Monday, September 29, 2014

A Bigger Tent than God: Douglas Wilson, "Doctrinal Works," and the Salvation of Roman Catholics

A pastor often responds to whether he thinks so and so is saved, sometimes even biblical characters, such as Saul, or in another specific way, if Peter was saved by this certain point in his life.  And then a corollary, have such and such historic or modern figure been saved:  Luther, Wesley, Billy Graham, Mark Driscoll, etc?   In the below video you see Douglas Wilson posed with Tolkien and Chesterton, prolific Roman Catholic, British authors, both faves of his.

Tolkien and Chesterton make it into Wilson's salvation tent, because he says their entrance does not depend on "doctrinal works."  All the best trying to understand the tortured logic.

Everyone is saved by faith.  That is the message of Jesus to Nicodemus in John 3:13-21.  Was Nicodemus saved in John 3?  No (John 3:11-12).  When Tolkien and Chesterton don't trust in Christ alone for salvation, because they're working for it, they are not saved.  Their doctrine of works condemns them.

You (Y) apply Wilson's logic to a Jehovah's Witness (JW).

Y:  You believe Jesus is God?
JW:   No.
Y:  That's OK, because salvation doesn't come through having right doctrine.  It comes through believing.
JW:  But I don't believe Jesus is God.
Y:  That's OK, because you are not saved through an accurate doctrinal statement, and that's a good thing, because your statement about Jesus is wrong.  Good news, however. You can have your doctrine wrong and still be saved, since the doctrine is a work and we're not saved by works.
JW:  Even the doctrine of salvation?
Y:  Yes.  You can have the wrong doctrine of salvation and still be saved since doctrine is a work and you can't be saved by works.


I gather that the written works of Tolkien and Chesterton so smack of God's grace that they were saved by grace even if they didn't believe.  Their doctrine doesn't smack of God's grace, but their writing does.  More and more join the evangelical fantasy salvation league.  Fewer and fewer actually saved.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 7 of 8

            Fourth, the lyrics of all songs offered to the Lord in His worship must be “the word of Christ” (Col 3:16).  They must either be the perfect songs of the Psalter—every psalm, and every line of every psalm of which ought to be sung in the church of God—or hymns that are God’s Word in the same sense that proper preaching is the preaching of the Word.[1]  Every uninspired hymn must accurately represent the content of Scripture. Singing false doctrine is nothing less than to lie to God, and to do so in worship that has access into heaven itself.  That every word of every hymn offered to God accurately represents the teachings of Scripture is no little matter.  It is the difference between pleasing the holy and reverend King of glory and misrepresenting His nature, blaspheming His name, profaning His worship, and thus breaking the first four of the Ten Commandments.  It is the difference between accurately representing the “honour of his name,” “mak[ing] his praise glorious,” and so bringing a blessing from heaven (Ps 66:2), and dishonoring His name or character, turning His praise into sacrilege, and bringing from heaven Jehovah’s wrath and curse.  Do you offer God psalms and hymns that accurately represent who He is and so make His praise glorious?
Classic Baptist hymn writers were extremely careful to ground the statements of their hymns in Scripture.  For example, Benjamin Wallin (1711-1782) in his Evangelical Songs and Hymns of 1750 annotated every stanza and virtually every line with copious references to Scripture, believing that “Care should be taken that they [the hymns] be perfectly agreeable to the Holy Testaments” (pg. 47, Arnold, The English Hymn).  He followed, in this method of annotation, Baptist Joseph Stennett (1663-1713), who had acted similarly in his hymnal, although not as profusely.  The New Baptist Psalmist and Tune Book edited by the famous Landmark Baptist J. R. Graves stated:  “Particular attention has been paid to the doctrinal sentiments of the Hymns[.] . . . In this collection there will be found no hymns that teach the doctrine of baptismal remission or ritual efficacy, no praises to be sung to dead relatives or friends, nor are children taught to pray to the angels, or to desire to be angels. . . . What we sing in our worship should agree with the doctrine we preach and profess” (pg. 3).
            Furthermore, while hymns with choruses are not wrong, as Psalm 136 has a refrain, the vast majority of the psalms—like the vast majority of old hymns—have no chorus.  The introduction of hymns with consistently repeated refrains around the second half of the 19th century grew, not out of a careful study of Scripture on worship, but out of a desire to make songs that children would easily find attractive.  These children’s songs then found their way into the corporate worship of the whole church body:
The material that accomplished that purpose we call gospel songs, sometimes “gospel hymns” . . . grew out of Sunday School music . . . a new type of song . . . with a catchy, easily remembered melody, simple harmony and rhythm, and always a refrain. It should not surprise us that when those Sunday School children reached adulthood, they were ready listeners for more songs with much the same musical characteristics[.] . . . preacher Dwight Moody (1837–99) and singer Ira Sankey (1840–1908) popularized [such music for adults]. (pgs. 111-112, Mr Moody and the Evangelical Tradition, Timothy George.  New York, NY:  T & T Clark, 2004)
Whenever singing a song with a regular refrain, extra effort must be made to be sure that one is closely paying attention to, wholeheartedly meaning, and offering to the Lord the words every time they are sung.
What is more, since the psalms not only glory in the Lord’s salvation (Ps 9:14; 13:5) but also regularly warn of hell and judgment (Ps 9:17; 11:6; 55:15), and the imprecatory psalms prophesy of the awful judgments which will fall upon the ungodly (Ps 69:22-28; 137:7-9), so modern hymnals likewise must sing not only of heaven but also of hell and judgment.  A hymnal such as Asahel Nettleton’s Village Hymns for Social Worship does well to have extensive numbers of hymns not on heaven alone, but also on judgment and the eternal damnation of the wicked.  Hymns such as the following ought to be sung:
            All ye who laugh and sport with death,
                        And say, there is no hell;
            The gasp of your expiring breath
                        Will send you there to dwell.

