Monday, November 28, 2011

Concepts in Church Growth Philosophy Which Dumb Down Love

Not long after our church began, we bought a bus and started giving kids a ride to church.  God loves the world.  God loves children.  We wanted them to be saved.  I grew up in a church that did the same thing.  I'd seen other churches do it.  Nothing is wrong with picking people up for church.  I never put time into evaluating whether the whole or the parts of it were scriptural.

We could get people to attend.  We had 500 in one week.  It required knocking on every door in targeted neighborhoods of a particular demographic.  We could also "get" professions of faith, and we did believe in repentance.  We never used worldly music.  We did use extravagant puppet programs I wrote and produced and lots of other incentives---prizes, ice cream, toys, competition, games, and changing them up to add a little suspense.  It also involved a well-crafted and alluring flyer.

And then I got far enough into the New Testament, the example of Jesus and the Apostles, and the instruction of the Gospels and the Epistles, that I knew the promotion was wrong. I concluded that the invitation philosophy was wrong.  We still loved the kids.  That never stopped.  Before we quit going out to invite people, we ceased giving them things when they came.  When we stopped the handouts, the attendance trickled down to almost nothing.  This affected the motivation of workers.  Workers' invitations weren't effective unaccompanied by incentives.  When there were big results, it seemed to them like God was using them more.

Did we stop loving the kids?  Of course not.  God is love.  Obeying Him is not less loving.  God defines love.  We are always more loving when we follow the pattern God has set for us.  We are always less loving when we don't follow it.  We love other people by doing what God says for them.  They might not see it as loving.  We are often less loving when we give people what they want.  Because people like getting what they want doesn't mean that we are loving them when we give it to them.

I called a pastor a month ago and asked him to consider the affects of the above strategy on an even more massive scale.   I didn't tell him everything that was wrong with it.  I was concerned about one particular bad result for his church.  Using this method, a church can easily bring in far more unsaved people into it every week than saved people.   Church becomes about unsaved people.  The plan and presentation and program is adapted to unbelievers.

Two bad effects occur that result in that about which I was warning.  They are bad for everyone, but I was mostly concerned about his own young people and both the short term and long term consequences upon them.  First, unsaved people affect the church.  They corrupt.  It's why we practice church discipline.  We don't want unsaved people into the church, but this method brings them in droves.  They come because they are being offered what they like, so when they come, we must give them something that at least approximates what they like too.  Nothing in the way of serious exegesis will suffice.  The biblical method is to go out and preach.  That's as loving as you can get.  It's what Jesus did.  He left heaven's home to come to us, to reach us.  We come to Him through salvation.  If we use that biblical method, then they come to church because they are saved.  Now they have a reason to come and we don't have to change things up to conform to them at all.  All of these unsaved people week after week have a cumulative effect on our kids.  We're bringing it right into the church.

The first one isn't as serious as the second one, and that is the way that this philosophy of ministry changes the nature of the gospel.  The deep plowing of the soul through thorough gospel preaching doesn't occur.   Can someone be saved through the above strategy?  Probably.   The norm is a lot of professions with a very high turn over rate.  The gospel is minimized to fit the target group.  And this happens week after week.  People feel sorry about this after hundreds, even thousands, slip through the cracks.  But they had their chance.  And we move on.  No.  This isn't right.  We shouldn't move on.  And that's just the kids we drive in.  Our own young people also hear shallow after shallow gospel presentation that doesn't test the worldliness and stubbornness of a child's heart, that doesn't challenge his true desires.  It doesn't explore whether he truly even wants Jesus more than anything.

And so the kids in the church make professions.  But many are not saved.  And then later that starts showing up in behavior.  The answer from leadership isn't conversion or methodology.  The answer is parenting tactics.  More spanking.  Less television.  More grounding.  Big threats.  Public embarrassment.  Pushes to conform.  But you can't get an unsaved person to act like a saved person.  And if you do, he won't keep acting like a saved person.  He can only maintain that act so long.   Some drop out mid high school.  Others in college.  Some will even make it through college, as long as it's the same type of environment that forced them through to this point.  And if they don't make it, it's probably because of either bad parenting or not supporting church authority.  They didn't listen.  If they'd listened, things would have worked out fine.

Could it be the unbiblical methodology?  Could it be that something internal is being avoided due to methods that can only veer away from it?  Shouldn't that be considered?  Could it be that the parents should be trained in actual evangelism and discipleship instead of how to promote and market their way into a bigger bus attendance?  I think these questions should be asked.

When I called this pastor in private about the above, he was gracious and receptive, no signs of anger.  The next few Sundays, outside of my presence and in public, he was angry and mentioned the phone call in his sermons.   He and his church were not going to stop loving these kids.  That was what he got out of that part of my phone call---that I wanted him and his church to stop loving kids.  But they wouldn't stop loving kids like they do!  Circle the wagons!  The private phone call attacking us has come!

A lot in the world that is called "loving kids" is actually hating kids.  You don't love kids by using unbiblical methodology.  You love them when you go and preach to them.  If they want the gospel, they'll come.  If they don't want it, they won't.   That is what Jesus did.  And He is love.  He defines love.  You don't love the people of your church more when you involve them in unbiblical methods.  You love them when you teach and train them to live by faith.  Living by faith is operating based upon what the Bible says.  They see what it says and do it.  It takes faith to go out and preach the gospel.  It's foolishness to the lost. The lost don't think that a snocone and a kite and a rodeo and a carnival and a trip to the zoo and a bag of candy and a McDonald's hamburger are foolishness.  When it isn't foolishness, it also isn't something that needs to operate by faith.  You can do that by sight just fine.

There is a lot more that I would want to say, but you get what I'm talking about.  This world is dumbing down love and churches are helping the world do it.  People think they have a superior love, but it really is nothing more than sentimentalism.  It makes the people doing it feel like its love and the people receiving it that they are being loved.  But they are not.  Love takes the hit.  And since God is love, His attribute is diminished in people's minds as well.  Love rejoices in the truth.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting part six

For those keeping score, I sum up the whole ETS meeting in my last section of this post.  Also, one sermon we had not uploaded on the Word of Truth conference site is now there, one by Bobby Mitchell on Hebrews 12:14-17.


Thursday morning, November 17, I came in to the city a little early, because I thought the session I chose might be crowded.  The night before I found that out when I couldn't get into a session with three big named evangelical professors.   I didn't mention that I had considered attending a different session than the one with Blomberg, Kaiser, and Grudem, one under the category of 1 Corinthians. I was interested mainly in the first session, "Chrysostom & Epiphanius: Long Hair the Prohibited Covering in 1 Corinthians 11:4, 7," a paper by A. Philip Brown II from God's Bible School and College.  I decided I didn't have to go to that session, when I arrived and a stack of the papers were sitting there for the taking, so I took one.  I sat and read it at the beginning of a very dry paper read in a Systematic Theology:  Sovereignty and Election category, entitled, "God and Gratuitous Evil."  I knew of Brown because of his paper on Deuteronomy 22:5.  Brown is a Bob Jones University graduate, who probably considers himself a fundamentalist and a separatist.  I did not conclude whether I agreed with Brown's 1 Corinthians 11 position or not, but it was a decent argument.

So I sat in the Marriott's room Yerba Buena 3 about 8:15am, and there were only 4 people who had already arrived.  One was an older gentleman, whom I guessed must be the man doing the first session on Genesis 22.   I sat in the back row close to an outlet, so I could recharge my cellphone.  The category for this room was Expository Preaching and Hermeneutics.  The first up was Abraham Kuruvilla from Dallas Theological Seminary, with "Preaching Genesis 22:  What the Author is 'Doing' with What He is 'Saying'."  Kuruvilla was Indian (from India), so the older man sitting right next to me was Walter Kaiser, which I didn't know until he walked to the front for the second session.

The session on Genesis 22 was excellent and a tremendous model for how to deal with an Old Testament narrative.  What made it unique for this session, however, was his take on the atonement picture in Genesis 22.  He showed from the context of the book and the exegesis of the text how making the atonement major or prominent misses the point, which is the testing of Abraham's faith and his fear of God.  Several in the room grilled him afterwards and he gave good answers.

Walter Kaiser

Next was Walter Kaiser.  I have read three of Kaiser's books and he's been a help through the years in my understanding of the Old Testament.  Walter Kaiser is a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  He's also a big, big-voiced, jovial grandpa type.  The room was 40% full before he spoke, and it was not only full, but people were sitting on the floor in the aisle and packing out and into the hallway to hear him, when he spoke.  Evangelicals do have their celebrities.  But when he taught, it was no wonder.

Kaiser's session was called, "Genesis 15:1-6---Christ Is the Same Object of Faith in the Old Testament."  He did a masterful job showing that Abraham believed in Jesus, arguing against the other positions, which in essence support universalism.  Kaiser is definitely an exclusivist.  An argument for inclusivism moves from chronology to proximity.  If someone is saved in the Old Testament other than through Jesus, than someone could be saved today in Sri Lanka in some other way besides Jesus.  Kaiser is thorough, knowledgeable, and very funny---lots of laughs.

The book exhibit room had many Kaiser books, especially in Old Testament Theology.  Listening to him in person, one could see why.  Before he spoke, it looked like three Jewish men came into the room to hear him.  It seems he might be popular with Jewish scholars, perhaps read by some orthodox in the Jewish community.  I'm not sure.  Sometimes these scholars aren't matched in their ability to speak or teach---not the case with Walter Kaiser.  His wife was sitting in the far back corner, same row as mine.  He had said before the session that she has gone with him 35 years in a row to the ETS meeting.  She was back there crocheting while he spoke, looking around somewhat bemused with the great affinity others held for her man.

