Friday, March 18, 2011

When I Left Fundamentalism part five

Fundamentalism is a movement. For what is good about fundamentalism, you don't need fundamentalism. If unity is between all believers, you aren't getting that by being a fundamentalist. If unity is in the church, you don't need fundamentalism for that. You need only your church.

On the other hand, choosing not to be a fundamentalist doesn't move you into some other group other than the church. For instance, not identifying with fundamentalism doesn't mean you're now in the movement called evangelicalism or one called new-evangelicalism. Those are both movements too, by the way. Evangelicalism is a nice word, just like fundamentalism is, but they're both movements. You are not either a fundamentalist or an evangelical, which is a false dichotomy or bifurcation fallacy. This kind of binary thinking, unfortunately, is typical of fundamentalism.


When you stand before God, He's not going to have expected you to have been in any group or movement not mentioned in Scripture. The Bible is sufficient and it doesn't go beyond the church. Rest easy. Be content. These movements, these small ponds, were not started by and are not headed by Christ, so the gates of Hell can and probably will prevail against them. My opinion is that they are potential little towers of Babel that can't reach up to God.


God used fundamentalism in my life, but I left fundamentalism. I continue my story.



The Call to the Mission Director


Our church disciplined a man out of our assembly. One year before, the mission director of BWM had thanked me for not recommending him as a missionary. The man refused a mentoring program with me that the mission director required (this is all on paper) for acceptance by BWM. The man was accepted by a fundamentalist church in San Francisco after we had disciplined him out of ours, whose pastor was on the board of BWM. Within a year, his new church recommended him for acceptance by BWM, which accepted him as a missionary. I called the director of BWM. I had read both his books on holiness and separation, and even though I had issues with some of their exegesis, I ate them up. In my naivete, I believed in the man. I knew he would do what was right. I knew it. I had that kind of confidence in other people like him. Someone who wrote those books would do the right thing. He didn't.


Someone might say, "Welcome to the real world, Kent." Thank you for that, but I may have missed the welcome packet on the way in. We've got to get someone manning that front desk. So I called this man I had great respect for and he talked like we had never talked before, like this was a situation he was not familiar with. I reminded him of our other communication of what he wrote to me, of what he required of the man only a year ago, that had not been fulfilled and worse. He played it dumb. He told me that it was a matter between two local churches, that I would need to settle that between the other church (which, of course, I planned on doing, but I was talking to this missions director first). I told him that "no," it wasn't just between two churches, but it was a matter between our church and BWM too. We had disciplined this man out of our church and BWM had accepted him in. I had read his books. I reminded him that I read his books, and I had underlined portions in preparation for that phone call. He himself had written that "agencies," like his, were to be treated like a church in matters of separation, according to him. Those were his own rules. He said something like, "Well, we're going to have to just agree to disagree, and you're going to have to take it up with that other church; it's out of my hands." I saw him as cutting his losses, i.e., choosing what hill he would die on (and other such nonsense I had heard in fundamentalism). I told him that nothing had changed since a year ago since he had thanked me for not recommending the man, except the man was worse, to which he was silent, except that he said that the man sent a very good doctrinal statement. I replied that someone could copy the language for the statement from other men, people did it all the time. He said, "Uh-huh, but it was good."


There we go. Wow. Man-oh-man. Head wagging. I guess I should have expected it. Are things really this bad? I thought the words in his book meant something. Here's what I found that they meant. They meant that whoever had the most juice, the most political juice, the one who could do the most "damage," he's the one you listened to. I didn't have that juice, so I was not going to have "my way." But what about God's way? Here's what had happened. We removed the leaven from our lump (1 Cor 5). BWM took in the leaven from our lump. We could have no more relations with BWM without the leaven again leavening our lump. We were supporting five other BWM missionaries, mainly because of things like I had read in their director's books. We would not remove the leaven from our lump only to have it leaven us again. I'll come back to that part of the story later.


The Other Church


I've got no axe to grind here. I'm happier than ever. I'm giddy to have all of this in the rear-view mirror. Leaving fundamentalism gave me an oxygen mask I didn't know existed. I didn't call the big-wig pastor. Our church voted to treat their church in the manner we treated our disciplined member. We used Matthew 18:15-17 as a model for how to deal with the other church. Our goal was to reconcile. I held out hopes that church would want to reconcile. That would be the right thing to do, to settle it with our church. Our church met and agreed that, to be gracious, we would offer three different dates for the men of that church to get together with the men of our church in order to reconcile this situation of their having taken our disciplined member. We were trying to stay in fellowship with that church.


The normal way in fundamentalism, and even the way I had been instructed, was just to let it go. "Letting it go" meant one of two things. One, it meant that your relations to that church didn't change at all. You just acted like nothing happened. Did something happen? Yes. God knew something happened. But we would act like it didn't. We would go all thespian. Two, it meant that you just ignored that church forever, disfellowshipped from the church, but just never told the other church. They would get it after a period of time. This is the cold shoulder that fundamentalism is so famous for. And would they even notice the cold shoulder? Probably not, because the movement and the "fellowships" were really not about fellowship after all, but about the organization, the little tower they were building. A church isn't really big enough. You've got to have a conference at which to preach to others to improve your own status, at least in your own mind.


So the men of our church signed the letter with the three dates and sent it registered mail to the church who had taken our member. This pastor, by the way, was big in the FBF in California. Meetings were held at his church. Just a few years before this, I went to the ordination of one of his sons, to be a pastor. During the ordination, a pastor on the ordination council asked him if he owned a Strong's Concordance. The boy stood there like a deer in the headlights, an overused analogy, but very apropos in this context. He shrugged. He did not know what a Strong's Concordance was. We were forced to sit there without laughing. I squirmed and tried to look around to see if I might get eye contact with someone else, but decided I shouldn't for fear that some kind of negative momentum would shift us from the facade with which we were working. The young man was a fundamentalist Bible college graduate, actually from my alma mater, and we were questioning on the council. His non answer to that question meant that we would be throwing the softest softballs, whiffle balls, for the rest of the council. He would be "ordained" because he had been "called," but mainly because we wouldn't dare not ordain him because of who his dad was. I remember feeling grimy that day, watching those proceedings. Fundamentalism had programmed us to stay silent in the face of such incompetence.


I would say "I digress," but I really don't. It really wasn't the boy's fault. He shouldn't have been up there that day. I think you know that. So what happened? A short while later I got a letter back. It was 6 pages, single-spaced, small print, small margins. First, the letter was six pages of name calling. The man called me every possible bad thing without moving into actual filthy language. It was worse than filth. Second, he said, "how dare we give them dates to reconcile"---they didn't need to reconcile, they didn't do anything wrong. There were no arguments from scripture. There were no challenges to what we had said about the man we disciplined. The letter was only about 5 1/2 pages of slander about me, calling me nasty names and saying nasty, untrue things. He sent a courtesy copy to the director of BWM. It wasn't gossip. It was a "courtesy," something offices do, you know, CC, courtesy copy. That's all it was. At the end, he said that if we did anything, anything, he would send a copy of that letter to men all over the country. He was threatening me, to force me to do nothing in this situation. If you are trying to remember a passage that instructs someone to do this kind of thing, you can stop now---it's not in the Bible.


By the way, I said 5 1/2 pages. It may be 5 3/4. There was one little part of it, about a quarter of a page, that I found was true. However, I did not know about that little part until then. Yet, it is part of this story, my story about when I left fundamentalism. A big part actually. But I'll get to it later. One part he got right, but I hadn't heard that this thing had even happened. That was a really good part about getting the letter. Something had happened that I didn't know had happened.


What Did We Do Next


His letter made it an easy decision for our church. We voted not to have fellowship with this church without future repentance. And yet, I would be seeing this man in the leadership of FBF meetings I would be attending. Hmmm. Do you think I should go for the "fellowship?" Or do you think it might be bad to the meaning of "fellowship" to call that fellowship?


One of the next things I did was to write a letter to all the men who attended the Northern California FBF and tell them that I could not remain in fellowship with the fellowship with a man there with whom I wasn't in fellowship. I didn't give the gory details, just the scriptural bullet points to tell them why I would be attending any more, so they would know. We were all in fellowship, after all. They should know. I sent about 30-40 of these letters. Of course, I was risking the widespread distribution of the slanderous letter, but my conscience was clear.


I suggest you review the "letting it go" section of an above paragraph to understand how fundamentalists were indoctrinated to view such a thing as I was doing. They were likely puzzled why I wasn't "letting it go." I thought that I shouldn't call something fellowship that was not fellowship---it sort of messed up the word. I wanted to keep fellowship and the biblical concept of fellowship intact. I got two responses to my letter. Two. They were both very, very short. One was a phone call from a young man who had been pastoring for a year or two. He asked if I was talking about him. I assured him I was not talking about him. Once, he found that out, well, he thought he could let it go. The other was a letter of about three sentences from a man who acknowledged he had received the letter and that, although he felt sorry for me, he disagreed. He didn't say why he disagreed or what it was he disagreed with, but he registered that he disagreed. I found that the fellowship was such that people didn't care what had occurred, nor would you be missed. So that's also what I would be missing by not being in the FBF. Nothing. I would miss nothing. Actually, I would be blessed to be missing it. Since then, I have missed the FBF in a very good kind of way. My only personal desire to return to one meeting in the future would be for the purpose of looking these men right in the eye.


Since then, by the way, I have heard that it wasn't that men didn't talk about the letter. The letter was talked about. Men knew that I wrote the letter and talked about it. Not with me. But they did talk about it. Is this what we instruct the people of our churches to do in fundamentalism? Talk with others about someone's problem, but not to the person himself. Even recently, I ran into a Spanish FBF pastor in the area, who told me that he had been told that our church was Ruckmanite, Hyles, and 1-2-3 pray with me. That's what he had been thinking of our church for years, because of what others had said. He was surprised to find that I preached from the original languages, had long and publically rejected Hyles, and was the furthest thing away from 1-2-3 pray with me. What would he do now that he knew what he heard about us was a lie? What do you think? Of course. Let it go.


I received the communications from BWM through their normal newsletter. I saw that the missions director was going to be in the Bay Area. I thought, "Great!" I could talk to him in person. I wanted to do that. It would be better. I wrote him to tell him I'd like to talk to him. He never wrote me back. I called BWM to ask if I could get together with him, and he never got back to me. I then called the church where he was speaking, and he said that he did not want to talk with me in person. So that's how that ended. By the way, in that conversation, I asked him about receiving a slanderous letter about me. And he said that he had received the CC and put it in his file. His file. I said it was slanderous. He said he was simply filing it because it was sent to him as a courtesy. I would have to take up the matter with the pastor who sent it, it wasn't his problem. I said, you should throw it away---it wasn't true. It is listening to gossip. You should confront the one from whom you received it about gossip, about false accusations. No, he would keep it. It was a courtesy letter. That was his reason. And we were done.


Next, I wrote out everything that had happened in the form of a case study. It had no names. Everything was mission board A, person B, mission director C---that kind of thing. I wanted our BWM missionaries to judge what had happened strictly based upon what had happened with no names and no politics. At the end, I asked them what I should do. I got zero responses back from that case study. None of those missionaries sent anything back to me.


