Monday, January 04, 2010

A Leaking Gospel

If the true gospel was a ship, it would be airtight, never to be sunk. It always would do what it was supposed to do, because the gospel is of God. It is His good news. He gave it to mankind. As God's creation, the gospel will succeed at what God intended it. The gospel that is His will produce what He designed.

The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to "believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). God saves through the gospel (Rom 1:16). Because of this, we preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). Paul served God in the gospel (Rom 1:9). If anyone preach any other gospel than the one Paul preached, he is to be accursed (Gal 1:6-9).

I'm deeply concerned about a widespread movement, much more than a trend, that claims to exalt and celebrate the gospel, when it in fact attacks the nature of the gospel. It's taken me awhile to sort this out, but now I'm convinced that this movement undermines the gospel, meanwhile promoting what it says is the gospel. I am calling it a leaking gospel. It is an imposter that might be decorated with flags and bright colored paint, but it has enough holes to sink it. What leaks out from it is what God created the gospel to do. Contained in the gospel is the power to change, to sanctify, and to separate, all around the truth.

Supporters of the leaking gospel shout out their love for the gospel. They name their parachurch organizations after the gospel. The blog about the gospel. They convince many that nobody cares about the gospel more than they.

The problem of the leaking gospel centers on an important gospel text in the New Testament---1 Corinthians 15:1-4. There Paul writes to the Corinthians:

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The leaking starts with a wrong interpretation of "first of all" in v. 3. The English Standard Version (also the NASB and NIV) translates that "as of first importance." It is only two Greek words---en protois. This is the only usage of en protois in the New Testament. However, it is found one time in the Greek Old Testament. There it is translated in the KJV as "before": "Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before" (Joshua 8:33). The NASB translates it "at first" and the NIV, "formerly." None of those say that en protois refers to importance, but order in every case. Young's literal translation gives protois a one word translation in 1 Corinthians 15:3---"first." "I delivered to you first." The "of all" comes from the KJ translators because of the preposition, en, in front of "first."

What is the normal use of protos, "first." Should it be understood as "first importance?" The first time we see protos in the New Testament is in Matthew 5:24, which says, "first be reconciled to thy brother." The primary usage of protos is order, not importance. Even if en protos does mean "as of first importance," which it doesn't seem to according to a common sense reading, nothing in the context would tell us that 1 Corinthians 15:3 is making the amazing statement that this is the most important doctrine in Scripture. And then if it really is saying that the gospel is the most important doctrine in the whole Bible, it doesn't say anything about the gospel being the only test of fellowship with other professing believers. This is not exegesis of 1 Corinthians 15:3. It is all reading this teaching into 1 Corinthians 15:3.

A plain reading of the text says that Paul is saying that the gospel was one of the first messages that he delivered to the Corinthians. Of course, he would preach the gospel to them first because they weren't saved. The gospel is foundational to other doctrines, because someone can't understand Scripture until he has been converted and has the Holy Spirit indwelling him. A person goes to Hell for all eternity if He rejects the gospel. There's no doubt it's important, but it is a massive jump to seal a most-important-doctrine-in-all-of-Scripture alone from 1 Corinthians 15:3.

This little two word Greek phrase has become the proof phrase for a particular belief about the gospel. From those two words, those in this leaking gospel movement say in essence that the gospel is the singular basis for Christian fellowship, that is, as long as someone has even a minimal understanding and then reception of the gospel, we are permitted to fellowship with him regardless of many other scriptural differences. With most of these, it goes even further than that. To them, those who separate over the violation of a scriptural doctrine or practice other than or in addition to the gospel somehow are diminishing or undermining the gospel.

A particular understanding of this one, two-word phrase, en protois, brings together Pedobaptists with Credobaptists, Charismatics with non-Charismatics, Bach worship with Grunge Rock worship, Traditionally Clean Speech with Foul Language, and Complementarians with Egalitarians. This application of one prepositional phrase dumbs down all the rest of the doctrine of the Bible. It also clashes with many passages that teach discipline and separation over other teachings and practices (Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). No right view of the gospel could contradict so much belief and practice from the rest of Scripture.

When we are saved by grace through faith alone (Eph 2:8-9), "we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). Right behavior "adorn(s) the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things" (Titus 2:8-10) for God's grace "teach(es) us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:11-12). John writes in 1 John 2:29: "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him." Whatever is truly about the gospel can't divide itself from all of the teachings of the Lord. The gospel changes someone to live everything that God said.

