Monday, October 12, 2015

The Gospel and Separation: What's Worth Separating Over?

The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 1:8-9:

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

If someone preaches another gospel, let him be accursed.  This expresses the maximum in separation. If someone knows there is something worth separating over, he knows that the gospel is worth separating over.

Evangelicals don't talk about separation, but they will say the gospel is the basis of unity, intimating that it is also the basis for separation, since you can't have one without the other.  If you aren't uniting, then you are separating.  Many fundamentalists say the gospel and those doctrines upon which the gospel depends are a basis of separation.

Included in the subject of the gospel is whether repentance is necessary and, if so, what it means.  At what point does error about repentance result in a different gospel?  In light of what Paul wrote, this should be a concern.  With what evangelicals and fundamentalists say about the gospel, one would think they would be more concerned about it as well.  I'm surprised at the indifference, so what is this all about?

Last week on Wednesday, I wrote something about an article on repentance by John Mincy at the FBF website.  From what I understand, about half of the FBF board members would agree with Mincy and the other half not.  Am I to assume that the members who disagree see Mincy's position as not sufficient enough error to harm the gospel?  Even if I think there are more reasons to separate than the gospel, I wonder why what Mincy teaches isn't enough of a perversion of the gospel to separate over it.  If the gospel is, as Kevin Bauder likes to say and write, "the boundary of Christian fellowship," then how does this difference on repentance relate to that boundary? Men should at least know why the difference on repentance doesn't qualify as a separating issue, even though it is about the gospel.  I haven't heard why not -- ever.  It begs the question, "How much corruption of the gospel merits separation like the Apostle Paul talked about?"

Many times the focus on gospel perversion relates to the issue Paul confronted, that is, adding works to grace.  Maybe fundamentalists would separate over botching up the Trinity or the deity of Christ, because that is another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4), who doesn't save.  Readers here know that I believe that Jack Hyles taught a false gospel.  From a doctrinal standpoint, what I am reading from Mincy is very similar, if not the same, to what Hyles taught.  At what point does repentance dip below a tolerable level?

If you asked John Mincy if he believed repentance was necessary for salvation, he would say, "yes," I'm sure.  He would call it "justification-repentance."  If you ask a Mormon if he believes in Jesus, he would say, "yes," I'm sure too.  Saying that repentance is what the Bible says it is, does John Mincy believe in repentance?   He says he believes repentance is necessary for salvation, but is his teaching biblical repentance?  I wrote that it wasn't, but does his version so change the gospel that it is now "another gospel" or a false gospel?  The FBF board members at least treat his position as a non-separating issue.  They remain in fellowship with him to this day.

If Mincy wrote an article in which he turned to a King James Only position or he had embraced the belief that women wearing pants are an abomination, what many of them would call non-essentials, I'm very sure he would have received extreme censure far and wide from fundamentalists.  He advocates for a perversion of repentance and he receives indifference.  Are the board members of the FBF indifferentists?  Are those who fellowship with or in the FBF indifferentists?  If what Mincy says is acceptable, it's no wonder there has been essentially silence through the decades on Jack Hyles and Curtis Hutson.  Thousands are sucked into the vortex of their false teaching without warning.  Their corruptions are an acceptable iteration of the gospel for the FBF.

In the last year or two, James White sat down for an interview with Steven Anderson on the version issue.  Anderson maintains a repentance blacklist site to espouse his corrupted gospel.  He started that site long before his conversation with White.  White treated him like he was a fellow Christian.  Most important to White was Anderson's position on Bible versions.  For all the talk about the gospel either as the center or at the boundary of fellowship by evangelicals, conservative evangelicals also often behave like the version issue or cultural issues are more important than the gospel.

I contend that advocacy of modern versions overrules gospel among fundamentalists.  Your view of repentance is less important than what version of the Bible you use.  This belies the gospel boundary contention.  In many cases now, fundamentalists want to be sure they have liberty to listen to their music, dress like they want, and keep their choice of entertainment more than they're concerned about the relationship of the doctrine of repentance to the gospel.  It doesn't engender that much interest. The discussion about gospel boundaries is mainly about maintaining gospel minimization for the purpose of a larger possible tent.  Restrictions in fellowship stop at the gospel, they say, but they really are less restrictive.  Neither does your gospel need to include repentance.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Keswick and Pentecostal Hermeneutics: Experience Over Grammatical Exegesis

Keswick did not interpret Scripture solely based on the grammatical-historical significance of passages.  On the contrary, experience was employed as an extra-biblical hermeneutic with which to interpret Scripture.  Consequently, it is unsurprising that Keswick taught: “There are times in our Christian life in which we have . . . to . . . accept as children from God things which often seem to be, and are, in contradiction with what appears to us the teaching of Scripture.”[1]  By way of contrast, “The strong concern for the exact meaning of the printed word . . . is one of the principal things that distinguish fundamentalism from other less intellectual forms of American revivalism or from the more experientially oriented holiness tradition or . . . pentecostalism.”[2]  Keswick's experience-based hermeneutics passed into its Higher Life successor, Pentecostalism, for adopting Keswick hermeneutics and accepting what was contrary to what one thought was the teaching of Scripture was very important if one was to embrace charismatic fanaticism.  Donald Dayton explains:

[There is a] distinct hermeneutic, a distinctively Pentecostal manner of appropriating the Scriptures. In contrast to magisterial Protestantism [and Baptist orthodoxy] . . . Pentecostalism reads the rest of the New Testament through Lukan eyes . . . [placing] [n]arrative material [over] . . . didactic . . .Pauline texts. . . . In making this claim, Pentecostalism stands in a long tradition of a “subjectivizing hermeneutic.” . . . The “higher life” antecedents to Pentecostalism in the nineteenth century used a similar approach to Scripture in appropriating elements of the Old Testament Heilsgeschichte devotionally. The exodus from Egypt, the wilderness wanderings, and crossing Jordan River into the Promised Land all became stages in the normative pattern of the spiritual pilgrimage from conversion into the “second blessing” (“Beulah Land”).[3]

Thus, in the infancy of Pentecostalism at Azuza Street in Los Angeles, “[T]he operative hermeneutical principle [was that] . . . ‘the literal Word could be temporarily overruled by the living Spirit.’ . . . [I]n order to continue the [Pentecostal] revival, it was necessary for God to act independently of the regulating structure provided in the written Word.”[4]  Consequently, God's commands regulating the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians were “ignored . . . in all the early Pentecostal meetings. . . . Pentecostals . . . were not overly concerned with the problem of reconciling their experience with 1 Corinthians, chapter 12."[5]  Pentecostal historians admit that their movement arose and spreads by events and experiences, not by careful preaching of the Word, interpreted grammatically and historically.  Synan writes:

Pentecostal Christianity tends to find its rise in events . . . [and recognizes the] priority of “event.” . . . These events . . . giv[e] a distinct focus to one’s reading of Scripture. The focus is upon the realistic, even the empirical, results . . . a dramatic breakthrough of supernatural power, a display of charismatic phenomena. It is not the case of a teaching that gains a hearing, but events that attract a following. . . . [F]undamentalists have consistently criticized pentecostals for departing from a theological accent on God’s “propositional revelation” in the Scripture. (pgs. 25-27, 209, Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan)

