December 15, 2011

Whose Mail Are You Reading?


The scriptures were given for the benefit of the reader, but not all scripture is written to every believer. One of the cardinal rules of interpretation is to discover to whom any given Bible text was written; you just may be reading some other person’s mail! To take for yourself the promises or judgments that were actually written to another is a serious mistake. It is a major flaw in the Reformed hermeneutic.

As children in Sunday school, we were taught a number of “praise choruses” that are examples of this error. For instance, the one that says “every promise in the book is mine, every chapter every verse, every line”. Innocent on the surface, but we don’t have the prerogative to claim promises that were made to someone else. In fact, that cute little chorus is a lie and a sneaky way to rewrite the Bible. If we want to know what the scripture says, we need to ask the text what it means, not tell it what we think it means.

The Reformed hermeneutic actually steals promises from other people. This is clearly represented in the textual twisting behind the Replacement Theory. The result of this man-made hermeneutical process says that the church replaces Israel, or that the two have become one. This teaching is blatantly dishonest in that it makes no apology for stealing someone else’s mail. It is the result of false conclusions having been drawn from part of the scripture rather than the whole. The full scriptures teach that there is a great divide between Israel and the church, and there always will be.


No matter how popular such theories may become, they are erroneous and based on a misguided hermeneutic. There is another problem, which is even more serious. I speak of the theft of small ideas that appears to be the road to a major appropriation of larger issues. Early in my training, I was left with the impression that we could go to the book of Matthew and remove from it anything we wanted and give it to the church, or that we could put the church in Matthew anywhere we might choose. Such error failed to ask to whom the book was written.

This practice has resulted in Kingdom Confusion and the adding of law to the church. The whole book of Galatians refutes such a concept. The text shouts that the book of Matthew is about Israel, and we must be careful about what we claim ownership of.

The lesson here is that taking small things from Israel for the church, or taking small things from the church and adding them to Israel, is serious. At Pentecost, God chose to do many things with the church that had never been a part of Israel. At best it is unwise to take any of those things and add them back into Israel. The Reformed hermeneutic centers on the doctrine of salvation, that which is stereological. The danger is that it makes theology man-centered. All arguments for such a practice are philosophical and use the same methodology as is found in the replacement theory.

The one biblical hermeneutic is doxological and will always see God at the center. In this mode the questions are asked about God, not about man. The Reformed process relies upon human intellectualism and reason; it suffers from the Lucifer Syndrome with a desire to know the answer to everything. It is far better to accept what the text itself says than what we say about the text.


There is no need to rehash the philosophical debate on this subject, but the New Covenant is a perfect example of hijacking small things. The New Covenant was made with Israel, not with the church. The heart of the New Covenant will be fulfilled prior to the Millennium; it is not fulfilled in the church. The church obviously benefits through the blood of Christ, but it is not a partner in the covenant.

Here we find another example of the Reformed hermeneutic with the failure to let the whole text speak for itself. It may be a small matter to mingle Israel and the church, but it identifies the subtle attempt to close the gap between the two. Any large or small decision to narrow the gap that is clearly described in scripture is dangerous, if not downright disastrous.

During the distinct church age, any Jew who is born again is part of the body of Christ. An individual Jew is not Israel. He will always be a part of the Bride of Christ, not the wife of God. The part does not equal the whole. A Reformed hermeneutic puts these two groups together, which is done through the system used by the Replacement theory. This is one reason the term “the people of God” is used. It views the two as one.


The one way to solve this dilemma is to utilize the one biblical hermeneutic given to us through the text of scripture. There is one correct system, but many philosophical theories. The system known as the “normal, plain, consistent, literal” use of language will always produce a theology that is biblical. It cannot, and will not, produce a multitude of theories. The wide use of various theological views is the result of rejecting that one biblical system. For that reason, any idea that makes Israel and the church one, or even chips away at that distinction, is the result of one of the humanly developed hermeneutical theories.

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December 12, 2011

ReDux: “Militancy Has Always Characterized Fundamentalism

Earlier we considered the timely comments by Dr. Rolland McCune in Kevin Bauder’s “Kinder-Gentler Motif...Won’t Carry the Day.”

