Monday, January 30, 2012

How Did "Old Time Fundamentalists Act When Their Leaders Did Stupid Things"?

Both evangelicalism and fundamentalism are interesting to watch.  And in a day in which everything is easier to view because of the internet, it's even more fun.   Evangelicalism, or maybe what could be called conservative evangelicalism, right now is involved in a larger-than-usual controversy.  It is an event that is challenging the entire premise of much of evangelicalism.  What am I talking about?

The interaction of evangelicalism, just like fundamentalism, shows up in its schools, associations, conferences, societies, conventions, coalitions, publishers, and fellowships.  A lot of the well-known, more conservative evangelicals, even leaders, can be found in The Gospel Coalition.  The Gospel Coalition is so much evangelicalism.  Evangelicals there unify based on one doctrinal point, the gospel.  They essentially ignore everything else for this coalition, except for the gospel.  So they have really only one thing to get right.  In doing so, they would make a big deal out of the gospel.  They would say they are exalting the gospel by isolating it in this way.  It's not that they would talk about nothing else, but that the gospel, they say, is the one thing that unifies the people of their group.

A lot of evangelicals, including very conservative ones, that are not in The Gospel Coalition, are connected to it by means of its members.  Some of its members overlap into other groups.  Certain Gospel Coalition members are Together for the Gospel or regular preachers at either the Shepherd's Conference or the Desiring God Conference.  An interconnectedness exists between these various venues.

Two major members of The Gospel Coalition started another meeting called The Elephant Room, namely James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll.  They invited well-known religious figure, T. D. Jakes, to be with them in their elephant room discussion as a brother in Christ.  Jakes, however, has clashed with a true gospel in two areas:  Modalism and Prosperity Theology.   As a result of this, MacDonald resigned from The Gospel Coalition without any kind of either repentance himself or reprimand from them.  I would call him defiant in his break from The Gospel Coalition and they gave him well wishes.  Driscoll still is in the coalition without any fall out.  So what does evangelicalism do?

What evangelicalism mainly has done is what it mainly does---it talks.  It writes.  Many reformed bloggers especially have gone after MacDonald, Driscoll, and then a little after The Gospel Coalition.  Evangelicals don't know how to separate.  They don't practice biblical separation.

My major point for writing this post was an evangelical thought as part of the reaction to The Elephant Room controversy in evangelicalism.  Fundamentalism has had really nothing to do with The Elephant Room situation.  And yet in his review of The Elephant Room, popular evangelical blogger, Frank Turk, writes the following:

If Jakes' chat with Mark Driscoll does not finally clear things up, then what's the best way for the council of TGC to handle Mark Driscoll's (non-resigned council member) endorsement of Jakes' orthodoxy? I don't have any suggestions, but I think ignoring it is the way old-school Fundamentalists acted when their leaders did stupid things, and we know that TGC is not a group of Fundies, right?

When I read that, I mouthed, "What?!?!"  What does fundamentalism have to do with any of this?  Where did that come from?  I've got some ideas and perhaps you could share yours too.  And then what is Turk talking about?   What he wrote is very vague and ambiguous.  I've got some examples I could give, but the idea of fundamentalism, differing than evangelicalism, including Turk himself, is actually to practice separation over the gospel at least.  But he said more:

I'm looking forward to them helping us understand what happened yesterday because they, too, are not old-school Fundies who support their leaders no matter what, and the "matter what" has presented itself as if the circus parade has just come down Main Street.

What is Frank Turk talking about?  What old school fundies is he talking about?  Is it true that fundamentalism really is a model of a bad example for not separating?  And I guess evangelicals could provide a lot of good examples of separating over the gospel?

Turk didn't give any context to his statements.  Nobody would even know what he was talking about.  That is supported by this response in the comment section:

On point #2-- In churchless Oregon, we need a little bit of a Fundy history lesson. I am totally lost on this point. Well, I think I get the point, but everything around the point is undiscovered territory. Help, please?

Nobody answered this guy's comment.   Frank didn't elucidate to the question.  I had the same question.  What are you talking about?  Why even include that in your post unless someone knows what you're talking about?  I didn't know.  The only example I knew of was Jack Hyles and the Hyles' movement.  Lots of fundamentalists separated from and remain separate from Hyles among others in his orbit.  And then someone else made this comment:

As many of us are rightly concerned about the doctrine and methodology of ministers like T.D. Jakes, how do we express that concern without veering into Fundamentalism's excessive focus on secondary separation? How can the leadership of TGC do so?

Normally Frank Turk is a bundle of answers, a proverbial chatter box. You can't keep him quiet on almost any topic.  These wouldn't have been controversial comments to answer, but he answered them none at all.  By the way, if fundamentalism has an "excessive focus" on secondary separation, is anyone saying that some kind of secondary separation is legitimate?   Fundamentalists would characteristically say that you can't remain indifferent to a gospel denier.

Why do I think Turk brought up fundamentalism?  Because this is an obvious case of a major weakness in evangelicalism.  It doesn't practice separation, which is commanded in Scripture.  He knows that fundamentalists at least practice a form of separation.  They would include separation in their doctrinal statements.  And since evangelicals are disobedient in this area, he points out in an albeit ambiguous way that fundamentalists haven't always separated like they should from some of their own leaders.  He doesn't say what the example of that is or who it is.

Fundamentalism isn't a homogenous movement.  Many fundamentalists did separate from their leaders, and would have said that those who didn't were not actually fundamentalists.  There have always been fundamentalists who were separating, however.  We have zero examples of evangelical separation.  They don't teach separation at all.  They write blog posts against those who fellowship with gospel deniers.  Machen would call them indifferentists.  Evangelicals are still willing to make common cause with indifferentists.  Mohler made common cause with Billy Graham.  Southern Baptist evangelicals make common cause with liberals through the cooperative program.  MacDonald and Driscoll make common cause with Jakes.  Evangelicals write blog posts against their indifferentists.  They don't separate.

Frank Turk takes a shot at fundamentalism out of the blue.  It was interesting to read.  What's his point?  What do you think?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 15; the Alleged Reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13, part 6

d.) The Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 12:13

1 Corinthians 12:13 reads, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”[i]  The clauses of this passage will be examined in order, and their significance evaluated.

