Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Gospel and Separation: The Appearance on the Ground

Some reading "the debate" about the gospel and the place and meaning of repentance relegate it to just semantics and "can't we all just get along."  This to them is nothing more than an intramural skirmish between fellowshiping brethren.  That's how some choose to characterize these differences over the gospel, but it isn't how I look at them.

In order for you perhaps to grasp the difference between what John Mincy wrote in the Proclaim and Defend article on repentance and what I'm espousing (here and here), you might consider how his position often looks on the ground.  It may not have looked like this at the church he pastored, or at least exactly like what I'm going to describe, but it very often does look how I'm going to describe it.  There's enough wrong with the doctrine itself, arising from a contorted hermeneutic, so that it contradicts the Word of God.  That's bad enough, but I want to draw the picture of how it applies, which is also frequently why it is a popular doctrine to hold.

First, let me digress -- there is a historic departure from orthodox soteriology that far predates what I'm writing about here, called Sandemanianism, and I believe its trajectory moves toward corruption existent at the time of the writing of the New Testament epistles.  In its worst form, grace is turned into lasciviousness (2 Peter, Jude) and used as an occasion of the flesh (Galatians 5).

Now back to the subject:  on the ground, the world still rejects even the Mincy position on repentance, even as in this world many won't give a preacher the time of day with anything he says.   It's not really so much because people so dislike this belief about repentance, as they don't want to hear any preaching, good or bad.

Nevertheless, with evangelism according to the Mincy position on repentance, the evangelist focuses on Jesus as Savior.  Faced with the alternative, people very often want to go to heaven -- they want to be saved from hell.  Jesus will save them and it's free, so they don't have to work for it and really can't work for it.   They just take the gift by accepting Jesus as Savior.  Will they do that?  Their lives are messed with sin, but Jesus will save them.  They don't have to be messed up and don't have to go to hell -- they can go to heaven.  If they want to ask Jesus to save them, they can just place their faith in Him, trust in Him, and stop trusting in themselves, because they could only mess it up. If the evangelist takes it one step further, and I'm not sure Mincy would, but if someone is already to this point, then he can ask the person to pray with him to trust in Jesus as Savior.

So, if the person has trusted Jesus as His Savior, according to the above doctrine, he's saved. According to Mincy, he's also repented, because he isn't trusting in himself any more and that's about which he needed to change his mind in order to be saved.   In the Mincy presentation, the sinner changes his mind about the direction of his faith -- not himself anymore but now Jesus.  This is how it reads on many different tracts and website offerings from the many churches advocating this position.

Is the above person saved now?  Some reading here would say, "Yes."  They agree with Mincy. Others would say, "Maybe."  Do we have a basis for saying anyone who agreed to the above content was saved?  I don't think so, but I would also say, "Maybe."  I might add, "Probably not though."  Most people that go through the above presentation and even pray along afterwards aren't actually saved.  The fact that someone says, "maybe," means to many fundamentalists and evangelicals that the Mincy position clears the bar of acceptability.  They can still fellowship, because even though they might disagree, his position doesn't wreck the gospel enough to separate over it.  They wish, you know, it were a little more clear, but it isn't a false gospel.  In addition, many people make false professions, and you can't control that.  False professions will happen to everyone in Christian work.

People do make false professions, but let's not fool ourselves, the tack taken by those who believe what Mincy does, even if he's not right there himself with the method, is not what Jesus or the Apostles did, not how they operated.  It's taking a very selective reading of passages mostly out of context and then extrapolating a tactic from it.  Even if the "evangelist" is convinced now that what he's saying is true, it is deception of the worst possible kind.  Anyone who believes this, and then later goes to hell, I'm pretty sure will be thinking it was a false gospel while he's serving his eternal sentence there.

The Mincy position church rejoices in the profession of faith.  A sinner has "repented," so, I guess, heaven is rejoicing too.  However, this is no prodigal returning, not even like the prodigal's return.  "A soul won" excites others to go do the same with the same message and method, so more of it occurs. Yes, some of the professions don't "stick."  They don't, "but that doesn't mean those people weren't saved," since salvation doesn't come by works.  Then hopefully in the future, some fruit will show after the professor is dedicated and Jesus becomes his Lord, that is, he participates in "sanctification repentance."

Almost any problem in a church that takes the Mincy position on repentance can be chalked up to a lack of dedication.  There doesn't have to be an expectation of biblical living, because here's a person who has made it only through the first tier, where Jesus is his Savior.  He can't get saved by works and works are not expected, because works can't be "frontloaded."  His continued carnality occurs because he hasn't yet grown enough.  At some point in the future, hopefully he will, after he gets dedicated.