My associations with R. V. Clearwaters, often identified with the ugly side of fundamentalism, would contradict what is too often thought to be the mean and unholy spirit that brought fundamentalism down as a “movement.” My 14 years with ‘Doc’ tell a different tale, which has caused me to respond and correct rumors, innuendos and other barnacle-like rubbish about the man and his ministry and leadership.”
Here is Dr. Rolland McCune in “A Review Article by Rolland D. McCune, Th.D. of RECLAIMING AUTHENTIC FUNDAMENTALISM” by Douglas R. McLachlan (American Association of Christian Schools, 1992).  He wrote:
Militancy has always characterized Fundamentalism.  It is not so much a matter of personality as adherence to principle.  Militancy has been so fogged over by its detractors that it has become a wholly negative concept, even for many Fundamentalists.  Dr. George Houghton, of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, gave an excellent definition of militancy.
What exactly is militancy, anyway?  One dictionary says it is to be “engaged in warfare or combat . . . aggressively active (as in a cause).”  It springs from one’s values, is expressed as an attitude, and results in certain behavior.  One’s values are those things in which one strongly believes.  They are what one believes to be fundamentally important and true. From this comes an attitude which is unwilling to tolerate any divergence from these fundamentally important truths and seeks to defend them.  It results in behavior which speaks up when these truths are attacked or diluted and which refuses to cooperate with any activity which would minimize their importance.  The term is a military one and carries the idea of defending what one believes to be true.[1]
I must confess that I do not hear a clear note of militancy in the book under discussion.  Forcefulness in leadership and in defending the faith is simply not there.  (The concept of “Militant Meekness” or “a militancy for the meekness of Christ” [p. 140] is a little confusing in terms of historic Fundamentalist militancy.) The idea of “servant leaders” (p.40ff.), while certainly a biblical thought,[2] seems expunged of all notions of aggressiveness.  Some of this may be explained by the author’s non-confrontational type of personality.  Many of us could identify with this.  But again militancy is not a matter of personality.  There are many Fundamentalists who are reticent and retiring but who are militant in the fight for truth.

[1] George Houghton.  “The Matter of Militancy,” Faith Pulpit (May 1994)

[2] The idea of “servant leadership” as it is propagated in the New Evangelical community was severely criticized by by David F. Wells, a fellow New Evangelical.  He says that the term “has the ring of piety about it.  But it is false piety, or it plays on an understanding of servanthood that is antithetical to biblical understanding.  Contemporary servant leaders are typically individuals without any ideas of their own, people whose convictions shift with the popular opinion to which they assiduously attune themselves, people who bow to the wishes of “the body” from which their direction and standing derive” (No Place For Truth [Eermans, 1993]’ pp. 214-15).  His attack was directed at the lack of convictions and biblical/doctrinal truth that has overtaken the New Evangelical movement and that has displaced theology with psychology and the prescriptions of the modern self movement.  This is not the case with the author of Reclaiming . . . Fundamentalism, but a word of caution is in order.  Without forceful leadership and the aggressive prosecution of a biblical philosophy and agenda, the Fundamentalist will find his vision being challenged by another who is quite militant about his own proposal.  Well’s point is well taken: Servant leadership does not necessitate a benign, non-aggressive stance.
I believe that it is fair to say that Kevin Bauder has very little militant principle in him. After all, he has yet to put it on the mat over people like and the disconcerting actions of Al Mohler, John Piper, Ligon Duncan and Mark Dever. Instead of faithfully teaching and especially practicing fidelity to authentic biblical separation he is forging new friendships and alliances with men who act in utter contempt of the God-given mandates.

Most recently Drs. Kevin Bauder (and Andy Naselli) officially participated in the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) conference. Both were presenters along side Al Mohler in one of the sessions to discuss their new book (Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism). A review and analysis of Kevin Bauder’s presentation and participation at the ETS seminar was produced by Kent Brandenburg. I highly recommend its reading.* Add to Bauder and Naselli in cooperative ministry with an unrepentant ecumenical (Al Mohler) the Seventh Day Adventist church was an official and approved vendor at ETS.

