Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Gospel Troubles

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.


d4v34x said...

Bro. B.,

Lots to appreciate here. I'll start with an aside that I think I see some rationale from the NT for fundamentalism as a test for cooperation between churches, but not within a church itself--there confessionalism seems more appropriate.

As someone once said though, fundamentalism as an idea is great, but it is the movement we have to live with. And once the movement cannot agree on what the gospel is, how can there be any fundamental agreement? The FBFI is mixed on its belief about the gospel. And this difference is ignored in their midst.

While I share Dr. Bauder's concern over its general disdain for full Calvinism, I wish he'd clearly address the larger problem.

And I'm glad to see you call out Martuneac and his false gospel.

Anonymous said...

So are you going to sign the Conservative Christian Declaration on Scott Aniol website, Religious Affections?

Kent Brandenburg said...

An anonymous comment asking me if I'm going to publically join or affiliate with something is funny to me. A person can't affiliate with me by putting his name, but he wants to know if I'll do that with Scott Aniol.

I wonder how conservative a church is that doesn't separate from false worship. That church may be conservative itself, but it fellowships with churches and men who are not conservative, because they're Calvinist. If God is so pure that He won't even look upon evil, how does someone join the Southern Baptist Convention?

d4v34x said...

Oooo. A trap! Cue suspenseful music.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I see a rationale for fundamentalism too, but it is somewhat like how that David originally saw a rationale for the cart that carried the ark. I do think the analogy fits.

d4v34x said...

Meant that last in response to the anony-mouse.

d4v34x said...

Oh, that last didn't come through. So . . . carry on. Little matter.

Jim F said...

Hi Kent,

I think for too long in fundamental circles, we have let discipleship gospels slide by unchecked. That and Calvinism. I still have yet to see how what I advocate at or even at Lou's site is a false gospel. Based on what exactly? Verses dealing with discipleship?

Some of this debate goes also back to definitions of terms. The speaker you linked to also has a booklet on repentance that I think warrants consideration for those in fundamentalism wondering what the different views on repentance are.

Last time I checked there is no other way to receive the gift of salvation other than through faith. (100 plus verses say so)So then the discussion becomes: what does it mean to repent and believe. That is where the main differences appear. When people lump extras into faith then we have another gospel created.

Jim F

Kent Brandenburg said...

Discipleship gospels? I just shake my head. What is that? What I read from you guys is that someone is going his own way and believing in Jesus Christ amounts to continuing in that way without ever turning to Jesus. If so, it isn't a "free gift." Ironically, if someone asks for the free gift, he's asking, not believing, so isn't asking a work? You take so many parts out of it that you are not left with something that will save. Some might get saved, but it won't be because of the extent of the message that you preach. You leave vital parts out that are going to result in most people never being saved, and that's why they don't have power over sin, because they were not converted.

Bobby said...

Jim F,

Faith needs to be defined by the Bible. The comment that states that one can have saving faith in. Jesus and never live for Him is completely Anti-Christ in light of. Matthew 7, the epistle of James, etc. All those who believe to the saving of the soul bear some fruit, 30, 60, 100 fold... All with this faith have some gold, silver, and precious stones. Read Philippians 1 and 2. The promises of God that saved people grow, mature, serve Him, etc. are precious and crystal clear. The salvation that you preach is no salvation at all. The sinner is left wallowing and drowning in their sin, unrescued, unsaved. Read what the actual grace of God accomplishes in the last verses of Titus. Consider and be wise.

Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing, you talk like someone is adding something to salvation, when what we're preaching is obvious from the Bible. What you are doing Jim is conforming the Bible to a mid 19th century and later position, and then you say that what we are teaching was invented by John MacArthur. You will not find what you teach before the middle of the 1800s and there is a reason why that is the extent of the history -- it is new and not true.

Anonymous said...

"You leave vital parts out that are going to result in most people never being saved, and that's why they don't have power over sin, because they were not converted."


