April 29, 2011

Archival Series- Lordship Salvation: Charles Spurgeon’s Personal Testimony Speaks Against It

The following is taken from Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore (Moody Press, 1984), pages 18-20.

The story of Spurgeon’s conversion is widely known, but it may well be repeated, and it cannot be better told than in the words in which he himself presented it:

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now, had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Church. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved....

The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now it is well that preachers be instructed, but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was—

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimmer of hope for me in that text.

The preacher began thus: “This is a very simple text indeed. It says ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pain. It aint liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is
just ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look.

"But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!" he said in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some say look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin.’ You have no business with that just now.
Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood.
Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me, I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sitting at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!

When he had . . . . managed to spin out about ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger.

Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did, but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “And you will always be miserable—miserable in life and miserable in death—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do,
“Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!”

I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said—I did not take much notice of it—I was so possessed with that one thought . . . . I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me. Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.

There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them,
of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.” Yet it was, no doubt, all wisely ordered, and now I can say—

E’er since by faith I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die. . .

That happy day when I found the Saviour, and learned to cling to His dear feet, was a day never to be forgotten by me . . . .
I listened to the Word of God and that precious text led me to the cross of Christ. I can testify that the joy of that day was utterly indescribable. I could have leaped, I could have danced; there was no expression, however fanatical, which would have been out of keeping with the joy of that hour. Many days of Christian experience have passed since then, but there has never been one which has had the full exhilaration, the sparkling delight which that first day had.

I thought I could have sprung from the seat in which I sat, and have called out with the wildest of those Methodist brethren . . . “I am forgiven! I am forgiven! A monument of grace!
A sinner saved by blood!”

My spirit saw its chains broken to pieces, I felt that I was an emancipated soul, an heir of heaven, a forgiven one, accepted in Jesus Christ, plucked out of the miry clay and out of the horrible pit, with my feet set upon a rock and my goings established . . . .

Between half-past ten o’clock, when I entered that chapel, and half-past twelve o’clock, when I was back again at home,
what a change had taken place in me! Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair, and I was brought into such a joyous state of mind that, when they saw me at home, they said to me, “Something wonderful has happened to you,” and I was eager to tell them all about it. Oh! there was joy in the household that day, when all heard that the eldest son had found the Saviour and knew himself to be forgiven.
(Taken from Iain Murray, ed., The Early Years (London: Banner of Truth, 1962), p. 87-90).

OBSERVATIONS (by George Zeller)
1) Notice how Christ-centered the gospel presentation was.

2) Notice that due emphasis was placed on the death and resurrection of Christ, the all-sufficient Saviour (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

3) Notice how God used the “foolishness of preaching” to save Spurgeon, and that the focus was on Christ and Him crucified (compare 1 Cor. 1:20-25).

4) Notice how Spurgeon was instructed to look away from SELF and to focus on the SAVIOUR.

5) Notice that the emphasis of the sermon was upon LOOKING, not DOING. He was to look in the direction of Christ and he was not told to focus on fulfilling any requirements. The only requirement was that he LOOK.

6) Notice how simple the terms of salvation were: “Look and live!” “Trust Christ and you shall be saved.”

7) Notice that the substitute preacher did not say anything about the terms of discipleship and the demands that are incumbent upon every saved person to follow and obey Christ.

8) Notice that the substitute preacher did not tell Spurgeon to “submit to Christ’s Lordship” or “fulfill the terms of discipleship” or “turn from and forsake all sin” or “hate father, mother, wife, children, etc.” These things are the rightful results of salvation but not the simple terms of salvation.

9) Notice Spurgeon’s joyful conclusion: “Simply by looking to Jesus I had been delivered from despair.” “Oh, that somebody had told me this before, ‘Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.’”

For a wonderful sermon by Spurgeon dealing with the question of what a person needs to do to be saved, see his sermon entitled, “The Warrant of Faith” available from Pilgrim Publications, Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501.
Reprinted by permission from George Zeller.

With the reading of Spurgeon’s personal testimony I am reminded of the beautiful hymn Look and Live, (William A. Ogden, 1887). Following are the four stanzas and refrain:

I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah!
The message unto you I’ll give,
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

Look and live, my brother, live!
Look to Jesus now, and live;
’Tis recorded in His word, hallelujah!
It is only that you “look and live.”

I’ve a message full of love, hallelujah!
A message, O my friend, for you,
’Tis a message from above, hallelujah!
Jesus said it, and I know ’tis true.

Life is offered unto you, hallelujah!
Eternal life thy soul shall have,
If you’ll only look to Him, hallelujah!
Look to Jesus who alone can save.

I will tell you how I came, hallelujah!
To Jesus when He made me whole:
’Twas believing on His name, hallelujah!
I trusted and He saved my soul.

If you’d enjoy singing this treasured hymn with piano accompaniment see Look & Live

This article originally appeared August 10, 2009 with a 56 comment discussion thread afterward.

