September 30, 2019

Accountable for Failure and Won’t Own up to It

In our previous article BJU's Soteriology, “Turn from Their Sins” for Salvation we discussed the shift in BJU’s stance toward the Lordship Salvation (LS) interpretation of the gospel.  We asked if BJU still rejects LS, as it had for many decades, they should revise the Position Statement as it currently appears. As of this writing they have not.

Following is an extended comment posted under my article The Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable (August 20, 2013).1  That comment appears under, They are Accountable for Failure and Won’t Own Up to It.2 See if you don’t find parallels to what is happening at BJU presently.

I saw the transformation of Calvary seminary firsthand and this article [The Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable] is spot on. Unfortunately the leadership you [Lou] mention seemed to be more interested in being validated by some of the mainstream evangelicals than sticking with the principles they were trained under and passing them on to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
I was there when Sam Harbin was taking a class with Haddon Robinson3 and he was star struck like he had just met Elvis. A culture began to spread that we all needed to go to Westminster or another “accredited” seminary to learn what the “experts” were doing. I remember thinking “If I wanted that why would I be here?” Regardless, the desire to get the validation of the brightest and the best of the mainstream thinkers seemed to begin to drive the decisions of the seminary and even the church.
My opinion is that these men fell prey to the desire to be somebody and became very much focused on their own motivations and what they wanted out of life. Unfortunately they’ve gotten the outcome of what happens when you do things that way. It’s obvious they are upset about the failure and they have tried to put the best face forward on the closure by calling it a success or celebration. The reality is that they are accountable for the failure of the seminary and just won’t own up to it.
"Chief" Jordan
Instead they in effect blame God by saying that He has other plans. They also say that Dr. E. R. Jordan would have been on board, but there is no way Chief would have ever agreed to bring on a Calvinist professor, and this desperate move right before closing for good just shows how off the focus has been and the disregard for what Calvary has always been.

There was even a letter that was sent to Alumni when that decision was made stating that Calvary “had always leaned more towards Calvinism” and that this wasn’t a bad thing. Regardless of your views on the subject this was an outright lie and misrepresentation of the historic position of the seminary, insulting the alumni and the memory of Chief.
In the end I believe a lot of these men, especially [Sam] Harbin and [Charles] McLain, whether they realized it or not, saw the seminary as serving them instead of the other way around. They remade it in their image and the outcome was a small group of relatives and yes men organized in a mutual admiration society. No one will pay good money to be trained under that system- where insiders get preferred treatment and outsiders get shunned or made to feel inferior. This is a tragedy and a direct result of losing focus on what the seminary was supposed to be.
Chief, with all of his eccentricities, loved people and was passionate about training young men for the ministry and about leading people to Christ. Unfortunately the men who followed him thought they were smarter and could do it better, but clearly they were wrong.

Originally appeared June 15, 2014
Read the additional commentary posted by the author.  He says, “I’m only offering my comments here as a warning to other men in ministry so they can hopefully stay the course without making the same mistakes that were made by these men.”

Site Publisher’s Admonition
BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit, Sam Horn and the board would do well to heed that warning. They are making many of the same mistakes made by the men at Calvary, Northland, Clearwater, TTU and Pillsbury. BJU has been put on a new course that, if history is our teacher, will in all likelihood lead to its eventual demise. Steve Pettit and the board will be accountable for that failure.

In our next article- We will be reviewing some of the same mistakes, which have taken BJU far off course.


September 23, 2019

BJU’s Soteriology: “Turn From Their Sins,” for Salvation

In a previous article, BJU: It’s a Question of Doctrine1 we introduced a discussion of a section in the current BJU Position Statements, which we will examine in a moment. In the Question of Doctrine article our concern was primarily with a chapel message by BJU president Dr. Steve Pettit.  Statements made such as the following were considered.
“What is the race? It is the whole of the Christian life of faith…. When you start [the race] in faith you need to run and finish in faith…. The race has to be faithfully run to the finish, there is justification, sanctification and a glorification. If you lose, if you don’t finish you lose everything, you lose your soul.”
We demonstrated Dr. Steve Pettit teaching the same element of Calvinistic theology (Perseverance of the Saints) as John Piper, R. C. Sproul, John MacArthur and Kevin DeYoung.

