September 30, 2010

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

In one of the clearest expressions of portraying discipleship as though it is the key to salvation MacArthur wrote, “Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God—anyone who wants to be a Christian—has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow him.” (Hard to Believe, p. 6.)
That teaching by MacArthur exemplifies one of the egregious errors that gave the NT church the works based, man-centered theology of Lordship Salvation.
How can the Scriptures teach that salvation is a free gift of God if the human cost to become a disciple, that is, to be born again, is very great as Lordship Salvation advocates insist? Salvation is either the free gift of God, or it is costly to man. The Bible teaches that “the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23), but discipleship or following Christ is costly (Luke 14:26-27). (IDOTG, pp. 73-74)

The issue is, How can my sins be forgiven? . . . Through faith I receive Him and His forgiveness. Then the sin problem is solved, and I can be fully assured of going to heaven. I do not need to believe in Christ’s second coming in order to be saved. . . . But I do need to believe that He died for my sins and rose triumphant over sin and death. I do not need to settle issues that belong to Christian living in order to be saved. (So Great Salvation, p. 40.)
Dr. Rick Flanders wrote an article in 2007 titled, Salvation and Discipleship that addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it.


“As He spake these words, many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, If ye continue in My Word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:30-32)

His words were mysterious, and yet compelling and powerful. They were spoken in response to the arguments the Pharisees had made against His claims that day. It was the day He had rescued the woman taken in adultery from her condemners, and then had said, “I am the Light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

After His critics objected to Him referring to Himself in such a way, He expanded on His claims. He said that He is from above, that God is His Father, that He is not of this world, that if they will not believe in Him they will die in their sins, and that He even has the right to use the divine name “I AM” in reference to Himself (read John 8:12-27). These were astounding claims, but somehow they were convincing and convicting to the hearers. Then He spoke of a day that was coming when these very critics would lift Him up on a cross.

“When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do those things that please him.” (John 8:28-30) Whenever Jesus spoke of His being “lifted up,” He was talking about being crucified (see also John 3:14-15 and 12:23-33). He said that the events surrounding His sacrifice at Calvary would convince even these hearers of His claims. His words were so powerful that many of those who heard him say them “believed on him.” Readers of the book of John recognize this phrase as describing the decision that saves the sinner and gives him eternal life. That’s what we see in John 1:12-13, 3:36, 6:47, and so many other passages that speak of believing on Him for everlasting life! The hearers believed on Him and were saved. To believe on Jesus is to depend on Him for salvation, to trust Him for deliverance from eternal condemnation, to rely on Him for the forgiveness of sins and eternal redemption. They had become believers in Christ, and therefore they were saved.

When He knew that they had trusted Him for their salvation, Jesus told them to “continue in my word” and become His “disciples indeed.” Then He promised them that if they would follow Him as His disciples, they would “know the truth” and the truth would make them free. This promise relates back to what they had heard Him say to the woman after assuring her that He would not condemn her (see verses 11-12): “Go, and sin no more.” When a sinner is rescued from the condemnation of sin, he can then experience deliverance from the power of sin in his life. He had just said that those who follow Him will not “walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Release from condemnation ought to motivate the forgiven one to follow the Savior, and this life of commitment to Him will bring the power to overcome sin.

It is very important to understand the difference between believing on Christ for salvation and following Him in discipleship.

These concepts are certainly connected, but the book of John makes it clear that they are not the same. Believers will fail to live a holy life unless they understand discipleship, and they will lack assurance of their salvation if they confuse salvation with discipleship.

Have you noticed that a distinction is made in the Bible between believers and disciples? In John 2:11 we are told that Jesus did His first miracle “in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory, and his disciples believed on him.” Back in chapter 1, we are told about the men who decided to follow the Lord Jesus, and in chapter 2, verse 2, they are called “his disciples.” Having seen His miraculous power, these disciples “believed on him.” They became believers.

In John 6 we read about a time when “many of his disciples went back, and walked with him no more.” It happened after they heard Him make some bold statements about Himself and about receiving eternal life through Him (read verses 47-68). “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” They had promised to follow Him as their Master and Teacher, but now they realized that He wanted them to depend on Him for their very salvation, and they just were not ready for this. When they complained, Jesus told them, “There are some of you that believe not.” They were disciples of Jesus, but not believers. The prime example of an unbelieving disciple was Judas the traitor, and the scripture says as much in verses 64 through 71. The unbelievers (including Judas) among them were real disciples of Jesus. It is the Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that calls them His disciples. They were indeed disciples of Jesus, but they had never believed on Him as their Savior. Let us learn what the distinction is.


Please continue with Part Two of this series.

