Friday, September 28, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 2

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "John Calvin likewise taught that baptism was a means of regeneration and salvation" to the sentence: "The ordinance is indeed a sign of what Christ did and suffered, but it is not a “sign” promising that any saving work will be done in the one who receives it—yet it is in this latter sense that the Reformed generally speak of the ordinance as a “sign.”."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Grab Bag on Goodness

We start by seeing a way of life divide into what is true, is good, and is beautiful.  We discuss the second of these, what is good.  Let's assume, for the sake of the discussion, that all goodness is found in Jesus.  He said there is none good but one, that is God.  Every good and perfect gift comes from above.  We return to goodness lost in the Garden in Christ.  We are God's workmanship in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, no one gets actual credit for goodness.  To God be the glory.

And yet we are required to prove all things in order to hold fast to that which is good.  Part of sanctification is judging what is good and doing that.  Since we can prove what is good, we can know what is good.  How do we know it?  What do we prove it with?  We use the Bible.  But is that all we use?  For instance, when we judge language, do we use only the Bible for determining what is good speech?  No.  The Bible itself assumes that we can know what are good words.  We can know what filthy communication is.  God says we know, so we do.  This is where what we call discernment comes in.  We must discern what is good and then do that.  

Some of what is good is plainly stated in the Bible.  We do not worship idols.  We do not bear false witness.  We do not murder.  We do not steal.   Other practices must be judged based on biblical principles.  Every decision is not relegated only to what is wrong and right.  We've also got to decide based on what is best.  We do not love God, our affections do not please Him, without what is excellent.

Paul spent five chapters, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11:1, dealing with the Corinthian church about how to approach non-scriptural issues.  A prominent one was eating meat offered unto idols.  Was it good to do that?  No, but not because there was a verse that said, "Thou shalt not eat meat offered unto idols."  Later in Revelation 2, Jesus said He was against it, so it was a settled wrong thing to do in 90, but Paul was taking them through the thinking process about 40 years before.  All together, we can see that things can be not good to do that the Bible does not explicitly forbid.  How do we determine those?  We have to use principles, some of which Paul provides in those five chapters.  There are others all over the New Testament.

How do you know you're doing what's good from principles?  We can see today that this can be a problem.  People are more interested in doing what they want, not in pleasing God.  Jesus  talked about how serious it was to cause one of these little ones to stumble, so serious that you would better to tie a mammoth, heavy rock around your neck and cast yourself into deep water, than to do that.  Very serious.  Since the gospels and the epistles say we can know these things and judge these things, then it means that we can.  So to start, believe that you can know what is good even if the Bible doesn't make a plain statement about what it is.

Understanding that you can discern using the Bible, get the principles down.  Here are a few.  Be not conformed to this world (the spirit of the age).  Make no provision for the flesh.  Abstain from fleshly lusts.  Some of the principles are not even stated explicitly.  You've got to glean some from an entire passage like 1 Corinthians 10:19-20, an association principle.  It is not good even to associate with certain practices, which one would be eating the meat offered to idols.

Where does the conscience come in?  The conscience is nothing but a warning device, like the radar on an airplane.  It is informed by a law or the law written in your heart.  That law might be good.  It might not be.  Your conscience can be harmed when you don't listen to it.  Even when it is misinformed by faulty instruction, the conscience should still perform its function to protect its operation.  For instance, someone may grow up being taught that it is wrong to play games with dice.  Even if it isn't wrong to play with dice, the person shouldn't play with dice if his conscience tells him not to do that.  If he goes ahead and plays, he'll harm his conscience.  That's another principle.  Don't hurt your or someone else's conscience.  When the conscience warns about something that is good or bad, it won't function right if it has been ruined already.

Does the conscience itself teach virtue?  No.  The conscience only warns.  It doesn't inform.  So someone who talks about "hitching his virtue to someone else's conscience" doesn't understand the conscience.  A conscience should be informed by what is true and good and beautiful.

After someone knows the principles well, how does he insure he will put them into practice well (good)?  There are many factors here.  He should look at how it has been practiced in history.  The Holy Spirit informs by the regular practice of believers through centuries.  He should consider his church, the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He should follow godly leaders.  That would be sort of like being "good on someone else's nickel" that I read somewhere recently.  Is that scriptural?  Sure.  It's what Paul ended the five chapters with in 11:1, "Be ye followers (imitators) of me, even as I also am of Christ."  It's a good thing to copy other, more experienced, Christians.  Paul even commanded it here.  You're not a lesser person for having done so, even though others (who ironically want people to imitate them) might say you are not.

Recently here, I asked questions about soccer shorts and modesty of women.  Are soccer shorts on women categorically a non-scriptural issue?  Are there no objective standards of nudity or nakedness in the Bible?  Is that how Christians have practiced in this realm?  I've read a lot about this, and the answer is, "No."  Women shouldn't be showing their breasts and thighs.  Does it make it right if they are ignorant of it through decades of conforming to a worldly philosophy?  No.  Sure, they might not be wearing the shorts to rebel.  But they're still wrong.  I might not put on my seatbelt because I hate the law, but I'll still go through the windshield, no matter what my motive.

A good passage to consider on this, that is 100% appropriate, is the ark narrative in 1 Chronicles.  After David took the throne, he wanted to bring the ark back to Jerusalem.  Was that good?  Yes.  It was good.  He put it on an oxcart.  Did that mean he was a rebel against God?  No.  David wasn't a rebel against God.  But God still killed Uzzah when he touched the ark.  God did not approve of carrying the ark on a cart.  It was not good.

Are women trying to be rebellious and androgynous and feminist by wearing soccer shorts?  I don't think so.  Is every child being rebellious because he screams like a wild banshee for candy at the supermarket checkout?  It really does look rebellious to me.  It doesn't look good.  It isn't good.  Just because the child doesn't know any better doesn't mean that it is good behavior.  Same with the women in the soccer shorts.  They don't get a pass from God for wearing them, just like David did not get a pass for carrying the ark on a cart.

Think about it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Recently at another site, someone wrote this comment in response to a recent post of mine here that dealt with modesty.

Let’s not discuss something as important as modesty with people as unserious as Kent Brandenburg.

So it does make one think.  Who is serious?  Seriously.  We could make "serious" mean almost anything we want and set the bar as high as could be.  How would I know, for instance, if I were serious about fitness?  Do I have to run a few marathons every year?  If I was serious about firearms, what would that mean?  What's the threshold for "serious about guns"?  I don't think I'm serious about them, but how far would somebody need to go before he was?  I tried to be as serious, I think, as I could about a definition, so I'm providing the Oxford dictionaries online to get a definition of serious.

