Thursday, March 01, 2018

Cultic KJVO?

Tomorrow Thomas Ross's post will replace this one, but I wanted to still have it here on top for a few hours.

Cultic loses its meaning when it is used as an invective and pejorative.  Cultic should be reserved for the cultic.  Cultic shouldn't be weaponized as a word for staining people, even if they've got some big problems.  Credibility should diminish for a person misusing the term "cult" to the extent I'm describing, the flag thrown and the yardage walked off, even disqualification.

In recent conversation about categorizations of Baptist fundamentalism, special attention is given to KJVO as cultic.  We are assured that KJVO are cultic without explanation.  The people talking live in their own echo chamber, where they hear the one, same position bouncing around with agreement and back-slaps all around, elevating to the strongest possible name-call, "cultic" included.  Someone needs to explain why something is cultic.

There are some problems with KJVO.  Certain KJVO equal any bad position on the preservation of scripture and accompany a kind of mysticism related also to a false view of sanctification.  Those details should be pointed out and dealt with, instead of just calling it "cultic" in an unhelpful way.  I'm inclined to forget what I'm writing, and call it a cultic groupthink analysis.  It is it's own form of koolaid drinking.  Nobody needs to know why, just supply the red meat.

This summer my family will visit the UK and I've been looking at churches there.  The history of the church in the UK is different than the United States.  Movement went from here to there, but almost always the U.S. received something from the UK.  What I see from us in the UK are the things that the 'users-of'cultic' might like, thinking that they have progressed from the U.S. influence.  You see more allure in the technology, better capacity to pander, and the Charismatic movement.

Among the reformed evangelicals, which doesn't mean the same thing in the UK as it does here, those who call themselves reformed Baptists, and the strict Baptist churches, are many King James Only.  Many.  They didn't get that from Seventh Day Adventists, and other Illuminati-like and Trilateral Commission type conspiracy theories, used in an attempt to discredit.  They are red herrings that come without proof.  Are they just cultists?  If you are KJO, you're a cultist, mark it down.

These reformed Baptists and "evangelicals" (again, not the same thing as an American evangelical) are tied closely to historic confessions, usually linking to the London Baptist Confession (London, England, in the, um, UK), that cultic statement from 1689.  They are KJO because of something written in 1689, something doctrinal.  What's that all about?

Our family from Bethel Baptist Church, El Sobrante, California, is Lord-willing going to visit Bethel Baptist Church in Bath, UK for a mid-week service on our trip.  Many churches like them in the UK use the King James Version only.  The Trinitarian Bible Society comes out of London.  They are King James Only.  All of this comes out of the London Baptist Confession.  If all the words of God were preserved, therefore, available in 1689, those would be the ones translated into the English of the King James Version. They believe the London Baptist Confession.

If you are going to do away with the King James for these guys in the UK, you will need to do away with the London Baptist Confession or at least show how that it was wrong on that doctrine.  People don't do that.  They just call you cultic, which is actually how cultic people operate.  They try to intimidate people by calling them cultic.  It is carnal weaponry.  It works with some people, but they are left with attempting not to be cultic as their reasoning behind what they do.  This is functioning like the slave of Galatians and not the son.  The son obeys out of love.  The slave does it out of intimidation.


Tyler Robbins said...


The schools and personalities I mentioned in the chart should give you (and your readers) a good idea of what I was going for with that categorization. I'm not happy with either "cultic" or "KJVO fundamentalism" (my current term for that spectrum), because those terms don't really say anything.

I used my original label, "cultic," in the sense of "unorthodox and spurious," (see Merriam-Webster). So, the flavor of fundamentalism I was trying to capture is characterized by a whole constellation of unorthodox and spurious (i.e. cultic) doctrines. I mentioned Providence, Fairhaven, Hyles-Anderson, John Hamblin, Shelton Smith, Jack Hyles (etc.) as shorthand ways to direct the reader to “get” what I’m talking about. I suspect you’d separate from these kind of fundamentalists – you’ve written against Hyles many, many times (for example).

As for the doctrines I mentioned, here is a brief explanation:

KJVO. You know full well most men who are KJVO are not nearly as nuanced as you. You’re also aware many who claim to prefer the TR really just like the KJV. I know this doesn’t describe you, but it describes many, many people. You know this. Many folks have a re-inspiration view of the KJV, or something just a bit watered down from that. There is often no fidelity to the Greek at all; it’s about the KJV. If the shoe fits, then apply it. If it doesn’t, and you’re truly a TR guy, then I wasn’t referring to you.

