June 29, 2009

What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?

The FBFI Annual Fellowship is in its second day. Last night the *keynote speaker was Dr. Chuck Phelps. His message title was, “Living in the Grip of the Glorious Gospel.”

I want to address just one aspect of Dr. Phelps’s message, which is his discussion of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. Within his message he quoted a portion from Dr. John MacArthur’s Hard to Believe. This book is one of five major apologetics by John MacArthur on his Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.

Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing. Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a book of Words or Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic.
The selection above is a revised version of the original paragraph that appears in MacArthur’s Hard to Believe, p. 93. The original appeared as follows (see bold for the edited portion):
Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God's Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing. Salvation isn’t the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scriptures; it’s the fruit of actions not intentionsThere’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a book of Words or Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny.”
That passage, in either form, is one of the most controversial, **among many, coming from Dr. MacArthur since his release of the original edition of The Gospel According to Jesus. It was Phil Johnson (MacArthur’s senior editor) who notd the original manuscript, the paragraph in question, from Hard to Believe was altered by an editor at the publisher. Phil has posted a revision, which I was under the impression Dr. Phelps had cited. Several persons have indicated that it was the original version that Dr. Phelps cited in his message.

To date I am not aware of any instance in which Dr. MacArthur has personally and publicly edited, explained or eliminated the original paragraph from Hard to Believe. This is significant! (If anyone can document MacArthur personally retracting the paragraph from Hard to Believe, please post that link in the thread below.)

All of the friction in recent weeks in the IFB camp is of course troublesome. There has been talk of a split over Calvinism or possibly the ***“worldliness” of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals, which despite those trends many of our Reformed brethren are growing increasingly fond of close fellowship with the evangelicals. These are important discussions, but for some men these things are not clear issues that necessitate separation. IMO, those are not the clear fault lines for an ****Acts 15:39 type of parting of the ways between men in the IFB community and/or the FBF, but Lordship Salvation is!
How can there be unity within a fellowship when two polar opposite interpretations of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ are accepted as legitimate?
Reasonable men can get along over differences of opinion over Reformed theology. Many men who reject Calvinism have cordial personal friendships with IFB men who are Calvinistic in their theology. There is the desire to work in cooperative efforts and I understand that desire. It is, however, antithetical to the Scriptures to call for unity in any fellowship at the expense of compromise with Lordship’s message, which has changed the terms of the Gospel. Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote:
John MacArthur is a sincere servant of the Lord, of that we have no doubt.... We believe in his advocacy of the so-called lordship salvation he is wrong. He desperately desires to see holiness, lasting fruit, and continuing faithfulness in the lives of Christian people. This reviewer and we believe all sincere church leaders desire the same.... But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel.” (Lordship Salvation: An Examination of John MacArthur’s Book, The Gospel According to Jesus.)
If a brother in Christ believes eternal salvation is received through faith plus commitment of life he has fallen into the trap of Lordship Salvation’s man-centered, works based message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). We need to prayerfully exhort and convince those men to reconsider their advocacy of Lordship Salvation and to repent of it.

If there is to be fracture in Fundamentalism the fault line is IMO Lordship Salvation.


LM

PS: Later today I am posting an article in regard to Thursday’s Q & A Symposium titled, “Let’s Discuss Conservative Evangelicalism.”

*The other slated keynote speaker, Evangelist Will Galkin, was unable to attend due to a family illness.

**Additional controversial quotes from MacArthur include:
Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (TGATJ, p. 78)

And he needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.” (Hard to Believe, p. 9.)

Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to a cross. . . . It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is. And it denotes implicit obedience, full surrender to the lordship of Christ. Nothing less can qualify as saving faith.” (TGATJ, p. 140).

