Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rampant Ideological Hylesism, pt. 2

Part One

As God looks at what churches and their leaders are doing on earth, He doesn't have some special antagonism against the name Hyles, because the name Hyles somehow means something nasty.  No. It is Hylesism, and unbiblical philosophy and practice and methods that also must proceed from a bad theology.  All the former must come from the latter.  You can't disconnect philosophy, practice, and methodology from a belief system.

For instance, someone may say that he believes man is a sinner, but if he approaches men with naturalistic means, as if the carnal methods will bring the solution, he is still falling short of a sufficient belief in man's sinfulness.  A method that strays from the Bible, emerging from human intellect, robs God of the glory.  If God's glory does not abide in the groundwork of one's theology, wrong philosophy, methods, and practices will surface all over the place.  The first relates to pride with its elevation of self and the latter brings self glory.

Like Charismatics covet showy spiritual  manifestations, which are actually fleshly ones, Hylesism covets its own showy spiritual manifestations in church size or numbers of salvation decisions. Covetousness and self-glory are idolatry -- man worship.  God isn't being worshiped, which is why often we see celebrities spring out of this mammoth system.

One big name arises one generation after the next with the next iteration of church growth fads -- the bus, the big day, the band, the big screen, the flamboyant website, the worldly music, entertaining speaking, the building design, the comedy or drama, buffet of activities and groups, giveaways, greeters, refreshment, fun, casual atmosphere, folksiness, programs, and brochure layout.  It might be the relevant facial hair or brick stage facade or seating arrangement or architecture or campus development.  It is one thing after another.  God just isn't good enough.  The amazing message of scripture isn't sufficiently attractive.  There is some strategy not found therein, that you need, that you can use, that will work -- you should try it, because someone did it and it succeeded.

Those who would surely hate Hyles still embrace Hylesism, the ideology.  They wouldn't ever want it to be thought to be that, even if that is what it is.  They might not say it was that, but it is at least the same primordial ooze from which Hyles emerged.  Evangelicals trace their way back to the identical abyss.  The trajectories of Billy Graham and Hybels and Warren terminate at the roots of the same family tree.

Advocating Hylesism doesn't mean supporting every aspect.  Anyone who uses it is tolerating it. Those who tolerate also endorse.  You can say that you don't endorse all of it, but where do you draw the line once you've acquiesced on any of it?  You're not trusting God any more at a point that you think is necessary for your success.  Maybe you've sold out.  Think about it.

Who are Hylesists, who at least permit or allow or consent to Hylesism?  I know very few churches and leaders who are not.  Almost everyone capitulates somewhere and it makes a difference.  They've got to do things.  They're required now.  They've got to use a rock band, yes, even if it is "soft rock," the type of music the beatles played.  Someone stands and performs like a pop singer and they are calling this worship.  The people on their own take it even further.  That's some of the most conservative of it.

The Hylesism that is almost identical to Hyles still occurs.  Men still follow Hylesism, but they don't have the same stigma since Hyles died and Jack Schaap went to prison.  There is still a huge Hyles network that hasn't repudiated what Hyles was about.  Some of them have morphed, added characteristics of worldly evangelicalism and Charismaticism into their arrangement, but it's still Hyleism.

Those called conservative evangelicals adopt Hylesism to varying degrees.  It's important to them.  Hyles himself would never have allowed some of what they do, but the strategy is the same.  They've done it so long, they don't even recognize it any more in many cases.  Some in their midst do, but they tolerate it to get along, adapt, or comply.

I follow the twitter feed of conservative evangelicals.  Many are fully engaged in pop culture and it doesn't matter.  Their churches use it and accommodate it.  They don't give it up.  They are tuned in and plugged in.  They hardly miss a thing.  Everyone knows in their churches that it's approved.  Even if the churches are complementarian, egalitarianism thrives.  The manifestations of lust are everywhere -- the way unmarried couples interact, entertainment choices, and immodesty.  The intellectualism of the church is one of the traps.  Their church is scholarly too, as smart as anyone else around, something to be proud of.  All of this lends itself to attracting and keeping a bigger crowd.

In the first post, I defined Hylesism as "using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism."  What is called evangelism isn't always evangelism.  The gospel itself was abandoned in many of these churches long ago.   However, in others, many, the methods dilute and convolute the gospel.  In the evangelical churches, their affections are so distorted, that the Jesus of their imaginations is someone different than the Bible Jesus.  They can't access Him through their polluted imaginations or affections.  Everything they hear funnels into their understanding through that grid.

Churches and leaders are very sensitive to the accusation of Hylesism.  It's got to be admitted if it's going to change.   Typically they argue that silence equals permission.  If you accuse them, they say that you are adding to the Bible.  You can't say that they can't do what they do.  They've got permission because the Bible is silent.  The most preferred argument is marginalization.  They've been more blessed, they've got more connections, they've got more access, they've been more published, and they've seen more success, so they're right.  I think quite a few know that God's Word is the basis of judgment and that argument is wrong.  It won't stand up to God's inspection in the end.

There are so many fruits of Hylesism that a whole post would be required to list them all, and that without explanation -- just listing them.  Not all the churches have preaching like Hyles.  The preaching is better in some.  The churches that might repudiate Hyles put up with Hyles-like preaching, preaching that takes on the primary characteristics of Hyles preaching without Hyles entertainment ability.  I hate it.  If you say the preaching is like Hyles, they'd be more upset that you said it was like Hyles than they'd be angered by the bad preaching.

What I'm describing with reference to Hylesism is where we're at as a country.  It's where the church is at as the church.  Church, what church really is, isn't good enough any more.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Rampant Ideological Hylesism

People who rejected and still repudiate Jack Hyles at the same time welcome his ideology.  They aren't opposed to Hylesism.  If you asked them if they supported Hyles, they would scoff at you and deny with vehemence.  Yes, they support the ideology if you remove the Hyles label.  It's still his ideology, but doesn't have his name attached.

There were reasons why Hyles's philosophy and practice worked at expanding the size of his organization.  Hyles may not have been as big as he said he was, but he was still huge.  When he was on the road, he attracted a lot of people too, very often packing out gigantic auditoriums with people who wanted to hear him.

Hylesism goes way back before modern day iterations of the same ideology.  People who were and really hard on Hyles keep what was corrupt about Hyles.  They may not use everything that he preached and did, but they operate with significant similarity, so that you should understand that they practice Hylesism.

