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Posts Tagged ‘fundamentalism’

The Necessity Of The Holy Trinity

Posted by Job on October 26, 2011

Motivated at least in part by the current controvery over oneness heretic T.D. Jakes, (also here and here) please read two very good pieces on the importance of the Holy Trinity. Hopefully, this will help Christians understand that we are to separate with heretics, not dialogue with them.

On The Trinity: Part One – Hermeneutics

On the Trinity: Part Two – The Trinity, Central to Apologetics and Evangelism


Posted in anti - Christ, Apologetics, apostasy, Bible, blasphemy, blasphemy Holy Ghost, blasphemy Holy Spirit, christian broadcasting, Christian hypocrisy, Christian salvation, christian television, christian worldliness, Christianity, church hypocrisy, church scandal, church worldliness, corrupt televangelism, discernment, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, false doctrine, false preacher, false preachers, false prophet, false religion, false teachers, false teaching, grace, interfaith dialogue, irresistible grace, Jesus Christ, Jesus Only, modalism, oneness pentecostal, oneness pentecostalism, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, Ruach Hakadosh, syncretism, TBN, TD Jakes, televangelism, trinity broadcasting network, unitarian, Y'shua Hamashiach, Y'shua Hamashiach Moshiach, Yeshua Hamashiach | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Genesis 4:16-24 Is Clear Evidence That The Culture Is Not Worth Fighting For

Posted by Job on December 25, 2010

In Bible-based Christianity today, there are two major camps. The largest camp by far is evangelical Christianity, and then there is fundamentalist Christianity. In terms of doctrine, it is fair to say that Bible-based evangelicals and Bible-based fundamentalists are indistinguishable. Instead, the core difference between is their approach to “the world”, or the larger culture. Fundamentalists believe in remaining separate from the larger culture however and whenever possible. Evangelicals believe in fully engaging the larger culture however and whenever possible. Evangelicals fear what happens to the larger culture when the influence of the church is removed. Fundamentalists fear what happens to the church when the influence of the culture is present.

Both groups have a large body of Bible verses on their side. For instance, in the Old Testament, fundamentalists point to how Israel was called to be separate from the other nations, and how they fell into apostasy when they refused to do so and wound up adopting the evil practices and false religions of the pagans. Evangelicals mention how Israel was called to be a light to the other nations (and some even claim that Israel erred in failing to try to convert the other nations) and of course speak of how the priests and prophets were integral to Israel’s government and culture. In the New Testament, evangelicals speak of the mandate to be salt and light to the nations, and of Jesus Christ’s prayer that the church not be taken out of the world. Fundamentalists counter with the Biblical admonitions of how we should not love the world or be conformed to it.

It comes down to fundamentalists and evangelicals’ having different views on how to interpret and live out the “in the world but not of it” not only for the individual Christian’s daily life, but for the mission of the church in the world as a whole. Is our role of the church to preserve itself as Christ’s spotless bride (and to ward against apostasy) or to restrain evil in – and possibly even help reform – the world?

Now the New Testament appears to provide more evidence to the evangelicals, if one uses the number of Bible verses as a gauge. However, when one understands that many of the Bible verses that appear to endorse “taking on the culture” were actually in the context of liberating Christians from dead Jewish practices (i.e. the words of Jesus Christ to the Pharisees and the writings of Paul to Gentiles), and still more were meant to warn Christians against becoming monastics (which was a common practice of both certain Jewish sects and of zealous Gentile pagans). Also, consider the judgments of Jesus Christ of the church in Revelation 2 and 3 – and especially to the Laodicean church – was over their failure to keep themselves pure, and not over their failure to take on, influence and change the world.

Now the evangelical arguments for engaging the culture are many, and most of them are supported with very sound theological foundations that have excellent Biblical support. The problem is that the witness of both the Bible and of church history is consistent: whenever the church takes on the culture, the culture wins. And whenever the church engages the culture, the result is never the culture becoming more like the church, but the church becoming more like the culture. It has been this way ever since Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom (and the disastrous consequences that resulted).

The reason is that when we take on the culture, we move outside of what we are called to do. We go from God’s mission, God’s mandate, God’s territory and into our own. So, we do not have God’s resources at our disposal for the “culture-changing” mission. Instead, we have our own resources. Now these resources may be considerable, especially in wealthy, powerful cultures where a large percentage of the population adheres to or respects some of Christianity. For instance, lots of money can be raised, lots of manpower can be marshaled, and things ranging from moving oratorical skills, inspiring artistic talents, and cunning organizational or strategic abilities can be dedicated.

And it is because of all this great human ability united towards a common purpose, it is possible to win a few battles. And when those battles are won, it does honestly appear as if God is on their side, especially if one’s approach to Christianity is numbers-driven, results-driven, outcome-driven etc. … anything that allows you to evaluate your success based on something that comes to fruition relatively quickly and is easy to measure.

But the truth is that it is all illusory. Gains made are turned back; battles may be won but the war is lost. The reason: Christians are not the only ones with great human abilities at their disposal. Non-Christians have the same. Not only that, they have superior numbers and resources, plus the god of this world, Satan, on their side.

With these “facts on the ground”, to employ a military term, the only way for a Christian to be able to claim victory in culture wars is to become so compromised and worldly, to become so dispirited by a series of defeats, surrenders and capitulations that a lesser defeat seems like a victory. It is like a sports team who goes winless for 10 straight years, then posts a season where they win a single game (or maybe 2), lose the rest, and celebrate it as progress. Or the situation of a school where 95% of its students are performing under grade level, and when “only” 75% of the students are performing under grade level, the principal and teachers are rewarded with promotions and bonuses, and a party is thrown for the parents. Or when a military goes into war with great aspirations i.e. to force a complete surrender and a peace treaty according to the terms of the invading army, but instead finds itself beaten, driven back and humbled, and winds up having to “declare victory” based on a much more modest set of “goals” that do not come close to justifying the invasion in the first place, and withdrawing while leaving the enemy regime and military in an even stronger position than they were before. So, evangelical theology – doctrine and practice – must contort itself in ways to contrive failures as successes so that both past endeavors that did fail and future efforts that will fail can be justified.

Now this should not be viewed in terms of fundamentalists’ possessing any sort of virtue for refusing to involve themselves in this folly. Quite the contrary, fundamentalists have a different set of problems of their own. Instead, all virtue and wisdom – all credit – belongs to the God who inspired the very Bible that is to be our guide on this matter and all others. And it is to this Bible that we can turn to for clear evidence that the church is not to fight for the culture, because the culture is not worth fighting for.

The Bible text in question: Genesis 4:16-24. Why? Because this text deals with man’s increasing in number and a culture forming as a result. It is true: God did create and give to mankind certain foundations or building blocks of culture. For instance, God created the institutions of marriage and family by joining together Adam and Eve and telling them to procreate. God also created occupations (work or labor) by making Adam the keeper of the garden of Eden, and by commanding Adam to till the ground to support himself and his family after the fall. So, it is safe to proceed from there with the position that marriage, family and labor were given by God to man through special, divine revelation and that they therefore are to be promoted and nurtured by the church among Christians in order to have marriages, families and labor that glorifies God. (Working to somehow sanctify the marriage/family/work habits of non-Christians is not part of our Biblical mandate.)

But in Genesis 4:16-24, we see other cultural developments taking place wholly outside of God’s involvement. We know this because this passage deals with the lineage of Cain, who was driven from God’s presence for murdering righteous Abel, and not with the Godly line of Seth. Now the Bible doesn’t deal much with Cain’s seed (or with people outside of God’s covenant in general except when they interact with or take actions that effect God’s covenant people) so we can take the position that this information was included for a reason, so that we can draw lessons from it. And what do we learn?

First, we learn that Cain built a city. So, civilization, or a more advanced and orderly structured human society, was a development that came from human invention and not as a result of divine command or revelation. Second, we learn that one of Cain’s progeny, Lamech, corrupted the institution of marriage by taking two wives. Further, this same Lamech created the beginnings of false religion by making authoritative claims – based on himself as the sole authority and source of power – and compelling other humans to hear and heed his claims. Also, Lamech’s claims – that if Cain would be avenged sevenfold, that he would be avenged seventy sevenfold – were designed specifically to emulate, challenge, magnify himself against, and rise above God’s power and revelation. This has been the purpose and goal of all false religions and ideologies ever since. Further, Lamech’s involving his wives in his religious pronouncements gave an organization to it, so Lamech then was not the originator of some self-styled individualized spirituality system internal to himself, but false organized religion observed and shared by other people.

Then there was Lamech’s own children. One began the practice of living in tents and also of cattle ranching, which was higher, more advanced and organized socioeconomic based lifestyle, a key cultural component of civilized societies. Another, Jubal, created music, and another still, Tubalcain, created metallurgy. Both of these are vital to both the arts and commerce, and necessary elements to the formation of higher culture and of civilization.

Add it all up, and you have cities, God-dishonoring marriages (marriage quickly became merely arrangements for economic and tribal purposes), false religion, advanced economics (and a lifestyle centered around it), the creative arts and advancing technology. What do you have? Civilization. Culture. And with all the norms, morals and values that go with it. Again, while God did give basic, lower forms or building blocks of culture as part of divine command and revelation, the higher forms, the cultural advancements, came from the line of Cain. They did not come from the Godly line of Seth, or of any of God’s covenant people.

Now this does not mean that culture is wholly, inherently evil. Quite the contrary, the Bible is filled with examples of God using culture and guiding or establishing cultural norms when dealing with His covenant people, including the fact that God organized Old Testament Israel along tribal lines. And Jesus Christ Himself was born in a Jewish culture that He loved, adhered to and respected. It is clear from Romans 13 and other places that Christians are not to be anarchists, subversives or other elements that debase and marginalize culture, because God uses some elements of culture to restrain evil. Amazingly, this actually does include false religion: consider that murder, adultery, theft etc. are considered sinful by Islam. These things are evidence of common grace, of God’s general revelation to all people. We have a merciful God who causes it to rain for the just and the unjust so that both can have water to drink and food to eat, and for that we rejoice!

However, the unjust are the unjust still. The Biblical record is clear: culture  – or at least higher culture beyond marriage, family and work – was an innovation of the seed of Cain acting apart from God’s special revelation or direct command. And Revelation tells us that Babylon, the result of Cain’s work (human civilization), will be judged for its wickedness, which include acts defiance against God and of persecution of God’s people throughout all of human history beginning with Cain’s murder of righteous Abel.

So, human culture is not to be engaged and reformed by the church. Instead, human culture’s fate is to be judged and destroyed by God, and replaced by New Jerusalem. New Jerusalem is not a human city built by fallen human efforts (which describes Cain’s city and all since) but a city built by God.  A city or civilization built by humans will have a fallen human culture that is not worth fighting for. But New Jerusalem will have a redeemed Godly culture that we will not have to fight for, and that is what the church should set its eyes in anticipation for. Instead of loving and fighting for that which is corrupt, fallen and will be destroyed (this world), we should love and fight for that which is redeemed and will last forever (the world to come).

Christians have no part in Cain’s city, and should not even desire or aspire to, for the very idea of being a stakeholder in something that is wicked and will be destroyed is folly. It is worse than buying stock in a company that you know will go bankrupt and be shut down. It is worse because the money that you invest in that stock is temporary, but investing your heart and labor into Babylon will have eternal consequences. That is why instead of loving and laboring for what man has built, Christians should instead labor for and love what GOD is building.

Before you ask about Old Jerusalem – which is of special interests to dispensational Christians and many others – realize that while that city was given an exalted status in the Bible for old covenant Jews, please realize that Jerusalem was not built by Israelites. Instead, the first reference to Jerusalem in the Bible has the city being ruled by a wicked pagan king, and associated with the Jebusites. Similar is true of Bethlehem: it was not built by Israelites, but was a pre-existing village built by pagans that Israel assumed control of. Please note that God did not have Israel build a new nation from scratch, but rather had them take possession of a nation that already had cities, villages, economic infrastructure etc. in place.