1 demanding or characterized by careful consideration or application:   
marriage is a serious matterwe give serious consideration to safety recommendations 
solemn or thoughtful in character or manner: 
her face grew serious 
(of music, literature, or other art forms) requiring or meriting deep reflection: 
he bridges the gap between serious and popular music 
2 acting or speaking sincerely and in earnest, rather than in a joking or half-hearted manner: 
actors who are serious about their work 
3 significant or worrying because of possible danger or risk; not slight or negligible: 
she escaped serious injury 
4 [attributive] informal substantial in terms of size, number, or quality: 
he suddenly had serious money to spend

I didn't want to leave anything out, so I included the informal definition as well, serious numbers of definitions of this one word.  After the fellow condemned me as unserious even to discuss modesty, I thought about what serious people are like.

In tenth grade, when I knew I was supposed to preach the Bible, I started thinking about what I would need to prepare for that.  I had already started learning Greek, because my dad was taking it in college.  I carried Greek cards in 9th grade to go over vocabulary.  Probably a lot of other 9th graders do that on their own.  Then I started taking Greek in 11th grade, and then kept taking it for the next 8 years in a row.  Since then I've taught several years of it.  I'm teaching it right now on Wednesdays over skype to a group of men in Maine.  I wanted to study the Bible in the original languages, so I majored in it.  When I graduated, I received the award as the top Greek student.  I wasn't trying for that award.  They just gave it to me.

I also knew that if I was to preach, I needed to know how to communicate, so I minored in speech in college.  A speech minor required a sophomore speech platform that must be passed in order to continue with the minor.  It required a recital your senior year.  I memorized 30 pages for the recital and both nights the room I gave the recital were standing room only.  I'm just reporting.  The guy said I wasn't serious, and I'm just exploring here in front of everyone.  I still think about what I learned and practiced in college.  I still try to look into as many eyes as possible and retain eye contact.

For preaching, I decided early on that real preaching was exposition of Scripture, so I listened to as many expositors as possible, whoever they were.  I read exegetical and expositional commentaries.  That's still something I do, because I love them.  I love reading the Puritans.

To learn to pastor, I served under pastors.  While in seminary, I pastored a church an hour away in Elkhorn, WI.  At the end of that year, they wanted me to stay.  I couldn't. I knew I should go to California to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Let's say that the following is a serious definition of art:  "skill in doing anything as a result of knowledge and practice."  I read someone give that as a definition once, and said I agreed.  I see key words:  skill, knowledge, practice.  That's what I try to do when I'm serious about something.

When I was serious about working out, I used P90x.  I'm serious about jogging, so I jog 2 1/2 to 3 miles a day, five days a week.  When I got to California, I was serious about evangelism, so I did it 30 hours a week and listened to every "how to" tape I could on the subject.  Knowledge and practice.

Let's think about modesty itself.  The subject the man said I wasn't serious about.  I've written a book, which is not yet in print, that spends about eighty 8 1/2 x 11 inch pages, single space, on modesty.  It is heavily documented.  I read every single book I could on the subject.  I studied every applicable passage in the original language of Scripture.  Maybe that's not really that serious.  Not serious enough.  I'm always open to get more serious about things.  I thought that knowing exactly what the Bible said about it would be as serious as one could get.

I asked the man who said I was unserious how serious he was.  I asked him to show me how serious he really was about what Jesus said, the Apostles wrote, and he said he didn't want to do that.  He wouldn't play that game.  The only game in which he would partake was telling me how unserious I was.  OK.  Alright.  I see.  Uh-huh.  I don't know, maybe the guy wasn't serious about his criticism of me.  That would be ironic, wouldn't it?

Some more serious thinkers might think that I shouldn't talk about how serious I am.  That could be considered to be bragging or arrogant. I'm not trying to brag or be arrogant.  It's just that when someone says you're not serious, it gets you thinking about it.  I think if I got any more serious, my wife might get upset.  She's already telling me to calm down.  She wants less serious.  I'm not talking sense of humor, but about the things I do.

But perhaps it's true.  I need to get more serious.  There are ways in which I agree with you.  I don't think I'm serious enough.  Serious.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cult-Like Tendency in Modern Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, part one

One common feature of cults, a major one, is a belief in a total apostasy.  They justify their existence with the fiction that they represent the original, divine teaching, when the truth is that they've invented new doctrine not found in Scripture.  If it's new, it really isn't true.  Paul said that some would depart from the faith, not all (1 Timothy 4:1).  Neither would the gates of hell prevail against Christ's church (Matthew 16:18).  Here's what occurs.  In this age in which we live, saved people are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  He is the Spirit of Truth.  A particular teaching inspired by the Holy Spirit is not going to disappear.  The Holy Spirit leads and teaches and guides.  He isn't going to allow for the elimination of one of His truths.  God's doctrine is not going to change.  It was faith once and for all delivered (Jude 1:2-4).

With everything in the first paragraph being true, churches, believers, should not expect new doctrines.  If there were a doctrine that seemed new with what may seem to be no historical attestation, one would expect the only possible way that the obvious historical position to be overturned would come from overwhelming exegetical evidence.  However, the latter is, if not unlikely, probably impossible.  What I'm talking about here should be the hard fast understanding of Christians.  When new doctrine might be invented, come on the scene suddenly without any trace of previous existence, it ought to be doubted.  Everyone should be suspect of its veracity.  The reception of the new doctrine ought to be considered to be cult-like.

Before I start in on what you've been really waiting for, please make sure you read the first two paragraphs, because they buttress the rest of the post.  Second, I understand that cult-like is inflammatory.  I know that.  It is, however, the kind of terminology that the ones with the new teaching use to describe those with the historic teaching.  And they'll say it with no evidence, no basis or proof.  This is cult-like.  New doctrine that originates in the 19th and 20th centuries is cult-like.  I also call it a tendency, which softens it a little.  Maybe it shouldn't be softened at all, because it is serious, but I want it to go down a little easier, and like Mary Poppins said, "Just a teaspoon of sugar...."  That's my disclaimer.  Now for the application part.

This list will be eclectic, so don't assume that I'm ranking in some order of importance.  Some of it is interpretation and other is application.

Was there a total apostasy on bibliology?   Every presentation of a doctrine of preservation of Scripture in written materials since the invention of the printing press reads as "we have all the words of Scripture available to us in the language in which they are written." That was defended exegetically and doctrinally.  The defenders knew the existence of textual variants.  Still they believed in a perfect, error-free verbally preserved Bible in their own hands.  They didn't mistake preservation for inspiration, but they did believe that what was inspired, the original text Old and New Testaments, was preserved.  That would mean that those words were still inspired, since they were preserved.