I was around and close enough to observe Jack Hyles at his hey-day, and what I see in large evangelical churches is the same essential methodology and philosophy.  From what I see, they don't just support Hylesism, but in many, if not most, cases, they have taken Hyles methods and philosophy past what he did.  They go further than Hyles in doing Hyles.

The success of Hyles did not and does not center on authoritarian leadership or dress standards or using the King James Version.  The latter were not the issues in his day that they are today.  People knew then, but now people know even more, that there was corruption at First Baptist Church in Hammond.  Today someone could say that they don't like Hyles because he abused people.  The abuse part of it was more a byproduct of the philosophy, not the philosophy of Hylesism itself.  The philosophy though is what is rampant still today.  I contend that Hylesism hasn't regressed, but is believed and practiced at an all time high. I know it is in our area.  Again, I witnessed Hyles at his greatest power and influence from fairly close proximity and I see many today as essentially the same as him.

What I'm saying here is, don't tell me you opposed or oppose Hyles.  You are worse than him.  You have embraced Hylesism, so don't act like you don't like him, that you are against what he did.  You are not.  You are the same as him.  Almost every mega church today follows Hylesism and even those who are not mega churches, mainly because they just aren't as talented at the implementation of Hylesism as many others.  Some men like me know what is necessary to be where Hyles was and what the modern version of him is, but they choose not to be that way.  They know it's wrong.  They would feel guilt over going that direction.  I recognize that some just couldn't do Hylesism, so don't even try, but many could do it, do it very well, but still don't do it.  They know it's wrong.

On top of people believing and practicing Hylesism, there are those who, even though they would repudiate Hyles, don't repudiate Hylesism.  They continue fellowship with Hylesism. They reward the latter iteration of it.  They may not do everything those churches do, but they don't confront their practice.  They would call it a non-essential or area of liberty or not something over which to be judgmental, expressing thoughts like those.  Many would say that those churches have many good things that we can learn from them.  They do some things very well that can be emulated that aren't wrong, so just pick through the bones to find the meat, they might say, and leave the other behind. It's OK, they say, to sort through it and implement what you will not have a problem with and then leave the other behind.  Is that really how harmless it is?

I've decided to write at least two posts on Hylesism.  It is rampant in fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  Those who either follow it or tolerate it are in the vast majority in fundamentalism and evangelicalism.  I wanted you to think about it in principle in this first post, but I'm going to come in Wednesday to flesh out some about it's meaning and who is doing it who would also contend that they are nothing like Hyles.

To end this first post, I see Hylesism, as using human means to attract a crowd for evangelism.  Hyles's church manual focused on numerous areas to increase the crowd size.  A theology is then formulated to match  the practice and that's also a philosophy.  The Bible doesn't teach it, but it is shown anyway to teach it by those who want it to exist and continue existing.  Hyles and the modern purveyors would defend it in similar ways.  At the root of it is deceit.  The method is formulated to sell Christianity like a product.  Very often today, the people, who say they aren't doing it and are against, are actually doing it.  Not saying you're doing it is part of the philosophy and the method. Those who criticize aren't worth listening to because they aren't very big.  Some would even say that God isn't blessing in those places, or they're dead or they don't know what they're doing, so they're not worth listening to.

I look forward to spending more time exploring Hylesism with you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kenya Trip, Drama, Literature; Chess: Odds and Ends

#1: Kenya Trip

As some of you may (or may not) know, I had the privilege of teaching a seminary level class in Trinitarianism in Kenya not that long ago to Kenyan pastors and teachers, including teachers who teach undergraduate courses at the institution where the class was offered.  (The class was based upon my Trinitarianism class that is available online here.)  If you are interested in how the Kenya trip went, my wife has put together a nice description of the trip on our personal blog in three parts (part 1;  part 2;  part 3).  One more post arising from Kenya is here.

#2: Drama

While the Regulative Principle of worship does not put drama within the public worship of Christ's church, perhaps in a Christian school or some other setting you on occasion produce dramatic productions for the glory of God.  Some good plays and other literary creations my wife has written are here (see the sidebar).  There are also stories that can be used in Junior Church and other material.  We would be happy to have them be a blessing to people in your church and community.

#3: Literary Works

There are literary works at the site mentioned above, of course.  Those same works, with some literary analyses of my own, are also available here.  Perhaps they could help those who teach high school English or those who are simply interested in the poetry of George Herbert and the other authors discussed.

#4: Chess

I have developed a variation of the Scandinavian Defense, Marshall Gambit.  The starting point for the Ross is:

1. e4d52. exd5Nf63. c4c64. dxc6e5

and the idea is to sacrifice the b-pawn as well after 5. cxb7 Bxb7 and have a position similar to a reversed Danish Gambit (I also enjoy playing the Danish).  I have developed a page on the Ross variation here, and I would encourage you to try it out for yourself and send me any good games in the variation.  You can also discuss the Ross in the forum here.  In my opinion, chess is the best board game in the world--yet, at that, it is still a board game.

Before it gets too odd, here ends, with an even number of items above, this post on odds and ends.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Wednesday Post

I decided to delete my Wednesday post.  One, I don't want to argue with Thomas Ross about this. Two, I don't think the person is worth defending.  My opinion still stands for those who read it, but I'd rather not have my defense be mistaken for something it isn't.  Maybe I'll come back to a related subject in the future, but for the time being, I'd rather not have it sitting in public.  Enjoy Thomas's post for today.

Monday, September 21, 2015

You Know You're Too Intelligent to Entertain Christianity If....

A brief scan online early on a Sunday morning alerted me to a contemptible smear of the Bible by internet magazine Salon, entitled, "The right hides behind a fictional Bible: Memo to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump — your favorite book is made up."   Breathe easy.  I looked and few out of the tiny orbit of Salon pays attention.  I could find it nowhere else, not even still where I first saw it.

Be advised of Salon's story.  It headquarters downtown San Francisco, spawned in 1995 during a strike at the San Francisco Examiner.   Once editor-in-chief and now editor-at-large, reliably liberal Joan Walsh slides over to MSNBC to spread further propaganda.  Salon has never had a year where it made money.  It operates in a permanent deficit like its favored system of government, surviving from redistributed wealth.  A la internet technology start-ups and the Huffington Post, purchased by AOL in 2011 for 315 million, Salon waits on life support for a future buy-out. Jeffrey Tayler, the author of the article, mainlines these nasty screeds every few weeks to liberal junkies.

