April 30, 2012

The Christian & Apostasy: ReDux

Slowly over the past year the IDOTG blog has begun posting regular articles from a number of contributors. Dr. Charlie Bing is among them. Charlie Bing and I have been acquainted since1997. His dissertation, (now in book form) Lordship Salvation: A Biblical Evaluation and Response was a significant contribution to my research on Lordship Salvation for my book In Defense of the Gospel, and I cite his conclusions often.

From Dr. Bing’s GraceNotes I have posted articles that have been very helpful on a number of subjects around the Gospel. In April I ran Dr. Bing’s latest article, The Christian and Apostasy. You can view the complete article in its entirety at Dr. Bing’s site Grace Life. Please refer to, The Christian and Apostasy where you may also download it in PDF format.

In his conclusion of The Christian and Apostasy Charlie articulated a view on Christians and apostasy that is not what I argue for in my book. After two days and the counsel of two pastors I appreciate and trust I decided to pull the article. I spoke to Charlie about it and he was very cordial.

A pastor whom I referenced in my previous article explaining that I had pulled The Christian & Apostasy shared with me some of his thoughts on the subject. I asked for and he gave me permission to reprint those here. This man and I don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue surrounding the Scriptures just as I don’t see eye-to-eye with Charlie Bing. These men, however, have edifying things to share.

I understand this issue very well. I have written exegetical papers on many of the key passages. I think there is a paradoxical tension in the Scriptures on this. When a man exercises repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his work on the cross and resurrection, that man is justified. He also is regenerated. He is a new man. He has a new nature like that of Christ. He is indwelt with the Spirit of God who will never leave him. For this reason there are some basic evidences of regeneration. A man may temporarily fall into a very serious sin or in a moment of weakness like Peter deny that he knew the Lord out of fear for his life. Men are not perfectly faithful, but God is. However, we carry it too far when we say that a man no longer genuinely believes the gospel, Christ, the Bible, denies Christ and the Bible, or even becomes the true enemy of the Gospel, but nevertheless is saved. We have to realize that there are many false professors or self-deceived church members who paid lip service to God, yet never genuinely believed and thus were never regenerated. Time has a way of telling. The parable of the tares in Matthew 13 illustrates this. 
I know that there is a terrific danger in telling people that they are justified after they have persevered. We cannot and should not ever say that. At the same time we must tell people that there is a clear regenerative change in the heart of a true believer and that those changes will to one degree or another manifest themselves in their lives. There must be some genuine spiritual fruit for anyone to have a credible profession of faith.
The following are sample excerpts from my book, IDOTG.
Most men on both sides of the debate will agree in principle that a new creature in Christ will set out to do the God ordained “good works” (Eph. 2:10) for the believer. Daily submission to the lordship of Christ should follow a genuine conversion to Christ. There is wide spread agreement that born again Christians will grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18). Christians will, however, struggle with the flesh, the warfare between the two natures (Rom. 7:15-25) and the besetting sin (Heb. 12:1). Christians will flop and fail in their walk with God, but growth is typically seen to one degree or another. 
Surrender of one’s life in “a living sacrifice” to the lordship of Christ should be the response of one who has been saved by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 
Although he will sin and grieve the Spirit, he should always strive to be holy and blameless. The Apostle Paul struggled in his Christian experience (Romans 7: 14-25), and you will too.  
A change of life through submission to the lordship of Christ should come as a result of salvation. It is antithetical to the Scriptures to take what should be the RESULT of salvation and make the resolve to perform those things in discipleship the REQUIREMENT for salvation.
In the sample paragraphs above I use the word “should” on purpose, because for me there is not in my mind a clear line where I can look at a man and say, “never saved in the first place.” We see people in our churches that profess Christ and are conforming to Him, but are some of these mere outward appearances only? Is there in fact an unseen heart of an unbeliever lurking under the surface?

Can we say a man who has professed Christ, set out to live for and was growing in Christ, but then fell into sin was never born again in the first place? I don’t know how true believers can renunciate Christ, his professed faith in Christ and, go off into deep sin as if he has no conscience of the Spirit of God. We see cases like this, but does it mean never saved in the first place. I am happy to acknowledge my uncertainty over a man’s eternal destiny in cases such as these. God knows the true condition.

Conclusion: With another view on the Christian and apostasy having been presented here I have returned Dr. Bing’s article to its original position in the April archive. Please return to, The Christian and Apostasy for the complete article.


April 26, 2012

Potential for Miscommunication: Editor’s Reflection

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Republishing articles from regular contributors has the potential for miscommunication or misunderstanding another man’s views. In this case I refer to my own views. Last week I posted a GraceNotes article by Dr. Charlie Bing titled, The Christian & Apostasy.

Dr. Bing’s GraceNotes appear regularly at IDOTG and have been a great blessing to my readers. When I prepared to republish The Christian and Apostasy I realized that some views expressed in the article do not reflect my own on the subject as I express them in my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. I sensed that I probably should not post The Christian & Apostasy, but having more-or-less adopted GraceNotes as a regular contribution I went ahead.

On Wednesday, after counsel from a pastor I trust and appreciate, I removed The Christian & Apostasy from IDOTG. Dr. Bing is aware that I pulled the article and we had a cordial discussion about it.  In the future I intend to exercise greater editorial judgment to avoid potential misconception or misunderstanding.

On Monday I will post a new article to continue on this subject of Christians and apostasy. My goal is to tie up some loose ends and present another man’s point of view. Once that new article posts I will also return Dr. Bing’s article to its original position here at IDOTG. If you would like to read Dr. Bing’s article now you may visit The Christian and Apostasy at his GraceLife website.

Kind regards,


You may view samples of Dr. Bing’s excellent articles, which are reproduced here at IDOTG. Articles such as:

 Is Faith in Jesus Christ a Gift of God?

 Can an Unregenerate Person Believe the Gospel?

April 23, 2012

Concerning Blog Posts: How to Get Back to Receiving a Full Reward

Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward,” (2 John 8).
Let us suppose that you have just signed a five year professional sports contract for 50 million dollars. Let’s also suppose that the team attached an incentive clause to the contract of an additional five million for each year that you batted over .290 as a hitter. At the end of three years you maintained a .300 average every year and so you were able to collect the additional five million each year. But now you are in your fourth year and you haven’t been hitting as well. You are getting lazy at practice, leaving early and not showing up at times. You haven’t been working on the fundamentals of baseball and you are not focused on the game. You eke out the rest of the season with a mediocre performance and just make a .250 batting average. As you go in to talk to your agent, he says, “I talked to the team and they said that because of your subpar performance this year, you will not receive the 5 million performance incentive.” What is your reaction to the news? I dare say that there are many Christians in this scenario spiritually because they have been letting things slip.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip,” ( Hebrews 2:1 ).
Their time spent in God’s Word each day and night is slipping which is affecting their faith in the promises of God. Their ebbing faith in the promises of God is causing them to pray less, thereby taking away the power of the prayer of faith. Their deficiency in prayer is producing less dependence upon the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit’s power is missing in the believer’s life because of sin that is unconfessed. Their attendance at church is slipping and certain services or Sunday school is treated as less important.

At the end of the day, the honest Christian must realize that he doesn’t deserve the full reward from the Lord Jesus Christ at the Judgment seat of Christ based on poor recent performance. Christ wants to give us that full reward for our daily faithfulness to him from the time we were saved to the moment we die. But if we get lazy or lose faith and fail to make disciples and to teach “them all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” then we have to realize we won’t receive the “full reward.”

