October 28, 2012

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.” Today, the primary mantra has been “It’s all about the Gospel,” from which doctrinal aberrations and ecumenical compromise is tolerated or excused for the sake of fellowship around the gospel.  But, what sort of gospel message is the rallying point for this kind of compromised fellowship and cooperative ministry?

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 cooperative ministries with the evangelicals and influencing the next generation 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.    

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.  Dr. Kevin Bauder published a serious misrepresentation of a known fact when he wrote that Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, “believe, preach and defend the [same] gospel.”2  Kevin Bauder has never edited or retracted that statement.
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?”  Men in fundamental circles who are converging with the evangelical advocates of Lordship Salvation are either tolerating an egregious error or have themselves embraced Lordship Salvation and are rallying around it in gospel-centric fellowship with like-minded evangelicals. Have Dave Doran, Kevin Bauder, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, et. al., been 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 of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.  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 Lordship Salvation’s corruption of the simplicity that is Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).

As an addendum please see, Lordship Salvation Requirements by Pastor George Zeller

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

October 25, 2012

Archival Series: Should We Abandon the Name “BAPTIST?”

In light of the previous articles’ discussion of both the Highland Park Baptist Church* and the former Northland Baptist Bible College dropping “Baptist” from their names I present to you the following from Dr. Ernest Pickering (1928-2000).

Many colleges and seminaries were brought into existence by the prayers and sacrificial giving of fundamental Baptist people. There has developed in some of these schools an “itch” to distance themselves as far as possible from their Baptist roots (the “denominational walls” as some have called them), become more broadly “evangelical” in their posture, while retaining, insofar as possible, the support of their Baptist constituency.  One such school, long part of the Baptist movement in the United States, embarked on a course to change its name.  While publicly asserting they were not really changing anything essential, and while “pushing the right buttons” so as to assure their long-time constituents that everything was all right, the president of this institution had a definite agenda in mind which did not coincide with the historic position of the college. It was the president’s intent to move the school away from the separatist Baptist position it had historically occupied.

In a set of notes distributed only to the Executive Committee of the institution, the president, who had only recently come from a position in an interdenominational, new evangelical school, lamented that for all these years the college had been cut off from the “conservative evangelical community” due to its Baptist image.  Since he believed this “evangelical community” needed a liberal arts college to which they could send their students, he proposed to his Executive Committee (and later to the Board of Trustees) that the Baptist school make the changes necessary in order to enable them to fill that need.  One of his principal declared goals was to “broaden the student and supporting constituency to include all conservative evangelicals.” He suggested the school pattern itself after the Moody Bible Institute and “de-emphasize denominational walls.”  In other words, for all practical purposes, the school would cease to be a Baptist institution in the sense that its founders originally intended.  Those who began the school never envisioned it to be training ground for “evangelicals.”  They purposed for it to be a center for the training of people who would have Baptist convictions to serve in fundamental Baptist churches.
The entire purpose of the founders has now been perverted.
Part of the plan to change the institution involved the creation of a special board of reference apart from the regular governing board.  Members of this board would not have to meet the same doctrinal and ecclesiastical requirements as members of the regular board, so that “prominent evangelical Christians whose church membership might otherwise exclude them from the Board of Trustees” could serve.  The name of the college was to be changed and the name “Baptist” removed from the publicized title in order to give it the desired broader image.  The proposed program has now been completed. The name is changed, the college is moving in a broader sphere, and yet it still retains its approval as an official Baptist training institution by a national body of Baptist churches.

The current infatuation with abandoning the name “Baptist” is but part of a larger problem in the church today—the effort to minimize differences and magnify similarities.  It is also propelled by the enormous pressures of the evangelical ecumenical movement which is gathering people of various denominational persuasions in large meetings with the express purpose of breaking down denominational prejudices (a la “Promise Keepers”).  True Baptists cannot and ought not be part of such efforts.  The convictions we hold are not merely “denominational prejudices.”  They are divinely—revealed truths rooted in the Holy Scriptures.  Let us not apologize for them, but preach them and teach them in the power of the Spirit so that future generations may continue to faithfully stand by them.

Dr. Ernest D. Pickering, Th.D.
Copyright 2004 by Baptist World Mission
Reprinted by permission (excerpt pp. 6-8, 12; bold added)
*What Do Pillsbury, Tennessee Temple & Northland Have in Common?

