January 31, 2013

Kevin Bauder’s Open Letter to Lance Ketchum: Expanding Our Reach

Site Publisher’s Update (2/1/13):
Dr. Lance Ketchum publishes a response to Kevin BauderOpen Letter.  See, Defining Points
The contradiction of all this is that men like Dr. Kevin Bauder, Dr. Doug McLachlan, Dr. Timothy Jordan, Dr. David Doran, and Dr. Matt Olson all profess to be independent, fundamental Baptists.  However, their new definition of the practice of separation is like that of the interdenominational Fundamentalism.  They want most other doctrines other than the Gospel to be eliminated from the practice of separation.  Independent, fundamental Baptists do not agree and do not like what they are trying to do.  They are convoluting what it means to be an independent, fundamental Baptist.
We have been conducting a critical review of Kevin Bauder’s Open Letter to Lance Ketchum.  Previously we published,

As we progress through this series on Kevin Bauder’s Open Letter we are going to expand our reach.  That is because Kevin has had a great deal more to say in the discussion thread under his Open Letter that appears at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron (SI) site. Pastor Don Johnson posted a series questions to Kevin about elements of the Open Letter. Kevin has been answering Don’s questions in a series of thread comments. I will say this about the interchange between Don and Kevin. Don asked some pointed questions and is getting responses from Kevin that are exposing the real Kevin Bauder.

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, Kevin is removing any doubts about his congeniality with evangelicals and personal disdain for objections that others may have over his lavish praise for, defense and embrace of them. We will excerpt from Kevin’s comments at SI and have some reaction to them here and in upcoming articles.

Dr. Bauder tries to act the gentleman in his Open Letter to Lance Ketchum. His words, however, seem as though his kindness toward Brother Ketchum is artificial. This is especially born out in his thread comments at SI. Sadly, Dr. Bauder’s public ministry in recent years has demonstrated his on-going unwillingness to deal specifically and directly with the errors of the so-called “conservative” evangelical crowd. He has frequently pointed out what he perceives to be the errors of fundamentalism in a very public way (Danny Sweatt, Lance Ketchum, Bob Jones, Jr., John R. Rice, the FBFI, etc.) and castigates them with impunity.

No one will forget Kevin’s 2009 three part series from his blog and SI in which without provocation he attacked the legacy and ministry of Bob Jones, Jr. and John R. Rice. Missionary John Himes (Rice’s grandson) responded with,
Again, I am very disappointed at the language Bauder uses against his fellow fundamentalists, evidently chiefly against Rice: ‘pugilistic and bellicose,’ ‘alpha males,’ ‘the big boys,’ ‘bullies,’ ‘chieftains,’ etc. Is this the kind of language a fundamentalist leader should use?”1
Bullies, alpha-males, Chieftans…?”  For his reaction to Bauder’s harsh rhetoric John Himes was gang-tackled and run off by the SI moderators. That is the historic pattern of SI moderators.  See, SI’s Deplorable Moderator Actions Run Off Another

From the platform of the 2009 FBFI Annual Fellowship Kevin, without provocation, and instead of answering a direct question put to him by the moderator Dr. John Vaughn on the evangelicals, chose to besmirch Bob Jones University. These are but two examples of Kevin discrediting fundamentalists from a previous generation and a fundamentalist institution. Even today, at SI, he attempts to demonize and dishonor men and/or their fellowships.
Where is Kevin’s indignation over the theological errors, ecumenical compromises and worldly methods of the evangelicals?
Where does he publicly “admonish” them?  Where does he call on to repent and obey the Scriptures?  Where does Kevin publicly warn the Fundamentalists he claims to speak on behalf of to “withdraw from, mark and avoid” the most theologically off-base and brazen non-separatists of the evangelical camp?

