Jack Trieber, whom I quoted in part one.  Sexton is going to be a major part of The Gospel Proclaimed Conference at Tri-City Baptist Church in Chandler, AZ, Mike Sproul, pastor with many other well-known fundamentalists.  Is there really so little different from all of these?  Is this independent Baptist fundamentalism?

The Gospel Proclaimed Conference as an idea sounds pretty good to me.  It does remind me of our Word of Truth Conference for 2015-2017, each year covering the gospel again, the first year already in the books.  However, the Arizona conference would probably be better named, The Gospel Confused Conference.  It's not bringing clarity to this situation.  Maybe they are differentiating themselves from Roman Catholics, but that isn't going to be good enough.  I've got to think that Mike Harding is very, very good among the gathered crowd, that is, he hits the dartboard, but does everyone there proclaiming hit it with him?

Maybe there isn't much difference between Sproul and Sexton.  He's at least not distinguishing himself from him.  The Tri-City website doesn't give many clues.  For instance, Sexton is ending the conference, given the preeminent position in the conference, and his session is "Why Both Evangelism AND Discipleship?"  That topic is rife for problems among independent Baptists.  Some would say, "Independent Baptists don't emphasize discipleship, ala the Navigators in evangelicalism, so this is important."  Maybe that's true, but what about the idea that you can evangelize a person, he can be saved, and he isn't yet a disciple, because that comes later?  Does it matter where someone comes down on that subject?  When a person asks for forgiveness and for Jesus to come into his life as Savior, that's the evangelism part, then what is the discipleship part?  These are bigger gospel fish to fry.  Is that person being "discipled" even saved yet?

Let's look at The Gospel Proclaimed in the best possible way to see if it works.  Clarence Sexton now repudiates Schaap for sexual immorality.  OK, good.  But what about the gospel?  He never saw a difference there, ever.  Or, Clarence Sexton now says the Schaap gospel is bad, and says he's all for repentance.  Lay hands on no man suddenly.  How can someone be wrong on the gospel for decades, say he's with you, and then be in the biggest slot in your conference?  You, my friend, are confusing the gospel.

Independent Baptists have a problem with the gospel.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Problem among Independent Baptists with the Gospel

Last week, I wrote a snoozer post on destructive fellowship in fundamentalism, and emphasized the accommodation or capitulation to something less than a true gospel or a false gospel.  My point was that the gospel must come into consideration for fellowship with fundamentalism if fundamentalism is even fundamentalism.  If fundamentalism is supposed to be militant, it better get a grasp of what is serious.  We're talking about what would be or should be considered to be a fundamental.  I knew I would follow up that sleepy one with this Nyquil-like exploration of the theme for that post by looking at the gospel or plan of salvation on independent Baptist websites.  I will either look at the gospel part of the website or salvation in the doctrinal statement, so here we go.

I am not going to go out of my way to look for the worst possible examples.  I'm going to be somewhat random about this to show the reality of the problem.  Listen, I don't like churches using bad music and wearing immodest dress and allowing or even promoting worldly entertainment, but we're truly missing it if we can't be provoked by the widespread existence of an altered gospel.  I'm going to look at a few high profile churches, but I decided to go to David Cloud's Way of Life church directory to reveal the magnitude of the problem.  I will not know any of these people, so it won't be personal.

Starting with California, my state, I chose the first church one on the list, Hopewell Baptist Church in Alameda.  Here's the section on salvation from the doctrinal statement:

We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and received by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose precious blood was shed on Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-10; I Peter 1:18-19) and that in order to be saved, sinners must be born again; that the new birth is a new creation in Christ Jesus; that it is instantaneous and not a process.

Here's the last part of its "heaven" presentation:

4) We Can Be Forgiven Now
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” -Romans 10:13
If Jesus was willing to take you just as you are, wouldn’t you be willing to take Him, ‘just as He is’? If so, just ask Him now...

