July 13, 2016

SOMEONE TELL ME, Clay Nuttall, D. Min.

These long days of illness have given me a good opportunity to triple my reading time. It has been very profitable, and I am reading more widely than ever. While it assists me in my research, I keep coming back to questions that are not found in any written text. Having spent a lifetime in ministry, education, and missions, my mind is full of questions. Some answers are clear; others are not. As you read my questions, you may have some wisdom to share. If so, I ask you to pass it on to me.

Some weeks ago, I had lunch with a dear friend who is the president of a well-known seminary in another country. We were considering the impact, or lack thereof, of theological education on every level. I could easily spend a month recording the positive effects of training on the lives of so many who have served the Lord so well. Many of these folks have gone on to their reward, and we are grateful for having known them. On the negative side, though, it has been painful to see men and women who appeared to have been well-trained but who have slid, or jumped, into theological systems and questionable moral practices of which they now seem to be proud. This type of errant direction was unusual in the past, but it has now become a rush with men and women who ought to know better. So my question to you is this: “Why has this departure from truth become so popular?”


There is no question in my mind that the American model of education is responsible for adding fuel to this fire. The liberal mind-set has always been a part of that system. It is flawed and tends to hide behind intellectualism, philosophy, and so-called “science.” It is intellectually cruel with the capacity to turn truth into a lie, deluding people into thinking that it is indeed the truth. As time has passed, this “liberal mind-set” has become the majority and has now created a mental dictatorship.

The admission that something is a lie comes when you have to force others to think like you do. Ultimately, you are punished if you don’t think (or believe) like they do. If truth doesn’t stand on its own two feet, then it is a lie. This is exactly where our world is at this moment.

The liberal mind-set makes much to-do about “critical and analytical thinking,” the truth is that their approach forbids such serious consideration. The American educational model is really just indoctrination and brainwashing. If you don’t support the fairy tales of evolution, global warming (even they know that was dumb), and moral degradation such as sodomy or transgenderism, you are a danger - an enemy. You are not allowed to either think or speak on the subject.


Almost everyone we know today has been raised to think with a liberal mind-set. It might be understandable that this could happen in an academic world run by intellectual pagans. It is understandable that the present plight of this nation came about because the liberal mind-set is now the only one that is tolerated.

What troubles me is that this mind-set has become the standard for most so-called Christian institutions. Our crowd “longed for the leeks and garlic of Egypt [Numbers 11:5].” They wanted to be like the “big boys” in education. Like all departures from error, some of that error was carried along. Such is the sad story of Luther and Calvin.

That is not to say that some institutions are not battling to pass on a biblical mind-set. Of course most of them would say that they do “think biblically,” but where is the proof? They have bought into the world of “form” rather than the imperative of “content and meaning.” A good education will cover a lot of ground and disciplines, but it will never bow to human reason as the final authority. Everything ought to begin and end with the authority of the Word of God.


So how can it be that some who were trained with a high biblical standard, with professors or pastors who were loved and respected, could then move to flawed theology? At this point, I am thinking of men who were educated beside me or in front of me. Some of this has to do with our own circle of education, where indoctrination or brain-washing was used. They were not taught critical and analytical thinking, and the truth as it was presented never became their own.

Pick up the catalog of an institution, any institution, and start asking questions about individual courses or sections. Where is that clear effort to lead the student in owning the theological truth? Course after course is full of good information, our truth. We even give them exams so that we can know they remembered our truth. Where is the emphasis of God’s truth as it is displayed in the text, in that the student knows how to own what he gleaned from that text?

Those who have moved on to theological error and the liberal mind-set didn’t get it. They have joined the great movement of “adding to the Bible” whatever they want it to say. Intellectual pride makes that so easy. Young men in particular are lured by theologians with twisted minds who a have made rewriting the Bible into an art form.

So here we are back at the beginning. The fact is that not all students will get it, but I would be satisfied if most of them did. I have a short list in front of me; how did these men get drawn into a historical theology that reads like “Alice in Wonderland???” 

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 at ShepherdStaff.


July 5, 2016

Archival Series: It’s Not About “Cultural Fundamentalism” It’s About Personal Separation

Dr. Chuck Phelps
It has become vogue to declare one’s loyalty to “historic fundamentalism” while distancing oneself from “cultural fundamentalism.”  “Historic Fundamentalism” is defined by those who affirm this paradigm as belief in the cardinal doctrines of the Christian faith.  “Cultural Fundamentalism,” according to those who disenfranchise from it, is fixated on music, dress, ministry associations, and methods.1  While such an argument may be appealing, it is simply not valid.  Failure to biblically explain one’s position on matters pertaining to Christian liberty by attacking a newly created straw man called “cultural fundamentalism,” will cause increasing polarization among those who profess to know the Lord and love His Word.  Peace among the brethren will not come as a result of pummeling the straw man called “cultural fundamentalism.”  Why not?  Because it’s not about “cultural fundamentalism,” it’s about personal separation!

