Monday, October 31, 2016

Historic, Unprecedented Political Strangeness

Events have occurred in this presidential election that are unprecedented in my lifetime, but also in all of American history.  Historians might point to three unique political occasions in my lifetime that this one tops.  I'm saying that too.  The three are Watergate, Bill Clinton impeachment, and Bush-Gore 2000.

If we go back into all of American history, there are some amazing political times.  The founding fathers did a great job with the United States Constitution, however, in need of amendment when Thomas Jefferson became Vice-President to John Adams (1796), the two of different ideologies and political parties.  Sitting Vice-President Aaron Burr shot and killed founding father, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel (1804).   The 1824 Presidential election went to the House of Representatives, which chose John Quincy Adams through controversial back-room dealings that required Henry Clay as Secretary of State.

With great fanfare, John C. Calhoun became the first of only two Vice Presidents to resign in intense opposition to Andrew Jackson in late 1832 over protective tariffs. Perhaps Jackson outdid that by shutting down the national bank in 1833.  The House of Representatives impeached Andrew Johnson in 1868.  In the election of 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel J. Tilden, and despite winning the electoral college by one vote, it was thrown to the House of Representatives, where Hayes won in the seventh ballot, only with the support of Democrats and a deal to end reconstruction.

Only months into his presidency, James Garfield was shot and murdered in 1881 by one of his political supporters, because he had denied him a political appointment.  William Howard Taft lost the presidential election in 1912 to Woodrow Wilson, only because his closest friend, Teddy Roosevelt, ran against him in a third party candidacy.

When you jump to my lifetime, Richard Nixon was caught robbing the DNC headquarters at the Watergate building and after his cover-up was exposed by Washington Post reporters, he resigned as president.  President Bill Clinton had sexual relations with a young White House intern, lied about it on national television and again under oath in a case of sexual harassment against him, so he was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998.  Al Gore won the popular vote in the presidential election of 2000, but George W. Bush narrowly won the electoral college, narrowly winning the pivotal swing state of Florida, subject to a Supreme Court decision after a challenge by the Gore campaign.

We come to Clinton and Trump.  We don't yet know what history will show, but James Comey, the director of the FBI, both an Obama and Bush appointee, is afraid what history would show if he did not open an investigation against Hillary Clinton.  Less than two weeks before the election, the candidate of a major political party is under investigation for potential multiple imprisonable crimes. Many, including myself, based on evidence that is already well-known, believe she is guilty.

Donald Trump is a unique candidate himself, and unprecedented in his qualifications.  We've never seen anyone like him.  When you add Hillary Clinton, is this the most historic, unprecedented political strangeness in American history?  You tell me.  Certain other factors make this even stranger to me.  Despite Clinton's historic badness, Trump could lose for two strange reasons, lack of his own party's support, who sabotage his campaign to give the election to Clinton, or by voting in the solid-red state of Utah for a never-elected Mormon protest candidate, Evan McMullin (it's a toss-up right now).  So strange.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Good Article on Hillary Clinton at National Review

First, you can see Thomas Ross's article below.

If you are still voting for Hillary, you are still putting Hillary in office by voting for someone else besides Donald Trump, or you are voting for Donald Trump -- any voters, even early and absentee -- read Andrew McCarthy's National Review article on Hillary Clinton.  Let it inform you.  McCarthy was an assistant United States attorney, who prosecuted the trial against the 1993 World Trade Center bombers.  He knows what he's talking about.  Please read the article.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Keswick's Confusion on the Holy Spirit: in Keswick's Errors--an Analysis and Critique of So Great Salvation by Stephen Barabas, part 8 of 17

As already noted, Keswick theology is right to call believers to the “renunciation of all known sin . . . and . . . surrender to Christ for the infilling of the Holy Spirit.”[1]  Keswick does well to affirm that the Holy Spirit “dwells in every child of God . . . [but] not every Christian is filled with the Spirit . . . [and] to be filled with the Spirit is not presented in Scripture as an optional matter, but as a holy obligation that rests upon all Christians.”[2] Keswick is correct that the “Christian is expected to live in communion with the Spirit.”[3]  Nonetheless, the Keswick pneumatology[4] differs at important points from the pneumatology of Scripture.[5]  Barabas is incorrect when he affirms that only some isolated “statements . . . from addresses and books by Keswick speakers . . . seem to . . . outrun Scripture.”[6]  Some of the Keswick theology of the Spirit not only seems to, but does, in fact, outrun Scripture.  The historic Baptist position that Spirit baptism was a first century corporate blessing authenticating the church, which was accompanied by miraculous signs and wonders, and which does not take place today, is the teaching of Scripture.[7] It is incorrect to hold either to a view that affirms that Spirit baptism is a post-conversion blessing for today that bestows special powers, or to the doctrine that “the Holy Spirit, on the condition of faith, baptizes a man into Christ and joins him permanently and eternally to Him, [so that Spirit baptism makes] a man ‘in Christ,’ in union with both the person and the work of Christ . . . [a teaching allegedly] clearly set forth in the sixth chapter of Romans.”[8]  Scripture nowhere, and certainly not in the sixth chapter of Romans, teaches that “every Christian . . . has been baptized by the Spirit.”[9]  Nor does God’s Word teach that the “full blessing of Pentecost is the inheritance of all the children of God,”[10] as all the children of God today are not wonder-working apostles with the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages, the spiritual gift of healing, and other supernatural powers that ceased early in Christian history—a fact that is itself denied by the strongly dominant Keswick continuationism or anti-cessationism in the matter of spiritual gifts.[11]  Furthermore, if Keswick “distinguishes between being ‘full’ and being ‘filled’” with the Spirit, so that the latter refers to a “filling, or momentary supply . . . as special difficulties arise,”[12] such a distinction is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the command in Ephesians 5:18 is to be filled, not to be full, of the Spirit.[13]  Furthermore, while the Spirit does fill believers to empower them for specific tasks (Acts 4:31), when the Keswick theology employs Acts 5:32[14] to make a point about being “endue[d] with the divine power”[15] to serve the Lord, or as a proof-text for recommended means of believers becoming Spirit-filled, it misinterprets Scripture.  In Acts 5:32, Peter teaches that God gives the Holy Spirit to believers,[16] while God does not give the Holy Spirit to those, such as the council of Pharisees and Sadducees that the Apostle was addressing, who reject Jesus Christ, disobeying the command of God to receive Him as the risen Lord and Savior (Acts 5:28-33, 38-42).  Consequently, every Christian on earth has the Spirit in the sense mentioned in Acts 5:32.  What is more, the obedience mentioned in Acts 5:32 is a result of the receipt of the Spirit at the moment of regeneration, not a means to obtain spiritual power.[17]  The Christian should consequently recognize that the power of God the Holy Ghost is essential for his effective sanctification and service, but reject the unbiblical aspects of the Keswick pneumatology.

