July 19, 2010

Dave Doran, “I’ve Never Read Any of MacArthur’s Books on the [Lordship Salvation] Subject

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

On Friday, July 16 Evangelist Gordon Phillips, at his Faith, Theology & Ministry blog published, There is a Difference and It’s a Name Changer! (I promoted and cited select excerpts from that article in the previous IDOTG article.)

This article discusses elements of a current series by Dr. Kevin Bauder. Brother Gordon asks,

What are the implications of changing Fundamentalism’s ecclesiastical separation away from the purity of the church to the purity of the Gospel and forging strategic alliances with Conservative Evangelicals around that Gospel?”
That Gospel” is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. Additional excerpts from the article include,
If you are going to change your stance on ecclesiastical separation, please do not forget to change your name, as the two go hand-in-hand. ...what he [Kevin Bauder] is presently doing appears to be giving the new life-filled movement of his “ideal” Fundamentalism the compromised thinking of Neo Evangelicalism rather than a greater degree of Biblical fidelity.
I posted a comment in the thread to bolster the article. Elements of my comment evoked a reaction from Pastor Dave Doran. If any wish to *read the exchange I had with Dave Doran you may visit the thread through the link below. From that exchange it was the following excerpt that is the subject of today’s article. Ps. Doran wrote,
“For the record, I’ve never read any of MacArthur’s books on the [Lordship Salvation] subject. If you want to know what I believe about the power of the gospel, then read chapter four of For the Sake of His Name.”
That statement prompted a query by Pastor Tom Stegall on Saturday afternoon in the thread. To date, Pastor Doran has not acknowledged or responded to what you are about to read. Without further delay this is Tom Stegall to Dave Doran.

Dr. Doran,

As the pastor of a large, conservative Baptist church and president of a conservative Baptist seminary, I am more than a little astonished to hear you say that you have never read ANY of John MacArthur’s books on the subject of Lordship Salvation (The Gospel According to Jesus, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, Saved Without a Doubt, Hard to Believe, etc.). The Lordship Salvation issue has been arguably the most controversial and hotly contested soteriological subject within conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism in the last two decades; and John MacArthur is the leading spokesman on this topic. This would be similar to living in 1530’s Europe and never having read anything by Calvin or Luther on the subject of justification.

That aside, I have personally read all of your book, For the Sake of His Name. On the whole, it is a very good book on missions in my estimation. I greatly appreciated and agreed with your position on missions and the local church and even your historical analysis about the detrimental effects of neo-evangelicalism and ecumenical parachurch organizations.

However, in your fourth chapter you plainly espouse Lordship Salvation. As one who has carefully read your fourth chapter, I have a question for you about salvation. In the chapter you maintain that when the lost believe the gospel they necessarily follow Christ thereafter as disciples; and if they do not, that means that they do not possess genuine saving faith and are not regenerated. While I also believe that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe, you clearly require a life of service and obedience in order to make it to heaven.

For example, on pp. 84-85 you say, “The biblical gospel makes disciples who have turned to Christ, not simply added him to their collection of gods or squeezed Him into an unaltered life. This is why Paul cold express confidence in the salvation of the Thessalonian believers . . .” and then you go on to quote 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 about turning to God “to serve” Him, followed by Matthew 6:24 about not serving two masters. You use the word “serve” three times in that paragraph on p. 85. This leaves the distinct impression in the mind of the reader that people had better “serve” Christ or else they are not truly saved and they will go to hell. How is that not salvation by works/service?

You also close the chapter by saying on p. 92, “Christ commanded us to make disciples who would follow Him in baptism and obey all that He commanded, so our missionary efforts must settle for nothing less.” Few would deny that the Great Commission entails more than preaching the good news of how a person may be justified in God’s sight. It also involves teaching them Christ’s commands and baptizing them as believers.

But this leads to another problem and question I have in regards to your chapter on the gospel, discipleship and the Great Commission. If baptism and obeying Christ’s commands is part of discipleship (and it is), and discipleship is part of believing the gospel as you argue throughout the chapter, then how does one escape the conclusion that baptism and obedience to Christ’s commands are not ultimately necessary for eternal salvation?

