November 23, 2014

Church Tramps by Dr. Clay Nuttall

Our readers probably thought I had run out of subjects to fire people up. Actually, there is still a long list of these waiting to be tackled. This subject is not new, and I found a statement by J.C. Ryle that makes the point for this article. “There is an amazing ignorance of scripture among many and a consequent want of established, solid religion (theology). In no other way can I account for the ease with which people are, like children, ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine.’ (Ephesians 4:14). Because of this plague of biblical ignorance, people are drawn quickly into all kinds of error.” Bishop Ryle goes on to speak to the impact of this ignorance:

“There is an Athenian love of novelty abroad and a morbid distaste for anything old and regular and in the beaten path of our forefathers. Thousands will crowd to hear a new voice and a new doctrine without considering for a moment whether what they hear is true.” (Holiness: Its Nature and Hindrances)
Ryle never intended his words to be prophetic, but they do aptly describe that situation in which we find ourselves mired. In years gone by, there were large groups of people who traveled from church to church in search of something different. They usually did not last long at any one place; their heads were soon turned to something new. They were often referred to as “church tramps.” Not everyone had a need for that kind of novelty, and many families remained a part of their local church as their generations passed on. These people were strengthened by strong pulpits and regular meaningful Bible studies. They put down their roots and “rolled with the punches.”


The “tramp syndrome” has a new face today. The people moving from church to church are more like a parade. The word spreads like wildfire that there is a new show in town, a better form of entertainment. The problem is fed by the mega-church mentality. After all, it is so easy to move on; who knows, and who even cares when you are gone? This syndrome demonstrates a terrible lack of integrity, because so many churches today have camouflaged their names so as to hide doctrinal error. That is patently dishonest. Folks who are ignorant of a theology that is biblical slide in and out of those churches, carrying more and more error with them.

The strange thing is that anyone who knows the scriptures and wants to participate in God’s holiness are in big trouble if they attempt to point these things out. They are tagged as “unloving troublemakers,” while the real villains are those who profit from their ignorance. Many young, unlearned men have been caught in this flood. They are sure that if they follow the religious gurus, the churches they lead will grow and become well-known. Most of the time, however, these men end up being tools of their own destruction. They have an ungodly disdain for the history of a church, its heritage, and its doctrinal standard and instead become immersed in their own trickery and smitten with the god of change. Many of these wayward ministries end up closing, and others wither on a long road to a certain death.


Over the past year, I have observed this tragedy from a personal point of view. Looking back over fifty-four years of ministry and thirty-seven as a senior pastor, we tried to maximize learning that would help people to know the scripture. Everyone knows something about the Bible, but that is not the same thing as actually knowing the Bible. Knowing Bible stories or narrative is good, but one needs to know the God of the Bible and the meaning of the revelation that God has given us. To accomplish this we used, in the main, an expository pulpit to study books of the Bible verse by verse. In addition to the Sunday school with some excellent teachers, there were all kinds of Bible studies for every level. We opened a Bible institute and created a strong Christian school with six years of intensive Bible study. Then there were Bible-reading projects, several radio programs, and Bible conferences - all to study the scriptures. But it seems that I failed.

How could it be that so many people who had the opportunity to feed on the Word through all those years could have missed the point or walked away from the basic truths they had received? Many of them have moved on to churches where doctrinal error is at the heart of what they believe. Some have even gone where cultic teaching is dispensed (on the sly), but those people don’t appear to have a clue.

I know all the pat answers. Of course they are responsible for their own choices, but if they had the information and if they chose to believe it, how could they tolerate blatant abuse of the scriptures? Perhaps it is no longer important, or the entertainment atmosphere has dulled their senses. It could be that many individuals were not saved to begin with, since that is a widespread problem in all churches.

While I grieve at the embracing of doctrinal error by those who have fallen, I must admit that my heart has been encouraged by those who did recognize a theology that is biblical. These folks practiced holiness and walked away from nonsense and the open teaching of error. They were wise enough to catch the undertone of heretical teaching, but then found it extremely difficult to find a place where the Bible is not taught as a sort of “fill-in-the-blanks” book.


While the questions may be many, the one answer is still the same: there is no substitute for immersing oneself in the Holy Book. Pastors must find more ways to get people into the Book. True believers cannot be satisfied with a few minutes of real Bible content in their Sunday activities. There must be a constant hunger for truth, because this alone will sound the alarm when error is taught.

