October 26, 2008

Kevin Bauder: Theological Pedigree to Gain a Hearing

Last week, at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI), I was engaged in several discussions on issues of concern to Fundamentalism, Independent Fundamental Baptists in particular. The SI site is made up of administrators moderators and participants that are by and large strongly Calvinistic in their theology. Many embrace Lordship Salvation. SI is supposed to be a site for Fundamentalists, but it is IMO exemplifying a steady shift of many Reformed men in the Fundamentalist camp toward the Evangelical mindset typical of Drs. John MacArthur, Mark Dever and John Piper.

Another one of the concerns I have had for several years has been in regard to a trend that has taken root and is growing in some segments of Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) circles. That trend was displayed in an article by Dr. Kevin Bauder

I am reposting here at my blog the remarks that I posted at SI as a stand alone commentary on Dr. Kevin Bauder’s article, To the Young Guys: Speak to be Heard.

Dr. Bauder:

You wrote,

You want people to listen to you? One of the best things that you can do is to finish school.”
In 2001 I spoke at Pillsbury Baptist Bible College for two days on the topic of missions. After one chapel the floor was opened for Q & A. One young man asked about advanced theological training in preparation for the mission field. His question was one of concern about going to seminary and he used the term, “cemetery,” suggesting seminary would chill evangelistic fire. My reply was two fold: 1) If the fires of evangelism go out it goes out in the heart of the believer, the believer lost his fire- seminary does not do that; 2) Anyone headed to the mission field would do well to gain advanced theological training because you will need a sharp sword on the foreign field.

I am for and support encouraging our young Fundamentalists (YF) headed for the ministry to avail themselves of as much formal advanced theological training as possible. To reiterate: I am for the attainment of advanced theological training, which I want you (and other readers of what is to follow) to be clear on before I react to select portions of your article.

You wrote,

If you want to be heard, get a real education. The more you get, the better the hearing you’ll likely gain.”
Fundamentalist, young or old, is not even the issue here. I am going to address the standard you have set for what you believe earns a man the right to be heard and/or taken seriously.

Let’s review some men, in their youth, that by your standard should not have been given a public hearing because they had no advanced theological training. As a matter of fact, if my research is correct, these men had practically no formal training of any kind. (All biographies from

G. Campbell Morgan

In 1886, at the age of 23, he left the teaching profession, for which he had been trained, and devoted himself to preaching and Bible exposition. He was ordained to the Congregational ministry in 1890. He had no formal training for the ministry, but his devotion to studying of the Bible made him one of the leading Bible teachers in his day. His reputation as preacher and Bible expositor grew throughout England and spread to the United States.

Charles H. Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, commonly C.H. Spurgeon, (June 19, 1834 – January 31, 1892) was a British Reformed Baptist preacher who remains highly influential among Christians of different denominations, among whom he is still known as the "Prince of Preachers." He also founded the charity organization now known as Spurgeon's, that works worldwide with families and children, as well as a famous theological college which after his death was called after him: Spurgeon's College. His sermons were translated into many languages in his lifetime.

D. L. Moody

His Sunday School teacher said of Moody, "I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness."

C. I. Scofield

Scofield served as secretary of the American Home Missionary Society of Texas and Louisiana; and in 1890, he helped found Lake Charles College (1890-1903) in Lake Charles, Louisiana. As the author of the pamphlet, "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth" (1888), Scofield himself soon became a leader in dispensational premillennialism, a forerunner of twentieth-century Christian fundamentalism.

In 1895, Scofield was called as pastor of Moody's church, the Trinitarian Congregational Church of East Northfield, Massachusetts, and he also took charge of Moody’s Northfield Bible Training School. Although, in theory, Scofield returned to his Dallas pastorate in 1903, his projected reference Bible consumed much of his energy, and for much of the time before its publication, he was either sick or in Europe. When the Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1909, it quickly became the most influential statement of dispensational premillennialism, and Scofield's popularity as Bible conference speaker increased as his health continued to decline.
H. A. Ironside

During this time, Ironside also began his career as a writer, publishing several Bible commentary pamphlets. In 1914, he rented a storefront and established the Western Book and Tract Company, which operated successfully until the depression in the late 1920s. From 1916 to 1929, Ironside preached almost 7,000 sermons to over 1.25 million listeners. In 1918, he was associated with evangelist George McPherson; and 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 the 1935 funeral of Billy Sunday, at Moody Church. In 1938, he toured England, Scotland and Ireland, preaching 142 times to crowds of upwards of 2,000. In 1942, he also became president of the missionary organization, Africa Inland Mission.

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.
If the YF takes your comments seriously he has effectively been told to be seen and NOT heard (in public) until he has attained what you deem a suitable theological pedigree. If you follow the standard you just set for the YF to get a serious hearing then you, and any who share your opinion, can’t listen to any young man without an advanced degree, which would have to of included a young Spurgeon, Moody, Ironside and Scofield if the likes of them were among us today, and probably are.

You are essentially telling the YF to stay out of the public arena of discussion unless and until he has earned an advanced degree. Taking the standard you set seriously would mean that not until he had been awarded an honorary Doctorate in 1932 you would not have taken H. A. Ironside seriously.

Dr. Bauder, if we follow your,
minimal educational requirement to command a hearing… the necessary command of languages, exegesis, and theology,” we shouldn’t take any preacher seriously, regardless of age, who has not arrived at the level of theological pedigree you set as the minimal acceptable standard. You have effectively told the YF that he can’t speak to be heard until he has arrived at a level of academic excellence you have set as the standard to get a hearing.

Finally, I want to cite the following from you,

Broadly speaking, most Christian leaders have to earn a Master of Divinity degree before many people are interested in what they have to say.”
Dr. Bauder I appreciate your encouraging the YF to equip themselves for ministry. What you wrote, however, is IMO a sample, an eloquent sample, of the INTELLECTUAL ELITISM that has found its way into some segments of Fundamentalism.