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries

September 29, 2010

Fundamental Heritage Conference

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

The Baptist College of Ministry is hosting its annual Monroe Parker Lecture Series. In this day of shifting tides among certain segments in fundamentalism, and the movement to influence the current and next generation, this conference is a welcome response. Here is a portion of the announcement.

We invite you to attend our ninth annual Monroe Parker Lecture Series Sunday, October 3rd through Thursday, October 7th. This year, the usual one-day format has been expanded to a five-day Fundamental Heritage Conference, concluding with the usual Monroe Parker lectures on Thursday. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Ed Nelson, Dr. John Stevens, and Dr. Bill Hall, who will be speaking on the topic of “What Present-Day Fundamentalism Needs to Learn from the Past.” Each will be presenting a session on his own unique perspective on this important topic. Proverbs 22:28 exhorts us, “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” This conference will encourage us to obey this command.
Visit the Fundamental Heritage Conference site for complete details and registration information.

September 27, 2010

A Valid Defense: Review Series of IDOTG, Final

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today, at his On My Walk blog, Kevin Lane has posted the final installment of his four part review of my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. Brother Lane has provided this excerpt.

In Defense of the Gospel is endorsed by many well known, consistent and godly preachers and teachers. While I am neither well known nor worthy to add my name to the list; I do so anyway. In Defense of the Gospel is a work that is worthy of your time and consideration no matter where you stand on the battlefield enflamed with the Lordship Salvation controversy. It will not end the struggles between the parties holding various views on the Gospel, but it will greatly help any who have an honest desire to obey the Scriptures instead of theology.
I invite you to visit On My Walk to read Kevin’s final installment of his review series.


LM

For the previous installments see Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3

September 24, 2010

Archival Series: Lordship’s “Turn from Sin” FOR Salvation

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

There has been an on-going pattern of a certain few Lordship Salvation (LS) apologists demonstrating that they/he do not recognize or understand how Dr. MacArthur is writing and is teaching on the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. This time the mistake is on MacArthur’s view of repentance. The LS apologist wrote,

John MacArthur never says that to be born again a person must be ‘willing to turn from sin’.”
This misunderstanding and error on the teaching of John MacArthur necessitates opening this new discussion to properly highlight the issue.

The Grace to You website posts an article by Dr. MacArthur, that is touted by one LS apologist as his (MacArthur’s) definitive statement on Lordship Salvation. The article begins with a paragraph that defines how John MacArthur views a lost man must be born again. The statement is written by MacArthur and it is discussing the Gospel, the plan of salvation, the Lordship Salvation interpretation of how a lost man receives the “offer (gift) of eternal life,” how he is born again.
The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus' message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God's righteousness. Our Lord's words about eternal life were invariably accompanied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 7:13-23).” (An Introduction to Lordship Salvation by Dr. John MacArthur)
In my Can God-Given Faith be Defective article that I posted at another discussion board I included a link to an important article on Lordship Salvation by Pastor George Zeller. Some who are sympathetic to LS post comments that reveal an on-going lack of understanding of the LS message that they seek to defend. Ironically some of these admit they have never read any of John MacArthur’s major books on LS. To help all readers understand where LS takes some of its most serious doctrinal missteps I will again link to Zeller’s article, John MacArthur’s Position on the Lordship of Christ.

In that article, by Pastor Zeller, you will read additional documentation of MacArthur’s view that repentance for salvation requires a lost man to “turn from sin.” Here is that portion.
Dr. MacArthur tends to confuse repentance with the fruits of repentance, and to confuse faith with that which faith ought to produce. He confuses saving faith (which takes place in a moment of time--Rom. 13:11; Eph. 1:13) with discipleship (which is a lifelong process). As Miles Stanford has said, “Lordship salvation is not the childlike faith of John 3:16. It rightly insists upon repentance but wrongly includes a change of behavior IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. No one questions that there must be a sincere change of mind, a turning from oneself to the Saviour, but Lordship advocates attempt to make behavior and fruit essential ingredients of, rather than evidence of, saving faith.” (Miles Stanford, in his review of The Gospel According to Jesus).

MacArthur defines REPENTANCE as turning from your sins (Faith Works, p. 74). He also teaches that true repentance “inevitably results in a change of behavior” (Faith Works, p. 75). But is not TURNING FROM SINS a CHANGE OF BEHAVIOR? Is MacArthur confusing the RESULTS of repentance with REPENTANCE itself? Is not he confusing the FRUITS with the ROOT? MacArthur is more accurate when he says, “true repentance involves a change of heart and purpose” (Faith Works, p. 75). The inner change will produce an outward change.
The writing of Lordship Salvation advocates confirm beyond any doubt that LS is a works based, man-centered message that conditions eternal life on an upfront commitment to change behavior and perform the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) that should be the result of a genuine conversion. Calling on a lost man to “turn from sinFOR SALVATION is to condition salvation on behavior, not believing.
Is repentance a condition for receiving eternal life? Yes, if it is repentance or changing one’s mind about Jesus Christ. No, if it means to be sorry for sin or even to resolve to turn from sin, for these things will not save.” (Charles Ryrie, So Great Salvation, p. 99.)