            When iron slumbers bind your flesh,
                        With strange surprise you’ll find
            Immortal vigor spring afresh,
                        And tortures wake the mind!

            Then you’ll confess, the frightful names
                        Of plagues, you scorn’d before,
            No more shall look like idle dreams,
                        Like foolish tales no more.

            Then shall ye curse that fatal day,
                        With flames upon your tongues,
            When you exchang’d your souls away
                        For vanity and songs. (Village Hymns, #30)
When the unconverted heard the “new song” of the Psalter their reaction was not enjoyment, but “fear” (Ps 40:3d), and only as a result of such fear do they come to trust in the Lord (Ps 40:3e).  Ungodly men are not converted because they enjoy hearing Christian music—they are converted because of a miraculous Divine work has been done in their hearts by the Sovereign God through the hearing of the Word (Rom 10:17).  If the unregenerate are not afraid and convicted of their sin when they attend the worship of the saints, but instead find a relish for it in their carnal hearts, something is very wrong.
Finally, since the psalter has no special section of dumbed-down psalms for children, little ones ought to be taught to sing hymns that have the rich content that the youth in Israel sang in their inspired songbook.


This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           Note the resources on psalm-singing and traditional hymn-singing at

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

1 Corinthians 11:2-16, Headcoverings, and Historical Doctrine

Every Christian should admit that Paul gives a lot of verses, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, to the subject of dress, among others in the New Testament, but especially to headcoverings.  We should know our position on headcoverings.  I’ve written a book, yet to be published on dress.  I want it out and promise you, Lord-willing, that I’ll work on getting it out for the light of day.  I am very, very thorough in that book on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.  How could I write a book on dress and leave it out? I have to admit though, the reason I’m writing this post is because one particular commenter brings it up almost every time he’s here, and he’s become antagonistic about it.  So the squeaky wheel does get the oil.  I am getting private communications from him in which he calls me a hypocrite because I believe in historical doctrine and yet headcoverings are historical doctrine.  He’s essentially calling me out, especially with the ad hominem.

Am I really taking the position I do on headcoverings, because I’m worldly and won’t take a stand, because I’m too afraid?  I should consider that.  I do.  The conscience works two ways.  It accuses and excuses.  We not only want it to accuse, but also to excuse.  When it accuses, when it is supposed excuse, then we have an unscriptural scruple.  This will tend toward a malfunctioning conscience. We don’t want that either.

So when people attempt to arouse my conscience by feeding it with a standard, they can also damage my conscience.  I don’t want that either.  I’ve said I’m fine with the women of other churches, even our own church, wearing headcoverings, because there isn’t anything wrong with it, but they can’t cause division in our church and try to guilt our people into wearing them, when we don’t teach that. Then it becomes a problem.

To start, we should deal with scripture.  The Bible is the sole and final authority for faith and practice.  We rely on it for our position.  Yes, I believe our doctrine should be historical.  That doesn’t mean that it must be the majority historical position, the one most mentioned, as if we’re looking for votes for our position.  I would be fearful if I couldn’t find my position believed by anyone before me.

But this post will be historical, and I hope this ends the accusations and name-calling and challenges. I’m sure others take other positions.  I know that.  However, this is the position that I believe. Perhaps a little of my own history might help to start.  I never heard of wearing headcoverings for women growing up, never encountered a person who took this position.  Then my family moved to Wisconsin and the women of the church we joined wore headcoverings on Sunday mornings.  It wasn’t required.  It wasn’t a church discipline issue.  Actually, the church itself didn’t even take the position, that I knew, but the president of the local Bible college required the female students and wives of male married students to wear them only on Sunday morning.  It was never explained why we were doing that.   At some point I encountered 1 Corinthians 11 and, I guess, I surmised that must be the passage from which that came, but I do not remember one person teaching on it.  Ever.  Maybe you had a similar experience in your upbringing.  I don’t know.