When it comes to the evangelical crowd Kevin Bauder portrays them as theological champions.  Only rarely has he dealt with disagreements, but in a very “professional way” – (i.e. - private dialogue and conference). The confusion that Kevin Bauder has spawned is widespread and frightening. Today, at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron we read where Kevin acknowledges that “hazards do exist” and yet is willing to accept casualties among the next generation because of and for the sake of his dialogue and cooperative ministries with non-separatist, compromising evangelicals.2

Kevin seems to think that to “leave fundamentalism” is the hazard.  The real danger is not necessarily leaving fundamentalism.  The danger is where they are going to wind up, who will be their mentors and what they will become theologically and in practice.  If the trend that is already in place3 continues we will seen young men who were once balanced, militant separatist fundamentalists become practitioners and defenders of the modern charismatic movement, ecumenical compromise and a host of cultural compromises.  These young men have already been drawn to and are learning these things from so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Add to that Kevin Bauder heaping “lavish praise” on the evangelicals, refusing to articulate any meaningful Bible based reproof, admonition or warning about the aberrant theology and practices of the evangelicals and relentlessly redefining or castigating historic, balanced fundamentalism we will see mounting causalities in his Bauder’s wake.

As a man who has inherited the legacy of R.V. Clearwaters and Ernest Pickering, Kevin has not promoted their militancy. Nor has Kevin Bauder disseminated words of warning like his predecessors. Instead Kevin perceives, maybe self-appoints himself as the historian and spokesman for a brand of “biblical fundamentalism” that in reality is increasingly indistinguishable from non-separatist evangelicalism.
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.”4
Dialogue is Very Appealing to Academics
Our fundamentalist forefathers would have warned that dialogue of the sort Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran have participated in and encouraged others to emulate will always lead to disaster! These men may wind up becoming causalities to having thought that through dialogue they could influence the evangelicals.  It nearly always works the other way around.  In short or long term memory can we identify any high-profile evangelicals moving toward absolute fidelity to the Bible, especially in regard to obeying the God-given mandates for separation? We can, however, observe that 
Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan have become apologists for and are shape-shifting into what the evangelicals are.
The dialogue, therefore, is achieving results, but not the results Kevin thinks or hope it will. His dialogue is causing confusion and casualties like that of Andy Naselli who has just joined ranks with John Piper at the Bethlehem College & Seminary. Given enough time this dialogue with non-separatists won’t have any better outcome than it did for Jerry Falwell and Liberty University.

The most obvious evidence of contemporary disaster is in what both Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale) and Northland International University have become.  Northland’s disaster of dialogue began in April 2010 when Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug Mac Lachlan traveled to California to call on John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland.
In April 2010 Matt Olson, Sam Horn, Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan traveled to the Grace Community Church (GCC) to meet with John MacArthur, Phil Johnson and Rick Holland. After a day of discussions the NIU men came away finding no reason not to have and increase fellowship with them. Inviting GCC’s executive pastor, Rick Holland, to speak in chapel confirms a new alliance for NIU with evangelicalism.”5
Calvary Seminary’s disaster of dialogue is through their conferences featuring Mark Dever and Haddon Robinson. Central Seminary’s disaster of dialogue has been fomenting for several years in large part due to Kevin Bauder’s inflammatory articles, apologetics for compromising evangelicals and, in the opinion of some, a revisionist history of fundamentalism. Bringing Central Seminary closer to disaster was its appearance as an official vendor at John Piper’s 2012 Desiring God conference.6 

There is much more to address from and about Kevin Bauder’s Open Letter to Lance Ketchum. This series will be continued.