Enter textual criticism.  Doctrine changes.  Were they basing this on new evidence of historical doctrine?  Does this trace itself back to a total apostasy of orthodox bibliology?  Can a so-called science, a kind of forensics, overturn what Christians believed and taught?  This is a cult-like tendency.  The sort-of mainstream Christian media is ignoring this bit of truth for the same type of reasons that the mainstream public media ignores selective important news.

The change and then denial of the historic doctrine has a domino affect.  We've got new words that were not a part of historic bibliology to stake out and protect the new view on the preservation of Scripture.  One of these is inerrancy.  If you use google books and do a search between 1600 and 1850, you won't find men using the word inerrancy as a technical, biblical term.  I found it used 2 times in relations to the Bible, none before 1800.  It's a technical term today that has dumbed down what we should expect for God's Word.  It doesn't mean that we have the same words.  However, the same perfection as having the same words is how a man used the term in 1836.  And then after 1850, you find the word used 2,330 times, just an explosion of usage, and  almost all of those after 1890.   The doctrine of inerrancy, ironically, was a doctrine of errancy.  The doubters had to form a new definition of a perfect Bible with errors and that doctrine would be inerrancy.  It isn't a historic doctrine.  It's an invented one to give the impression that these theologians believe in a perfect Bible.  When they say perfect, they aren't saying the same words as the originals.  They are saying perfect, as in, there are no errors in the teachings, and even if there are, those are corrected in some other context.  All of this, as I read it, was to give people some stable idea to hold onto, since Christians no longer believed that they held all God's inspired Words in their hands, in order to keep people from apostatizing.  This is what evangelical and even fundamentalist seminary professors are drilling into their students, so that they don't produce any more Bart Ehrmans.

More Later

Friday, September 21, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 1

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the "Introduction" to the sentence: "Luther ... receipt of the remission of sin."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Were We Wrong, Can Something Like This Change, or What? pt. 1

Can things that were wrong now be right?  Can certain practices be wrong at some point in time, but then change to be acceptable?  Could there be, for instance, a curse word that moves to an acceptable word?  Could music that was wrong for a Christian, now be acceptable?  Can standards of modesty change?   Should what was once immodest to everyone and then at least to Christians, now be acceptable to Christians?  Why do these things change?  How could they now be right, when they were once wrong?

I'm personally not confused about certain issues that are now up for grabs and questionable.  They were wrong before and they're still wrong.  I still preach them as wrong.  I still view them as wrong.  I still do not believe that they should be practiced and will say so.  But this is not how it is with everyone.

A few years back, Dave Doran, president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, and a prominent fundamentalist, wrote the following in response to a criticism of fundamentalism:

When rock and roll came out, it clearly represented a shift in the culture toward ungodliness, so it was uniformly rejected. Now, after five decades of music variations and three of "Christianized" versions of it, the united front within Fundamentalism seems something less than united. When long hair was the cultural symbol of rebellion, there was a pretty clear consensus that it was not proper to follow the fad. Now, when some of the fads don’t include long hair, defining a worldly hairstyle is far more difficult. I could go on, but I think you can see my point.

Some Fundamentalists are clamping down on these pop culture issues and are making the case for the same applications that worked 40-50 years ago. The net result of this is that they appear to be arguing for an Amish-like response to culture. Their goal seems to be the preservation of a pre-60s Americana, not the production of godliness in the 21st century. Mistakenly arguing that "your standards can’t be too high for God" they keep staking out positions that can hardly be defended biblically. Anything that looks or sounds new is suspect for that very reason. While I agree with the desire to pursue holiness, I have serious questions about the biblical and theological orientation of this wing of Fundamentalism. There is serious confusion about the differences between biblical principles (which are timeless) and contemporary applications (which are time bound). This confusion often leads to division over differences of application, not principle.

I had remembered reading this by Doran, and think I may have thought about writing about it, but it passed from my mind until I read it quoted in a discussion.  It obviously made an impression.  I didn't hear from anyone or read anyone who disagreed or contradicted what Doran wrote.  Perhaps people are just agreeing with him, that he represents a consensus of what most fundamentalists believe on what he's talking about.

A few thoughts came to my mind when I read Doran's quote.  First, he was equivocating morally between various cultural issues, lumping several of them together that were dissimilar.  Second, with his ambiguity he was opening up the idea that these cultural issues were no longer issues of fellowship or that they didn't have to be with everybody.  I was thinking mainly about secondary separation.  Doran himself might not use rock music, and someone with whom he fellowshiped might not use it, but it would be OK to fellowship with those who did also fellowship with those who used rock music.  Fundamentalist churches could countenance churches that used rock music.  Third, rock music may have changed in its inherent meaning.  That was a possibility, because maybe we can't be sure that it has a wrong meaning by itself.  Rock music might be in the category of wire-rimmed glasses or certain types of beards.  They might have meant something at one time, but they don't any more.

What got me thinking about the Doran quote was an email from my alma mater, Marantha Baptist Bible College.  When I was there, women couldn't wear shorts.  I'm not talking about pants---that's a whole other issue.  I'm talking about shorts.  I clicked on their athletics link to see what might be happening and finally surfed to an article that happened to be about a girls' soccer game, which had a picture of one of Maranatha's female players in a pair of shorts (I think that's the present pastor of Calvary Baptist in Watertown behind her, watching her; I would have thought he would have considered this immodest and said something).  It's not just that this is Maranatha's standard, but that the college, who once opposed this, is promoting it on their website.  It means nothing anymore.

Why did it mean anything in the first place?  Should it have meant anything in the first place?  When Maranatha changed, why did it change?  When did this particular standard of modesty stop being immodest?  How much further can it go before it is immodest?  Were these kinds of questions asked before the change was made?

You might think that this is a good step for Maranatha, because of something like Dave Doran said, so that Maranatha won't be Amish.  That could be the level of argumentation---they're fleeing Amishness.   Was that a threat at Maranatha?  That they were potentially Amish?  Is showing the thigh on a woman as such, is that like a change in meaning of rock music?  But has rock music actually changed its meaning?  And are those issues the same?   Does what Christians believed for hundreds of years matter?

The Apostle Paul took chunks out to deal with dress issues.  You see it in 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 Timothy 2.  It was worth the space in his letters to treat.  What is permissible change in these areas?  Why is fundamentalism changing in them?  Is it good?  Let's think about it.


Technically, why is this not any worse than this?  It's showing the same thing.  Would enjoy someone who claims to be a Christian, and especially a fundamentalist, who has no problem, to explain what the difference might be.

Monday, September 17, 2012

You Should Vote for Romney, the Basic Argument

Your vote in a presidential general election is very much like making a choice for a purchase.  You don't always get what you want, but you try to get the best that you can.  Sure, if you had the money, you might buy a Mercedez, but you don't have the money, so you can't.  There could be several other presidential candidates that you want more for president, but you've got to choose the best one that you can get---with the emphasis on the one you can get.  You are a steward of your vote and you need to use it the best way you can.  One difference between this and a purchase is that your poor stewardship could affect many more people than yourself, because whoever wins a presidential election is going to be president of everyone in the United States, not just you.