However, the BWM director got much communication from the missionaries. They asked him what to think about the case study. They sent the case study to him to find out how to react to it. That's when I found out that often board missionaries are really sent by their board, much more than their sending church. The board exerts tremendous power and control, very much like a convention or association. Missionaries very often checked back with the board to know what to do. The boards, I found, bound people and churches together very much like a denomination. I knew fundamentalism was against conventions and associations like the Southern Baptists and the American Baptists, but that mission boards in fundamentalism (and colleges and universities) are the conventions in fundamentalism. Fundamentalism is not without its conventions. It has them in their boards and colleges and universities. In principle, there was little different. The problems of board missions, really an extra-scriptural and even unscriptural concept or practice, became very apparent to me at that time.


What Would We Do with BWM?


More to Come

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

KJV!!!!!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anonymous,

Deep, poignant, and courageous. Brava!

Scott Leigh said...

I got the impression you simply ended up leaving fundamentalism b/c of a dispute that never got resolved to your satisfaction. The issue of not getting backed up when you pursued disciplinary action that started with 1 person then spread to a church, a mission agency and eventually up to the level of a whole fellowship (FBF and now apparently fundamentalism at large). Perhaps this is simplifying it too much but that's the gist IMO. There are a number of points which I think you'd do well to consider. 1) Fundamentalism is a movement yes but is honestly nowadays more a theological point on whether you still practice separation so long as the 'fundamentals' are adhered to. From your own disassociating I'd say that squarely lands you still in that camp. You even separate from separatists but it still classifies u as a separatist which is what make fundamentalism distinct from evangelicalism.
2) You are doing the same things you find abhorrent in others. A letter was sent out with a CC to BWM but you send out 30-40 CC's of your own because you felt that it was a fellowship. Isn't the pastor's letter to BWM a fellowship and perhaps was even more apropos as a subject of the dispute? Sorry you were called names though, seriously. You felt it was wrong for others to talk about you at the meeting but you've got a blog about them for the world to see. Not the same?
3) You seem to find fault with the FBF and fundamentalism at large because they don't agree with your disciplinary acts. While I agree we could use more unanimity among brethren and things like church letters should be utilized whereby people can't just church shop without having things right where they left, still it is unrealistic to expect that fundamentalism for one is organized in any kind of way such as to act in concert as one regarding decisions we make as independent churches. That kind of hierarchy isn't available nor feasible and I doubt desirable among the proponents since it would then become a denomination and autonomy would suffer. The built in autonomy again makes it impossible to treat these entities as one would a church. A church is a church not a mission agency, not an association , and not a movement.
4) The movement doesn't have the kind of nameless, omnipotence to master manipulate others to become drones of the evil empire. We don't have any Darth Vaders any more that I can see. Yes we can be connected on many levels by churches, pastor's fellowships, FBF's mission agencies, etc but with all that connection there is so much more disconnecting us today. But there's no head, no master plot, no 'force' controlling the acts of others just people, many very good and enough not so much to make things look worth jettisoning at times. Sorry for your misfortunes. Many have been self-inflicted by my last point.
5) Finally and I have to say it, Kent, you come across as one who finds himself in too many disputes and has made many enemies along the way from a self-initiated quest for justice on issues you deem right. You appear from a distance contentious. Sorry to have to say that. Perhaps you are a slighted warrior of truth who is unappreciated for your efforts in 'real life'. Then again you may be too contentious and unwilling to realize that 'letting it go' often is synonymous for love not compromise or a lack of intestinal fortitude. I wish you well. You are likely a nice guy who just takes some things too seriously. I hope you'll realize I don't offer this as criticism so much as critique.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scott,

Thanks for coming by. I'll be quick.

First, I knew that I'd get the amateur psychoanalysis; it seems par for the course among several. You've got to judge what you read, not what you speculate. I wrote this over 10 years after it occurred and over 5 years after I started blogging. If something was so personal, it wouldn't have come out after over 4-500 blog posts. So I ask you to relax on that.

Second, I talked to every character here first. I didn't include the name of the offender in my FBF letter, just the scriptural principles that were a basis for my not returning. It's apples and oranges what I did and they did. This story is my story, but it isn't about me as much as it's about God and His Word.

Third, fundamentalism is a movement. And I don't believe in the idea of fundamentalism. I'll get to that later. I'm a separatist, but I practice biblical separation, unlike fundamentalism.

Fourth, fundamentalism causes a lot of problems that need to be exposed. This story will help people. I'm not neophyte, I've been pastoring one very unified church for 23 plus years. Fundamentalism is no threat to me. I will keep contending for everything the Bible says, like I see Jesus and His apostles did.

Fifth, you're not going to stop church hopping, etc., by letting it go. And that isn't love. It might be sentimentalism, but love rejoices in the truth and rejoices not in iniquity.

Sixth, fundamentalism is renouned for naming names of people never confronted personally. That's fine in certain instances, but that's a lower standard than why I have here. I've confronted all my characters. And I'm only mentioning a few names. I don't want them to get googled---my way of letting it go.

Thanks for facing up here, Scott, talking to me directly and providing your name.

Joshua said...

Imagine that Pastor when he opened Kent's letter, read it, then responded.

Do you imagine for a minute he thought Kent could possibly be a sincere brother who wanted to work this out? Not a chance. There was the instant assumption of a troublemaker.

This is the problem with sins of omission. At first some stop obeying Biblical church discipline. Then some years later no one knows anyone who practices it. Then someone actually practices it and they are assumed wicked because "no one does that anymore".

You can see that in Scott's post:

"Finally and I have to say it, Kent, you come across as one who finds himself in too many disputes and has made many enemies along the way from a self-initiated quest for justice on issues you deem right"

The assumption by these men has to be that you are a railer and a schismatic.

Does this sort of behaviour have a Biblical track record? Absolutely:

1 Kings 18:17
And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou he that troubleth Israel?

I like Elijah's reply:
And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim

Gary Webb said...

Scott,
You are to be commended for standing up for your fellowship ... I guess. However, I hope that you will someday come to see these matters as matters to be determined by what the Bible teaches.
The FBF used to be "my group" because of what they preached. Then, like brother Brandenburg, it became obvious that what they preached and what they practiced did not match. But what caused me to withdraw from their fellowship was not primarily the hypocrisy, rather it was that [like Kent] I wanted to practice what the Bible teaches and have the Lord's blessing upon my own life.
I am glad there are some within fundamentalism who are still trying to be sincere and genuine and practice the Bible the way they understand it, but far too often the way they understand it is not from sound, sincere exegesis but simply according to the traditions they have been taught. It seems to me that your points are an example of that.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

What would we do with BWM?

Drive it!

Charles said...

Maybe one of your problems is lack of exegetical insight. When you're hosting a conference that labels itself as "exegetical", and yet features guys who put articles like this (http://www.midcoastbaptistchurch.com/showart2.asp?contentID=10199) on their church websites, it does little to help your credibility.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Titus,

Ha.

Gary,

I concur completely.

Joshua,

I think you nail it with the comment. Good thoughts. I'm teaching through 1 Kings in Sunday School and I just covered that chapter.

Charles,

Give me an example of my lack of exegetical insight.

I read the piece by Pastor Bromwell, and I didn't find anything unscriptural to it. What is the wrong exegesis there? Maybe you think it is obvious. He's not breaking down a particular passage with that article, so I think it isn't a good example to use for exposing bad exegesis, but for what it is, it isn't wrong. What's wrong with it Charles? I'd like to hear your take.

Charles said...

Kent -

I'm surprised that you can't see the problems with that article. First of all, John wasn't known as "John the Baptist." That's a misleading transliteration of the Greek word. He was "John the Baptizer." That could apply to almost any denomination who practices immersion. To stake your claim on his Baptistic roots via that argument is terribly weak exegetically. There's the exegetical problem. The logical problems are much broader. Nothing he more that he says about John refer to any of the Baptist disctinctives. The same things John did could again be said of many in differing denominations! Please understand, this is coming from a Baptist by conviction. A Baptist who has an aversion to the faulty exegesis and logic put forth in the type of Landmarkism that you find in the referenced article.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Charles,

You should go one step further and say that it should be "John the Immerser." When you say "baptizer" you are also transliterating. I don't think that Bromwell said anything that would reveal that he doesn't understand that "Baptist" relates to "baptism." So that is the one major exegetical problem? That's weak. It didn't even relate to the problem. Even the modern translations call him, "the Baptist." Our Baptist name comes from "baptize"---that we know. And John was the first to receive baptism and from God directly. That's exegetical.

It seems that your big problem is local only ecclesiology, which is exegetical. It is the universal ecclesiology that comes out of the allegorical approach to scripture in Roman Catholicism, part of neo-platonism, that is eisegetical.

I didn't read one mention of the Baptist distinctives in the article. However, John practiced regenerate immersion, which does distinguish him from Roman Catholicism and much of Protestantism. That's a major differentiating doctrine in history and especially for Baptists. Read Armitage's History of the Baptists. As well, John had the authority to baptize and Jesus traveled over 70 miles to subject himself to John' baptism, because of the importance of authoritative baptism. What we do know is that the assembly John was gathering around him, baptized believers, the one he prepared for Jesus, followed Jesus after His baptism.

You call his article "Landmark," when landmarkism isn't in the article. Charles, what is landmarkism? And, second, what landmark material by landmarkers have you read? I ask you not to google. Just answer spontaneously. Thank you.

Timothy said...

Kent,

As I mentioned to you earlier, there about 10,000 churches in the independent fundamental Baptist movement. The FBF represents less than 10% of that and the Hyles orbit does not occupy any more than that. You have had conflict with a couple of men in the FBF in your region. I think you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. I fully understand not hooking up with certain groups. Our church belongs to none. But we are not ashamed to call ourselves fundamentalists.

Dr. David Sorenson
Duluth, MN

Kent Brandenburg said...

Dr. Sorenson,

I've enjoyed reading your books.

I don't mind someone calling me a fundamentalist. I understand when they do, what they mean. Even someone in this comment thread said I was a fundamentalist to him because I was a separatist, but I believe being a fundamentalist for almost everyone, perhaps not yourself, is a problem. I will even defend most fundamentalists when they are attacked by evangelicals. I'll get to what I see as the issues as I go further in this series.

I see what the value of fundamentalism is to some. It's like someone being saved in a Billy Graham crusade. There is a value up to a point there, but it's also a problem.

Thanks for commenting!

Todd Wood said...

So who is going to write the next book on the contemporary American independent Baptist movement?

And I would be interested where David S. gets his statistics.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Charles - "landmarkism"

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Todd,

Thanks for coming by. I read your comment at SI and the reason I didn't see you in SF is because these incidents here took place several years before that. I had already left fundamentalism.

If someone were to write on the contemporary Baptists, I would hope that he would be someone sympathetic and yet independent, so as to be very honest.

Titus,

I'm awaiting Charles' definition of landmark, because I've found most people believe the strawman and use it as pejorative, meaning something it doesn't mean.

Gary Webb said...