One of the most comprehensive invitations to salvation in all the epistles comes in James 4:7-10... The invitation in 4:7-10 is directed at those who are not saved...” (From the 20th Anniversary edition of TGATJ (p. 250). See, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page
***A an article of supreme importance exposing the trend of worldliness among “conservative” evangelicals was published by Dr. Peter Masters. See, The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness (An alarmed assessment by Dr. Masters of the ‘new Calvinism’ promoted among young people in the USA from Sword & Trowel 2009, No. 1)

****See- Is it Sharp Nuff’ Yet?

June 24, 2009

FBFI Annual Fellowship: Review From My View, Final

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Over the past few days I have truly labored and prayed over exactly how I should put a wrap on my impressions of the final event at the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) Annual Fellowship. I refer to the Q&A Symposium: Let’s Discuss Conservative Evangelicalism.

In my previous article, Review From My View, Part 1 I referenced two incidents that occurred during the symposium that were rather disconcerting to a number of the delegates. One was far more troubling than the other. I prepared a transcript of the more controversial of the two and I was prepared to publish a thorough discussion of it. However, after consulting friends I trust and taking it before the Lord I decided to forego that version of this closing report. There may be an occasion to address those other incidents, but this is not that occasion. With that said I’d like to offer my closing thoughts for your consideration.

Immediately after the symposium ended the general consensus was that we never got to hear discussed the crux of what we were all there to hear discussed. The topic was, Let’s Discuss Conservative Evangelicalism.

In the 80 minutes allowed for the symposium the first question that got to the heart of controversy within fundamentalism over “conservative” evangelicalism was not asked until nearly 60 minutes had elapsed. The first panelist responding to that question strayed way off the specific subject matter of the question. Regrettably the discussion was never recovered to address the original intent of the question.

Other portions of the symposium may have revealed what could be a growing trend among a segment of men in Fundamentalism. We may be seeing a growing trend toward the Emergent mindset for dialogue with little compulsion or determination to get to concrete answers and resolutions of important doctrinal and/or the peripheral issues. Issues such as biblical separation and the “worldliness,” which *Dr. Peter Masters clearly identified that exists in the evangelical camp.

This symposium was not the first indication that a desire for dialogue is a growing trend in Fundamentalism. A number of the young (Calvinistic) fundamentalists (from and in their blogs) have been calling for increased dialogue with the “conservative” evangelicals for what must be several years to date. They pursue and call for increased dialogue, seek closer fellowship while maintaining a willingness to look past and tolerate obvious doctoral aberrations and methods of ministry within “conservative” evangelicalism that many of these same YF men would never allow for or tolerate in their own ministries or sphere of influence.

One of the symposium panelists referenced (2 Thess. 3:15). However, he suggested Fundamentalists initially withhold admonishment of the obvious in preference for “dialogue” with the evangelicals because they want to dialogue with us. This begs the question:

After how many dialogues with the “conservative” evangelical does one begin to obey the biblical mandate to, “admonish him as a brother?”

The mindset of dialogue, if it is only for the sake of getting to know each other’s views better, has never yielded good results. At a later date I am going to come back to this specific conversation in a Redux submission. Possibly as early as next week. I have tentatively titled that article,

The Danger of Dialogue with Conservative Evangelicals
Apart From Admonishment
.


Final Thought on the 2009 Annual Fellowship
One of the most compelling doctrinal discussions coming from the annual fellowship has been somewhat of an undercurrent. IMO, however, this issue will be a catalyst for what if any split is on the horizon for the FBFI. The issue is purely doctrinal and was the theme of this year’s annual fellowship, “The Glorious Gospel of Christ.”

It is no secret that within the ranks of the FBFI membership there is a sharp divide over what is the necessary content of saving faith. The debate primarily revolves around the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the Gospel. LS is, in my opinion, the line of demarcation in Fundamentalism and I have addressed this in, **What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?

