May 24, 2013

What Do We Know About: The Northland Camp Ministry & Dr. Les Ollila?

In recent weeks I have had several contacts asking why I don’t publish on the Northland International University (NIU) board of directors’ flip-flop on the termination and rehire of Matt Olson and subsequent announcements. Today, I am going briefly answer those questions, then move on to two new subjects: The Northland Camp ministry and Dr. Les Ollila.

In April I published, An Open Letter to Matt Olson and Jonathan Bailie. I closed this way,
Attacking the messenger(s) is a tactic taken by those who are afraid to be truthful. It is truth that sets us free. My counsel to the administrators at NIU is get honest about your position and truth tellers like me will have no need to verify things with NIU any longer.”1
With what took place in the recent weeks with the NIU board and its public announcements, which followed several years of deception and cover-up, I now choose to believe that the remaining administration and board is being transparent about their intentions for Northland International University.

It is clear to those who have been watching affairs in Dunbar that the administration of NIU chose to deny that the school was changing while attacking enquirers by labeling them “cultural fundamentalists,” etc.2 Now there is a new question that must be asked: What about Northland’s camp? Will it reveal an attempt to fall in line with the college’s progressive, non-separatist, and CCM philosophies?

There are Northland camp representatives currently going around the country saying the college doesn’t affect the camp and it is the conservative arm of Northland Missions, Inc. With the acceptance of what many assume to be a new, stronger emphasis on Calvinism based upon the board’s adoption of the NH Confession how are scheduled camp speakers going to respond? With NIU’s acceptance of the modern day Charismatic movement,3 its way of doing ministry in music (CCM) and practices, how will future speakers and potential campers respond? It would seem reasonable that Northland’s camp needs to be saying and in line with the same thing Northland’s college is saying. The camp has a real dilemma on its hands since the new transitional creed violates so much of the camp’s current ministry philosophy. In the opinion of some observers,

Matt Olson’s direction for NIU puts the camp ministry in real jeopardy.

Dr. Les Ollila remains the only question mark left from the former Northland Baptist Bible College. He did not participate in the 2013 graduation. Les was not on the platform. Les stood in the back and left before the graduation formally ended. It appears Les Ollila is no longer part of the institution. Les was, however, on campus as chancellor personally observing NIU’s transformation under Matt Olson to non-separatist evangelicalism, an embrace of charismatic theology, and the infusion of CCM/Rock genre on campus.

To date the only public document on NIU from Les Ollila dates back to December 2010. Is Northland Changing? A Chancellor’s Perspective from Dr. Les Ollila. In that letter Dr. Ollila bolstered Matt Olson’s position that “NIU is unchanged,”4 and he strongly supported what Matt was doing at the time.

From my August 2012 Q&A series with Dr. Dana Everson, I asked, “Did Les Ollila approve of these changes to the best or your knowledge?” Dr. Everson stated,
I am almost as much in the dark about this as people outside the college. Accord to his [Les Ollila’s] public letter, nothing has changed. He is probably not an involved in the day-to-day workings of the details of the institution as he was 8-9 years ago, but last school year’s (2010-2011) events were so large it seems odd to me he wouldn’t be aware of the issues. Matt Olson repeatedly stated both in staff meetings and in chapel that he and Doc O’s hearts beat as one in the ministry. I attempted to bring this question up to Les Ollila last Spring (2011). He responded to some other concerns I raised, but never answered this one.”5
If Les Ollila is no longer at NIU we ask: Will he come out with a statement? If he does make a statement will he discuss how NIU devolved into what it has become so quickly while he was on campus? Will a statement from Les Ollila be in support of, neutral toward or totally against the direction of NIU?

The good news is that we are soon to have an opportunity to hear from and question Dr. Ollila in person. I refer you to the Crossroads in Ministry Conference where on June 17, at the Colonial Hills Baptist Church, Dr. Ollila will be speaking on the topics of, A Good Legacy Does Not Guarantee a Good Future and Avoiding Pragmatism. His two preaching sessions will be followed by a Q&A with Doc O session. We do not know what we will hear from Dr. Ollila in regard to NIU, particularly his final years as NIU chancellor, observing first hand its change and departure from its historic Baptistic and biblical separatist roots.  This conference will, however, be the first time Les Ollila will be speaking apart from his role as chancellor and in a non-NIU forum.