From this, we can deduce that God wanted to build His own permanent city for His own people, and that Jerusalem and Israel were to be the temporary schoolmasters. And we see evidence of this even in the Old Testament scriptures from Old Testament Israel, as even with them, the emphasis began to shift from Old Testament Israel and its physical temple to the eschatological Zion. Let us recall that in Acts, Stephen bore witness of the fact that with the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this shift had in fact taken place. The result: Stephen became the first Christian martyr, murdered by Jews in love with the temple built by human hands (including the very evil Herod!) and the physical city built by pagans.

Make no mistake, Stephen, who rejected the world, was martyred at the hands of those who were unwilling to separate from the culture, from the world. In this manner, Christians are to be as Stephen, and not as those who stoned him.

Please keep in mind: all those born again in Christ Jesus will have their portion in New Jerusalem. Those who do not will spend eternity with the lost in the lake of fire. If you are not born again in Christ Jesus, you will have no part in New Jerusalem. To be in Christ Jesus and have a part in New Jerusalem:

Follow The Three Step Salvation Plan Today!

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The Dangers Of Emotional Sentimental Christianity

Posted by Job on September 16, 2009

By Kevin Bauder on Sharper Iron.

The evangelical mixture from which Fundamentalism developed made serious concessions to populism. Charles Finney took those concessions to an extreme by patterning the inner ministry of the church after the worlds of commerce, politics, and entertainment. Finney made these adaptations at the precise moment when popular culture was coming into existence. The result was that the predecessors of Fundamentalism invested heavily in adapting their Christianity to popular culture. Fundamentalism inherited this link with popular culture and has perpetuated it rather consistently through the years.

Popular culture came into its own during the Victorian-Edwardian era.1 It provided a channel through which Victorian influences began to affect the lived Christianity of most American evangelicals, and consequently of the Fundamentalists who came after them. While Fundamentalists have not been alone in attempting to assimilate popular culture into Christianity, they have been among the foremost.

One of the main characteristics of Victorian popular culture was its sentimentalism. Victorians did not invent sentimentalism, but they made it a significant aspect of their mental and emotional furniture. As the predecessors of Fundamentalism absorbed Victorian popular culture, they imported its sentimentalism into their Christianity.2

Sentimentalism is more than simple overindulgence in emotion. It is a combination of two factors. First, it attaches the wrong degree or kind of emotion to an object. Second, it pursues emotion for the sake of the emotion itself.

Historically, Christians understood each object or activity to merit a certain emotional response (an ordinate affection). To feel more strongly toward a thing than it merited was considered sentimental; to feel less strongly was considered brutal. Alternatively, to direct toward one thing a feeling that rightly belonged to another was also either sentimental or brutal, depending upon the quality of the feeling and its harmony with the object.

Sentimental people mismatch feelings to objects by incorrectly perceiving the value of the objects themselves. They smooth out or eliminate the complicated nature of being and feeling. Consequently, the feelings themselves are sweetened or otherwise imbalanced.3

Dickens is a good illustration of sentimentalism. His characters tend to be one-dimensional stereotypes. Feelings aroused by those characters are clichéd and, from a later perspective, simply corny. For example, little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop is such an impossibly sweet character that it is ridiculous to think of her as human at all. She is more like a porcelain doll. When Nell dies, the reader is supposed to be overcome with pathos. A person who understands what real thirteen-year-olds are like, however, is more likely to be overcome with the humor of the situation. Dickens attempted to evoke a sense of sorrow that far outweighed the value of Nell’s character.4

Nell was one of Dickens’s most popular characters. Why? Because sentimentalism is more concerned with the experience of the emotion than with its object. Dickens’s readers really wanted to feel the kind of bathetic sadness that he tried to evoke. Their clichéd grief, however, was very different from the misery that one experiences at the grave of a real girl. It was a feeling that people could relish. They could and did wallow in it. Their faux sorrow existed for its own sake, not for the sake of the plastic character toward whom it was directed.

A sentimental person is more interested in the feeling than in the object. The feeling must be quickly aroused and predictable. The words stereotype and cliché really are applicable to the process that occurs.

Because sentimentalism exists for the sake of the emotion, the focus naturally turns toward the individual who feels the emotion. As sentimentalism develops, it focuses less and less upon the object of sentiment, and more and more upon the quality of the sentiment itself. A sentimental song cannot say why a boy loves a girl. All it can say is how very, very, very much he loves her. As people become more sentimental they become more and more occupied with their own inner states, eventually resulting in profound self-absorption.

The consequences of sentimentalism for Christianity were profound. For example, sentimentalism changed the very categories in which unconditional election and efficacious calling were debated. Previous generations had resorted mainly to arguments about the nature of freedom (this approach can be found as late as Finney). The new sentimentalism, however, completely changed the way that people saw God. God was no longer complicated. He was no longer terrible in His holiness. He was not a God who hid Himself or who left His children weeping in perplexity.5 Rather, His fundamental attribute became niceness. God was now thought to be the quintessence of fair-mindedness. Such a God would never barge into an unresponsive heart. Furthermore, His niceness and even-handedness required Him to do everything that He could possibly do for every single sinner. It was unthinkable that God might do more for some (call them the “elect”) than He might do for others.6

Salvation was also sentimentalized. The unsaved were no longer regarded as rebels, lawbreakers, and criminals. They were now seen as poor, lost, lonely wanderers who needed to be shown the way home. The problem with sin was no longer that it scandalized justice and offended moral sense, but that it left the sinner weary, empty, and sad. The question became, “Are you weary? Are you heavy-hearted?” The invitation to salvation was no longer to repent, but to “Come home, come home, ye who are weary come home.” And, of course, the response was, “I’ve wandered far away from God. Now I’m coming home.”

Eternity was sentimentalized. Christians used to think of heavenly places primarily as the throne of God and Christ: “The Prince is ever in them.” Faced with the wonder of their eternal home, the faithful had exclaimed, “Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed!” Such a complicated view of eternity had to be flattened out. Heaven was transformed into a kind of church picnic in which a big family reunion would take place. The redeemed could now express their expectation of a spiritual romp to the rollicking, “Oh that will be glory for me, glory for me, glory for me.”

Even the Lord Jesus was transformed by the sentimentalism of the age. No longer was He viewed primarily as the transcendent sovereign who was coming to judge the quick and the dead. He was now seen primarily as a friend (oh, such a friend).7 This shift probably grew from a desire to emphasize intimacy with Christ, but it resulted in two gross misapprehensions of spiritual closeness. On the one hand, Christ was envisioned more and more as buddy or chum, and spiritual intimacy gave way to mere familiarity. On the other hand, a growing body of expression began to envision Jesus as a kind of spiritual boyfriend and to speak of intimacy in terms of romantic love. People came to the garden alone while the dew was still on the roses in order to meet the Son of God in a parody of a lover’s tryst. From a later perspective, such expressions seem scandalously comical. At the time, however, there were plenty of people whose vision of spirituality was significantly shaped by such stereotyped clichés.8

Finally, under the influence of sentimentalism the role of the individual changed. Expressions of piety became more subjective and self-focused. The perfections of God and the splendor of His plan were pushed to the side as the emotional experience and expression of the worshipper assumed center stage.

These were the influences that Fundamentalism inherited.9 They are the same influences that continue to affect the movement. The shape of sentimentalism has changed, but Fundamentalists in general have either tried to adapt to its latest expressions or else to perpetuate the older expressions as if they were somehow the faith itself.

The past three essays have attempted to define the intellectual and cultural location of Fundamentalism. They have expounded three influences that shaped the evangelical movement out of which Fundamentalism emerged. Those influences were Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism. All three influences were detrimental, and all three continue to affect the Fundamentalist movement.

To understand Fundamentalism better, we next need to discuss the theological environment out of which it developed. Before that discussion can take place, however, a few loose ends need to be tied up. To do that, I want to go back and to answer certain nagging questions about the matters we have been discussing. In other words, it is time for a digression.

1 The Victorian era properly ends with the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Victorian sensibilities continued to remain influential throughout the Edwardian period, which is typically extended past the death of Edward VII to the end of the Great War. During the Edwardian period, however, a transition was taking place that would produce the Jazz Age following the World War.

2 Victorian sentimentalism is one of the commonplaces of literary and historical discussion. Recently, however, it has come in for a good bit of scholarly examination. One of the more influential recent volumes in Victorian sentimentalism is Fred Kaplan, Sacred Tears: Sentimentality in Victorian Literature (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987). Another influential discussion occurs in Murray Roston, Victorian Contexts: Literature and the Visual Arts (New York: New York University Press, 1996). Recent interaction with both of these authors is provided by Suzy Anger, Knowing the Past: Victorian Literature and Culture (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press).

3 A brief but helpful discussion of sentimentalism can be found under the heading “Sentimentality” in Karl Beckson and Arthur Ganz, Literary Terms: A Dictionary (New York: Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 1975), 228-229. See also Thomas Winter, “Sentimentality” in Bret E. Carroll, ed., American Masculinities: A Historical Encyclopedia (New York: Moschovitis Group, 2003), 414-416.

4 For a thorough treatment of Dickens, see George H. Ford, Dickens and His Readers (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1955) or, more recently, Mary Lenard, Preaching Pity: Dickens, Gaskell, and Sentimentalism in Victorian Culture (Studies in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, Vol. 11) (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 1999).

5 Psalm 88.

6 My point is not to argue for either side in the debate. It is simply to note the shift in the kinds of arguments that seemed plausible to Christian people. Sentimental arguments about what God’s love or fairness obligate Him to do would have been met with incredulity from both sides a few generations earlier.

7 It is noteworthy that in Scripture, we are never told to address Jesus individually as a friend, though His enemies accused Him of being the friend of publicans and sinners. He names us as His friends, but that is a very different matter. The shift to “friend” language as a norm for defining one’s relationship with Christ represents a very marked downgrading of esteem for Him.

8 There is a legitimate use of marriage imagery to depict the relationship between God and the soul or Christ and the church. Also, Christians have sometimes employed sexual imagery to explain the simultaneous longing and self-forgetfulness of spiritual intimacy, together with the awful nakedness of the soul before God. All of this is miles away from the “Jesus is my boyfriend” sentimentalism of the Victorian period.

9 Daryl Hart, “When Is a Fundamentalist a Modernist? J. Gresham Machen, Cultural Modernism, and Conservative Protestantism,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 65:3 (Autumn 1997), 605-633.

The Recovery

Thomas Traherne (1636-1674)

Sin! wilt thou vanquish me?
And shall I yield the victory?
Shall all my joys be spoil’d,
And pleasures soil’d
By thee?
Shall I remain
As one that’s slain
And never more lift up the head?
Is not my Saviour dead?
His blood, thy bane, my balsam, bliss, joy, wine,
Shall thee destroy; heal, feed, make me divine.

This essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN).

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments » Calls Paul Washer, Ray Comfort And John MacArthur False Preacher Heretics!

Posted by Job on August 28, 2009

Beware of Paul Washer

Paul Washer’s Washed-up Gospel

Paul Washer’s FALSE GOSPEL!

Apparently the Jesus-Is-Savior people disdain all the talk about true Biblical repentance. Looks like another Calvinist/Reformed versus fundamentalist Arminianism debate. The latter is true because in their article denouncing Washer, they endorse Harry Ironside. About this Ironside:

Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, to John and Sophia (Stafford) Ironside, who were both active in the Plymouth Brethren. From a very early age, Ironside showed a strong interest in evangelical Christianity and was active in the Salvation Army as a teenager before later joining the “Grant” section of the Plymouth Brethren. in 1924, Ironside began preaching under the direction of the Moody Bible Institute. In 1926, he was invited to a full-time faculty position at the Dallas Theological Seminary, which he turned down, although he was frequently a visiting lecturer there from 1925 to 1943. After a series of sermons presented at the The Moody Church, in Chicago, he was invited to a one-year trial as head pastor there in 1929. Almost every Sunday that he preached there, the 4,000 seat church was filled to capacity. While there, he continued traveling to other US cities during the week for preaching engagements. In 1932, he expanded his travels internationally. Ironside preached at the 1935 funeral of Billy Sunday, at Moody Church. In 1930, Wheaton College presented Ironside with an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree, and in 1942-06-03 Bob Jones University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. Along with others such as Cyrus Scofield, he was influential in popularizing dispensationalism among Protestants in North America.