 For the charismatic, the “exegetical difficulties which may arise [in Pentecostal doctrine] are, in the final analysis, more than balanced for Pentecostals by the experiential proofs.”[6] The mind must not be used to interpret Scripture, since "under rational inquiry pentecostalism falters," as do its Higher Life precursors.[7] Experience[8] is supposedly superior to Biblical theology and logical study of Biblical teaching.[8] Thus, both through continuationism and through the rejection of a literal interpretation of Scripture for an exaltation of experience, the Higher Life theology of Robert P. and Hannah W. Smith “gave birth to the Keswick Convention . . . and Pentecostal movements.”[9]

In summary, Charles S. Gede, professor at the Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, explains:

[T]he operative hermeneutical principle [was that] . . . “the literal Word could be temporarily overruled by the living Spirit.” . . . (1) there was an awareness of the scriptural regulations governing public glossolalia, and (2) [Azuza street leaders] were unwilling to apply the provisions of the written Word consistently. Why were they willing to let the inconsistency continue? . . . [“We] have seen over and over again during the past fifteen months, that where Christian workers have suppressed these manifestations [because of Scriptural teaching], the Holy Spirit has been grieved, the work has stopped. . . . Who are we to dictate to an all-wise God as to how He shall work in anyone?[”] . . . [I]n order to continue the revival, it was necessary for God to act independently of the regulating structure provided in the written Word . . . pragmatism was the method used to solve this problem[.] The existence of the third presupposition would explain the practice of the selective application of biblical authority. On certain issues biblical authority was asserted vehemently; on other issues it was viewed as antagonistic to the acts of God by his Spirit. That is particularly true with respect to their beliefs and practices of glossolalia. The three presuppositions would be implemented by the hermeneutical principle of pragmatism. . . . The desire and attempts to perpetuate the revival developed an unacknowledged presupposition that the imposition of any structure, including that set forth in the written Word, nullified the experiential activity of God. An implementing hermeneutical principle of pragmatism flowed from that presupposition. (pgs. 90-92, “Glossolalia at Azuza Street: A Hidden Presupposition?” Charles S. Gaede. Westminster Theological Journal 51:1 [Spring 1989] 77-92)[11]

[1] Pg. 183, Keswick’s Authentic Voice, ed. Stevenson. The quotation is from the famous and influential sermon “The Sufficiency of Grace” (pgs. 183-188, ibid) by the renowned Keswick leader and Faith Cure continuationist Otto Stockmayer and was preached at Keswick in 1896 (pg. 140, ibid). Stevenson’s compilation of Keswick messages in his Keswick’s Authentic Voice was, as validated and endorsed by many Keswick leaders, from the General Director of the China Inland Mission, J. Oswald Sanders, to the Chairman of the Keswick Convention Council, A. T. Houghton. The book, and Otto Stockmeyer’s sermon, does present “indeed ‘Keswick’s Authentic Voice’” through the “outstanding addresses” selected (pgs. 9, 11, ibid), including Stockmeyer’s.

[2]  Pg. 61, Fundamentalism and American Culture, George Marsden.

[3]  Pgs. 22-24, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism, Dayton.

[4]   Pg. 146, Vision of the Disinherited: The Making of American Pentecostalism, Robert Anderson. 

[5] Pg. 163, ibid.

[6] Pg. 62, A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness, F. D. Bruner, citing pg. 26, The Heavenly Gift: Studies in the Work of the Holy Spirit, Pearlman (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1935) and pg. 39, Systematic Theology, Williams, vol. 1.

[7] Pg. 206, Aspects of Pentecostal-Charismatic Origins, ed. Vinson Synan.

[8]         Bruner notes:
The modern family-book of Pentecostalism has . . . the following main chapters: Wesley—revivalism—Finney—the holiness movement. In each chapter personal experience is given special stress . . . [and] in the Methodist and holiness movements, the personal experience most stressed was that which was subsequent to . . . conversion . . . the experience which came in the Pentecostal movement to be called the baptism in the Holy Spirit. (pg. 47, A Theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal Experience and the New Testament Witness, Frederick Dale Bruner. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970)

[9]         Compare pg. 6, “A Plea for Experience,” The Pentecostal Evangel: The Official Organ of the Assemblies of God, 448-449, June 10, 1922.
[10]         July 27-28, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter.

[11]         Pgs. 90-92, “Glossolalia at Azuza Street: A Hidden Presupposition?” Charles S. Gaede. Westminster Theological Journal 51:1 (Spring 1989) 77-92.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Repentance Isn't This Nor Is It This Complicated -- Please

My attention was drawn to an article at Proclaim & Defend on repentance by John Mincy.  After giving his take on why repentance is a controversial issue, he begins explaining that what John the Baptist preached was "sanctification repentance," the repenting already converted people do on a regular basis after they've already been converted.

John the Baptist, according to Mincy, is preaching to Jews in the covenant community to repent like one would after he's been saved, but in this case to keep in good covenantal standing in an apostate nation Israel.  It's an impossible, completely convoluted take on John's preaching.  The repentance of John was for the remission of sins.  It was the same repentance that Jesus preached.   John and Jesus were not preaching different messages, different gospels, two different meanings of repentance.

John preached repentance in Mark 1 and in Mark 2 Jesus called sinners to repentance, not the righteous. Neither Jesus nor John were calling the righteous to repent.  Both John and Jesus preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  This is not complicated.  Their audiences needed to repent or go to hell.  Those who did not go to heaven would end instead in hell.  If you keep reading in Matthew 3, John was preparing the way for the Lord.  He prepared them to receive the king.  They needed to turn to their king, to their Messiah.  He had arrived and they needed to repent.  John was the herald of Jesus, the kerux of Jesus, so he was delivering the same message as the King.  They wouldn't have the king or the kingdom if they didn't turn around.  These weren't converted people.

The long expected reign of the Messiah had arrived in Palestine and John was preaching that.  John preached that, not because they were ready, but because they were not ready.  As you move further in Matthew 3, John's message wasn't one of sanctification, but one of fiery wrath.  They were a generation of vipers, who were warned to flee from the wrath to come.  If they did not repent, they would be burned up like chaff in a fire.  This was a warning of hell.

The same message that John the Baptist preached is what Jonah preached to Nineveh in Jonah 3:9, "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?"  Jesus echoed this when He said, "Repent or perish" (Luke 13:3-5).  This was the same message He told His disciples to preach when He gave them the great commission in Luke 24:47, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

Those in the Jewish nation could become a part of the kingdom through personal conversion.  They weren't going to get into the kingdom just because they were in the nation.  Everyone needed to repent personally, and then they could.  It's obvious that repentance was salvific, not a repeated act of sanctification.  No way.

There are so many problems with Mincy's presentation.  He perverts repentance so much that it would take an article three times the length of his to correct it all.  Someone should start with what I've written so far.  Mincy suggests that repentance started taking a new meaning with the apostles, differing than even what Jesus and John preached, that he calls "justification-repentance" in contrast to the "sanctification-repentance" of the gospels.  The justification repentance is essentially the repent of your unbelief that you hear from Hyles-types.  A person wasn't trusting in Christ and when he starts trusting, he has repented in his mind of that lack of trust.  Whereas he wasn't believing before, now he is, and that's repentance among those who preach what the Hyles-types preach.   What Mincy presents is completely, absolutely wrong.  There's no way to get what he says from a plain meaning of the text.