LM
Originally appeared August, 2008.

For additional documentation of Lordship Salvation’s “leave (stop committing) sin, and follow Jesus at any cost” to become a Christian message please read, Is Lordship Salvation a “Barter” System?

September 22, 2010

A Valid Defense: Review Series of IDOTG, Part 3

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today, at his On My Walk blog, Kevin Lane has posted the third of a multi-part review of my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. Brother Lane has provided this excerpt.

I don’t want to give away the home run that gets hit in this chapter (about 1Thess 1:9-10). But the very first thing about these quotes of MacArthur (in explaining his view of (1Thess 1:9) that Martuneac brings up is:
“Those quotes represent Lordship’s classic misuse of 1Thess 1:9. MacArthur starts by addressing the Greek word metanoia as it is used in the New Testament, and then quotes a verse that does not even contain the word metanoia. The Greek word for ‘to turn’ is completely different; it is epistrepho and means simply ‘to turn, turn to or toward.’ Epistrepho does not mean ‘to repent.’”
I would so much love to write the rest of this portion of the book, because frankly, it really does hit a home run. The purpose of these articles is to introduce readers to the work and give them some idea of what it offers. So, I’ll leave this section by stating that Matuneac explicitly details how 1Thess 1:9 impeaches LS theologians who quote it in support of their fallacious doctrine. He does this using what he calls the “Inspired Commentary” which is the Word of God.
I invite you to visit On My Walk to read Kevin’s third installment of his review series.


LM

September 21, 2010

A Valid Defense: Review Series of IDOTG, Part 2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today, at his On My Walk blog, Kevin Lane has posted the second of a multi-part review of my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. Brother Lane has provided this excerpt.

IDOTG is dispassionate with regard to the people who preach Lordship Salvation (LS). It simply quotes many (if not all) of the most well known, most well respected LS teachers extensively and in context in order to compare what they teach to the Scriptures. The never ending cry from LS proponents is “Misrepresentation!!,” but Martuneac gives LS proponents an uncompromised voice in his work. He does not silence any portion of their arguments, and answers what they are actually teaching with Scripture, not emotion or philosophy. This is what makes IDOTG such a great tool to have in your theological woodshed, and what makes it such a godly gift to any Christian who is exploring the controversy, or has had Lordship Salvation taught to them by those who are most probably well-meaning Brethren.
I invite you to visit On My Walk to read Kevin’s second installment of his review series.


LM

September 19, 2010

Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran to Join Mark Dever at Lansdale: Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Questions have now been answered about this statement from the *Central Seminary Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism, “For this reason, we believe that careful, limited forms of fellowship are possible.”

Mark Dever will be the keynote speaker at the Calvary Baptist Seminary Lansdale Conference Advancing the Church in 2011. Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder are joining Dever on the platform.

Doran, of course, has already hosted three evangelicals in his pulpit and seminary. Will Bauder soon be opening the classrooms of Central Baptist Seminary to the evangelicals? To date he finds no significant differences that might give him pause. “Careful, limited forms of fellowship...?” This is only the beginning of what will be greater forms of compromise for the sake of fellowship with the evangelicals.

The magnetic attraction for men like Bauder and Doran to the so-called “conservative” evangelicals is Calvinistic soteriology. Calvinism is their so-called “pure gospel” rallying point. Because of that point of agreement Bauder and Doran have shown a growing willingness to tolerate, allow for and excuse the aberrant doctrine, worldliness in ministry and **ecumenical compromises of the evangelicals.

Anyone believing this cooperative fellowship with Dever is going to be the full extent “limited form of fellowship,” is mistaken.
Mark Dever is just the latest step toward greater compromise of genuine biblical separatism for expanding the boundaries of limited fellowship. Dever is the bridge that will take Bauder, Doran and those they are seeking to influence to completely embrace the entire T4G/Gospel Coalition community.  Compromise is a learned behavior. It typically progresses this way: Crawl, then Walk, then Run. Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran have, in my opinion, just about outgrown the crawling stage.

