Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Contemporary Evangelical Worldview Hastened Defeat in Culture War

For awhile, evangelicals have protested binary thinking and expected nuance.  No one tries that with gravity, because of the short term disadvantage, which is a dismount in the crunch position.  Truth, goodness, and beauty operate like gravity because they proceed from the same source:  God.   The passengers of Germanwings Flight 9525 last week recognized the absolute authority of gravity and its absence of nuance.  Just because many other truths and goodness and beauty don't bring the same quick and emphatic authentication, but consummate at a more glacial pace, does not oblige them an incongruent end.  Living by and, therefore, pleasing God, by faith, necessitates behaving as though deeds met by immediate, tangible confirmation equal those awaiting only heavenly reward.

With foresight of future Supreme Court authorization of same-gender marriage and ensuing lawsuits and their resultant ravaged businesses and incomes, evangelicals pressure lawmakers to pass religious liberty legislation.   But how did we get here?   We draw the line at impeding the anticipated suffering.  If we keep regressing to the initial cause of all this, we can trace it to earlier evangelical capitulation.  When this decision was a principle, evangelicals kicked the can down the road.  There were not short term benefits to standing for truth, goodness, and beauty when it was only principle, when it was only about pleasing God.  Now we are where we are, and it doesn't look that sincere.

What you read on a regular basis right now is exemplified by what we heard from Indiana's Governor Pence, as quoted in the Indianapolis Star today:

Pence answered: "I don't support discrimination against anyone." 
He later added, "No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe."

He said, "Who they love."  Maybe Governor Pence was playing some kind of Clintonian game with the antecedents of who and they, although "no one" is fairly universal, unless he was using the mental air quotes with a different definition of "no one" than "no one."  We know who he means by "who" and "they."  By mistreatment, does he mean, "Sorry, but we won't be doing the flower arrangements for your 'wedding'?"  Air quotes again.

"Love" is in fact a biblical concept.  The Greek word agape, translated "love" in the New Testament, wasn't found much in secular literature, and as it appears in the Bible, it is a unique word.  It spread from the Bible to the culture and then began, like so much vocabulary, to be twisted like salt water taffy.  To love God, it has to be love.  So when we call something love, that isn't love, then love is diminished, and finally God isn't loved.

Evangelicals started twisting love in their own churches with their perverted forms of worship.  A few posts ago, I mentioned the Gettys and singing to God like Marilyn Monroe did to John F. Kennedy on his birthday.  That singing is supposed to be affection.  The feeling contrived by a rock beat is suddenly the Holy Spirit working and adoration being given.   At first it isn't.  Then it is questioned.  Then it is.  And finally when you say it isn't, you're in trouble.  So when two men say they love each other, who are evangelicals to question it?  They've already been offering God something they call love that isn't love.  Same-gender couples don't have a corner on inordinate affection they call love.

When I say contemporary evangelical worldview, I'm talking about the concession to the subjective and uncertainty. Gravity and love were both on the same plane to the premoderns.  Moderns saw they could explain it all with a machine.  The idea was that God isn't better than the machine.  Why should we thank Him? But, as I wrote on Monday, that made morality and art and aesthetics meaningless, so a game was invented, called postmodernism, where someone imagines that his truth or his beauty is a fact.  It's a fact to him.  It's love to them.

This is where we're at today.  Some see the emperor with no clothes, so they leave Chicago and Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin or Nirvana on the playlist of their listening device, while they limit themselves to How Firm a Foundation at church.  They make a pact with the emperor, a type of spiritual detente, as a church Jekyll to a home Hyde.  What you allow is what you become and then who you are.  It really is you already, but now you've just proved it.

You can point a finger at the liberals, at the Democrats, or the President, or Congress, but it really is you, evangelical.  If you are not the cause, then you have at least hastened the defeat in the culture war.  You waved the white flag.  Passing legislation, or even keeping it just like it is, isn't a victory. You need to turn back to the truth, to goodness, and to beauty.  Turn back to the one God of the Bible.  If all that's left is truth that saves, it isn't truth that saves.  The truth that saves is part of all the other truth, that is certain.

Evangelicals already opted out, and fundamentalists are joining them.

If you act like you didn't read this, or you do read it, but deny it, so that you won't be responsible for it, or just call names, it's still true, whether you read it, decide to keep paying attention to it, or even believe it.  You dismiss it at your own peril.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Recognizing the Contradictions: Same Sex Marriage and the First Amendment

There is an almost entire other article added to this one that deals with Apple CEO Tim Cook's editorial at the Washington Post.  Don't miss it.

Maybe I shouldn't, but I marvel at what I see happening around Indiana's recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which essentially says that

a state or local government action may not substantially burden a person's right to the exercise of religion unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to the person's exercise of religion is: (1) essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and (2) the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides that a person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a state or local government action may assert the burden as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding, regardless of whether the state or a political subdivision of the state is a party to the judicial proceeding.

If you read that, you'll see there is nothing in it about same-gender marriage (I'll be using the term gender for the sake of those with internet filters).  We're reminded by its supporters that it is virtually the same law passed on a federal level, signed by Bill Clinton in 1993.  Almost anyone knows why it is being passed, which is why there is such a reaction across the country, obviously pushed by what is known as the political arm of the LGBT lobby.

Legal Contradiction

The law was passed in accordance with the language of the first part of the first amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

The government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, the free exercise clause.  And here's the question:  Is a Christian baker required to bake a cake for a same gender marriage? Everyone knows that this is the essence of what this Indiana law is about and why it was passed.

The magnitude of the reaction dismays.   Parades.  Marches.  CEOs of companies vowing to cut off business with the whole state.  Threat of Indiana losing major, revenue raising sporting events.  Big named celebrities tweeting in opposition, several of them foul language.  Because of the timing with the NCAA tournament, it has showed up on sports talk and I heard a sports reporter call the legislation and the people, "ignorant."  Do you hear any support from similar companies or action for religious freedom?   I haven't read anything.  I watched the Indiana governor, Pence, on RCP duel with George Stephanopoulos on This Week.   Stephanopolous, former Clinton press secretary, had one goal in mind, and that was to goad an answer to this question:

So when you say tolerance is a two way street, does that mean that Christians who want to refuse service or people of any other faith who want to refuse service to gays and lesbians, that it's now legal in the state of Indiana?

Of course, that question purposefully glosses over the issue, which is a kind of propaganda.  It's not about refusing service, but whether Christians should make a cake or provide the flowers for a wedding.  A wedding.  It's not about not serving a particular people, but participation in a sacred ceremony or rite.  Everyone.  Knows.  That.  The law would give the right to a Christian bakery not to bake that cake.

Those attempting to bully Indiana ask if they will get service there when they visit.  They know they'll be served.  There is no widespread lack of serving them in the United States.  They know that.

A legal question surrounds a contradiction that occurs between various rights:  one, ownership of private property, i.e., your own business, two, freedom of religion, and, three, the equal protection of the fourteenth amendment.  No contradiction exists in God's law.  All the rights we receive from God operate in harmony.  The contradiction arises on the application of the fourteenth amendment, which violates private property rights and freedom of religion.  The fourteenth amendment was designed around the rights of freed slaves after the Civil War, but has adapted to same-gender situations. Should a private citizen with his own business be compelled by the government to sell a product or produce a service?  The application of the fourteenth amendment was also the biggest controversy of civil rights legislation, but that is complicated even further now.

Why would Indiana pass the law, especially right now?

When I was growing up, stores sold these replica NFL uniforms that could be worn as a costume.  I haven't seen them for awhile -- probably too many lawsuits because of injuries.  They were replicas.   They were not the real NFL or even football uniform.  Most people recognized it wasn't a real uniform.

We're going to hear soon the U. S. Supreme Court decision on same-gender mirage, what I've read Douglas Wilson label it.  The state can call it a marriage.  Same-gender couples can call it a marriage. That doesn't mean it is a marriage.  It isn't.  I'm not calling it one.  It's just the replica NFL uniform, not a real marriage.

Even if you believe it is a mirage, if you have to do the flower arrangements for one of these ceremonies, they're making you call it a marriage.   You lose your religious freedom.  I don't think its a real marriage, even if they say it is.  The law should allow your religious freedom when the Supreme Court decision finds a way to read same gender marriage into the Constitution.

Worldview Contradiction

The premodern world, which includes the founding fathers, operated on the assumption of design, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.  Premoderns enforced moral absolutes based upon that assumption.  You accept the marriage definition of God and nature.

Enter modernism.  The world is a machine and truth arises from human reason.  Values and aesthetics did not submit to the new criteria of truth, so they became meaningless.

Enter postmodernism, and values are personal and subjective, while facts are scientific and objective. Everyone can choose his own morality, so marriage can be redefined to accommodate that choice.