“For by one Spirit”: kai« ga»r e˙n e˚ni« Pneu/mati

The historic Baptist position affirms that this clause refers to the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, as do both the PCP and UCD doctrine.  This clause, on the Biblical, historic Baptist view, refers to the Holy Spirit leading the members of the church at Corinth to submit to water baptism.  Although the members of the Corinthian assembly boasted about the amazing spiritual gifts given them by the Spirit, and caused division in the assembly on their account, the apostle Paul reminded the congregation that the Holy Spirit had led the members of their church to submit to a common immersion with the phrase “by one Spirit.”  1 Corinthians 12:13 affirms that the Holy Spirit is the Producer of congregational unity around the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Various commentators and writers have advanced the idea that by in the verse should be translated as in, and consequently affirmed either that the correct translation is “in one Spirit” or “in one spirit.”  The question of a reference to the Holy Spirit, or a “spirit,”[ii] and of the rendition of en as by or in will be addressed in order.
Thomas Strouse,  Baptist seminary professor and advocate of Spirit baptism as a completed historical event, commented concerning 1 Corinthians 12:13:
Paul employed the expression “by one Spirit” (en heni pneumati) in Phil. 1:27 as “in one spirit,” referring to “the spirit of unity.” Since pneumati is anarthrous in I Cor. 12:13, Paul differentiated pneumati (“spirit”) from the seven previous articular references to “the Spirit” (to pneumati) as deity.[iii]
Strouse affirms that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to a “spirit of unity” that the assembly possessed when its members received water baptism, rather than to the Holy Spirit leading the members of the assembly to receive immersion.  However, the idea that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to “a spirit” of unity rather than the third Person in the Trinity cannot be sustained exegetically.
First, the immediate context provides overwhelming support for a reference to the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13.  Consider 12:3-13:
Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.[iv]
The eleven references to the word pneuma, “Spirit/spirit,” in 1 Corinthians 12:3-13, uniformly refer to the Holy Spirit.  Changing “by one Spirit” to “in one spirit of unity” in v. 13 is very contrary to the context.  For that matter, the “one Spirit” of v. 13 is the “one and the selfsame Spirit” who “worketh . . . as he will” in v. 11.   The explanatory words “for” in v. 12, 13 connect the reference to the “one Spirit” (hen Pneuma) of v. 13 immediately back to the “one . . . Spirit” (hen . . . Pneuma) of v. 11.  Since v. 11 refers to the Holy Spirit, v. 13 refers to the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, that the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to “drink[ing] into one Spirit,” the Holy Spirit, not a “spirit of unity,” confirms the reference to the Holy Spirit in the first half.[v]  The overwhelming evidence of eleven references to the Holy Spirit in the immediate context of 1 Corinthians 12:13, the fact that v. 13 explains and develops the reference to the Holy Spirit in v. 11, and the evidence of the second half of v. 13, prove that 1 Corinthians 12:13a refers to the Holy Spirit, not to a “spirit of unity.”
Furthermore, the word “spirit” is not employed anywhere in Scripture as a reference to a “spirit of unity.”  If 1 Corinthians 12:13 referred to such a thing, it would be absolutely unique in Scripture in doing so.  An alleged parallel to Philippians 1:27 fails because the latter passage refers to the human spirit, as is made obvious by the immediately following reference to another portion of the human person, the mind or soul: “I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit [en heni pneumati], with one mind [mia pseuche] striving together for the faith of the gospel.”[vi]  Philippians 1:27, along with the similar reference in Acts 4:32 to “the multitude of them that believed [being] of one heart and of one soul,”[vii] do indeed emphasize unity in the assembly, as in both verses the inner beings, the minds, souls, hearts, and spirits, of the members of the church were to be in agreement as they strove together to serve the Lord.  Nonetheless, Philippians 1:27 and Acts 4:32 do not refer to a “spirit of unity” anymore than they do to a “soul of unity” or a “heart of unity.”  Thus, unless one wishes to make 1 Corinthians 12:13 into a reference to being baptized and drinking into the human soul and spirit—which would require a definite mental stretch to produce any reasonable signification—there is no parallel whatever between 1 Corinthians 12:13 and Philippians 1:27 in the use of the word pneuma, “Spirit/spirit,” as a reference to a “spirit of unity.”  None of the 385 references to the word pneuma in the New Testament refer to a “spirit of unity.”  A very large number of the references to pneuma—including ten instances other than 1 Corinthians 12:13a in 12:3-13—refer to God the Holy Spirit.
Strouse’s statement, “Since pneumati is anarthrous in I Cor. 12:13, Paul differentiated pneumati (“spirit”) from the seven[viii] previous articular references to ‘the Spirit’ (to pneumati) as deity” cannot be sustained. Several rules of Greek grammar demonstrate that there is no reason to require an article to make “by one Spirit” have a definite signification.  Daniel Wallace, in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics,[ix] writes:
The function of the article is not primarily to make something definite that would otherwise be indefinite. . . . It is not necessary for a noun to have the article in order for it to be definite. . . there are at least ten constructions in which a noun may be definite though anarthrous. . . . [A] proper name is definite without the article. . . . There is no need for the article to be used to make the object of a preposition definite. . . . [they are only] occasionally indefinite . . . Thus, when a noun is the object of a preposition, it does not require the article to be definite: if it has the article, it must be definite; if it lacks the article, it may be definite. The reason for the article, then, is usually for other purposes (such as anaphora or as a function marker). . . . [Furthermore,] [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.
A reference to the name of the monadic Spirit of God,[x] with Spirit as the object of the preposition “by,” has no need of the Greek article to express definiteness.  To argue otherwise neglects important characteristics of Greek syntax.
Furthermore, not all of the references to the Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 contain the Greek article.  In 12:3, the Holy Spirit is twice mentioned without an article, both instances following the same preposition (en) employed in 12:13.[xi]  Furthermore, the Spirit of God is referred to without the Greek article following en (and in a variety of other constructions, naturally, 7:40, etc.) elsewhere in 1 Corinthians (2:4, 13; 6:19).  In fact, the construction en heis, “in/by one,” never is followed by the Greek article in the epistles of Paul or, for that matter, in any of the New Testament outside of Luke’s gospel[xii]—but one could not properly supply the English indefinite article after any of the Greek nonarticular en heis constructions.
1 Corinthians 12:13a of necessity refers to the Holy Spirit.  The connection of v. 13 to v. 11 and the eleven uses of pneuma for the Holy Spirit in the immediate context compel this conclusion.  Arguments in favor of an alternative reading of the text as a reference to a “spirit of unity” fall far short of dismantling the contextual evidence for a designation of the Holy Spirit.  Scripture does not refer to a “spirit of unity” with the word pneuma anywhere in the Bible.  Syntactical asseverations against a reference to the Spirit of God in 1 Corinthians 12:13a entirely fail to establish their conclusions.  Reference to the great God, the Holy Spirit, must not be removed from 1 Corinthians 12:13a.

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.

[i] kai« ga»r e˙n e˚ni« Pneu/mati hJmei√ß pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n sw◊ma e˙bapti÷sqhmen, ei¶te ∆Ioudai√oi ei¶te ›Ellhneß, ei¶te douvloi ei¶te e˙leu/qeroi: kai« pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n Pneuvma e˙poti÷sqhmen.

[ii] Believers with a strong view of God’s providential working in the translation of the King James Bible often also consider that the use of a capital “S” in the King James Bibles that they read and study from should be considered hermeneutically.  While this providential argument should not be ignored or belittled, because as modern capitalization practices became standardized an upper-case “S” in 1 Corinthians 12:13 indeed became the capitalization practice found in the Authorized Version, in the original 1611 KJV the “s” was lower case in 1 Corinthians 12:13, as it was in a great number of other verses referring to the Holy Spirit (such as 1 Corinthians 12:3, “spirit of God,” v. 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, “spirit,” 2 Corinthians 3:3, “spirit of the living God,” 3:18, “spirit of the Lord,” etc.  This is not to say that the Holy Spirit universally lacks capitalization in the 1611, e. g., 1 Corinthians 2:14; 7:40, “Spirit of God.”).  See The Holy Bible: 1611 edition.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson 2003 (reprint ed).

[iii] “Ye Are The Body of Christ,” Dr. Thomas M. Strouse. Emmanuel Baptist Theological Seminary, Newington, CT. elec. acc.