The gospel is not the only basis for fellowship. In one of the most important and few passages on unity in the New Testament, Ephesian 4:3-6, we see that unity is based upon "one faith." "The faith" encompasses all the teaching of God in Scripture. "The faith" is everything that we believe and practice as a church. It is what brings a church together---not just the gospel, but all the teaching of God's Word.

"The leaking gospel" is more concerned about the alliances of evangelicalism and fundamentalism than it is about the gospel. Someone who loves the gospel won't compromise something else in Scripture in order to "get along" with another professing believer. Those with this understanding of the gospel are more concerned about their kind of unity than they are the honor of God. God isn't honored by diminishing belief and practice to cobble together leagues, fellowships, denominations, and confederations. Those with "the leaking gospel" don't mind the erosion of true worship in order to keep an alliance together. You can see that this view of the gospel doesn't strengthen the teaching of the gospel, but empties of it of its power by cheapening the grace of God. God's grace conforms men to all that God said. That was why Jesus sent His church to teach new believers "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).

So I say beware of those with the leaking gospel. They may talk of the gospel and bring it into most conversations. They may say that it is what their preaching and their worship is all about. That doesn't mean that they represent the gospel of God. Just because they claim to coalesce around the gospel does not conclude that they do.


Paul said...

I enjoy reading your blog and rarely if ever comment, but this post got me thinking about a question that has puzzled me for a long time. I’m hoping that you could shed some more light on it for me.

As you pointed out in Mark 1:15 our Lord says

And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Now if we take the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15 as the gospel then what exactly was our Lord telling them to believe? How could the people in Mark chapter 1 know that Christ would die for our sins, be buried and rise again the third day all according to scriptures if it has yet to happen. Was Jesus talking about a different gospel in Mark 1?


d4v34x said...

Funny, if the Gospel is separation, why did Paul not include it in his definition in 1 Cor 15:1-4? :^)

Also, if one can understand the rest of Scripture only when regenerated and indwelt--the results of embracing the gospel--I think it is manifest that the gospel is of first importance as well as first in order of teaching.

Especially since separation is an practical outworking of all the positional truths, which outworking occurs as we continue to embrace a deepening understanding of the gospel.

Put another way, separation must occur, but only because of the gospel. Ergo the gospel must be more important than separation, (even despite the fact that an "embracing" of the gospel that results in no separation whatsoever is likely spurious).

Finally, are you saying it is your opinion that the "anathema" applies to those in the "coalition" and "together"? If not, we might hesitate before branding their gospel "another" gospel.

Anonymous said...

Here is a lesson from my SS class

at this sight that is a ministry of the church I attend:
click on the BBR-TV which will take you to another page and go over to the right and click on channel 137 to hear the lesson "The Gospel of The Kingdom"

hope I explained it well enough hope to hear feedback about what you all think.

Paul said...


That lesson does shed more light on the subject for me. Thank you for sharing it with me/us.


Kent Brandenburg said...


I wish you would come down on the over-all point. I'll answer your grape shot, but is what I write here true, and if it is, isn't this a concern to you? And if it is wrong, how is it wrong?

You are making a connection here with Ben's post that I came in on separation, because I believed he was saying that separation undermines the gospel in some way (which he hasn't actually said how). He later said it wasn't separation and then later he said that he had said separation. That was confusing, but you didn't question him on that.

As to your first question, the gospel is represented by 1 Cor 15:1-4, but I don't believe it is definitional. Jesus died, was buried, and rose again. It doesn't say anything about believing that, but it is implied. If we believe it, then we're believing that we needed Him to die because He's God and that we should surrender to Him as God because He is.

Second question. Is the glory of God more important than the gospel? Or is the most important truth, to love God with all my heart? There may be a most important truth, but that doesn't make the rest of the truths unessential.

But the gospel itself separates us from the power and penalty and presence of sin. You can't separate it from the gospel. Do you have a gospel that does not separate?

I believe the anathema applies to anyone who changes the gospel. Is it more offensive to change the gospel or to say anathema to someone who changes it? I'm not ready to say anathema to it yet, but I want an answer why not to do that. I'm responsible to God, not the alliance of evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I think you need to read all the way through 1 Cor 15 and also understand the implications of 1 Cor 15:1-4 for it to be the gospel. If someone believes the gospel, there is more than something intellectual and emotional too. It is volitional, which is also included in the command to repent.