Perhaps you are one of those people who believe that Romney and Obama actually aren't really that much different and in a sense are part of the same problem, that they could be the same person, or actually controlled by the same organization.  So you vote for someone who can't win as a kind of protest.  Maybe your idea is that whichever candidate we vote is going to bring us ultimately to the same conclusion and you would like us to get there a little bit faster.  I see you as the fatalistic vote.  And you're wrong.

As genuine believers, our trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We pray for His kingdom to come.  We don't depend on government, on our socio-economic level, or on our class as a basis of our satisfaction or fulfillment. No matter who wins, we can thrive.  But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to have things be the best they can be---remember paragraph one.  In Romans 12, Paul wrote, as much as possible live peaceably with all men.  That doesn't mean you can live peaceably with all men, but you can as much as possible.  Let's as much as possible have a president that thinks like we do.

Only two candidates can win, Obama or Romney.  If you do not vote for Romney, you are in fact helping Obama to win the presidency.  You know it.  You should care.

Even though Romney is not the candidate that we would want, he's enough better than Obama to vote for him, so that Obama might not win.  He is better than Obama.  They aren't the same candidates.

Let's start with the purpose of government.  When God ordained human government in Genesis 9, He set out to protect life.  On abortion, Romney isn't enough pro-life, but he's far more pro-life than Obama.  Obama is the most anti-life president in the history of the United States.  You know that.  So if you vote for someone besides Romney, and then Obama wins, then you will take responsibility for the continuation of the most anti-life policies in history.  More unborn children will be killed because of those policies.  Romney does not support taxpayer funded abortions.  Obama does.  Romney would oppose third trimester abortions.  Obama supports them.

Romans 13 says that government is about rewarding good and punishing evil.  In so many more ways Obama is about rewarding evil and punishing good.  Obama's taxation is about punishing good, punishing work, punishing production.  If you don't vote for Romney, you are voting for an Obama win, which will in fact punish good.  You will contribute to that.

Obama rewards homosexual behavior.  Romney's not the best on that, but he still supports marriage only between a man and a woman.  That's another basic that you would oppose more if you vote for someone besides Romney.  That's what I think you will be doing.

Why do you think that gun sales will go up exponentially more if Obama is elected?  You know this to be true.  Why is it?  It's because people will want to get guns before the government will make it more difficult to do so, and, second, it's because people are rightfully more afraid of the country moving faster into a deeply dangerous, chaotic state, in which even food supply would be threatened without protection.  Your vote for someone besides Romney will result in a faster loss of gun ownership, in which you will be a greater loss for the protection of the life of your family.

If Obama wins, which he will more likely do so if you vote for someone besides Romney, he will have four more years to appoint Supreme Court justices like Sotomayor and Kagan, perhaps the worst two of the nine presently on the court.  You don't want more of the same.  You want to avoid that as much as possible.  Romney would very likely choose people at least like Scalia or Thomas, strict constructionists.   You should want that.  We will lose far more God-given rights because of Obama Supreme Court appointments.

I could go on here.  Romney won't support government funded contraceptives. Obama will.  Romney will be better at shrinking the deficit.  Romney will more likely pass conservative legislation passed by a more conservative Congress.  Obama will veto it.

When you vote for Romney, you aren't voting for Mormon doctrine.  You aren't saying you believe in the Book of Mormon.  You aren't saying that you think that Romney is smart for doing so.  I don't think Romney is a Mormon because Mormonism makes any sense.  He is one because his dad was a Mormon.  I believe he decided, probably while he was in France on his mission, that he wasn't going to give up on Mormonism and in so doing invalidate his father's life.  He bought in, I believe, at that time.  It gives him a sense of continuity.  It is a kind of conservatism to him.  There may be other reasons why he believes it.  None of them are good reasons.  However, John Locke wasn't a believer either.  Neither was Thomas Jefferson.  We're not voting for the leader of a church.  We're voting for the President of the Republic, one branch of government.  He's not a King.  He will, by far, support freedom of religion more than Obama.  Understand that.  Obama has shown that he doesn't mind the government intruding on the freedom of religion.  Romney is far more likely to protect that right and to protect it better.

You're not a dupe if you vote Romney.  You are entering it with your eyes open. You know exactly what you are getting.  It isn't what you want.  But it isn't Obama either.  And you have, I believe, a responsibility to help stop Barack Obama from getting another term as president.  You will not do that by not voting for Romney.  You will be playing right into President Obama's hands.  You are making a poor decision.

Do not write in a candidate.  Do not vote libertarian.  Do not vote American independent.  Do not vote Constitutional.  Vote for Romney.  It's the best opportunity we have for not having Obama.  Do not, not vote.  Vote.  And vote for Romney.

Especially if you live in a swing state, do not vote for anyone but Romney.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Updated Music Resources at the "Theological Compositions" website

I wanted to make you aware that here, in the "Ecclesiology" section of my website, I have relatively recently added a goodly number of valuable resources relating to godly worship and music.  These include:

1.) The Scottish and Genevan Psalters.  Do you prefer e-resources, or do you feel like you too poor to pay the $15 or so to purchase a psalter so you can obey the explicit command to sing "psalms" (Ephesians 5:19; James 5:13), and not just hymns alone?  You can now download two free, quite literal, historic psalters--with free audio files of the tunes, so any unfamiliar ones can be learned easily.   Obey God's command.  Start singing the psalms personally, in your family, and in your church, for the glory of God.  As part of our family devotions, we sing a psalm each day, singing the same psalm each day for a week (the psalms are very rich, so you will understand more of what you sing as you sing the same psalm a few times), and then going to the next psalm the next week.  In this way, we have sung through the entire psalter as a family.  The various PDF files of the 150 psalms in the Genevan psalter would also make great choir numbers.  Does your choir sing the inspired songs of God?  Hymns are wonderful, but the psalms are perfect--they are inspired!  I have also posted all the tunes to the Trinity Baptist hymnal, a hymnal that has at least parts of all 150 of the psalms in it, as well as a lot of rich, Biblical hymns.  It is the best hymnal I am aware of.

2.) Two e-videos by David Cloud exposing CCM.  They are worth watching, and they are free.

3.) A link to Music Education Ministries, which has tremendous DVD material on music, put together by the pastor of a Baptist church in Australia that, before his conversion, was an accomplished secular musician.  Do you want to know exactly what makes some music worldly, and other music acceptable, in its beat pattern, style, etc.?  What exactly are the features that make CCM sound different from every single hymn in a classic Baptist or Protestant hymnal? Learn the details with these DVD presentations.  The pastor is also an adjunct professor working with the music curriculum at the Sydney Baptist Bible College.