Please continue this series at- Lordship Salvation: Charles Spurgeon Speaks (more than once) Against It

April 26, 2011

The Spread of Lordship Salvation

Recently, at the church I attend, a deacon got up in front of the AWANA Sparks as a guest speaker. The children ranged from ages five through eight. What greatly saddened my heart was his message to the children, a message on Lordship Salvation. He began by asking the question: What must you do to be saved? Some of the children said, “Believe on Jesus,” and some said, “Trust Jesus as your Savior.” The teacher kept looking for a different answer. Finally he stopped after one girl said, “Accept Jesus into your heart.” The teacher looked at her, and said, “That’s not in the Bible.” What followed was a definition of repentance that included: Repentance equals change of mind, plus change of heart, plus change of purpose. “Jesus wouldn’t want to come into your dirty heart.” “You must clean it up!” He said that this should be done by, “forsaking and turning from your sin in repentance, only then can you believe on Christ.”

His basic point here was that they had to make Jesus Lord of their life to be born again. This was followed up by statements saying that unless you repent you will perish and that you can only be saved God’s way. These statements contained elements of truth, but were being used to perpetuate an error. The incredible thing of it all was that most of the children had it right, but the speaker changed the terms of the gospel negating faith and believing in Jesus Christ to be saved.

It truly is heart breaking to see the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel spreading throughout many local fundamental Baptist churches. No church is totally immune. Lordship Salvation theology is reaching the unsuspecting through various mediums, primarily the Internet. Believers must be vigilant in watching for error concerning the gospel.

This brings up the question: What should be done about the intrusion of Lordship Salvation into Bible believing churches? The problem is complicated by several factors. This article will look at three.

First is the spread of certain Calvinistic or Reformed views. These views can cause a person to be more accepting of the Lordship position. One of the most egregious errors and pathway to Lordship Salvation is the extra-biblical teaching that regeneration must precede faith. That is a lost man must be regenerated, i.e., born again, prior to and apart from faith before he can believe in and receive Jesus Christ. (See articles below for additional study.)

I have friends who say that “Calvinism is Lordship.” We recognize there are a significant number of men who are largely Calvinistic in their theology, but reject Lordship Salvation.

“The lordship salvation view did not begin in the 1950s. In reality the view is as old as covenant reformed theology, with which it is very compatible, although not all who embrace a nondispensational theology subscribe to lordship salvation, and some dispensationalists embrace it. [Walter] Chantry was right when he said lordship salvation ‘is largely associated with Reformed theology (and rightly so).’ Supportive of this is the fact that the most recent full-scale defense of lordship salvation from one [John MacArthur] who claims to be a dispensationalist cites dozens of Reformed writers such as O. T. Allis, Berkhof, Boice, C. Hodge, J. I. Packer, Pink, and Warfield.” (Dr. Robert P. Lightner, Sin, the Savior, and Salvation, 1991, pp. 203-4.
It is important for church leaders and members to be able to recognize the spread of error regarding salvation in their own church. Churches may have to make tough decisions concerning the development of a more complete doctrinal statement if the existing statement does not provide adequate protection from error. Pastors should make sure that any teaching in the church aligns with the church’s doctrinal position so as not to cause confusion. This should include classes, discipleship, youth programs, Bible studies, and special events. It could only take one person to stir up division and offense within a local church through contrary doctrine if it goes unnoticed and unchecked (Rom. 16:17-18).

Second, there are many people in churches today who are not well-grounded in basic Bible doctrine. Men like John MacArthur and John Piper have written books that cloud, complicate and confuse the gospel. Apart from being equipped to read with discernment what is being taught, and testing those things against the Scriptures good people could be drawn toward and fall into the trap of Lordship Salvation. Some Christian colleges and seminaries are tolerating and/or teaching Lordship Salvation in classrooms and chapel. Advocates of LS are being recognized and honored. Pastors and parents are facing a tough decision. Has the time come to withdraw support of those colleges and seminaries that are content on blazing a path of compromise even on the gospel? We certainly need to redouble our effort to disciple new believers on the foundations of our faith. Our churches should be full of members who can recognize error, lovingly/effectively recover those in error and put up a militant defense against the spread of error.

Third, there is a growing resentment in my generation toward the past generation. Some remember their childhood and teenage years with all the rules yet with all of the inconsistency among parents and church leaders. Some students who I went to Northland Baptist Bible College with are now bitter against the fundamental Baptist church. Others never took hold of the doctrine that they were taught. They are now being drawn and welcomed by conservative, non-separatist evangelicals who are the prime advocates of Lordship Salvation and its insidious spread. The good news is that the Lordship Salvation error does not have to continue to spread to the next generation.

In conclusion we see that Lordship Salvation has intruded into our churches and it is aided by the advancement of Reformed views, the lack of doctrinally grounded church members, and the reaction to the failures of some within church leadership. Children must hear a consistent, Biblically correct, gospel message. They must see that we practice what we believe and preach. For that to be possible we must, by God’s grace and personal sanctification, be the Christians that we claim and God desires us to be. As Christians we must, therefore, stand against those doctrines and teachings that go against scripture whether the propagators of error are unregenerate or believers. We must contend for the faith once delivered (Jude 3) to expose, retard and reverse the spread of Lordship Salvation.