The gospel was still faith in God's plan of salvation, which we know in 1 Cor 15:1-4 in more detail. You can't reject the actual plan and be saved.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I couldn't figure out how to listen to it without paying.

Anonymous said...

So you followed all the instuctions I gave, and it took you to channel 137, but the video feed did not start? Did video feed even come up or did video feed come up but just not start playing? The pay now should only be if you want that offer of recieving some DVDs. It worked for me(for free) this afternoon and I am pretty sure Paul listened for free.

Anonymous said...

Yes I did listen to it for free and as I said it shed more light.

I never thought I was saying anything like rejecting the actual plan, I'm a bit confused with your reply to me.


d4v34x said...

Bro. B,

I brought in separation because that appears to me to be your main problem with the gospel of your target groups--you contend it doesn't result in appropriate ecclisiastical separation. The cross reference to Ben's thread was sort irresistible to me at that point. Yes, Paul's definition (I don't think you can call it anything else) of the gospel here is elemental, perhaps synechdocal, intentionally.

I was actually noticed and ready to "call" Ben on his misstatement, but he corrected himself, so no need. Furthermore, I look forward to him making the case he announced in the end of that post he would make in "part 2". I will evaluate his claims on their merits in light of scripture.

Your 2nd question is terribly interesting and, I think, moot. It would take me a long time to say why, but I think the watershed issue in the disagreement is the understanding of your word essential. I sounds to me like you believe that every command and principle is essential to the gospel itself. I think though that, definitionally, the gospel has to be considered a separate thing from the changes it affects in the lives of believers.

I define the Gospel as what a person needs to understand and embrace in faith and repentance in order to be born again. I think you and I and Al Mohler and Tim Keller and all the rest agree on what that is. If we add to or take away from that, we preach another gospel. A gospel that is offered with the promise that it will not change one bit your sinful pursuits ignores repentance. That is elementally different than teaching believers that the charismatic gifts have not ceased. One can be in theological error without preaching another gospel.

I have read here and at JH where you state that you now hold different positions on at least a few things than you held on those same issues 20 or more years ago. If you were in error then was the gospel you preached at the time another gospel? Did the curse of "anathema" rest on you? If not, were those errors unessential?

I do not deny that it is essential to our perfection/maturity that we obey all the commands and affirm all of God's truth, but not essential to the gospel per se.

Back to your separation issue, the key is what the Bible really says on separation. You know you differ with a big hunk of (a) Christianity (you would put in quotemarks) on that.

Furthermore I understand that means you must (perhaps) condemn them for it.

As for me, I admit I am presently at a crossroads/in crisis on that very issue.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.,

Just noticed I did not answer you fully.

Interesting thing about that little saying. I always heard it said we are "saved from the power, penaltay and *ultimately* the presence of sin." I don't think we can argue theology backwards from what a sentence that is essentially an epigramatic reduction. At least some, perhaps most, of the implications are lost in doing so.

To answer you. No I don't have a gospel that doesn't separate me from sin in the ways you state. But the presence is future, and there are days I wrestle mightily with the principle of sin that remains in me. Sometimes I overcome, other times not. At least two thirds of the outcomes in the epigram are messier in real life than they are in the reciting of it.

Also, it is obviously more egregious to change the gospel than pronounce the anathema when it is warranted. But I think we ought restrain ourselves from charging "another gospel" before we are ready to pronounce anathema.

Claymore said...

If I might state something about what Paul wrote to the Galatians concerning the anathema: it must be viewed in the context (after all, is not the context of the writing critical to its interpretation?) The context was Judaisirs coming among the Gentiles and stating that unless one kept the law of Moses (e. g. became a Jew) he could not be saved, which shows another means than Christ for salvation. Since Jesus Christ is THE Way, this would be a pseudo-gospel that would indeed be cursed, for those who follow it are not following Christ, hence they reject Him, and hence eternity in hell. Holding to a difference of opinion - on say the Lord's Table - does not classify as "changing the Gospel." For myself, I am an open-communionist - if (I say this for argument) one takes the belief that every doctrine is important to the essence of the Gospel to its logical conclusion, either I or the closed-communionist must be anathema. However, I do not see at all how this changes the Gospel.