I am opening the thread of this article to give you an opportunity to submit questions, that if you were at the Q&A with Dr. Ollila you would personally like to ask him.  Your submission must be in the form of a question and avoid making a personal statement.  Just submit your question for Dr. Ollila and I will publish it at my earliest convenience. This blog is widely read with over 45,000 views in the last month, primarily on issues related to NIU. Your question(s) for Dr. Ollila will, in all likelihood, be widely read and may possibly be used in some form at the actual Q&A session.



4) An Open Letter from Dr. Matt Olson of Northland International University, Nov. 24, 2010

May 22, 2013

Archival Series: Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?, Part 2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Earlier this week we began with Part One of this two part series by Dr. Manfred Kober from 1989 as it appeared in Faith Baptist Theological Seminary's Faith Pulpit. This series is as compelling an exposure of and polemic against the egregious errors of Lordship Salvation for today as it was in 1989. I encourage you to read and prayerfully consider this important ministry of warning from Dr. Kober.

Several days ago my wife and I were discussing the matter of Lordship salvation. Our eleven-year-old daughter, Christa, overheard us and asked, “Daddy, what is Lordship salvation?” I replied that it is the view that believing in Christ as Savior is not enough. A person also needs to let Christ control every thought and action to be truly saved. Christa's perceptive reply was, “Well, Daddy, then no one can be saved, can he?”

And so it is. If God expects total submission of our body, soul, spirit, heart and mind for salvation, no one can possibly be saved. Total submission like complete sanctification is only achieved when the believer enters the presence of Christ.

It is difficult to conceive of a more crucial question in Christianity than this: What is the condition for salvation? What do I need to do to be saved? The answer that Paul gives to that question in Acts 16:31 is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Over one hundred times in the New Testament faith is mentioned as the only condition for salvation. Yet a controversy is raging in evangelical circles. Shrill voices are telling us that individuals are not genuinely saved unless they believe and submit. In other words, salvation is dependent on faith plus dedication. One cannot be a Christian, we are told, without being a disciple. Salvation by faith alone is called “a notable heresy” (Tozer, “I Call It Heresy!” p. 9). It is labeled a "heretical and soul destroying practice" (Chantry, “Today’s Gospel Authentic or Synthetic?” p. 68). Men who teach that salvation is by faith alone are “wrongly dividing the Word of Truth” (MacArthur, “The Gospel According to Jesus.” p. 197).

In Part I we discussed I. The Contemporary Problem of Lordship Salvation, and, II. The Crucial Prerequisite for Salvation. Now let us note:

III. Some Compelling Proofs against Lordship Salvation:

MacArthur continually stresses the idea that the call to salvation is “a call to discipleship under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To respond to that call is to become a believer. Anything less is simply unbelief” (p. 30). This position is easily refuted by Biblical examples.

A. The Example of Uncommitted Believers:

1. Lot:

The life of Lot affords an illustration of a life-long rejection of the Lordship of God. If it were not for the references to Lot as a just man in II Peter 2:7-8, one could seriously question his salvation. His continuous disobedience, compromise, and carnality did not prevent him from being positionally righteous.

2. The Ephesian believers:

The saints at Ephesus were unyielding at the time of salvation. As Christians they continued their pagan practices for at least one and a half years before they were willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ and burn their books of magic (Acts 18:19).

3. Peter:

The Apostle Peter demonstrates a definite lapse from total dedication. His words in Acts 10:14, “Not so Lord” were a sign of unyieldedness after he had been Spirit filled at Pentecost (Acts 2:4).

Lot, Peter, and the Ephesians are examples of carnal individuals who nonetheless were genuinely saved. In contrast, MacArthur says that “those unwilling to take on this yoke cannot enter into the saving rest He offers” (p. 112). He insists that “‘Faith’ that rejects His sovereign authority is really unbelief” (p. 28). MacArthur not only denies that carnal believers are genuinely saved, but he further accuses dispensationalists of inventing “this dichotomy carnal/spiritual Christian” (p. 30). “Contemporary theologians have fabricated an entire category for this type of person--‘Carnal Christian’” (p. 129).