You can't separate Salon from San Francisco politics and MSNBC and you can't separate Salon's politics from Salon's religion.  The Washington Post just reported there are more atheists and agnostics in this incoming Harvard class than there are Protestants and Catholics.  The political left dovetails with the religious left.  With Tayler's post, you read the bias of naturalistic presuppositions. He proves nothing.

For being such a lame book, the Bible's epistle, 2 Peter, busts Tayler, his picture next to its scoffer walking after his own lust.  Salon and Tayler both obsess over sexuality.  They chaff over authority. Increased civil unrest follows rash behavior, necessitating expanded powers of coercion.  See unemployed, broke bakers, florists, and wedding photographers. Witness college campuses that categorize contrary ideas as violence and hateful as anything with which they disagree.

Like the apostate of 2 Peter, Tayler's main argument is mockery.  He provides no evidence, just taunts his strawman of the Bible with tiresome redundance -- "absurd," "absurdities," and "absurdist" -- a mean girl calling names in rhythmic cadence on a virtual playground.  He's insulted first by the biblical account of the virgin birth, second the omnipresence of God, third the life of Jesus Christ, fourth the passion of Christ, and fifth the written New Testament.  It insults his intelligence and it insults his intelligence and it also insults his intelligence.  No one as intelligent as Mr. Tayler should have to listen to Christianity and Donald Trump is a narcissist.  Christianity sins most against the intelligence of Jeffrey Tayler.  Mr. Tayler is no Jethro Bodine.

As a basic test of your intelligence, Mr. Tayler wants to inform you that....

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if other human beings (like you) sent a probe that passed Pluto.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if Jesus spoke in Aramaic.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if God doesn't have a facebook page.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if Jesus allowed an impostor as one of his followers.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if other human beings split the atom.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if Jesus healed the sick before the invention of sanitary wipes.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if God can exist in temperatures above 455 degrees fahrenheit.

You know you're too intelligent to entertain Christianity if you believe any human beings with the exclusion of Jeffrey Tayler.

In Christopher Hitchens, insult had its most eloquent prolocutor, and  Mr. Tayler, you are no Christopher Hitchens.



Everyone comes into a conversation about origins with presuppositions.  No one is neutral.  A Tayler talks like he is, like he is just following evidence, allowing it to take him to the truth.  However, naturalism is his presupposition, a convenient one for someone who prefers his own desires to anything else.  The presupposition disqualifies him for his chosen subject matter.

Coming into a conversation, Tayler assumes conversation, not that we're just two chemical reactions spewing at one another.  He assumes laws of logic to judge truth.  He makes judgments, which assumes a standard.  Everything Tayler assumes even to write his post undermines his point. Consistent with his view, no one can converse, judge, or conclude, because accidents or chance can't be judged as right or wrong.  The assumptions with which Tayler begins contradict his own view, but they are consistent with mine.  What I'm saying is that Tayler borrows the Christian worldview to attack Christianity.  He's lost the argument right when he opens his mouth or places his fingers on the keyboard.

Granting that Tayler isn't neutral and that he presupposes naturalism, and granting that he argues against the Bible by borrowing from a Christian worldview, the burden rests upon him to prove the Bible isn't true.  He doesn't get to dismiss it just because he says it insults his intelligence.  If you take the best atheist and the best theist in a debate, the atheist loses every time.  Using the laws that the atheist borrows to judge the Bible, he loses every time, because the atheist doesn't tell the truth about the world.

Tayler doesn't actually mock the Bible.  He mocks his perversion of it.  He doesn't know what he's talking about.  Sure, you can find many different people who will say something bad about the Bible. That's a major premise in the Bible, that God's Word will be attacked, especially by unbelievers.  It's not surprising.  I try to read all the criticisms with an open mind, believing what is true.  They're just not.  Tayler doesn't come close.  He's just insulting.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Galatians 2:20--the Keswick "Christ-life"? part 2 of 4 in Does Christ live the Christian Life for the Christian? The Keswick View of Galatians 2:20 Examined

As noted in part 1 of this series, in the Higher Life movement, the doctrine that Christ lives the Christian life, while the believer simply passively trusts or abides, is the “Christ-life”; “The Christian life is a large, generous Christ-life that lives itself” (pg. 181, Account of the Union Meeting for the Promotion of Scriptural Holiness, Held at Oxford, August 29 to September 7, 1874. Chicago:  Revell, 1874; cf. pgs. 158, 168).  Galatians 2:20 is employed to affirm that Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer, or at least the believer who enters into the Higher Life or the Christ-life.  It is difficult to figure out what the meaning is of such an affirmation; it would seem to lead to either the heresy of the absolute perfection of the believer in his will, nature and in all his acts, for Christ considered in His human nature is absolutely perfect in His will, nature and His acts, or to the heresy that Christ fails and Christ sins when the believer sins, since, allegedly, Christ, not the believer, is living the believer’s life.
One cannot avoid these heretical implications by simply affirming that the believer fails to perfectly access the Lord Jesus’ personal life, and for this cause the Christian still sins, for this accessing of Christ must be part of the Christian life—indeed, according to the advocates of the view that the Lord Jesus lives the Christian life, accessing the Savior is the essence of Christian life.  How then, can Christ fail to do this accessing for the believer, but be the One who lives the Christian life?  Yet further, what can such a notion possibly mean—is Christ accessing Himself as He allegedly lives the Christian life?  The idea that Jesus Christ lives the Christian life, not the Christian, has other severe problems as well; for example, the Lord Jesus, as He is in heaven, does not live by faith, as He has personal sight of all the glory of God, so the Christian on earth would not have to live by faith.  Indeed, the idea that the Lord Jesus lives the Christian life instead of the believer is either abominable heresy or mystical gobbledygook that cannot be given any clear propositional content.  It certainly does not help the believer live a holy life.
Hannah W. Smith, while usually restricting sinless perfection to the human spirit, so that she did not quite reach a claim of the literal perfection of Christ that was the necessary consequence of her Higher Life theology, did nevertheless affirm that those who have had the “definite experience” of “a heart made pure by faith” are “created pure and holy” so that “temptations will come” only “from without,” not from within—an idea, however contrary to the Bible, that makes it much easier to follow the guidance and revelations of an Inner Voice—at least until they cease the moment-by-moment Higher Life walk, at which time, somehow, “nothing but impurity remains,” although “the carnal nature” had “been cast out” at the time of the second blessing.  She did, however, have to confront the question, “How can we sin if we are made and kept pure in heart?” a question to which she had only a very unsatisfactory answer (see Letter to Anna, September 6, 1871, reproduced in the entries for June 17-18 of The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life, Hannah W. Smith, ed. Dieter; cf. the entry for June 22).
Happily, since Galatians 2:20 never states that Christ lives the Christian life instead of the believer, Kewick theology has any support whatsoever from the text.  First, one notes that the verse does not distinguish between an upper class of Christians who have entered into a Higher Life or second blessing and a lower class who have not done so.  Galatians 2:20 is true for every Christian, and every Christian has Christ as his life, is legally dead to sin, and has his life hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3, 4).
 What does Galatians 2:20 actually affirm?  1.)  Paul was crucified with Christ, 2:20a. 2.) Nevertheless, he was spiritually alive; the apostle had spiritual life, that he “might live unto God,” Galatians 2:19; 2:20b.  3.) The “I” who was now alive was not the same “I” as before Paul’s conversion (cf. Romans 7:17), in that Paul was no longer an ungodly, unregenerate person, a natural man and a slave of the old covenant, as he was when he was under the law (Galatians 2:19).  He was now dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:10-11).  The good in his life was not sourced in himself, but in the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10).  He now had a new principle within him and was a new man, Galatians 2:20c. 4.) Christ now indwelt Paul, and was the source of spiritual life and strength for him, 2:20d. 5.) The Apostle now lived his natural life in his body by faith in Christ, 2:20e.  6.) Christ loved Paul, and died for him, 2:20f.
What about “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me”?  Surely this phrase teaches that Christ lives the Christian life, no?  The phrase will be examined in part 3 of this series.

