Sunday, December 06, 2009

Expecting Pastors to Pastor

Evangelicals and fundamentalists still judge success by size of congregation, even most young fundamentalists who grew up with and are critical of the Hyles movement. Their favorites pastor large churches and/or publish books. They are not evaluated mainly by whether or not they obey Scripture. Specifically, they are not judged based upon the pastoral epistles, where we learn what a pastor should do.

Do the popular evangelicals and fundamentalists submit to the teaching of the pastoral epistles in their pastoring? One would think this might be a good basis for success as a pastor. If not, then what is missing?

What do the pastor epistles instruct a pastor to do that is not the practice of many popular evangelical and fundamentalists pastors? They are often rewarded in their lack of obedience to the pastoral epistles with popularity. Others want to be like them. They got big, so they must be a success.

Have you noticed that Jesus didn't get big? He got more unpopular, despite His ability to perform jaw-dropping miracles. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:20-21:

For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's.

And what about these words in 2 Timothy 1:15:

This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me.

From what we read, Paul wasn't getting bigger either. We know that many conversions could occur. We see that in Acts. However, Paul made clear that it didn't come from human ability (1 Cor 3). More ability doesn't equal more conversions.

Is it possible that the popularity and size of the most well-known evangelicals and fundamentalists happened and continued because they have not followed the pattern of pastoring that Paul has written in his pastoral epistles? They are often men with either great intellect or speaking ability or both. People like to listen to them. They're interesting. The size of their audience could parallel the size of the audience of a popular television show or sporting franchise. People join their audience because of the entertainment value. It's fun to be a part of a winning team. And then this type of "success" breeds more audience and popularity---a bandwagon effect.

We have no reason to oppose great ability, someone who can speak well or communicate difficult concepts in an interesting way. However, there is more to pastoring than that. Even if you are a talented speaker, you could become unpopular if you did what Paul did. Paul protected the church---not just by writing. He did write about it. He wrote a big chunk of the New Testament. But what he wrote about, he did. He wanted all pastors to do the same.

A pastor might be able to explain the pastoral epistles very well. But does he do them? In other words, does he pastor? Pastoring is what we see in the pastoral epistles.

I believe that many popular pastors are popular because they don't pastor. If they pastored, their popularity would diminish. Men known this. They know what obedience to the pastoral epistles would mean to their popularity. Their popularity doesn't diminish because it is more important to them than obedience to the pastoral epistles.

The popularity of the non-pastoring of the popular evangelicals and fundamentalists perpetuates the lack of pastoring of churches. Many churches have removed the idea of pastoring from the office of the pastor by calling the pastor the "teaching pastor." You might be a teacher, but you aren't a pastor if you don't obey the pastoral epistles. The desire for the office of the bishop (1 Tim 3:1) is a desire for what the pastoral epistles instruct. You aren't fulfilling the office that your title of pastor suggests if you do not follow the teaching of the pastoral epistles.

Size of the church is absent as a concern in the pastoral epistles. The priority of the pastorals is the purity of the church. We know that Jesus loves the church and wants to present it pure and spotless in the day of redemption. He wants quality in his church. Scripture is sufficient to accomplish purity, but the pastoral epistles must be obeyed.

You might think, "Well, these popular evangelical preachers and teachers do write books to help the church with its purity." The pastoral epistles do not call for book writing for church purity. I talked about this in the previous post with John MacArthur, who many across the country wish to emulate as the way to accomplish pastoring. MacArthur writes books about wrong positions on doctrine and how that belief and practice are being corrupted. Meanwhile, his own church takes up the very trendy, "purpose-driven," church-growth techniques. He needs to pastor his own church. That isn't just preparing sermons, teaching them, and having them played all over the world on radio and now television.

Paul started out his teaching to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1,

I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.

What did Paul begin with? Clean up the church you're pastoring. Charge some in your own church that they teach no other doctrine. He didn't say a thing to Timothy about making sure everyone else in the world did it a certain way.

MacArthur writes a lengthy essay against the Manhattan Doctrine. Meanwhile, that doesn't change his fellowship with those who signed the document. Paul said in Galatians, "Let them be accursed." Actually doing something about it results in unpopularity. Everybody is impressed with the civility, but how important is protecting the gospel? If you don't separate, then you aren't doing what the passages actually teach. The same goes with John Piper and his continued relations with the open theists. A well-known conservative Baptist like Mark Dever won't separate over infant sprinkling. These men write against false doctrine, but they don't do what the pastoral epistles require a pastor to do.