In fact the Bible speaks of carnal believers. In I Corinthians 3, Paul addresses the Corinthian brethren as “carnal,” as “babes in Christ” who are “yet carnal . . . and walk as men” (vv. 1, 3). Genuine believers are called carnal and described as walking like the unsaved in envyings, strive, and division. Similarly, Peter says that genuine Christians can be guilty of gross crimes (I Peter 4: 15).

Why would MacArthur label this Biblical concept a contemporary invention? Is the category of carnal Christians really one of the “unwarranted divisions of truth” (p. 27) set up by dispensationalists?

B. The Exhortation of Romans 12: 1-2:

The Apostle Paul pleads with believers to submit to the Lordship of Christ. These individuals had been justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), were being led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14) and would never be separated from the love of God (Rom. 8:39). Yet these saints were enjoined to “present their bodies a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) rather than to serve sin or let sin rule them (Rom. 6:6). According to the Lordship Salvation view, these individuals were never genuinely saved. MacArthur says “Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything” (p. 78). “Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion: it is the ‘sine qua non’ of saving faith” (p. 135). Paul says that submission, sacrifice, and service are incumbent upon every believer after salvation. MacArthur says they are indispensable for salvation.
Proper exegesis and personal experience do not support Lordship salvation.
Thomas L. Constable is correct in observing that while “surrender is certainly God's desire for every Christian, it is not a condition of salvation. If it were, it would be a work” (Walvoord: A Tribute. “The Gospel Message” p. 209).

C. The Meaning of the title “LORD”:

The term “Lord” can indeed mean Master, but in the New Testament it has various meanings. When used in the salvation passages, Lord especially emphasizes the deity of Christ. Paul’s statement in Romans 10:9-10 is “misunderstood when it is made to support the claim that one cannot be saved unless he makes Jesus Lord of his life by a personal commitment . . . Paul is speaking of the objective lordship of Christ, which is the very cornerstone of faith” (Everett F. Harrison, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. X, 112).

Those who insist on Lordship salvation maintain that our position is one of “easy believism” or “cheap grace.” Ryrie rightly objects to this charge by noting that “it is not easy to believe, because what we ask the unsaved person to believe is not easy. We ask that he trust a Person who lived 2,000 years ago, whom he can only know through the Bible, to forgive his sins. We’re asking that he stake his eternal destiny on this” (Basic Theology, p. 339, emphasis in the original). Salvation is free. Lordship is very costly. Faith is a gift bestowed by God upon unbelievers. Discipleship is a commanded work of obedience for believers. Both faith and discipleship are absolutely important, the one for salvation, and other for sanctification. To deny the difference between saviorhood and lordship is to distort the gospel--and that is dangerous!

Reprinted by permission from the March and April/May 1989 editions of the Faith Pulpit, a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, Ankeny, Iowa. (bold added)

Faith Pulpit, Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, April/May '89 - Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

For Related Study:
Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

Ominous Signs of Lordship's Coming Storm

Lordship's "Turn From SIN" FOR Salvation Message

Can God-Given Faith Be Defective?

May 20, 2013

Archival Series: Lordship Salvation: Forgotten Truth or a False Doctrine?, Part 1

If you were Satan, which doctrine would you want to undermine? Which area of theology would you pervert, to prevent people from being saved? An individual may be wrong about the doctrine of the church or deny the millennial kingdom and yet doubtless be gloriously redeemed. However, if a person is wrong on the doctrine of salvation, specifically, the prerequisites for salvation, he misses the very heart of the gospel. One would expect Satan to attack in the area of soteriology. Indeed, he has! The informed and discerning believer soon realizes that there is a battle raging among evangelicals and fundamentalists over the matter of the conditions for salvation.

I. The Crucial Problem of Lordship Salvation:

A. The problem:

On the one hand there are those who insist that salvation is God’s gift and that trust in Christ is the only requirement for salvation. On the other hand, there are respected pastors and theologians who teach that unless an individual submits also to the Lordship of Christ at the moment of salvation, he is not really saved.