See here for this entire study.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Is Worship?

We train future pastors in our church.  My philosophy or belief about training a pastor, which I believe I should be doing, is that I should be giving him what he needs to reproduce what I do.  I don't want to give him less than what it is I am and do.  We offer the equivalent of an M.Div. academically.  One whole semester course is on worship.  Many don't even understand worship.  We spend a semester course on it, and we easily fill up that time.  It's difficult to get it done in a semester. Pastors are the worship leaders of their church.  They need to understand worship.  They should be able to explain what they are doing, coming directly from scripture to do that.

When you study the word translated "worship" and all the related words to worship, here's what you'll see it to be.  There are two parts.  The first part is the recognition of Who God is.  You don't worship God if you don't recognize Who He is.  You won't know what He wants, if you don't know Who He is.  You aren't worshiping God if you aren't worshiping God.  To be worshiping Him, you have to acknowledge Who He is.  If you do acknowledge Who He is, then you can treat Him like He deserves to be treated in affection and attitude.

Worship must match up with God.  He isn't being worshiped if it is fallen short of or different than Who He is.  It must represent Him, parallel with Him, or fit Him.  All of us understand this on a practical level if we have a relationship with anyone.  We know if we have respected someone or loved someone and it relates to what we think about that Person.  We treat them commensurate to our apprehension of each of them as a person.  You don't love everything in the same way.  You shouldn't treat God or love God like you do everything else.

We expect the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier to be at a level that isn't the same as some other guard at some other location.  This equates to Moses being told by God to remove his shoes because of his proximity.   That is the recognition of God.  He is greater.  He is scarier.  He is better. Nothing is as good as Him.  We can't approach God the same as anything else.   A person has the wrong theology who has a casual approach to God.

The other part in the definition of worship, the first being the recognition of Who God is, is giving Him what He wants.  If we do recognize Who God is, we will give Him what He wants.  How do we know what He wants?  He tells us.  The Word of God tells us what God wants.

Some of you have heard of the regulative principle of worship.  The idea of that principle is that worship is regulated by scripture.  It starts with the elements of worship.  The elements of corporate worship should be those found in scripture.  Those should not be added to or taken away from. Scripture is sufficient.  God doesn't want less than what He said or more than what He said.  He doesn't accept something different than what He said.  Silence isn't permission.

Giving God what He wants starts with elements and continues with the circumstances of those elements.  The elements are the categories and the circumstances are the logical means necessary to accomplish those elements.  The Westminster Confession of Faith defines "circumstances" with the following:

There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

The circumstances should not violate scripture, but they are non-scriptural.  You might ask, what are the elements?  If we are regulating worship by what God said, that is, giving Him what He wants, then we will keep the elements to those things that He said.  I believe they are the reading of Scripture (1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; 1 Tim 4:13), the preaching of the Word of God (1 Tim 4:6, 13-16; 2 Tim 4:2; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Titus 2:15), the hearing of and responding to the Word of God (James 1:19-20), prayer (1 Tim 2:1, 8; Acts 2:42; 4:23-31), singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and making melody unto the Lord and giving of thanks (Eph 5:19-20, Col 3:16; Mt 26:30; 1 Cor 14:26, 1 Tim 2:1), baptism (Mt 28:19), the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23, Acts 2:42), and the collection (Gal 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1-2, 2 Cor 9:1-12).

All of life should be regulated by scripture.  We are always supposed to give God what He wants. Romans 12:1-3 comes in here as a guide.  True worship is perpetual and spiritual and sincere from the heart.  As a spiritual priesthood, we offer spiritual sacrifices unto God.  This is akin to the Holy Spirit filling us, that is, controlling our life.  We are always submitting to Him, therefore, always giving to Him what He wants.

God is seeking for true worshipers.  To review, worship is recognizing who God is and giving Him what He wants.  You are not a success if you do not worship God.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Producing Experiences with the Flesh and Calling It the Spirit

As I see it, Charismatics are as crazy as ever, but revivalists are also the worst they've ever been. You can add to that the influence on evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals.  I'm talking about another type of bait and switch.  Church growth movement baits with fleshly lures switched in the end with some modification of Christianity.  This bait and switch that I'm writing about offers a fleshly experience while calling it a spiritual one.  People want to feel something, some kind of signal that God is working with them.  They'll easily take that bait.  Bait, of course, is a lie.  It's saying you're getting something that you're not.

