Monday, May 25, 2015

The Gospel and Simplicity

I began a series on my assessment of independent Baptists (parts one, twothreefour, and five), and will continue, but that's how I got started on the gospel recently.  From that series, I spun off into a post on the gospel, that turned into another series (parts one, two, three, and four).  All of this occurred between April 27 and May 20.  I still plan on finishing the assessment of independent Baptists, but I want to park on the gospel still, because if men either can't admit that or don't understand it, the other points and observations won't matter.

In one of the comments in the series I was writing on omissions from the gospel, someone expressed concern over the lack of simplicity that might be missing in an explanation of the gospel, that included the Lordship of Christ.  To be sure I represent it properly, here is a quote from the comment:

Where is the simplicity in your position? Does someone have to understand that he is giving up his life, in order to be saved? Does he have to consciously have that thought?

I included the follow up questions, but it seems that the thought was that teaching the Lordship of Christ makes the gospel too complicated or more complicated than it should be or is.  I think the opposite of that.  The true gospel is the most simple, because it is the one you can show from the Bible.  A false gospel is one where you have to read into the text of scripture, and that's what is complicated.

However, I want to consider the concept of simplicity.  I have heard in the past the thought of keeping the gospel simple.  I have four separate thoughts right away.  One, I think of the old gospel tract, "God's Simple Plan of Salvation," that many churches had in their tract rack and used, and I'm sure still do use it.  That tract told people the plan of salvation was simple, so if it isn't simple, it must be wrong.  By "simple" the tract meant very, very easy to understand even for someone of very little mental capacity.  Or as I sometimes will describe something simple -- without very many moving parts.

Two, I think of the description of Peter and John in Acts 4:13, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."  The idea here is that the gospel of Jesus is one for even the "unlearned and ignorant men."  It must be simple, because that's how the original disciples of Jesus were -- simple.

Three, I think of 1 Corinthians 1, where Paul says that the saving message isn't for the "wise" or the "scribe" or "the disputer of this world."  Since it isn't for the "wise," it must be for those not so wise.  It is the "foolishness of God," something that doesn't even make sense in its lack of complication, a simplicity that would not be expected by an intellectual researching his plan of salvation.  He would make it more sophisticated.

Four, I think of 2 Corinthians 11:3:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

That verse says point blank that the gospel is simple, so it is.  It is worth exploring what "simplicity" means in 2 Corinthians 11:3, if "simple" has the same meaning here as it does today.  The word translated simplicity, aplotes, is used eight times in the New Testament, including here.  The same word is translated "liberality" in 2 Corinthians 8:2, "bountifulness" in 2 Corinthians 9:11, and "liberal" in 2 Corinthians 9:13.  On the other hand, that word is translated "singleness of heart" in Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22.  In Romans 12:8, the KJV translates it "simplicity," but the obvious meaning is similar to 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, because it reads, "he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity."  BDAG, the foremost Greek lexicon, says concerning the meaning in 2 Corinthians 11:3, "Of simple goodness, which gives itself without reserve, ‘without strings attached’, ‘without hidden agendas’."

The meaning of the word translated "simplicity" in 2 Corinthians 11:3 fits with the understanding of a true gospel.  The simple gospel, the true one, is one in which it is clear cut who is saved.  You can know it.  It doesn't muddle it up with convoluted explanations of the nature of Jesus.  It isn't this contemporary gospel, where it is almost impossible to judge, because a person could live in a nearly perpetual state of carnality and still be saved.  This is the one that seems to come with a hidden agenda that plays around with the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  You receive Jesus as Savior in the complicated gospel, and then maybe or maybe not, you receive Him as Lord at some later date.

As all of the doctrine of salvation relates to the modern understanding of simple, the later additions or omissions to a true gospel have complicated the simplicity.  Salvation comes through believing in Jesus Christ, and He's either the Jesus of the Bible or He's not.  If someone diminishes the identity of Jesus to widen the threshold or broaden the appeal of Jesus to the lost, you get another Jesus.  That's actually what 2 Corinthians 11:3 is talking about more than anything as related to the distortion of the gospel, that is, another Jesus Who will not save, albeit a more palatable Jesus to someone who wishes to remain in charge of His own life.  The false teachers at Corinth were presenting another Jesus and, therefore, teaching another gospel.

I'm afraid that the simple that people want, as it regards salvation, is something as simple as a glancing thought about Jesus.  A modern audience may want to "click in" to Jesus on the right index finger to its mouse.  You're now saved sort of like the one motion that sends an email, or publishes a post or comment, or makes a purchase.

If there is a simple plan of salvation, as close to what we would understand "simple" today, then it is found in the gospel of John.  I would agree that if you want to make it simple, have someone read John, because John writes (John 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."  John could be the Bible's gospel tract, giving the most fundamental or simple information that would end in someone believing in Jesus Christ with the consequence of eternal life.  What does John say to believe about Jesus?  "That Jesus is the Christ" -- "the Christ."

"Christ" is found 569 times in the New Testament.  John says if you "believe that Jesus is the Christ," you "have life through his name."  If salvation is simple, then that is as simple as it gets.  If it must be more simple than that, then it is too simple.  With it being so simple, then a lot of people were saved, right?  A lot of people got life through Jesus, right?  Wrong.  Was it not simple enough?  Did it need to be more simple?

When you read John, you see Jesus separate the true followers from the false ones.  He whittles down His crowd like no other preacher, by today's estimation just making it harder and harder for folks.  He totally blew multiple opportunities in John by a modern gospel assessment.  What was it that made the gospel so difficult for people, when it was so simple?

It's simple to "believe that Jesus is the Christ," right?  I think it's as simple as it should be.  I've not noticed it being complicated in my experience.  You've got to believe.  It must be "believe," but people easily mess that up.  It must be "the Christ," and then people also distort that.  I've found that they usually corrupt it by twisting it into something of their desire, so that it is less than believe and less than "the Christ," and usually both.

If John is about convincing people that Jesus is the Christ, so that people will believe that He is the Christ, then reading John, to see Who that is, is necessary.  Is it too complicated to find out Who Jesus is in John? With most evangelicals and independent Baptists today, I think it is.  That would take too long and require reading skills or perhaps a lot of time of explanation.

