June 19, 2014

Facing the Future by Dr. Clay Nuttall

Our nation is in big trouble.  Every area of life has been affected.  Nothing has escaped the impact of humanistic socialism with this tidal wave of decay and destruction.  Our education system has been a major tool in turning the culture to atheism, and the economy has fallen so deeply into debt that the average person cannot even begin to perceive the danger.  Our government has left the rule of law for the whim of the individual, and the flawed courts leave little hope for even the law-abiding citizen.  Moral standards have sunk lower than those of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Like it or not, this nation stands on the verge of civil war if something isn’t done soon to rein in the lawlessness of our high national leaders.


Is it really that bad?  It is probably even worse, because we haven’t yet mentioned the rapid rise of Islam and the daily growth of hate speech and anger toward true Christianity.  Now that I have your attention, let me take a guess at your response to such strong language.  There are three possible responses: one would come from the optimist, another from the pessimist, and a third from the realist.  

The optimist would say “It’s not that bad; things are pretty much like they have always been. There are some good things, and others are getting better.”  That is actually denial, apathy, or ignorance; and it doesn’t respect reality at all.  Some believers would say, “It really doesn’t matter; God is in charge, and everything will come out all right in the end.”  Their thinking is that such things are not our responsibility, that all we need do is to love people and share the gospel.  The problem with that view is that it is derived from only a small part of scripture. The Bible's answers and important truths are always supported by the whole of Bible truth, not just a part.

The pessimist would wail “All is lost; there's no sense in trying.  I knew it would all fall apart, so what's the use, anyway?”  Or what is even worse is when the pessimist is so filled with fear and an absence of hope that he decides he will solve the problem himself, and consequently we end up with another mass shooting.  There are probably a lot more people in our society who hold this view than you could ever imagine.  This part of our culture is a time bomb ready to go off because they really think that they, along with their friends, can fix it.  The problem with this one is that it is based on philosophy, just as is the optimist's view.

The realist is the person who sees the problems and seeks to understand both the problems and the reasons behind them.  Liberalism is not reality, but rather a dream world.  The liberals don’t understand the problem and have no idea how to fix anything.  This movement tends to create problems and then blame them on someone else.  The realist knows that there are some good things going on.  He knows that God is in charge and that in the end true believers will have already won.  He knows that love and the gospel are powerful elements of change.  He knows that God is the only answer to all the evils in this society, and he seeks to know the whole counsel of God, not just a part that relieves him of responsibility.  Unlike the optimist, he is willing to accept his assignment from God and His Word and to participate in the answers God has provided.  He is not a coward, nor is he willing to hide truth under a bushel of excuses.


Love for the lost and the glorious gospel of grace are important, and they carry mountains of truth that God intended for us to communicate in the midst of a pagan culture.  Some prefer silence, but silence isn’t always golden; sometimes it is just plain yellow!

The whole of scripture is clear: God has given us truth, and it is our obligation to clearly repeat that truth, because it is truth that will set one free.  One cannot be an obedient believer and stay quiet where God has spoken on an issue.  We want sinners to love God, but they hated the Savior and He warned us that they would hate us as well.  God has spoken on the issues of abortion, infanticide, sodomy, etc.  He has not been quiet, and He does not expect his servants to be silent.  It is our sovereign God who decides what we are to speak about, and not temporary earthly leaders.  That means we cannot abandon the public forum where God has spoken.


In my book, The Coming Conflict, published by Faithful Life Press, I point out that The Separation of Church and State is not a political issue; it is a biblical issue.  What God has said in His word about the relationship between temporal government and the church is the final word.  This is also true of the believer and temporal government.  While our Baptist brothers claim this as a distinctive, there is little understanding of what the Bible teaches in this area.  That lack of understanding is going to bite us very soon.

Our country is about to come apart, and most churches have no idea what should be the response of the church and the average believer.  We have our pat philosophical responses, but they are empty.  Let me whet your appetite.  How many details do you know about the opening of the American Revolution?  Do you know what part pastors and the churches played?  Do you know where the first battle took place, where the munitions were stored, or who was the first casualty of the battle?  Do you know that there are philosophers who believe that Americans were wrong to fight for freedom?  (Watch out for their theology!)  Are you familiar with the doctrine of “the right of revolution?”  No wonder there are so few realists.  My task is only to make you think.

