October 10, 2012

What Does Central Seminary & John Piper’s Desiring God Have in Common? Each Other!

In September (28-30) the Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Minneapolis, MN) sponsored a display/booth at John Piper’s 2012 Desiring God conference.
Persons who are aware that Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) was at Desiring God (DG) have expressed surprise and disappointment. Should there be genuine surprise that CBTS would participate in the Desiring God conference? From what Central’s former president Dr. Kevin Bauder (2004-2011)1 has written and with whom he has been in fellowship and cooperative ministry with it is no mystery that Kevin’s feet are pointed toward the compromising evangelical orbit that is cloaked under the guise of a so-called “conservative” evangelicalism. Unfortunately, it now appears as though Central Baptist Theological Seminary, as an institution, is headed in the same direction as Kevin Bauder.

Based on Kevin Bauder’s recent joint ministry with evangelicals, such as Mark Dever and Al Mohler, Central’s participation in the DG conference seems quite natural. Kevin Bauder is not alone in moving his fellowship and institution toward non-separatist evangelicalism.2 In fundamental circles this movement is coming be known as the new wave New Evangelicalism, or “New Wave Evangelicalism.”

Why Would CBTS Have a Display/Booth at Desiring God?
For the same reason schools have a display at most any conference: To attract students.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. At Desiring God, however, CBTS would have been attracting a cross-section of ecumenical, non-separatist, Charismatic non-Baptists. The problem is that’s hardly the make-up of Central’s historic student body, and furthermore student candidates with that background would never have been sought after or considered for admission.  So, why seek out that kind of student population?

Is it possible that Kevin Bauder has moved CBTS so far from the foundation and principles of Central’s previous leadership (RV “Doc” Clearwaters and Ernest Pickering) that it can no longer attract a fundamentalist, separatist Baptist student body? Is it reasonable to assume that Central’s alumni has been alienated and consequently ceased from financially supporting the seminary, recommending and/or sending students?  From discussions with alumni and friends of CBTS the opinion is that Kevin Bauder’s revisionist history, castigating fundamentalism, heaping lavish praise on evangelicals and cooperative ministry with non-separatist, ecumenicals has alienated many of Central’s alumni.

Is it reasonable to assume that Central has nowhere else to go to recruit students but at conferences like Desiring God?

In conversation with Pastor Marc Monte he said,
“From Central’s presence at Piper’s Desiring God conference, it appears Central is adopting the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ philosophy so prevalent today. It is no secret that members have abandoned Fourth Baptist Church in droves, many identifying with Piper’s movement. It appears Central is desirous to ride the John Piper wave in order to pick up a few more students. Though it’s always risky to speak for the dead, I think I am on safe ground to assert that R.V. Clearwaters would have tolerated none of this.”
Another consideration for Central’s move toward New Evangelical circles at Desiring God could be the failed attempt to merge with Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, Iowa).  Surely that must have been a disappointment to Kevin Bauder and Central’s board.3

Dr. Sam Horn is the current president of CBTS (2011-    ).  In the current President’s Corner newsletter he wrote, “For us [CBTS], the road ahead involves a renewed dedication to the original vision and mission of our seminary.”4 The original vision and mission of Central Seminary never included participating in conferences to hobnob with New Evangelical non-separatists, Charismatics and ecumenical compromisers.

Are concerned and balanced fundamentalists to believe that Central’s faculty will be able to change the direction of the students that might be attracted at Piper’s Desiring God conference? Will they come to Central and become Calvinists, passionate about the gospel, and become unwilling to side with Piper’s advocacy of non-cessation of the Charismatic sign gifts? Will those students come and sit in Jeff Straub’s classroom in order for him or Dr. Bauder, and others who occupy Central’s historic place in fundamentalism, to help them leave men like John Piper, Mark Dever, Tim Keller, CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler5 to become balanced separatists like Drs. Clearwaters and Pickering were before them?

It’s been a long time since the biblical separatists’ warnings were sounded from Central.

People in fundamentalism grieve that the militant-separatism that once characterized Central is gone. Central’s fidelity to the God-given mandates for separation are forgotten as men follow Bauder’s and Straub’s lead in affirming Southern Baptist, the so-called “conservatives,” while departing from fellowship with and castigating fundamental separatists. The excursion to John Piper’s Desiring God conference exemplifies that authentic biblical separatism from erring and disobedient brethren (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15) is a forgotten principle at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

In our next we will be discussing additional portions of Dr. Horn’s The Road Forward….

1) At its November 2010 meeting, the board of Central Baptist Theological Seminary created the new position of Research Professor of Systematic Theology. Kevin T. Bauder, the seminary’s president for the past seven years, was appointed to the post and began his new duties in July of 2011.

2) Among the more recognizable, who like Kevin Bauder are moving their fellowship and institutions toward non-separatist evangelicalism, would be Drs. Dave Doran (Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary) Matt Olson (Northland International University) and Tim Jordan (Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale).