Genesis 5:29

The last session in the room was David Klingler from Dallas Theological Seminary with "Genesis 5:29:  Lamech's Expectation of One Who Will Bring Rest."  He was relatively young and was fighting a cold.  He was arguing for Genesis 5:29 as a Messianic reference that would provide a tie between Genesis 3:15 and Genesis 12:1, 2.  I thought he succeeded at proving that point.  It isn't something I had ever heard of or learned, but I was persuaded that indeed Genesis 5:29 is another reference to Jesus in Genesis.

Plenary Sessions

There were two plenary sessions in the afternoon in the giant meeting room.  I sat in the furthest seat back in the auditorium, knowing that I wanted to get out of there fast for the Mohler-Bauder session I've already written about.  The first plenary session on Thursday afternoon was Timothy C. Tennent from Asbury Theological Seminary and "Post-Modernity, the Paradigm and the Pre-Eminence of Christ." His session held mild interest for me, especially since it was about something I had not heard of.  It's not the kind of thing we talk about in churches.

Tennent said that the long-time taxonomy for the uniqueness of Christ to salvation has been pluralism, inclusivism, and exclusivism.  This taxonomy, he said, was established by Alan Race.  I later googled that and found Race referenced all over on this particular subject.  It gave new meaning to throwing down the Race card.   Anyway, Tennent was mainly using his time to argue for modifying that taxonomy in this post-modern age to a four pronged taxonomy, rather than three, this the new paradigm of which he spoke.  It was during Tennent's speech that the room spontaneously erupted into applause the only time of the three plenary sessions, and it was when Tennent said (I wrote down these words):  "...end to the minimalistic approaches to become a Christian."  He ended with four recommendations and one of them was for ecumenicity and catholicity.  That seemed to clash with his big applause line, but I guess that doesn't figure with evangelicals.  To me, it was a little zombie-like to clap happily for a more thorough gospel, when the cause for a more superficial one is ecumenicity.

Darrell L. Bock

Bock is a well known man in evangelicalism, long a professor at Dallas.  His session was "On Entitlement, Grace, Salvation and Jesus the Only Way:  A Look at Key New Testament Texts and the Theological Assumptions behind the Gospel."  Wow.  That's a mouthful.  But it really was only Bock arguing from the New Testament for the exclusivity of Christ for salvation.  The big title must be an evangelical scholarship thing.  It was solid.  It was thorough.  He was reading.  He was reading very quickly, trying to get in a longer paper in a shorter period of time.  It was good.  But it wasn't anything spectacular.  It's something that is a given for us, something that we ordinarily don't even consider, that is, arguing for exclusivity among ourselves.  But it is something important in evangelicalism to prove to themselves, it seems.  It was of interest to me to see if there was something new there.  There wasn't.  But what he said would come in handy when out evangelizing the lost as argument for Christ alone for salvation---if the lost care to respect biblical proof.  It was interesting to hear Bock in person this once.

General Observations

I wouldn't travel far to go to an ETS meeting, but if it's in your area, it would be worth the visit.  Next year is Milwaukee.  If I had it do to over again, I would have this pamphlet published and set up a book table in the exhibit hall with it.  Plan early so that you get an early registration and pay the least amount.  You can get good deals on new books, sometimes cheaper than what you'll later be able to buy them used.  I bought three---a 2 Kings commentary (I'm in a series there now), a John commentary (it will be the next gospel I preach [it was also the first]), and then the DVD and study book for Tim Keller's The Reason for God.  We've watched the first two discussions as a family and it is good for talking about such things together.  I plan on going through the whole study in depth when my son gets home for Christmas.  Maybe I'll review it sometime here at the blog.

What makes evangelicalism tick?  After being at an ETS meeting, I believe it is mainly money.  Yes, money. Money is the biggest reason for evangelicalism.  No one needs evangelicalism.  We need the church.  We need the Bible.  We need teachers in churches.  We don't need evangelicalism.  This is a point that Carl Trueman made very strongly, to which Albert Mohler made essentially this argument:  if we didn't need it, then why are you here?  That's not a good argument.  But people do "need it," and it was a consideration about which Kevin Bauder said something in his talk that reminded me of what it was.  He said that he couldn't hire most of the great evangelical scholars at his seminary because his seminary couldn't pay them enough money.

I need a whole other paragraph for the point about money.   Evangelicals write books, but they wouldn't be writing all of them without an audience.  They need an audience.  No audience, no money for books.  They wouldn't be making money for their books.  Money isn't everything, but it is big.  They need seminaries to buy their books, so they need big seminaries.  And publishers need evangelicalism, so they help keep it going too.  And the thing is to make it broad and big, so that there is more money.  It is a big, big tent, so that everyone can keep getting paid.  If they made it more strict, more biblical, then the money would shrink up, as would the professorships and the big publishers where they could make their money.  Evangelicalism is perfectly free enterprise, capitalistic, and American---in the worst possible sense.

The next reason for evangelicalism is pride and promotion.  If you have only your church, then you don't have the big-shotism available.  You can't make a name for yourself without something bigger for self-promotion.  Let me give your answer before you give it---I have a blog, so I'm being a big shot too.  Fair enough.  But this isn't really a self-promoting blog.  I don't itch other people for audience.  I don't operate that way.  People come here based on reading what I write.  For the most part, very few would want someone knowing that they do read here.  They would take a hit in fundamentalism and evangelicalism if they associated here.  I'm not talking about separation.  I'm talking about self-promotion.  If you want the self-promoting blog like that, look at the evangelical blogs and see how they roll (Bob Hayton's blog is a good example---I would link, but I don't want to risk growing his audience).

Evangelicalism exists for the promotion of its characters.  It really is like a giant drama with actors who play their parts.  Evangelicalism is the stage on which the performance is held.  Without evangelicalism, the show wouldn't go on.  And in so many ways, it is an imitation of the world and what it does with its publishers and schools.

Fundamentalists who move to evangelicalism do so in part because fundamentalism is too small for them to make it big.  Fundamentalism is not the big time.  You don't order fundamentalist books in Christian Book Distributor.  Fundamentalism doesn't have the equivalent of The Kiln at which you can do a residence.  There are very few "research professors in...." in fundamentalism.  There are none outside of fundamentalism and evangelicalism in the unaffiliated world (one that fundamentalists and evangelicals barely know exists).  In evangelicalism, you can make a living being D. A. Carson's research assistant, which is also an avenue for a great many other "opportunities."

Evangelicalism doesn't write about separation at all.  Evangelicalism doesn't preach separation.  These guys are scholars, so it isn't that they don't see separation in the Bible.  When you sit in on what they do, you see that they have a great capacity to know what the Bible says.  They can get into the Hebrew and Greek like no one else.  However, they don't separate.   You see, separation would shrivel the money and the promotion.  They wouldn't have the great opportunities for salary and employment without it.  In the long run, I don't believe evangelicalism helps Christianity.   It doesn't help the church.  It is bringing the church and genuine Christianity down.

So why the good words about evangelicalism?  Because love rejoices in the truth.  When I heard truth, I recognized it. What could go wrong?  Not much.  They were teaching stuff that is rather non-controversial in evangelicalism.  They keep it that way.  The boat does not get rocked much.  I was hoping Kevin Bauder would rock it more, but I guess if he had been the type of person who would do that, he woudn't have been there in the first place.  And it was very apparent that he.  did.  not.  want.  to do that.

I didn't attend what would be the most controversial sessions.  The ones run by women would have fit that bill the most.  And I wasn't there to see those.  I wasn't going for a very serious investigation of the ETS.  I was there to get something that could help me and to make a lunar landing on planet evangelicalism.  You will find much helpful there.  But that doesn't mean that we need evangelicalism either to be helpful or to get help.  We could do that by reducing everything to what we read in the Bible.  Evangelicalism would be gone, but what's best about it would still exist.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting part five

All of our audio for the 2011 Word of Truth Conference is up, with the exception of the panel discussion, which we will have soon.


At the beginning of the session on Thursday, November 17, with Bauder and Mohler, Andy Naselli said he wanted to bring in Carl Trueman, because Trueman would come with no holds barred without fear to question the other two major points of view.  One would think that they would like a challenge to their positions, and so one would also figure that they would welcome my analysis as well.  The practice of separation is about God, and hopefully we would all want to please Him with our practice.

David Naugle

The first session I attended was Wednesday the 16th, a symposium on doing the right thing, hosted by John Stonestreet and the Charles Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  The first speech came from David Naugle, head of the philosophy department at Dallas Baptist University.  I enjoyed his presentation, which began in its introduction with the idea of being "gollumized," referring to character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series.  The point of being "gollumized" refers to Gollum allowing what he loved to disfigure him.  His obsession changed him.

Naugle argued that what we worship, we become.  Idolatry is not wood and stone alone, but thoughts.  When we worship false gods, we become like them.  The cure is found in a reordered love.  Vice is a disordered life and virtue comes from reordered loves.  He spoke of intellectual virtue, physical virtue, and moral virtue.  Intellectual virtue is developing holy habits of mind.  Physical virtue is in contrast to the gnostics---matter matters.  Moral virtues are cultivated according to Scripture.  God is honored and glorified and we are benefactors.  We experience ourselves as moral agents and our actions create the social structures.  This is in contrast with Carl Sagan, "nature is the whole show"---it is more than sheer neurons and habitualization.