To get to dedication, revivalist preachers are regularly called upon to preach, so the church can have "revival."  These revivalist preachers are an itinerant band, who have crafted usually a few messages, very fine tuned and emotional things, that can get the people of the church fired up again.

I'm not saying that a church doesn't need constant vigilance regarding obedience to scripture. Sanctification involves struggle.  This sanctification for believers is the body life of a church, exhorting one another at every meeting and provoking one another to love and good works, strengthening the feebleminded, supporting the weak, and warning the unruly.

The Mincy type repentance churches have revival meetings with an "evangelist," who is skilled in a gathering at procuring decisions from unsaved people to receive Jesus as Savior and then to stir up the ones who have accepted Jesus as Savior in the past.  This role isn't anywhere in scripture, but it follows the doctrine and practice.

Compatible with the above view of repentance often comes a difference on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The leaders and their people often covet another outpouring of the Spirit, a kind of visitation from Him with power. Frequently this experience is called the baptism and this is how someone can get to the next level of dedication, where Jesus takes the throne of the person who had accepted Jesus as Savior in the past.  If this event will occur, a church or some of it must get serious about having this experience and will often pray with the hope of an explosive outcome.

I said the Mincy position is more popular.  It's easier to present because it's more like what people want to hear.  The emphasis is on what people naturally like about salvation.  It's easier to get a profession.  It sounds more compassionate.  A person doesn't have to change.  He probably won't, but the pressure to change is greatly relieved.  Since it's easier to preach this message, it's also easier to find workers.  Because there will be more results, the people seeing them will be more greatly encouraged in their involvement.  People are more likely to stay with the acceptance of more carnality.  Since the others will expect it, they won't be inclined to confront.  It's easier not to confront.

I'm not writing, here and now, what the alternative looks like.  I am telling you that the above though is not what my church looks or acts like.  We don't evangelize that way.  We don't present repentance that way.  We don't talk about sanctification that way.  It's very, very different.  The church that takes the Mincy position is like a whole different religion.  People need to know this difference.

When church leaders and their churches don't act like anything is wrong with the Mincy position or that it isn't an issue of fellowship, people are confused and deceived.  Churches will not be discouraged at all from being like what I have described above.  The false gospel will spread.  You or your non-separating church have given these churches no reason to be any different.


Farmer Brown said...

This is a good post. In the volume written on repentance, often accompanied by a quantum parsing of the words and theories, the practical application can be obscured. I agree with what you write about Mincy. John clearly was not talking about "sanctification repentance". He wanted to see true repentance before he would baptize the Pharisees. He clearly indicated that until this was present they were inheritors of the wrath to come.

Also clear is that his water did not bring repentance, as Matt 3:11 is often mangled. Repentance was necessary to enter the waters of baptism. Therefore we can know that John believed this repentance was necessary to be born again and was something more than just a desire to be saved.

I wonder though if you are not overloading the process too much in the other direction, departing to the right hand, instead of the left? I am not saying you are, I am asking if you might be.

He is our Lord, not only our Savior, although I do not know they can be separated. How completely does this have to be understood? Could not someone be desperate because of his sin and his slavery to it, and look to Jesus for deliverance unto salvation? In this desperate plea you have repentance and Lordship, repentance in the agony over your sin and Lordship in the acknowledgement of His as the only authority, but not a complete understanding of either.

What does the Lord want from us to be born again? Is he more interested in a complete understanding or a willing heart? The willing heart is a signal of repentance and acceptance of the Lord as Savior, although it may not fully understand either role.

I think this is the reason James and John (1 John) focus so much on performance.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

Obviously we shun false doctrine such as the article you cited. We preach true repentance and Jesus as Lord, not only as Savior. We understand people have to accept Jesus as Lord and show repentance.

My question is are you making it harder than it needs to be? We have the means to determine if the conversion was real, per John and James. We do not want false converts, but I think the life will bear out the nature of their conversion better than analyzing the conversion so aggressively.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Farmer,

I am happy with your questions. I'm quite sure that I come off as a curmudgeon to some, but I don't feel that way. I can be, as they say, direct. I'm more wanting to be clear.