We must admit that based on the promises in the Scriptures, the full reward from the hand of Christ will be worth it all. This full reward may be a greater position of service in the Millennial Kingdom of Christ (Matthew 25), a fuller joy with little to no regret in the first phase of heaven (1 Cor. 3:11-15), another crown to cast at Jesus feet (Rev 4:10) or another soul to rejoice with in heaven based on our personal witnessing. God gave us these warnings so that we would realize that we are running a race and fighting for the prize so that we could war a good warfare. We can war this warfare only by our obedience to the prophecies of the Bible.
This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare,” (1 Tim 1:18).
I have noticed that many self-proclaimed fundamentalist bloggers, including many Sharper Iron contributors, write whole articles on many diverse topics and fail to put in even one Scripture reference or even an allusion to Scripture when stating their point or their assessment of a book in a book review. There are, however, in those same articles, many references to a professor’s opinion or to other books written on the subject. Dr. Kevin Bauder always puts a classical Christian poem about Christ at the end of his blog posts. The poem has nothing to do with the subject matter that he just stated. Does a poem (not even about the subject) or a professor’s writing about the topic discussed give weight to any argument? I would argue no. Do applicable supporting Scripture references and Bible quotes give weight? Yes! If we want to be the iron that “sharpeneth” (Prov 27:17) then we need to have the weight of the iron of the Sword of the Spirit behind us. Otherwise we are dulling the Christian’s blade instead of sharpening it. Let’s use the professor’s opinion as it agrees with the Bible. Let’s use a Christian writing as it agrees with the Scriptures with the topic we are addressing.

Dr. Bauder recently posted an article on “The Heart of the Life of Prayer” in which he used 23 references to Scripture in one article. There are more Scripture references in that one article than he had in his entire 24 part Now, About Those Differences series (Footnote Lou Martuneac). Why can’t Dr. Bauder and others in the self-proclaimed fundamentalist fold use the same amount of Scriptures or even 1/8 of the 23 verses to support their statements concerning separation and their view of fundamentalism. I contend that it is because the Scriptures don’t support what they are saying. There was a dissection of Amos 3:3 on the Sharper Iron blog a little while back in the comments section.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed,” ( Amos 3:3).
The persons commenting on it were saying that it was not really talking about separation. They lamented how this often quoted verse did not apply to separation in their opinion. So they proceeded to try to comment on the verse with the verses following. They tried to prove that this was “just another verse that those old-fashioned fundamentalists and their forefathers pulled out of context.”

Let us examine the two verses leading up to it. Amos 3:1 Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, Amos 3:2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

How can the Lord walk together with us as His people in the Church Age Dispensation when we tolerate sin in our lives, our families and our churches? He was saying to the children of Israel that He could not walk together with them anymore because of their sin. They were a faithless, idolatrous people.

Let’s get back to believing fully in the Scriptures for what it says as Dr. Kevin Bauder stated in the article on prayer. He said, “This process of living with Jesus involves several elements: His words live in believers, who must keep His words (obey His commandments), and love Him.” Let us keep His words to the “jot and tittle” by continually stating them as we contend for the faith and build the work of God at the same time. That will be the antidote to the current widespread plague of doubt about God’s Word that is afflicting the Biblical fundamentalist community and fundamental Baptists in particular.

So why is there this continued pattern in many conservative evangelical/fundamentalist blogs to stick to just what man thinks about a certain topic? I think it is because they don’t have verses in the Scriptures to back up their certain contentious or challenging point of view that they are currently trying to press. As Christians, we are not bound to adopt someone’s point of view regarding any area of life if they do not have Scripture to support their position.
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue,” (2 Peter 1:3 ).
The Scriptures are the sole basis of spiritual knowledge of “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” So why are we trying to answer life’s questions outside of God’s answers? Let us put the weight of our argument with God and not with ourselves. We will then study the Scriptures and be meditating in it “day and night.” Our prayer life will be revived and the Holy Spirit will be able fill us once again with power as we are fully surrendered to Him and the Word of God.

Jeremy Rice
Northfield Baptist Church

Site Publisher’s Commentary: Throughout Kevin Bauder’s 24 part Now, About Those Differences series it was widely noted that Scriptural principals or applications rarely appeared. I recall having surveyed the entire 24 articles counting every reference to Scripture, whether or not he expounded on a passage. I did not store that survey, but as I recall there were less than 20 references to Scripture of any kind throughout. Many had no reference to or appeal from Scripture whatsoever. IMO, the series was more like bloviating than a genuine attempt to identify relevant facts and discuss the obvious differences between separatist Fundamentalism and the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism along clear biblical lines. See, When Facts Give Way for the Sake of Agenda. And this vacuum, the parched ground from the then President of a Seminary? For additional reading on Sharper Iron refer to Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet

April 22, 2012

Coming Monday a New First Time Contributor to IDOTG

Jeremy Rice is the pastor of Northfield Baptist Church in Northfield, NJ. (B.A. Youth Ministries, Northland Baptist Bible College, WI (99-03) M.A. Biblical Studies, Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary, Lansdale PA/Bible Baptist Seminary, Cromwell CT (05-10) He trained as assistant pastor under his dad, Barry K. Rice (B.A. Pastoral, Pillsbury Baptist Bible College; M.Div. Central Seminary, MN) from 2003-2005 and then his dad passed suddenly with a heart attack in Jan 06 at only 56 years old and Jeremy was voted in as the senior pastor in March of 06. The church is growing in the Ocean City/Atlantic City tourist area of NJ as they seek to make disciples for Christ in this needy area.

Return Monday for Pastor Rice’s article, Concerning Blog Posts: How to Get Back to Receiving a Full Reward?

While you are here, feel free to browse any of the numerous topics addressed at this blog.

Yours faithfully,

Lou Martuneac

April 19, 2012

The Christian and Apostasy

As used here, apostasy refers to a departure from or denial of the Christian faith by someone who once held to it. There are several views about what happens to someone who leaves the faith. Some say a true Christian will never apostasize. Some say a true Christian can leave the faith, but he or she loses salvation. Others say a true Christian can depart from the faith, perhaps never return, yet never lose his or her salvation, but suffers other consequences.

Apostasy is clearly seen in the Bible.
It is easy to demonstrate that apostasy is taught or seen in the Bible. Consider these passages:
    Peter denied the Lord. Luke 22:34, 54-62
    God’s chosen nation, Israel, stopped believing. Rom. 3:1-3; 10:16-21.
    The apostle Paul predicts apostasy in later times. 1 Tim. 4:1-3
    The warning of First Timothy 4:16 implies a Christian can depart from the faith.
    There were widows in the church who “turned aside to follow Satan.” 1 Tim. 5:14-15
    The apostle Paul describes false teachers who strayed from the faith. 1 Tim. 6:20-21
    Those who deserted the apostle Paul and opposed him (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:9-10, 14-16) are to be gently instructed so that they can escape the snares of Satan. 2 Tim. 2:24-26.
    Hymenaeus and Philetus strayed from the truth. 2 Tim. 2:17-18 -Those in error can overthrow the faith of others. 2 Tim. 2:18
    The book of Hebrews addresses those who were in danger of leaving the faith. Heb. 2:1-3; 3:12; 6:4-6; 10:26-39; 12:25
True Christians can leave the faith.
It is clear from the passages listed above that those who apostasize are true Christians, otherwise the descriptions, warnings, and exhortations are empty and meaningless. The very idea that someone strays from something implies they once adhered to it. A person cannot desert something or some place that he or she has never experienced.
True Christians cannot lose salvation.
None of the examples listed above names hell or the loss of salvation as the result of leaving the faith. That conclusion can only be theologically driven. The punishments facing those who would depart from the faith in Hebrews are severe, but do not refer to hell (See GraceNotes no. 34, “Hebrews on Fire”). There are too many Bible passages that teach salvation can never be lost (See GraceNotes no. 24, “Eternally Secure”).
While some think that any continual or serious sin causes a Christian to lose salvation, others say salvation is only lost if the person ceases to believe the gospel and the Christian faith. They say that the present tense of the verb “believe” in salvation passages like John 3:16 and John 20:31 implies that eternal life is conditioned on continual belief. But this is not an accurate understanding of the present tense. The present tense can be used of a singular act (e.g. John 6:33, 50; Acts 9:34). Besides, belief as the condition for eternal life is sometimes stated in the aorist tense, which implies completed action (Acts 2:44; 4:32; 8:13; 16:31). The present tense in John 20:31 may also emphasize the ongoing experience of God’s eternal life that Jesus referred to as abundant life (John 10:10) or knowing God (John 17:3). Initial faith in the gospel brings eternal salvation. Continual faith is not a condition for salvation, but for enjoying God’s life in us (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 2:20).
True Christians can leave the faith and suffer severe consequences.
This view is well supported in the Bible. Many passages speak of God’s discipline of the believer who departs from the faith (such as the warnings in Hebrews). One of the most helpful passages is 2 Timothy 2:11-13.