If you can't choose to reject same-gender marriage, then it has become a moral absolute.  Its advocates  have no tolerance for anything but acceptance.  They contradict their own postmodern worldview.  Same-gender marriage has become a moral absolute in their world of moral relativity. Its advocates contradict their own worldview, which indicates that their belief in same-gender marriage is religious to them.  They are treating it with the dogmatism of a religious edict, as if it were a premodern moral absolute.

It's like Governor Pence said.  Toleration goes both ways and so does discrimination.  If moral values arise from individual choice, either choice must be tolerated.


Tim Cook, the most recent CEO of Apple, the biggest and richest company in the world, has bullied religious folk, Christians, and Bible believers with his recent actions over the Indiana religious freedom law, one of which is an opinion piece in the Washington Post (owned by Amazon.com CEO, Jeff Bezos), entitled, "Pro-discrimination ‘religious freedom’ laws are dangerous."  He among others calls the rejection of same-gender marriage, "discrimination."  Based on even the most recent use of the word, "discrimination," this is again propaganda coming from the Apple head, a type of lie intended to shut-up those who deny same-gender marriage.

According to the oldest understanding of discrimination, the word is good.  If you are discriminating person, it means that you are thoughtful and not easily manipulated, but that's not what people think it means anymore.  If someone had used the word very recently, I would have thought it was a form of prejudice to discriminate.  For instance, you presupposed a negative opinion of a person before ever meeting him or knowing him, because of his race, for instance.  Not until even more recently did that apply to folks in same-gender relationships, because most still believed that people were born with their skin color, but they weren't born with proclivity for same-gender relationships -- the latter was personal choice, not genetics or instinct or natural.  That latter also has still never been proven by science.  So you couldn't be prejudice against them, because they belong to a category you reject outright as a Christian as sin.  You haven't prejudged them because you know what they are doing by their own choice.  However, if you are a Christian businessman, you still serve them because you don't think it's wrong to do so.  If they come to your restaurant, they get to eat, if they come to your store, they can buy things, and if they need some plumbing and you're a plumber, you can do their work.  That would still mean that you haven't discriminated.

Tim Cook might not be the first, but the word discrimination is taking on a new meaning in a very selective way for those like Tim Cook.  You can read that in his article.  Activity is being labeled discrimination that had not been so before.

I want to pick my way through his article to explain what I'm charging.  The first is the last line of his second paragraph:

individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

I'm not going to rehash this, because I dealt with it in my article above.  This is not a refusal to serve, but a refusal to participate in a ceremony by baking a cake for it.  I've heard good arguments as a comparison, that is, requiring a Jewish baker to bake for a neo-Nazi event.  I know people don't like the comparison, but it is helpful.

The next one comes in the third paragraph:

Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year.

This is an easy one to understand.  Texas law says marriage is between a man and a woman.  Texas doesn't want its officials to disobey the law, so they're getting serious.  A good comparison would be what happened in California when the state passed an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage, and the San Francisco mayor defied it without consequence.  This lawlessness seems typical today from liberal politicians.  Some of the Texas clerks might dislike the law, but they still are authorized to enforce it with penalty.  Cook might be good at making electronics, but he isn't good at basic comprehension of civics.  Or he is good and he's just lying.

Here's his worst line, the first of the fourth paragraph:

These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear.

Is Cook saying he holds religious freedom dear?  I don't think so.  I think it's just a very poorly written statement that needed editing.  That's how the sentence reads, but I'm sure it wasn't what he meant.  The bill didn't pretend to defend same-gender relationships.  It wasn't pretending anything.  I believe that Cook meant that the bills pretend to defend religious freedom in order to rationalize injustice, but it isn't what he wrote.  You don't have to be a very good writer to lead Apple, I guess. I'm quite sure that those who authored the bills were not pretending to protect religious freedom. Cook makes it all the more evident why the law was necessary to write and pass.

His next line is bad too.

They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.

Wow.  How do you think the founding fathers would have treated same-gender relationships, even the deists?  "Unnatural" would have been the least of their labels.  When Jefferson wrote that people were created equal, he wasn't saying that all behavior is equal.  Should we assume that God created same-gender relationships?  No one believed that then.  And the fourteenth amendment didn't come until much later, written by those who were not founding fathers, and not even its authors contemplated same-gender relationships.  Not even Brown versus Board of Education foresaw same-gender relationships.  These big lies that Cook tells have become fashionable in modern debate.  Just say whatever whopper you want, the bigger it is, the more convincing, because of the sheer audacity.

If we're going to talk about equality, we should talk about something that is in the Constitution, that is, the free exercise of religion.  That is an actual right that the founding fathers believed in.  Cook would like that taken away.  He would like business owners forced by the government to participate in a same-gender ceremony.  This is taking away an actual right to support the arbitrary choice of someone else.  This does not advance civil rights, but diminishes them, as I argued above.  Abortion does something similar, maybe the same.  It gives the woman a right of "privacy," a questionable right at least, by taking away the right of the child to live, the most fundamental of all rights.

I could spend a lot more time with Cook's article.  You can read it yourself.  It's bad.  If anyone is pretending, it's Cook.  Later he writes that he was baptized as a child in a Baptist church.  Does anyone really think that Cook believes the Bible?  He says that religion shouldn't be used to discriminate.  Jesus said no man comes to the Father, but by Him.  He said that narrow is the road that leads to life eternal and few there be that find it.   Cook likely knows this and is pretending that Baptists teach something totally different than what he heard as a kid growing up.

His opposition to religious freedom, and the way that he attempts to bully those who wish to practice it, gives me pause concerning Apple products.  Could we as Americans apply some pressure by not purchasing from Apple?  That is a way to push back.  Could you join me by saying, "Goodbye Apple"?  I don't think I even want to look at one of their products anymore.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Hannah W. Smith, erotic "Spirit baptism" and the occult: part 12 of 21 in Hannah W. Smith: Keswick Founder, Higher Life Preacher, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic

This entire 21-part study appears on the FaithSaves.net website in a study entitled “Hannah Whitall Smith: Higher Life Writer, Speaker on Sanctification, Developer of the Keswick Theology, Quaker Quietist and Universalist Heretic.” Click here to read the entire study.


Search for:


“The broadness of the Mount-Temples’s views embraced not only Irvingism, continuationism, and broader spiritualism, but even and especially the filthy religion of the occult perfectionists and free-love practicioners Thomas Harris and Laurence Oliphant, since spiritualism and sexual immorality were the natural handmaids of each other.”


to read the section that was in the blog post below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Missionary Prayer Letter: An Evaluation

On a regular basis, a missionary sends me his e-prayer-letter.  Here is a recent one without some of the identifying details and extraneous information:

1. . . . . A number of decisions were made at the end of the service.  [Name] returned to church.  She now lives and works in [Place].  She realized her need to be saved, but did not have time to remain after the service.  Please PRAY for her salvation as she plans to return next Sunday.  Please PRAY on for [Name], to be saved. 
2.  Our family journeyed again this afternoon to [Place], where I preached for the evening service.  God is stirring the embers of revival there after a three year lull.  Christians are witnessing again and the recipients of their witness are softening.  This new moving of the Holy Spirit is in response to the church people getting closer to the Lord and each other.  Please PRAY for God to do a deeper work in the church. 
3.  . . . . Please also PRAY for  the Lord to bring many visitors for Easter Sunday.

I don't want folks attempting to guess whose this is, because I don't want that to be the issue; however, when I read it, I saw an opportunity to look at some issues in real life among independent Baptists.  I'm going to start with number two.


2.  Our family journeyed again this afternoon to [Place], where I preached for the evening service. God is stirring the embers of revival there after a three year lull.  Christians are witnessing again and the recipients of their witness are softening.  This new moving of the Holy Spirit is in response to the church people getting closer to the Lord and each other.  Please PRAY for God to do a deeper work in the church.
First, do we have any biblical basis to judge a church has gone dormant, the coals cooling, and the fire going out, until God begins stirring the embers after three years of inactivity?  This does not describe God's working in the Bible, but it is Keswick and second blessing language.  For various reasons, churches may not obey scripture like they should, which is parallel with not submitting to the Holy Spirit.  However, God doesn't stop working in the life of a believer.  He is God Almighty with all the power of the universe.  Sanctification is an ongoing process for a believer and does not operate with lulls.  It progresses.  Lulls are not three years.

If a church is made up of believers, each of them is indwelt by the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.  1 John 3:6-9 says:

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.  He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.  Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Believers do not go into perpetual states of disobedience.  God's Spirit remains in them and they cannot habitually sin, that is, sin as a lifestyle, because they are born of God.  Those who continue in sin have not seen him, neither known him -- they were never a Christian in the first place.  The explanation is a lack of conversion.

Next, he writes, "Christians are witnessing again and the recipients of their witness are softening."  In the context of this paragraph, one assumes that something is occurring in the way of God working that was not occurring before.  Very much in line with the former sentence about God stirring the embers, God is doing something He was not doing for three years, which includes the softening he describes.  I'm assuming he means that hearts that were hard are now being made soft because of some effect of this new stirring of God.

