February 18, 2013

An Interim to the Critical Review of Kevin Bauder’s Open Letter: The Manhattan Declaration

In our previous article, Kevin Bauder, Al Mohler and the Manhattan Declaration, Part 1 we discussed whether or not Dr. Kevin Bauder had ever seriously “questioned the theological integrity of this decision” of Dr. R. Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD). We found there has been no serious questioning or Scripture brought to bear by Dr. Bauder in regard to Dr. Mohler signing the MD. We also found that as far back as Al Mohler’s chairmanship of the 2001 Billy Graham crusadethere is no sign of Kevin Bauder ever questioning Al Mohler’s “theological integrity.”  We believe the absence of any serious questioning by Kevin Bauder is no coincidence.

Just before we continue with our discussion of Kevin Bauder alleging Dr. Mohler has biblically repented over signing the MD I would like to address related thoughts on the matter before us.

At the Sharper Iron site a discussion thread was opened in which Kevin Bauder and Missionary Don Johnson continue a discussion of issues related to Bauder’s Open Letter to Lance Ketchum.  From that thread the following from Kevin was addressed to Pastor Johnson.
“In the meanwhile, back to your question about Mohler. Yes, I take his change of mind about the Manhattan Declaration quite seriously. In the Spectrum book, all four authors were asked to apply their principles to ECT and the MD (among other things). By this time, Mohler had already tried to defend his actions in public, and he had already received significant criticism from other evangelicals. The book was really his opportunity to double down (which is what I really expected him to do) or to reverse course entirely. To nearly everyone’s surprise, he did the latter.” (bold added)
Al Mohler did in fact “double down.” He doubles down on his long-standing praise for the Manhattan Declaration document itself.  Incredibly, this fact appears to have eluded Kevin’s attention. Then amongst Dr. Mohlers glowing praise for the MD is a single sentence buried within that is alleged to be biblical repentance.  Kevin Bauder would have us accept that this is Al Mohler having “reverse[d] course entirely?” We will address this in greater depth in our next article. Kevin was not done.

In recent days, at the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron2, Kevin Bauder attempts to reiterate, reinforce and double down his insistence that Al Mohler has “biblically repented” from signing the MD.  Kevin, furthermore, also attempts to bring the Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Four Views) book out of obscurity. At SI he wrote,
“Furthermore, [Al] Mohler did not simply express his change of view quietly and privately. This is a major volume issued by one of the most significant evangelical publishers. It is not an obscure work form [sic] some vanity press. The book is likely to be around long after the web sites have been taken down. If Mohler wanted to announce his change of position in a public, durable way, then he chose the best possible way of doing it.  It would be one thing if Mohler repented in the virtual reality of the Internet, but he has actually done it in the real world.” (bold added)
When you go to “one of the most significant evangelical publishers” Zondervan’s website you can’t even handily find the whole Counterpoints series of books to begin with, let alone Four Views. Their rotating banner doesn’t even mention the Counterpoint series. Zondervan has their Bernstein Bears Storybook Bible on the rotating banner. Obviously, with its placement there, Zondervan believes that the Bernstein Bears book is more of a “major volume” than the whole Counterpoint series combined.

Then surely I thought, if Four Views is “not an obscure work” then it must appear on one the “most significant evangelical publisher’s” other category main pages.  I opened the non-fiction, contemporary issues, academic, church and ministry pages, but Kevin Bauder’s Four Views book was not at all visible.

I began to ask myself: Why is this “major volume” by a significant publisher so hard to find at that significant publisher’s website? Continuing my search I stumbled into another Counterpoint book, and from there I was eventually able to click through to where Kevin Bauder’s book finally appeared. Not until I drilled deep into the Zondervan website to an obscure page deep within Zondervan’s website did I find the Four Views book. And so we ask:

Is from deep within the publishers website and buried in the pages of this non-obscure “major volume,” where Kevin Bauder believes to be, “the best possible way” for Al Mohler to make a public, durable announcement?