Brother Sorenson,
Good to see you in the discussion.
I think, after brother Brandenburg gets through with his articles on Fundamentalism, that you will see that his disagreement with Fundamentalism is not just with the politics of a certain group. Rather, it has an exegetical basis in regard to what THE or A "church" is. Also, it is a realization that the "fundamentalist" approach to Scripture & truth is flawed or unscriptural. Fundamentalism reduces doctrine to a certain common denominator [ie, the fundamentals - however one might want to define those], whereas Jesus said that the one who wants to be "great" in His kingdom will obey "the least" of His commandments (Matthew 5:18-19).
Brother Brandenburg's experience with BWM & their unwillingness to honor the authoritative action of his church is just one example of that ... but all of us could give many other examples of the same type of treatment from "fundamentalist" schools, camps, mission boards, etc. who hold to the "fundamentals" but - particularly because of their universal church mentality - declare other important doctrines "non-essential". Ultimately that means not obeying those doctrines. The driving force in the decision to "leave fundamentalism" is the realization that all these associations are not only not beneficial, but are detrimental to the local church's obedience to all the Scriptures [which is a major part of carrying out the Great Commission - Matthew 28:20].

David Sorenson said...

Gary, I would define fundamental doctrine more broadly than you. I have always considered orthodox doctrine to be the doctrinal foundation of fundamentalism rather than the 5 fundamentals. That coupled with the development of separation from compromise or apostasy to be the essence of fundamentalism. You guys seem to want to reduce it to the FBF, or BJU, or associated organizations. I am not afflicted by any of the above, but still consider myself a fundamentalist.

David Sorenson

Scott Leigh said...

Kent,
A quick re-reply.
First, I did judge purely on what I read and while your history or my lack of intimacy with it may be held against me as seeming to speculate, I merely connected the dots you provided as the straw landing on the camel's back.

Second, We'll have to agree to disagree on the 'idea of fundamentalism.' You believe the fundamentals and separate over them and even secondary issues so that in itself makes you one whether you dislike the many practitioners of it you've had the misfortune to meet. I doubt the evangelical crowd would call you one of their own and while there must be the proverbial no man's land it looks from my vantage point as though you are fundamental. Perhaps we can agree on that? Its not like you switched sides, you are just disavowing yourself that there are two sides (or more). The old fallacy of false dilemma, bifurcation, dichotomy?

Third, Yes fundamentalism is flawed. So are you and I. I don't know that I'd find it entirely edifying to tell the world all that's wrong with ourselves or intimate circles as it can create isolation.

Fourth, What you call 'letting go' is possibly, just possibly at times not a gutless wonder doing his thing but could be many things. It can be a confrontation of spiritual gifts clashing (the prophet and gift of mercy [Rom. 12] don't mix well at times), strong personalities, someone being uninformed, or best of all seeking to handle it in love. There are a number of reasons why you might perceive 'letting go' as some 'that's the way fundamentalism brain washes you to respond like a lemming' mindset but is something else. Your view is simplistic IMO and perhaps not taking all things into account. Just sayn'

Fifth, I think if we're going to expose this dark side of fundamentalism as you are that we at least be above all reproach and one cannot be feeling defensive. If you can say the same things about what happened without the 'they hurt me' you can better demonstrate you're not totally impartial when writing this.' You have to be completely free of partiality for the thing to stick.

Sixth, It appears to be in the end a 'landmark' decision for you and associated others of your (pl.) accumulated discussions over the powers seen to be inherent in a local church to the dismissal of a universal body of Christ. Nope, fundamentalism isn't a church. Nor is BWM or a BMW! Its a commonly held doctrinal point of view and while you still demonstrate to holding the same 'points of view' you have decided to side with the local church trumping all things universal and bring new meaning to the faulty dilemma.

Take care.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scott,

Perhaps as this series goes on, you'll understand why I'm not a fundamentalist. A lot of us learn through our stories, our experience, and interaction with Scripture, and we change. As it's happening, much doesn't feel good, but it still is what the Bible says that should determine it. If I wrote just that, there would not be the interest, would there?

Gary Webb said...

Brother Sorenson,
I understand what you are saying. I was never a "5 fundamentals" Fundamentalist, but considered the fundamentals to be orthodox doctrine. I also considered the doctrine of separation to be a vital part of being a Fundamentalist. I don't have a problem with that type of identification against New Evangelicalism, Charismatism, etc. When fundamental Christianity is attacked by evangelicals or the leftist media, I will defend my brethren. However, I am not Protestant, not Calvinist, not "universal church" in my ecclesiology, not willing to tolerate a critical text position in bibliology, not willing to accept an Amil or Postmil eschatology, and not willing to grant NT authority to parachurch groups [especially as they interact with NT churches]. Therefore, I do not want to identify myself with Fundamentalism. Our church fellowships with other Baptist churches who are like-minded in doctrine & practice. We do not see any Scriptural need to be identified with anything larger than our church - though we recognize that all those who are genuinely saved are part of the "Kingdom of God" - John 3:3.

Thomas Ross said...

Note that Mr. Leigh never defined "Landmarkism."

I am thankful that I left the same church Pastor Brandenburg is speaking about (without any knowledge of the disciplined member situation) because they would not go house to house and evangelize their area.

The following is something from a paper I wrote on the Great Commission--it explains the actual Landmark position on church succession:

J. R. Graves, one of the first, along with J. M. Pendleton, to employ the term Landmarkism in the 1800’s to describe the ecclesiological position which he and many other Baptists of his day contended for, wrote the following: “Nor do we admit the claims of the ‘Liberals’ upon us, to prove the continuous existence of the church, of which we are a member, or which baptized us, in order to prove our doctrine of church succession, and that we have been scripturally baptized or ordained. As well might the Infidel call upon me to prove every link of my descent from Adam, before I am allowed to claim an interest in the redemptive work of Christ, which was confined to the family of Adam! We point to the Word of God, and, until the Infidel can destroy its authenticity, our hope is unshaken. In like manner, we point the ‘Liberal’ Baptist to the words of Christ, and will he say they are not sufficient?” (pg. 85, Old Landmarkism: What is it? Texarkana, TX: Bogard Press, 1880 (reprint)). Landmarkism is the Scriptural teaching that there has been an actual succession of churches, just like there has been an actual succession of men from Adam, but it does not assert the necessity of tracing that succession back church by church to Christ, because the Bible asserts its existence, and God’s naked promise is sufficient. It is a position based upon faith (Hab 2:4) in the promises of God about church succession, as found in the Great Commission and elsewhere (Mt 16:18, 18:17, 1 Cor 11:26, 12:13, Eph 2:19-22, 3:21, 5:27; see these passages explained in relation to succession on pg. 7, Landmarks of Church History, Robert Sargent, Oak Harbor, WA: Bible Baptist Church Publications, n. d.. 2 Tim 2:2 also suggests a succession of church leadership.). The definition of Landmarkism set forth by J. R. Graves is still that believed by those who gladly call themselves Landmark Baptists today. For example, I. K. Cross, “one of the most outstanding proponents of Landmarkism during the last quarter of the twentieth century,” a prominent historian and seminary professor for a school associated with the American Baptist Association, the largest group to universally assume the title of “Landmarkers,” defends the same position in relation to perpetuity delineated by J. R. Graves in his pamphlet Landmarkism: An Update (Texarkana, TX: Bogard Press, 1984- the quote above is from the back cover). He includes numerous quotes from Graves and rejects the misrepresentations of Landmarkism mentioned above. This modern day Landmark Baptist leader writes: “I do not know of a reputable Landmark Baptist student of church history who claims that every congregation must trace its individual history link by link back to Christ and the apostles. If this were true there would be few, if any, churches that could validate themselves. This is not [bold in original] the claim of true Baptist church perpetuity. This does not, however, weaken the need for church succession in New Testament church history.” (pg. 13, Landmarkism, an Update.) Neither those who coined the term “Landmarkism,” nor those who take the term to themselves today, believe the various strange, heretical, and unbiblical positions their opponents put to them out of either ignorance or spite.


For that matter, Graves, etc. all believed that churches were self-constituted and there was no essential mother-daughter church authority. This is proven at:

http://libcfl.com/articles/LUF/index.html

by a professed Landmarker.

Anvil said...

Pastor Brandenburg, it sounds like this experience just moved you out of fundamentalism more quickly, but given your doctrinal differences with fundamentalism, you would have left anyway.

I attend a church in the FBF orbit, one that takes discipline seriously. I can say that had we received a letter like you describe, we would have been willing to discuss the matter with men from your church, but certainly not only under terms you dictated (i.e. only 3 dates, the fact that *we* would have to reconcile, etc.). It would have to be considered a discussion among equals. And of course, if the reason you had disciplined the member was over the peculiarities of your beliefs (local-church only, KJVO, female members not allowed to vote in business meetings, etc.), we would have to go our separate ways anyway, since we not only wouldn't discipline for not holding your views on those issues, they would mean the person in question is closer to what we would want in a member anyway. If in the end we disagreed with what you presented (say we held Larry's views on the person working, for example), or believed the member had changed, your church's decision would not be considered binding on ours.

Our church isn't local-church only, but we have pretty strong views on the authority of the local church as well, and what we decide on a matter after hearing it would not have anything to do with your church or any other -- if we have done what we believe is right by scripture, we would have to "let go" as you put it, and not worry about what your church thinks of ours.

Given what you have described, I'm not sure what the mission board would have been able to do differently, as regards what to do about two disagreeing churches. They received a negative recommendation followed by a positive one. If the 2nd church has determined that the man would be a good missionary candidate, the mission board would be right to say that the two churches needed to work things out (even though it is true that had I been the one making a decision, I would certainly have desired *very* strong evidence from the 2nd church that the man had truly changed from what was described in the non-recommendation from the 1st church). A mission board isn't in the position of dictating to one church based on what another church has decided.

Obviously, a letter full of name-calling "filth" (assuming it was as you described it) would not be the right response from another church. But neither should you have expected them to just drop everything and meet all your demands. And as I said above, while this may have hastened your departure from the FBF and from using organizations like BWM, in the long run, I don't believe it would have changed anything. Not all fundamental churches are like the one you described -- there are those not in your orbit that do take scripture and discipline seriously, but would not come down on some issues the way you do, and that would be the true reason for the separation.

Victor Mowery said...

Thomas Ross,

I don't know how this turned into a discussion Landmarkism here, but since you defined it, one more thing should be pointed out. Your definition and explanation left out a prior article of faith that must exist in order to arrive at the conclusions Landmarkers do. What you left out, but is crucial to their point, is this: The word "church" must necessarily mean "local church" in all of the passages mentioned in order for Baptist perpetuity or your definition of Landmarkism to make any sense at all. That point - the definition of "church" - is the true dividing line between Landmark and non-Landmark. Everything else that goes along with Landmarkism hinges on the definition of "church." Since you did not mention it, and it has to be an "a priori" conviction for your explanation to even work, it is worth bringing up here. So a better definition of Landmarkism would have to include the Landmark definitions of "church", "body of Christ" and so forth, and how those beliefs naturally lead to the Baptist perpetuity view.

In other words, what I am saying is this. In defining Landmarkism, you left out the _most_ imporant element, the one from which all others descend.

I am not a Landmark Baptist, btw in case anyone wonders, but I believe I have a solid understanding of it.

But it seems to me that neither Landmarkism nor any of that kind of discussion in the comments here has anything whatsoever to do with the story Kent is telling or the lessons we can all learn from it.