Site Publisher Commentary
From nearly 20 years ago Dr. Pickering, in seemingly prophetic imagery, was articulating what we see unfolding in fundamental Baptist circles today.  An example such as: Under the direction of Dr. Matt Olson the former Northland “Baptist” Bible Collegeembarked on a course to change its name while publicly asserting they were not really changing anything essential.” See, Is NIU “Unchanged?” Northland Baptist Bible College Position Statement on Contemporary Issues in Christianity

Dr. Pickering concluded his article with this statement, “…a larger problem in the church today—the effort to minimize differences and magnify similarities.”

Minimize differences and magnify similarities.”  Isn’t that exactly what Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, Doug MacLachlan, Sam Horn, Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran and others like them have been attempting these many months with the “conservative” evangelicals.  Kevin Bauder’s 24 part Now, About Those Differences series was nearly an exercise in futility for readers trying to discern first, where he was noting any real differences, and second, identify any differences that might preclude cooperative efforts between fundamental Baptists and evangelicals.  Al Mohler signing the Manhattan Declaration was excused by Drs. Bauder and Doran.  John Piper’s embrace of Rick Warren has been ignored by both men.  Catchy phrases and ideas such as, “separation in academic contexts, it’s all about the gospel, gospel-driven separation and gospel-centric fellowship” are the rallying cries for minimizing the differences.  Men who have adopted the new paradigm shift toward a “gospel-centric” fellowship seek common ground with non-separatist evangelicals by magnifying similarities they share, which at its core is Calvinistic soteriology in the form of the Lordship Salvation* interpretation of the gospel.  When, however, they come to aberrant theology, worldliness, cultural relativism and ecumenical compromises of the evangelicals those differences are minimized, tolerated, allowed for, ignored and/or excused for the sake of  “community.”

Community” the very word that Dr. Pickering cited as the motive for a course change that included abandoning the name “Baptist.” And away with the name went the application of a core fundamentalist Baptistic principle, namely biblical separation.  The very same course change Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Matt Olson, Tim Jordan, et.al., have embarked on and attempting to influence others to follow.  The difference today is simply a reverse order. With the exception of Matt Olson at Northland “International” University they, their institutions retain the name “Baptist, but the principles and application of fundamental, separatist Baptists are going away ahead of the name for the sake of “community” with non-separatist, compromising so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

In the face of a growing mood for change among certain men who claim a heritage to biblical separation we thank God there are men who are going to put God and His Word first and ahead of the influence to adopt the new fashion compromise.  To the purveyors of compromising Scripture for the sake of community: We will not follow you down the jagged path of tolerance for the sake of “community” with non-separatist, compromised and erring believers in evangelicalism. We will instead continue to “admonish” our brethren in evangelicalism to obey the Scriptures and remain withdrawn from (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15) them until they move toward obeying the Lord and His eternal mandates. We will, instead, “preach them (divinely revealed truth [including biblical separation]) and teach them in the power of the Spirit so that future generations may continue to faithfully stand by them.

* See, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

Related Reading:
Community is Being Elevated Above Theology, by Dr. Doug McLachlan
Dr.McLachlan wrote, “specifics’ of doctrine are dismissed or unimportant.” In Matt Olson’s Confidence in the Next Generation article on the Grace Bible Church, a member of CJ Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries, a major specific of doctrine is not even mentioned. A doctrine that the current official NIU doctrinal position states was “temporary,” must be “rejected, opposed” and “cannot accept.” That major doctrine is Charismatic theology, which teaches that the sign gifts of tongues, prophecy and healings are active and should be sought after today. Yet, Matt Olson praised this church and its pastor.
Has God Changed the “Old Paths” for a new “Radical Center?” by Dr. Lance Ketchum.
Apparently, there are now certain acceptable deviations from the pathway of righteousness and doctrinal purity. These new degrees of acceptable deviations are not based upon an accusation regarding the fallibility of Scripture, but the fallibility of theological dogmatism. Apparently, we can never be certain about anything any longer. Oh yes, there are certainly theological absolutes, but they fall into a very narrow category we will call the fundamentals. Apparently, now the only real fundamental worth separating over is the Gospel. Of course, this Gospel Only view must be very broadly defined to include Lordship Salvation, Easy Believism, Only Believism, Monergism, and even the Pentecostal Full Gospel. These New Centrists are no longer going to separate over unimportant doctrines such as false Ecclesiology, false Eschatology, false Cessationism, or even over what defines acceptable spiritual music in the worship of God.
Is This Really Authentic? by Pastor Brian Ernsberger.
Dr. McLachlan is laying down the claim that these men “and others like them” are bringing about what he wrote in his book. I would disagree. What these and others are doing is what Dr. McLachlan is articulating in his article, not what he articulated in his book. Dr. McLachlan has shifted his criteria for reclamation.
Has Converging With Evangelicals Been a Dangerous and Failed Experiment?

