Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Problem among Independent Baptists with the Gospel, pt. 2

Pre-Part.  Part One.

The gospel isn't a range of options between a and b.  It's either a or b.  It's not one or the other that contradict each other, that both could be right. There is no "both could be right" with the gospel.   Offering a range is convenient for holding together a coalition, but it misses the goal.  If it were darts, the dart hits wall, misses the entire board.  Only in some form of Christianity is that a win.  It doesn't work for God.  He isn't glorified and it is messing around with eternity.  Missing a dartboard is missing a dartboard.  To use an educational metaphor, heaven doesn't grade on a curve.  You're in or you're out.

Fundamentalism started, the story goes, because the line should have been drawn at least to the fundamentals.  Belief could not be allowed to slip past a certain minimum, like pulling back to Helm's Deep in Tolkien's Two Towers. Christianity retreats to its food, water, and ammunition, and stands for a defense of what it will take to survive.  I don't see that strategy in the Bible, but I'm just reporting.  I surmise that line was supposed to be the gospel, so I would look for at least the gospel to be defended.  I almost exclusively don't see it.

I see two main parts to what is happening with fundamentalism:  Size and Survival.  A wide range to the gospel, sort of like a wide river of God's love, can include more people.  Politicians call it a bigger tent.  Evangelicalism claimed to be saving Christianity from liberalism.  Fundamentalism, I believe, sees itself as saving Christianity in this way too.

When I talk to people in false religions, I know I often say to them, "we can't both be right."  If two beliefs contradict, they can't both be right.  They can both be wrong.  The gospel doesn't have the range that fundamentalism is giving it.  These are two different messages and both are being accepted.  Mostly they hold to the wrong message.  Many who do not hold to that same position allow for it as within the acceptable range.  Eternal souls and God's glory are at stake in this.

I don't fellowship with a lot of so-called Christian religion -- Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Church of Christ, Greek Orthodox -- because they don't preach a true gospel.  It's an easy call.  The threshold here is the gospel.  Even with Charismatics, I don't fellowship, most of which I've noticed don't believe eternal security.   Why do we include those who fall short of a true gospel?  Shouldn't we start thinking of this as the same, even among independent Baptists, if we are trying to preserve the gospel?


John ended his gospel by saying in 20:31,

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The gospel of John was written so that people would believe Jesus is the Christ.  John is an apologetic or a kind of evangelistic tract to persuade people to believe Jesus is the Christ.  "The Christ" is left out or at least redefined or dumbed down in most of modern independent Baptist fundamentalism.  This has invaded every circle.

If someone believes that Jesus is the Christ, then he believes Jesus is the Lord, just like Paul wrote in Romans 10:9-13, which the presentations almost always miss.  They quote the verse and proceed to miss the point. This all relates to authority and the kingdom and Jesus as King, Jesus as the Son of Man.  If Jesus' reign doesn't change in someone's life, even though the person accepts Jesus as Savior, then he has missed it.  This is left out or distorted.

Some include what I just wrote above, and some leave it out or twist it.  Some who include the above don't separate over exclusion of it.  They act like not including it remains in an acceptable range, as I stated above.  This permissibility of something less than Jesus as Christ and then less than "believing" Jesus is Christ, what true faith is---the intellectual, volitional, and emotional aspects, all three---truly, scripturally defining faith, is part of changing the gospel.  It is not keeping the truth, which occurs with belief, teaching, and practice.

Most of you readers know that independent Baptists have been rife with methods and approaches that have distorted the doctrine of salvation, turning evangelism into a type of salesmanship.  The end of all of that has been either perversion or amazing superficiality.  Some might call it a lack of precision or carefulness, but what is being preached excludes necessary elements, enough to make it wrong. It's like when someone tells a lie because he does't tell the whole truth.  You can leave parts out of the story so that it isn't a true representation.  This is what has happened, and now those who leave those parts out are considered not enough wrong to exclude from fellowship.  Some of have turned to all out defense mode on their distortion and it hasn't mattered.