With everything that was important for the church to believe and do, it was to be enforced with pastoral authority. Paul writes Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:3-5:

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness. . . . from such withdraw thyself.

Then in verses 11 and 14:

But thou, O man of God, flee these things. . . . keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We see much more in 2 Timothy about the purity of the church.

2:5: If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

2:21: If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

And then in Titus:

1:5: For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting.

1:10, 11, 13: For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, . . . whose mouths must be stopped, . . . . Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

2:15: These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.

3:10: A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject.

These three epistles direct a pastor to protect the purity of the church. Would that yield an evangelistic outcome? Yes, a genuine one, one that keeps in focus a true gospel and conduct becoming it.

The grace that brings salvation, Paul writes Titus, teaches "us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world" (Titus 2:12). Paul wants genuine conversion, not the cheap grace that manifests the worldliness rampant in the popular, even conservative, evangelical churches.

I believe we have men who would be as popular and big as MacArthur and Piper if they compromised like these men and if they weren't separatists, like these popular evangelical figures. Those faithful men have endeavored to pastor their churches, that is, maintain the purity of those churches by confronting the worldliness and corruption of them. Some of those men have intellect, talent, and ability matching or surpassing that of the popular evangelicals and fundamentalists. However, they believed early on that they would be pastors, men who would take responsibility for the purity of their churches by obeying the pastoral epistles for the greater glory of Jesus Christ. We should be judging the success of pastoring based on the criteria that God's Word provides in the three New Testament books especially for that purpose.


Bobby Mitchell said...

Amen. What a concept--pastors pastoring!

Be careful not to write my whole chapter!

Claymore said...

I agree with the basic premise of this post - worldly methods produce a corrupt church, which is a church that cannot function properly in its purpose (For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, and for giving the fullness of the Gospel). I do believe some large churches have been or are of God (certainly not Chrystal Cathedral, or Joel Osteen, or Saddleback). I would have to state that when Mr. Wesley was out preaching to crowds of thousands it was of God, as well as Mr. Whitfield preaching in the coal mines, or even St. Peters in Dundee, Scotland when Mr. McCheyne preached. One could also site Talbot Tabernacle where E. J. Poole-Connor was the pastor. Size does not matter to God - one could site the "little city" passages in Scripture to see what He says of them. I know of large and small churches that are corrupt, so the size means nothing. One might as well judge the quality of the church by the make and model of the cars in the parking lot as by its size.

I do believe it is necessary for some pastors (not all will have the burden) to write, however. After that pastor is off the scene (either God chooses not to use him anymore, or calls him to heaven), the books and letters that he wrote will often be the way his influence lasts, whereas those who wrote nothing may (unless it was that God was not leading them to it) have their influence die with them - the critical key is that they must live what they write. One of the greater influences on my own life was Mr. Wesley's "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection." Another was the "Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray McCheyne" by Andrew Bonar. The critical part was that these men lived up to what they wrote.

G. Webb said...

Good essay. I would hope that many young pastors could read it. Also, since the idea that the large church is a success is the standard in almost every fellowship of churches, many men who are trying to be faithful could be greatly encouraged by this. But, I would have my doubts that those who write here to argue with your posts would be helped. Keep up the good work, & may every pastor genuinely endeavor to learn more about how to be a good pastor & to actually practice what the Bible teaches.

Colin Maxwell said...

Claymore writes: I would have to state that when Mr. Wesley was out preaching to crowds of thousands it was of God, as well as Mr. Whitfield preaching in the coal mines, or even St. Peters in Dundee, Scotland when Mr. McCheyne preached. One could also site Talbot Tabernacle where E. J. Poole-Connor was the pastor.

Kent: Am I right in saying, here, that you would regard all four of these men named above as heretics?


Kent Brandenburg said...


After I wrote the last post, I was thinking of why it occurs. Actual pastoring must occur to change your own church. You'll still have plenty to write.


I think men should write and I'm not saying a church couldn't be big, but as a means of evaluation of the success of the pastor, it's poor. Thanks for commenting.