B. The positions:

1. Salvation by grace through faith alone:

a. Curtis Hutson in his book, “Salvation Crystal Clear”, has a chapter entitled “Lordship Salvation, A Perversion of the Gospel.” He begins with the following warning: Lordship salvation is an unscriptural teaching regarding the doctrine of salvation and is confusing to Christians, Hutson calls Lordship salvation “another gospel which contradicts the teaching of salvation by grace through faith” (p. 302).

b. Charles Ryrie cautions that “To teach that Christ must be Lord of life in order to be Savior is to confuse certain aspects of discipleship and confuses the gospel of the Grace of God with the works of men.” (Balancing the Christian Life, p. 178).

c. Lewis Chafer writes that Lordship salvation is a seemingly pious but subtle error that in addition to believing in Christ “the unsaved must dedicate themselves to the will of God” (Systematic Theology, III, 384).

d. *Zane Hodges clearly distinguishes between salvation and discipleship. Eternal life is free. Discipleship is immeasurably hard. The former is attained by faith alone; the latter by a faith that works (The Hungry Inherit. p. 114, underscore in the original).

2. Lordship Salvation:

a. J. I. Packer rejects the idea that all men have to do is to trust Christ as sin bearer . . . they must also deny themselves and enthrone him as their Lord. (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, p. 89).

b. Walter J. Chantry says that salvation without Lordship is impossible: Practical acknowledgment of Jesus’ Lordship, yielding to His rule by following, is the very fibre of saving faith. It is only those who ‘confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus’ (Romans 10:9) that shall be saved . . . Without obedience, you shall not see life! Unless you bow to Christ’s sceptre, you will not receive the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice. (Today's Gospel Authentic or Synthetic? p. 60, underscore in the original). His words concerning those who preach simple faith in Christ are very strong: This heretical and soul-destroying practice is the logical conclusion of a system that thinks little of God, preaches no law, calls for no repentance, waters down faith to ‘accepting a gift,’ and never mentions bowing to Christ’s rule or bearing a cross (p. 68).

c. John R. Stott suggests that it is as unbiblical as it is unrealistic to divorce the Lordship from the Saviorhood of Jesus Christ (Eternity, Sept. 1959, p. 37).

d. A. W. Tozer labels the view of salvation by grace alone a notable heresy and a false teaching (I Call It Heresy! p. 9,19).

e. James Montgomery Boice calls the concept of salvation through faith alone A defective theology. This kind of faith is directed to one who is a false Christ (The Meaning of Discipleship, Moody Monthly, Feb. 1986, p. 34, 36).

f. John MacArthur champions Lordship salvation in his recent book, “The Gospel According to Jesus”. He attacks dispensationalists in general and Chafer, Hodges, and Ryrie in particular for wrongly dividing the Word of Truth (p. 197). No one can come to Christ on any other term than full commitment (p. 197). In his book, “The Parables of the Kingdom”, MacArthur writes that there is a transaction made to purchase salvation, but it’s not with money or good works. The transaction is this: You give up all you have for all He has (p. 108). How does one receive salvation? You give up all that you are and receive all that He is . . . A person becomes saved when he is willing to abandon everything he has to affirm, that Christ is the Lord of his life (p. 109).

Even in our Regular Baptist circles Lordship salvation has become an issue.

g. John Baylo equates the saviorhood of Christ with His Lordship. He holds that saving faith properly understood always involves trusting Christ with one’s life. . . confidence in Christ to both save and manage one’s life . . . superficial faith never saved anyone (Baptist Bulletin, February, 1987, p. 7). In contrast, Paul Tassell pleads that we not confuse the instantaneous act of salvation with the long process of sanctification . . . we must not make saviorship and lordship synonymous (Baptist Bulletin, February, 1989, p. 46). Ernest Pickering in his incisive review of MacArthur’s book states that Well over 100 times in the New Testament we are told that salvation is by faith or through believing. It is a very serious matter to add an ingredient to the gospel of salvation which is not found in the New Testament (Lordship Salvation, Central Baptist Seminary, p. 7). Ryrie cautions that the message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel; therefore, one of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). As far as sanctification is concerned, if only committed people are saved people, then where is there room for carnal Christians? (p. 170).

