October 28, 2011

Archival Series: Let’s Get CRYSTAL Clear on This: Evangelicals, “The Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?”

We have arrived at the final stage of this series [March 24, 2010]. Over the last two weeks this series has included two previous articles by me that review and react to Kevin Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear on This. See-

Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations

Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations Part 2

You may also read the special contributions to this discussion A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder submitted by Evangelist Dwight Smith and Muddying the Clearwaters submitted by Pastor Marc Monte.

In this series we have thoroughly reviewed Let’s Get Clear on This by Dr. Kevin Bauder who has become conservative evangelicalism’s chief apologist in and to Fundamentalism. We have discussed a series of disconcerting issues with the so-called conservative evangelicals. While all of the issues are highly troublesome there is a single great danger that trumps all of the others combined. In this article we are going to discuss conservative evangelicals and a segment of Fundamentalists, “converging around a particular interpretation of the Gospel.” Dr. Bauder wrote,

The sad truth is that the most forceful defenders of the gospel are no longer to be found within the Fundamentalist camp.”
Pastor Monte answered this from one perspective, for example.
“Kevin’s charge that ‘the most forceful defenders of the gospel are no longer to be found within the Fundamentalist camp’ constitutes nothing short of slander. Perhaps Dr. Bauder does not know the fundamentalists I know. I can name scores of pastors who regularly and rigorously defend the gospel. Ah, but therein lies the rub. Note, I said ‘pastors.’ You see, Bauder’s concern is that professional scholars defend the gospel, not lowly pastors.” (Muddying the Clearwaters)
Prior to and following Bauder’s broadbrush besmirchment of Fundamentalism’s defenders of the gospel he refers to *evangelicals such as John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, et. al., in terms of, “their vigorous commitment to and defense of the gospel.” Bauder thinks the conservative evangelicals, “…are the foremost defenders of the gospel today.” Are they? Do they defend the Gospel? This is the area of my primary concern and what follows is my response to it.

I. Conservative Evangelicals Have Compromised the Gospel.

In November 2009 it was disclosed that Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan had signed the Manhattan Declaration (MD), which is the first cousin of Evangelical & Catholics Together. See- Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration. In part 2 of this series I wrote,
Compromising the Gospel through ecumenism- giving Christian recognition to the “enemies of the cross of Christ,” (Phil. 3:18) is NOT what genuine “defenders of the Gospel” do. This is, however, exactly what Mohler and Duncan did, which was an affront to the Gospel and treason to the Lord Jesus Christ…. The problem for men like Bauder, who crave closer cooperation with conservative evangelicals, is this: If Dr. Bauder recognizes what was done in the Manhattan Declaration and acknowledges it was an act of disobedience, which it is, then he is duty bound to obey the biblical mandates to “withdraw from…admonish, mark and avoid” the disobedient brethren who do these things.
With this betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which makes these men disobedient brethren; how can Kevin Bauder conclude that these men are “defenders of the gospel?” Surely Bauder has not forgotten that it was conservative evangelicals, not Fundamentalists, who eagerly signed the Manhattan Declaration. Surely he understands the Gospel was compromised and Christian recognition was given to the “enemies of the gospel.
While on the one hand ‘the Fundamentalist label is no guarantee of doctrinal fidelity,’ neither is the conservative evangelical label a guarantee either. Indeed, this supposed fidelity to the gospel in their various associations is undermined by their lack of separation from that which compromises the gospel. Al Mohler, for example, is considered one of the darlings among conservative evangelicals, yet he has caused great harm to the gospel by his endorsement of men and movements that have confused and corrupted it (e.g., Billy Graham, Duke McCall, and most recently the Manhattan Declaration). Fundamentalists should rightly separate from him as a disobedient brother. And although MacArthur, Sproul, and others have courageously criticized such endorsements, they still invite Mohler to their platform, because, they say, he speaks for the gospel, even after he has endorsed the social gospel. (If the Manhattan Declaration does advocate another gospel is this not a heresy from which we should separate and likewise from those who endorse it?). And I might add that there are plenty of conservative evangelicals that promote some form of the social gospel, which, as we well know, was a major plank in the neo-evangelical agenda.” (Dr. Gerald Priest, June 2009 in reaction to Kevin’s Bauder’s Let’s Get Clear on This.)
Cooperative efforts with the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18) are inexcusable.

The Bible mandates withdrawal (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15) from brethren who have been disobedient, who do not respond to admonishment of their brothers in Christ and will not repent. To disobey the Lord's clear commands is disobedience to Him. To excuse ecumenism (signing the MD) as an “occasional inconsistency... a single episode” (Kevin Bauder) to dismiss it as merely, “a wrong decision based on bad judgment” (Dave Doran) and then continue endorsing and promoting that man’s ministry and conferences is wrong and itself disobedience. There is, however, a greater and more grievous issue confronting the NT church coming from the influence to converge with evangelicalism.