What John said was necessary to believe is left out.  Is that fine?  Does that matter?  Does it affect fellowship?  Why is it being left out? 


Almost no one today really separates over the gospel.  About ten years ago, we wanted to go a little further out from where we are in order to evangelize, so I called a Baptist church in the area to see if it was necessary even to go there.  If there is a church there that is preaching a true gospel, actually evangelizing, I wouldn't go there.  However, my phone call went about how it often goes with churches I might call.

I asked the man what he believed about repentance.  That should be a simple question for a pastor. When you start in Matthew, Jesus preached repentance, and if you read the gospels, it's not hard to understand.  The man said to me, "Wow, repentance, that's a controversial subject."  I wasn't finished with him right there, but I was very suspect already.  He would not define it.   He gave me some options about what it could mean, several, none of which were actually what it meant.

My position about the above type of church was that it was not preaching the gospel to that area.  I treated the pastor's church like it was not a church.  Maybe it was in a sense, because there may have been saved people there, but for purposes of evangelism, I wanted his church to stop preaching what it preached.  Today, men wouldn't even say something like what I said to him to someone, because they wouldn't want to be an offense.  What is the offense, saying a false gospel is wrong or the false gospel? 

When I included the doctrinal statements in part one, I didn't include some prominent churches and pastors.  It was already pretty long with the samples provided.  For instance, one circle of fundamental, independent Baptists relates to Falls Baptist Church of Menomonee Falls, WI, Baptist College of Ministry, and the Van Gelderens.  The Van Gelderens champion Keswick theology among fundamentalists.  The Van Gelderens represent a segment of independent Baptists in understanding of salvation.  In one sense, the bad statements that I quoted in part one would be defended in a very careful way by what you might read from John Van Gelderen at his website in a three part series on repentance (part one, part two, part three).   There are so many things wrong with his presentation that it would take a booklet to answer it.  It is very confusing and contradictory to itself in numbers of ways.

You could read the presentation of John Van Gelderen yourself at the links provided, which is believed by Wayne and Jim too and leads the Holiness Conference movement.  It is a relatively new understanding of salvation in the history of Christianity and Baptist history.  They take passages and shape the meaning of these into some key components to leave out certain necessities.  Repentance is a "change of mind" only.  Repentance is a turning (in the mind) from sin, but with the real emphasis on "to Christ."  When they say "Christ," they mean Savior and saving a person from the penalty of sin.  Van Gelderen sets up a strawman that says that "turning from sin" sounds like "doing good" or "turning from committing sins."

Sometimes in the midst of a statement or a presentation, you might read something that is better than others or at least adds something that others do not have, at the same time falling short of what it should say.   Temple Baptist Church, Crown College, and Clarence Sexton say the truth about salvation in what I've read in their short doctrinal statements, but they miss some important scriptural components in their explanation.  You don't leave knowing and then believing in the Christ.  They will use the word "repent" or "repentance," but it is barely mentioned and not explained.

I wanted to give Temple, Crown, and Sexton the benefit of the doubt on this, so I zoomed through a presentation by Sexton on the front page of the church website, which directs to the youtube, "How to Lead Someone to Christ."  When he gets to the end of this (about the 39 minute mark), he leads someone in a prayer, and that prayer is "to ask for forgiveness of sins, for Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior."  This is what salvation is, and I think this would be mirrored by a majority of independent Baptists.   On top of this, in 2011, you have the following unrepentant association of Clarence Sexton with the work of Jack Schaap.

Why show the Sexton picture with Schaap?  Sexton had Schaap to his Baptist Friends conference, along with Jack Trieber, whom I quoted in part one.  Sexton is going to be a major part of The Gospel Proclaimed Conference at Tri-City Baptist Church in Chandler, AZ, Mike Sproul, pastor with many other well-known fundamentalists.  Is there really so little different from all of these?  Is this independent Baptist fundamentalism?