Recently a pastor sent me the following thought,
“Since Kevin seeks to tie his non-obscure major volume to those who have used ‘vanity press’ i.e. self publishing, to print their works, he comes off with a strong elitist air than presenting an actual case of any worth or merit in regard to his claim for Al Mohler that he (Mohler) has ‘biblically repented’.”
One gets the impression that Kevin thinks the Four Views book is out there for the masses to read. As word gets out that one of the evangelical editors (Andy Naselli) states that there are really two views presented in the book, lumping Mohler’s and Bauder’s together, no serious, authentic fundamentalist is going to hold this book in high regard. Under Naselli’s “Observations” in which he lists eight observations the fourth observation begins with,
“In a broad sense, this book presents two views on evangelicalism rather than four. Views 1 and 2 (fundamentalism and confessional [so-called “conservative”] evangelicalism) are close to each other as are views 3 and 4 (generic and post-conservative evangelicalism), and the distance between views 1-2 and 3-4 is significantly greater than between views 1 and 2 or 3 and 4. Bauder and Mohler agree on the most substantive issues, and their views are virtually identical on the three contemporary issues each contributor addresses.” (bold added)3
Something is wrong if the person(s) writing for fundamentalism can’t distinguish fundamentalism from the conservative element of evangelicalism. These two positions aren’t so close as to be confused by the supposedly discerning eye. The secular media isn’t going to be able to notice the difference, but the secular is not the audience of this book. The audience is evangelicals and fundamentalists.

Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism is a failure at clearly articulating a contrast between the fundamentalist and the evangelical positions. The failure is Kevin Bauder’s authorship!  How can anyone take seriously a presentation of fundamentalism from a man (Bauder) who incessantly jabs at, besmirches and castigates any breath of fundamentalism that is not like unto his own version of what it ought to be? Kevins version is increasingly indistinguishable from the so-called “conservative” evangelicalism and its star personalities that Kevin continually heaps “lavish praise” upon, apart from any serious discussion of their aberrant theology, and ecumenical compromises.
Kevin Bauder’s authorship of the fundamentalist position seriously undermines the Four Views book’s credibility.
Why would any fundamentalist take seriously a book whose co-authorship is by a young man (Andy Naselli) who has for years been working alongside evangelicals? Naselli has, furthermore, announced his decision to become a faculty member at New evangelical John Piper’s Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Next time we move onto the next part of our series on Kevin Bauder’s claim that Al Mohler has “biblically repented” of having signed the Manhattan Declaration. About one week ago I sent an email to Dr. Al Mohler.  In it I informed him that Kevin Bauder has claimed for him (Mohler) that he has “biblically repented” of signing the Manhattan Declaration. I requested, suggested that he might give some additional clarification on the statement by Kevin Bauder. 


Site Publisher’s Addendum:
I happen to know a particular author whose book was produced by Kevins so-called  “vanity press.” At this time (February 17 @ 10:30pm) the vanity press book is currently ranked 132,211 at Amazon. Kevin Bauder’s “major volume” is ranked 304,013.  A spread of that magnitude suggests that the most significant evangelical publisher may be getting a raw deal on their investment in that “major volume.” Maybe the present poor showing of his major volume is why Kevin wrote,
Buy a case of Spectrum…. If nothing else, it has a pretty good chapter on Fundamentalism.”
I am acquainted with the author of the book produced by the “vanity press,” that presently ranks significantly ahead, probably several cases ahead, of the evangelical publishermajor volume. That author has been accused of “shameless self-promotion for far less shameful self promotion than that statement by the co-author of his “major volume.”


2) Sharper Iron (SI) is a site, which has never been for or about the best of or the advancement of the best that Fundamentalism has to offer the NT church.  See, Sharper Iron in the Iron Skillet  Instead SI has been a conduit for incessant attacks on and demonization with the broad-brush of the FBFI, Fundamentalism, men from its legacy and certain present day leaders.  SI has been the place for rattling sabres where Kevin Bauder and angry former yfs have done frequently with impunity. From SI Dr. Bauder has just declared his intention to clean house, and take out the trash for the FBFI. We suggested that he begin by Hauling Out the Trash in His Own Home First! 

3) Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, p. 214.

Related Reading:
A Letter from Dr. Richard V. Clearwaters to Kevin Bauder
“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…. Could this constant derision of Fundamental Baptist preachers be sourced in bitterness toward those who have disappointed you in the past? Is this generalization of the movement, of which you ‘claim’ to be a part, healthy? Do you think it is possible that your constant diatribe against ‘your own’ is one of the main reasons some young people are leaving sound churches for ‘greener pastures’?…. 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’.” (Drafted by Evangelist Dwight Smith.)

What we read from Kevin Bauder is a sample, an eloquent sample, of the INTELLECTUAL ELITISM that has found its way into some segments of Fundamentalism.”
This is the very first article I posted (Oct. 2008) addressing a statement by Kevin Bauder. Not much has changed. In fact, there appears to be a doubling down going on.

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