Today, we turn our attention more fully to the current BJU Position Statements: Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology under the subsection, With Regard to the Doctrine of Soteriology.2 In paragraph one this statement appears,

God offers this salvation freely to all men who are willing to repent and turn from their sins (Acts 3:19, 17:30) and place their full faith and trust in the atonement Christ made by His finished work on the Cross (Luke 24:46–48, Heb. 9:11–15, 10:10–14).” [bold added]

Does God condition salvation on a lost man’s willingness, “to repent and turn from their sins?”  “Lordship Salvation” is an interpretation of the gospel which requires faith in Christ, plus commitment of life, to stop sinning and start obeying in “exchange” for salvation. Here is John MacArthur, on Lordship Salvation’s message to the lost.
The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer…It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteousness.(Dr. John MacArthur: An Introduction to Lordship Salvation.)
“Seeking the Lord is important, calling upon Him is critical, but so is forsaking wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts. It is impossible to talk about seeking the Lord without talking about turning from sin. It is impossible to talk about turning to the Lord without turning away from iniquity and wickedness. Clearly, this is an essential in the gospel message…. If you’re going to receive the Lord and the salvation He brings, you’re going to have to straighten out…. Salvation comes to those who turn from sin to God.” (The Doctrine of Repentance, Sermon- April 3, 2005) 
“The gospel call of Jesus was a call to forsake sin as much as it was a summons to believe in Him. It was a call to turn from sin.” (The Call to Repentance, Sermon- January 24, 1988)
Dr. Ernest Pickering
John MacArthur is stating what he believes to be God’s plan for the salvation of lost mankind.  MacArthur is stating Lordship’s indispensable condition that must be met if a lost man is to receive “eternal life” and the “forgiveness” of sins. That condition is the lost man “must turn from sin” to receive the gift of eternal life and ultimately enter heaven. Dr. Ernest Pickering recognized John MacArthur's teaching was a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. 
“MacArthur laments, ‘Contemporary Christendom too often accepts a shallow repentance that bears no fruit’ (p. 96). This theme recurs over and over again in the book. The recommended cure for this malady is to require more of the seeking sinner than the Bible requires. Instead of ‘merely’ believing on the finished work of Christ the inquiring soul must also be willing to have Christ as Lord over every area of his life. It seems evident upon an examination of this thesis that those who espouse it are adding something to the gospel that is not in the Scriptures.” (Ernest Pickering, Lordship Salvation: An Examination of John MacArthur’s Book, The Gospel According to Jesus.)
Brother George Zeller wrote, “The unsaved person is told that if he does not turn from sin, surrender, have a willingness to obey, fulfill the demands of discipleship, etc., then he cannot be saved. Sadly, the focus is turned away from the all sufficient, finished work of Christ which is the sinner’s only resting place.”3

From Brother Zeller’s article, John MacArthur’s Position on the Lordship of Christ we read,
MacArthur defines REPENTANCE as turning from your sins (Faith Works, p. 74). He also teaches that true repentance “inevitably results in a change of behavior” (Faith Works, p. 75). But is not TURNING FROM SINS a CHANGE OF BEHAVIOR? Is MacArthur confusing the RESULTS of repentance with REPENTANCE itself? Is not he confusing the FRUITS with the ROOT? MacArthur is more accurate when he says, “true repentance involves a change of heart and purpose (Faith Works, p. 75). The inner change will produce an outward change.4
Dr. John Van Gelderen wrote,
Jesus said, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:31-32). Sick people do not turn from their sickness to a physician. If they could turn from sickness, they would no longer need a physician. Rather, sick people turn to a physician for deliverance from their sickness. Similarly, sinners must turn to Christ, the Great Physician, for deliverance from their sin and its consequence.5
A lost man cannot turn from sin, but he can turn to God to deliver him from the penalty and power of sin (Romans 6). Lordship Salvation contends that repentance is turning from sin(s) or the resolve to turn from sins. Repentance is viewed as a commitment to discipleship and fruit bearing. Scripture has a better answer. The Bible teaches that the Savior saves “the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6) in their sin, and believers from the power of sin (Rom. 6:1-ff; Gal. 5:16). (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, p. 128)

Lordship Salvation is a works based, man-centered message that conditions the gift of eternal life on an upfront commitment to change behavior and perform the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) of a disciple that should be the result of a genuine conversion. Calling on the lost to “turn from their sinsfor salvation is to condition salvation on behavior, not believing. That is works salvation!

We have looked at everything above to get to this,

The BJU Position Statement on soteriology is virtually identical to John MacArthur’s  

definition of Lordship Salvation.