This is just an American version of the age old Baptist-Wesleyan (Methodist) dispute of post-Reformation England. In America, the Methodists basically won the debate, with Baptists co-opting many of their doctrines, and premillennial dispensationalism apparently playing a large role in that. It has reached the point where prominent fundamentalists openly denounce historic Protestant doctrines as heretical, while Wesleyan doctrines on soteriology and sanctification are now called the “Biblicist” position, as if Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, and Augustus Strong were ignorant of scripture or something.

The dispensationals refer to the doctrines of Washer to be “Lordship salvation.” Another site directly compares the teachings of John MacArthur to dispensational pioneer and giant Charles Ryrie. On Lordship salvation: “Its basic premise, that Jesus cannot be one’s Savior without also being his Lord, has been taken by some to mean that salvation is attained by works rather than by God’s grace.” The “some” who take this position are falsely distorting Reformed Baptist soteriology, building a straw man and knowingly making a false accusation. “Those who reject lordship salvation (e.g., Ryrie), believe that someone may have genuine faith in Christ, but the fact that he continues in his sin demonstrates that he has not made Jesus his Lord, only his Savior. According to Ryrie, just because someone sins or acts in disobedience (even habitually) doesn’t mean he doesn’t have saving faith.” So, it is the dispensational Ryrie who rejects “faith without works is dead.”

Check out what Ryrie claims. “Second, there is a repentance that is unto eternal salvation. What kind of repentance saves? Not a sorrow for sins or even a sorrow that results in a cleaning up of one’s life. People who reform have repented; that is, they have changed their minds about their past lives, but that kind of repentance, albeit genuine, does not of itself save them. The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. People can weep; people can resolve to turn from their past sins; but those things in themselves cannot save. The only kind of repentance that saves anyone, anywhere, anytime is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. The sense of sin and sorrow because of sin may stir up a person’s mind or conscience so that he or she realizes the need for a Savior, but if there is not change of mind about Jesus Christ there will be no salvation” (p. 94, SGS).

“The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ.” Intellectual regeneration, confessional regeneration, decisional regeneration. Not only that, but a truly radical form of this doctrine that combines both conversion and repentance, which the Bible and historic Protestant doctrine hold refer to two related but separate things, into the single act of decison. Their position – what can be called the modern Wesleyan one that is the basic position of American evangelical Christianity (whether Baptist, Pentecostal, or nondenominational)  is that the free will decision for Jesus Christ is the primary and controlling factor where salvation is concerned. Now in theory – i.e. for systematic doctrinal purposes – the free will decision is not the sole factor. But IN PRACTICE, the decisional regenerationists do not wish to countenance anything that would challenge the  idea that the person who has made a decision for Jesus Christ has to be considered born again.

Now this is the rub. Their objection to those like Washer and MacArthur is not in a SPIRITUAL or DOCTRINAL sense. Objecting in a spiritual sense, where humans can claim to profess with 100% certainty that someone is born again when the Bible says that God knows the heart, is not the sort of Roman Catholic thing that these people are after. And they are also not creating or defending any doctrine to the effect of “if a person accepts Jesus Christ AND REALLY MEANS IT then he is saved.” Instead, their objection is in a practical and ecclesiastical sense. As far as practice is concerned, well listen to enough sermons by Paul Washer, John MacArthur and their fellow travelers long enough and it will be difficult to continue relying on the sinner’s prayer and similar evangelism methods (even if Ray Comfort, who largely shares their beliefs, still does). And in an ecclesiastical sense, their doctrines make it extremely difficult to put someone on a church roll after a decision for Jesus Christ. Washer and MacArthur (if not necessarily Comfort) demand a little more effort, a little extra step out of their evangelism methods and before people are allowed as members of their church in good standing. And even after requiring a little more, Washer and MacArthur regularly and frequently acknowledge that many members of their own churches are not born again.

That is offensive to someone who really, truly believes in decisional regeneration, which quite honestly does teach that a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit upon their heartfelt decision for Jesus Christ. People who make a decision for Jesus Christ and remain unsaved; their only recourse is to claim that the decision was false, insincere, made without adequate understanding, etc. Further, one cannot spend too much time thinking about just how often these “flawed decisions” (decisions for Jesus Christ that did not result in true conversion) because having to consider a large number of flawed decisions means working out how decisional regeneration works in practice (i.e. methods of producing decisions for Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit will always – or at least almost always – honor) and incorporating that practice into evangelism and ecclesiology.

Now in times past, meaning the earlier Wesleyan and fundamentalist movements who A) taught that one could lose his salvation and B) had a strong moral/ethical/works component, this was not a problem. In those cases, you were dealing with a person who had lost his salvation and needed to confess and apologize for his sins and make a new confession of faith, and further the emphasis on morals and ethics (called “legalism” by some) acted as a control on church culture that reduced the need to have to deal with this unpleasant situation. However, as the modern movements have adopted more Biblical positions concerning the preservation of the saints and on grace, they cannot simply deal with this tough issue by saying “Well he made a valid decision for Jesus Christ, lost his salvation, and needs to be saved anew.” Instead, the position has to either be “he was never saved in the first place because his decision for Jesus Christ was flawed or ineffective” or “he is saved based on his decision for Jesus Christ, but he still has problems with sin.” Now as stated earlier, choose the former and the “decision for Christ” doctrine and the church systems based on it have real problems. So, they have no choice but to choose the latter, even if it means explicitly embracing the idea that a decision for Jesus Christ results in Holy Spirit regeneration in even the absence of Biblical repentance (what the Bible means when it says being “pricked in the heart” in Acts 2:37 and similar) and/or rejecting the Lordship of Jesus Christ (despite the fact that it is plainly impossible to make a decision for Jesus Christ when you do not know the identity or nature of the Jesus Christ that you are making a decision for or what Jesus Christ requires of you; anything less is making a decision to a false Jesus Christ, which is a false god or idol that does not exist and is no god at all).

By making decisional regeneration – or more accurately decisional conversion – the agent that results in the Holy Spirit’s justifying and regenerating a sinner, it makes the human free will decision of Jesus Christ a sacrament, a human ritual or action that imparts God’s grace (or results in God’s deciding to impart grace by honoring the initiative and actions of man). This can be compared to the sacramentalism of the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church claims that by being the body of Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit (yes, the Roman Catholic Church does teach that the very institution is the body of Jesus Christ and contains within it the power and sovereignty of Jesus Christ) it has vested within it the power and authority to perform rituals that confer grace through its appointed representatives. So, the Roman Catholics believe that rituals performed by their priests save people, because through the ritual the priest is dispensing the saving grace using the Holy Spirit that the indwells the church. In other words, the ritual performed by the Catholic church saves you because the Catholic church is the body of Christ, contains the Holy Spirit, and as a result has the authority and the ability to dispense saving grace through its sacraments just as Jesus Christ had the ability to tell the paralytic man “thy sins are forgiven” and tell the penitent thief on the cross “this day you shall be with me in paradise.” (Consider in the last case, Ryrie’s position is that the thief in question never had to repent of his sins – which he plainly did when he confessed them and stated that he deserved the punishment of death for them – or call Jesus Christ Lord and submit to Him on that basis, but rather that the thief only had to ask Jesus Christ to save Him.)

However, the decisional conversion-regeneration position states that a person acting on his own power and authority can make a decision that the Holy Spirit (indeed the Holy Trinity) is unconditionally bound to honor, and further that the Godhead must accept that person’s decision even if that person rejects repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. So where the Roman Catholic position is that as the Body of Christ being indwelt by the Holy Spirit it has the sovereign prerogative and ability to confer grace and the regenerative workings of the Holy Spirit on a sinner (Catholic sacramentalism), decisional conversion-regeneration holds that a person outside fellowship with Jesus Christ (and indeed is at emnity with Jesus Christ, spiritually dead, no interest in spiritual things, and all the other things that the Bible says about his condition of original sin and totally depraved state – doctrines which again the original Wesleyans and Arminians somewhat denied but modern dispensationals have mostly adopted) can perform a sacrament that dispenses grace upon himself.

While I do not take the position that Wesleyan dispensationals are in a false and heretical apostate movement and hence cannot be considered Christians – which incidentally is the position that I take with Roman Catholics – allow me to say that at least Roman Catholicism have an explanation for how it is possible for their priests to perform sacraments that dispense grace to sinners: that the priests are acting as representatives of the body of Christ that is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore have the necessary access to the Holy Spirit and its grace to give to sinners. (Please note: the Roman Catholic Church actually holds in theory that it institutionally has the right to deny salvation to sinners, but it is exceedingly rarely done in practice, especially in modern times. However, in times past there was this pope who excommunicated the king of Britain until the king caved to the pope’s political demands. The pope kept this king waiting outside begging in the snow for days before the pope decided to allow this king back into heaven. Again, do not mistake this for an endorsement of Roman Catholicism in any way.) However, decisional conversion-regeneration holds that a sinner unreconciled with God and thus not part of the Body of Christ (note that I capitalized “Body” with respect to Protestants and not Catholics, and yes it was by design) and hence is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit is able to impart saving grace upon himself – or to be more accurately compel the Holy Spirit that does not indwell him to impart its saving grace – through the “decision for Christ” sacrament. Now I am not going to say that the Catholic position is more Biblical or that it even makes more sense (especially when you consider that Catholic sacramentalism cannot be taken in isolation, but must be considered in the context of their other mystical, pagan doctrines) but at least the Catholics have an explanation for how a priest can save someone by sprinkling him or giving him a communion wafer. The modern Wesleyan evangelical has no explanation for how the decision of an unpenitent sinner who rejects the Lordship of Jesus Christ places the Holy Spirit under unconditional compulsion to save the sinner. The reason for this was stated earlier: deep consideration of the issue of salvation resulting entirely from human initiative, from human intellectual decision, can only result in serious problems for the entire doctrinal system. So, in order to prevent such examination from taking place, their only recourse is to call Paul Washer a heretic for insisting that Biblical repentance is a requirement for salvation, and that salvation results in a person becoming a new creation whose evidence is a changed moral character that reflects and communicates God’s holiness.

When boiled down to its core, the system of Ryrie, Ironside, and holds that becoming a new creature simply means switching allegiances, changing minds. Then again, as this doctrine rejects Biblical repentance and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, becoming a new creation simply means deciding to allow Jesus Christ to save you. And since it is the sinner who decides to allow Jesus Christ to save him, then it is the sinner who performs the new birth, the new creation through the exercise of his free will, or the changing of his free will. Now of course, the people holding the doctrines similar to Ryrie and the folks at are not in the business of admitting this fact to people. As a matter of fact, they haven’t even admitted this fact to themselves. (I am serious … they really, truly have not taken this doctrine to its logical conclusion, of thinking about what salvation based on the free will decision of a sinner who rejects repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ really means as opposed to what they desperately want it to mean.) So rather than come to grips with the horrible conclusion that their doctrines teach that the sinner accomplishes his own rebirth through the exercise of his intellect, they must accuse those whose preaching challenges their doctrines like Washer and MacArthur of teaching “works plus faith justification” and “legalism.”