You come back to simplicity, from what I remember your saying in the past. I think that Mincy is making this harder than it is to understand. People have to know what they're getting into. They have to know the basic story. They have to know Who Jesus is so that they believe in Him. They must repent. Repentance is turning, the will is involved, and that correlates to Lordship. Salvation includes the kingdom of God and the eternal state. Jesus will be King, in charge, and we give into that now. That's the thresshold by which we get forgiveness that we desperately want. Since sin is against God, we want to go His way. This isn't a game. "I want my sins forgiven, but I still want to remain in rebellion." I don't think is hard to understand. We don't take His life and keep ours too. The disconnect of Lord from Savior and dumbing down of repentance -- I get how people will like it more. Their biggest problem is having a Boss, so not having one is good news. Eternal life, plus their own way. Yes!

Kent Brandenburg said...

For anyone reading,

I did notice that the FBF published a short interview with Mincy to clear some things up. I'll have to reread, but at this point, it doesn't look like he's saying anything different. I do recognize the kind of dispenationalism that I mentioned and that Tyler then pointed to Chafer. It doesn't sound to me like he's changed anything by what he said in the interview, but I'll reread sometime soon.

Lance Ketchum said...

Good stuff!

Farmer Brown said...

Kent, I agree Mincy is making it harder. I think it is possible to respond so aggressively so as to overcorrect. When I say simplicity I do not mean making it really easy or dumbing it down, but rather not making it inordinately difficult.

Also, I do not think your demeanor is curmudgeonly.

From the Mincy response article:

A blogger has since picked up on it with an article demonstrating a poor understanding of Dr. Mincy’s point.

Yes, you have such a poor understanding of it that they not only once...

P&D: Could you comment on the connection between your statements in the article and your position in the FBFI?

It should be obvious that my views must not be seen as representative of the FBFI, BJU, or anyone associated with me. These are my personal views.

...but twice...

P&D editorial comment:

...had had to distance themselves from it, including an obviously solicited statement from Mincy that he did not speak for them.

"Hey hey fellas, let's not go overboard. You totally misunderstood. Also, on a completely unrelated note, HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR US. REPEAT: HE DOES NOT SPEAK FOR US. But as we said, you totally misunderstood."

If it were not so serious it would be a little comical.

KJB1611 said...

Thanks for the post. Lord willing, I will post a response to the Mincy interview soon.

George Calvas said...

Receiving Christ now means, an assortment of religious ministerial endeavors of hireling ministers that promise life to the wicked if they will follow the prescribed ritual of,
• Receiving the Eucharist wafer during the Roman Mass to Catholics.
• Coming forward at the end of a Christian preaching service and filling out a Salvation Card to Southern Baptists, Methodists, Church of the Brethren, Congregational and Alliance churches.
• Joining the Mennonite church when you turn twelve (Luke 2:42/ Mark 5:42), and having water poured over your head.
• Saying a sinners prayer if you are an Independent Baptist, which you repeat after the minister or layman that tells you what to pray in confessing that you are a sinner and asking Jesus to save you from hell.

“Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad, and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, BY PROMISING HIM LIFE.”

-Ezekiel 13:22

New Testament salvation in Jesus Christ has been restructured and varnished into an instantaneous religious ritual performance for the wicked and for sinners, "by sinners" that instantaneously “promises him life” if he will perform the prescribed ritual even though he has not returned from his wicked way, nor repented of any of his sins. Hireling ministers without number are filling the church houses with sinners and with the wicked, while promising them life when they have not turned from their wickedness nor repented of their sins, about which Jesus Christ declared this definitive doctrine, that knows no exception,

“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
-Luke 13:3, 5

Receiving Jesus Christ is nothing similar to this ‘Romans Road’ to hell sinner’s prayer that has for seventy years damned Christianity down the same road as Catholicism, where age old paganistic rituals are substituted and accepted as Christian observances and doctrines, creating an instantaneous salvation of easy beliefs and simple deeds that overthrow the conscience, and damn the soul to a religious darkness that hides the sin, sears the conscience, and prevents the heart from ever being convinced or judged of his personal sin (1 Corinthians 14:24).

No witnessing, door to door salesmanship, soul winning programs, bus ministries and the like will make up for the fact that “if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:23), it will be the same gospel “WHEREOF I Paul AM MADE A MINISTER; who now rejoice in MY SUFFERINGS for you, and FILL UP THAT WHICH IS BEHIND of the AFFLICTIONS OF CHRIST IN MY FLESH for His BODY’S SAKE, which is THE CHURCH” (1:24).

Had any afflictions of the gospel?

KJB1611 said...

Dear Bro Camp,

I would suggest agreement or rejection of the truths in my pamphlet to evangelize unconverted Presbyterian/Reformed people here:


is a good place to start in evaluating if they have real salvation.


Jim Camp said...

Thanks KJV 1611
They are 15 years gone, now. It might have helped back in the day.