Mincy attempts to use Geerhardus Vos to support his view and in so doing completely misrepresents what Vos himself taught about repentance, who wrote (Geerhardus Vos, The Kingdom of God and the Church, P&R, 1972, pp. 92-93):

Our Lord’s idea of repentance is as profound and comprehensive as His conception of righteousness. Of the three words that are used in the Greek Gospels to describe the process, one emphasizes the emotional element of regret, sorrow over the past evil course of life, metamelomai; Matt. 12:29-32; a second expresses reversal of the entire mental attitude, metanoeo, Matt. 12:41, Luke 11:32; 15:7, 10; the third denotes a change in the direction of life, one goal being substituted for another, epistrephomai; Matt. 13:15 (and parallels); Luke 17;4, 22:32. Repentance is not limited to any single faculty of the mind: it engages the entire man, intellect, will and affections… Again, in the new life which follows repentance the absolute supremacy of God is the controlling principle. He who repents turns away from the service of mammon and self to the service of God.

Mincy uses Vos out of context to teach a view he would never have taught.

If the gospel is the core or the boundary, however evangelicals or fundamentalists want to explain it, what happens if they can't agree on the gospel itself?  Do mere portions of the gospel became the sole basis of fellowship, unity, or separation?  Doctrine already has been diminished to the gospel.  At what point does the minimization stop?

John Mincy is Board Emeritus for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International.  I think it is safe to say that there are those on some of the FBFI boards who absolutely disagree with Mincy about this, while others would have really appreciated his article.  His article is not just poorly done, but it perverts scripture and the gospel.  It is not what the Bible teaches about salvation.  What's more important to the FBFI?  Is it clarity on the gospel or the politics of fundamentalism?


Our Word of Truth Conference for 2015, which is November 11-15, will be on the gospel.  For the next few years we will have sessions in the morning dealing with the gospel from which we will write a book, like we did with A Pure Church from the first three years of the Word of Truth Conference.  You will be able to get the audio from the conference and likely the video from the morning sessions.  You can listen to past conferences here at the conference website and see past videos here from the conference at youtube.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Rampant Ideological Hylesism, pt. 3

Part One   Part Two

Many Christians would declare their dissatisfaction with the culture, but churches have more to do with the culture than any other influence, based upon what scripture teaches.  Churches decided to capitulate to the culture as a means of success.  Most do that today, to the extent that most don't even know they're doing it any more.  They now think that's just what churches do.  If you're not doing it, you don't know what you're doing.  You sort of don't know how to do church if you're not capitulating in some way to the culture.  It reminds me of what some people say about professional sports -- "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying."

The number of people now exposing what's going on in churches, as it relates to these church growth strategies, is small and relegated to insignificance.  You'll hurt less from the critique than you will in not participating in the activities.  Men feel more the external pain of unpopularity than the internal pain of conviction over capitulation.

I have called this "Hylesism," defined as "using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism." Could there be a better name?  Many Southern Baptists and Presbyterians and Reformed and Evangelical Free and "non-denominational" haven't even heard of Hyles.  A lot of Pelagians never heard of Pelagius, but his views are still Pelagianism.  Why not Finneyism?  Doesn't this go back to Charles Finney, really?  I think there is a Finneyism, but it wasn't about church growth.  What about Fullerism, because Fuller Theological Seminary has greatly influenced the church growth movement? The talk of "church growth" in the 1980s was Jack Hyles.  Some evangelicals might argue that Fuller had more to do with the greatest of what we see today, according to the definition above.  Renee Ouelette last year wrote glowingly of Jack Hyles as a church growth innovator:

They are always looking for a better way to get the job done, a more efficient method of disseminating the truth, a vehicle by which they can get the Gospel to more individuals.  Dr. Jack Hyles was an innovator. He was largely responsible for the implementation of the bus ministry in many of our churches. He had a huge influence in encouraging us to engage in personal soulwinning. He used promotions in a way that had not previously been used. (Dr. Hyles gave free cruises as Sunday School prizes back in the ‘60’s!)

Hyles was at least at the headwaters of the church growth movement and no one did it better and faster and influenced more people in his day than Hyles.

Many different qualities distinguish Jack Hyles in a negative way.  He corrupted the gospel.  He was a revivalist, generating an atmosphere to persuade people the Holy Spirit was involved.  He brought an unbiblical style of leadership.  He dumbed down preaching.  His pastor's conference reinvented "the conference" and spread the methodology far and wide.  He popularized a unique brand of continuationist doctrine of the Holy Spirit.   Hyles was many things, however, I'm focusing on this ideology: "using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism."  I contend that focus to be the sine qua non of Hyles.  He boasted the world's largest church and the world's largest Sunday School, and even though not everyone embraced all things Hyles, his tactics for church growth traveled well.

Hyles is gone, but Hylesism continues all over.  Let me give one innocuous example that almost everyone today would say is harmless.  The nation, even the world, celebrates what is called "Christmas."  What is Christmas?  Christmas is an opportunity to put on a gigantic production to lure unbelievers.  The people in a church, who won't talk about Jesus, have the easiest time or occasion of the year to bring Him up in conversation at Christmas.  It is the red carpet of church mention. The world gives Christians a pass at Christmas.  The church designs an elaborate shindig of music so its church members, who won't even have to talk about Jesus, can invite people to the concert, a free concert and perhaps a dramatic production.  People who wouldn't darken the door of a church will come to one of these things.

Who doesn't use Christmas as a method?  Conservative evangelicals use Christmas.  They will say it's one of their main ways of reaching the lost in their community.  When they think the program through, they have the audience in mind.  The entire program centers on what the lost will think.  If they use Christmas, why not Easter?  Why do this twice a year?  Why not do it every week?  If it works with the incarnation, why not use for all things Jesus?  Jesus is turned into a commodity for church growth and especially His birth.  Who can't resist a baby in a manger?  It's a natural opportunity, they would say.  This is all Hylesism.

Hylesism replaces the simplicity of biblical methodology.  It is a form of deceit.  There is more than a bit of showmanship with the lights and stage and microphones and sound with the indications of a club or an act.  The acceptability now relates more to the degree, not the strategy.  It's permissible "if it doesn't go too far."  Is this right in the first place?  Did Jesus do this?  It's not what Jesus did.  The methodology the Apostle Paul confronted in 1 Corinthians 1-3 is far more innocuous.  He repudiated rhetorical techniques that would have still been less than the equivalent in the Greek culture.  He's saying, "Don't do these types of things."  Man isn't to receive glory for why everything works.  The model of Jesus contradicts Hylesism and the Apostle Paul renounced it -- all of it.