The good news: in practice the free will evangelicals do preach that Biblical repentance and the Lordship of Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation. Lots of Reformed/Calvinistic types claim that they do not, but I have listened to far too many evangelical free will Baptist, Pentecostal, and nondenominational sermons. Also, the link which evaluates the statements of Ryrie acknowledges that Ryrie actually ultimately endorses the very positions of MacArthur that he wrote “So Great Salvation” to attack in the first place (and questioned the integrity of Ryrie for failing to admit it). The problem only occurs when people such as Washer and MacArthur repeatedly and directly challenge the “decision for Jesus Christ” doctrine. It is only when that happens that such people as Ryrie and the folks at are forced to manifest a sort of double-mindedness (I will not use the humanistic psychological term “schizophrenia”) about what they actually believe concerning soteriology.

It is interesting that the “Lordship salvation” opponents use Ananias and Sapphira as well as the Corinthian man living in fornication as examples to demonstrate that the doctrines of Washer, Comfort, and MacArthur – where they demand Biblical repentance and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ – are false. First, scripture never states that Ananias, Sapphira, and the Corinthian fornicator did not repent and submit to Christ’s Lordship at the time that they were saved. It merely states that these people fell into sin after salvation. It is an argument from silence, true, but it is still completely consistent with what the apostle John writes about Christians who fall into sin in at least 3 of his epistles (1 John, 2 John, Revelation). Also, the people who reject “Lordship salvation” do not ACCURATELY deal with the issues raised by Simon Magus, Simon the magician! Why? Because Simon Magus made a decision for Jesus Christ without repenting of his sinful desire for power and wealth, and without submitting to the Lordship and sovereignty of God! Simon Magus was using sorcery to control people and make money before he made his decision for Jesus Christ, and not only did he want to continue doing those things after he made his decision for Jesus Christ, but he wanted to force the sovereign Holy Spirit to do his bidding! Correlating Ananias and Sapphira and the Corinthian in the sexual relationship with his father’s wife with the Johannine epistles – interpreting scripture with scripture – confirms what they call “Lordship salvation” rather than denying it. And further, the case of Simon Magus makes it explicitly clear that there is no other salvation but “Lordship salvation!” Otherwise, wow, it would be possible to go to heaven without your knee bowing and your tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11), and not only your Lord but Lord of all!

So, we must pray in the Name of Jesus Christ that the people who have adhered to and are disseminating false doctrines on this matter would open their hearts to the truth and begin teaching the truth instead of a lie., this means you, and you are by no means alone.

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On What Authority Rests Your Faith? And Whose Business Is It?

Posted by Job on December 23, 2008

This is another attempt to get a handle on the controversy surrounding Rick Warren’s speaking at Barack Obama’s inauguration. First, let me get something out of the way. As to my opinion of Rick Warren’s speaking at Obama’s inauguration, let me say that truthfully I have no opinion. Why should I? Rick Warren is a self – admitted member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and openly advocates the idea that the work that he does for this body makes him a better pastor, a better Christian, and the world a better place. Barack Obama? His wife is a former leader of the Chicago chapter of the Council on Foreign Relations, whose members and/or people knowingly and willingly working to advance their agenda include such people representing the right as Newt Gingrich and George H. W. Bush, such people representing the right as Clinton and the aforementioned Michelle Obama, celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie, and pastors such as Rick Warren and T. D. Jakes. 

Also, consider that one of Barack Obama’s early advocates: Rupert Murdoch, whose entire career as a pro – business race – baiting conservative would seem to have made him an Obama opponent. Well, Murdoch, actually 100% literally the world’s biggest pornographer in that no one, not Hugh Hefner or Larry Flynt or the mafia, more widely distributes or makes more money off pornography than does Murdoch, has lucrative and mutually beneficial business ties with Rick Warren. So now, right on the heels of the release of Rick Warren’s new book, already a bestseller, which Warren calls “the most clear definition of Christianity – of what it means to follow Jesus, what it means to be saved – of anything I’ve ever written“, comes the announcement that Obama is making Warren his inauguration speaker. So I ask of you … what is there to think of this other than to say that for Warren and Obama this is just business as usual?

Now this could have been an opportunity for a great many Christians to take a longer, deeper look at Rick Warren, his theology, and his associations. In other words, apply the same to Rick Warren as so many conservative Christians did to Barack Obama’s liberal and black liberation theology, and with Jeremiah Wright, Saul Alinsky, William Ayers, Michael Pfleger, ACORN etc. Really, the Council on Foreign Relations and Rupert Murdoch are just part of a much larger picture with Warren, which tends to indicate that he – and Obama – are merely players in a much larger game. So, then, who are the game masters and ultimately the puppet masters? And who is ultimately the head behind the puppet masters? These are questions that Obama’s tapping Rick Warren – and Rick Warren’s accepting – should raise.

But instead, we had this convenient explosion of protests from angry homosexuals and their advocates. The result has been a great many conservative Christians to take the position that if the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, ACT UP, People for the American Way, and other such groups are attacking Rick Warren, then he can’t be all bad. “The enemy of the enemy is my friend”, right? Well, I should remind you that this slogan originated in the Middle East, and radical Islam opposes homosexuality (and abortion and rock music and pornography and separation between church and state) too.  

So, we have Obama able to use Rick Warren to advance his agenda, and Warren to use Obama to advance his. And, of course, whoever is using both Obama and Warren to advance their own agenda is getting what they want too. The reason for this is that similar to Billy Graham before him, a complete and total lack of prominent people, people of position, esteem, influence, and reputation, willing to criticize Rick Warren. Whether they are conservative, evangelical, traditionalist, or fundamentalist, you cannot find a single Christian leader willing to incontrovertibly and without qualification oppose the fellow. Oh they will criticize him from time to time when they are forced to confront something disturbing that Warren does or says. But they will not ever deal with the fact that Warren as a matter of routine procedure does and says disturbing things.

They also will not apply what scripture says about Christians, especially pastors, who routinely say and do things that are unscriptural, Christians who glorify and revel in their things unscriptural, and take pleasure in others who do unscriptural things just as they do. Scripture calls those people in need of severe rebuke at the very best, and on balance false Christians and heretics and those allied with them synagogues of Satan.

Now I admit, I had a glimmer of hope that Republican – leaning Christians would start to closely examine any pastor who aligns himself with a president that has stated that his first act in office would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. But the very convenient Proposition 8 homosexual marriage controversy rendered that moot. And as I mentioned earlier, the lack of well known Christian pastors and theologians willing to publicly and directly take on the Rick Warren problem is exactly what allows a sort of “jury nullification” to be applied to Warren and his theology. Which, of course, leaves us right back where we started. Which is that I have no opinion on Warren giving the inauguration blessing other than “business as usual.” 

My main problem with Rick Warren’s theology? It is simple. Who is Jesus Christ? Our Lord and Savior. Not only is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Lord comes first. Jesus Christ was our Lord before He ever was our Savior. And even if Jesus Christ had never been our Savior, indeed had God decided never to redeem mankind (or perhaps had mankind never needed redeeming) He would still be our Lord. The Lordship of Jesus Christ, indeed the Sovereign Lordship of Jesus Christ, is spiritually and logically prior. The authority of Jesus Christ comes not from being Savior. It comes from His being Lord. It is because Jesus Christ is Lord that we can call upon His Name and be saved.

The problem with Warren and those like him is that they offer a Jesus Christ that is Savior without truly being Lord. They offer an incomplete picture of Jesus Christ which results in being a false Christ. Jesus Christ is only the helper, provider, and friend, sort of like a best buddy. Jesus Christ the Ruler, Leader, and Judge is left out. (So if Jesus Christ is only the lamb, who is the lion? America’s economic and military machine perhaps?) It is so easy to look at Revelation and see how chapters 4 – 20 apply to the overt non – Christians, the world that is, who rejects Jesus Christ as Savior and say “none of that is going to happen to me” if you are a Christian. But in doing so, are you forgetting that Revelation chapters 1 – 3 applies to the church? Those three chapters lead Revelation because judgment starts in the church. It does not start in the world. And that fits the gospels and the epistles that precede Revelation, and also the Old Testament before the New Testament. Those things were not given as warnings to the world. The Old Testament was given to God’s people Israel. The gospels and the epistles were given to God’s people the church. The warnings, judgments, etc. in the Old Testament, gospels, and epistles were to the Old and New Testament saints, not to the heathen.

So the only purpose of Revelation 4-20 is to show what will happen to the heathen. The rest of the Bible is for believers – or should I say partial believers – who fail to obey. It is for Ephesians who have left their first love. It is for those in Pergamos who follow Balaam and the Nicolataines. It is for Thyatirans who follow the Jezebel doctrines. It is far those in Sardis who do not repent and strengthen the things which remain before they die. And it is for the lukewarm Laodiceans. These are all people who profess Jesus Christ as Savior but who by word or action reject Him as Lord. As a result, the professed Christians that reject the Lordship of Christ in Revelation 1-3 will receive Revelation 4-20 and miss out on Revelation 21-22. For them, it will be as if they never professed Jesus Christ as Savior at all. And in truth, they never will have, because Jesus Christ is not your Savior if He is not your Lord.

And the result of doctrines, theologies, movements etc. that profess Jesus Christ as Savior without making Him Lord? For such people the Bible is no longer the authority. For these people, the Bible is only AN authority. It is a reference. A source. Something from which to draw footnotes. But it is not THE authority. Such people may reject the notion of the Bible being the singular authority in all things out of hand. Others may profess it while not living it. And there are the many shades in between. But the root is the same: Jesus Christ is their Savior without being their Lord. For those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord have seared in their minds and hearts John 14:15, and diligently study, meditate, and strive to heed the Bible to live up to John 14:15, and when they discover that doing so is impossible, they have no choice but to take refuge in the cross to relieve, cover, and fix up their brokenness in light of their failure. Those are the Romans 7:7-25 people.

Otherwise, where does the authority come from? In trying to categorize the Protestant Christian landscape (and for the most part exempting the largely liberal mainline denominations) there seems to be three basic groups. Fundamentalists are basically known by their rejection of modernism (the intellectual and ideological movement that began with the Englightenment and ended with World War II, or as others say began with the French Revolution and ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the age of reason, science, and rationality). For them, the authority appears to be received tradition. That old time religion is good enough for them! What if the old timers were wrong on things like, say, consuming wine in moderation as Jesus Christ incontrovertibly did? Or even ideas that really aren’t that old like dispensational premillennialism, or didn’t even originate with fundamental Christianity such as trying to use religiosity or religious – tinged secular activism to transform an unregenerate society into a society that they perceive to be more like the one which gave them their tradition? Well it is still good enough! 

Evangelicals are known for their embrace of modernism. After all, God is a God of order, God made creation to reflect His orderly nature, which makes the faith by which we come to know and experience God entirely rational. Right? I am not going to attempt to belittle evangelicalism by making flailing attempts to point out where this thinking leads.  (I will, however, say to open practically any major work of evangelical systematic theology written after 1970 and see for yourself!) I have to ask this question, however:  is it an issue of whether a member of a church shows no interest in theological things, or if they have no interest in spiritual things? Or are theological things, especially if this theology is propositional and deductive in nature, and spiritual things one and the same? It would appear that for evangelicalism, then, the ultimate authority is reason and rationality, even if for no reason other than mainstream evangelicalism is hesitant to deal with Biblical matters that do not lend themselves to reasonable or rational discourse. For messy things like that, concepts like “Christian values” step up and fill the void. Failing that, you have “the proper meaning of this Bible text must necessarily be limited to the single meaning that the speaker intended the hearers to understand in that day and time, and the single meaning that the hearers understood the speaker to be communicating in their cultural context.” Or for that matter “those things were only for the apostolic era forthe church’s  foundational purposes and were not meant for Christians coming thereafter.” (Never mind that there is not a single Bible verse that anyone can point to that actually says this!) For what are we supposed to be contending? For the jargon now delivered to the saints, or for the faith once delivered to us?