New Critical Review: Please see Kent Brandenburg's new article,  A Really Nice, Gentle, Loving OpenLetter, Because That's What I'm Calling It, to Kevin Bouder (sic)
“Do you [Kevin Bauder] have available a similar kind of criticism of any evangelicals like you have criticized Lance Ketchum? I could appreciate your wordsmith applied to John Piper, instead of what seems like only glowing praise… Piper doesn’t believe and practice like you.   Ketchum doesn't believe and practice like you.  It seems that perhaps the deciding difference between Piper and Ketchum is that Piper doesn't criticize you at all.  He's only praised you that I have read… And your guys would be upset about criticism of Piper, diminishing your legendary status with them.”
Related Reading:
“It is astounding to me that in many of your recent writings on a professedly fundamental, Baptist site, you seem to constantly extol the ‘virtues’ of evangelical Protestants while, at the same time, deriding the ‘vices’ of Fundamental Baptists. Reading your posts would lead some to wonder if you weren’t just writing a resume for some ‘conservative evangelical’ seminary to read and then hire you…. 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’.”
But a man is more than his pulpit message. He brings to the pulpit a lifetime of associations, actions and perhaps writings. He comes as a total person. Is he in his total ministry the type of person you would want the young people at the separatist college to emulate?  If he is a compromiser, his example would be harmful, and the college president would be at fault for setting him up as such. The separatist cause is not advanced by featuring non-separatists.” (Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, Implementing Separatist Convictions, Whom to Invite to Your Platform, p. 229.)
1) Today, at SI, Kevin chose an unflattering term in which to portray one unnamed FBFI leader. Kevin refers to him as a “muckety-muck FBFI official.” Such a pejorative to be used in describing a bishop, an official, sad!!! With his pejorative today and how he demeaned Jones and Rice Kevin is really helping produce a negative spirit, an angry spirit among the younger men seeking mentorship from Bauder, and it shows.

2) An Open Letter to Lance Ketchum, SI, January 30, 2013.

3) See, Andy Naselli’s Five Reason Were Excited to Serve at Bethlehem College & Seminary, Thoughts on Theology blog, Jan. 16, 2013.
Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) is bleeding cash. See What’s the Costof Change? $2.7 Million Dollars. In the business community one might refer to what they see at Central as “the death rattle.” John Piper started his Bethlehem College & Seminary in 2009.  Bethlehem Seminary is situated just 10 miles east of CBTS. One might reasonably conclude that it is only a matter of time before Central folds—and Kevin Bauder goes to work for Piper. One pastor wondered if Kevin’s Open Letter and his relentless defense of evangelicalism seem like he is making overtures to Piper for a position.


  1. In the gospel of John, Chapter two, Christ did not have any kind of dialogue with the individuals who were disecrating the Temple, He simple expelled the individuals from the Temple. Christ had no dialogue, no conference, simple confrontation. Though as a New Testament Christian, I am far from sinless. But what an example that Christ set. Confrontation is Biblical, Militancy is Biblical. Thank you.

    1. I am gratified to know that you've found this article/series helpful. I do appreciate your input.


  2. Hi, Lou. I haven't been following this closely, but read through some of the comment discussion on SI. I was struck by Dr. Bauder's statement about Al Mohler's repentance over the Manhattan Declaration, and his strong condemnation of anyone who says Mohler hasn't repented.

    Mohler has no statement on his own website, that I could find, repudiating the MD, but his strong defence of signing it is still there, unchanged. Dever opposed it, they are leaders in the same denomination, and Dever was surprised by Mohler's statement about MD that Bauder cited. There doesn't seem to be ANY public statement by Mohler about his changed view of the Manhattan Declaration except for one statement in one relatively obscure book. Search the Internet for negative statements about the MD by Mohler and you'll look long and far. It appears that Mohler trumpeted his signing of it, and whispered his recantation, and most people don't know about the latter.

    I'm not going to say Mohler hasn't repented -- who knows the heart of another person, anyway? But I'd certainly want a whole lot more evidence of real repentance before I'd start declaring anathemas and separation from someone who isn't persuaded. Dr. Mohler could at least put a disclaimer at the end of his web article defending MD -- or something. When you repent, don't you want to set the record straight in the places where you've gone astray? Why does Dr. Bauder feel it necessary to be so vehement on his behalf?

    I wonder if Dr. Bauder would "go to the mat" for a fundamentalist who opted for "quiet repentance" the way he has for Mohler. I've been very patient with Dr. Bauder (I'm sure you'd say "too patient" :)) but this one really disappointed me.

    1. Jon:

      You have articulated what quite a few of us have been struck by on this one. Kevin Bauder certainly went to the mats for Al Mohler and try as we might, we find nowhere, other than the obscure book Bauder co-wrote where Mohler mentions signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD) as a mistake. And I am talking about basically one sentence buried in a glowing commentary on the MD itself.

      Furthermore, I have asked two persons to help me research and find anywhere on the Internet where Mohler apologizes for and repents of having signed the MD. Nothing yet!