I think it could get the critics to think about the pastoral epistles and what they actually do say. But I think you're right that it would mainly help pastors like the ones we fellowship with.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I do think it is possible to have a good discussion with people who disagree, just to let you know.

In answer to the question, and this is not at all a dodge. I've written a whole chapter on heresy or heretic in a book, but I believe that heresy relates to an individual church only and heresy is a division in the church, something that will not fit with the rest of the church. A heretic is someone that causes division. I believe that is how people would have understood it in New Testament times. I believe that later, state church people, starting with Roman Catholicism, that began using it in the sense that it is popularly used today.

I believe that the men that Claymore mentioned likely have doctrinal and practical disagreement with what my church believes and practices, but they aren't causing any division in my church. The point I am catching Claymore as making is that these men grew large without using humanistic, naturalistic methods. I would be happy to understand that. I would not judge them to be a success based upon that criteria, however.

Claymore said...

Dr. Brandenburg,

You wrote, "I believe that the men that Claymore mentioned likely have doctrinal and practical disagreement with what my church believes and practices, but they aren't causing any division in my church. The point I am catching Claymore as making is that these men grew large without using humanistic, naturalistic methods. I would be happy to understand that. I would not judge them to be a success based upon that criteria, however." That is exactly what I meant - They certainly did not subscribe to Norman Vincent Peale's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" as all of them had enemies because of their godly lives. Obviously, some large churches are of God, and it is rather subjective to ask how large is "large." The problem is with the "Mega" churches, as no work of God is ever considered "mega" in Scripture - only the work of deceivers. To the original thought, It is no way to judge how good a man is as a pastor just by the number of people who attend the church. Joel Osteen "pastors" the largest church in the US but does not take a definitive stand on Mormons being saved or unsaved (side note, they are unsaved). Like I said earlier, one might as well judge how good a pastor is by the make and model of the cars in the parking lot (some churches do) - neither are good criteria.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Kent,

Thank you for your kind and gracious response.

Even if we run with your definition of a heretic, you would (I assume) still hold George Whitefield to be a heretic when he stuck solidly to his guns over the Calvinism issue in that Methodist congregation?

And since John Wesley, in the same congregation, stuck to his Arminian guns, am I right in saying that he would have to be branded as a heretic as well?


Kent Brandenburg said...


What I believe is that it is up to each congregation to decide what is causing division, even as we see in Titus 3. I think that a Calvinist could stay in a non-Calvinist church if he wasn't factious.


Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Kent,

Thanks for being patient with me here in this discussion. I hope that it doesn't look as if I am badgering you i.e. I hope that I am not badgering you.

I think that your definition of heretic is too subjective. If we follow it through, we would have to see Luther as the heretic in Wittenburg after he made a song and dance (forgive the levity of the statement) over the doctrine of justification by faith alone and hold tight in denouncing the Roman authorities as such.


Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Colin,

If I went with subjectivity for my definition of "heretic," I would go with the traditional understanding, but since I get mine from how I see it used in scripture, I'm not sure how that could be subjective.

I believe that we get unity in an individual church by maintaining the purity of that church both in doctrine and practice. We use the scriptural means to accomplish that. Each church marks and avoids those contradicting true doctrine and practice(Rom 16:17-18).

Gary Webb said...

Just to add a little something to the discussion between you & Brandenburg - the only "church" that Martin Luther might have been in was not the Roman Catholic "Church". It would have been a local congregation that preached the truth, so the Bible definition of "heretic" does not play into the controversy between Luther and Rome. Likewise, unless Whitefield and Wesley were in the same congregation (local church), their disagreement over doctrine would not fit the Bible pattern of "heresy".

Travis Burke said...

I appreciate this post. Churches today have become too business-like, political, and braggadocious.
Thank you for writing this.
...and my opinion (for what it's worth) Luther was a heretic.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Kent/all:

It seems then, from what is being taught here, is that heresy is an action as opposed to specific doctrine(s). If I sat, as a Calvinist, in one of your congregations but did not openly teach (say) unconditional election e.g. in the Sunday School or the Youth Group, then (comparatively speaking) well and good. I am not a heretic. It is only if I teach it openly and then, only if someone gets upset.


Claymore said...