A second interpretation of Galatians is found in 3:3 - having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? In other words, now that Christ has saved you by your faith in Him, is it up to each Christian to live as best he may? Contrast this with what John records the Saviour saying: without me, ye can do nothing. A Gospel that says the individual Christian must live the Christian life as best he can smells of Neo Orthodoxy and Theothanitarianism (the belief that God is dead) as preached by Karl Barth, Rudolph Bultmann, Emil Bruner, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Bubuer, Paul Tillich, William Barclay, Thomas Althizer, and William Hamilton. This, I think is truly "another gospel" since Hebrews asserts that Christ saves to the uttermost (in other words, it is possible to live without conscious sin). After a study of Scripture, I came to believe that a gospel that does not allow for the Sin Nature (or principle, or "The Sin" - I use the terms interchangeably) to be broken in this life, and for the flesh to be no longer the dominant force in the life, is a false gospel, because it only tells half the truth.

David makes a good point in his post about the Gospel saving us from the power of sin: according to what Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:23-24 (the first place he speaks of how/when sanctification takes place), we are to be sanctified wholly (in this life, unless Paul was praying for the deaths of his readers), and to be preserved blameless. Jude then says that God is able to keep us from falling (Greek, stumbling). If anybody who reads here ever gets the chance, he needs to obtain and read Mr. John Wesley's book "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection" for that reason. In it, the myth that he taught sinless perfection is handily dismissed, for we will ever come short of the Glory of God this side of eternity.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'll look back at it again. I was in a hurry at the time.


I should have said, "someone reject the gospel"---I wasn't saying you rejected it.


You've got to go by what I write and not read into it. These coalitions, groups, get together based upon the gospel and use 1 Cor 15 to tolerate doctrinal and practical differences, essentially tolerating unscriptural belief and behavior. Does a true gospel do this?

I'm not saying "essential to the gospel," but calling a doctrine less than the gospel as non-essential and therefore tolerable as it relates to the coalition or alliance. Is it tolerable to God? This seems to affect one's approach to God. The alliance becomes God instead of God. The gospel relates to Who God is---if we receive Christ, we don't have terms of surrender to Him.

1 Cor 15:1-4 is good news, but it carries with it implications for salvation, which is why I wouldn't say that it is all that someone needs to know to be saved. Many people know that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again, but they aren't saved. That's all I'm saying about it not being a definition per se.

I'm not talking about not practicing something scriptural as being equal to accepting a false gospel. I'm talking about people who accept unscriptural behavior to keep together an alliance. I think you know this.

Obviously we are not delivered from the presence of sin until later, but as it relates to God we are saved from the presence of sin. Our future is sure.

If the alliance becomes Lord, it is another gospel. Should we tolerate something we know violates God's Word?

Reforming Baptist said...

KB: "Someone who loves the gospel won't compromise something else in Scripture in order to "get along" with another professing believer."

RB: I agree with that. I am not going to baptize babies just because I want to get along with a Presby who visits my church.

Kent Brandenburg said...


We really do need to deal with what I said. And yes, there is a particular false gospel that Paul dealt with Galatia, but what he said was rather axiomatic, that is, "another gospel than that which I have preached." My point has not been sinless perfection, ever. That is fully reading into what I wrote. I believe sanctification is a struggle, but when Jesus died on the cross, Claymore, did He save us from the penalty, power, and presence of sin. But we are forever sanctified by what Jesus finished on the cross. Do you believe that?

My problem, which is very evident, but something that a few commenters do not want to speak to, despite it being all that I wrote about, is using this little phrase, "first of all," as a basis for ignoring doctrine. I know there are doctrinal differences, but it has become a kind of free for all for everything BUT the gospel. I believe this undermines the gospel and makes it an occasion to the flesh, which we know from 2 Peter and Jude, among other places, is a way that the gospel is changed. But no one chooses to comment on that. Why is that David and Claymore, when that was almost entirely what I wrote on. Instead, you are reading into what I wrote.

Are we to be sanctified? Yes. But are we sanctified? Yes. We will conform to His image.

And Tillich, Barth, etc. That's way over the top.


d4v34x said...

Bro. B., I will point out I discussed your "first of all" in my first reply here. Most of the rest of what I wrote has been in response to your replies or my percieved implications of your replies.

As for your question "Does a true gospel do this?" I'm really not sure what you mean. In order to answer I will have to reformulate your question in terms I am sure I understand and that, hopefully, capture your intent.