He referenced Aristotle's, "do but take pleasure in the good thing," and contrasted it with Kant's "chaste out of sheer duty."   He spoke of how the world lost its story and that we need the recovery of the lost story from creation to consummation.

The other three present, Stonestreet, Michael Miller, and Scott Rae stood and commented on Naugle's speech, and a few asked questions.  I recognize that Naugle is not a separatist and a new-evanglical, as would be most of the people in the entire conference, but what he said in this session was true.  It got me thinking about something a little differently than I had before, that is, our loves change us into what those loves are.

Michael Miller

Michael Miller works for a think tank, the Acton Institute.  I'd never heard of him, but I noticed that he is on the panel of Colson's Doing the Right Thing, which argues for morality from the point of natural law.  I stopped by their exhibit and talked to their representative there and he gave me a copy of it.  I haven't watched it yet.  Colson and his group are concerned about the complete lack of ethics and morality in the state universities, so they decided to make their argument from natural law so that his series could be shown at Harvard.  I don't think it will work, because it doesn't rely on Scripture to make the point---and the problem is not intellectual but volitional.  People do what they want to do because they want to do it.

Miller is energetic and entertaining as a speaker.  He started with some commentary in which he talked about doing something he never does, that is, watching three television programs on the plane on the way out.  He gave his take on each, ending with Glee, saying that Jesus wouldn't watch it.   In a later session, Naugle said he thought Jesus would watch Glee, but with some sort of discernment (Miller is nodding his head "no" violently).  Miller had stopped watching television many years ago, seeing it as a complete waste of time, but the plane ride gave him an opportunity for a sampling of popular culture.

The speech was called "Men Without Chests Revisited:  Educating for Moral Imagination," named after a chapter in C. S. Lewis' book, The Abolition of Man.  Lewis was referenced several times.  Naugle had just left The Kilns, the C. S. Lewis house, having been its scholar-in-residence.  The idea of Lewis, as reported by Miller, seemed very similar to the theme of Jonathan Edward's Treatise on the Religious Affections.   Men are without chests because they are acting according to their desires instead of their affections.  Affections begin with the mind and end in the heart, but men without chests act according to sheer desire.

Miller contended that our culture has lost its moral imagination by destroying the channels through which it flows, namely the arts, music, literature, painting, sculpture, and architecture.  He believes that we could recover those channels, however, and he offered steps by which he believed that could be accomplished through various means.  Among those, he proposed the recovery of objective beauty, the resensitizing of ourselves to good and evil, the recovery of authentic subjectivity, the rehabilitation of both reason and the heart, and the recapturing of the channels of communication.  He believes, as do I, that we are corrupting our imaginations by means of vulgarity and banality.

There were about 40 people in the room, and I looked to my right for this session and there was Kevin Bauder, sitting almost all alone on the speaker's far left.  From reading him, I knew that he would appreciate what Miller was saying.  However, I didn't see how that evangelicalism itself would.  After the morning, I went to the front to talk to Miller.  I asked him if he got wide reception in evangelicalism, because I didn't see acceptance of what he taught there.  At that point, he told me that he didn't think so, but he needed to offer me a disclaimer---he wasn't evangelical, but a Roman Catholic.  I knew nothing of Miller at the time, but hearing that wasn't entirely strange, because I've noticed evangelicals ejecting to Catholicism for many reasons, including the silliness of evangelicalism.  However, I thought it strange (perhaps I shouldn't have) that ETS would bring in a Roman Catholic for a presentation.

I told Miller that he sounded dogmatic in what he said.  He wondered what I meant.  It seems to be offensive to be called dogmatic in an evangelical setting.  However, he spoke with great dogmatism, so I asked him if he thought that a violation of what he said would be a "sin."  He asked if I could give him an example, so I said, "What's right behind you."  He said, "Oh, that's just ugly."  I was referring to the modern art on the wall right behind him.  "But," I said, "isn't that art immoral, at least according to what you presented?"  You could tell his wheels were turning.  I mentioned Roger Scruton, and was surprised he had never read him, because many of Scruton's concepts were in what Miller taught.  And I asked if he knew of Jonathan Edwards' Treatise, and he did not know of it.  Too bad.

Robert George

The next speech was via skype with Robert George, a professor at Princeton.  George has done a lot of work in the realm of morality, having written a book on it in 1994.   It was interesting watching him, because he sat there at a conference table in a multimedia room at Princeton with an overcoat and fedora draped over the table right behind him.  He had no notes sitting in front of him, but substantive material flowed from him without hesitation.  Several people, including Colson later, talked about the devastation of an age of relativism, but George said we don't live in an age of relativity, but an age of selective relativity.  In truth, students today on college campuses are absolutists.  They have great conviction about what they want for themselves.  They are relative about morals when they aren't self-serving.  There was some trouble with skype and so this speech was cut short.


Naugle came on again to talk about popular culture.  Scott Rae from Talbot School of Theology spoke about bioethics.  The time ended with a challenge from Charles Colson by phone over speaker, which was really mainly a glorified advertisement for his DVD project, one which he and two of these speakers, George and Miller, are prominent.  Colson is an interesting speaker with his White House background, passion, and intelligence, but his solutions ring hollow in light of his personal compromise.

That afternoon was the first plenary session in the main room in the Marriott.  Kelly Kapic, a theology professor at Covenant College, spoke.  I don't have much to say about that one.  In the afternoon, I was looking forward to hearing Craig Blomberg, Walter Kaiser, and Wayne Grudem, speak on various aspects of Theology of Work and Economics, but when I arrived the small room was so packed that there wasn't even standing room.  I decided to go home and go evangelizing with our teens.  When I walked out of the small room, I overheard someone say that this was something that happened commonly at ETS, that is, putting several big names in one little room.  The next day I heard Walter Kaiser, but I'll write about that in my next post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting part four

Probably by tomorrow, all the sermons and sessions from our 2011 Word of Truth conference will have online audio.  In relations to things I've been writing here this week, here is a short session (50-55 minutes) I did on ecclesiastical separation.


Kevin Bauder said that Albert Mohler was no indifferentist because Mohler had help purge liberalism from the convention.  When he said that, I had a deep sigh within my soul.  It was so wrong on at least two fronts.  First, liberalism wasn't purged from the SBC.  Liberalism is still in the convention and it is still supported by the cooperative program.

Several years ago, Mark Dever did an audio interview with Mark Minnick about, among other things, the doctrine of separation.  In that interview Dever told Minnick that he didn't leave the convention, despite the violation of the doctrine of separation, because of the money and buildings that would be lost if they pulled from the convention.  Those kinds of points ought to be further explored, instead of allowed the drop to the ground because someone might be afraid of a celebrity evangelical.  Dever's point recognizes liberalism in the Southern Baptist Convention, that makes only bucks and buildings enough of a motive to stay.  All the churches of the convention, whether liberal or conservative, are cooperating.  That's part of what it means to be a Southern Baptist.

Second, biblical separation is "come out from among them and be separate," not "fight them on the inside while staying in."  If someone has been a long time separatist, he knows that.  He knows the verse in 2 Corinthians 6.   He also knows a little leaven leavens the whole lump.  The leaven of liberalism leavens the lump of the SBC.  That is one reason why one "comes out," instead of "staying in."  "Staying in and trying to change from the inside" isn't separation.

One of the charges of Trueman against evangelicalism is that it doesn't have the tools necessary to align it with God.  He didn't say what those were, but one of them is discipline.  A church can discipline its members.  It can purge out the old leaven.  Jesus didn't put the tool of discipline into the toolbox of the Southern Baptist Convention.  Things might be better there, but leaven still leavens that lump.

It wasn't that Bauder did nothing.  He did do something.  However, he didn't do what he should have done.  He didn't do what a separatist should have done.  Maybe the evangelicals who chose Bauder knew he would do just what he did, which wasn't enough.  What Bauder did do was describe indifferentism, something lost to almost every evangelical.  He also explained how bad it was.  However, it was as if no one was actually guilty of it, except for Billy Graham, who was then excused of it by the time we were done, by the sheer act of supporting a Mohler seminary presidency---which Bauder advocated with his silence.

Many won't like my evaluation of Kevin Bauder.  I appreciate a lot of what he writes and says.  He at least teaches separation, even if he falls woefully short.  He still far surpasses Mohler, to his credit.  But doctrine is not like horseshoes, where you get points for coming closer than someone else.


Both Bauder and Mohler support levels of cooperation.  Bauder likes the Mohler triage.   They both rank doctrines to differentiate levels of unity.  Bauder would also say to determine the recipients of his separation.

This above approach to unity and separation are not what we see in the Bible.  Bauder seems to see the primary objective of separation the protection of a true gospel.   However, separation also preserves the purity of a church, which is a reason it is often called ecclesiastical separation.

Nowhere does the Bible mention anything about separating only over the gospel or only over the fundamentals or even only over essential doctrines.  Churches separate over non-repentance over wrong doctrine and false practice, both of which will contaminate a church.  Separation passages mention more the gospel.  Certainly the gospel is one doctrine we separate over (Gal 1:6-9), but there is so much more.

I suspect that the theological reason both Bauder and Mohler hold to indefensible positions on both unity and separation is because of their faulty ecclesiology.  If the true church is all believers, then all Christians must unify.  Mohler is closer to that position than Bauder.  On the other hand, every believer is to separate from unrepentant false doctrine and practice.  Bauder is closer to that position than Mohler.  The rankings of doctrine occur in order to attempt to bridge the gap between unity and separation, an actual unbridgeable chasm with their ecclesiology.