The gospel without repentance means nothing and results in false conversions, because it is a false gospel since only half a truth is told. If one's life is not changed, then he is not a child of God.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jim F.,

Please read the careful exegetical study here:

and see whether Scripture teaches that only an elite minority of believers are disciples. Thanks.

d4v34x said...

Bro. B.,

how was Phillips on the Proverbs (in general)? I was thinking of getting that book for my sons.

Also, I think they're just ignoring Bigelow's trollery. Which is just.

Jim F said...

Kent, so Paul also left vital points out when he told the Philippian jailer how to be saved? Or when Jesus said to Nicodemus that whosoever believeth in Him... was he leaving parts out? And what parts? Turning from sin, commitments to follow in discipleship, fruit bearing?

One other thing to consider is if disciple equals believer always, then why is one conditioned upon faith and the other on counting the cost and deciding to leave all? There is no way that that equals faith (believing the gospel).

Jim F

Jim F said...

Perhaps you all could elaborate on why you think telling a person to believe the gospel is insufficient? The Bible itself is clear that it(salvation) is by faith only, right? If not, what verses say otherwise?

I'm not trying to give you guys a hard time but am curious as to your response.

Jim F

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jim,

Have you ever looked up every use of the word of "disciple" to see if it supports your anti-Lordship position? If not, you really ought to look at the study here:

Have you ever looked up every instance of the "believe" word group in the Old and New Testaments? if not, maybe you ought to look at the study here:

Have you ever looked up every instance of the "abide" word group? Perhaps you ought to look at the study here:

Have you ever done a synchronic and diachronic study of the "repent" groups to see if your definition of the word as a change of mind that may or may not result in anything is exegetically defensible? Perhaps you ought to look at the study here:

Having done all the studies I just mentioned, I found the anti-Lordship views of these doctrines extremely wanting. The questions that you asked are so easily answered that they evidence a desperate need for careful Bible study. It is very unfortunate that you believe that they are convincing arguments.

Search the Scriptures, for your own soul's sake and for the sake of those who you influence. I

Anonymous said...

"telling a person to believe the gospel is insufficient?"

Yes, it is insufficient for the scriptures tell you in many places to:

Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19)

Paul preached:

Acts 20:19 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

So, exactly what are you preaching if repentance from sin is not inherent to the gospel for Jesus Christ came to "save his people from their sins"?

d4v34x said... Paul also left vital points out when he told the Philippian jailer how to be saved?

Jim, do you think that the statement "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," tells the whole gospel one must understand and embrace in order to be saved? One need not believe the resurrection? One need not know Christ died for our sins? One need not believe He was God?

Likely Paul had already witnessed more completely to the jailor, or he went on to do so.

Anonymous said...

d4 wrote
"Likely Paul had already witnessed more completely to the jailor, or he went on to do so."

The scriptures clearly bear this out 1 verse after he was to believe on the Lord.

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

These are reasons why expository teaching of the bible is very important.

Cherry picking the bible to create a false doctrine like "just believe" seems to be the norm these days.

Jim F said...

Well, 2 Cor 7:10 is part of an interesting passage but it has to do with believers who repented of the sin they were living in response to Paul's rebuke, not unbelievers turning from sin for eternal salvation.

Also, for Acts 16:31, even if Paul had told him the essentials similar to that of 1 Cor 15, the jailer still had to believe it for himself. Same thing goes for us. Once we understand we are sinners and that Jesus is the payment then we can receive the gift of salvation by faith. It is trusting Him for it thereby changing our mind from any other way.

Jim F

Anonymous said...

"Well, 2 Cor 7:10 is part of an interesting passage but it has to do with believers who repented of the sin they were living in response to Paul's rebuke, not unbelievers turning from sin for eternal salvation."

In context, you are correct much in the same way that Romans 6:23 is also towards the saints of God, but as reproof and rebuke to a sinner, "the wages of sin is death", even as the right kind of sorrow towards God when coming as a repentant sinner yields true salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).

It is not one or the other, it is both (belief and repentance). He is Lord before you get saved, even as he is Lord after you get saved. Balanced truth leads to sound doctrine.