Then he says this is a "new moving of the Holy Spirit. . . . .in response to the church people getting closer to the Lord and each other."  Every believer already possesses the entire Person of the Holy Spirit.  This "new moving" language, again, is not biblical language.  Sure, on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit moved, moved from Heaven, where Jesus had arrived, to earth where Peter was preaching.  After He moved to earth, He stayed.  In 2 Peter 1:21, "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."  In creation, the Spirit "moved upon the face of the waters" (Gen 1:2).  None of these are still happening though and they are experiences that no one should be expecting or looking for.

The Holy Spirit doesn't hold us hostage to getting "closer to the Lord and to each other" in order to move.  We don't have a price to pay for the Holy Spirit to move -- praying through, sacrificing, or just really, really wanting it.  We've got all of it the moment we are converted.  You can't get any closer to the Lord than that.  If we are obedient to God's Word or filled with the Spirit, we will see fruit of the Spirit, but that is not the embers being stirred and people's hearts being softened.  None of this reflects biblical sanctification or a presentation of it.  It is the language that I read in Charles Finney and Phoebe Palmer and the higher life movement.  It originated with them.


3.  . . . . Please also PRAY for  the Lord to bring many visitors for Easter Sunday.

Is this what it takes for a church to grow?  People can pray for more visitors to come on a Sunday, and if they do pray this, more will come?  If that is the case, why not make your way through the phone book and pray for every person in your area to come to church?  When you pray for many, how many does that mean?  If they don't come, why don't they?  This is not a biblical example of prayer or work for God.

What is significant about Easter Sunday for visitors?  I recognize that traditionally this is when more visitors will come when invited, because unbelievers might still come to church when it's Easter or Christmas.  However, God doesn't "bring visitors."   It isn't a prayer that you should expect God to answer and if you can't pray it in faith, you shouldn't pray it.


1. . . . . A number of decisions were made at the end of the service.  [Name] returned to church.  She now lives and works in [Place].  She realized her need to be saved, but did not have time to remain after the service.  Please PRAY for her salvation as she plans to return next Sunday.  Please PRAY on for [Name], to be saved. 

Men still judge the success of a meeting by how many came to the front afterwards.  You won't see it in the Bible anywhere.  It again fits with the Keswick type of thinking.    If you surveyed church history, reading books and documents from the first century all the way to the early nineteenth century, you would find no mention of “decisions for Christ,” what became known as decisionism. It is an invention generally attributed to Finney, who emphasized the need for a decision, usually made by “coming forward” to approach the altar, entirely foreign to scripture.

If you pray for someone to be saved, will he or she be saved?   If you pray for someone's salvation, will he receive salvation?  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  The gospel is the best you can do with someone.  And if she really sees her need for salvation, she will receive Jesus Christ.  If she waits a week, then she really doesn't see her need.  That doesn't mean she won't be saved, but the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, not prayer for someone to be saved.

There are prayers you can pray related to the evangelism of lost people.  Pray for boldness.  Pray for wisdom.  Pray for knowledge.  Pray for a door of opportunity.  Those are biblical evangelistic prayers.  Praying for someone to be saved fits with the idea that God withholds His power until someone has asked or begged enough for it.  We know the Spirit is working through His Word when it is preached, because the "sword of the Spirit is the Word of God."  The Spirit uses the Word of God to convict in a person's heart toward salvation.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  People are born again by the Word of God, which lives and abides forever.  Act in faith by doing what God has told you to do, not by expecting God to do something that He hasn't promised He would.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Those Who Deny Warfieldian Inerrancy

Over a century ago, evangelicals went back to the drawing board on the doctrine of scripture. Scripture itself, of course, is unassailable.  It is what it is.  It is God's Word.  When it says what it is, that's what it is, even if someone reinvents or reframes what it is.   However, the biblical and historical positions just would not work any longer, not with the pressure that liberalism placed upon scholarship and academia with its criticism of the Bible.  Hand written copies of scripture varied from one another and that seemed to indicate errors, at least according to a rational basis.  Benjamin Warfield took upon himself to write a new doctrine of inerrancy.

If you believe scriptural and historic doctrine of the Bible, you also would believe something short of that doctrine, Benjamin Warfield's position on inerrancy.  If I talk about inerrancy, I mean the Warfield doctrine, because the term "inerrancy" refers to his view.  So if I say someone denies "inerrancy," I'm not just saying that he doesn't take the position I believe, but that he doesn't believe Warfield's definition.  Inerrancy is a very technical word in bibliology, crafted as a bridge to liberalism.  Because it was written in contrast to liberal bibliology, it was a conservative position.

If you have been paying attention, then you know that evangelicalism, which already moved away from the scriptural and historical doctrine, is now threatening to leave the Warfieldian version.  The summit on inerrancy met for that purpose, but a few books have been published in the last year or so, that reveal the real difference:  Defining Inerrancy and Defending Inerrancy -- the former departing from Warfield and the latter embracing his position.

The direction of a weathervane depends on which way the wind blows.  The direction of evangelical bibliology depends on which way liberalism blows.  Their doctrine of the Bible isn't tethered by scripture.

Years ago in a comment section on the blog of an evangelical conservative (Frank Turk), I mentioned the departure of Daniel Wallace from inerrancy, fully understanding that as the Warfieldian definition.  Unless I apologized, he kicked me off the blog.   Senior Professor of New Testament at Master's Seminary, David Farnell, quotes Wallace on inerrancy:

[W]hat I tell my students every year is that it is imperative that they pursue truth rather than protect their presuppositions. And they need to have a doctrinal taxonomy that distinguishes core beliefs from peripheral beliefs. When they place more peripheral doctrines such as inerrancy and verbal inspiration at the core, then when belief in these doctrines starts to erode, it creates a domino effect: One falls down, they all fall down. It strikes me that something like this may be what happened to Bart Ehrman. His testimony in Misquoting Jesus discussed inerrancy as the prime mover in his studies. But when a glib comment from one of his conservative professors at Princeton was scribbled on a term paper, to the effect that perhaps the Bible is not inerrant, Ehrman’s faith began to crumble. One domino crashed into another until eventually he became “a fairly happy agnostic.”  I may be wrong about Ehrman’s own spiritual journey, but I have known too many students who have gone in that direction. The irony is that those who frontload their critical investigation of the text of the Bible with bibliological presuppositions often speak of a “slippery slope” on which all theological convictions are tied to inerrancy. Their view is that if inerrancy goes, everything else begins to erode. I would say rather that if inerrancy is elevated to the status of a prime doctrine, that’s when one gets on a slippery slope. But if a student views doctrines as concentric circles, with the cardinal doctrines occupying the center, then if the more peripheral doctrines are challenged, this does not have a significant impact on the core. In other words, the evangelical community will continue to produce liberal scholars until we learn to nuance our faith commitments a bit more, until we learn to see Christ as the center of our lives and scripture as that which points to him. If our starting point is embracing propositional truths about the nature of scripture rather than personally embracing Jesus Christ as our Lord and King, we’ll be on that slippery slope, and we’ll take a lot of folks down with us.
To sum up: There seems to be evidence in the synoptic gospels that, on occasion, words are deliberately added to the original sayings of Jesus [and] [i]n a few instances, these words seem to alter somewhat the picture that we would otherwise have gotten from the original utterance; in other instances, the meaning seems to be virtually the same, yet even here a certain amount of exegetical spadework is needed to see this.  On the other hand, there seem to be examples within the synoptics where the words are similar, but the meaning is different.
[I]t seems that our interpretation of inspiration is governing our interpretation of the text. Ironically, such bibliological presuppositions are established in modern terms that just might ignore or suppress the data they are meant to address and which are purportedly derived.  And there is an even greater irony here: the fact of the Incarnation—an essential element in orthodox Christology-invites (italics in original) rigorous historical investigation.  But what if our bibliological presuppositions reject (italics in original) that invitation?

You should read the Farnell article.  If Turk were consistent, he'd have to kick Farnell out of his comment section.  Daniel Wallace writes a very favorable review of Defining Inerrancy and against Defending Inerrancy.   Wallace recently wrote the following in a comment in that section of his blog:

I have thought about the Anglican Church quite a bit actually. I love the liturgy, the symbolism, the centrality of the Eucharist, the strong connection with the church in ages past, and the hierarchy. And yes, I have seriously considered joining their ranks–and still am considering it. There are some superb Anglican churches in the Dallas area. Quite surprising to me has been my choice of academic interns at Dallas Seminary in the last few years. Over half of them have been Anglican, and yet when I picked them for the internship I didn’t know what their denominational affiliation was. Exceptional students, devoted to the Lord and his Church, and committed to the highest level of Christian scholarship. And they have respect for tradition and the work of the Spirit in the people of God for the past two millennia.

Do people slide on inerrancy because of a potential lack of conversion?  I say that because of a willingness to join Anglicanism and its false gospel.