Please Make This Your Own Prayer
Dear Lord, I know I’ve sinned and I’m sorry. I believe you are the Son of God. You were killed, buried and rose again to pay the penalty of my sin. I now put my trust in You and accept You as my personal Saviour. Please come into my heart and save me. Take me to Heaven when I die. Help me to live for you, in Jesus' name, Amen.

I went to the next state, Colorado, and chose the first church, Elmwood Baptist Church, and it's section on "The Gospel":

HERE’S WHAT TO DO. Just simply respond to God’s offer! 
Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” 
You can accept God’s gift right now! 
Just by praying a simple prayer, admitting and agreeing with God that you’re a sinner, and asking Jesus Christ to take away your sin and be your personal Savior! That’s it! The Bible says so. . . 
Romans 10:9-10 – “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” 
God promises that if you will do this, He will save you and give you eternal life!

I moved on then to Connecticut where the first site was New Hope Baptist Church in Torrington, CT, where you'll read this in their doctrinal statement on sin and salvation:

We believe all men were born with an inherited sin nature received from our common ancestor, Adam. We believe that because of his nature, man is a sinner by choice, and he is totally incapable of reforming himself or ceasing from his sin by his own power. We believe the only hope of deliverance for man is a total change of mind (repentance) concerning his sinful condition and inability to change it, and a turning to Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. We believe that only through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the Cross can a man be delivered from his sin. We believe that all those who reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour are already condemned to an eternity in the Lake of Fire (Genesis 5:1-5; Acts 4:19; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:10-23; Romans 5:6-12; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6; Revelation 20:11-14).

The same church has their gospel presentation under the tab "Jesus" and the title "Why Jesus Matters," and this is how it ends:

Going to Heaven isn’t about being good or religious. It’s about trusting Christ alone. Call out to Him, ask Him to come into your life, save you from sin, and give you His gift of eternal life. It’s the best decision you will ever make. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). 
If after reading this you accepted Jesus Christ, please let us know below! We would love to rejoice with you!

Cloud's site had only one church in Washington, DC, the next area or state, Northwest Baptist Church, and here's the last part of its plan of salvation:

God wants you to believe His Word and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

If you will . . .

. . . then, in simple faith believing, pray and ask God to forgive you of your sins and ask Jesus to save you from your sins by becoming your personal Savior.  Simply pray a prayer like the following:

"Dear Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.  I ask you to forgive me of my sins, and I ask Jesus Christ to come into my heart and to save me from my sins.  In Jesus' name.  Amen."

If you received Jesus Christ as your Savior, please call or write us and let us know.  We would like to be able to pray with you and to give you information to help you in your new life as a Christian.

I started with California, then went to Colorado, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia -- four random samples, picking the first church in each state on David Cloud's church directory.  I'm not saying that Cloud would approve of these statements, just that I didn't go somewhere to search for something bad.  Cloud has written a lot against easy-prayerism.

Here's how Paul Chappell ends the plan of salvation part of his website at Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College:

4 Believe and Receive Christ 
In order to have a relationship with God and an eternal home in Heaven, we must stop trusting ourselves, our works, and our religions, and place our full trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sin and eternal life. In Roman 10:13 the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is a promise directly from God that if you will pray to Him, confess that you are a sinner, ask Him to forgive your sins, and turn to Him alone to be your Saviour; He promises to save you and give you the free gift of eternal life. You can make that decision today by praying from your heart, something like this: 
Dear God, I know that I am separated from you because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. Right now, I turn to you alone to be my Saviour. I ask you to save me from the penalty of my sin, and I trust you to provide eternal life to me.
—Amen 
You'll never regret that decision! If you have just trusted Christ, we would love to know about your decision and give you a Bible and some other materials to help you learn more about that new relationship!