Are you excited that these works are all available free? Does it make you merry?  "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms" (James 5:13).  How can you do that?  Download a free psalter in the "Ecclesiology" section, right now, here.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When An Exegetical Fallacy Becomes a Translation and then a Philosophy

Before I get to my post, I reiterate that I'm going to do a series before the election on how I'm going to vote and why.  Bobby Mitchell's good church in Brunswick, ME has a new website, thought I'd share that with you.  He's got lots of good stuff to read and listen to. I noticed he had this sermon posted that I preached at a preaching conference at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in St. Claire, MO this last April.  It could be helpful.  Now to the post.


The Greeks rejected bodily resurrection and their thinking prevailed throughout their society.  The members of the church at Corinth were under the influence of Greek philosophy.  Saying that you believed in bodily resurrection would make you a laughing stock in the trade unions, threatening your employment, so the Corinthian church members were denying the resurrection.   Paul wrote to correct this error in 1 Corinthians 15 and the key verse of the chapter is v. 12:

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

This verse comes at the end of the first three arguments against the Corinthian denial of bodily resurrection and restates the theme of those arguments.  Why were they denying bodily resurrection when they all believed that Jesus had risen bodily from the dead, that the Old Testament said it ("Scripture"), and that there was proof that He had in fact risen bodily?  And they had to believe that or Paul wouldn't be writing to them, because they wouldn't be saved, and, therefore, members of the church there.  He was writing to people who had believed in bodily resurrection when he was in Corinth earlier for eighteen months.  The first thing he preached to them, and they all believed, was the bodily resurrection, as Paul expresses in vv. 1-4:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures

The first thing that Paul preached to them was that Christ died, was buried, and that He rose bodily.  The very first thing when he came into Corinth!

OK.  That's how the words "first of all" fit into the context of chapter 15.  For hundreds of years, the English speaking people read "first of all," and thought, "first in order."  That's the normal meaning of the Greek word protois.  It can also mean "first in importance," but that is a much rarer meaning and it doesn't fit naturally into this context.  The way it fits into the context is that the first thing they believed was the bodily resurrection.   They all had to believe that in order to be saved, so why is it such a big deal to believe in your own bodily resurrection, since you already believed that first?!?

That's how Calvin himself took it in his commentary, that it came first of all, "as it is wont to be with a foundation in the erecting of a house."  The foundation goes down first in order, as would the gospel message to people who were not yet saved.   Lange says that "his meaning is. . . .  that gospel which I preached unto you at the beginning."  He references Chrysostom as saying, "in the order of time."  If there is a sense of importance at all, it is explained as foundational teaching.  The two words en protois, translated, "first of all," can mean "among the first," that is, "among the first things that I delivered unto you."  Spurgeon wrote in his exposition:

That is the whole of the gospel. He who perfectly understands that, understands the first principles; he has commenced aright. This is the starting point if we wish to learn the truth.

Exactly.  Thomas Charles Edwards in 1886 wrote concerning en protois ("first of all"):

[N]ot "among' the chief doctrines," nor "from the first," but "among the things to be stated first." The facts are the foundation, the " prima fidei capita."

Tyndale in the first English translation of the New Testament, started verse 3 with "So first of all."  In Plato's Republic, which preceded chronologically the New Testament, he used these exact two words, en protois, to speak of the psyche as being among the first things that came into being.  His theology was wrong, but he showed that en protois was used as "first in order," not "in importance."  Chrysostom, who penned a commentary on Corinthians in his lifetime (347-407), wrote the following:

But what is this, "For I delivered unto you first of all? " for that is his word. "In the beginning, not now."

Alright.  "First of all" doesn't read "first importance."  It isn't how Plato used it.  It isn't how Tyndale translated it.  It isn't how the earliest commentary reference reads it.  It isn't how a majority of Christians read it for hundreds of years from the King James Version.

Today's evangelicals and fundamentalists have taken en protois and this new meaning of "of first importance" and used it as a basis for ranking doctrines.  They changed the translation and meaning of en protois in the modern versions.  I read it recently used in a discussion, to defend a doctrinal reductionism as a basis for separating only over very minimal beliefs, certain fundamentals.  In my opinion, the one with the most influence over this thinking is the author of Exegetical Fallacies himself, D. A. Carson, who as a head of the Gospel Coalition asserts en protois as a basis for making the gospel the essential for fellowship.  Paul meant nothing of the kind with what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3.

A new philosophy, an unscriptural one, uses 1 Corinthians 15:3 as to justify it.  Here Paul was wanting to stop the denial of bodily resurrection and instead he's pushed into teaching doctrinal minimalism.  "First importance" has become the cry of the alliances, the coalitions, the ecumenists, all those who wish to disregard everything but a few doctrines in order to get together and get along.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Ambiguity and Utility: Fundamentals of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism

To keep evangelical and fundamentalist alliances, beliefs must be rendered ambiguous.  In the consideration of what is certain, decisions are made based on utilitarian means.  Ambiguity and utility are new doctrines.  Scripture doesn't teach them.  You won't find them in the history of Christian doctrine, but today they have become necessities.

The Bible reveals certainty and surety.  Faith is sure.  We practice based on conviction, not what will work or feels the best.  No utilitarian test applies to what God said.  We just do it, and even if He slays us, as Job said, we still trust Him.

Ambiguity and utility aren't in God's Word, but they have become chief virtues of fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  Ambiguity means humility, what is called epistemological humility.  No one likes a know it all.  Then utility means you're smart, you're wise.  It doesn't really.  But now it does.  Utility means fruitfulness.  It worked, therefore, you're fruitful.  Not really, but now it does mean that. Ambiguity means that I can't know, therefore, I can't expect everyone to be just like me, so I overlook differences in belief.  This is supposedly humble.

Utility relates to what will work for me.  Theologically, it means going to heaven.  That's most important, because it's the most important thing for me personally, so it is the indispensable doctrine.  Practically, it means what will make for an easier life, one in which you can still go to heaven, and yet you get along with the world (you don't stick out too much), plus you grow numerically (you're popular) because you dropped the things that the world especially doesn't like.  Again, you're smart.  People who don't do this must be stupid.  They won't be popular, will not get as big, and will have a more difficult life.  Anyone who goes ahead and does that, who doesn't really have to, must be stupid.

So I present to you the evangelical and fundamental doctrines of ambiguity and utility:  fundamentals of the faith.  You won't find these doctrines in history and they are still being developed, argued for, in contemporary theology.