1. "Can we maintain the purity of the gospel and cooperate with non-cessationists and pedobaptists [which baptism seems to me to be taught and practiced as dedicatory rather than salvific] and grunge worship band types within a coalition context?" Maybe, maybe not. As I said, I am in crisis on this. But while we are in I Corinthians--note that with all the problems there, in only one of the cases was practical separation prescribed. Or . . .

2. "Must not a true gospel, when effectively embraced for salvation in ones life ultimately affect their ecclesiastical (and perhaps personal) separation from the above types of folks in error?" As I said above, it depends what the Bible really says about separation. Or . . .

3. "Would Paul have separated from such types? If so to what extent?"

We know Paul would rebuke error. We don't really see this type of error in the NT. I am not willing to consign those in TGC or T4G to the realm of "false teachers" or those who hold "another gospel", so I'm not sure he would have.

I hope I got close to answering what you asked.

Kent Brandenburg said...


You really are free to comment on whatever you want here, but I've scrolled up and you've said nothing about whether 1 Cor 15:1-4 provides space for tolerating false teaching and practice and somehow connects the gospel to that.

On your #1, if you go back to 1 Cor 5, Paul listed several separating issues and then had a catch all at the end of it to include even more, then in 1 Cor 11, he said there were needed divisions among them, issues that were separating them.

On your #3, we can only do what we see Scripture say. Just because a specific error isn't in the Bible, we still judge by the Bible as to whether it is an error, transubstantiation, for instance, or a number of other errors. Toleration of them at their point of introduction in history is why they gain a footing. When we act as if they don't matter by ignoring them for sake of coalition, and then say that association is about the gospel, I believe it diminishes or undermines the gospel. That, by the way, is all the further I have gone so far on this. On the other hand, they seem to say that we who elevate other doctrines in addition to the gospel in the cause of unity or coalition somehow diminish the gospel. Many are jumping on that bandwagon. Why? They love a "gospel" that is so free. But is the gospel so free? Or should we say cheap?


Just a note. I've read Warfield's volume on perfectionism and essentially agree with it if that means anything to you. In other words, sanctification is a struggle, but it isn't a surrender to false teaching and practice. Sin doesn't have dominion over us and we have no scriptural basis to use the priority of the gospel to cooperate with false doctrine.

Reforming Baptist,

I'm glad to hear you won't sprinkle infants, but is that an unfruitful work of darkness? So will you fellowship with it or will you rebuke it? I don't think this should be considered to be some kind of wild-eyed question.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.,

Now we're getting somewhere. My point on I Cor 5 is that there was one particular situation where Paul ordered separation. You are correct in pointing out that the list of evils he uses in addressing that particular situation covers more than sexual immorality. And while I do not see the catch-all statement that you do I agree that said list is representative, not exhaustive. But let's be clear; I don't believe that said list includes theological error of the types we believe to present in some of the members of TGC and T4G even by extension. These men are not known to be drunkards, fornicators, or greedy, etc.

Furthermore, the theological errors present in those groups (at least those of which I am aware, including PCA pedobaptism-see their Westminster confession) do not add or subtract anything from faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone that I can see.

Finally, I Cor 11 appears to me to support the case for larger unity (if in an unexpected manner) rather than prescribe ecclesiastical separation, as the divisions he describes appear to be internal, that is, within the local body.

More on the I Cor 15 issue later.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Someone can say faith alone and grace alone, but what is faith and what is grace and Who is Jesus? I've found many unsaved who agree on faith alone and grace alone and then we start on the definitions. Grace is not an occasion to the flesh nor is liberty toleration of unscriptural belief or practice---he who does the will of the Father enters into the kingdom of heaven---the gospel actually saves.

1 Cor 11 is far from supporting unity with doctrinal divisions. He says that the divisions there Corinth were necessary to manifest who was a believer and who wasn't. Heresy isn't acceptable in a church (Tit 3:10-11). So I don't get that.

As far as the catch all in 1 Cor 5m, it is "with such an one" in v. 11. But there are other places to deal with doctrine: Rom 16:17-18 and 2 Thess 3:6-15 and those are not dealing with ONLY the gospel.


You bring up open/closed/close communion as one issue that indicates we'll have doctrinal differences and still have unity. But we obviously don't have unity in that doctrine if we differ. And we get an attack on perspecuity and on truth and meaning when we say we've got reduce fellowship to only the gospel. Is grunge rock worship false worship and what does false worship manifest (2 Cor 6:14-7:1). Can we not apply Scripture and make these kinds of decisions any more? Is the alliance what is most important? You seem to be saying that.

