May 27, 2015

Dr. Clay Nuttall, The Secularization of Christian Education

The term “secular” is most often used as a contrast to that which is spiritual, so that the world is divided into those two parts.  That is actually a liberal concept.  Believers often divide the work of the local church into those two parts, too.  The problem is that, in the believer's life, there is no such thing as secular or “non-spiritual”.  The truth is that, for us, everything is a spiritual responsibility, right down to our very thoughts.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5)

In the local church, we have made a false dichotomy because that allows us the freedom to do it our own way.  This is exactly what has been done in our personal lives as well.  Where did this human-based idea come from?  This dangerous insertion is the way of the world.  It is rebellious man wanting to live his life without spiritual intervention, to feel that he is in charge of his world, the “captain” of his soul.  Human government has used this to strangle spiritual influence, and it is everywhere in the world around us.

Why did this false idea spread so rapidly?  One of the major reasons is that it has been a centerpiece of our education systems, allowing man to answer the major questions of life rather than following the plain, clear teaching of God’s Word.  From such areas as the source of life, to life after death, man has forced his definitions on us.  The most tragic issue is that so-called Christian education has followed this concept blindly so that it would appear to be intellectual.

THE RECORD IS CLEAR

There is no question that many of our great educational institutions began with worthy spiritual goals.  It’s not that they were perfect or had the same beginning; they moved from preparing preachers to creating scholars who despise the concept of a sovereign God with absolutes.  The sad thing is that many current Christian institutions are neck- deep in this journey of the secularization of Christian education.  This is a difficult thing for us to admit, but our very beliefs and the way we approach the Scripture is tainted by the concept that we have a better idea than God.

The question is why and how did this happen?  It is as simple as reviewing the history of Israel.  They determined that God as their king was not enough; they wanted to be like the other nations around them with a king they could see and touch. (I Samuel 8)  So God gave them Saul, who was the epitome of “independent man,” who could live life the way he determined and yet have one foot in the religious world.  This is clearly demonstrated in I Samuel 15.  Saul, the secular/religious man, was actually the judgment of God on a nation who wanted to have it both ways.  This is exactly what Paul describes with the “religious sinner” in Romans 2:17-29.  You can’t have it both ways and still have it God’s way.

HUMANISTIC EDUCATION AT ITS WORST

In all honesty, state or federal schools are not public.  They do not represent the general public; they reflect the view of the elite, who continue to experiment on unsuspecting people.  Humanistic education will claim that it is free-thinking and intellectual, but the truth is that state schools function by “indoctrination”.  That is exactly why, since the 1030’s, socialism has blossomed into the entitlement society we live in today.

Please don’t use the old lame excuse of there still being some good Christian teachers and administration in the system.  Looking at the whole, their number is so small they barely appear on the charts.  Talk about believers bailing out of the educational system is also poorly thought through.  When schools were local and community-oriented, our presence was effective; but today the ACLU has more influence on the schools than all of us put together!

THE TRAGIC INFLUENCE ON US

Christian education has been unduly influenced by the humanist agenda.  We were taught to think like they do.  This liberal mindset is neck-deep in our own schools.  We copied so many of their errors in an effort to be intellectual that now we not only think like the world, but also act like the world.  A couple of illustrations from the pool of thousands will suffice.  We were the people of absolutes and truth, with God and His Word as a standard; now we think that all views are right, and you cannot say that other people are wrong.  People do have a right to their own views, but there is only one truth. We need to be kind and polite, but that doesn’t extend to our giving credence to error. All of this has affected our theology, too.  There is only one right interpretation of a Bible text, but we act like we are not really sure, and they just may be right.  Instead of being a matter of black and white, truth has turned gray.