Landmark. I’ve mentioned this before. Many people in this camp have a “trail of blood,” childlike understanding of historic Baptist polity. Again, you know this. I’m specifically referring to an uneducated, ignorant version of Landmarkism. Be a Landmark Baptist if you must, just be a thoughtful one who can actually discuss the issue. If somebody tells me the Novatians were early Baptist forerunners, then I know I’m talking to somebody who’s uninformed.

Doctrine. I’ll stick with soteriology and sanctification. Need I say more? What about the folks who call themselves fundamentalist Baptists who are actually semi-Pelagian? You know some of these folks; some of the schools I mentioned (above) teach this kind of trash. What about the bastardized Keswick-ish sanctification, coupled with the semi-Pelagian soteriology? You know what I mean, Kent. It’s all bad. I listened to your conference on the Gospel, when you discussed the harm done to little children by this kind of doctrine. You know it’s bad. It’s more than bad; it’s evil.

Preaching. If the shoe fits, apply it. You know preaching is generally bad from the graduates of the representative schools I mentioned. Do you expect to hear a solid, substantive expository sermon from a such a graduate? Be honest …

I’ve gone on long enough. Again, “cultic” in the context of my chart means a constellation of unorthodox and spurious doctrines. There is a spectrum of fundamentalist Baptists who fit this bill (above). You know it. I know it. If the shoe doesn’t fit (and it doesn’t with you), then don’t apply it.

Hopefully that explains things somewhat better. I’m still looking for a better label …

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm pretty sure all the KJV churches are lumped together.

I don't think it's a good thing to use the KJV as what qualifies them, as if their Keswick, etc. proceeds from the KJV. These men are less concerned about their false gospel as they are the KJV position.

Is Rick Warren cultic? Is Hybels cultic? Is Joel Osteen cultic? Is Mark Driscoll cultic? Is Charles Finney cultic?

Usually cults are associated with some kind of divine element in an individual and a kind of charismatic brainwashing. Usually there's a story that goes with it that is extra-scriptural. You have a founder that starts with some form of divine authority separate from history and orthodoxy, a renewal movement. You can't lump all KJVO with Ruckmanites.

I don't think you should be defensive in the use of the term. Of course the SI crowd love the use of cultic to describe KJVO. But what is it that is so rotten about KJVO to them that is less rotten about excluding repentance or giving candy to lure people to church. Most of them are fine with rock music being an impetus for church attendance, but they can't stomach the King James Version?

Tyler Robbins said...

Kent, you wrote: "Most of them are fine with rock music being an impetus for church attendance, but they can't stomach the King James Version?" That's a very important statement for anyone to consider!

I'm only defensive about the term because it doesn't fit very well. Everybody gets "fundigelical." Most people get "movement fundamentalists;" they're folks who can seem more preoccupied with fundamentalism as a "movement worth preserving" than doctrine worth fighting for. "Calvinistic" also works, as did my previous term "Reformed-ish."

But, what to do with the other group? What would you call Hyles-Anderson and the Sword of the Lord? I halfway think "cultic" is better.

I am interested in your take on the suggestion (from SI) that there is really a fifth group, consisting of Crown, WCBC, Ambassador, etc. I've had no contact with these folks, so I have no idea.

Kent Brandenburg said...


Crown, WCBC, and Ambassador can't themselves be lumped together. Ambassador would be closer to Maranatha, very close, I would imagine.

I've said for awhile that there isn't much different between Hyles and Hybels. WCBC is moving closer to Hybels, because, as I see it, it works better than Hyles. They're bringing a lot of people with them. They are becoming more ecumenical too, now that the second generation of WCBC grads are moving emergent. The focal point is methodology. That's what you read in the Rick Warren material and in the Chappell material. You see a similar fortune cookie approach to Christianity. The second generation WCBC aren't KJVO, use CCM, and don't have the dress standards. They are even more pragmatic than WCBC. Part of it is talk of unity, not being an everythingist, as Bauder would recommend.

I've had less connection with Crown, so someone else will have to speak for them, but Crown and WCBC wouldn't repudiate each other. I think they would say they're friends, warts and all.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Tyler,

What about "false gospel" IFB for the Hyles group?

Bill Hardecker said...

How about populist-KJVO? or KJVO-populist? Sounds legit. Yes, No?

Brendon Dunn said...

Tyler said:

"Many people in this camp have a “trail of blood,” childlike understanding of historic Baptist polity. Again, you know this. I’m specifically referring to an uneducated, ignorant version of Landmarkism. Be a Landmark Baptist if you must, just be a thoughtful one who can actually discuss the issue."