It is timely to repeat the prophetic commentary of Dr. Gerald Priest who in reacting to Bauder’s incendiary Let’s Get Clear on This noted,
Kevin has been quite lavish in his praise of conservative evangelicals while castigating so-called fundamentalists. Yet he has spent very little time warning us about the pitfalls and problems of conservative evangelicalism…. What I fear is that we may be allowing a Trojan horse into the fundamentalist camp. And after a while, if we keep going down this track, any significant difference between conservative evangelical and the fundamentalist institutions may disappear.”
That is exactly what we are witnessing in these days. The Trojan horse is being brought into the fundamentalist camp and it is Bauder, Doran and Lansdale that are holding the gate open and leading it in. All doubt has been removed on the bent of Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder toward cooperative ministry with non-separatist, compromising evangelicals. Is this a fundamentalism worth saving?


LM

*See- Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement

**The reaction from Bauder and Doran to Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration was to dismiss it as merely an “occasional inconsistency, single episode” (KB), merely “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.”(DD)

For post conference reading please see articles such as, Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists and The RAP on Mark Dever: What is The “Militant” Separatist to Do?

ADDENDUM:
At SI Don Johnson just posted the following to one of SI’s staff (JayC), which IMO bears repeating.
Jay, may I point out that the only one arguing that people should ‘sit down and shut up’ is someone who is arguing in favor of the Dever/Doran/Bauder/Jordan connection. The ‘traditional’ fundamentalists who are supposed to be against this haven’t told anybody to be quiet....”
Jeff Straub is among those telling anyone who does not agree with the new, and sure to be greater convergence with a broader scope evangelicals, to sit down and shut up.

I also found it ironic that Jeff Straub (at SI) ran down the pastor(s) and foreign missionary of a small church when he and Bauder serve at a seminary in serious decline. His comment for what may have been one pastor besmirched the pastors and foreign missionary church planters of any and every “small” church.

Go to this link at SI for the full context of Don’ s comment.

September 16, 2010

Archival Series: Ominous Signs of Lordship’s Coming Storm

Dear Guests:

Earlier this month [May 2008] I received an e-mail from a new visitor to my blog. His name is Pastor Norm Aabye.[1] Some of the content in his e-mail is, in my opinion, remarkable and little known information. Pastor Aabye shares a unique view of events that predate the modern day Lordship Salvation controversy. The Lordship controversy was reignited and gained world-wide attention with the 1988 release of Dr. MacArthur’s first major Lordship Salvation apologetic The Gospel According to Jesus.

From Pastor Aabye’s first hand historical perspective you can see that ominous signs of Dr. John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel were coming into view as much as seven years prior to the release of The Gospel According to Jesus. Pastor Aabye includes a reference to a related matter I have covered here, the IFCA meetings with Dr. John MacArthur in 1989.

I asked for and received permission to share his e-mail with you, my guests. This is Pastor Aabye’s e-mail, and I trust you will find it interesting.

Dear Brother Lou,

I “accidentally” came across your site while doing some research for a message I am preparing on the substance of the Gospel. Let me say that you are doing an admirable job of providing pertinent information on the Lordship Salvation issue.
My wife and I are currently involved in a ministry to the elderly in nursing homes in northwest PA and northeastern OH, but for 18 years I was the pastor of an independent Baptist church in Connecticut. But prior to my call to preach, I was employed for several years by Moody Press (this was before my wife and I determined that we were really more fundamental in our doctrine and beliefs than the Moody crowd, which has slipped further into New Evangelicalism!).
I clearly remember a staff meeting at Moody Press (MP) where Phil Johnson, who was then an editor at MP, presented one of John MacArthur’s newest books to us, The Ultimate Priority[2], which had to do with worship.

A controversy ensued at the meeting because of the back cover copy, which implied that a person’s eternity destiny was dependent upon how they worshipped. I clearly remember the director of MP requiring Phil Johnson to go back and rewrite the copy because of what was believed to be its erroneous implications. I believe this was around 1981 and John MacArthur was Moody’s “fair-haired boy” at that time. If I remember correctly, it was shortly after this that Phil Johnson left MP to work full-time with MacArthur in California.
When The Gospel According to Jesus was published in 1988, MacArthur’s favor with MP apparently quickly diminished.