Warfield has become the new benchmark for bibliology, but isn't another slide merely another degree further from the truth than Warfield himself?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dangers in Samaritan Ministries, Part 3

I still think that the concept of believers sharing medical needs, the idea that lies behind Samaritan Ministries, is tremendous.  There is no doubt in my mind that Samaritan is superior to traditional medical insurance, especially as things get worse in this post-Obama-Care world. Regrettably, I have had to post two articles warning of the dangers in Samaritan Ministries (part 1, part 2).  The problems mentioned earlier are still present.

I. False Teaching Still Promoted

While in part two I had stated that "explicit promotion or recommendation of apostates has decreased," mentioning this as a "wonderfu[l] chang[e] for the better," unfortunately, false teachers who promote damnable heresies are again cropping up in their newsletter.  In the November 2014 issue, within an article entitled "Will you forgive her, as God has forgiven her," a story is told of a teenage girl who has committed fornication and is pregnant outside of wedlock.  The article, written by Ryan C. MacPherson, professor at Bethany Lutheran College, promotes the damnable Lutheran heresy of baptismal regeneration.  It states that the woman who commited fornication "could look back toward her Baptism, knowing that God has washed away all her sins" (pg. 10), and refers to the Lutheran Augsburg Confession and Large Catechism, which make statements such as that Lutherans "condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism" (Article 9) and "condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost" (Article 12).  That is, those who reject baptismal regeneration and teach eternal security are anathema and will burn forever in hell.  These are the documents presented positively in the November issue of the Samaritan Ministries newsletter--baptismal regeneration is an acceptable heresy for members of Samaritan Ministries.  Other heresies in recent issues including identifying Seventh-Day Adventism as Christian (pg. 9, February 2014), despite its false gospel and many abominable heresies, and the Pentecostal doctrine of healing in this life being in the atonement (pg. 8, 2/2014).

II. Quackery Still Promoted

The November 2014 issue of the Samaritan Ministries newsletter also contains an article by a quack "Dr. David Brownstein."  He says that giving "intravenous vitamin C" to "all Ebola patients" should "be standard-of-care treatment," along with "from 10-100,000U of Vitamin A" and "2-6000U of vitamin D3 per day."  He says that "though it has not been studied," he has "no doubt" that such "natural therapies . . . would work in a patient suffering from Ebola," and they also can "prevent [one from] becoming ill" with "the Ebola virus."  However, the Great Conspiracy of "the Powers-That-Be" are secretly working to prevent people from being cured from Ebola by taking vitamins.  Contrary to Mr. Brownstein, the facts are that Vitamin C does not prevent colds and only perhaps, for some people, very slightly reduces their length or severity; Vitamin C can certainly not cure Ebola!. Furthermore, while Vitamin C is water soluble so one is generally going to only have expensive urine if, within reason, he takes too much of it, regular consumption of the doses Mr. Brownstein recommends of Vitamin A can actually be dangerous, as can those he recommends of Vitamin D.  He likewise promotes the myth that most people do not get the vitamins they need from a balanced diet, and even states that most people do not consume enough salt, based on the astonishing "evidence" that "infections agents prefer a low-salt environment" (pg. 15)--which, is, of course, true, because essentially all cellular life, including every cell in your body, will die if gets too much salt.  Enough salt will kill just about anything--compare the Dead Sea with the Pacific Ocean, for instance. Following a quack such as Mr. Brownstein is not just expensive for one's pocketbook but also dangerous for one's health.

Regrettably, November was not the only month for dangerous medical nonsense in the Samaritan Ministries newsletter.  The February 2014 letter said that a certain prominent non-profit consumer advocacy organization that warns about medical misinformation was "widely believed . . . to be wholly supported by front groups funded by Big Pharma" (pg. 3), giving as "evidence" (?) the sheer speculation and unsubstantiated rantings of a homeopath named Heidi Stevenson.  The Samaritan newsletter also recorded the testimonial of a woman preacher and Samaritan member with cancer who said that the "Holy Spirit was adamant regarding the use of chemotherapy--don't" (pg. 8, emphasis in original).  Supposedly the Holy Spirit violated the teaching of James 5 about getting the best medical treatment available and gave her a special revelation that instead of doing what works on cancer, they were to do what does not work.  (The newsletter has never said anything positive about people with cancer getting chemotherapy.)  Instead, the woman pastor and her husband were "led" to visit a quack, Stainslaw Burzynski, and take "vitamin B7" (pg. 9) to cure the cancer.  So was she cured?  Well, "symptoms still remain" of the cancer, but they "expect those to continue to disappear" (pg. 9).  In other words, even the testimonial to the quack cure for cancer does not record an actual cure.  More cancer mythology appeared in the October 2014 newsletter, which discouraged people who might have cancer from getting biopsies based on the myth that they "activate cancer cells or spread cancer" (pg. 7).  Instead of getting biopsies, people are to follow treatments by a quack named Ronald Wheeler who the Florida Board of Medicine called "board-certified in medical fraud . . . one of the most dangerous doctors . . . in a long time . . . a menace to society."  The March 2015 issue recommends a miracle algae to treat everything from "heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and many other life-threatening diseases" (pg. 8).  It even helps women get pregnant (pg. 13). Support for the miracle algae comes from "Dr. Joseph Mercola" (pgs. 8-9), who makes millions deluding people and who promotes terribly dangerous lies such as that "HIV does not cause AIDS . . . chemicals in our environment, the drugs used to treat AIDS, stress, and poor nutrition are possibly the real causes" and that cancer is really a fungus.  People who are not "prudent," but are the "simple" who believe every word (Proverbs 14:15), will believe such poisonous falsehoods and go to early graves from untreated cancer.  Misinformation in the Samaritan newsletter will lead people who believe it to die and leave behind widows, widowers, and orphaned children.

In summary, the idea behind Samaritan Ministries is great, and believers sharing medical needs is far superior to traditional insurance, especially insurance that funds abortion and other abominations to the Lord.  However, the Samaritan Ministries newsletter contains extremely dangerous misinformation.  If you believe what it says, you could not just waste a lot of money and be sicker, but you could physically die early.  What is even worse, if you believe what the newsletter says, you could adopt a false gospel, die spiritually, and be in hell.  The theology and medical recommendations in the newsletter are, to put it mildly, utterly unreliable.

If you are a member of Samaritan Ministries, and you are opposed to false gospels, the New Age, and quackery, I would encourage you to politely contact them here.  Please also consider letting others you know who are members of Samaritan about these issues with the ministry.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Who Is the Audience of the Singing and Playing in Church?

The audience for most of the music for evangelicalism and fundamentalism is people -- do people like it?  I'm saying, the people versus God.  I'm not saying they don't consider God at all, but that people are what they most regard with their music.  Most have stopped fighting the idea that there is a music that God doesn't like, so it really comes down to what people like.  Most evangelicals directly relate style of music to church growth, which is to say that whether the people like it or not is foremost in their minds, even Calvinists (despite that blatant contradiction).  You read this in Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Church, but you also hear it from conservative evangelicals (see here and here).

Is people the audience of music?  Most evangelicals and fundamentalists would not deny that God is one of the audiences of church music, but not its only audience.  Evangelicals justify their obsession with what music people want with a few texts of scripture.  I want to deal with those and I will, but first, we do know that God is the audience of the music of His congregation, whether Israel or the church.  I spent about 30 minutes looking, so this might not be all of them, but look at these below.

"sing to thy name" (1 time)
"sang unto the Lord" (1 time)
"sing ye to the Lord" (1 time)
"sing praise to the Lord" (1 time)
"sing praise unto the Lord" (1 time)
"sing praise unto thy name" (1 time)
"sing praise upon the harp unto our God" (1 time)
"sing praise to the name of the Lord" (1 time)
"sing praise to thee" (1 time)
"make a joyful noise unto God" (1 time)
"make a joyful noise unto the God" (1 time)
"make a joyful noise unto him" (1 time)
"make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation" (1 time)
"make a joyful noise before the Lord" (1 time)
"singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (1 time)
"singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (1 time)
"O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard" (1 time)
"shew forth thy praise to all generations" (1 time)
"praise thy power" (1 time)
"praise thy glorious name" (1 time)
"praise thy works" (1 time)
"praising thee" (1 time)
"praise thy God" (1 time)
"praising and thanking the Lord" (1 time)
"praising and giving thanks unto the Lord" (1 time)
"praising and blessing God" (1 time)
"I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever." (1 time)
"praise unto our God" (1 time)
"praise unto God" (1 time)
"praise to God" (1 time)
"praise God" (2 times)
"make a joyful noise unto the Lord" (2 times)
"sing praise unto thee" (2 times)
"sing unto God" (2 times)
"sing unto thee" (3 times)
"praise thy name" (7 times)
"bless the Lord" (15 times)
"sing praises" (15 times)
"sing praises" (15 times)
"sing unto the Lord" (16 times)
"bless the Lord" (18 times)
"praise him" (18 times)
"praise ye the Lord" (24 times)
"praise the Lord" (33 times)

There are 190 of the above if my math is right (did it in my head).  These start with people and people have God as their audience.  These are directed to or toward God.  Now how many in the Bible start with people and the audience is people?  Are people seen to be singing to people?