As I have read through John many times, and taught through it a few times, it reads like it's arguing for the content of saving faith.  Let me offer you a sample.  In John 5, Jesus goes down to one of the feasts in Jerusalem.  It doesn't say which one.  It's obvious that John 5 is thematic, furthering the evidence for what John says in John 20:31, like it already has been up to that point.  It reads like part of a master plan.

At the beginning, Jesus performs a sign or miracle.  He does it on the Sabbath, on purpose.  In this case, he has the lame man stand up, pick up his bed, and walk, so that he would violate their Sabbath laws.  He does that so that they could see that He was Lord of the Sabbath, just like His Father.  Jesus works on the Sabbath, just like the Father works on the Sabbath.  How does the Father work?  He upholds the entire universe on every Sabbath, a never ending task of sustaining the entire creation. Jesus argues that His work is the same as the Father's work, which is giving life and judging, which encapsulates everything that man experiences.  Jesus is the Author of it all.  

I could explain further, but I'm just pulling John 5 out as a sample.  John reads like it offers one sample after another.  All of this is to convince that Jesus is "the Christ."  "The Christ" is the Anointed One.  That's what the term means.  "Anointed" for what?  To reign.  Jesus is the Messiah. He is the coming King, Who comes to rule.  You have to believe that.  

"Belief" is not just intellectual assent.  The word means more than just registering something in the brain, what most evangelicals want "belief" to be and twist it into.  Interpretation is guided by the laws of language.  Belief must be what belief is.

Belief involves the will.  If someone believes Jesus is the Christ, he has acquiesced to Jesus' authority.  The reign belongs to Jesus, not himself.  In John, just from the minimal sample of John 5, he knows that Jesus does the works that the Father does. Someone who stays on the throne of his own life doesn't believe that.  However, most evangelicals and independent Baptists want that still to be belief and that still to be Jesus.  It isn't.  It's a distortion. The distortion is what complicates simplicity.

It's simple.  Jesus is either Lord or He is not.  That's simple.  That's not hard to grasp.  What makes it hard?  People want to stay in charge, want their own way.  They want to be saved, sure.  People want a Jesus who will save them, but not rule them.  If they believe in that Jesus, does he save?  No, because that isn't Jesus.  Men present this alternative Jesus, because he's easier to accept, but he doesn't save, because he isn't Jesus.  He isn't the Messiah. He isn't Christ.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hannah W. Smith Learns the Higher Life from a Sexual Predator and Fanatic: part 16 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