 See here for this entire study.

[1]              Pg. 35, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[2]              Pgs. 131-132, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[3]              Pg. 137, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[4]              While perhaps Barabas was simply employing hyperbole when he stated that for “multitudes of Christians the Holy Spirit is an impersonal divine influence” (pg. 130, So Great Salvation; cf. pg. 137, Forward Movements, Pierson), such a declaration is careless, as one who truly denies the Trinity to affirm that the Holy Spirit is simply an impersonal influence is an idolator, not a Christian.  However, it is not clear that Barabas is simply employing hyperbole in his denial of the necessity of faith in the Trinity since his anti-Trinitarian affirmation has clear precedent among Keswick leaders.  Hannah W. Smith did not (she thought) need the Triune God of the Bible; a mystic, non-Trinitarian “bare God” was enough for her.  Keswick leaders such as F. B. Meyer taught that all believers in the Old Testament thought that the Holy Spirit was not a Person, but a force, and denied that a saving conversion involves belief in the Trinity.  If Barabas meant what he said, he was true to much of Keswick piety, although a traitor to the Trinitarianism confessed in Christian baptism (Matthew 28:19).
[5]              Compare the chapters in this composition on Spirit filling and Spirit baptism.
[6]              Pg. 138, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Barabas, on this page, does not actually concede that even isolated statements from Keswick speakers and books do in fact outrun Scripture, but only that they seem to do so.  If not even an isolated statement from any Keswick speaker or writer, for decade after decade, outran Scripture, the conference truly would be remarkable, as it would differ from every other conference of similar length held by fallen men that has ever existed in history.  H. C. G. Moule, while very favorable to the Keswick theology, is more admirably honest than Barabas:  “I venture to think that some new statements made [at Keswick], particularly at first, in the course of the movement we have here before us, failed in either scriptural accuracy or scriptural balance. . . . There is no such thing on earth as a vast assembly where, in the utterances of day after day, no mistake is made, no sin of excess or defect in speech committed” (pgs. xi, xiii, preface by Moule in Harford, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby).  Similarly, Harford-Battersby noted:  “I am not going to deny, indeed I am sadly conscious of the fact, that certain elements of error have been imported into the movement . . . by some less cautious speakers and writers, which, if not eliminated . . . might prove of considerable danger to the minds of those who receive them” (pgs. 173-174, Memoir of T. D. Harford-Battersby, Harford).  Thus, “there were elements of danger connected with Mr. Smith’s presentation of truth” (pg. 174, Ibid).  Evan Hopkins likewise believed that at early Keswick conventions and other Higher Life meetings “things had been said . . . which did lack balance and had a dangerous drift . . . things were certainly said there . . . which were not balanced, and which only disturbed my mind and soul” (pgs. 11, 13, Evan Harry Hopkins:  A Memoir, Alexander Smellie).  Barabas would have done well to acknowledge such concessions by the founders and pillars of the Keswick theology.
[7]              See the chapter in this book “Spirit Baptism: A Completed Historical Event. An Exposition and Defense of the Historic Baptist View of Spirit Baptism.”  The fact that Luke 11:13 does not teach the Keswick doctrine that “Christians [should] ask for the Holy Spirit” (pg. 140, So Great Salvation, Barabas) is also examined there.  The Keswick view of Luke 11:13 was also taught at the Broadlands Conference (e. g., pg. 265, The Life that is Life Indeed:  Reminiscences of the Broadlands Conferences, Edna V. Jackson.  London:  James Nisbet & Co, 1910).  What is more, Keswick writers like Andrew Murray even taught that the unconverted could be saved by asking for the Holy Spirit  (cf. pg. 14, Why Do You Not Believe?: Words of Instruction and Encouragement for All Who Are Seeking the Lord, Murray).  Such an idea is totally contrary to Scripture’s consistent teaching of justification by faith in Christ alone, not by prayer, and the direct object of saving faith as Christ crucified (cf. John 3:14-18), not specifically the Person of the Spirit.  Of course, it is also true that faith in Christ really involves faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (cf. John 5:24).
[8]              Pgs. 103-104, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[9]              Pg. 132, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[10]             Pg. 139, So Great Salvation, Barabas.  Barabas follows Andrew Murray in the quoted affirmation.  Murray, since he believed that all the gifts, from healing to tongues, were for the entire church age, could, with the modern charismatic movement, consistently make this affirmation.  Modern non-charismatics who seek to combine cessationism with Keswick theology cannot do so, and nobody should do so, since the Bible teaches that the sign gifts have ceased.
[11]             Note the discussion below of Keswick and continuationism.
[12]             Pg. 133, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[13]             Such a distinction also needs to be more carefully and specifically defined if it is to be employed of the terms in the book of Acts.  Careful consistency in terminology is not employed by Barabas himself, as he quotes Evan Hopkins’s affirmation for a filling/full distinction on pg. 133, and then on pg. 134 quotes G. Campbell Morgan making a different distinction between a “perpetual filling [not perpetual fulness] of the Spirit” and “specific fillings to overflowing.”
[14]             Barabas does so on pgs. 141, 145, 188.  Acts 5:32 is the only verse quoted or referenced by Barabas from pgs. 134-145, the section where he sets forth the Keswick position on how to become Spirit-filled.  It is unfortunate that the only verse cited has nothing to do with the question, other than the fact that one cannot be Spirit filled until he has been converted, a fact which is not at all the point made by Barabas in his use of the text.
[15]             Pg. 141, So Great Salvation, Barabas.
[16]             Cf. Acts 2:38; 11:17; 15:8; Romans 5:5; 8:15; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24.  Compare also the uses of di÷dwmi in Acts 5:31 & 11:18.
[17]             That is, in Acts 5:32 God gave (aorist) the gift of the Spirit (to\ Pneuvma . . . to\ ›Agion, o§ e¶dwken oJ Qeo\ß) to those who are now obeying Him (present participle, toi√ß peiqarcouvsin aujtwˆ◊).  The verse does not affirm that God will give the Spirit to those who will obey, or that the Holy Spirit was given to those who had gone through some process of obedience or certain steps set forth in Keswick theology in order to obtain Him, but that He was given through the new birth to those who are now obeying Him—a description of all regenerate people.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

