June 28, 2010

What is 21st Century Neo Calvinism?

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Brother Bob Topartzer opened a blog in April 2006 with and still a single article. This is the BIBLICIST CHRISTIAN TRUTH blog. For your consideration I am offering Brother Topartzer’s article, in it’s entirety, on 21st Century Neo-Calvinism. I do not share every sentiment expressed below, but there is enough here that I feel makes this a worthwhile read. His article is titled,


It is an emerging emphasis on 5 point Calvinism that is highly argumentative, has a tendency to bash Dispensationalism, and has a temperament of pseudo intellectualism. Their time and efforts have little place for evangelism much to say about those who do.

Some will deny that there is such a thing. However, it is my impression that not only does it exist, but it is perpetuated by some in Pastoral ministry who endeavor to make this the great “sine qua non” of their ministry. Like the “old light” European Calvinism of the Puritans of New England, it is critical of many evangelistic efforts as having undesirable methodology and presenting an easy believism no Lordship Gospel. There is often some truth to criticism. There is some truth to their criticism. However, there is often the presentation of those they criticize with exaggeration and mis-statement of facts.

To the Neo Calvinist all scripture can be exegeted to fit into the wonderful world of the “5 points box.” To them, 1 Tim. 2:4 does not mean “all men” but rather “all kinds of men.” Many other passages that do not quite fit into the 5 point box are given this insightful exegetical methodology. Actually, this is the same kind of methodology that is used by liberals to find monogamous homosexual relationships as approved in scripture.

Approach the passage with a truth that you perceive as being true and find a way of explaining the passage according to that truth.

Neo Calvinism is not just Calvinism. Many historians do not find limited or particular atonement as that which Calvin advocated. Some would call it Hyper Calvinism because of that. But it is not just 5 point (or hyper) Calvinism. It is a mood or spirit that aggressively advocates the view against even a moderate Calvinism. American Evangelicalism (Gospel believers) have included many who would call themselves “moderate Calvinists.” They believe that Calvin said much that was right about the Sovereignty of God. They also would agree with regard to the depravity of man. However, they declared the intent and sufficiency of Christ to die for the sins of all men. However, it was only applied to all who believed and were placed into Christ. They also saw in scripture a human accountability that made men accountable for behavior and choices. They were real choices. They realized that there were some inconsistent philosophical collisions in their position. However, they saw this as consistent with what God had revealed. Many good Bible teachers and Theologians of the past and of the present were and are comfortable with that presentation of Scriptural truth. The Neo Calvinist often seeks to present the moderate Calvinist as not understanding Calvinism and simply a Pelagian heretic or a universalist. They view them as philosophically ignorant because all that the moderate Calvinist states cannot be squeezed into the 5 point box.

Neo Calvinism is also a hazard to balanced Christian living and evangelism. They will show up anywhere with their “five shooters” ready for the quick draw debate. They have no time for the evangelism effort.

Neo Calvinism is not just 5 point Calvinism. It is 5 point Calvinism with an attitude! It harks back to the spirit of the last effort for a theocratic Christian government on this earth by New England Puritans. Most do not advocate a theocracy, but their spirit reflects the old lights Calvinism of those who did.

America needs another great awakening. Neo Calvinism presents a mood and spirit moving in the opposite direction.

The following thread comment was added by Bob Topartzer to address this concern from a reader, “5 Point Calvinism is NOT hyper-Calvinism, which is what you seem to be stating here.”

Of course I am aware of the different definitions of “Hyper Calvinism.” Some have called 5 point Calvinism as hyper because they dare to borrow the name of Calvin while the clear evidence today is that Calvin did not set forth Limited atonement. See Alistair McGrath as one of many Calvin scholars who acknowledge this. (bold added)

Site Publisher's Note:
On May 29, 2010 Bob Topartzer reproduced this article in a thread comment at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site.

For related reading see,

The Dangers of Reformed Theology by George Zeller

The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness by Dr. Peter Masters.

The “No Lordship” Counter-Claim by Pastor Tom Stegall.

The Gospel and Separation: Is the Term “Final Salvation” Necessarily Wrong?

June 25, 2010

Archival Series: Grace Evangelical Society’s Reductionist Affirmation of Belief

Dear Friends of IDOTG:

Until August 2005 the official Grace Evangelical Society (GES)
Affirmation of Beliefs on the doctrine of salvation was stated as follows (*abbreviated form):

Jesus Christ, God incarnate, paid the full penalty for man’s sin when He died on the cross of Calvary. Any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ as his or her only hope of heaven, refusing to trust in anything else, receives the gift of eternal life, which once granted, can never be lost. 

The sole condition for receiving eternal salvation from hell is faith (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man's sin and rose from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

 That previous statement was revised. Following is the current version of the GES Affirmation of Belief.
The sole condition for receiving everlasting life is faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose bodily from the dead (John 3:16-18; 6:47; Acts 16:31).

Faith is the conviction that something is true. To believe in Jesus (‘he who believes in Me has everlasting life’) is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it (John 4:14; 5:24; 6:47 ; 11:26 ; 1 Tim 1:16 ).
In the former Affirmation, “Jesus Christ” is identified as deity by use of the term, “God incarnate.” This reference to the Lord’s deity has been deleted from the current Affirmation.