The Book Room

The ETS provides a room for exhibits, which is mainly book sales.  You are admitted only as a conference attendee.  Your badge is worth something.  Once inside, there is a lot to see.  You've got all the major Christian publishers.

As I walked around, I found some of the exhibits very curious.  There was the Seventh Day Adventist exhibit.  You could stop by the old earth exhibit.  You might be interested in the Christian feminist exhibit, pushing egalitarianism.  It corresponds to an evangelical lack of quality control.

You get 40-50% off new books and there is quite a selection, altogether bigger than most Christian book stores you might visit and heavy on the exegetical and theological in such a setting.

First Session

The first time segment went from 8:30am to 11:40am.   For that one time period, you had the choice of something like 15 venues with categories of Christian philosophy, ethics, Old Testament theology, historic theology, Christian history, 1 Corinthians, etc.  And then within each of those venues, you would get three or four presentations with short breaks in between.  I had a couple that I was interested in, but I chose to go with celebrity for the first session.

It was a session that included several evangelical luminaries:  Charles Colson, Robert George from Princeton, and others.  It was held in Parc 55 in a 100 seat room with about 30-40 in it.  I was happy about my choice.  I'll write more about it tomorrow.

My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting part three

You can watch the video of the panel discussion from our Word of Truth conference this year.  Now you may begin reading part three.


Not many in the room on Thursday, November 17, would take the position of Kevin Bauder.  I had to be one of the most sympathetic to him.  And he did behave like he was speaking to a hostile audience.  That seemed to have too much impact on him.  One of those who questioned him in the Q & A period was thinking the same thing as I about a majority of his 11 propositions.  Bauder was arguing the "limitation of fellowship," how he defined separation, and these propositions, no offense, seemed to be a kind of insult to the intelligence.  He said we're already limiting our fellowship due to distance and proximity and competence and priorities.  OK.   Maybe evangelicals are in separation kindergarten and need those kinds of elementary observations.  I was thinking, "What does this have to do with biblical separation?"  The Bible never says anything about these as limitations of fellowship, and they don't seem to further Bauder's argument.  I'm open to someone explaining to me how they would.

Another one of his propositions said that separation is actually a good way to avoid conflict and therefore to uphold the unity of the Spirit.  I strained to think of how that anything in Scripture applied to that idea of unity.  I do see fundamentalism and evangelicalism both behaving this way, that is, avoiding conflict.  However, I see Jesus and Paul both head right into it.  No one should fight just to fight.  But we do not separate so that we can avoid conflict.  I'm sure that it is a byproduct of separating from someone, but the calm and tranquility that comes from not being in spiritual combat is not anything akin to unity.  Someone may think I'm misunderstanding.  I don't think so.

This kind of approach with this type of crowd might seem like it will work.  Bauder looks to be using an inductive approach that will get the crowd nodding like bobble-head dolls, so that when he does get to actual separation, they'll already have the "yes" movement going, something like:  "Hey, separation isn't so hard.  You're already doing it anyway, so let's all just take it one step further now."  If it was possible for Bauder, I would have much more appreciated a presuppositional tact that relied on Scripture to cast down imaginations and thoughts that exalted themselves against the truth about separation.   Certainly they would have disliked him more for having done that, but that would have been in line with faith and biblical ministry and following Christ.

Mohler said that he agreed with everything that Bauder said except for proposition eleven, which was "limitations of fellowship created by indifferentism."  Bauder explained the seriousness of indifferentism:  it affects the gospel through degradation, it makes the New Testament neutral when it is not, and it involves believers with gospel deniers, bringing reproach to themselves.  He referenced Galatians 1:6-9, 2 Corinthians 11, 2 John, and Jude.  

Mohler defended his associations with Billy Graham.  He did so by explaining how great Billy Graham was in his support of Mohler.  He said that there were things he didn't think Graham should do, but that we should all respect Graham's support of Mohler despite opposition.  So that one act was used to wash away the rest of Graham's transgressions.  The number one thing, it seemed to me, that Graham had going for him with Mohler was that Billy Graham was a Southern Baptist.  Mohler is a Southern Baptist defending a Southern Baptist.

Mohler disputed his own indifferentism and Bauder agreed that he wasn't an indifferentist.  It was then that Mohler seemed puzzled, and to his credit, he asked Bauder if he could inform him of what he might need to hear that would help him understand.  Bauder had nothing to offer him.  He said that Mohler wasn't an indifferentist even though other fundamentalists would say he was.  Bauder was in a position where Mohler was asking him for help and Bauder would not give it.

My Question

Right this moment, I'm looking down at my notes from this session.  I wish I had audio recorded it.  That would have made it far easier, but my notes were probably good enough.  I would have loved to have asked  a series of questions to both Mohler and Bauder.  I knew I could get only one shot, so I narrowed it down to three points.  Here's what I had written down.

1.  There are no books in the mammoth ETS book room written on separation.  Evangelicals don't care about or think about the doctrine of separation.
2.  2 Corinthians 6:14 says, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."  That is the command of that section of Scripture.  "Yoking" is working together or cooperating together in common ministry for the Lord.  Dr. Mohler, how can you obey 2 Corinthians 6:14 and remain in the Southern Baptist Convention, cooperating with unbelievers in the cooperative program?
3.  Dr. Mohler, it seems your only answer to Dr. Bauder was that fundamentalists were inconsistent too in their practice of separation.  It seems that Kevin is just attempting to practice separation and be as consistent as possible in his view of it. (Bauder was nodding "yes" here.) Just because fundamentalists are inconsistent with their principles of separation, how does that change his responsibility to practice separation?

When I asked these questions, Kevin Bauder was nodding his head in affirmation.  It seemed that he saw these as supporting his cause.  They were the only thing anyone said in the Q & A time that supported him.  He didn't seem like he disagreed.  I don't know why Bauder wouldn't himself bring up the cooperative program of the SBC.  He would have been able to do follow up questions that I wasn't able to do.  I had to sit and listen to the political answer of Mohler without the opportunity for follow-up.  Anyone can squirm out of answering if he doesn't have to receive a follow-up. Watch presidential news conferences to see examples.

Mohler's Answer

Before Mohler "answered," Fesko, the Presbyterian professor from Westminster, California, replied to my point about no books about separation.  I had spent at least 2 hours walking through that room with the books and looked at what they offered.  There was some great stuff.  He said that there were books about separation down there, but they were in the books written about ecclesiology and in the sections on church discipline.  So he was saying that church discipline is separation.  Bauder didn't challenge that, and I couldn't.    If his answer represented his thinking, then he didn't know what he was talking about regarding separation.  He proved my point.

Then Mohler took the microphone and he asked if the question was directed toward him, and I answered "yes," although I thought that it was also toward Bauder, because I wondered if Bauder had given a thought to the cooperative program of the SBC, among other things that I will mention later.  Mohler said he had answered the question thirty minutes before when he had talked about the leaders of the SBC perhaps needing to separate from the convention several years ago before the purging of liberalism from the convention.  He also explained briefly some of the policies and goals of the convention that seemed to hint that liberalism could be treated in a different way than separation.  I wouldn't have been able to write fast enough to get all of that down. And that was the essence of his answer.

If I could have followed up, what would I say?  I would have asked him if there were any liberals still in any of the Southern Baptist seminaries in the cooperative program.  I wasn't asking him if a lot of liberals had left or whether the convention was more conservative.  I want to know if you are obeying 2 Corinthians 6:14 by being in the convention.  If you fellowship with one theological liberal by being in the convention, then you are disobeying that verse.  But I couldn't do that kind of work.  Bauder could have.  Maybe he thought it would have been too disrespectful.  But isn't indifferentism a very serious thing?  Aren't those who love the indifferentists the most the ones who are attempting to help them stop being indifferent?  So do that!

The inconsistency argument is the number one argument against separatists.  I see it again and again.  If you are seen or considered to be inconsistent with your more conservative separatist stance, then that gets to open the door for all sorts of inconsistency for everyone else.  Bauder helped make the argument here for Mohler.  Bauder said everyone separates.  That was a big point in his 11 propositions.  In my opinion, his strategy backfired on him.  Mohler, in a typical debate fashion, used it against Bauder.  He himself didn't answer for his own lack of separation.  He said that everyone separates to different degrees.  After all, Bauder had said so.  And then when everyone is separating, they are all inconsistent.  So there we go.  Since we're all kind of helpless to live what God said anyway, then we all can slap down the inconsistency card and then go our merry ways.

I've got more to say about this session and then I'll move on to the rest of the 2011 ETS meeting.  I want to explain how Bauder's position was untenable.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting part two

You can watch the video of the panel discussion from our Word of Truth conference this year.  Now you may begin reading part two.


About a month ago, I read that the Evangelical Society Meeting was coming to San Francisco.  I liked the opportunity to check out evangelicalism, which I hadn't ever experienced firsthand.  I found a lot in common with what I heard and I'll later share some of what that is.

In part one, I described the appearance of the attendees, an effort some elsewhere complained fell short of their standard for both substance and style.  One elite author commented that my writing "is (sic) matter of shame."  With his example, I've vowed to do better.