Shepherds Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min

A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible.  Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches.  Write for information using the e-mail address, shepherdstaff2@juno.com

June 15, 2014

Calvary Baptist Seminary: “They are Accountable for Failure and Won’t Own Up to It

I don’t ordinarily pull a comment from an article for posting on the main page, unless it is IMO highly noteworthy.  The following is one of those noteworthy comments.  It appears under my article, The Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable, which follows here.
I saw the transformation of Calvary seminary firsthand and this article [The Closure of Calvary Baptist Seminary: Predictable and Repeatable] is spot on. Unfortunately the leadership you mention seemed to be more interested in being validated by some of the mainstream evangelicals than sticking with the principles they were trained under and passing them on to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). 
I was there when Sam [Harbin] was taking a class with Haddon Robinson and he was star struck like he had just met Elvis. A culture began to spread that we all needed to go to Westminster or another “accredited” seminary to learn what the “experts” were doing. I remember thinking “If I wanted that why would I be here?” Regardless, the desire to get the validation of the brightest and the best of the mainstream thinkers seemed to begin to drive the decisions of the seminary and even the church. 
My opinion is that these men fell prey to the desire to be somebody and became very focused on their own motivations and what they wanted out of life. Unfortunately they’ve gotten the outcome of what happens when you do things that way. It’s obvious they are upset about the failure and they have tried to put the best face forward on the closure by calling it a success or celebration. 
The reality is that they are accountable for the failure of the seminary and just won’t own up to it.
Instead they in effect blame God by saying that He has other plans. They also say that Dr. E. R. Jordan would have been on board, but there is no way Chief would have ever agreed to bring on a Calvinist professor, and this desperate move right before closing for good shows just how off the focus has been and the disregard for what Calvary has always been. There was even a letter that was sent to Alumni when that decision was made stating that Calvary “had always leaned more towards Calvinism,” and that this wasn’t a bad thing. Regardless of your views on the subject this was an outright lie, and misrepresentation of the historic position of the seminary, insulting to the alumni and the memory of Chief. 
In the end I believe a lot of these men, especially Harbin and McLain, whether they realized it or not, saw the seminary as serving them instead of the other way around. They remade it in their image and the outcome was a small group of relatives and yes men organized in a mutual admiration society. No one will pay good money to be trained under that system- where insiders get preferred treatment and outsiders get shunned or made to feel inferior. This is a tragedy and a direct result of losing focus on what the seminary was supposed to be. 
Chief, with all of his eccentricities, loved people and was passionate about training young men for the ministry and about leading people to Christ. Unfortunately the men who followed him thought they were smarter, and could do it better, but clearly they were wrong.

The comment was posted here in the Closure of Calvary Seminary discussion thread.

June 5, 2014

Archival Series: “Another Look at the New Evangelicalism,” Dr. George Houghton

At Brother George Zeller’s site I perused his series on Understanding New (neo) Evangelicalism with multiple submissions under that heading. Among the submissions is an article Brother Zeller includes written by Dr. George G. Houghton, Th.D. (Senior Professor, Faith Baptist Bible College), which appears under the sub-heading, 4) New Evangelicalism in the Twenty-First Century. I will reproduce Dr. Houghton’s 2002 article without editing.

As you read, however, see how many of the trends Dr. Houghton notes you can identify as evident and in some cases more pervasive today among the so-called “
conservative” evangelicals than they were in the eight years since this article’s original publication. Trends such as: CCM, ecumenism, challenges to a young earth creationism and Charismatic theology. See if you can, furthermore, recognize how many of these disturbing trends, identified by Dr. Houghton, or the openness to and tolerance of these trends have made their way into Fundamentalist circles particularly among the so-called “Young” Fundamentalists, aka., the “Emerging Middle.” See if you can recognize what Dr. Ernest Pickering warned of in The Tragedy of Compromise,* which is the “new” wave New Evangelicalism making inroads into Fundamentalist circles. This trend is due in large part due to an unchecked affinity, among certain men in fundamental circles, for the so-called conservative evangelicalism.

The following is excerpted from Dr. George Houghton's article entitled, “Another Look at the New Evangelicalism
(Faith Pulpit, May/June 2002, a Faith Baptist Theological Seminary publication)

Today, as we are now in the twenty-first century, and a few generations separate us from the beginnings of the new evangelicalism, there are some from within fundamentalist circles who are saying, “New evangelicalism was at one time a reality, but today it is non-existent (or at least, not a formidable foe any longer).” Is this really accurate? The answer to that is an emphatic, “No!” The issue is not the term “new evangelicalism.” Terms come and go. The question is, “Are the issues and attitudes raised by the new evangelicalism gone?” And, again, the answer is an emphatic “No!”

