Monday, November 21, 2011

My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting part four

Probably by tomorrow, all the sermons and sessions from our 2011 Word of Truth conference will have online audio.  In relations to things I've been writing here this week, here is a short session (50-55 minutes) I did on ecclesiastical separation.


Kevin Bauder said that Albert Mohler was no indifferentist because Mohler had help purge liberalism from the convention.  When he said that, I had a deep sigh within my soul.  It was so wrong on at least two fronts.  First, liberalism wasn't purged from the SBC.  Liberalism is still in the convention and it is still supported by the cooperative program.

Several years ago, Mark Dever did an audio interview with Mark Minnick about, among other things, the doctrine of separation.  In that interview Dever told Minnick that he didn't leave the convention, despite the violation of the doctrine of separation, because of the money and buildings that would be lost if they pulled from the convention.  Those kinds of points ought to be further explored, instead of allowed the drop to the ground because someone might be afraid of a celebrity evangelical.  Dever's point recognizes liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention, that makes only bucks and buildings enough of a motive to stay.  All the churches of the convention, whether liberal or conservative, are cooperating.  That's part of what it means to be a Southern Baptist.

Second, biblical separation is "come out from among them and be separate," not "fight them on the inside while staying in."  If someone has been a long time separatist, he knows that.  He knows the verse in 2 Corinthians 6.   He also knows a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  The leaven of liberalism leavens the lump of the SBC.  That is one reason why one "comes out," instead of "staying in."  "Staying in and trying to change from the inside" isn't separation.

One of the charges of Trueman against evangelicalism is that it doesn't have the tools necessary to align it with God.  He didn't say what those were, but one of them is discipline.  A church can discipline its members.  It can purge out the old leaven.  Jesus didn't put the tool of discipline into the toolbox of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Things might be better there, but leaven still leavens that lump.

It wasn't that Bauder did nothing.  He did do something.  However, he didn't do what he should have done.  He didn't do what a separatist should have done.  Maybe the evangelicals who chose Bauder knew he would do just what he did, which wasn't enough.  What Bauder did do was describe indifferentism, something lost to almost every evangelical.  He also explained how bad it was.  However, it was as if no one was actually guilty of it, except for Billy Graham, who was then excused of it by the time we were done, by the sheer act of supporting a Mohler seminary presidency---which Bauder advocated with his silence.

Many won't like my evaluation of Kevin Bauder.  I appreciate a lot of what he writes and says.  He at least teaches separation, even if he falls woefully short.  He still far surpasses Mohler, to his credit.  But doctrine is not like horseshoes, where you get points for coming closer than someone else.


Both Bauder and Mohler support levels of cooperation.  Bauder likes the Mohler triage.   They both rank doctrines to differentiate levels of unity.  Bauder would also say to determine the recipients of his separation.

This above approach to unity and separation are not what we see in the Bible.  Bauder seems to see the primary objective of separation the protection of a true gospel.   However, separation also preserves the purity of a church, which is a reason it is often called ecclesiastical separation.

Nowhere does the Bible mention anything about separating only over the gospel or only over the fundamentals or even only over essential doctrines.  Churches separate over non-repentance over wrong doctrine and false practice, both of which will contaminate a church.  Separation passages mention more the gospel.  Certainly the gospel is one doctrine we separate over (Gal 1:6-9), but there is so much more.

I suspect that the theological reason both Bauder and Mohler hold to indefensible positions on both unity and separation is because of their faulty ecclesiology.  If the true church is all believers, then all Christians must unify.  Mohler is closer to that position than Bauder.  On the other hand, every believer is to separate from unrepentant false doctrine and practice.  Bauder is closer to that position than Mohler.  The rankings of doctrine occur in order to attempt to bridge the gap between unity and separation, an actual unbridgeable chasm with their ecclesiology.

The Book Room

The ETS provides a room for exhibits, which is mainly book sales.  You are admitted only as a conference attendee.  Your badge is worth something.  Once inside, there is a lot to see.  You've got all the major Christian publishers.