Your brother in Christ,

Jim Floyd

Brother Jim Floyd is a graduate of Northland Baptist Bible College with a degree in Biblical Counseling. He worked as a Christian camp counselor for three summers, participated in short term mission work, and helped with a church plant. He currently assists with the discipleship ministry in his local church.

Related Reading:
Can an Unregenerate Person Believe the Gospel?

The Danger of Reformed Theology

Impossible Decision, John 16:7-11

What is Lordship Salvation & Why Does It Matter?

April 19, 2011

IFBF Resolution on Separatism & Compromise

The Annual Meeting of the Indiana Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (IFBF) was recently held at the Thompson Road Baptist Church in Indianapolis. The IFBF elected, as its new president, Dr. Rick Arrowood, who is the Pastor of the Crosspointe Baptist Church. The IFBF also voted on a special resolution articulating it position on separation in the wake of certain men in fundamental circles attempting to redefine separatism.

IFBF Resolution on Compromise

Forasmuch as the Indiana Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of Churches has from its inception adhered to Jude’s admonition to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints,” and

Whereas, every generation faces its own unique and specific challenges to steadfastness and fidelity to the Scriptures which are able to make one wise unto salvation; and,

Whereas there have in this generation arisen movements which have called for a merging of professing Christendom to gather under a Gospel banner, rallying ‘round a mantra of holding to and setting forth the gospel message, i.e. that Christ died for our sins and was buried and rose again the third day, as the only test of faith for fellowship and the standard for legitimacy in New Testament Christianity in this 21st century; and,

Whereas the IFBF has always been and remains to this present hour committed to the biblical principles of both personal and ecclesiastical separation, believing that the whole counsel of God’s Word is our imperative and that erring brethren ought to be loved, yet admonished and even separated from when persisting in error;

Therefore, be it resolved at this IFBF annual meeting in the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, on the 12th day of April, 2011, that our constituency goes on record as affirming our commitment to these separatist principles and further

Be it resolved that we as a fellowship of Independent Baptists reject the compromise of the present Together 4 the Gospel movement, and similar current theological philosophies, associations, publications and trends impacting churches, colleges and seminaries which for the desired end of togetherness, cooperation and oneness in our understanding minimize doctrine and sacrifice faithfulness to our historic separatist, Biblicist stand, i.e. that of separation from Christian individuals or organizations that affiliate with those who deny the faith or are content to walk together with those who compromise the doctrine and practice of Scripture;

Be it further resolved that the IFBF affirms today that it stands as a separatist body where it stood at its inception when, rejecting the new evangelicalism of the 50’s, the IFBF was born and came into existence because of a need for a strong fundamental, separatist, Independent and Baptistic Fellowship to which men of conviction and churches of like faith could adhere; we stand now where we stood then, and we shall continue to steadfastly stand for and upon the once delivered faith, so help us God.

Related Reading:
Dr. Rick Arrowood: Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism

Pastor Marc Monte: Preserving the Separatist Impulse, 2 Thess. 3:6-15

Has Converging With Evangelicals Been a Dangerous and Failed Experiment?

T4G/The Gospel Coalition “A Final Sad Spectacle

April 14, 2011

What is Lordship Salvation: And Why Does It Matter?

There is an on-going debate over a certain segment of fundamentalists preaching and practicing a new paradigm shift for separation commonly known as “gospel-driven separation” or “gospel centric fellowship.”

“There is today a very subtle shift that, on the surface, is very persuasive…. Rather than base separatism on the Bible, the whole counsel of God, we should use as our test the Gospel. There is a plea that says the only doctrines for which we should contend are those doctrines that impinge directly upon the Gospel…. That [Gospel-Centric separatism] broadens our fellowship incredibly to include organizations and individuals who are patently disobedient to the plain teaching of Scripture and yet are somehow tolerated, vindicated and even honored in some of our circles.”1
In recent articles we have been considering why there should be no fellowship or cooperative efforts with the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. The reasons include aberrant theology such as non-cessationism, amillenialism, ecumenical compromise, embracing the world’s music in the form of RAP, Hip Hop and CCM for ministry. All of these are grounds for withdrawing from and having no fellowship with believers who teach and do these things. All of this, however, is being tolerated, allowed for, excused or ignored by certain men who minister in fundamental circles, men who are forging fellowship and cooperative ministries with the evangelicals and influencing others to follow them. There is, however, one overarching concern that trumps all of these issues with the evangelicals combined. That is Lordship Salvation!
Defined briefly: Lordship Salvation is a position on the gospel in which “saving faith” is considered reliance upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. Lordship views “saving faith” as incomplete without an accompanying resolve to “forsake sin” and to “start obeying.” Lordship’s “sine qua non” (indispensable condition) that must be met to fully define “saving faith,” for salvation, is a commitment to deny self, take up the cross, and follow Christ in submissive obedience. (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 48.)
It is virtually impossible not to know that the evangelicals, almost to a man, believe, preach and defend Lordship Salvation (LS). When the T4G and Gospel Coalition conferences convene they gather around the LS interpretation of the Gospel. Certain men in fundamental circles, however, are drawn together in “gospel-centric” fellowship with evangelicals. They are gathering around a common acceptance of and bond in Calvinistic soteriology, primarily in the form of Lordship Salvation.