As for emergents or the emerging church? It is known for its embrace of postmodernity. Among postmodernity’s claims is the idea that definite truth either does not exist or is unknowable. All that exists is perception, and perception is basically the product of one’s cultural background, preconceived notions, and other biases, and as a result one person’s opinion is as good as another. (Of course, no postmodernist actually believes this insofar as they actually go about pretending as if 1+1 may or may not be 2, and they certainly believe their own opinions and values to be true, so in truth postmodernism is actually more of a place of first and permanent resort when challenged.) So what is the authority? Me. What I believe. What I believe to be true, or more accurately what I believe to be right. And even when I am proven wrong, it is no big deal because hey, no one’s perfect anyway. It isn’t as if it makes me a bad person or anything!

Now consider that one of postmodernism’s criticisms of modernity is that it is individualistic. Postmodernity claims to be about building, indeed restoring, the sense of human community. So it is not merely individuals running around with their own individual human opinions. Rather, postmodernism gives groups of people the ability to more or less coalesce around the same truth, meaning, or interpretation. (You believe the same thing that I do? Sweet! Let’s hang out!) Now the truths of various communities will inevitably diverge, but that is not what is important. What is important is the shared consensus of these communities, which is that there exists no single truth that can be imposed upon them, and more importantly no authority with the right to impose it. This authority may have the power, mind you. But they don’t have the right. Any authority that exercises its power to impose a definite truth on any person or group is by nature totalitarian, oppressive, and illegitimate. 

So, then, can the postmodern Christian still be conservative, evangelical, or orthodox? I am going to leave aside the games that postmodernists play with language, their tactic of co – opting vocabulary by giving words different meanings to make people believe that they agree with them (sort of like how when Christians and Mormons refer to Jesus Christ as the Son of God both groups mean totally different things!) for a minute.

Instead, to strictly deal with the question, the answer is yes, the postmodern Christian can have almost entire points of agreement on evangelical and fundamentalist Christians on theology and doctrine. However, this is only because the postmodern Christian personally chooses to. The postmodern Christian is totally free to pick and choose based on his own ideas of interpretation, his own ideas of true and untrue, his own ideas of right and wrong, which Bible interpretations to accept and reject, which doctrines are true and false, what things to emphasize or ignore. The rule of faith? Nay, the rule of what I think is right. Which ultimately becomes the rule of what I and my community of like – minded believers think is right. (The community of like minded believers is extremely important, because there is indeed strength in numbers.) And anyone who comes around and says different, anyone who tries to impose their personal notions of truth on me, is a small minded hypocritical judgmental Pharisee. 

So this brings us back to the many evangelicals, fundamentalists, and other theologically conservative Christians who are willing to allow Rick Warren to reside within the sphere of what they consider to be acceptable merely because Warren professes the historic creeds, confessions, and doctrinal statements, and moreover his social and cultural beliefs are well within the conservative Christian consensus. They are looking at the fact that Rick Warren professes the right beliefs alone while overlooking – willfully I might add – that Warren’s authority for his beliefs are none other than Warren himself. (And yes, that does explain why despite his profession of orthodox beliefs his actions are so disturbing.) They do this because in their evaluating Warren – and more importantly their deciding what to do (or what not to do) about him – their authority is the fundamentalist or evangelical consensus. They are already tolerating things that are abiblical or questionably Biblical within their own spheres. So long as it remains in their sphere, it is fine. So Warren is just something else. Admit it: Warren falls right within the fundamental or evangelical spectrum. And as long as he does, there is no need for anyone whose authority is the fundamental or evangelical consensus instead of or in addition to the Bible to oppose him in any meaningful way.

Here is the irony. Suppose Warren were to come out and say that abortion and homosexuality are the state’s business or the culture’s business that have nothing to do with the church. That the church should mind its own affairs, which is to win converts and disciple new members, and let the state and culture manage theirs. Now such a position would be far closer to the New Testament writings and what the New Testament figures actually seems to have practiced than the many peculiarities of fundamental or evangelical Christianity. Yet, were Warren to start promoting such an idea, that would be when some prominent Christians would have occasion to oppose the fellow. Why? Because the idea that Christians should find some active means of opposing the drift and tide of our government and culture away from the traditions and norms of the past is well within the fundamental or evangelical mainstream, so stating that the Body of Christ should concentrate its energies on Jesus Christ’s sheep, both lost and found, would place Warren out of this mainstream despite the very real possibility that such a position may be Biblical. (At the very least, the position would be worthy of serious reflection, study of scriptures, and doctrinal debate.) So, by remaining nominally anti – abortion and anti – homosexuality (nominal in that he makes public statements to that effect, but don’t expect to see him at a pro – life rally or handing out gospel tracts at a gay pride event very often) Warren basically remains in the evangelical or fundamental good graces no matter what else he does. How can fundamentalists and evangelicals oppose Warren’s deviations when they have or suffer other ones? It is only if your final authority is the Bible that you have the position to consistently oppose deviations, no matter who exhibits them and or what area the deviations exist. This is not to say that you will go around using that position on a constant basis because there is such a thing as Christian charity, humility, and a desire for unity that will cover a multitude of faults. But these things do not apply to people who because of a multitude of consistent errors in their statements and practices cannot truly be called Christians, and this is certainly the case with one Rick Warren.

That is why the little criticism of Warren that exists concerns his embrace of such things as environmentalism and global warming. Pardon me, but can you show me the Bible verses that command Christians to be anti – abortion anti – homosexuality activists and not anti – poverty pro – environmental activists? I have been through the Bible several times and seem to have overlooked them. Maybe the reason is that I mostly adhere to the King James Version, perhaps? Because what I have seen in my readings of the New Testament is Jesus Christ and the epistle writers speaking to the issues among believers. Their dealing with unbelievers was limited to sharing the gospel with them so that they might become believers. For homosexuality, disposing of unwanted children, and other forms of sin and immorality were pervasive throughout the heathen Roman Empire, yet the only thing that the New Testament manages to say about the world outside the church is Romans 13’s commandment to generally respect the government. Not transform the government (or the culture), mind you, just to respect it, as the Bible calls lawlessness and sedition sin.

Again, in this Warren is no different from the last generation’s Billy Graham. Around the time of the Vatican Council II, Billy Graham just up and decided that Roman Catholicism was perfectly fine. After that came a flood of other pronouncements from Graham, culminating in his statement to a major newsmagazine that he was no longer certain that Jesus Christ was the only way to heaven. (Please realize that such has been the position of the Roman Catholic Church since the Vatican Council II; Roman Catholicism is officially pluralist, even if conservative Catholics don’t like talking about it much.) So many fundamentalists and evangelicals declared themselves shocked at Graham’s statements. Why were they? Like Warren today, Graham had long been saying and doing worrisome things. And like Warren today, no one of any prominence was willing to rise up and take Graham on. So, Graham’s attack on the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ was just swept under the rug, just as everything else Graham said and did in rejection of the fact that the Bible declares Jesus Christ to be Lord. After all, can it be denied that the position of the Roman Catholic Church is that the church is lord on earth, and the pope is the head of the church? 

So really, this is not about Rick Warren or Barack Obama. It is about you. On what authority rests your faith? Is it based on received tradition? Is it based on reason, rationality, and proposition? Is it based on what you believe and decide to be right? Or is it based on the Bible? Now of course, I am fully aware that we worship God and not a book. (After all, the “New Testament church” – meaning the early, apostolic church – didn’t even have the complete New Testament in canonical form, but they most certainly had God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit!) But are not God’s Commandments to us contained within this book? And how can we say that God is Lord of our lives if we make His Commandments subservient to tradition, reason, or the imaginations and high things that exalts themselves against the knowledge of God of our own desperately wicked and deceitful above all things hearts? 

So worship a book? No. Worship and praise God by striving to obey the Bible? Yes. So what, then, are we to make of people who refuse to even try? Who make excuses for this refusal for themselves and for others? Well, to be honest, that is just business as usual, as most of the epistles were indeed letters describing how to view and deal just such people in local congregations, and before those the law, the prophets, and the writings of the Old Testament addressed those very same such people in Israel. 

So then, Christian, what business is yours? Is it the business of your God, your Savior, your Creator, your Lord? Or is it the business of the world, that is, business as usual? The answer to this question is determined by whether the Word of God is your ultimate authority.

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Fundamentalists And Charismatics Part 2

Posted by Job on August 3, 2008

From Sharper Iron.

Some Reflections on the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements, Part 2

by SharperIron at 12:00 am July 28, 2008. 263 views. Filed under: Charismatics, Pentecostalism

Note: This article is reprinted from The Faith Pulpit (January 2001), a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, IA).

Read Part 1.

by George Houghton, Th.D.

III. Some Observations and Comments

1. The teaching common to all of these groups, which states that all of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit in New Testament times ought to be observed and practiced by Christians today, is definitely unbiblical. The supernatural sign gifts were intended by God for the Apostolic Age and were designed to be temporary. It is not the purpose of this paper to deal exhaustively with the Bible passages which support this view, but if it is true, we should not be taken in by contemporary experiential phenomena—no matter where they are found. The Bible must be our standard.

2. What does the Bible really say about tongues-speaking?

First, there are not very many passages which actually mention it. Mark 16:17-18 lists some historical phenomena experienced by the early Christians, which demonstrated the validity of their message. Acts 2 narrates the occurrence at Pentecost, Acts 10 describes the conversion of the first Gentiles, and Acts 19 describes the conversion of the disciples of John the Baptist. I Corinthians 12-14 presents Paul’s corrective message to a carnal church abusing spiritual gifts.

Second, other than the Corinthian passage, tongues-speaking does not appear to have been a regular, ongoing occurrence.

Third, tongues-speaking in the Bible seems to have involved actual languages. Acts 2 describes the phenomenon in the following language: “Every man heard them speak in his own language” (verse 6), and “How hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (verses 8-11). When the Gentiles in Acts 10 experience this phenomenon, Peter likens it to precisely what had occurred at Pentecost (10:44-48). In I Corinthians, Paul seeks to establish guidelines for the proper use of spiritual gifts. When dealing with tongues-speaking, he states that its purpose is to be a sign (14:22), and he bases this statement upon an Old Testament passage (Isaiah 28:11-12) where the Lord told the nation of Israel that He would use “men of other tongues and other lips” (I Corinthians 14:21) to “speak” to them—”yet for all that will they not hear Me.” This is a reference to God’s disciplining His people by means of the pagan Assyrians. As E. J. Young says in his commentary on the book of Isaiah, “The thought then is that God will speak to Judah by means of people who speak a language different from that of the Jews” (Vol. II, 277-78).

Fourth, tongues-speaking was designed to be a sign to the nation of Israel that God is now accepting Gentiles who trust in Him (I Corinthians 14:22). As such, tongues-speaking was only in operation during the decades immediately following the Messiah’s coming to earth. Tongues-speaking certainly served this purpose when Jewish Christians had to decide if the Gentile Cornelius and those with him would be accepted by God (Acts 10:44-48).

Fifth, some spiritual gifts clearly were intended by God to be temporary and not permanent. Apostleship, for example, is a part of the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:19-20), and an apostle had to be one who had been an eye-witness to Christ’s earthly ministry (Acts 1:21-22; I Corinthians 9:1; 15:8-10). Some would even say that Paul was God’s replacement for Judas, and that the number of authentic apostles is limited to twelve (see Revelation 21:14).

Sixth, I Corinthians 13:8-10 tells us that spiritual gifts related to revelation would be temporary and would cease once completed revelation had been given.

In light of the above-mentioned survey of biblical evidence, we believe that the New Testament spiritual gift of tongues-speaking was intended by God to be temporary, operating in the foundational stage of the church before the completed revelation of Scripture had been given. Therefore, when someone asks how we explain the present-day phenomenon, it seems to us that the burden of explanation rests with the tongues-speaker. We may not always know what it is, but we do know what it is not.

3. The so-called Charismatic phenomenon is an experience which adapts to a wide spectrum of doctrinal views, including those of some of the cults (The Shakers and Mormonism, for example), Roman Catholicism, and others. This adaptability certainly ought to make those Charismatics with more traditional evangelical convictions think twice before joining others who differ widely with them regarding the teachings of God’s Word. Genuine Christian experience will always be consistent with what God has told us in Scripture.