Dr. Bauder was at ETS to speak on behalf of authentic biblical separation that Fundamentalists are recognized for. What a tragic waste of an opportunity to demonstrate obedience to and love for Jesus Christ and a defense of the Gospel. Kevin Bauder refused to take an, albeit unpopular, stand for the God-given mandates to separate from unbelievers and disobedient brethren. That is not militancy!

Kevin Bauder’s recent history is one of castigating Fundamentalism with a broad brush, heaping lavish praise on so-called “conservative” evangelicals and forging new alliances through cooperative efforts with men on a side of the fence who are non-separatists and unrepentant ecumenical compromisers. This clearly indicates it has become more important for Dr. Bauder to forge alliances with men who hobnob with the enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18) than to faithfully proclaim God’s Word on authentic separation and call on men to obey the Lord in this regard.

The pattern of Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan and men like them is to tolerate, allow for, excuse and/or ignore the doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromises and worldliness of their new friends in the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism. Dr. Doug McLachlan recently praised those men for what he deems as a “rebirth of historic, mainstream fundamentalism.” (Moving Toward Authenticity: Musings on Fundamentalism, Part 1) There is nothing authentic from historic biblically separatist Fundamentalism here. Instead we are witnessing a resurgence of historic New Evangelical compromise in embryo form.


*My Field Trip to the Evangelical Theological Society Meeting, Part One

Site Publisher Addendum:

It’s also interesting that Kevin Bauder has openly castigated men like John R. Rice and Bob Jones, Jr. (when he reacted to Danny Sweatt in 2009), but now points out the virtues of his mentors. Sadly, he’s allowed the hype surrounding the leadership of those that he’s criticized to color his comments while allowing his personal relationships with others to hold them in esteem.  When the history of fundamentalism is written, there will be those who will look at the acerbic, acrimonious tones of the writings of Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran in particular and decide that they simply would never want to associate with their brand of compromised NT Christianity.

December 5, 2011

Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?, Part 2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Last week we began with Part One of this two part series by Dr. Manfred Kober from 1989 as it appeared in Faith Baptist Theological Seminary's Faith Pulpit. This series is as compelling an exposure of and polemic against the egregious errors of Lordship Salvation for today as it was in 1989. I encourage you to read and prayerfully consider this important ministry of warning from Dr. Kober.

Several days ago my wife and I were discussing the matter of Lordship salvation. Our eleven-year-old daughter, Christa, overheard us and asked, “Daddy, what is Lordship salvation?” I replied that it is the view that believing in Christ as Savior is not enough. A person also needs to let Christ control every thought and action to be truly saved. Christa's perceptive reply was, “Well, Daddy, then no one can be saved, can he?”

And so it is. If God expects total submission of our body, soul, spirit, heart and mind for salvation, no one can possibly be saved. Total submission like complete sanctification is only achieved when the believer enters the presence of Christ.

It is difficult to conceive of a more crucial question in Christianity than this: What is the condition for salvation? What do I need to do to be saved? The answer that Paul gives to that question in Acts 16:31 is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Over one hundred times in the New Testament faith is mentioned as the only condition for salvation. Yet a controversy is raging in evangelical circles. Shrill voices are telling us that individuals are not genuinely saved unless they believe and submit. In other words, salvation is dependent on faith plus dedication. One cannot be a Christian, we are told, without being a disciple. Salvation by faith alone is called “a notable heresy” (Tozer, “I Call It Heresy!” p. 9). It is labeled a "heretical and soul destroying practice" (Chantry, “Today’s Gospel Authentic or Synthetic?” p. 68). Men who teach that salvation is by faith alone are “wrongly dividing the Word of Truth” (MacArthur, “The Gospel According to Jesus.” p. 197).

In Part I we discussed I. The Contemporary Problem of Lordship Salvation, and, II. The Crucial Prerequisite for Salvation. Now let us note:

III. Some Compelling Proofs against Lordship Salvation:

MacArthur continually stresses the idea that the call to salvation is “a call to discipleship under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To respond to that call is to become a believer. Anything less is simply unbelief” (p. 30). This position is easily refuted by Biblical examples.