Having rejected justification by faith and the new birth and having become a universalist, in association with what she learned “among the Methodists .  . . [of] the ‘Doctrine of Holiness’ . . . [Hannah Smith learned about] an experience called ‘sanctification’ or the ‘second blessing’ which brought you into a place of victory.”[1]
She explains what she learned by means of Methodist meetings on the second blessing:
[I] found . . . what Paul meant when he said, “Not I, but Christ,” and that the victory I sought, was to come by ceasing to live my own life[.] . . . I find there are some Christians who say that [we] receiv[e] Christ by faith for our sanctification, just as we received Him by faith for our justification . . . a Methodist doctrine . . . but it seems to be the only thing that can supply my needs . . . this is the Methodist “blessing of holiness.”[2]
She wrote:
This new life I had entered upon has been called by several different names. The Methodists called it “The Second Blessing,” or “The Blessing of Sanctification;” the Presbyterians[3] called it “The Higher Life,” or “The Life of Faith;” the Friends [Quakers] called it “The Life hid with Christ in God.” . . . I have most fully set it forth . . . [in my book] the “Secret of a Happy Life” . . . [where the teaching is expounded that] practical sanctification was to be obtained, like justification, by simple faith; and that, like justification, it was to be realized in any moment in which our faith should be able to grasp it.[4]
The Higher Life “is what the Quakers have always taught. Their preaching is almost altogether about it.”[5]  Quaker men and women “receiv[ed] the blessing of full salvation or death to sin” in Quaker meetings and went on to become “very successful in holding Holiness meetings.”[6]  Indeed, Mrs. Smith thus noted that the Quakers, Methodists, and Catholics all taught the Higher Life doctrine she also embraced:
[T]his discovery, which I have tried to set forth, was the beginning of a great revival in the spiritual life of the Church everywhere . . . the life of faith [was found] not only among the Methodists, but among the Quakers and among the Catholics as well, and in fact it is I believe at the bottom of the creeds of every Church . . . The Life of Faith [is] . . . what the Quakers had always taught. . . . They were in short “Higher Life” people[.][7]
Hannah W. Smith refined the Higher Life perfectionism that was her Quaker birthright, not only from Roman Catholic influences, but from Methodist perfectionism also.
            Mrs. Smith further developed her doctrine of sanctification by faith and the Higher Life through a discovery she stated was “more fundamental”[8] than any other.  She received this Higher Life truth through the influence of a Methodist minister who experienced demonic revelations and was a sexual predator.  She explained why she was open to his twisted ideas:
[I]n my search after the deep things of God . . . I think all the fanatics in the United States must have found their way to my presence to try and draw me into their especial net, and . . . I was always ready to listen sympathetically, hoping that among them all I might at last find the truth[.] . . . I [could] be completely taken in by anyone who professed to be “guided by the Lord.”  This was owing, I expect, to my early Quaker teaching about Divine Guidance.  People had only to say to me that the Lord had led them into such or such a course, for me to bow down before them in profound reverence. . . . I was made to believe that . . . I should be able to understand the Divine reasons for what seemed to me violations of good sense and even of simple morality.[9]
In contrast, concerning a local “Baptist clergyman . . . [who] preaches such a pure gospel,” Hannah affirmed, “I cannot enjoy close contact with such people,”[10] finding preachers of a pure gospel repulsive,[11] but fanatics of all sorts much more attractive, in keeping with her background, associations, and unrenewed nature.  She stated:  “My first introduction to fanaticism, if I leave out all that I got from the Quakers to start with, which was a good deal, came through the Methodist doctrine of entire sanctification.  That doctrine has been one of the greatest blessings of my life[.]”[12]  This blessing came in association with Dr. Henry Foster and his Clifton Springs sanitarium;  the Pearsall Smith family had known Dr. Foster since at least 1871 when Robert had stayed at the sanitarium and learned from the spiritual doctor the doctrine of erotic Sprit baptism.  Hannah described her association with this Methodist minister and his family, the insight into the Higher Life she received, and evidenced her incredible spiritual blindness,[13] as follows:
In the year 1879[14] we took a furnished house in Coulter Street, Germantown,[15] for the summer.  A lady who lived next door to us had lent her house to some friends who had the reputation of being wonderful Christians, and of having great revelations and marvelous experiences.  As I was at that time in search of remarkable experiences, I was exceedingly interested in these people, and very soon made their acquaintance.  The head of the household was a Methodist minister named J. L., and I found him to be a most impressive and interesting man.  He had a way of suddenly turning to you when conversation was going on and saying that he had a message for you from the Lord[.] . . . There were also in the house two sisters named W., whose father, Dr. W., was a man of position and authority in the Methodist Church, with a great reputation for piety. . . .
        From the first I was profoundly impressed by the apparent holiness and devotedness of this household, and felt that they must have been brought there on purpose to help me onward in my earnest search for a realised oneness with Christ, a oneness which they seemed to have attained in a very marvellous degree.
        The thing which interested me at first was the remarkable way in which they seemed to understand the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all the little daily affairs of life. . . . I must say here that their way of looking continually, moment by moment, to the Lord for His Guidance, and their perfect certainty that He did indeed, according to His promise, direct their every step, seemed to invest them with an atmosphere of holiness and to surround them with the conscious presence of the Lord. . . . They seemed literally to live and move and have their being in God . . . hungering . . . to know the utmost possibilities of the life hid with Christ in God, [so that] it seemed [to me] that it ought to be almost like entering the very gates of Heaven to be in their presence, and I threw myself with intense eagerness into their teaching and their influence.
        No one could associate with them and not believe that they thought themselves special Divine favourites.  They professed to be so minutely guided in life that I was very anxious to attain the same experience, so finally I got Miss W. to give me a sample of the way in which she was guided.  She said it was like this:  that when she was awakened in the morning her first conscious thought was to consecrate the day to the Lord, and to ask Him to guide her every step of the way throughout the whole day.  She would then ask Him whether she was to get up or not;  and very often, although it was apparently very important that she should get up, the Lord told her to stay in bed.  Then, perhaps, in a few minutes the voice would order her to get up.  Then she would proceed to get up.  As she put on each article she asked the Lord whether she was to put it on, and very often the Lord would tell her to put on the right shoe and leave off the other;  sometimes she was to put on one stocking and leave off the other;  sometimes she was to put on both stockings and no shoes;  and sometimes both shoes and no stockings;  it was the same with all articles of dress.  She also said that often during the day, when she was seated at work, the Lord would tell her to get up and go out of the room, and when she got out would tell her to come back.  And often she would be told to move from one chair to another, or to go and stand on the front doorstep, or to do all sorts of erratic things.  She said that the object of this was to make her pliable so that she would be ready to follow the guidance of the Lord on the instant.  I immediately thought that I would like to live this way, so the next morning after this conversation I began the process, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I got dressed or downstairs to my duties, as the voice kept telling me all sorts of things.  Then when I did get downstairs I could hardly get through my breakfast, for the voice would suggest, just as I would get a mouthful nearly into my mouth, that I must not take it.  I spent the morning running about from one chair to another, going out to the steps and coming back again, and running from one room to the other, and even going so far as to take off my shoes and stockings, and then to put them on again without any apparent cause.
        I kept this up until about twelve o’clock, and then . . . I said to myself . . . [“]I have just got the ideas from what Miss W. told me, and I am making it up all out of my own head,” and I was forced sorrowfully to conclude that I had not fathomed the secret of Divine guidance yet.[16]  This did not, however, weaken my desire to know the inner depths of the experience of which I heard[.] . . .
        In spite of all their evident holiness, I had been conscious all the while of something mysterious about the whole household, an intangible atmosphere of something wrong which seemed to fill the house, and to look out of the eyes of its inmates, and to be heard in the tones of their voices.  There was nothing I could lay my hands upon, or could even formulate in my thoughts, and whenever the feeling forced itself upon me I blamed myself as being as yet too unspiritual fully to enter into their heights of spirituality and set myself more determinedly than ever to attain to their divine level.  Believing, as they taught, that human reason must be laid aside in spiritual matters, and only the interior voice of the Spirit obeyed,[17] I . . . tried to convice myself that I was in this way being uplifted more and more into the secret things of God’s immediate presence.
        I must confess it was all very fascinating. . . . in many respects their teaching was exceedingly valuable.  And I did receive during the course of the summer a real revelation of God that has made my life to me a different thing ever since [that is, the Higher Life doctrine of sanctification in greater fulness]. . . . It was the continual habit of this strange household to refer everything to God. . . . Their one universal reply to everything was simple, the words, “Yes;  but then there is God”;  and no arguments or questionings could turn them from this by so much as a hair’s-breadth.