Dr. Kevin Bauder published a serious misrepresentation when he wrote that Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel.”2 Kevin Bauder has never edited or retracted that statement. Following are samples of Lordship’s corruption of the Gospel for justification.
Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation.” (Dr. John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What is Authentic Faith? pp. 219.)

That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior.” (MacArthur, Ibid, p. 150.)

If you want to receive this gift [salvation] it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ps. Steven Lawson, The Cost of Discipleship: It Will Cost You Everything.)

Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything.” (MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 78.)

This is what Jesus meant when He spoke of taking up one’s own cross to follow Him. And that is why he demanded that we count the cost carefully. He was calling for an exchange of all that we are for all that He is. He was demanding implicit obedience--unconditional surrender to His lordship.” (MacArthur, Hard to Believe, p. 6.)
Based on clear, unambiguous statements from advocates of LS thousands in Fundamentalism reject LS as a corrupt and false interpretation of the gospel.
When the Lordship advocate speaks of “following Christ,” he is speaking of the gospel. When John MacArthur refers to “The Cost of Following Christ,” he really means “The Cost to Receive Christ.” MacArthur believes there is a “Real Cost of Salvation,” or more accurately a “Real Cost for Salvation.” He believes that the gospel demands a commitment of one’s life, and a promise of surrender to the lordship of Christ in an up-front “exchange” for the reception of salvation. (In Defense of the Gospel: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 82.)
Dr. Ernest Pickering recognized that LS, as MacArthur defined it, was a departure from the biblical plan of salvation. Following are two excerpts from Dr. Pickering’s review of the first edition (1988) of John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus.
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. Charles Ryrie was certainly on target when he wrote, ‘The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel…’” (Balancing the Christian Life, p. 70.)

“One of the chief objections to the notion of ‘lordship salvation’ is that it adds to the gospel of grace. It requires something of the sinner which the Scriptures do not require. The message of salvation by grace proclaims to sinner that they may receive eternal life by faith alone whereas the message of ‘lordship salvation’ tells sinners they must be willing to give up whatever is in their life that is displeasing to God.”
Several months after an April 2010 personal meeting with Dr. MacArthur NIU president Dr. Matt Olson announced that with MacArthur they “agree on the most substantive issues of life and ministry.”3 Then Olson hosted MacArthur’s executive pastor Rick Holland in the NIU chapel pulpit to address impressionable young people.4 NIU would not have had Rick Holland in its pulpit, or validated John MacArthur’s doctrine and ministry if the administration had any serious reservations over Lordship Salvation. With Olson’s statement on MacArthur and putting Holland in the chapel pulpit NIU stamped its approval on and endorsed a false gospel, namely “Lordship Salvation.”

Do Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel?” No, they do not! Men in fundamental circles who are converging with advocates of LS are either tolerating a known and egregious error or have themselves embraced the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel and are rallying around it with like-minded evangelicals.

It is high time for men like Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, et. al., to be transparent on the Lordship Salvation controversy. Are these men willing to state in unvarnished terms whether or not they believe LS as John MacArthur, John Piper, Steve Lawson, et. al., “believe, preach and defend” it is the one true Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Lordship Salvation is not the gospel! LS clouds, confuses and complicates the Gospel. LS corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21). Above all other considerations (aberrant theology, ecumenism and worldliness) we cannot fellowship, promote or cooperate with evangelicals who “believe, preach and defend” Lordship Salvation.


Related Reading:.
For a clear, concise example of the egregious error that is Lordship Salvation please read, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page. This article is a reproduction of an appendix entry by the same name that appears on pp. 284-286. In it I examine a statement by John MacArthur that appears in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus. You will find that there is no more clear example of how John MacArthur’s LS corrupts and redefines the Scriptures than this one.

What is the Fault Line for Fracture in Fundamentalism?
How can there be unity within a fellowship when two polar opposite interpretations of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ are accepted as legitimate?”
1) Pastor Marc Monte, Preserving the Separatist Impulse

2) Do Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “Believe, Preach and Defend the [Same] Gospel?”
“There is no universal ‘mutuality in the gospel’ among evangelicals and fundamentalists. ‘Evangelicals and fundamentalists are [NOT] united in their allegiance to the gospel,’ because there is a vast difference between what evangelicals and non-Calvinists in Fundamentalism believe to be the one true Gospel. It is irrefutable, and Kevin Bauder is well aware, that many men in Fundamentalism reject Calvinistic soteriology in the form of LS as a false, works based Gospel. It is, furthermore, indisputable that virtually every man in “conservative” evangelicalism is a passionate advocate for Lordship Salvation, which Dr. Bauder is also well aware of.”
3) Dr. Matt Olson, Open Letter To Friends in Ministry, November 23, 2010.