Kevin Bauder said in his "A Fundamentalism Worth Saving":

Take the matter of clothing.  Clothing makes a statement about who we think we are and who we think others are under the circumstances under which we meet.  We do not wear tattered jeans to weddings, nor do we wear tuxes to bale hay.  It seems to me that a Christian leader will not wish to present an appearance that endorses the current culture of incivility. . . . I am not suggesting that we should model ourselves after mainstream culture, but rather that we should refuse to adopt any cultural accouterment that contradicts Christian meanings.

And I agree with him.   So jeans and sport coat didn't fit.  I wouldn't say Bauder's dress was sinful---just surprising.  Mohler represented the idea of fundamentalism with his appearance in contradistinction to Bauder.  Both made a statement about who they thought they were under the circumstances under which they met.

The Thursday, 3:00-6:00pm, session on the Four Views in the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, ended my field trip, so I've got more story to tell.  But I'll start with my major interest of the meeting.


After explaining the reason for accepting the label of evangelical, Mohler attempted to defend his spot on the spectrum.  He sympathized with the Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga position between orthodoxy and fundamentalism.  He said they rejected second degree separation and wished to recover the mainline denominations, hence their discomfort with fundamentalism.

With the instability of the evangelical movement, Mohler sees it not enough to be only an evangelical, so he chose the term "confessional," later the chief consternation of Trueman with Mohler's self-descriptive, to distinguish himself from the rest of evangelicalism.  He didn't elaborate much on which confession, but my guess, since he didn't say, is the London Baptist Confession, as his choice.  He focused on setting boundaries with the three levels of his theological and practical triage.

Mohler believes that first order doctrines are those that bring all Christians together.  A second tier divides Christians into their various denominations by teachings like ecclesiology.  His third level sees doctrinal differences between the members inside their individual churches, like eschatological ones.  Nowhere does the Bible teach his triage.  It's completely pragmatic.  And Mohler offered no biblical defense for practicing the way he prescribed.

Albert Mohler doesn't think all evangelicals should get along, but he didn't develop what not getting along would look like.  He seemed resigned to the fact that no matter what he might attempt to call himself, the world would still call him an evangelical, so he among others would just need to accept that.


Bauder stood and confessed his first informing Mohler that he would express no disagreement, but that in light of some new discoveries from Mohler's talk, he could no longer comply with that objective.  He disputed Mohler's history of fundamentalism.  He agreed on the mood of fundamentalism, but not Mohler's representation of either evangelical social engagement nor how he framed "second degree" separation, what Bauder said was rather "secondary separation."  He said that the new-evangelicals were recognizing liberals as Christians, and he used Billy Graham and his 1956 New York crusade as an illustration.

Bauder's main criticism of all other forms of evangelicalism besides fundamentalism was the lack of separation.  And then he defended the idea of separation, not found in evangelicalism, with eleven propositions.  He defined separation as a "limitation of fellowship" and then proceeded first to show how that everyone actually already separates, so that for evangelicals it's just a matter of thinking about separation a little further.  All evangelicals already limit their fellowship in certain obvious ways.  A few of these ways are limitations of fellowship due to issues of proximity, competence, or priorities.

The most glaring of the eleven propositions, the last of these, is a limitation of fellowship created by "indifferentism."  He traced the use of this terminology primarily to Machen, who had said that indifferentists were indifferent to the rejection of the gospel, since they gave Christian recognition to those who repudiated the gospel through their denial of the fundamentals.  Bauder ended with an explanation of the seriousness of indifferentism.


Since Carl Trueman wasn't present, J. V. Fesko read his paper.  Trueman opposed Mohler's title of "confessional," since history would connect that to Westminster.  He decried evangelicalism period and mainly as lacking in the tools necessary to solve its own problems, unlike individual churches within a denomination.  His only criticism of fundamentalism was its militancy in areas to the right of him.


Mohler's main criticism with both Trueman and Bauder were their own inconsistency.  He agreed with Trueman's evaluation of evangelicalism, but saw Trueman as still involved and still an evangelical whether he liked it or not.  And then Bauder was just as inconsistent in separation within fundamentalism as he was within evangelicalism.  The inconsistency card should be off limits when debating the principles.

Mohler said he that he differed with none of Bauder's presentation, except for proposition eleven.  And his reason for disagreeing was first that he did make requirements for Billy Graham as a prerequisite for his involvement with the crusade, second that liberalism had been purged from the SBC, and third that, as Bauder had said, everyone separated in some way.

Mohler asked for Bauder to show him his flaws.  Bauder wouldn't provide any to his face.  That was disappointing.  Later during the question time, someone asked whether Bauder should just call Mohler a fundamentalist then, and Bauder said that Mohler himself wouldn't want to be called a fundamentalist.  Mohler looked good with that too.  Besides that, Bauder said that Mohler lacked the required mood of a fundamentalist, a mood Mohler seemed happy not to possess.

Bauder defended Mohler as not an indifferentist on two counts.  First, Mohler's participation with Billy Graham required a lesser ecumenism than normal.  Second, separation could be practiced in two ways---come out from among them or purge them from among us---and Mohler had done the second.   Bauder plainly expressed that Mohler was not an indifferentist by still being a Southern Baptist.  I assumed that was because of the recent removal of some of the liberalism in the convention.  I also took from Bauder's statement that one could be a fundamentalist and also a Southern Baptist.


With the 45-50 minutes left, Naselli took 7 or 8 questions from the audience.  Four or five of the questions were softballs to Mohler about his views of evangelicalism that did not provide anything different than what he had already said.  Two of the questions were directed at Bauder to judge why he still calls himself a fundamentalist or why he doesn't consider Mohler one.  Bauder said he might choose a different term than fundamentalist if it was something that his kind of fundamentalists could agree upon.  I also asked a question that I'll get to later that challenged Mohler and defended Bauder.

At one point, Mohler told the story of, as a 12 year old boy, visiting (to win the goldfish) the fundamentalist, independent Baptist church of Al Janney in Miami, Florida.  During that visit he was both angered and provoked by the attack on Southern Baptists he heard.  He took it personally.  Albert Mohler is a Southern Baptist.  His grandparents were Southern Baptists and he grew up a loyal Southern Baptist.  That should help explain Mohler.  The SBC is the world through Mohler has viewed everything---it is difficult for him to see things any other way.  Separating from the SBC would be akin to abandoning his family, his heritage, and his entire identity.


Neither Mohler or Bauder defended their position from the Bible.  The only defense of separation that Mohler had was the one that Bauder gave him.  Bauder explained that everyone separated, including Mohler.  Mohler picked up on that and later agreed that all evangelicals actually do separate, just like Bauder said.  What was missing was a scriptural presentation of separation.  However, even if he knew a biblical doctrine of separation, Mohler couldn't defend it with how he practiced.

Bauder's position is also untenable.  He's closer to the Bible than Mohler, because he at least teaches some kind of separation.  But the triage of Mohler and the propositions of Bauder clash with a biblical understanding of separation.  What the Bible teaches Bauder would call either hyperfundamentalism or the "most brittle form of fundamentalism."  Even though I agree with Bauder that there are forms of hyperfundamentalism, someone who believes and practices the Bible should not be one of them.  However, Bauder is probably right, which is why you really can't be a fundamentalist and also compliant with Scripture.

Both Bauder and Mohler advocate tolerable degrees of false doctrine and disobedient practice.   And anyone who will not tolerate a certain range of different doctrine and practice will clash with their respective visions of Christianity.  Neither of their positions allow for either biblical unity or scriptural separation.


If Trueman and Fesko represent true Presbyterianism, then it has many qualities that I admire more than those of evangelicalism or fundamentalism.  Their brand of Presbyterian is limited by the historic Westminster Confession of Faith.  They see unity and purity as protected by each individual church.  They aren't so concerned about the condition of evangelicalism or fundamentalism.  Trueman and Fesko see the preservation of truth within each church wherein they are members, aided by the  presence of a denominational hierarchy interested in the preservation of historic doctrine and practice.

Their churches seem to be guided by the Bible and their confessions more than felt-needs and popular successes.  Several of their beliefs and practices are wrong, but they are nonetheless regulated by something objective, old, and stable.  I wouldn't want anyone to think that this rejoicing equals my endorsement of fellowship with Presbyterian churches.  It doesn't.

Part Three will reveal my question and the answer from the panel.  I'll also have further opinion about the spectrum of evangelicalism session.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spirit Baptism, the Historic Baptist view, part 7

Spirit Baptism and the Gospels, part 4:  Luke 11:13

NOTE:  Pastor Brandenburg has posted today "My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting" here.  Friday is my normal day to post, so I have, but make sure you read his post below, as it is very good--as usual. ("Hi.  Kent Brandenburg here.  Thomas is correct.  It's his day, so I apologize for writing today, but it was hot on the griddle and I didn't see anything posted by him in the draft folder yet, as is normal for him, so I thought he might not be writing.  I'll be moving my post up on Sunday night, but it is there to read already.  Then at least Monday will be an all new, fresh addition to the story.  I'll also likely be writing every day--Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, like a journal.").