We wanted to be approved by them, and in doing so we became like them.  The demise of the Bible college movement is a result of this terrible compromise.  What do the intellectual heathen know about what God wants our academic standard to be?  Herein is the great failure.  In Christian education, we have divided life into secular and spiritual.  That is our excuse for allowing men and women who hate our God and us to tell us how education is best accomplished.  Of course, most every one of us reading this was trained to think with a liberal mindset, and that is why Christian education has become secularized.  We act, think, talk, and smell like our culture rather than having the sweet smell of truth and holiness.


Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd's Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.  Write for information using the e-mail address, shepherdstaff2@juno.com or Shepherd’s Staff 

May 12, 2015

A Critical Review of the “GRACE Final Report” on Bob Jones University

Much has been reported and discussed about the Grace Report. Here is a critical review, for your consideration, by Martin Bobgan of PsychoHeresy Awareness Ministries. Sample excerpts include:
 
GRACE has an integrationist view, which is a Bible-plus-psychology orientation…. GRACE’s partnerships include the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). They [AACC] are guilty of psychoheresy in that they do not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture for the issues of life normally counseled by psychotherapists and have substituted or integrated the psychological wisdom of men for what God has already provided in His Word.”
 
I do not know Dr. Jones III, in whose defense I will be coming, or anyone else at BJU. However, I am in disagreement with GRACE’s recommended ‘personnel action upon Dr. Jones, III.’ GRACE has erred grievously and egregiously in this ill-supported recommendation. GRACE’s ignorance and naiveté about college governance and the delegation of responsibility would be forgivable if their report were private, but when they impugn the reputation of Dr. Jones III publicly with their insupportable reasoning, it is appalling!”
 
The worst part of the GRACE Report is the seemingly smug and self-righteous, overblown, undeserved indignation against BJU.”
 
I hope and pray that Bob Jones University does not fall victim to GRACE’s shocking and spiritually scandalous suggestions and solutions to remedy any deficiencies and particularly that the BJU Board rejects and reacts against GRACE’s proposed persecution of Dr. Jones III. While psychoheresy is the primary reason I took on this task, the auxiliary reason was because of the outright, outrageous, and outlandish recommendation against Dr. Jones III, whom I do not know.”
 
 
LM

May 8, 2015

Dr. Rick Flanders: “Recant, Or Else!”

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:10)