Furthermore, the previous statement included, “
any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ... .” That simple statement summarizes Christ’s deity, incarnation, death and resurrection. As it appeared then, the statement was perfectly consistent with Romans 10:9-10 in regards to trust (believing) in the resurrected Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The statement also includes the word “trust.”

The revisions to the GES Affirmation were made with purpose. In the new version, the relative clause is parenthetical. When the GES says, “
faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ who died...” they do NOT mean that the lost person needs to understand and believe Jesus died and rose again. They simply mean a lost man must believe in the name “Jesus” as the Giver of eternal life.

GES spells out their contents of belief in very next sentence, “
To believe in Jesus...is to be convinced that He guarantees everlasting life to all who simply believe in Him for it.” This is not a paraphrase or roundabout way of stating their position. This is literally the GES definition of the only necessary content of faith for the reception of eternal life. According to the GES, understanding and/or believing the cross, His resurrection and deity are not necessary for salvation. These are the doctrinal truths that Zane Hodges (1932-2008) referred to as “excess baggage” in an encounter with the unsaved.

You can note the phrase “
faith…in the risen Christ” has been eliminated from the current affirmation. Because Bob Wilkin and GES view the Lord’s resurrection as “excess baggage,” they will no longer use descriptive phrases such as that. You will also notice also that the word “trusts” has been removed.

The GES continues to drift far from a balanced biblical position on the Gospel. The revisions of the GES
Affirmation of Belief on salvation affirms and verifies Bob Wilkin personally and, on behalf of GES, officially adopted the late Zane Hodges’s legacy, which was his unbiblical and reductionist interpretation of the content of saving faith, commonly known as the Crossless Gospel.


First published on November 28, 2008 with an extensive discussion thread that followed.

Site Publisher’s Addendum:
An example of the troubling teachings of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) is articulated by one of its members and a passionate follower of Zane Hodges’s Crossless, Promise-ONLY gospel. I speak of Antonio da Rosa who articulates some of the most extreme reductionist heresy in any Christian circles today. He reiterates and reinforces GES’s reductionist assault on the Gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith. For example see- Believing the Gospel, “May Indeed Frustrate God’s Grace?” Antonio da Rosa also stated, The Mormon Jesus and the Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.”

*There is a third paragraph that is not germane to our discussion. You may visit the GES web site to view that third paragraph. It is my policy to avoid linking guest to sites that propagate heretical views on major doctrines. Because of its Crossless/Deityless interpretation of the Gospel, GES is such a site.

This article is a revised version of a thread comment first posted by Greg Schliesmann.

June 23, 2010

Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

For your consideration I am reproducing selected excerpts from Faith Pulpit, February ‘00, Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation, by Dr. Alan D. Cole, Th.D.

I. The Peril of Persecution

One characteristic of postmodernism is not just disdain for absolutes or a debate with absolutes, but also an attack on absolutes and on those who hold them. When Fundamentalism declares positions such as the complete authority of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17), the sin of homosexuality (Romans 1:26-27), and the leadership of the parent in the home (Ephesians 6:1), it places itself in a head-on collision with postmodernism and multiculturalism.

II. The Peril of Pride

The new generation of Fundamentalists faces the peril of thinking that they are superior to the founders of the movement. There is the temptation to look at foibles of past men and respond with disdain toward them and the positions they advocated. There is the danger of thinking that one is enlightened, and therefore that past battles were trivial. When this mindset grips a young man, he is in danger of allowing, or perhaps even promoting, a drift from the movement's founding commitments.

In a previous Faith Pulpit article (May/June 1996), Dr. Robert G. Delnay discusses “Third-Generation Christians.” He states that “in the third generation the importance of deliverance and of the founding issues gets less and less.” He further warns of the possibility that “the third generation will have brought about the end of the founder’s dream.” These trends can also be a possibility within Fundamentalism. Personal and ecclesiastical separation, and an exposition and defense of the faith can all become less significant to one who is unaware of their importance or Biblical basis. One may even reject the whole stand with the excuse that “he knows better.” He may struggle with the pride of youth and view himself as superior to those who have sacrificed for his spiritual growth.

III. The Peril of Pluralism

The next generation faces the temptation to avoid controversy under the guise of toleration.

Being a Fundamentalist is not just wearing a label. It is a firm exposition of and commitment to a theological position, and, in particular, to personal and ecclesiastical separation. It is the application of all doctrine to everyday life. It seems that some, in their attempt to promote a softer and less distinct Fundamentalism, have forsaken their commitment to its declaration and practice. At the heart of this issue is an attempt to be more relevant to mankind while forgetting faithfulness to the Lord and to His Word. When one attends ecumenical conventions for male leadership, when one uses “Christian Rock” or Contemporary Christian Music to build his youth group, when one is unwilling to defend and declare personal and ecclesiastical separation, he is guilty of religious pluralism. He is combining the world with the Word and clouding the lines of distinction between them.

What should be done in light of these blurred distinctives? We must expound the Scriptural truths of separation and apply those truths to daily living. We must recommit ourselves to holiness in the home and in the church.