Kent, I will say that giving the other church three different times to meet was a little odd. I recently tried to schedule a meeting with only just a few men and getting all their hectic schedules together still left one key man out of the meeting. And that was not "the men of the church" but just a handful. A more gracious solution would leave the scheduling open-ended for the other church and you as the offended party making yourselves available on their schedule. I have had to do that before on personal matters. On a lighter (laughable) note, during the era of dueling to satisfy offense, there were established rules as to which party got to choose time, place, weapons, etc.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Victor,

Just quick, maybe will write something later.

We gave three dates that would work for our men. When two groups are trying to get together, it's got to work for both sides. We gave them three dates, but not meeting on one of those dates was not one of the terms of reconciliation, just was more convenient than one date when we could meet. If they needed another date, we would have tried to meet that, and we expressed that, but they didn't want to meet, period, because there was no problem.

Anvil,

I'll look more into your comment later, but the interpretation of 2 Thess 3 isn't all that a man not working a job rests upon. We included more than 2 Thess 3 when we disciplined him. That's what got it rolling, however.

There other issues, pants-on-women, local only ecclesiology, those types of things, those hypothetical things that wouldn't matter to you, weren't the issue here. I get your point, but it wasn't one to be made here, because it doesn't apply at all. So why are you making that point?

Scott Leigh said...

Thomas Ross' commented: "But it seems to me that neither Landmarkism nor any of that kind of discussion in the comments here has anything whatsoever to do with the story Kent is telling or the lessons we can all learn from it."

I would point out that Gary Webb said... "Brother Brandenburg's experience with BWM & their unwillingness to honor the authoritative action of his church is just one example of that ... but all of us could give many other examples of the same type of treatment from "fundamentalist" schools, camps, mission boards, etc. who hold to the "fundamentals" but - particularly because of their universal church mentality"

Kent's defenders have brought it up as key to this issue. It is obvious how this fits into Kent's dismissal of fundamentalism (ie. wider acceptance of the universal church). His 'landmark' decision is founded upon a controversy over the authority of his church being ignored.

To Kent's comment "So why are you making that point?" re: Anvil's comments re: "But neither should you have expected them to just drop everything and meet all your demands."

Kent, I read Anvil's reasons and I can definitely declare my own as making this point because we aren't a) privy to the details of why someone was disciplined b) could very well agree with the other church's decision if we did so this point should be brought up. By assuming that we must agree with your church's decision of be seen as uncaring of the 'local church' it needs to be brought up and this point was for me very well presented and makes perfect sense.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scott,

This is a church that viewed itself as in fellowship with us. I saw its pastor at the FBF. I was invited to the ordination council of his son. We discipline someone out of our church. That church accepts a disciplined member from our church. Do you think it might want to know why we disciplined him? I've found it isn't unusual for a church and pastor that is receiving a new family to think that it has the answer for whatever trouble a family has in the past. And that type of church continues to be that way with your type of support. This is the essence of fellowship between churches, respecting the discipline of the other church. Another church's thought: something must have been wrong at the other church, therefore, we are justified in taking the family. But what about the Head of the church, about God, about the Bible itself?

I'll wait for Anvil to give his own answer.

Scott Leigh said...

Kent,

Sorry if I became your pest. I just read what you wrote, some more comments which definitely revealed more and just well got curiouser and curiouser. If you are tired of me just let me know. I can find the door. :)

First off I misread above the name and instead of Thomas Ross I should have said Victor Mowery.

I COMPLETELY understand your frustration with churches not being more respecting, connected, etc. with one another especially as it relates to people church hopping. There's this one down the street from me that does the same that's a national megachurch with a book writing machine for a pastor. Their pastor hasn't once checked with us on the fine folks we've 'sent' his way. Drives me crazy. They aren't getting my support as you say except all the people we 'send' his way.

But you've got an interesting dilemma here. You say you want one church's discipline respected by another. Unless they are tighter than tight at the pastor level, I can't see how this would happen. Being in a FBF type fellowship wouldn't be very close IMO. I've been to a handful of those and truly I only KNOW closely a small handful. If one of the other churches did an act of discipline I don't know them well enough to just accept it on some spit and a handshake.

So let me ask, You'll simply accept whatever happened at church A because, why? You weren't there to witness it so you can't truly know what happened. What would be the specific qualifications for accepting another church's discipline? Baptist? Independent? School attended? Other more fringe elements of doctrine? Wouldn't that potentially set you up for taking part in another's sinfulness if the decision wasn't made for proper reasons? How do you really know?

What if another Baptist church kicked someone out for using the KJV (I know sounds heretical huh?) or for upsetting the queen bee the pastor's wife? What if the reasons aren't biblically grounded? And how would you know since its handled discreetly? So many issues are personality driven, doctrinal differences that aren't fundamental, that its hard to tell what's going on.

The biblical model for settling a dispute among the brethren was as handled in Acts 15 but I doubt you would approve of relinquishing authority over to a higher pastor than yourself like James to decide for you would you? It wasn't handled by one church writing the other a ultimatum letter. Who or how would disputes get handled/by? You know Mt 18 isn't about churches disciplining churches.

What has been coming out of this discussion has been that a growing consensus under the surface of landmark type churches have grown tired of being the red-headed stepsister of fundamentalism and disown the whole lot seeing it as mainly controlled by universal church doctrinal points of view. So you 'leave' it. You don't join evangelicalism or become liberal no you make a very logical step of making a forward assault on the idea of a false dichotomy by claiming it exists in fundamentalism and declare your exit as based on the basis it it. But the false dilemma appears to be believing that for churches that are denied being heard when they discipline that the only alternative is to go. It all seems more about exercising local church autonomy to the detriment of the whole.

You've made a statement about the state of the church's interrelationship and that to me is the part with the most value, not leaving fundamentalism. To me the title of this series should read 'How messed up church unity is with all these relational differences and what I did to show it.' That would be so true and would receive little critique from me!

Take care. I won't be in here to hassle you. I've enjoyed the exchange and hope its been helpful to many. I've benefited.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Scott - I think you are confusing the local church position with Landmarkism, which is a very specific subset within the broader rubric of the "local church position." I think you're making a part-whole fallacy, in the same way that KJV-antis will lump all KJV supporters together as "Ruckmanites."

Gary Webb said...

To all the guys who have questioned the action of Bethel Baptist's handling of the discipline case:

Though my ecclesiology has only become "local only" in the last 15 years [I have been pastor here for 27], our church has not received a member from another independent Baptist church without first contacting the pastor. We have sent a prospective member back to another church which is Calvinistic & pro John MacArthur to clear up some minor disagreements before considering that person as a member for our church [though we are strongly anti-Calvinism & oppose MacArthur]. Why do we do this? Because we want to help people to become obedient Christians, & because we think that the NT requires this for Scriptural integrity.
I cannot believe that 2 people challenged Brandenburg about his church giving three dates to meet with the other church as if this was some kind of demand. It was clearly to give that church an opportunity to find an agreeable time to meet. It seems to me that you guys are looking for any excuse possible to disagree with a church that is simply trying to follow the Bible & to help churches & individuals do what is right & grow in righteousness.
I do not believe that in 27 years of pastoring that I have ever had another independent Baptist pastor call me when someone from our church wanted to join their church.

Anvil said...

I mentioned the issues I did because of the difference in interpretation/philosophy that men in your camp have with fundamentalism -- especially in the areas of ecclesiology, bibliology, and authority, which I was getting at with those examples. (I didn't mention pants at all.) Those are issues that show you have doctrinal differences with mainstream fundamentalism, not just a bad experience with cronyism.

I think this story is an interesting anecdote on your path away from fundamentalism, but I don't believe it's really core to it. I don't think you are one of those shallow types who leaves a group because of a bad experience with one or two entities in that group. I've read a lot of those "Why I left..." stories on the internet. Some have good reasons, and some are just sour grapes. I don't believe you are really in the latter group, although the experience you relate above indicates there is a bit of that in what you are relating. I think you know that whatever you experienced with a particular church and mission board cannot legitimately be generalized to all of fundamentalism (even if you have had other bad experiences in fundamentalism which you are not relating here), which means your true differences lie elsewhere.

Had the church and the mission board taken your concerns seriously, and then dealt with them fairly, but in a way that disagreed with what you believe, you would still have been in the position of not being able to work with them. That was what I was getting at by using my church as an example. We have never been faced with a situation like you relate, and since I'm not the pastor, I can't say how it would have been handled. However, I can say that while we would consider what you presented, as a distinct local church, we would have made the decision by what we saw as right from scripture, even if it ended up differently than what your church decided. And since the mission board has to respect the independence of each local church, they would not be in a position to decry our decision simply because of what your church had decided a year earlier. Besides, things can change in that time (I know you said they didn't in this case, but the other church thought differently).

I have to admit I don't understand completely what you are arguing in your last comment. If there is no universal church, why would another church not be able to independently evaluate a situation and come to a different conclusion? Even if it respects discipline from a church, that doesn't mean a decision from that church is binding forever. Further, even if two churches are in fellowship, there can always be differences between them. No two churches are 100% unified on their doctrinal positions, and you have argued that true unity only exists within a particular church. That means one of two things -- the churches can agree that there will be differences between them and remain in fellowship, or they can go their separate ways. You chose the latter, and I think you would still have done so even if the other church and mission board had handled things biblically but made a different decision from what your church had made. That's why I think your long example and story are interesting, but ultimately not really a major part of your deciding to leave fundamentalism.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for the comments. I am leaving for out of town today and won't be online until tomorrow at some point. I'll be on a plane or in an airport most of the time. But I will be writing at least two or three more parts to this.

Anvil,

You'll have to wait and see if the story has anything to do with my leaving fundamentalism.

d4v34x said...

This is like the old days of Neighborhood Bible Time.

Come back tomorrow, kids, and find out . . .

:^)

(verification word: munana)

Scott Leigh said...

@ Gary Webb "I cannot believe that 2 people challenged Brandenburg about his church giving three dates to meet with the other church as if this was some kind of demand."

Gary, there is no biblical precedent for one church discipling another and the date thing does sound demanding but I can understand it wasn't meant that way. The dating is inconsequential thought o the whole thing.

The Bible doesn't have a model for churches disciplining one another. Not for us to act such Paul did so with Corinth and Galatia but did so as a representative of God's Word not a local church. Christ rebuked churches in Rev. but again He can. One church doesn't do this to my knowledge in the Scripture. Its akin to Christ being against himself.

Note that churches, particularly Baptist ones have disavowed the notion of a church discipline having supernatural effect: "Pertaining only to matters upon earth. The church cannot open and close the doors of heaven at will. Only Christ "openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth" (Rev. 3:7) and more directly that Pertaining only to matters within a given church; i.e., there can be no inter-church discipline." http://www.pbministries.org/Theology/Davis%20Huckabee/Studies%20on%20Church%20Truth/chapter07.htm#2

This issue boils down to local church authority. One church was dissed and felt the need to follow Mt 18 to settle it as they felt was biblical. But to accept local church authority in one's church is to accept it in the other. Who's to say which is right? In this case its Kent. But if churches truly have local church authority then the other church which chose to exercise its authority differently cannot be just dismissed.

What if the other church had taken the first action and sent a letter to Kent's church demanding no KJVO and accepting elder rule w/o question in other churches? Would they not have the 'power' to do so as Kent's did? And if not why not? If so why would it be justified?

Kent took a passage from Mt 18 dealing clearly with individuals and applied it as a 'model' to churches. He stretched that passage beyond its true biblical place. To send a letter to another church as if they are another individual and as though they have heavenly authority holding the keys of the kingdom and try to apply Mt. 18 wouldn't even be recognized as a legitimate way of dealing with a church dispute.