The Gospel Proclaimed Conference as an idea sounds pretty good to me.  It does remind me of our Word of Truth Conference for 2015-2017, each year covering the gospel again, the first year already in the books.  However, the Arizona conference would probably be better named, The Gospel Confused Conference.  It's not bringing clarity to this situation.  Maybe they are differentiating themselves from Roman Catholics, but that isn't going to be good enough.  I've got to think that Mike Harding is very, very good among the gathered crowd, that is, he hits the dartboard, but does everyone there proclaiming hit it with him?

Maybe there isn't much difference between Sproul and Sexton.  He's at least not distinguishing himself from him.  The Tri-City website doesn't give many clues.  For instance, Sexton is ending the conference, given the preeminent position in the conference, and his session is "Why Both Evangelism AND Discipleship?"  That topic is rife for problems among independent Baptists.  Some would say, "Independent Baptists don't emphasize discipleship, ala the Navigators in evangelicalism, so this is important."  Maybe that's true, but what about the idea that you can evangelize a person, he can be saved, and he isn't yet a disciple, because that comes later?  Does it matter where someone comes down on that subject?  When a person asks for forgiveness and for Jesus to come into his life as Savior, that's the evangelism part, then what is the discipleship part?  These are bigger gospel fish to fry.  Is that person being "discipled" even saved yet?

Let's look at The Gospel Proclaimed in the best possible way to see if it works.  Clarence Sexton now repudiates Schaap for sexual immorality.  OK, good.  But what about the gospel?  He never saw a difference there, ever.  Or, Clarence Sexton now says the Schaap gospel is bad, and says he's all for repentance.  Lay hands on no man suddenly.  How can someone be wrong on the gospel for decades, say he's with you, and then be in the biggest slot in your conference?  You, my friend, are confusing the gospel.

Independent Baptists have a problem with the gospel.


Gary Webb said...

Here is the great question for you to address: Since so many Fundamental Baptists preach a false Gospel that leaves out repentance, are they just "off" in their presentation, doing a poor job, or are they without regeneration and salvation themselves?

Pastor Mike Harding said...


As I have interacted on this subject with different fundamentalists, I have learned that the areas of greatest confusion are the definitions of saving faith, repentance, "Lord". One side defines faith essentially as intellectual assent with no submission, repentance as "change of mind" only with no turning, "Lord" as deity but with no necessary acquiescence to His authority. Their motivation is to keep the gospel "pure" by not adding good works to the gospel. We all agree that adding good works to the gospel would be a grave heresy. Nevertheless, biblical faith, repentance, and true recognition of the "Lord" Jesus "Christ" are the work of God in the human heart. Good works are the inevitable result of this work of God which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10). I addressed this issue at the national FBF meeting held in our church 15 or so years ago. We passed a strong and lengthy resolution on it in order to strengthen our resolve and clarify our doctrinal statement.

What is the motivation for dumbing down these definitions? In some cases men are not very good students of the Word. In other cases they insist on a methodology that can build a large church. Thus, the Rick Warren approach to the gospel enables surface commitments to the Gospel with an all inclusive "welcome to the family of God" assurance given by the pastor. This is pastoral malpractice. No matter how clearly the true gospel is given, there will always be false professions (Matt 13). Yet, when the gospel is obfuscated by dumbing down repentant faith and the person of Christ, it further exasperates the problem.

Kent Brandenburg said...


That is the elephant in the room, and I'm fine with the question. I know that when my wife read this post, she asked, are they saved? Because that is a very obvious question that comes to mind. This how I think it should work. One, you don't fellowship with those you aren't sure preach a true gospel. You've got to be sure about that first. Perhaps that's where someone might call it a fundamental. I wouldn't call a guy and the first question is, do your women wear pants? No. So I regard them as unbelievers as it pertains to fellowship, viz-a-vis, Matthew 18.