For two thousand years, Christians have been persecuted in many places all over the world for teaching and practicing their faith.  This is not new.  And news sources are telling us of places where Muslim radicals are giving Christian believers an ultimatum today which amounts to “Convert or die!”  Many are dying for their faith.  Strangely however, a similar ultimatum is about to be presented to Christians in the United States.  Changes in the law are mandating that believers violate their consciences and their faith or suffer a variety of consequences.  The truth is that the First Amendment to our Constitution was adopted some 225 years ago to prevent such a situation by guaranteeing the “free exercise” of religion.  Unfortunately the political events of recent years have worked tonegate that guarantee and will soon force Christians to choose between obeying God and obeying the government.  Is there not a way to reverse the course of the ship of state and avoid the imminent collision of religion and government?
The issue that is producing this conflict is the proposal by progressives to re-define marriage to include the union of homosexual “lovers.”  Marriage has always had a logical and needful definition making two people of the opposite sex into one legally for many reasons, and nations of all times and places have historically recognized this traditional and rational definition.  The viewpoint of civilization has been consistent about what marriage is.  But in recent years, when laws that reaffirmed the traditional definition of marriage were adopted by the people of certain states, they were called by opponents in the media “bans on same-sex marriage.”  This label of course was misleading.  You might as well speak of a “ban on the jackalope.”  Of course, there is no such thing as the jackalope, and so there cannot be a ban on the species.  A list of animals native to a certain region cannot be said to ban the jackalope if that mythical creature is not on the list!  Likewise there is no such thing in our society as same-sex “marriage,” and so a law defining marriage in the time-honored way ought not reasonably to be called a “ban” on faulty definitions.  The effect of these laws is to discard false definitions by affirming the right one, but labeling them as bans on homosexual marriage gives the impression that they bring a form of persecution to a segment of the population.  The laws simply fortify the right definition of marriage against the attacks of the irrational.  They do not take away anybody’s rights.  Contrary to the misleading propaganda, it is not the homosexual community that is being persecuted.
When the law calls for the acceptance of these “marriages,” those whose religion prevents them from recognizing or accepting them will suffer persecution.  Already Christian business-owners have been run out of business for refusing to cater “gay weddings.”  How will the revision of civil-rights laws to cover the interests of same-sex couples affect consistent Christians?  Will there be fines, penalties, or jail time for those who refuse to recognize same-sex marriages as marriages or participate in same-sex weddings?  Will the changes in the law bring churches into legal trouble that teach and practice the Bible?  The Bible condemns homosexual activity as sinful, just as it condemns heterosexual acts committed out of wedlock.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.  Amen.
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affection: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”
(Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Chapter one, verses 24 through 27)
Bible-believing Christians cannot go against the teaching of scripture, no matter what the government tells them to do, or not to do.  Look up Acts 5:29.  The Christians have no choice.
Will ministers who decline to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies be denied the right to perform other weddings?  Will churches with policies against homosexual activity or same-sex marriage lose tax-exemption or incorporation?  How many churches in the United States will fold under the burdens the new anti-Christian public policy will bring upon them? 
Somewhere this week ISIS will demand that a Christian renounce his faith, or die.  Someday soon Christians in our country will be told to abandon their religion or suffer serious consequences.  “Progressive” activists don’t seem to understand that a person with religious convictions cannot just change!  In order to accept same-sex marriage, the Christian must reject the divine origin and authority of scripture.  In order to do that, he must reject the teachings of Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior.  He must recant his faith in order to make the change.  And a Christian cannot do that.
True believers in Christ will not shrink from suffering for Him, but do Americans want to make them suffer?  Is it the will of the people that large numbers of decent citizens suffer for their faith in the Land of the Free?  Some think that the trouble caused for Christiansby progressive politics is a matter of unintended consequences, collateral damage.  Others suppose that the suppression of Biblical Christianity is actually a goal of powerful progressives, and that believers are in the cross-hairs of their sites.  Whatever the truth is about why this is happening, the ugly face of religious persecution is coming quickly to America, disguised as tolerance and equality, and only Americans can stop it.
“If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
(First Peter 4:16)

Dr. Rick Flanders
Revival Ministries

May 4, 2015

Archival Series: Where Have All the Bible Colleges Gone?

With the recently announced closure Northland International University,1 the latest in a string of Bible college closures,2 let’s turn our attention to a timely article from October 2011 by Dr. Clay Nuttall.  Here now is, Where Have All the Bible Colleges Gone?
We should begin with this question: “Is the day of the Bible college over?”  In the past, this phenomenal movement produced huge numbers of ministry servants who then flooded the mission fields and filled the pulpits of our land.  Many of those people have already retired or have been promoted to Glory and received a “well done” from the Master.  A lot of well-known mission fields benefited from the service of these men and women who have left a major mark on mission history.  Men trained in Bible colleges were used of God to build some of the largest and most effective local churches we have known.

It has been argued by some that the quality of Bible college students is no longer sufficient for the day we live in.  The culture may be different today, but the Word of God has not changed; and that was the heart of the Bible college movement.  Most of these institutions came into existence for the sole purpose of training pastors and missionaries.  Theirs was meant to be a foundational training, and there always were institutions that could provide advanced training for those who chose specialized service.  The idea that a Bible college education was not good enough to prepare people for ministry is seriously flawed, if not downright arrogant!  A look at the thousands of servants who were trained, and the ministries that have been established, definitely settles this question.

This is not about the fact that some of those schools failed; the same is true of every movement.  Even our Lord had one disciple who flunked the course!  Not every Bible college graduate made a serious mark on the ministry, but the same is true of any level of training.  A degree, after all, is no guarantee of success.