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

October 22, 2012

Dr. Larry Hufhand, Point of View: Wondering Again

Recently, an evangelist friend of mine reminded me of another form of Calvinism that’s making its rounds.  He, as well as I believe it is by far the most dangerous form of all.  For want of a better identification, let’s call it, “Calvinism with a hoot.”  It’s the reformed theology that is coming out of the Sovereign Grace movement, coupled with the “beat” music of the charismatics, all of which is led by the likes of C J Mahaney who is a “continuationist,” and the new religious right.

What they have done is taken the theology of Augustine and Calvin and added a charismatic twist to it.  Of course the music they sing is Sovereign Grace music, since they believe the music of Fanny Crosby and P. P. Bliss and others is not only old and archaic, it is also Arminian in theology. One of the premier conferences featuring this kind of programming is the “Resolved Conference,” the most recent of which, was held this past June of 2012, in Palm Springs, CA and hosted by the Grace Community Church, located in Sun Valley, CA.

Three of the speakers were Dr. John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community, C J Mahaney, founder of the Sovereign Grace Ministry, and Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY. (Talk about a mixed trio, Dr. MacArthur with his Presbyterian polity, C J Mahaney, with his continuationism, and Dr. Mohler with his A-millennial eschatology)

The music was put together by Enfield, a musical group that ministers weekly at the Grace Community Church in the College ministry of the church. To commemorate the origin of the Resolve concept, they passed out T-shirts featuring the face of the late Jonathan Edwards.

Dr. Lawrence Hufhand, Editor

The IFB & Calvinism: Flashpoint!

Site Publisher Commentary:
To commemorate the origin of the Resolve concept, they passed out T-shirts featuring the face of the late Jonathan Edwards.”  Dr. Peter Masters in The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness had these remarks for Resolved.
“The new Calvinists constantly extol the Puritans, but they do not want to worship or live as they did. One of the vaunted new conferences is called Resolved, after Jonathan Edwards’ famous youthful Resolutions (seventy searching undertakings). But the culture of this conference would unquestionably have met with the outright condemnation of that great theologian.
Resolved is the brainchild of a member of Dr. John MacArthur’s pastoral staff [Rick Holland], gathering thousands of young people annually, and featuring the usual mix of Calvinism and extreme charismatic-style worship. Young people are encouraged to feel the very same sensational nervous impact of loud rhythmic music on the body that they would experience in a large, worldly pop concert, complete with replicated lighting and atmosphere. At the same time they reflect on predestination and election. Worldly culture provides the bodily, emotional feelings, into which Christian thoughts are infused and floated. Biblical sentiments are harnessed to carnal entertainment. (Pictures of this conference on their website betray the totally worldly, showbusiness atmosphere created by the organisers.)”

October 18, 2012

Charles Spurgeon: Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade

No lover of the gospel can conceal from himself the fact that the days are evil. We are willing to make a large discount from our apprehensions on the score of natural timidity, the caution of age, and the weakness produced by pain; but yet our solemn conviction is that things are much worse in many churches than they seem to be, and are rapidly tending downward. Read those newspapers which represent the Broad School of Dissent, and ask yourself, How much farther could they go? What doctrine remains to be abandoned? What other truth to be the object of contempt? A new religion has been initiated, which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching. The Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth, and yet these enemies of our faith expect us to call them brethren, and maintain a confederacy with them!

At the back of doctrinal falsehood comes a natural decline of spiritual life, evidenced by a taste for questionable amusements, and a weariness of devotional meetings. At a certain meeting of ministers and church-officers, one after another doubted the value of prayer-meetings; all confessed that they had a very small attendance, and several acknowledged without the slightest compunction that they had quite given them up. What means this? Are churches in a right condition when they have only one meeting for prayer in a week, and that a mere skeleton? Churches which have prayer-meetings several times on the Lord’s-day, and very frequently during the week, yet feel their need of more prayer; but what can be said of those who very seldom practice united supplication? Are there few conversions? Do the congregations dwindle? Who wonders that this is the case when the spirit of prayer has departed?