Does Charles Spurgeon represent “Cultural Fundamentalism?” 

In 1887, C.H. Spurgeon wrote,
“At the present time it is a matter of notoriety that preachers of no mean repute defend the play-house, and do so because they have been seen there.  Is it any wonder that church members forget their vows of consecration and run with the unholy in the ways of frivolity, when they hear that persons are tolerated in the pastorate who do the same?  . . . . The fact is that many would like to unite church and stage, cards and prayers, dancing and sacraments.  If we are powerless to stem this torrent, we can at least warn men of its existence, and entreat them to keep out of it.  When the old faith is gone, and enthusiasm for the gospel is extinct, it is no wonder that people seek something else in the way of delight.  Lacking bread, they feed on ashes; rejecting the way of the Lord, they run greedily in the path of folly.”  (The Sword and the Trowel, 1887)
Think about it . . .

1. The term “fundamentalism” was coined by Curtis Lee Laws in The Watchman Examiner in 1920.  Charles Spurgeon predates “fundamentalism” and thus cannot legitimately be called a fundamentalist. Yet, those who attack the straw man of  “cultural fundamentalism” must see that the straw man of their making sounds a lot like Spurgeon.

2. The cross-denominational Niagara Conference is considered to be the seed-bed out of which fundamentalism grew.  The Niagara Creed was written in 1878.  Statement #12 of Niagara’s Creed says,
“We believe that we are called with a holy calling to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, and so to live in the Spirit that we should not fulfill the lusts of the flesh; but the flesh being still in us to the end of our earthly pilgrimage needs to be kept constantly in subjection to Christ, or it will surely manifest its presence to the dishonor of His name: Rom. 8:12-13; 13:14; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:1-10; I Pet. 1:14-16; I John 3:5-9.”
Niagara’s Creed, which both predates and lays the foundation for the fundamentalist movement sounds a lot like the straw man now called “cultural fundamentalism.” 

With the statements of Spurgeon and Niagara in mind, it is without doubt revisionist history to seek to divorce “cultural separation” from historic fundamentalism.  Personal separation predates fundamentalism and flows through every pore of genuine Christianity.  Attacking personal separation by calling it a new name fails to deal with the fact that our faith requires personal separation.  Those who attack personal separation without interacting with Scripture may garner a following but they do not promote true biblical faith that interacts with culture and the holiness of God.

It’s not about “cultural fundamentalism.”  It’s about consecration as evidenced by and through personal separation!   Article #48 of The Fundamentals is simply entitled “Consecration.” (Note:  The Fundamentals are the articles that birthed “fundamentalism.”)  It is evident to all who will read this article and others in The Fundamentals that historic fundamentalism understood and interacted with biblical instruction concerning personal separation.  Those who seek to divorce personal separation from historic fundamentalism are revisionists who demonstrate an appalling ignorance of and perhaps even cavalier arrogance toward true biblical Christianity before the birth of fundamentalism, during the formation of historic fundamentalism and flowing from historic fundamentalism. 

For the genuine Christian, “personal Separation” predates “fundamentalism.”  It is rooted and grounded in our call to holiness (I Pet. 1:15-16; I John 2:15-17).  Even the word “church” (ekklesia, “called out”) is embedded with the necessity to separate.  Sadly, there are those who want to make a movement called fundamentalism defend separation and forget that separation is defended by and declared in Scripture.   

Beware of those who belittle personal separation by attacking “cultural fundamentalism.”  To belittle separatism is to belittle Scripture and to ignore what it means to live a life of consecration.  It’s not about “cultural fundamentalism,” it never has been.  It’s about living a consecrated life of personal separation to please a holy God.

Dr. Chuck Phelps

(Originally appeared April 23, 2013.)
1) Dr. Matt Olson: Pursuing Transparency With Change
Some may ask, “Are you fundamentalists?” If you are talking about believing the fundamentals of the faith, being willing to separate over them, and being committed to living a holy life before God—then the answer is a resolute, “Yes.” If you are talking about our being willing to separate over “cultural fundamentalism” and its demands to separate over Bible translations, music, dress, methods of ministry, secondary associations, etc., the answer is an equally resolute, “No.” We cannot. (Italics added)
Related Reading:
Dr. Rolland McCune, Militancy Has Always Characterized Fundamentalism

On April 24, 2013 the FBFI’s Proclaim & Defend blog has published the article by Dr. Phelps.  Please see, Chuck Phelps on Personal Separation.