So that's why I personally would question this approach and whether I was counted as one of the two will own up to it.. It doesn't have a true biblical model sans Acts 15 and that isn't a road independents are prepared to go down IMO.

To challenge the authority of the one church by asserting another church's authority is establishing the one to the exclusion of the other which is like a science fiction movie where matter and anti-matter collide and all ceases to exist!

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scott,

I'm quite sure that churches who already don't fellowship with us, or don't even claim to, might not have a problem accepting someone we've discipline, but that's not the situation here, as I've now said a few times, so that's rather a moot point.

Regarding dealing with another church using Matthew 18, it is true that is for the discipline of church members, but it is a model that we see in scripture (Mt 18; Titus 3), that three step approach with witnesses. And there are a number principles about fellowship. If we were in fellowship with that church before, it is a loving thing to attempt to remain in fellowship. Consider Jesus' teaching Mt 5:23-24 too, where he makes not reconciling akin to committing murder. And there are other principles all over---read Rom 16:17-18, 2 John, etc. The basis of fellowship is a walk in the light (1 John 1), so those who walk in darkness, namely take the leaven from our lump, are not in fellowship with us any longer. It isn't just a horizontal authority issue, but a vertical one. And as my plane is descending here over Raleigh Durham, I will consider my verticality and say goodnight for now.

Thomas Ross said...

By the way, if someone defines “Landmarkism” as the truth that ekklesia means a congregation, not something universal and invisible, and people consistently used the word in that way, it would be fine—but I have heard people in minstry and in other teaching positions affirming that the doctrine is that only Baptists are saved, visible chain-link ecclesiology, and other nonsense that self-proclaimed Landmarkers do not believe.

Also—and perhaps Pastor Brandenburg will deal with this in the series—is it not the fact, illustrated by this series, that it is impossible to respect church discipline and practice separation properly and maintain parachurch fundamentalist institutions?

Gary Webb said...

Scott,
I have to wonder how much Bible reading you have been doing. In Acts 15 the church at Antioch had a dispute with the church in Jerusalem because of Judaizers who came from Jerusalem. Antioch sent Paul & Barnabas to Jerusalem to take up the matter with the church there. They discussed the issue, & it came out that the Jerusalem church had not commissioned the Judaizers (Acts 15:24).
Now, as to the quote you gave concerning this matter, once again the Bible should be the authority. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus gave this authority of binding & loosing to Peter [notice the singular "thee" in this verse], who became the pastor of the Jerusalem church following the Lord's ascension. Jesus also gave that same authority to His church [assembly] as a body on the evening of His resurrection in John 20:21-23. Pay close attention to the words: "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained." So, we have the same authority given to pastor & local church about the spiritual authority to bind & loose. NT churches determine whose sins are loosed [by baptizing & admitting to membership] and whose sins are bound [by putting out members who will not repent]. Pastors as the leaders of those assemblies share in that authority.
Apparently many who read this blog have not considered these passages for their intended practical application. Matthew 16 uses the word "church" = ekklhsia = assembly. Since the authority is given to Peter & to him alone ["thee"], then either he became the Pope of a universal "church" or he became the pastor of a local assembly. Pastor not Pope is the right conclusion. Clearly, this same authority is given to an assembled church on resurrection Sunday.
The principles given in Matthew 18 might be applied between churches. It certainly seems that this is what the Antioch church tried to do when it sent representatives to the Jerusalem church. This is not really a matter of one church "disciplining" another church. It is a matter of following what the Bible teaches about handling disputes between churches. There is certainly no "first catholic church council" as seminaries like to make Acts 15 out to be. There was an important doctrinal issue, but it was a dispute between 2 churches. The decision was made by James [pastor in Jerusalem] in Acts 15:19, the whole church voted, Acts 15:22, & letters were sent to other churches who might also be affected by this: Acts 15:19-21.
I believe that this is exactly the pattern that Brandenburg & Bethel Baptist Church followed.

Robert Mickey Jr. said...

Gary,

I just want to say a big AMEN to what you just wrote.

Robert Mickey Jr.

Scott Leigh said...

@ Kent. True there are passages and more than one that refer to discipline, reconciling, etc. Again they are all dealing with INDIVIDUALS not CHURCHES. To apply to the entity that is the body of Christ that which is meant for the other brother or sister is going to lead to erroneous correlations and outcomes.

@ Thomas Ross. Many use the term Calvinist and may simply mean someone believing in election (vs. seeing one's faith ahead of time) and Calvinists so the same thing you are saying by saying people are accepting all the bad examples of how its done as the norm such as being hyper and supralapsaians and yet the terms are close enough to be used in this context without confusion. Define it if you will but don't forbid the term just b/c some misapply it.


@ Gary Webb. I don't have the characters available to go into the other passages so let me stick with Acts 15. The Acts 15 account was actually a dispute between brethren not churches. "Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them," (v. 2) ie. 'certain men of Judea.' v. 1. No church mentioned. Paul and Barnabas could perhaps be said to be "sent on their way by the church" (v. 3) where they were or as reps for their sending church at Antioch but no other church is mentioned as representing the dispute of the "certain men (who) came down from Judea" (v. 1) The church mentioned in v. 3 could be merely the vehicle for travel not the collective entity since the decision was already made to go before this is mentioned. (v. 2) The men from Judea weren't arguing with the church at Antioch or the local church there but with Paul and Barnabas. It was a dispute among brethren key to the gospel not a church dispute. At most its a dispute of one church with the opinions of 'certain brethren.'

You said, "I believe that this is exactly the pattern that Brandenburg & Bethel Baptist Church followed."

Let me count the ways why not besides what is mentioned above:
1) There was no apostolic authority that superseded the authority of the others as in this case
2) This was done in person not by letter. I know he tried to meet but he didn't so its dissimilar.
3) It was a question of fundamental importance. Mentoring a man for missions isn't fundamental to the doctrine. IMO this issue has no place being used for discipline or more so discipling another church.
4) Kent acted as James if this is applied to him and I don't need to explain do I where this analogy breaks down completely.
5) Kent's situation never reached the place where an assemblage of churches "assembled with one accord," (v. 25) There was no unity to make a unified decision. Kent's was a single church acting as its own council. Not what scripture models.
6) Kent acted on his own. He may claim to have the backing of his church but there were "chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul." v. 25 An action done in singular unity isn't the same as one of
unified plurality.
7) James' letter was to the other churches but didn't separate from them or announce a division. He proclaimed a unified action done by them all together. Kent has declared a division done by one church under the lead of one man since he likely has (if I am wrong on this please correct) elders to join with in his own church but deacons. The council was convened "to the apostles and elders, about this question." v. 2 not one man and his one church.
8) The issue of dispute was about the gospel not disobedience or ministerial qualifications as such.

So I'd say you erred in saying "this is exactly the pattern."

Scott Leigh said...

Sorry for the double post.

Thought you all might find interesting from a Baptist, an ally, and advocate of 'local church only' doctrinal point of view' 'about points relative to church discipline and its extents. Here is his summary. (link below)
The reach or extent of church discipline may be summed up as: (Note #3 especially but #5 also applies IMO)

"1. Pertaining only to matters upon earth. The church cannot open and close the doors of heaven at will. Only Christ "openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth" (Rev. 3:7).

2. Pertaining to church matters, not to civil, nor even to community matters. Violation of this principle has always been the root of persecution.

3. Pertaining only to matters within a given church; i.e., there can be no inter-church discipline.

4. Pertaining only to the offender’s body, for no one can reverse salvation. "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John 10:28). No one can be unborn.

5. Pertaining only to the exclusion of the person from the privileges and fellowship of the church. No corporal punishment is to be inflicted by the church. Once outside the membership of the church, God administers the judgment, sometimes even to the point of taking the life. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb. 12:6-8)."

http://www.pbministries.org/Theology/Davis%20Huckabee/Studies%20on%20Church%20Truth/chapter07.htm

Of course he may getting picked over on issues to try and discredit the whole but I find his points very pertinent here as this discussion is necessarily founded upon the legitimacy of church upon church discipline relating to why Kent left fundamentalism and may help explain the approach and philosophical viewpoint of the mission board and church toward kent's actions.

Scott Leigh said...

Whoops. Three in a row, What a no-no!

Anyways, its needed to clarify a boo boo. I said, "Kent has declared a division done by one church under the lead of one man since he likely has (if I am wrong on this please correct) elders to join with in his own church but deacons."

I meant he has NO elders but just deacons. (again if wrong please clarify. Regardless it was one church not multiple elders of multiple churches. My parentheses messed with my wording. Sorry for the corn-fusion!

Victor Mowery said...

Thomas Ross said, "By the way, if someone defines “Landmarkism” as the truth that ekklesia means a congregation, not something universal and invisible, and people consistently used the word in that way, it would be fine—but I have heard people in minstry and in other teaching positions affirming that the doctrine is that only Baptists are saved, visible chain-link ecclesiology, and other nonsense that self-proclaimed Landmarkers do not believe."

You know that's actually kind of funny you bring that up, considering I have had the experience of talking to obvious Landmarkers who claim they are NOT Landmarkers because they don't believe all that other stuff you mentioned.

Pastor or Missionary: "The church began during Jesus' earthly ministry; the body of Christ is the local church; only the local church organized by the New Testament pattern has the authority to baptize; etc, etc, etc."

Me: "Oh, so you are a Landmark Baptist."

Obvious Landmarker: "OH NO! By no means do we believe that only Baptists are saved...blah blah."

You have no idea how many times I have had almost that same conversation on one level or another!!! Just about every Landmarker I have ever had personal contact with refuses to be called a Landmarker. Add to that that there is confusion about Landmarkers versus Baptist Briders (a subset of Landmarkers) and there are some mixed up preachers out there.

I have run across BBF and former BBF churches that practice Landmarkism (re-baptism, etc) and don't even know why they do it, just that they always have.

Weird.

Gary Webb said...

Scott,
My only response to what you have written is that it is a good example of somebody willfully denying what a passage clearly teaches (Acts 15). To say that it does not involve 2 churches is inexcusable. You say in your #1, "no church mentioned". Who then is "they" in Acts 15:2 when it says "they determined that Paul and Barnabas..."?
You might persuade someone who does not actually look at the passage, but it does not persuade those who do. Your failure on this point nullifies your other points.
As to quoting another Baptist who may be local only: Let him and anyone else who wants to persuade us give Scripture and sound exegesis.
Clearly, churches can be in error. However, what has happened here is a church following NT teaching, a mission board agreeing with the church's decision, another church unwilling to even consider the church's decision, & a mission board reversing its position in disregard of a previous decision it approved.
It appears to me that those who have tried in every way to discredit the action of Bethel Baptist Church (in several cases jumping to conclusions that show ignorance of all the facts)are demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence toward God by attacking the deliberate, Scriptural action of a NT church.

Thomas Ross said...

By the way, the church did begin during Jesus' earthly ministry; the body of Christ is the local church, and only the local church organized by the New Testament pattern has the authority to baptize. That is all different than affirming that each church must trace a visible chain-link succession. Baptist briders also do not say that only Baptists are saved.