The experiences are supposed to confirm authenticity.  With whom is genuine spirituality?  To whom belongs the imprimatur of the Holy Spirit?  They're like the scarecrow showing his diploma, when he doesn't have a brain.

Another aspect of the truth is a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit manifests Himself as scripture teaches, a believer is being sanctified and is also receiving assurance of His salvation.  These visible confirmations are an important means by which he knows he's saved.

I'm not going to focus on the Charismatics, who claim that God is still speaking to them, and some of what their "Holy Spirit" tells them is fully off-the-wall nuttiness.   It is a realm of insanity and obvious demonic activity.  With that being said, what I see in revivalism isn't that far off.

I want to remind the readers of revivalism.  Just saying "revivalism" upsets some people, sounding like I'm against actual revival.  Actual revival is biblical, but revivalism isn't.  Revivalism is a technical term for man-made techniques or enterprises or operations to cause the effects that men will call manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  Very often, the effects themselves are not what anyone should expect to confirm that the Third Person of the Trinity is doing anything.  Many of these are just demonstrations of the flesh.  However, the people in the midst of these effects of manipulative activity without discernment often think they're the function of the Holy Spirit.  They're not judging them by scripture.

The Charismatic falls under a theological category of continuationism, saying that the sign gifts continue.  Sign gifts existed to authenticate a prophetic or apostolic office for the proclamation of the Words of God.   The opposite of continuationism is cessationism.  The sign gifts ceased with the completion of the Word of God.   Revivalists will deny they're Charismatics or continuationists, but many, if not most, of the revivalists are either or both of those.

Among revivalists, you hear many claim that God is speaking to them.  They say, "God told me."  In addition, they claim that God gives them a particular sermon or certain parts to the sermon.

Revivalists make several confirmation claims of the Holy Spirit.  At the end of what they have claimed to be spiritual endued preaching is many decisions made, full aisles, or packed "altars" at the invitation.  The size of crowd apparently signals the Spirit's work.  If they had a lot in church or on the bus, that is attributed to the Holy Spirit.  Also, they point to numbers of salvation professions through preaching efforts.  Sometimes you hear, "God is really working" and they point to those things among others.

The style of speaking itself marks the Holy Spirit for revivalists.  He's excited or the crowd is excited. He shouts.  They shout.  Many people shouting and yelling or even "whooping it up" can mean the Holy Spirit is doing something special.  He may lean back and wail away, one foot in the sky, face red, and blood vessels protruding from the neck.  Tears are a measurement, or laughter -- either way, a lot of emotion.  Certain sermons might be particularly powerful and those are preached again and again.  He will attribute the crafting of the sermon often to the Holy Spirit.

Certain songs and the way those songs are sung and played either signal the Holy Spirit or they bring a unique aura of His presence.  If there seems to be a "deadness," the playing and singing might bring life.  Emotional lyrics or a way a singer uses his voice or a tight four part harmony with the right chords and syncopation and arrangement can bring the experience.  It might be what the pianist is doing or a song leader.  Music is a channel to bring the feeling that is credited as the Holy Spirit.

On top of the music, physical acts -- waving, lifting hands, big gestures, facial expressions -- either affirm the Spirit or bring about what some will attribute to the Spirit.  If lots of people raise their Bibles or swing their handkerchiefs or groan or cheer, that all could smack of the Spirit.  People feel something that convinces them it was a spiritual time together.

Nothing I've mentioned so far are what the Bible says are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, means knowing that the Holy Spirit is in charge, in control, or pleased with the circumstances and activities. These are all ways that men can manipulate people's experience and then say that it was the Holy Spirit.  This isn't different than the Charismatic movement.  It is more subtle and perhaps more deceitful, because it lacks the extreme lunacy.

Even non-revivalist evangelicals, including conservative evangelicals, produce experiences through fleshly means that convince people the Holy Spirit is being manifested.  They use music.  They use the microphone, the drums, the band, the clinched eyes and facial expressions, and the authenticity of the effect of breathiness to create an atmosphere or feeling that people think or feel is the Holy Spirit.  It is most often entertainment, at least fleshly, and sometimes just fun in the service. The lyrics might be dense and substantial, but the music they use creates an effect that authenticates the experience. They see themselves as more spiritually genuine and real.  God is not pleased.

Jesus said that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.  It might not be the imitation or faking of a miracle of divine confirmation, but it is a means to validate spirituality.  The experience is created as a mark of corroboration.  It often replaces actual obedience and true manifestations of spirituality.  Those might be preached too in more conservative churches, but they give both to keep the people who need something more than what is sufficient.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Upcoming Courses for Men Training for the Ministry and Others in Your Church

At Mukwonago Baptist Church we are going to be offering two new courses in the relatively near future, Lord willing.

1.) The second semester of 1st year Hebrew will be offered.  You can watch the first semester videos or enroll here.  We are going to be going at a relatively leisurely pace, so that while the same material is covered as when I taught 1st year Hebrew in seminary in two nine-week blocks (Fall and Spring), we are going to be going a bit more slowly, which will be easier.  There are at least two Baptist Bible colleges/seminaries that have expressed interest in the course.  Perhaps it could be a help to you or people in your church.  After all, God wrote about 75% of His Word in Hebrew.

2.) We are also going to be offering a course on Biblical Manuscript Evidence / Texts and Versions.  The theological position from which the course will be taught is the confession of faith here.  Students should both have their knowledge of the history of the text and their faith in God's pefect preservation of His Word strengthened.  As more details arise, you will be able to get course material, watch the class videos, etc. by following the appropriate link from the site here.

3.) We are also planning to offer 2nd year Hebrew, 1st semester, where we will do detailed studies of Hebrew syntax for the purpose of developing expository sermons.

4.) Another complete seminary level course with videos and lectures that is online is Trinitarianism, available here.  This latter course is not going to be taught again in addition to the courses above, but it is available for all right now.

