I sympathize with the troubles of fundamentalists with the so-called gospel centered. However, I likewise puzzle over the inconvenient trouble of fundamentalist association with false gospel. They lose their moral authority to confront evangelicals. Before you branch out with exposure and repudiation of false gospel elsewhere, do so closest to home.
I ask myself, "What's worse?" It's a troubling question, because in a sense, who cares? They're both bad. To me, the fundamentalist problem is worse. I hate it more.
To start, however, I draw your attention to Matt Recker, pastor of a fundamentalist Baptist church in New York City, who wrote a series of blog posts at Proclaim and Defend, the online flagship of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, entitled: "New Evangelicalism and New Calvinism: The Same Disaster" (seventh and final post with links to previous six parts). This series was linked at SharperIron, where further discussion occurred (here and here at least) with Matt Recker himself involved in the dialogue.
I'm not laying this all on Matt Recker, a Bob Jones University graduate. He's just the one talking here. And as I said, I sympathize with him. He's dealing with legitimate issues with new Calvinism and evangelicalism, and their troubles with the gospel. However, the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship has not separated itself from its gospel trouble. It's head wagging to me. How could there be such myopia? And I say it's worse because the history of fundamentalism has been posed to me again and again here as about protecting Christianity from gospel destroying error. And yet they can't admit the stinking problem among their own people. They should start there.
If you are not going to deal with your own people or group or fellowship (whatever) and in a strong way, then you really can't branch out to others. This comes across as political or not caring about it in a principled or doctrinal way. And I'm talking about the relationship of the FBF with Clarence Sexton and everyone in his orbit. Jack Schaap preaches at Sexton's Baptist Friends conference. John Vaughn, president of the FBF, is there too. There is no way that conference should have received even a whiff from Vaughn, as it relates to the gospel and fellowship. But Sexton is still coming to the national conference as a main speaker. And Crown College still has the Curtis Hutson Center for Local Church Ministries there on campus. Curtis Hutson was as responsible as any fundamentalist leader for changing the definition of repentance to an unbiblical one. First in his 1986 booklet, "Repentance: What Does the Bible Teach?", Hutson denied that repentance means to turn from sin (p. 4), rejected that it is sorrow for sin (p. 8), and taught that it means “a change of mind that leads to a change of action” (p. 16), so he concluded that repentance is merely “to change one’s mind.”
Earlier this year, a fundamentalist blog has marked me for my teaching about salvation. If you read the article and the comments, you should be amazed at the teaching there (consider this comment as a sample). It represents a false gospel popular among many fundamentalists, and promoted by Lou Martuneac, who is firmly accepted among many fundamentalists. This becomes very confusing to many fundamentalists all over the world.
These fundamentalists teach that a believer can and will live in habitual sin, that is, sin as a lifestyle. They count the perpetually sinning person as being saved, because salvation is a free gift. You will not hear them teach that repentance is necessary for salvation. They purposefully leave out the Lordship of Christ until after someone is already saved, not before or as any understanding of Jesus' identity even to believe in. They water down conversion to the extent that it is not the gospel anymore. And again, Lou Martuneac both supports this, associates with it, and defends it. He has written a book, entitled In Defense of the Gospel, with some of the most convoluted exegesis, if you could call it exegesis, of scripture in order to do so. I haven't reviewed Lou's book per se, because it would take almost an entire other book to undo its problems. This is rampant among many fundamental Baptists. So it is no wonder that men are confused about the criticism of certain evangelicals, when they know this kind of teaching is heavily in their midst.
I write this, not because I think that evangelicalism is better off. I write it because anyone who does care about the gospel has trouble with what he sees in both evangelicalism and in fundamentalism. False gospels are all over the place and should be opposed everywhere they exist.
On another front of gospel troubles and the evangelical gospel-centered movement, the Detroit Baptist Theological blog and Ben Edwards has posted about "Gospel Issues and Weighing Doctrines." The post considers a journal article on the subject written by D. A. Carson. I posted this comment:
Kent Brandenburg says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
September 16, 2014 at 8:41 pm
I don’t know of anyone who has written on this subject online or even period more than me. Here is one of the one stop shops:
But there are many more from me. And we deal with this in our book, A Pure Church, because you’ve got to understand unity to understand purity and separation. This is completely exegetical and should be of interest to exegetes.
The Bible really does have a lot to say about it, and that’s what I explored in my articles. I think people did read and have read them.
Why suddenly is this such a big subject? From my understanding fundamentals were a move right, in essence, saying, “We will not give in here, because if we do, there will be no Christianity left”—something like that. Fundamentalists wanted to protect truth. “Gospel” is a move left, a big move to “unify,” to reduce everything to the smallest amount necessary. And now there is a discussion about whether same-sex marriage is a non-essential. I find an earlier iteration of the latter in the Pharisees attempting to reduce the law down to the greatest commandment. Reductionism says “fail” all over it. Someone takes the part of God in saying what’s important and what isn’t, and usually you need a Sanhedrin-like organization to do that. Hey, how about TGC? Or BJU?
I think we should stop trying to meld it down to essentials, since the Bible doesn’t. Just because Paul makes an argument about bodily resurrection doesn’t follow that we should reduce truth to the smallest common denominator.
It’s interesting or funny, but I think that some type of triage is used as to whom is serious or not serious with an argument, and it doesn’t relate to the Bible, as much as it is, who is important in the circle who makes the decision about what’s important? And usually it’s pragmatic, about book sales, crowd size, or academic prowess.
I could have added articles about 1 Corinthians 15 (here, here).
You'll notice my comment wasn't published on the site as of September 16 at 8:41pm, when a few comments were published afterwards. Why would Detroit not publish my comment? Why? Why wait? Is it false? They promote D. A. Carson and other evangelicals, but won't publish that comment. That possibility was why I in fact wrote the last paragraph in the comment. And then it comes true!!! Are my arguments not legitimate arguments? Are they not exegetically sound? Is there a reason why this "gospel issue" is a brand new emphasis against the normal meaning of scripture?
I read Dan Phillips and own and have read both his books, but anyone who reads him knows he listens to rock music, has no problem with rock music in a church service, is a rock drummer himself, and regularly promotes movie theater attendance. Yes, I guess I'm a cultural fundamentalist (smiles). And the other published comment after mine comes from someone promoting his position on "true ecclesiology" and unity being one regional church per region. What I'm saying is, we should understand why those wouldn't be moderated (smiles again). And D. A. Carson spent a lot of time in fellowship with Mark Driscoll, not hindering his errors at Mars Hill. In other words, in the same stream as Detroit? Wait a minute?
Perhaps after they are done "moderating," they'll publish it. Would I do the same thing to Dave Doran? Of course not. Why do they? I don't know. One should know. That's the proper way of dealing with just another human being. Explain why. I do comment there periodically. In the end, God is going to judge them, me, all of us. His truth will stand. God is the ultimate Moderator.