I've said that I have observed that the chief audience of congregational music, the music of the church, in evangelicalism has become people.  What is the biblical basis for this?  What I hear at least from many evangelicals and fundamentalists is that the audience of the music is both, God and people.  And the basis for people?  There should be a lot of references, right?  Here are the only ones possible:

Psalm 40:3, And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 
Ephesians 5:19, Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 
Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

These are the three verses, compared with at least 190 above.  Good hermeneutics would require viewing the three in light of the 190.  In our three examples, notice that without ambiguity, each say, "song in my mouth, even praise unto our God," "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord," and "singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

In Psalm 40, unbelievers see the praise of believers and fear, so they aren't the audience, just spectators.  That leaves us with the other two.  "Speaking to yourselves" in Ephesians 5:19 is at least ambiguous as it relates to audience.  "Speaking" (laleo) is not even the normal word for singing, and easily "to yourselves" could and perhaps should be understood as the dative of place, "among yourselves," informing us where this singing to God will occur -- in the congregation.  With Colossians 3:16, "teaching and admonishing one another" could be connected with "the word of Christ" earlier in the verse, that is, teaching and admonishing one another with the Word as a separate action apart from singing to the Lord.  In the TR (and critical text both), punctuation is placed between "another" and "in psalms."

The referenced activities -- speaking, teaching, and admonishing -- are participles, a fact which says that speaking, teaching, and admonishing will occur, but as a byproduct of something else.  They don't stand alone as verbs, but in a subordinate position within the sentence.  There are no examples of non-participial verbs, which instruct a congregation to sing to people.  As a byproduct, teaching and admonishing will occur, but this isn't obligated as an activity.  For that reason, believers should not consider people to be the audience.  God was plain and persistent in stating the direction a congregation should impart its singing and melodies -- to God.

1 Corinthians 14:26 ends with the imperative, "Let all things be done unto edifying."  I've heard an argument from that, which says the purpose of singing in the church is edification.  The edification of saints is not the enemy of singing to God.  One should assume that music God accepts and appreciates will edify saints as a byproduct.  God honoring music will edify, but that isn't its purpose.

Some also argue that several of the psalms actually do have instruction for people in them.  As an example, I'm talking about something like Psalm 33:1, which starts out, "Rejoice in the Lord."  The content of the psalm commands believers to rejoice in the Lord, and the argument is, that since there is a command to people at the start of the psalm, it was directed to people in its singing.  The latter doesn't follow the former.   Let me illustrate.

Let's say you have a popular entertainer singing to his audience, and the lyrics of the song were these:

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?

Those are the first two lines of what some consider the greatest pop lyrics of all time, Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."  Did Dylan sing the song to someone dressed so fine that in his prime he threw some bums a dime?

The chorus reads:

How does it feel?
How does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone

Was Dylan's audience homeless?  Was Dylan singing "Like a Rolling Stone" to homeless people?

My point is that the content of lyrics or text does not determine the direction or audience of the song. Everyone knows that, so they shouldn't try to make a point with it.  We should pay attention to all the places in scripture that in fact make a point about where singing or playing in worship or congregation or church should be directed, and all of that is only to God.

If I said, "put all your money in the bank," you would not conclude from that, "put all your money in your mattress."  If you put your money in your mattress, it would not be because I told you to put your money in your mattress, because I said to put your money in the bank.  If God says, "sing to Me," you would not conclude from that, "sing to people."  This is simple, so why do people still insist on considering people to be the audience for church music?  There isn't a biblical reason, that is, a faithful reason.

When we look at the history of sacred music, we see a shift in the late nineteenth century, where men like Charles Finney saw music as a method for drawing and manipulating people.  The song leader became an important figure for conjuring this atmosphere.  Finney justified these types of tactics with his Pelagian theology.  That change in the audience of the music and, therefore, its purpose, transformed church music, sending music in a trajectory to where we are today.   Churches now obsess on the pragmatic effects of music in the church.  Everyone knows this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Wicked Idea, Actually Satanic Lie, That You Cannot Judge Things

Almost all obedience to the Bible requires an application of scriptural implication.  I've talked about it a lot here.  For instance, God's Word does not say, "Thou shalt not smoke crack pipes," but that does not mean the Bible doesn't prohibit smoking crack.  We can judge things.

The Bible contains teaching about dress, clothing, or apparel.  Is there a verse, however, that prohibits a woman from wearing a skin-tight, lycra top that covers her breasts, but leaves almost nothing to the imagination?  As long as the breasts are covered, is it permissible for a woman to enable everyone to see the cloth clinging directly to her upper body parts in public?  It's tough even typing those two questions, because the reading of them alone could bring one to an inappropriate imagination.  Again though, what verse stops a woman from wearing something that allows for witnessing all the contours of the woman's upper body parts, while keeping them covered?  There is none, so does that make it permissible?

To be consistent, many if not most evangelicals, and many fundamentalists, would need to allow for smoking crack and the above clothing style.  They will protest this.  "Uh-uh, no I wouldn't."  But to be consistent, they need to do that.  I've seen 1 Corinthians 4:6 used very selectively for practices about which the Bible doesn't say something explicitly:  "that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written."  Prohibiting the lycra and crack is "above that which is written."  Mind you, they only throw down this verse when it is a practice they like or want to get away with.  They would not likely use it against "smoking crack" and the skin tight clothing, but they will use it if you say something about their dress or music.

The Bible doesn't say anything about the style of music, evangelicals would say, so you can't judge it.  Certain types of dress, immodest in the past, are now permitted by evangelicals, and any frowning upon this apparel is "above that which is written."  Did you know that the Bible does not prohibit abortion?  Most Christians are against abortion, but scripture doesn't say it's wrong.  Opposition to abortion requires an application of scriptural implication.  You could probably make the argument, but it is life begins at conception, we know because in sin did our mother's conceive us.  Since that is a person in the womb, aborting that life is murder.  It's a few moves away from saying, the Bible condemns abortion.  This is how we determine a lot based upon the Bible.

Did you know that the Bible doesn't prohibit same-sex marriage?  Show me a verse that says that same-sex marriage is wrong.  Good argument?  Many evangelicals, at least right now, would say that's a bad argument, but it is a similar argument that they make about a lot of different issues.  But they are selective about it.  They don't think you can judge their music, but they might think you can judge gambling, even though scripture does not forbid gambling.

I don't know of anything that Christians have historically said was wrong that is now right.  Evangelicals may say it is right, but it isn't.  For instance, rock music is wrong.  Evangelicals said it was before, but now it's right.  No, it's still wrong.  At my Christian college, we were expelled for listening to it.  Were the leaders wrong?  I didn't know anyone who said that rock music wasn't wrong.  Everyone I knew said it was wrong.  Now evangelicals say you can't judge.  If you judge, you're a legalist or even a racist depending on what wrong music you're talking about.

What is happening now is that Satan and his world system have fooled evangelicals and those duped by them that they can't or shouldn't judge in areas where it was once obvious to judge.  When I say, judge, I'm talking about Christian discernment.  Any discerning believer would know that the Getty music at the summit on inerrancy was wrong.  Any.  Now you have a room full of pastors being led by them and singing along with them, a large group of them fundamentalists (as seen in a tweeted photo by Phil Johnson).

We can and should judge music.  It is wicked to say you shouldn't.  It is a Satanic lie to say you shouldn't.  Don't let evangelicals fool you with this.  They judge too, but only when its convenient for them.

I had someone anonymous tell me that I needed to repent because I said that the music at the summit was effeminate.  I was watching a Q and A with John MacArthur and his son at a men's breakfast at their church, and they said in no uncertain terms that certain churches and behavior were effeminate. MacArthur also called certain churches, the rock-n-roll churches.  I thought, really?  What's wrong with rock-n-roll?  Does anyone else get the contradiction?  Should MacArthur repent too?   I think he's right to call these postmodern style churches effeminate, which is what he titled them.  But he is making a judgment that is "above that which is written."

There is truth in the real world, God's world, which is why we can call "smoking crack," sin.  Certain foul language, not mentioned in scripture, is corrupt and is sin.  Rock music is sin.  Certain art is ugly.  It is a lie to call it beautiful and it is a sin against beauty.  This is where men will say this is only opinion.  They have relegated or shifted what is true, good, and beautiful to the subjective.  We can judge these things and we should.