BJU’s Position Statement says God “offers…salvation freely,” and this is true. By conditioning what God offers “freely” upon the willingness of a sinner to “turn from their sins” BJU’s Statement corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Historically BJU never allowed the teaching of, let alone publish an official position statement legitimizing Lordship Salvation. In fact, BJU had in years past utterly rejected Lordship Salvation.6

Is it possible BJU unwittingly stumbled into the trap of Lordship Salvation not realizing that is where they have positioned the university’s soteriology? Or has the university officially accepted the “Lordship Salvation” interpretation of the gospel? 

If Dr. Steve Pettit and the BJU administration reject Lordship Salvation they will surely retract and revise the BJU Position Statement we have highlighted here. Otherwise, and tragically, we’re left to conclude that BJU has become a welcoming place for Lordship Salvation.

1) BJU: It’s a Question of Doctrine

2) BJU Position Statements: Calvinism, Arminianism and Reformed Theology

3) In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, p. xi.)

4) John MacArthur’s Position on the Lordship of Christ

5) Repent and Believe, Part 8: Confusing Terminology: 
Turn from Sin.

6) A Review of Walter Chantry’s “Today’s Gospel” by Dr. Stewart Custer

September 16, 2019

Addressing the FBFI’s Response to the Critical Review

From the Proclaim & Defend blog FBFI president Kevin Schaal reacted to my previous article’s response to Following Jesus, No ReservationsThe FBFI Proclaiming & Defending Lordship Salvation? You can read that article immediately below this article.

Dr. Schaal’s response included the following,
We must also remember that complete, 100% Lordship is a demand the scriptures clearly make of all of us as a RESULT of our salvation (Romans 12:1). We are not saved by works, but salvation does demand submission to Christ in every area AS A RESPONSE. (CAPS his)
No responsible Bible teacher would disagree with what should be the result of a genuine conversion (Eph. 2:8-10).

Previously, however, Dr. Schaal may have strayed into the trap of Lordship’s message.
True Salvation requires unbelievers to turn to Christ from idols (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
Turning from idols is a result of salvation, not a prerequisite. 2 Cor. 5:17 is a statement of fact, not a condition of salvation.
In my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, I dedicated an entire chapter to discuss a common misuse and misinterpretation of 1 Thess. 1:9-10. You can read that chapter, in it’s entirety here in this blog.  Following is an excerpt.
To be born again do the lost need to believe in the Second Coming of Christ? If we accept MacArthur’s view that the Thessalonians were saved by “turning from evil and the intent to serve,” then the Scriptures also demand waiting for the second coming of Christ as a third condition for conversion. 
There is, however, an even larger point with 1 Thess. 1:9-10. This passage is not even describing their initial, saving faith. The emphasis of the passage is clearly upon describing their faithful example in following the Lord subsequent to their initial, saving faith. In 1 Thess. 1:9 Paul is not speaking of how to become a believer; he wrote to them about their growth and testimony as believers.
Dr. John Van Gelderen from his Repent & Believe series, part 9, makes this observation, “To say one must 'turn and trust' to be saved, can mislead and confuse because it conveys not a single step, but instead, a two-step condition for salvation. This implication differs greatly from what Jesus said when He declared, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel' (Mark 1:15).”

While Dr. Schaal’s attempt at clarification is helpful it does leaves concerns and questions. When addressing Lordship Salvation one must always remember that Lordship Salvation blurs the lines of distinction between salvation and discipleship. We would all do well to be reminded of how Dr. Ernest Pickering reviewed John MacArthur’s original TGATJ, for example.
John MacArthur is a sincere servant of the Lord, of that we have no doubt.... We believe in his advocacy of the so-called lordship salvation he is wrong. He desperately desires to see holiness, lasting fruit, and continuing faithfulness in the lives of Christian people. This reviewer and we believe all sincere church leaders desire the same.... But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel.”
There may be some interpretational ambiguity with what Jesus is saying in this discourse, but Paul makes it perfectly clear in Eph. 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5 that there are no prerequisites to salvation.  There are no conditions to grace. The gift of God is of free grace, and nothing added.  

Pastor Niedergall’s article exemplifies falling into the trap of Lordship Salvation’s message of front-loading faith with a commitment in exchange for salvation. There is enough ambiguity in his article that it might have been better had it not been published in its present form.

Kind regards,


See- The FBFI: Proclaiming & Defending Lordship Salvation?

September 13, 2019

The FBFI: Proclaiming & Defending Lordship Salvation?

UPDATE (9/16): FBFI president Kevin Schaal Posted a reaction to this review.  See my response at
Addressing the FBFI's Response to the Critical Review

The Proclaim & Defend blog is edited by Don Johnson for the FBFI.  The FBFI site states, “Proclaim & Defend is the online voice of the Foundations Baptist Fellowship International.”