For the full article follow this link to, Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation, Faith Pulpit, February '00 -Alan D. Cole, Th.D.

Site Publisher’s Commentary:
Much of what the author speaks of from 10 years hence is unfolding before us in this present day. Some men who claim a Fundamentalist and/or separatist heritage have undertaken an on line effort (through their own blogs and the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site) to redefine and/or, “…promote a softer and less distinct Fundamentalism.” This redefined Fundamentalism calls for toleration of non-cessationism, cultural relativism, ecumenicalism and compromises of the Gospel among so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

By making articles such as this visible to the IFB community reasonable voices are being raised afresh for this generation that they might resist calls for a compromised “softer and less distinct Fundamentalism.” Three Perils of Fundamentalism’s Next Generation may help vulnerable young fundamentalists choose holiness, righteousness and fidelity to the Scriptural mandates for personal and ecclesiastical separatism in the face of a competing message.

June 21, 2010

New Review of IDOTG: “Discipleship is for Those Who HAVE Become Believers

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Jan Hawthorne is a regular participant and contributor to this blog. She has also read the new revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation (IDOTG). Last week Jan posted her review of my book at Amazon. Today I am sharing with you her impressions of IDOTG.

Kudos to Lou Martuneac for taking on the message commonly known as Lordship Salvation. Lou has spent years interacting and debating with the Lordship community concerning what is required for a lost person to gain salvation in Jesus Christ. The revised version of In Defense of the Gospel is the result of Lou’s seasoned service in the trenches of the “gospel wars.”

With a gracious and non-threatening tone, Lou explains the position that simple trust in Christ's atoning sacrifice on the cross is not only all that is required, but also all that God will accept from a sinner desiring to be saved. Jesus paid it all. Discipleship is for those who HAVE become believers. Not a requirement for those who WOULD become believers. This is the gospel Lou defends.

This book is neither an exhaustive treatise against Lordship Salvation nor is it filled with difficult doctrinal concepts. It is written for the average reader and gives a good overview of the major issues. Chapter subjects include Calvinism’s connection to Lordship Salvation, salvation and discipleship, repentance, carnal Christians, faith, and several common Bible texts the Lordship Salvationists appeal to: the *rich young ruler, Romans 10:9, and Acts 16:30-31.

There are also eight appendixes, which, in my opinion, make the book worth the cost all by themselves. My personal favorite is on the origin of the phrase “Unless the Lord Jesus is Lord of all He is not Lord at all.” I won’t give away where it comes from, but I will give two hints: it was said by a famous, very well loved missionary; it was NOT said in the context of salvation.

I recommend this book especially for:
1) Christians who find the Lordship presentation of the gospel to be problematic without quite knowing why.
2) Anyone who fears they may not be saved, though you believe Jesus died for your sin.
3) Anyone who knows Jesus died for sin, but fears He might not have died for you.
4) Christians who are not aware of this conflict in gospel preaching and want to be informed.
5) Evangelists.
6) Pastors.
7) Teachers.
8) Deacons/elders.
9) Parents.
10) Anyone who listens to preachers on the radio.
11) Anyone who hasn’t read it yet!

You may also read Jan’s Full Review at Amazon.

* See The Rick Young Ruler, Mark 10:17-22 for an excerpt from this chapter.

For additional sample excerpts from, endorsements of and forewords to In Defense of the Gospel see, Available Now: What to Expect, Part 4.

To view the new video trailer for In Defense of the Gospel please see In Defense of the Gospel

June 17, 2010

Video Trailer for In Defense of the Gospel

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

To raise greater awareness of the revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation a :34 second video trailer has been produced. The text you will see in the trailer is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Lightner’s endorsement of my book as it appears on the back cover.

If you operate a blog or website would you consider running the embed code for this video trailer? It will take just a few minutes to add the embed code to your site. Would you also consider forwarding this information to other bloggers and/or site owners who you believe may want to share the video trailer?

High profile advocates of Lordship Salvation have a well-oiled marketing machine to spread their message. Their efforts to propagate the works-based message of Lordship Salvation can be counteracted. You can help by making as wide an audience as possible aware of this resource of biblical answers to Lordship Salvation. This new video trailer is an appealing way to raise their awareness.

If you would like the embed code for the trailer please contact me via e-mail me and I will forward it to you.

To order a personal copy of IDOTG, Amazon is the most convenient way. To reach Amazon you may click on the large book image in the upper-left column at the head of this blog and you will be linked to Amazon. To date Amazon has not yet uploaded the new book cover image and details, but orders are being fulfilled with the new revised and expanded edition.

Yours faithfully,

Lou Martuneac

See the thread for an important Site Publisher’s Note in regard to the YouTube embed.

June 13, 2010

A Pure Church or a Pure Gospel: Does it Really Matter?

