April 20, 2007

Revised Version in the Works

To All:

There were several benefits from my (Fall 2006) interaction with the advocates of Lordship Salvation at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron blog and John MacArthur's Pulpit Magazine.

In those discussions I was able to provide the Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation to a very wide cross section of concerned Christian across a broad spectrum of Evangelical Christianity. To this day I still receive private contacts from folks who are interested in and concerned about this issue.

As the discussions wore on I was developing increasingly better ways to hone in on and articulate some of the issues and concerns with the Lordship gospel. As a result I began to feel that I needed to go back and do a revised and expanded version of In Defense of the Gospel. I have been working on that revision for well over a month and should wrap in less than 30 days.

There are no major overhauls, just some revisions and a few additions. Overall, this revision will make my exposure of Lordship Salvation and the biblical answers to it much more compelling. I will keep you posted as the revised version develops.

Here is a sample revision from the opening page of the chapter titled: What is Lordship Salvation?

As we begin to look at Lordship Salvation it is imperative that a clear distinction be drawn in regard to what the area of debate is, and is not. One of the central questions that fuels and defines the Lordship debate is: What is required of a sinner that would constitute saving faith, i.e. the faith that results in his receiving the gift of eternal life? We will see Lordship Salvation’s interpretation of the gospel, as defined by many of its advocates, is front-loaded with demands for commitment to the results of salvation as if these commitments are required for salvation. Those statements are the crux of the debate and have never been edited, explained, or eliminated by the men who make those claims. For me the main thrust of debate over Lordship Salvation does not revolve around the results of salvation. The debate is over the requirements for salvation.

Biblical saving faith is a faith that will grow and progressively mature. Daily submission to the lordship of Christ should follow a genuine conversion to Christ. Most men on both sides of the debate will agree in principle that a new creature in Christ will set out to do the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a believer, and that he will grow in the grace and knowledge of his Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). Christians struggle with the flesh (Rom. 7:15-25) and the besetting sin (Heb. 12:1). Christians will flop and fail at times in their walk with God, but growth is seen to one degree or another.

Many share a common frustration over the examples we see in our churches today of people who profess Christ as Savior, but seem to live more like the Devil. There are, of course, people in Bible believing churches that are professing Christ, but never received Him as their Savior. These, Lord willing, shall one day get saved, or they will likely move on. No sinner can be born again if he prays a prayer to escape death and Hell, but he fully intends to go on in his sinful ways and in rebellion and defiance against the Lord. There is no genuine faith or repentance in that. Problems begin, however, when a commitment to certain expected behavior is made a condition for receiving the free gift of salvation.

As you read my book you are going to find, just as I did, that Lordship Salvation touches on numerous Bible doctrines. This makes arriving at a brief definition a difficult, but not impossible undertaking. One editor nearly insisted I provide a simple definition within the first two or three pages of the book. That editor also said if I did not give a working definition very early in the book publishers would read no more than the first few pages. Well, I never had it in mind to impress an editor of a publishing firm. My goal has been to inform readers at any level that the Lordship interpretation of the gospel is wrong and provide the biblical answers.

Because Lordship theology touches on a broad range of Bible doctrines, with practical ramifications, I decided to deal with each doctrine in turn allowing for a complete definition of Lordship Salvation come forth as the book unfolds. With that said, I also believe it is important to provide a brief definition in the early stages of this book. The following definition is not all encompassing of the Lordship position, it may not be one that all Lordship advocates would sign on to 100%, but it is a beginning.

Defined briefly: Lordship Salvation is a position on the gospel in which “saving faith” is considered as reliance upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. An indispensable condition that must be met to fully define Lordship’s saving faith, which results in salvation, is an upfront commitment to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Christ in submissive obedience.

That is close to final form.

By the way, I have visited for the first time, the Baptist Board site. A thread opened on Lordship Salvation, and I decided to drop in a few comments. The discussion has been pleasant thus far. You can view it here.


April 4, 2007

John Piper Discussion at Sharper Iron


Over the last few days I have been in a (now closed) discussion thread at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron blog. The link to and title of the thread is: John Piper.

I had some very good exchanges with several men in a discussion over John Piper’s ministry. The discussion also included some thoughts about John MacArthur. There are serious concerns men have with Piper beyond his Calvinism and Lordship Salvation positions.

