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.


  1. One small point of correction: John MacArthur is not a hyper-Calvinist and rejects that view for the same reasons as those articulated in Iain Murray's Book "Spurgeon Vs. Hyper-Calvinism" (which you have highlighted as a recommended resource on the left side of this page).

  2. Yes, I tend to agree with you on that point.


  3. I believe Lordship Salvation is Hyper-Calvinism in that it extends Calvin's doctrine of Monergism in the perseverance of the saints beyond what Calvin taught. Lorship Salvation is a later developmental. Secondly, MacArthur's position on limited atonement goes beyond Calvin -"Christ died for all men without distinction but Christ did not die for all men without exception." I know this is what I call tap-dancing. MacArthur tried to reconcile his position with the doctrinal statement of the I.F.C.A. years ago. MacArthur does not want to be known as a Hyper-Calvinist. We must remember that the T.U.L.I.P. did not come from Calvin, but from his biographer, Theodore Beza. The T.U.L.I.P. in itself is Hyper-Calvinism.

    1. Dr. Ketchum:

      Thanks for providing this helpful clarification of your position. Later I will some additional thoughts on the subject.


  4. Thanks for the thought provoking article, Lou and Lance. It would seem that Calvinism, like so many other labels, has many variations of meaning. One man's "hyper" is another man's "normal." Part of the issue is how one defines the terms being used.
    Lance, appreciated your pointing out the direction that many are taking; reputiating the "extreme right," aligning toward the "left," thus, moving the center to the left. While, it is indeed needful to reputiate and distance ourselves from those on the extreme right (actually they tend to distance themselves from us), it is also needful to reputiate and distance ourselves from those to the extreme left as well. This is not seen within evangelicalism because this is what they did when they established themselves in the 40's/50's. They castigated fundamentalism as the "extreme" right and aligned themselves with those to their left. Now we have this new wave new evangelicalism attempting the same thing; labeling fundamentalism as extreme and aligning with those to their left. These men, Bauder, Doran, Jordan, Olson, etc, are doing the same thing that men like Ockenga, Graham, Carnell, etc, did back then when "new evangelicalism" was born. Both times the men involved claimed that they were following the "historic" position. History has shown otherwise concerning the first crop of "new evangelicals" and history will show the same for this current crop.

  5. Lou,

    I was talking to my father about this great article by Bro. Ketchum, who was a member of my father's church is WI years ago. He reminded me that the seeds of this compromise were sown many years ago, and that Rick Holland and company speaking at the MBA or at Calvary in Lansdale is just the fruit of those seeds.

    I tend to agree with him. I saw these seeds years ago in HS and college in some of these same colleges and organizations. I see seeds of them in schools and associations that have yet to invite Rick Holland and co, but they are soft separatists, that is, they don't see the need to separate from the compromising brethren who are compromising with the compromising brethren.

    IMHO, there is a real need for us to learn to reject the popular trend of quickly rejecting and labeling anyone who sees these seeds and has the discernment to speak up in the EARLY seasons of such compromise. The practice of repudiating and castigating a "critical spirit harmful to unity" has moved from the daily linguistics of the New Evangelicals to fundamentalism. An appreciation for the discerning watchman is long overdue! I thank God for them.

  6. Gentlemen:

    I appreciate each of your comments here. I was going to post an extended thought on “Hyper-Calvinism.” Instead, I opted to reproduce a section from my book, In Defense of the Gospel titled, What is Hyper-Calvinism? That section will appear here Monday morning for yours and the general public's consideration.

    Thanks again,


  7. Lou,

    One of the organizers of this conference explained that Phil Johnson affirmed his agreement with their doctrinal position. (see here:

    So, perhaps Mr. Ketchum should amend his statement towards the beginning of the article: "Why then would an association of independent Baptist churches promote someone that so blatantly disagrees with them in doctrine and practice?" According to those involved (both the association and Phil Johnson) they do agree in doctrine.


  8. Ed:

    Let me tell you why Phil Johnson signing his agreement to the MBA position statement means little.

    Northland Int’l University has clear statements in its Handbooks and Articles of Faith declaring its opposition to the “modern Charismatic movement.”

    For example, “Thus we cannot accept the position reflected in the Ecumenical Movement, Neo-Orthodoxy, New Evangelicalism, or the various branches of the Charismatic Movement. We believe cooperation should be limited to those of like precious faith. (Romans 16:17 ; I Corinthians 6:19-20 ; II Corinthians 6:14-17 ; I Thessalonians 5:22 ; II Thessalonians 3:6 , 14-15 ; I John 2:15 , 17 ; II John 9 , 10 .)” (Articles of Faith, p. 12.)

    See, Is NIU Opposed to the Modern Charismatic Movement?

    In spite of that Matt Olson has publicly commended the church and staff of one of CJ Mahaney's Sovereign Grace Charismatic churches. So, the NIU Handbooks and Articles of Faith mean nothing to him when it becomes inconvenient. In this matter the NIU Handbook and Articles of Faith are simply low hurdles to Matt Olson to be walked over or sidestepped by him.

    For this next example I have to count on the first hand witness of former IFCA members. For years John MacArthur signed agreement with the IFCA doctrinal statement when it was obvious to anyone MacArthur holds positions on faith anti-thetical to the IFCA statement. See- The IFCA Statement on the Nature of Saving Faith.

    There are faculty members at certain seminaries today that sign agreement with the seminary doctrinal statement while they in fact do NOT agree with elements of it.

    It has become a thing of convenience to sign agreement with statements, with which there is disagreement, for a variety of reasons, none IMO honorable.

    I have more to say about this and will do so later.