Which of these positions is right, which is wrong? They cannot both be scriptural. In theology we do not count noses. In many areas, such as this controversy, able men can be marshalled to support either position. The correctness of a position must be substantiated by a clear grammatical exegesis of the Biblical text.

II. The Crucial Prerequisite for Salvation.

What is the necessary condition for salvation, faith in Christ as Savior or faith plus commitment of life? It is true that some believers dedicate their lives to the Lord at the moment of salvation. The Apostle Paul immediately asked the question: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6). With most believers, dedication takes place after a fuller understanding of their spiritual responsibility. Key soteriological passages such as Acts 16:31 and Ephesians 2:8-9 teach that faith in Christ alone is the prerequisite for salvation. Ideally, every saint should recognize the Lordship of Christ from the moment of salvation, but there is a great difference between being a saint and a disciple. It costs absolutely nothing to be a Christian. It costs everything to be a disciple. In Luke 14 the Lord distinguishes between salvation and discipleship while teaching two parables, side by side. In Luke 14:16-24 he related the parable of the great supper into which the entrance was free and unrestricted for all who followed the invitation. In Luke 14:25-33 Christ taught that discipleship was only for those who gave up all.

Being a Christian means following an invitation. Being a disciple means forsaking all. To confuse these two aspects of the Christian life is to confound the grace of God and the works of man, to ignore the difference between salvation and sanctification. The gospel of grace is Scriptural. The Gospel that adds the works of man to salvation is a counterfeit Gospel.

If it was ever necessary for believers to rightly divide the word of truth, it is now, and it is in this area!

Reprinted by permission from the March and April/May 1989 editions of the Faith Pulpit, a publication of Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, Ankeny, Iowa. (bold added)

Faith Pulpit, Faith Baptist Theological Seminary, March '89 - Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

Later in the week we will continue this compelling series.  For related study see, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page of John MacArthur's, The Gospel According to Jesus.

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
*Zane Hodges, had since the 1989 publication of this article, originated and introduced an extreme reductionist assault on the Gospel. Hodges’s interpretation of the Gospel has come to be known as the Crossless and/or Promise- ONLY gospel. The reductionism of Hodges is almost universally rejected in the NT church outside the small cell of theological extremists in the Grace Evangelical Society (Bob Wilkin, Exec. Director) and a very few friends who still identify with GES.

May 13, 2013

Far Better Than the WordsCultural Whatever-ism

In a previous article by Dr. Chuck Phelps1 we heard from Dr. Dana Everson a former NIU faculty member whose final semester was Spring 2011. An anonymous guest posted the following in the thread.
With all of the discussion of late, what I am left wondering is: 

Those who are using the term “cultural fundamentalism” to rename “historic fundamentalism,” what do they do with all of the verses on worldliness, being separate, etc.? Do they have any boundaries at all? What are they? If they do have boundaries of some sort, then why deride others who with their soul liberty and conscience choose tighter boundaries? 

 And then, they also seem to think we are focused on minor issues and negating the gospel, why is it hard to understand that we believe that all aspects of a Christian’s life should REFLECT the gospel and the Lord? We do have a larger purpose in mind.
Dr. Everson answered those questions as follows.

Anonymous...some very good questions! 

Eventually, they will settle into their “new normal standards” and do just what they accuse more conservative folks of doing: They will build their OWN “cultural fundamentalism” (their own levels of separation, really). They do this because they usually see culture as generally neutral. 

Many seem to think the gospel should be attractive, luxurious, or perhaps entertaining to the world. But even more so, they believe that the Christian’s lifestyle should be neutral in these “minor issues.” Yet, they will spin around and say a Christian’s life should be a “whole-life-worship” model. Well, doesn’t whole life imply- whole life? 