      Not withstanding Bauder’s condemnation I will say it again- What we read in the book is NOT “biblical repentance.” A first year preacher boy, through 1st semester Greek class would know enough to recognize that what Mohler wrote does not fit what we know repentance to be.

      I’ll stop there because I am well into a new major article to address this issue.

      I do appreciate that you saw and have publicly noted the obvious here.


  3. Jon, had those same thoughts as I read Dr. Bauder comment about Mohler and the signing of the MD. Here's what I posted under the first article in this series, hopefully Lou won't mind reposting this.

    Dr. Bauder has addressed that in a comment over at SI that quite frankly leaves me dumbstruck. Dr. Bauder has cheapened the word metanoia, by his declaration that Dr. Mohler has "repented" of his signing of the Manhattan Declaration because he (Dr. Mohler) stated this in a book,
    Fifteen years later, I did sign the Manhattan Declaration, a statement of common concern on the issues of the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the defense of religious liberty. I had been present in meetings leading up to the document’s release, and I was thrilled with its masterful defense of those three endangered affirmations. I was moved by its affirmations that we will not bend the knee to any earthly power that calls us to deny the faith. I was instructed by the quality of the document’s theological, biblical, and moral thinking.
    I had great hope that the document and the movement would steer a new path that would accomplish a brave moral, consensus with confusing the theological issues at stake. Nevertheless, in light of subsequent statements, I came to believe that the Manhattan Declaration had also crossed the line into unwarranted and unbiblical recognition of the Roman Catholic Church. {What about the unbiblical recognition of the Orthodox Church? My thought not Dr. Mohler’s} We should not be embarrassed to state that we stand together when indeed we do—and on these crucial issues of concern it is especially important that we stand together with courage. But no sense of cultural crisis should blind us to the priority of the gospel. The moral arguments presented in the Manhattan Declaration are eloquent and powerful statements of Christian moral conviction and discernment. The statement is a brave call for men and women of conviction to defend life, marriage, and religious liberty with courage. When it comes to evangelicals and Roman Catholics, the difficulty lies in crafting a statement that acknowledges the Christian truths that are expressed and commonly cherished without requiring a mutual recognition of churches. (taken from pp. 85, 86 of Four Views on The Spectrum of Evangelicalism)
    Really! That’s biblical repentance? This one sentence encased in two paragraphs raving about the declaration? It is to be noted that at the MD website on their list of signatories is Dr. Mohler’s name on the bottom of page 9. One would think that if a man had indeed come to the conclusion that signing something was wrong that he would then do what he could to have his name removed from said document, yet that is not the case with Dr. Mohler and the MD. This being presented as an illustration for biblical repentance is quite laughable if it were not of a serious nature. I would trust that we would agree that Judas Iscariot was NOT repentant, yet even he returned the money given him to betray Jesus Christ. Dr. Mohler has a weak statement in an obscure book which has nothing to do the MD and Dr. Bauder lifts this up as an example of biblical repentance. Dr. Bauder, do you really want to be taken seriously? Then please stop straining at gnats and swallowing camels when it comes to evangelicals.

    1. Well, gentlemen, as they say, "it's beyond my pay grade" to determine whether someone I have never talked to is truly repentant or not. God knows the heart. So don't put me in the "Al Mohler has not repented" camp. Instead, put me in the camp that says to Dr. Mohler, "Why don't you bring forth fruits meet for repentance? Then we'll have something to talk about." If another Declaration came along, he might sign, he might not -- but we'd have more evidence one way or another. There's enough here to (maybe) hope that Al Mohler has had a true change of thinking, but hope is about all we can muster. Dr. Bauder might say to his friend, "You know, you've not exactly made it easy for me to convince people on this point."

      Many SI members insisted recently that repentance demands an apology. As near as I could see with a quick scan, no one took that up on Mohler. As I've written recently, apologies are but one, and not the main, fruit of repentance, but those who "fulminated" on it before have gone silent....

      Dr. Bauder's militancy on Mohler's repentance reminded me of the old adage that those who have the weakest case are usually the ones that shout the loudest. His case was pretty weak, he shouted pretty loud.