As I walked around, I found some of the exhibits very curious.  There was the Seventh Day Adventist exhibit.  You could stop by the old earth exhibit.  You might be interested in the Christian feminist exhibit, pushing egalitarianism.  It corresponds to an evangelical lack of quality control.

You get 40-50% off new books and there is quite a selection, altogether bigger than most Christian book stores you might visit and heavy on the exegetical and theological in such a setting.

First Session

The first time segment went from 8:30am to 11:40am.   For that one time period, you had the choice of something like 15 venues with categories of Christian philosophy, ethics, Old Testament theology, historic theology, Christian history, 1 Corinthians, etc.  And then within each of those venues, you would get three or four presentations with short breaks in between.  I had a couple that I was interested in, but I chose to go with celebrity for the first session.

It was a session that included several evangelical luminaries:  Charles Colson, Robert George from Princeton, and others.  It was held in Parc 55 in a 100 seat room with about 30-40 in it.  I was happy about my choice.  I'll write more about it tomorrow.


Gary Webb said...

Brother Brandenburg,
I clicked on the link you provided & read: "From Being Right to Being Good: Recapturing Biblical Ethics & Virtuous Living in an Age of Relativism". I am going out on a limb & guessing that someone in that group think that there is a conflict between "being right" versus "being good."
I don't know if that is what they thought, but I have met many "Christians" who definitely think that "being right" - particularly in regard to separation - would keep you from "being good".

Lou Martuneac said...


I wish I had been able to stay engaged with your series here. This article for example you have addressed some of the obvious and glaring inconsistencies with Kevin Bauder. If I may I’d like to comment on a few portions of this article.

You wrote, “Kevin Bauder said that Albert Mohler was no indifferentist because Mohler had help purge liberalism from the convention. When he said that, I had a deep sigh within my soul. It was so wrong on at least two fronts. First, liberalism wasn't purged from the SBC. Liberalism is still in the convention and it is still supported by the cooperative program.”

Furthermore, Al Mohler compromised the gospel and gave Christian recognition to the enemies of the cross of Christ when he signed the Manhattan Declaration. Mohler has not apologized for and repented of it.. He included a brief mention of it in the book, but did not repent or apologize. Kevin Bauder said nothing about it expect to excuse Mohler by stating it was nothing more than an “occasional inconsistency…single episode,” which is untrue and Bauder knew it to be untrue when he said it.


Lou Martuneac said...


You also wrote, “Many won't like my evaluation of Kevin Bauder. I appreciate a lot of what he writes and says. He at least teaches separation, even if he falls woefully short.

It is plain that there is a big disconnect between what Bauder writes and what he will do in practice. IMO, he is not about to take any kind of clear separatist stand, even he truly has one, because if he did the so-called “conservative” evangelicals would refuse to invite him to and refuse to join him on any platform.


Lou Martuneac said...

One more for tonight.

Your best effort here is the section, Indefensible. Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran have been propagating anew kind of separation, which is Scripturally indefensible just as you have described it. Dave Doran coined the term, “Gospel-Driven Separation.” This is not biblical separation for the sake of a pure church.

In a Spring 2011 BJU chapel Dr. Bob Jones, III said, “We have tried to make it clear in these messages that those who say, ‘Well, it’s all about the gospel.’ If it’s all just about the gospel then we’ve missed the whole point of the gospel. There is the saving gospel, which introduces us to the faith of the gospel. And if we embrace the philosophy that it’s just about the gospel we can put our arms around about every wrong, unbecoming Christian behavior in all the world. We can put our stamp of approval on counterfeit Christianity. If they’re preaching the gospel… no matter what else is going on in those ministries, no matter what endorsements and involvements they have with liberal unbelieving religion, no matter what ecumenical reach they may have, no matter what distortions they may have, no matter what tolerance for the intolerable…we can embrace all of that and say that’s fine, that’s good they’re preaching the gospel. This verse makes it very clear that there is a lot more than that….”

And you indicate that 7th Day Adventists were official and approved vendors at this conference. Deadly enemies of the gospel and the cross of Christ. And Bauder has the nerve to castigate Fundamentalists while heaping lavish praise on and defend these “evangelicals” who hobnob with heretics.