Dr. Charles Ryrie was one of our key authors at that time, with his study Bible being the flagship product. His clear teachings on the substance of the Gospel were diametrically opposed to MacArthur’s Lordship view of the Gospel. I knew Dr. Ryrie and he was solid on all he taught, and a real Christian gentleman.
Years ago I was in a personal conversation with John MacArthur during a Christian Bookseller’s Association convention in Anaheim while I still worked for Moody. We were making some observations about Kenneth Hagin’s ministry and MacArthur began conversing with me about the charismatic movement in general. His knowledge on that topic is extensive, as it may be on other topics. While he demonstrated himself to be very capable in dealing with “certain” issues, I lost confidence in his ability to discern the simplicity of the Gospel itself. Dr. MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation is, of course, wrong primarily on the very basic issue of what constitutes saving faith, and certain other issues we are contending for.
The escalation of the Lordship Salvation debacle, as well as the blood issue and the eternal sonship of Christ [3], quickly made me lose confidence in him. Over the years, I have watched him plunge deeper into Reformed theology and was aware of his fall from favor from the IFCA International (I still have the tapes of the 1989 IFCA meeting in which John was asked to explain his views).
I have only begun to peruse the articles on your site, as there is so much to read, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you are doing and the importance of a clear Gospel of grace in our day of confusion. May God continue to bless you in your efforts.


Pastor Norm Aabye
Saegertown, PA
Site Publisher Addendum:
For additional reading on the IFCA controversy with John MacArthur see these articles that include links to transcripts from the 1989 IFCA interview with John MacArthur-

IFCA Statement on the Nature of Saving Faith

Insights From the IFCA Interview with John MacArthur

[1] Pastor Norm Aabye was born and raised in Connecticut ; USAF veteran; saved in 1970, while serving in the Philippines; graduate of Colonial Hills Baptist College, Danbury, CT; ordained in 1987; founded River Valley Baptist Church in Ansonia, Connecticut in 1987, and pastored there for 18 years; taught in the Bible department for 9 years on the faculty of the New England School of the Bible, Southington, CT; founded C.A.R.E. Ministries (Christ’s Ambassadors Reaching the Elderly) in 2006, a nursing home ministry in northwestern PA and northeastern OH. Pastor Aabye and his wife, Priscilla, currently reside in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, serving as full-time missionaries to the elderly in nursing homes.

[2] You can view the back cover of John MacArthur’s The Ultimate Priority as it appears today.

[3] “Those who teach this view would include Ralph Wardlaw, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Jimmy Swaggart, Finis J. Dake (Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible), Walter Martin (author of Kingdom of the Cults). Popular Bible teacher John MacArthur, Jr. for many years denied the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ, but he has changed his position and now embraces this doctrine.” For detailed study see- The Eternal Sonship of Christ by Pastor George Zeller. But has MacArthur truly repented of that view? Serious questions raise doubts over whether or not MacArthur has repudiated his former view and genuinely abandoned it. See John MacArthur: Christ’s Eternal Sonship for a discussion of this controversy.

September 13, 2010

A Valid Defense: Review Series of IDOTG, Part 1

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

This afternoon, at his On My Walk blog, Kevin Lane has posted the first of a three part review of my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. Brother Lane will be sending me an excerpt prior to each. This excerpt is from the first.

In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation Revised & Expanded Edition is a conversational level, yet a complete and biblically accurate, response to the Lordship Salvation controversy which has engulfed Christendom. This controversy splits churches, cripples ministries, and grips many of the weaker Brethren with fear and loathing. IDOTG is written to and helpful for everyone touched by the controversy. Whether you hold to Lordship Salvation or not, IDOTG will accurately inform you of what both sides are actually saying. It’s easy to argue against a straw man, but Martuneac burns all the straw men on both sides of this controversy. One of the most anticipated additions to this revised and expanded edition is the brief but clear rebuttal of the much lauded “Easy Believism.” Martuneac rebukes the preaching of this theology, and explains why Lordship Salvation proponents are only too glad to accuse any who argue against their position of preaching it. In short, Martuneac gives a valid defense of the Gospel according to Scripture.
I invite you to visit On My Walk to read Kevin’s entire first review of the series.


LM

September 12, 2010

A Valid Defense: Review Series of In Defense of the Gospel

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Beginning Monday evening, from his On My Walk blog, Kevin Lane is posting the first of a three part review of my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. Brother Lane will be sending me an excerpt prior to each. This is the first from the introduction.

In the span of at least three articles I will examine and introduce the book to you. Does Martuneac present a valid defense? Does he do violence to the character of Lordship Salvation proponents in ad hominem style attacks? Does he distort the Lordship Salvation view of the Gospel in order to make it easier to argue against? Does Martuneac water down the Gospel to the point that it's not even worth defending?
I invite you to visit On My Walk to read Kevin’s entire introduction to the series. On Monday evening the first of three in the review series will be presented.