The FBFI’s “online voice” Proclaim & Defend has posted a new and troubling article titled, “Following Jesus, No Reservations.”  The author is Brent Niedergall, youth pastor at Catawba Springs Christian Church in Apex, North Carolina. He wrote,

“What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matt 19:16b). This young man wants to know how He can have the right relationship with God that we all need. He’s talking about what the Bible calls getting ‘saved’ or being ‘born again’.”
With that we know the author is speaking to what he believes is God’s plan of salvation for lost mankind. What is Pastor Niedergall’s answer, to how this lost man is to be born again?
“Essentially, Jesus is recruiting him. He says, ‘Follow me.’ However, just like Cookie Gilchrist, this man needs to be eligible for recruitment. Cookie wasn’t eligible to play pro ball because he was still in high school. This young man isn’t eligible yet because he has a divided heart. If he makes the right choice, he will be eligible. This is a choice confronting everyone. That is, not the choice to sell everything, but to choose if you will follow Christ. Even when a person makes that choice to become a Christian, there is still the recurring temptation to aim your following towards someone or something else.”
Pastor Niedergall within a football analogy is expressing John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation.

To suggest a lost man must somehow become “eligible” for salvation is a departure from biblical truth.  Every person is born “eligible” for salvation because he was born with a sin nature. Every lost sinner, on his way to hell, is “eligible” for salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9) believing in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) and what He did to provide salvation (John 3:16, 1 Cor. 15:3-4).

In my book, In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, (pp. 171,175.) I dedicated an entire chapter to the Lord’s encounter with the rich young ruler. In it I made this observation,

“If this young man had recognized Jesus as God, he would have realized that he could not meet God’s standard of perfection. Jesus, the God-man, is that perfection, and all men fall short of it (Rom. 3:23)…. Jesus showed this rich young man that he could not earn Heaven through any good work. The Lord was going to show him that he was a sinner and condemned already (John 3:18).”

It is unfortunate that this article, which is Lordship Salvation’s works-based message appears at Proclaim & Defend, “the online voice of the Foundations Baptist Fellowship International.”  This sends the wrong doctrinal message to its membership. Publishing Following Jesus, No Reservations suggests the FBFI is Proclaiming & Defending Lordship Salvation.


UPDATE (9/16): FBFI president Kevin Schaal Posted a reaction to this review.  See my response at
Addressing the FBFI's Response to the Critical Review

Site Publisher's Addendum:
Later we will examine another example of Lordship Salvation appearing where it had never been an acceptable interpretation of the gospel.

September 3, 2019

Archival Series: Moderate Evangelicals, by Dr. Clay Nuttall

The following is a republication of an (2012) article by the late Dr. Clay Nuttall.  I draw special attention to his addressing Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology (CT).  Why? Because today, more than ever, CT is making inroads into some of our colleges and local churches.

Ecumenical evangelicalism is alive and thriving. Like a pack of wolves, the left leaners are devouring the stable theology of the right. There appears to be some kind of death wish on the part of those who feel driven to erase a theology that is biblical by merging it with all kinds of aberrations. This ecumenical activity is willing to set aside important doctrine in order to draw people together. Their argument is that only love, the gospel, unity, or any such singularity is all that matters, along with getting people together; as long as you have the central doctrines, whatever they are, you can trash the rest of the text. This is done by stealth and the redefining of such things as the gospel itself.

Defining the main players is easy; they regularly confess their participation in print. Placing them in categories is another matter altogether. There is no single category where everyone holds to the same views. Terms like atheist, agnostic, infidel, apostate, modernist, liberal, or neo-orthodox is one thing; dealing with evangelicalism, neo-evangelicalism, conservatism, and fundamentalism is something else altogether. Trying to sort them all out is like trying to pick up mercury. In general, each designation does have some major things in common; but none of these is equal to the others.

When individuals try to straddle the theological fence between liberal and conservative, they are most often referred to as moderates. This position of compromise gives credence to the views of both sides. It always means, however, that they have to give up something to the right of them. You cannot hold two contrasting views at the same time; one of them will have to be damaged or disrespected. Part of this problem comes from the desire to be tolerant. We ought to respect others in that they have a right to a view, but that does not mean they are right. The moderate, however, sees tolerance as allowing a broad range of theological positions with a focus on just a few things that are often unstable in themselves.