[iv] 12:3 dio\ gnwri÷zw uJmi√n, o¢ti oujdei«ß e˙n Pneu/mati Qeouv lalw◊n le÷gei aÓna¿qema ∆Ihsouvn: kai« oujdei«ß du/natai ei˙pei√n Ku/rion ∆Ihsouvn, ei˙ mh\ e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ. 4 Diaire÷seiß de« carisma¿twn ei˙si÷, to\ de« aujto\ Pneuvma. 5 kai« diaire÷seiß diakoniw◊n ei˙si÷, kai« oJ aujto\ß Ku/rioß. 6 kai« diaire÷seiß e˙nerghma¿twn ei˙si÷n, oJ de« aujto/ß e˙sti Qeo/ß, oJ e˙nergw◊n ta» pa¿nta e˙n pa◊sin. 7 e˚ka¿stwˆ de« di÷dotai hJ fane÷rwsiß touv Pneu/matoß pro\ß to\ sumfe÷ron. 8 wˆ— me«n ga»r dia» touv Pneu/matoß di÷dotai lo/goß sofi÷aß, a‡llwˆ de« lo/goß gnw¿sewß, kata» to\ aujto\ Pneuvma: 9 e˚te÷rwˆ de« pi÷stiß, e˙n twˆ◊ aujtwˆ◊ Pneu/mati: a‡llwˆ de« cari÷smata i˙ama¿twn, e˙n twˆ◊ aujtwˆ◊ Pneu/mati: 10 a‡llwˆ de« e˙nergh/mata duna¿mewn, a‡llwˆ de« profhtei÷a, a‡llwˆ de« diakri÷seiß pneuma¿twn, e˚te÷rwˆ de« ge÷nh glwssw◊n, a‡llwˆ de« e˚rmhnei÷a glwssw◊n: 11 pa¿nta de« tauvta e˙nergei√ to\ e≠n kai« to\ aujto\ Pneuvma, diairouvn i˙di÷aˆ e˚ka¿stwˆ kaqw»ß bou/letai. 12 Kaqa¿per ga»r to\ sw◊ma e≠n e˙sti, kai« me÷lh e¶cei polla¿, pa¿nta de« ta» me÷lh touv sw¿matoß touv e˚no/ß, polla» o¡nta, e≠n e˙sti sw◊ma: ou¢tw kai« oJ Cristo/ß. 13 kai« ga»r e˙n e˚ni« Pneu/mati hJmei√ß pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n sw◊ma e˙bapti÷sqhmen, ei¶te ∆Ioudai√oi ei¶te ›Ellhneß, ei¶te douvloi ei¶te e˙leu/qeroi: kai« pa¿nteß ei˙ß e≠n Pneuvma e˙poti÷sqhmen.

[v] However, an advocate of the “spirit of unity” position would likely also wish to deny that the second half of 1 Corinthians 12:13 is a reference to the Holy Ghost.  Note the further comments below on the “drink into one Spirit” clause.

[vi] aÓkou/sw ta» peri« uJmw◊n, o¢ti sth/kete e˙n e˚ni« pneu/mati, miaˆ◊ yuchØv sunaqlouvnteß thØv pi÷stei touv eujaggeli÷ou.

[vii] Touv de« plh/qouß tw◊n pisteusa¿ntwn h™n hJ kardi÷a kai« hJ yuch\ mi÷a: kai« oujd∆ ei–ß ti tw◊n uJparco/ntwn aujtwˆ◊ e¶legen i¶dion ei•nai, aÓll∆ h™n aujtoi√ß a‚panta koina¿.

[viii] While Strouse appears to have stopped counting at an earlier point, probably verse four, there are nine, not seven, references to the Holy Spirit from 12:3-12:12.  There are indeed seven in 12:4-12.  It is not clear why one would stop references to pneuma at v. 4 when two additional references to the word occur in v. 3.

[ix] Pgs. 210, 243, 245, 248, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Daniel B. Wallace.  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996.

[x] It is true that the phrase pneuvma a‚gion is not found in the instances where pneuvma is found 1 Corinthians 12:4-13, but the references in v. 4-13 are controlled by v. 3, where the Spirit is specifically designated with His monadic title of pneuvma a‚gion, as well as His unique status as pneuvma Qeouv.

[xi] oujdei«ß e˙n Pneu/mati Qeouv lalw◊n le÷gei aÓna¿qema ∆Ihsouvn: kai« oujdei«ß du/natai ei˙pei√n Ku/rion ∆Ihsouvn, ei˙ mh\ e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ.

[xii] The complete list of e˙n ei–ß references in the NT is Luke 5:12, 17; 8:22; 13:10; 20:1; Romans 12:4; 15:6; 1 Corinthians 10:8; 12:13; Galatians 5:14; Ephesians 2:16, 18; 4:4; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:15; James 2:10; Revelation 18:8, 10.  Note that all 13 of the references outside of Luke are not followed by the article, while Luke uniformly employs one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jockeying for the Most Spiritually Dead or Most Spiritually Unable Position

When I present the gospel, I tell people that they are dead spiritually (Ephesians 2:1, 5).  It's true.  And I also believe that spiritual deadness is spiritual inability (Romans 3:10-12).   Men don't seek after God.  Men, who are in the flesh, cannot please God (Romans 8:8).  However, those two truths must be understood in light of everything that the Bible teaches.  God won't contradict Himself, because He can't deny Himself.  And it is these two points among others, man's spiritual deadness and his inability, that Calvinists take past what the Bible says about them, confusing people on the doctrine of salvation.

Calvinists claim a high view of God.  I'm happy to think they have a high view of God.  Having a high view of God is no problem with me.  However, we can only have as high a view of God as God is High.  We can't get higher than the Highest, and the Highest would be how God describes Himself to be the Highest.  We can't get God Higher by saying things that He didn't even say.  Calvinists seem to think that they can make God seem even higher by making men look even lower.  And their way to "improve" upon the sovereignty of God seems to be their diminishing men even further than what the Bible describes them to be.

Man is low.  No doubt.  But he's only as low as God says he's low.  For instance, man is still in the image of God, even if he's lost.  So if you murder someone, you are still striking at the image of God, just like God said in Genesis 9.  An unsaved man has a level of value that doesn't pin the needle on lowness.

Is man so low that his deadness means that nothing within his will will allow him to respond to God's Word, when his soul interacts with it?  Of course, many Calvinists would say, no, but that is how many of them both write and talk.   The entrance of the light and life of God's powerful Word is still not enough.  This is why John Piper says that "salvation is not a decision."  This is also at the root of those who say "regeneration precedes faith," rather than "faith precedes regeneration."  They say man's spiritual deadness affects him to the degree that he cannot believe without regeneration.  Ligon Duncan, one of the Together for the Gospel guys, writes:

. . .  the inability of man and the sovereign grace of God in salvation. These biblical doctrines are compromised by the assertion that faith precedes regeneration.

He continues to write in contradiction to faith preceding regeneration:

Though he is at enmity with God and a slave to sin, and morally and spiritually blind, this view says he is not so dead in sin that he cannot believe in God for salvation. That is, this view says that all men are capable of ordinary initial saving faith, and they do not need to be regenerated to exercise it.