Since "Landmarker" (like "fundamentalist") is a non-Scriptural term, it can get twisted into putty. I am just saying that far too many people who call others Landmarkers have never read what those who coined the term actually said or actually believed.

I think I got the point across, so I'm probably done; no need to beat a dead horse.

Scott Leigh said...

Well, well a decidedly sniping attitude has blossomed like ramps in WV at this time of year. You could have simply asked to enjoy yourselves alone without feeling the need to treat me as some unbelieving, heretical, apostate to give me the hint. When you can't discuss something civilly and feel the need to treat brethren with phrases such as "willfully denying" the Bible (that's pretty strong) and "a distinct lack of reverence toward God" (that's just downright judgmental) it shows the same kind of self-willed sectarianism Jesus taught against in Mark 9:40, " For he who is not against us is on our side." I sadly expected it but I guess I always hold out hope that those types can be self-controlled. Perhaps I made a mistake Mr. Webb? Perhaps I typed in error? Perhaps before using such colorful terminology one would best examine other alternatives to branding another in such ways?

Nobody is attacking a church Mr. Webb. When one writes a blog they invite critique. Kent and Kent only holds the key to accepting those comments as approved by his moderation. If you must resort to these kinds of verbals lobs it reflects not just on you but all of us as believers, as pastors, and more importantly upon Christ. Watching brethren act so...so scornfully toward one another must give the enemy cause for rejoicing. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

You ask, "You say in your #1, "no church mentioned". Who then is "they" in Acts 15:2 when it says "they determined that Paul and Barnabas..."? " I'm not entirely sure you read carefully what I wrote since my '#'1 enumerated point was "1) There was no apostolic authority that superseded the authority of the others as in this case." What you quoted was actually verse 1 of Acts 15. I will most gladly concede your point and thank you for the 'gracious' manner you pointed this out to me.

As you overlooked a small hashtag it appears I overlooked an important matter as I rushed to prepare the real reason in writing which was points 1-8 in dissimilarity. You didn't mention anything in points 1-8. Is that because there was nothing in error or because there was no answer?

But thank you anyway for not feeling the need to answer as it appears that I seem to bear out most unwelcome aspects in you Mr. Webb for which I am most sorry. I'm sure Kent can carry on ably with your assistance. Adieu.

Anvil said...

@Gary Webb:

First, maybe I misread these last two posts, but they did come off sounding (to me) as if Bethel was demanding certain things from the unnamed church (especially once it got to "the other church needed to repent," which may have been talking about their response rather than their decision to take the member, but that was not clear in the post). If the three dates were flexible, then I see no problem with offering them. It didn't read like Bethel considered them optional, though.

As far as not knowing all the facts, it's because they haven't all been shared, but because of that, we have no way to know that Bethel acted any more properly than the unnamed church did. We only have Pastor Brandenburg's side of the story. We don't know, for example, under what circumstances the unnamed church accepted the disciplined member, and we don't know why he was recommended to BWM a year later. A lot can change in a year. We don't know how BWM evaluated the 2nd recommendation and how that was reconciled with the 1st. As a result, we can't know whether they acted improperly in reversing their prior decision. And again, if the unnamed church completely disagreed with the reasons for the member having been disciplined, they were within their rights to accept him, though I would agree that they should have been willing to meet with Bethel.

On Acts 15, do you consider the edict issued by the Jerusalem church to have been binding on the other church? If it was issued by James and the congregation instead of by the apostles, under what authority could they compel another independent NT church to abide by all 4 of those regulations (with only one of them obviously moral, and at least one of which was disputed in other places in the NT)? Without apostolic authority being present, today's churches are certainly not in a position to demand anything of another independent church, including "repentance." Further, a mission board, which is only a service organization that has no real NT authority at all, can do no more than request that two disagreeing churches work it out, but in the face of two disagreeing churches, it will still be forced to make a decision, because it won't be able to satisfy both.

And why is it that strongly questioning the actions of one church (Bethel) is "demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence toward God," while questioning the actions of the unnamed church (also a New Testament church) isn't? We don't know that their acceptance of the member from Bethel wasn't evaluated and acted on scripturally.

Gary Webb said...

Scott,

I certainly appreciate your kind, loving, non-judgmental reply to my post. From now on, I will try to follow the excellent pattern that you have set in your last response.

Did I treat you like an apostate? I simply pointed out that you denied what the passage teaches. I consider that a serious error in exegesis, but I would not consider it apostasy. Sorry to have hurt you so badly. If you are going to expound a passage in a debate, you need to make sure you accurately analyze that passage rather than just writing what you think.

By the way, unless your Bible has different verse divisions from mine "they determined that Paul and Barnabas" is found in Acts 15:2.

As far as your points 1-8, I understood you to mean in point 1 that there was no apostolic authority in the case with Bethel Baptist that superseded the decisions made by others. If I misunderstood that, I apologize. But if I understood it correctly, then you are wrong again. Apostolic authority did not supersede any other authority in Acts 15. Please look carefully again at the text, particularly Acts 15:22- "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren". Acts 15:23 says basically the same thing. Though the apostles are mentioned first, they are placed right in with the elders and the church without indicating any special authority. Indeed, the passage indicates that - though apostles did testify - it was James (not an apostle) who gave the ruling about what should be done (Acts 15:19). He was the pastor of the church, but not an apostle. I could address the other 7 points, but they are full of the same type of mistakes.

If my writing tone was too harsh, I do apologize. It does get quite frustrating to deal with someone who writes authoritatively about what the Bible says and who corrects others ... when they do not know what they are writing about.

Gary Webb said...

Anvil,

I think that the concessions you make in your first 2 paragraphs support my criticisms of earlier posts. Brandenburg wrote about an action that his church took, following Biblical principles. He did not give all the details, but he was immediately criticized as if his church had done something unscriptural and as if those who criticized him did know all the details. It should have been clear to all reading that he was summarizing because the post was about a larger story. When people "don't know" so many things, they ought to be slow to judge.

In regard to Acts 15, it seems to me that the primary reason for writing the letter that would go to other churches is stated in verse 24 - they needed to clear up the impression that the church in Jerusalem had sent out Judaizers, when in fact, they had not. The letter repudiated the false doctrine taught by the Judaizers. Of course, the Jerusalem church was the church from which all the missionaries and evangelists had been sent forth. They did have apostles in the pastoral staff there, and of course, some of them were writing Scripture. It seems appropriate that they would make recommendations to the other churches that were started by men who went out from their church. This would not be as necessary after the NT was complete, but it would still be appropriate today for a "mother" church to advise churches started as a result of the "mother" church's ministry.

You are right concerning the NT authority for a mission board. In contrast with that, great authority is given to NT churches, regardless of their size. My statement about "demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence" comes from the fact that the other church did not contact Bethel Baptist concerning accepting a member from Bethel. They did not even respond to Bethel's letter to them, a letter sent by registered mail. It was a letter from a church with whom Bethel had had fellowship. I do not know about the other readers of this blog, but I do not consider accepting a member in that fashion as being "evaluated and acted upon scripturally."

Because of the tremendous authority granted to a NEW TESTAMENT church by Jesus Christ, reverence to Him means reverence for a NT church's decisions. The other church did not even answer to say, "We do not agree", yet the posts on this story have only tried to find fault with Bethel's action. Reverence - fear of God - respects those authorities God sets up. As I have mentioned before, our church has respected the disciplinary actions of other churches with whom we did not agree when those churches are at least "Bible-believing."

Anonymous said...

"Scott, you are to be commended for standing for your fellowship..... I guess."

"Scott, I have to wonder just how much Bible reading you must be doing."

"Scott, my only response to what you have written is that it is a good example of somebody willfully denying what a passage clearly teaches."

Sarcasm does not become you. It rarely becomes anyone, but especially I am saddened to see it between two believers. What must the world think if they would happen to read this? I hope that this is not the tone used with your congregtion.

Mr. Brandenburg has been explaining a major move that he made, and the sniping, ungracious remarks have not been respectful to the original writing or to those who cared enough to read and respond. May I suggest much less personal and viscious barbs? May I suggest that you consider James' view on the tongue a little more closely? Gentlemen, this ought not to be.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scott,

I only have a little time here and it's late, and I'm away from home, but I haven't gone after your tone at all, when from the start, I thought your tone was poor. In our country, unfortunately, the victim receives elevated status, so that if you become the offended, through tone offense, you are now in the preeminent position in the discussion. However, I don't recognize as legitimate that new development. Those who questioned and did not accept our dealing with the other church are calling me a liar. I understand that. I was fine still with people questioning, because I want this to be a learning environment, but it is the same as being called a liar.

When the other church takes in our disciplined member, that church must have a good reason to do so, better and truthful compared to the stated discipline of our church. That church never communicated that and never asked us for any explanation, even thought that church had never given us a reason not to fellowship. KJVO, local only ecclesiology, none of those were reasons given. They wouldn't have been. The church sent multiple students to a college that was KJVO and local only in its ecclesiology. None of the hypotheticals are true. What I am writing is true. If it isn't, then I am a liar. I get that message, Scott. So I would buck up, Scott, and be able to handle some things.

And Anonymous, I don't get what the problem is with the quotes that you gave. Paul used sarcasm with people he said were believers, in 1 Corinthians 4. If the apostle Paul used it in scripture, then it is acceptable. If you are going to confront someone like you have, you should state your name.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anvil,

Do you believe in a church taking in another church's disciplined member?

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Scott - Frankly, it really does seem that you're willfully denying the plain meaning of Acts 15. You can call that "judgmental" if you like, but that's really the way it comes off.

Anvil said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

That would depend on a number of things, some of which I have already mentioned on comments in this thread.

If the church considering the new member disagreed with the other church's interpretation of certain scriptures, and the discipline was the result of those differences, then yes, I believe the 2nd church could accept a disciplined member from the 1st church. That could have happened if the 2nd church did not agree with your view of "working" as bringing home the bacon. (Remember, your contention that he was doing no work at all, but rather being lazy was not presented until you started responding to comments on this story, and a lot can happen in a year that you may not have had good knowledge of, since he was no longer attending your church.)

Of course, if the reason they were disciplined was something both churches agree is taught in scripture, then unless there is repentance (including whatever steps are necessary to make things right), no, the 2nd church should not take on that member.

Since we have not heard from the 2nd church, I can't tell you if they were right or wrong accepting your disciplined member. I have heard enough things like this to know that when you only hear from one side, you get a skewed perspective, even when both sides believe they are telling the truth. Definitions matter (like for the "filth" you stated was in the letter from the other church, and "behavior now worse" which you stated the former member was still guilty of at the new church, not just yours).