I didn’t ever see another church practicing headcovering teaching.  Since I started pastoring, I’ve heard there are some.  I’ve listened to their teaching.  I’ve listened to Amish or Mennonite teaching on this.  I’m certainly open to changing if it is scriptural.  However, I’m in a situation where I need to be convinced of it, not keep it as a position because I already held it.  I’m not going to lead a church in this unless I’m convinced.  Do I think I could become convinced?  It is unlikely now, because I’ve invested a lot of time in thinking and studying about it and am still unconvinced.  I believe my present position, which is not a wearing headcovering position.

The recent challenge is mainly historical.   I’ve listened and read about history.  I know churches have practiced this.  I know a lot of churches have.  I know that you’ll find the headcovering position in the patristics.  That makes total sense to me.  You’ll find it among Roman Catholics and Protestants and even Baptists.  People did practice headcoverings, I believe.  That is a historical practice.  Is not wearing them a historical practice?  Again, the main if not exclusive question is, is it scriptural?  But let’s go to, is it historical?  I’m not avoiding that.

My view is a cultural or customary position on headcoverings.  I don’t think the headcovering was hair.  I think hair length for women is taught, but Paul is teaching about wearing something that distinguishes women from men in their authority.  I believe the passage is teaching that the women of the church at Corinth needed to wear the symbol of submission to male authority.  I also believe that can be practiced with other than a headcovering, but through some other symbol.  I have taught that having the symbol is important.  Symbols, by the way, should symbolize.  There does in fact need to be symbolism, a symbol, at least one, but I don’t believe headcovering does that any more.  It isn’t customary any longer, which is why I never encountered it growing up.  Now, my antagonists might say that was because of widespread apostasy or rebellion on the teaching.  I don’t think so.  However, I believe the passage itself is teaching cultural or customary teaching and I also see this in history.

For history, yes, I refer to the Westminster Confession, and that bothers some.  Sometimes you just can’t win in this.  Someone wants history.  You refer to the Westminster Confession, and they say, “You’re Baptist,” so why are you referring to Protestants?   I’ve written on this other occasions and I’ve said that Baptists agreed with these confessions many times and only differentiated themselves from them with shorter statements.  I’m not going to cover that ground again.  My purpose is to show that this teaching was around.

I believe that the authors of the Westminster Confession taught that churches were not regulated to cover heads for worship, but that customary sign for women in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 11 revealed unalterable moral principles—submission, authority, designed gender distinction, and proper dress—always to be observed in worship, which is quite different from saying that the customary symbolism itself is unalterable.  They taught that the symbol was cultural or customary.  Wearing headcoverings escapes the regulations for worship as listed by these men, only silence on headcoverings from them. Then the statements of the men indicate that they saw headcoverings as cultural or customary.

One, George Gillespie (1613-1648) discusses three kinds of signs—natural, customary, and voluntary—headcoverings among the customary signs, writing (A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, Naphtali Press, pp. 247-248);

Customable signs; and so the uncovering of the head, which of old was a sign of preeminence, has, through custom, become a sign of subjection.

Two, Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), another of these Westminster divines, writes (The Divine Right of Church Government and Excommunication, Still Waters Revival Books, pp. 89-90):

The Jews to this day, as of old, used not uncovering the head as a sign of honor:  But by the contrary, covering was a sign of honor. If therefore the Jews, being made a visible Church, shall receive the Lord’s Supper, and pray and prophesy with covered heads, men would judge it no dishonoring of their head, or not of disrespect of the Ordinances of God. Though Paul having regard to a national custom, did so esteem it.

Three, Daniel Cawdrey (1588-1664) and Herbert Palmer (1601-1647), two other divines of the Westminster Confession, in The Christian Sabbath Vindicated (1652, second part, p. 463), write:

First, variable, or temporary, which were such injunctions as were prescribed, either for some special ends, as that law for abstaining from blood, and things strangled, Acts 15:1 for avoiding offense to the Jews, or to some special nations, or persons, as agreeable to the customs of those places and times, as that of women being vailed in the Congregations, and some other the like.  Second, invariable and perpetual. . . .

Four, Scottish Covenanter, James Durham (1622-1658), in The Dying Man’s Testament of the Church of Scotland (1680), taught headcovering not a universal principle of regulated worship, but a customable sign:

For no offense whatsoever should men forbear a necessary duty, or commit anything which is materially sinful. . . .  Yet in other things . . . , if the matter is of light concernment in itself, as how men’s gestures are in their walking (suppose in walking softly, or quickly, with cloak or without) men ought to do, or abstain, as may prevent the construction of pride, lightness, etc., or give occasion to others in any of these.  Of such sort was women’s praying with their heads uncovered amongst the Corinthians, it being taken then for an evil sign.