I've followed the teaching of John MacArthur since I listened to him on radio in the early 1980s while I was in college, but it was only recently that he began saying the same thing as Piper and others about regeneration.  In this message in 2005, he spends almost the entire sermon attempting to prove that regeneration precedes faith.  Before that, in 1997 when his study Bible came out, he clearly writes in his doctrinal statement that faith precedes regeneration.  Something changed between 1997 and 2005 on that subject of which I had not heard.

The above idea is that man is so, so bad that he can't believe without being first regenerated.  I gladly agree that man is very bad, but not so bad that he cannot believe without God's arbitrary, predetermined regeneration of a relative few out of the pool of all mankind.  Man is so low that he can be said to have any involvement in his regeneration, which explains salvation testimonies with no perceivable conversion experience.  Do these guys really believe this?  They say they do, but it's a doctrine so inconceivable, that some of them who hold it are found slipping out with what the Bible actually teaches, as is the following case with R. C. Sproul, well-known Calvinist (The Holiness of God, 1993 edition, p. 144):

Once Luther grasped the teaching of Paul in Romans, he was reborn.

Oops!  Wow.  How did Luther grasp the teaching of Paul before he was reborn?  Oh well.

So much of Scripture reads differently than "regeneration precedes faith."  It isn't because they haven't been reborn that they don't receive Christ, but because of hard, thorny, or stony hearts.  A particular kind of heart wouldn't be an issue to a regeneration that will produce saving faith no matter what the circumstances.  It isn't because they haven't been reborn, but because when they "knew God"---how did they know Him if they were dead?---they didn't glorify Him as God (Rom 1:18-25).  "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).  Receive Him (believe on His name) and then become sons of God.  They've got to have some discombobulated explanation to undo that plain meaning.  If ability to respond is at zero until regeneration and then it is inevitable, why would sowing and watering (1 Cor 3) relate at all to God giving the increase?  If nothing precedes man being born spiritually, then how is he begotten by the Word of Truth (James 1:18)?   He would have to hear the Word of God before he was begotten and therefore hearing would precede new birth.  Why would anyone already regenerated spend any time counting the cost before coming to Christ? There are so many contradictions like these, if man is so bad that only regeneration would allow him to believe.

I would be fine if Calvinists would just think man was bad enough that they ceased using his carnal musical styles as worship to God or stopped wearing his immodest and worldly apparel.  I think it would be very good if these Calvinists would quit using fleshly techniques to lure in visitors, instead of depending upon the sovereignty of God.   I would be better persuaded by these Calvinists of their low view of man if they applied the same truths to their own contextualization of the gospel.  Those would help convince me that they really do believe how bad men actually are.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Universe from Nothing

Last week I mentioned that when I dropped my daughters off for piano lessons, I waited at a Barnes and Noble and looked at A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing.  Living and working in the area I do, just north of Berkeley in the SF Bay Area, I talk to people like the author more often than most.  I had just talked to a scientist the previous week and had a conversation about this type of subject matter.  I have put this book on hold at my library, so at some point, I'll put a little more time into it, but I spent thirty minutes scanning it to get the drift of his argument.

First, the atheists who write these books don't start with science and end up with no God.  They start with no God and look to science to somehow justify it.  They don't want a God to exist.  Of course, that's what Romans 1 says about them.  And they are well-described in 2 Peter 2.  They don't want a boss, or as Christopher Hitchens called Him, a Big Brother, watching over what they do.  And that's how this book reads too, the little I read of it.

Second, when they attempt to represent the Bible and Christianity, they very often don't and really can't get it right.  Then they use subtle mockery that they seem to think will bypass most Christians and get picked up by their pals for whom these books are really written.  They don't understand God's Word.  What they've picked up is the caricature that is satisfying to those who already have made up their minds about Christianity.  I have yet to read an atheist screed that comes close to putting a dent in the Bible, including the things written by Bart Ehrman.

Third, and I hinted at this in the previous paragraph, these books are not written to prove anything to someone.  They are written to prop up people like themselves, who don't want an authority in their lives, who want to do what they want to do.  They are the apologists for a guilt-free lifestyle.  They don't prove their point.  They don't even come close.  You find out that they didn't even think they could prove their point---what they're really trying to do is to cause doubt.  And they can make points without proving them, because they are writing a book and no one is arguing with them.  When someone does that again and again in his book, it not only doesn't prove a point, but it becomes very frustrating and irritating to work your way through.

Lawrence Krauss is the author here, and I guess he became famous from a youtube presentation.  And he takes off from the concept of A Universe from Nothing, which is what us Christians believe.  The Genesis account says that everything came from nothing.  The Hebrew word bara in Genesis one is 'to create out of nothing.'  That's what got my attention as it sat on the Barnes and Noble table.  So I began leafing through.

Krauss thinks that the universe came from nothing.  That's right.  That's what he too says he thinks.  Just like us, right?  Wrong.  He defines nothing, unfortunately, as something.  He says that nothing, which is actually space, has electromagnetic energy in it.  At that point, you could pretty much smile, maybe even laugh, close the book, and put it back down.  It's like a bad infomercial that you watch for 20 minutes until you get to the catch.  There is a reason some of these products are not in regular stores.   This book only makes it because it's written by someone who got famous on the internet, he graduated from the politically correct places, MIT and Harvard, and he is taking a very academically elite and approved position.  He mixes in enough very complex science, that deals with problems that are very, very difficult, that it must mean that we should listen to him, because he's so very smart.  Most of the science is worthless.  Maybe all of it.  It's like getting a PhD in the Rubics cube.   You've figured out a problem, that in the end doesn't matter.  He's actually a kook.  His stuff is crazy.

Krauss went into his field, not to figure out origins of things, but to predict how they would end.  He's looking to find the ending of everything.  And he's obviously very heavily funded for this project.  What a waste of money.  I would say it's a joke, except it's so sad.

One of the arguments in the book is that things could have originated from something other than God because 'just look at the snowflake.'  Each snowflake is different and yet no snowflakes, according to Krauss, need to be explained by God.  They can be explained, Krauss says, by the laws of physics.  And since snowflakes came from the laws of physics, voila, everything came from the laws of physics.  I wag my head and say sarcastically, "Good one."  If you're like me, a lot of questions follow.  What about the hydrologic cycle?  Where did water come from?  What about gravity?  What about clouds producing snowflakes?  What about a planet that isn't so close to the sun that all the water is burned up?  And then in the end, aren't snowflakes still snowflakes?  They might all be different, but each one of them is still a snowflake.  It isn't like physics made something in a snowflake that then turned into something else.  So that little example doesn't do it for me.   Maybe Krauss doesn't think anyone will ask any questions like this because it would be to question Krauss, which wouldn't be smart because he's so smart---at least all his friends tell him he is.

Krauss spends a lot of time on Einstein's theories and what they, and things that developed from them, mean to the understanding of origins.  One thing that I got from Stephen Hawking's book that came out 25 or so years ago and now Krauss is that everything came from a big bang, because of the way everything is moving, the way the universe is expanding.  A big question comes to my mind when they say the universe is expanding, and that is, how do we know it is expanding?  To know that the universe is expanding, don't we need to have been to the edges of the universe to watch it expand?   And last time I checked, we're a long ways from being able to do that.  For instance, I can look at my belly and notice it is expanding, because of the number extra holes being used in my belt.   So maybe to these guys, because of their math and science, it looks like it's expanding, because of what they see from their very limited perspective, despite the amazing power of their very expensive and large telescopes.  I don't doubt that to them it looks like it is expanding.  They would probably correct me at this point---"it does."  OK, it does.  But perhaps it only looks like it is, but it really isn't.

