Many of you are aware of a long running series by Dr. Kevin Bauder titled Now, About Those Differences. He is publishing this series to clear up what he alleges to be misunderstandings surrounding his incendiary article Let’s Get Clear on This. In the opinion of a number of readers the Differences series has frequently reiterated his lavish praise of Evangelicalism and continues to redefine and/or castigate Fundamentalism just as he did with both movements in the Let’s Get Clear on This article. Nevertheless, the current installment, Part 12 subtitled Together (Only?) for the Gospel contains an element that is highly disconcerting, bordering on a deliberate misrepresentation of a known fact, which is the subject of this article.
Dr. Bauder wrote,
“Most fundamentally (the word is deliberate), both groups are united in their affirmation and exaltation of the gospel. None of the differences that we have examined to this point results in a denial of the gospel. Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.”For any objective commentator it is widely known and irrefutable that Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel is the Gospel message of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals.
His statement above is at best an avoidance of the truth and at worst a deliberate attempt to conceal the disagreement that exists among men in Fundamentalism on the nature of the one true Gospel.
There is wide spread disagreement in Fundamentalism over Calvinism, but for many on both sides of that debate Calvinism does not necessarily mandate a split. Lordship Salvation, however, is an entirely different point of sharp contention in and around Fundamentalism.1 John MacArthur defined the core of Lordship Salvation (LS) when in TGATJ he wrote, “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.”2 Statements such as that are the focal point of controversy and many fundamentalists consider that to be a defining mark of a works salvation.
Bauder also wrote,
“This mutuality in the gospel leads to a question. Since conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are united in their allegiance to the gospel, should they not be able to cooperate at the level of the gospel? To put it positively, should fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals get together for the gospel?”There is no universal “mutuality in the gospel” among evangelicals and fundamentalists. “Evangelicals and fundamentalists are [NOT] united in their allegiance to the gospel,” because there is a vast difference between what evangelicals and non-Calvinists in Fundamentalism believe to be the one true Gospel. It is irrefutable, and Kevin Bauder is well aware, that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology in the form of LS as a false, works based Gospel. It is, furthermore, indisputable that virtually every man in “conservative” evangelicalism is a passionate advocate for Lordship Salvation, which Bauder is also well aware of. Men in Fundamentalism who reject Lordship Salvation as a false works-based message are as aware as Bauder is that evangelicals are almost universal in agreement on Lordship Salvation as John MacArthur defines it. It is, therefore, impossible for fundamentalists who reject LS to have any kind of fellowship, unity or cooperation with the evangelicals because of their advocacy of Lordship Salvation.
To be honest with his readers Kevin Bauder must add a qualifier, a clarification. The qualifier would be along these lines, “Since [Calvinistic] conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are united in their allegiance to the gospel…” It is the Calvinistic Lordship Salvation message that Calvinists in fundamental circles are choosing to unite around with their Calvinistic counter-parts in Evangelicalism. This is irrefutable! Dr. Bauder also wrote,
“Is it really believable that they [T4G] cannot find a place for Christian statesmen like Charles Ryrie or John C. Whitcomb?”Of course it is believable. Frankly, this is a question any casual observer could answer. T4G is Together for the LS Gospel.3 Then there is the alternating year sister conference The LS Gospel Coalition. Lordship Salvation is the interpretation of the Gospel that they gather around. How could Bauder not grasp that T4G will never have Dr. Ryrie on their platform when he surely knows that Dr. Ryrie in, So Great Salvation rejects John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation as a false interpretation of the Gospel? The very LS Gospel, which virtually all of MacArthur’s contemporaries across Evangelicalism embrace.
What the apologists for unity with Evangelicalism who join Kevin Bauder at sites such as the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron do not fully disclose, try to negate and blur is that Bauder’s so-called “pure gospel” rallying point is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation. This is exactly why no man who rejects Lordship Salvation will ever be invited to the platform of events like T4G and The Gospel Coalition.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the sole test for fellowship with the evangelicals is whether or not they can agree on a Calvinistic soteriology. Kevin Bauder is willing to find agreement and base fellowship with evangelicals solely on Calvinistic soteriology, which is undeniably the LS interpretation of the Gospel. This “pure gospel,” as we may examine in future articles, has become the sole test for fellowship in Bauder’s approach to them. Virtually all other considerations among the evangelicals such as ecumenical compromise, worldliness and aberrant doctrine have been tolerated, ignored, negated or excused. [A pattern that continues at time of this republishing, 02/2012]
Kevin Bauder acts irresponsibly when he attempts to portray Fundamentalism as though all fundamentalists accept and agree with the evangelicals interpretation of the Gospel. This is an inappropriate caricature of the whole of Fundamentalism. According to Kevin Bauder,
“Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.”The truth is that many men in Fundamentalism do NOT “believe, preach or defend” the Lordship Salvation Gospel of the evangelicals. They instead reject LS because it “corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) and biblically resist its spread as fervently as they would Roman Catholicism’s sacramental system because both are works based, non-saving interpretations of the Gospel.
IMO it is disingenuous and irresponsible for Kevin Bauder to speak of the Gospel in his article as if there is wide spread unanimity in all of Fundamentalism for agreement with evangelicals on what constitutes the Gospel, the nature of saving faith. His failure to disclose the well-known, demonstrable division in Fundamentalism over the LS interpretation of the Gospel, the open rejection of the LS gospel of the evangelicals, is in fact the practice censorship by omission. I am calling on Kevin Bauder to be honest with his readers. To publicly recognize that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology and especially the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel, which the evangelicals “believe, preach and defend.”
Close on a Personal Admonition to Kevin Bauder:
Brother Bauder you do not speak on behalf of and are no more the voice of Fundamentalism than I am. As I have documented in this article you are perpetuating a fallacy on unity in the Gospel. It is intellectually dishonest to declare, without qualification, there is unanimity on the Gospel between fundamentalists and evangelicals. It is an egregious misrepresentation. Scores of fundamentalist pastors, teachers and evangelists reject Evangelicalism’s Lordship Salvation as a false interpretation of the Gospel and you know this to be true. To reiterate, you do not speak for Fundamentalism. Fundamentalists speak for themselves and many of them passionately reject Lordship Salvation and would have every right to be offended by your suggesting Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism believe, preach and defend the [same] Gospel.
I am calling on you to immediately publish a correction of this misrepresentation. Be honest with your readers. Tell them that a select group of Calvinists in Fundamentalism agree with evangelicals on Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel. Tell your readers that Calvinistic soteriology is the “pure gospel” you speak of and around which you are trying to influence others toward unity in the Evangelical and Fundamentalist camps.
(Originally published August 2010)
1) What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?
“How can there be unity within a fellowship when two polar opposite interpretations of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ are accepted as legitimate? Reasonable men can get along over differences of opinion over Reformed theology. Many men who reject Calvinism have cordial personal friendships with IFB men who are Calvinistic in their theology. There is the desire to work in cooperative efforts and I understand that desire. It is, however, antithetical to the Scriptures to call for unity in any fellowship at the expense of compromise with Lordship’s message, which has changed the terms of the Gospel.”2) For a brief definition of LS by Dr. John MacArthur see, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page
3) Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations: “Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?”
Please continue to Cogitations Stemming From the Central/Bauder Ethos Statement