March 27, 2011

Dr. Clay Nuttall, Platform Sharing & Identification


When an evangelical evangelist of the past shared the platform with liberals, modernist and apostates, a conflict erupted. Those who would have identified with neo-evangelicalism argued that being on the same platform with them did not indicate their approval of theological error. In general, separatist fundamentalists condemned the practice as a dangerous direction. At this point in history, we know why it was a disaster.

There was one basic reason for rejection of ecumenical platform identification. The problem was not about denominational affiliation or some superficial category; it was wrong because some of the individuals involved held theological error. Certainly there were other things to be considered, but the heart of the issue was biblical doctrine.

Fast forward to the present debate by a group erroneously named “evangelical conservatives”. Some of our friends of long standing argue that sharing the platform with someone who holds theological error is not wrong. In any case, it has already proven to create a great deal of confusion. What the evangelist of the past did was to give aid and comfort to doctrinal error; he gave credibility and momentum to evangelical ecumenism. The end result is that evangelicalism moved further away from a theology that is biblical.

It is very clear that the theology of many individuals in the plastic category of “evangelical conservatives” hold a very broad view of theological issues. Many of those views are reformed or covenant and some are liberal. For instance, AMillennialism is a liberal doctrine. You will note that I have not called them liberals, but they do embrace liberal doctrine.

Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Kevin Bauder, Sam Harbin on platform with AMillennialist Mark Dever
This is where the heart of the problem lies. If AMillennialism is not a liberal doctrine, the ecumenical nature of this new category called “evangelical conservatives” would seem to be less of a problem. At this point, our friends would have to reject the fact that AMillennialism is a liberal doctrine; if, however, they continue to insist that this doctrine is acceptable and not liberal, we have a clear illustration of the theological downgrade.

Let me return to an illustration of how clear this downgrade is. When the Evangelical Theological Society was given an opportunity to brand the Open View of God as heterodox, it chose instead to see it as orthodox. The Open View of God is not just liberal; it is, in my view, heresy. It is an attack on the very nature and character of God. The downgrade of theology is continuing, and one can only wonder what the motive for such thinking is. One thing is for sure - those who defend joining with those who hold erroneous theology have missed the point. It may have to do with the fact that debating elusive categories such as evangelical conservative is like trying to pick up mercury. Continuing the debate in the framework of a theology that is biblical will make things clear, because it forces us to take a stand on specific theological issues that have fallen prey to the downgrade controversy.

This present discussion clearly demonstrates the false claim that sharing ministry platform does not identify us with the error that other people hold. It also shows how far afield the discussion of separation has gone. Trying to accuse or defend any position by debating denominational categories, etc., is like running in circles. Furthermore, it is one thing to discuss the theological positions of those who hold an error; it is another to make it clear that specific views are unacceptable.

Theological corruption has a common thread that has to do with the hermeneutic used to develop one’s theological views. Many people claim to use the one biblical hermeneutic - the normal, plain, consistent, literal use of language - but the problem is that they cannot produce their errors by using that required biblical system. The erroneous hermeneutical system that produces AMillennialism is the same system that produces other errors. There is no such thing as an independent error; as with a lie, you can’t tell just one.

I confess that I do not know why people protect error. Is it that they do not know better? Is it that they do not believe, or are there other possible motives? In academia, the young theologian is taught to have respect for other people’s views. It would be better to say that we should have respect for the right of other people to hold different views. To say that all views are equal is an affront to God. One of my administrators plainly told me that I was not allowed to say that someone else’s theological view was wrong; obviously, that person was not a biblical theologian. Can you imagine the cowardly attitude and disobedient heart that would fail to say that the denial of the virgin birth is error?

There remains one more point of irritation in this discussion. We are told that it is alright to brand error as error if the doctrine is central. On the other hand, we are told not to do that when the doctrine is peripheral, but who is going to make that determination for you? The farther a person is toward the left, the more likely it will be that the central doctrines are fewer. In the end, if someone chooses to say that the imminent rapture is not a central doctrine for the church, he has told me more about himself and his system than I could have discovered on my own. How anyone can believe that joining error on the platform is right continues to puzzle me.

Reprinted with Permisssion.
Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address,

Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by
Clay Nuttall, D.Min

Photo by Darrell Goemaat/Baptist Bulletin. Used by permission.

Site Publisher’s Recommended Related Reading:
Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran [Joined AMillennialist] Mark Dever on the Platform at Lansdale: Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?

Dr. Rick Arrowood: Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism

Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists”

Talks, Writes, Speaks Like a Liberal by Dr. Clay Nuttall


  1. While I agree that the compromise in theology and practice is amazing with these "conservative evangelicals," I am confused about something.