As for questionable amusements—time was when a Nonconformist minister who was known to attend the play-house would soon have found himself without a church. And justly so; for no man can long possess the confidence, even of the most worldly, who is known to be a haunter of theatres. Yet at the present time it is matter of notoriety that preachers of no mean repute defend the play-house, and do so because they have been seen there. Is it any wonder that church members forget their vows of consecration, and run with the unholy in the ways of frivolity, when they hear that persons are tolerated in the pastorate who do the same? We doubt not that, for writing these lines we shall incur the charge of prudery and bigotry, and this will but prove how low are the tone and spirit of the churches in many places. The fact is, that many would like to unite church and stage, cards and prayer, dancing and sacraments. If we are powerless to stem this torrent, we can at least warn men of its existence, and entreat them to keep out of it. When the old faith is gone, and enthusiasm for the gospel is extinct, it is no wonder that people seek something else in the way of delight. Lacking bread, they feed on ashes; rejecting the way of the Lord, they run greedily in the path of folly.

An eminent minister, who is well versed in the records of Nonconformity, remarked to us the other day that he feared history was about to repeat itself among Dissenters. In days gone by, they aimed at being thought respectable, judicious, moderate, and learned, and, in consequence, they abandoned the Puritanic teaching with which they started, and toned down their doctrines. The spiritual life which had been the impelling cause of their dissent declined almost to death’s door, and the very existence of evangelical Nonconformity was threatened. Then came the outburst of living godliness under Whitefield and Wesley, and with it new life for Dissent, and increased influence in every direction.

Alas! many are returning to the poisoned cups which drugged that declining generation, when it surrendered itself to Unitarian lethargy. Too many ministers are toying with the deadly cobra of “another gospel,” in the form of “modern thought.” As a consequence, their congregations are thinning: the more spiritual of their members join the “Brethren,” or some other company of “believers unattached;” while the more wealthy, and show-loving, with some of unquestionable devoutness, go off to the Church of England.

Let us not hide from ourselves the fact that the Episcopal Church is awake, and is full of zeal and force. Dissenting as we do most intensely from her Ritualism, and especially abhorring her establishment by the State, we cannot but perceive that she grows, and grows, among other reasons, because spiritual life is waning among certain Dissenters. Where the gospel is fully and powerfully preached, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, our churches not only hold their own, but win converts; but when that which constitutes their strength is gone—we mean when the gospel is concealed, and the life of prayer is slighted—the whole thing becomes a mere form and fiction. For this thing our heart is sore grieved. Dissent for mere dissent’s sake would be the bitter fruit of a wilful mind. Dissent as mere political partisanship is a degradation and travesty of religion. Dissent for truth’s sake, carried out by force of the life within, is noble, praiseworthy, and fraught with the highest benefits to the race. Are we to have the genuine living thing, or are we to have that corruption of the best from which the worst is produced? Conformity, or nonconformity, per se is nothing; but a new creature is everything, and the truth upon which alone that new creature can live is worth dying a thousand deaths to conserve. It is not the shell that is so precious, but the kernel which it contains; when the kernel is gone, what is there left that is worth a thought? Our nonconformity is beyond measure precious as a vital spiritual force, but only while it remains such will it justify its own existence.

The case is mournful. Certain ministers are making infidels. Avowed atheists are not a tenth as dangerous as those preachers who scatter doubt and stab at faith. A plain man told us the other day that two ministers had derided him because he thought we should pray for rain. A gracious woman bemoaned in my presence that a precious promise in Isaiah which had comforted her had been declared by her minister to be uninspired. It is a common thing to hear working-men excuse their wickedness by the statement that there is no hell, “the parson says so.” But we need not prolong our mention of painful facts. Germany was made unbelieving by her preachers, and England is following in her track. Attendance at places of worship is declining, and reverence for holy things is vanishing; and we solemnly believe this to be largely attributable to the scepticism which has flashed from the pulpit and spread among the people. Possibly the men who uttered the doubt never intended it to go so far; but none the less they have done the ill, and cannot undo it. Their own observation ought to teach them better. Have these advanced thinkers filled their own chapels? Have they, after all, prospered through discarding the old methods? Possibly, in a few cases genius and tact have carried these gentry over the destructive results of their ministry; but in many cases their pretty new theology has scattered their congregations. In meeting-houses holding a thousand, or twelve hundred, or fifteen hundred, places once packed to the ceiling with ardent hearers, how small are the numbers now! We would mention instances, but we forbear. The places which the gospel filled the new nonsense has emptied, and will keep empty.