This is a faithful saying:
11 For if we died with Him,
    We shall also live with Him.
12 If we endure,
    We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
    He also will deny us.
13 If we are faithless,
    He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Verse 11 obviously speaks of our union with Christ that is a consequence of our salvation (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 2:20). Those who are saved will live forever with Christ. This speaks sufficiently to the impossibility of losing salvation. Verse 12, however, speaks of a different condition and a different consequence. The condition is endurance, which is often exhorted of Christians (e.g., 2 Tim. 2:3; Heb. 10:23, 36; 12:1; James 1:2-4, 12) and refers to perseverance in trials and suffering. The consequence of reigning does not refer to salvation, but to the reward for faithfulness—reigning with Christ in His kingdom. This reward is clearly taught in many other passages (Luke 19:1119; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; Rev. 22:3-5). If we deny Christ by not enduring faithfully in trials, then He denies us His approval and reward (cf. Matt. 10:33; Luke 19:20-27). Verse 13 then speaks of another circumstance altogether. If we are “faithless” (apisteuo, without faith, unbelieving; cf. Rom. 3:3), God remains “faithful” (pistos). What is God faithful to? He is faithful to His promise that we will live with Him forever, as stated in verse 11 (cf. John 3:16; 5:24; 11:24-26). This does not refer to verse 12 because it is intended as a comfort. It would be incongruous to appeal to the positive attribute of God’s faithfulness to affirm God’s negative discipline.
Second Timothy 2:11-13 is a serious affirmation of our eternal salvation which cannot be lost (unlike the reward of reigning with Christ). Even if we were to stop believing or become unfaithful, God will always be faithful to His promise to save us eternally. A good example of this is Israel, who now rejects Christ and is under God’s discipline, but will one day be restored because God is faithful to the promises He made to Israel’s patriarchs (Rom. 3:3-4; 11:25-32) and His gifts are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
As Christians we can depart from the faith, deny the faith, or stop believing in Christ as our Savior. But since the security of our salvation depends on God’s faithfulness, not our own, we can never lose eternal life. A Christian may leave the faith, but God never leaves the Christian. Apostasy from the faith does not forfeit salvation, though it will forfeit future rewards.

GraceNotes is a concise quarterly Bible study on the important issues related to salvation by grace and living by grace. They are designed for downloading (*pdf available) and copying so they can be used in ministry. No permission is required if they are distributed unedited at no charge. You can receive new GraceNotes by subscribing to our free quarterly GraceLife newsletter.

April 16, 2012

Archival Series- Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel, Final

Earlier we began this two part series with Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel, Part 1 by Pastor Tom Stegall. If you missed this initial article please follow the links back and then return to this second and final installment.

Rene Lopez and his Scripture Unlocked Ministries represents another recent case of how crossless gospel leaders are continuing undeterred and unrepentant in their error. In the Spring 2010 edition of the publication, Scripture Unlocked, Lopez has an article titled, “The Use and Abuse of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.” In it he concludes, just like Bob Wilkin, GES, and Zane Hodges before him, that the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ in the gospel are not necessary to believe for eternal life.1 We are told that using 1 Corinthians 15 evangelistically to show what God requires the lost to believe is actually an “abuse” of this classic passage. Lopez, Wilkin, and other proponents of the promise-only view are continuing to perpetuate the lie that the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 is only necessary for the Christian to believe for progressive sanctification.

Regarding 1 Corinthians 15, Lopez also falsely dichotomizes the gospel from the saving message of eternal life saying,
“Although this passage may be used to help persuade unbelievers that Christ rose physically (if that’s a barrier that prevents them to believe in Him for eternal life), it is wrong to assert that Paul wrote 1 Cor. 15:1-11 with that intent or to evangelize the lost.” (Lopez, p.4, endnote 4).

Lopez concludes, “Thus, let’s not override Paul’s intent for writing 1 Cor 15:1-11 by abusing a passage meant for sanctification to evangelize the lost.” (
Lopez, pg.4)
But this presents a false antithesis for 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. While Lopez correctly explains that this passage was originally written to challenge the Corinthian believers who were subtly shifting on the gospel and that this was negatively affecting their sanctification, this does not preclude the fact that this passage also sets forth the required contents of saving faith or “the saving message.”

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul recounts the evangelism message that he initially preached to the Corinthians when they first became believers and were eternally saved. Now as believers, the Corinthians were to continue in that very same gospel that they initially heard from Paul when they were unbelievers. A failure to continue in this one message would negatively impact their progressive sanctification. Conversely, by holding fast to this gospel they would be “
saved” (15:2) in the sense of progressive sanctification from the damaging effects of sin and false teaching in their Christian lives. Hence, the one and only gospel/saving message is necessary to believe both for eternal salvation (justification and glorification) and for present salvation (sanctification).

There is nothing too difficult about this interpretation. It does not require a seminary education to grasp. Lopez is a highly educated Bible-teacher and yet he
conspicuously ignores this interpretative possibility and provides no explanation for why it must be incorrect. He simply frames the issue in such a way as to omit any discussion of this correct interpretation while incredibly pronouncing the evangelistic use of this passage to be “abuse.”2

tragedy of the crossless gospel continues in our day as the leading promoters of this new doctrine remain unrepentant and undeterred in their errors.

The recent articles of Wilkin and Lopez ought to shock slumbering believers within the Free Grace community right out of their spiritual stupor.

Imagine if the Grace Evangelical Society had begun in the 1980’s by openly touting its current teaching that the lost do not need to believe the gospel to go to heaven and that using 1 Corinthians 15 to set forth necessary evangelistic content is an “
abuse” of this passage. If such were the case, the GES would have never survived its infancy.

Such blatantly false teaching would have immediately been identified by Free Grace believers as obvious and repugnant error.

But the leaven and gangrene of this false doctrine have had their permeating effect over time. Today, there are still too many GES loyalists who have grown accustomed to hearing the error of the crossless gospel and are now comfortable with it. It has become tolerable to some and even barely detectable to others. This is normally how false doctrine works. It is like entering a barn; initially the odor overwhelms you. But as any farmer knows, the longer you stay in that barn
the more tolerable the smell becomes, until eventually it seems normal.

The Free Grace movement today needs to “
be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain” (Rev. 3:2). We must continue to pray for the Lord in His infinite mercy to open the eyes of those who are still blind to this destructive doctrine. And in the meantime, we must personally hold fast to the gospel ourselves lest we be led astray (1 Cor. 15:2). We must remain vigilant and discerning and be like the Bereans of old (Acts 17:11) who closely examined what was being taught by comparing it to the only objective, infallible, and authoritative standard of truth—the Word of God.