There have been numerous decisions/actions on the part of John Piper that have been quite disconcerting. These indiscretions are not limited to, but include:

* Taking his staff to the Toronto Blessing, for a blessing
* Preaching at Christian Rock concerts
* Bringing a RAP artist into his church for a performance
* Sees the miraculous gifts of the 1st century church as still active and possible for today
* Proposed acceptance of a regenerate, but not scripturally baptized church membership (subsequently dropped)
* Used Mark Driscoll (the “cussing” pastor) in his pulpit, and has used some very off-color remarks himself. (I’ve read his letter of explanation, and it falls far short of expressing repentance or remorse. He uses the off-color language choices to try and make his message relevant to his audience)

The crux of the discussion really has to do with the fact that there is a big difference between what John Piper writes in his books and what he does in practice.
Following is my summation from the discussions at SI:

I hope and pray that across the landscape of Fundamentalism everyone will recognize that men like John MacArthur and John Piper are not Fundamentalists. They are not representative of historic Fundamentalism especially in a specific area of doctrine and practice, which is: biblical separation. There is, therefore, an inherent danger in recommending these men to fundamental believers as examples in doctrine or practice.

These men have an established track record of disobeying the Scriptural commands for separation (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Examples of this can be found ecclesiastically and personally. They write books about living in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and surrendering to His Lordship. In the area of biblical separation, however, they act in such a way that one must conclude they do not see separation as a necessary part of submitting to the Lordship of Christ.

On page 202 of my book I wrote,
The command in Jude 3 to ‘earnestly contend for the faith’ and from 2 Corinthians 6:14-ff to separate from unbelievers and disobedient brethren are not open to selective application. They are mandated courses of action found I the Word of God.”
Biblical separation is one of the hallmarks, and probably most distinguishing characteristic, of our Independent Fundamental Baptist heritage. With so many respected pastors/teachers in fundamentalism pointing our people in the direction of MacArthur, Piper, Driscoll and Dever we are not just showing, but setting our people upon a path that leads to New Evangelicalism.

One of the men I interact with, who is Reformed in his soteriology and sympathetic to Lordship Salvation, made this observation,
John MacArthur poses a danger to us (fundamental Baptists) because he is closer to us than Piper and the others, and therefore, our men will accept anything he does in his ministry as normative.”
Again, differences I have with those men’s Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel set aside: If we don’t raise the level of awareness and provide serious cautions we will one day see what were once young independent fundamental Baptist preachers looking a lot more like John MacArthur and John Piper in doctrine and practice because mentors in Fundamental circles pointed them in that direction. Consequently, those pastors will lead their congregations down that road. We will see churches that were once known as a “Baptist” church undergo an overhaul. The overhaul will reveal itself when a new sign that reads Metropolis “Community” Church replaces the sign that once read Metropolis “Baptist” Church.

The promotion of men like Piper and MacArthur without serious cautions has been one of my chief concerns with what is happening across the Fundamental(ism) landscape. My fear is that as these men are continually held up as examples, (with so few clear or no cautions) some of our young people are going to follow their examples right up to, and maybe beyond, organizing and cooperating in events like the Resolved Conference.

If men like Piper and MacArthur, who do not consistently practice biblical separation, are presented as though they are doctrinally sound, then we should not be surprised when we begin to see young fundamentalists jettison the practice of biblical separation.

When young people are handed books by Piper and MacArthur I think we are kidding ourselves if we believe the young people will simply appreciate the books and steer clear of the behavior and indiscretion issues. Our young people will pick up on and adopt both the theology and practices of MacArthur, Piper or worse. An analogy from child rearing is I believe appropriate here: What you allow for in moderation, the children will take to extremes.”

If and when that day comes we are going to look back on these days and realize we showed our young people the bridge and opened the way for them to cross over to New Evangelicalism.


In the SI thread take a moment to locate read these comments I posted: p. 14, post #97; p. 17, post #’s 116,117, & 118.)

I also strongly encourage you to locate and read Bob Topartzer’s comments. He has an excellent way of defining and summing up issues. You will Bob’s comments in the thread on pages: 5, post #35; p. 8, post #52; p. 14, post #93; p. 18, post #120; p. 19, post #127