Claymore said...

Wow. Three posts to deal with my one statement - is that a record of some sort? I must confess disturbance of your first question - I think it obvious that I believe Christ saves from the penalty, power, and ultimate presence of sin (incidentally, Dr. Pink says that we are first saved from its pleasure - see "A Fourfold Salvation"). As I said before, anybody who does not preach that we may be saved from the power of sin is preaching the false gospel, because so much in the Bible says otherwise. Jesus said, in the imperative mood, "Be ye perfect" - has He ever commanded more than what He has promised, or did He give us the command to mock us if we believe it is unattainable? Do you personally believe that it is possible to live without conscious sin? Is it possible to live up to this command to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect? I look at Noah who was "perfect in his generations" and Job who was "Perfect and upright" - God said this of him twice. I see Paul saying "As many as therefore be perfect" and Jesus saying "Ye shall therefore be perfect". I look also at Jude saying that God is able to keep us from falling, and Hebrews saying that He saves us to the uttermost - in other words, the most vile of sinners may become the greatest of saints (holy ones). If we look at the word "Perfection" in the sense of "Maturity" it is a possibility. As I said, if you read Mr. Wesley, you will find that it is not some charismatic existential leap for what I said to happen. In reading "Charismatic Bridges" by Vinson Synan (a man I do not reccommend), I found that many Charismatics hold to the same belief that you propose.

In Paul's writing to Galatia, one phrase stand out especially - "If ye bite and devour one another". Why did Paul write this statement to a church trying to live in carnality? Something that Edward Poole-Connor wrote was "When spiritual life is low, Christians tend, like the Galatians, to bite and devour one another." If we reject an ultimate conclusion to the struggle of Romans seven by the crucifixion of the flesh so that it is dead to us and we to it, we have only the flesh left to live by until God calls us home. When this happens, either we go to the view that it is impossible, so we might as well sin, or we will become legalistic, and attack others who are not so.

I am not sure what you mean by mentioning these Neo Orthodox atheists in connection with those who believe that it is up to themselves to live the Christian Life as best they can, and thus to deny their only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ, being "over the top". This is what they believed, and the statement is made for the sake of those who may afterward come across the writings of these pernicious men.

In your mentioning of Warfield, I have not a set of his works, but did attempt to wade through some of his writings, and found them not only contradictory to Scripture with his HYPER Calvinist beliefs, but to also be self-contradictory. Personally, I find that the views held by Mr. Wesley on the subject are far closer to the Scriptures than to any that I have seen elsewhere. I shall soon list some rhetorical questions for those who deny Christian Perfection to be attainable (bear in mind, it is speaking of maturity).

As to the last statement, this is a matter of logical conclusions. It says nothing about whether or not the fellowship of the group is more important.

Anonymous said...

KB:"I'll look back at it again.I
was in a hurry at the time."

Hopefully that's all it was.

dmicah said...

I attended The Gospel Coalition conference in Chicago this past April. This was an amazing event with biblical exposition in every meeting. The speakers preached through all of 2nd Timothy systematically, each one taking a portion of the book in their allotted time. There were no showboats, no posturing, no emphasis on personal ministries/achievements...just biblical preaching.

I grew up in an independent baptist church and have listened to thousands of messages from a wide variety of speakers. Jack Hyles to Jack Wyrtzen, Mark Dever to Mark Driscoll, Vance Havner to Bob Jones and everywhere in between. I've experienced the entire spectrum of preaching and preachers.

This conference was second to none in regard to doctrinal and biblical exposition, and practical application for those involved in ministry. Were you to listen to the conference sermons without knowledge of the preachers, they would fit into any fundamental conservative pulpit in the country (maybe not Driscoll- though he preached a 40 point sermon literally).

To imply or suggest that they are not preaching the gospel of God is laughable at best. I am really surprised you are engaging in friendly fire with very conservative and influential leaders; especially with the nebulous subject of separation being your only ammunition. We should be acting together against the relativists and pragmatists in Christendom, i.e. Padget, McLaren, Osteen, not firing missiles at guys who believe and unapologetically teach the whole counsel of God.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks for your comment. I mean that. I understand your appreciation for the preaching. I relate to that, in the sense that you want to hear the preaching of the Bible, well done. And you hear that and see it as such from an experience of having heard fundamentalists.

