December 17, 2012

Point of View: The Changing Landscape is Muddying the Waters

From the: The Hufhand Report: Friday, Dec. 7, 2012

I’ve been thinking about this for sometime. I think we are confusing a lot of people and complicating this matter of getting saved.  I keep getting comments from people that I’m being too caustic toward Calvinism.  Maybe so. However, the thing that concerns me, is not what comes first as it relates to the process in salvation.  My concern has to do with man’s depravity.  Is man totally depraved or isn’t he?  That’s the question.  Given that our creator God, in the beginning said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” after which, He reached down into the red clay of Mesopotamia and took a hand full of dirt and fashioned man in His image, then “He breathed into him the breath of life and man became a living soul,” how does all this figure in as it relates to us getting saved and going to heaven?  Let's begin with what is meant by His likeness and His image?  We know it was not His physical appearance, because “God is a spirit.” (John 4:24)  From what we can understand for other Scripture, besides all of His other attributes he is distinct in that He has intellect, emotion, and will.  He knows, He feels, and He acts.  This, I believe, is what God had in mind when He created man in His image, after His likeness.
That being said, what happened when Adam fell and became a sinner by nature?  We do not have to consult Augustine, or Plagius, or Arminias, or Calvin, or Zwingli or Wesley, or any of the modern theologians.  All we have to do is go to the first couple chapters of Genesis, and then study the Book of Romans and especially the first three chapters to realize that when man was put to the test to see if he would be morally and spiritually righteous or if he would be morally and spiritually sinful, he chose the latter.  So when he failed the test and ate of the forbidden fruit, he plunged himself, along with his wife Eve, and all of mankind into the darkness of depravity.  Adam died both spiritually and physically. In other words, he died to everything spiritual; he died to everything physical, which included, his mind, his emotions, and his will. Every part of Adam was affected, dramatically.  The likeness of God was taken from him.  Adam could no longer think like God; he could no longer feel like God; and he could no longer act like God. He died intellectually; he died emotionally; and he died willfully.  We all accept that he began to die physically, but to what extend did he die intellectually, emotionally, and willfully?  The Bible says that by “one man, sin entered into the world and death by sin, so that death passed upon all men.”  Cf. Eph. 2:1
       In order for us not to be identified with Augustine and Calvin, we have thrown the baby out with the bath water.  We claim to be neither Arminian or Calvinistic but rather to be Biblicists.  Then let’s be Biblicists. Our roots are not found in the theology of the Reformers; our roots are in the Bible, so let’s just believe the Bible. Let not dilute man’s depravity and rob God of His glory.  Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners and he did that by dying a wretched and horrible death on the cross; He was buried and rose again to reverse all that happened in and through Adam in the garden.
       Paul makes it perfectly clear in Romans that man is totally depraved.  In studying the Scholastics of the 11th thru the 14th centuries, they combined the philosophy of Aristotle, the writing of the early church fathers and the dogma already laid down by the Catholic Church, and determined that altho’ man died physically and spiritually, which affected his body, as well as his soul, yet his intellect was unaffected.  In other words, he had the ability to reason things out logically, because his mind was unaffected by the fall. We as Bible believing fundamental Baptists reject that flat out. Up until this present controversy started, we all believed and preached that may is totally depraved, but now because “total depravity” doesn’t seems to be strong enough for Calvinist, they have added a new twist to it, by adding the word, “inability” to their doctrine of the fall of man.  That is, “man has no ability to do anything for himself.”
Somehow he has to be regenerated before he can exercise faith and believe.  This is all foolish thinking and a lot of nonsense.
From the very beginning of my Biblical studies, I came to understand that Man is totally depraved and at that time I had never even heard of John Calvin.  From simply studying the Bible I understood that man is depraved in his intellect; he’s depraved in his emotions and he is depraved in his will. When he sinned, he died spiritually, morally, and physically. The question comes, “By what means then does he respond to the free gift of salvation that is offered to him in Christ?”  Eph. 2:1 says, “You hath HE made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…”  Paul goes on to say in Eph. 2:8,9 “For by GRACE are ye SAVED thru FAITH AND THAT NOT OF YOURSEVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BOAST.” Paul goes on to say in Titus 3:5, "It's not by works of righteousness which we have done buy by His MERCY that He saves us…."  I can accept that from start to finish, that salvation is all of God and nothing of man. Even the faith necessary to reach out and accept God’s free offer of salvation, is granted to us by God's GRACE and MERCY. We don’t have to understand all that transpires when a person gets saved; the trouble comes when we try to logically figure it all out. Listen folks, we simply have to accept it for what it is and get in on it.  If I understand what Jesus said in John 3:8, salvation is a mystery.  We don’t have to understand how God’s grace and mercy works in conjunction with our faith, granting us the forgiveness of our sins and saving us from eternal damnation, we simply have to experience it.  After all, how do you explain the wind?  So it is with getting saved.
       This isn’t Calvinism folks; this is Bible. Why don’t we just let God be God and let us be witnesses to the truth that man can be saved simply by repenting of his sins and accepting Jesus Christ into his life as His personal Lord and Saviour. This is what I was taught through college and seminary.  I see no reason to change now, simply because it has become controversial.  Winning people to Jesus is easy.  It is not complicated.  If people have enough sense to eat a piece of bread, they have enough sense to get saved, because Jesus is the bread of life.  Lets not make salvation hard, when God has made it easy.  Maybe, I’ll do more on this later.