What I'm writing here is now very controversial.  There are many, I think, who would agree with me, but they wouldn't tell me.  They might comment, but anonymously, because they want to stay with their group.  Some might say that this is heretical teaching, because it causes division among the brethren.  They are trying to keep unity, so they will allow differences here, like that's a good thing. The unity of which they speak is just toleration.  It isn't biblical unity and, therefore, actual unity. They are saying that you can't judge and so now people are not judging where we can and should judge.  If we won't judge, then we've given up on what is true, good, and beautiful.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Summit on Inerrancy: Not a Consistent, Therefore, Christian Worldview

As I write this, the NY Times publishes an article entitled, "Why Our Children Don't Think There Are Moral Facts."  This year in our school, I'm teaching biblical worldview, and for awhile, I have been both establishing and explaining the bifurcation of truth in the world.  I thought that the NY Times article titled it well with the terminology, "moral facts."  Children don't see certain morals as facts like they do gravity and blood circulation.  Evangelicalism and fundamentalism are already there too, and among other things, their statement on inerrancy explains.

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, reaffirmed by the summit on inerrancy in southern California, does not reflect a scriptural bibliology.  It synthesized a biblical position with what men believed they could defend with what they reasoned as evidence outside of scripture.  But men fiddle with what the Bible teaches because they don't see biblical truth as fact.  They don't take the Bible as true like they do gravity, which is to accept, buy into, or at least be influenced by a worldly two truth system that divides the sacred from the secular, and a reason why I point out music at the southern California summit on inerrancy.  Music can't be judged because it is not in that lower story of fact, but in the upper story, the subjective realm of values and religion and beauty and aesthetics.  It isn't scientific.  It isn't fact.

Since music isn't fact in this new two tiered view of truth, everyone's beauty is beautiful, everyone's goodness is good, and everyone's truth is true.  When you corrupt or diminish any one of beauty, goodness, and truth, you are also corrupting or diminishing the other, because you are relegating the objective to the subjective.  God now is Who you want Him to be.  This is why music is the gateway to the Charismatic movement, because beauty is already relegated to a subjective, personal realm, not on the same plane as fact.  Your God is now the one Who accepts what you want to offer Him, because you like it -- it's your taste.  Truly, He's your God too, different than the God of the Bible.  Our God is how we worship Him.  You can deny this all you want, but it is true.

Professing Christians adopted elements of classical philosophy, even though the Greek thinkers were pagan, who had drawn a dichotomy between matter and spirit, the material realm as though it were less valuable than the spiritual realm.  Moral ideals, beauty, and creativity are not subject to scientific investigation.  This is how we get to amoral music.  Nothing in the upper story is moral, so neither is marriage.  And all this relates to inerrancy.

Warfield, educated in the German universities that John MacArthur referenced as the resurrection of the dead Germans, bridged the gap between theology, the upper realm, and science, the lower realm with the term, "inerrancy."   By doing so, he could save Christianity from its 'sure demise' at the hands of scientific evidence.  I think it's worthwhile knowing that Warfield also believed in evolution and attempted to bridge that to the Bible.

On p. 433 of Richard A. Muller's Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2, Holy Scripture: The Cognitive Foundation of Theology, he writes:

By "original and authentic" text, the Protestant orthodox do not mean the autographa which no one can possess but the apographa in the original tongue which are the source of all versions. . . .  It is important to note that the Reformed orthodox insistence on the identification of the Hebrew and Greek texts as alone authentic does not demand direct reference to autographa in those languages; the "original and authentic text" of Scripture means, beyond the autograph copies, the legitimate tradition of Hebrew and Greek apographa.

At the end of that page he writes:

The case for Scripture as an infallible rule of faith and practice . . . . rests on an examination of the apographa and does not seek the infinite regress of the lost autographa as a prop for textual infallibility. . . . A rather sharp contrast must be drawn, therefore, between the Protestant orthodox arguments concerning the autographa and the views of Archibald Alexander Hodge and Benjamin Breckinridge Warfield. . . . Those who claim an errant text, against the orthodox consensus to the contrary, must prove their case. To claim errors in the scribal copies, the apographa, is hardly a proof. The claim must be proven true of the autographa. The point made by Hodge and Warfield is a logical leap, a rhetorical flourish, a conundrum designed to confound the critics---who can only prove their case for genuine errancy by recourse to a text they do not (and surely cannot) have.

Warfield invented an extra-biblical and non-historical standard for the Bible that now stands as "inerrancy."

The apex of Warfield's designed inerrancy can be found in the fourth and fifth propositions of the short edition of the Chicago statement in 1978:
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible's own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.

What's wrong with that?  There's nothing wrong with it in itself, but it is akin to what Kevin DeYoung talked about in the first Q and A, led by Albert Mohler.  The former statements, which represented biblical teaching, were replaced by more ambiguous and arbitrary statements of the Chicago statement that would conform to the spirit of the age.  The Chicago statement would aid in preserving the coalition, not so high that they would lose their academic institutions. This is now considered a conservative position, but it is one where two tiers of truth still remain, the scientific lower story and the subjective upper.

The new position, called inerrancy, is a change in belief on the historic, Christian, biblical position.  I can be happy about something that is true, but is less than the whole truth.  It is still true, and I celebrate that.  In that sense, I am a supporter of the summit on inerrancy.  I say that, because men act like your opposition denies the truths they do tell.  They tell truths, but they are carefully crafted ones to dodge what the Bible actually teaches and what Christians have believed before the enlightenment.

You can't ultimately defend a doctrine that isn't the whole truth.  If there is something left short, because the purveyors are ashamed or unbelieving, it is still lacking in sustaining faith. When we're talking about the Bible, we've got to get what we believe about it from the Bible.

In the same Q and A to which I referred, John MacArthur talked about Fuller Theological Seminary leaving what we understand is the Warfieldian position.  He said that Peter Wagner brought students from his church growth class over to see what a growing church looked like, but then he stopped, and when he did, he told MacArthur.  MacArthur said that Fuller did not depart from inerrancy based upon an intellectual basis, but based upon a pragmatic one.  There is a strong similarity between Fuller and the folks at this summit on inerrancy.  What am I talking about?

They departed from scriptural, objective beauty, not based on intellect, but based on pragmatism.  They welcome a breathy, intimate, sultry song being sung as worship, not on an academic level, but on the level of worldly lust.  This, by the way, is how doctrine changes the most anyway, as Peter reported in 2 Peter 2-3.  Men deny the Word of God, because it clashes with their own lust.  Doctrinal statements are not left, primarily because of a wrong doctrinal position, but because of a wrong affection toward God (read Jonathan Edwards's Treatise).

I don't know where to put this, so I'm going to include it here, rather than as an aside.  Some reading this would marginalize it as the 'rant' of a KJVO.  Actually, KJVO, as they would understand it, I'm convinced is a product of their own confiscation of a scriptural bibliology.  Left without a perfect, authentic original-language apographa, based upon fact, that is, biblical truth, men filled the vacuum with a mythical perfect English that is as much a denial of objective, biblical fact as Warfield's invention of inerrancy.  Warfield was warding off what he saw as future apostasy due to the existence of textual variants.  The KJVO, which does not include me, embrace a perfect English translation that is as much a pendulum swing to avert mass departures.

John MacArthur, either with a lack of discernment or out of pragmatism himself, gave credit to the Jesus movement, aka the movement of Lonnie Frisbee, to be a genuine revival.  That movement gave him a lot of people, so perhaps it was difficult to call it a fraud.  He nibbles all around it to call everything, but that, a strange fire.  And that movement is the birth of Christian rock as well. MacArthur was at the front door of accepting this ugliness that defiled the affections of those professing to be God's people.  And he continues with the Gettys.  There will be no woman out front, singing in a sensual voice, in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  This is not God's will on earth as it is in heaven. This is man's will, false worship, producing a lack of understanding about Who God is, Who the Holy Spirit is, and how He works.  It is acceptable to the world and confusing to them about the nature of Jesus Christ.

Evangelicals and now fundamentalists will say this "music issue" isn't a gospel issue.  It is.  If you don't have a biblical Jesus, you don't have Jesus.  If you don't repent, you don't believe in Jesus.  It mistakes the nature of grace to a cheap grace, even using MacArthur's own words.  Cursed are those who don't love Jesus.  And this is not love.  This is flesh.  I believe MacArthur himself knows this. And then if Jesus is Lord, He's Lord of the music too.  If He is Lord of everything but the music, because the music is an idol, that's a gospel issue.

You either have a consistent Christian worldview or you don't.  God is one, so only the one beauty, goodness, and truth can be defended.  Holes exist any other way, holes that are patched with fiction, with imagination, with myth, which, by the way, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. When you start picking and choosing what you will believe and what you will not believe, you have moved truth into that upper, spiritual, subjective realm.  You can now make up your own view of beauty.  You can make up your own view of the nature of God's Word.  There is no wonder that men are making up their own view of marriage too.  And you will not have any real, objective basis to stop it.

Let God be true and every man a liar.  That's kind of what the Warfieldians say they believe.  I'm saying they don't -- not with this point of view.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Acts 22:16--Baptism Essential for Salvation?