If you or people in your church want more information about any of these classes, you can get inquiries answered by contacting Mukwonago Baptist Church or getting in touch with me directly.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Pope, Stephen Colbert, Hillary's Apology, and Truth

For absolute truth to exist, God must exist.  For truth to be absolute, it must be transcendent, that is, not dependent.  I think of James 1:17:

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Whatever comes from God hasn't been ruined by its relationship to everything else.  Since God could remain separate in His place of majesty and holiness, His separateness, His gifts could be, remain, and then be delivered to us pure.  Sin starts with us -- that's what James says earlier (1:13-14) -- not with God.  God has no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  Everything is relative to God, but He is not relative to us.  He stays the same.  He doesn't change.  He doesn't need us for light.  He is Light.

And so on.  But the pope.  The pope doesn't offer the same understanding of truth.  Truth to the present pope, and really by definition all popes, is malleable.  He is the progressive pope, every liberal's favorite pope, because he sees the rules as changing.  As a result, we hear that there is potential mutiny among the conservatives in the Vatican.  This is news from the Washington Post two days ago.

A biblicist, a biblical or true Christian, has a hard time with his view about the pope.  What does it matter whether he's conservative or liberal?  In the end, it's very wrong, either way.  In either way, it can't really be conservative.  I could write a whole book on the subject.  It interests me.  Why would I want a conservative pope?  I'm not Catholic.

A liberal pope is bad news for the world at large, when one considers the danger of either liberal or conservative.  A conservative pope is probably unacceptable now.  It probably isn't going to happen, despite what we read in the Washington Post article.  People's relationship with the truth has changed.  A Catholic may have thought that his religion taught him the truth.  This pope offers something far more on the sliding scale.  In a lot of ways, this pope is keeping up with what is occurring all over, so he is politically and therefore theologically correct.

The conservatives in the Vatican see the demise of Catholicism, its erosion to something that couldn't very well even be called Roman Catholicism, perhaps something closer to Unitarianism.  It might be religious, but the god is so pliable that he/she/it couldn't very well even be "God" any more.  I've already noticed this about Catholics, at least in California, for awhile.  Hardly a Catholic is a Catholic any more.  You will rarely to never talk to a Catholic who knows what he's talking about.  He already treats the doctrine like a smorgasbord or buffet, to handpick the religion he's most comfortable with.

I see most people going the way of the present pope.  Evangelicals are way down that path to various degrees, just with a greater variety than Catholicism.  The variety within Catholicism is mainly cultural, just like evangelicalism.  Certain cultures tend more towards stricter Catholicism, but Western culture has seeped and even saturated further than before, bringing more uniformity to the progressiveness.  Progressiveness is uniform.  It's spread it's doctrine of tolerance everywhere.  It advertises diversity, but there is mass conformity to relativism, so that everyone looks and acts the same.

The pope represents a shift and he is pushing it further.  Human instinct prefers its own way and he offers a Catholicism that doesn't stop that.  It encourages it.  I say he's more dangerous, because you can't get a Catholic to agree there is truth.  Before, if you showed a Catholic the Bible, he could be persuaded, because he tracked toward absolute authority, just the wrong one.  Now you offend him if you expect an absolute.  Evangelicals are on the same trajectory and they are beginning to meet now on the same philosophical terrain.  Everybody is in for himself, and the religious leader (and politician) succeeds, where he presents self-interest as the great motivating factor.  This is the major clash with Islam today too.  The most influential Islamics operate under an entirely different worldview -- also a wrong one -- but one in which absolutes do exist.  This is why progressives see Islamics and genuine Christians as more the same than different.

Stephen Colbert comes to this conversation with the article, "The Gospel of Stephen Colbert," in The Tablet Magazine.  He took over hosting the Late Show with David Letterman, which both reflects and influences probably a majority of Americans, who approach their late night television with more reverence than Sunday services.  Marjorie Ingall asks at the end of the first paragraph:  "What will he do when he’s freed from his bombastic, know-nothing, truthiness-loving persona?"  Truthiness-loving.

Colbert played a character in his former show, a crude, totally warped caricature of a conservative, essentially mocking the right side of the country every night.  If you didn't laugh, you didn't get the joke, you know.  It was only comedy.  Chuckle-chuckle.  Ingall sees "truthiness-loving" as a negative.  Do you see that?  We're supposed to be repulsed by a "truthiness-loving persona"?  All hail relativism and multiculturalism, that sees the world in an appropriate gray tone, not the black and white that Colbert wore every night, except that he really does see a certain truthiness in his own flavor of postmodernism.  If you can stand it, you can read her whole article, but consider this paragraph:

For Colbert, Catholicism has always been tied to both social justice and liberalism. He testified before Congress about the plight of migrant workers, quoting Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:40: “Whatsoever you did for the least of my brothers, you did it to me.” He invited an activist nun, Sister Simone Campbell, onto his show, and when she appeared wearing a blue blouse and patterned skirt, sneered, “Where’s the outfit? Did you burn it at one of those wimple-burning parties you radical nuns hold?”

Evangelicalism is already there.  They laugh at dress code too.  They think beauty is in the eye of the beholder, music is amoral, and many are careful to be too judgmental of almost anything.  Part of the church growth movement and an expanding spirit of ecumenism revolves around dividing doctrine into a mammoth and growing number of non-essentials and a tiny, almost infinitesimal number of essentials, and this includes the conservative evangelicals.  I'm called "purgatory" by them for a biblical view on this (with no scriptural basis or answer from them [they know]).

Catholicism for Colbert might not be Catholicism, and if it is, what does it matter?  Is it really Catholicism if it is your Catholicism.  His Bible is also his Bible.  He quotes the Bible in the convenient section with the convenient verse with his convenient interpretation.  Who are Jesus' "brothers," for instance? What does the Bible mean if it means only what it means to you?  Why is Colbert, a comedian, an expert on the Bible and how it applies to migrant workers?  His opinion is as good as anyone else's.  There's a certain lack of truthiness to it.

So what does the above then have to do with Hillary's apology?  Well, is Hillary admitting she did something wrong?  Why would she apologize if she wasn't wrong about anything?  If she was wrong, how does anyone judge that any more?  Kim Davis--wrong.  Gavin Newsom--right.  David Petraus--wrong.  Hillary Clinton--right.  Why?  Hillary is more wrong presently because the Obama wing of the Democrats don't like her quite so much, so if she's wrong, Joe Biden can be right.  However, if she was with the Obamas, she would still be right.  She's growing more wrong all the time, so she apologizes just in case she might need it.  If she gave away classified materials, top secret, then she should be in big trouble, but she's still running around campaigning to be president, because truth is not absolute.