Second, I'm not assuming everyone isn't saved. I don't know. I think people could have been saved, but is that what you really want, that is, people thinking they're OK without believing Jesus is Lord, King, true repentance? No. It's very risky so should receive a scorched earth treatment, unlike fundamentalism. How could they be saved when they don't have those necessary components. They might believe those necessary components, or they might just believed what they knew until they heard the other and believed that too. Up front however, we're not helping by leaving it out, because we really don't know. A lot could be said here and will probably appear in the next book.

Three, it's easy to see when you read the Bible that a lot of people might not be saved. Hebrews says that a vast majority of Israelites weren't in the wilderness. Noah got on the ark with 8. Jeremiah was left almost alone. Daniel and his friends were a minority. Jesus had only 120 in the upper room. It's a lot of unbelievers who call themselves believers, but I wouldn't say someone is wrong. That's why the "regarding" them as unbelievers is the tack I take. They might be saved, but that's not a very good way to operate.

It seems that fundamentalism thinks its better to regard more people as saved, like universalists.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for the comment. Obviously, I showed you respect in this column. I could have shown others respect, but I haven't read them like I've read you, so I trusted you were right on this subject. I don't understand why you are there, unless you are going to flame them like a supersized bunsen burner. I'd love to hear that one. I've heard your flame go high in the past, and I enjoyed it. I remember listening to a Pensacola sermon by you. Maybe it's unethical if you take the invitation not to let them know in advance, the bunsen burner is coming.

I actually agreed with everything you wrote in your comment. Thanks for coming.

Kent Brandenburg said...


A couple of things. One, interesting, I noticed I lost four followers after writing this column. I've read fundamentalists who have a rule, you attack those who attack your preacher. When you write about people, they don't want someone to see their face under followers. This is the cold shoulder treatment of fundamentalism.

There is also this false idea of pastoral authority and autonomy. The pastor keeps people afraid by forbidding criticism. There is a way to do it, but there is a forum. We'd be better being open. The other is the autonomy question. Do we have liberty to disobey the Bible. Don't cross another church's doctrine, because that church has autonomy. They don't have the liberty to disobey scripture. Bible is over the church.

Two, George wrote a comment I didn't publish where he attacked me because he said I didn't mention the Godhead on our website's salvation presentation. He paralleled that lack of mention with not mentioning repentance, etc. Interesting. I do think it's good in a presentation to mention the Trinity. I agree. However, I bring in the Deity of Christ in our presentation, which someone who believes in the Trinity would understand. I believe the Holy Spirit is God too, but I don't mention that. I can say that I bring in the Trinity when I preach the gospel to people. Is that the same as redefining or purposefully not mentioning Lordship? I don't believe so, but it was worth the thought.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Someone wrote me about what I wrote about Falls in Wisconsin. I decided to post the email.

Falls says you can tell the lost to turn from their sin (singular), because you turn from everything to trust in Christ. However, you can't tell the lost to turn from their sins (plural), and all the passages about that are really only for those already the people of God. Also, you don't need to (and they essentially never do) mention repentance when giving the gospel; you just preach against sin, warn about hell, and then preach belief without mentioning repentance, because John's Gospel doesn't use the word "repent". . . . it is important to clarify, I think, that they DON'T say "turn from your sins."

This is another example of a version of the gospel that is different from another version that some might say is just haggling over words. Wrong. You can't have "a" and "b" both.

Tyler Robbins said...

This is important stuff. This is probably the most important issue out there. Recently, I had the opportunity to get pretty involved with the state chapter of a well-known children's ministry. I could have even worked it into a part-time, paid position. I decided to not do that, and it was because of the Gospel.

Their Gospel doesn't include repentance. They train people to go through a presentation, and that presentation doesn't involve the necessity of repentance. It focus totally and completely on belief. They encourage kids to "pray the prayer" at the end of the presentation. They push the kids to do it. Through their well-meaning but misguided efforts, I am quite certain that many young adults and children falsely believe they're saved today.