      But that's a good reminder for all of us, isn't it?

    2. Hello Jon:

      Thanks for another helpful contribution. You wrote,

      Instead, put me in the camp that says to Dr. Mohler, 'Why don't you bring forth fruits meet for repentance? Then we'll have something to talk about'.”

      This part here, “Why don't you bring forth fruits meet for repentance?” is where we find our agreement, and speaking for myself, believe that for lack of the fruits Mohler’s blurb in the book is not repentance. He could easily do the fruits of repentance and has not. I do not mean simply going forward, instead he could go back and have his name expunged from the Manhattan Declaration (MD). I wonder of anyone has asked Mohler if he has made that request and the leadership of the MD denied his request. I think that would be a good sign of genuine repentance. Yet, his name remains affixed as one of the original signatories. Furthermore, from his own very widely read blog he could post a new article stating an apology for having signed the MD and repent of it, encourage others who may have been influenced by him to join him by affixing their name to the MD to repent of it. See, in my mind these are the fruits of repentance that he could have shown, but has not and I believe will not.

      Btw, once I post my new article on Kevin Bauder, Mohler and the MD we will see that Mohler signing the MD was just another example in a string of wrong decisions in which he aligned himself in cooperative efforts with and/or spoke to the advantage of Roman Catholics and still does today!

      Then you wrote,

      Many SI members insisted recently that repentance demands an apology. As near as I could see with a quick scan, no one took that up on Mohler. As I’ve written recently, apologies are but one, and not the main, fruit of repentance, but those who ‘fulminated’ on it before have gone silent....

      Standard operating procedure at SI. Duplicity, as Alex G has pointed out in the KB Open Letter thread even now. Duplicity, selective application of Bible principles and accountability. SI is notorious for playing favorites. Al Mohler, Kevin Bauder are among the preferred and protected of the SI crowd from Aaron Blumer, Jim Pet and right on down the list of admins and moderators, no to mention most of the remaining folks who still post there.

      Thanks again for your input. We appreciate and value your insights.


  4. Hi, Lou. There's a distinction (albeit a fine one) between "You aren't repentant," and "Show some fruit if you want me to believe / act as if you are." The latter fits what John the Baptist said. It meets the need. It leaves no risk of overstating my case, and no room for credible accusations of overstating. It's good enough for me, anyway. It doesn't matter much, because I'm not inviting Mohler to preach in our church and he isn't inviting me to preach in his seminary, anyway. Bauder made it matter, somewhat, but I doubt we'll be swapping pulpits, either.

    At least Mohler's book statement showed an awareness of endorsement-creep that I wouldn't have known he had. I'm glad for it, as far as it goes.

    SI. Well, you are harder on them than I am, but I'm also not posting there these days. I'll leave it at that.

    Thanks for the discussion.

    1. Jon:

      I like your term "endorsement creep." Once I post my article on the subject you'll see that Mohler had been walking the endorsement creep for years leading up to signing the MD. As for SI, 3.5 years of personal interaction with the SI team before I publicly quit the forum on my terms.

      Again, thanks for the interaction here. I do appreciate your views and Christian charity.


  5. For this who might like to see- I have a series of articles at my secondary blog documenting the bias and favoritism of SI. See, Sharper Iron in the Iron Skillet


  6. Jon, appreciate your thoughts expressed here and concur with you about our inability to know another's heart as to repentance. Which also means that Dr. Bauder cannot know Mohler's heart either. Which makes his (Bauder's) statement all the more so incredulous.
    With all that said, we should be able to see evidence of repentance in the life of the repentant one and in the case of Mohler's "repentance" for signing the MD, there's no evidence for a biblical understanding of repentance. Oh, remorse, maybe, with his one sentence in one obscure book but this lacks the marks of true biblical repentance.
    The Scriptures remind us often that mere words spoken mean nothing unless there are appropriate actions backing up those words (James 1:22ff; 2:14-26 come to mind here).
    My comments are not so much directed at Mohler as they are to Bauder, since it is Bauder who has so emphatically stated Mohler's repentance, not Mohler himself.

    1. Brian, re: your last sentence, agreed. That was the whole thrust of my initial comment here.