Our loyalty must be first of all with the Lord Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word, not any man, organization, or movement.

Pastor Tom Stegall

Originally appeared: May 6, 2010

1) See Zane C. Hodges, “The Hydra’s New Head: Theological Legalism,” Grace in Focus 23 (September/October 2008), 2-3. In this last article that Hodges ever published, he makes it perfectly clear that the one who insists that 1 Cor. 15 requires the cross and resurrection for saving faith is a “legalist” and that such a view is “theological legalism.” The followers of Hodges’s interpretation of 1 Cor. 15, such as Lopez and Wilkin, have neither corrected his error nor distanced themselves from it but are actually still perpetuating it.

2) 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 is such a definitive and highly debated passage on the required contents of saving faith that it merits the most extensive treatment of any one passage in my book. See
The Gospel of the Christ, pp. 479-589.

Pastor Tom Stegall is author of
The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith

April 13, 2012

Archival Series- Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel: Reengaging the Heresy of the GES “Crossless” Gospel, Part 1

In the interests of remaining vigilant regarding the truth of the gospel, the following report is issued. It is grieving, and yet absolutely necessary, to provide an update about the crossless, promise-only gospel. Despite the sincere prayers and efforts of many Free Grace believers over the last few years, there are presently no signs that the leading promoters of this view have any intention of repenting of this false doctrine. They appear resolved to forge ahead.

A few recent cases in point bear this out. For example, the leading organization promoting the crossless view today, the Grace Evangelical Society, is still in denial about its error. It is continuing to defend and justify its position rather than repent of it. The recently concluded national GES conference in Fort Worth, TX, April 19-22, sponsored a session taught by Don Reiher titled, “
25 Reasons Why GES Is Not Promoting a Crossless Gospel.”1

In addition, in the March-April edition of the GES publication,
Grace in Focus, executive director Bob Wilkin has an article titled, “Five Current Confusions Concerning the Gospel.” While the article by Wilkin contains many gross distortions and confusions of the truth that would merit a much lengthier review, I would like to call attention to the article’s main point and its most egregious error. In the article,

Wilkin unequivocally concludes that the lost do not have to believe the gospel to be born again; they simply need to believe in the supposedly crossless, promise-only “saving message.”

Yes, you read that correctly! The very organization that has “
Evangelical” as its middle name is now unashamedly avowing that the evangel is not necessary to believe in order to go to heaven!

It is being taught that “
the gospel” is a very broad message about any and all good news related to Jesus Christ. This is consistent with Wilkin’s declaration two years ago at the national GES conference that,

In one sense everything from creation to the New Earth is part of the good news.”2
Based on such a sweeping definition of “the gospel,” it would be utterly legalistic, they reason, to require the lost to believe the entire gospel in order to go to heaven. This unbiblical rationale explains why the cross-work of Christ and His resurrection can be dispensed with as essential elements in the contents of saving faith.

Based on the March-April issue of
Grace in Focus, here is Wilkin’s own redefinition of the gospel and his false dichotomy between the gospel and the so-called “saving message”:

“In popular usage, however, the word gospel is understood as what a person must believe to be born again. While there is some biblical evidence that the term gospel does include that message (cf. Gal 2:14-16), that is not the way the term is normally used in the N.T. In recent years I’ve tried to use the expression the gospel to refer to the good news concerning Jesus Christ, His birth, death, burial, appearances, ascension, resurrection, and return. And I’ve tried to use the expression the saving message to refer to what one must believe to be born again.” (Wilkin, pg.1)

“Nowhere in the entire Bible are we told that the person who believes
the gospel has everlasting life, is saved, is justified, will never die spiritually, or anything of the kind.” (Wilkin, pg.2)

“The gospel should lead people to faith in Christ. But believing the gospel is not the same as believing in Jesus Christ.” (
Wilkin, pg.2)
It is evident that Wilkin’s rending of “the saving message” from “the gospel” cannot be correct since the Bible nowhere speaks Wilkin’s language. Where does the Word of God draw a distinction between “the saving message” and “the gospel?” Such a division is foreign to Scripture.

It is theologically contrived and not exegetically derived.

Many passages in the New Testament use the term “
gospel” as the equivalent of God’s saving message. For example, 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 is quite clear that those who do not “obey the gospel” (1:8) by believing it (1:10) will suffer “everlasting destruction” (1:9). The gospel that the Thessalonian believers initially heard from Paul for their eternal life was the same message as the one recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. This was a message of faith in Christ’s substitutionary death for sin and His bodily resurrection from the dead, which were “according to the Scriptures.” In Acts 17:2-3 we are given the content of Paul’s evangelism to the Thessalonians. It is stated that he “reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead.” The Thessalonians were born again when they became “persuaded” (Acts 17:4) about this message of Jesus being “the Christ.”3

This simple comparison of 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 with Acts 17:1-5 is just one of many scriptural evidences that sufficiently demonstrates that believing the gospel is synonymous with believing that Jesus is the Christ (John 20:31). There is no dichotomy in the Word of God between believing in
the person of Christ and believing in the gospel message, as if the former is the saving message but the latter is not. It is a tragedy that such a false, unbiblical distinction has evolved within the Free Grace movement.

Originally appeared: May 2, 2010
To be concluded in Part Two of this series.

1) For abundant evidence showing clearly that the GES does promote a “crossless gospel,” see the chapter titled “Is the New Gospel Truly Crossless?” in Thomas L. Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith (Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), 99-128.

2) Bob Wilkin, “Gospel Means Good News,” paper delivered at the GES national conference, Fort Worth, TX, March 6, 2008, p. 8.

3) For further exegesis and exposition of this passage and the content of the Thessalonian’s faith, see
The Gospel of the Christ, pp. 381-94.

Pastor Tom Stegall is author of The Gospel of the Christ: A Biblical Response to the Crossless Gospel Regarding the Contents of Saving Faith

Please refer back to Vigilance Regarding the Truth of the Gospel, Introduction for prior and additional commentary on the GES Crossless gospel.

April 9, 2012

When Facts Give Way for the Sake of Agenda

On March 30th at his In the Nick of Time blog, (reprinted at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron) Dr. Kevin Bauder published an article titled, Facts & Lies. In it he presumes to occupy high moral ground. Does Kevin Bauder set the right example from which to instruct others?

As I read the blogs of Dr. Kevin Bauder, I see an attempt to re-write the history of fundamentalism in America. No one has that privilege. Are we not hypocrites when we deprecate the secular intellectual for attempting to re-write our American history, only to set ourselves up to do the same with the history of Baptist fundamentalism? We are who we are, regardless of how some may want to re-define or re-name us.1
Dr. Rick Arrowood is one among the chorus of concerned voices over Dr. Kevin Bauder’s revisionist history of Fundamentalism. Scores of informed pastors and teachers have either publicly or privately expressed concerns over Kevin Bauder’s revisionism. Pastor Don Johnson wrote,
Kevin Bauder’s latest installment [Differences, Part 18] tells the history of separation from a point of view totally foreign to me…. And I am astonished that credulous readers of Kevin Bauder seem to swallow this revisionism as if it were entirely accurate.”2
Many see an agenda driving Kevin Bauder’s revisionist histories and omission of known facts in various articles. The agenda appears to include blurring the lines of distinction between fundamentalists and so-called “conservative” evangelicals over what constitutes authentic biblical separation. New and novel definitions for separation have been devised by men who circulate in IFB circles.3 And in practice those who claim a heritage and allegiance to “militant” separatism are becoming increasingly non-separatist for the sake of fellowship and cooperative ministry with non-separatist evangelicals. This quest for acceptance by and fellowship with non-separatists is not limited to the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Recent developments demonstrate that self-described separatists have extended their outreach and tolerance for to the new “New” Evangelicals.4

