The Merger of Central Seminary & Faith Baptist Bible College: “Lordship Salvation” is Big Question #2
Dear Guests of IDOTG:
Earlier this year it was announced that Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, MN and Faith Baptist Bible College & Theological Seminary in Ankeny, IA had begun discussing the possibility of a merger.
Last month (May 2010) at The Church for God’s Glory Conference Dr. Kevin Bauder spoke publicly on the progress of and current events in the merger discussions. I am not certain it was in the best interest of those private discussions to have details aired publicly by one of its participants. Nevertheless, it has been done.
Today, for your consideration, I am posting a complete transcription of Dr. Bauder’s *recorded remarks from the conference in regard to the proposed merger. Following the transcription I will direct personal commentary toward one element and that will be soley on the Lordship Salvation portion of his remarks.
Before I get to the text I want to take just a couple of moments for one or two housekeeping things here. Number one, several people have asked me today when Central Seminary is merging with Faith Baptist Bible College and Seminary. Can I talk about that for just a minute?
The short answer is there have been no decisions about a merger. There is a conversation that is going on, that’s all it is right now, a conversation. There is not a concrete plan on the table we are going to follow. But I will say this, if a merger does happen it will occur in the summer of 2012, two years from now, and it will take this shape: There will be one seminary on two locations, two campuses. In other words, Faith will retain its current campus, or the merged seminary would operate on the current campus of Faith Baptist Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa and simultaneously on the present campus of Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Interestingly enough, once we got into the serious conversation about this Faith actually began by making the concession that whatever resources Central Seminary brings to the table and there are significant resources there, whatever resources Central Seminary brings to the table will be devoted, sequestered, I think the correct financial term is restricted for the on going operation of the Minnesota campus.
And so if you’re wondering is the Minneapolis campus of Central Seminary just going to vanish, is it going to go away, if you’re thinking, “I’m an alumnus; am I’m going to be an orphan now,” the answer is: No, the Central Seminary name will remain in play, the current campus will continue to be operated.
If there is a merger and it is far from a forgone conclusion at this point, there will be a merger, this summer actually over the next six weeks we are focusing on the two big questions. Question number one; am I telling you more than you want to know? That’s not question number one [laughter]. I carried away about things. Question number one: Will there really be enough synergy and savings in a merger to make this a worthwhile endeavor for both institutions; will it create a genuinely better institution and will it do it at substantially reduced costs than we could do separately? That’s question number one.
Question number two: How do we negotiate some of the differences between us that are minor differences, really in the big scheme of things, very small differences, but are nevertheless among us the sort of differences that can constitute land mines.
You’ve heard some remarks today, Brother Mike [Harding] about Lordship Salvation. Well, do you believe in Lordship Salvation? Well, it depends on what you mean by Lordship Salvation; right? Charles Finney believed in Lordship Salvation. He believed that in order to be saved there had to be a change of mind and a change of purpose, which is what Dr. Harding talked about. More than that Finney believed that you don’t really have Jesus as your Lord unless there is an actual change in conduct. In other words, for Finney- Finney is uber-Lordship Salvation. If you are genuinely saved you stop sinning, period. And if you haven’t stopped sinning, you’re not saved. I don’t think anybody in this room wants to endorse that version of Lordship Salvation.
So, what we are trying to do with Faith [Baptist Bible College & Seminary] is to get past some labels and to talk about what we mean, what we really believe and what we really don’t believe about certain biblical truths. I think that is a useful exercise. I’ve told the administration at Faith that this is something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to do publicly to talk about these differences publicly because these are differences that affect fundamentalism and even evangelicalism as a whole and we need to learn to get past labels and to talk about substance, which is part of what I was pleased to hear Pastor Harding doing earlier in the day, talking about substance.
I’m not saying it’s all about Lordship Salvation. Don’t get me wrong there. What I am saying is that there are wrinkles of difference between our institutions in terms of the way that we envision our theological posture.
In the grand scheme of let’s say Bible believing theology those differences amount to less than 1% of our total theology, but that 1% can be thorny if you don’t talk through it ahead of time. What we’re trying to do is talk through it carefully.
Let me go one step further. As the result of this conversation our institution has I think developed a far deeper appreciation for the people at Faith than we have ever had before. And I think that is vice-versa. But, what’s also occurred is this: In the process of the things that lead up to this there have been conversations between us and other institutions at different levels and about different sorts of things. Some of them just at the level of what’s going on. Some of them at the level of, “would you talk to us.” I can honestly say of the institutions that are represented in this room and I’m talking educational institutions now and I’m hesitant to begin naming because I’ll miss one, but I know there are people from Maranatha who are here. People from Northland International University who are here. People, from Detroit Seminary who are here. I don’t know if I’m missing anybody, but those three in particular I know are here.
I think today we at Central Seminary view ourselves as much more committed to the well-being of all of these sister institutions because of the fact that we do have so much in common with each other and the stakes are so much higher in terms of the differences that are outside. And so we’re committed increasingly to the fraternity and prosperity of, how can I put this, of what is left of mainstream, historic Fundamentalism.
*Through this link you may listen to Dr. Bauder’s remarks on the merger. His remarks begin at :17 seconds into the recording and run for 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The middle portion speaks to the Lordship Salvation concerns.
SITE PUBLISHER’S COMMENTARY:
I. In regard to the Lordship Salvation question Dr. Bauder said, “So, what we are trying to do with Faith [Baptist Bible College] is to get past some labels…”
Dr. Bauder seems to want to brush aside the label “Lordship Salvation.” He should not be so hasty to do so. The label “Lordship Salvation” has a definite, definable theology attached to it and that label is accepted by some of Lordship Salvation’s most high-profile advocates.
II. Dr. Bauder said, “Question number two: How do we negotiate some of the differences between us that are minor differences, really in the big scheme of things, very small differences, but are nevertheless among us the sort of differences that can constitute land mines.”
“In general, both sides of the debate have come to accept the designation Lordship Salvation. On the Grace Community Church web site, (Dr. John MacArthur, Senior Pastor) under Distinctives you will find one of the distinctives of the church’s teaching is titled, ‘Lordship Salvation.’ Here the term Lordship Salvation is used without further clarification or apology to define the official theological position of Dr. MacArthur’s church in regard to the gospel. So, it does appear the frustration has ceased for most Lordship advocates over the title that defines their position.” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 51.)
He was referring to Lordship Salvation. IMO, the Lordship Salvation debate is no small matter. The Gospel IS the “big scheme of things” in the New Testament church. There is a vast chasm, major differences between the theology of Lordship Salvation and the one true Gospel of the Bible, which is salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).
III. Dr. Bauder identified “Lordship Salvation” as “big question number two.” The big question in any discussion of Lordship Salvation is Lordship’s requirements FOR salvation, which is where the heart of the debate and controversy resides.
For related reading and further discussion see any one of the following articles:
“As you read through the pages of this book please bear in mind that the Lordship Salvation controversy primarily revolves around the requirements for salvation, NOT the results of salvation. A genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results. New believers will vary in levels of growth, but growth should be evident to some degree. The primary focal point of controversy, however, is Lordship’s requirements for the reception of eternal life, i.e., how to become a Christian.” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. xvi.)
“The major issue and crux of the doctrinal controversy is over Lordship’s definition of how the lost are born again. Concerns in regard to the discipleship of genuine believers are an important discussion, but…that is not where the main controversy lies. The crux of the Lordship debate is over the requirements for salvation, not the results of salvation. 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 being born again?” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 47.)
Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page
The Gospel of the Christ: The “Lordship Salvation” Label
Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations, “Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?
Lordship’s “Turn From Sin” FOR Salvation
Is Lordship Salvation a Barter System?
Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?
John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel
Yours in His service,