Five, in 1536 John Calvin says in The Institutes of Christian Religion (Westminster Press, p. 1207):

[T]hat women should go out in public with uncovered heads (1 Cor. 11:5). . . . because [God] did not will in outward discipline and ceremonies what we ought to do (because he foresaw that this depended upon the state of the times, and he did not deem one form suitable for all ages). . . .

Calvin used headcoverings on women as a specific example of an outward discipline that as a form depended upon the state of the times.  In other words, it was a cultural issue.  The moral principle should be obeyed in the appropriate form.

And, six, the notes of the Geneva Bible (published in 1599), which were written by Beza, read concerning 1 Corinthians 11:4:

[Paul] gathers that if men do either pray or preach in public assemblies having their heads covered (which was then a sign of subjection), they robbed themselves of their dignity, against God’s ordinance.  It appears that this was a political law serving only for the circumstance that Paul lived in, by this reason, because in these our days for a man to speak bareheaded in an assembly is a sign of subjection.

I could point you to far more historical material than this, supporting the view that I believe, but this surely establishes it as historical with six witnesses.  I mean it when I say there are many more.

In 1 Corinthians 11:16, Paul infers the woman's headcovering in worship was a “custom,” that is, they had no such custom of women praying unto God uncovered (1 Corinthians 11:13). Paul asks the question in 1 Corinthians 11:13: “is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?”  He answers that question in 1 Corinthians 11:16: “We have no such custom.”  The only other usage of this Greek word for “custom” (sunetheia) in the textus receptus is in John 18:39, where it refers to the “custom” of the Jews to release one prisoner at the time of the Passover (obviously a national custom for the nation of the Jews, just like the covered head for women was a national custom among the nations and societies of the Greeks).   Paul refers to headcovering as a “custom,” which is not the same thing as a scripturally regulated act or practice of worship.

Hopefully this settles this issue.  I think the above is overwhelming.  Maybe I'll get an apology.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Free Flesh ("Grace") Movement

Salvation is free -- no doubt.  It's not by works -- no doubt.  However, the free grace movement doesn't represent biblical grace.  From the perspective of a lost person, what a deal.  Not only is there no works involved, which is a deal, but he gets to keep his old life too!  He doesn't give up anything, not even his own will.  He keeps that too.  It's not a hard sell for the "evangelist," that's for sure.  The biggest problem is that this is not how the Bible presents it.  It reminds of a lot of other false gospels in that it takes a part of salvation and really focuses on it to its own distortion.

"Free" is the part of grace that it obsesses with.  And for grace to be "free," it must be less than a biblical faith, which results in less than biblical grace.  When someone does finally live for Christ, it's not because of grace, which is what the person says is the reason he's saved.  If he is "sanctified," which he isn't, because he isn't justified, then he is sanctified by himself, even though the grace is free.  We know it's himself, because he doesn't do it for awhile or ever.  If it were grace, he would start living the Christian life right away, because that's what grace does.  That is the power of grace.

"Free" also means "free" from sin.  The free grace people so much can't have someone be free from sin, that they actually say, and are proud of it, that someone doesn't ever live the Christian life and is still saved.  That's their idea of free.  And then if you don't agree with that, you're an apostate.  Fine.  I gladly renounce what I'm calling the free flesh movement.  It isn't grace.  It is an occasion to the flesh.  Paul told the Galatians not to use their liberty as an occasion to the flesh (Gal 5:13).  The word "occasion" is a Greek word that is a military term, meaning a base of operations.  Liberty is not a base of operations for the flesh, which is a perfect description of the grace movement's understanding of grace.  Grace isn't one of those base of operations, but that movement makes grace to be that.  That isn't God's grace, but man's perversion of grace.

And if this free flesh isn't grace, which it isn't, then it also isn't faith.  Faith comes by the grace of God and it is exercised for the grace of God, which changes someone.  Grace isn't a garbage can, but a cleansing agent.  The free flesh people make grace a garbage can.  You just keep living like you were except with grace now swallowing up the sin.  Romans 6 says you are dead indeed unto sin when grace abounds.  Grace cleans up your life, not just takes the same old life and trash compacts the sin as the "believer" keeps practicing it.

The proponents of free flesh distort so much of scripture to justify their position that it is difficult to undo it.  As I've written before, you would have to write a whole book to answer their material. For any one of them who cares, Thomas Ross has given them a place at least to start at his (here, here, here, here, and here).  They change the gospel.