Here's what Jack Trieber says at North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara in their "Bible Way to Heaven" page:

We must believe in Jesus. 
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 
ROMANS 10:9
To believe on Jesus Christ as Savior means to believe that He died for you, believe that He paid the price for your sin, and believe that He is the only way to Heaven. You can express your belief on Jesus by calling on Him in prayer. 
Let us help you word a prayer. (Realize it's not mere words that save, but your faith in Jesus Christ.) 
"Dear Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that you died on the cross and paid the penalty for my sin. I believe that you rose from the dead three days later. I am placing my faith in you alone to forgive my sin and save me. Thank you for giving me eternal life, in Jesus' name, AMEN." 
If you made a decision to trust Christ as Savior after reading this, we would like to know that we might pray for you and send you some more information.

R. B. Ouellette at First Baptist Church of Saginaw, MI ends his "Going to Heaven?" page with the following:

Will you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior? Will you rely on Him and Him alone to forgive your sin and give you everlasting life in Heaven? If you will, say the following prayer to the Lord (remember, to do anything other than receiving Christ is to reject Him). 
Say a prayer and trust Christ now“Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I don’t deserve to go to Heaven. But I believe that you sent your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sin. I trust Him, and Him alone to forgive my sin, to become my Savior, and to take me to Heaven when I die. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” 
In John 6:37 Jesus says “…Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”  If you sincerely accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He promises to let you into Heaven when you die. He promises that He will not under any circumstances (“in no wise”) cast you out. That’s the best news in the world!

The articles of faith of Pensacola Christian College on salvation read:

We believe that Christ’s blood, shed on Calvary, is the only Atonement for man’s sin (1 Pet. 1:18–19, 1 John 1:9, John 14:6). We believe that salvation is a free gift of God for “whosoever will”; it is by grace, through faith, plus nothing, and believers are eternally secure. Salvation is received only by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work. “Whosoever will” may come to Christ; God does not pre-elect persons to heaven or hell.

I'm just reporting here.  I know there are places where you get an accurate gospel presentation, presenting a true gospel.  However, it is a mish-mash out there, where one is indistinguishable from another, all mixing together.  Those with a biblical presentation joining with those with a false or at least inadequate one.

What missing above?  Repentance.  Lordship.  You don't get a sufficient understanding of Jesus Christ.  Faith is less than saving faith.  The plan is reduced to a prayer.  Jesus is only Savior.  They skip necessary parts to something less than salvation.  Some do this out of ignorance and others on purpose.  With the latter, they have a plan that produces more professions and greater "success." When I say ignorance, some of it is voluntary ignorance that turned into self-delusion.  They've convinced themselves now that this is salvation.  For many, so much false doctrine has spread for so many years, that it is now a different religion.

Should anyone be sending people to these churches where they don't understand or even know the gospel?  Are these errors enough to separate?  If someone pushes people toward these churches, even with a disclaimer, giving them some kind of approval, how serious is the gospel to someone?  We've got to get more serious about the gospel, what it is and what we say that it is or what we will allow to be called the gospel.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Proof that the Bible is the Word of God from the Book of Daniel

Dear brethren,

I have revised and expanded an apologetic composition explaining the evidence for the Bible as the Word of God from the predictive prophecies in the book of Daniel.  The occasion for the expansion was my recent debate with Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in conjunction with our church's campus ministry at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.  We debated "The Old Testament is mainly fiction, not fact."  Barker was in the affirmative, while I (obviously) took the negative.  (I plan to say more about the debate in a future blog post, Lord willing; the video should be here if you would like to see it shortly after this blog post is published.)  I used the book of Daniel heavily in my presentation.  In any case, if you would like to have more resources defending Scripture as God's Word available for your church, feel free to print out copies of my work and personalize the church information at the end.  Websites are also, of course, free to link to the work.  You can read The Book of Daniel:  Proof that the Bible is the Word of God by clicking here.  To personalize the work for your church, use the webpage here to get a Word document of the (short, c. 80 pages) book.  The outline of the book is as follows:

I. Introduction: Predictive Prophecy as Proof of the Truth of the Bible
II. Does the Book of Daniel Predict the Future? The Prophecies of Daniel Expounded
            A.) Daniel 2 & 7: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome
            B.) Daniel 8 & 11:  Medo-Persia and Greece
            C.) Daniel 9:  The Year and Day of the Messiah’s Coming to Jerusalem under the Romans
III. Has the Text of Daniel been Corrupted?  Evidence for the Preservation of Scripture
  1. Did Daniel Write the Book of Daniel? The Authorship of Daniel Defended
            A.) Introduction
            B.) The Book of Daniel’s Own Claims and their Reception
            C.) Early References to the Book of Daniel in Other Works
            D.) Manuscript Evidence Supporting Daniel’s Authorship
            E.) The 6th Century Hebrew and Aramaic Language of Daniel
            F.) The Knowledge of 6th Century History Supporting an Early Date for Daniel
            G.) Miscellaneous Evidences for the 6th Century Date of Daniel
            H.) Weak Arguments for a Late Maccabean Date for Daniel
  1. Unavoidable Predictive Prophecy in Daniel
            A.) Daniel’s Fourth Kingdom: Rome, not Greece
            B.) Daniel’s 70 weeks Prophecy an Unavoidable Prediction
  1. Conclusion: The Bible: A Supernatural Book—The Meaning for You
VII. Appendix: A Technical Linguistic Justification of the Translation of Daniel 9:24-27 in the Authorized Version (KJV) and of Related Questions Pertaining to the Coming of Messiah Jesus in A. D. 33.
VIII. Sources for Further Reading and Bibliography
            A.) Recommended Sources for Further Reading
            B.) Bibliography

May the Lord use it to tear down intellectual objections to the Bible and bring sinners to the new birth.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Against Trump

National Review Online has put together a stream of columns by conservatives against Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President.  It's worth looking at here.  I'm pretty sure they tried to put together their most influential bunch, because some of them I don't like and others I really do.  All things considered, it's a hefty sampling. They don't tell us who is good.  They don't.  Maybe they don't know.  I guess it's anybody but Trump, but if it isn't Trump, why should someone vote for someone else?  Rubio?  Cruz?  Christie?  Kasich?  Bush?  Carson?

Here is an article from the American Spectator from Reagan White Houser, Jeffrey Lord.  Also look at this moment on Fox with Roger Stone and Charles Hurt.

The other day when the media mocked someone for misusing the Bible, when Trump said "Two Corinthians," which is how you would hear it from someone from Britain, a day later, when there was a bad van crash of Ben Carson staffers, Cruz tweeted.

Crickets there for that atrocious use of Isaiah 53:5 and public notice of prayer.  Is it all just funny? Or very, very sad, the pandering?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Destructive Fellowship in Fundamentalism

The New Testament does teach fellowship between churches.   In Acts 15, the Jerusalem and Antioch churches tried to get along.  It was worth it to try.  They got together for the sake of the truth.  I can see the Asian churches collecting money for the Jerusalem church in 1 and 2 Corinthians.  In 3 John, John says that when someone comes traveling through, out of fellowship for the truth a church should take care of him.  The Philippian church sent a gift to Paul.  I see that and believe that.  However, I don't see in many instances today the New Testament emphasis of fellowship, but rather the building of coalitions.  I also witnessed this early in my pastoring.

The truth was so important to Paul that he confronted Peter to his face in a very severe way.  I don't see these first century churches putting up with garbage.  Paul parted ways with John Mark for a time. Every New Testament epistle teaches separation, mirroring the very first Psalm among all the other Old Testament books.  Names are named, associations are discontinued.

When we pray, thy will be done, it's as it is done in heaven, which is also how Jesus performed God's will on earth.  Whatever is built, God builds.  It doesn't come through careful assessment of the smallest common denominator.

We could talk about music, dress, methods, buildings, Bible versions, tithing, Promise Keepers, who has the biggest congregation, or whatever the subject du jour.  Sure.  Fundamentalism started over fundamentals -- its term.  If that is so, and someone is a fundamentalist, one would think that the gospel would figure prominently in consideration in the fellowship.  What does someone believe, what does someone teach on the gospel?