Tom Stegall

In the thread below I have reproduced the brief exchange between Pastors Tom Stegall and Dave Doran. The thread picks up with Dave Doran’s first response to Stegall’s comment/question to him which is the main subject of this article. Please view the thread for their exchange.

Pastor Stegall’s comment appears exactly here in the thread at the Faith, Theology & Ministry blog.

*My initial comment appears at this point in the thread. You can scroll down to read the brief exchange between Ps. Doran and myself that followed. You will also want to read Brian’s penetrating responses to select portions of Doran’s comments.

Related Reading:

Is the Term “Final Salvation” Necessarily Wrong?

Does “Final Salvation” Serves As a Cover for Works Salvation?

Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” in Academic Contexts?
“Whether Pastor Doran sees it this way or not, having conservative evangelical speakers [Michael Vlach], lecturers, etc., into the seminary is tantamount to having them come to Inter-City Baptist Church. If ICBC is the parenting agency and DBTS is a ministry of the church - it’s tough to reconcile the ‘academic freedom’ his article seems to be seeking.”


  1. Dave Doran Says: (July 19 @ 8:15pm)

    Probably against better judgment, I’ll reply to a few things.

    To Tom Stegall, thank you for the kind words regarding the missions book. I am sorry that you are disappointed by my not having read MacArthur on this issue. In my defense I will offer that: (1) the initial book came out at an inoppportune time for me (finishing ThM, working on DMin, beginning a new pastorate), so my reading list was pretty full; (2) the books are really more like published sermons, so not really the kind of stuff that I would base my study of these issues on anyway; (3) this really isn’t a new issue at all, so one doesn’t need to be up on what contemporary authors say about it to understand what is at stake; and (4) you’re thinking that his books are essential reading probably reflects more on your view of theology and ministry than mine.

    As to your concerns about my position as presented in FSN, I think, at least based on what you’ve written, that you are assuming too much and committing at least one logical fallacy. To argue that the truly regenerate will follow Christ is something different from saying that being saved is based on following Christ. If we disagree with each other on the former, that is truly significant, but it really isn’t what the OP and my comment were about.

  2. Tom Stegall Says: (July 20 @ 9:40am)

    Dr. Doran,

    Thank you for writing a reply to my comments and question.

    Regarding the doctrine of salvation expressed in your book, For the Sake of His Name, I would welcome the opportunity to further address with you the subject of Lordship Salvation and particularly the nature of saving faith.

    My concern with your view of saving faith expressed in your book is that it confuses the condition for eternal life (faith alone) with the commands placed upon the believer for discipleship in the Christian life. It seems that your definition of even initial, saving faith and repentance involves more than a trust or reliance upon the finished work of Christ and a persuasion of one’s need for Christ and the truthfulness of the gospel. You effectively “front-load” the gospel with meritorious requirements that go beyond biblical saving faith and repentance. This is the essence of Lordship Salvation.

    Hence, this is not a matter of committing a logical fallacy about whether regeneration will or will not necessarily result in obedient discipleship. That is a separate, though related, subject matter.

    Let me reiterate that I would be willing to continue addressing this subject with you from Scripture. If you prefer to do so privately rather than publicly, you may contact me through our church’s address (info@wogbc.org) and I would be happy to continue a cordial, biblical correspondence with you.

    Out of concern for the gospel,

    Tom Stegall

  3. Dave Doran Says: (July 20 @ 5:50pm)

    Tom: I am open to whatever you’d like to send me in form of a critique of what I’ve written in FSN. You can send it to any of the email addresses found at our church or seminary websites. I’ll gladly and carefully read it.

  4. I wonder if either Pastor Tom or Pastor David will address whether they hold to the notion of regenerative faith, I.e., whether we are saved because we believe, or we believe because we are saved. I suppose what I am asking is just how far have your reformed tendencies taken you? Do you hold that God has sovereignly picked who will be saved?