Luke 11:13, although not employing the words “Spirit baptism,” likewise refers to the once-for-all coming of the Spirit recorded in Acts 2;  no reference to any post-regeneration crisis, along the lines of the PCP position, are in view.  Luke-Acts indicates that Christ personally had spoken to the disciples about Spirit baptism while on earth (Acts 1:4), but Luke 11:13 constitutes the only previous reference in Luke’s inspired record to which Acts 1:4 can refer.  During Christ’s earthly ministry and before Pentecost, as recorded in the gospels, the potential existed for the Spirit to be asked for, to come for a particular purpose as He did in the Old Testament, and then leave (cf. Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29).  Before Pentecost, the Spirit was promised (Luke 11:13; John 14-16), temporarily given so that in the period of Christ’s bodily absence, but before the permanent arrival of the Spirit in Acts 2, a member of the Godhead would be with the church (John 20:22; cf. 16:7; 14:16-18), [i] and prayed for in the period between the promise of His permanent coming and its fulfillment (Acts 1:14).  Then, finally, the Holy Ghost permanently came to indwell the saints when Spirit baptism took place in Acts 2.[ii]  No record exists in Acts of any post-Pentecost prayers along the lines of Luke 11:13 for the benefit of those who already possessed the indwelling Spirit, because with the onset of His permanent abode in the saints the dispensationally transitional action of praying for the Holy Spirit was no longer necessary or appropriate.

Indeed, since Christ Himself prayed for the Spirit to come to permanently indwell the saints (John 14:16-17), the Father has certainly heard His Son’s prayer as Mediator and, along the lines of Luke 11:13, has given the Spirit to the saints.  The Spirit was “the promise of the Father” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4), which Christ received from Him when He asked (Acts 2:33), and which the Father consequently gave to the saints for Christ’s sake at Pentecost.  If the Father would give the Spirit, before His permanent indwelling, to the saints in the gospels who asked, how much more would He give the Holy Ghost permanently to the saints when the Son asked for Him on their behalf?  To affirm that one must still ask for the Spirit today, based on a misunderstanding of Luke 11:13, actually denies the efficacy of the prayers of that blessed Savior and Mediator who said, “thou [Father] hearest me always” (John 11:42), for He has already asked for and received the Spirit and given Him to His own.

Thus, Luke 11:13 refers to the receipt of the Spirit Himself[iii] by those who, in the time period when Christ spoke those words, asked for Him.[iv]  No reference to greater ability to exercise spiritual gifts, or any other ministries or blessings from the Holy Ghost that abide throughout the age of grace, is indicated by the verse.  Christ promised that the Father would give, not blessings by the Spirit, or gifts from the Spirit, but, in response to urgent and continued prayer as recorded in Acts 1:14 (cf. Acts 8:15),[v] would “give the Holy Spirit” Himself.  Luke 11:13 contrasts human parents, who repeatedly give good gifts to their children,[vi] and God the Father, who in Spirit baptism, as a one time event, which was yet future event when the words of Luke 11:13 were spoken,[vii] would give the Person of the Holy Spirit.[viii]  While, at the time of the Lord’s discourse in Luke 11, parents were providing good gifts to their children, the Father’s permanent giving of the Holy Spirit had not yet taken place, and it would not until the record of Spirit baptism in Acts, when Christ, having asked the Father for the Holy Ghost, gave the indwelling Spirit to His people.

As an examination of the grammar of Luke 11:13 itself supports a reference to Spirit baptism and the initial receipt of the Spirit, so the fulfillment of the verse in Acts also demonstrates that the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit is not a repeated event, but the one-time action of the initial receipt of the Spirit, first by Spirit baptism during the transitional period in Acts, and then in regeneration throughout the dispensation of grace.  One-time, non-continuous action, expressed by the Greek aorist, is the consistent language of Acts (Acts 5:32; 15:8), and the rest of the Bible (Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 John 3:24)[ix] for the giving of the Spirit.  The only time God’s gift of the Spirit to an individual is not expressed with the aorist is 1 John 4:13, where the perfect tense indicates that the Spirit was given in the past at a moment in time, and He continues to dwell within His saints.  There are no instances in the New Testament where continuing action tenses are employed for a particular individual’s being given the Holy Ghost.[x]  In striking contrast, spiritual gifts from the Holy Ghost are expressed consistently with continuing action tenses.[xi]  The recorded Scriptural fulfillment of the prayers indicated in Luke 11:13 demonstrate that, as the Lord intended, the saints prayed in the book of Acts for the coming of the Spirit (Acts 1:14; 8:15), and their prayers were answered in Spirit baptism (Acts 2:33; cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4).  Just as no Spirit-indwelt person in Acts ever prays that he would receive the Spirit, as mentioned in Luke 11:13, so the prayer specified in the verse is not appropriate for the universally Spirit-indwelt Christians (Romans 8:9) of today.[xii]  Those who are already indwelt by the Holy Ghost have no need to ask for He whom they already have.[xiii]

Endnotes to part 7
part 6

Note that this complete study, with all it parts and with additional material not reproduced on this blog in this series,  is available by clicking here.

Endnotes to Spirit Baptism, the Historic Baptist view, part 7

Since people who do not take the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism are going to have a very difficult time interpreting Luke 11:13, Protestant writers and Baptists influenced by Protestantism make a variety of non-exegetical affirmations about this passage.  Much of this material is dealt with in the following endnotes to the post above.  There was enough here that I thought it should be separated into another post.  The text above is the main point--the material below provides technical material refuting erroneous views of the passage.

[i] The church had a Comforter, a para¿klhtoß, before the Pentecostal coming of the Spirit—Christ Himself, the Son of God, was their Comforter, for the Holy Ghost was “another Comforter” (John 14:16; cf. 1 John 2:1).

[ii] Lewis Sperry Chafer, commenting on John 14:16–17, wrote:  “The promise of Christ—‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter’ (Para¿klhtoß)—may well be set over against Christ’s word recorded in Luke 11:13, ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?’ This assurance was uttered early in Christ’s ministry and, being so great an innovation over the relationships provided in Old Testament times to which the disciples were alone accustomed, evidently was never entered into by them. After His ministry is well concluded and before He departs out of this world, He declares that He will pray the Father and for the very presence of the Spirit for which they had failed to pray. The provisions included in Christ’s prayer are more extensive and anticipate at least two age-characterizing realities: (1) That the Spirit should be given as an indwelling Person to each of the eleven men present. They, according to Old Testament usage, had been accustomed to think of the Spirit as bestowed only for very specific purposes by the sovereign will of God. That the Spirit might be given to all men of faith and without exception was wholly new to them. Thus was introduced one of the greatest features of the new dispensation that was then coming into view—a feature too often overlooked by theologians, that the Spirit is given to all believers from the least of them to the greatest of them. Though emphasized constantly in the Epistles, this fact of the indwelling Spirit is here announced by Christ for the first time. (2) The second age-characterizing feature is the truth that the indwelling of the Spirit in the child of God is an unchangeable fact. Christ prayed that the Spirit might abide with believers forever, and that prayer is answered as definitely and certainly as the prayer that the Spirit should come at all. Thus it is assured that the Spirit indwells and that He abides in the heart forever. This same truth John again asserts in his first Epistle, ‘But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you’ (1 John 2:27). This truth, it will be observed, determines much in the doctrine of the security of those who are saved. The Christian may grieve the Spirit, but he will never grieve Him away; he may quench the Spirit (in the sense that the Spirit is suppressed), but the Spirit will never leave the heart into which He has come to abide. (pgs. 117-118, “The Teachings of Christ Incarnate, Part 3: The Upper Room Discourse.” Bibliotheca Sacra 109:434 (April 1952) 103-136).  Elsewhere Chafer insightfully commented on Luke 11:13, “Because [Luke 11:13] is located in the New Testament and because it was spoken by Christ, many have concluded that this passage must be incorporated into the general doctrine of the Spirit’s relation to the Christian.  Great error and misunderstanding have thus been engendered. . . . The passage under consideration conditions reception of the Holy Spirit upon asking, whereas the Christian, as has been seen, receives the Holy Spirit without any asking as a part of his salvation and when he believes.  The Spirit, consequently, is now given to those who do no more than believe.  In the dispensational divisions of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit . . . the period between the baptism of Christ and the day of Pentecost was characterized by transition, and in that period Christ offered the Spirit to those who would ask for Him.  This provision of His was so in advance of the relation which the Spirit sustained to the saints in Old Testament times, to which relationship the apostles were in some measure adjusted, that there is no record that they ever ventured on to this new ground;  accordingly, at the end of His earth-ministry, Christ said: ‘I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever’ (John 14:16).  This introduces an entirely different relationship to the Spirit.  The disciples were not now to receive the Holy Spirit in answer to their own petition, but in answer to the petition of Christ.  Thus it is indicated that the Holy Spirit has now been given because of Christ’s prayer and to all who believe.  As 1 Samuel 16:14 and Psalm 51:11 serve to demonstrate that the experience of the Old Testament saints cannot be made the norm of Christian experience, in like manner Luke 11:13, which was for the disciples between Christ’s baptism and the Day of Pentecost, cannot be made the norm of present experience” (Systematic Theology: Pneumatology (pgs. 130-131, vol. 6, chap. 10). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1976 (reprint ed.).