A. The Example of Uncommitted Believers:

1. Lot:

The life of Lot affords an illustration of a life-long rejection of the Lordship of God. If it were not for the references to Lot as a just man in II Peter 2:7-8, one could seriously question his salvation. His continuous disobedience, compromise, and carnality did not prevent him from being positionally righteous.

2. The Ephesian believers:

The saints at Ephesus were unyielding at the time of salvation. As Christians they continued their pagan practices for at least one and a half years before they were willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ and burn their books of magic (Acts 18:19).

3. Peter:

The Apostle Peter demonstrates a definite lapse from total dedication. His words in Acts 10:14, “Not so Lord” were a sign of unyieldedness after he had been Spirit filled at Pentecost (Acts 2:4).

Lot, Peter, and the Ephesians are examples of carnal individuals who nonetheless were genuinely saved. In contrast, MacArthur says that “those unwilling to take on this yoke cannot enter into the saving rest He offers” (p. 112). He insists that “‘Faith’ that rejects His sovereign authority is really unbelief” (p. 28). MacArthur not only denies that carnal believers are genuinely saved, but he further accuses dispensationalists of inventing “this dichotomy carnal/spiritual Christian” (p. 30). “Contemporary theologians have fabricated an entire category for this type of person--‘Carnal Christian’” (p. 129).

In fact the Bible speaks of carnal believers. In I Corinthians 3, Paul addresses the Corinthian brethren as “carnal,” as “babes in Christ” who are “yet carnal . . . and walk as men” (vv. 1, 3). Genuine believers are called carnal and described as walking like the unsaved in envyings, strive, and division. Similarly, Peter says that genuine Christians can be guilty of gross crimes (I Peter 4: 15).

Why would MacArthur label this Biblical concept a contemporary invention? Is the category of carnal Christians really one of the “unwarranted divisions of truth” (p. 27) set up by dispensationalists?

B. The Exhortation of Romans 12: 1-2:

The Apostle Paul pleads with believers to submit to the Lordship of Christ. These individuals had been justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), were being led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14) and would never be separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:39). Yet these saints were enjoined to “present their bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) rather than to serve sin or let sin rule them (Rom. 6:6). According to the Lordship Salvation view, these individuals were never genuinely saved. MacArthur says “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything” (p. 78). “Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion: it is the ‘sine qua non’ of saving faith” (p. 135). Paul says that submission, sacrifice, and service are incumbent upon every believer after salvation. MacArthur says they are indispensable for salvation.
Proper exegesis and personal experience do not support Lordship salvation.
Thomas L. Constable is correct in observing that while “surrender is certainly God's desire for every Christian, it is not a condition of salvation. If it were, it would be a work” (Walvoord: A Tribute. “The Gospel Message” p. 209).

C. The Meaning of the title “LORD”:

The term “Lord” can indeed mean Master, but in the New Testament it has various meanings. When used in the salvation passages, Lord especially emphasizes the deity of Christ. Paul’s statement in Romans 10:9-10 is “misunderstood when it is made to support the claim that one cannot be saved unless he makes Jesus Lord of his life by a personal commitment . . . Paul is speaking of the objective lordship of Christ, which is the very cornerstone of faith” (Everett F. Harrison, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. X, 112).

Those who insist on Lordship salvation maintain that our position is one of “easy believism” or “cheap grace.” Ryrie rightly objects to this charge by noting that “it is not easy to believe, because what we ask the unsaved person to believe is not easy. We ask that he trust a Person who lived 2,000 years ago, whom he can only know through the Bible, to forgive his sins. We’re asking that he stake his eternal destiny on this” (Basic Theology, p. 339, emphasis in the original). Salvation is free. Lordship is very costly. Faith is a gift bestowed by God upon unbelievers. Discipleship is a commanded work of obedience for believers. Both faith and discipleship are absolutely important, the one for salvation, and other for sanctification. To deny the difference between saviorhood and lordship is to distort the gospel--and that is dangerous!

Reprinted by permission from the March and April/May 1989 editions of the Faith Pulpit, a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, Ankeny, Iowa. (bold added)

Faith Pulpit, Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, April/May '89 - Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

For related study see- John MacArthur's Discipleship Gospel