            In Acts 22:16, Ananias tells Paul, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).  This statement allegedly proves that one must be baptized to receive forgiveness.  However, both careful consideration of the assertion of the verse itself and study of its context demonstrate the falsity of this claim.
            Since the verse associates baptism and the washing away of sins (although the verb “wash away” is actually connected to “calling on the name of the Lord,” not to “be baptized”), one must ask if baptism literally or figuratively washes sin away.  If baptism literally washes sins away, then this verse would advance the cause of baptismal regeneration.  However, the Bible indicates that the blood of Jesus Christ really takes sin away:  “Jesus Christ . . . loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5).  Surely one cannot assert that the blood figuratively takes away sin, while baptism literally takes it away!  But if baptism does not literally take away sin, it must take it away representatively or figuratively (cf. Matthew 26:26).[i]  To teach that baptism figuratively takes away sin by representing what really does remove it is consistent with justification by faith alone. Baptism is a figure of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5) and a public testimony of the believer’s faith in that death and resurrection.  One who at the moment of faith has had his sins literally removed by the blood of the Christ who died and rose again later represents, testifies, and symbolizes his salvation by baptism.[ii]  Indeed, the tense of the verb “wash” in Acts 22:16 supports a figurative washing.  In the Greek middle voice, it points to the idea that Paul washed his sins away himself in baptism.[iii]  In contrast, Revelation 1:5, which states that “Jesus Christ . . . loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” contains the word “washed” in the active voice.[iv]  Christ really washes us from our sins in His own blood, and we consequently and representatively wash ourselves from sin in baptism.  The Christian-killer Saul’s sins (cf. Acts 22:4) were literally washed away when he believed in the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus—those same sins were figuratively washed away, so that believers would no longer need to fear him (Acts 9:26), in baptism.  Acts 22:16 teaches that baptism washes away sin figuratively; Christ’s blood really washes it away.
            The book of Acts definitively indicates that Paul’s sins were forgiven before he was baptized as mentioned in Acts 22:16.  His testimony of salvation appears three times in Acts (chapters 9, 22, 26).  A comparison of these three narratives indicates that Paul was born again and justified as he traveled on the road to Damascus several days prior to his baptism.   In Acts 9, the Savior told Ananias that Paul “is a chosen vessel unto me” (v. 15), although the apostle had not yet been baptized.  The Lord never reveals that any unjustified or unregenerate person is “chosen” or “elect,”[v] one of the “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Romans 9:23).  Before Paul was baptized, Christ had already commissioned him to “bear [His] name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15); such a commission is not God’s portion for one still lost and under Divine wrath.[vi]  Before Paul’s baptism, Christ had set him aside as one who would “suffer for [His] name’s sake” (9:16).  Can one who is a child of the devil, as all the lost are (Ephesians 2:1-3, John 8:44), really suffer for Christ’s sake?  God accepted Paul’s prayers before his baptism (Acts 9:11).[vii]  Since the prayers of the unsaved are an abomination to Him (Proverbs 15:29, 21:27, 28:9), and Paul already had access to God through the Lord Jesus, he was already justified (1 Timothy 2:5, Romans 10:12-14).[viii]  Paul also received a prophetic vision before his baptism (Acts 9:12).  After the Lord originally appeared to Ananias, He sent him to Paul, who had been blinded since he saw the Son of God’s glory on the Damascus road, to lay his hands on him, “that he might receive his sight” (v. 12).  Christ did not tell Ananias to visit Paul in order that the apostle might have his sins forgiven—the Lord knew he was saved already—but that he might regain his vision.  Ananias feared to go, for he did not know Paul was already converted; he called him “this man,” a contrast with Christ’s “saints” (v. 13).  However, the Lord Jesus’ testimony about Paul’s participation in election and his commission to preach (v. 15-16) manifested to Ananias that Paul was no longer an enemy of the gospel but had been born again, so that when they met, Ananias’ address was not along the lines of “this man,” (v. 13), as before, but “Brother Saul”[ix] (v. 17).  Ananias called Paul a brother in Christ[x] and in so doing indicated that the former persecutor was born again before his baptism.  Paul was also filled with the Holy Ghost while with Ananias before his baptism (v. 17)—indeed, since “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 12:3), his Damascus road declaration, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”[xi] (Acts 9:6, cf. 22:10) is indicative of one already “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5, 6, 8), not an unsaved man.  He also received his sight (v. 18) before his baptism.  Furthermore, just as Christ did not state that Ananias was sent to baptize Paul (v. 12), Ananias did not state that his purpose of coming was baptism (v. 17), a circumstance inconsistent with baptismal regeneration.  Paul’s salvation testimony in Acts 9 proves that he was already one of God’s people before his baptism.
            The records of Paul’s conversion in Acts 22 and 26, along with his preaching elsewhere in Acts, evidence that he was justified before his baptism.  It is mentioned, as in Acts 9, that Paul is already a Christian brother before his baptism (22:13).  He is already “chosen” (v. 14), and already ordained as a witness (v. 15).  The apostle calls Christians “them that believed on [Christ]” (v. 19),[xii] not “them that were baptized.”  Moreover, as discussed earlier,[xiii] Paul was saved (Galatians 1:15-16) and received the gospel directly from Christ apart from the interposition of any man (Galatians 1: 11-12, 15-16) on the road to Damascus, but the Lord never said a word to Paul about baptism—He said salvation was “by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18).  Paul almost persuaded Agrippa to become a Christian (26:28), although he said not a syllable about baptism in his salvation testimony (26:1-23), so one can become one without receiving the ordinance.  Furthermore, while Christ sent the apostle to “open [men’s] eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in [Jesus]” (26:18), Paul tells us that “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17), so men can be turned from darkness and Satan to light and God, and have their sins forgiven, by faith in Christ, without being baptized.  The gospel Paul preached in Acts was “by [Christ] all that believe are justified from all things . . . believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 13:39, 16:31).  The accounts of Paul’s testimony in Acts 22 and 26, along with his preaching as recorded elsewhere in Acts, show he was forgiven before his baptism. 
            Acts 22:16 does not establish baptismal regeneration.  The verse itself demonstrates that the “washing away” of sins in baptism mentioned is representative and figurative, not literal.  The record of Paul’s salvation in Acts 9, 22, and 26, his preaching elsewhere in Acts, and supplementary information supplied in 1 Corinthians and Galatians, clearly demonstrate that Paul’s sins were forgiven on the road to Damascus before his baptism, when he placed his faith in the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

This is part of an entire study that can be accessed here, or purchased for $0.99 for Kindle here.