In his article Facts & Lies Kevin wrote, “In order to tell the truth, we must not omit any relevant fact.” When I read the article, that statement in particular, I immediately recalled an article written by Dr. Bauder, which I reviewed here. In part 12 of his (bloviating) series, Now, About Those Differences you can read an egregious example of Kevin Bauder’s disregard for and omission of a known and highly “relevant fact.” He 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.” (viewed April 6, 2012)
He has been publicly and privately shown that a “relevant fact,” a widely known fact was omitted and the position of many men in fundamentalism had been seriously misconstrued.
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 as a false gospel and resist its spread as fervently as they would Roman Catholicism’s sacramental system because both are works based, non-saving interpretations of the Gospel.5
Virtually the entire camp of evangelicals, its star personalities, holds to the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the gospel. The “relevant fact” is that there are hundreds of Fundamentalists who reject LS as a false, works based interpretation of the Gospel. Every objective participant in or observer of the gospel debate over the past 20+ years knows this is a fact. Kevin Bauder knows this and, therefore, deliberately omitted a highly relevant fact.
As I have documented in this article you [Kevin Bauder] 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. 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.”6
Kevin Bauder’s statement stands as a stark example of a dishonest caricature he was willing to publish for the sake of fostering fellowship with evangelicals who “believe, preach and defend” Lordship Salvation. An interpretation of the gospel, which hundreds of fundamentalists reject as a works-based message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). The position of many men in fundamentalism on the gospel was misconstrued by Kevin for the purpose of suggesting a common ground on the gospel, where there is none, with evangelical advocates of Lordship Salvation. Fundamentalists who reject LS were slandered by Kevin Bauder. He has refused to edit, qualify, include the relevant fact, or eliminate the statement entirely. The statement, as Kevin wrote it, and refuses to revise, is a lie!

Dr. Bauder, you wrote, “In order to tell the truth, we must not omit any relevant fact.” You have a track record of omitting relevant facts about the star personalities and fellowships of “conservative” evangelicalism. You have consistently demonstrated a serious problem with acknowledging and addressing the truth about the evangelicals’ doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromises, worldliness and cultural relativism. You have gone out of your way to avoid appealing to and applying any Scriptural principles to these issues among your new friends in evangelicalism.

Relevant facts” and the natural fall out of disconerting facts about the doctrine and practices of conservative and new New evangelicals have a strange way of not seeing the light of day when Kevin Bauder touches on those men. Instead his pattern has been to heap lavish praise upon them while tolerating, allowing for, excusing and ignoring the troubling areas.7 No more stark example of burying factual ecumenical compromise exists than that from Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran when they both (respectively) dismissed Dr. Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration as a “single episode…occasional inconsistency,” merely a “wrong decision based on bad judgment.”

Additional examples exist of Kevin Bauder’s revisionism, omission of facts and slander. Following is typical of reactions from those who know.
History falls prey not only to revisionism; it also suffers at the hands of those who seek to slant its record to their own benefit…. If Kevin [Bauder] desires to take Dr. Clearwaters’s venerable institution a different direction from the founder, he should do so without pretending to be guardian of the legacy. I knew Doc well enough to know that he would not be at all happy with the direction of Central Seminary under Bauder’s leading. It’s bad enough that his school is headed in a decidedly leftward direction. Please, Dr. Bauder, don’t make it any worse by pretending some affinity with one of the greatest separatist Christians of the last century.8

Kevin [Bauder’s] charge that ‘the most forceful defenders of the gospel are no longer to be found within the Fundamentalist camp’ constitutes nothing short of slander. Perhaps Dr. Bauder does not know the fundamentalists I know. I can name scores of pastors who regularly and rigorously defend the gospel…. Dr. Clearwaters understood that the local church was charged with the propagation of the truth. He founded a seminary, not to undermine local church authority, but to bolster the prestige of pastors in their efforts of defending the faith.”9
Today, we have documented a pattern of Kevin Bauder finding truth inconvenient, the personal view of an entire segment of fundamentalists to be misconstrued and/or omitted. Kevin Bauder has a pattern of disseminating or suppressing facts and expressing those things to gain an advantage.

Before Kevin Bauder presumes to occupy the high moral ground and lecture down at others about facts and lies he would do well to become consistent in practice of disclosing “relevant facts,” and refrain from misconstruing facts with malice. He would do well to refrain from omitting and/or ignoring facts for the sake of a personal agenda.


1) Dr. Rick Arrowood: Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism

2) Pastor Don Johnson: Show Me the Silent Majority, Oct. 2010.

3) Is There a Second Definition for “Separation” in Academic Contexts?
Should men be any less militant about ‘guarding the gospel through biblical separation’ in the ministry of a local church than guarding the church itself? Exposing impressionable students to compromised Christian leaders and scholars is not only dangerous it is an act of disobedience.
4) Among the “new” New Evangelicals are men such as John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever and Haddon Robinson. Recent actions by Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Matt Olson, Andy Naselli, et. al., indicate that Bauder’s “limited form of fellowship” has yet to demonstrate defined limits in practice.

5) Do Fundamentalists & Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?

6) Ibid.

7) Dr. Gerald Priest: Can We Be Even Clearer, (March 8, 2010)
Kevin has been quite lavish in his praise of conservative evangelicals while castigating so-called fundamentalists. Yet he has spent very little time warning us about the pitfalls and problems of conservative evangelicalism.... Kevin commends fundamentalist institutions for welcoming conservative evangelical speakers, but offers no warning regarding the baggage some bring with them that could endanger our movement.”
8) Pastor Marc Monte: Kevin Bauder, It Won’t Fly With Those of us Who Know…

9) Muddying the Clearwaters

Related Reading:
A Letter from *Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder
Also, while reading your articles, I have observed an inordinate affection towards pseudo-intellectual teaching and a disdain for old-fashioned, confrontational, Bible preaching. Make no mistake, old fashioned, confrontational Bible preaching is exactly why I founded Central Seminary…. I did not start the school over which you preside, for men to flounder in unbelief, for them to wonder for decades where they stand, or for them to be given to counseling, teaching, and academic idolatry. I often told the men I was training, “We use the mind here, but we do not worship it.” 
Why, Kevin? Why allow these new-evangelical, left-leaning men to have such sway in your heart? Surely you must know this is not what will build character in your young ministry students. Do you know that? Certainly you have heard the axiom, “What the parents do in moderation, the children will do in excess.” Why do you continually laud men who violate Bible truth and systematically reject what we tried to teach in the early days of Central? 
Dr. Bauder, all given appearances seem to indicate you are intentionally trying to lead those who follow your writings, the students of Central, and even Central itself away from the Testimony upon which it was founded and into the compromising orbit of protestant evangelicalism. As Samuel of old who, after his death, confronted Saul in his error, I plead with you to turn back “to the Law and to the Testimony.”
Al Mohler Signs The Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Time Foray Into Ecumenism?

What is Lordship Salvation: Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

April 5, 2012

The Pastor’s PEN

Dr. Rick Arrowood
ON MY SOAP BOX – Of late, I have been very concerned as to the shift among those who are tolerating “dangerous patterns” in their ministries and associations when it comes to ecclesiastical separation and music. I am somewhat taken aback by those who have replaced their predecessors only to give up ground on these doctrines that make fundamentalism so distinct. It is obvious that post-modernism ushered in neo-evangelicalism in the 40’s and 50’s, and separation (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1) was necessary as ecumenical evangelism swelled under leaders like Evangelist Billy Graham.