What I'm describing is the world we're living in, but it isn't actually the world we're living in.  This is that lie of two worlds I wrote twice about a few weeks ago.  The real world is still God's world and his truth still remains in force.  The planet will get hotter.  Climate will change drastically and it has nothing to do with carbon emission.  It has to do with God's anger at this world.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Kim Davis, Gavin Newsom, and the Christian's Obedience to Unlawful Laws

Marriage according to natural law (and scripture) and so by definition is between only a man and a woman.  Same sex marriage isn't marriage.

In 2000, the State of California adopted Proposition 22 which, as an ordinary statute, forbade recognition or licensing of same-sex marriages in the state.  In 2004, then Democrat mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, gained national attention when he directed the San Francisco city–county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in violation of the law.   Neither Mayor Gavin Newsom or the San Francisco county clerk were jailed for their violations of the law of the State of California.  I wanted them arrested, but no elected official of the state, sworn to execute the law of the state, even attempted to apprehend Newsom or the county clerk.  I live in a lawless state.  What good is an oath, when it isn't kept, and then no one suffers for disobeying it?  Refusing to execute the law encourages lawlessness everywhere, which we also now see widespread and rampant.

As we zoom forward to 2015, Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, won't issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriage.  Newsom issued licenses in violation of the law.  Davis wouldn't issue marriage licenses, but is it the same as what Newsom did?  Is she violating the law like Newsom was?  Newsome was and faced no criminal prosecution for it.

Even if Kim Davis is violating the law, she is suffering for it, because she was arrested and imprisoned, punished by a federal judge for disobeying the court.  Gavin Newsom violated the law of the people of California, who voted on marriage law for the state.  Kim Davis violated the will of the Supreme Court of the United States. Does the Supreme Court of the United States have the authority over a county clerk in the state of Kentucky?  What law has Kim Davis violated?  What is she in jail for?

A court had not overturned California State Proposition 22.  The people of the state had passed a law and in a lawful manner.  Newsom was not jailed.  He took the law of the entire state and nation into his own hands.  By one vote by one justice, one branch of the federal government ruled on the lawfulness of state laws in Kentucky and at least 29 other states.  Kim Davis is jailed without bail. She followed the state law of Kentucky.  She disobeyed a single ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Someone might say that the decision by the Supreme Court is the law of the land.  On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in Obergefell v. Hodges that states cannot prohibit the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or to deny recognition of lawfully performed out-of-state marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which apparently invalidated same-sex marriage bans in any U.S. State and certain territories.  Is the Supreme Court the supreme law of the land?  Are citizens of the United States ruled by a panel of nine justices?  Is that the intent of the founding fathers?  Is that constitutional?

What law in Kentucky could Kim Davis follow to give a same sex marriage license?  No Kentucky law instructing in same sex marriage had been written.  Kentucky had never defined marriage as between two members of the same sex.  Not even a federal law had been written that authorized same-sex marriage.  The country possessed a decision by five of nine Supreme Court justices.

Experts on law might call this a constitutional crisis.  When the Dred Scott decision was made by the Supreme Court, Abraham Lincoln said,

If this (Dred Scott) important decision had been made by the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, and had been in no part, based on assumed historical facts which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and re-affirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not acquiesce in it as a precedent. . . . Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding questions of constitutional power, except where the acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as well settled.

The Dred Scott was a court ruling.  Up to this point, marriage was determined by the states, a state right.  That's why there isn't any Kentucky state mandate to marry two people of the same sex.   Article One Section One of the U. S. Constitution reads:

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Article One Section Eight says,

The Congress shall have power . . . To make all laws

Congress makes law, not the Supreme Court.  Congress writes laws and the Supreme Court makes opinions.  No law was passed in Kentucky legislating clerks to give marriage license to two people of the same sex.  Donald Trump was asked about the case and he said, "The Supreme Court has ruled. It is the law of the land.”  Is the Supreme Court the law of the land?  In 1820 Thomas Jefferson wrote the following to William Charles Jarvis (several statements by Jefferson on judicial tyranny):

You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions;  a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. 
Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so.  They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.  Their maxim is “boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem,” and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. 
The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots.
It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.

Jefferson also penned the following:

Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.

That comes from the Declaration of Independence in 1776.  The jailing of Kim Davis is government tyranny against the natural laws of God, the very God who gave us our rights.  She nor any Christian should sign a same sex marriage license or certificate and follow what Peter and the other apostles said in Acts 5:29:

We ought to obey God rather than men.

Friday, September 04, 2015

The Lord’s Supper: Close, Closed, or In-Between?

There has been a long-standing debate among Baptists about whether the correct position on the Lord’s Supper is close communion, where baptized members of Baptist churches other than the assembly in which the ordinance is being celebrated partake along with the host church’s members, or closed communion, where the ordinance is restricted to the members of each particular assembly only.  The view of open communion is clearly unscriptural and will not be examined in this post.

Arguments for Closed Communion

The arguments for closed communion are strong.  1 Corinthians 10-11 identifies the Supper as the “communion of the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16), and the body of Christ is the local, visible assembly (1 Corinthians 12:27) to which one is added by baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13).  Furthermore, both baptism and the Supper are church ordinances, and since the church is a local, visible assembly, the ordinance is naturally understood as pertaining to each assembly and its members alone.  The members of the church are to discern the body (1 Corinthians 11:29) to avoid judgment.  Pastor Brandenburg makes a good case for closed communion in his expository sermons on the relevant passages in 1 Corinthians, and J. R. Graves likewise makes a good case in Chapter 7 of his book Old Landmarkism.

In response to the close communion argument that the Apostle Paul partook of the Supper with the church at Troas in Acts 20, many believers in closed communion argue that there was no church at Troas at all.  Others argue that the breaking of bread at Troas was a common meal, not the Supper, since the breaking of bread can be a reference to a simple meal (Acts 27:35).  Furthermore, they argue that examples must be interpreted in light of precepts, not the other way around, so the precepts in 1 Corinthians require that the example of Acts 20 does not involve Paul taking the Supper with the Baptist church at Troas.

The closed communion position is very attractive, and if it has a reasonable explanation for Acts 20, its position is conclusive.