On June 4 I published Kevin Bauder Discussing: Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency?” Dr. Bauder’s remarks on Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration (MD) reveals a drift toward compromise under the banner of tolerance. A drift very similar to that of another self described biblical separatist who determined signing the MD was merely a “wrong decision based on bad judgment.” In the thread Evangelist Gordon Phillips contributed a comment that I excerpted and added to the main article. He wrote,

I disagree with Dr. Bauder that Dr. Mohler was inconsistent to his own principles in the matter. On the contrary, I believe that Dr. Mohler revealed to us his principles by signing the MD.”
Afterward Brother Gordon developed additional commentary in regard to Kevin Bauder Discussing: Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency?” With his additional commentary, that serves as a companion article, I am welcoming Evangelist Gordon Phillips, a first time guest contributor.

I recently ran across this statement from Dr. Kevin Bauder,
It has been suggested that we practice ecclesiastical separation because we are concerned about the purity of the church. Strictly speaking, that is not true. We practice ecclesiastical separation because we are concerned about the purity of the gospel. Christian fellowship and unity are created by the gospel, and they cannot exist where the gospel is denied. (Thinking About the Gospel,
Part Five: The Gospel and Christian Fellowship, In the Nick of Time blog, accessed June 7, 2010.)
In reading those words I initially sensed that it may contain an intentional, but very subtle swipe at the work of one of his renowned predecessors at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Ernest Pickering. Dr. Pickering’s book, Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, would be considered a primer for this generation on the Biblical principles and historical context that are the foundations of Fundamentalism’s belief and practice of ecclesiastical separation. Now if Dr. Bauder’s words were only that, it would be sad to see but not worth mentioning. There, however, appears to be more to be concerned about in his statement than just what may be a veiled swipe at Dr. Pickering’s work.

Have we and do we as Fundamentalists practice ecclesiastical separation because of concerns for a pure church or a pure Gospel? Does it matter which it is and is there any appreciable difference between the two?

Is it possible this may be a purposeful narrowing of the definition of ecclesiastical separation, which if widely adopted by Fundamentalists would result in a paradigm shift in our practice of and fidelity to the God-given mandates?

For his part, Dr. Pickering in his book acknowledges his complete agreement with this statement from Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book, The Basis of Christian Unity,
My contention is that the teaching of the New Testament is quite clear about this, that there is an absolute foundation, an irreducible minimum, without which the term Christian is meaningless, and without subscribing to which a man is not a Christian. That is “the foundation of the apostles and prophets”—the doctrine concerning “Jesus Christ and him crucified” and “justification by faith only.” . . . Apart from that there is no such thing as fellowship, no basis of unity at all. (p. 182.)
While there may be wide agreement that belief in the cardinal doctrines of Jesus Christ and salvation are an irreducible minimum for recognition of someone being a Christian and, therefore, the beginning point of Christian fellowship and unity, are they a sufficient enough basis in and of themselves for fellowship and unity? It would seem that nature itself would instruct us that irreducible minimums, though true and real beginning points, are hardly points from which most things properly function.

Dr. Fred Moritz in Contending for the Faith writes,
To this point, Jude has emphasized the theological nature of New Testament faith. God has revealed Himself to men in His Word. Christians must earnestly contend for that faith and stand against those who pervert God’s grace and deny God’s Son. But that is not all there is to Bible Christianity. New Testament Christianity also demands an intimate walk with the Lord. (p.133)
If there is more to fellowshipping with someone other than that they are barely within the irreducible limits of being a Christian, ecclesiastical separation that is concerned with the purity of the Gospel seems to fail in acknowledging that fact. I see at least two possible gaps created by focusing on a pure Gospel as opposed to a pure church. First, it seems that it would encourage far ranging fellowship and unity with all groups and sects within professing Christianity. While it is true that all professing believers would by default be on record concerning the Gospel, we are not even remotely rowing in the same direction after that point. If the Gospel is important, and it is, then what is built upon it after we are saved must be important too. If not, then just being saved would be an acceptable end to itself. Secondly, if ecclesiastical separation is focused on the purity of the Gospel, then it would seem that believers could join with non-believers in endeavors under a larger religious banner where the purity of the Gospel is perceived to not be at risk.

Dr. Al Mohler, Jr. of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary appears to say exactly that in explaining why he could with a clear conscience sign The Manhattan Declaration (TMD). He wrote,
I signed The Manhattan Declaration because it is a limited statement of Christian conviction on these three crucial issues, and not a wide-ranging theological document that subverts confessional integrity. I cannot and do not sign documents such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together that attempt to establish common ground on vast theological terrain. I could not sign a statement that purports, for example, to bridge the divide between Roman Catholics and evangelicals on the doctrine of justification. The Manhattan Declaration is not a manifesto for united action. It is a statement of urgent concern and common conscience on these three issues — the sanctity of human life, the integrity of marriage, and the defense of religious liberty.

My beliefs concerning the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches have not changed. The Roman Catholic Church teaches doctrines that I find both unbiblical and abhorrent — and these doctrines define nothing less than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But The Manhattan Declaration does not attempt to establish common ground on these doctrines. We remain who we are, and we concede no doctrinal ground. (Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration, Nov. 23, 2009, (accessed June 7, 2010)
Meanwhile, fellow conservative evangelical, Dr. John MacArthur cited his primary concern over the purity of the Gospel as why he could not sign the same document.
Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:

Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion. . . the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel [emphasis JM]. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. . . Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.