Scripture and historical theology teach a perfect Bible, the preservation of the same words and letters in the original languages as the original manuscripts.  And now that is actually an acceptable position to believe, as long as several other positions are also acceptable.  You can take a perfect preservation position, if you are willing to tolerate several other positions:  critical text, eclectic text, majority text etc.  In other words, your position must allow ambiguity, whatever it is.  If you do, you're fine.  Utility comes in here as well.  Men want a bible that is easier to read with a contemporary flavor and tone, and not just one of them, but several.  They necessitate multiple versions, any of which are acceptable, to choose for whatever context one needs one of them.   The more versions allowable, the bigger the coalition---this is also the utility.  And then there is the utility of scholarship, providing greater opportunity among more and diverse academic settings.  The intolerable position is one position.  Scripture and historical theology say one Bible in fitting with one God and that is the one position that is unacceptable today in evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  You're not just wrong if you believe this---you're a joke to them.  Ambiguity and utility reign.

If the source of authority for every doctrine becomes ambiguous, then it is no wonder that the doctrines derived from that source will also be ambiguous.  In almost every doctrine, several options must be accepted.  Even some of the so-called fundamentals of the faith welcome nuance.  Finally we get a Jesus, who is adaptable to your worship, your lifestyle, your aesthetics, and your preferences.  He becomes the canvass on which you can project the Jesus appropriate to your needs.

Ambiguity and utility are welcome and friendly, seldom hostile and exclusive, with the rare exception of intolerance.  Intolerance will anger ambiguity and utility.  The fundamental is being violated.  The biggest reaction is reserved for an occasion of clarity and conviction.  Ambiguity and utility must be preserved.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Repentance Defended Against Antinomian Heresy: A Brief Defense of the Indubitable Biblical Fact that Repentance is a Change of Mind that Always Results in a Change of Action, part 4

Appendix:  The RAC Position as Historic Baptist Doctrine

The testimony of all of Baptist history favors the fact that repentance is a change of mind that always results in a change of action (the RAC).  The RNC doctrine that repentance may not always result in a change has infiltrated Baptist churches largely as a result of the replacement of Biblical evangelism[i] with carnal techniques of salesmanship and marketing techniques, very inappropriately called “soulwinning,” that have led to only a tiny percentage of those who are “saved” ever showing evidence of the new birth in their lives (2 Corinthians 5:17).[ii]  The quotes below, reproduced from pgs. 64-69 of the fine book Repentance and Soul Winning by David Cloud,[iii] are only representative of historic Baptist confession of the RAC.  While certain antinomians outside of true churches held the RNC heresy in earlier times, the view that repentance only potentially results in a change of action is absent from Baptist confessional and doctrinal life until very recently, since God in His great mercy has kept His churches from falling into and adopting this dangerous heresy. 

 “Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands” (The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679).

“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency; praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things” (Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Baptist, 1742).

“Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things” (Abstract of Principles, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1859).

Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Royal Saviour,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872).

[R]epentance … is a turning from sin, a loathing of it; and if thou hast that, thou hast sure repentance; but not else. Repentance is also a sense of shame for having lived in it, and a longing to avoid it. It is a change of the mind with regard to sin—a turning of the man right round. That is what it is; and it is wrought in us by the grace of God. Let none therefore mistake what true repentance is” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Mistaken Notions about Repentance,” Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, April 20, 1879).

“Repentance is a change of mind or purpose. Until a man repents he commonly feels comfortable about himself and his ways; but when the Saviour, through the Spirit, gives him repentance, he changes his mind about himself, and seeing nothing good in his heart or in his works, his whole soul cries out, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18:13)” (William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881).

Repentance and the firstfruits of repentance [baptism and other steps of discipleship mentioned in Acts 2:38-42] were generally inseparable. The former could not be genuine without manifesting itself in the latter. And in the circumstances of that day a willingness to be baptized was no slight evidence of a new heart” (Horatio Hackett, Commentary on Acts, American Baptist Publication Society, 1882).

“To repent, then, as a religious term of the New Testament, is to change the mind, thought, purpose, as regards sin and the service of God—a change naturally accompanied by deep sorrow for past sin, and naturally leading to a change of the outward life” (John A. Broadus, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 1886).

 “The preacher who leaves out repentance commits as grave a sin as the one who leaves out faith. I mean he must preach repentance just as often, and with as much emphasis, and to as many people as he preaches faith. To omit repentance, to ignore it, to depreciate it, is rebellion and treason. Mark its relative importance: You may make a mistake about baptism and be saved, for baptism is not essential to salvation. You may be a Christian and not comprehend fully the high-priesthood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 5:11), but “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” So said the Master Himself. Repentance is a preparatory work. For thus saith the Lord: “Break up your fallow ground and sow not among thorns.” I submit before God, who will judge the quick and the dead, that to preach faith without repentance is to sow among thorns. No harvest can be gathered from an unplowed field. The fallow ground needs to be broken up. The most striking instance on record of repentance as a preparatory work was the ministry of John the Baptist. He was sent “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” He did it by preaching repentance, and Mark says his preaching was “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Here is the true starting point. Whoever starts this side of repentance makes a false beginning which vitiates his whole Christian profession. When true repentance was preached and emphasized, there were not so many nominal professors of religion. TO LEAVE OUT OR MINIMIZE REPENTANCE, NO MATTER WHAT SORT OF A FAITH YOU PREACH, IS TO PREPARE A GENERATION OF PROFESSORS WHO ARE SUCH IN NAME ONLY. I give it as my deliberate conviction, founded on twenty-five years of ministerial observation, that the Christian profession of today owes its lack of vital godliness, its want of practical piety, its absence from the prayer meeting, its miserable semblance of missionary life, very largely to the fact that old-fashioned repentance is so little preached. You can’t put a big house on a little foundation. And no small part of such preaching comes from a class of modern evangelists who desiring more for their own glory to count a great number of converts than to lay deep foundations, reduce the conditions of salvation by one-half and make the other half but some intellectual trick of the mind rather than a radical spiritual change of the heart. Like Simon Magus, they believe indeed, but “their heart not being right in the sight of God, they have no part nor lot in this matter. They are yet in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” Such converts know but little and care less about a system of doctrine. They are prayerless, lifeless, and to all steady church work reprobate” (B.H. Carroll, Baptist, Repentance and Remission of Sins, 1889).