An Analysis and Review of Kevin Bauder's "Landmarkism", pt. 4

Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Kevin Bauder sees a "universal church" in Matthew 16:18.  Then he argues for the universal church from 1 Corinthians 12:13.  When you examine every other usage of ekklesia by Jesus other than Matthew 16:18, it is obviously an assembly and local only.  The burden of Bauder and those like him is to show that Matthew 16:18 is different than all the other usages of the word by Jesus.  It is also the first appearance of ekklesia in scripture.  Jesus doesn't distinguish it as a different meaning than how it is used previously in history, that is, how people would have understood it in that day.  Ekklesia has meant, "assembly," and there is no reason to think it means something different.  What I'm describing are hermeneutical principles that describe "plain meaning."

Since ekklesia is a singular noun in Matthew 16:18, it could only be a particular ekklesia or a generic usage of ekklesia.  There are several good reasons that Jesus is speaking of His church in a generic way, or what I sometimes label "an institutional sense."  By "my church," He was distinguishing from other congregations.  Israel was an ekklesia (Acts 7:38) and then there was the governing institution of the Greek city state, the ekklesia, the town meeting.  Jesus had His governing institution for which He gave His authority, the keys of the kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:13

I (and Thomas Ross) have written a lot about 1 Corinthians 12:13 here and other places (Me:  here, here, here, here, here, here; Thomas Ross:  here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here), which would be good to examine, rather than reinventing the wheel.  Bauder uses 1 Corinthians 12:13 as the clinching text for the universal church.  Here's the verse:
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 
By One Spirit

He treats the identity of "Spirit" as crucial in the interpretation.  Thomas Ross and I take the same position on 1 Corinthians 12:13, and yet we know that different authors with the same position identify "Spirit" in different ways.  I don't mind the "Spirit" definition, not seeing it is a crucial to the local only position.  Thomas Ross says that "Spirit" is "Holy Spirit" and I have said that I prefer "spirit of unity" for pneuma.  We had a tract in our tract rack for years by Forrest Keener on 1 Corinthians 12:13, taking the identical position as Thomas and I, also believing that "Spirit" (pneuma) is the Holy Spirit.  Bauder makes the same argument for "Holy Spirit" as Thomas does.  What I'm writing now is that we don't believe that the identity of pneuma is the deciding factor on the meaning of the verse.

Bauder doesn't even deal with the major argument for reading "spirit of unity."  If he wanted to debunk that, he should at least treat the primary reason for thinking pneuma is spirit of unity.  The identical phrase en heni pneumati, translated "by one Spirit" in 1 Corinthians 12:13, is translated "in one spirit" in Philippians 1:27 by the King James translators, and means "spirit of unity."  The New King James and the New American Standard both understand Philippians 1:27 the same way.  The end of Philippians 1 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 are similar contexts.  Both speak in the context of unity. Bauder shouldn't write or act amazed, when there is an identical wording and context that translates it as "spirit of unity."  Even though "Spirit," as in "Holy Spirit," is common in 1 Corinthians 12, there is only one usage of en heni pneumati, and it is a usage similar to how it is understood in Philippians 1:27.

Another argument for "in one spirit" that I see is the regular usage of the Greek preposition, en. The normal understanding is "in," not "by."  "By" isn't a wrong translation.  The same translation is found in 1 Corinthians 12:3, which is a good argument for that.  A. W. Pink takes the same view on "in one spirit."


Bauder says that "we all" cannot be the church at Corinth because it includes Paul.  When Paul writes "we," he is including at least himself, so I agree that "body" in 1 Corinthians 12:13 cannot be only the church at Corinth.  However, a conclusion does not follow, like Bauder makes, that "we" refers to all believers, just because Paul includes himself.