Yours faithfully,


Lou Martuneac

September 7, 2010

I Had To Ask “Does This Sharpen Me?”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Last week I posted two articles in regard to Sharper Iron. The first was posted at my secondary blog, Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet. The article was composed by Ps. Brian Ernsberger who recently quit SI and explained his departure. Please see, SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another for details. The second article I posted was a response to Aaron Blumer’s article (9/2) A Few Answers to SI Critics. An article in which he complains about long time, wide spread legitimate criticism of SI. You may read SI Sizzles In & Over the Iron Skillet for a complete reaction to Blumer’s complaints. Today, Aaron is hearing from another former, long time member of SI who shares his experience with SI. An experience, which typifies what is commonplace at SI and why so many have quit SI or would never join in the first place. Let’s now consider why one would ask: Does This Sharpen Me?

I’ve recently come to a decision. It wasn’t earth shattering, and quite honestly, the effect of my decision will likely go unnoticed by the very individuals that necessitated it. In May 2005, I joined the self-identified, fundamentalist website, Sharper Iron. Since that time I posted literally hundreds of times on a variety of topics, some serious and others not. My purpose in joining was to reacquaint myself with some of the current issues in fundamentalism as I approached my ordination some twelve years removed from my graduate work. In those early days, I found much to praise at Sharper Iron. I learned a lot. I solidified a number of positions as I observed, and occasionally partook in, the discussions. I entered the fray decidedly separated in my personal life, as well as, ecclesiastically. I am also convinced of the superiority of the traditional family of Greek texts, and I am a non-Calvinist.

While I rarely dealt with threads on Calvinism or the text issue, I derived much personal edification from the interactions of men like Scott and Christian Markle, Jon Gleason, Lou Martuneac, John R. Himes, and others. These men represented a brand of fundamentalism with which I identify. It is a thoughtful, church-centered fundamentalism, but not one that easily tolerates error or compromise. It is also a loving fundamentalism, although you would never know that by listening to its detractors. (I have more than a few anecdotal stories to prove my point here, however). Unfortunately, those men, and effectively this whole segment of fundamentalism, are gone from the threads and pages at Sharper Iron.

Increasingly, the threads are filled with intimations of “serious doctrinal error” hurled toward fellow fundamentalists, while the compromise and errors of Conservative Evangelical personalities are glossed over as praise is lavished on their ministries, as in a recent series of articles by Dr. Kevin Bauder.

When a concerned member recently posted a thoughtful response to one of Dr. Bauder’s articles, his response A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder was sharply criticized by SI moderators (Rogier, JayC and Linscott) and ultimately removed by Aaron Blumer. A few days later, an SI Filing/thread was posted by Sharper Iron leadership (Jim Peet, Aaron Blumer) introducing and eagerly promoting a website that was nothing more than a vicious personal attack on Lou Martuneac.

Just last week an SI filing referencing a blog post by Dave Doran provided an illustration of some of the concerns I am articulating in this article. It was one of the clearest examples in a long line of the double standards that exist at Sharper Iron. Doran hurled an ad hominem attack at an unnamed fundamentalist(s) using the phrase “pathetic and disingenuous” to describe those who opposed or were relieved the merger of Faith and Central had not gone through. When one commenter called SI to the carpet over this filing he was firmly rebuked. It appears there is a lot of “respecting of persons” going on over there, and now I suspected and have confirmed yet another conservative fundamentalist has left the SI ranks.

If homogeneity was their goal at SI, they have very nearly accomplished it.

It seems serious concerns brought in from the “right end” of the fundamentalist spectrum are scrutinized far more closely at SI than the attacks thrown back the other way. I find that disheartening at best. My alma mater has been a regular source of ridicule, yet such ridicule is rarely hurled at Conservative Evangelical institutions. It smacks of a bias away from the southern brand of fundamentalists and away, it seems, from me.

I’ve watched over the years as non-Calvinists, traditional text men, and those who hold to a certain standard of personal separation were repeatedly shouted down by SI moderators and other members. Of course, a vigorous debate is desirable in many cases; however, on the internet, such debates often become a numerical dog-pile where reasoned arguments carry less weight than the shear number of responses. The result is that the admittedly minority viewpoints eventually “wore out” and stopped posting.

Today SI is a place where Calvinism is the settled opinion of the overwhelming majority of posters. The traditional text family is seen as inferior and those who hold to it are routinely labeled obscurantist or ignorant. Personal separatism to a degree held by our parents and grandparents is regularly declared legalism and almost anything now appears acceptable under an understanding of Romans 14 that puts the perceived rights of the “strong” over concern for the weak.

I find that SI is not a place that welcomes my viewpoint, nor is it a place that holds the Conservative Evangelical camp to the same standard it holds my “camp.” 