Dr. Lawrence Hufhand

Related Reading:

December 11, 2012

The Danger of Teaching that Regeneration Precedes Faith

Last week were considered the question, What is Hyper-Calvinism?  A thoughtful discussion thread ensued and has continued into this week.

Recently, at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Ironsite there was a discussion over depravity, regeneration and sanctification. The discussion centered on a critical review of Tullian Tchividjian’s disconcerting theology by Mark Snoeberger from his Theologically Driven blog. Alex Guggenheim left a comment in the SI thread from which I share the following excerpt. Alex wrote,
“There should be no outcry toward [Mark] Snoeberger, rather it should be quite the opposite. It should be that the objections of a fundamental misunderstanding and articulations by Tchividjian are the loud sound being heard and intense concern over this prominent Pastor and Teacher saying such things (I say this while making clear Snoeberger remains Neo-Calvinisticly wrong about regeneration preceding faith and his exegesis and theology on the matter easily rebutted).” (Bold his)
Because a right understanding of this doctrinal issue, which Alex drew attention to, is crucial to a right understanding of the one true gospel of Jesus Christ I am providing an answer to the question, Does Regeneration Precede Faith? Brother George Zeller has written extensively on a wide range of subjects, including Calvinism and its inherent theological errors. Following is George Zeller’s article titled,

The Danger of Teaching that Regeneration Precedes Faith 
The doctrine of man’s total depravity has been distorted by extreme Calvinists resulting in a wrong understanding of man’s inability. The Philippian jailer once asked, “WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?” (Acts 16:30–31 and compare Acts 2:37–38). Some extreme Calvinists, if they had been in Paul’s place, would have answered as follows: What must you do to be saved? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! You are spiritually DEAD and totally unable to respond to God until you are regenerated! 
Extreme Calvinists teach that regeneration must precede faith, and that a person must be born again before he can believe. They would say that a person must have eternal life before he can believe because a person dead in sins is unable to believe. They teach that faith is impossible apart from regeneration. Such teaching seems logical and reasonable to them based on the theological system which they have adopted. But “WHAT SAITH THE SCRIPTURES?” 
The Bible clearly teaches this: BELIEVE AND THOU SHALT LIVE! “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47).  “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15). The extreme Calvinist says, “LIVE AND THOU SHALT BELIEVE!” Please notice that John 1:12 does not say this: “But as many as have been regenerated, to them gave He the power to believe on His Name, even to those who have become the children of God.” Notice also that John 20:31 says, “believing ye might have life.” It does not say, “having life ye might believe.” In his helpless and hopeless condition the sinner is told to LOOK to the Lord Jesus Christ AND LIVE (John 3:14–16)! [We sing the hymn **“LOOK AND LIVE.” The extreme Calvinist should change the words to “LIVE AND LOOK”].  
For a moment, let’s assume that what the extreme Calvinists are saying is true. If regeneration precedes faith, then what must a sinner do to be regenerated? The extreme Calvinists have never satisfactorily answered this. Shedd’s answer is typical: Because the sinner cannot believe, he is instructed to perform the following duties: (1) Read and hear the divine Word. (2) Give serious application of the mind to the truth. (3) Pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit for conviction and regeneration. [See W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, pp. 472, 512, 513.] 
Roy Aldrich’s response to this is penetrating: “A doctrine of total depravity that excludes the possibility of faith must also exclude the possibilities of ‘hearing the word,’ ‘giving serious application to divine truth,’ and ‘praying for the Holy Spirit for conviction and regeneration.’ The extreme Calvinist deals with a rather lively spiritual corpse after all.  [Roy L. Aldrich’s article is highly recommended. It is found in the July, 1965 issue of Bibliotheca Sacra and is entitled, “The Gift of God” (pages 248–253).] 
The tragedy of this position is that it perverts the gospel. The sinner is told that the condition of salvation is prayer instead of faith. How contrary this is to Acts 16:31. The sinner is not told to pray for conviction and for regeneration. The sinner is told to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. 
Some Reformed men, including R. C. Sproul, even teach that a person can be regenerated as an infant, and then not come to faith in Christ until years later.  For documentation of this, and a more detailed analysis of this issue see, Does Regeneration Precede Faith?  
Pastor George Zeller  
The Danger of Teaching that RegenerationPrecedes Faith  
Middletown Bible Church
Site Publishers Commentary:
In my opinion, regeneration before faith is an extra-biblical presupposition. Because Calvinism’s regeneration precedes faith is a significant contributor to the theology of the works based Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel I address this issue in my book In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.
“John MacArthur uses the following statement to prepare the way for the hard demands of the Lordship gospel: ‘Thus conversion is not simply a sinner’s decision for Christ; it is first the sovereign work of God in transforming the individual.’ Is MacArthur suggesting that a sinner must first be transformed through regeneration into a child of God before he can believe and respond in faith to the gospel of Jesus Christ? Regeneration before faith under girds Lordship Salvation. There are a growing number of preachers that believe regeneration occurs prior to and apart from repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ.” (IDOTG, p. 63.)
The Calvinist believes man is so 'dead in trespasses and sins' that he must first be regenerated: That is to say, born again, made alive by the Spirit of God, and given the new nature prior to personal repentance and faith. Even faith, according to Calvinism, is a gift that was given to him after regeneration.” (IDOTG, p. 264.)
I encourage each of my guests to read George Zeller’s Does Regeneration Precede Faith? The article is George Zeller’s extended and penetrating answer to the danger of teaching that regeneration occurs prior to and part from faith in Jesus Christ.
Today there are those of a Reformed persuasion who teach that regeneration precedes faith. They would say that a person must be born again before he believes. They would say that a person must have God’s LIFE before he can believe on Christ…. The doctrine of man’s total depravity has been carried to the extreme by some Calvinists resulting in a wrong understanding of man’s inability.  They believe that the sinner is dead in sin and therefore he is like a corpse, totally unable to do anything.  They believe he must first be regenerated and have life and only then will he be able to believe the gospel. But the Scripture teaches that he must believe in order to have life. (John 20:31).”
Yours faithfully,