II. Together for the “Lordship Salvation” Gospel.

When have Evangelicals ever converged as Lordship Salvation/Calvinists? One pastor shared with me that the old evangelicals were followers of Billy Graham who was certainly no proponent of Calvinism. , Regardless of how revisionist historians wants to redefine the history, today’s evangelicals are by and large the heirs of the old new-evangelical empire. They are converging around a “particular” interpretation of the Gospel that defines well the tenants of Calvinism, while allowing non-cessationists1 and ecumenicals2 to be part of their coalition platform. That interpretation of the Gospel is commonly known as Lordship Salvation.
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. (IDOTG: [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. xvi.)
Following are examples of Lordship Salvation as it is defined by some of its best known advocates.

Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything…. Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to a cross. . . . It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is. And it denotes implicit obedience, full surrender to the lordship of Christ. Nothing less can qualify as saving faith.” (John MacArthur, TGATJ, p. 78, 140.)

And he needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.” (John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, p. 9.)

One of the most comprehensive invitations to salvation in all the epistles comes in James 4:7-10 ... The invitation in 4:7-10 is directed at those who are not saved...” (From the 20th Anniversary edition of TGATJ, p. 250).
Pastor Steven Lawson from the 2007 Resolved Conference,
If you want to receive this gift it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many here who think they are saved, but are not; they have never really done business with God…“You need to make terms of peace with this king or you will be subjected in damnation forever…. His terms are this: you must love Him more than anything. If you cannot do this, you will meet Him in the final judgment and glorify God in your destruction.” See- An Example of Lordship’s Man-Centered Message
These and many more statements like them have never been edited, explained or eliminated. In fact, they have been reiterated and reinforced. At the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron site the following thread comment excerpts were posted.
John Piper advocates both an initial justification and a final phase of justification when the believer stands before Christ as seen at 2 Cor. 5:10. He [Piper] clearly states its purpose is our final examination of works involving our salvation. He states our works will be examined to determine if we were and are truly justified (go to his sermon on that passage on the Desiring God website). He states our salvation is the issue…. He [Piper] endorses Puritan oriented Calvinism that includes a false doctrine of assurance and Justification that must be proven by works before Christ. We are witnessing the silent disintegration of Grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone….
Examples of a final phase of justification includes,
There is no doubt that Jesus saw a measure of real, lived-out obedience to the will of God as necessary for final salvation.” (John Piper, What Jesus Demands From the World, p. 160).

Endurance in faith is a condition for future salvation. Only those who endure in faith will be saved for eternity.” (R. C. Sproul, Grace Unknown, p. 198.)
All of these examples above, and there are many more, are irrefutable evidence that the message most conservative evangelicals teach, Lordship Salvation, is antithetical to the Gospel of grace.
A change of life through submission to the lordship of Christ should come as a result of salvation. It is antithetical to the Scriptures to take what should be the RESULT of salvation and make the resolve to perform those things in discipleship the REQUIREMENT for salvation.... Lordship Salvation places demands on the sinner for salvation [justification] that the Bible does not. (In Defense of the Gospel, [Rev. & Exp. Edition] pp. 98, 259).
Lordship Salvation changes the terms of the Gospel!

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” (Dr. Ernest Pickering: Lordship Salvation: An Examination of John MacArthur’s Book, The Gospel According to Jesus)
Lordship Salvation is a man centered, non-saving message that corrupts “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).3

The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life [LS] cannot both be the gospel; therefore, one of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9), and this is a very serious matter.” (Dr. Charles Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life, p. 170)
Lordship Salvation is a perversion of the Gospel! Its spread must be resisted. Its advocates must be marked and avoided in defense of the Gospel and to protect the unsuspecting from falling into the trap of Lordship’s man-centered message.

III. Are Kevin Bauder’s Conservative Evangelicals, “The Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?”

No, They are not! Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, et. al., erred grievously when they signed the Manhattan Declaration. Al Mohler sat as chairman for the 2001 Billy Graham crusade in Louisville, KY. These things are not done by “genuine defenders of the gospel.”

Men like Kevin Bauder, for the sake of fellowship with and promotion of conservative evangelicals, have ignored, tolerated, allowed for and/or excused these acts of disobedience to the biblical mandates. (2 Cor. 6:14-17; Eph. 5:11; 2 John 9-11). Is this not also an act of disobedience?