My post is not about the preaching, but the toleration of wrong practice. I'm preaching throgh Luke right now on Wed eve, and in 8:21, Jesus said, as He did so many times, that His brethren were those that listened to the Word of God and DO IT. I would think that most of those guys in the gospel coalition preach a gospel with the right words. It's the gospel as far as the presentation of it. I don't question that. But how can you overlook infant sprinkling, etc.

Separation isn't nebuluous. It's surely as clear as anything in the Bible. It's nebulous based on the bad examples we see. I agree with that. I would like to hear interaction on my actual point, that is, that the gospel is the sole basis of fellowship, not the faith delivered to the saints, that is, all of biblical truth. We are giving in to the relativists when we behave in that way.

Thanks again.

dmicah said...

If you read through the doctrinal statement of T4G

you will note their unity is not isolated to the "gospel" as simplified to death/burial/resurrection. So it is my opinion that you are establishing a straw man with the "leaking gospel" argument.

As to infant sprinkling, we are back to an argument that we've had before. You have established certain things as wrong in your Christian belief system. You see it is a major doctrinal issue where some see it as a conviction. Personally, i don't get the sprinkling thing, and this practice is not conducted by all of the members of these groups, but i still don't understand where people arrive at that biblically.

I don't understand those who would somehow induct these children into some type of covenant position of salvific protection prior to their cognitive ability to choose Jesus personally. It's strange. We dedicate children through prayer but there is no question that it has nothing to do with redemption and everything to do with parental commitment to nurturing.

I don't engage in seeking the sign gifts and think they served a specific purpose during the establishment of the church. If i see someone babbling on in a so-called spiritual language, i see immaturity, ignorance and potentially a pride issue in someone seeking public attention and glory, but not necessarily heresy.

Where i think there is deep error in the Charismatic movement and a strong reason to be separate is the idea that tongues/sign gifts demonstrate the Holy Spirit and that without them, one cannot been completely saved or receive the fullness of redemption. This is wrong and can't be tolerated.

But in listening to and reading someone like Mahaney, you won't find the form of charismatic activity typically associated with right wing pentecostals. In other words, there is nuance within these different systems of thoughts. Just as you (i'm assuming) do not handle snakes in your service, there are "independent baptist churches" that engage in this activity. But i don't lump you all together.

These areas are biblical areas of liberty and for which all gospel preachers will be held accountable. They do not affect the the core doctrines established in the absolute truths found in Scripture and the gospel thread that runs throughout God's Word. These guys are different than the Billy Grahams and Tony Campolos of the world who shifted from conservative theology as young men to ecumenical thought: acceptance of roman catholicism, acceptance of other non-protestant religions, acceptance of practicing homosexuals in the faith, etc.

My overall point is that accepting a works based salvation vs. accepting a practice derived from Covenant Theology are two different things. These guys are not loose cannons.

I do believe separation is nebulous in the sense that there is great confusion among believers as to its purpose and practice both individually and ecclesiastically. I think the better practice as a pastor, and as a blog writer would be to recommend to your constituents the positives of these guys and point out specific areas of personal disagreement. This will avoid sweeping generalizations and sweeping denigration that may cause you or someone else to miss opportunities to grow from the deep preaching and literary production of many of these guys.


Gary Webb said...

I suppose that I have heard as wide a range of preachers as you have. I grew up in a liberal Presbyterian church, was at one point involved in the charismatic movement (I have notes in one of my old Bibles on a sermon preached by Jimmy Swaggart on "Divine Health"), was a big participant in the New Evangelical movement in college (Campus Crusade, Navigators, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, member of Southern Baptist Church, etc.), and then was exposed to Fundamentalism when I joined an independent Baptist church during my senior year in college. I have Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Bob Jones University. I love expository preaching, & every message I preach is expository.
However, it seems to me that all that you said about the conference & the preachers there is discounted by Jesus' statement in Matthew 5:19: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
Separation is not "one of the least" of the commandments but at the very essence of the Gospel message - representing the essence of God's character & the essence of repentance.
I would not regard Brandenburg as giving "friendly fire" - unless it happens that one of the men at the conference would repent of their sin. When men preach the Bible (even Balaam gave great messages about Christ) but deliberately disobey clear teachings of the Scripture, how can they be trusted? I do not know the state of the souls of the preachers at the conference, but I take the warning seriously that Satan can appear as "an angel of light". Jesus exhorted us to judge preachers by their fruit (Matthew 7:12-29) & that definitely applies to their obedience to God's commands on separation. I am not necessarily saying that any of those preachers are unsaved, but they are in definite error.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.,

Presbyterian infant sprinkling (at least with PCA Presbyterians) is not practiced as a means saving grace. In their covenant theology they see it as a sign of the covenant of grace but expressly state that (just as it was with circumcision in the OT) not all who are baptised will be saved and "baptism" is not necessary to regeneration. That is different than Catholic and alot of Lutheran sprinkling.