Travis, I would have to say of your opinion that it is a wren making prey where eagles dare not perch. You may not realise it but the King James unified the English language (as an example, when a commoner spoke of the cut of meat, he called it "mutton" but the noble would call it "lamb") - the late Dr. Ken Conolly explains this quite well. Luther's German translation did the same for the German language, just as John Calvin's translation did for the French language. No pre-reformation translations did this in any language.

Joshua said...

Even though I think Travis is using the term heretic in the exact sense Kent is arguing it shouldn't be used, I think his point is valid. I would say that Luther was a false teacher (heretics are only in local churches, and from my understanding Luther never darkened the door of a NT church in his life) who held a false gospel and who persecuted the true churches.

That's not to say God never used him. Writing a good translation of Scripture isn't evidence of your orthodoxy. The KJV was translated by pedobaptists in an irregular church, and even though it's clear God used them, that's a long way from proving they loved Christ and were of orthodox belief.

I think this is what Travis means when he says Luther was a heretic. I think he's using the wrong descriptive word, but Luther deserves far more censure for his wicked deeds and false teaching, yet often gets a pass because he was a Reformer.

Claymore said...

Something that I suggest all Baptists read is E. J. Poole-Connor's book (he was a Baptist, and a close friend of Charles Spurgeon, even to leaving the Baptist Union with him over the Down-Grade Controversy) called "Evangelicalism in England" particularly what he says of the Reformers. Most of the KJV was Tyndale's work, but Tyndale was heavily influenced by Luther, and by Zwingli. Even the term "shewbread" comes from Dr. Luther.

What you probably refer to is Dr. Luther's teaching concerning baptism and the Lord's Supper in saying he was a false teacher. Facts are facts, but the fact is that he was coming out of pitch black darkness into bright light - if you try this in the natural, you don't see clearly. We have the benefit of five hundred + years of history and 20/20 hindsight to see where he could have gone further, and where he should not have gone - in much the same way, we may say that Job acted and spoke unscripturally during his suffering, until we consider the minor fact of him not having even a single written word of Scripture when he went through his trials. It is easy to state one was a false teacher when we can look back at what happened - it is another breed of animal to say it when we are the one actually having to tread out what is to us new territory in working out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Luther simply did not live long enough to see everything as clearly as you and I would have liked for him to - can he be blamed for that? I think not.

Part of his statements about Baptists might have been one of two things: first, he saw himself as right against Romanism, and anything that disagreed with him was wrong (in this, he may not have realised that it was also against Romanism that many baptists were preaching). Second, the "Zwichau Prophets", who claimed to be baptists, left a bad taste in his mouth for them, as they would have been in mine (being more like charismatics than actual baptists".

Ultimately, a Baptist-bride mindset is never going to accept Dr. Luther, John Newton, John Wesley, George Whitfield, Robert Mc'Cheyne, George Campbell Morgan, Duncan Campbell, or even John Fletcher - the only man to have been declared the proof that Christianity might be the truth by the leading atheist of his day, and possibly of all time. This is sad, because so much can be learned from them - I drew heavily from a number of these in writing on holiness. The reason is that the mind of the Baptist brider is like cement, after being thoroughly mixed up, it is permanently set.

I suppose that those who believe Luther was a false teacher/heretic do not use congregational singing, since it was made common by a "false teacher", or that they do not believe in justification by faith alone simply because Luther taught it as his primary doctrine - they may even find reason to attack the Deity of Christ because of some disagreement with Athanasius (I speak tongue-in-cheek here, but I hope the point is made - as Mr. Wesley would put it, "when you wash your child, throw out the water you used to wash him, but do not throw the child out with the water").

Claymore said...

I apologise for not having fully read your last paragraph, Joshua. I think that if we were to look through history at your life, we could say the same about you - just as you could say the same about me needing far more censure.

The way I took your statement was one of arrogance, and rather a crass collection of cheek and brass. If this is not the way you intended it, I apologise. Something I cannot abide is a spirit of a Baptist-bride (or Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Methodist, et al.) When Jesus said "I am the Vine, ye are the branches" it should mean something - no two branches of any given vine are exactly similar. If the way I came across in my last post was taken as harsh, I do not want that happening, and apologise for it also. Whilst being a baptist, I do not like to be so bigoted against those who are not baptist, and for that reason have very good friends who are Presbyterians, Independents, or come from Methodist backgrounds (though most have left them).