This fact will have little influence with “the cultured; for, as a rule, they have cultivated a fine development of conceit. “Yes,” said one, whose pews held only here and there a worshipper, “it will always be found that in proportion as the preacher’s mind enlarges, his congregation diminishes.” These destroyers of our churches appear to be as content with their work as monkeys with their mischief. That which their fathers would have lamented they rejoice in: the alienation of the poor and simple-minded from their ministry they accept as a compliment, and the grief of the spiritually-minded they regard as an evidence of their power. Truly, unless the Lord had kept his own we should long before this have seen our Zion ploughed as a field.

The other day we were asked to mention the name of some person who might be a suitable pastor for a vacant church, and the deacon who wrote said, “Let him be a converted man, and let him be one who believes what he preaches; for there are those around us who give us the idea that they have neither part nor lot in the matter.” This remark is more commonly made than we like to remember, and there is, alas! too much need for it. A student from a certain college preached to a congregation we sometimes visit such a sermon that the deacon said to him in the vestry, “Sir, do you believe in the Holy Ghost?” The youth replied, “I suppose I do.” To which the deacon answered, “I suppose you do not, or you would not have insulted us with such false doctrine.” A little plain-speaking would do a world of good just now. These gentlemen desire to be let alone. They want no noise raised. Of course thieves hate watch-dogs, and love darkness. It is time that somebody should spring his rattle, and call attention to the way in which God is being robbed of his glory, and man of his hope.

It now becomes a serious question how far those who abide by the faith once delivered to the saints should fraternize with those who have turned aside to another gospel. Christian love has its claims, and divisions are to be shunned as grievous evils; but how far are we justified in being in confederacy with those who are departing from the truth? It is a difficult question to answer so as to keep the balance of the duties. For the present it behooves believers to be cautious, lest they lend their support and countenance to the betrayers of the Lord. It is one thing to overleap all boundaries of denominational restriction for the truth’s sake: this we hope all godly men will do more and more. It is quite another policy which would urge us to subordinate the maintenance of truth to denominational prosperity and unity.
Numbers of easy-minded people wink at error so long as it is committed by a clever man and a good-natured brother, who has so many fine points about him. Let each believer judge for himself; but, for our part, we have put on a few fresh bolts to our door, and we have given orders to keep the chain up; for, under color of begging the friendship of the servant, there are those about who aim at robbing THE MASTER.

We fear it is hopeless ever to form a society which can keep out men base enough to profess one thing and believe another; but it might be possible to make an informal alliance among all who hold the Christianity of their fathers. Little as they might be able to do, they could at least protest, and as far as possible free themselves of that complicity which will be involved in a conspiracy of silence. If for a while the evangelicals are doomed to go down, let them die fighting, and in the full assurance that their gospel will have a resurrection when the inventions of “modern thought” shall be burned up with fire unquenchable.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon 
Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade, from the August 1887 Sword & Trowel.  Excerpted from, The Spurgeon Archive

Site Publisher’s Commentary:
For several weeks we have been posting articles to expose and discuss the changes at, the downgrade of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and the former Northland Baptist Bible College. For example see,

What Does Central Seminary and John Pipers Desiring God Have in Common?

Northland Students Perform Jesus Love Me and Its Blasphemy!

Central Seminary has moved into the New Evangelical orb of John Piper.  Central has drifted far from the fundamentalist, separatist moorings that were its historic distinctives. Northland International University (NIU) president, Dr. Matt Olson praises a church in CJ Mahaneymodern Charismatic movement, and CCM/Rock/RAP music is the new norm for praise on campus. NIUs trajectory is a downgrade from the foundational principles and historic doctrinal positions of Northland’s first 30+ years.  The downward trajectory of Central and NIU is a symptom of the new wave New Evangelicalism.  In light of these failing/falling, but once fine institutions, I presented Charles H. Spurgeon’s Another Word Concerning the Down-Grade. This article was Charles Spurgeon’s first major entry into the war of printed words regarding the “Down Grade.”

October 14, 2012

The President’s Corner: Ground Work for Diminishing the Seminary?