Reforming Baptist said...

KB: "I'm glad to hear you won't sprinkle infants, but is that an unfruitful work of darkness? So will you fellowship with it or will you rebuke it? I don't think this should be considered to be some kind of wild-eyed question."

RB: No it's not.
I don't believe it's what Paul had in mind when he wrote the preceeding verses before commanding not to have fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness.

Ephesians 5:3-5 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

I don't see infant baptism in there. It may be the wrong mode of baptism and they will answer to God for their mistaken interpretation of the ordinance, but that's a different catagory than fornication and idolatry.

Furthermore, how often are we mistaken about some of our interpretations of scripture? I wonder if we are unfruitful workers of darkness at times and don't even realize it.

Sometimes I dont pray without ceasing, does that make me a unfruitful worker of darkness?

Kent Brandenburg said...


I appreciate your looking at Eph 5 in its context. I guess we have to ask, "What is an unfruitful work of darkness?" Are there unscriptural works, works that violate scripture either in doctrine or practice that are works of light? Like sprinkling an infant. Is that a work of light? I don't think these lists in scripture represent all the problems there are. We've got a lot of these kinds of lists in the NT. They are the ones that are a problem in Ephesus at that point in time. However, what to do with the error is the same.

Thanks for the spirit of your comment.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I don't think the separation passages are hard to understand. They are not easy to practice, but not because they are hard to understand, but because our flesh is repulsed by them in several different ways. I talk about this in my latest Jack Hammer post. The ties that bind us together aren't all scriptural. We say the gospel does, but I am questioning that in light of other things scripture teaches. I understand that there are going to be differences between men. I know that. That's why I don't cut people off. I've changed myself through the years. There is a scriptural way to separate. Some doctrinal and practical discussion must occur first. And patience. But the discussion must take place. I find that the way that "unity" is kept is by diminishing those differences. That is not the way to scriptural unity, that is, unity.

And it is true like Gary is saying, that I'm not doing friendly fire. Jesus always told the truth. The truth hurts no one. It only helps. If what I'm saying isn't the truth, then you should tell me the truth, not your opinions. That's what I liked about, Reforming Baptist's (Will) comment. He went to scripture at least.

At the same time, I've heard A LOT of bad preaching in fundamentalism so I know what draws you to this type of conference. However, we've got to be consistent. Bad practice and doctrine are bad too. We can't overlook that just because their preaching is "better." I would say it is better is certain ways. They often don't apply scripture like Jesus would, I think.

Anyway, thank again for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Bro. Brandenburg I know you are busy with all your responsibilites do. I just wanted to ask if you were able to find time to go back and view the video feed of that SS lesson and if itthe video) worked for you.

Claymore said...

One thing that is necessary to understand about separation - it is a natural result of the Gospel. Jesus said that He was come to send a sword - a sword has one purpose: dividing. The Gospel is first to divide men from their sins, and from the Sin principle (Rom. 6). Second, it divides us from sinners (I Peter 4). Third, it divides those who are spiritual from the carnal (I Cor. 3, all of Hebrews), and by "carnal" my definition is "One who tries to live the Christian life apart from Christ" contrary to what Jesus said in John 15 "Without me, ye can do nothing". Finally, those who are obedient to God's Word, will, for the most part, be those separated from.

In separation, as it is needed, we must ever be mindful of this one thing: magnificence must be kept with the militancy. The whole purpose of separation, in any passage, is to bring about repentance and healing. Someone once said to my brother that "Christians are the only army that 'kills off their own wounded'". However, it is not "being wounded" to fall into sin. What was meant was "do not rock the boat with me - prophesy deceits, speak smooth words only" when what he said needed to be said. As to the statement above, I heard somewhere that Christians, like any other army, tends their wounded (even if it must be a cut to heal as a surgeon does), but traitors in any army are shot. However, it remains that if they repent, fellowship is to be restored (which is the one reason I oppose the Donatists and their ancestry the Novatians - they refused to grant repentance to those who recanted during the Imperial Persecutions.)