Recently, discussion has centered on a group called conservative evangelicals. The term alone admits that not all evangelicals are conservative, so this designation is an effort to build a bridge between two divergent positions. It is true that there will be some common ground between them, but they are two distinct views. In light of the forgoing discussion, those who stand in between the two views are really moderate evangelicals.


The moderate position has to surrender something. One cannot hold to a theology that is biblical and blink at the error of another. We don’t have to attack the persons who hold them, but we are obligated to state the contrast of biblical doctrine and to reject error. An example of this is what happened with the invention of progressive dispensationalism. Admittedly, it was an effort to build a bridge between standard dispensationalism and covenant theology, but that is impossible. The gulf between them is as wide as the Atlantic Ocean, and it is impossible to bridge the two. In this case, the moderates had to give up something. While they continued to claim to be dispensational, they departed from the true meaning of the word and developed something new. This, of course, leaves serious questions for them to answer; but this is the nature of the moderate position.

What brought them to this place? Why would anyone want to be caught in the middle? One of the reasons is an insatiable lust for intellectualism. The pseudo-intellectuals have painted fundamentalists and dispensationalists as being a little less than bright. The truth is that some of the finest minds we know are in the ranks of historical dispensationalists; many of these trusted scholars, however, have not felt the need to appease those on the left of the discussion. It is a serious flaw to “want to be like them” so much so that you would walk away from, or be embarrassed about, key doctrines of the faith, because you end up joining the moderates’ choir singing “the time of rapture is not something to separate over.”

I am frequently asked why so many of our young men are following the pied pipers of theological error. Immature students are apt to be fooled quite easily by intellectual gurus. They reveal their passion by repeating telltale buzzwords and questionable theological pretzels such as a “misguided kingdom theology.” Like their mentors, they are quick to discard such important parts of the theological puzzle such as cessationism and to adopt such things as the replacement theory. This not only identifies spiritual immaturity, but also shows that they have had poorly-taught biblical theology in their seminaries. The real bombshell, though, is the absence of the one biblical hermeneutic that would have prevented them from gulping their minds full of doctrinal error. This ministry tragedy can be placed at the feet of the moderates.


Every doctrinal error and theological diversion comes from an erroneous hermeneutic. This is the heart of the moderate problem. The one biblical hermeneutic is exact; it is mathematical. Letting the text speak for itself will bring us to common conclusions. This process would exclude any moderate. On the other hand, the hermeneutical system used by moderates actually lets them conclude anything they wish - and they do. So why would anyone who is committed to a theology that is biblical, established by a biblical hermeneutic, want to hold theological hands with the moderate?

It is one thing for the authors of the “theological error of the month” to ignore the one biblical hermeneutic. Their bad hermeneutical habits go way back to the Jewish rabbis, Origen, Clement of Alexander, Thomas Aquinas, and – surprise! - to Luther and Calvin. To argue that some of them were right some of the time is to argue for the value of a stopped clock. It is true that some of them claimed to own a literal hermeneutic, but their writings tell us otherwise.

The most disturbing thing about this subject is that there are so few people among us who really understand what the plain, normal, consistent, literal hermeneutic is and fewer yet who actually use it. Using the biblical system will not let you agree with the wayward theological ideas that are being fed to young minds these days by the moderate evangelicals.


The liberal mind infects the moderate mentality. It will focus on form instead of content and meaning. It loves complication that creates a smokescreen for the infusion of human reason into biblical text. Such thinking is so well practiced that it is hard to peel the layers off. This is where the biblical system of interpretation is so valuable. When you are following the biblical system, it is impossible to arrive at the many theological errors that exist and are even now being created. On the other hand, there is real joy in knowing that we are allowing the text to speak for itself. Leaning on the grammar, the context, and the historical setting of the text will produce that purity of doctrine that our Lord desires us to have.

SHEPHERD’S STAFF – September 2012

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.

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

Site Publisher’s Commentary:
Dr. Nuttall’s timely article is much appreciated.  Within the article we read a clear definition of a “moderate,” or as I have identified, new wave Evangelicalism of Matt Olson, Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran and Tim Jordan. 
“Erase a theology that is biblical by merging it with all kinds of aberrations…. Their argument is that only love, the gospel, unity, or any such singularity is all that matters…. Straddle the theological fence between liberal and conservative…. The desire to be tolerant…. An effort to build a bridge between two divergent positions.”
Over the last several years we have examples of how Bauder, Doran, Olson and Jordan and their followers (at sites like Sharper Iron) will tolerate, allow for, ignore and excuse the doctrinal aberrations, ecumenical compromise and cultural relativism of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals to have fellowship and cooperative ministry with them.