**Listen and Sing along to, Look & Live
  • Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
  • Eternal life thy soul shall have,

  • If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!

  • Look to Jesus who alone can save. (3rd stanza)
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December 7, 2012

Kent Brandenburg’s Separation and Sectarianism, An Article Review

Dr. Lance Ketchum’s article The Subtlety of “Good Words and Fair Speeches” was first published at his Line Upon Line blog and then by permission repeated here at IDOTG.  Dr. Ketchum’s article generated a reaction from Dr. Dave Doran.  Dr. Doran’s reaction was quite typical of previous reactions he has had when his doctrine and/or practice has come under legitimate scrutiny.  From his What is Truth blog Kent Brandenburg reviewed and discussed Dr. Ketchum’s article and Dave Doran’s reaction to it.

Following are excerpts from Kent Brandenburg’s December 5 article Applying Biblical Texts to Ecclesiastical Separation.
So in his next post, he [Dave Doran] attempts to read Ketchum’s mind in a blog debate.  Bravo!  His [Doran’s] number one was treating arguments like they are an attack on a person, when they are an attack on a text.  What text did Doran really deal with?  Voila.  Nothing.  All he did was smack down Ketchum.” 
 I think Ketchum is concerned about the Bible being followed and obeyed.  He sees fundamentalism changing and he doesn’t think in a good way, and he wants to do something about it, so he uses a lot of exegesis to do so.  Doran says bad exegesis with no proof, but Ketchum does in fact refer to scripture in a serious way to make his point, unlike ironically what Doran does.  Doran just blasts Ketchum without providing proof…. And I think the plain reading has Doran judging Ketchums motives.” 
 I got what Ketchum was talking about.  Doran serves up ambiguity that then comes across as a smear job.  It is a smear job.  So, it is a false accusation against Ketchum about Ketchum making a false accusation.  If you are going to say someone is making a false accusation, you've got to do better than this, or you yourself are making one.” 
 Doran seems to think that the sheer weight of his personality or self-perceived gravitas is enough authority here, all very much like the fundamentalism that I witnessed when I was in it.” 
Kent’s analysis of Dave Doranjudging motives, smear job and self-perceived gravitas deserves a wide reading. I encourage each of you to read and then share a link to Kent’s article to folks within your sphere of influence and friendship. Link them to Separation and Sectarianism, An Article Review.

I am hopeful Brother Doran has made a careful read of and has given Brandenburg’s thoughts serious, prayerful consideration.

Yours faithfully,


Site Publisher Addendum:
To All: I just added the following at Kent's blog in reply to a portion of a comment left there by Dave Doran.


You wrote, “I think he [Lance Ketchum] is wrong and being wrong like this hurts the case for genuine separatism.”

First, like Kent I believe Dr. Ketchum’s interpretation of Romans 16:17-ff is correct. The passage can and is at times necessary to make application to believers within the body of Christ.

Second, you have redefined the principle of separation as if the God-given mandate for separation is a Gospel-Driven, a Gospel-Only application. Your new definition for Separation in “Academic Contexts” for expanded fellowship and cooperative ministry, then your fellowship and joint ministry (at Lansdale) with New Evangelicals like Mark Dever who teaches aberrant theology, is on faculty at Gordon-Conwell a flagship New Evangelical school and who promotes the CCM/RAP music genre in his own church.

In 1995 you wrote an article titled, “In Defense of Militancy.” In recent years we clearly see a huge and widening disconnect from what you do in practice of separation to what you wrote of separation in 1995.

Add these things up and IMO they identify you as one who hurts the case for authentic biblical separatism.


See here

December 3, 2012

What is Hyper-Calvinism?

I am uncomfortable with, and reject all five points of Calvinism.  There are Calvinists who are uncomfortable with the extremes of the so-called hyper-Calvinism, but what is hyper-Calvinism? I have found that people vary in their definition of what constitutes a hyper-Calvinist. Some believe, for example, that if a man holds to the Limited Atonement position (Christ’s blood was shed only for the elect) he is a hyper-Calvinist. Although I believe that Calvinism’s limited atonement is out of balance with and contradicts the Scriptures, I do not agree that holding to that position necessarily makes one a hyper-Calvinist.