After Genesis 1:1, everything was a mass of matter and space, that included water.  And perhaps after that, God really did send it outward to the furthest reaches of space, so it has that flung out there look to it.   That might sound like a joke to some, but it wouldn't surprise me if it looks like it was once a mass that then got moved outward into the immensity of space that it presently is.  Why would I think that is like that?  Because that's how Scripture reads that it could have occurred too.  These types of appearances don't clash with what we read in the Bible, even if we are reading them correctly from our smallness.

When I talked to the scientist while I was out evangelizing, he said his issue was the problem of suffering.  Since he didn't have a satisfying answer, according to him, to why people suffered, especially children, then he wasn't prepared to believe in God.  He called himself a non-believer.  I think there are good answers to the problem of suffering.  It's not even a problem, they're such good answers.  They're in the Bible.  But will someone believe them or not?  I do because they're the truth, and that's what matters the most---what is the truth? (sounds almost like a good blog name)  God's Word is Truth.  I like the Bible answers to suffering because they are the truth.  They might not satisfy someone, but that doesn't make them less true.

The guy that can do the longest and most difficult math problem is still stuck on a planet.  He's still going to die.  He is still breathing God's air and eating the food that God sustains from His creation.  I'm not going to take him too seriously.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 14; the Alleged Reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13, part 5

Was Spirit baptism a completed historical phenomenon at the time Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, or is it a event that takes place regularly throughout the entire dispensation of grace?

Paul’s indication in his epistle to the Ephesians that there was but “one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) demonstrates that by the time of the composition of that epistle, c. A. D. 57-62, Spirit baptism was a completed historical phenomenon and only immersion in water remained for the rest of the age of grace.  The cessation of Spirit baptism had already taken place when 1 Corinthians had been written, c. A. D. 54, for following the events of Acts 19:1-7 (or, more properly, after Acts 2 itself) Spirit baptism, having fulfilled its purpose, ended.[i]  The Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles having received the Spirit (Acts 1:5, 8; 2; 8; 10; 19), the dispensational transition connected to the baptism of the Holy Ghost was completed and all believers subsequently received the Spirit immediately at the moment of regeneration (Romans 8:9).  Christ baptizes no further groups or individuals with the Spirit.  While Spirit baptism was a transitional event, and nothing in Scripture states or hints that it would continue until the end of the church age, the Lord Jesus specifically declared that water baptism would continue to be practiced by His church until His return (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  For the entirety of the dispensation of grace immersion in water is commanded, but no such command is found for the transitional and passing event of Spirit baptism.  “Repent and be baptized” in water (Acts 2:38, 41; 8:12, 36-39; 16:13-15, 32-33; 18:8; 22:16) is the continuing, enduring order from heaven, and refusal to do so is to reject the counsel of God (Luke 7:29-30).  Thus, when Ephesians 4:5 indicates that one baptism, not two,[ii] was extant at the time of its composition, Spirit baptism must by that time have passed away. Water baptism could not have ceased, since it is to continue until the return of Christ and is mentioned in epistles composed after Ephesians (cf. 1 Peter 3:21).  Were both water and Spirit baptism continuing events at the time the book of Ephesians was written, Ephesians 4:5 would have read, “one Lord, one faith, two baptisms.” Ephesians 4:5, therefore, demonstrates that Spirit baptism had ceased.  This cessation of Spirit baptism also explains the entire absence of reference to it as an ongoing work in the New Testament epistles—indeed, to an almost total absence of reference to Spirit baptism in the epistles at all.[iii]

The UCD (universal church dispensational) view that 1 Corinthians 12:13 refers to the Holy Spirit baptizing believers into the universal church, the body of Christ, cannot be sustained.  Scripture teaches that there is no universal church for the Holy Spirit to baptize believers into.  Christ, not the Holy Ghost, is the agent in Spirit baptism.  Spirit baptism had already ceased at the time 1 Corinthians was written, never again to take place during the church age, while water baptism was both ongoing in 1 Corinthians itself (cf. 1:14ff.) and enduring until the return of Christ.  The historic Baptist view of Spirit baptism avoids the problems of the UCD view, for it is the position taught in the Bible.

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.

[i] 1 Corinthians appears to have been written in the time period described in Acts 19:22-23, when Paul “stayed in Asia for a season,” and thus after the final event of Spirit baptism in Acts 19:1-7.  Perhaps Paul’s recognition of the conclusion of Spirit baptism explains his employment of the middle voice pau/sontai for the glossolalia, in contrast to the passive katarghqh/sontai for the revelatory gifts of prophecy and knowledge that ended (cf. “1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and the Cessation of Miraculous Gifts,” R. Bruce Compton, Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (2004) 97-144) with the completion of the canon.
It would be invalid to argue for a continuing action of Spirit baptism throughout the dispensation of grace based on the fact that Christ is called in oJ bapti÷zwn e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ John 1:33, employing a present participle.  The declaration is a statement of God the Father recorded within the speech of John.  The phrase, within its context, is: kaÓgw» oujk hØ¡dein aujto/n: aÓll∆ oJ pe÷myaß me bapti÷zein e˙n u¢dati, e˙kei√no/ß moi ei•pen, ∆Ef∆ o§n a·n i¶dhØß to\ Pneuvma katabai√non kai« me÷non e˙p∆ aujto/n, ou∞to/ß e˙stin oJ bapti÷zwn e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ.  One could make a case for the participle fitting within the category of the futuristic present (pgs. 535-537, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace).  Alternatively, one could say that the present participle is actually a simple gnomic present.  The phrase ou∞to/ß e˙stin oJ bapti÷zwn e˙n Pneu/mati ÔAgi÷wˆ fits all the distinguishing marks of the gnomic category, which makes “a statement of a general, timeless fact. . . . in . . . general maxims about what occurs at all times. . . . [It] is generally atemporal” (pg. 523, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel Wallace).  However, it appears most likely that the present participle is employed as a vivid description of the future action of the Messiah.  Note that God had said, ∆Ef∆ o§n a·n i¶dhØß to\ Pneuvma katabai√non, employing an aorist for the action of John seeing the Spirit descend, although at the time God spoke to John the action of the Spirit’s descent on Christ was yet future.  In any case, no temporal idea of Christ repeatedly or once-for-all baptizing is the force of the text.  Rather, the articular present participle simply indicates that the Messiah, rather than someone else, is the One who is to perform Spirit baptism.  The use is similar to the only other instance of oJ bapti÷zwn in Scripture, where the phrase describes John as “the Baptist,” ∆Iwa¿nnhß oJ bapti÷zwn.  John’s disciples did not baptize—John alone had authority from heaven (Matthew 21:25) to do so, and he was consequently the unique one who performed his baptism.  Similarly, the Lord Jesus is the only One who has the power to perform Spirit baptism. 
Note that the only reference to oJ bapti÷zwn in the apostolic patristic writings is impossible to interpret as a repeated or continuing action—the articular participle refers to an individual who is going to baptize one other person. (Didache 7:4: “And before the baptism, let the one baptizing [oJ bapti÷zwn, present participle] and the one who is to be baptized [oJ baptizo/menoß, present participle] fast, as well as any others who are able. Also, you must instruct the one who is to be baptized [to\n baptizo/menon, present participle] to fast for one or two days beforehand.”  Both the one baptizing and the one being baptized only act one time, not repeatedly.  Compare the present infinitive to\ bapti÷zesqai in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypo 46 for the single act of ritual bathing after ritual defilement.
Even if one wished to dispute the classification of oJ bapti÷zwn in John 1:33 as employed for vividness, and likewise rejected a classification of the present as gnomic, since it is obvious on the historic Baptist, UCD, and PCP positions that Spirit baptism did not take place before Pentecost, an argument built upon the present tense in John 1:33 would prove too much—it would lead to the conclusion that Christ, before Pentecost, was already baptizing with the Holy Spirit.  Furthermore, the fact that Christ will baptize believing Israel with the Holy Ghost in the Tribulation period, as recorded in Joel 2:28-32, could have been excluded from the verse had an aorist been employed, not to mention the several records of the Spirit’s coming in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19.  Certainly no ground against the historic Baptist view, or in favor of either the UCD or PCP position, is gained by the oJ bapti÷zwn of John 1:33.