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for your comments and for coming by this blog and reading it. I can appreciate Luther anywhere he spoke the truth and for whatever valuable contribution he offered to Western civilization. I'm local only in my ecclesiology, which does not assume, as it wouldn't with many readers here, that I and them are what you call "Baptist briders." My view of the bride analogy is that it is used in Eph 5 to describe Christ's relationship to the church. And then I see it used differently in Revelation where the same analogy is used to describe God's relationship with all saints, both OT and NT.

I base fellowship on belief and practice (1 Cor 5; 2 Thess 3; Rom 16; 1 Tim 6; 2 Tim 2). I believe that many Baptists speak too highly of Luther. We can be thankful for his departure from Roman Catholicism, but I don't see him, from reading his own writings, as having moved far enough away to have left a false gospel. So if I believe that, what do I say, based upon Galatians 1:6-9, about Luther?

Travis Burke said...

I am glad that I could stimulate such conversation.
I won't pretend to have the intellectual minds of many of you (I have no idea what "your opinion that it is a wren making prey where eagles dare not perch." could possibly mean).
That said, I do study to the best of my ability, and while I do also appreciate the fact that Luther stepped out from the darkness that was/is the Catholic church; walking from utter darkness to darkness is still not light (hope that made sense).
Luther still taught antinomianism, persecuted/martyred baptist who believed just as I, used obscene language, condoned immorality in his writings, and never fully left the baptismal regeneration stand. Therefore, I will stand by my opinion that he was a heretic.
I have learned much from reading your comments Claymore, and will look up the writings you mentioned.
Reality is, there is one faith, one baptism...and if it doesn't matter what you believe, then why such detail in the Word of God?
It does matter what you believe.
All through Scripture God teaches a principle that He rewards righteousness. I am not saying that men like Wesley, Whitefield, or for that matter Sunday, Moody, and even Graham never did anything good...just that there is a Biblical way of doing things and God rewards that.
2 Tim.2:5, "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully"

Claymore said...

Of course, each is entitled to his own opinion, just as all are entitled to my opinion. However, it does seem this subject is getting off of the original topic. My reason for defending Luther is that I see too many are too critical of him, or of those he influenced, such as Patrick Hamilton (who then influenced George Wishart, and he in turn influenced John Knox), William Tyndale, Thomas Bilney, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cramner - all of whom were burnt at their various stakes (except for Knox). If they take that position, they would have to be critical of John Huss, John Wycliffe, and ultimately those who influenced Wycliffe, including Patrick and Columba (contrary to propaganda from the Vatican, were adamently opposed to Romanism). The idea of the "baptist bride" that I mentioned is my term for a spirit of arrogance about being Baptist (capital-B) while being bible (lowercase-b). It smells of what Isaiah said about "come not nigh me, for I am holier than thou." While we all would have liked for Luther to come further away from Rome, I can say without hesitation, that none of us would have come as far in his stead with only the knowledge that he had. In the same way, it is amazing that I came as far as I have with a background of Romans two - the same with each of us. As I said in another thread, God does not always reveal truth in the same order - some of what we know now we have the benefit of history to show us where Luther might easily have been in error - if he did not have that insight, we should remember that God judges us according to knowledge.

As for finding "Evangelicalism in England" this book is going to be hard to find (but I hope you succeed) - it has been out of print for about thirty years, but it may be obtainable second-hand in Britain (perhaps some in the US). As to the statement of your opinion, Travis, I believe that line is from Shakespear, and means that this may be a statement that should not be made.

Travis Burke said...