Some even call these areas of Godly living “minutiae.” Since when is worship of God minutiae? Since when does God overlook HOW He is approached in worship? Wasn’t it Jehovah Who laid out the minute plans for the temple and temple worship? Does the worship of God “in spirit and in truth” allow for any-old-style of worship? Does the worship of God “in spirit and in truth” mean ONLY heart attitude? 

In one particular ministry setting, our faculty and staff were urged and taught to think in and teach “critical thinking.” Yet, when I attempted to apply critical thinking to the area of worship/music style [at Northland], I was told that I needed to “raise the bar of the discussion” instead of arguing about minutiae. If worship styles are all neutral to the Lord, then we have large chunks of the Old Testament that will need to be edited.

Of COURSE it matters what attitude and turn of heart one has. Genuine fundamentalism has always stood for that. (And yes, I know there are examples of imbalanced ministries.) But our God is also a consuming fire because of His holiness. Where is the discernment and today of erring on the side of wisdom instead of constantly pushing the envelopes of separation or “cultural fundamentalism?” They seem to believe that since there is always someone or some ministry more liberal than they, that their new tolerance levels are quite safe (and they ARE safe by comparison to those other extremes, but not necessarily safe compared to God’s principles).

And, Anonymous, one more thing they tend to do: They redefine worldliness. Whether they do it intentionally or not, they tend to redefine many terms and unwary, good-willed Christians gradually get caught in this kind of word-transformation, thinking that because so-and-so has a doctorate, surely he knows the latest previously undiscovered Bible truths.

A genuine fundamentalist, what I call a “heart-fundamentalist,”
(1) STANDS STILL and STRONG with compassion for souls on both the stated truths of Scripture and the principles of Scripture,
(2) STEPS BACK by constantly returning to and reviewing basic truths, and
(3) STEPS FORWARD by carefully sifting through “new teachings and new techniques” (often involving minutiae) and earnestly compares them with Scripture lest he too quickly embrace a faulty doctrine OR practice. 

Be a Christian gentleman/or Christian lady, but may I say kindly, listen to what people say, but know that in the long run, people (including me) will DO what they truly believe. Eventually, the words will catch up with what their hearts believe as well. God sees and evaluates our thoughts, intents, attitudes, words, and works. It seems to me that “separation” or “Godliness” expresses these truths far better than the words “cultural whatever-ism.”

I trust you have appreciated Dr. Everson’s response as much as many who have said so already.


Related Reading from Dr. Everson:

May 6, 2013

Transitional Fundamentalism by Dr. Milton Jones

There are many non-negotiables for New Testament believers. Most certainly the fundamentals of the faith are never open for dialogue or debate. Even those who are currently in transition away from the Fundamentalism of the past admit that there are some issues upon which there can be no compromise without departing from the Word of God. The emphasis of Scripture for believers is not upon change but upon stability.
Pastor Milton Jones

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.  
1 Peter 5:8, 9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.  
Colossians 2:5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
We are continuously warned to be aware of the temptation to compromise and accommodate the ever present pressure to change.
2 Peter 3:11-18 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 
Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
This is not to suggest that Biblical faith is static. Quite the contrary, it is very dynamic! This dynamic however does not lie in finding ways to be flexible with truth in order to fit a changing culture. The dynamic of Biblical faith lies in its unchangeableness and eternal power to confront the culture demanding a submissive response. In other words, Biblical Christianity is not about making the Bible fit the culture; it is about calling upon people in the culture to submit to the authority of Scripture.

The Winds of Change
There is a sense in which people have always been in motion away from Biblical faith. It is the result of the strong vacuum pull of unbelief. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s Fundamentalism saw a significant defection centered in Lynchburg, Virginia and spreading through the sphere of influence dominated by Jerry Falwell. At that time those who were in motion were called “Pseudo-Fundamentalists” and then “embryonic New Evangelicals.” Those who shifted during that time frame have now arrived as full-fledged New Evangelicals. Then as now, decisions were made, sides were chosen, and separations in fellowship followed.

Rather than trying to coin a phrase to describe what has been going on in Fundamentalism over the last number of years, we would serve a better purpose by simply referring to those who are in motion as Transitional Fundamentalists. The very word “transition” indicates movement. Motion is not inherently evil. Walking with God (Genesis 5:22, 24) implies motion. The real question has to do with direction. In what direction are the feet of Transitional Fundamentalists pointed?