Because of differences like this, and differences in perspective, I would strongly disagree that questioning your account is the same as calling you a liar. It has been proven that two eyewitnesses to an event can pass lie-detector tests and give completely different accounts of what happened. Further, when someone summarizes, they necessarily leave things out, and when the actions that come out of that look questionable, too strong, or even wrong, it is only natural then to dig deeper to see if we would agree with the actions you took. Otherwise, there is no point to even reading this other than saying "That's a good story" and moving on. If you are attempting to get your readers to evaluate their positions in fundamentalism, they would have to know more than what you related if they were to seriously consider what you are arguing.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anvil,

When you don't judge what I've written at face value, as the truth, you are calling me a liar. If I read a similar story written by you, I would assume it was true until proven otherwise. If I judged it to be false, then I would be judging you to be lying. Now you might say that, no, you aren't calling me a liar, but you are simply saying that I have a "skewed perspective." Well, in this case, you would be saying that an entire New Testament church has a skewed perspective. If we can't trust a whole individual church, which in this case voted unanimously, everyone in agreement, to discipline someone from the church, then what church can you trust? It is a sad state of affairs when men as yourself assume a church is acting in a wicked fashion in their practice of discipline, everyone taking on a Diotrephes stance, casting a good brother out of the church for unbiblical reasons or no good reason at all. This was a brother who we loved, who was unrepentant. He would not provide for his own, would not work for the bread for his family, was idle, and was finally a busybody. Those are all biblical reasons for discipline without repentance. We attempted to make it as easy as possible for this man to change. Then that one man could deny that to the other church, a possibility that you did not mention in your defense of one person over our entire church. The other church could simply treat our church like we do not exist without ever communicating that to our church.

I reported that I got a slanderous letter from the other pastor, and your comment seems to assume that what he wrote has the better possibility of being true than our charges against the man in discipline.

At no time did the pastor who wrote that letter ever communicate any of the content to me until after we asked to reconcile with his church, because they had received a disciplined member. Do you think a meeting could have cleared up these differences in Scripture? No, that wasn't the problem to the other church. The problem was that we were disciplining, period, and that then we were challenging their acceptance of him into their membership, i.e., we weren't letting it go. It is true that we could not stop them from accepting him as a member, but we could warn that we would no longer be in fellowship, the only thing we could do to make the biblical point to that whole church. Most fundamentalists just give the cold shoulder. We didn't do that, but your reaction tells me why the cold shoulder is so often practiced by fundamentalists. That pastor had communicated only acceptance and friendship when we saw each other before. But then again, as I report this to you, I cannot hope to have you believe me. You have a predisposition toward not believing me or our whole church. I get the message, Anvil.

Anvil said...

Pastor Brandenburg,

I think whatever message you are getting is the wrong one, whether through lack of clarity on my part, or misunderstanding on yours, but given what you've written, I'm not sure we'll be able to see eye-to-eye on the details of interaction.

You must not live in the same fallen world that I do, or else you must think people implicitly call you a liar all the time. I didn't take you for someone who believes everything they hear or read, but I guess I have to concede that I was wrong on that. I'm sure I'm also somewhat more cynical than average, after having learned the hard way that things can't always be taken at "face value," i.e. what they seem to be and appear to be on the surface. However, I do know that even when the facts have been relayed correctly, the truth value of what is presented is easily shaded by what is not there as much as by what is there, even if that's unintentional.

All truth outside of God's truth has a context that must be understood, and even much of what God has revealed to us must be understood correctly in its context. That's why we need sound exegesis to "rightly divide the word of truth."

Let me give an example of what I mean by context. If I know two people who tell me something tastes terrible after they've tried it, but one of those people is someone who generally hates everything except what they already know, and one of them tries about anything, and usually likes new experiences, then even if both of them are telling the truth (and I know them, so I assume they are), the information relayed by each of them is NOT the same. All of us have probably also experienced our children coming to us with something like "he hit me," which while almost always a true statement, probably needs some other information to determine the whole truth.

How do I apply this to you? I've read enough of both you and Pastor Webb (and I've heard both of you preach) to know that both of you are given to strong statements, a number of which have been displayed in this thread. When I hear more such statements from you, the prior history of your interaction will affect how I hear what you are saying. The same strong statement from another pastor who doesn't make such strong statements easily, will carry a different weight from that of someone who uses them easily. That's just a fact of human interaction.

Then there is the whole idea of relative credibility which plays into this as well, something you may dismiss as being part of the cronyism you ran into, but it still a big part of interaction. I know you and Dr. Moritz about equally well, which is to say, other than some very small personal interaction after sermons, having heard you preach, and reading some of what you've written, not very well at all (even though I've interacted with you a bit on the internet, but not enough to really know you). That means whatever credibility either of you has with me comes to some extent from others I know who know you. I know a number of men who speak well of Dr. Moritz, and less that speak well of you. Does that mean only that he's "in" and you are "out" in the circles I've had contact with? I suppose it could mean that, but when I have to evaluate something with a lack of first-hand evidence, such credibility counts for something. That's why there is the concept of character witnesses, something you also took advantage of when you and the other member wrote your letters to BWM about the member wanting to be a missionary. Since you are relating something about Dr. Moritz' interaction with you, which he is not here to defend, I can believe you are telling your side honestly without believing I have the full story, since he has some "cred" as well.

Continued in next message...

Anvil said...

Continued from last message...

I've already said in this thread that I agree that the other church should have been willing to meet with you, and that their communication with you should have been different. When it comes to both churches, I don't know either of them, so I can't evaluate your church to be more trustworthy than the other one (though you did relate an experience about an ordination, which was probably intended to cast light on how accepting the member would have gone), but that's irrelevant to us knowing for sure what the process was for accepting this member, and it says nothing about what may have changed in his life that would permit them to allow him to join. I've also had no interaction with your church at all (including any earlier years that might have been different now that some of your practices may be different), which means I have no basis on which to compare your church with what you have related. In all fairness, I also do not know (other than what you related), what your letter to the other church looked like. Given your penchant for strong statements, it could have come across differently than may have been intended.

Further, I've made no statement about the member himself, because he has no credibility with me either way, so I'm not discounting he may have lied to the other church, but again, I don't generally evaluate the actions of someone lied to as having been necessarily bad because they were taken in, if they acted in good faith on what they did know.

Also, note that I haven't attacked your actually disciplining the member, as you are accusing me of assuming you and your church were "acting in a wicked fashion." Even if the other church disagreed with the reasons for church discipline of that member, I would agree that your church has the right to carry out discipline. I only stated that it's reasonable, if the other church decided your discipline was either invalid, or over something they did not hold, for them to be able to accept the member.

Finally, my whole point, as stated in my first post in this thread, is that even if things happened exactly as you related them, it's an indictment only on the other church and the particular mission board, not on fundamentalism in general, so I still contend that it's not "fundamentalism" that's at fault in those events, even if something present in fundamentalism made it easier for them to happen. There are fundamental churches out there that would have handled things in the right way, whether or not the conclusion would have come out as you wished it to. And further, as has been discussed more in this thread, a mission board can do nothing more than ask two independent NT churches to reconcile, but when accepting or rejecting a candidate that is not agreed on by those two churches, will still have to make a decision that one of those churches will not agree with. If you decide to never work with that board or any board ever again, that's your church's prerogative, but it's not because you can say all fundamental mission boards would act the same as what you experienced.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anvil,

This is a sin-cursed world, something obvious to me and most readers here, as you would know. What you are saying is that the curse of sin has led to some misrepresentation or twisting or skewing of the facts here, and in your testimony it must be not on purpose. The curse of sin could affect purpose too, motivation too, couldn't it? So why stop in its affects on our church? What objective basis do you have for stopping at just a skewed perspective?

You are questioning the story because of the character of myself and our whole church. I am reading what you are saying. And this is based upon what I have written being "strong." "Strong" is ambiguous and vague. Dogmatic? Different than you? More conservative than you? How does that relate to character, to truthfulness? But, of course, you don't mean truthfulness, because that would be too strong (which seems to be a bad thing in your judgment). We are just fooled more than most.

If I were receptive to a more wide variety of contradicting beliefs, I would be less strong, and, therefore, more believable. Very much like the spirit of this age.

I think it is true that you can choose what to believe here. I'm choosing something too, and, that is, I am choosing to believe you are choosing to put your head in the sand, because it is convenient for you. I think that puts us as about equals. I'm not as believable because of my lack of "cred," and you put your head in the sand. You are believing who and what you want to believe based on a particular predisposition. You can do that. I believe most will do that. However, I have a thick notebook of documentation for all of this that would stand up in court if it had to. I also have a conscience. Everything I've said here is absolutely true. Others may deny it, but we all must stand before God.

Regarding fundamentalism, I'm not done with my story yet. I do believe that this is going to happen and keep happening in fundamentalism, because it is endemic to fundamentalism. Fundamentalism doesn't have the machinery to stop it. These movements are extra-scriptural and they can't do what a church can do to stop something from happening, which is tell-tale.

I don't believe everything I read or hear, but I do believe if I don't have proof otherwise. I would be sure that if you checked with other sources, they might give another story. That happens in court all the time, two different stories to sort out. I assure you that this one is true. I have a whole church full of witnesses.

You are making a choice to believe one side in this. To do so, you are saying the other side is not true. You choose to say "skewed perspective." You are not being a friend to fundamentalism or to the characters in the story, one of whose name you chose to make no longer google-proof, by overlooking this. But it is your choice. If you believe me, your relationship to fundamentalism likely changes, but if you don't believe me, your relationship with me doesn't change. You don't see yourself in fellowship with me anyway nor I with you, so this is an easy call for you. And this also represents how it works in fundamentalism.

The truth will stand, whether we believe it or not.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anvil,

One more thing. If the "sin-cursed world" excuse is valid and as you describe it, then how can any church practice discipline? No church could believe any of its discipline. All of its judgment is too skewed to be accurate for discipline. That's really where you are at in this. No one should be able to judge anything, because they can't trust their judgment.

Gary Webb said...

Anvil,

Well written. Logical arguments. It all serves to dismiss the testimony that Brandenburg has given & the action Bethel Baptist has taken & to allow others to do the same without any conscience.

You wrote:
"Finally, my whole point, as stated in my first post in this thread, is that even if things happened exactly as you related them, it's an indictment only on the other church and the particular mission board, not on fundamentalism in general, so I still contend that it's not "fundamentalism" that's at fault in those events, even if something present in fundamentalism made it easier for them to happen."

Your contention here again will seem logical to those who read, but it is not true. Many pastors reading what Brandenburg has written will have encountered the same type of experiences with "fundamental" mission boards & schools. A missionary from our church - someone you know very well - found out while on the mission field that the man with whom he had been working [from another fundamental mission board] was committing adultery. He was in his 50s; the girl in her late teens & early 20s. What did the mission board do when it found out? Well, they sent out a positive letter stating that the missionary was resigning after years of faithful service. No statement about his wicked sin. Did the mission board have a responsibility to inform his supporting churches of the missionary's sin? Sure, it could be logically argued that that board had no responsibility. Therefore, with a good conscience the effect of the board's letter was to allow churches to support that unqualified man.

What Brandenburg is writing about is rampant in fundamentalism. And, one of the primary reasons it is so is because many are unwilling to make "strong" statements but are much more comfortable with logical, well-reasoned arguments that free themselves from Biblical responsibility.

Scott Leigh said...

This thread has taken a strange twist has it not? From "why I left" to "why I'm right." Now that I'm confused whether this is to the left or the right allow me to reengage for a moment.

A verse came to mind when this whole thing started to turn from 'left' to 'right' from Prov. 18:17 the KJV "He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbour cometh and searcheth him." This is the truth inherent in all, Bias on the side of self. Matthew Henry's comments were wise, “We must therefore remember that we have two ears, to hear both sides before we give judgment.” That's what we have here. Kent gives one side and expects as the first in his own cause to be seen as true. All searches from others that seem to be leading to other conclusions are dismissed.