Friday, October 02, 2015

"I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" Examined: part 3 of 4 in Does Christ live the Christian Life for the Christian? The Keswick View of Galatians 2:20 Examined

            The “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” in Galatians 2:20 does not mean that Paul actually did not live the Christian life and the Lord Jesus lived it instead of him.  Such a conclusion would neglect the fact that Paul specifically says “I live.”  Furthermore, Paul does not say, “Christ liveth instead of me,” but “Christ liveth in me.”  The preposition en, not anti or huper, is employed.  The “yet not I” clause means simply that Paul did not have strength sourced in himself to follow the Lord, but he received grace from Christ to enable him to “work out [his] own salvation with fear and trembling [since] it is God which worke[d] in [him] both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).  Paul personally “strived” to serve the Lord, but nonetheless his service was what “Christ hath . . . wrought by [him]” (Romans 15:20, 18).  Parallel Pauline texts shed much light on the “not I, but Christ” portion of Galatians 2:20:

1.) “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.”  (1 Corinthians 7:10).  Paul certainly did command the wife not to depart from her husband.  He was very active in making this command.  However, more importantly, it was God Himself who made the command through Paul.  It would be poor exegesis to conclude from this verse that Paul himself did not really command wives not to leave their husbands because the command was sourced in God.

2.) But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).  Obviously God’s enabling grace strengthened Paul to work, and all the glory for Paul’s labor was given to the grace of God, as is evidenced by the “yet not I, but the grace of God” affirmation.  Nonetheless, Paul labored very actively and fervently, indeed, “more abundantly than . . . all.”  It would be poor exegesis to conclude from this verse that Paul really did not labor at all because his ability to labor came from God.

3.) “Now then it is no more I that do it [transgress], but sin that dwelleth in me . . . . Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” (Romans 7:17, 20; cf. Romans 7:14-25). Before Paul was converted, his entire being consented to and produced nothing but sin.  His statement in Romans 7:17, 20 means that the sins that he did as a regenerate person no longer proceeded from the unified desire of his whole person.  Rather, Paul’s transgressions were now sourced in the remnants of sinfulness that remained within him.  Nonetheless, whenever Paul sinned, the Apostle was by no means passively employed by some exterior agent moving him unconsciously to transgress—he still chose to do so himself.

4.) The Old Testament, and other New Testament texts,[1] present a similar picture.  Joseph tells his brothers in Genesis 45:8:  “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God; and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”  Joseph’s “not you . . . but God” statement does not mean that Joseph’s brothers did not sell him into slavery (cf. 45:5, “ye sold me hither”), but simply that God was the ultimate sovereign source of his being sold.  In Exodus 16:8,  “Moses said . . . [T]he LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD,” but the affirmation that Israel’s grumbling was ultimately against Jehovah certainly did not mean that when “the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exodus 16:2) they did not really murmur against Moses and Aaron.

            Similarly, Paul’s “not I, but Christ” statement in Galatians 2:20 means that the source of the Christian life that Paul lived was not his own inherent ability or strength, but Christ’s grace and power. The Apostle’s declaration models the pattern set by his Savior, that Son of Man who stated “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30) and “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19).  The Lord Jesus, in His human nature, was entirely submissive to and dependent upon the enablement He received beyond measure from God.  One sees, however, extremely active labor for the Lord in the incarnate Christ.  The Divine Person of the Son also did not work independently of the Person of the Father, but nonetheless the Son of God actively did whatsoever He saw the Father do.

In Galatians 2:19-21 Paul is proving that he is dead to the law (2:19a) and not trusting in the law for salvation and frustrating the grace of God by so doing (2:21) but instead is living unto God (2:19b, 2:20).  He is not proving that somehow he does not live the Christian life but Christ lives it instead.  Paul and all Christians are given strength and grace from Christ, apart from whom they can do nothing good, John 15:5, and they are to live by faith.  Certainly the facts of the saint’s union with Christ, the Savior’s indwelling presence, the spiritual life that is derived from Him, and the power He gives believers to will and do of His good pleasure are glorious truths worthy of that joyful acceptance and humble meditation that results in loving, faith-based obedience.  However, to go beyond the actual declarations of Galatians 2:20 to say that the believer does not live the Christian life but Christ Himself does it instead is to make the verse affirm what it does not say and thus grieve the Spirit and displease Christ. Such an affirmation also confuses the Christian who believes it, hinders his sanctification, and opens the way to serious Christological error.  The glorious truths of Galatians 2:20 should neither be minimized and ignored nor turned into something other than they are by illegitimate extrapolation.

See here for this entire study.

[1]              For example, Christ tells persecuted believers: “But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost” (Mark 13:11; cf. Matthew 10:19-20; Luke 12:11-12; 21:14-15).  The Lord Jesus’ statement, “it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost,” did not mean that the persecuted saints in question did not actually open their mouths and consciously speak; rather, they indeed spoke, but the Spirit directed them and guided them.  Thus, the Lord could command, “speak ye,” for the very reason (“for”) that their words did not originate in themselves (“it is not ye that speak”) but in God the Spirit.  Note the following related texts:  Matthew 10:40; Mark 9:37; Luke 10:16; John 12:44; 13:20; Romans 13:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rampant Ideological Hylesism, pt. 2

Part One

As God looks at what churches and their leaders are doing on earth, He doesn't have some special antagonism against the name Hyles, because the name Hyles somehow means something nasty.  No. It is Hylesism, and unbiblical philosophy and practice and methods that also must proceed from a bad theology.  All the former must come from the latter.  You can't disconnect philosophy, practice, and methodology from a belief system.

For instance, someone may say that he believes man is a sinner, but if he approaches men with naturalistic means, as if the carnal methods will bring the solution, he is still falling short of a sufficient belief in man's sinfulness.  A method that strays from the Bible, emerging from human intellect, robs God of the glory.  If God's glory does not abide in the groundwork of one's theology, wrong philosophy, methods, and practices will surface all over the place.  The first relates to pride with its elevation of self and the latter brings self glory.

Like Charismatics covet showy spiritual  manifestations, which are actually fleshly ones, Hylesism covets its own showy spiritual manifestations in church size or numbers of salvation decisions. Covetousness and self-glory are idolatry -- man worship.  God isn't being worshiped, which is why often we see celebrities spring out of this mammoth system.

One big name arises one generation after the next with the next iteration of church growth fads -- the bus, the big day, the band, the big screen, the flamboyant website, the worldly music, entertaining speaking, the building design, the comedy or drama, buffet of activities and groups, giveaways, greeters, refreshment, fun, casual atmosphere, folksiness, programs, and brochure layout.  It might be the relevant facial hair or brick stage facade or seating arrangement or architecture or campus development.  It is one thing after another.  God just isn't good enough.  The amazing message of scripture isn't sufficiently attractive.  There is some strategy not found therein, that you need, that you can use, that will work -- you should try it, because someone did it and it succeeded.

Those who would surely hate Hyles still embrace Hylesism, the ideology.  They wouldn't ever want it to be thought to be that, even if that is what it is.  They might not say it was that, but it is at least the same primordial ooze from which Hyles emerged.  Evangelicals trace their way back to the identical abyss.  The trajectories of Billy Graham and Hybels and Warren terminate at the roots of the same family tree.