Uninformed Landmarkers are "cultists", while thoughtful Landmarkers are fine. What level of learning is required to pass from being a cultist Landmarker to just being a plain Landmarker? How many books am I required to read to cease being a cultist? Clearly Carroll's "Trail of Blood" will not do it. How about if I read John T. Christian? And Thomas Armitage? Does that make me no longer a cultist, but an acceptable Landmarker?

Does this strange categorisation apply to other doctrines? Is an unlearned Trinitarian a cultist, but an informed one not? Is an ignorant Premillennial a cultist but a thoughtful one not?

Is Landmarkism error or not? What difference does it make if the person believing it has a "childlike understanding"? If you really believe it to be an "unorthodox and spurious doctrine", you don't say "Be a Landmark Baptist if you must." You say, "Don't be a Landmarker."

JimCamp65 said...

Thanks Brendon Dunn, this is about what I was thinking.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Brendon and Jim,

You have put your finger on something. A key component for new-evangelicalism was to save Christianity from the country bumpkins, who were not seminary educated like they were. There is a segment of KJVO that seems to proceed out of the desire not to know the original languages. You can't be expected to know the original languages, so God must want the Bible in a known language, and Christianity has been more accepted in English than any other language -- that type of argument. They associate KJVO then with dummies. The Landmark position is similar, because the attack on the Trail of Blood is an academic one. You can't prove every point of Carroll's chart, so the underlying premise must not be true.

To me, the greatest scholarship is saying what the Bible says about whatever subject. The Bible teaches every word, every generation, accessible preservation of scripture. The Bible teaches the perpetuity of true churches for every generation. You can't prove either of those in an academic way, so according to the new paradigm that became accepted only in the 19th century with the rise of rationalism and modernism, also related to the enlightenment, the thoughtful person himself was acceptable. The faith is in scholarship itself.

Neither Landmarkers or KJVO are thoughtful. They are an embarrassment to Christianity, and if you want to save Christianity from that, you've got to find a position that will conform to scholarship. It's not actually scholarly, it's science falsely so-called.

Bill Hardecker said...

All James Milton Carroll ever was, was a pastor, historian, author, and educator. What did he know? Graduate of Baylor Universtiy and given an honorary Master's of Arts (1884), founded and led the Education Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (for ten years). Founded and served as the first president of the San Marcos Baptist Academy. Later served as the founding president of Oklahoma Baptist University, then he also became president of the Howard Payne University, Brownwood, TX.

His other brother was a bigger dummie and founded the Southwestern Baptist Theo Seminary, and authored An Interpretation of the English Bible, 17 volumes from Genesis to Revelation.

The Carroll brothers...maybe they do know a thing or two.

Joanne said...

Pastor Brandenburg,
I wondered what you thought of this recent comment at SI.

"I suspect that KJV tends to be more favored where the pulpit work is less interested in careful exposition. (And it's definitely the favorite where there is more interest in cherry picking and spring boarding to pet peeves and hobby horses!)"

My husband said they seem ongoingly oblivious that their hobby horse (besides anti-Trump angst) is to lecture others (in a non-expository sort of way, mind you) about their hobby horses. I have been in enough non-KJV only situations where there is precious little careful exposition. All depends on what they are bent towards expositing or cherry-picking about. I do not understand the snide hasty generalizing remarks after years of saying the KJVO crowd was divisive, etc. Becoming what they allegedly despise? I don't know.

Anyway. Thanks for this post. There was so much to address in That Post, but I agree this was perhaps the most amazing.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I had not answered every comment on this post, but Joanne commented here, and I noticed that I had not.

Regarding what name to give to a segment associated with KJVO, if they are Baptist fundamentalists, which is what the chart is about, then they must believe the gospel. The problem is, I don't think they do. But assuming they do, even though they don't, let's say it's revivalism. I think revivalism most characterizes their problems, because it takes the authority away from scripture. Sure, they use the KJV, but the problem is their view of sanctification, which bleeds around their perversion of the gospel.

One of the issues with revivalism is that it is all over fundamentalism, including in the movement fundamentalist category, greatly affected by a different form of revivalism, but still revivalistic. They still have their evangelist figure all over the place. BJU is led by an "evangelist," who is definitely a revivalist. The problems of that column of the chart are revivalism.

More later.


Populist is interesting, because something dovetails there. Populist would seem to be overly methodological, depending on what satisfies the masses. That could be 2 or 3 of the four groups.

I agree that most people don't know who the Carrolls are. They themselves aren't historical or knowledgeable of history and are really more pragmatic themselves.