In our previous articles we have discussed Central Baptist Theological Seminary’s participation at John Piper’s Desiring God conference. See, Non-Fundamentalists to Critique Fundamentalism and What Does Central Seminary & John Piper’s Desiring God Have in Common? Each other!

At the time of that writing I also read Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) president Dr. Sam Horn’s letter, The Road Forward: For the Church, For the Gospel.1 His letter relates to the future of CBTS. It is a “handwriting on the wall” kind of letter. Letters like that tend to give the impression that supporters should brace themselves for a diminishing of the institution. If all things were good and growing at Central, this particular letter would (IMO) never have been written. Dr. Horn notes that the changes for CBTS will be “finalized and announced this fall.”

In Dr. Horn’s letter he asserts that there are other good “evangelical” seminaries. As the president of a seminary, I would think it wise to promote Central’s distinctions and strengths—not assure prospective students there are many other good choices available to them. Dr. Clearwaters always emphasized the differences between Central Seminary and the New Evangelical schools. He didn’t view New Evangelical schools as competing for the same students, because Central had a Biblicist philosophy. If Central’s distinctive doctrinal and separatist positions are not significant, why maintain the diminishing institution? In other words,

Central Seminary used to offer something distinct from the Evangelical schools.
Many are saddened by the ongoing downgrade trajectory and demise of formerly great institutions. Saddened by schools that once took an uncompromising stand for the whole counsel of God, but not anymore. Schools that once would not cooperate with, condone or tolerate doctrinal aberrations, worldliness and ecumenical compromises have turned the corner. The days of fundamental Baptist, separatist distinctives are gone for CBTS as well as Calvary Baptist Seminary (Lansdale)2 and the former Northland Baptist Bible College (Northland International University).3 These schools and their leadership are the originators of and/or advocates for the new wave New Evangelicalism plaguing the New Testament church.

We can be greatly heartened, however, in that the Lord has given us a new generation of Biblicist schools to take their place, schools that have not surrendered the high ground. We are grateful for schools that take a sound stand for the Bible and its mandates for separatism, that are enjoying increased enrollment and expanding programs.


1) Dr. Sam Horn, The President’s Corner: The Road Forward: For the Church, For the Gospel

2) Kevin Bauder & Dave Doran to Join Mark Dever at Lansdale: Is this a Fundamentalism Worth Saving? ... CBS (Lansdale) To Host Haddon Robinson

3) Is Northland “Unchanged?”  ... Is Northland Opposed to the Modern Charismatic Movement?

Related Reading:
Dr. Ernest Pickering: “A Mood of Broadmindedness,” The NEW New Evangelicalism

Central Seminary Ten Years (1966) by Dr. Warren Vanhetloo

October 10, 2012

What Does Central Seminary & John Piper’s Desiring God Have in Common? Each Other!

In September (28-30) the Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Minneapolis, MN) sponsored a display/booth at John Piper’s 2012 Desiring God conference.
Persons who are aware that Central Baptist Theological Seminary (CBTS) was at Desiring God (DG) have expressed surprise and disappointment. Should there be genuine surprise that CBTS would participate in the Desiring God conference? From what Central’s former president Dr. Kevin Bauder (2004-2011)1 has written and with whom he has been in fellowship and cooperative ministry with it is no mystery that Kevin’s feet are pointed toward the compromising evangelical orbit that is cloaked under the guise of a so-called “conservative” evangelicalism. Unfortunately, it now appears as though Central Baptist Theological Seminary, as an institution, is headed in the same direction as Kevin Bauder.

Based on Kevin Bauder’s recent joint ministry with evangelicals, such as Mark Dever and Al Mohler, Central’s participation in the DG conference seems quite natural. Kevin Bauder is not alone in moving his fellowship and institution toward non-separatist evangelicalism.2 In fundamental circles this movement is coming be known as the new wave New Evangelicalism, or “New Wave Evangelicalism.”

Why Would CBTS Have a Display/Booth at Desiring God?
For the same reason schools have a display at most any conference: To attract students.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. At Desiring God, however, CBTS would have been attracting a cross-section of ecumenical, non-separatist, Charismatic non-Baptists. The problem is that’s hardly the make-up of Central’s historic student body, and furthermore student candidates with that background would never have been sought after or considered for admission.  So, why seek out that kind of student population?