I have greatly enjoyed our conversation and truly respect your knowledge of things holy.
I understand your point completely that Luther did see some truth and that many are "too critical of him."
My point is though, just because someone saw "a truth" does not mean that they believe in "the Truth." I respect Luther for coming out of Catholicism and for his stand against some of their autrocities. Then again, Charles Barkley told me I should drink milk when I was a child and that it did "a body good." Problem is, just because he said a truth does not mean that he is a man worthy of defending.
Luther did see some truth, but if he continued his stand on baptismal regeneration and did not believe in Jesus Christ as the way to Glory, Luther is in Hell. Now, that is not my position to decide, but I am commanded in Scripture to see and judge the teachings of others and warn folks of false teachers.
He is one of those. There is an Absolute. We do not live in a world where folks can have their opinions on what is right and what is wrong, our Lord in His Word already has done this. There is Truth.
Your "Baptist Bride-a-phobia" is substantiated, for there are some people who think they are going to Heaven because they are Baptist. I am not one of them. I believe I am going to Heaven because of Jesus Christ.
That said, I do believe that our Lord expects us to follow the "one faith, and one baptism". I do believe that His church, the true church, which He started with His disciples was given authority and His commission. I believe there are many who are saved, but not a part of a true church. One that has authority given by our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know Luther may not have had knowledge of Truth as you and I do, but a lack of knowledge does not forgive his damnable teachings.
If Luther was wrong then, he is still wrong now. I know He saw a truth, and I am glad; but did his Lutheran church hardly is pointing others to the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation.
Yes, he did declare that the justification is by grace, and for that I do not disagree, for Grace "does a spirit good."
Thank you Pastor B for allowing us to converse here, thank you Claymore for the stimulating conversation.
Perhaps I am taking your statements too far, if I am, I do apologize. It is just, we live in a world where "no one is wrong and everyone is entitled to their opinions as to what is right," and that quite simply is not true.
God has already told us through His Word what is right, we just need to follow it.

Joshua said...


I don't think anyone here is a Brider. You may have gotten the impression I was when I said Luther never darkened the door of a NT church. I stand by that, but that's a far cry from being a Brider.

I think you are giving Luther too much slack.

Imagine is Ian Paisley went nuts, made the Free Presbyterians the state church of Ireland, then started having dissenters killed. Next you hear he is convincing his neighbours to kill those who flee his persecution. He writes vicious screeds against Jews and has them killed or robbed.

I think you'd run a million miles to distance yourself from him. I think you'd cringe at the dinner table when the unsaved used him as an example of a Christian. You wouldn't be saying "500 years from mow we're all going to look back on this and laugh" or "but he's really good on the KJV!"

We all dogpile on Rick Warren for unScriptural church growth teachings, but Luther's church growth strategy of forcing everyone into church and persecuting those who don't go gets a pass because he's been dead for a while? What would you say if it was happening today, in your local area? With our high and lofty theological thinking, we whitewash this extreme, barbaric wickedness just because he left the RCC and had some other good things to say among the false teachings he retained.

It doesn't wash.

Claymore said...

I suppose then that you believe Spurgeon to be right for being a Baptist - or John Bunyan for the same reason. Would you give Spurgeon a pass because he was a strong Calvinist? He said, "Calvinism is the Gospel, and the Gospel is Calvinism." He also spoke of the "Covenant of Grace" which is Covenant Theology talk. John Bunyan also spoke of it in his autobiography "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners." He also wrote a book called "The Differences in Water Baptism No Bar to Communion." Does he get a pass on this because he was a Baptist?

Did it ever occur to you that one reason why Luther said and did some things was because of Andreas Carlstadt, who truly took matters too far? I believe that Jesus said it best when He said that no man having drunk old wine straightway desires new, for he saith that the old is better. Luther, like Peter, James, and others in Acts, tried to pour the new wine of the Gospel into the old wineskin of his past. Is Peter in hell for his reluctance to go to Gentiles and thence his causing a dissembly in Antioch? Is James condemned because he urged Paul to take on a Nazarite vow to plactate a number of Jewish believers who were zealous for the law, and believed that Paul was teaching things contrary to the law? I will state once, and afterward leave off speaking of Luther to go on to the original topic of this thread - that of pastors who do not pastor and judge their ministries by size - I do not believe I will see Luther in heaven simply because he will be far closer to the throne of God than I shall be - the same goes for Mr. Wesley, Mr. McCheyne, and an unnumbered multitude of those who went before me. I speak no more of this subject hereafter.

Joshua said...


You are right, we are far off topic. I do realize there are people with whom I have doctrinal disagreement with that I will meet in heaven, errors notwithstanding.

I'm not hoping that Luther won't be there in the Church in Glory, but as long as we are on this Earth and still suffering from his dreadful example and false doctrines (the universal, invisible church doctrine chief among them), then I'll not lift him up as something to admire.

Gary Webb said...