In short, the free flesh leave out the true identity of Jesus Christ with His Lordship.  You must believe Jesus is Lord to be saved, and if you believe He is Lord, because you know what that means, then you want to follow Him.  This includes repentance.  It is why they can't have repentance be necessary for salvation, and if they do, they have to redefine it to something that is just intellectual.  They say that faith is all that is required, but in fact that don't place their faith in the biblical object of faith, a scriptural Christ, but fall short of that.  They allow a person to remain a rebel and an idolater, not to be repentant of either of those and still be saved.

As I've talked about, there are many of these people in both evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Fundamentalism often talks about separation from evangelicals because of their perversion of the gospel, but they do not separate from these fundamentalists who believe the same false gospel. Galatians 1:6-9 especially should induce these fundamentalists to clean up their own camp.  To do so would mean going fully unaffiliated.  They should.

I don't think the free flesh movement is the most dangerous religious movement today, but it might be the worst.  Some might think that a church allowing same sex members, something like that, is the worst.  The worst is giving a false gospel that inoculates someone against the real thing.  The adherents are not only not saved, but don't know that they are not saved.  Maybe nothing could be worse.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 6 of 8

Furthermore, the Biblical requirements of regeneration and uprightness limit who is to be set up as an example in public worship.  Pastors, song leaders, choir members, and all others involved in any leadership capacity in the corporate worship of the holy Trinity must be regenerate and holy people, as both the song writers and worship leaders in the psalter were godly men such as David and Asaph. Vocal or musical skill is certainly valuable—to “play skilfully”[1] is a command alongside of “sing” (Ps 33:3; cf. 1 Chr 15:22; 2 Chr 34:12)[2]—but it is by no means sufficient.  Holy and skilled men—not merely skilled men—are to lead the congregation of the saints in their worship.[3]
All of the psalms were written by “holy men of God” (2 Pet 1:21).  Does this fact teach the church that she should not sing hymns composed by unregenerate and wicked men, any more than churches should have the sermons of such men read from their pulpits?  David Cloud notes:

All of . . . [the] influential contemporary worship musicians are radically ecumenical and the vast majority are charismatic in theology. . . . All are enemies of a separatist Biblicist stance. . . . Contemporary Christian Music is a jungle of end-time apostasy . . . led by “another spirit” (2 Cor. 11:4). . . . There is something deeply and inherently wrong with music that is comfortable in the midst of the most wretched heresy and apostasy.  And that is exactly where Contemporary Christian Worship is most at home. (pgs. 1-2, Directory of Contemporary Worship Musicians, David Cloud.  Port Huron, MI:  Way of Life, 2014)

Indeed, if choir or individual “special music” cannot be done skillfully, it ought not to be done at all.  In any case, congregational singing in the church—which is far easier to justify from the commands of Scripture than having one or a few sing and the rest listen—is at the very least equally “special music” to such solos, duets, and choral singing.  Indeed, in light of the ease with which one can fail to personally offer the words of such music to the Lord while listening to it, the argument can with much greater ease be made that congregational song is definitively more special than “special music.”  Simply playing music without words in worship, even if the sound itself meets Biblical criteria, cannot be justified in the assemblies of the Lord—none of the psalms, and nothing else in Scripture, provides warrant for instrumentation without words in the worship of God (short musical interludes between sections of a song with words being a justifiable exception with exegetical support from the signification of Selah, [LXX, diapsalma, “musical interlude” (LSJ)] Ps 3, 4, 7, 9, etc.)
            It is important to note that the singing of solos in the church of God is a recent practice popularized by D. L. Moody’s associate Mr. Sankey:

Mr. Sankey’s . . . solo singing in public worship is quite a new thing . . . The words are plain and pleasant, but nothing extraordinary;  often not to be compared to those of our well-known church hymns.  The music is generally pretty and pleasant, but little more” (pgs. 475-476, A Century of Gospel-Work:  A History of the Growth of Evangelical Religion in the United States, W. F. P. Noble.  [Philadelphia, PA:  H. C. Watts, 1876])

The innovations of Moody and Sankey were not received without opposition; for example, the great Southern theologian R. L. Dabney, discussing both the newness of solo singing in the evangelical church and the reduction in theological content in Sankey, noted:

We conclude with a word touching the office of Mr. Sankey, “singing the gospel.” The Jewish temple service had its chief singer. It will be a curious result if [Moody and Sankey’s] modern movement should develop this function into a new and prominent branch of the ministry unauthorized by the New Testament. Singing is unquestionably a scriptural means of grace, and good singing is a very efficient one. But in order that the church may retain the blessing of good singing, the privilege which Mr. Sankey and his imitators claim, of importing their own lyrics into God’s worship, must be closely watched. . . . The most that can be said of Mr. Sankey’s developments . . . is . . . that they exhibit no worse traits than a marked inferiority of matter and style to the established hymnals of the leading churches. The most danger thus far apparent is that of habituating the taste of Christians to a very vapid species of pious doggerel, containing the most diluted possible traces of saving truth, in portions suitable to the most infantile faculties supplemented with a jingle of “vain repetitions.” What shall we gain by giving our people these ephemeral rhymes in place of the immortal lyrics of Moses, David, Isaiah, Watts, and Cowper, so grand in their rhythm and melody, so pure in taste, and above all, so freighted with compact and luminous truth? “The old wine is better.” (Pgs. 94-95, Discussions by Robert Lewis Dabney: Evangelical, Robert L. Dabney, ed. C. R. Vaughan, vol. 2. [Richmond, VA:  Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1891].)