4. The Charismatic experience has been used by some to lead people into the Ecumenical Movement. David DuPlessis has documented this trend from its early stages in his book, The Spirit Bade Me Go. Ecumenical cooperation has taken place on the local level as well as on the national and international levels because of the Charismatic Renewal Movement.

5. Some who support the tongues movement have said that speaking in tongues is an experience which changes one’s Christian life, giving one the power to live victoriously. Yet this is neither the teaching of the Bible nor the experience of believers in New Testament times when it was observed within a local church context, namely in the Corinthian church. Victorious living is possible because of Christ’s death and resurrection and is appropriated through yielding to God (Romans 6:1-13)—not through a Charismatic experience. And the Corinthian church where tongues-speaking had been so evident was characterized by carnality (I Corinthians 3:1-4).

Related to claims for the charismatic experience is the term “full gospel,” used by many who support it. How offensive this is to the Bible believer who by genuine trust in Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins (I Corinthians 15:1-11) has heard the complete gospel! That wonderful message is not lacking because no tongues-speaking occurred. The great Bible passages on salvation do not ever ask us to seek a tongues-speaking experience (John 3:16-18, 36; 5:24; Romans 3:21-28; 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; etc.).

6. We recognize that seeking a Charismatic experience may be the result of genuine longing for spiritual reality on the part of some very earnest people. This, of course, does not make it right, but it does serve as a good reminder to us to make certain that what we teach, how we live our lives, and how we express our love for Christ are biblically balanced. Sometimes a nearly exclusive emphasis upon intellectual content which does not reach down into the reality of a person’s life may be the problem. What is the solution? The answer is not found by joining the Tongues Movement nor by de-emphasizing sound Bible doctrine. The answer is to present in our churches and in our own personal lives an aggressive and vibrant Christianity that isn’t afraid to reach both head and heart—to show piety and tenderness, as well as ( not instead of) teaching doctrinal content from God’s Word. And we aren’t really helping the charismatic person unless we can show him from our lives and from the Scriptures that seeking an experience is not the ultimate solution. The solution is found in understanding what God’s Word teaches, yielding to the Spirit’s control in our lives, and living out the victory that is possible because of the death and resurrection of Christ on our behalf.


Much has been written in this area, and the materials listed are only a few of these works. Some of the listed works are older and may not be in print. Some who critique the Word of Faith aspect of the Charismatic Movement may still accept basic Pentecostal theology, so the reader needs to read with discernment.

Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee, Editors. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Regency, 1988. An excellent resource volume covering many aspects and personalities within the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements, written by people who are favorably disposed toward those movements.

Joseph Dillow. Speaking in Tongues–Seven Crucial Questions. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975. Well worth finding and studying.

Thomas R. Edgar. Miraculous Gifts: Are They for Today? Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1983. A good treatment of the major issues involved in evaluating the present-day movement from a biblical perspective.

Robert G. Gromacki. The Modern Tongues Movement. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1967, 1972. A classic work surveying and evaluating the tongues movement from God’s Word.

Hank Hanegraaff. Christianity in Crisis. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1993. A well-researched critique of the Faith movement (”Health & Wealth,” “Name It & Claim It” theologies).

Hank Hanegraaff. Counterfeit Revival. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997. A critique of the revival phenomenon characterized by the Toronto Blessing and Pensacola Outpouring movements.

John F. MacArthur, Jr. Charismatic Chaos. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. Deals very well with the doctrinal and practical aspects of the tongues and healing movements.

Ernest Pickering. Charismatic Confusion. Decatur, AL: Baptist World Mission, 1976. This pamphlet and the next one listed by Dr. Pickering are excellent (yet brief) resources which any Christian leader ought to have on hand to give to those who want to understand the tongues movement from a Scriptural perspective.

Ernest Pickering. The Gift of Tongues: What the Bible Says about Speaking in Tongues. Vol. 4, #4 in the ABWE Insight Series. Harrisburg, PA: Association of Baptists for World Evangelism, 1985. An excellent (yet brief) resource.

Merrill F. Unger. New Testament Teaching on Tongues. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1971. A fine treatment of the tongues issue.

George W. Zeller. God’s Gift of Tongues: The Nature, Purpose, and Duration of Tongues as Taught in the Bible. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1978. A thoughtful and careful survey of what the Bible teaches about the gift of tongues.
George G. Houghton, Th.D., serves as Senior Professor, Vice President for Academic Services, Academic Dean at Faith Baptist Bible College Education. He has the the following degrees: B.A., Bethel College; B.D., Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary; Th.M. and Th.D., Dallas Theological Seminary. He has served in the following ways: Faculty, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1967-73; Faculty, teaching Bible, Theology, and History subjects, Faith Baptist Bible College, 1973-; Academic Dean, Faith Baptist Bible College, 1982-; Vice President for Academic Services, Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary, 1986-.

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Knoxville Liberal Unitarian Church Shooter Jim Adkisson IS AN ATHEIST WHO HATES RELIGION!

Posted by Job on July 28, 2008

More here from WorldNetDaily, who beat me to the punch by 20 minutes (grr!) and GetReligion who beat me by 15 (grr grr!). Is that what the media is reporting? NO! They are reporting that Adkisson targeted this unitarian universalist church because Adkisson hates liberals in stories like this (see link). Also, CNN’s report is more of the same. From there, they allow people to presume that Adkisson is a fundamentalist Christian. Not because, mind you, that there is a pattern of fundamentalist Christians doing things like this. Do you know why? BECAUSE THERE ISN’T! The famous hate crime committers in America, the killers of people like James Byrd, Tina Brandon (Brandon Teena), and Matthew Shepard were not Christians. Timothy McVeigh was not a Christian. Neither is Eric Rudolph. No, it is the media and left wing types who do all they can to make you THINK that they are Christians. This includes, for instance, the JUDGE in Eric Rudolph’s trial, who from the bench admonished him for “breaking the law because of his faith.” The media actually frequently claimed that it was North Carolina fundamentalist Christians that helped Rudolph hide from and avoid the authorities for so long – that he was a hero among, you know, the Jesse Helms crowd, for his attacks on abortion clinics and homosexual night clubs – and when Rudolph set the record straight in interviews after his capture, THEY REFUSED TO REPORT IT!

But look here, buried in this USA Today item below – and it is not even in most other news outlets – is the truth:

“Karen Massey, who lived two houses from Adkisson’s home, told the Knoxville News Sentinel of a lengthy conversation she had with Adkisson a couple years ago after she told him her daughter had just graduated from Johnson Bible College. She said she ended up having to explain to him that she was a Christian. “He almost turned angry,” she told the newspaper. “He seemed to get angry at that. He said that everything in the Bible contradicts itself if you read it.” Massey said Adkisson talked frequently about his parents, who “made him go to church all his life. … He acted like he was forced to do that.” 

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the media to do much with this angle … and that is those who will even report it at al. Just like they didn’t report that Timothy McVeigh was an ATHEIST. Similar to founder of the hate group “World Church of the Creator” Matt Hale (whose follower murdered former basketball coach Rickey Birdsong in a rage over Hale’s being denied an Illinois law license), McVeigh rejected the Bible because it teaches that all people are equal. Eric Rudolph also rejected the Bible, and freely admitted that his decision to become a terrorist was influenced by anti – God philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche (of the “God is dead” fame)! Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold of Columbine? Atheists. Also, an extremely underreported item during the late 1990s was when an atheist walked into a Southern Baptist youth event in Texas and started killing people before committing suicide … his last words were “What you people believe is @#$%!” Despite being asked to do so by Congress, attorney general Janet Reno refused to even consider investigating it as a hate crime. (Reno’s department also sent out a memo claiming that people who went to church more than once a week … people just like the ones that this atheist murdered … were exhibiting extremist cult behavior and should be monitored by the federal government … when a stink was raised over the memo Reno’s justice department withdrew it.) And the teenage shooter of Ted Haggard’s former church in Colorado was a fellow that had rejected Christianity. 

The amazing thing is that even in this USA Today comment thread, you have tons of people attributing this fellow’s actions to Christianity. Why? Because of this same media. The oped columnists and news writers continually talk about THE POSSIBILITY of fundamentalist Christians being violent. These folks know full well that this only actually occurred in rare and isolated acts of violence against abortion doctors and clinics. I recall that when John Ashcroft – not a fundamental Christian mind you – was having his confirmation hearings for attorney general, one of the main reasons the media gave for opposing him was the idea that it would send a signal to violent pro – lifers that they could start back bombing clinics and killing doctors and women, and that Ashcroft would not prosecute them. The truth is that the last three cases of pro – life activists committing violence was in 1996 (the atheist Rudolph), 1993 (Pensacola, Florida) and 1992 (Buffalo New York). Even during the 1970s and 1980s incidents of violence were extremely rare, yet the news media and popular entertainment presented it as constant threats. 

And I did mention popular entertainment, correct? Movies, TV shows, and novels frequently present fundamental Christians as committing politically or religious motivated violence. Not only do several such come out each year, but we have had at least one horror movie featuring a fundamentalist Christian depicted as a serial killer (“Frailty”) and an X – Files episode depicting the same. There are tons of other examples … as a matter of fact killer Christians are practically a staple on the long – running “Law And Order” TV series, depicted almost as often as drug dealers, gang members, and mobsters. 

So after 30 years of being conditioned to view Christians as violent, it is no shock that people immediately jump to conclusions. Keep in mind: THIS IS DESPITE THERE BEING NO FACTUAL BASIS FOR THIS! There are no statistics backing this belief, there are also no sensationalized public instances of Christians going on violent rampages with political or religious motivations. There were a few loners in the pro – life movement two decades ago (legal trials PROVED that the criminals were not affiliated with the pro – life organizations, but they went ahead and bankrupted Operation Rescue and started prosecuting pro – lifers under the RICO statute anyway … please note that civil rights, gay rights, feminist, and other leftist agitator groups were NEVER prosecuted under RICO!), Klu Klux Klan related violence (and the KKK was much more of a fraternal and freemason outfit than an actual Christian one … WHAT CHRISTIAN WOULD BURN A CROSS?) and that is it. As evil as their crimes were, they do not constitute a basis for people to believe that Christians are prone to politically and religious motivated acts of violence (or other words, TERRORISM). But that is what the media and Hollywood want you to believe, and in the minds of most Americans, they have already succeeded.

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Christianity: Rationalism versus Mysticism

Posted by Job on July 15, 2008

Rationalism and Mysticism

by Kevin T. Bauder at 12:00 am July 15, 2008. 122 views. Filed under: In The Nick of Time, Theology
Christian theology moves between two poles. On the one hand, it is impelled by the desire to understand God. Understanding implies explanation, and explanation is essentially a matter of giving reasons. This impulse leads us to ask why God is or does thus or so. If we cannot find clear reasons, then we at least seek for careful definitions. We may not be able to say why God is Triune, but we at least attempt to formulate as precisely as we can what the Trinity means. This theological pole could be called the rational impulse in theology.

At the other pole, theologians constantly bump up against the recognition that God is wholly other. They quickly learn that the predicates that we apply to God cannot be used univocally. Even so basic an assertion as “God exists” has to mean something different than the assertion that “we exist,” for God’s being is underived. He alone is self-existent—His being is different than our being.

Faced with the limitations of human understanding and human language, theologians sometimes despair of any rational knowledge of God. For them, theology becomes purely a matter of negation. They cannot meaningfully say what God is. They can only say what He is not. Rational knowledge of God is impossible.

In the place of rational knowledge, these theologians insert personal knowledge. On their understanding, God can be known directly and personally through His communion with the soul. What the soul learns of God in this encounter can never be verbalized, but it is real knowledge. This pole represents the mystical impulse in theology.