So how do I specifically define hyper-Calvinism? For me there is one historically definitive mark of hyper-Calvinism. This identifying mark of a hyper-Calvinist is when he refuses to preach the gospel to every sinner, when he has little concern for missions and evangelism, when he refuses to offer an open and universal invitation to every sinner. In his book Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching Iain H. Murray accurately defines this form of hyper-Calvinism,

Hyper-Calvinism views gospel preaching solely as a means for the ingathering of God’s elect. It argues that such words as, “Trust in Christ and you will be saved,” should only be addressed to elect sinners for it is their salvation alone which the preacher should have in view. . . . Gospel preaching for Hyper-Calvinists means a declaration of the facts of the gospel but nothing should be said by way of encouraging individuals to believe that the promises of Christ are made to them particularly until there is evidence that the Spirit of God has begun a saving work in their hearts, convicting them and making them ‘sensible’ of their need. . . . A universal proclamation of good news, with a warrant for every creature, lay at the heart of his (Spurgeon’s) understanding of Scripture.

Another area of concern that flows from Calvinistic theology, which I mentioned above, is: regeneration must precede faith. Earlier I mentioned Calvinism takes the total depravity of man (Jeremiah 17:9), but push it to the position of total inability. The Bible says that man is dead in his sins (Eph. 2:1). The problem begins where the Calvinist believes lost men cannot understand or respond to the gospel unless he has first been regenerated, that is: born again by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. The Calvinist maintains that only after a lost man has been regenerated can he express faith in Jesus Christ and call upon the name of the Lord. I address this issue here and elsewhere because it appears to be the position of most pro-Lordship [Salvation] advocates, and is a presupposition that leads to Lordship’s theology.

In my opinion, if a man teaches regeneration must precede faith, he has the ordo salutis (order of salvation) out-of-order. Faith, not regeneration is the trigger for the events that occur simultaneously at the moment of salvation. Those simultaneous events are: faith, repentance, regeneration, conversion, justification and adoption.

Through interaction with Reformed theologians I have found that regeneration before faith, while in my opinion is error in its own right, leads to even greater error. What is the “greater error?” Some of the men I have interacted with in online discussions take the regeneration before faith position to such an extreme they insist God regenerates some infants in the womb, who years later will express faith in Christ. The infant regeneration position is just about as far to the left as one can go in Reformed circles. Men I have interacted with, who hold to infant regeneration, have cited the following passages in support.

Jeremiah 1:5  Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Luke 1:15  For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.

Doctrinal buildings should not be set up with these ambiguous passages. What happened to Jeremiah and John the Baptist was a totally unique, one of a kind experience. Taking an infant regeneration position places regeneration in a chronological order that can be far removed from personal faith in Jesus Christ. The events in the ordo salutis become chronological far beyond the “casual” or “logical” order as expressed by some Calvinists. Years ago some Puritan types were preaching regeneration as an infant and then acceptance of the gospel well down the road of life. Consequently, one ends up with regenerate unbelievers, which is a true heresy.

Is regeneration before faith a mark of hyper-Calvinism? Admittedly, regeneration before faith does not necessarily fit the classic definition of hyper-Calvinism. As some men slide deeper into extremes, such as infant regeneration, we may one day have to reopen a discussion over the potential inclusion of additional defining characteristics of hyper-Calvinism.

Whenever possible, I choose to exercise Christian charity and allow for a believer to exercise his own conscience, and I allow for the autonomy of local churches. Once, however, a man’s Calvinism leads him to withhold an open proclamation of the gospel, with an invitation to every sinner, I would no longer in good conscience be willing to fellowship with him, and would not hesitate to identify him as a man to be scrutinized and avoided.

Romans 16:17-18  Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

If I may recommend an excellent book, which I quoted from above, it would be Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching by Iain H. Murray. There is no doubt that Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was an ardent Calvinist, while at the same time an eminent winner of souls. Spurgeon preached the “whosoever shall call” gospel and passionately invited all sinners to respond the gospel and receive Christ. Many of his early years in ministry were, in part, embroiled in a theological battle against the hyper-Calvinists of England. Spurgeon vigorously resisted the extremes and proliferation of hyper-Calvinism in his day. Many are familiar with Spurgeon’s resistance to modernism and ultimate separation from the Baptist Union of England. That controversy may have led to his early demise. However, the former battle against the advocates of hyper-Calvinism was for Charles Spurgeon just as important and intense with very much at stake.


Related Reading:

Ps. Bob Topartzer, Calvinism Today: Neo-Calvinism

November 26, 2012

Dr. Lance Ketchum: The Subtlety ofGood Words and Fair Speeches

People who are called to serve the Lord as pastors, missionaries, and evangelists understand the insecurity of ministry. They know that people are often fickle. Pastors understand the volatile nature of local church ministries. Many local churches are like powder kegs that could explode at the first spark of a personality clash. The natural tendency for pastor and missionaries living in such volatile conditions is to live by the simple principle – PROCEED WITH CAUTION! Sadly, in many cases, pastors and evangelists simply avoid any thing that is controversial just to protect the little bit of job security that they have. The central thrust of Romans 16:17-20 is a warning about the subtlety of the failure to deal with the issues of false doctrine that regularly arise within local churches. The thrust of the warning is found in verse 18 – “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Romans 16:17-20).
Phil Johnson
I was notified recently that the Minnesota Baptist Association will host its annual Men’s Fellowship in September of 2013. The featured speaker will be Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You, the broadcast ministry of John MacArthur. John MacArthur is a hyper-Calvinist, believes in Lordship salvation, Presbyterian polity, uses CCM and Christian-rock in his church ministries, and is undoubtedly a New Evangelical. MacArthur was flirting with the National Association of Evangelicals back in the early 1980’s when I was a member of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (I.F.C.A.). Phil Johnson is essentially MacArthur’s public relations person. MacArthur and Johnson are certainly not independent Baptists.