The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. . . Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals. [Emphasis added except where noted otherwise] (The Manhattan Declaration, Nov. 24, 2010 (accessed June 7, 2010)
Though these two men came to different conclusions about TMD, they both primarily considered the same matter in their individual decisions--the purity of the Gospel. Now the purity of the Gospel should be an important consideration in whether to sign or not to sign such statements; however, a statement of belief or unbelief in the Gospel within a document should not be the only consideration. The Scriptures command us not just to avoid being linked to unbelief, but also to associations with unbelievers. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14) It appears that neither man believed that by signing TMD he or anyone else would be in an unbiblical union with unbelievers. For his part, Dr. Mohler believes he remains who he was before he signed it, and Dr. John MacArthur affirms as much by still giving those that signed it his respect. Biblically, however, we are to keep ourselves pure; we are not to be partakers of other men’s sin.

Finally, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the ministry of the Gospel is more than delivering a pure Gospel to the lost. The ministry of the Gospel must be in power, in spirit, and in much assurance. (1 Thess. 1:5) These necessary things fall within the concerns of a pure church, but they can be off the radar screen when we reduce our concern to a pure Gospel. I intend to concede no Biblical ground away from a pure church to retreat to a position of a pure Gospel. I trust others would be willing to join me in holding this ground as

this narrow definition has all the appearance of a subtle attempt to sell a repackaged, Evangelical-style ecclesiastical separation to Fundamentalists.

June 11, 2010

Archival Series: Lordship Legalism

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Today, I am beginning a new weekend only series. Most Friday nights I will be reproducing some of the best from the four years of archived articles at IDOTG. Today we begin with an article written by Pastor George Zeller, which appears as Appendix D in the revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel. You may return to the original The Relationship Between God’s Grace & Lordship Legalism from 2006 for the thread discussion that took place then or submit your comment here.

This brings us to a teaching of our day, common in Reformed circles, popularly known as LORDSHIP SALVATION.

Essentially Lordship salvation teaches that simple faith in Jesus Christ is not enough for salvation. Something else is needed. A solid commitment to Christ as Lord is needed. A person needs to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. A willingness to obey Christ’s commands is necessary. Also the sinner must fulfill the demands of discipleship or be willing to fulfill them. This includes loving Christ supremely, forsaking possessions, etc. (see Luke 14:25-33).

What do Lordship teachers do with Acts 16:30-31? [“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”] This verse teaches that the sinner must do the believing and that God must do the saving. It teaches that faith and faith alone is necessary for salvation. It does not say, “Believe and surrender to Christ’s Lordship and fulfill the terms of discipleship and thou shalt be saved.” It simply says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to believe? The hymn-writer has explained it in very simple terms, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word, just to rest upon His promise, just to know THUS SAITH THE LORD!”

Those who teach Lordship salvation are forced to redefine saving faith. It means more than just simple, childlike faith in Jesus Christ. They might say something like this: “We believe in Acts 16:31 just as much as you do, but you need to understand what the word ‘believe’ really means. ‘Believe’ means more than just believe. Saving faith involves much more.” What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Lordship salvation teachers would say that it involves the following: It means surrendering to His Lordship. It means turning from sin. It means submitting to His authority and to His Word. It means obeying His commands, or at least having a willingness to obey. It means fully accepting all the terms of discipleship.

Consider this last statement. Does saving faith really involve accepting all the terms of discipleship? Does saving faith really include such requirements as loving Christ supremely, forsaking all that one has, denying self, etc. (Luke 14:25-33, etc.)? A saved person should do all of these things, but he does not do these things in order to be saved. He is saved because he throws himself upon the mercy of a loving Saviour who died for him. One reason why he needs to be saved is because he does not love Christ supremely. He is guilty of breaking the greatest commandment! It is not our COMMITMENT that saves us, it is our CHRIST who saves us! It is not our SURRENDER that saves us, it is our SAVIOUR who does! It is not what I do for God; it’s what God has done for me.

Avoid the dangerous error of taking what should be the RESULT of salvation and making it the REQUIREMENT of salvation: It is because I am saved that I surrender to His Lordship (Rom. 12:1-2). It is because I am saved that I turn from sin and begin to learn what it means to live unto righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). It is because I am saved that I follow Him in willing obedience (1 John 2:3-5). It is because I am saved that I agree to the terms of discipleship and begin to learn all that discipleship involves (Luke chapter 14).

It is because I am saved that I submit to His authority over every area of my life (Rom. 6:13). I do these things because I am saved by the grace of God, not in order to be saved. Do not turn the results into requirements! Don’t turn the grace of God into legalism [adding unbiblical requirements to the gospel message].

Don’t confuse saving faith with that which saving faith ought to produce. Don’t confuse repentance with the fruits of repentance. Behavior and fruit are the evidences of saving faith but they are not the essence of saving faith. Don’t confuse the fruit with the root. Before you can “come after” Christ in discipleship (Luke 9:23; Matt. 11:29-30), you must “come unto” Christ for salvation (Matthew 11:28). Discipleship is not a requirement for salvation; discipleship is the obligation of every saved person.