Advocating Hylesism doesn't mean supporting every aspect.  Anyone who uses it is tolerating it. Those who tolerate also endorse.  You can say that you don't endorse all of it, but where do you draw the line once you've acquiesced on any of it?  You're not trusting God any more at a point that you think is necessary for your success.  Maybe you've sold out.  Think about it.

Who are Hylesists, who at least permit or allow or consent to Hylesism?  I know very few churches and leaders who are not.  Almost everyone capitulates somewhere and it makes a difference.  They've got to do things.  They're required now.  They've got to use a rock band, yes, even if it is "soft rock," the type of music the beatles played.  Someone stands and performs like a pop singer and they are calling this worship.  The people on their own take it even further.  That's some of the most conservative of it.

The Hylesism that is almost identical to Hyles still occurs.  Men still follow Hylesism, but they don't have the same stigma since Hyles died and Jack Schaap went to prison.  There is still a huge Hyles network that hasn't repudiated what Hyles was about.  Some of them have morphed, added characteristics of worldly evangelicalism and Charismaticism into their arrangement, but it's still Hyleism.

Those called conservative evangelicals adopt Hylesism to varying degrees.  It's important to them.  Hyles himself would never have allowed some of what they do, but the strategy is the same.  They've done it so long, they don't even recognize it any more in many cases.  Some in their midst do, but they tolerate it to get along, adapt, or comply.

I follow the twitter feed of conservative evangelicals.  Many are fully engaged in pop culture and it doesn't matter.  Their churches use it and accommodate it.  They don't give it up.  They are tuned in and plugged in.  They hardly miss a thing.  Everyone knows in their churches that it's approved.  Even if the churches are complementarian, egalitarianism thrives.  The manifestations of lust are everywhere -- the way unmarried couples interact, entertainment choices, and immodesty.  The intellectualism of the church is one of the traps.  Their church is scholarly too, as smart as anyone else around, something to be proud of.  All of this lends itself to attracting and keeping a bigger crowd.

In the first post, I defined Hylesism as "using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism."  What is called evangelism isn't always evangelism.  The gospel itself was abandoned in many of these churches long ago.   However, in others, many, the methods dilute and convolute the gospel.  In the evangelical churches, their affections are so distorted, that the Jesus of their imaginations is someone different than the Bible Jesus.  They can't access Him through their polluted imaginations or affections.  Everything they hear funnels into their understanding through that grid.

Churches and leaders are very sensitive to the accusation of Hylesism.  It's got to be admitted if it's going to change.   Typically they argue that silence equals permission.  If you accuse them, they say that you are adding to the Bible.  You can't say that they can't do what they do.  They've got permission because the Bible is silent.  The most preferred argument is marginalization.  They've been more blessed, they've got more connections, they've got more access, they've been more published, and they've seen more success, so they're right.  I think quite a few know that God's Word is the basis of judgment and that argument is wrong.  It won't stand up to God's inspection in the end.

There are so many fruits of Hylesism that a whole post would be required to list them all, and that without explanation -- just listing them.  Not all the churches have preaching like Hyles.  The preaching is better in some.  The churches that might repudiate Hyles put up with Hyles-like preaching, preaching that takes on the primary characteristics of Hyles preaching without Hyles entertainment ability.  I hate it.  If you say the preaching is like Hyles, they'd be more upset that you said it was like Hyles than they'd be angered by the bad preaching.

What I'm describing with reference to Hylesism is where we're at as a country.  It's where the church is at as the church.  Church, what church really is, isn't good enough any more.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rampant Ideological Hylesism

People who rejected and still repudiate Jack Hyles at the same time welcome his ideology.  They aren't opposed to Hylesism.  If you asked them if they supported Hyles, they would scoff at you and deny with vehemence.  Yes, they support the ideology if you remove the Hyles label.  It's still his ideology, but doesn't have his name attached.

There were reasons why Hyles's philosophy and practice worked at expanding the size of his organization.  Hyles may not have been as big as he said he was, but he was still huge.  When he was on the road, he attracted a lot of people too, very often packing out gigantic auditoriums with people who wanted to hear him.

Hylesism goes way back before modern day iterations of the same ideology.  People who were and really hard on Hyles keep what was corrupt about Hyles.  They may not use everything that he preached and did, but they operate with significant similarity, so that you should understand that they practice Hylesism.

I was around and close enough to observe Jack Hyles at his hey-day, and what I see in large evangelical churches is the same essential methodology and philosophy.  From what I see, they don't just support Hylesism, but in many, if not most, cases, they have taken Hyles methods and philosophy past what he did.  They go further than Hyles in doing Hyles.

The success of Hyles did not and does not center on authoritarian leadership or dress standards or using the King James Version.  The latter were not the issues in his day that they are today.  People knew then, but now people know even more, that there was corruption at First Baptist Church in Hammond.  Today someone could say that they don't like Hyles because he abused people.  The abuse part of it was more a byproduct of the philosophy, not the philosophy of Hylesism itself.  The philosophy though is what is rampant still today.  I contend that Hylesism hasn't regressed, but is believed and practiced at an all time high. I know it is in our area.  Again, I witnessed Hyles at his greatest power and influence from fairly close proximity and I see many today as essentially the same as him.

What I'm saying here is, don't tell me you opposed or oppose Hyles.  You are worse than him.  You have embraced Hylesism, so don't act like you don't like him, that you are against what he did.  You are not.  You are the same as him.  Almost every mega church today follows Hylesism and even those who are not mega churches, mainly because they just aren't as talented at the implementation of Hylesism as many others.  Some men like me know what is necessary to be where Hyles was and what the modern version of him is, but they choose not to be that way.  They know it's wrong.  They would feel guilt over going that direction.  I recognize that some just couldn't do Hylesism, so don't even try, but many could do it, do it very well, but still don't do it.  They know it's wrong.

On top of people believing and practicing Hylesism, there are those who, even though they would repudiate Hyles, don't repudiate Hylesism.  They continue fellowship with Hylesism. They reward the latter iteration of it.  They may not do everything those churches do, but they don't confront their practice.  They would call it a non-essential or area of liberty or not something over which to be judgmental, expressing thoughts like those.  Many would say that those churches have many good things that we can learn from them.  They do some things very well that can be emulated that aren't wrong, so just pick through the bones to find the meat, they might say, and leave the other behind. It's OK, they say, to sort through it and implement what you will not have a problem with and then leave the other behind.  Is that really how harmless it is?

I've decided to write at least two posts on Hylesism.  It is rampant in fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  Those who either follow it or tolerate it are in the vast majority in fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  I wanted you to think about it in principle in this first post, but I'm going to come in Wednesday to flesh out some about it's meaning and who is doing it who would also contend that they are nothing like Hyles.

To end this first post, I see Hylesism, as using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism.  Hyles's church manual focused on numerous areas to increase the crowd size.  A theology is then formulated to match  the practice and that's also a philosophy.  The Bible doesn't teach it, but it is shown anyway to teach it by those who want it to exist and continue existing.  Hyles and the modern purveyors would defend it in similar ways.  At the root of it is deceit.  The method is formulated to sell Christianity like a product.  Very often today, the people, who say they aren't doing it and are against, are actually doing it.  Not saying you're doing it is part of the philosophy and the method. Those who criticize aren't worth listening to because they aren't very big.  Some would even say that God isn't blessing in those places, or they're dead or they don't know what they're doing, so they're not worth listening to.