Why then would an association of independent Baptist churches promote someone that so blatantly disagrees with them in doctrine and practice? The answer is obvious. They do not disagree with him in his doctrine and practice. They must think his doctrinal positions to be at least viable. They have changed!

Compromise is often expressed in small increments. There is a subtle and dangerous undercurrent in the temptation to compromise. The undercurrent has to do with a pastor’s inherent desire for self-protection and survival in the ministry. It also affects leaders of ministries like Bible colleges and seminaries. When a pastor allows such inherent feelings to dominate his thinking, he will soon be led into varying degrees of incremental compromise. Pragmatic measurements, particularly in using numbers of people in determining ministry success, lead many men astray. No one wants to see the numbers of people diminish under their leadership whether it is in a local church, Bible college, or seminary. Talk to any pastor who has lost large numbers of people and almost always you will find a man who believes he has failed. The fact is, he may have been faithful in preaching the “whole counsel of God” and some people just did not like it. When the solution to a loss of numbers of people is anything other than revival, you will find the willingness to compromise somewhere in the mix.

Perhaps the main reason Paul was so faithful in his many battles for “the faith” was that he saw himself as a “sheep for the slaughter.” He told the Roman believers earlier in his epistle to the Romans that their thinking of themselves as “sheep for the slaughter” ought to be the norm for all true believers.
“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 8:36).
Maintaining such an attitude in our ministries is certainly difficult. In order to maintain such an attitude, it demands that we do not view our ministry as a job, and that we do not give ourselves self-importance. Although pastors serve people, people are not their employers. God is their boss and it is to Him they will ultimately answer for our leadership. All of this is even more difficult when we consider the threat to the financial security of their families. In most cases, we cannot they men-pleasers (I Thessalonians 2:4) if they are going to be God’s ambassadors (II Corinthians 5:16-21). Although those that truly love the Word of God will be pleased when it is preached without consideration of the fear or favor of men, those who do not love the Word of God will wince and retreat when it is proclaimed.

The church I pastor separated from the Minnesota Baptist Association in 2012 because the M.B.A. began to redefine the way they were going to practice separation. The use of Phil Johnson as their featured speaker is merely a reflection of their new Gospel Centrism (their Gospel is really Reformed Soteriology). During the six years I was the State Missionary of the Minnesota Baptist Association and editor of their North Star magazine, I wrote many articles to keep the association from going the direction it has gone. Apparently, in most part, those articles have gone unheeding. In some cases, they were ridiculed. One such article, entitled The Hegelian Dialectic, is quoted below: 
“The Hegelian Dialectic is basically a process that ultimately results in Centrism. This is accomplished by bringing together diverse positions for dialogue. The process involves bringing together a thesis (extreme right) together with an antithesis (extreme left) for discussion that moves both extremes towards the center (compromise). Two things happen to the majority of those involved in the dialogue. 1. The majority of the participants form a synthesis (a composite position) somewhere between the two extremes (this is the goal of the Hegelian Dialectic). 2. Those not accepting the synthesis become sympathetic towards the various degrees of positions of those involved in the dialogue in that tolerance becomes the banner under which the process functions. This process is repeated with each generation and the center (synthesis) constantly moves towards the extreme left (compromise, tolerance, and liberalism). No one likes to be viewed as an extremist or a radical. That is why all Christians are naturally prone towards moving towards the middle on every issue of conflict. That is the reason why the vast majority of local churches, associations of churches, and conventions/denominations have become New Evangelical and Liberal. When conflicting positions arise, we will find most people settling for one of two solutions: tolerance or compromise. Neither of these two positions is acceptable to God. Neither should they be acceptable to the person that calls himself a Biblicist. Truth is always a constant. God is immutable. All truth originates in God’s immutableness. Therefore truth is immutable. Which of God’s truths is inconsequential to Him? Which of God’s truths does He delineate as a major truth and which is a minor truth?”
Therefore, Centrism is an applicable term to describe the outcomes of what we see in the dialogue between radically different theological positions. Romans 16:18 describes this process by the phrase - “good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” One example of this is how biblical separation is now being redefined during this dialogue. In order to justify the way separation is being redefined, they must redefine the way unity is defined. Therefore, they must take a Big Christianity view of the doctrine of the Church rather than an independent local church view. This is Reformed Ecclesiology. Reformed Theology seems to be a common denominator for defining who is going to be included in the dialogue and who is excluded. In fact, Dr. Kevin Bauder has regularly criticized people for criticizing Reform Theology, especially Reformed Soteriology. Under his paradigm, anyone believing that Reformed Soteriology is unscriptural, and is willing to say that publicly, is outside of his acceptable Fundamentalism.