4) Northland Int’l University Presents Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church to It’s Student Body

April 11, 2011

Archival Series: T4G/The Gospel Coalition “A Final Sad Spectacle”

With T4G’s alternating year sister conference The Gospel Coalition (TGC), convening this week in Chicago I offer for your consideration this updated and revised article from the archives.

Dr. Peter Masters wrote,

Aside from pastors, we know some ‘new’ young Calvinists who will never settle in a dedicated, working church, because their views live only in their heads and not their hearts. We know of some whose lives are not clean. We know of others who go clubbing. The greater their doctrinal prowess, the greater their hypocrisy.

The new Calvinism is not a resurgence but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world.

Why have the leading preachers servicing this movement compromised so readily? They have not been threatened by a Soviet regime. No one has held a gun to their heads. This is a shameful capitulation, and we must earnestly pray that what they have encouraged will not take over Calvinism and ruin a generation of reachable Christian young people.

A final sad spectacle reported with enthusiasm in the book [Young, Restless, Reformed] is the Together for the Gospel conference, running from 2006. A more adult affair convened by respected Calvinists, this nevertheless brings together cessationists and non-cessationists, traditional and contemporary worship exponents...it conditions all who attend to relax on these controversial matters, and learn to accept every point of view. In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked. These are tragic days for authentic spiritual faithfulness, worship and piety.1
Since Dr. Peter Masters wrote this article the “new” Calvinists in the conservative evangelical community have had at least two major controversies arise from among them.
1) Al Mohler and Ligon Duncan joining with Roman Catholics and rank liberals as original signatories of the Manhattan Declaration; an act of ecumenism that gave Christian recognition to the deadly enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18) and compromised the Gospel.2

2) John Piper invited Rick Warren to be a keynote speaker at Desiring God.3
Add those to the concerns Dr. Masters addressed, which is the CCM (Rock-n-Roll) culture and Charismatic theology, which are making serious inroads throughout much of the “new” Calvinism in the evangelical community.4

If the established pattern among the leadership of The Gospel Coalition (TGC) and T4G continues there is no telling just how much will be brushed aside for the sake of unity, but for unity at what cost? The cost is become an obvious disregard for the Scriptures that command men to separation from unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14-17; Eph. 5:11), from the world’s anti-God culture (1 John 2:15-16) and from brethren who are among the disobedient (2 Thess. 3:14-15). These passages are not mere suggestions to the wise.

They are the commands of God and He expects men who call Him “Lord” to OBEY Him.

For the sake of these joining the fellowship of evangelicals certain men in fundamental circles are increasingly willing to tolerate, excuse and/or ignore what many of the high-profile stars of conservative evangelicalism have done to compromise the Gospel. Is it possible that the magnetic attraction of fellowship around the stars of evangelicalism at these events has finally trumped fidelity to the Word of God, the whole counsel of God? These mounting examples of ecumenical compromise and worldliness in methods ministry are still not enough reason for self-described separatists to withdraw from and avoid them.

Are seeds germinating among the so-called evangelicals and a segment of fundamentalists for the coming supra-religion of Rev. 17-18? Some may scoff at that, but I suggest they rethink it in light of Piper’s embrace and defense of Rick Warren, an extreme ecumenical compromiser, Al Mohler*/Ligon Duncan signing the Manhattan Declaration, plus mounting examples of cooperative ministry and hosting non-separatist, compromised evangelicals in fundamental pulpits, conferences and colleges.

Recently a pastor sent me an e-mail that included commentary that I’d like to share here.
…the sour nature of ungodly fundamentalism with its tendency to separate over non-essentials. Their motto in essence would be: ‘In the non-essentials, unity.’ The opposite end of that spectrum is the sickening sweet nature of ungodly evangelicalism with its tendency to unify at the expense of the essentials. Their motto in essence would be: ‘In the essentials, liberty.’ However, this is a case of the essentials and if we can’t have unity on the essentials then there is to be separation. This is the mistake Piper is making and the mistake that Mohler has made especially with regards to the Manhattan Declaration.
Virtually every error in doctrine or practice of the keynote and workshop speakers who converge around the “new” scene Calvinism is allowed to “race ahead unchecked.” Not one of these keynote speakers convening at TGC has come forward with the boldness of an Elijah or Paul. Why?

Is this week’s Gospel Coalition conference the trends toward disregard of the biblical mandates and ecumenical compromises for the sake of unity remain rule of the day. We are going to see a worsening of these things in evangelicalism and an increasing tolerance for them. In the last six months men, who claim to be biblical separatists and institutions that exist in fundamental circles have made the greatest compromises of biblical separatism. Compromises resulting in cooperative ministries, tolerance for, tacit endorsement and acceptance of the aberrant theology, non-separatism and worldliness of the evangelicals.