Salvation involves Christ loving me (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20); discipleship involves me loving Christ (Matthew 10:37). Because we are justified freely by His grace we measure up to the full demands of God’s righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Because we are frail we often fail to measure up to the full demands of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). The requirements of discipleship are many; the requirement for salvation is simple faith and trust in the Saviour.

Please visit the Middletown Bible Church site for a host of articles by George Zeller on a wide range of theological concerns.

Brother George Zeller wrote one of two forewords for my new book. Continue to Available Now: What to Expect, 4 where you may read his foreword and an excerpt from In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.

June 9, 2010

Lordship Salvation: “The Great Exchange?”

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

In late April a guest, who goes by the handle Servant of God, posted a comment under the article Is Lordship Salvation an “Exchange?” This comment is one of those that I felt needed to be posted as a main page article for special attention. What follows is SoG’s extended comment for your consideration.

John MacArthur teaches that salvation is a “Great Exchange.” He taught in a message he preached entitled, “The Impossibility of Salvation” this...

When you come to Christ, you leave it all behind, all the priorities are changed and you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and you want Christ to such a degree that you would let go of anything and everything. But like Job who was restored with far more than he ever lost, Jesus says, ‘If you’ve left that, you will receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.’ This is the great exchange. You get the pearl of great price. You get the treasure hidden in the field. All you have to do is sell all the cheap stuff you have in this life.”
He [MacArthur] mistakes the great exchange as an exchange of our life for eternal life. First off, we have no life before salvation; we were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Secondly, God offers eternal life as a gift, not an exchange (Romans 6:23). This is the problem with much of Lordship Salvation.

Lordship Salvation presents salvation as if it were in a box with wrapping paper and a bow on it, making it look like a gift; however, Lordship Salvation turns it into some purchase, exchange, or reward to someone who has done good or promises to do good or is doing good. No, salvation is not this way according to the Scriptures.
Romans 5:18 reads, “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”

The Bible speaks of salvation as a FREE GIFT. It is not only said to be a gift, but a free gift. Yet, to the Lordship Salvationist, it’s the only gift that costs us everything. If salvation costs me a dime, it is no longer a gift because I must pay for it. There are big words like repentance that people often are confused about, but “
gift?” Come on!

Here is the source of John MacArthur’s message:
The Impossibility of Salvation

Site Publishers Note:
My thanks to SoG for the documentation above. Lordship Salvation, as MacArthur defines it, is an “exchange,” a barter system. LS is a promise for a promise salvation. See, Is Lordship Salvation a “Barter” System?

June 4, 2010

Kevin Bauder Discussing: Al Mohler’s “Occasional Inconsistency?”

Recently Dr. Kevin Bauder made some brief personal remarks about T4G leader, one of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals, Dr. Al Mohler and his signing the Manhattan Declaration. I have listened to and transcribed those remarks. Dr. Bauder's commentary was recorded on April 27, 2010 at the Foundations Conference.1

Al Mohler felt liberty to sign the Manhattan Declaration. Other conservative evangelicals not only did not feel that liberty, but were critical of Mohler for doing that. Personally I think that in signing the Manhattan Declaration Mohler is acting inconsistently with his own principles, but I think we give a man a certain amount of liberty for an occasional inconsistency. Which of us isn’t occasionally inconsistent? I don’t think the occasional inconsistency is what establishes a position. I think we take Mohler and others in terms of their overall conduct not in terms of a single episode.”
In December 2009 I produced the second in a series of articles that addressed the Manhattan Declaration (MD) and a number of issues in regard to it. That article is Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration : Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?2

In that article I provided irrefutable documented evidence of a long running pattern of “inconsistency” in the ministry of Al Mohler. Kevin Bauder is not unaware of these incidences in Mohler’s ministry. Signing the MD was NOT a “single episode” of inconsistency. Kevin Bauder knows it is not Mohler’s first or only episode of “inconsistency with his own principles.”

Al Mohler signed the MD, which gave Christian recognition to the deadly “enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). Al Mohler entered into fellowship, a common cause with Roman Catholic priests, new evangelicals and apostates through the MD, which compromised the Gospel. None of this was worthy of so much as a mention by Bauder.

If Mohler were a novice Christian signing the MD might be excusable. He is, however, a seasoned pastor with an established track record of missteps, such as have been documented in Al Mohler Signs the MD: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism. Missteps such as:

Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism
Al Mohler became president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in 1993. In all fairness, therefore, arrangements for honoring Graham, the high-priest of ecumenical evangelism, by naming the school for him in 1994 probably preceded Mohler’s presidency.

Honoring a Liberal Theologian
In June 2009 SBTS celebrated its 150th anniversary. Following Dr. Mohler’s message, the seminary honored its seventh president Duke K. McCall by announcing the dedication of its new pavilion in his honor.
Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville, KY.
Dr. Al Mohler served as chairman for the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville, KY. Billy Graham has turned thousands of (alleged) converts over to Roman Catholic and modernistic churches. Mohler knew this when he accepted the chairmanship of Graham’s Louisville crusade.
To these we can also add that Al Mohler has for years and still today sits on the board of directors of Focus on the Family.3

Later this year Al Mohler has another opportunity to demonstrate whether or not his established pattern of inconsistency will continue. He is one of the keynote speakers at John Piper’s Desiring God conference in October. John Piper also invited Rick Warren as a keynote speaker.4

Will Al Mohler join Rick Warren on the platform at Desiring God?