Dr. Kevin Bauder, past president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, clearly defines “fundamental doctrines” as those “doctrines that are essential to the gospel.” This statement seeks to reduce Fundamentalism to Gospel Centrism. Certainly, Fundamentalism is Gospel centered, but the fundamentals of the Bible extend into other areas of theology as well. Anything less is the abdication of theological dogmatism regarding anything other than the Gospel. In most cases, Evangelicals cannot even agree on what the Gospel is and certainly do not agree on what defines a biblical response to the Gospel.
“To be an evangelical is to be centered upon the gospel. To be a Fundamentalist is, first, to believe that fundamental doctrines are definitive for Christian fellowship, second, to refuse Christian fellowship with all who deny fundamental doctrines (e.g., doctrines that are essential to the gospel), and third, to reject the leadership of Christians who form bonds of cooperation and fellowship with those who deny essential doctrines.”1 
New Evangelicalism essentially developed in order to build bridges between Evangelicalism and Liberalism (Theological Modernism). Gospel Centrism is a group within Fundamentalism (actually Evangelicals), trying to build bridges to the ever drifting New Evangelicals now rapidly becoming the Emergent Church. Dr. Kent Brandenburg defines the issues in this form of compromise very well in a new book he has recently edited and in which has written a number of chapters:
“Disobedience to the Biblical doctrine of separation follows the spirit of this age, which reflects post-enlightenment human reasoning. The world will get to where man is in charge of everything, but to get to that goal, there will be a series of compromises fitting to a Hegelian dialectic. Dialogue and consensus building are the means. The goal is the ‘third way’ that we often read about in politics today. The first and Biblical way is separation. The second and man’s way is getting along. The third way is the compromise of separation in order to get along more. The result of the compromise is called progress, reaching toward the end of world peace. Churches are now caught up in this cycle. Compromise is called love, which is really sentimentality. The watering down of doctrine is labeled humility, which is really pride. Humility submits to God. Pride replaces what God said with man’s ideas, elevating men. Pride is the new humility, however, in the new political and theological correctness. The new humility emphasizes nuance and repudiates dogmatism. Finally, anything anyone believes is accepted so that everyone can get along with everyone else, except God.”2
Dr. Doug McLachlan seems to be a connecting link to what he refers to as a “radical new center.” This “radical new center” is being fleshed out by a form of Gospel Centrism in some kind of New Fundamentalism. Unfortunately, this New Fundamentalism looks much like old New Evangelicalism. He has stated that he believes that the way Northland International University, Central Baptist Seminary, Calvary Baptist Seminary, and Detroit Theological Seminary are now practicing separation is what he intended in the writing of his book Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism. This Authentic Fundamentalism is markedly absent of a central characteristic of old Fundamentalism, which is militancy. Dr. Roland McCune offered his review of Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism:
“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.’3 
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,4 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.”
Terms like “militant meekness” and “radical new center” sound very intellectual, but they are nothing more than “good words and fair speeches” that “deceive the hearts of the simple.” I wrote an article on this October 22nd, 2011 entitled - Has God Changed the “Old Paths” for a new "radical center"? The closing paragraph of the article is quoted below:
“I do not understand how knowledgeable men can so easily be led into the ditch of philosophical compromise. I do not understand how knowledgeable men can justify using the language of Centrism when they must know it is the language of cultural manipulation. I think they must understand their methodology and have adapted certain agreed upon talking points. If they are right (and their argument is that they are right), then everything to the right of them is wrong and everything to the left of them is wrong. Yet, they are willing to label everyone they say is to the right of them as Hyper, while labeling select individuals to the left of them as friends. Then they separate from those to the right of them (which means all those unwilling to accept their new center) and maintain fellowship with those they admittedly understand to be to the left of them. It does not seem too difficult to discern the direction in which they are moving, even though they claim they have not moved. This obviously tells us something about them. Either they never were where they once professed to be, or they have moved. Either of those two possibilities is unacceptable.”5
When professed fundamentalists such as Dr. Kevin Bauder, Dr. Douglas McLachlan, Dr. Timothy Jordan, and Dr. Dave Doran begin to defend men like Al Mohler, John Piper, Ligon Duncan, John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, Mark Dever, C.J. Maheney, and Rick Holland (to name a few), it becomes very apparent that there has been a considerable change in direction regarding the practice of militant separation. 
This goes one step further when they invite these men to preach for them.
In Romans 16:19, Paul commends the Roman believers for their obedience to “the faith” and then warns them in the next sentence – “For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” The word “evil” is from the Greek word kakos (kak-os'). The context would imply the meaning to be about worthless teaching that is harmful or injurious. This context is established because the word “simple” is from the Greek word akeraios (ak-er'-ah-yos), meaning unmixed in the sense of being unmixed with false teaching. Therefore, the word “simple” here means harmless. An alternative reading of last part of Romans 16:19 might be, “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and harmless concerning harmful false doctrine.” The “harmful false doctrine” refers to what Paul said earlier when he spoke of “good words and fair speeches” that are intended to “deceive the hearts of the simple.”

The biblical doctrine of separation is nothing to be trifled with. The biblical doctrine of separation should certainly never be reduced the way the Gospel Centrists are attempting to reduce it. To propose that Christians focus on the center while ignoring the parameters is ludicrous and bizarre. Such a proposition is to say the center of biblical truth is more important than the boundaries established by biblical truth.