One Body

Bauder writes (p. 207),
The question is whether a single local church can account for the language that Paul used in this verse.  If "we all" includes Paul (let alone all believers everywhere), the one body cannot possibly refer to the church at Corinth.
This is a situation where Bauder argues a straw man.  No local-only advocate I know or have ever read says that "one body" is identical to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and for the very reason that Bauder asserts.  I and they agree.  However, one cannot then conclude like Bauder concludes (pp. 207-208) :
Because he (Paul) included himself in the one body, Paul forced his readers to understand that the body transcends the individual church at Corinth. . . . Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 12:13 definitely indicates, first, that a universal Body of Christ exists; second, that this body includes all believers and not just members of the particular congregation; and third, that this baptism is constituted by baptism in or by the Holy Spirit.
If Bauder is going to debunk local only ecclesiology, then first, he needs a more thorough dealing with 1 Corinthians 12:13, and, second, he needs to deal with the belief or position of local-only ecclesiology on 1 Corinthians 12:13.  He does neither.

Bauder does not establish what "one body" is and why.  Is one numeric one or one in unity?  Writing to the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 15:6
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is an instance where "one" is a "one in unity."  Paul is not expecting one big mind or a universal mind, but unified minds.  "One body" is a unified body.  The previous verse, 1 Corinthians 12:12, should cue one into Paul's meaning:
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
Paul is talking about a physical body and he says that it is "one."  He's using the physical body as a metaphor for the church. "One" stands for unity and "many members" stands for diversity.  In a physical body, there is unity, the body is one, and diversity, it has many members or body parts.  The point isn't that there is only one body on all the earth, when it says "one body."  In the same way, the very next verse is not saying there is one numeric body.  No.

Bodies are local.  The church is local.  The body of Christ is local.  It's not universal.  Body works the opposite of universal.  The members are in one place.  That's how they unify and work together.  The body isn't universal.  That is seen as you work your way down through the chapter, never more apparent than in verse 27:
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
Paul defines the body of Christ by saying, "ye are the body of Christ."  A particular church is the body of Christ.  I repeat, the body of Christ.  The body is defined here.  A church can't be the body and then something else the body.  There is no unequivocal place in the Bible that says the body of Christ is all believers.  You don't see it anywhere.  However, we do know an individual church is the body of Christ.

With 1 Corinthians 12:27 saying, "ye are the body of Christ," how then does the "we" of 1 Corinthians 12:13 work?  It isn't hard to figure out.  It isn't meant to be hard.  Paul includes himself because he too was baptized into one body.  He doesn't exclude himself from being baptized.  He was baptized.  Consider 1 Timothy 3:12:
Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.
Were all the deacons the husbands of the same woman?  Of course not.  Anyone would know that. This is basic grammar and syntax.  There is a similarity here.  Paul wasn't in the same body as the people at Corinth, but he too was in one body, baptized into one body, just like each deacon was a husband to a different wife, not the same one.


Bauder assumes "baptism" is "Spirit baptism" in 1 Corinthians 12:13, but there are many actual contextual and exegetical reasons why it isn't.  He doesn't even deal with it.  In writing the Corinthians, Paul uses baptizo, the Greek word for "baptism," ten times.  The other nine are water baptism.  If the word is found nine out of ten times and it's water baptism every time -- water, water, water, water, etc. -- there would be some explanation that this isn't water in the one other time. Without explanation, one should assume water again.  That's how language works.

The first reason for water baptism here is conclusive already.  Yet, there are more reasons.  If the audience was to expect "Spirit baptism," then one would think that 1 Corinthians 12:13 fits the model of Spirit baptism, prophesied in the gospels and Acts.  One example of the model prophesied is Matthew 3:11, which tells what one would expect of Spirit baptism:
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Spirit baptism has Jesus ("he") as the administrator of the baptism, the Holy Spirit as the medium, and already saved people the recipients, subsequent to their salvation, not concurrent with their salvation.  Bauder says 1 Corinthians 12:13 is Spirit baptism, and he writes:
It is baptism in or by the Holy Spirit, an it is of such a nature that it places individuals into a single body that includes believers from multiple local churches.
His statement is contradictory, because it can't be both "in" and "by," but as you read further, his choice is "by."  In his fulfillment, the Holy Spirit is the administrator ("by") and Christ, the body of Christ, is the medium, and it occurs concurrent with salvation.  It doesn't fit the model of Spirit baptism prophesied in every possible way, so it can't be Spirit baptism.  No one should think this is Spirit baptism.

There are two other reasons to see this "baptism" as water baptism.  One, "baptized" and "drink" represent the two ordinances of the church, which are both unifying factors of the church.  The one body is seen in baptism and the Lord's Supper.  Two, "into" (the Greek preposition eis) does not express here "position," as "in" the body, but identification.  Paul's use of eis is showing or indicating symbolic identification, not some mystical placing "in."  1 Corinthians 12:13 is identical to Paul's usage in Romans 6:3-4, speaking there too of water baptism, when he says, "baptized into Christ." Two chapters earlier (1 Cor 10:2), Paul writes, "baptized unto Moses."  Were they placed "in Moses"? Of course not. They were identified with Moses through the baptism.  1 Corinthians 10:2 provides commentary for 1 Corinthians 12:13.

Paul is talking about water baptism in 1 Corinthians 12:13, unifying and identifying a believer with the church, so that there is one body, even though there are many members.  That is the plain meaning of that verse, that Bauder attempts to find a universal church in the Bible.  Bauder fails at proving that baptism is "Spirit baptism."  He reads that into the text.