Third, it is clear that worship is not to conform to culture or to men’s desires, but is to be distinctly different, set apart, or holy.[4]  Believers must regulate their praise by Scripture alone (Deut 12:32) and recognize that “strange fire” in worship is everything “which He commanded . . . not” (Lev 10:1)—whatever is not commanded in worship is forbidden.[5]  The Lord warns His people not to be snared into looking at what the wicked do, and then saying, “even so will I do likewise” (Deut 12:30) in worship.  On the contrary, Scriptural worship is to be distinctly set apart and different from that of heathen, unbelieving culture.  Consequently, the “contemporary worship” philosophy—which is nothing less than taking the sound and style of this world system, which is under the control of Satan (Eph 2:1-3), and offering it to God—is an abomination in His holy sight.  Musical styles created by the world to glorify the devil, lust, and every sort of wickedness—such as rock, jazz, blues, country-western, pop, and rap[6]—can by no means be acceptable to that holy King who demands purity, solemnity, and reverence in His worship.  True church growth does not come by offering the Head of the church false worship, nor by turning the Father’s house into a house of merchandise through marketing and promotion techniques (Jn 2:16), but through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word as unified, holy, self-sacrificial disciples boldly preach the gospel to every creature.  Consequently, pleasing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so that heavenly fire and supernatural efficacy attend the proclamation of the gospel, will lead to far more genuine church growth than will blaspheming the Father and grieving the Spirit through false worship and man-made marketing techniques.  Godly music will drive demons away and please the Holy Spirit, while ungodly music will summon demons and cause God the Holy Ghost to depart (1 Sam 16:23; cf. 1 Chr 25:3).  Do you regulate your worship by Scripture alone, and consequently reject all worldly and fleshly worship?

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           NG´…gÅnŒ …wby¶IfyEh, “Do well in playing a stringed instrument.”
[2]           It is noteworthy that the specific commands for skill are for those leading in singing (1 Chr 15:22) and those playing instruments (2 Chr 34:12; Ps 33:3).  In congregational song every person is to sing, whether he has a good voice and vocal talent or not.
[3]           What place, then, can unconverted and ungodly children have in a “children’s choir” that is set before the church?  How can those who are not holy because they are yet unconverted—and who are not skilled because they are children—lead the church in worship?  Such children may be cute and funny as they sing out of tune, and having them sing before the congregation may get parents who themselves hate the Lord Jesus but care about their children to visit services.  But are cuteness and funniness a substitute for obedience to the regulations of worship set forth by the holy Head of the church?
[4]           After all, the root idea of the sanctify/holy (vdq/a‚gioß) word groups in the Old and New Testaments is to be set apart, to be distinctly different.
[5]           That is, the Regulative Principle of worship, concerning which see
[6]           Musicians, marketers, and students of these types of music know that their songs are ungodly and against Jesus Christ and the Bible.  Rock stars and those who study such music openly declare that its goal is “to change one set of values to another … free minds … free dope … free bodies … free music” (The Rolling Stone Interviews, 1971).  “Rock music . . . is anti-religious, anti-nationalistic and anti-morality” (John Lennon).  “‘Rock-and-roll,’ itself a blues-music term for sex, suggested rebellion and abandon as much as it did a new style of music when it first jarred adult sensibilities in the 1950s” (U.S. News & World Report, October 28, 1985).  “If any music has been guilty by association, it is rock music. It would be impossible to make a complete list, but here are a few of the ‘associates’ of rock: drug addicts, revolutionaries, rioters, Satan worshippers, drop-outs, draft-dodgers, homosexuals and other sex deviates, rebels, juvenile criminals, Black Panthers and White Panthers, motorcycle gangs, blasphemers, suicides, heathenism, voodooism, phallixism, Communism in the United States (Communist Russia outlawed rock music around 1960), paganism, lesbianism, immorality, demonology, promiscuity, free love, free sex, disobedience (civil and uncivil), sodomy, venereal disease, discotheques, brothels, orgies of all kinds, night clubs, dives, strip joints, filthy musicals such as ‘Hair’ and ‘Uncle Meat’; and on and on the list could go almost indefinitely” (Frank Garlock, The Big Beat). “Sex, violence, rebellion—it’s all part of rock ‘n’ roll” (John Mellencamp, Larson’s Book of Rock).  “Rock ‘n’ Roll . . . is . . . demonic. . . . A lot of the beats in music today are taken from voodoo, from the voodoo drums. If you study music in rhythms, like I have, you’ll see that is true . . . I believe that kind of music is driving people from Christ. It is contagious” (Little Richard). “[T]he sudden mingling of so many different tribes produced new variations [of music] like candomble, santeria, and vodun [demonic religion] . . . and out of this severing came jazz, the blues, the backbeat, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll—some of the most powerful rhythms on the planet. . . . It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when I awoke to the fact that my tradition—rock and roll—did have a spirit side, that there was a branch of the family that had maintained the ancient connection between the drum and the gods [demons]” (Mickey Hart, drummer for The Grateful Dead). “Pop music revolves around sexuality. I believe that if there is anarchy, let’s make it sexual anarchy rather than political” (Adam Ant, From Rock to Rock).  “Many rock performers grew up with country and western music, and its characteristic forms and sounds are close to the ensemble sound of rock—instrumental combinations and techniques are closely parallel. . . . The division between country-and-western and urban pop has now blurred almost to vanishing” (William J. Schafer, Rock Music).  “As a country artist, I’m not proud of a lot of things in my field. There is no doubt in my mind that we are contributing to the moral decline in America” (Jacob Aranza, More Rock Country).  “The overwhelming theme of country music is triangle relationships. In addition, lost loves, broken homes, and the glorification of liquor frequently pervade the lyrics of the songs” (David Cloud).  “The origin of the word ‘jazz’ is most often traced back to a vulgar term used for sexual acts. Some of the early sounds of jazz were associated with whore houses and ‘ladies of ill repute’” (http://www.jazzhistory/introduction).  “‘Jazz’ (also called ‘jass’ in its early days), like ‘rock and roll’ a couple of generations later, had its origins as a slang term for sex; the word's risqué roots no doubt boosted its popularity in that age-old search by hormonal, rebellious young people looking for edgy, exciting new ways to express themselves and, if at all possible, worry their parents as well” (Larry Nager, Memphis Beat).  For more information, and original sources for these quotations, see “The Character of Rock and Roll Music,” “Country Music,” “Is There a Connection Between Rock Music and Voodoo or African Paganism?” “Jazz,” and other articles on music in the database at, published by Way of Life Literature.  Quotes above are taken from the Fundamental Baptist CD-ROM Library, ed. David Cloud.  London, Ontario: Bethel Baptist Church/Way of Life Literature, 2003).