Arguments for Close Communion

Advocates of close communion affirm that Paul partook of the Supper with the church at Troas in Acts 20, so closed communion cannot be required by Scripture.  They believe that, as the study here argues, it is not possible to explain Acts 20 as anything less than an assembly of a church and a participation in the Lord’s Supper.  They argue that the verb sunago, “came together” in Acts 20:7, is a church assembly word, since the verb is used for church assemblies in Matthew 18:20; John 20:19; Acts 4:31; 11:26; 14:27; 15:30; 20:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 5:4 (cf. also Acts 15:6). The references to sunago in the perfect tense in Acts only speak of church assembly (Acts 4:31; 20:7, 8; cf. Matthew 18:20; John 20:19). The related word sunagoge is used for the Christian place of assembly in James 2:2. The related word episunagoge is used for the Christian “assembling” in Hebrews 10:25 in the classic command, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” The grammar in Acts 20:7, “the first day of the week, when the disciples came together,” is very similar to that of the church assembly of John 20:19, when “the first day of the week . . . the disciples were assembled.”  Therefore, they argue, church assembly is in view in Acts 20:7, a view supported by other exegetical arguments, as well as historical evidence for a church at Troas from Scripture and early church history (see here).

Furthermore, advocates of close communion argue that the reference in Acts 20 to the “breaking of bread” is to the Supper, not just to a common meal, because the purpose of the gathering in Acts 20:7 was the breaking of bread; they “came together to break bread,” a purpose clause. In the view of advocates of close communion, the fact that the purpose of their getting together was the breaking of the bread proves it was the Supper, not a common meal. If the breaking of bread was just eating some food in this passage, it would hardly have been the reason that the church at Troas assembled. On the night before the great apostle Paul and his fellow laborers in the work of God were leaving, would they have come together, not to bid him farewell, but to fill their bellies? Would the rare, precious opportunity to be taught by and fellowship with the apostle to the Gentiles have been passed over as a reason for assembling, in favor of eating some food? Paul’s preaching was hardly a surprise. would they have been so ungodly as to have said, “we are not gathering together to hear the apostle Paul preach, but we are coming together for the more important purpose of having dinner.” Only if this breaking of bread is the Lord’s Supper is it reasonably given as the purpose for the church assembling. If the “breaking of bread” is the holy Supper of the Lord, and the church at Troas was coming together to obey that great command, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25), the importance placed on this event as the most important part of their celebration is natural, and preaching in conjunction with a church service is expected. Coming together for the purpose of celebrating the Supper is also the pattern in 1 Corinthians 11:20, which has similar syntax to Acts 20:7.  While they quite likely had a meal as well as taking the Lord’s Supper (taking a break for refreshments somewhere in the process of many hours of preaching is very natural—as it is natural to expect that they did not send the apostle and his companions away on empty stomachs—especially since Paul was going to walk to Assos from Troas, v. 13, a distance of c. 20 miles), this does not alter the fact that the purpose of their coming together and their breaking of bread referred to the church ordinance.  What is more, why would they wait until the first day of the week to “come together” to eat a normal meal?  Finally, advocates of close communion argue that while the breaking of bread is not always the Lord’s Supper, it very commonly—the large majority of the time—is (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; Acts 20:7, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:24; also Acts 2:42).

In relation to 1 Corinthians 10-12, advocates of close communion argue that the passages do indeed teach the Supper is a church ordinance, but that this fact does not eliminate the possibility that a church can allow other baptized saints to participate.  They argue that it is still the communion of the body of Christ even if a tiny percentage of people who are not part of that particular body are present, just as it is still the communion of the body if unconverted people who are false converts yet are church members partake.  Furthermore, many advocates of close communion argue that 1 Corinthians 10:16, because of its parallel references to the “communion of the blood of Christ” and “communion of the body of Christ,” refers to the actual physical body and blood of the Redeemer rather than to the church as the body of Christ.

A Mediating Position Between Close and Closed Communion?

While I am definitely interested in hearing comments, arguments, and interaction with the material above for close vs. closed communion in the comment section below, I would in particular be interested in hearing comments on the following proposed mediating position.  This mediating position argues:

1.) The Lord’s Supper is clearly a church ordinance from 1 Corinthians 10-12, and so is properly the domain of the members of each particular Baptist church.

2.) Nevertheless, Acts 20 teaches that Paul partook of the Lord’s Supper with the church at Troas.  However, this does not by any means establish that a church is obligated to let people who are baptized members of other assemblies participate with them in the Supper.  It is a different thing for a church to have the option of allowing others to partake and for a church to be obligated to allow others to partake.  Furthermore, the Apostle Paul was clearly right with God, was the preacher on that occasion, and was the one God used to organize the assembly in that location.  Thus, the church at Troas had as good a reason to believe Paul was right with God as they did any of their own church members.  It is a different thing for a church to allow a preacher from a church that it works very closely with, and one who that church knows is right with God, to participate in the Supper and for a church to allow strangers who claim to be members of a Baptist church somewhere to partake.  The former allows the assembly to still take care that unworthy participation is excluded, while the latter does not.

3.) Thus, this mediating position is stricter than the large majority of churches that practice close communion, in that it only permits outside participation—if a church wants to exclude everyone other than its own members, it has the liberty to do so, and practice entirely closed communion.  Furthermore, it only derives from Acts 20 the lawfulness of participation of people that the particular assembly knows very well are right with God, not anyone who simply professes to be a Baptist or a Baptist separatist.  In this way, this mediating position contends that it can deal fairly both with the evidence in 1 Corinthians 10-12 and Acts 20.

Where am I on this topic?  I have been a member both of churches that practice closed and of churches that practice close communion.  Bethel Baptist Church, where Pastor Brandenburg shepherds the flock, switched from close to closed while I was a member there, a decision of which I was glad.  As a local-only church advocate, an opponent of alien immersion, a believer in an actual succession of churches, a believer that Bible-believing Baptist churches are the only true churches on this earth and that (in this dispensation, though not in eternity) Christ’s bride is the church, I naturally really like closed communion.  However, I have difficulty explaining Acts 20 in a totally closed way.  Thus, at this particular time I am essentially at what I have called the “mediating position” above—more closed than the large majority of “close” churches, but more open than the strictly “closed” churches.

Feel free to try to convince me with Biblical, exegetical, and theological arguments to leave my mediating position one way or the other in the comment section—or to support me in my mediation.