Both mysticism and rationalism can move into dangerous territory. Unbridled rationalism may sever itself from the text of Scripture, defining God’s person and works according to speculative philosophical categories. In its eagerness to explain why God is this or does that, it may actually produce a kind of divine determinism in which the very freedom of God is denied. After all, a comprehensive explanation of why God does a thing is only a small step removed from an assertion that God had to do that thing.

Other rationalists, eager to defend God’s freedom, end up denying His nature. After all, if God is bound by His nature, then He does not make truly free choices. As Ockham argued, Christ could have become incarnate as a rock, a tree, or an ass. That He chose to become a man was His voluntary choice, or else He was not free when He made it.

Mysticism may also sever itself from the biblical text. If the true knowledge of God is ineffable and indefinable, then Scripture serves only as a sort of on-ramp to the highway of mystical experience, but it is not itself a revelation of God. The Bible is ultimately unnecessary.

Of course, purely negative theology ultimately contradicts itself. Theologians who say that they cannot know anything about God are actually asserting that they do know at least one thing about God, namely, His unknowability. If these theologians are right, then they necessarily have to be wrong.

The alternative to both pure rationalism and pure mysticism is Biblicism. Biblicists may be rational in that they intend to define and explain God’s character and deeds. They may also be mystical insofar as they seek personal communion with God. Biblicists, however, begin with Scripture. They see in biblical revelation a sole and sufficient source of authority for their knowledge of God.

Biblicists do exercise their rational capacities. They discover much reasoning within the text of Scripture itself. Furthermore, they seek to draw sound inferences from explicitly biblical teachings. For Biblicists, the mind is in full play.

Biblicists also respond to the mystical impulse, for at their best they desire personal communion with God. This communion, however, is enabled by and mediated through the text of Scripture. The God with whom they commune is not one whom they find by examining their own souls. He is one who lives and breathes within the pages of Holy Writ.

Left to themselves, both rationalism and mysticism push toward dangerous extremes. While each points up the problem with the other, they cannot be used to balance each other out. Only a proper Biblicism can do that.

For a committed Biblicist both the rational and the mystical impulse can be satisfied. The genuine Biblicist will place both the mind and the heart in play all the time. Biblicists can give full rein to the desire to define and explain, while at the same time giving full rein to the yearning to know God personally. Only within Biblicism do these two impulses not contradict each other.

Biblicists rightly recoil from the extremes to which rationalism and mysticism can lead. Fear of the extremes may tempt them to stifle the mind, the heart, or both. If they are genuine Biblicists, however, this fear is unwarranted. Biblicism itself is what keeps both reason and mystical communion within their proper spheres. Loyalty to Scripture will restrain, discipline, and inform both impulses.

My Sins, My Saviour!

John S. B. Monsell (1811-1875)

My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
They take such hold on me,
I am not able to look up,
Save only, Christ, on Thee;
In Thee is all forgiveness,
In Thee abundant grace,
My shadow and my sunshine
The brightness of Thy face.

My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
How sad on Thee they fall;
Seen through Thy gentle patience,
I ten-fold feel them all;
I know they are forgiven,
But still, their pain to me
Is all the grief and anguish
They laid, my Lord, on Thee.

My sins, my sins, my Saviour!
Their guilt I never knew
Till with Thee in the desert
I near Thy passion drew;
Till with Thee in the garden
I heard Thy pleading pray’r,
And saw the sweat-drops bloody
That told Thy sorrow there.

Therefore my songs, my Saviour,
E’en in this time of woe,
Shall tell of all Thy goodness
To suffering man below;
Thy goodness and Thy favor,
Whose presence from above
Rejoice those hearts, my Saviour,
That live in Thee alone.
Kevin BauderThis essay is by Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that

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Does The Bible Command Married Women To Run Businesses And Work?

Posted by Job on May 9, 2008

It is difficult to read Proverbs 31:10-31 and conclude otherwise.

10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. 
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. 
12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 
13 She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. 
14 She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. 
15 She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. 
16 She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 
17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 
18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. 
20 She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. 
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. 
22 She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 
23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 
24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. 
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. 
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. 
27 She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 
28 Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: 
29 “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” 
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 
31 Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

Pay attention to the portions in bold. The woman in this passage from her own initiative and without the aid of her husband is a self – sufficient craftsman, trader, and merchant. She buys wool and yarn to make into clothes to sell. With her own money she buys land and farms it herself, taking the harvest of it (say, cotton), converts the raw materials into finished goods and sells it. Be clear: this does not describe a woman who has a little garden that she uses to grow summer vegetables to cook for her family, or a little sewing machine that she uses to make quilts and dresses primarily for her family’s use, and sells whatever excess she has or whatever she produces from her knitting hobby at church bake sales and carnivals for extra money. Now of course I am not speaking against full time housewives and homemakers who do these things and bless their families and others with their activities … God forbid. But one should not claim that this is what the clear references to the business/economic activities in this passage mean, and claiming that it refers to what a woman does while tending the home and in her spare time is a distortion. So would any attempts to allegorize or “spiritually interpret” the verse in order to achieve a desired result.

We also have the New Testament example of a virtuous woman

14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. 15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. 

Lydia is credited with being the founder of the Philippian church (though not pastor, preacher, or other leader of it, that is a completely different issue which is dealt with here). Again, do not distort the text. Lydia was already a worshiper of God, a Gentile partial convert to Judaism called a God – fearer … as a matter of fact Paul encountered her worshiping and praying on the Sabbath. So Judaism did not require this woman to exit the marketplace. And nowhere is it given in scripture that following Jesus Christ required Lydia to give up her commerce. Speaking of Jesus Christ, women supported His ministry with their commerce (one of the bests argument against the prosperity doctrine lie that Jesus Christ was rich). See Luke 8:1-3

Ministering Women1 Soon afterwards, He began going around from one city and village to another, proclaiming and preaching the kingdom of God. The twelve were with Him, 2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means.

This is not as explicit as the examples above, but here is an interpretation that represents a Biblical Christian perspective (its writer is a product of Dallas Theological Seminary). Keep in mind: the followers of Jesus Christ were poor, not aristocrats who had bank accounts, inheritances, or wealthy fathers or husbands to ask for money. As a matter of fact, the only one of these women that were married, Joanna, was the wife of a servant. 

There are several verses that speak ill of them doing nothing. Not only is there Proverb 31:27b above, but also 1 Timothy 5:13.

At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also (A)gossips and(B)busybodies, talking about (C)things not proper to mention.

Some might say that the next verse forbids women from working however:

Therefore, I want younger widows to get (X)married, bear children, (Y)keep house, and (Z)give the enemy no occasion for reproach;

Titus 2:3-5 is even more problematic to my thesis.

 3Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, (A)not malicious gossips nor (B)enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,  

4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 

5to be sensible, pure, (C)workers at home, kind, being (D)subject to their own husbands, (E)so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

1 Timothy and Titus were written by the same Paul that worshiped at the church founded by Lydia the entrepreneur?? I must say that those verses give more than sufficient basis to justify the doctrine of Martin Luther in this matter, who advocated for Christian women to be homemakers. There is also the fact that the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, the women who assisted Jesus Christ, and Lydia until her conversion describe women that were worshiping God under the old covenant. In dealing with Lydia in particular, some theologians refer to the time of Jesus Christ as a “transitional generation.” When Jesus Christ died, the new covenant came into effect. Yet you had people that had true faith in YHWH under the old covenant and were thereby justified the same way as was Abraham. It is impossible to fathom that such people as not only Lydia and Cornelius but also righteous Jewish followers of Jesus Christ like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea would not have ultimately rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ (which is very injurious to the claim of many Christians who assert that such was the case of the rabbi Gamaliel in Acts). Some people say of those faithful believers in YHWH prior to the death of Jesus Christ that they were “born again under the old covenant” or that they “were regenerated under the old covenant.” Rather than using that terminology, I will say that such people were justified under the old covenant the same way that Abraham was before the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of course would have accepted Jesus Christ during His life or upon hearing of His resurrection. Why? It is about election and predestination. If they were God’s predestined elect before Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, they still were afterwards. And the converse was also true: if they were never called out of the world for salvation before Jesus Christ died and rose again, they would have rejected the gospel afterwards. 

Therefore, it was probably acceptable to make some accommodations for already women such as those that ministered to Jesus Christ and Lydia that were justified in the same manner as was Abraham and consider Proverb 31:10-31 as applying to them, those who were living under the rules governing old covenant Israel (whether they were born into Judaism, fully converted proselytes, or God – fearers practicing a partial set of Judaism for Gentiles). But 1 Timothy 5:13 and Titus 2:3-5 would apply to the young women in that time and those coming after. When you consider that those books were written from 60 to 67 AD, 30 – 45 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (which date ranges from 31 AD to 33 AD), said “young women” would not have been born into this speculated transitional generation between covenants. Those young women and the women after them – not to mention the men – would have had to follow after the doctrines of the New Testament church, whether Jew or Gentile. 

Thus, it would appear that Proverbs 31:10-31 was for women back then, 1 Timothy 5:13 and Titus 2:3-5 are for virtuous women today. However, is this a core doctrine where adherence to it affects a person’s salvation, i.e. belief in the virgin birth, deity, pre – existence and resurrection of Jesus Christ? I would say not. 

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The Christian Mystical Tradition

Posted by Job on May 7, 2008

From Sharper Iron. An intriguing read. 

The Christian Mystical Tradition(s)

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Fundamentalism Versus Apostasy By Dr. Ian R.K. Paisley

Posted by Job on March 27, 2008

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Evangelical Alliance Leader Joel Edwards Urges Christians To Be Ashamed Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ!

Posted by Job on March 8, 2008

Evangelicals challenged to present Christ credibly

(My note: it is amazing how many evangelical Christians are running away from the true message of the Bible in favor of messages that sound better in the modern context with their tail between their legs. The world will NEVER find the Jesus Christ of the Bible acceptable.  The world will ALWAYS be embarrassed at not only the humiliation of the cross, but the realities of original sin and eternal punishment in the lake of fire that made the cross necessary in the first place. More and more, these evangelicals are going the way of the mainline denominations 50 – 100 years ago, which is to abandon the message of Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead in their lusting after the respect of the wicked world. Whatever happened to trials? Tribulations? Persecution? Does having the respect of the Oxford University tea party crowd mean so much to you that you are willing to give up heaven? Well more and more of these leaders are answering this question in the affirmative, and so have chosen to chase their rewards on earth.)

“Far from evangelicals being an embarrassment, we should think of ourselves as integral to God’s great news for our community, and tell ourselves again with a certain humility and confidence that we have a vital role to play as active Christians and active citizens in the public square.”

Such were the words of the General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, Joel Edwards, at the launch of his new book “An Agenda for Change” on Thursday.

“If they wanted it to happen, if they put their minds to it, the word ‘evangelical’ could mean good news.” (Ah, so people make it happen and not God. Thanks for making clear your man – centered theology.)

The backlash against the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent controversial Sharia lecture, meanwhile, was evidence of a society with “a serious vendetta against the idea of God”, contended Mr Edwards. (And your statements where you urge evangelicals to bend and twist God’s Word to meet the whims and lusts of sinners are evidence of the same.)

It is within this society that evangelicals are challenged to present Christ credibly and uphold His uniqueness, according to the EA chief. (It is impossible to do both. I know that with God all things are possible, but those things have to be according to His Word. God never said that He would make things that contradict His Word and are outside of His Will come to pass, and the Bible makes it clear that the gospel will always be rejected as foolishness by the world.)

“We are in a very challenging landscape. It is a landscape in which Christ is one among a constellation of gods. We are allowed to have a Christ who is different, who is good for Christians, who may even be superior for Christians, but in popular discourse He is not allowed to be superior over anyone else’s god,” he said. (Wow, the early church whose members were being hung on crosses, burned alive, thrown to the lions, etc. by a pagan empire had nothing comparable to your challenges!)