The symposium showed that some men are unable and/or at this time unwilling to mark out what does or does not constitute “worldliness,” and therefore grounds for separation from the “conservative” evangelicals over those issues. We have, however, in our own fellowship a stark contrast over the Gospel. Dr. Robert Lightner wrote,

Salvation is either by God’s grace or by human effort, commitment, or work. It cannot be by both, anymore than law and grace were both means of salvation in Paul’s day.” (Sin, the Savior and Salvation, p. 203.)
The Lordship Salvation debate has been simmering for years among men who identify themselves as Independent Fundamental Baptists. At this year’s annual fellowship it was returned to the forefront. The “glorious Gospel of Christ” is either faith alone in Jesus Christ alone or it is faith, plus commitment of life. These polar opposites cannot be reconciled.

Reasonable men in the FBFI agree that if there is to be parting of the ways it ought not to be over Calvinism, per se. The Lordship debate is, however, a sharp divide on clear doctrinal grounds in the fellowship of Independent Fundamental Baptists.

Two weeks ago I submitted an article titled, Is it Sharp Nuff’ Yet? The article is based on a familiar passage of Scripture.

And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus,” (Acts 15:39).
IMO, the FBFI is unlikely to have the same make-up of membership at this time next year. It may well be that the combined issues of Calvinism, Lordship Salvation and what to do with the “conservative” evangelicals has generated enough sharp contention that a parting asunder is just over the horizon. Good men on both sides of the issues and the leadership of the FBFI will sort these things out as conscience and the Lord leads.


LM

*See, The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness

** The thread under this article has a very enlightening Q & A between me and a man named Joshua. I invite you to review that thread beginning here.

June 18, 2009

FBFI Annual Fellowship: Review from My View, Part 1

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today I was in attendance at the FBFI Annual Fellowship. I’d like to share a few general comments this evening. In my next report I will address the closing event, which was the Q & A Symposium. Details below.


Twitterites: Officials reported there was an infestation of Twitterites at the Fellowship. USA Today reports that MS Word has not yet developed an effective repellant to neutralize these infestations. One must, therefore, exercise extreme caution when in close proximity to even a single Twitterish.

The image to the right is a specimen of what etymologists have identified as the
Twitterish Evangelicus strain of Twitterites.

I was told that Twitterites were on the look-out for me at the Fellowship. They might even Twit if I met with certain personalities, but would seek no personal interviews if I were spotted in a meeting. That is good because Park Rangers forbid the feeding of beeswax to Twitterites.

Stealth mode was my personal choice of protection. To protect other key FBFI delegates from any potentially unflattering Twitterings I told them in advance that if they addressed me openly they must refer to me as “
Fritz.” I did not wear a name badge to protect myself and others from attracting any unwanted and/or unflattering Twitterite invasion.

All day I did not personally see any Twitterites. They must have been in the balcony or burrowed into the fabric of a pew. In any event I am grateful that I escaped un-Twittered and therefore did not have to visit my local pharmacy for an antibiotic salve.


ReKindling: I was able to rekindle friendships with various persons I had not seen in months to many years. During a break I met Pastor Mike Harding just outside the north doors. The last time he saw me was in 1989. I greeted him and I could tell he did not remember me on sight. We have spoken on the phone and in e-mails many times over the past two years, but no personal meetings. So, I introduced myself we shook hands and enjoyed about 10 minutes of cordial discussion on various topics, personal and doctrinal.

Other long time friends I was able to greet included: Dr. Dave Pennington, Dr. Ron Allen, Dr. Wayne VanGelderen, Jr., Dr. Milton Jones, Brother Charlie Hatchet (Camp Joy) and more.


Armed Forces Chaplains: The morning session with Joe Willis, U.S. Army Chaplain, was a powerful message to me personally. Dr. Stephen Jones was unable to attend due to his having a bad case of the flu. So, the session with Joe Willis was extended to fill both sessions. In addition to Joe speaking on the ministry of and need for more chaplains two additional chaplains gave personal testimonies. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was fighting back tears when these two men gave their testimonies of service unto the Lord for our country on behalf of our fighting forces. You will just have to get the audio to hear these heart-wrenching testimonies. Many of the sessions are being uploaded at SermonAudio.com.