One of the spokesmen for those in transition has called for a “radical center” in which conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists in transition can find a home.1 The vision articulated indicates that Conservative Evangelicals are moving to the right and certain fundamentalists which the author characterizes as “mainstream” are moving to the left to meet in the “radical center.”

The problem with that model is the reality that Conservative Evangelicals are not moving at all. While they have become more vocal in decrying the radical shift to the left within the evangelical world, conservatives within that world stand exactly where the movement has stood since its inception. The only people who are actually moving are the Transitional Fundamentalists. There really is no “radical center.”

The New Direction
The evidence of movement toward New Evangelicalism is found in the very spirit of accommodation that has long characterized that movement. There is little question that many from the fundamentalist camp have embraced various forms of Contemporary Christian Music. Some have attempted to alter the scores from Sovereign Grace Music in order to utilize the lyrics. Others have succumbed to the sirenic allurement of new sounds. Others are responding to consumer demand for music that emulates that which the world produces. As controversial as music issues often are, the direction in which the musical feet are pointed have historically been telling of where the theological feet will soon follow.

Another characteristic of this movement is the increasingly casual atmosphere created in previously fundamental ministries. No real fundamentalist insists upon a dead somber approach to the worship of God; but neither is he looking to soften edges by dressing casually for church or opting for entertaining environments. A tuxedo is hardly required for the pulpit but a reasonable suit and tie would be nice. The attire is not the issue; the attitude is the issue.

In no area is the fact of transition more apparent than the willingness to closely associate with the Scripturally disobedient.

Increasingly there is “pulpit swap” between Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalist ministries. In that process the evangelical is promoted and the resolute Fundamentalist is vilified. Every pastor of an autonomous church is free to bring whomever he will to his pulpit but he must realize that in the choices he makes he is also authenticating the position of every guest speaker. A willingness to become participants in the Together for the Gospel and Gospel Coalition movements are clear indications of a change in method as well as direction.

Fundamentalists do not have anything theologically that New Evangelicals want or think that they need. They want access to our people, institutions, and finances to be utilized for purposes other than those for which they were established.

Why are They Moving?
It must also be recognized that the nuclear glue for the new coalition that is forming is undoubtedly Reformed Theology. Reformed Theology with its covenant perspectives, open church membership, and increasingly radical Calvinism is the new impetus for a new brand of ecumenism. As surely as the foundation of New Evangelicalism found its roots in men from the Reformed Tradition, so is the appeal to Transitional Fundamentalists. The show of intellect and evident scholarship has captured a generation of younger preachers. There have always been Calvinists in the Fundamentalist Movement but their Calvinism has never been the cause. The greatest case in point was C. H. Spurgeon. In the last great battle of his life, the Downgrade Controversy, he demonstrated that fidelity to truth superseded his personal understanding of the mechanics of soteriology. It is not accidental that concurrent with the approachment of evangelicalism by those in transition from Fundamentalism there has been an acceptance of the Reformation Bible (ESV) on a broad scale.

Whatever your position on textual issues, it is a plain fact that this reworking of the old liberal Revised Standard Version has been designed to be the Bible of a renewal of Reformed Theology.

It is incredibly sad that we learn so very little from history. There has never been a more stridently Calvinistic pastor than John Gill in the eighteenth century. It is most revealing that charges of antinomianism were levied against those who were associated with him. Antinomianism refers to a rejection of rules of conduct. It is strange that a theology that purports to honor the majesty and holiness of God should be guilty of worldliness to excess.
It is very much a part of the Transitional Fundamentalist mindset to raise debate about issues that have been long settled in the hearts of godly people.
Fundamentalists have long believed in personal separation as well as ecclesiastical separation. This translates to a rejection of the use of alcohol as a beverage as well as other overtly worldly practices. Standards of modesty and conduct are as Biblical as the major doctrines. Increasingly Transitional Fundamentalists dismiss such discussions as irrelevant and characterized them as the restrictions of a past tense Fundamentalism. It should be noted that failures in ecclesiastical separation usually precede the erasure of standards of personal separation. The “spiritual pride” that would countenance worldliness as insignificant appears to parallel the pride of intellect too often found in Reformed circles.