More to Come 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

An Analysis and Review of Kevin Bauder's "Landmarkism", pt. 3

Part One, Part Two

Kevin Bauder addresses the presupposition for church successionism by dealing with Matthew 16:18, treating it as the proof text for the position.  I don't mind calling it Baptist successionism, because Baptists can trace their lineage to Jerusalem.  Succession implies an unbroken line of continuity and perpetuity suggests the permanence of the institution.  If the institution is permanent, then some kind of succession had to occur.  Folks like myself believe that true churches always existed through every generation of every century, succeeding one upon another.  Why?  Like Bauder says about us, because we believe the Bible says that would happen.  When God says something will occur, we believe it will occur, because it always does when He says it will.

To start, since I'm someone who believes successionism, I can say that Matthew 16:18 isn't the sole passage from which I take this position.  I see it elsewhere in scripture.  A case is built in the New Testament by more than Matthew 16:18.  For instance, Paul in 1 Timothy 4:1 writes "that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith."  How is "the faith" or "the truth" kept?  The latter times are this entire age since the completion of the New Testament through the coming of the Lord, and only "some shall depart from the faith," not all.  The faith or the truth is kept by the church, "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim 3:15).  The some will be in the church, which has pastors and deacons (1 Tim 3). They that gladly receive His Word are added to the church (Acts 2:41, 1 Thess 2:13).

Jesus is with His church through His Spirit, and He does walk in the midst of His churches during the church age (Revelation 1:19-2:1).  He promised not to leave His church in this age (Matthew 28:18-20).  Not being in His church is not being with Him (1 John 2:19).

As you read the book of Revelation unfold, taking it literally or conversationally, plain meaning, you see Revelation 2 and 3 as representative of the church age.  True churches will continue through the church age up until the coming of the Lord.  For them not to do so or not to be so would require a total apostasy by sheer definition.  The Holy Spirit is restraining, so as not to result in a total apostasy (1 Thess 2:1-10).  A church, like the church at Corinth, is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16-17).  Paul says that the church through the Lord's Table would show the Lord's death until He comes (1 Cor 11:26), the Lord's Table an ordinance of the church.  A church would show the Lord's death through His Table until the Lord comes.

The Gates of Hell

Bauder is stretching in order not to have Matthew 16:18 teach perpetuity and succession.  It's a promise.  "The gates of hell shall not prevail against" His ("my church") church.  Here's how Bauder gets there.  He says (p. 205), "Jesus' promise means that death will not have the last word."  He concludes that the "gates of Hell" is death, so "not prevail" means the church will bodily resurrect. That's a very narrow understanding of a verse that doesn't sound like what Jesus says in the context.  It's forcing a particular understanding on the text.  The text doesn't say that.  You've got to read that in to get it out.

Jesus says He will build His church.  The gates of Hell shall not prevail.  Not prevailing reads like it relates to Jesus continuing to edify (oikodomeo) His church.  I'm fine with "Hell," hades, meaning "death."  Bauder turns this into teaching on a "universal church," because the way that death would prevail over the church has to be over the possibility of someone getting to heaven when he dies.  People would still make it to heaven, despite death, he's saying.  That doesn't read like a plain meaning of Matthew 16:18.

I believe that the "gates of Hell" can and should be "death."  However, I see it as that there isn't any gate that can hold back the church, even death.  Not even death, as a chief tool of Satan (Heb 2:14) can stop the church.  As people die, His church will continue existing.  If Satan wants to kill people even, that won't stop the church.  It will keep going.  It will prevail.  The devil uses death as a tool in numerous ways, but it won't work.  That's a promise.  We've seen it born out in history, even as the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.  Death seems to result in propagation of the church, not its demise.

To isolate the prevailing of the church merely to be arriving in Heaven through bodily resurrection does not follow naturally in the text.  Again, it reads as forced.  A church is built on the earth.  If that is not prevailed upon by death, held back by death, then that is to say that death will not stop the church from being built.

The word translated "shall prevail" (used with the negative) is found twice in the New Testament, also in Luke 23:23.  In the Luke passage, the people crying for Jesus' crucifixion, including the chief priests, prevailed.  That means that their plans worked.  Jesus was crucified.  In the same fashion, Jesus' building of His church would not be stopped by death.  That reads like perpetuity and succession to me, especially in light of other thoughts expressed.

Jesus ties authority to this prevailing and the continuation of the building of His church in Matthew 16:19 with giving Peter ("thee," singular) the keys of the kingdom.  People will keep being bound to the church, which does occur through salvation and baptism (immersion) [Acts 2:41]. The church has authority to bind, the means by which the church will continue to be built, despite people dying. Death won't stop His church, which is that it won't stop His churches.

The One Body and a System of Interpretation

What you will see as you read Bauder's chapter is that his problem with landmarkism is mainly its denial of a universal church.  To prove the universal church, Bauder relies on 1 Corinthians 12:13. His heading for this is "The One Body."  He is saying that when 1 Corinthians 12:13 says "one body," it means numeric one.  He assumes numeric one without proof.  Bauder also then sets apart "a majority of Baptists" from "Landmark Baptists" in the belief in a universal, invisible church.  Bauder might be right that a majority of Baptists today believe in a universal, invisible church.  I don't know -- maybe right now, they do.  He doesn't prove that they always have or even that they do.  There are a lot of Southern, independent, and unaffiliated Baptists who are local only in their ecclesiology.

A major flaw through history in the interpretation of scripture has been the error of spiritualizing or allegorizing scripture.  It is a highly subjective kind of interpretation that was embraced by Roman Catholicism.  The universal, invisible church doctrine started with Roman Catholicism, proceeding from its system of intepretation.  The "universal, invisible church" arose from an allegorization of scripture.  The doctrine perpetuated itself in other denominations through the Protestant Reformation.  A lot of Roman Catholic doctrine was retained in Protestantism, including the same allegorization of scripture in many instances.  Allegorization tends toward liberalism, because someone can easily make scripture to mean whatever he wants it to mean -- in other words, it is highly subjective.