Scripture teaches hearing BOTH sides before a decision is made. II Sam. 16:1-3, 19:24-27 and Acts 24:5-13 are examples. So as Clarke remarks, "Any man may, in the first instance, make out a fair tale, because he has the choice of circumstances and arguments. But when the neighbor cometh and searcheth him, he examines all, dissects all, swears and cross-questions every witness, and brings out truth and fact."

Kent you would do well to 'buck up' and take the neighborly searchings from brothers no less and not be so defensive.Perhaps more on that later.

Scott Leigh said...

@ Gary Webb While we're thinking left and right let's put your statements left side by the right side shall we? " "willfully denying" the Bible" and "I simply pointed out that you denied what the passage teaches." No you didn't 'simply' point out denying what the Bible says you said 'willfully' which in my dictionary has always meant that something is very, very wrong like in this Bible dictionary's definition of blasphemy "Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which is willfully denying Christ after having received a perfect knowledge of him from the Holy Ghost" Webster's Dict. uses the example of "willful murder" and has the words 'obstinate; perverse; inflexible; stubborn; refractory;' used to describe the word willful. Do you really think things like 'perverse' is befitting a believer? I really doubt you can find the phrase "willfully denying" and Bible in a non-apostate-ish context. Care to try? And after Anvil brought up and reiterated by Kent that we live in a sin cursed earth makes it that much more awkward.

Again you can try to soft pedal as you did by using the word 'deny' without 'willfully' and do the same for willful by using it apart from the other word to just mean something like 'self-determined' but you linked the two words and they together carry the added reactionary effect like simple yet 'strong' ammonia and bleach can produce poisonous gas. Perhaps 'simply' wasn't accurate. Cause its 'simply' over-the-top to use toward a brother. I sincerely doubt you've ever used that phrase for someone you thought to be a Christian have you? 'Hey brother, you're willfully denying the Bible.' Hmm, doesn't go together.

There's all the difference in the world between 'denying' and 'willfully denying' and for those of us careful to include every jot and tittle even more so but in reply you conveniently left that right term out. There's a definition of perjury "making of willfully false affirmations." I could continue that line of the word 'willfully' being used in negative contexts in general but lets just stick with that KJV Bible for a second OK?

Only one verse with 'wilfully.' Heb. 10:26 "For if we sin wifully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins," Doesn't sound like the writer was 'simply' pointing out something. How about 'willingly' in II Pet. 3:5 "For this they willingly (willfully ASV) are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:" Sounds even worse! I certainly wouldn't say the writer is saying he's just pointing out something would you? He's making the point that these stubborn people are unbelievers. The writer is s'simply pointing out' that this person must not believe by willingly (same as willfully) although willingly is much tamer than willfully) ignoring truth. Plain and simple. I just keep getting your 'left' out stuff confused with the terms 'right' there in context.

Please own up to what the clear definition is to certain phrases and either accept responsibility by calling me an unbeliever (only unbelievers can willfully deny the Bible) or a believer and you're sorry (hopefully) for using it. But retelling by leaving out info or redefining isn't kosher. I suppose now that makes two wrongs that must be made 'right' so please don't leave one 'left' out.

More later on that other phrase ill used.

Scott Leigh said...

@Gary continued

You also used the words, ""demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence" What you fully said was " demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence toward God." Again there's what you 'left' out and the word God 'right' there in what you actually said. I keep getting confused by whether is ‘left’ or ‘right.’ Besides taking God out of the statement as though its just general lack of reverence you also directed the comments at a concept instead of me when you said, ""demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence" comes from the fact that the other church did not contact Bethel Baptist concerning accepting a member from Bethel." How do you take a phrase meant for me to apply to the concept regarding another church? I either had a lack of reverence toward God or not. Not toward a church’s actions. And how would one avoid “demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence”? By saying 'Kent is true!'? Nothing less?

Is it wrong to actually declare that another witness to the whole thing is needful for us to make a definitive decision since we only have one side? We’re just asking for truth to be established by two or even three (the mission board too) like the Bible teaches before reaching a conclusion. "One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established," (Deut. 19:15). Matthew 18:16 says, ". . . in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."

Kent and his whole church is still one side. The other church must speak for us to be able to know, as this thread declares, ‘what is truth.’ We can affirm that Kent declares himself to be true. And he very well is. The other church may be too in their actions with the man. But in the mouth of two or three witnesses let every word be established. All ‘we’re’ saying that appear so ‘willful’ and ‘irreverent’ is there’s another side and it has to be heard for this to be clear. That’s not calling anybody a liar or false. Even Jesus affirms the validity of that principle by applying it to Himself in John 5:31 “"If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true.”

You said I was "demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence" Since a lack of reverence toward God is what you actually said. Google that phrase even w/o quotes and the first ref. is from a sermon with the words "Impiety toward God, ungodliness, lack of reverence." Wow, Google works as advertised. What about quotation marks you say? At the top,again is "“Ungodliness” (impiety) is lack of reverence toward God. This is sin against God. ..." That's what the use of that phrase comes up as and that just the tip of the iceberg. 'Willfully denying' (jk) that by either leaving out key words or directing the context somewhere else isn't kosher either is like demonstrating a lack of re...oh never mind. :)

You 'left' something out and that's not 'right' Gary.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Scott,

It's late here and I need to read your stuff a little slower, but our whole church is not "one witness." Not based on Scripture. We had one witness, two or three witnesses, and then a whole church of witnesses. This isn't a he said-she said situation where someone saw someone with another person's wife, no other witnesses. A whole church witnessed this. That's the story. You could come on here and say that you don't believe it, but you are calling me a liar. Our whole church, each body part, each member, witnessed it. The other church did not witness it. With church discipline after two or three witnesses, you don't need any more witnesses. The whole church is then to agree, because the truth is established by two or three witnesses. Then another church who says it is in fellowship with us is to take that witness.

You also seem to be saying that the other church called us and then when we contacted them, that church wanted to meet. Both are not true. And you are saying that you cannot believe that without having the other church in as a witness. I believe that would be stronger documentation than it normally takes almost anyone to believe a story.

I believe you are reserving a special kind of disbelief for us here, Scott. I don't know why. It's just what is happening.

When people write stories, such as this, do you normally expect there to be several authors, and expect several men to give witness that what is being said is true? When you read a missionary autobiography, do you simply not believe what is written unless there is a footnote in which two other people sign off on what the biographer writes? I really want to know if this is your normal standard, Scott. Please let me know.

Joshua said...

What I think needs to be realized here is that people are dragging down something spiritual to a carnal, fleshly, man-vs-man slugmatch.

This isn't some backyard dispute over the height of the fence. If Bethel Baptist has correctly followed Matthew 18, then Jesus Christ was the one who removed this man, not Kent. Bethel bound it on Earth, and the Lord bound it in heaven.

Many of you just can't seem to grasp this, which is why you keep reverting to "let it go". That's the spiritual option - in a man-vs-man striving, a clash of two egos. But this is a spiritual matter.

Secondly, Bethel didn't put another church under discipline. They were concerned that a church they were in fellowship with was dishonouring Christ by rejecting His removal of this man from His churches. Bethel requested a meeting to talk it through, and it was thrown in their face. This revealed the true nature of their "fellowship", and thus separation took place. I trust that Bethel would still be happy to talk with that church should they ever desire a restoration of fellowship.

Scott, this is why Gary has taken a forceful approach to what you are doing. You have come here and are fighting against the doings of our Lord with your words. You and many others in fundamentalism seem to always have a thousand+ reasons for why church discipline shouldn't be practiced or upheld in another church "this time".

Gary Webb said...

Scott,

I think that I am going to sign off on this discussion for now. If you want to understand what I said, read Joshua's post.

I don't think that I know Joshua, so I don't think that he is defending me because I am his friend or something. He is simply stating what I wrote and what it meant. The proof that he properly understands what I wrote is the "Open Letter On The Integrity of the NT Church."

I will say it again, just to be clear. When a NT church follows the Word of God in disciplining a sinning individual and someone discards the action by that church, he is "demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence toward God."

Anvil said...

Pastor Brandenburg, churches practice discipline (or should, if they don't) because they are commanded to do so. It's that simple. Does that mean that every church will always get it right? I don't believe so. But if they act on what they know and in a biblical fashion, God will sort it out.

Consider Naboth in the OT. He was judged (falsely) based on the testimony of two false witnesses. You can't tell from the text if the judgment, including the stoning, was carried out in an unjust fashion. For all we know, the judge was one of the few righteous who had not bowed the knee to Baal in that country, and the people may have just been carrying out the law as they knew and understood it. And yet, because of the two false witnesses, the judgment they carried out was a false judgment. You don't read about God going after anyone but Ahab after that incident. The judgment and stoning were as commanded by God, but they got it wrong. The same thing can happen anytime sinful people are involved.

So can I trust every discipline decision made by an independent NT church, acting as they should? No, because even one person not right with God at that proceeding could skew the results, just as Achan's sin before the battle of Ai caused the Israelites to lose. None of that means we shouldn't follow God's commands and carry out the discipline as understood by the church. However, the only one I trust to get it right all the time is God.

P.S. "Strong statements" was referring to things like "calling me a liar," "willfully denying," "demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence," and such like.

Anvil said...

Pastor Webb,

As this is a blog post, I'm not exactly sure what sort of responsibility I'm attempting to free myself from. I was really just trying to understand what this post had to do with fundamentalism in general. If our church ever had need to deal with Bethel or the errant member in the future, then I can see where our responsibility as a NT church would come in. And at that point, there would need to be one thing more present that I haven't really discussed, because for the purposes of KB's post, it's not really necessary -- that is, burden of proof. Should our church actually have to deal with this situation, during the time we sat down with Bethel, we would want to see this large folder of documentation they have kept. (As a member of the missions committee at my church, if we ever get a Filipino BWM missionary candidate, I will definitely be looking closely and possibly even contacting BBC, that is, if they would honor a contact from a "fundamental" church in the camp they have left.)

Our church does deal with BWM, and I can tell you that thankfully, they have not acted you described with the unnamed mission board. They did notify us in the past of a missionary that had resigned, but they pointed to and included a letter from the pastor of the sending church that gave the necessary details (so that we wouldn't just blindly support him in the future). That's the way I believe it should be handled, as it is the sending church that will be dealing with the sin, and that has the authority. I'm unsure as to why you would think I believe it's OK in the situation with the missionary you mentioned for there to be no reasons given for his departure from the field. I believe you are right that the supporting churches need to know, although again, I think the board should have had the sending church give the details.

As far as "rampancy" is concerned, I think you are guilty of the part to whole fallacy given by Titus above. Even if you have 20 more concrete examples of something like what you've detailed, that's a tiny fraction of the thousands of fundamental churches out there. Your comparison would be like me calling "landmarkism" and "Ruckmanism" rampant among the LCO and KJVO camps, and therefore invalidating the LCO and KJVO positions, which I'm sure you would dispute.

Finally, if you think you were insulting me on my using logical argumentation rather than throwing around statements like "You are demonstrating a distinct lack of reverence toward God," well then I take that as a badge of honor. I haven't attacked your motives because I am assuming that both you and KB are doing what you believe is right. Believe it or not, I'm doing the same.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Anvil's Naboth example stands on its own to say where he is coming from.

Ditto Joshua.

I've decided to close the comments on this post.