At the end of the day and this discussion: There is nothing occasional about Dr. Al Mohler’s “inconsistency [and] overall conduct.” Closing with the addition of an excerpt by Gordon from the first comment in the attached thread,
I disagree with Dr. Bauder that Dr. Mohler was inconsistent to his own principles in the matter. On the contrary, I believe that Dr. Mohler revealed to us his principles by signing the MD.”


Addendum (12/26/13)
The closing quote from the original article above was prophetic. To the list of Mohler’s ecumenical compromises above you can add:

To date (12/26/13) Dr. Kevin Bauder has continued his pattern of either ignoring or giving his blessing to these each. Kevin, furthermore, joined Mohler in cooperative ministry, and heaps “lavish praise” upon him. 

For a related article please continue to, A Pure Church or a Pure Gospel: Does it Really Matter?

1) Foundations Conference
See Conservative Evangelicals & Fundamentalists for the audio recording. The transcribed portion begins at 3:58 ending at 4:40.

Al Mohler Signs the MD: Was This a First Time Foray Toward Ecumenism?

3) Focus on the Family is, “a component of the American Christian right, it is active in promoting interdenominational work toward its views on social conservative public policy.” (Wikipedia, [accessed, June 4, 2010].)

John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God Conference

From D.A. Carson’s For the Love of God, volume 2, Jan. 23 entry:
One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift. In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy, and effort to bring about reform. In the grace of God, sometimes human beings display such virtues. But where such virtues are absent, the drift is invariably toward compromise, comfort, indiscipline, sliding disobedience and decay that advances, sometimes at a crawl and sometimes at a gallop, across generations.

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, and obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated
.” (bold added)
I could not help but recognize that Carson’s comments (in bold above) describes the drift we are seeing from men like Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran when it comes to the men and actions of the so-called conservative evangelicalism.

To dismiss Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan signing the Manhattan Declaration as merely a, “wrong decision based on bad judgment,” (Doran) and “occasional inconsistency…single episode,” (Bauder) has the look and feel of a “downward drift toward compromise” of the Scriptures (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15; Rom. 16:17), in the form of tolerance for the sake of fellowship.

June 2, 2010

The Merger of Central Seminary & Faith Baptist Bible College: “Lordship Salvation” is Big Question #2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

Earlier this year it was announced that Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, MN and Faith Baptist Bible College & Theological Seminary in Ankeny, IA had begun discussing the possibility of a merger.

Last month (May 2010) at The Church for God’s Glory Conference Dr. Kevin Bauder spoke publicly on the progress of and current events in the merger discussions. I am not certain it was in the best interest of those private discussions to have details aired publicly by one of its participants. Nevertheless, it has been done.

Today, for your consideration, I am posting a complete transcription of Dr. Bauder’s *recorded remarks from the conference in regard to the proposed merger. Following the transcription I will direct personal commentary toward one element and that will be soley on the Lordship Salvation portion of his remarks.

Before I get to the text I want to take just a couple of moments for one or two housekeeping things here. Number one, several people have asked me today when Central Seminary is merging with Faith Baptist Bible College and Seminary. Can I talk about that for just a minute?

The short answer is there have been no decisions about a merger. There is a conversation that is going on, that’s all it is right now, a conversation. There is not a concrete plan on the table we are going to follow. But I will say this, if a merger does happen it will occur in the summer of 2012, two years from now, and it will take this shape: There will be one seminary on two locations, two campuses. In other words, Faith will retain its current campus, or the merged seminary would operate on the current campus of Faith Baptist Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa and simultaneously on the present campus of Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Interestingly enough, once we got into the serious conversation about this Faith actually began by making the concession that whatever resources Central Seminary brings to the table and there are significant resources there, whatever resources Central Seminary brings to the table will be devoted, sequestered, I think the correct financial term is restricted for the on going operation of the Minnesota campus.

And so if you’re wondering is the Minneapolis campus of Central Seminary just going to vanish, is it going to go away, if you’re thinking, “I’m an alumnus; am I’m going to be an orphan now,” the answer is: No, the Central Seminary name will remain in play, the current campus will continue to be operated.

If there is a merger and it is far from a forgone conclusion at this point, there will be a merger, this summer actually over the next six weeks we are focusing on the two big questions. Question number one; am I telling you more than you want to know? That’s not question number one [laughter]. I carried away about things. Question number one: Will there really be enough synergy and savings in a merger to make this a worthwhile endeavor for both institutions; will it create a genuinely better institution and will it do it at substantially reduced costs than we could do separately? That’s question number one.

Question number two: How do we negotiate some of the differences between us that are minor differences, really in the big scheme of things, very small differences, but are nevertheless among us the sort of differences that can constitute land mines.