I look forward to spending more time exploring Hylesism with you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kenya Trip, Drama, Literature; Chess: Odds and Ends

#1: Kenya Trip

As some of you may (or may not) know, I had the privilege of teaching a seminary level class in Trinitarianism in Kenya not that long ago to Kenyan pastors and teachers, including teachers who teach undergraduate courses at the institution where the class was offered.  (The class was based upon my Trinitarianism class that is available online here.)  If you are interested in how the Kenya trip went, my wife has put together a nice description of the trip on our personal blog in three parts (part 1;  part 2;  part 3).  One more post arising from Kenya is here.

#2: Drama

While the Regulative Principle of worship does not put drama within the public worship of Christ's church, perhaps in a Christian school or some other setting you on occasion produce dramatic productions for the glory of God.  Some good plays and other literary creations my wife has written are here (see the sidebar).  There are also stories that can be used in Junior Church and other material.  We would be happy to have them be a blessing to people in your church and community.

#3: Literary Works

There are literary works at the site mentioned above, of course.  Those same works, with some literary analyses of my own, are also available here.  Perhaps they could help those who teach high school English or those who are simply interested in the poetry of George Herbert and the other authors discussed.

#4: Chess

I have developed a variation of the Scandinavian Defense, Marshall Gambit.  The starting point for the Ross is:

1. e4d52. exd5Nf63. c4c64. dxc6e5

and the idea is to sacrifice the b-pawn as well after 5. cxb7 Bxb7 and have a position similar to a reversed Danish Gambit (I also enjoy playing the Danish).  I have developed a page on the Ross variation here, and I would encourage you to try it out for yourself and send me any good games in the variation.  You can also discuss the Ross in the forum here.  In my opinion, chess is the best board game in the world--yet, at that, it is still a board game.

Before it gets too odd, here ends, with an even number of items above, this post on odds and ends.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Wednesday Post

I decided to delete my Wednesday post.  One, I don't want to argue with Thomas Ross about this. Two, I don't think the person is worth defending.  My opinion still stands for those who read it, but I'd rather not have my defense be mistaken for something it isn't.  Maybe I'll come back to a related subject in the future, but for the time being, I'd rather not have it sitting in public.  Enjoy Thomas's post for today.

Monday, September 21, 2015

You Know You're Too Intelligent to Entertain Christianity If....

A brief scan online early on a Sunday morning alerted me to a contemptible smear of the Bible by internet magazine Salon, entitled, "The right hides behind a fictional Bible: Memo to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump — your favorite book is made up."   Breathe easy.  I looked and few out of the tiny orbit of Salon pays attention.  I could find it nowhere else, not even still where I first saw it.

Be advised of Salon's story.  It headquarters downtown San Francisco, spawned in 1995 during a strike at the San Francisco Examiner.   Once editor-in-chief and now editor-at-large, reliably liberal Joan Walsh slides over to MSNBC to spread further propaganda.  Salon has never had a year where it made money.  It operates in a permanent deficit like its favored system of government, surviving from redistributed wealth.  A la internet technology start-ups and the Huffington Post, purchased by AOL in 2011 for 315 million, Salon waits on life support for a future buy-out. Jeffrey Tayler, the author of the article, mainlines these nasty screeds every few weeks to liberal junkies.

You can't separate Salon from San Francisco politics and MSNBC and you can't separate Salon's politics from Salon's religion.  The Washington Post just reported there are more atheists and agnostics in this incoming Harvard class than there are Protestants and Catholics.  The political left dovetails with the religious left.  With Tayler's post, you read the bias of naturalistic presuppositions. He proves nothing.

For being such a lame book, the Bible's epistle, 2 Peter, busts Tayler, his picture next to its scoffer walking after his own lust.  Salon and Tayler both obsess over sexuality.  They chaff over authority. Increased civil unrest follows rash behavior, necessitating expanded powers of coercion.  See unemployed, broke bakers, florists, and wedding photographers. Witness college campuses that categorize contrary ideas as violence and hateful as anything with which they disagree.

Like the apostate of 2 Peter, Tayler's main argument is mockery.  He provides no evidence, just taunts his strawman of the Bible with tiresome redundance -- "absurd," "absurdities," and "absurdist" -- a mean girl calling names in rhythmic cadence on a virtual playground.  He's insulted first by the biblical account of the virgin birth, second the omnipresence of God, third the life of Jesus Christ, fourth the passion of Christ, and fifth the written New Testament.  It insults his intelligence and it insults his intelligence and it also insults his intelligence.  No one as intelligent as Mr. Tayler should have to listen to Christianity and Donald Trump is a narcissist.  Christianity sins most against the intelligence of Jeffrey Tayler.  Mr. Tayler is no Jethro Bodine.

As a basic test of your intelligence, Mr. Tayler wants to inform you that....

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if other human beings (like you) sent a probe that passed Pluto.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if Jesus spoke in Aramaic.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if God doesn't have a facebook page.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if Jesus allowed an impostor as one of his followers.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if other human beings split the atom.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if Jesus healed the sick before the invention of sanitary wipes.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if God can exist in temperatures above 455 degrees fahrenheit.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if you believe any human beings with the exclusion of Jeffrey Tayler.

In Christopher Hitchens, insult had its most eloquent prolocutor, and  Mr. Tayler, you are no Christopher Hitchens.



Everyone comes into a conversation about origins with presuppositions.  No one is neutral.  A Tayler talks like he is, like he is just following evidence, allowing it to take him to the truth.  However, naturalism is his presupposition, a convenient one for someone who prefers his own desires to anything else.  The presupposition disqualifies him for his chosen subject matter.

Coming into a conversation, Tayler assumes conversation, not that we're just two chemical reactions spewing at one another.  He assumes laws of logic to judge truth.  He makes judgments, which assumes a standard.  Everything Tayler assumes even to write his post undermines his point. Consistent with his view, no one can converse, judge, or conclude, because accidents or chance can't be judged as right or wrong.  The assumptions with which Tayler begins contradict his own view, but they are consistent with mine.  What I'm saying is that Tayler borrows the Christian worldview to attack Christianity.  He's lost the argument right when he opens his mouth or places his fingers on the keyboard.

Granting that Tayler isn't neutral and that he presupposes naturalism, and granting that he argues against the Bible by borrowing from a Christian worldview, the burden rests upon him to prove the Bible isn't true.  He doesn't get to dismiss it just because he says it insults his intelligence.  If you take the best atheist and the best theist in a debate, the atheist loses every time.  Using the laws that the atheist borrows to judge the Bible, he loses every time, because the atheist doesn't tell the truth about the world.