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gospel Troubles

I sympathize with the troubles of fundamentalists with the so-called gospel centered.  However, I likewise puzzle over the inconvenient trouble of fundamentalist association with false gospel.  They lose their moral authority to confront evangelicals.  Before you branch out with exposure and repudiation of false gospel elsewhere, do so closest to home.

I ask myself, "What's worse?"  It's a troubling question, because in a sense, who cares?  They're both bad.  To me, the fundamentalist problem is worse.  I hate it more.

To start, however, I draw your attention to Matt Recker, pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist church in New York City, who wrote a series of blog posts at Proclaim and Defend, the online flagship of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, entitled:  "New Evangelicalism and New Calvinism: The Same Disaster" (seventh and final post with links to previous six parts).  This series was linked at SharperIron, where further discussion occurred (here and here at least) with Matt Recker himself involved in the dialogue.

I'm not laying this all on Matt Recker, a Bob Jones University graduate.  He's just the one talking here. And as I said, I sympathize with him.  He's dealing with legitimate issues with new Calvinism and evangelicalism, and their troubles with the gospel.  However, the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship has not separated itself from its gospel trouble.  It's head wagging to me.   How could there be such myopia?  And I say it's worse because the history of fundamentalism has been posed to me again and again here as about protecting Christianity from gospel destroying error.  And yet they can't admit the stinking problem among their own people.  They should start there.

If you are not going to deal with your own people or group or fellowship (whatever) and in a strong way, then you really can't branch out to others. This comes across as political or not caring about it in a principled or doctrinal way.  And I'm talking about the relationship of the FBF with Clarence Sexton and everyone in his orbit.  Jack Schaap preaches at Sexton's Baptist Friends conference.  John Vaughn, president of the FBF, is there too.  There is no way that conference should have received even a whiff from Vaughn, as it relates to the gospel and fellowship.  But Sexton is still coming to the national conference as a main speaker. And Crown College still has the Curtis Hutson Center for Local Church Ministries there on campus. Curtis Hutson was as responsible as any fundamentalist leader for changing the definition of repentance to an unbiblical one.   First in his 1986 booklet, "Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach?", Hutson denied that repentance means to turn from sin (p. 4), rejected that it is sorrow for sin (p. 8), and taught that it means “a change of mind that leads to a change of action” (p. 16), so he concluded that repentance is  merely “to change one’s mind.”