4) Dr. Sam Horn, The President’s Corner: The Road Forward: For the Church, For the Gospel

5) Please note that Central Seminary was not dissuaded from participating at Desiring God in spite of the conference’s history of keynote speakers such as, but not limited to: Tim Keller, who advocates Contemplative Spiritual Mysticism. Mark Driscoll, aka, the “Cussing” pastor an ecumenical compromiser, whose revels in filth speech from the pulpit and which he is unrepentant of. Rick Warren who was invited to DG by John Piper personally.


  1. I get seeking to attract Southern Baptists and Bible church-cessationists, but considering Central's history, trying to attract not only Piper's charismatic students but students of his hermeneutic thus, his theological heresies, is asking for a great deal of trouble.

    It is one thing for a student of Piper's ministry (by extension the new Pastor and the whole of the ministry which is built upon Piper's errant heresy of Christian Hedonism which is built upon a grotesque hermeneutic) to see Central and say to themselves, "I am persuaded by them" where he understands that he is asking to join them, thus Central retains their authority and predominance and his understood acquiescence but it is another thing to solicit those as invited, hence treating them as acceptable in doctrine and practice, to join an institution, even as a student. It is an affirmation of their errant doctrine and practice, even if the institution intends on "teaching it out of them" before they leave, that isn't what is communicated with such transfers of affirmation. At best it is deceptive bait and switch but in the end, questionable to have a booth, if indeed one seeks to keep out doctrinal leaven.

    Granted, one thing. It may be they approach it like the military. That is, the military recruits in schools which is not to affirm the school but to say, "We are available if you wish to accept our way of life". However, the comparison fails to some degree. A school and the military are not the same, but the body of Christ with another group in the body of Christ are the same. And it is here where we are commanded to distinguish between those who are errant and those who are not and to solicit from Piper's circle is to not only fail to identify the errant but to affirm it with recruiting of this kind.

    1. Alex:

      I am so sorry that I neglected to reply to your comment above sooner than now. I do appreciate your penetrating observations and the way you articulate them.

      You wrote, “And it is here where we are commanded to distinguish between those who are errant and those who are not...

      The once clear lines of distinction are under assault and/or blurring for several years. With Kevin Bauder having for several years writing at times an apologist for so-called “conservative” evangelicals it is little wonder that the distinguishing characteristics have been blurred. The lines may never be erased, but what is clear is the move to be part of Desiring God affirms that whatever lines may exists are stepped over for the sake of fellowship and cooperative ministry with doctrinally dangerous New Evangelicals.

      Thanks for sharing with us.


    2. Lou,

      No problem. I am never under the impression all comments should be reciprocated in kind. You are busy and it would exhaust you to do so with all the various comments. Your contentiousness, however, is exceptional and appreciated.

      I really don't get Bauder's love affair with Piper. I believe that many like him are simply doing an "Obama" and refusing to deal with pointed objections and inconsistencies and only surround people who either play by their rules or echo their sentiments.

      Piper isn't warned again only by Fundamentalists, there are many Evangelicals (conservative and actually some general Evangelicals) who know Piper has too much errant teaching to be a good source. But Bauder seems to be smoking that brand like the carcinogens are harmless (the analogy, of course, is not to encourage smoking, only to present a picture).


  2. Lou,

    Quick question: Can you tell me what happened with Michael Riley, the man Central supposedly hired to be the assistant to the president, then Bauder?

    I find it strange that shortly after Riley's hiring Bauder stepped down as president, and then no more was heard about Riley. I've since learned he's taken a church in Wakefield, MI., a church I'm rather familiar with.

    Do you know what happened there? Was Riley let go? Did Central play him false? I'm sure there's an explanation, but I haven't heard it.

    Have a good one!

    T. Pennock

    1. TP:

      This afternoon I did have a chat with Michael Riley. I shared with him your question. He told me how he came to the church he is at now. Good testimony. I suggest you contact him directly.


  3. This is what is to be expected from men who enthusiastically praise evangelicals as Dr. Bauder did in March 2010 in his article, Let's Get Clear On This. If one is really willing to examine the evidence, the "conservative" evangelicals that Dr. Bauder and others have made excuses for, you will see that they really are not much different than their new-evangelical fathers/grandfathers of the 40's/50's. They continue down the path of least resistence.

    1. Brian:

      For those reasons I said that this should be no surprise whatsoever. At the height of Kevin Bauder’s excusing and running interference for these so-called “conservative” evangelicals, while trashing fundamentalism with a broad brush I always figured that if Central’s board did not remove Kevin Bauder they were going to follow him. It turns out to be the latter. This is a link to the first in my series in which I addressed Kevin’s Let’s Get Clear article. Please see, Let’s Get CRYSTAL Clear on This