        As may be imagined, during my intercourse with them, because of all the unexplainable mystery accompanied by the apparent wonderful holiness that seemed to surround them, I often found myself in a good deal of spiritual perplexity, and, as I looked upon them as religious teachers deserving the highest confidence, I continually went to one or other of them with my difficulties, chiefly, however, to the oldest of the W. sisters, Miss Caroline W., who was a woman of great culture and intelligence and unusual spiritual power.[18]  I would pour out to her all my interior perplexities and difficulties and temptations, to which I must say she always listened very patiently, but when I would pause for some comforting or helpful reply, there would always ensue a moment or two of silence, and then she would always say in a tone that seemed utterly to conclude the matter, “Yes, that may all be true, but then, there is God.” . . . [M]y most impassioned or despairing stories of my spiritual woes could never elicit anything more than this.  “Yes, yes,” she would say;  “I know it all.  But then, there is God.” . . .
        Towards the end of their stay, one night, a friend who had come to sit at their feet and I had gone to be in great perplexity, full of questioning as to how it could be that God would permit people who wanted to follow Him, and were trying to walk in His paths, to wander into error.  We went to sleep in this perplexity, unable to see any light;  but somehow, in the morning when we met, we turned to each other and said, in the sense that we had never said it before, the single word, “God!” and with that word came to us a recognition of the all sufficiency of God in a way that has never left us. . . . It would be impossible to put into words just what seemed to come to us that morning, but it certainly was a satisfying revelation of the all-sufficiency of God, just the bare God[19] . . . for all our needs. . . . I shall never cease to feel real gratitude to this strange household for having brought me to this, although I very soon found out some dreadful things about them. . . .
        One day . . . I received a telegram from Mrs. C. in Boston, begging me to come and see her at once on a matter of vital importance.  The message was so urgent that I took a night train, and arrived there the next morning.  Immediately Mrs. C. told me that she thought I ought to know the state of things in this household, and she had sent for me to tell me about it.  She brought in a highly respectable woman doctor, who told me the following facts.
        The doctor said that she had two very intimate friends in Boston, who were ladies of very good standing, and, in fact, one of them was at the head of a large school or college, and was considered an authority on education . . . and were, in fact, devoted Christians.  They had become acquainted with Mr. L., the Methodist minister, who was the head of the mysterious household next door to me . . . and had seemed to find great spiritual uplifiting from his teachings.  This doctor was at that time in charge of a hospital, and these ladies would often come to see her.  She noticed that one of them seemed to be losing her spirits, and to be greatly depressed, with so far as she knew no apparent reason.  She seemed to be on the verge all the time of saying something to the doctor which she appeared afraid to continue, and the doctor felt that her friend had a confidence to make to her which for some reason she was reluctant to make.
        One night this friend came to stay all night at the hospital and slept in the room with the doctor.  As she was standing by the looking-glass arranging her hair, the doctor noticed something peculiar in her appearance, and it flashed across her mind that her friend was in the family way.  She explained, “Oh, darling, what is the matter?” and her friend burst into tears.  Nothing more was said;  the doctor was too shocked to speak;  she would as soon have expected to find the Angel Gabriel in such a plight as her friend;  and they spent the night both weeping, but saying nothing till towards the morning.  Then her friend opened her heart and confided in the doctor.  She told her that she and her companion had been greatly impressed by the teaching of this Mr. L., to whom they had been introduced by Miss –—, a religious teacher of a great deal of spirituality, living in Boston.[20]  They had both become greatly influenced by Mr. L’s teaching, and gradually he had unfolded to them that it had been revealed to him that he was to be the father of a race of children that were to be born into the world as Christ was, and that the Lord had shown him that they themselves were to be the favoured mothers of these children. . . . Mr. L. . . . not only believed that he was Christ, but thought that he was destined to be the father of “Christ’s children,” who were to found a race that was to revolutionize the world.  These children, according to him, were to be begotten in a spiritual way, without bodily contact, but his practice did not bear out his assumption. . . . [H]e succeeded in completely deluding these ladies, and in carrying out his purposes, and this poor thing was now expecting to be the mother of one of those children.  The agonies of mind that she had gone through could not be described.  She dared not admit the idea that it was a delusion, for her whole spiritual life seemed to depend upon believing that she had been rightly guided;  for if she could think that in the most solemn moments of consecration the Lord could allow her to be so deceived, she would feel that she could never trust Him again.[21]  She clung with a deathlike grip to the belief that it was Divine guidance, and that she was greatly favoured to be allowed to be the mother of one of these wonderful children.  How to get through the earthly part of it, however, was the great difficulty.  But her doctor friend stepped in to the rescue;  she took a house out of the city, brought her friend there, took care of her until the time came, carried her safely through her confinement and kept the facts hidden from everybody.  The lady told her mother, who had been anxious about her health, that she was broken down by so much teaching, and was going to the country for a complete rest, and there was no exposure.
        Mr. L. was a constant visitor at the house, as the doctor had not the heart to plunge her friend into the abyss of despair which would have been her portion if she had lost faith in him.  The doctor did not like his ways at all, and herself believed that it was pure human lust.  However, the thing was carried through;  the doctor adopted the baby, and her friend went back to her usual avocations.  She never lost her [faith in Mr. L.] during my knowledge of her.  Mr. L. married the other lady, the companion who had shared in her delusion, and, soon after the birth of the baby the mother went to live with him and his wife, and for many years they formed one household.
        The dear sister who had lent Mr. L. the house . . . a wealthy widow . . . came so much under his influence . . . [that] she was tempted to go away with him. . . . [He] had almost succeeded in persuading her to put all her private property into his hands, and go and live with him.  We at once, in his presence, told her the whole story as we had heard it, and while he acknowledged the facts, he stuck to his position that he was commissioned of the Lord to bring forth these children, and that they were not begotten according to any natural process.  We succeeded, however, in frightening him so much as to our revelations that might be made, that he himself told our friend he did not believe she was called to go with him[.] . . . How many poor souls were beguiled during that strange summer I do not know.
        Of course, from that time my intercourse with these dear misguided Christians[22] ceased, but about a year after I received a very impressive and solemn note from one of them saying that the way was still open for me to return to the Lord if I would give up my self-will and consent to be guided as the Lord led. . . . Since then, I have never seen nor heard about them. . . .
[Nonetheless, from Mr. L and his household] I did discover one truth, more important to Christians than any warnings about dangers in this world . . . and that truth was God. . . . [In] the summer . . . [of] 1879 . . . when the L. household lived next door to me[,] The Lord . . . t[aught] me very blessed lessons about the interior life[.] . . . He [had] sent some of His children to spend the summer in a house [next door].[23]  One of them especially [was] helpful to me.  She is what I call a “mystic”—one of those who know the Spirit’s voice, and who walk alone with God. . . . At last I begin to understand what this means, and I believe I am beginning to live it. . . . Definitely and forever I consent now to die as to any recognized self-life.  It shall be henceforth no more I, but Christ. . . . [I]n spite of . . . [their] frightful fanaticism . . . [which made me question if I ought to be] content to know but little of the inward voice . . . [since] they have tried so faithfully to find it, and have been deluded . . . [yet] I know the truth about it must exist[,] . . . [and] I had gained from the summer’s experience a knowledge of God . . that . . . brought me into a peaceful resting in Him that has never been seriously disturbed since. . . . It may seem strange that such an acquaintance with God could have come to me out of such a hotbed of fanaticism, but there is the fact, and there is no getting around it.  Whatever else these dear deluded fanatics may have been or have done they did live in the presence of God in a most unusual sense[.][24] . . . “Pure religion,” says Fénelon, “resides in the will alone.”[25]  And again, “the will to love God is the whole of religion.”  I . . . am thankful beyond words that . . . I was brought at last to see that a quiet stedfast holding of the human will to the will of God and a peaceful resting in His love and care is of . . . great[est] value[26] in the religious life.[27]
Thus, Hannah Whitall Smith learned what she considered her greatest spiritual discovery, not from the study of the Scriptures, which would have prevented her from adopting such a sort of pagan spirituality, but from the demonic revelations of a Methodist minister who was a sexual predator, to whose ideas she was open because of her background in Quaker and Romanist mysticism, Methodist fanaticism, and her expectation of Quaker revelations from the Inner Voice. 