You’ve heard some remarks today, Brother Mike [Harding] about Lordship Salvation. Well, do you believe in Lordship Salvation? Well, it depends on what you mean by Lordship Salvation; right? Charles Finney believed in Lordship Salvation. He believed that in order to be saved there had to be a change of mind and a change of purpose, which is what Dr. Harding talked about. More than that Finney believed that you don’t really have Jesus as your Lord unless there is an actual change in conduct. In other words, for Finney- Finney is uber-Lordship Salvation. If you are genuinely saved you stop sinning, period. And if you haven’t stopped sinning, you’re not saved. I don’t think anybody in this room wants to endorse that version of Lordship Salvation.

So, what we are trying to do with Faith [Baptist Bible College & Seminary] is to get past some labels and to talk about what we mean, what we really believe and what we really don’t believe about certain biblical truths. I think that is a useful exercise. I’ve told the administration at Faith that this is something I wouldn’t be embarrassed to do publicly to talk about these differences publicly because these are differences that affect fundamentalism and even evangelicalism as a whole and we need to learn to get past labels and to talk about substance, which is part of what I was pleased to hear Pastor Harding doing earlier in the day, talking about substance.

I’m not saying it’s all about Lordship Salvation. Don’t get me wrong there. What I am saying is that there are wrinkles of difference between our institutions in terms of the way that we envision our theological posture.

In the grand scheme of let’s say Bible believing theology those differences amount to less than 1% of our total theology, but that 1% can be thorny if you don’t talk through it ahead of time. What we’re trying to do is talk through it carefully.

Let me go one step further. As the result of this conversation our institution has I think developed a far deeper appreciation for the people at Faith than we have ever had before. And I think that is vice-versa. But, what’s also occurred is this: In the process of the things that lead up to this there have been conversations between us and other institutions at different levels and about different sorts of things. Some of them just at the level of what’s going on. Some of them at the level of, “would you talk to us.” I can honestly say of the institutions that are represented in this room and I’m talking educational institutions now and I’m hesitant to begin naming because I’ll miss one, but I know there are people from Maranatha who are here. People from Northland International University who are here. People, from Detroit Seminary who are here. I don’t know if I’m missing anybody, but those three in particular I know are here.

I think today we at Central Seminary view ourselves as much more committed to the well-being of all of these sister institutions because of the fact that we do have so much in common with each other and the stakes are so much higher in terms of the differences that are outside. And so we’re committed increasingly to the fraternity and prosperity of, how can I put this, of what is left of mainstream, historic Fundamentalism.

*Through this link you may listen to Dr. Bauder’s remarks on the merger. His remarks begin at :17 seconds into the recording and run for 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The middle portion speaks to the Lordship Salvation concerns.

I. In regard to the Lordship Salvation question Dr. Bauder said, “So, what we are trying to do with Faith [Baptist Bible College] is to get past some labels…

Dr. Bauder seems to want to brush aside the label “Lordship Salvation.” He should not be so hasty to do so. The label “Lordship Salvation” has a definite, definable theology attached to it and that label is accepted by some of Lordship Salvation’s most high-profile advocates.

“In general, both sides of the debate have come to accept the designation Lordship Salvation. On the Grace Community Church web site, (Dr. John MacArthur, Senior Pastor) under Distinctives you will find one of the distinctives of the church’s teaching is titled, ‘Lordship Salvation.’ Here the term Lordship Salvation is used without further clarification or apology to define the official theological position of Dr. MacArthur’s church in regard to the gospel. So, it does appear the frustration has ceased for most Lordship advocates over the title that defines their position.” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 51.)

II. Dr. Bauder said, “Question number two: How do we negotiate some of the differences between us that are minor differences, really in the big scheme of things, very small differences, but are nevertheless among us the sort of differences that can constitute land mines.”

He was referring to Lordship Salvation. IMO, the Lordship Salvation debate is no small matter. The Gospel IS the “big scheme of things” in the New Testament church. There is a vast chasm, major differences between the theology of Lordship Salvation and the one true Gospel of the Bible, which is salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).

III. Dr. Bauder identified “Lordship Salvation” as “big question number two.” The big question in any discussion of Lordship Salvation is Lordship’s requirements FOR salvation, which is where the heart of the debate and controversy resides.

“As you read through the pages of this book please bear in mind that the Lordship Salvation controversy primarily revolves around the requirements for salvation, NOT the results of salvation. A genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results. New believers will vary in levels of growth, but growth should be evident to some degree. The primary focal point of controversy, however, is Lordship’s requirements for the reception of eternal life, i.e., how to become a Christian.” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. xvi.)

“The major issue and crux of the doctrinal controversy is over Lordship’s definition of how the lost are born again. Concerns in regard to the discipleship of genuine believers are an important discussion, but…that is not where the main controversy lies. The crux of the Lordship debate is over the requirements for salvation, not the results of salvation. One of the central questions that fuels and defines the Lordship debate is: What is required of a sinner that would constitute ‘saving faith,’ i.e. the faith that results in his being born again?” (In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 47.)

For related reading and further discussion see any one of the following articles:

Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

The Gospel of the Christ: The “Lordship Salvation” Label

Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations, “Foremost Defenders of the Gospel Today?

Lordship’s “Turn From Sin” FOR Salvation

Is Lordship Salvation a Barter System?

Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?

John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel

Yours in His service,