[ii] Indeed, that there was but one baptism would also suggest that fire baptism was not going on at the time the book of Ephesians was written, supporting the view that the baptism of fire is synonymous with the historically completed act of Spirit baptism.  If the baptism of fire took place daily as men were cast into hell, then it would certainly appear that there was more than one baptism at the time the book of Ephesians was written.  While it is true that an advocate of equating fire baptism with eternal damnation could argue that the baptism of fire did not pertain to the church at Ephesus, as it was composed of regenerated individuals, the fact that there were false professors in the membership of the Ephesian church (cf. Acts 20:29-31) who would, if fire baptism is hell fire, certainly experience it, demonstrates (as do other considerations) that Ephesians 4:5 provides at least some additional support for equating Spirit and fire baptism and viewing them both as a completed event fulfilled in Acts 2.

[iii] Titus 3:6, alluding to the outpouring on Pentecost, is the solitary reference of any kind whatever to Spirit baptism in the epistles.  All other alleged references (as demonstrated below) refer to immersion in water.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Evangel" icalism, pt 2

Does evangelicalism really have a great and special emphasis on the gospel?  In part one, I said no, and gave three examples.  Are there any more?  Sure.  We can keep going, and not necessarily in any order,  one of the issues are evangelical endorsements, like we saw with Mother Teresa, MLK Jr., and Buddhists.  Also confusing the gospel by evangelicals is their strong approbation of the Protestant Reformers, among others.  Many evangelicals endorse Martin Luther and John Calvin, despite their gospel amendments.

Calvin wrote in his Institutes (4:17:1, 4:15:3, 4):

God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption . . . whatever time we are baptized, we are washed and purified . . . forgiveness, which at our first regeneration we receive by baptism alone . . . forgiveness has reference to baptism.

He also wrote (1547 Antidote to the Council of Trent, Reply to the 1st Decree of the 5th Session):

We assert that the whole guilt of sin is taken away in baptism, so that the remains of sin still existing are not imputed. That this may be more clear, let my readers call to mind that there is a twofold grace in baptism, for therein both remission of sins and regeneration are offered to us. We teach that full remission is made . . . by baptism . . . the guilt is effaced [and] it is null in regard to imputation. Nothing is plainer than this doctrine.

Calvin wrote these things and many more, but yet John MacArthur, a conservative evangelical, will rave on Calvin as an incredible Christian man:  "John Calvin . . . was such a profound Christian."  He goes on and on about him as a great preacher.  So does John Piper, another favorite "conservative evangelical."  As does Steven J. Lawson in an entire book.  This type of treatment of Calvin is not unusual among evangelicals, which does confuse the gospel in light of Calvin's writings.

I spent 13 years in Wisconsin in the same town as a Lutheran college and seminary.  We played against the Lutherans in sports in jr. high, high school, and college.  When I was in college, the crosstown rivals, Northwestern Lutheran College, would run off the field at the end of the game so we wouldn't evangelize them.  These men were unsaved.  But Luther is such a favorite still among even conservative evangelicals.
Luther wrote:

Baptism worketh forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and confers everlasting salvation on all who believe as the Word and promise of God declare.

And yet John MacArthur says about Martin Luther:  "Pick one shining light in the history of the Christian church by the name of Martin Luther. Now Martin Luther, coming out of Roman Catholicism, fought more than anyone for the truth that man is saved by faith and not by works."  Piper, again, also heavily promotes Luther.  And yet Luther taught baptismal regeneration, that likely has sent more people to Hell than any other false doctrine.

What MacArthur and Piper do and have done in promoting Calvin and Luther in a way that will confuse about the gospel is all over evangelicalism.  I have never understood their promotion of these men as if they were great Christians.   It doesn't stop there for MacArthur.  Of the Jesus' Movement, MacArthur said: "I really think that one hundred years from now the 1970s and the early 1980s will look like a revival — and that period really was." Another occasion he said:

We kind of caught the wave of that, the tail end of the Jesus Movement. There were new Bible translations, that was huge. People were beginning to understand the Bible in new ways. There was just a wave, I think, at that time when I came that the Lord sort of allowed us to catch that I think a real moving of the Holy Spirit in a special way.

MacArthur calls the Jesus' Movement a true revival. These types of endorsements confuse people about the grace of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Jesus' Movement was a counterfeit that produced all sorts of deviant forms of Christianity that still pervade churches today.

Recently, John Piper caused a controversy, when he preached that "salvation is not a decision."  I have not found this kind of thinking that uncommon among Calvinists.  They would say that salvation does not have to be really a particular point in time, a time of any kind of profession of faith, but you'll just know that you have been converted, not knowing exactly when that was.  John MacArthur shares this in his testimony:

When God did His saving work in my heart, it was not discernable to me. I went away to high school and for all I knew, I loved Christ, I was part of the ministry of the church. I went away to college and I wanted to serve the Lord and honor the Lord. I was certainly immature. But at some point along the line, I really do believe there was a transformation in my heart, but I think it may have been to some degree imperceptible to me because I didn't ever have a rebellious time, I didn't ever revolt against, you know, the gospel or not believe. And I guess that' some ways that's a grace act on God's part. So that all that wonderful training found some level of fertile soil in my heart and none of it was wasted.

With this kind of thinking, God does a sovereign work in your heart and when He is saving you, you might not even know about it.  It isn't really perceivable.  I've heard the same kind of teaching from other Calvinists.

Scripture actually does present conversion as a decision we make.  It does show our salvation experience to include an act of our will.  Jesus is very clear about that through the gospels, especially considering what He said to an unsaved crowd in Luke 14:25-35.  Jesus tells stories that make it very clear that our salvation is a decision of the will that includes "counting the cost" and "denying self" and "forsaking what he has."  You really must decide to follow Jesus.