As I read all the discussion going on here I did not notice the "spirit of arrogance about being Baptist" to which you refer, but I did notice a loyalty to Bible doctrine, and that seemed to make you angry. In trying to find out what a "Baptist brider" is, I have come to realize it is simply a derogatory term that people use when they do not like Baptist doctrine. Most of the people that I have met who have been called "Baptist Briders" do not believe that Baptists alone are "the Bride". I applaud Luther for his courageous stands, but should I exalt him as an example and ignore his false teachings? I know what it is to begin with little truth and learn and change. Why didn't Luther do a little more learning and changing? Whatever the answer to that is, I still cannot overlook his false teaching.

Charles e. Whisnant said...

John MacArthur and John Piper are certainly no false prophets, and they do preach or teach the truth. Of course we could pull scripture out here and there to address the isssues here. Pastoring preacher, and music. But I am as much concern about preaching a half gospel. That is we preach Jesus as Saviour and not Christ as Lord. I beleive that lead to more false salvation than music and preacher not pastoring their churches. Romans 1:5-16. We ask people to accept Jesus not not often Christ the LORD.

Claymore said...

Gary Webb:

You really must tell me more about myself: perhaps I have been misinformed. The spirit of arrogance about being a Baptist does not necessarily place a man in hell because he was not one - it may say that he was a second-rate Christian for not being one. Such a spirit may be seen in a statement I read once that said, "Protestants have no spiritual wherewithal" - of the thirty-plus men that I drew from in my book on holiness, only these I know were Baptists: John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, Edward Poole-Connor, and Robert Ketcham. All the rest were Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Methodists, or assorted Independents. History denies such a statement about Protestants not being spiritual. Having come from a Romans Two background, I need no man to lecture me as to what a Baptist Brider is, for I used to be one out of the definition that I gave earlier. No man who walked the earth was more bigoted against anybody who was not a Baptist than I - there was a time I would have placed every non-Baptist in hell, until I began to study outside the Baptist systems and found a wealth of information that I had not seen before - how that not only were these saved men, but almost without exception were more spiritual than the Baptists. Therefore, the term is not derrogatory from those who despise Baptist doctrine and your implicated charge that I do so is groundless. If I despise Baptist Doctrine, it is only when that doctrine disagrees with Scripture - where it does so, I deny Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and all.

You state that it seemed to make me angry that some held to Bible doctrines - frankly I am amazed that such libel is allowed here without a single witnessed statement to back it up. You do not know what my thoughts were concerning what was written when I made my responses - I suggest you re-read a few posts back to find that out.

Something that I have noticed about your posts here and in other threads is that you tend to make final judgments concerning those with whom you personally disagree. In a previous thread, you made the statement that one had a reprobate mind - to my understanding, only God knows whose mind is reprobate. You may not have noticed it, but I refrained from actually making any final judgement, as Scripture says that such judgment is committed to the Son not to Claymore. As I am not the fourth member of the Trinity, I make no such statements. It seems then you proceed to do the same above in saying that "loyalty to Bible doctrine makes me angry" and implying that I despise Baptist doctrine.

continued below

Claymore said...

Continued from above:

It is good that you have at least something good to say about Luther - it is more than I have heard some Baptists say. One baptist I heard call Luther a priest of Rome all his life - that's odd because he was excommunicated in 1521. I do not overlook his errors, nor did I once say that he made none. I do think when it comes to his relations with Baptists, you only read half the story, for I have found places that said he tried to help them when the peasant's revolt, which many who took the name "Baptist" supported, was crushed by the nobility. I do not support his advice to Prince Philipp of Hesse concerning his bigamy - there is no defence for that. Only a fool would say that any man is infallible, which is why I pointed out the failures in Peter and James. When one is in error - be it Luther, Dr. Brandenburg, Gary Webb, or otherwise, it is the duty of all Christians to point this out - I do not endorse completely what any man says or does, unless it be Christ. My own theological system is probably best described by the Athenians "what will this seed-picker say?" It might do us all good to remember that we are not infallible as to our interpretation of Scripture as well.