This isn't the Gospel. There is no repentance. There is no Lordship. There is no wrath of God. I preach the Gospel to kids every single week in AWANA. I told them just yesterday that they were all criminals to God who deserved to be punished in hell-fire forever. I told them they deserved to pay for all the wicked things they think about and do. I told them they could never do anything to be acceptable to Him, and that to God we're all like people dressed in clothes drenched in our own human waste (Zech 3:3). I told them they'd be held accountable for whether they obeyed Jesus' command to repent and believe the Good News. I told them that none of them deserved salvation, but God had provided it anyway because of His mercy, grace and love.

We passed out literature to over 40 kids and their parents at the town Christmas celebration this past year which said the same thing. Nobody firebombed the church (yet!) or said one word of protest.

None of the AWANA kids ran away. None of them cried. None of them objected. They got it. They understand crime = punishment. They understand God is the authority, He makes the rules, and breaking those rules means appropriate punishment must be meted out.

I don't understand this unwillingness to emphasize repentance. It's "another" Gospel. It isn't the Gospel at all. People can handle the truth. Why can't we just tell it to them?

Pastor Mike Harding said...


My assigned topic is "Why Dispensationalism?". I have already prepared the manuscript and sent it in. The vast majority of speakers are good and I am comfortable with them. However, I am concerned about Dr. Sexton for several reasons, including the ones you mentioned. Though I have never met him, heard him, or spoken with him, I am told that he is reforming in several areas. Hopefully, that is true. He would not be my choice for such a topic as evangelism and discipleship. Dr. Minnick or Dr. Bauder would do well with this subject. The Great commission tells us to "make disciples of all nations" ["matheiteusate ta ethnei" (Matt 28:19-20)]. The moment a person is genuinely saved they are a disciple of Christ, meaning a learner and follower of Christ. In the process of sanctification a believer matures in his discipleship. The two-tier theology, on the other hand, places a hard line between "getting saved" and "becoming a disciple". This makes discipleship totally optional and argues against the perseverance of the saints.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for the support. I know it's not me, but the doctrine. With you, it's your hair though, and the doctrine.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks, and again, I agree with you 100%. People are going perhaps begin hating you. Be aware. Anyway, Here's my take. We have a bad, very bad idea of pastoral qualifications. Men who are pastors have more in common with Barnum and Bailey than Jesus and Paul.

Boys go to colleges. They think they're called. They pass classes. They know now to use methods, do a good website, do good printing on a brochure, shine their shoes, and use good vocal variety. They don't know the Bible, but they want people to be saved. They get a position not based on what a pastor should be. Pastors accommodate this poor practice. I recognize that usually seminary trained men might not be so much like what I'm describing as long as the seminary doesn't cooperate with the false idea, even if it doesn't agree with it. Is it being accommodated, however, when men say nothing, because the fundamentalist coalition is bigger than the gospel?

That was a short paragraph, but I think it's where it is. I believe the point I'm making stands, but a fundamentalist couldn't agree because I use the KJV, have dress standards, and reverent music. Those "non-essentials" are bigger disqualifiers than the gospel ("the essential"). What is essential? It seems to kind of be a joke. I don't support a particular college or man and that's worse than if I preached a false gospel. Obviously, no one is like that, right?

Anonymous said...


Reading your article, I saw this statement being made, " When he gets to the end of this (about the 39 minute mark), he leads someone in a prayer, and that prayer is "to ask for forgiveness of sins, for Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior." This is what salvation is, and I think this would be mirrored by a majority of independent Baptists."

With respect, I don't see this as being converted by the Gospel, I see this as being a work. I see conversion as people believing the preaching of the word ( the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 ) from the heart ( Romans 10: 8-14 ). God saves through preaching ( Romans 10:14, 1 Corinthians 1:21 ), not "witnessing" and not "soul winning", unless that endeavor is done with a LOT of Scripture ( God's words, not men's ). I don't see anywhere in God's word that anyone had to repent, ask for forgiveness or "ask Jesus into their heart" BEFORE believing and being baptized...certainly not the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul, the crowd at Pentecost,Lydia, the Philippian jailer and others.