Is it possible that Kevin Bauder has moved CBTS so far from the foundation and principles of Central’s previous leadership (RV “Doc” Clearwaters and Ernest Pickering) that it can no longer attract a fundamentalist, separatist Baptist student body? Is it reasonable to assume that Central’s alumni has been alienated and consequently ceased from financially supporting the seminary, recommending and/or sending students?  From discussions with alumni and friends of CBTS the opinion is that Kevin Bauder’s revisionist history, castigating fundamentalism, heaping lavish praise on evangelicals and cooperative ministry with non-separatist, ecumenicals has alienated many of Central’s alumni.

Is it reasonable to assume that Central has nowhere else to go to recruit students but at conferences like Desiring God?

In conversation with Pastor Marc Monte he said,
“From Central’s presence at Piper’s Desiring God conference, it appears Central is adopting the ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ philosophy so prevalent today. It is no secret that members have abandoned Fourth Baptist Church in droves, many identifying with Piper’s movement. It appears Central is desirous to ride the John Piper wave in order to pick up a few more students. Though it’s always risky to speak for the dead, I think I am on safe ground to assert that R.V. Clearwaters would have tolerated none of this.”
Another consideration for Central’s move toward New Evangelical circles at Desiring God could be the failed attempt to merge with Faith Baptist Theological Seminary (Ankeny, Iowa).  Surely that must have been a disappointment to Kevin Bauder and Central’s board.3

Dr. Sam Horn is the current president of CBTS (2011-    ).  In the current President’s Corner newsletter he wrote, “For us [CBTS], the road ahead involves a renewed dedication to the original vision and mission of our seminary.”4 The original vision and mission of Central Seminary never included participating in conferences to hobnob with New Evangelical non-separatists, Charismatics and ecumenical compromisers.

Are concerned and balanced fundamentalists to believe that Central’s faculty will be able to change the direction of the students that might be attracted at Piper’s Desiring God conference? Will they come to Central and become Calvinists, passionate about the gospel, and become unwilling to side with Piper’s advocacy of non-cessation of the Charismatic sign gifts? Will those students come and sit in Jeff Straub’s classroom in order for him or Dr. Bauder, and others who occupy Central’s historic place in fundamentalism, to help them leave men like John Piper, Mark Dever, Tim Keller, CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll and Al Mohler5 to become balanced separatists like Drs. Clearwaters and Pickering were before them?

It’s been a long time since the biblical separatists’ warnings were sounded from Central.

People in fundamentalism grieve that the militant-separatism that once characterized Central is gone. Central’s fidelity to the God-given mandates for separation are forgotten as men follow Bauder’s and Straub’s lead in affirming Southern Baptist, the so-called “conservatives,” while departing from fellowship with and castigating fundamental separatists. The excursion to John Piper’s Desiring God conference exemplifies that authentic biblical separatism from erring and disobedient brethren (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15) is a forgotten principle at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

In our next we will be discussing additional portions of Dr. Horn’s The Road Forward….

1) At its November 2010 meeting, the board of Central Baptist Theological Seminary created the new position of Research Professor of Systematic Theology. Kevin T. Bauder, the seminary’s president for the past seven years, was appointed to the post and began his new duties in July of 2011.

2) Among the more recognizable, who like Kevin Bauder are moving their fellowship and institutions toward non-separatist evangelicalism, would be Drs. Dave Doran (Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary) Matt Olson (Northland International University) and Tim Jordan (Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale).

4) Dr. Sam Horn, The President’s Corner: The Road Forward: For the Church, For the Gospel

5) Please note that Central Seminary was not dissuaded from participating at Desiring God in spite of the conference’s history of keynote speakers such as, but not limited to: Tim Keller, who advocates Contemplative Spiritual Mysticism. Mark Driscoll, aka, the “Cussing” pastor an ecumenical compromiser, whose revels in filth speech from the pulpit and which he is unrepentant of. Rick Warren who was invited to DG by John Piper personally.

October 8, 2012

Non-Fundamentalists to Critique Fundamentalism: Could This Be Another Round of Revisionist History?

Today the Central Baptist Seminary (MN) will be open its two day Fall Conference. The theme of the conference is, Fundamentalism & Higher Education: The Influence of Central Seminary at Pillsbury College.1

A title like that has several possibilities for where the discussion might go.  Who are some of the conference speakers?  Larry Pettegrew, Doug Bookman and Alan Potter all of whom hired on at John MacArthur’s school.  Larry Pettegrew is now at Shepherd’s Seminary. Ed Glenny teaches at Northwestern. Ray Pratt went to BBC, Springfield after the Pillsbury blow-up of 1983. As for the speakers: Why does Central BAPTIST Seminary host primarily non-Baptist, non-Fundamentalists to speak on issues of Fundamentalism?  Granted the speakers were among those who were at Pillsbury during the tumultuous years.  The majority of this speaker line up, however, presently reflects the kind of Fundamentalism that Dr. Kevin Bauder thinks is worth saving.