In the 50’s and 60’s, good men were forced to separate from lifelong friends due to corporate compromise. More separation came as good men either left or led their churches out of the Northern and Southern Baptist Conventions because of heretical doctrine and worldliness. Then the new neo-evangelicalism repackaged itself under the guise of seeker friendly, as Promise Keepers failed to keep their promise and Evangelicals and Catholics came together under the banner of “leave your doctrine at the door and let’s love each other.” The effects of contemporary music gripped the hearts of those who were tired of biblical standards and ecclesiastical separation, and universities such as Cedarville, Liberty, and Tennessee Temple have now yoked up with the Southern Baptist Convention. How sad!

It looks like we are going to witness another round of this capitulation. It is, and will continue to be, obvious that some schools and churches accept the new attempt by some intellectual leaders to re-write our history, re-defining who we are, so that they can proudly wear their newest name tag - “conservative evangelical”! Perhaps this shift is motivated by the charismatic dangers of the T4G doctrine and the impact it has had on some of our younger fundamentalist. Or perhaps, it is fear; fear that if we do not change, we may lose needed “nickels and noses” and jeopardize our existence? I really do not know the answer. I do not know the hearts of these men. But this one thing I do know and am thankful for -- in 1977 as a young believer getting ready to leave for Bible College, I listened to Dr. Les Ollila preach all week (on the need of separation) at the Youth Fitness Conference at the Wilds. The last night of the meeting I went forward, and on my knees, with Doc O by my side, I asked the Lord, as the tears flowed, to help me to live a separated life, both personally and ecclesiastically. It was a right decision then, and it is right now! Nearly 34 years have passed and the battle has not changed when it comes to separation. By God’s grace, my desire is to stay the course and lead our church in the historical fundamental positions it was founded upon. In a day of shift and compromise, my heart’s desire is to “hold the fort” until Jesus comes!

Originally Published- November 16, 2010

Related Reading
The Pastor’s PEN is a companion article to Dr. Arrowood’s Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism

Together for the Gospel (T4G): “A Final Sad Spectacle

Dr. Les Ollila, Our Children Not Only What We Teach Them, But by What We Tolerate

April 2, 2012

Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism by Pastor Rick Arrowood

(Originally appeared December 20, 2010)
QUESTIONS – Is there a difference in a man who makes a mistake or bad judgment call, and the development of a man’s patterns that turns one onto the slippery slope of compromise?1

When we see those obvious changes, especially by our friends, why is it that we talk more about our friends than to our friends? (We all know that many of us, especially preachers, are often “walking news in shoes”!) When we discern that compromise is driving our friend’s ministry decisions, how long do we allow the changes to go on without speaking to him about our concerns? As we pray about when and how to address these tender issues, we should always do it as the Lord leads, and in the spirit of Galatians 6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted, keeping in mind:

(Proverbs 17:17) “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

(Proverbs 27:6) “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

When these changes (what some are calling “making different applications”2) continue to be justified and practiced, it backs us into a corner, and forces us to make decisions. Isaiah certainly felt this way in his ministry.

(Isaiah 58:1-2) “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.”

So, is it wrong for your pastor to voice his concerns about how he sees the present trends and how they will eventually (if not already) affect us? Due to my own history (which I will address in this article), the many questions that have surfaced recently, and multiple communications with some of my friends (that I love and appreciate), I feel it prudent to speak to our church family about my concerns in our fundamental movement.

INTEGRITY – Isaiah’s call to ministry and commitment to truth gave him the courage to preach and lead the people at a crucial time. His leadership was extremely strong, but not without compassion. The day came that he had to make a choice to be quiet or speak to the dangers that were ever before them. At this moment his principles of integrity began to burnish.
1. He could not be silent when truth was on the altar.

2. He could not shade, color or twist the commandments of God’s Word or God’s ways.

3. He held to the fact that Biblical truth is immutable; therefore, wrong will never be right at any time or for any reason.

4. He, like King David, had learned there was more to consider than just a leader’s “skillfulness”. Therefore, he was not intimidated by a man’s education, his intellectualism, his influence, his power, his position, his pocketbook, his opinions or his social status.

5. He was not manipulated by the popular politics of his day, nor the threats and pressures of his contemporaries. Therefore, principle prevailed. When he was backed into a corner, he evaluated the situation, and with balance, did the right thing to maintain that which was right.

6. He never considered the line of least resistance, nor thought, “Now, what is the easiest way?” or, “What is the way that will make the least trouble?” or, “What is the most profitable way?” or, “What is the most popular way?”

7. He did not compromise in the name of compassion, for the purpose of co-existing, or for the sake of keeping peace. He gave great advice to Hezekiah when Sennacherib made his claims against Judah.

8. He, like Paul, was not passive when truth was in jeopardy. As truth swings on the hinges of confrontation, Isaiah was willing to “contend” and often found himself in the arena of conflict.

9. He, like Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, made his choice to show his zeal for biblical truth and his disgust for compromise. He was willing to obey God with a hard judgment call that exposed every fiber of his character.

10. As an Old Testament fundamentalist, he spoke aggressively and with authority, not waiting or watching to see what others would do, or when they were going to do it.

11. He was strong in his stand against compromise and sin, knowing that his message would fall on deaf ears. A “voice in the wilderness” is often silenced by the continual “winds of change”, but not so with this prophet. He was not concerned about being “black balled”, or whether or not he would get another invitation to the palace or the temple. He listened to God and with the right disposition, proclaimed his messages and held his position.

12. He took the call of God seriously, saw his responsibility, and stood, with consistency. His influence provided the spiritual leadership for kings and priests, whether they agreed or disagreed with his message.

13. He knew that keeping silent was nothing more than approval.
Isaiah loved his brethren! However, the time came when he could not be silent any longer. God entrusted him with the trumpet and he faithfully sounded the warnings. He gives us an example to follow. It is in the spirit of Isaiah that I prayerfully write this open letter to our church family.

HISTORY – A look at the fifty-four year history of Eagledale/Crosspointe and one knows we are unashamedly called Bible-believing, independent, fundamental Baptists, who, without apology, have faithfully stood on the revealed Word of God as separatists.
We have stood with historic fundamentalism, which has always been driven by the inerrancy of the Scriptures.
We Have Come This Far by Faith is the title of a message that our Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Warren Dafoe, preached in our new building in 2008. That message can be purchased at our Book Nook or listened to online. He reminds us of our humble beginnings and the hunger we have always had for truth.

I began my pastoral ministry in 1979. Early on, the Lord brought preachers into my life who helped shape my thinking as the Lord developed a young man for the pastorate. These men accepted me as a young fundamentalist who had a hunger for truth and a desire to be consistent in doctrine and practice3 They were not perfect men, but they were wonderful mentors who became my rope-holders. Some are in heaven now, and I feel indebted to every one of them. Recently, I wrote about one of my rope-holders in my weekly Pastor’s PEN. I have included it at the foot of this letter.4

RESPONSIBILITY – It is a privilege to have the call of God on my life and to be entrusted with the precious saints of Crosspointe Baptist Church. It has never been a desire to promote myself as a national leader in fundamentalism, but I am a pastor -- your pastor; and therefore, I am responsible for the sheep in my fold. My passion is to be the best under-shepherd I can possibly be to you. This includes providing for and protecting the precious sheep God has in our fold. You are well-taught, wise and thinking believers. Our strong pulpit ministry has nurtured you, allowing you to discern the landscape of fundamentalism. You are not afraid to ask questions and want straight answers to them. I am here to continue loving and leading you in a culture that is always changing. It is my desire to continue the great legacy of Crosspointe Baptist Church, as we move forward in the work of Christ. We could have changed our music and taken “Baptist” out of our name when we moved across town in 2008, but we did not. By God’s grace, we have no intentions except to maintain our historic, fundamental, separatist position, as we continue standing on the inerrant Word of God. We have never been afraid of terms that help describe who we have always been, who we are and, by God’s grace, who we will be until He comes. Terms like, independent, fundamental, militant, separated, soul winning, dispensational, Baptist describes who we are…“The Church That Believes the Bible and Loves People!