When someone asks me for a recommendation somewhere, it is the first place I look.  What does that church believe about the gospel?  What they profess, write, post, and teach on the gospel says a lot about their thinking about all the other biblical teachings they might hold.  It says a lot about what they think of Jesus.  If someone is wrong about Jesus or at least not contextual with Jesus, giving Him a scriptural representation, should that not trouble a Christian, someone who names the name of Jesus?

It seems in many cases today, the lack of curiosity about belief and practice is rewarded.  What's best is to learn not to ask too many questions.  When you ask questions, you find things out, and you really don't want to find things out.  If you find something out, you might have to talk about it, and someone will be uncomfortable, let alone separate over some thing.  No, the thing is to keep the coalition, and call that fellowship.  "We had a great fellowship" means that we had a good time of not mentioning too many truths that would reveal something awkward and throw an ill will over the gathering.

When I was in fundamentalism, I began to notice what and why things were overlooked.  It almost never made any sense, and then it didn't help to ask about whatever it was.  You wouldn't be surprised how often it related to money.  Bigger coalitions are needed for money.  Bigger churches are needed for money.  Bigger churches are needed for bigger coalitions.  The participants think they need all this for success.  Doctrinal and practical precision suffer for it all to work.  It's easy to see.  What bothers the most is the corruption of the gospel and most because of the dishonor to God.

The above isn't just fundamentalism.  It's worse in evangelicalism.  Evangelicalism doesn't separate. Evangelicals today write mean tweets -- their version of separation.  They produce a podcast and mock someone they don't like without mentioning his name.  Everyone knows, wink, wink, but the name very often isn't mentioned.  If the name is mentioned, the participants explain how it really is too bad.  It doesn't stop the fellowship from continuing.

I wish I was wrong about everything I've written so far.  I'd be happy to hear how I'm not, if I'm not. None of what I have written reflects on the unsurpassed beauty and wonder of actual Christianity, of God's Word itself, and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  All of that remains intact, pristine and majestic.  It is the truth.  The participants of fundamentalism and evangelicalism hopefully know this.

If you consider fellowship with another church, then look at the doctrinal statement and observe the practice of a church, and especially look at what a church says the gospel is and then what it says evangelism is or practices as evangelism -- at least.  If you walk past that, ignore that, or diminish that for what you call fellowship, it's destructive fellowship.  The Apostle Paul wouldn't do it.

Our church practices closed communion.  We're local church only in our ecclesiology.  We use the King James Version.  We believe in the autonomy of the church, the Baptist distinctives, and that true churches have always existed separate from a state church.  If another church believes all those things, just like us, and they don't preach a true gospel, the former doesn't excuse the latter. I start with the latter.  The former buttresses the latter.  The gospel precedes all of those in priority.

Somebody might be "King James," but if you rarely hear the actual teaching of the King James from the King James, using the King James doesn't condone or excuse false teaching.  No one should sit and listen to something the King James doesn't say and allow for it, as long as the King James is being used.  If someone takes a wrong view of spirituality and sanctification from the King James, it's not fine now.  When false teaching or bad preaching is excused or allowed just because it came from the King James Version, it's no wonder someone could receive the wrong impression about that translation.  If someone teaches what the King James Version actually says from the English Standard Version, and someone massacres what the King James Version actually says from the King James Version, the preaching from the English Standard was superior.  The King James is not the supreme test of fellowship for a church.  If it is, that is destructive fellowship.

Even as I write about destructive fellowship in fundamentalism, the only fellowship not destructive, really the only fellowship at all, is in and about the truth.  That fellowship occurs in a church and then between churches.  The truth is the basis for this ecclesiastical fellowship and is also the basis for ecclesiastical separation.  Churches either fellowship or separate based upon the truth.  When they forsake truth for fellowship, that is destructive fellowship.  The fellowship that continues into eternity proceeds from, exists in, and revolves around the truth.