    What makes a doctrine "liberal" as opposed to just plain wrong? I don't understand the distinction or the reason for using it.

    Is infant baptism a "liberal" doctrine or just plain "unscriptural?"

    I really don't understand the label "liberal" anyway, I guess. I have heard it said for everything from "slacks" on women to using the NIV.

  2. Art:

    Thanks for asking.

    "What makes a doctrine 'liberal' as opposed to just plain wrong? I don't understand the distinction or the reason for using it."

    You can e-mail Dr. Nuttall at for his own explanation.

    I think the term "liberal, liberalism" is used to encompass what is, as you say, just plain wrong and unscriptural. I think the term has a known, understood meaning whether it be applied to theology in Christian circles or liberal democratic policies that are just plain wrong for America.


  3. Dr. Nuttall wrote, “Continuing the debate in the framework of a theology that is biblical will make things clear, because it forces us to take a stand on specific theological issues that have fallen prey to the downgrade controversy.”

    Dr. Dave Doran just completed a five part series titled Reflections. These are his personal reflections of his recent platform fellowship and cooperative ministry with SBC pastor Dr. Mark Dever at Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale, PA).*

    In the five part series there is virtually no mention of the theology of Dever and evangelicals whatsoever. Not even one time does Brother Doran clearly refer to Dever’s amillenialism, nor that Dever personally embraces the RAP, Hip Hop medium and encourages its use in ministry. In his series theology appears only for opportunities to castigate Fundamentalism over separatism. Instead of theology Doran continues on a “labels” theme. Labels is the recurring and dominate theme in his discussions over the embrace of and increasing cooperate fellowship with so-called “conservative” evangelicals. In his five part Reflection series, the term “label” and his thoughts on labels appears 15 times.

    At his an ox goad, eh blog Don Johnson shared his Reflecting on [Doran’s] Reflections

    “Dave closes with this: ‘will the self-professing fundamentalists build a fence that excludes people who won’t limit their fellowship to only those who claim the label of fundamentalism? Is that label so tied to the essence of the biblical position that to not wear it means you fall on the wrong side of the fence’? That’s really not a fair question. It isn’t a label game.”

    No, it is not a label game. Dave Doran has, however, been attempting to shift and make the debate over labels. The true crux of the controversy and debate lies exactly where Don noted it elsewhere in his article,

    But we are talking about direction here. Where should fundamentalists be heading? Should we now be associating and joining in ministry with conservative evangelicals? That is THE question!

    Dr. Nuttall raised a valid concern. With the evangelical’s aberrant theology, ecumenical compromises, non-separatism and worldliness in ministry in plain view one must wonder why these things rarely appear in any discussion by Drs. Doran or Bauder over their convergence with evangelicals?

    Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration was addressed by Brother Doran, but he ultimately dismissed the act a merely, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment.” Kevin Bauder ignored the event almost entirely except to note that he felt it was an, “inconsistency…single episode.”

    continued in the next...

  4. In Reflections II Dave wrote, “The part that I’ve never been able to accept, though, is the toleration of aberrant doctrine.” While none of us would ever tolerate any assault on the deity or humanity of Christ, Dave is tolerant of the “aberrant doctrine” of the evangelicals and the practical ramifications of their aberrant doctrine. Among Doran’s “conservative” evangelicals theological errors such as Charismatic theology, amillenialism, ecumenical compromises and the world’s culture in ministry are thus far tolerated, allowed for excused or ignored.

    Why is the theology of the evangelicals, such as non-cessationism of Piper/Mahaney, amillenialism of Mark Dever not worth a thorough discussion with Scriptural truths brought to bear on these thing by seminary/college presidents who are converging with evangelicals and trying to influence the next generation to follow them in that direction?

    Is it possible that if the debate were in the framework of a theology that is biblical would it make things a little too CRYSTAL clear? If the debate was framed in theology would that force men to take a stand on specific theological issues that have fallen prey to the downgrade controversy? Why is the theology of star personalities in evangelicalism given so little attention by the men who are increasingly eager to embrace and cooperate with evangelicals?


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

  5. Defining Theological Liberalism is somewhat ambiguous because it has evolved through at least four phase to where it is today, Post Modernism. The Emergent Church is an outcome of the evolution of Theological Liberalism and varying degrees of Pluralism an Open Theology (not the same as Open Theism). Open Theology has abdicated theological dogmatics and views most positions as viable or possible.

  6. When the Evangelical Theological Society was given an opportunity to brand the Open View of God as heterodox, it chose instead to see it as orthodox.

    That is amazing. I had no idea they did that.

    The mind boggles.