Can you confirm that your personal belief is that one has to ask for salvation as is states above, " to ask for forgiveness of sins, for Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior ", or rather that, as Scripture shows, one has to believe the preaching of God's word from the heart?

Is the simple act of believing God's very words from the heart all it takes, or does one have to walk through a "Plan of Salvation" and "pray a prayer"? If the latter, would you be so kind as to list the Scriptural support for this process? If the former, then why do you believe and express yourself in the terms I've quoted above?

Thank you.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I was critiquing Clarence Sexton with that quotation. That isn't what I would do. I wouldn't do things like he was.

Generally, I don't get involved in a give and take with anonymous, but I answered that one part of your comment.

Thanks for dropping by.

KJB1611 said...

When I give someone a complete gospel presentation, I always mention the Trinity, saying something like, "The Bible teaches that the one and only God eternally exists in three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Have you heard that before?" If they have, then I'm done there. If not, I explain.

KJB1611 said...

I feel sick when I read a statement such as John Van Gelderen's:

Someone has mused, “If repent means turning from sins, why did Jesus die?

in part 2 of the 3 part series on repentance you linked to above.

Bobby said...

Not sure if what I previously sent went through...

I appreciate and recommend these articles you've written on this. Dr. Harding wrote that he has heard that Dr. Sexton is "reforming" in his doctrine and practice concerning the Gospel. I hope he is. He is a man with great gifts and with a very far-reaching influence. If he is getting the Gospel right he needs to trumpet his change of direction very loudly and broadly for he has been one of the leaders of decisionism for many years. For proof one only need look at the book written by his brother that he has recommended since it was first published. I have been present at services at Temple in days gone by and have been an eye-witness and ear-witness to gross decisionism or quick-prayerism. Again, I hope there has been repentance from this. He has further promoted the worst of the worst when he has lauded Hyles, Schaap, and company.

Thanks again for the article.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Brandenburg,

Thanks for this article, and the comments following have brought up the following question in my mind which I hope I can ask here:

It seems that you and Mr. Harding, from what I can tell, agree on the Gospel, Lordship of Christ, etc. And you even seem to agree that you both agree on the Gospel. Yet also from what I can tell, you two totally disagree on "What is the Bible?" You have two different views on what God has said, and have both publicly gone on record exposing the position held by the other, even warning other people about it.

My question is (and I intend it as a question, because it's really something I do not get) How can two men with the same Lord live their whole lives disagreeing on the most basic and foundational of things? If you have the same Master, Lord, Boss, shouldn't you both give the same answer to the question, "So what does your Master have to say?" Yet you and Mr. Harding, both of whom think of each other as having the same true Lord, nevertheless think the other is totally wrong on the Bible.

And if two men having the same Lord will not necessarily have the same Bible, then how can it be expected of them to have the same church, music, dress, definition of marriage, view of the future, etc?

I hope this question makes sense.

Also, it seems that you do not recommend Baptist College of Ministry because of its false gospel. Is that correct?



Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Bob,

You are very observant. You also make a good point. If two people believe Jesus is Lord and then be so different on what the Lord, Master, and King requires, does the one not doing what the Lord said, actually believe He is Lord? Jesus isn't Lord to the person who doesn't do what He says. This is a terrific question and thought, and probably worthy of a separate post and maybe a separate book. Mike Harding and I would agree down a list of the components of the gospel. Love rejoiceth in the truth. I am rejoicing in the truth He believes. It's obvious that Mike doesn't practice separation over the gospel, as we would. Despite the false gospel of Sexton, he's going there anyway to fellowship. I still rejoice in the component truths of the gospel that Mike Harding believes.

I also believe that as it relates to affections, Harding and I see worship very similarly. Those two, the gospel and worship, make up a lot to me.

However, Mike Harding and I would not fellowship. Why? Because the basis for fellowship is more than just the gospel. I've talked about that a lot here, and we have a whole book written that deals with that, A Pure Church.