To be part of this “new” Calvinism, which converges with TGC this week in Chicago one must agree that the “ministry of warning [be] killed off,” and so it is. Evangelicals who embrace the CCM/Rap/Hip Hop personally and for ministry are tolerated and given places of prominence in churches, conferences and chapel pulpits of self-described fundamental, separatist men and institutions. Amilennialism is respected as a legitimate view of eschatology. Continuation of the Charismatic sign gifts is now acceptable and legitimized.
One of the encouraging signs in the evangelical world is how cessationists and continuationists have been able to partner and worship together in recent years, realizing that their commonalities in the gospel are far greater than the issues that separate them with regard to spiritual gifts.” (Ps. Kevin DeYoung as cited by Dr. Andy Nasselli, What Do Cessationists and Continuationists Have in Common Today, April 6, 2011.)
The article at Andy Nasselli’s blog exemplifies the new paradigm shift away from biblical separation to a new and narrow gospel-centered fellwoship. This is the “NEW” New Evangelicalism and it is making serious inroads into fundamental circles.  Among the first I noted who introduced the new separatism is Dr. Dave Doran in his 2009 series on Gospel-Driven Separation.5  This new paradigm is a shift away from the biblical separatism such as Dr. Ernest Pickering articulated in his classic Biblical Separation: The Struggle For a Pure Church. As Pastor Marc Monte noted in his article,
The idea is essentially this: Rather than base separatism on the Bible, the whole counsel of God, we should use as our test the Gospel. There is a plea that says the only doctrines for which we should contend are those doctrines that impinge directly upon the Gospel…. I do not have the right to pick and choose among clearly revealed truths which ones I will contend for and which ones I will not.” (Preserving the Separatist)
Reiterating Dr. Masters, “In other words, the ministry of warning is killed off, so that every error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked.” And so in the hearts and minds of certain pastors and academics that circulate in Fundamental circles we see the ministry of warning being killed off. Certain pastors and academics are attempting to influence an entire generation to follow them in tolerance toward, the embrace of and silence over the excesses of the so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Aberrant theology, ecumenical compromises and worldliness is being tolerated, allowed for, ignored or excused for the sake of fellowship around Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel.

Men who once claimed, wrote of and were anchored to a “militantbiblical separatism in principle and application have drifted far from those moorings. They have lost their zeal and militancy for the sake of fellowship and cooperative ministry with their Calvinistic counterparts in evangelicalism.


1) Dr. Peter Masters, The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness

Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Case for “Gospel-Driven Separation?”

3) See-
John Piper to Feature Rick Warren at 2010 Desiring God

4) Through the efforts to legitimize and converge with evangelicalism, accompanied by a nearly non-existent
ministry of warning, Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson and Tim Jordan are introducing and influencing the same disconcerting trends to Fundamentalist circles. See- Let’s Get “CRYSTAL” Clear on This: A Response to Kevin Bauder’s “Cannonball” Cogitations

5) The Manhattan Declaration: Is This a Clear Case for Gospel-Driven Separation?

*Add to Al Mohler’s signing the
Manhattan Declaration that he: chaired the 2001 Billy Graham crusade in Louisville, honored former SBTS president Duke McCall, a rank liberal, and sits on the board of the ecumenical Focus on the Family. See- Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration: Was This a First Foray Into Ecumenism?

For related reading see FrontLine, March/April 2010, The Manhattan Declaration: Is This Another Step Toward the Supra-Religion?

Site Publisher’s Notes:
This evening (4/11) I requested a clarification from Andy Nasselli on whether or not the quote from his blog article I cited above is from his own pen or a quote from Kevin DeYoung. This morning (4/12) Dr. Nasselli replied to my query. I mistakenly attributed the pargraph to Dr. Nasselli. This was due to my misinterpreting indentations of the article at his blog. The quote is from Kevin DeYoung.

I personally reject all five points of Calvinism as I understand them and the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel that flows from it. I cite Dr. Peter Masters because he is a Calvinist and highly respected in Calvinistic circles. His ministry of warning and admonition to his Calvinistic brethren in America is not easily dismissed by them, but has been ignored.

April 7, 2011

Dr. Clay Nuttall: Shepherd’s Staff


For the majority of my adult life, I have been involved in education. During those fifty years, there have been a lot of changes - some for the good, and some very hurtful to the whole of education. One of the questions most often asked of educational institutions is, “What does your school believe?”

In most cases, an institution will point to a statement of faith as evidence of their theological position. Normally - in conservative schools, anyway - the original statement of faith cannot be altered. Its purpose was to keep the school on track theologically; in the long run, however, it doesn’t work. Many institutions, despite having strong theological statements, have long ago fallen into theological error. Faith statements have value; but like any creed or humanly generated document, they are flawed. Man has never produced anything perfect, and he never will.


There are several ways to find the actual doctrinal position of a school. Its real theology is best understood by hearing what is being taught in the classroom. As years pass, it is easy to allow the theology that is taught to drift from the stated standard. Their real theology is what is taught or demonstrated, not what is stated in an old document that is ignored by board, administration, and faculty alike.