Tayler doesn't actually mock the Bible.  He mocks his perversion of it.  He doesn't know what he's talking about.  Sure, you can find many different people who will say something bad about the Bible. That's a major premise in the Bible, that God's Word will be attacked, especially by unbelievers.  It's not surprising.  I try to read all the criticisms with an open mind, believing what is true.  They're just not.  Tayler doesn't come close.  He's just insulting.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Galatians 2:20--the Keswick "Christ-life"? part 2 of 4 in Does Christ live the Christian Life for the Christian? The Keswick View of Galatians 2:20 Examined

As noted in part 1 of this series, in the Higher Life movement, the doctrine that Christ lives the Christian life, while the believer simply passively trusts or abides, is the “Christ-life”; “The Christian life is a large, generous Christ-life that lives itself” (pg. 181, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874; cf. pgs. 158, 168).  Galatians 2:20 is employed to affirm that Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer, or at least the believer who enters into the Higher Life or the Christ-life.  It is difficult to figure out what the meaning is of such an affirmation; it would seem to lead to either the heresy of the absolute perfection of the believer in his will, nature and in all his acts, for Christ considered in His human nature is absolutely perfect in His will, nature and His acts, or to the heresy that Christ fails and Christ sins when the believer sins, since, allegedly, Christ, not the believer, is living the believer’s life.
One cannot avoid these heretical implications by simply affirming that the believer fails to perfectly access the Lord Jesus’ personal life, and for this cause the Christian still sins, for this accessing of Christ must be part of the Christian life—indeed, according to the advocates of the view that the Lord Jesus lives the Christian life, accessing the Savior is the essence of Christian life.  How then, can Christ fail to do this accessing for the believer, but be the One who lives the Christian life?  Yet further, what can such a notion possibly mean—is Christ accessing Himself as He allegedly lives the Christian life?  The idea that Jesus Christ lives the Christian life, not the Christian, has other severe problems as well; for example, the Lord Jesus, as He is in heaven, does not live by faith, as He has personal sight of all the glory of God, so the Christian on earth would not have to live by faith.  Indeed, the idea that the Lord Jesus lives the Christian life instead of the believer is either abominable heresy or mystical gobbledygook that cannot be given any clear propositional content.  It certainly does not help the believer live a holy life.
Hannah W. Smith, while usually restricting sinless perfection to the human spirit, so that she did not quite reach a claim of the literal perfection of Christ that was the necessary consequence of her Higher Life theology, did nevertheless affirm that those who have had the “definite experience” of “a heart made pure by faith” are “created pure and holy” so that “temptations will come” only “from without,” not from within—an idea, however contrary to the Bible, that makes it much easier to follow the guidance and revelations of an Inner Voice—at least until they cease the moment-by-moment Higher Life walk, at which time, somehow, “nothing but impurity remains,” although “the carnal nature” had “been cast out” at the time of the second blessing.  She did, however, have to confront the question, “How can we sin if we are made and kept pure in heart?” a question to which she had only a very unsatisfactory answer (see Letter to Anna, September 6, 1871, reproduced in the entries for June 17-18 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter; cf. the entry for June 22).
Happily, since Galatians 2:20 never states that Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer, Kewick theology has any support whatsoever from the text.  First, one notes that the verse does not distinguish between an upper class of Christians who have entered into a Higher Life or second blessing and a lower class who have not done so.  Galatians 2:20 is true for every Christian, and every Christian has Christ as his life, is legally dead to sin, and has his life hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3, 4).
 What does Galatians 2:20 actually affirm?  1.)  Paul was crucified with Christ, 2:20a. 2.) Nevertheless, he was spiritually alive; the apostle had spiritual life, that he “might live unto God,” Galatians 2:19; 2:20b.  3.) The “I” who was now alive was not the same “I” as before Paul’s conversion (cf. Romans 7:17), in that Paul was no longer an ungodly, unregenerate person, a natural man and a slave of the old covenant, as he was when he was under the law (Galatians 2:19).  He was now dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:10-11).  The good in his life was not sourced in himself, but in the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).  He now had a new principle within him and was a new man, Galatians 2:20c. 4.) Christ now indwelt Paul, and was the source of spiritual life and strength for him, 2:20d. 5.) The Apostle now lived his natural life in his body by faith in Christ, 2:20e.  6.) Christ loved Paul, and died for him, 2:20f.
What about “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”?  Surely this phrase teaches that Christ lives the Christian life, no?  The phrase will be examined in part 3 of this series.

See here for this entire study.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Is Worship?

We train future pastors in our church.  My philosophy or belief about training a pastor, which I believe I should be doing, is that I should be giving him what he needs to reproduce what I do.  I don't want to give him less than what it is I am and do.  We offer the equivalent of an M.Div. academically.  One whole semester course is on worship.  Many don't even understand worship.  We spend a semester course on it, and we easily fill up that time.  It's difficult to get it done in a semester. Pastors are the worship leaders of their church.  They need to understand worship.  They should be able to explain what they are doing, coming directly from scripture to do that.

When you study the word translated "worship" and all the related words to worship, here's what you'll see it to be.  There are two parts.  The first part is the recognition of Who God is.  You don't worship God if you don't recognize Who He is.  You won't know what He wants, if you don't know Who He is.  You aren't worshiping God if you aren't worshiping God.  To be worshiping Him, you have to acknowledge Who He is.  If you do acknowledge Who He is, then you can treat Him like He deserves to be treated in affection and attitude.

Worship must match up with God.  He isn't being worshiped if it is fallen short of or different than Who He is.  It must represent Him, parallel with Him, or fit Him.  All of us understand this on a practical level if we have a relationship with anyone.  We know if we have respected someone or loved someone and it relates to what we think about that Person.  We treat them commensurate to our apprehension of each of them as a person.  You don't love everything in the same way.  You shouldn't treat God or love God like you do everything else.

We expect the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier to be at a level that isn't the same as some other guard at some other location.  This equates to Moses being told by God to remove his shoes because of his proximity.   That is the recognition of God.  He is greater.  He is scarier.  He is better. Nothing is as good as Him.  We can't approach God the same as anything else.   A person has the wrong theology who has a casual approach to God.

The other part in the definition of worship, the first being the recognition of Who God is, is giving Him what He wants.  If we do recognize Who God is, we will give Him what He wants.  How do we know what He wants?  He tells us.  The Word of God tells us what God wants.

Some of you have heard of the regulative principle of worship.  The idea of that principle is that worship is regulated by scripture.  It starts with the elements of worship.  The elements of corporate worship should be those found in scripture.  Those should not be added to or taken away from. Scripture is sufficient.  God doesn't want less than what He said or more than what He said.  He doesn't accept something different than what He said.  Silence isn't permission.

Giving God what He wants starts with elements and continues with the circumstances of those elements.  The elements are the categories and the circumstances are the logical means necessary to accomplish those elements.  The Westminster Confession of Faith defines "circumstances" with the following:

There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

The circumstances should not violate scripture, but they are non-scriptural.  You might ask, what are the elements?  If we are regulating worship by what God said, that is, giving Him what He wants, then we will keep the elements to those things that He said.  I believe they are the reading of Scripture (1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; 1 Tim 4:13), the preaching of the Word of God (1 Tim 4:6, 13-16; 2 Tim 4:2; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Titus 2:15), the hearing of and responding to the Word of God (James 1:19-20), prayer (1 Tim 2:1, 8; Acts 2:42; 4:23-31), singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and making melody unto the Lord and giving of thanks (Eph 5:19-20, Col 3:16; Mt 26:30; 1 Cor 14:26, 1 Tim 2:1), baptism (Mt 28:19), the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23, Acts 2:42), and the collection (Gal 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1-2, 2 Cor 9:1-12).