CONFRONTATION – In 1987 I became the pastor of Troy Baptist Temple in Troy, Ohio. TBT financially supported two schools -- Tennessee Temple University (my alma mater) and Cedarville University. By 1988 I was so bothered by the direction, associations and music of both institutions that I got appointments with the presidents to talk with them about my concerns. As an alumnus of Temple, I lovingly voiced my concerns about the patterns of compromise I was seeing to Dr. J. Don Jennings, the new president. During our three hour meeting I asked questions about his decisions, associations, and the direction he was taking the school. I listened as he justified lowering the standards of music and dress in the student body, and having an SBC pastor preach in a recent Missions Conference at Highland Park Baptist Church (“because he is a conservative that has always stood for truth in the SBC”). I am sure he saw my eyebrows go up when he told me that he had booked Dr. John MacArthur to speak to the seminary. Even though he repeatedly said he was a fundamentalist, at best he was a changing one. He said, “Rick, in reality we are standing in the same place”. However, that would only be true if I began having “conservative new evangelicals”, and “conservative fighting” Southern Baptists preach in our pulpit. The real truth was we stood in different camps, and we both knew it. Upon returning to Troy, I wrote to him listing the three reasons why TBT could no longer financially support the school and send students. I still have his return letter in my files. He scolded me for my decision, attributing it to a lack of intellectualism, and called me a “fool”. As I read his countenance that day, it seemed to say, “This is the kind of graduate we do not want to produce in the future.” His five year tenure pushed Highland Park Baptist and Tennessee Temple University onto the slippery slope of compromise. I would have never believed in my lifetime HPBC and TTU, whose founder, Dr. Lee Roberson, separated from the SBC in 1947, would vote go back into the SBC in 2007. Fifty years of independent fundamentalism was reversed. How sad! Visit the website of TTU today and you will see what a ministry looks like when it hits bottom. The slippery slope of compromise always ends in the same place.

Though I was “blackballed” by my alma mater as a young fundamentalist, God was leading many “co-laborers” and “fellow soldiers” into my life. Today I enjoy an enlarged family of fundamentalists that believe in and, without apology, practice ecclesiastical and personal separation. These men have become my friends and my rope-holders. Like Epaphroditus, they are my “brothers”, my “companions in laborer”, and my “fellow soldiers”, that I “receive in gladness and hold such in reputation”.

As for my appointment with Dr. Paul Dixon a few weeks later, it was just more of the same. We differed greatly when it came to our definitions of a fundamentalist and new evangelical, as well as, our position on music, and personal and ecclesiastical separation. In 2003 Dr. Dixon retired and the leadership was given to Dr. William E. Brown, after following a 10-year presidency at Bryan College (SBC) in Dayton, Tennessee. Shortly thereafter Cedarville’s Board of Directors voted to became a recognized SBC school. Anyone with half-an-eye open can see the downward spiral of both these schools.
This is what happens when we start giving up ground, and justifying change.
You can see the same pattern in Liberty University who a few years ago voted to become a recognized SBC school. When you look at Cedarville and Liberty today you see increased enrollment that can be attributed to their base being broaden. However, with this growth came historic and positional changes that were never considered in the early development of these ministries. As someone has wisely said, “We are only one president, or one pastor away from compromise that leads to disaster.

OBSERVATIONS – Over the last few years, I have watched, with growing concern, the obvious change in the historical and doctrinal positions among our fundamental Baptist brethren. These changes are confusing and difficult to get our minds around because we have a history of standing together as we, “contend for the faith once delivered to saints”. I believe there comes a time when we can admonish our brothers when obvious decisions are being made that are normally not made.

(2 Thessalonians 3:14-15) – “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Why do we have to “note” [to mark or distinguish] these men? Why do we “admonish” [to gently caution or warn] them as a brother? Keep in mind that they are not our “enemy”; they are our brothers. This open letter lends itself to many reasons, but one that is heaviest on my heart is the obvious influence that these men have on the “weakest among us” (our 18 to 22 year-old young people) leading them into the most “doubtful of disputations”.

(Romans 14:1)Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”

FRIENDS – These are our friends that we have preached with in different venues. We listen to each other (iron sharpens iron), we preach for each other, we send our students to their institutions, we take our kids and families to their camps, and we join their fellowships. We have a history of writing articles, books, and resolutions admonishing and urging each other to be cautious about compromise and the dangers of it! At the top of this list is ecclesiastical separation and music.

As I read the blogs of Dr. Kevin Bauder, I see an attempt to re-write the history of fundamentalism in America. No one has that privilege. Are we not hypocrites when we deprecate the secular intellectual for attempting to re-write our American history, only to set ourselves up to do the same with the history of Baptist fundamentalism?
We are who we are, regardless of how some may want to re-define or re-name us.
These types of changes have away of lowering personal standards of holiness, and will change our music, our worship, our dress, and even our choices of entertainment. I recognize that in the fragments of fundamentalism, there are some who may push an envelope, over-emphasize, and/or become imbalanced (even heretical) from whom we distance ourselves. Therefore, I loathe being lumped together with those who take hyper views in regards to the text issue, Calvinism, and dispensationalism.

Jordan, Dever, Bauder, Doran
Then I look at the changes that Dr. Tim Jordan has made of late, especially in the area of ecclesiastical separation. Dr. Mark Dever, Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church (SBC), is slated to be the keynote speaker at Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, Pennsylvania’s 2011 Advancing the Church Conference.5 I was not taken aback to read that Dr. Bauder would be one of the speakers at ATC (he has told us clearly in to which camp he fits), but I was surprised when I read that Dr. Dave Doran was on the platform with Dr. Dever (a mix we have never seen until now). I emailed Dr. Doran, asking him to explain his decision to preach with Dr. Dever. In his answer he justified it on the basis of Dr. Dever being a “conservative” that fights for biblical truth in the SBC.

The most recent changes that concern me are the messages on music and the letters sent to me by Dr. Matt Olson, who is also my friend. I have spoken to Dr. Olson about my concerns, and we agreed to agreeably disagree as to his reasons for having Dr. Rick Holland (who serves as Staff Elder at Grace Community Church, where Dr. John MacArthur is Pastor- Teacher, Staff Elder) speak in chapel at Northland International University.

We came to another impasse when he explained his reasons for having Dr. Bruce Ware, a professor from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary teach a block course to the graduate students.

My heart breaks! Never did I believe that we would be placed in such a corner in our fundamental circle as we are being placed in today.

THINKING BACK – My home church, Mikado Baptist Church in Macon, Georgia, came out of the SBC many years ago. I am thankful for the influence of my pastor, Dr. George Palmer, who led the church to “take the vote” and have our church name taken from the national and state roster of the SBC. My wife Dolly was saved in a Ron Comfort revival meeting in 1982, after we were in our ministry in Mannington, WV. She may have died and gone to hell with the way her SBC pastor handled her VBS “salvation” decision when she was twelve.