Kevin Bauder has a track record of heaping “lavish praise” on so-called conservative evangelicals and joining them in cooperative ministry while “castigating” Fundamentalism. It is, therefore, entirely possible this conference will be a continuation of revisionist history and/or besmirching Fundamentalism.

Jon Pratt wrote an interesting assessment of Pillsbury’s demise (Jon’s father, Ray Pratt, is speaking at the conference). The paper is titled, A Legacy of Serving the Lord’s Church: The Story of Pillsbury Baptist Bible College (1957-2008).2  For our purposes I want to excerpt an extended portion.
“Dr. Clearwaters assumed the presidency for the next seven years (1968-1975), but in 1970 the Board asked Dr. Joseph Rammel to come as the new Executive Vice-President. Dr. Rammel possessed excellent administrative skills, and the Board eventually promoted him to the office of President in 1975 at which time Dr. Clearwaters was made the President Emeritus. Dr. Rammel’s presidency was marked by an expansion of course offerings and educational programs, an improvement in faculty quality, and a steady increase in enrollment culminating with a high of 726 in 1980. But the latter years of Rammel’s tenure (he served through 1986) saw decreasing enrollment and some significant personnel issues. Paramount among these issues was the upheaval of the 1983/1984 school year when 25 faculty members departed at the end of the spring semester. This number constituted more than half of the teaching faculty and included the department heads of Bible, math, history, English, industrial science, philosophy, Christian education, secretarial science, education, and business. Those departing also included several key administrators such as the Academic Dean, Registrar, and Dean of Students. To be sure not all of these people left because of a conflict with the president, for some were going on to different ministries and would have left regardless of the situation. However, at least 75% were either fired by the president or resigned out of protest to the president’s actions. The reason for the decision to dismiss some of these faculty members still remains a mystery, and since Dr. Rammel has since died (in 2006), we can never know for certain.”
Later Brother Pratt writes,
“Regardless of the reasons for this large number of departing faculty, the constituency of the college began to question what was happening at the school and the enrollment began to descend even more rapidly, reaching a low point of 347 in the fall semester of 1986. Eventually the Board of Trustees lost faith in Rammel’s ability to lead, and they accepted his resignation as 1986 came to an end. Soon after this in the spring semester of 1987 the Board announced that Pastor Alan Potter, a Pillsbury graduate and pastor of a vibrant church in Lancaster, PA, would be assuming the presidency in April of that year. Potter’s dynamic personality and progressive vision for the college greatly encouraged the faculty and students. Enrollment numbers increased to a high of 369 (in the 89/90 school year) during his 7 year tenure. One of the great discouragements of Potter’s presidency was the failure to attain full accreditation with the North Central regional accrediting agency. This was an unexpected disappointment especially because Pillsbury’s main competitor, Maranatha, achieved accreditation during this time. Sadly, Potter found himself at odds with the Board over certain initiatives he wanted to advance, and he chose to resign in 1994. By 1994 the enrollment had declined to 245 as the Board hired Dr. Gerald Carlson, an alumnus of Pillsbury and Vice President at Maranatha. But Carlson’s tenure lasted only one year as he experienced great frustration with the faculty who did not want to head in the same philosophical direction that he felt the school should go.”
Would I like to attend this conference? Sure!  I like to keep my file current on what others think sank Pillsbury.  For what it’s worth, Pillsbury’s demise was very unfortunate, but it appears that Northland International University is on a trajectory toward its own ultimate demise. See, What Do Pillsbury, Tennessee Temple and NIU have in Common? 


For a continued discussion of CBTS please continue to, What Does Central Seminary& John Piper’s Desiring God Have in Common?


Site Publisher Commentary:
One individual, with knowledge of the 1983 blow up, noted that Dr. Rammel’s leadership was compromised because of the compromise in his family, which Jon Pratt noted.  Dr. Rammel, furthermore, was allegedly building the school on under-the-table scholarships for football, and not enforcing the disciplinary standards (kids came back to the dorms drunk and were not expelled).

Related Reading: