June 2, 2010

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.

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.

“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.)

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.”

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.

“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.)

For related reading and further discussion see any one of the following articles:

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,



  1. If possible, I would like a straight answer from you Lou, is the Lordship gospel advocated by MacArthur a false gospel worthy of anathema?


  2. James:

    Lordship Salvation, as defined by John MacArthur, is a false, works based, man-centered, non-saving message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

    Now, as I have stated many times in various venues: I believe *John MacArthur is a born again Christian who has unfortunately gone horribly wrong in his understanding of the nature of saving faith and consequently landed in and propagates a false gospel, namely Lordship Salvation.

    Here are two excerpts from my book that may be helpful. The first by Dr. Ernest Pickering from his review of MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus.

    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.” (IDOTG, pp. 52-53.)

    As I define and answer Lordship Salvation I will be drawing primarily from the teaching of Dr. John MacArthur because he is this generation’s most prolific apologist for the position. To date MacArthur has published five major works on Lordship Salvation, plus numerous articles and sermons in audio, print and online formats. Please understand that Dr. MacArthur’s character is not under scrutiny or being called into question, MacArthur’s teaching, however, is. As far as I know John MacArthur’s character is above reproach in both Christian and secular circles. Although I am grieved over his interpretation of the gospel I am grateful for his personal testimony especially since so many preachers have lost theirs and in so doing have harmed the cause of Christ.” (IDOTG, p. 26.)


  3. How can he be a christian if he is advocating a false gospel? He would be a wolf in sheep's clothing wouldn't he? If he is adding works to the gospel, wouldn't that mean he didn't understand the gospel to begin with and is trying to earn it?

  4. James:

    Years ago Jack Nicklaus lost a tournament on the final hole by missing a 2’ foot putt. In the post-tourney interview one reporter asked Nicklaus, “Jack, how could you miss a putt like that?” Nicklaus replied, “The same way you can.”

    How can John MacArthur be Christian if he is advocating a false gospel? The same way you or I could.


  5. So, Lou, I am not that well versed in the views of either seminary and their respective profs. Which one is an advocate of Lordship Salvation? And is this LS of the MacArthur stripe or some other variant?

  6. Brian:

    I do not know and cannot speak for either institution nor their respective faculty members. If I did know, out of respect for their private discussions, I would not say so in a public forum.

    Frankly, as I noted in the article, I don’t think Kevin Bauder should have shared details publicly from these private discussions he is part of and privy to.

    My primary concern, which is also noted in the article, is that Bauder has suggested LS is a “minor” issue.

    As for your LS question- I am addressing the interpretation that is primarily identified with John MacArthur. There are, of course, others who teach this non-saving message. Men such as John Piper, Steve Lawson, Paul Washer, et. al., but JMac is its most prolific apologist in print and on the Internet.


  7. Lou,

    I'm completely with you on your J-Mac comments. What suprises me, though, is that James can't imagine true believers becoming heretical on the gospel.

    James needn't look any farther than Acts 15 to find "believing Pharisees" corrupting the gospel by linking it with Mosaic requirements. Yes, believers--even well intentioned and well-educated believers--can go wrong on the gospel.


  8. tjp:

    Thanks for that commentary.

    "Yes, believers--even well intentioned and well-educated believers--can go wrong on the gospel."

    Throughout NT church history we have those examples, which is of course unfortunate.

    I've already spoken on JMac having gone wrong. At the opposite end of the soteriology pendulum swing there is Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin of the Grace Evangelical Society with their Crossless Gospel, which is the most extreme form of reductionist heresy ever introduced to the NT church by one of its won


  9. Actually Lou,

    I beg to differ on your matter. You said, "I believe *John MacArthur is a born again Christian who has unfortunately gone horribly wrong in his understanding of the nature of saving faith and consequently landed in and propagates a false gospel, namely Lordship Salvation."

    You can't be born again and be that messed up. If that is the case, then any false doctrine that a professing believer teaches can go and we obviously know that this is not the case. In order to be saved, one must trust Christ ALONE - plus nothing, minus nothing. I believe that Mr. Lordship Salvation (John MacArthur) is more than just confused. If he truly believes this false gospel garbage, he is not saved. It is the same way with Zane Hodges and Grace Evangelical Society. If they truly believe what they are teaching (why would you teach something if you don't believe it?), then they are not saved. There are scriptures galore that provide a crystal clear plan of salvation and to change it is just complete denial of the Word of God and rejection of it.

  10. SoG:

    I appreciate your position and reasoning for believing MacArthur is unsaved, but we'll have to charitably disagree.


  11. SoG, I would say that most of the active false teachers are probably lost. See II Peter 2.

    However, certain ones such as MacArthur and Sproul, I would agree with Lou that they were probably truly saved, and then afterwards moved from the truth of the Gospel.

    Why do we believe that? I think probably because at times we have heard them preach rather consistent with the truth of the Gospel on rare occasions.

    And also because of the honorable way that they have behaved in their personal lives (as far as we are able to observe).

    Having said this, of course we cannot be 100% sure, as only God sees their spiritual condition with crystal clarity.

    This type of disagreement should not be allowed to be a barrier of any significance between you and Lou concerning Christian fellowship. I hope we all agree on that. :-)


  12. Thanks Phil. No barriers to fellowship for my part.


  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. James:

    You submitted a comment for posting in this thread, which I have disallowed.

    I will post the first paragraph. The rest was off-subject, based on conjecture with some vitriol thrown in. I may have to put up with that at another blog, but not at my own. In any event, this is your first paragraph, which I’m happy to post and address.

    Well, I would like to publicly admonish all of you who actually believe that you can be saved and teach a false gospel. The scriptures no [sic] nothing of that. The scriptures condemn to hell false teachers.”

    Well James, then only one of two things remain possible for you:

    1) You believe John MacArthur is a lost man who teaches a false Gospel and is, therefore, condemned to Hell.


    2) That you, like MacArthur, believe “salvation [justification] is [only] for those who are willing to forsake everything.”

    Which is it?

    You are welcome to come back and participate if you are coming back with answers to these questions and those of others.


  15. James Kimes (like all lordship salvationists), is not properly distinguishing Jesus saving us from the penalty of our sins when we become born again, and Jesus saving us from the power of our sins as we walk with Him after being born again. LS's have no justification from Scripture to do this blending.


  16. Lou, it is not my desire to ruin your blog. I see that you have turned your website into your own personal pulpit where you can prevent anything that calls your views into question. That is fine and your right. You truly do a disservice in editing other people's posts though to make them appear bad.

    Phil, I am guessing you have never read Matt 16:

    v 24-26
    Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?

    You will no doubt argue that he is talking about discipleship. That just fails. Jesus is talking about losing your life/soul. Christians cannot lose their life/soul. It is impossible. The issue is: those who will be saved versus those who will remain lost.

    I understand your (Lou, Phil, anyone who agrees with either of them) view of sanctification matches the Keswick view. This answers any lingering questions I had previously had.

  17. Phil:

    You have touched on one of Lordship’s most grievous errors. They go to the Bible and take passages meant for the discipleship of the believer and instead present them as evangelistic appeals to the lost. In his foreword to my new book George Zeller include this comment.

    The unsaved person is told that if he does not turn from sin, surrender, have a willingness to obey, fulfill the demands of discipleship, etc., then he cannot be saved. Sadly, the focus is turned away from the all sufficient, finished work of Christ which is the sinner’s only resting place.”


  18. James:

    I do not mind being challenged, but not have my methods or motives called into question. FWIW, most blogs are the personal pulpit of the owner.

    There are blogs like Kevin Bauder's and Dave Doran's- their personal pulpit that do not allow any comments whatsoever. And of course there is the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron, which is highly controlling to protect men like Kevin Bauder from legitimate criticism. Furthermore, I posted the only acceptable paragraph from your previous submission word perfectly and you know it.

    FWIW, I do not define sanctification by any other source than the Scriptures. Lordship Salvation as men like MacArthur define it forces into and extracts from passages meant for believers and twist them into evangelistic appeals to the lost. Why; to bolster Lordship’s works based, man-centered message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21) and corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).

    And this flows from the extra-biblical extremes of Calvinism, namely: Total Inability and regeneration prior to and before faith in Christ.


  19. Well James:

    Elements of your last two submissions, which I am not going to publish, crossed the line. Unfounded conjecture is not acceptable here from any guest.

    You have provided an opportunity to address some of the errors and missteps of Lordship Salvation and for that I appreciation your participation.

    I've been accommodating and patient, but now you're done here.


  20. James, you are making Matt 16:24-26 a requirement for a lost person to be saved, are you not? If that isn't a works salvation, nothing is. You may claim it's grace and not works, by saying it's God's power alone that does it.

    However, that flies in the face of the fact that the Scripture here clearly gives us this task to perform, not God. A lost person certainly does not have the power to do this, don't you agree?

    A saved person however, with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit would have access for the strength to do this, but it is still nevertheless done in cooperation with the will of the saint, and saints do not lose their free will after getting saved. So not all saints will choose to take up their cross and follow Christ.

    This is why these verses have great exhortational value for those who are already born-again. And indeed, Jesus was giving
    this exhortation to His saved disciples.

    If this is a roadmap for how the lost get saved, then once saved, there would be no worries if these verses were ignored. Of course, you would state that a truly saved person could not ignore them. The old circular argument there.

    Your view of "life" and "soul" here, has the assumption of "eternal" read into them, as if one could lose their "eternal
    life", or "eternal soul" and wind up in hell, unless one turns his back on everthing and completely follows Christ as a disciple.

    That is a wild distortion of the text, as your eisegesis is entirely unsupported by it.

    Have you not read verse 27? It is clear from the context that rewards are in view here.

    And you are mistaken, a saint can lose their life/soul by having all that they worked for in this life come to nothing (I Cor 3:15), and in extreme cases even possibly having their physical lives end prematurely (I John 5:16 and I Cor 11:30), but they will still be eternally saved (I Cor. 3:15).