To emphasize unity at the sacrifice of doctrinal continuity is equally ludicrous and bizarre. This is what the New Evangelicals have done for years and is the practice of those within the varying degrees on Emergent Christianity. We all certainly understand we are not talking about doctrinal unanimity. No two people will ever be perfectly unanimous doctrinally. However, there certainly should be doctrinal unanimity on what defines the Church and how it is to be governed. There certainly should be doctrinal unanimity on what the Gospel is and how people get saved. There certainly should be doctrinal unanimity on what the Bible teaches about the end times and the Christian’s part in these future events. There certainly should be doctrinal unanimity on whether sign gifts have ceased or if they continue throughout the Church Age.6 These are very important issues of orthodoxy that radically impact orthopraxy and orthopathy.

To define the “unity of the Spirit” outside of its parameters of the statement in Ephesians 4:5-6 is equally ludicrous and bizarre – “5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” This simple statement does not reduce unity down to one commonality as does Gospel Centrism.7 This simple statement in fact expands the “unity of the Spirit” exponentially by the phrase “one faith.” There is but one true God and He has given only one inspired Bible. Therefore, there is only one correct interpretation that defines the “one faith.” True “unity of the Spirit” will only be found where there is unanimity within all the parameters of the “one faith.”

Who then gets to decide what defines unanimity? Does a Bible college get to define this? Does a seminary get to define this? No, every individual and every local church must define unanimity for themselves. Then they must decide how they are going practice separation within their own definition and agreement. They must do this so as to insure no believer will be led astray by identifying with someone, or another local church, that teaches false doctrine or practices separation that appears to endorse false doctrine.

Romans 16:17-20 appears almost as a parenthesis within the context of Paul’s salutation to the faithful believers within various local churches at Rome. The text is Paul’s final statement defining a true Opus Dei (the universal call to holiness). Paul pleads with these faithful believers to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17. There are two admonitions in the text. These faithful believers were to “mark” these people that causes “divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine” and they were to “avoid them.” The word “mark” is from the Greek word skopeo (skop-eh'-o), which literally means to take aim at. The intent is to put a mark on them like a point on a target. The word “avoid” is from the Greek word ekklino (ek-klee'-no), which means to deviate. The idea is to walk away from such a person. Obviously the intent of the verb is separation. 

Let me be careful here to say that I do not disagree with everything these men teach. I have been often enriched and edified by their ministries, teaching, and writings. However, this new pathway of Gospel Centrism is a pathway on which we cannot walk together. It is serious enough to require biblical separation from these men. It is serious enough for spiritual men to separate them from their associations. I have talked to a few men in the leadership of the Minnesota Baptist Association of churches regarding these issues. My comments were received with a smirk of derision and ridicule. What they have done is shunned the “mark” that should be put upon these men for their apparent compromises. In doing so, they have accepted a pathway of heteropraxy foreign to every Bible believing fundamentalist for thousands of years. Thousands over the centuries have adorned the true doctrine of biblical separation with their own blood.

Most importantly, these men have rejected the clear statements of the Word of God about separation in exchange for “good words and fair speeches” intent upon the deception of “the hearts of the simple.” This was addressed in an article entitled Conservative Evangelicalism’s Distortion of the Doctrine of Separation. The quote below is from that article:
“We must understand Paul’s instruction to ‘mark them’ and his command to ‘avoid them’ as referring to anything that departs from ‘the faith’ he had just laid out in careful divisions and meticulous detail including the vocational election of national Israel, the details of the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Palestinian Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the place of Church Age believers in the unfolding already, not yet beginning of the New Covenant. Paul gives details of Pneumatology in Romans chapters 6 and 12 regarding the supernatural baptism with the Holy Spirit (6:1-18) and the supernatural enabling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of consecrated believers (12:1-8). Paul gives details of the Church Age priesthood of all believers in Romans chapter 11 and warns them of the consequences of unfaithfulness by disobedience to what they were saved to do - Ambassadors of Reconciliation.
Secondly, two practical outcome failures are addressed in the statement ‘cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine.’

            1. ‘Divisions . . . contrary to the doctrine’

            2. ‘Offences . . . contrary to the doctrine’

Those to be marked and avoided are those involved in these two corrupt outcomes. The words ‘the doctrine’ are synonymous with the words ‘the faith’ used elsewhere in Paul’s epistles. In fact Paul uses the phrase ‘the faith’ to refer to the complete inscripturalized doctrines of the Word of God over and over again in his epistles. I believe Paul uses the phrase ‘the faith’ on 20 different occasions and Peter and Jude each use it once. The phrase ‘the faith’ is what Paul refers to in Acts 20:27 as he addressed the ‘elders’ of the local churches of Ephesus, ‘For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.’