  7. Lou,

    I just returned from a great week at ABC's Spring Bible Conference. I spoke to several of the professors and speakers about the current redefining of separation to be that of Gospel-Driven separation only, as opposed to Biblical separation, which includes separation from a brother that is walking disorderly to the revealed truth of Bible doctrine. There was overwhelming agreement that these men are ignoring the teaching they recieved by separatists of the past like Pickering and Clearwaters. Pastor Marc Monte preached a tremendous message which renders indefensible the current excuses being proposed by Doran, Jordan, Bauder, Olson, etc. justifying their move toward the CE's like Dever. I hope it will be a help to some.

  8. Lance, Jan, Steve:

    Thanks to each of you for the input. Ps. Rogers the ABC conference is one I would have enjoyed attending. I have converted the site address to a hyper link for direct access by our guests to all of the conference messages. Ps. Monte’s message, Biblical Separation appears on March 22 of the conference schedule.

    ABC Bible Conference 2011

    I also noted that Dr. Chuck Phelps was another guest speaker whom I would have enjoyed hearing.

    You wrote, “There was overwhelming agreement that these men [Doran, Bauder, Olson, Jordan] are ignoring the teaching they received by separatists of the past like Pickering and Clearwaters.

    As I read and listen to their reasons this seems more like they have outgrown the teaching of separatists like Pickering and Clearwaters.


  9. Thanks for posting Dr. Nuttall's article. He hits the nail on the head. I have greatly appreciated his monthly e-articles.
    It is disturbing that certain fundamentalists are refusing to acknowledge and live in obedience to the fact the "doctrine divides." There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is a good thing, it is a necessary thing. This is not about making changes to our applications. It is about obeying the Word.

  10. Perhaps I'm overly ignorant, but what is "the Open View of God"?? I will google it, but I have never heard of it before.


  11. ...what is "the Open View of God"??

    Basically, it's that God is not omniscient.


  12. Brian:

    It is disturbing that certain fundamentalists are refusing to acknowledge and live in obedience to the fact the ‘doctrine divides.’ There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it is a good thing, it is a necessary thing. This is not about making changes to our applications. It is about obeying the Word.”

    Thanks for the helpful analysis above and you are on the mark with it.

    There is an obvious pattern of selective application of and obedience to doctrine with Bauder and Doran in particular. As I noted above doctrine and theology is referenced by Doran in his latest series when it is convenient to fashion it into a club to castigate Fundamentalism with it. As for the evangelicals he and Bauder can barely raise a note over their Charismatic theology, ecumenical compromises, cultural relativism and abject disdain for authentic biblical separation. If Doran, Bauder, Olson, Ollila and Jordan were to be consistent with the Scriptural principles and application of separatism, especially with the disobedient and erring brethren, calling on the star personalities of evangelicalism to obey God's principles, they’d not get past the 1st base of fellowship with evangelicals.

    For the sake of fostering fellowship they have chosen tolerate, allow for and excuse a growing list of doctrinal aberrations and worldliness among their new friends in the evangelical camp.

    The true tragedy is that Bauder, Doran, Olson, Ollila and Jordan are now influencing the next generation to follow them in compromise, which IMO has at its end New Evangelicalism.

    And FWIW, Sharper Iron is a willing ally, best friend and most passionate conduit for the insidious spread of this new day version of the old compromises that leads otherwise good men to become the friends of and co-laborers with New Evangelicals.

    And that my friends is how men who once claimed to be committed to the God-given mandates for militant separatism can one day become New Evangelicals themselves.


  13. Art:

    You state, "What makes a doctrine "liberal" as opposed to just plain wrong? I don't understand the distinction or the reason for using it."

    Most will miss just how astute your simple question is. There is absolutely no good reason to use the label "liberal" (or "conservative" for that matter)when discussing theology or politics. In truth, to do so plays into the hands of our Advisary who loves it when folks get caught up in debating the supposed merits of opposing false paradigms/philosophies. It keeps them from discussing truth.

    Example: How many times have you witnessed a Republican and Democrate arguing over the supposed merits of "conservative" vs. "liberal" positions...both of which are 99% of the time UNCONSTITUTIONAL? Hegelian Dialectic in action.

    Same goes with theology. Our Advisary would rather people make the battle between "liberal" and "conservative" theology than what it really is: Unbiblical teaching vs. biblical teaching.

    Nice job Art.

  14. Joel:

    I'll publish your comment, but full name is required. Submit it again with your full name and it will appear.


  15. I don't see the connection of the Evangelical Theological Society/Open Theist paragraph. I know Dever's not an open theist; is he a member of the ETS?

    David W. Oestreich