[iii] The nonarticularity of Pneuvma ›Agion in Luke 11:13 does not by any means establish that a reference to anything less than the Person of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Godhead, is in view.  While Nigel Turner in his Grammatical Insights into the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1965) advocated the “generalization with regard to the significance of the article in references to the Holy Spirit in Luke’s writings . . .that ‘as a general rule, and subject to conditions, whenever the Holy Spirit has the definite article the reference is to the third person of the Trinity (expressed either as to Pneuma to hagion or as to hagion Pneuma), but when the article is absent the reference is to a holy spirit, a divine influence possessing men’ (p. 19) . . . [this] must . . . be called in question. Turner . . . mentions, but does not exhaust, complicating factors, factors so complicating . . . as to leave little room for assurance in pressing his rule. When one considers the fact also . . . [certain other] clear and indubitable references to the Holy Spirit [that] . . . would dispose the reader . . . to take hagion Pneuma . . . in Acts as the Holy Spirit, one’s doubt about Turner’s rule must increase. In addition to all this, the application of the supposed rule to particular passages will be found to yield very unsatisfactory results” (John H. Skilton, book review of Turner’s Grammatical Insights into the New Testament.  Westminster Theological Journal 29:2 (May 1967) p. 218).  Turner was a theological modernist (although not on the most radical wing of liberalism) who believed in “distancing himself from the doctrine of verbal inspiration (a question [he affirmed was] ‘beset by innumerable difficulties’)” (pg. 104, Trinity Journal 3:1 (Spring 1982) p. 104, Book Review by M. Silva of Christian Words, by Nigel Turner. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1980.), and “Turner defers to certain critical hypotheses which are unacceptable to conservative students . . . the Pastorals are treated separately from Paul . . . and the Johannine literature is treated in three units” (pg. 273, Bibliotheca Sacra 135:539 (Jul 78), Book Review by Zane C. Hodges of A Grammar of New Testament Greek, by James Hope Moulton. Vol. 4: Style, by Nigel Turner. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1976).  Nigel Turner’s view that nonarticular Pneuvma ›Agion is something less than the Person of the Holy Ghost is not the product of Spirit-led exegesis, since he was an unsaved, natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14), nor is it required by a correct understanding of Greek grammar. Pneuvma ›Agion is a monadic noun phrase, referring specifically to the Person of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, and thus, like other monadic nouns, and in a fashion like that of proper names, it is definite without the article.  Daniel Wallace wrote, “A one-of-a-kind noun does not, of course, require the article to be definite (e.g., “sun,” “earth,” “devil,” etc.). One might consider pneuvma as monadic when it is modified by the adjective a‚gion. If so, then the expression pneuvma a‚gion is monadic and refers only to the Holy Spirit” (pgs. 248-250, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace).  A. T. Robertson stated, “In the N. T. . . it is [very] common to find simply qeo/ß, especially in the Epistles. . . . [T]he word is treated like a proper name and may have [the article] (Ro. 3:5) or not have it (8:9). The same thing holds true about pneuvma and pneuvma a‚gion, ku/iroß, [and] Cristo/ß. . . . [As the] word qeo/ß, like a proper name, is freely used with and without the article . . . [s]o also pneuvma and pneuvma a‚gion may occur with and without the article. . . . Ku/rioß, like qeo/ß and pneuvma, is often practically a proper name in the N. T.” (pgs. 761, 795-6, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research). Likewise, James Elder Cumming in his Through the Eternal Spirit:  A Biblical Study on the Holy Ghost (Chicago, IL: Revell, 1896), elec. acc., “Appendix II:  On the Use of the Greek Article Before the Names of the Spirit of God” pgs. 286-296) discusses and refutes the arbitrary, unsound, and contradictory views of those who build doctrine, often on modernistic assumptions, from an alleged distinction between articular and nonarticular pneuvma a‚gion.  After documenting a variety of contradictory theories by proponents of a distinction, Cumming writes, “May I venture now to call attention to the strangely vague, arbitrary, and not very consistent rules laid down? . . . [C]an we find in the use of the Article an indication of the distinction between the Person of the Holy Ghost and His influences[?]  . . . [W]e must answer, No.  The use is so irregular, and so much at the discretion of the writer, that no such intention can be traced. . . . I venture to submit . . . that there is no such distinctive use of the Article in the New Testament in connection with the mention of the Holy Ghost as to warrant us in finding a theological or spiritual reason for its presence or absence;  and that all such pressure of . . . rules . . . as has been attempted, is misleading and unfounded ” (pgs. 286, 294-296).
To affirm from the nonarticularity of Pneuvma ›Agion that power of or works from the Spirit are in view in Luke 11:13, rather than the Person of the Spirit Himself, requires one not only to ignore the syntactical facts of Greek monadic nouns but also the other 49 instances of the phrase Pneuvma ›Agion in the NT, each of which refers to “the Holy Spirit” and cannot in accordance with sound exegesis be reduced to anything less (Matthew 1:18; 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 1:15, 35, 41, 67; 2:25; 3:16; 4:1; 11:13; John 1:33; 7:39; 20:22; Acts 1:2, 5; 2:4; 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 8:15, 17, 19; 9:17; 10:38; 11:16, 24; 13:9, 52; 19:2; Romans 5:5; 9:1; 14:17; 15:13, 16; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 12:3; 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 2 Timothy 1:14; Titus 3:5; Hebrews 2:4; 6:4; 1 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 1:21; Jude 1:20).  In some verses, trying to reduce Pneuvma ›Agion from “the Holy Ghost” to something like “power from the Holy Ghost” is entirely nonsensical (e. g., Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).  Nor is there any reason to conclude that anything less than the Person of the Spirit is in view in nonarticular OT verses that refer to the Holy Spirit, v®dOq Aj…wr (Isaiah 63:10-11; Psalm 51:11).  Old Testament phrases like “the Spirit of the LORD” (hÎOwh◊y_Aj…wrJudges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:6; 16:13-14; 19:9 (still definite although here a shorthand meaning hODwh◊y tEaEm hDo∂r Aj…wr) 2 Samuel 23:2; 1 Kings 18:12; 22:24; 2 Kings 2:16; 2 Chronicles 18:23; 20:14; Isaiah 11:2; 40:7, 13; 59:19; 61:1; 63:14; Ezekiel 11:5; 37:1; Hosea 13:15; Micah 2:7; 3:8) are always definite although always nonarticular because of the nature of the Hebrew construct phrase—this fact holds even when the phrase refers to something besides the Holy Ghost such as the wind (cf. Hosea 13:15).  Similarly, the equivalent NT phrases Pneuvma Kuri÷ou “the Spirit of the Lord” (Luke 4:18; Acts 5:9; 8:39; 2 Corinthians 3:17) and Pneuvma Qeouv, “the Spirit of God” (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 7:40; cf. Matthew 12:28; Rom 8:14; 15:19; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 3:3), are monadic and definite even when non-articular.
If nonarticularity for the Holy Spirit refers not to His Person, but merely to power or works from Him, one wonders if nonarticularity in references to the Greek Path/r such as “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9), “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth” (Matthew 11:26), “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34), “the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30), “Holy Father” (John 17:11), “one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:6), and “the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11) denote not the Person of God the Father, but merely power from or works done by Him;  or if the nonarticular ui˚o/ß in “O Lord, thou Son of David” (Matthew 15:22), “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32), “the Son of man” (John 5:27), and many similar verses do not refer to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, but only to power or works from Him.
One should also note the convincing parallels where articularity and nonarticularity for Pneuvma ›Agion are clearly shown to refer to the same events and actions on pgs. 68-70, Baptism in the Holy Spirit, Dunn.  His conclusion is correct:  “Where pneuvma a‚gion confronts us in the NT it never designates a charismatic endowment without the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit himself.”

[iv] Thus, the verse indicates that the “heavenly Father [would] give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.”  The direct object of the verb give is the Holy Spirit, and the indirect object, those who receive the Spirit, are them that ask.  No reference to the Holy Spirit being given to or ministering to people other than those who are doing the asking is contained in the verse.  John 16:7-11 is a promise Christians can and should take to the Lord in prayer that the lost will be convicted of their sin by the Spirit—but if they employ Luke 11:13 to that end they are pleading what the text does not say.

[v] Thus, Luke 11:13 promises the Holy Spirit to “to them that ask,” toi√ß ai˙touvsin, the repeated action being expressed by the present participle.

[vi] Their action is expressed by dido/nai, a present active infinitive, expressing iterative action.

[vii] Thus the future active indicative dw¿sei is employed.  The Greek future, “with reference to aspect, . . . seems to offer an external portrayal, something of a temporal counterpart to the aorist indicative” (pg. 567, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace).  Thus, one would expect an aoristic, point-action sort of idea for the future tense of di÷dwmi as employed in Luke 11:13.  While the future tense presents an action as a whole, it is true that the use of the future on its own does not eliminate the possibility of progressive or durative action within the aoristic presentation (cf. the uses of di÷dwmi in Matthew 13:12; 24:24, 29; 25:29; Mark 4:25; 13:22, 24; Luke 8:18; 19:26), but the definite majority of the appearances of the future of di÷dwmi indicate one-time action (Matthew 4:9; 7:7, 11; 10:19; 12:39; 16:4, 19, 26; 20:4; 21:43; Mark 6:22-23; 8:12, 37; 12:9; Luke 1:32; 4:6; 6:38; 11:8-9, 13, 29; 16:12; 20:16; 21:15; John 4:14; 6:27, 51; 11:22; 14:16; 16:23; Acts 2:19, 27; 13:34-35; 24:26; Romans 14:12; James 1:5; 1 John 5:16; Revelation 2:7, 10, 17, 23, 26, 28; 3:21; 4:9; 11:3; 21:6).  Thus, while the promise of Luke 11:13 could have partial fulfillment in anyone who so asked and sought for Him in the gospels, the ultimate fulfillment of the verse took place on Pentecost, for before then “the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39.  It should be also noted that “an example [of pneuvma such as] ou¡pw h™n pneuvma (Jo. 7:39) merely illustrates the use of pneuvma like qeo/ß as substantially a proper name” (pg. 795, A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934).).  Compare also the Appendix, sermon #2, “The Church, The Habitat of the Holy Spirit” on John 7:39.
While the background NT usage of di÷dwmi would weight one in favor of one-time action as he approaches Luke 11:13, the immediate context provides very strong corroboration.  The Spirit is affirmed to be a one-time gift given in response to repeated prayer (Acts 1:14), just as four verses earlier in 11:9, the central affirmation of the pericope containing 11:13, “ask . . . seek . . . [and] knock” are repeated actions, but “shall be given . . . shall find . . . shall be opened” refer to one-time future events in response to the continued asking, seeking, and knocking.  The iterative present tense verbs and one-time future tense responses in v. 9, 13 are parallel (cf. also 11:26, e˙pizhtei√ and doqh/setai; James 1:5, ai˙tei÷tw . . . kai« doqh/setai).