Dr. Bauder closes Let’s Get Clear on This by stating, “We must do nothing to weaken their hand in the face of the enemies of the gospel.” The Inspired Commentary speaks to us today from the apostle Paul’s first century admonition.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:28-31)
Hobnobbing with unbelievers through the MD opens the door for “grievous wolves [to] enter in among you.” Furthermore, “of our own selves” men have arose “speaking perverse things” in the form of Lordship Salvation’s assault on the Gospel of grace.

Does the Bible teach that man must add to faith in whom Christ is and what He did to provide salvation a “commitment of life,” or a promise of submission to the lordship of Christ in order to be saved? Or does the Bible teach that man’s salvation is by grace through faith, apart from any work, promised or performed? Dr. Robert Lightner wrote,
Salvation is either by God’s grace or by human effort, commitment, or work. It cannot be by both, anymore than law and grace were both means of salvation in Paul’s day.” (Sin, the Savior and Salvation, p. 203)
Lordship Salvation as it is defined by men such as John MacArthur, John Piper, Steven Lawson is a departure from and a corruption of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

When Together for the Gospel (T4G) and The Gospel Coalition events converge in alternating years they converge around Lordship Salvation. For the sake of clarity these conferences should come to be better known as:

Together for the Lordship Salvation Gospel, and
The Lordship Salvation Coalition.

Those are terms that accurately define the message that conservative evangelicals and a segment of IFB men are converging around in those fellowships.  The egregious errors of Lordship Salvation’s works-based salvation (justification) trump all of the other aberrant theology (Charismatic teaching), ecumenical compromises and worldliness in conservative evangelicalism combined.

IV. Conclusion to the Series:

Kevin Bauder insists, “We must do nothing to weaken their hand.” There is little more we can do to weaken the hand of the conservative evangelicals beyond what they have done by their own hand already. Their hands and their voices are severely weakened in defense of the Gospel for reasons, which we have given evidence of today. Yet, Kevin Bauder encourages and calls upon Fundamentalists to sit at their feet and learn from them.

At the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site Dr. Gerald Priest posted a comment that included the following,
Kevin [Bauder] 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.
A Trojan horse is being allowed into the fundamentalist camp. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Sam Horn and Doug MacLachlan are opening the gates to allow the poison pony free roam in IFB circles and leading the next generation to within its reach. Dr. Bauder’s actions on behalf of conservative evangelicalism and repeated castigation of Fundamentalism has all the earmarks of an effort to define conservative evangelicalism as if it is the embodiment of true, historic Fundamentalism. He is wrong!

Among men in Fundamentalism who are encouraging increased acceptance of conservative evangelicals, we are seeing any number of patterns develop, which include:
Tolerate, allow for and excuse the aberrant theology, ecumenical compromise and worldly methods of ministry in conservative evangelicalism for the sake of fellowship with them around Calvinism and Lordship Salvation.

Endorse and attend events such as T4[the LS]G where these men are in leadership and/or are its keynote speakers apart from any genuine “ministry of warning.”

Welcoming conservative and new evangelicals to the lecterns of our **Bible colleges and seminaries putting our next generation in harm’s way by exposing impressionable students to compromised Christian leaders and scholars, which is not only dangerous, but is an act of disobedience.

Refrain from teaching or obeying the biblical mandates to admonish, withdraw from, mark and avoid in regard to their aberrant theology, ecumenism and worldliness in ministry. (Rom. 16:17)

Articulate, but highly reluctant to make a personal application of the “biblical obligations” for Gospel-Driven separation.
Ecumenical compromise and Lordship Salvation’s assault on the Gospel of grace are NOT the works or doctrine of genuine, “defenders of the gospel.”


1) John Piper and C. J. Mahaney believe and teach that the Charismatic sign gifts (tongues, the gift of prophecy) are active and should be sought after today.

2) The message of ecumenism is that doctrinal differences are not so great that they can’t be set aside to work together for some common cause. Similarly, ecumenism can be defined as the setting aside of theological differences to work in cooperation towards mutually shared goals.

3) Examples of Lordship Salvation’s works based message can be read at:

Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

Lordship Salvation: Charles Spurgeon's Personal Testimony Speaks Against It

Lordship’s Man-Centered Message

John MacArthur’s Mandatory Performance Guidelines for “Lordship” Salvation
With excerpt from Dr. J. B. Hixson’s Getting the Gospel Wrong.

*Incredibly Kevin Bauder links Charles Ryrie and John MacArthur as co-defenders of the Gospel. Is Bauder unaware of the sharp divide between MacArthur and Ryrie on the nature of saving faith?