At time of this writing General Sessions #6 & #7 are not yet uploaded. After this morning I will never look at the chaplaincy corp. the same way as I did before. I will extend the call from the chaplains to you pastors to have a chaplain at your church to preach. You may have a young man called to preach and through exposure to one of the chaplains the Lord may call him to the chaplaincy corp.

Tomorrow, possibly as late as Monday I will post my commentary and reaction to the Q & A Symposium on the subject:
Let’s Discuss “Conservative” Evangelicalism.

This evening I read some on line commentary of the symposium. A vital element from the symposium was either overlooked or buried. I will note and discuss a select number of comments from the symposium’s panel. In my report I will also share with you and address the apparent oversight in other reports.

Kind regards,


LM

The Q & A Symposium: Let’s Discuss “Conservative” Evangelicalism

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This (Thursday) morning at the FBFI Annual Fellowship there is a very important discussion taking place. There will be a Q & A Symposium on the subject:
Let’s Discuss “Conservative” Evangelicalism?

In the
Sword & Trowel Dr. Peter Masters published The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness. The subtitle is especially compelling, “An alarmed assessment by Dr. Masters of the ‘new Calvinism’ promoted among young people in the USA.

In the article Masters warned of a

...a seriously distorted Calvinism falling far, far short of an authentic life of obedience to a sovereign God.”
And furthermore he stated,
The new Calvinism is not a resurgence but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world.”
In stark terms Dr. Masters indentifies the disturbing trend toward worldliness and charismatic leanings we are seeing among the “conservative” evangelicals. Many of our younger Reformed IFB men have been willing to look past these trends as they seek closer fellowship with the “conservative” evangelicals.

This timely expose
The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness by Dr. Masters should make for a compelling symposium on Thursday morning.

At some point following the close of the symposium I plan to report on what took place and my impressions of the symposium. It will likely be late in the day or Friday morning. I considered a live blog, but I do not want to miss any important questions or commentary while the symposium is under way.

Yours in His service,


Lou Martuneac

June 15, 2009

Fundamentalism/FBFI: “Actually It’s All Quite Exciting!”

Dear Guest of IDOTG:

The
89th Annual Fellowship of the FBFI is being held this week, June 16-18. The host church is Bethel Baptist Church in Schaumburg, IL. Dr. Bradley M. Smith (FBFI Chairman of the Board) is our host pastor.




It is no secret that over the past 4+ weeks there has been a buzz of controversy in the IFB community around the FBFI. Some men targeted the FBFI and its leadership for criticism of its handling of the controversy. Some have been content with how FBFI leadership has responded. Others have been neutral allowing the FBFI leadership to act in good conscience as God leads.

I have observed, interacted in the open discussions and have spoken to several men who do not participate in the on line community. In off-line discussions there is one opinion that has been reiterated several times.

Attempts to pull the FBF are being made by outsiders who have little or no love or personal investment in the FBF – and would love nothing more than to see the whole thing unravel.
I have my copy of the 2008-2209 FBFI Directory. I looked in vain for the names of certain men who have been among the most harsh critics of the FBFI in recent weeks. Most of these voices are coming from a variety of blogs owners, moderators and contributors who have no personal stake in the FBFI. These men have either never been members of or have quit the FBFI.

The way I see it, the FBFI is not going to unravel. On Tuesday the FBFI Board of Directors will be meeting. The current controversy will undoubtedly be on the agenda. Each of the men will be able to look one another in the eye as they share their heart and vision for Fundamentalism and the FBFI in particular. The Board members will have an opportunity to pull themselves together in that meeting.

IMO, the FBFI is evolving in the Lord’s will, to edify and encourage men toward greater service to Him and for His glory. For years the FBFI has been lead by men of integrity. I trust there are men in the FBFI membership who have confidence in the spirituality of the FBFI board members to “
do the right thing.”

With the board meeting just hours away, may I suggest that every member of the FBFI take a few moments to pray for God’s blessing and wisdom to be called for, present and fallen upon in that meeting.

Referencing the events of recent weeks and this years Annual Fellowship, one pastor said to me, “
Actually it’s all quite exciting!”

These are
exciting days! Let’s stay occupied till’ He comes, (Luke 19:13).

Yours in His service,


LM

June 11, 2009

Is It Sharp Nuff’ Yet?

Is what “Sharp Nuff’”?

For well over a month there has been sharp contention among Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB). The current controversy is a public boiling over of a debate that has been bubbling just under the surface for years. The controversy was ignited by a message from Dr. Dan Sweatt at the FBFI South Regional fellowship in April. Adding to the friction was Dr. Kevin Bauder’s three consecutive blog responses. (See links below)

With what just transpired many are left wondering if there can be genuine reconciliation and harmony among men within the broader IFB community. If last month’s discussions are a genuine indication of future events, harmony across all of fundamentalism appears to be unlikely.

At another blog I posted a question on the possibility of reconciliation. Several people responded with comments in regard to apologies and repentance (neither of which has been offered to date from either side) such as:

I don’t think people want reconciliation right now. I don’t think either party is apologizing . . . are they?”

Let me also say that I am not sure there can be reconciliation yet.”

…calling for reconciliation? That may be an underlying desire, but probably not a realistic expectation.”
What if these sentiments are an accurate reflection of the general mindset across Fundamentalism? If no one is seeking reconciliation, and no one finds reason to apologize when others believe an apology is called for, where does the IFB community and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI) go from here?


Does the Bible offer a solution to the current state of affairs in IFB circles? Does the Bible provide an example of what can be done when parties are mired down in sharp contention? I believe the Bible provides that answer.
And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus,” (Acts 15:39).
Has the time come for Independent Fundamental Baptists, who differ sharply over a number of issues, doctrinal and practical, to prayerfully contemplate the example of Paul and Barnabas as a viable option? Has the contention among men who love the Lord, and one another as brothers in Christ, boiled over to the point where in the best interest of the cause of Christ, “… they depart asunder one from the other?”

In Vine’s Expository Dictionary, contention is defined as, “strife, quarrel, rivalry, wrangling…the effect of irritation.” Without a doubt there has been plenty of “wrangling and irritation” of late in IFB circles.

Take this personal check up: In your mind, or even in discussion among close confidants, do you desire that you and your peers or the men on the other side of the debate(s) would just move on and form their own fellowship? If you have contemplated that then maybe it is time for you to give Acts 15:39 serious consideration for personal application.

Numerous times in recent weeks we have read comments from individuals, who in mantra like fashion, speak of “fleeing Fundamentalism.” Has the contention become so sharp between two factions in the fellowship of Independent Fundamental Baptists that the example of Paul and Barnabas must now be considered the only option for resolution?

Should there be a meeting convened like that of the Council at Jerusalem Acts 15? Maybe, but individual men might want to discuss in small groups among themselves how they want go forward for Christ either alongside or apart from other IFB men and fellowships.

Maybe it is time for men within fundamentalism to privately and/or corporately to discuss whether or not the time may be near for an Acts 15:39 event. Many more of these open flash-points will do no good for the cause of Christ or the world’s view of biblical fundamentalism.

In the footnotes for Acts 15:39 John R. Rice wrote,
God used this contention to send out two missionary partners instead of one.” (Rice Reference Bible, p. 1,190.)
Maybe, one day in the future, there can be healing, such as Paul had with Mark, (2 Tim. 4:11). At this juncture, however, it may be best to “depart asunder” so that parties can depart from contention and set out to serve the Lord from within a fellowship of like-minded men they are more at ease with.

I did not write this article to agitate for or insist a departure must take place at this juncture. I do, however, believe we need to be honest with ourselves and prayerfully consider if the time may be near for men to determine whether or not following the example of Paul and Barnabas might be in our future and in the best interest of the cause of Christ.

Is it Sharp Nuff’ yet, for you?
And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus,” (Acts 15:39).
For Your Consideration,


LM

The IFB & Calvinism: Flashpoint!

A Call for Removal of Dr. Kevin Bauder From the Platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship

Even More Than “Nuff Said” to Warrant Kevin Bauder’s Removal From the National Platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship

June 8, 2009

Cancelled My Membership at Sharper Iron

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This morning I privately and publicly notified SI's leadership and members that effective immediately I am dropping my membership. I asked that my name, comments and all contact details be removed. My request was denied.

Several days following my resignation of membership Aaron Blumer, site publisher, changed my status from former member to banned. This is a serious misrepresentation, which I brought to Aaron's attention. Aaron refuses to correct this misrepresentation of my departure from SI. SI is his site, he can do as he pleases, but ultimately God knows the truth and I leave this with Him.

Yours in His service,


Lou Martuneac


UPDATE: (September 2, 2009)
I have opened a new blog to begin public discussion of various subjects in regard to the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI) site. Virtually everything I will discuss there has already been shared by me extensively in two-way communication with the leadership at SI over the past three months since my departure from SI. I now feel at liberty to share my views in the public venue. I, therefore, invite you to visit
Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet.

Subsequent articles have been and will be noted with links provided on this main page.

SI's Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Another Off

SI: Playing Favorites: Again???


SI’s “Smaller Sample” Survey Is In

SI Equates Dr. Al Mohler to the Apostle Paul

A “Fair Number of Reformed Folks?”

Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees”

SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters...

Who Are SI's “Most Active Members?”

Gratifying Responsiveness of SI

Aaron Blumer: I Learned it From Fundamentalists

SI Survey, “SAYS...”

June 4, 2009

Kevin Bauder: Even More Than “Nuff Said” For His Removal From the National Platform of the FBFI Annual Fellowship






Some Would Like Me to be Removed From the Platform of the FBFI this Summer,” (Dr. Kevin Bauder).




In recent days there has been a great deal of controversy and sharp contention among Independent Fundamental Baptists (IFB) within and around the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI).

In my previous article I issued, A Call for Dr. Kevin Bauder’s Removal From the National Platform of the FBFI Annual Fellowship. That followed The IFB & Calvinism: Flashpoint!, which at the time I thought would be a single treatment of that particular issue.

Among other reasons given in my two previous articles for recommending Dr. Kevin Bauder’s removal from the national platform of this years FBFI Annual Fellowship included:
1) His rhetoric about Dr. Bob Jones Jr. has never been retracted. Dr. Bob Jr. was a big part of the FBF in yesteryear. Should an FBFI speaker be allowed to publicly (as one man noted to me) “throw Dr. Jones under the bus and nothing be done about it?” What message is sent when an open attack against Dr. Bob Jones is tolerated with no response or consequences whatsoever?

2) Missionary John Himes (grandson of John R. Rice) wrote,
Again, I am very disappointed at the language Bauder uses against his fellow fundamentalists, evidently chiefly against Rice: ‘pugilistic and bellicose,’ ‘alpha males,’ ‘the big boys,’ ‘bullies,’ ‘chieftains,’ etc. Is this the kind of language a fundamentalist leader should use?”
3) And as I noted,
With an opportunity before him (Bauder) to promote unity, healing and reconciliation in the IFB community Dr. Bauder chose to pursue a different tact. Instead he further polarized factions, alienated many and fueled further division among men in and around the FBFI. I can’t imagine a more unnecessary, unwise and ill-timed moment as this juncture in the chain of events for Bauder to publish sharp criticism of widely respected men from our own IFB heritage.
4) And contra to the FBFI’s call for men to Speak the Truth in Love,
“Dr. Bauder’s criticisms of Dr. Jones and Dr. Rice was not speech that edifies. It was not a display of Christ-like love. Bauder’s tone was not the sound of humble integrity. The caricatures of Jones and Rice, while barely skirting personal attacks, certainly did not honor the Lord or those men. It is irrefutable that the speech with which Dr. Bauder described Drs. Jones and Rice is antithetical to what the FBFI leadership called for.”
If Dr. Bauder had limited his commentary to the first article, Time to Speak Up, there would be some degree of just cause for his removal from the national platform. His second Nuff Said, a continuation and expansion of the same themes as the first, raised grave concern over his appearing on the national platform and legitimized calls for serious consideration that he be removed.
Following Bauder’s second article, Nuff Said, one might have assumed enough had been said by Bauder, but he had not yet, Said Nuff.
On Friday (5/29) Kevin Bauder, at Nick of Time published another and third installment of what has become a series. The title is, From the In Box.