[viii] Subsequent to this transitional action referenced in Luke 11:13, where the Holy Spirit was initially bestowed in the baptism of Acts 2 in response to continued prayer, the Holy Spirit would be, for the course of the age of grace, given permanently and unchangeably at the moment of regeneration (1 John 4:13; note the perfect tense, de÷dwken, in “he hath given us of his Spirit.”).  However, this does not relate the promise of Luke 11:13 to those living today, because Spirit indwelling is temporally simultaneous with faith in Christ (cf. Romans 8:9);  the Spirit is not today a gift given subsequent to regeneration  as a response to continued prayer.

[ix] Ephesians 1:17 is not listed (although it also has an aorist of di÷dwmi, albeit an aorist optative), because the verse is not about the Holy Spirit. The Received Text do/nta in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 is the inspired and preserved reading, found in 97% of Greek MSS including Codex A. The reading dido/nta is a textual corruption.
Attempting to support a type of Reformed revivalistic PCP doctrine, Iain Murray argued, “On Ephesians 1:17 Bishop Moule wrote: ‘We are not to think of the ‘giving’ of the Spirit as of an isolated deposit of what, once given, is now locally in possession.  The first ‘gift’ is, as it were, the first point in a series of actions, of which each one may be expresssed also as a gift.”  Were it not for this truth, prayer for the Spirit (Luke 11:13) would be meaningless” (pg. 19, Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism, 1750-1858, Iain H. Murray.  Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1994).  The Greek tenses employed in Scripture for the giving of the Spirit contradict the position of Moule and Murray that the Spirit’s bestowal as a gift is not once and for all at regeneration.  Consequently, in the dispensation of grace after the completion of the event of Spirit baptism, Murray’s statement of the consequence of invalid premises on his part is correct—prayer for the Spirit is indeed meaningless.

[x] Acts 8:18-19 (And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost; qeasa¿menoß de« oJ Si÷mwn o¢ti dia» thvß e˙piqe÷sewß tw◊n ceirw◊n tw◊n aÓposto/lwn di÷dotai to\ Pneuvma to\ ›Agion, prosh/negken aujtoi√ß crh/mata, le÷gwn, Do/te kaÓmoi« th\n e˙xousi÷an tau/thn. iºna wˆ— a·n e˙a»n e˙piqw◊ ta»ß cei√raß, lamba¿nhØ Pneuvma ›Agion.) does not constitute an exception.  The present passive di÷dotai in v. 18 is distributive,  “the use of the present tense for individual acts distributed to more than one object” (pg. 520, Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics).  Each person who the apostles laid hands on received the Holy Ghost, but each person received Him, the “gift of God” (8:20), but once.  Simon was also in spiritual darkness in this matter (v. 19; cf. v. 20-24).

[xi] See Acts 2:4, e˙di÷dou, imperfect tense; the Spirit was continuing to give utterance; 1 Corinthians 12:7, di÷dotai, present tense, the manifestation of the Spirit is being given; 1 Corinthians 12:8, the word of wisdom is being given (di÷dotai, present tense) by the Spirit.  Note also Christ, fulfilling His Mediatorial office, was continually given boundless measures of the Spirit from the Father (ouj ga»r e˙k me÷trou di÷dwsin oJ Qeo\ß to\ Pneuvma), John 3:34.

[xii] While writers are far from unanimous on Luke 11:13 (cf. the views, and their advocates, delineated on pgs. 96-97, “Rethinking The Role Of The Holy Spirit In The Lives Of Old Testament Believers,” Gary Fredricks. Trinity Journal 9:1 (Spring 1988) 81-104), the conclusions advanced above are also made by others. For example, Merrill F. Unger wrote, “Christ while on earth taught that the Father, in answer to prayer, would ‘give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him’ (Luke 11:13). This promise, of course, was pre-Pentecost and was spoken under the old economy, when the Spirit of God came upon men and departed, according to divine sovereign will. For a man to ask for, much less receive, the Spirit was a staggering new thing to a Jew, in advance of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29, and there is no evidence that any asked for the Spirit, claiming this promise. To apply this teaching to this present age, is to forget Pentecost and the fact that every believer now has the indwelling Spirit. It was the ascended Christ who asked the Father for the Spirit as the ascension Gift (John 14:16), and no believer now . . . indwelt with the Spirit as he is, need ever ask for Him. He possesses Him, and never because he has prayed or asked for Him, but because he has Him as a free gift by virtue of simple faith in the crucified and risen Savior” (pg. 363, “The Baptism with the Holy Spirit,” part 2. Bibliotheca Sacra 101:403 (Jul 44), 357-374.  It should be noted that agreement on Luke 11:13 does not mean that Unger, or others cited, agreed with the historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism presented in this composition).  Charles Ryrie wrote, “Luke 11:13 . . . might seem to indicate that the Spirit may be given and taken away repeatedly[.] . . . However, it must be recognized that [this verse, as with 1 Samuel 16:14 and Psalm 51:11, is] pre-Pentecostal.  And that is very important, for it is not until Pentecost that we can expect any normalcy in the operation of the Spirit in this age.  After all, the Lord Himself recognized the pre- and post-Pentecostal difference as late as the upper room discourse where the majority of the promises concerning the coming and ministry of the Spirit were given.  Therefore, even if the Spirit was removed from the lives of people before Pentecost, the fact that this happened before before Pentecost rules out carrying over such experience into the post-Pentecostal era” (The Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody, 1965) pgs. 70–71).  “Luke 11:11–13 stresses that Father will give the Holy Spirit (cf. Matt 7:11 “good things”). This link between the Holy Spirit and prayer is seen also in Acts 1:14 where Luke portrays the disciples praying before they receive the Pentecostal gift of the Spirit in Acts 2. Thus, Talbert states: ‘Indeed, the evangelist would see this promise of Jesus in Luke 11:13 as the basis for Pentecost.’ The gift of the Spirit represents the coming of the kingdom of God” (pg. 690, “Theology Of Prayer In The Gospel Of Luke,” Kyu Sam Hana, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 43:4 (Dec 00) 675-695).  Strong notes that “The Plymouth Brethren . . . object to praying for the Holy Spirit, because he was given on Pentecost” (Systematic Theology, Augustus Strong, part 7 (Ecclesiology) 1:2, elec. acc. Systematic Theologies, vol. 17, Rio, WI: AGES Digital Software library, 2006).  Reformed, non-dispensational writers (e. g. Thomas Boston, Stephen Charnock, Robert Dabney, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Manton, Matthew Poole, etc.) seem to almost universally affirm that Luke 11:13 indicates that the Spirit should be prayed for today, while dispensationalists (e. g. Lewis Sperry Chafer, cited above in endnote 38, Ryrie and Unger as cited in this endnote, etc.) often affirm that He has now come to permanently indwell saints and that Luke 11:13 is a pre-Pentecost promise.

[xiii] It is important to mention that this does not mean Christians should refrain from asking for blessings from the Spirit, a greater work of the Spirit upon them to strengthen them spiritually, for greater measures of conviction of sin from Him, or similar sorts of requests.  What is affirmed is that none of these requests relate to Luke 11:13, a verse that relates to Spirit baptism and the now completed dispensational transition connected with the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Ghost.  Nevertheless, no prohibition for prayer for powerful works from the Spirit is argued for by an affirmation that the prayer of Luke 11:13 was dispensational and fulfilled in the book of Acts.  Such works from the Spirit are good things, and the believer’s “Father which is in heaven give[s] good things to them that ask him” (Matthew 7:11; a parallel passage, to be sure, but a different occasion—note the differences specified in Luke 11:1 and Matthew 4:23-5:1; in the words of John Gill, commenting on Luke 11:1, “The following directions concerning prayer, though they agree with those in Mt 6:9, etc. yet were delivered at another time, and in another place, and upon another occasion: Christ was then in Galilee, now in Judea: he gave the former directions unasked for, these at the request of one of his disciples; the other were given as he was preaching, these immediately after he had been praying; as soon as he had done a work he was often employed in, as man and mediator, on account of himself, his disciples, cause, and interest: and this was done).  Indeed, the Father will the more freely give glorious blessings by His Spirit when the people of God employ the promises of the Word that actually relate to what they are praying about—thus, recognizing what Luke 11:13 truly teaches should lead to more answers to prayer for mighty works from the Holy Spirit as verses that actually promise such (cf. John 16:8-11) are pleaded.  Sound exegesis of the work of the Spirit will contribute to, not hinder, genuine blessings from on high and revival;  poor exegesis contibutes to spiritual confusion instead of revival.

Spirit Baptism part 7, actual text

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