Repentance being, as it is, an inward change of purpose resulting in an outward change of life, cannot be performed by one person for another. Repentance is a turning from a life of self and sin to a life of submission and obedience to God’s will. Repentance, as used in the New Testament, means a change of mind, but it is a word of moral significance and does not mean merely a change of opinion. Such a change often takes place without repentance in the New Testament sense. The will is necessarily and directly involved, as well as the emotions, but in scriptural repentance there is a change of mind with reference to sin, a sorrow for sin and a turning from sin. Repentance means sins perceived, sins abhorred and sins abandoned. This change is wrought by the power of God through the Holy Spirit, the word of truth being used as a means to convict the sinner of sin and lead him to forsake it and to resolve henceforth to walk before God in all truth and uprightness” (W.D. Nowlin, Baptist Fundamentals of the Faith, c. 1897).

“The New Testament emphasizes repentance and faith as fundamental conditions of salvation. Repentance is a change of mind toward sin and God, and a change of will in relation to sin and God. Repentance is not merely sorrow. It is rather godly sorrow which turns away from all wrong doing and enters upon a life of obedience. Faith is belief of God’s Word concerning his Son, and trust in his Son for salvation” (E. Y. Mullins, DD., LL.D., Late President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, published by The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1920).

“We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession, and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 1925).

“To repent literally means to have a change of mind or spirit toward God and toward sin. It means to turn from your sins, earnestly, with all your heart, and trust in Jesus Christ to save you. You can see, then, how the man who believes in Christ repents and the man who repents believes in Christ. The jailer repented when he turned from sin to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” (John R. Rice, What Must I Do to Be Saved? 1940).

“We believe that Repentance and Faith are solemn obligations, and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the quickening Spirit of God; thereby, being deeply convicted of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ and openly confessing Him as our only and all-sufficient Saviour” (Baptist Bible Fellowship, Articles of Faith, 1950).

“Repentance is a godly sorrow for sin. Repentance is a forsaking of sin. Real repentance is putting your trust in Jesus Christ so you will not live like that anymore. Repentance is permanent. It is a lifelong and an eternity-long experience. You will never love the devil again once you repent. You will never flirt with the devil as the habit of your life again once you get saved. You will never be happy living in sin; it will never satisfy; and the husks of the world will never fill your longing and hungering in your soul. Repentance is something a lot bigger than a lot of people think. It is absolutely essential if you go to heaven” (Lester Roloff, Repent or Perish, 1950s).

“Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace. Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior” (Baptist Faith and Message, Southern Baptist Convention, 1963).

“What do I mean by repent? I mean to turn your heart from your sin. Turn from sin in your heart and start out to live for God. … A penitent heart that turns from your sin and turns to Jesus” (John R. Rice, “Repent or Perish,” Sword of the Lord, March 3, 1971).

A Baptist church that renounces the RAC for the RNC heresy should cease to call itself Baptist.  A Baptist pastor who adopts the RNC heresy should voluntarily resign from his position, and be barred from the pulpit, removed by his congregation from his office, and placed under church discipline if he refuses to leave voluntarily.  Baptist church members who adopt the RNC, and who refuse to repent of it after being instructed and admonished, should be removed from church membership and placed under church discipline.  Corruption of the gospel has awful eternal consequences (Galatians 1:8-9), and since “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), all such leaven of false teaching must be kept from entering into the church and immediately purged out if it enters (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

You are encouraged to use the comment section here for thoughts related to this post.  Also, please feel free to use the comment section in the post immediately below this one to supply further quotes that the RAC is historic Baptist doctrine.  Please provide clear documentation for your quotations, so that someone who wished to do so could verify your references.  You can use the post below the one with further quotes documenting the historic Baptist doctrine on repentance to provide quotes from men that have been infected with the RNC heresy that still call themselves Baptists.  Once again, please provide clear documentation for your quotations.


[i] For an exegetical study of Biblical methods of evangelism, see “The Biblical Mandate for House to House Evangelism” at

[ii] David Cloud, on pgs. 37-40 of Repentance and Soulwinning, notes:
It is obvious that fundamental Baptists have traditionally defined repentance as a radical change of mind that results in a change of life. They have defined it as turning to God from sin and idolatry. . . . [T]he change in the definition of repentance among some fundamental Baptists is the product of the change in evangelism methodology that has spread widely throughout fundamental Baptist circles. It is a justification for an unscriptural, manipulative, man-centered, pressurized, numbers-oriented methodology of soul winning that is more akin to salesmanship than to anything we see in the New Testament. If a man boasts that thousands are getting saved when only a tiny percentage of them demonstrate any evidence of regeneration, it is not surprising that he would want to redefine repentance to mean a mere change of mind without any necessary change of life.
The late Jack Hyles said that repentance as defined traditionally (as a change of mind in relation to God and sin so radical that it results in a change of life) is one of the enemies of soul winning. He redefined repentance to mean a mere change from unbelief to belief.
The late Curtis Hutson, who assumed the editorship of the Sword of the Lord following the death of its founder, John R. Rice, boldly claimed in 1986 that repentance is not to turn from sin and is not a change of mind that leads to a change of action.
These two men have had a vast influence on the thinking of fundamental Baptists in the matter of repentance. Most others who have changed the traditional biblical definition of repentance have done so upon the “authority” of these two men.
How did Dr. Hyles and Dr. Hutson get to that point in their thinking? . . . By changing the doctrine of repentance and by calling the old doctrine of repentance the “enemy of soul winning,” . . . Dr. Hyles was acknowledging that a biblical understanding of repentance got in the way of his methodology. The old doctrine of repentance is not the enemy of biblical soul winning; it is the enemy of the Jack Hyles type soul winning.
A traditional biblical understanding of repentance does not allow a man to claim that thousands of sinners are being saved when most of them show no evidence of regeneration. A traditional biblical understanding of repentance does not allow a man to count a mere sinner’s prayer as salvation. It is one thing to say that 100 or 1,000 people prayed a prayer; it is another thing to say that those people are saved. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). . . . The idea that you cannot tell if someone is saved is unscriptural nonsense. It is possible, of course, for a person to show false signs of salvation and to deceive those who observe him, as Judas did the other apostles; but on the other hand, if someone is genuinely saved, there will definitely be some evidence of it in his or her life. Profession is not the same as possession. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).

[iii] Repentance and Soul Winning, David W. Cloud.  Port Huron, MI:  Way of Life, 2008 (5th ed.).

Documented Further Baptist Advocates of the RAC--the Historic Baptist Position that Repentance Always results in a Change of life

Please post in the comment section here further documented quotes that validate the fact that the view that repentance always results in a change of life--the RAC position--is historic Baptist theology.


Documented "Baptist" advocates of the RNC heresy--the view that Repentance does Not always result in a Change of Life

Please post in the comment section here documented further quotes by advocates, especially "Baptist" ones, of the view that repentance does not always result in a changed life--the RNC heresy.