You finally state that you know what it is to come from little truth to great truth, so why did not Luther learn and grow some more? The simple answer is that he did. He may have believed in consubstantiation concerning the Lord's Supper during his discussion with Zwingli, but before he died, he acknowledged Calvin's view of a symbolic presence instead of the real presence in the elements - Calvin's view was identical to Zwingli's. This is but one example. Luther was about 32 when the Reformation took place - he died within thirty years of its commencement. I do not believe that less than thirty years to discover all that the Bible (given over 1640 years) has to say on any given subject is anywhere near enough time to say "this position is, without exception in any area, completely what the Bible says." That is why Luther, Calvin, Melanchthon, Knox, and others wrote, retracted, and re-worked many of the things that they previously believed. I do not know of any preacher who does otherwise. There were times when I said things in sermons that were not in line with Scripture, but as I came to realise this, I retracted them - if you are honest, you would say you do the same. In addition, you had the benefit of teachers who were able to utilise history so you still have the benefit of hindsight in coming to truth. Luther had no human teacher to help him with these doctrines that he discovered for himself - thus we should try to be more charitable when it comes to him, or to others with whom we may disagree.

Kent Brandenburg said...


You used the Baptist bride label on men here. It has a very technical meaning and later you came back and said that you didn't mean it that way, but as a spirit of arrogance about being Baptist. That is what Dr. Webb is reacting to. "Baptist bride" is most often, in my experience as well, not used as a very nice tag to carry, but a pejorative to discredit with a kind of smear---that's the trouble with it.

And now you seem to be peeved that Dr. Webb has defended against that. Pastor Burke believes Luther is a heretic. Many independent Baptists, who take a spiritual kinship view of Baptist history, don't think highly of the state church men, like Luther, who persecuted non-conformists. I don't think it is attempting arrogance, just judging Luther by the Bible, and since Luther divides, in their belief, from a right position, he is a heretic. I don't use the term that way, because I'd like to preserve the right thinking about the notion of heresy, but I think we should assume that this is a biblical view of these men, instead of saying that it is some sort of denominational pride, a spirit of arrogance, Pharisaic judgmentalism. Do you see what I am saying?

Gary Webb said...

Good response. I am glad to receive what you have written.
We are certainly coming from different positions. I grew up in a liberal Presbyterian "church" [PCUSA], joined a Southern Baptist church in college, attended most of the most well-known campus ministries while in college, joined an independent Baptist church before finishing college, and then went to Bob Jones University for the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees - the last of which I started and completed while the pastor of an independent Baptist church. ALL of my instruction has been in Protestant, universal church, critical text churches & institutions [both liberal & Fundamental]. The ONLY arrogant “big B” Baptist I have ever met [I don't get around a lot] was a man in a good Baptist church, & that man was later voted out of his church for stealing large sums of money. During the course of being a pastor & preaching through books of the Bible to feed my church people, I came to the Received Text, local church only, Baptist positions ... of course, prodded by interaction with other men, one of them being Pastor Brandenburg. I appreciate what any Christian or preacher has done or taught when he exalts the Lord & his Truth. I love the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God". I would have to say that Wesley is my favorite hymn writer. I even appreciate the great majority of what I was taught at Bob Jones University and will stand with them against the attacks of apostates and unbelievers.
However, I did not see anything in the previous posts that would have provoked you to attack Baptists and refer to them as arrogant. The Protestant, non Baptist teaching I received has been [next to my own sinfulness] the greatest hindrance to my understanding the Bible and learning to pastor the people in my church.
Also, I think that I will continue throughout my days to believe and say that a person has a “reprobate mind” [adokimon noun] – a mind that does not function properly or according to truth – when that person says that there is no sin … just because someone has no evil intent when they do something that God calls an abomination. You think I am wrong on that?

Claymore said...

I really do not see where there is any tangible difference of opinion between what we say. I said conclusively that I would endorse what no man says unquestioningly. What I object to is making any final judgment, as John 5:27 among other places will point out. One may have said that he had teachings that were not in harmony with Scripture - I know of no man who has absolutely every teaching in perfect harmony with Scripture. All are liable to error. Nonetheless, the final judgment of all men is committed to the Son - not to anybody else. As such, it is not up to us to be pronouncing anathemas upon anybody. I do not even do so to Rick Warren and Joel Oesteen, though I speak against their teachings which are erroneous. As I said, I do not respond in anger. There are times, however, when I will take the part of the devil's advocate (oftentimes a poor term) just to see if consistency may be held.