I've been preaching through John on Sunday mornings in our church, and I'm in John 8. John 8 mirrors 1 John 3 very much. Jesus said you could tell who was a child of God how? One, you received Jesus, the true Jesus of the Bible, of course. That's not all. You also received His Words. Does Mike Harding receive Jesus' Words, His teachings? You don't receive Jesus as Lord and not receive His Words -- those two contradict each other. 1 John 3 reads the same. If you are a child of God, you will do what God says. That is a child of God. If you don't, you are a child of the devil. Jesus said the same in John 8. Maybe I'll write a whole post on this.

I do see Mike Harding as a compromiser, it's true. I say that with all due respect, if someone could be giving respect and saying that. I'm trying to. I see him as having capitulated on a lot of biblical teaching. However, he would say that he believes what he does, that his practice lines up with what he believes Jesus said. I'm not the one to sort through that -- God is. I can't say he's an unbeliever, but I don't fellowship with Him, which is saying that he's at least a disobedient brother, as our church sees Him. In that way, we are regarding him as a publican and a sinner in the Matthew 18 sense.

I think we've got to take all the teaching of the Bible seriously. Does Mike Harding? I'm sure he says he does. I think that he thinks he does. From my perspective, he doesn't, or he would at least not go to that conference in Arizona with someone who preaches a false gospel. I think he'll find that Sexton brings false teaching on discipleship, that he is wrong on discipleship.

Regarding Baptist College of Ministry, I believe that Keswick Theology and its fruit represents a false gospel. I'm not saying these men are unsaved, but they are missing it on the gospel. I can't say otherwise. It's what I see.

Anonymous said...

You seem to be a fan of Tolkien, according to your comments. Doesn't it seem a bit disingenuous to be a fan of occultic writings and then purporting to give critiques to Christians? It seems like disconnect, or maybe it's just me.

Anonymous said...

Hello, this is Mr. Anonymous again. My last comment was not meant to be sardonic or accusatory. It was an actual question that I've wanted to ask many Christians. Perhaps I'm the rube, but I've never understood the love affair that Christians have with weird, esoteric, occult-like fiction. Again, maybe I just don't get it, but it has always seemed like an odd disconnect to me.

Kent Brandenburg said...


One quotation of Tolkien does not make me a "fan" of Tolkien, as much as it illustrates using something from the culture, to help people understand a point. I don't think Tolkien is cultic. Either you or I don't understand Tolkien, and me if it is true that he is cultic.

I believe that there is a tradition in English literature that goes back to John Bunyan and Pilgrim's progress to utilize allegory as a communication device. This continued with C. S. Lewis. I'm not saying that Tolkien is an allegory per se, but it is similar to Lewis in its genre. Since God is a Spirit, we understand Him and relate to Him through our imaginations. We don't see Heaven, but we believe it and receive it in our imagination. Heaven is real but we access it only in our imagination until faith becomes sight. Bunyan, Lewis, and Tolkien present an imaginary world that requires using one's imagination and therefore encourages and promotes imagination. The movies do not function in the same way, and even in a regressive way.

A lot of what man does in fulfilling the cultural mandate to subdue and have dominion requires imagination. A man must imagine an invention, imagine how it works, before it exists, in order for it to become real. It is real in a sense in his mind, but it starts in his imagination.

Anonymous said...

Kent Brandenburg said: " Generally, I don't get involved in a give and take with anonymous, but I answered that one part of your comment.

Thanks for dropping by."

As much as I would like to let it go, I think you owe your readers the answer to the rest of my post.

I said, " Sir,

Reading your article, I saw this statement being made, " When he gets to the end of this (about the 39 minute mark), he leads someone in a prayer, and that prayer is "to ask for forgiveness of sins, for Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior." This is what salvation is, and I think this would be mirrored by a majority of independent Baptists."

