Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fundamentalist Seminary Attacks Centrality of the Church

I've not read anything this blatant, but I've got to appreciate the clarity. Most, it seems, try to be ambiguous today, so that you can't quite figure out what they mean. Not in this case. Here, Jeff Straub, on behalf of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, says that the church is not central (no pun intended). Fundamentalism has already been attacking the centrality of the church for a long while, holding churches under its sway, but no one is trying to hide anything with this essay. Now I know those who read the article will say, nuh-uh, he does so say the church is central. Right. The "Universal Church." This is a seminary training men to interpret the Bible in its context. Straub says that the "church" that is the pillar and ground of the truth, the one in 1 Timothy 3:15, is all believers, the so-called "universal, invisible church." Of course, that's blatant eisegesis. The church of 1 Timothy 3:15 has a pastor and deacons (see all of chapter 3). So who's the pastor of the "universal church"? Who are the deacons of that "church"? Some are so entrenched in this Augustinian and Platonic interpretation, really allegorizing the understanding of "church," that they see it everywhere.

So this fundamentalist seminary attacks the centrality of the church. I hope the best for them. But they are wrong. I would wonder what churches would think of sending their men there to train. I guess men wouldn't need to think about a church sending them anyway. As long as they are in touch with the big one, the big nebulous, cloudy one, they would have all the authority they need. I find Kevin Bauder, their president, an interesting guy, but all the church hoppers of the world are yelling, "Amen!" Parachurch organizations giving the thumbs up. They could be central (not the seminary). Hey, one free floating blogger could be central. That's a thought.


Don said...


Wow, you are right, that piece by Straubb is blatant. I had one of those 'blantant' moments when a mission board director tried to tell me all the things that they could do for me that my church couldn't. That was a sad day for them, but moment of truth for me. Eph 3:21 Thanks for your blogs.

Anonymous said...

Brother Kent,

Personally, I'm glad he was honest with his ideas for a change. In a reply to a comment on his blog he said he was not proposing support for "para-church" organizations but inter-church cooperation.

There has always been "inter-church" cooperation among churches who agree. Actually, again, that is an argument for the "centrality" of the local church, isn't it?

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.,

Dave Doran raised exactly the same counter arguments you did. He sounded pretty certain.

And he's no longer a fundamentalist, btw.

bhardecker said...

Why did the Lord Jesus address each of the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelations instead of The Church? If there such a thing as the Universal, Invisible, Holy, Apostolic, Catholic church, then I must be under some kind of universal, and invisible Church discipline. I must have forgotten to send my invisible tithes and offerings.

Thank you Pastor Brandenburg for your work here: Women wearing men's clothing, Facebook and Social Networking issues, English Bible controversy, Alcoholic beverage prohibition, just the entire gamut of issues that you have seriously dealt with in an excellent way. Praise be to God and thank you.

Gary Webb said...

Brother Brandenburg,
Here is my post in reply to Prof. Staub:
Mr. Staub,
I noticed that you used a chapter (I Timothy 3) that is thoroughly "local church" to say that verse 15 must be some kind of "universal church." I also noticed that you used anecdotal examples from history to somehow teach that the "gates of Hell" were prevailing against local churches (ie, the Metropolitan Tabernacle - even though that church still is in existence). I would guess that you do not see any difference in the Lord Jesus removing a church's "candlestick" (Revelation 2:5) and "the gates of Hell" prevailing against a church, right? Maybe you ought to give that some thought. And, it would be interesting for you to prove from Scripture where the word ekklhsia ever means something other than an assembly. Yes, the NT does mention the "whole family" (Ephesians 3:5) referring to all believers, as well as the "kingdom of God" containing those who are born again (John 3:3, etc.), but give us the Scriptural proof of a “universal” assembly. There will be an assembly of all believers in Heaven one day, but it looks to me like your whole premise is not founded upon the Scriptures, but the philosophy of men.

Thomas Ross said...

I asked Dr. Straub if he knew of or could refer me to any refutations of B. H. Carroll's ekklesia, or any evidence arguing against a local-only position, or the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism. He employed the traditional universal church response--instead of exegetically proving his view, he eliminated my comment and provided no evidence for his universal church doctrine at all.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for all the comments.


Too bad on the comment not being published. I guess the people reading the blog would be over their heads with such a comment, spinning their wheels, not knowing what to do. They don't do well with criticism.

Don said...

Straub struck my comment too. So much for intellectual honesty.

Kent Brandenburg said...

When we leave seminary, we might not expect to get opposition, people who disagree with which we must prove our point from Scripture. That would be too much heavy lifting perhaps. Or maybe the professor could show everyone how it is done.

Anonymous said...


Wasn't R.V. Clearwaters, of Fouth Baptist Church fame, a local church only man (or something very close)?

It seems to me he published a pamphlet on the local church, and I don't think he took the universal church position. But I could be wrong.


Christian said...

Brother Brandenburg,

It maybe of interest to know that others have commented ( and a correction has been offered here:

I have attempted a reply to this correction, which I trust will be posted.

For his glory,
Christian Markle

Kent Brandenburg said...


Clearwaters was obviously a lot more local church than Straub, but he believed what some would call local-universal. He believed in the reality of the universal church. I read a pamphlet by him in seminary which took that position, but he was super, super local church central, which is why, I would think, that Central is a ministry of 4th Baptist.


I'm not going to try to answer that 'overstating my case' post in a comment. I would be pretty sure that he wouldn't post it, and I could probably list his reasons why he wouldn't. I don't have it out for Central. There are things I like about Central, and I wish that they could listen instead of just spout out. I listen to them and am willing to be persuaded. There is an arrogance that sets in to these places that does not do well for the truth. Thanks for the comment. I would be interested in your comment.

By the way, I'm writing a post that will answer the scriptural aspect of Straub's post. It won't be too long, but will be thorough.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Look at Don Heinz and Art Dunham's pictures. They could be brothers. They're not twins, but they look very similar.

Don said...

Actually, Art is a dead ringer for my deceased uncle. And I have relatives on my dad's side that were Dunstans. I guess there must be a link.

Anyway, when Dr. Weniger took over at Maranatha for Dr. Cedarholm, he said he believed in the 'primacy' of the local church. Then he proceeded to change the doctrine of the school to the unviversal invisible church as the 'true' church. It's all hoakus poakus if you ask me. The only reason this gets complicated is because some people's jobs depend on it. The parachurch guys obviously will like for the universal church to exist. Sorry to be so crude, but I think that has a lot to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Brother Kent,

Why would you disparage a good man like Don? I don't know if we are related, but I do think we are kindred spirits.

If anyone but Dave Doran had challenged Mr. Straub, I wonder if he would have backed down from the 1 Tim 2:15 reference?

That's right. Some of us did, but he did not respond to those. If I hear another blogger mention "historic fundamentalism" I think I will be sick.