Earlier this year, a fundamentalist blog has marked me for my teaching about salvation.   If you read the article and the comments, you should be amazed at the teaching there (consider this comment as a sample).  It represents a false gospel popular among many fundamentalists, and promoted by Lou Martuneac, who is firmly accepted among many fundamentalists.  This becomes very confusing to many fundamentalists all over the world.

These fundamentalists teach that a believer can and will live in habitual sin, that is, sin as a lifestyle. They count the perpetually sinning person as being saved, because salvation is a free gift.  You will not hear them teach that repentance is necessary for salvation.  They purposefully leave out the Lordship of Christ until after someone is already saved, not before or as any understanding of Jesus' identity even to believe in.  They water down conversion to the extent that it is not the gospel anymore.  And again, Lou Martuneac both supports this, associates with it, and defends it.  He has written a book, entitled In Defense of the Gospel, with some of the most convoluted exegesis, if you could call it exegesis, of scripture in order to do so.   I haven't reviewed Lou's book per se, because it would take almost an entire other book to undo its problems.  This is rampant among many fundamental Baptists.   So it is no wonder that men are confused about the criticism of certain evangelicals, when they know this kind of teaching is heavily in their midst.

I write this, not because I think that evangelicalism is better off.  I write it because anyone who does care about the gospel has trouble with what he sees in both evangelicalism and in fundamentalism. False gospels are all over the place and should be opposed everywhere they exist.


On another front of gospel troubles and the evangelical gospel-centered movement, the Detroit Baptist Theological blog and Ben Edwards has posted about "Gospel Issues and Weighing Doctrines."  The post considers a journal article on the subject written by D. A. Carson.  I posted this comment:

Kent Brandenburg says: 

Your comment is awaiting moderation. 

September 16, 2014 at 8:41 pm 


I don’t know of anyone who has written on this subject online or even period more than me. Here is one of the one stop shops: 

But there are many more from me. And we deal with this in our book, A Pure Church, because you’ve got to understand unity to understand purity and separation. This is completely exegetical and should be of interest to exegetes. 

The Bible really does have a lot to say about it, and that’s what I explored in my articles. I think people did read and have read them. 

Why suddenly is this such a big subject? From my understanding fundamentals were a move right, in essence, saying, “We will not give in here, because if we do, there will be no Christianity left”—something like that. Fundamentalists wanted to protect truth. “Gospel” is a move left, a big move to “unify,” to reduce everything to the smallest amount necessary. And now there is a discussion about whether same-sex marriage is a non-essential. I find an earlier iteration of the latter in the Pharisees attempting to reduce the law down to the greatest commandment. Reductionism says “fail” all over it. Someone takes the part of God in saying what’s important and what isn’t, and usually you need a Sanhedrin-like organization to do that. Hey, how about TGC? Or BJU? 

I think we should stop trying to meld it down to essentials, since the Bible doesn’t. Just because Paul makes an argument about bodily resurrection doesn’t follow that we should reduce truth to the smallest common denominator.

It’s interesting or funny, but I think that some type of triage is used as to whom is serious or not serious with an argument, and it doesn’t relate to the Bible, as much as it is, who is important in the circle who makes the decision about what’s important? And usually it’s pragmatic, about book sales, crowd size, or academic prowess.

I could have added articles about 1 Corinthians 15 (here, here).

You'll notice my comment wasn't published on the site as of September 16 at 8:41pm, when a few comments were published afterwards.  Why would Detroit not publish my comment?  Why?  Why wait?  Is it false?  They promote D. A. Carson and other evangelicals, but won't publish that comment.  That possibility was why I in fact wrote the last paragraph in the comment.  And then it comes true!!!  Are my arguments not legitimate arguments?  Are they not exegetically sound?  Is there a reason why this "gospel issue" is a brand new emphasis against the normal meaning of scripture?

I read Dan Phillips and own and have read both his books, but anyone who reads him knows he listens to rock music, has no problem with rock music in a church service, is a rock drummer himself, and regularly promotes movie theater attendance.  Yes, I guess I'm a cultural fundamentalist (smiles). And the other published comment after mine comes from someone promoting his position on "true ecclesiology" and unity being one regional church per region.  What I'm saying is, we should understand why those wouldn't be moderated (smiles again).  And D. A. Carson spent a lot of time in fellowship with Mark Driscoll, not hindering his errors at Mars Hill.  In other words, in the same stream as Detroit?  Wait a minute?

Perhaps after they are done "moderating," they'll publish it.  Would I do the same thing to Dave Doran?  Of course not.  Why do they?  I don't know.  One should know.  That's the proper way of dealing with just another human being.  Explain why.  I do comment there periodically.   In the end, God is going to judge them, me, all of us.  His truth will stand.  God is the ultimate Moderator.