In Bauder’s From the In Box, after some opening commentary, he published a long series of private correspondence he received in regard to his two previous articles, Time to Speak Out & Nuff Said. Bauder stated that he,
…believes in giving one’s opponents a hearing…that I (Bauder) would give my opponents the final word in any discussion. For this series, I am doing the same thing. I have made a point of including words of opposition from both sides—and I will offer no rejoinder.”
I did an informal content count of the e-mails Bauder presented. You will find 35 responses that support Bauder’s two previous articles. There are 4 that object and 5 others I felt were neutral. How does that kind of lopsided numerical make up constitute a sincere effort to give his opponents a hearing and/or the final word?

Making matters worse some letters continue Bauder’s critical themes of historic fundamentalists. Some are a continuation of angry reactions to the message by Dr. Sweatt. Calls for greater censure of Dr. Sweatt by the FBFI were included. Following are examples of the more egregious letters Bauder posted,
As a young fundamentalist and a Calvinist, I cannot thank you enough for going to bat against the big talkers who are spoiling fundamentalism. It is refreshing to see a man in leadership such as yourself speaking out against what I perceive to be atrocities committed in the name of Christ.” (bold mine)

The Calvinism issue is definitely one of our questions, and I thank you for addressing it. But, I believe that the greater issue at stake is how long will this ‘duplicitous and abusive leadership...pulpit tirades, doctrinal tomfoolery, and political gamesmanship’ be allowed and tolerated in mainstream fundamentalism?” (bold mine)
How does Bauder’s inclusion of incendiary and vitriolic commentary such as that contribute to a constructive, healing discussion of the issues? Why would Bauder include statements as extreme as these?

Occasionally, I receive articles for my blog that include statements I feel are excessive and needlessly inflammatory. In good conscience before God, to protect the character of men I disagree with and to avoid needlessly stirring emotions I revise or remove inflammatory commentary. If Bauder had any thought that the e-mails cited above might be over-the-top he would not have included them. Is it possible he let those anonymous men say for him, what he could never get away with saying himself?

Dr. Bauder publishing anonymous correspondence from other men perpetuates controversy. Why does Bauder bolster his views and flank himself with others men’s private e-mail? Does he think piling on more rhetoric legitimizes his own? Is he lobbying to keep his seat on the FBFI Annual Fellowship platform?

It has become clear through various on-going blog discussions that most of the men who were offended by Dr. Sweatt’s message are not satisfied with the FBFI’s Speak the Truth in Love response. In Nuff Said Bauder did acknowledge, “We need to give credit where credit is due.... The leadership did what they needed to do for this moment. They took a step that was intermediate but adequate.” There are, however, others who are agitating for stronger more immediate punitive measures to be taken against Dr. Sweatt, to IMO make an example of him. For example from the e-mails,
The FBFI statement is either arrogance or timidity. And I think they’re bed partners, frankly.”