[i]           A good number of the more thoughtful advocates of baptismal regeneration, recognizing that Scripture gives the power to wash away sin to the blood of Jesus, affirm that it is indeed His blood, not baptism, which washes sin away.  However, they add that the blood only washes the sinner at the time he is baptized.  Such an admission negates any possible value for Acts 22:16 as a proof-text for baptismal regeneration, for it concedes that the washing from sin mentioned in the verse is not literally, but only representatively or figuratively, the action of baptism.
[ii]           As Alexander Campbell, commenting on Acts 22:16, said in his debate with McCalla, “The blood of Christ, then, really cleanses us who believe from all sin.  Behold the goodness of God in giving us a formal proof and token of [forgiveness in] . . . baptism. . . . The water of baptism, then, formally washes away our sins.  The blood of Christ really washes away our sins.  Paul’s sins were really pardoned when he believed, yet he had no solemn pledge of the fact, no formal acquittal, no formal purgation of his sins, until he washed them away in the water of baptism” (see pg. 75, Campbellism: Its History and Heresies, Bob Ross; quote from pg. 116, Campbell-McCalla Debate).  It is unfortunate that the “Church of Christ” and other denominations Campbell started reject his sound statement on Acts 22:16.
[iii]                The verb is apolousai, an aorist imperative middle, 2nd person singular verb.  [I]n our literature [it is found] only [in the] middle [voice], ‘wash something away from oneself, wash oneself’” (apolouo, pg. 117, BDAG).  Note that “be baptized” in the verse also translates the middle voice baptisai; Here alone in the New Testament, out of 80 appearances (30 active, and 47 passive) of the verb, is the middle voice form used for Christian baptism (cf. Mark 7:4; 1 Corinthians 10:2 for the other two middle uses).  The verse emphasizes Paul’s acting upon himself; he is arising, having himself baptized, and washing away his own sins.  Compare Job 9:30, LXX (the only appearance of the verb in the Greek Old Testament): “For if I should wash myself (apolousomai, middle voice of apolouo) with snow, and purge myself (apokatharomai, middle voice) with pure hands.”  A. T. Robertson discusses Acts 22:16 underneath the heading of the “direct or reflexive middle” (pgs. 807-808, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934).  Compare also Josephus, Antiquities, where the middle voice is used for a man who “went as he was, without washing himself” (hos eichen mede apolousamenos).  Also note the middle voices in Josephus, War, “it is a rule with them to wash themselves (apolousesthai) . . . they must wash themselves (apolousesthai).”  Also Philo, Laws 3:89 (“washed themselves,” apolousontai).
[iv]                The word is lousanti, an aorist active participle.  Christ does the washing, and the believer is the one washed.  The sense is “to cause to be purified, cleanse” (louo, pg. 603, BDAG).
[v]                 The word “chosen” (ekloges) in Acts 9:15 is translated “elect” in all its other appearances in Scripture (Romans 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Peter 2:10).
[vi]          Jeremiah 1:5 has been alleged to evince that salvation is not a prerequisite to a call to preach, since God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”  Since Jeremiah had not yet believed and so been converted when he was in the womb, it is argued that a call does not have to precede conversion, so the fact that Paul was called to preach on the road to Damascus does not indicate that he was justified before his baptism.  However, this counter fails to undermine Paul’s pre-baptismal conversion.  Jeremiah 1:5 refers to God’s eternal sovereign plan for Jeremiah:  He “knew” him even before formed in the belly, for God “declar[es] the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10), and “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11).  The Lord therefore knew Jeremiah even before the foundation of the world.  God also had “sanctified” Jeremiah, meaning that He had chosen him for his prophetic office in His unfathomable counsel.  Jehovah also “ordained” him a prophet to the nations, in that He “gave” (the translation of the KJV margin for “ordained”) him to them in his timeless purposes.  God knew and ordained all things in eternity past, including His purpose to call certain men to preach.  However, this eternal call was revealed to Jeremiah in time (Jeremiah 1:1-10).  At a particular moment “in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign” (1:1), God revealed to Jeremiah His eternal purpose, stating, “I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (1:10).  At this point in Jeremiah’s life, when he consciously received God’s call to preach (cf. the uses of the verb translated “set” here, paqad in the Hiphil, in Genesis 39:4-5; 41:34; Numbers 1:50; 2 Kings 7:17; Jeremiah 40:11), he was certainly already a child of God.  God also certainly knew from eternity, and therefore from the time that Paul was in the womb (Galatians 1:15), what His plan was with the apostle, including his conversion and call to preach on the Damascus road.  This fact does not prove that Paul was justified from eternity any more than Jeremiah was.  However, at the time of his conscious reception and response to the Lord’s call as he traveled to Damascus, the apostle was certainly already a child of God, just as Jeremiah was at the time of his reception and response to God’s call.  For Jeremiah 1:5 to undermine the evidence of Paul’s pre-baptismal salvation from his call to preach, the verse would need to state that Jeremiah consciously received and responded to such a call before he became a child of God.  However, the verse does nothing of the kind.  One also wonders how many ministers in denominations advocating baptismal regeneration would themselves affirm that they were called to the ministry while yet unbaptized and confessedly children of the devil.
[vii]               Consider also that in Acts 22:16, “calling on the name of the Lord” employs an aorist participle which, of necessity, refers to time that is either antecedent or simultaneous to the verb “wash away.”  In either case, further evidence that Paul’s prayers were accepted by God before the completion of the ceremony of baptism is provided.  If the calling is prior to the time of baptism, Paul’s justification prior to his immersion is clear (cf. Romans 10:13).  If the calling is temporally simultaneous with the figurative washing associated with the baptismal ceremony (cf. pgs. 1113-1114 A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1934), for the aorist participle of coincident action), Paul’s prayers are still accepted before the time when, according to the theology of baptismal regeneration, he literally rises to new life as he comes out of the baptismal water.  If one can pray and be heard by God as he goes into the waters of baptism, as he is placed under water, and while he is under water, he must of necessity be regenerated prior to the time that baptismal regeneration affirms he literally rises to new life and becomes a new creature by ascending out of the water.  Thus, the aorist participle “calling” in Acts 22:16, whether antecedent or simultaneous action, confirms what is clearly stated in Acts 9:11—Paul’s prayers were acceptable to God before the time baptismal regeneration alleges one obtains new life by rising out of the waters of baptism.
[viii]              Paul called on the Lord, and so was certain of heaven, before his baptism.  Note that the “shall be saved” promise of Romans 10:13 guarantees eternal security for all who can (since they were justified upon believing, v. 14) truly pray to God.
[ix]                At this point, the apostle is called “Saul.”  This is his designation in Acts before his conversion (Acts 7:58, 8:1, etc.), during his time with the disciples at Damascus (9:19, 22, 24), during his later journey to Jerusalem (9:26), his ministry at Antioch (11:25-26), his service assisting the financial needs of the brethren in Judea (11:29-30, 12:25), his later ministry and call to church planting out of the church at Antioch (13:1-2), and during part of his first missionary journey (13:7).  When he confronts  Elymas the sorcerer (13:8), the book tell us that “Saul . . . is also called Paul” (13:9), and in all subsequent time periods in Acts he is designated as “Paul” (13:13, 16, 21, 43, 45, 46, 50; 14:9, 11).  Since both names refer to the same person, this composition generally employs “Paul” as his more common and better recognized name.
[x]                 Since, in Acts, the phrase “men and brethren” (andres adelphoi) is used for unregenerate Jews (Acts 2:29, 23:1, 6, cf. 7:2, 22:1), and Jewish Christians twice address unsaved Jewish contemporaries as “brethren” (adelphoi, 3:17, 23:5), baptismal regenerationists have asserted that Ananias’ designation of Paul or Saul as “Brother Saul” does not prove that he was yet saved, only that he was a fellow Jew.  However, the evidence of the verse is not so easily avoided.  The strong majority usage of adelphos in Acts is for Christians (6:3; 9:30; 10:23; 11:1, 12, 29; 12:17; 14:2; 15:1, 3, 22, 23, 32, 33, 36, 40; 16:2, 40; 17:6, 10, 14; 18:18, 27; 20:32; 21:7, 17; 22:5; 28:14, 15), and believers in Acts never employ the articular form, “the brethren” (oi adelphoi), for unsaved Jews, only for fellow Christians (9:30, 10:23, 11:1, 12:17, 14:2, 15:1, etc.).  In the epistles, 47 out of the 49 times the word “brother” (adelphos) appears in the singular, it refers to Christian brethren (the other two are physical brothers, Galatians 1:19, 1 John 3:2), and “brother” is never used for fellow Jews.  Every time “brother” appears as a title (that is, not designating one with the same mother and father) with an associated name in the Bible, as it does in Ananias’ designation of Paul as “Brother Saul,” it refers to Christian brethren (e. g., “Quartus a brother,” Romans 16:23, “Sosthenes our brother,” 1 Corinthians 1:1, “Timothy our brother,” 2 Corinthians 1:1, “Titus my brother,” 2 Corinthians 2:13,   “Tychicus, a beloved brother,” Ephesians 6:21, “Epaphroditus, my brother,” Philippians 2:25, “Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother,” Colossians 4:9, etc.).  Finally, the singular form of “brother” that Ananias used for Saul in Acts 9:17, 22:13 (Greek vocative, adelphe), is only used for saved people in Acts and the rest of Scripture (Luke 6:42 (cf. v. 20); Acts 9:17; 21:20; 22:13; Philemon 7, 20).  Since the strong majority usage of “brother” in Acts is Christian brethren, saints in Acts employ the articular form “the brethren” only for fellow believers, the singular form of “brother” in the epistles refers almost exclusively to Christian brethren, and never to fellow Jews, the word “brother” as a title, with a name, is only used for Christian brethren in the Bible, and the exact form of adelphos that Ananias employed with Paul is only used in the Bible for saved individuals, the fact that Ananias addresses the unbaptized Paul as “Brother Saul” does indeed demonstrate that the apostle was already justified.
[xi]                Note that his question was not “what must I do to be saved?” but “what wilt thou have me to do?”  The Lord’s answer was not “what you must do is be baptized to have your past sins forgiven,” but “Arise, and go into Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do” (22:10). While it certainly was Paul’s duty to be baptized (22:16), the plural “all things” necessarily points to more than baptism, which was this was not the emphasis of Christ’s statement at all.  The main point of the Savior’s statement was His call of Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles (9:15, 22:15, 26:16-18), which would include suffering for Christ (9:16), testifying of his view of the resurrected Lord (26:14-15), etc.  To argue, as some baptismal regenerationists do, that since in Damascus it would be told Paul what he “must do” (Acts 9:6), one “must” be baptized to be forgiven ignores the contextual significance of the statement to the apostle’s entire future ministry to the Gentiles, not merely his baptism.  The phrase “must do” in Acts 9:6 proves that baptism washes away sin just about as much as it proves the existence of little green men on the moon.
[xii]               Note that these believers were still worshipping in synagogues (v. 19).  Is it likely that all of them were baptized (John 9:22)?
[xiii]              See the discussion of Acts 26, Galatians, and 1 Corinthians in the section “Other reasons to believe in justification by faith alone, not by baptism.”