 Well, I, for one, am tired. The old caricature of the angry, fightin’ fundy, so repudiated by the SI majority is quickly becoming the new face of that very site (moderators and remaining membership), only in reverse. It’s a strange, almost surreal thing to realize that you’ve become the very thing you’ve opposed. Unfortunately, I am almost sure the SI leadership does not even recognize the shift.

I am sure there will be those who believe my assessment is wrong, but I know that I am not alone in this opinion. When a number of different individuals with no connection to one another outside of this website bring the same concerns to light, it should raise the concerns of the site leadership. As for me, I wish them no ill, but I had to ask, “Does this sharpen me?” So, I’ve chosen to leave Sharper Iron for good. As I said, in the beginning, I doubt they even noticed.

(Disclaimer: I have submitted this article anonymously. I am obligated to do so by my current ministry situation.)

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
The author is one of many in a long line who have quit SI because of its obvious bias. Many of these raised and tried to resolve genuine concerns with SI’s leadership prior to departing, but without success. Aaron Blumer claims he wants to hear from critics, but when wide spread legitimate concerns with SI were posted in his (9/2) thread by a fundamentalist pastor (Marc Monte) SI moderators immediately set upon him. Blumer responded with, “It’s not like everybody has to like SI. If a few dozen or a few hundred don’t see much value in it (or worse yet, think it’s toxic) that’s OK. They have no obligation to even care about what happens here. But if they do, the contact form is there. I have nothing more to say than that…. And we’ve given folks lots of opportunities to communicate. Until they do, the whole matter is moot. I’m not going to chase ghosts

That reaction typified why the pseudo-fundamentalist SI has hemorrhaged so many members over the last several years. Typifies why SI will never be able to win back the departed. Typifies why SI is not a welcome place for fundamentalist preachers like Marc Monte, Brian Ernsberger and the author of this article. SI is a place whose leadership eagerly welcomes those who wish to heap lavish praise on the star personalities of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals, welcomes those who will tolerate and excuse the aberrant theology and ecumenism of conservative evangelicals, welcomes those who castigate fundamentalism with the broad brush and line up against any who dare to offer legitimate criticism of conservative evangelicalism, defend fundamentalism or question SI’s obvious bias.

September 3, 2010

New Review of IDOTG at Amazon

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Under the heading Getting the Gospel Right a reviewer, NotbyWorks, who is fact Dr. J. B. Hixson submitted the following review of my new book, which I offer here for your consideration.

“There is no more important theological issue than the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God for eternal salvation to all who believe it. In this age of shifting standards of truth and pluralistic approaches to salvation, the author presents a much needed presentation of the good news about God’s matchless grace. Carefully researched, well organized, and thoroughly biblical, Martuneac offers an outstanding defense of salvation by simple faith alone in Christ alone, apart from human merit, good works, a commitment to good works, abandonment of sin, pledge of obedience, promise to obey, etc. If you care about the accuracy of the Gospel, or if you want to know how to be certain you have eternal life, this book is for you.”
Dr. J. B. Hixson is the author of Getting the Gospel Wrong and please see, John MacArthur’s Mandatory Performance Guidelines for “Lordship” Salvation for related reading.


September 2, 2010

SI Sizzles In & Over the Iron Skillet

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Aaron Blumer, site publisher of the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI) has reacted to articles at my obscure blog SI: In the Iron Skillet and criticism of SI various threads at this blog. See this commentary, and this commentary and for example consider the following edited excerpt,
Last night a preacher sent me an e-mail advising me of this recent quote at SI, from one of its leadership, “SI is not trying to redefine Fundamentalism or doctrine.” Is he kidding or incredibly na├»ve? Since its inception SI has been trying to castigate and redefine Fundamentalism (with Kevin Bauder taking SI’s lead in these efforts) and furthermore make fundamentalism compatible and tasteful for the evangelicals whom SI heaps lavish praise on. One guest at my blog asked, “Even if SI gang tackles certain people, aren’t they just acting like so many have in the past?” SI moderators have historically and certainly do gang tackle participants with whom they have issues. The fiasco with Dwight Smith over the “Doc” Clearwaters Letter to Kevin Bauder being among the most recent. From 2009 SI moderators and Blumer piling on John Himes who tried to address Kevin Bauder’s unprovoked attacks on John R. Rice and Bob Jones, Jr. So, YES they act like so many in the past the very attitudes they denounce. The problem is: SI does not even realize that they (moderators and some vocal members) have become the very thing they decry and detest from Fundamentalism’s past.
Aaron Blumer has reacted to the legitimate criticism coming from various sources to the obvious bias and other verifiable issues with SI. Not unexpectedly he does not disclose vital facts that would be problematic to his team and site. Nevertheless, I have two articles, among many more, that detail with archived material from SI, verifying legitimate criticism that Aaron understandably does not want to fully disclose to what is left of SI’s membership and advertisers. I encourage you to, among other examples, carefully read,