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           pg. 240, The Unselfishness of God.  The Methodist doctrine of the second blessing or perfectionism affirms:
[In] the entirely sanctified . . . “concupiscence” has lost its evil, and [has] reverted back to . . . mere desire incident to the flesh, without any complicity or affinity with sin . . . victory is perfectly gained through the overwhelming might of the Spirit in the inner man, so that [those who have been perfected] have only to keep themselves from the external enemy who seeks to “touch” them, and to preserve or maintain the victory over self which God has given them. . . . The natural will being dead, the agony of a divided life and purpose is gone;  for now our glorious motive power, God’s own will, works in us, freed from internal opposition . . . released from the inward proneness to sin. . . . God is pleased to reckon as a fulfilment of the law . . . perfect love[,] [which is] possible to the faith of the Christian. . . . “Christian perfection” was indeed a favourite expression . . . [of] Mr. Wesley[.] . . . [T]his perfection is always wrought in the soul by a simple act of faith;  consequently, in an instant.  But [there is] a gradual work, both preceding and following that instant. (pgs. 118-124, “The Brighton Convention and Its Opponents.” London Quarterly Review, October 1875;  comparison is made to the second blessing doctrine of Robert P. Smith, which is evidenced to be very similar to that of Wesleyan perfectionism.)
[2]              pgs. 242-243, 245, The Unselfishness of God.  Italics in original.
[3]              That is, Presbyterians such as William Boardman;  Presbyterian orthodoxy rejected the Higher Life movement.
[4]              pgs. 261, 264-265, The Unselfishness of God.
[5]              pgs. 269-270, The Unselfishness of God.
[6]              Letter to Priscie, reproduced in the entry for September 4 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.  Hannah Smith speaks of the Quaker woman preacher Helen Balkwell.
[7]              pgs. 272-274, 280, The Unselfishness of God.
[8]              Pg. 267, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.  Italics in original.
[9]              Pgs. 194-195, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.
[10]            Pg. 29, Remarkable Relations, Strachey.  Italics in original.
[11]            Hannah preached and testified:  “When I entered this [Higher] life . . . [t]he Lord delivered me from [judging]. . . . I feel it is not my place to judge anybody” (pg. 368, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).  Mrs. Smith was relatively consistent in her failure to judge and condemn heretics, universalists, and fanatics, despite Christ’s command to “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24) and the Apostolic pattern of judging people for false doctrine and practice (1 Corinthians 5:3; Galatians 2:4-5).  However, she seems to have made an exception for Baptists who preached a pure gospel—these, she judged, were repulsive and intolerable—a feeling reflective of her view of their Master (Matthew 10:40; John 13:20).
[12]            Pg. 203, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.  Hannah Smith went on to warn that the Methodist doctrine had “introduced [her] into an emotional region where common sense has no chance, and where everything goes by feelings and voices and impressions,” which she did not think was good, as, at the time she was writing, she did not think that very extreme fanaticism was commendable.  However, she did not go on to reject the Quaker Inner Light heresy, or the Methodist errors of entire sanctification and extra-Scriptural revelations, for a consistent sola Scriptura stand and a truly Biblical doctrine of sanctification, such truths being aborrant to her because of her unregenerate state (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).  Thus, she remained a fanatic herself.
[13]            Compare the chapter “An Excerpt from ‘A Warning Exhortation Against Pietsts, Quietists, and all Who in a Similar Manner have Deviated to a Natural and Spiritless Religion under the Guise of Spirituality,’ by Wilhelmus á Brakel.”  Wilhelmus á Brakel describes and penetratingly warns against the pseudo-spirituality of the sort espoused by this Methodist minister which Hannah W. Smith esteemed so highly and adopted.
[14]            Note that 1879 was by no means the first introduction of the Smiths to Clifton Springs or to the erotic Baptism doctrine;  both Mr. and Mrs. Smith had learned and adopted the doctrine from Dr. Henry Foster years earlier.  The fact that they still fellowshipped with him in 1879 shows that association with their mentor in spiritual eroticism was still acceptable to the family even after Mr. Smith’s downfall in England for preaching the erotic Baptism.
[15]            Germantown was in such close proximity to Clifton Springs that Hannah could state in a letter that she was staying in Clifton Springs in the summer of 1879 (see Letter to Anna, written from Clifton Springs on July 8, 1879, reproduced in the entry for September 16 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter).  It is not possible from the historical record to determine if Mrs. Smith wrote “Germantown” in her published book and “Clifton Springs” in her unpublished letter to make it more difficult for readers to associate the Methodist sexual predator whom she does not name with Dr. Henry Foster’s Clifton Springs Sanitarium.  It is also very possible that she simply frequented both the adjacent locations.
[16]            Neither, of course, had Miss W. discovered such a “secret,” and close attention to the real Divine guidance in the Word of God would have kept both women from such unhesitating submission to the suggestions of their own sinful hearts and the openness to Satanic influence that went along with it.
[17]            The truth is that neither fallen and corrupt human thinking nor the “interior voice” was the proper authority—the sole authority in spiritual matters, and all other matters it addresses, is the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16).
[18]            Note that this is Mrs. Smith’s description of this women even after she knew about the fleshly abominations in which she participated.
[19]            That is, the generic god of natural and pagan religion, associated for Mrs. Smith with a merely natural and unregenerate intellectual assent to various facts about Jesus Christ, not the true God of the regenerate, the Father, who has reconciled His people to Himself through the substitutionary sacrifice of His eternal Son Jesus Christ, and regenerated and justified them through the sole instrumentality of Spirit-produced faith.
[20]            For, truly, Boston was a hotbed of fanaticism, Faith Cure, Mind Cure, New Thought, and other wretched abominations at the time.
[21]            Note that Robert Pearsall Smith came to exactly this conclusion—when he rejected the erotic Spirit baptism at the heart of his Higher Life ministry, he also rejected Christianity for agnosticism and Buddhism.
[22]            For, Hannah W. Smith believed, they were indeed Christians, despite such abominable heresies and evil works—since they were the human instruments through which she came into her most fundamental knowledge of spirituality and of the Higher Life, how could they be otherwise?
[23]            That is, Mrs. Smith believed that these deluded fanatics and filthy fornicators were sent by God to teach her spiritual truth.
[24]            Mrs. Smith affirmed that they lived in the presence of God in an unusual sense.  However, the true God describes people like them in words such as:  “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).  Passages such as the following provide Jehovah’s view of such persons:
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh . . . [and] speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 4, 8-13)
Thus, the only god that these fanatics could be unusually in the presence of was the god of this world, Satan, the source of their deluded Higher Life spirituality.
[25]            Robert P. Smith also cited this maxim of Fénelon at the Brighton Convention (pg. 140, Record of the Convention for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness Held at Brighton, May 29th to June 7th, 1875. Brighton: W. J. Smith, 1875).
[26]            That is, Mrs. Smith learned, in the most fundamental way, the tremendous value of the natural and pagan “spirituality” of the Roman Catholic mysticism and quietism of Fénelon from these Methodist fornicators and fanatics;  such was the spirituality of Mrs. Smith’s Higher Life.
[27]            Pgs. 182-193, 259, 267-270, Religious Fanaticism, Strachey.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Omissions From the Gospel, Important to Consider: Follow-Up Three