The word ‘divisions’ in Romans 16:17 is from the Greek word dichostasia (dee-khos-tas-ee'-ah), which means disunion. Paul is referring to doctrinal dissension resulting in division or sedition. Therefore, the primary meaning of ‘divisions’ is the breaking of what was previously joined together. ‘Divisions’ is doctrinal disunity as contrasted with doctrinal unity.”8

The men I seek to mark by this article are creating “divisions contrary to the doctrine.” This refers to heresy in that heresy is creating a faction or a new group from those led away from a previous group. This is explained in the same article as the quote above.
“Once the division is created and an individual is disjoined from the unity of the ‘one faith,’ this creates a faction or new sect within Christianity. Therefore, this division in doctrine leads to heresy. The word heresy in the New Testament is from the Greek word hairesis (hah'-ee-res-is), which basically means to choose a party or sect. The negative aspect of the word heresy refers to the removing of an individual from the main stream of Bible believing Christianity to form another division that wants to represent itself as the main stream or the norm.”9

“The Greek word hairesis (hah'-ee-res-is) is often translated by the word sect rather than by the word heresy. There was ‘the sect {hairesis} of the Sadducees’ (Acts 5:17). There was ‘the sect {hairesis} of the Pharisees’ (Acts 15:5). On two occasions, true Christianity was called heresy by the Jews (Acts 24:5 and 14). Paul refers to the divisions within the church at Corinth as heresy (I Cor. 11:17-19). Paul referred to ‘heresies’ as one of the manifestations of the ‘works of the flesh’ in Galatians 5:19-21. Peter referred to the divisive teaching of the ‘false teachers’ as ‘damnable heresies’ in II Peter 2:1 that ultimately denies the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The point is that even though individuals who come under the pretense of unity, but with some new divisive theological position thereby creating a new faction and sect within Christianity, thereby this is the very essence of what defines the word heresy. Therefore, although Paul’s use of the word ‘divisions’ in Romans 16:17 is not the Greek word hairesis, the outcome of these ‘divisions’ is heresy (new sects).

The second practical outcome failure addressed in the statement of Romans 16:17 is that they ‘cause . . . offences contrary to the doctrine.’ The word ‘offenses’ is translated from the Greek word skandalon (skan'-dal-on), from which we get our English word scandal. It is derived from a word meaning trip stick. The context of use gives us the meaning to refer to the outcome of false doctrine that would cause people to be tripped up or to stumble in their Christian walk. This certainly would apply to the false teaching of Conservative Evangelicalism that cooperation amongst various sects of Christianity should only be determined by some ambiguous definition of the Gospel.”10

The words “good words and fair speeches” in Romans 16:18 do not sound as ominous as these words that come forth in the Greek text. We see how ominous these words are when we look at the outcomes of their intent. David Sutton brings this forth in his comments on this text:

“They deceive the hearts of the simple. These good words (xrestologia) have a pleasing quality. They seem full of virtue and reason. They are not brash or harsh, but gentle, offering better results that the ‘old’ way. This is the same tactic that Satan used with Eve. He questioned God, contradicted God, and gave a reasonable solution for why Eve should do what he wanted. Does it work? It does? The fair speeches (eulogia) come out as polished language, smooth and flowing, filled with good words and blessing. Many times, these people speak their messages with eloquence and style. They use tactics that tickle people’s ears and capture their attention. They flatter, look humble, sound sincere, and talk spiritual. They know the Bible and often do good works. Yet something seems off. What they say does not line up with Scripture, yet they seem so believable. The spiritually mature see problems, but the simple do not. As a result, the simple are deceived in their hearts (their way of thinking).”11

There is always a common pattern in the process of developing leadership among people. The first step is to earn a hearing. The second step is developing a friendship. The third step is winning the heart. The fourth step is creating loyalty. However, once these four steps have been achieved, they can be used for good or evil. Those following these leaders must always be extremely cautious when leadership appears to be taking a new pathway contrary to God’s Word.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Psalm 14:12).
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Dr. Lance T. Ketchum
Originally appeared: Disciple Maker Ministries

Reprinted by permission

[2] Brandenburg, Kent, editor. Contributing authors: Custer, Michael; Mallinak, Dave; McCandless, Erich; Mitchell, Bobby; Smith, Thomas; Sutton, David; and Webb, Gary. A Pure Church: A Biblical Theology of Ecclesiastical Separation. El Sobrante, CA: Pillar and Ground Publishing, 2012, page 296-297.

[3] George Houghton. "The Matter of Militancy," Faith Pulpit (May 1994)

[4] 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. Contemporaryservant 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.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Brandenburg, Kent, editor. Contributing authors: Custer, Michael; Mallinak, Dave; McCandless, Erich; Mitchell, Bobby; Smith, Thomas; Sutton, David; and Webb, Gary. A Pure Church: A Biblical Theology of Ecclesiastical Separation. El Sobrante, CA: Pillar and Ground Publishing, 2012, page 40.

Related Reading:
Platform Sharing & Identification by Dr. Clay Nuttall

Dr. Ernest Pickering: A Mood of 'Broadmindedness'. The NEW New Evangelicalism
Moods are difficult to define sometimes, but they nonetheless can be real and potent forces. Theirs was a mood of toleration, an acceptance of widely varying theological concepts - a mood of “broadmindedness.” We fear such moods since we have seen, within our lifetime, their final outcome - a full-blown movement steeped in compromise. We believe we sense such a mood abroad today among those who, in all sincerity no doubt, think we should broaden our bases and reshape our image.

Editors Commentary:
Because of the importance of this article to the discussion of new wave New Evangelicalism making inroads into once fundamental, separatist Baptist circles, through the efforts of Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Doug McLachlan, Sam Horn and Matt Olson you might consider forwarding a link to this article by Dr. Ketchum to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.