There are many reasons to reject a "universal church," including the meaning of the word ekklesia, and then its usage.  There is no grammatical basis for a universal, invisible church in the New Testament.  Every singular use of the word ekklesia ("church") should be understood as a particular or a generic. Those are the two grammatical, objective choices for a singular noun.  A sort of platonic use of the singular noun is an invention that entered into church dogma long after the completion of the New Testament, emerging from neoplatonism.  I understand that Baptists have picked up this false teaching, just like they have acquired other false teachings, including false gospels.

My take on what has been called landmarkism is that it is a stand against a false view of the church, perpetuated by Roman Catholicism and continued in Protestantism.  Men just put their foot down and said, it's not going to continue.  We're stopping it right here if we can.

Through its system of interpretation, intended to justify a Catholic church, Roman Catholicism embraced a wrong soteriology, eschatology, and ecclesiology.  When the Protestant Reformation came along, because men could read the Bible on their own, they made some necessary corrections in soteriology, but they continued to embrace a very subjective eschatology and ecclesiology.  It's why the Reformers maintained their own version of the state church.

Bauder and others continue to embrace a corruption of biblical ecclesiology, except in a spiritualized form, which takes away from the authority of New Testament churches.  It is one of the most dangerous and damaging doctrines existent today.  Bauder continues to push and promote it in this chapter, repudiating a scriptural position on the church.

Based on my own observation, I see the universal church as a practical necessity for the multitude of parachurch organizations in evangelicalism and fundamentalism.  It also allows men to be free agents, functioning without the authority of churches.  This exponentially grows false doctrine and spreads error.  It feeds off of pride.  Men like being bigger than the church, taking almost apostolic like authority in a larger way.  This was already occurring, it seems, in the first century, perhaps the doctrine of Nicolaitanism (people conquerors).  Church authority became hierarchical.  Individual churches lost their autonomy.  This "greater authority" manipulates and influences pastors and churches in their attempts to fit into the larger sphere or domain.

Bauder sees most Baptists as "universal church."  I said it might be true today.  However, he especially sees the popularity of this in academia and in published materials.  Those two have functioned outside of the parameters of the church.  They justify their own existence with the doctrine of the universal church.  This doctrine is very attractive to those who want to be included in that realm.

In the end, religion will be controlled by a universal church with the Antichrist at its head.  To get there, individual and local autonomy must be broken down.  The universal church idea is what feeds that and will lead to that one world church.

I'll be writing more as this series continues.

Monday, October 24, 2016

An Analysis and Review of Kevin Bauder's "Landmarkism", pt. 2

Part One

Contrary to Kevin Bauder, local only ecclesiology did not originate with "landmarkism" and J. R. Graves in the mid 19th century.  First, the church is local only in the New Testament.  Second, first century Clement of Rome provides patristic testimony to local-only ecclesiology.  Third, very early orthodox, printed doctrinal statements support a local only position. Read The Schleitheim Confession of 1527, the Discipline of the Church, 1527, and Ridemann's Rechenschaft, 1540, and you will see no universal ecclesiology, only local.  Fourth, other notable Baptists teach local only.  John Smyth in 1608 writes:
That the church of Christ is a company of the faithful; baptized after confession of sin and of faith, endowed with the power of Christ.
The statement by Baptist forefather Obadiah Holmes in 1675 is local only:
I believe the church of Christ, or this company gathered, are bound to wait on the Lord for the Spirit to help them, and have liberty, and are under duty, that they may prophesy one by one.
Isaac Backus in his A Discourse Concerning the Materials, the Manner of Building and Power of Organizing of the Church of Christ in 1773 wrote:
Is any other visible church-state instituted in the gospel, but a particular one? The church spoken of by our Lord in Mat. 18.15,—18, is such an one as a brother can tell his grievance to; and whoever thought that could be to any other than a particular community? The seven churches of Asia are spoken to by their great Head, not as one national or provincial church, but as so many distinct churches, who are commended, or reproved by him, according as their works were, in each particular community.
I'm not going to try to do better than what Thomas Williamson does here on exposing what Bauder writes as being wrong, not only on the history of local only ecclesiology, but also on the history of the doctrine of the proper administrator of baptism.

Through the years, I have had many discussions with men about the succession of the church, what a Baptist doesn't mind calling, Baptist successionism.  A person says, like Bauder, "I don't believe in the Trail of Blood."  I ask, "Do you believe there have always been true New Testament churches since Christ?"  The same person answers, "Yes."  I reply, "Then you believe just like I do on the subject."  There have always been true churches known by different names, but they ultimately became known as Baptist.  There were always true churches separate from Roman Catholicism.  Baptists trace their lineage or their heritage through these churches.

Many larger histories of Baptist churches have been written other than J. M. Carroll's Trail of Blood. The Trail of Blood presents a point of view without proving the historicity of Baptist successionism. The point of view is a biblical one.  For me, like for many others, there is enough of a verifiable history to satisfy someone who believes it occurred.  Men will be able to poke some holes in the history.  It doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

Just because someone can't find "justification by faith" for several centuries in historical evidence, does that mean that "justification by faith" didn't exist during that period?  Of course not.  "Justification by faith" is not a doctrine that originated during the Reformation.

Bauder spends some time talking about "the gates of Hell" and its relation to succession and the proper administrator of baptism.  I'll write more about that later.