Confusion abounds in evangelicalism over the gospel.  And through its authors and publishers, this confusion spreads.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coming Up

I've been jogging about 14 miles a week spread out over 5 different days. One advantage of running like this, in addition to the exercise, is the great thinking time it affords.  I spend almost all of that time thinking about God, His Word, and issues related to God and His Word.  Late this afternoon as I jogged right next to the San Francisco Bay (East Bay), three or four of my next blog posts came to mind.  First, I'm going to write a part two of "Evangel"icalism, on top of part one, which was yesterday.  Second, I'm going to write about something that came to mind because of a recent brief foray at Barnes and Noble, and leafing through this book.  I skimmed it for about 30 minutes, and even though some of his science is beyond me, the philosophy and other points I found to be quite weak.  Like the Richard Dawkins' materials (who wrote the afterword), he often resorts to baseless ridicule or mockery.  Then I'm going to write a third installment to my Schemes That Avoid Consequences Scripture Guarantees for True Followers of the Lord series.  All coming up.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Who points up the gospel more than evangelicals?  Noooobody.  Is that true?  I say not.  But I will agree that no one talks about how much they talk about the gospel like evangelicals.  Yet, are they really even talking about the gospel?  There is one gospel and evangelicals want you to think they're talking about the gospel.  They've got "the gospel coalition" and "together for the gospel" and they say the "evangel" is the "first thing."  They want you to know that they are centering, dead center, on the gospel because they're gospel centered.  It's right in the middle of everything.  It's first in order.  Nothing comes in front of it.  And etcetera, etcetera.

I've got three current illustrations to show that gospel emphasis is more talk than show among professing evangelicals.  I could be accused of broad brushing this, but the evangelicals do the kind of thing I'm going to illustrate all the time, and other evangelicals don't separate over it.  As a result, evangelicals terribly confuse the gospel.  My three examples today are Russell Moore, Dean of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Albert Mohler is the president, Tim Keller, senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and leader in The Gospel Coalition, and then Billy Graham.  This piece will briefly explore Russell Moore and Mother Teresa, Tim Keller and Martin Luther King, Jr., and then Billy Graham and Robert Schuller.  I believe these examples of major evangelical leaders, and the lack of separation from them, show the fallacy of evangelical gospel accuracy and emphasis.

On his blog, Russell Moore writes: "The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now."  He was speaking of Mother Teresa as a great convert of the gospel.  In his book, Reasons for God, Tim Keller writes:  "The greatest champion in our era [Martin Luther King, Jr.] knew the antidote to racism was not less Christianity, but a deeper and truer Christianity."  He was speaking of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a great and important representative of a true gospel.  Billy Graham says to Robert Schuller:

What God is doing today is calling people out of the world for His name. Whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they've been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus, but they know in their hearts they need something that they don't have and they turn to the only light they have and I think they're saved and they're going to be with us in heaven.

How each of these come across to me is as pandering to a particular crowd to earn their favor.  They each show how someone might better "succeed" through carnal weaponry.  And that's at the least.  Mother Teresa did not believe a true gospel.  Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't even believe in the deity of Christ.  He was a theological liberal (like Jimmy Carter).  Read his own writings.  And for Billy Graham you'll find a host of quotations and many practical examples like the one above.  When evangelicals can't even get these right, or will not separate over them (Gal 1:6-9), they do not epitomize, exhibit, or exemplify a true gospel.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 13; the Alleged Reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13, part 4

b.) Does Christ baptize with the Spirit, or does the Holy Spirit baptize?

An examination of the gospel accounts of the promise of Spirit baptism manifest that Christ is He who baptizes with the Spirit;  the Spirit is not said to baptize anyone.  In Matthew 3:11 (cf. Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16) John the Baptist predicted, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”  John likewise stated that “he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost” (John 1:33).  These are all the explicit references to baptism with the Holy Spirit in the gospels, and Christ is the agent performing the baptism in every case, while the Holy Spirit is the means or instrument[1] of the baptism taking place.  The fact that Spirit baptism took place when Christ, in conjunction with the Father, sent the Comforter, the Holy Ghost (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; Acts 1:4-8), to abide with the church at Pentecost (Acts 2) also demonstrates that the Lord Jesus, not the third member of the Trinity, is the agent in Spirit baptism.  In Acts 1:5, referring back to these predictions and forward to their fulfillment on the day of Pentecost, the Lord Jesus stated, “John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”  Again, the Holy Spirit is not the agent performing the baptism, but the medium or instrumentality whereby Christ baptizes.  The record of the gospels and Acts are uniformly against the Holy Ghost being the agent in Spirit baptism.

The Old Testament prediction of Spirit baptism, and their statement of fulfillment in Acts, employing the language of the Spirit being poured out, likewise are uniformly against the agency of the Holy Ghost in Spirit baptism.  Jehovah affirms in Joel 2:28-29, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”[2]  On Pentecost, Peter referenced this text, stating that “God [promised], I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”  Consistent with the Old Testament, Peter affirmed that the Spirit did not pour Himself out in the action of Spirit baptism.  The Holy Spirit was poured out by the other two members of the Trinity, the Father (Acts 2:17-18) and the Son (Acts 2:33).

The UCD view of 1 Corinthians 12:13 avers that the Holy Ghost is the agent performing the Spirit baptism allegedly under consideration in the verse.  Such a view of the text disregards the Old Testament predictions of Spirit baptism and contradicts every statement concerning the nature of this baptism in the gospels and in Acts.  The historic Baptist view avoids these extreme hermeneutical difficulties by correctly recognizing that Christ was the agent in the completed action of Spirit baptism and 1 Corinthians 12:13 speaks not of baptism with the Holy Ghost but of the immersion in water through which a believer is united to the membership of a local, visible church body.

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.

[1] cf. the earlier blog post  “Spirit Baptism in the Gospels,” where the fact that Christ baptizes with the Holy Ghost, rather than in Him, is defended.
[2]             :y`Ij…wr_tRa JKwäøÚpVvRa . . . r$DcD;b_lD;k_lAo ‹yIj…wr_tRa JKwôøÚpVvRa

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Schemes That Avoid Consequences Scripture Guarantees for True Followers of the Lord, pt. 3


Repentance is a scriptural response to the content of the gospel.  The Lordship of Christ is part of the content of the gospel.  The two occupy the two sides of believing in Jesus Christ.  One side is believing and the other is Who Jesus Christ is.  You won't be saved if you don't believe.  And you won't be saved if you don't believe in Jesus Christ.  You aren't believing if you don't repent.  And you are not believing in Jesus Christ if He isn't Lord.  Jesus is Lord.

Repentance is the unpopular part of believing.  And Lordship is the unpopular aspect of Who Jesus is.  People much more often don't mind believing if repentance is not part of it.  And they like a Jesus much more Who is Savior, but He isn't Lord.

2 Peter 2:1 says that the apostates described in that chapter deny "the Lord that bought them."  "Lord" translates the Greek word despotes, from which we get the English, "despot."  In the English, a despotes is a boss.  The apostates of 2 Peter 2 don't want a boss.  They deny Jesus Christ because they don't want someone ordering them what to do.  People want to do what they want to do.  They're glad to have a Jesus Who will save them and yet not require any subordination.

Repentance means turning from your own way to the Lord's way.  Men want their own way, so they like a belief that provides the benefits of "faith" without the requirements of repentance.

Churches and their leaders know that they will find less opposition and even persecution to preaching that excludes doctrines of repentance and Lordship.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Schemes That Avoid Consequences Scripture Guarantees for True Followers of the Lord, pt. 2


People don't want preaching.