The Danger
Fundamentalists cannot “live and let live” in this matter. Disastrous effects are already accruing. Several institutions, agencies, and many churches have already been delivered into the hands of compromise. It is to be feared that there will be no return for these because their leaders seem to think that they are doing God service (John 16:2) by “reclaiming authentic fundamentalism.”2

Sadly the “authentic fundamentalism” claimed is bereft of accurate history and intellectual integrity.

Worse, a whole new generation of believers will be influenced to embrace compromise as normative Christianity. This is especially true since the centers of learning that were previously well within the Fundamentalist Movement, are training a new generation of leaders to imbibe the transition to Evangelicalism as wholesome and desirable. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this tragic transition is its drafting effect. Everyone who has experienced the rapid passage of a large vehicle has felt the motion effect in the direction the vehicle was travelling. The larger the vehicle and the greater the speed, the greater will be the effective draft. It is to be feared that more and more institutions, agencies, and churches will be drawn toward Conservative Evangelicalism. At the moment at least it has the appearance of some resurgent success in articulating conservative values and gaining the public ear. Beware of pragmatism that would ride the coattails of this compromise. Disobedience cannot bring about revival. Only God-sent Biblical renewal can stem the tide of political liberalism and religious apostasy. A major component in revival is repentance and restoration to obedience to the authority of Scripture.

We must also recognize the minimalism inherent in this movement. The core of the Bible is not the gospel! The core of the Bible is Christ! Much is being said about the gospel, its definition, and the need for its promulgation. Fundamentalists embrace the necessity of the gospel but do not reduce Biblical Christianity to a general agreement about the gospel. It is the old paradigm battle that has reappeared many times in the past. Will we be soteriological in approach or doxological? Preaching the gospel glorifies God but so does obedience. A gospel preached at the behest of disobedience will eventually become a compromised gospel. It has in the past and will be again.

As Transitional Fundamentalists crusade for change we must be aware that the change envisioned is not a return to orthodoxy and orthopraxy; it is a compromise of the truth. It is informative to note that mainstream evangelicals have gone on record as stating that there is no appreciable difference between Conservative Evangelicalism and Fundamentalists who are in transition.3

How Shall We Respond?
We must be found in the same heart and mind evidenced by our Lord in the first letter to the churches of Asia Minor.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
This is the ever present ministry of reproof and challenge to people who are genuinely saved, but sadly disobedient.

Further we must refuse to surrender resources to those institutions, agencies, and churches who are moving. It is not wise to continue to send our children to colleges, give our money to agencies, or support churches that are in transition while we wait to see where they will land. By then it is too late! Look at where their feet are pointing! At some point there must be separation from this disobedience. It is the only tool which God has given to us to police ourselves and to maintain the priority and purity of our position.

In doing these things, we need not expect to be applauded. Regardless of how lovingly we reprove and how carefully we withdraw fellowship we will be labeled as unloving and judgmental. We do not judge in order to condemn; that is God’s business. We judge righteous judgment to the end that we may maintain obedience and fidelity to the truth.

We will one day (short of the Rapture) become part of a new remnant. Every age has its remnants. We exist today as Fundamentalists because of previous remnants. We must not fear being marginalized, vilified, or even persecuted. We must fear to compromise. We must endeavor with all that is within us to honor God above men, truth above movements, and faithfulness above success. We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit so that we can take our stand without a censorious spirit, without pride, and with compassing desire to see our brethren recovered from the error of their decisions.

Dr. Milton Jones
Senior Pastor of Heritage BaptistChurch, Frankfort, IL.

1) Douglas R. McLachlan, “Moving Toward Authenticity: Musings on Fundamentalism” posted on the website of Northland International University

2) Ibid.

3) See, Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism, edited by Andrew David Naselli and Collin Hansen, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.)

Reprinted with Permission:
Indiana Fundamental Baptist Fellowship
News & Views
March 2013 ~ Issue 31
Pastor Rick Arrowood, President