“In a liberal democracy, Christians have a right if not a responsibility under God to be able to say in any multicultural context Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. “Christ cannot be credible unless we tell people who he really is.” (So why are you calling for the opposite to be done?)

Mr Edwards concluded with a reminder to evangelicals that their highest call lay in serving others. “Central to our understanding of Christian citizenship is a radical commitment to serve other people. But our greatest calling is not to change legislation. Our greatest calling is to serve the people. The Government and local authorities are desperate for help. Will we be ready and equipped to respond?” (I cannot deny that this is true. But Edwards is obviously leaning towards the notion that service should be emphasized as an alternative to a Biblical, gospel centered church. Why? Because it is EASIER and MORE ACCEPTABLE. Get people to focus on the gospel first and the Bible second, and THEN start exhorting them to serve. If you get people doing works that keep them busy, make them feel good, and are acceptable in the eyes of the world – Phariseeism – it will be VERY HARD to interest them in the spiritual things of the Bible.)

Mr Edwards will embark on a 20-city tour to promote his book and start a conversation on the role for evangelicals in society today and into the future. For more information visit

Tour dates and venues confirmed so far:

23 April – Kings Church, Eastbourne
27 April – Emmanuel Christian Centre, London
06 May – All Nations Centre, Leicester
07 May – The King’s Centre, Kings Community Church, Norwich
08 May – Great St Mary’s, Cambridge
18 May – Vineyard Church, Sutton, Surrey
21 May – Cornerstone Church, Swansea
22 May – Glenwood Church, Cardiff
25 May – New Community Church, Southampton
29 May – Barnabas Community Church, Shrewsbury
2 June – Oxford Community Church, Oxford
3 June – Trinity Church, Cheltenham
24 June – St James, Carlisle
25 June – Kirkintilloch Baptist Church, Glasgow
26 June – St Paul’s and St Georges, Edinburgh
30 June – St George’s, Leeds
1 July – St Thomas Church, Philadelphia, Sheffield
2 July – Kings Church, Manchester
3 July – Frontline Church, Liverpool

The book, published by Zondervan, is Mr Edwards’ contribution to an ongoing discussion among Evangelicals worldwide on how to present Christ credibly and “rehabilitate” the term ‘evangelical’ to mean ‘good news’ again. (Caring more about the good name of their particular movement than either Jesus Christ or the universal Body of Christ. So what, Christians need good public relations in order to win converts? That certainly wasn’t true of the early church which was hated, persecuted, despised, and rejected. The church certainly doesn’t have a good reputation in Muslim and Hindu lands. God brings in His Own converts by using people preaching the gospel. These fellows are only concerned with their own egos and social standing.)

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Edwards announced that he will step down as General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, after 11 years as the organisation’s head. (Hopefully he will be replaced by someone that will advocate a strong God – centered Bible based theology centering around Jesus Christ.)

In a forward-looking address, he said the heart of the matter was not about advancing evangelicalism as a political or Christian system, but was instead about “how we help people understand that God is ultimately the God of Good News and is interested in people’s wellbeing”. (Untrue. He is trying to keep evangelicalism “relevant” and “acceptable.” People like this make me ever more convinced that one of the main reasons why evangelicalism exists is to serve as a more palatable alternative to fundamentalism. The problem is that as the world gets more and more sinful, the further evangelicals will have to retreat from the Bible in order to retain their relevance and acceptability.)

Turning to some of the challenges facing evangelicals, he pointed to the commonplace view that evangelicals are a US export more interested in homosexuality than poverty, and a mascot for the Republican Party. “Evangelicalism has a serious PR problem and it’s not hard to grasp why,” he said. (Now this is just an out and out lie. Conservative evangelicals have long been known for their charity work. It is just that no one talks about the charity work because no one opposes it. They only talk about abortion and gay rights because their stands on the issue generates opposition. This fellow quite frankly is telling Christians to run from opposition. While I oppose the politicization and enculturalization of the gospel even more than this guy does – because my reasons are 100% Biblical as opposed to for public relations – if you aren’t going to be willing to stand up and call homosexuality an unnatural perversion and abortion murder … facts which are obvious not only with regards to the Bible but also MEDICAL SCIENCE which is why they need political correctness to coerce biologists and doctors into silence … you aren’t going to be able to stand up and tell the world that it is Jesus Christ or the lake of fire.)

Referring to some of the recent angry protests from evangelical circles over Jerry Springer the Opera and the Sexual Orientation Regulations, Mr Edwards said that Evangelicals had gained a reputation as the “angry brigade”. “We are known more for our anger than our anguish,” he noted. (Godly anger is better than anguish that is affected to convince people of their piety. Remember what Jesus Christ said about not letting people know that you are fasting? Or praying inside your closet?) Mr Edwards said that the responsibility to reverse evangelicalism’s bad reputation lay with evangelicals themselves. (No, it is the responsibility of God to justify His faithful, and that will happen when Jesus Christ returns and the whole world that pierced and rejected Him will mourn. But again, this fellow wants his reward in this world, not the next.)

“If people are going to think differently about evangelicals, the only people who can change their minds are evangelicals,” he said. (Looks like you are willing to give up Jesus Christ in order to change what people think about you. Even if you are not there yet, that certainly is where you seem to be headed. In the Name of Jesus Christ, please Lord prevent Your people from  following him and people like him there.)

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R. Albert Mohler: Theological Triage

Posted by Job on March 6, 2008

Original article here from SharperIron at 1:00 am March 6, 2008. 66 views. Filed under: Fundamentalism

Editor’s Note: 9Marks Ministries recently dedicated their recent eJournal issue to discussing Fundamentalism. SharperIron has received permission from them to reprint the articles here for discussion. We will post ten articles over the next two weeks. If you would like the complete eJournal or would like to subscribe to further editions, please go to

By R. Albert MohlerIn every generation, the church is commanded to “contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.” That is no easy task, and it is complicated by the multiple attacks upon Christian truth that mark our contemporary age. Assaults upon the Christian faith are no longer directed only at isolated doctrines. The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack by those who would subvert Christianity’s theological integrity.

Today’s Christian faces the daunting task of strategizing which Christian doctrines and theological issues are to be given highest priority in terms of our contemporary context. This applies both to the public defense of Christianity in face of the secular challenge and the internal responsibility of dealing with doctrinal disagreements. Neither is an easy task, but theological seriousness and maturity demand that we consider doctrinal issues in terms of their relative importance. God’s truth is to be defended at every point and in every detail, but responsible Christians must determine which issues deserve first-rank attention in a time of theological crisis.

A trip to the local hospital Emergency Room some years ago alerted me to an intellectual tool that is most helpful in fulfilling our theological responsibility. In recent years, emergency medical personnel have practiced a discipline known as triage – a process that allows trained personnel to make a quick evaluation of relative medical urgency. Given the chaos of an Emergency Room reception area, someone must be armed with the medical expertise to make an immediate determination of medical priority. Which patients should be rushed into surgery? Which patients can wait for a less urgent examination? Medical personnel cannot flinch from asking these questions, and from taking responsibility to give the patients with the most critical needs top priority in terms of treatment.

The same discipline that brings order to the hectic arena of the Emergency Room can also offer great assistance to Christians defending truth in the present age. A discipline of theological triage would require Christians to determine a scale of theological urgency that would correspond to the medical world’s framework for medical priority. With this in mind, I would suggest three different levels of theological urgency, each corresponding to a set of issues and theological priorities found in current doctrinal debates.

First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.

In the earliest centuries of the Christian movement, heretics directed their most dangerous attacks upon the church’s understanding of who Jesus is, and in what sense He is the very Son of God. Other crucial debates concerned the question of how the Son is related to the Father and the Holy Spirit. At historic turning-points such as the councils at Nicaea, Constantinople and Chalcedon, orthodoxy was vindicated and heresy was condemned – and these councils dealt with doctrines of unquestionable first-order importance. Christianity stands or falls on the affirmation that Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God.

The church quickly moved to affirm that the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ are absolutely necessary to the Christian faith. Any denial of what has become known as Nicaean-Chalcedonian Christology is, by definition, condemned as a heresy. The essential truths of the incarnation include the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who deny these revealed truths are, by definition, not Christians.

The same is true with the doctrine of the Trinity. The early church clarified and codified its understanding of the one true and living God by affirming the full deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – while insisting that the Bible reveals one God in three persons.

In addition to the Christological and Trinitarian doctrines, the doctrine of justification by faith must also be included among these first-order truths. Without this doctrine, we are left with a denial of the Gospel itself, and salvation is transformed into some structure of human righteousness.

The truthfulness and authority of the Holy Scriptures must also rank as a first-order doctrine, for without an affirmation of the Bible as the very Word of God, we are left without any adequate authority for distinguishing truth from error.

These first-order doctrines represent the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith, and a denial of these doctrines represents nothing less than an eventual denial of Christianity itself.

The set of second-order doctrines is distinguished from the first-order set by the fact that believing Christians may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement will create significant boundaries between believers. When Christians organize themselves into congregations and denominational forms, these boundaries become evident.

Second-order issues would include the meaning and mode of baptism. Baptists and Presbyterians, for example, fervently disagree over the most basic understanding of Christian baptism. The practice of infant baptism is inconceivable to the Baptist mind, while Presbyterians trace infant baptism to their most basic understanding of the covenant. Standing together on the first-order doctrines, Baptists and Presbyterians eagerly recognize each other as believing Christians, but recognize that disagreement on issues of this importance will prevent fellowship within the same congregation or denomination.

Christians across a vast denominational range can stand together on the first-order doctrines and recognize each other as authentic Christians, while understanding that the existence of second-order disagreements prevents the closeness of fellowship we would otherwise enjoy. A church either will recognize infant baptism, or it will not. That choice immediately creates a second-order conflict with those who take the other position by conviction.

In recent years, the issue of women serving as pastors has emerged as another second-order issue. Again, a church or denomination either will ordain women to the pastorate, or it will not. Second-order issues resist easy settlement by those who would prefer an either/or approach. Many of the most heated disagreements among serious believers take place at the second-order level, for these issues frame our understanding of the church and its ordering by the Word of God.

Third-order issues are doctrines over which Christians may disagree and remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. I would put most of the debates over eschatology, for example, in this category. Christians who affirm the bodily, historical and victorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ may differ over timetable and sequence without rupturing the fellowship of the church. Christians may find themselves in disagreement over any number of issues related to the interpretation of difficult texts or the understanding of matters of common disagreement. Nevertheless, standing together on issues of more urgent importance, believers are able to accept one another without compromise when third-order issues are in question.

A structure of theological triage does not imply that Christians may take any biblical truth with less than full seriousness. We are charged to embrace and to teach the comprehensive truthfulness of the Christian faith as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There are no insignificant doctrines revealed in the Bible, but there is an essential foundation of truth that undergirds the entire system of biblical truth.

This structure of theological triage may also help to explain how confusion can often occur in the midst of doctrinal debate. If the relative urgency of these truths is not taken into account, the debate can quickly become unhelpful. The error of theological liberalism is evident in a basic disrespect for biblical authority and the church’s treasury of truth. The mark of true liberalism is the refusal to admit that first-order theological issues even exist. Liberals treat first-order doctrines as if they were merely third-order in importance, and doctrinal ambiguity is the inevitable result.

Fundamentalism, on the other hand, tends toward the opposite error. The misjudgment of true fundamentalism is the belief that all disagreements concern first-order doctrines. Thus, third-order issues are raised to a first-order importance, and Christians are wrongly and harmfully divided.

Living in an age of widespread doctrinal denial and intense theological confusion, thinking Christians must rise to the challenge of Christian maturity, even in the midst of a theological emergency. We must sort the issues with a trained mind and a humble heart, in order to protect what the Apostle Paul called the “treasure” that has been entrusted to us. Given the urgency of this challenge, a lesson from the Emergency Room just might help.

R. Albert Mohler Jr. is the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the author of Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Multnomah).

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2006 Southern Seminary Magazine.

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