Blowing the Whistle on the SI “Referees”

Gratifying Responsiveness of SI

In 2009 Blumer did cook the membership books to his advertisers when he opened the current SI 3.0. He was willfully and wrongfully claiming 4,000 members, with several hundred active, that he knew he did not have and could not produce in June 2009. He was, however, claiming these figures to potential advertisers. Only after I contacted him, drove home the point that he was misrepresenting the true membership count did he reluctantly revise his claims to a more accurate number. Blumer, in his words, “updated the page with more precise wording,” after I explained to him that his misrepresentation of the membership count is commonly known as “cooking the books.” His update was not “more precise wording,” it was more honest wording.

You will also note that Aaron did describe SI as site, “with 4,000 members who identify with conservative evangelicalism of the fundamentalist variety.” The “ little switcheroo misquote” obviously is his own and I am happy to be able to refresh his memory of how he did describe SI. That was verbatim how he defined SI, but again responded to me and changed the wording when I pointed out to him that the statement was accurate and verified who and what SI is for, which is conservative evangelicalism.

Incidentally, in his complaint piece he states, “‘3.0’ does not have members and never will.” Well, I'm happy to refresh his memory again. The quote above about his “4,000 members,” those are his words that he posted at the current SI 3.0! Plus, in the comment threads under the name of every participant is an icon. Go to SI and hold your cursor over any of those check mark icons and you will see this word appear, “MEMBER.” Furthermore, when a member quits SI, his icon (half moon) is changed to “former member.” Aaron, SI 2.0 and 3.0 have always had “members!”

I would encourage the few current or potential advertisers who feel strongly about Fundamentalism to consider if SI is the best place to invest the resources God has entrusted to you. SI is a site that frequently allows for, promotes, and its leadership happily joins in on, the redefining, castigation and besmirchment of fundamentalism. SI, furthermore, heaps lavish praise on the so-called “conservative” evangelicals and can barely tolerate legitimate criticism of it’s star personalities or fellowships. Is this the kind of site that deserves to be sustained with financial support from fundamentalist institutions?

To any fundamentalists who still has their membership with or participates at SI: I understand that you feel you may be posting for the lurkers, posting to represent what the best of fundamentalism has to offer. That is very noble and primarily why myself and others used to participate at SI putting up with the moderator’s bias, shrill complaints and gang-tackling. There comes a time, however, when you have to consider whether or not you can post at a site that does not cherish the fundamentalism you do and instead of building up fundamentalism redefines and besmirches it with impunity. Pastor Brian Ernsberger finally had enough of SI and publicly quit last week. See, SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another for details.

If it were not for a few of you left at SI their discussion threads would nearly grind to a halt. Presently if it were not for Blumer and a few of his moderators staying very active in the threads, SI’s threads would surely grind to a halt. So, to those of you who have considered, but not yet quit SI: Is commenting there, keeping its threads active the best use of your time; is that the best way to redeem the time?

Here is the real irony in Blumer’s current complaint piece about the legitimate criticism of SI. In virtually every issue I’ve raised with Aaron, some of which he references in his complaint piece, his reaction to my addressing him resulted in his making changes to the site or its descriptions.

FWIW, twice I offered to buy SI from Aaron. Once when he was trying to raise operating funds in 2009, the first offer was right after I quit SI in June 2009. I offered to give him everything he paid Jason Janz for it. My offer was declined. Too bad, I had a solid business plan for SI.

Incidentally, on Tuesday, September 7th, there will be a new article appearing at my primary blog In Defense of the Gospel. The article is from another pastor who recently quit SI and he will detail, with examples, why he quietly left. They are irrefutable examples of the bias that is routine at SI and has been from its inception.

If there are any readers who have also quit SI and would like to share your experience you may e-mail your story to me at indefense06@gmail.com. Or if it is brief you may post it in this thread.

Kind regards,


LM

For an additional critique of SI see, I Had to Ask: “Does This Sharpen Me?” For example,
Increasingly, the threads are filled with intimations of “serious doctrinal error” hurled toward fellow fundamentalists, while the compromise and errors of Conservative Evangelical personalities are glossed over as praise is lavished on their ministries, as in a recent series of articles by Dr. Kevin Bauder.... If homogeneity was their goal at SI, they have very nearly accomplished it.... I find that SI is not a place that welcomes my viewpoint, nor is it a place that holds the Conservative Evangelical camp to the same standard it holds my “camp.”
*This article is reproduced at Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet, where you can read several more articles on SI.