At least two different gospels are advocated by independent Baptists who say that they fellowship around the gospel, that is, both unify on the gospel and separate over the gospel.  In order to explore this topic further, use it as a teaching moment, we're going to analyze a quote from Lou Martuneac in the comment section of the first follow-up or part two in this now four part series.  Lou has written a book about salvation, he titled, In Defense of the Gospel.  Here's the comment:

You wrote, “Lordship is either included with the gospel or it isn’t.” No problem there until we learn how the advocates of Lordship Salvation define His lordship. What decisions(s) the LS preacher insists must be made by a lost man about Christ’s Lordship to be born again, justified. 
The Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the requirements for salvation, not the results of salvation. This is where the divide over the gospel is and where the FBFI should debate the issue. 
A genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results. New believers will vary in levels of growth, but growth should be evident to some degree. The focal point of controversy is Lordship’s requirements for the reception of eternal life, i.e. how to become a Christian. 
Man comes to Christ for salvation (Eph. 2:8-9) and then follows Christ in discipleship (Eph. 2:10). In his critical review of MacArthur’s TGATJ, Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote, “Salvation is free; discipleship is costly. Salvation comes by receiving the work of the cross; discipleship is evidenced by bearing the cross (daily submission to the will of God). Christ here [Luke 9:23-24; 14:26-27, 33; Mark 8:34] is not giving instructions about how to go to heaven, but how those who know they are going to heaven should follow Him.” 
LS teachers hold that the title “Lord,” when applied to Jesus, necessitates the lost man’s upfront submission to the rule and reign of Christ over his life, in sanctification, for both initial salvation (justification) and final salvation (glorification).

I think it would be of value to take this comment paragraph by paragraph to be clear on what we're talking about here.  First one.

You wrote, “Lordship is either included with the gospel or it isn’t.” No problem there until we learn how the advocates of Lordship Salvation define His lordship. What decisions(s) the LS preacher insists must be made by a lost man about Christ’s Lordship to be born again, justified.

Lou says, "No problem" with my statement that one gospel with Lordship and another without Lordship are different gospels, and says that the issue is "how the advocates of Lordship Salvation define His lordship."  Is that true?  By how lordship is defined, he says he is referring to what "decision(s)" "a lost man" must make "about Christ's Lordship to be born again, justified."  And is that true?

It's true that definition of Lordship does distinguish between the false and the true gospels, as related to Lordship, but not how Lou is saying.  If there is a false definition of Lordship, it is those who equate "Lordship" with deity and say that Lordship is merely deity, that Lord equals God.  I had read this, and when I looked for a quote, I found Charles Bing:

So Lord is a title that primarily conveys Jesus' deity. What this means for salvation is that Jesus has the power and authority to save sinners because He is God. What this does not mean is that sinners can only be saved if they submit to Him as the Ruler of their lives.  Ruler is only one subset of deity, and it is arbitrary to make that one divine function and position into a subjective demand. As the word implies, salvation requires a Savior. Jesus came to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15; 4:10) and He can because He is God. Sinners need a divine Savior. 
It is one thing to say that to be saved a sinner must acknowledge the divine authority that Jesus has as God or as the Son of God. It is quite another thing to say that to be saved a sinner must submit to Jesus as the Ruler of his life.

I agree with Lou, but not as he presents the twisting of a definition.  Men twist the definition of Lordship and essentially gut Lordship of its essential meaning.  I'll deal more later with what Bing wrote, as have others like him. However, the root problem of this false definition above is that it removes volition out of faith.  He says a "sinner must acknowledge the divine of authority that Jesus has as God," limiting faith in Jesus Christ to mere acknowledgement, resulting in intellectual salvation only.  It is akin to the dead faith of the man who solely professes in both James and 1 John.

Lou's second statement in this paragraph is typical of what I call "loaded words."  Is salvation ever called "making a decision"?  Who is saying that?  No Lordship proponent calls faith in Christ, "making a decision."  There is also an intimation from Lou that a lost man can't make a decision about Christ's Lordship, because that would be a work for him, impossible in his lost condition.  All of a man's conversion is impossible.  He can't "just decide" he's going to believe.  He believes according to a work of God's grace, the power of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, in his spiritually dead heart.  Believing in Christ as Lord is no more a "work" than believing in Christ as Savior.