Friday, October 21, 2016

"The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact": the Dan Barker - Thomas Ross Debate

I am very pleased to announce that my debate with Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on the topic:  "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact," is now available online.  (Of course, Mr. Barker was in the affirmative and I was in the negative.)  Mr. Barker and his organization are very well-known, and I trust that God will use the debate to lead many atheists, agnostics, and others to reconsider whether they ought to continue to rebel against God and His Word.  The debate was held at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, where my church has a campus ministry.  The debate was sponsored by our campus group, the campus Philosophy Club, and the campus Secular Student Alliance.

I will, Lord willing, be debating Mr. Barker again in the relatively near future.  Prayer (and even fasting) for that event is definitely appreciated.  I believe that the prayers of God's people were answered in the last debate and that it went very well.  Lord willing, I will be publishing a review of the debate, as in a format where both parties have equal time it is simply not possible to deal thoroughly with every argument made by the other side.

If your church regularly deals with atheists or other skeptics of Scripture, I would encourage you to consider using the work The Book of Daniel: Proof that the Bible is the Word of God in your evangelistic and apologetic endeavors.  I used some of the material in this book extensively in the Barker-Ross debate.  You might also consider encouraging skeptics to watch the debate itself, along with the review of it (once that becomes available, Lord willing).  Finally, if you have a university in your area, I would encourage you to consider starting a campus ministry.  Surveys of evangelicals indicate that only c. 2% of Christians are converted after their 30th birthday in the USA, while 34% are converted between the age of 15 and 29.  While it is certainly true that the large majority of evangelical congregations do very little to get the gospel out to every person in their area, and so such statistics are not necessarily true for Biblical, separatist Baptist churches, it is still very highly probable that people in college or in high school are not yet as hardened as people who have passed that point in life without receiving Christ. 

In addition to making the Dan Barker - Thomas Ross debate, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact" available on my website and on Youtube, I have also embedded the debate below for your viewing edification.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

An Analysis and Review of Kevin Bauder's "Landmarkism"

Someone gave me a copy of two books by Kevin Bauder, his Baptist Distinctives and New Testament Church Order, and One in Hope and Doctrine:  Origins of Baptist Fundamentalism, 1870-1950, the latter co-written by Robert Delnay.  Despite our differences and perhaps even his protests, Kevin Bauder and I have a lot in common, I think more in common by far than we have different.  If he ever visited our church, I believe he might even say he has more in common with our church than almost all evangelicals and most fundamentalists. I sympathize with his defense of fundamentalism, even though I disagree.  I appreciate his desire to elucidate and defend Baptist distinctives.  Above all, I appreciate his desire to encourage conservative churches.  Even though I greatly object to his position on the preservation of scripture and the Bible version issue, his chapters on the subject are the most respectful writing I have read from the other side.  Bauder is obviously the clearest and best position of the four in The Spectrum of Evangelicalism.

Despite my penchant for Kevin Bauder, I found motivation to write a blog series in order to criticize one chapter in his book on Baptist distinctives -- "Landmarkism" (pp. 198-220).  It interested me that he found that subject worthy of a chapter, providing enough of a motivation for him to repudiate.  It is not one of his better pieces of writing.  I am going to spend a good amount of time over upcoming weeks analyzing the chapter, because I think it provides a teaching moment for readers here.  Much of what he denounces is actually biblical teaching.  He also errs in his representation of those who believe what he misrepresents.

What Bauder labels "landmarkism" is a name given to a very particular ecclesiological and historical position, which was then called "landmarkism."  When an author discounts what he disbelieves, he should document his representation of it.  He should offer quotes straight from the pen or mouth of the advocate along with footnotes or endnotes.  In other words, he should deal with what people actually have said.  Bauder doesn't do that with his chapter.  As a result, I am saying that he portrays and then knocks down a strawman of what he calls, landmarkism.

As his first sentence (p. 198), Bauder writes:
THE LANDMARK BAPTIST (capitals his) movement began in the American South during the mid-nineteenth century.
The effect of such a statement is that everything following, which Bauder lumps in with landmarkism, began in the mid-nineteenth century, which is false.  Some of what James Robinson Graves taught did originate with him at that time, never seen before in church history.  The same criticism could be made, however, of dispensationalism, so would require some nuance in explanation for an accurate representation.  For instance, did J.M. and B.H. Carroll take the identical teaching as Graves that says that the kingdom is or synonymous with the church?  They didn't. Graves defined landmarkism and he included that peculiarity in his definition.  Some aspects of landmarkism are unique to Graves himself as a teacher.

Bauder presents without proof a view of Baptist history.  He suggests a stream of Baptist history, which he says are the "regular (historic) Baptists," interrupted by Landmarkers, who emerge from and interrupt that stream.  I submit a conflicting position to his, that his "regular Baptists" emerge and interrupt and "pose problems" for true Baptists.  It's true that both of us can't be right.  He, however, does not prove the history of his position -- just asserts.

Before Bauder begins dealing with "the distinctive teachings of Landmark Baptists," he writes:
To those who have never been exposed to Landmark Baptists, some of these teachings may seem to border on the bizarre.  This strangeness may lead one to think of Landmarkism as a cult.
For poisoning the well, "bizzare" and "cult" function nicely.  I see the exact opposite, that is, the bizarreness of what Bauder calls "regular," which I will later demonstrate in this analysis of his presentation.  I wouldn't express kingdom teaching like Graves does.  However, I have no problem with someone saying he believes that Christ's churches are His kingdom on earth in the age in which we live.  I could explain that and prove it from scripture.  Graves goes beyond a scriptural comfort level for me, but I share his seriousness about the place of the Lord's church on earth in this age, which contrasts with whom I consider "Protestant Baptists."