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fundamentalism, Separation, Charismatics, and Northland

Before we get into the post, I want to do some housecleaning here.  Four things.  First, our book, A Pure Church, is to the printer, final proofs approved now for over a week.  You can still get a pre-publication price here (less for multiple copies).  It's a good book, worth reading and owning.  Second, we have the Word of Truth Conference, our fourth annual, and we will be starting a new topic or issue and a new book.  The title is I-Magination:  The God of Truth Replaced in a Day of Apostasy.  We've got some excellent material coming together.  It is November 7-11 this year, Wednesday to Sunday.  Why not give it a shot?  More details will be coming for you.  It's beautiful in Northern California that time of the year.  Let us know in advance if you're going to come.  And then third, we've just downloaded more sermons on our church website with series on 1 Corinthians, Luke, 2 Kings, and Exodus (Dave Sutton).  Four, before the election, I will do a multi-part series talking about the candidates and how I'm going to vote, and why, so stay tuned for that. Now for the post.


Northland International University in Dunbar, WI is a self-professing fundamentalist Christian organization, that was once Northland Baptist Bible College, supported by many fundamentalist churches, where is Northland Camp and Conference Center and their annual Heart Conference, where the speakers and attendees are almost exclusively fundamentalists.  The president of Northland is Bob Jones University graduate, Matt Olson.  Recently Matt Olson visited a Sovereign Grace Church (SGC) in Philadelphia that he reported in glowing terms at his blog.  This particular article and the activity of Olson was dissected at the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship blog, Proclaim and Defend, by Don Johnson in light of Northland's statement of doctrine and practice.  The Johnson post was answered by Olson, and a huge discussion ensued at SharperIron (here and here).  If you were to read everything to which I linked (which will likely not want to do--it will take a very long time), you would be up on what has happened.  The Johnson post does the best to present what occurred.

What this whole incident shows me is how messed up fundamentalism is.  There is no way to be a fundamentalist and be obedient to Scripture.  No way.  That should be the concern here.  They can't be consistent with what the Bible teaches.  This is not to say, however, that you should be an evangelical---they are even worse.  You can be an independent, Bible-believing church, and have plenty of fellowship both in and outside of the church, without being either a fundamentalist or evangelical.

This Northland situation shows where fundamentalist "unity," separation, and politics will get you.  Sovereign Grace Churches are Charismatic (Johnson quotes from their doctrinal statement).  Olson says he was there to fellowship with this Sovereign Grace church, and that they had what matters most.  He said, "They get what matters most" and "they focus on Christ in all they do."  There are so many problems with Olson's attempt on how we get along and how we separate that it would take 5 or 6 posts to deal with them, he is so far off (read A Pure Church for a clear, biblical presentation).  I wanted you to see how things were and where they are headed with fundamentalism.  They now fellowship with Charismatics.  They are on their way to being like evangelicals on this.

What Johnson is pointing out is true, but it becomes difficult for the FBFI (Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International) because of their former president's appearance with Jack Schaap at Clarence Sexton's Baptist Friends conference.  A lot of fundamentalists are heavily under the influence of the SGC song writers.  The trap of Charismatic influence and the SGC come from the acceptance in Together for the Gospel and John MacArthur, both who fellowship and promote C. J. Mahaney.  Bob Kauflin of SGC leads the singing at the Together for the Gospel conference that major fundamentalist leaders attend.

I think that fundamentalist leaders see that this is where everything is headed and that nothing that they teach can combat fundamentalism from arriving where evangelicals are.  Some are moving there already.  I expect others to join.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The Path to Postmodern Subjectivity Comes Through Fear, Pragmatism, and, Yes, Covenant Theology

Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism are usually presented as two conservative approaches to interpretation of the Bible.  Let me give you the cliffs notes on the subject.

We've got the New Testament, inspired by God.  What God said is the only right way.  That way was persecuted severely by the Roman empire.  Doctrine changed out of fear of death and desire for survival.  Leaders played loose with the New Testament text out of compromise.  You can read this in the patristics, materials that endured with state church sanction. Finally, the Roman empire hijacked Christianity with a distorted form.  Roman Catholicism embraced an allegorical interpretation of Scripture in fitting with hierarchical organization.  The authorities could tell you what the Bible both was and meant.  You couldn't question that because God is the author of all authority and they happen to be the authority by Divine right.  Amillennialism became the approved thought about the kingdom.  Roman Catholicism could then be as much as the kingdom, and because of its hierarchy, it needed no basis for that position.  Ergo, Dark Ages.

We jump to the Reformation.  The crusades, the renaissance, and the printing press became the perfect storm for something more and different.  Squalor would become unacceptable.  Out came sole scriptura.  It's got to be in Scripture.  We've got our own copy now.  Well, amillennialism isn't in, um, the Bible.  Religious brains, sympathetic to Catholic style hierarchy, got together and came up with covenant theology as a means of defending amillennialism from the Bible.  Amillennialism isn't in the Bible, so more allegory, more spiritualizing, essentially more of the same that led to Roman Catholicism in the first place, had to occur to read amillennialism in there.  The Bible, of course, is the casualty in this.  No biggie.  This continues everything along the subjective approach to Scripture.

With subjectivity the means of operation, a lot of disagreement.  State church will solve that for awhile.  When there isn't a state church, where everyone is operating according to the same creed, however, lots of theological battles will ensue.  People can take the Bible many different ways.  They won't come together when the basic rules for understanding written material are not being followed on the most important written material, the Bible.  So what do people do?  They decide the way to unity is by promoting fundamentals or essentials.  Harmonize around a certain lower or even lowest common denominator, and call that Biblical unity.  People who won't, they're divisive and heretics.

By the way, plain meaning of Scripture says premillennialism.  Premillennialism is just another way of saying plain meaning of the text, or grammatical-historical interpretation.  That's how you understand the Bible if you pick it up on the deserted island.  It's not meant to be misunderstood.  God wrote it.  He said a child could understand it.  Dispensationalism came along to defend premillennialism against amillennialism and covenant theology.  Even when the words premillennialism and dispensationalism didn't exist, they already existed.  They existed with those people who took the plain meaning of the text.

Covenant theology said it was fine to spiritualize.  An axehead could be something else.  A cloud could be something else.  Almost anything could be something else that means something else, even a great range of different things.  If that's how it goes with the truth, then why doesn't any opinion matter any less or more than any other?  It doesn't!!!

Subjectivity works nicely with pragmatism.  You want it to work, but Scripture gets in the way?  In comes Gumby.  You can craft a new position that will work for church growth or anything else that you need.

And, of course, who is the boss in subjectivity?  You are.  That's nice for you.  You actually are not the boss, so that's a lie, but you can say that God is the boss, and still be the boss in reality.  You do that by making Scripture mean what you want it to mean.  And why not?  That's what covenant theology did, which as all about defending amillennialism.

Postmodernism works really nicely with all this, don'tcha think?