Most non-Lordship advocates also teach that after someone accepts Christ, only then can he follow Jesus as Lord, that is, only after salvation can someone decide to follow Jesus.  To the non-Lordship person, someone doesn't decide to follow Jesus until after he's saved.  This is usually called "dedication," a second experience after salvation sometimes.  In other words, He might not follow Jesus for awhile after he's justified, because following is a matter of discipleship.  They say the call to salvation is not a call to follow Jesus, but that is the call of discipleship, and it occurs an undetermined amount of time subsequent to justification.  This is the message of the four spiritual laws tract, which said that at the moment of justification, Jesus is in the life but not on the throne of the life.  He might be allowed on the throne of the saved person at some time in the future.
Lou talks like John MacArthur originated the teaching of "Lordship Salvation," when Lordship salvation was biblical and historical salvation until folks like those at Dallas Theological Seminary and what it spawned, as pictured in the four spiritual law tract above.  The idea is that the unsaved person is self on the throne and Jesus not in the life, but the saved person is self on the throne but now Jesus in the life.  That is the new and corrupt view of salvation.  Here's the second paragraph of Lou's comment:

The Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the requirements for salvation, not the results of salvation. This is where the divide over the gospel is and where the FBFI should debate the issue.

You can't separate requirements and results of salvation, as the two are inexorably connected.  The non-Lordship position leads to a false view of sanctification, with this second "decision" or truly second blessing.  Second blessing theology comes with the false view.  That actually can't be escaped.  When you read the writings of non-lordship independent Baptists, they read like Charismatics on this.

Here's paragraph three from Lou:

A genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results. New believers will vary in levels of growth, but growth should be evident to some degree. The focal point of controversy is Lordship’s requirements for the reception of eternal life, i.e. how to become a Christian.

Lou says "should," not "will" in the first sentence and this is tell-tale -- "should evidence" and then, second sentence, "should be evident to some degree."  Also you should notice that Lou says, "requirements for the reception of eternal life."  I know that some readers might think I'm being too picky here, but what Lou writes all fits together.  There is a consistency to his presentation.  Eternal life is a gift that doesn't come by receiving eternal life.  You won't read that anywhere in the Bible. We receive everlasting life by believing in Jesus Christ.  Many non-Lordship advocates will compare salvation to a gift someone receives, so that if you just receive the gift, you'll be saved.  It is a gift, but not one that comes by receiving the gift.  I don' t think this is too technical.  It's an important distinction.

Here is the next and longest paragraph from Lou:

Man comes to Christ for salvation (Eph. 2:8-9) and then follows Christ in discipleship (Eph. 2:10). In his critical review of MacArthur’s TGATJ, Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote, “Salvation is free; discipleship is costly. Salvation comes by receiving the work of the cross; discipleship is evidenced by bearing the cross (daily submission to the will of God). Christ here [Luke 9:23-24; 14:26-27, 33; Mark 8:34] is not giving instructions about how to go to heaven, but how those who know they are going to heaven should follow Him.”

Strong irony exists in this paragraph from Lou.  He says "man comes to Christ for salvation."  You read it.  Isn't "coming to Christ" discipleship language?  That's the very language that Jesus uses in Luke 9:23-24, a text to which later Pickering refers in Lou's paragraph:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

I agree with Lou that "come after me" is salvation terminology.  "If any man will come after me," come to Jesus, "let him deny himself," etc.  Maybe Lou would argue that he was imprecise in his use of "come after me," or misspoke.  I would say that Lou is correct.  "Come after me" is salvation terminology and so Luke 9:23-24 is a salvation terminology.  The context, the next verse, shows that's true too.  If someone saves his life (psuche, his soul), he will lose it, but if he loses his life (psuche, his soul), he will save it.  Someone's soul is saved by his losing his soul.

A person must give up his life in order to be saved.  That's the same message that Jesus gives all over the gospels about salvation.  You can't hang on to your life and be saved.  This is a description of the so-called "submission" Lou talks about.  I don't use the word "submission" for "losing your life," because the word submission sounds like it must be a work.  However, to be clear, I call it, "relinquishing control."  If you keep control of your life, you don't believe in Jesus, because you are still an idolater, like the rich young ruler.  You are serving yourself as god, and you can't believe in you to be saved. It's as simple as that.   You'll find this in very old commentaries on Matthew and Luke in the parallel passages.

In the paragraph, Lou refers to Ephesians 2:8-10, which is a reference that does not prove his point, unless someone equates saving faith with works.  No Lordship advocate, whom I have read, does that.  Lordship salvation says we believe Jesus is Lord, which constitutes relinquishing of the life to Him, not hanging on to it for Himself, because Jesus is King, repentance from the old way to the new way, which entails following Jesus, that is, coming after Him.  You can't believe in yourself and in Jesus, that is, you don't put Jesus on a shelf with your other gods.  That's what Lou's non-Lordship position does.

Pickering, who received his ThM and ThD from Dallas Theological Seminary, uses Luke 9:26-27, which is obviously salvation, especially in light of Luke 9:27-29.  Luke 14:26-27 and Mark 8:34 start with the same language, "If any man come to me."  It's the same language used in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me," same exact Greek word (erxetai).  "Cometh to me" is salvation terminology.

John 6:35, And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 6:37, All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Coming to Jesus or coming to God are not post-justification or post-conversion language, but salvation.

In the above last quoted paragraph of Lou's comment, he writes the following:

LS teachers hold that the title “Lord,” when applied to Jesus, necessitates the lost man’s upfront submission to the rule and reign of Christ over his life, in sanctification, for both initial salvation (justification) and final salvation (glorification).

No Lordship teacher says what Lou does here.  Jesus is Lord whether a lost man believes He is or not.  If someone believes in Jesus or receives Him, he receives Him for Who He is, and He is Lord. A lost man doesn't believe in Jesus if He rejects Him as Lord, doesn't receive Him as Lord.

If someone believes Jesus is Lord or receives Him as Lord, this is more than just intellectual assent. A lost man, who continues in his sin, lost, can give assent to Lordship.  If someone believes, it is more than His mind, but also His will.  If someone believes Jesus is Lord, God will save him, and he will submit to Jesus as Lord.  He will follow and keep on following Jesus.  Someone who does not receive Jesus as Lord, is not repenting, continues in rebellion against Jesus Christ and in idolatry. That is someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ.

Lou would advocate some kind of selective approach about Jesus, isolating Him as Savior, and leaving out His Lordship.  Charles Bing above said that accepting Jesus as Lord means accepting him as God. That clashes with the confession of Thomas in John 20:28, when he said to Jesus, "My Lord and my God."  Those concepts relate, but they don't overlap.  In 2 Peter 2:1, the unbeliever is called one who 'denies the Lord who bought him.'  I have no doubt that men want Jesus as Savior, but most reject Him, because they don't want Him as Lord.  Lou would have the latter be saved anyway.  That is a different gospel.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Omissions From the Gospel, Important to Consider: Follow-Up Two

Part One, Part Two

I want to give this at least one more shot (but there may be more).  It is a small series spawned by a bigger series assessing independent Baptists.