  21. Lou and all,

    I have to point out something that I am finding distressing.

    I am very uncomfortable with the way James has been 1) framing the issue; and, 2) making personal attacks that are frankly, well, silly.

    In order:

    1) From the beginning James has asked entrapping questions that are clearing intended to back you into a corner from which you cannot escape. It is like this is more about winning a debate than winning a brother. And it is certainly not about truth. Why can he not deal with the issue as you frame it? If you are so wrong, why can't he win on your turf? Why he must get the game into his own court? Because that is what it feels like he is doing. As I read through his comments I can't help but feel like I am being manipulated. This of course this is not going to lead me to truth, but only to bondage, if I were to accept it. (Yes, I realize he did not say anything to me, but to Lou and Phil. Still, because I am in agreement with them I get the message just the same.)

    2) It gets worse with comments about this blog being your own personal pulpit, as though it were a bad thing. ??? This is just silly. Of course your blog is your personal pulpit. Why say it as though it is bad? What does he expect? What this is is an illegitimate attempt to shame you.

    So we have first entrapping manipulation and then attempt to shame. At the risk of being inflammatory, this is what people who want to control you or who want to control the narrative just so they can win do. It is certainly not what people who want to recover you from error do.

    Anyway, the feeling I get is that he doesn't really care about us as erring brothers that he would like to see recovered. It seems more like all he really cares about is winning the debate for the sake of winning the debate,not for any really redemptive reason.


  22. Lou,

    What I noticed about his remarks is the way he declared he wanted an open, public discussion about LS with FBTS, but he himself put forward where the debate must begin. He talked as if LS is universally accepted doctrine with the only matter of contention, that which should be the subject of a healthy debate, is its proper definition. FWIW, I believe that his use of Charles Finney's uber LS version does more to harm the premise of the LS position as a whole rather than build support for his preferred version of it.

    Now about his preferred version of things. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed a pattern where Dr. Bauder uses his new/different/narrow definitions of things to control the debate and win the day?

  23. Gordon:

    You wrote, "Now about his preferred version of things. Is it just me or has anyone else noticed a pattern where Dr. Bauder uses his new/different/narrow definitions of things to control the debate and win the day?"

    I do see how he tries to define the terms to control the discussion for an outcome he strives for.

    As I noted in this article, “...he wants 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...

    To portray LS as, “minor differences, really in the big scheme of things, very small differences...

    With that kind of framing he won't be winning anything among those who read him with discernment.


  24. Lou,

    Doing other research, I stumbled upon this two part series in the Faith Pulpit on Lordship Salvation. Whatever may be the present position of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary on LS, they were willing to put themselves fully behind the position of this series in 1989. The articles may be viewed by clicking on the these links. Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?, Part 1 and Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?, Part 2.

    Here is the opening from the second part:

    "Several days ago my wife and I were discussing the matter of Lordship salvation. Our eleven-year-old daughter, Christa, overheard us and asked, 'Daddy, what is Lordship salvation?' I replied that it is the view that believing in Christ as Savior is not enough. A person also needs to let Christ control every thought and action to be truly saved. Christa's perceptive reply was, 'Well, Daddy, then no one can be saved, can he?'"

    "And so it is. If God expects total submission of our body, soul, spirit, heart and mind for salvation, no one can possibly be saved. Total submission like complete sanctification is only achieved when the believer enters the presence of Christ."

    "It is difficult to conceive of a more crucial question in Christianity than this: What is the condition for salvation? What do I need to do to be saved? The answer that Paul gives to that question in Acts 16:31 is 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' Over one hundred times in the New Testament faith is mentioned as the only condition for salvation. Yet a controversy is raging in evangelical circles. Shrill voices are telling us that individuals are not genuinely saved unless they believe and submit. In other words, salvation is dependent on faith plus dedication. One cannot be a Christian, we are told, without being a disciple. Salvation by faith alone is called 'a notable heresy' (Tozer, 'I Call It Heresy!' p. 9). It is labeled a 'heretical and soul destroying practice' (Chantry, 'Today's Gospel Authentic or Synthetic?' p. 68). Men who teach that salvation is by faith alone are 'wrongly dividing the Word of Truth' (MacArthur, 'The Gospel According to Jesus.' p. 197)."

    Faith Pulpit, April/May '89 - Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

    Reading that I wonder how the discussion between CBTS and FBTS about LS could be framed simply as a matter of agreeing on its proper definition.

  25. On James Kime...

    Jan, "So we have first entrapping manipulation and then attempt to shame."

    Phil, "That is a wild distortion of the text, as your [James's] eisegesis is entirely unsupported by it."

    It got worse from him in the form of personal ad hominem attacks, which is why I finally banned him. I knew from his, the first, post in this thread we had a petulant guest here.

    So, he took his vitriol to Gordon's blog and had his comments blocked, deleted and/or edited by Gordon and has been rebuked several times for his tactics.