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,
Pastor Monte answered this from one perspective, for example.“The sad truth is that the most forceful defenders of the gospel are no longer to be found within the Fundamentalist camp.”
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.“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)
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,
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.”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.
“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.)
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.
Following are examples of Lordship Salvation as it is defined by some of its best known advocates.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.)
Pastor Steven Lawson from the 2007 Resolved Conference,“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).
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.“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
Examples of a final phase of justification includes,“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….”
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.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.)
Lordship Salvation changes the terms of the Gospel!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 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“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 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.“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)
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)
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)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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