This is seen today in several areas.

(1) The rapid rise of the church marketing movement from the early 1990s to the present with its emphasis upon relationships and experience, drama and contemporary music, to reach and hold people. The Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, has a Willow Creek Association of many other churches (into the hundreds) which are following the Willow Creek model.

(2) The positive response of evangelicals to the programs and ministry of Robert Schuller and his Crystal Cathedral.

(3) The broad acceptance (or at least toleration) of the Contemporary Christian Music movement and rejection of fundamentalism’s personal separation standards, so that Charisma magazine (April 1997, 26ff.) could write that “British Christians Use Techno-Dance to Reach Youth.” Their article talked about alternative worship services, evangelistic night clubs and “a revolutionary Christian dance movement.” In describing this, the article said “strobe lighting, smoke effects, DJs, dancers, Celtic music and tribal rhythms were served up for this worship feast. The trend can be found everywhere.”

(4) The influence of the apologetic writings and lecturing of Dr. Hugh Ross, who teaches that the earth is billions of years old, and began with a “big bang,” that death and degeneration existed in the beginning and have continued for billions of years, and that neither the fall to sin nor the flood resulted in significant physical changes in nature.

(5) The positive attitude of many evangelicals toward the charismatic movement, especially as it is seen in the signs-and-wonders movement.

(6) The acceptance of religious teachers and institutions which have not held the line on belief in eternal punishment. Fuller Seminary modified its doctrinal statement in this area, and individuals like Clark Pinnock have opened the door to people hearing the gospel after death and having a chance to respond positively, or hell being viewed as annihilation.

(7) The hearing being given in evangelical circles to “the openness of God” concept which rejects His absolute foreknowledge, among other things.

(8) The toleration by some evangelicals—especially in academic settings—of deviant sexual lifestyles, particularly homosexuality.

(9) The willingness of evangelical publishers to publish works which allow for aspects of higher critical views of the Bible, including redaction criticism, in interpreting the life of Christ in the Gospel accounts.

(10) The broad acceptance of the Promise-Keepers movement, even though it tolerates working with Roman Catholics and has strong charismatic overtones.

(11) The willingness of major evangelical leaders to sign their names to the “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document, and still others to sign the later statement entitled “The Gift of Salvation.” While recognizing traditional differences (including sacramentalism), there is the willingness to call each other “brothers in Christ.”

(12) The belief by some evangelicals that the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope, is an evangelical.

If those attitudes and issues do not seem to be of such concern today, it is only because the new evangelical position has become mainstreamed into many Bible-believing circles to the extent that speaking against them puts one in a rather small minority. Issues such as ecumenical evangelism are still very significant today, but we hear little about them because many whose voices might at one time have spoken out in opposition have been quieted by a changed or at least a relaxed position. The new evangelical attitude has become so prevalent that one may be tempted to tolerate it as inevitable and normal.

Although addressing doctrinal and positional issues is not all that Christian leaders should be doing, it is one such important thing (note Paul's admonition to the Christian leaders in Ephesus [Acts 20:25 -31] and Jude's comments in his brief letter [Jude 3-5, 7-21]). Specific terms and titles may change, but there are always those from without and from within about whom the warning alarm needs to be sounded. This is biblical militancy. The issues and attitudes expressed by leaders within the new evangelicalism over the last 50 years are still important enough for biblical fundamentalists to address today. God's people must be informed and educated; they need to know where we as contemporary Christian leaders stand on these very significant topics. (bold added)
(Originally appeared March, 2010)
Editor’s Note:
The final two paragraphs by Dr. Houghton predates and likewise warns against what we have read from Dr. Peter Masters in his June 2009 article The Merger of Calvinism with Worldliness. “
The ministry of warning is killed off, so that every -error of the new scene may race ahead unchecked” in regard to the disturbing trends of the conservative evangelicals. Today we are witnessing among some elder self-described separatists in Fundamentalist circles the loss of biblical militancy to the harm of the cause of Christ.

Are We Recognizing the "New" New Evangelicalism? For example,
The basic problem is this: Many fundamentalists, when speaking of the New Evangelicalism, are referring to the original positions and writings of the early founders of New Evangelicalism such as Carl Henry and Harold Ockenga. They repudiate heartily the thoughts of these earlier leaders, but either in ignorance or willingly they fail to recognize the updated version, the “new” New Evangelicalism. It is always safer to berate the teachings of those historically farther removed than of those who are currently afflicting the church. (Dr. Ernest Pickering, The Tragedy of Compromise, p. 159)