What do I tell my children -- Beth Anne, a 1998 graduate of Ambassador College, who has served on staff at Baptist World Mission for thirteen years, and my son, Bert, a 2005 graduate of Ambassador Baptist College, who serves as the youth pastor at the Grace Baptist Church in Columbus, Georgia? Do I tell them we made a mistake leaving the SBC? The SBC of yesterday is the SBC of today! There were conservatives in it when Mikado pulled out, and there are conservatives within it today.

CHANGE – Who really is changing as we see this new wave of picking and choosing, applying and justifying, defending and mitigating, “mixing and mingling?” If it is right for us to “platform fellowship” with new-evangelicals and those in the SBC, why have we not had them preach in our colleges, seminaries and fellowships over the past sixty years? A Southern Baptist teaching theology in a fundamentalist church, college or seminary has his roots in Southern Baptist soil, and when transplanted temporarily to a fundamental church or school brings that soil with him. If our position has been wrong, then we have missed the placating of well-organized denominationalism with its comforts and retirement benefits. Perhaps we should go to those retired fundamental Baptist missionaries, who have sacrificed term after term on a foreign field, who may be physically and financially struggling in some nursing home, and apologize to them, admitting the Lottie Moon Missions Program would have been a better choice for them. Can you see the shifting of the sand and how it strikes at the foundation of our fundamental Baptist history?

FACTS – I want to assure you that the reason for this open letter is pastoral. It is my biblical responsibility to inform my people of any patterns of danger that may have a direct affect on them and their family.

Just because a man like Dr. Dever is seen by some as a “conservative Southern Baptist, who fights for truth in the SBC,” does not mean he fits in as a separatist and should be called a fundamentalist.6 Matter-a-fact, he would not want to wear that name tag. He is a leader among Southern Baptists:

> He [Mark Dever] serves on the Board of Southern Theological Seminary under the direction of Dr. Al Mohler. (Dr. Mohler signed the ecumenical Manhattan Declaration and watches over the Billy Graham School of Evangelism and Home Missions at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY.)

> Dr. Dever also willingly teaches at Gordon-Conwell College in Massachusetts, long known as a leading institution for New-Evangelicalism and compromise.

> To add to the matter, Dr. Dever is quite reformed and a-millennial, which, of course, is a far-cry from the position promoted by the founders of Calvary, Detroit, Central and Northland.

> He has spoken it the past and is slated to speak in the future with Dr. C.J. Mahaney, one of the founders of the Together For The Gospel Conference where he states that his desire is to start churches that are reformed in theology and charismatic in doctrine. T4G has attracted an assortment of our young men, exposing them not only to doctrinal error, but also a steady diet of Sovereign Grace Music.

Dr. Rick Holland is the organizer of “Resolved,”7 a conference for teens which exposes them to speakers like Al Mohler, John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, Steve Lawson, and the list can go on and on. This conference proudly and strongly advocates Calvinistic doctrine, attracting many young people with Lawson’s contemporary music styles.

TIMING – Since time began men have been pushed into a corner and forced to consider the decisions and directions of other brethren. Some look at the landscape (choices, associations and patterns) evaluate the situation with the information they have, and eventually, with great concern, make their choice to separate. They will do that in their timing and at different intervals. I am not trying to influence anyone in this article; I am only seeking to follow how the Lord is leading me as pastor of Crosspointe, keeping my principles of integrity as best I can.

CONCLUSION – The many changes in these ministries sadden my heart. While I may not always agree with Drs. Bauder, Jordan, Doran, and Olson, they are my brothers and not my enemies. We know the rich Baptist history of their present ministries; we recall the influence their founders had on fundamentalism, and we appreciate the strong separatist leadership of their predecessors. We love these men, and admonish them to examine these decisions that reflect a change of direction and reconsider their choices. This only adds to our fragmentation, as Satan gains victories through confusion.

A look at Baptist history in America will certainly prove that our fears are not unfounded. Also, we see the influence these leaders have on the younger men coming behind us, the confusion it causes in our churches, the friendships it jeopardizes, and the fellowship that it strains. Of greater significance is how it grieves our Lord. How sad!
Please do not be surprised as we see more of this “mixing and mingling” by those we may have stood shoulder to shoulder with at one time.8
Be assured, I do not have a personal axe to grind with any of these men. My motive is to stand as consistently as possible on the biblical principles that I have always stood on. These principles of truth govern my observations and drive me to the conclusion to show our church family my concerns.

In short, we are what we have always been, a Bible-believing, fundamental, Baptist church. We look at the obvious patterns of these men and realize that is not who we are. We will simply stay the course! We are not going to manipulate our friends or seek to make decisions for them. We will love them and pray for them as we navigate through these changing times together, maintaining our historic separatist position as fundamentalists.

Because I care how you and your children turn out.

Pastor Rick Arrowood
Crosspointe Baptist Church

All Footnotes by Site Publisher:
1) Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder both excused Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD). Doran dismissed the signing as simply a “wrong decision based on bad judgment.” Bauder said it was nothing more than a “single episode…occasional inconsistency,” a known misstatement. Al Mohler has never apologized for, or repented of having signed the MD, nor had his named expunged from the MD. See, Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

2) This is the mantra of certain men who still circulate in Fundamental circles. Most notably Dr. Dave Doran who has attempted to legitimize a series of ecumenical compromises of his new friends in so-called “conservative” evangelicalism and his own compromises of separation with a new and novel way of applying the principles of biblical separation. For example see a review of Dave Doran’s Second Definition of “Separation” in Academic Contexts. At the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron Kevin Mungons presented an absurd argument that compromising men like Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder practice the same principle of separation as that of Dr. Ernest Pickering.

3) “…desire to be consistent in doctrine and practice.” This is the area in which men who once claimed to be “militant,” who claim allegiance to authentic biblical separation have become inconsistent. Practice of the doctrine of separation now has a selective application often based on who the men and ministries are when Calvinism and Lordship Salvation are the magnetic attraction. For the sake of that attraction doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromise, worldliness and cultural relativism are tolerated, allowed for, ignored or excused.

4) The Pastor’s Pen will be presented here as a separate article in a few days.

5) Mark Dever’s appearance at Calvary Lansdale, with Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran joining him in that ministry signaled a new day of ecumenical compromise for the Seminary. This year, however, Calvary’s slide toward New Evangelicalism became stark with the invitation to Gordon-Conwell’s Dr. Haddon Robinson. See, Calvary Baptist Seminary to Host Dr. Haddon Robinson. For elated reading see, Will Central Seminary Continue the Drift Away From It’s Historic Moorings?

6)Mark Dever, “I’m somebody who is, in part, a product of new evangelicalism: InterVarsity, Gordon-Conwell.” Baptist Bulletin, April 29, 2011 in conversation with Tim Jordan, Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder.

7) “Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr John MacArthur’s pastoral staff [Rick Holland], gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship.Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.)” Dr. Peter Masters, The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness

8) More of the “mixing and mingling” has taken place since the writing of this letter/article by Dr. Arrowood. As noted above Calvary Seminary at Lansdale has hosted Dr. Haddon Robinson. Furthermore, Kevin Bauder and Andy Naselli appeared on a platform for joint ministry with Al Mohler at the 2011 Evangelical Theological Society meeting. For complete details see, My Field Trip to the ETS Meeting by Kent Brandenburg. In his series Kent noted that the Seventh Day Adventist Church was an approved vendor at the 2011 ETS. “As I walked around, I found some of the exhibits very curious. There was the Seventh Day Adventist exhibit. You could stop by the old earth exhibit. You might be interested in the Christian feminist exhibit, pushing egalitarianism.” Even acceptance of Seventh Day Adventism was not enough for Bauder and Naselli to apply the doctrinal principles of separation from ETS and Al Mohler. See Kent’s My Field Trip to ETS, Part Four.