HOW DID THIS ALL HAPPEN?
As the years have passed, many Bible colleges have faded from the scene.  There are a lot of reasons for this: some were poorly constructed and failed because of finances, leadership, and constituency.  Some of them merged with other schools, while others left their original goal of training missionaries and pastors and broadened into other fields.  Many in this category continued their new direction until they were no longer even Bible colleges, either in practice or in name.  They had every right to follow this path, but the progression demands some honesty.  If a school is no longer a Bible college, or doesn’t really want to be one, then the right thing to do is to move on.  If they are not Baptist, if their main driving ministry is not the Bible, then the best thing to do is to openly confess their new goals.

Confusion arises, however, because of those who claim to hold onto the old even though they have chosen a new direction.  To claim that they still are now what they had been leaves much to be desired. 
There is nothing wrong with admitting that the change is based on funding, enrollment, or even prestige in academia; there is something wrong with a shell game.
 Over the last forty years, I have heard those who have obviously moved away from the Bible college model argue that they still teach the same doctrine and still have the same statement of faith; that is absolutely irrelevant because of what is really being taught and allowed in the classroom.  My favorite saying is, “We teach more Bible now than we did when we were a Bible college!”  Of course you do, because you reached your goal of a larger enrollment; but being one of the “big boys on the block” doesn’t mean you still have the same theology you once taught!

THE PURSUIT OF INTELLECTUALISM
Now we arrive at one of the major reasons why the Bible college has been left behind. As our movement has progressed, there has been increasing pressure for us to become respectable in our academics, like the “elite.”  Both old and young fundamentalists have become enamored with the intellectuals and want to be like them at all costs; they even talk like them and walk like them.  This is the same mistake that Israel made when they wanted to be like the other nations around them who had kings.  So, where there once was a true Bible college, now the leaders mainly want to be respected by the intellectual pagans.

The journey from Bible college to a pursuit of prestige and intellectualism always takes a toll, and this sad declension is almost always represented by a change in theology.  It is not always deliberate; in some cases, it may occur out of ignorance of a biblical theology.  The journey always demands a change in leadership; and when the new main leaders are not biblical theologians, the slide becomes more rapid.  The truth is that sometimes this change is deliberate, even as it is in churches that have left the Bible and Baptist out of their identification.  It is not that the leaders are heretics, but rather that they are swept away by motives that differ from their foundational standard.

It appears that the further an individual or institution moves on this journey in order to have the respect of human leaders, the further they also move from a theology that is biblical.  Every change has its cost, and those who protest this maxim only prove the point.  I am not opposed to higher education; much of my ministry has been there.  I am opposed to teaching and defending error.  Of course, some Bible colleges have problems with academic and theological issues. That is to be expected because we are all human.

GONE?  NOT EVERYONE!
While dozens of Bible colleges have gone out of business, and some have moved on to other areas of emphasis, others have stood firm in their majority purpose of training men and women for the mission field and church ministry.  The great thing is that God today is raising up new Bible colleges that have returned to the foundational goals of training.  While these schools have gotten their share of criticism, they have come to life to fill a gap left by those who have gone on to different things.  One of those new colleges gets my thumbs-up; it is Grace Baptist Bible College of Winston Salem, North Carolina.  Not only has it successfully put together a program that looks like that of the Bible college of old, but a number of well-respected saints in our movement have come to join its ranks.  Perhaps God will raise up some more of these fine institutions to take the place of the departed.


SHEPHERD’S STAFF
Clay Nuttall, D.Min, October, 2011

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care
For those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible
Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address, Shepherdstaff2@juno.com

Related Readings:
1) NIU Closes: The Pattern of Demise 

NIU a Gift? Thanks, but No Thanks

May the "Northland Heart" Perpetuate

2) What Do NIU, Pillsbury, TTU Have in Common?

Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable & Repeatable

Calvary Baptist Seminary: They Are Accountable and Won't Own Up To It

Piedmont/TTU: A Predictable Pattern of Merger With Only ONE Survivor