Most of the discussion about unity and separation among Christians deals with what unifies and what separates. Scripture teaches unity and separation.  Both evangelicals and fundamentalists know this.   As I have written here so many times before, the only true view is consistent with itself (one could call this the test of coherence).  The true view of the two results in or allows for coherence between the two.  Both exist in an exactly biblical way.  Someone can't hold to a position that doesn't separate according to scripture and be right about unity.  That can't be biblical unity, because biblical unity won't contradict biblical separation.

Neither unity or separation is better than the other, that is, unity isn't better than separation and separation isn't better than unity.  However, if there is a bias today, it's toward unity. Contemporary Christianity prioritizes unity, as if it is better than separation.  When someone is ashamed of separation, he probably will unify with those he shouldn't.

I have a view of unity that coheres with separation.  It is the one taught in the Bible, the one I can defend with scripture.  If it wasn't true, I'd be glad to know what was true and take that position. Whatever is the true view should allow for the defense of both biblical unity and biblical separation.  My belief contradicts the positions I most hear in fundamentalism.

Stay with me here, because I'm getting to the point that fits with the theme of these three posts.

Positions that contradict cannot both be right.  From evangelicals, I hear a position that is gospel centered, that is, the gospel is the core of their unity, so unity is core driven.  The core is the gospel.  I don't hear teaching on separation from evangelicals.  A core driven unity seems to eliminate separation altogether.

From fundamentalists, I hear a position that corresponds to separation.  I hear a boundary driven unity, the boundary being the gospel.  One unifies with someone whose belief does not deny the truths necessary for the gospel, and so separates with someone who does deny teachings required for salvation.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists contradict each other on their teaching of unity and separation. Those two positions are not the same.   They both have something in common though.  They both say the gospel is the basis of unity, one core driven and the other boundary driven.

If people are going to use the gospel as their basis of unity, and for fundamentalists, therefore, separation, then one would think that when they say "gospel," they mean the same thing.  If people say the gospel is the basis of unity, whether core-driven or boundary driven, then one would think that it's the same gospel, at least.  This is what I'm talking about with regards to the fellowship especially between fundamentalists.  They want to limit unity to the gospel and then are not too picky as to what is the gospel, as I see it.  This seems to dispel the idea that the gospel is what drives either unity or separation, but that it is just the terminology "gospel" that is important.

I'm going to be very plain now.  I told someone that getting the gospel right is more important than the Manhattan Project during World War 2.  I want to use the example of the Gospel Proclaimed as an example.  I think that the gospel represented by Sexton, or at least those associated with him, the ones whom he still exalts (and you can't have it both ways), causes bile to rise in the throats of Doran and Bauder (and perhaps others).  The fact that those two factions come together under the heading, Gospel Proclaimed, relates to what I'm talking about.

Fundamentalists, many independent Baptists, say that the doctrines necessary for the gospel are the basis of unity and separation.  They are the boundary.  And yet they've never come to an agreement in this coalition, in this definition, at what the gospel is.  It is obvious in their practice that they have not done this and maybe aren't going to do this.  I've never seen it.  I'm doing it right here, and I don't even agree with their position on unity and separation.  I practice at least their position, because I agree with at least their position, but they don't, is what I'm saying.

If men are going to unify on the gospel, unify on the gospel.  If men are going to separate over the gospel, then separate over the gospel.  Don't just say you are.  Do it.  But to do it, they are going to have settle on what it is.

I believe a game is played.  Lordship is either included with the gospel or it isn't.  Those who say it is and those who say it isn't -- they aren't saying the same thing.  They aren't teaching the same thing.  I would say everyone knows it.   Among many who exclude Lordship, which is most independent Baptists, they don't like it because of its effect on their success.  These people, those who exclude it, are included in the coalition.  They are part of the unity, as if there is no difference.  There is a difference and a major difference.  Many are going to be in hell and they'll know there was a difference.  The coalitions are not more important than what I'm talking about here, and these are the ones who say they are based upon the gospel.  The game played is that a gospel is called a gospel that someone doesn't believe is the gospel and that's enough for it to be one.  It isn't one, but it is called one, but it's only a game.

If you are someone who says unity and separation are based on the gospel, the gospel must be a big deal to you.  I don't even say that it is the basis for unity and separation, and yet the gospel is a deal breaker with me.  Is it for you?  I don't think we can be fuzzy on it. Are we fuzzy on the Trinity?  Is T. D. Jakes a Trinitarian?  If we won't protect the gospel, what will we protect any more?  If we won't defend it, what will we defend?  If unity and separation are based on the gospel, you boundary-driven types, then I think you should decide where that line will be drawn.  If you are not going to include Lordship, then let everyone know that you aren't going to do that.  If someone is going to accept something along the lines of intellectual repentance, then let everyone know that you accept it.  If not, your boundary doesn't mean that much.

What I'm talking about is a bias toward unity.  You won't separate from someone that teaches a different gospel, very likely because you think unity with that person is superior to separation.  It fits with the world's wrong understanding of love.  Love is toleration.  You think that you are more loving because you tolerate a different gospel.  New evangelicalism spawned from dialogue with unbelievers.  It was an evangelistic strategy of evangelicals.  Fundamentalism separated from new evangelicalism because evangelicalism chose not to separate from unbelieving theology, based on its strategy of infiltration.

Is the gospel the litmus test of your fellowship?  If it is, then you've got to come down on one side or the other of Lordship.  If not, then you will get those who receive Jesus only as Savior, and not as Lord, maybe many, who will go to hell because of that omission, that omission from the gospel.


For the sake of complete transparency and full disclosure, I want to admit to you that I am also boundary driven in my belief about unity and separation.  Core driven is wrong.  It perverts the doctrine of God's love by equating it with tolerance.  I agree with the boundary driven on this. However, I believe that the boundary is everything God has taught.  Scripture is perspicuous.  God doesn't allow for disobedience.  Neither should we.  Don't let this be a detriment to your enjoyment of and provocation to thought about the above post.