All of life should be regulated by scripture.  We are always supposed to give God what He wants. Romans 12:1-3 comes in here as a guide.  True worship is perpetual and spiritual and sincere from the heart.  As a spiritual priesthood, we offer spiritual sacrifices unto God.  This is akin to the Holy Spirit filling us, that is, controlling our life.  We are always submitting to Him, therefore, always giving to Him what He wants.

God is seeking for true worshipers.  To review, worship is recognizing who God is and giving Him what He wants.  You are not a success if you do not worship God.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Producing Experiences with the Flesh and Calling It the Spirit

As I see it, Charismatics are as crazy as ever, but revivalists are also the worst they've ever been. You can add to that the influence on evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals.  I'm talking about another type of bait and switch.  Church growth movement baits with fleshly lures switched in the end with some modification of Christianity.  This bait and switch that I'm writing about offers a fleshly experience while calling it a spiritual one.  People want to feel something, some kind of signal that God is working with them.  They'll easily take that bait.  Bait, of course, is a lie.  It's saying you're getting something that you're not.

The experiences are supposed to confirm authenticity.  With whom is genuine spirituality?  To whom belongs the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit?  They're like the scarecrow showing his diploma, when he doesn't have a brain.

Another aspect of the truth is a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit manifests Himself as scripture teaches, a believer is being sanctified and is also receiving assurance of His salvation.  These visible confirmations are an important means by which he knows he's saved.

I'm not going to focus on the Charismatics, who claim that God is still speaking to them, and some of what their "Holy Spirit" tells them is fully off-the-wall nuttiness.   It is a realm of insanity and obvious demonic activity.  With that being said, what I see in revivalism isn't that far off.

I want to remind the readers of revivalism.  Just saying "revivalism" upsets some people, sounding like I'm against actual revival.  Actual revival is biblical, but revivalism isn't.  Revivalism is a technical term for man-made techniques or enterprises or operations to cause the effects that men will call manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  Very often, the effects themselves are not what anyone should expect to confirm that the Third Person of the Trinity is doing anything.  Many of these are just demonstrations of the flesh.  However, the people in the midst of these effects of manipulative activity without discernment often think they're the function of the Holy Spirit.  They're not judging them by scripture.

The Charismatic falls under a theological category of continuationism, saying that the sign gifts continue.  Sign gifts existed to authenticate a prophetic or apostolic office for the proclamation of the Words of God.   The opposite of continuationism is cessationism.  The sign gifts ceased with the completion of the Word of God.   Revivalists will deny they're Charismatics or continuationists, but many, if not most, of the revivalists are either or both of those.

Among revivalists, you hear many claim that God is speaking to them.  They say, "God told me."  In addition, they claim that God gives them a particular sermon or certain parts to the sermon.

Revivalists make several confirmation claims of the Holy Spirit.  At the end of what they have claimed to be spiritual endued preaching is many decisions made, full aisles, or packed "altars" at the invitation.  The size of crowd apparently signals the Spirit's work.  If they had a lot in church or on the bus, that is attributed to the Holy Spirit.  Also, they point to numbers of salvation professions through preaching efforts.  Sometimes you hear, "God is really working" and they point to those things among others.

The style of speaking itself marks the Holy Spirit for revivalists.  He's excited or the crowd is excited. He shouts.  They shout.  Many people shouting and yelling or even "whooping it up" can mean the Holy Spirit is doing something special.  He may lean back and wail away, one foot in the sky, face red, and blood vessels protruding from the neck.  Tears are a measurement, or laughter -- either way, a lot of emotion.  Certain sermons might be particularly powerful and those are preached again and again.  He will attribute the crafting of the sermon often to the Holy Spirit.

Certain songs and the way those songs are sung and played either signal the Holy Spirit or they bring a unique aura of His presence.  If there seems to be a "deadness," the playing and singing might bring life.  Emotional lyrics or a way a singer uses his voice or a tight four part harmony with the right chords and syncopation and arrangement can bring the experience.  It might be what the pianist is doing or a song leader.  Music is a channel to bring the feeling that is credited as the Holy Spirit.

On top of the music, physical acts -- waving, lifting hands, big gestures, facial expressions -- either affirm the Spirit or bring about what some will attribute to the Spirit.  If lots of people raise their Bibles or swing their handkerchiefs or groan or cheer, that all could smack of the Spirit.  People feel something that convinces them it was a spiritual time together.

Nothing I've mentioned so far are what the Bible says are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, means knowing that the Holy Spirit is in charge, in control, or pleased with the circumstances and activities. These are all ways that men can manipulate people's experience and then say that it was the Holy Spirit.  This isn't different than the Charismatic movement.  It is more subtle and perhaps more deceitful, because it lacks the extreme lunacy.

Even non-revivalist evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals, produce experiences through fleshly means that convince people the Holy Spirit is being manifested.  They use music.  They use the microphone, the drums, the band, the clinched eyes and facial expressions, and the authenticity of the effect of breathiness to create an atmosphere or feeling that people think or feel is the Holy Spirit.  It is most often entertainment, at least fleshly, and sometimes just fun in the service. The lyrics might be dense and substantial, but the music they use creates an effect that authenticates the experience. They see themselves as more spiritually genuine and real.  God is not pleased.

Jesus said that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  It might not be the imitation or faking of a miracle of divine confirmation, but it is a means to validate spirituality.  The experience is created as a mark of corroboration.  It often replaces actual obedience and true manifestations of spirituality.  Those might be preached too in more conservative churches, but they give both to keep the people who need something more than what is sufficient.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Upcoming Courses for Men Training for the Ministry and Others in Your Church

At Mukwonago Baptist Church we are going to be offering two new courses in the relatively near future, Lord willing.

1.) The second semester of 1st year Hebrew will be offered.  You can watch the first semester videos or enroll here.  We are going to be going at a relatively leisurely pace, so that while the same material is covered as when I taught 1st year Hebrew in seminary in two nine-week blocks (Fall and Spring), we are going to be going a bit more slowly, which will be easier.  There are at least two Baptist Bible colleges/seminaries that have expressed interest in the course.  Perhaps it could be a help to you or people in your church.  After all, God wrote about 75% of His Word in Hebrew.

2.) We are also going to be offering a course on Biblical Manuscript Evidence / Texts and Versions.  The theological position from which the course will be taught is the confession of faith here.  Students should both have their knowledge of the history of the text and their faith in God's pefect preservation of His Word strengthened.  As more details arise, you will be able to get course material, watch the class videos, etc. by following the appropriate link from the site here.

3.) We are also planning to offer 2nd year Hebrew, 1st semester, where we will do detailed studies of Hebrew syntax for the purpose of developing expository sermons.

4.) Another complete seminary level course with videos and lectures that is online is Trinitarianism, available here.  This latter course is not going to be taught again in addition to the courses above, but it is available for all right now.

If you or people in your church want more information about any of these classes, you can get inquiries answered by contacting Mukwonago Baptist Church or getting in touch with me directly.