With respect, I don't see this as being converted by the Gospel, I see this as being a work. I see conversion as people believing the preaching of the word ( the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 ) from the heart ( Romans 10: 8-14 ). God saves through preaching ( Romans 10:14, 1 Corinthians 1:21 ), not "witnessing" and not "soul winning", unless that endeavor is done with a LOT of Scripture ( God's words, not men's ). I don't see anywhere in God's word that anyone had to repent, ask for forgiveness or "ask Jesus into their heart" BEFORE believing and being baptized...certainly not the Ethiopian eunuch, Paul, the crowd at Pentecost,Lydia, the Philippian jailer and others.

Can you confirm that your personal belief is that one has to ask for salvation as is states above, " to ask for forgiveness of sins, for Jesus to come into his life and be his Savior ", or rather that, as Scripture shows, one has to believe the preaching of God's word from the heart?

Is the simple act of believing God's very words from the heart all it takes, or does one have to walk through a "Plan of Salvation" and "pray a prayer"? If the latter, would you be so kind as to list the Scriptural support for this process? If the former, then why do you believe and express yourself in the terms I've quoted above?

Thank you."

While I appreciate you answering as much as you did, if you would answer the remainder it would be that much more appreciated. Furthermore, I'll simplify what I have asked from my previous post:

Do you believe that a person is converted by the power of God's Spirit through hearing God's word, as Romans 10:10-15 and 1 Corinthians 1:21 state?

Or do you instead believe that a person can save themselves by praying a prayer to God with all their determination, asking Him to forgive their sins and to save them?

To me, one is God working through men by the power of His Spirit to achieve the conversion of someone, while the other is men using select portions of God's word to persuade men to *do* something ( perform a work ) to be saved. IMO, grace is God's efforts towards and in men, while works are man's efforts toward God. For grace to be grace, the entire effort must be from God ( Please see Romans 11:5-6 )...otherwise grace is no more grace. Is salvation by grace, or by works?

Please clarify your position.



Kent Brandenburg said...


Did you get the impression that I believe someone is saved through praying a prayer? I was writing just the opposite of that. That's what I heard from Skelly in his video, but it's not what I believe. I'm saying a lot of independent Baptists though approve of that. I don't even call myself an independent Baptist.

Someone must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. I don't know why you're asking me the question, because what you're asking me is the exact opposite of what I wrote. I wrote out of concern for what you are asking me.

Anonymous said...

Apologies for jumping to conclusions, but there are many out there who see nothing wrong with propagating what I have come to see as the false gospel of works...that man can do something in and of himself to be one of the saved.

I've read up on some of your later articles, such as the ones regarding Ovid Need, and I generally understand your perspective now, even though I did not a mere couple of hours ago.

However, what I currently understand as the Gospel ( good news of salvation ) does not mix well with others that profess Christ...and it is this:

God from eternity past chose a people, sent His Son in due time to pay for their sins and call them by His Gospel, which He entrusted to His apostles. Anyone who preaches and teaches anything other than strictly what the apostles preached and taught is anathema and accursed from Christ ( damned to Hell ), which is why determining the Gospel is so very important, at least to me.

I happen to believe what many call "Calvinism", yet I did not learn any of this from a church, denomination, or school, but solely through the reading of God's word. I take all of God's word soberly and seriously, and if I determine that someone is preaching and teaching a false gospel, I first ask them very pointedly to clarify what they believe about that very thing, since it is so VERY serious to me.

I know for a fact that most of today's visible churches do not believe in election as pertaining to the individual, and most if not all preach and teach something very similar to what Billy Graham taught...that a person can "repent of their sins" and "commit their life to Christ" to gain salvation.This is why I posted what I did, in the hopes that I was misunderstanding where you are coming from.

Finally, I will clarify my position:

As far as I see the Bible saying, no man can actually do anything to be saved. It is God who determines who Christ's sheep are and calls them in due time by the preaching of His word, and I am very aware of what some call "problem passages" to this belief. However, if salvation were anything other than 100% of God's grace and efforts, then it would be of works, and not strictly of grace.

I wish you well, sir, and may God bless you greatly.