1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

John 3:19-20, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

In the Old Testament, they killed the prophets for preaching.

Luke 13:34, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee."

Jesus was talking about Zechariah, when he went to preach to Joash in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21:

And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.

Of course, when Jesus preached like that in Luke 4 to the synagogue crowd, they tried to throw Him over a cliff.

Scripture teaches that people won't like preaching, but we also already know that.  And churches know it.  So rather than going and preaching, which isn't easy and takes living by faith, churches have designed the "invitation to church" philosophy.

The Bible says "go" and "preach":

Matthew 10:7, "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand." 

Mark 1:38, "And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth."  

Mark 16:15, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." 

Luke 9:60, "Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God."  

Acts 16:10, "And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."

There are no "invite and preach" passages in the Bible, but people don't want to go.  Today they use all sorts of excuses, number one of which is that it doesn't work.  Go and preach doesn't work.  What God said doesn't work.  Do you think so?

What occurs as a result is that churches have designed their churches around what will attract the unregenerate.  And this has affected the churches.  Churches will always be more worldly when they design their services around what will lure unbelievers.  But that isn't even the worst of it.  What's worse is that God told us to go and preach and we don't or won't either do that or major on it.  Church leaders have made the invitation philosophy, one not in the Bible, the one preeminent for churches.

God isn't glorified and man is through the "invite and preach" philosophy.  Man has a better idea than God.  The world comes into the church.  The church is affected by the world's presence.  How the world thinks affects the church, because of the horrible qualities of the world's wisdom (James 3:15).  God is misrepresented.   Not everyone gets preached to.  Christians aren't obeying God's Word.

The invitation philosophy is a scheme to avoid consequences that Scripture guarantees for true followers of the Lord.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Spirit Baptism—the Historic Baptist View, part 12; Alleged Reference in 1 Corinthians 12:13, part 3

As an aside, the church is never called universal or catholic in Scripture.  The designation first appears in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrneans 8:2, among a number of other unbiblical statements: “Wherever the bishop appears, there let the congregation be; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the catholic church. It is not permissible either to baptize or to hold a love feast without the bishop. But whatever he approves is also pleasing to God, in order that everything you do may be trustworthy and valid.”  It is quite likely that this affirmation of the existence of a catholic church was a later interpolation into Ignatius’ epistle, if Ignatius actually wrote to the Smyrneans at all. There are three different recensions of Ignatius’ letters, a long, middle, and short version.  The long version is generally recognized as a spurious fourth century forgery which projects later hierarchicalism and other developing Roman Catholic heresies into earlier centuries.  The short recension only exists in Syriac, and contains only the letters to the Ephesians, Romans, and Polycarp, in a version shorter than either the long or middle recensions.  The middle recension, the version quoted above, is found in Greek in only one manuscript, the eleventh century Codex Mediceo-Laurentianus.  Scholarship is divided about the genuineness of either the middle or short recensions, with some maintaining that all the letters are extremely heavily interpolated and others arguing that “Ignatius bishop of Antioch did not exist” (pg. 66, “Ignatian Problems,” Journal of Theological Studies, C. P. Hammond Bammel, 33:1 (April 1982); see the article, pgs. 62-97, for a discussion of various theories on the authenticity or forging of the allegedly Ignatian epistles.)  Even if one assumes that Ignatius actually wrote something similar to the middle recension, and his writings were then corrupted and falsified into the long and short recensions, there is no reason to conclude that the eleventh century Greek codex of the middle recension referring to a “catholic church” does not itself have numerous dogmatic interpolations designed to support later Roman Catholic dogmas—such as Smyrneans 8:2, the verse in question, and its reference to the catholic church— he catholike ekklesia.

“There are, in all, fifteen Epistles which bear the name of Ignatius. These are the following: One to the Virgin Mary, two to the Apostle John, one to Mary of Cassobelae, one to the Tarsians, one to the Antiochians, one to Hero, a deacon of Antioch, one to the Philippians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Magnesians, one to the Trallians, one to the Romans, one to the Philadelphians, one to the Smyrnaeans, and one to Polycarp. The first three exist only in Latin; all the rest are extant also in Greek. It is now the universal opinion of critics, that the first eight of these professedly Ignatian letters are spurious. They bear in themselves indubitable proofs of being the production of a later age than that in which Ignatius lived. Neither Eusebius nor Jerome makes the least reference to them; and they are now by common consent set aside as forgeries, which were at various dates, and to serve special purposes, put forth under the name of the celebrated Bishop of Antioch . . . [among the other epistles, a spurious long form, a middle recension, and a short recension exist, and] there was . . . a pretty prevalent opinion among scholars, that [no form] could . . . be regarded as absolutely free from interpolations, or as of undoubted authenticity. . . . This expression of uncertainty was repeated in substance by Jortin (1751), Mosheim (1755), Griesbach (1768), Rosenm¸ller (1795), Neander (1826), and many others; some going so far as to deny that we have any authentic remains of Ignatius at all, while others, though admitting the seven [middle recension] letters as being probably his, yet strongly suspected that they were not free from interpolation. . . . [T]he question [was reignited] by the discovery of a Syriac version [the short recension, first published in 1845] of three of these Epistles among the mss. procured from the monastery of St. Mary Deipara, in the desert of Nitria, in Egypt. . . . some accepted the [view that only these three short letters] represented more accurately than any formerly published what Ignatius had actually written . . . [while] others very strenuously opposed [this position in favor of the middle recension]. . . . [T]he Ignatian controversy is not yet settled” (Church Fathers—The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, “Introductory Note to the Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians,” ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson.  elec. acc. in Accordance Bible Software, prep. OakTree Software, ver. 1.1).   While the reference to a catholic church by Ignatius is dubious, Pope Cornelius, writing against the Anabaptist Novatian, and developing a proto-Roman Catholic principle not found clearly before the third century, affirmed that there “should be but one bishop in a catholic church” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6:43:11).

Let it also be briefly mentioned that it is indisputable that the so-called “Apostles’ Creed” was not written by the apostles, and its present form, with its profession of faith in a “catholic church,” is a development of the era after the union of proto-Popery with the Roman state.  The “Apostles’ Creed” developed from the Old Roman Creed, which simply affirmed faith in the “holy church.”  It was “in the late fourth century that catholic began to appear in [various] Western creeds” (pg. 385, Early Christian Creeds, J. N. D. Kelly. London: Longman, 1972. 3rd ed.), in large part to contrast the Roman church with dissident movements including the “heretical” Anabaptists of the age among the Donatists and Novatians.  The earliest physical evidence for the Apostles’ Creed itself is contained in the tract De singulis libris canonicis written by the monk Priminius between A. D. 710-724.  Both Pope Leo the Great (d. 461) and Gregory the Great (d. 604) appear to have been ignorant of the Creed, and among scholars “very few will be likely to deny that [the received version of the Apostles’ Creed] is to be sought somewhere north of the Alps at some date in the late sixth or seventh century” (pg. 398, 410, 421, Early Christian Creeds, ibid.).

Nobody who read 1 Corinthians 12:13 in the age when Paul wrote it, or, for that matter, any other verse in the Bible, would come to a belief in a universal church.  That view must be read into 1 Corinthians 12:13 in the light of later Roman Catholic and Protestant dogma, but it cannot be exegeted from the text itself.

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.