Another way to learn the real theology of an institution is to find out where faculty and students are allowed to attend church. Problems in this area usually surface before the teaching of error in the classroom. If staff and students attend churches that clearly declare on their web sites that they hold or tolerate error, you have discovered all you need to know.

We are what we teach. We are what we tolerate. We are what we practice, and we are what we embrace. It could be argued that to say one thing and practice another is dishonest. It certainly is disingenuous, and I personally could not trust an institution that practiced such deceit. Why not just say it, tell people what you are practicing even if it is contrary to the original accepted standard?

A precedent for this kind of practice has been demonstrated by the liberals’ way of operating. A clear example of this is our federal government. Our constitution, as stated by our founders, has been ignored and rewritten by practice even while leaving the original in place. The result is a lack of trust in those who practice “smoke and mirrors” tactics to change its original meaning and intent.


An additional observation relating to this problem is that where there is a demonstrated shift in theology, there is always a shift in the moral standard. The shift always follows the move away from the original position by practice. On the other hand, a careful study of those who have made the move to the left shows that there were telltale changes in moral standards prior to the abandonment of foundational doctrinal positions.

This is much harder to deal with. If we try to warn people of a coming doctrinal turn by pointing out their moral shortcuts, they fall into philosophical fits. The level of their discomfort rising from moral challenge will likely cause them to turn to name-calling and personal attacks. Derogatory use of the word “legalism” is the magic wand of the soul caught in the act.

Some time ago, this journal asked a question: “How do you know when the emerging church is emerging in your church?” I am not the only one who has been castigated for pointing out the warts of fundamentalism; but, frankly, I don’t care. If we are not willing to admit our own shortfalls, we are in deep trouble. What is going on in our fundamental churches is, without a doubt, a precursor of today’s theological downgrade, which is moving ahead at full speed. There is something more sinister than we want to admit behind the “worship wars.”


Liberalism is a destructive wolf, and it is hiding in the midst of fundamentalism. Many of our friends practice a liberal hermeneutic, a liberal philosophy, and a liberal apologetic; and no one is supposed to say anything. Last month’s Shepherd’s Staff drew the strongest response we have ever had.* Thankfully, most of the comments were supportive; but I am thankful, also, for those who were willing to challenge my position. I grow through such discussions...as long as they are civil.

The discussion that resulted from the previous issue, however, confirmed my deepest concerns. Our crowd has too great a toleration for theological error, and those who are willing to point out this problem should expect ridicule. At the same time, I think that we need to be willing to explain our long-held views to those who want to broaden their level of fellowship and their ministry to include those who harm the standard of a theology that is biblical.

Some years ago, a leading evangelical who would claim to be a fundamentalist wrote, “I don’t think the timing of the rapture is something we should separate over.” That sentiment is now spreading, and one wonders what else in the Bible they want us to tear out and throw away. Even though they may have no such hope, I am still thankful every day for the any-moment “blessed hope” of the church!

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

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

*See, Platform Sharing & Identification,
This present discussion clearly demonstrates the false claim that sharing ministry platform does not identify us with the error that other people hold. It also shows how far afield the discussion of separation has gone.”
A recent example was the Advancing the Church conference at Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale, PA. Drs. Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Tim Jordan and Sam Harbin shared the platform with Amillennialist and SBC pastor Dr. Mark Dever. Dever also embraces the RAP/Hip Hop medium for personal listening and use in ministry. See, The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist To Do?

Additional examples include Northland International University (NIU). At NIU non-separatist SBC theologians and/or evangelicals, many of whom are advocates of the works based gospel commonly known as Lordship Salvation, are endorsed by NIU’s administration and presented to the student body in chapel and the classrooms. See, Is NIU “UnChnaged?”

Related Reading:
Dr. Ernest Pickering: “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists
Some leaders operate on the principle that they will use speakers who are well-known even though they may be shaky in their convictions in some areas-because they have special abilities that are helpful and thus can be a blessing to their congregations. The wisdom, however, of following this course of action is very doubtful.”
Dr. Rick Arrowood, Answering Questions About the Changes We are Seeing in Fundamentalism
Who really is changing as we see this new wave of picking and choosing, applying and justifying, defending and mitigating, ‘mixing and mingling’? If it is right for us to ‘platform fellowship’ with new-evangelicals and those in the SBC, why have we not had them preach in our colleges, seminaries and fellowships over the past sixty years? A Southern Baptist teaching theology in a fundamentalist church, college or seminary has his roots in Southern Baptist soil, and when transplanted temporarily to a fundamental church or school brings that soil with him.”
Photo by Darrell Goemaat/Baptist Bulletin. Used by permission.

April 4, 2011

Has NIU Backtracked From Its Plan to Dissolve the Music Program?