When I read the FBFI statement, I thought that it was a non-statement that was laughably vague, yet here you describe it as courageous!”
No other recognized “leader” I am aware of in the IFB community or featured speaker for the upcoming FBFI Annual Fellowship is at the present publicly airing grievances (his own and those of others that were meant to be private). No other IFB leader is stirring the pot of controversy, taking on a political tone and essentially ignoring the FBFI’s recent attempt to calm the waters. Kevin Bauder is the only recognizable leader perpetuating controversy in the public forum. Other men who are slated to speak at the annual fellowship surely have a position on current events. They are, however, keeping out of the public fray most likely preferring private prayerful discussion. However, we have in Bauder, a high profile seminary president, engaging in public blog commentary (blog warfare as some call it).

Calls for Kevin Bauder’s removal from the national platform are not doctrinally motivated. Instead we have a pattern of behavior from Bauder that is working against unity, harmony and reconciliation in the IFB community.
Kevin Bauder’s on-going commentary has fostered hard feelings and is contributing to a polarization of factions within the broad base of IFB believers and the FBFI membership in particular.

Dr. Bauder has fashioned himself into a lightning rod for controversy! He has done nothing less than *increase the voltage being introduced into the atmosphere of the IFB community. On his own initiative he has made himself a flashpoint of controversy. Bauder’s perpetuating and expanding controversy is a major contributor to what is becoming a “toxic climate” for fundamentalism. In my opinion Bauder’s From the In Box, his third foray into controversy, erases any lingering doubt as to the necessity of his being relieved of any speaking responsibilities at the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship.

I do not envy the difficult position that Bauder has put the FBFI leadership in. The FBFI is at a crossroads. Whatever the FBFI decides on Bauder’s appearance at the annual fellowship there will certainly be some level of fallout. Concerns over potential political fallout must be set aside. Name and reputation must be set aside. The only question is: What is the right thing to do?

With his third article Dr. Kevin Bauder has Said (way more than) Nuff to warrant his removal from the national platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship. I believe there is sufficient reason for any objective man to call for and/or agree that Bauder must be removed from the platform of the FBFI Annual Fellowship.

Yours in His service,


LM

*I chose the photo of lightning bolts over the Chicago skyline for a purpose. In Bauder’s Time to Speak Out article speaking of, “a more historic species of fundamentalism” he wrote,
Fortunately, I do not have to look very far to find a better, more biblically faithful, and more historic species of fundamentalism…. It shows up here and there in the toxic climate of Illinois…”.
Kevin Bauder is creating a highly charged “toxic climate” in Chicago, Illinois for the FBFI Annual Fellowship.

For an appendix entry to the article see the first thread comment. It is one of the e-mails that Bauder included in From the In Box.

Please read, Theological Pedigree to Gain a Hearing for another view of Dr. Kevin Bauder that has a degree of relevance here.

Update (2/11/10):
This is well after the fact, but an important follow-up to this series.

I was at the FBFI Annual Fellowship in 2009. During the Q&A Symposium fears that Kevin Bauder might once again launch another unprovoked attack against historic Fundamentalism were realized.

Toward the end of the Q&A Bauder dodged a direct question put to him by symposium moderator Dr. John Dr. Vaughn about the conservative evangelicals, which was the subject of the Q&A. His dodge extended to an open attempt to besmirch Bob Jones University for its having hosted various candidates for political office.

Bauder just could not let his three previous attacks on the legacy of Dr. Bob Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice be “Nuff said.”

The irony is that current BJU president Stephen Jones was ill and, therefore, could not appear in the Symposium as scheduled. So, Bauder lowered the crosshairs on the most recognized personality from BJU that was available to him on the panel: Dr Mark Minnick.

Dr. Minnick was obviously uncomfortable with Bauder ambushing him with criticism of BJU administration decisions and calling on him to explain it. Dr. Minnick graciously tried to leave the discussion for the BJU administration to answer since he (Minnick) it not a BJU administrator and cannot speak for the administration, but Bauder kept up the pressure.

IMO Bauder, with that final performance, gave all the reason necessary to ensure he should never again be given a platform presence at an FBFI sponsored event.


LM