**The irony following Dr. Priest’s caution about the Trojan horse is Pastor Dave Doran announcing in Separation in Academic Contexts he will be and has in fact begun hosting evangelicals (Michael Vlach, Conrad Mbewe, Dr. Bryan Ferrell) for “academic lectures and presentations” at DBTS and in his church pulpit.  Matt Olson has opened NIU classrooms and chapel pulpit to a variety of LS advocates, evangelical, compromised speakers.  Tim Jordan, at Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale), has hosted Dr. Mark Dever and will host (Spring 2012) new evangelical Haddon Robinson. Central Baptist Theological Seminary (MN) has invited Dr. Larry Pettigrew.

First published 3/24/2010


  1. For this who may wonder: I am aware that Al Mohler in Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (pp.85-86) reflected upon his involvement with and signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD). Nowhere in his brief comments about his involvement in meetings prior to the release of the MD and having signed it does he apologize for or repent of having done so. See- Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Was This His First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?


  2. Earlier today a comment was submitted by a person who goes by KD. I don't know who KD is, but I rarely let any of the comments he submits appear here. If you were able to read the personal attacks and vitriol with which he writes you'd understand why his comments will not appear here. Today, I am going to cite one part of his deleted comment.

    KD wrote, "Wow, I was quite shocked at your attack on Steve Lawson. Lawson is another fabulous Baptist reformed preacher of the gospel."

    One time in this article I quote from Pastor Lawson. This is taken as a personal attack by KD. It is shame that the followers of the star personalities in evangelicalism so often take any legitimate criticism as a personal attack on their hero. Passions and emotions run deep among the followers of these leading advocates of Lordship Salvation.

    Well, that quote made KD angry, this one surely will. Please continue to,

    An Example of Lordship Salvation's Man-Centered Message


  3. John Piper advocates both an initial justification and a final phase of justification when the believer stands before Christ as seen at 2 Cor. 5:10.

    I don't know who this commenter is, but what he has said here reveals something extremely problematic because if this is what Piper actually teaches then Piper has made justification a process. There cannot be a "final phase of justification" without justification being incomplete, and therefore, a process. This departs from Christ Alone.

    We have taken issue in the past with these men making salvation a process, but it has always been maintained by their defenders that they consider sanctification a process, but not justification.

    However, this comment asserts that justification itself is a process in Piper's teaching.


  4. Jan, that is not at all what he means by this. We have had this discussion before. Justification is not a process. I have many disagreements with Piper, but I know exactly what he is saying. This is a point that is right on.


  5. Tony-

    You might as well forget it. If we are not justified when we believe, we are not justified by Christ alone. There can be no further "final" assessment to determine whether we are saved.

    I'm not going to debate this with you because this is so self evident there is no point.


  6. Tony:

    "If we are not justified when we believe, we are not justified by Christ alone. There can be no further 'final' assessment to determine whether we are saved."

    Jan is right, this is not debatable.


  7. To All:

    Last week I had a discussion here with a person who wanted to know why it is difficult to know who is preaching Lordship Salvation (LS) and how to recognize it when it is being taught/preached. I said it all boils down to asking for terms to be defined. I had another ask me to show him what is wrong with the T4G statement of faith on salvation. It all boils down to defining the terms that are being used. In T4G you read terms the “faith, repent, believe,” but without those terms being defined, because LS twists those terms to fir their man-cenetered message, we don’t know for sure what is being stated.

    If the terms are not defined we don;t know. Classic case in point today at Andy Naselli’s blog. He has series of six video of him answering interview questions. Video #1 “What is the Gospel; How can God Save Me”? He answers the question, “Jesus lived died, rose again for sinners; God will save you if you will turn and trust Jesus.” “Turn and trust?” From earlier in his reply he used the terms, “repentance and faith.” So, I take “turn and trust” to mean, “repentance and faith.” The problem, however, is in not knowing how he defines repentance and faith. In my book I show how LS advocates define those terms and that they are forcing into or extracting from the Bible terms to fit their LS theology by twisting the definitions to suit their theological presuppositions. They force the Bible into conformity with LS.

    See, the problem of discerning what a man is teaching is complicated when he will not answer a question, will not define his terms precisely. I posted a question to Andy asking him to define his use of “turn.” That question has not appeared in the thread at this time, Is it possible Andy does not want to answer in detail. You’d be surprised to find how many men who believe LS is the saving message and will not give you a transparent answer when you ask a clear, legitimate question about the terms they use to define their interpretation of the gospel and how God saves me.


  8. William:

    The comment you submitted to this thread won't be posted. I do not post strawman arguments. If you want to discuss what I believe about the gospel then quote me verbatim from a source and cite the source.


  9. Lou, did my previous post not go through?


  10. Tony:

    It was received, but I will not be posting it. As I tried to suggest earlier the subject is no longer debatable for this thread.