In February 2011 I posted an article that is part of an on-going series on Northland International University (NIU). That article is titled, Northland International University’s Music Department to be Dissolved, which included commentary such as,

On Feb. 4th Dr. Antone Goyak e-mailed to all students a copy of NIU’s new music program, which is known as, Emphasis in Church Music. I was provided with a copy of NIU’s Statement of Vision: Enriching Christ’s Church with His Word through Music, which you may download from the link provided [in the Feb. 2011 article, see link above].

“There are colleges where students once were taught a conservative philosophy of music that focused on uplifting the Lord and not the performer or the personal listening tastes of the hearers. Today they have become an environment where music has no moral quality, style is supposedly unaddressed in the New Testament, and institutional standards are a hindrance. Is it possible NIU is on that track? Significant changes are being made and put into affect at NIU. There are important questions that every parent and pastor of a current or perspective student might consider asking the NIU administration. You might contact NIU Music Department faculty to ask questions you may have.”
In that thread a young man named “Ryan,” who identifies himself as a current NIU student, submitted a comment. Normally, in my new comments policy, I will not post a comment unless the full name is disclosed or the individual is a regular here. On this occasion, however, I decided to allow Ryan’s comment to appear because I wanted to briefly address what he shared then and to reply in greater detail with this subsequent front-page article. On 3/17/2011 Ryan wrote,
I saw this site and hoped to add a little encouragement. I’m a Music Education student at Northland and came in 2005, and I was discouraged to hear what they planned to do with the music program. At the second meeting they had with all of the Music majors, much of our anxiety was relieved. Northland reverted from its plan to dismantle the music program and place it under the Bible degree and are keeping the program much the same. The changes they decided to make were to combine classes like theory and aural skills and a couple other classes so as not to remove teaching, but present it in a form that allows it to be more cost-effective for the school and still equip students to do what they need. I took classes with every music faculty that left or will leave, and I’m not convinced after talking with them that they left because of Biblical philosophy as much as the practical philosophy they thought Northland would bring in, but no longer are. Being here and actually seeing what is taking place rather than hearing about it allows me to be certain that Northland is still an excellent college for any Fundamental Baptist Christian.
My initial response to Ryan appears in the thread. What follows here is a revised and expanded version of that first reaction to Ryan’s comments above. I’ve composed much of the following from discussions with various persons intimately close to NIU, its faculty and staff. Brother Ryan: I am going to address what you’ve shared above on what you feel is happening at NIU, but not entirely as a direct response to you. This will be meant for all readers.

From what I know for sure about the events unfolding at NIU I thought what I was reading in your comment could be attributed to either blissful ignorance or youthful naiveté. Did these NIU faculty members leave only over practical philosophy? No, of course not. The mere fact that three individuals left the university MID-contract year shows that the stakes were much higher than merely working conditions.

If Ryan has been in college since 2005 he may be about 24. Still relatively young and inexperienced in the ways of having an occupation that would lead him to truly believe someone would uproot themselves and alter their livelihood just because classical music training wasn’t on the menu. If Ryan believes that then he may believe virtually all the music staff have left because they didn’t feel qualified to move this new music application forward and because of their love for NIU and biblically based music they volunteered to step down in the worse economy in decades where housing sales in their communities is terribly weak, give up years of relationships and leave in the middle of their children’s education. This is preposterous. I have been an administrator and have overseen staff. Staff leave either disgruntled, discouraged, out of principle, or because they have another opportunity.

The other consideration is the increasing number of other faculty/staff who have either chosen to leave or been let go (the count, at present, is over fifteen). Or, the simple fact that, with the exception of a part-time strings and part-time piano teacher, there are no other remaining music faculty come next fall semester. What is mind boggling is that NIU administration can make direct statements to the students, and then come back mere weeks later and make completely different statements, without much repercussion. Of course, when all of the dissenters are gone (their reasons for leaving all already being discounted), altering statements will be even easier.

Ryan, you wrote, “Northland reverted from its plan to dismantle the music program….” If that is the case, has all former faculty/staff been reoffered their positions back? A school that randomly dismantles a major, only to say they were not really serious about it, brings greater concern for that school’s reliability and credibility.

When you’re in the slowly heating water (“being here and actually seeing what is taking place”) it is hard for you, as the frog, to feel that you are actually boiling to death.

Has NIU changed in philosophy and practice? This video, taken in chapel at NIU (Fall 2010), is sadly representative of the new face and direction of NIU in regard to music standards.

It is clear to me, from the actions and statements of the administrative team, to the conferences the administration attends, to the evangelicals they have reached out to, traveled to convene with, the non-separatist evangelicals and Southern Baptist Convention men they invite to the NIU pulpit, classrooms and Heart Conference, the personal testimony of staff, students, and guests who have left, the lowered music standard in the dorm rooms and the tolerance of music style throughout the campus are evidence enough of principled, positional, philosophical, practical change at NIU.


For Related Reading:
Is NIU “Unchanged?” Northland Baptist Bible College Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity

Northland Int’l. University’s Convergence with Evangelicalism: What Does it Mean for Impressionable Students?

On Les Ollila, Our Children Learn Not Only What We Teach Them, but by What We Tolerate