A lot of the modern perversion of the gospel corresponds to the lack of connection between the church and the kingdom.  Many problems in churches arise from not seeing the authority by which Jesus operates as King through the church.  Many have never received Him as King and still see themselves as Christians.  This lack of King and kingdom preaching has resulted in many unconverted in professing Baptist churches.  Jesus gave all authority to His church (Matthew 16:18, 28:18-20, Rev 1:19-2:1, Titus 2:15), but churches don't act like it because they are so, so careful to separate the church from the kingdom.

Bauder's first problem with landmarkists is their definition of or understanding of the nature of the word church.  He spends some time explaining its denial of a universal, invisible church (p. 199). He does fine.  When I read material like Bauder writes, I read language that I would not use, so I don't think it represents me.  He often uses the terminology "local churches" and "local church."  That is "regular" for him, but it is peculiar for me.  You don't read "local church" in the Bible.  Why do you think that is?  It's because there is only one church in the Bible and it is local.  The Greek word translated, "church," is ekklesia, and it means, "assembly."  Assembly is always local.  It would be redundant and peculiar to say "local assembly."  It shouldn't be normal for Baptists to say, "local church," because it isn't biblical.  It's normal for Bauder, because he doesn't take his ecclesiology from scripture.  He reads it into scripture.

Bauder says (p. 199) that "dispensationalists begin the church at the Day of Pentecost, while Landmarkers believe that it began with the ministry of John the Baptist."  I'm a dispensationalist too and I believe it began with the ministry of John the Baptist.  The Bible teaches that the church existed before Pentecost.  That is an exegetical position.  Immersed believers were added to the church at Pentecost, which implies the church already existed.  We also know that Jesus sang in the church (Hebrews 2:12).  John Gill wrote concerning this verse:
This is to be understood . . . of the church below; and not of the synagogue of the Jews, but of the disciples of Christ, and of his singing an hymn to God, with and among them, as he did at the institution of the supper, ( Matthew 26:30 ) for though the number of the apostles was but small, yet they made a congregation or church, and which was a pure and glorious one.
Jesus teaches church discipline in Matthew 18:18-20, speaking as if the church already exists.  There is no exegetical basis to say that the church began at Pentecost.

Bauder explains that the pre-Pentecost timing for the founding of the church blossoms from the landmark fusion of the church and the kingdom.  As I said above, not all landmarkers believed that true churches comprise the kingdom since the days of John the Baptist.  This is peculiar to a unique ecclesiology, perhaps beginning with Graves, but not homogeneous to those with a local only ecclesiology.  I have been local only my entire adult life and I didn't see that position ever until I read it in Graves very recently.  I would wonder, however, how Graves's kingdom position might be peculiar to Bauder, while Mark Devers's amillennialism isn't for a Baptist.

Everyone should take a biblical view of baptism.  If the biblical position is landmark, then take a landmark position.  Bauder writes (pp. 199-200) as if there is a conspiracy among these landmarkers to keep Baptist churches as the only true churches.  To do that, he says that they make baptism the differentiating factor for being a church.  To the landmarkers, those without true baptism (Catholics, etc.) are not churches.  He explains that landmarkers expect "proper mode, meaning, subject, and administrator."  I hadn't heard "meaning" ever as a criteria.  However, Bauder says that historic Baptists (those he's been with) don't agree on administrator.  He sets up a strawman to dispute this.

"The Landmark theory," Bauder writes, "requires an unbroken chain of baptisms from the days of John the Baptist down to the present day."  This is where landmarkers get their designation, "chain-linkers."  I was local only in my ecclesiology in high school.  I heard sermons in my local-only college (Maranatha Baptist Bible College at the time) that said that landmarkers were chain-linkers, which was a reason why we weren't landmarkers.  Since then, I've never met a chain-linker.  Graves himself was not a chain-linker.  In the preface of his book, Old Landmarkism, Graves writes (p. xiii):
Others have been influenced to believe. . . . that we hold baptism is. . . . ineffectual unless we can prove the unbroken connection of the administrator with some apostle; and. . . any flaw. . . in the line of succession, however remote, invalidates all his baptisms.
Graves debunks that gross mischaracterization that continues to spread from such as those like Bauder.  He at least must deal with what Graves wrote in the very book that is supposed to be teaching his doctrine.

Despite the error by Bauder, he is somewhat in the ballpark (maybe the parking lot) on representing people like me on the subject of baptism.  I am one of these guys he is misrepresenting, and I know that I believe that baptism must be performed by the proper administrator.  Someone can't go jump in a pool and call it baptism.  Two people out swimming can't immerse each other and call it baptism, even if they say it "means the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ."  God gave John the Baptist authority to baptize (Mt 21:25, Mk 11:30, Lk 20:4).  Jesus traveled 80 miles to be baptized by John.  I don't believe Roman Catholics are true churches and since Protestants came out of Roman Catholicism, I deny their authority to baptize too. This is a matter of faith.  We should do the best we can with authority by faith.  It's not a chain link, but a matter of obedience.  I'm not taking my position as a way to find some path to calling others not true churches.

Bauder might rankle some Presbyterian friends and people very chummy with other Protestants by reporting a particular teaching of landmarkism, but proper administrator is just Bible teaching. Calling non-authoritative baptism, "alien immersion," a term I have never used in my life, proceeds from a biblical belief in proper administrator.  I inform him, although he probably already knows, that guys like me also reject Roger Williams as a Baptist because of this.  We say John Clarke was the first Baptist in America.  I call this, "just being serious about what the Bible teaches."  We should be regulated by what scriptural precept and example.  This is what we see in the New Testament.  We should be fine with calling something that isn't biblical baptism, not baptism.

(More to Come)