SHEPHERD’S STAFF – November, 2014

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,

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

November 12, 2014

Must All Christians be Calvinist or Arminian?

Just over a week ago, at his Pedestrian Christian blog, Brother Alexander Guggenheim posted an article on a subject matter that I believe merits a wide reading among Fundamental Baptists.  I refer you to his article, Must All Christians be a Calvinist or Arminian? The Infectious Assertion by Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary’s Bill Combs or When Devotion to a School of Theology Leads to Impoverished Reasoning. The following three paragraphs are from the articles introduction.

If you are uncertain of my aim, allow me to be precise. Over at Theologically Driven, a blog of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary (who are self-identified Baptist Fundamentalists), one of the seminary professors, Bill Combs, posted an article, Why You Must Be a Calvinist or an Arminian (and this did not stand alone, it actually augmented an earlier post by another professor, Mark Snoeberger who made a related assertion). This may seem but a blip on a radar, but then a plane crashing into a building is, too. Thus, I want you to stop and consider the degree of concern which this warrants, if you consider yourself a Baptist Fundamentalist, a Christian who identifies with Calvinism via DBTS style, someone who intends on attending DBTS or simply a Christian interested in the issue, itself.

I posted a response to Bill Comb’s post at Theologically Driven which was up for a while but then taken down. Nothing rude or personal was contained in the rebuttal. I do think, however, that it shed a rather embarrassing light on Comb’s assertion(s) and consequently Mr. Combs and DBTS who would endorse such an idea, thus, its removal.

I certainly expect binary or black/white thinking to abound in Calvinistic acolytes such as this group, [Team Pyro]
. However, for a seminary professor who has demonstrated capacity for more considerate paradigms and whose profession ought to reflect it, there is a reason for real concern, especially for his students and those in his sphere of influence. Therefore, I have made this rebuttal post at my blog for all my readers and beyond because this issue is critical in how it is framed and how it affects theological discourse in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist Christian community.
Yours faithfully,


*See comment #1 in the thread for Brother Guggenheims personal biography

November 3, 2014

Where Are SBC Leaders Headed: Homosexuality?

This article addresses an issue arising from the Southern Baptist Convention's ERLC1 conference "The Gospel, Homosexuality and the Future of Marriage," held in Nashville, October 2014.

Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler addressed more than 1,000 evangelical pastors and others attending the three-day conference hosted by the SBC's Ethics & religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, stated that he was wrong years ago when he said same-sex attraction could be changed.2
With Al Mohler's track record of movement toward New Evangelicalism* (see below) there is the possibility of another compromise of Scripture in the making.  Does anybody sincerely believe that Mohler's statement that he was wrong about same-sex attraction could be changed will be as far as the SBC goes on the homosexuality issue?**  In my opinion, this is simply the first of what will be a series of incremental steps, over a long period of time, toward increasing tolerance for homosexuality in the church. 

In a previous article, from the Nashville convention, it was reported that,
"[Matthew] Vines met privately with Mohler, who had written an e-book response to Vines, titled "God and the Gay Christian?" Both men said the meeting was a cordial discussion of Scripture and they planned to stay in touch. Separately, about two dozen Christian advocates for gay acceptance and evangelical leaders who participated in the conference also met privately Monday night. Participants agreed they would not comment afterward."3
Met privately, no comment afterward, more dialogue to come. The Bible is very explicit (1 Cor. 5:1-5; Rom. 1:26-28; Rom. 16:17-18; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:3; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15). Yet, Al Mohler, as has been his pattern, will dismiss, ignore these God-given mandates. Instead Mohler will keep up a dialogue where there should be none other than to plead with the LGBT participants to recognize the authority of God, see their lifestyle as He does, and call on them to repent of it.

Why does this matter to Independent Fundamental Baptists? 

Because there are men in IFB circles who for years have been "heaping lavish praise" on the so-called "conservative" evangelicals, especially Al Mohler.  With essentially no warnings whatsoever of the serious doctrinal and practical pitfalls of the evangelicals Kevin Bauder and Dave Doran (among others) have encouraged learning from, attending the conferences of and cooperative ministry with "conservative" evangelicals, including, but not limited to Al Mohler, John Piper and Mark Dever. Instead of at least offering serious cautions along with their lavish praise for evangelicals Bauder, Doran and the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron site have ignored, tolerated, allowed for or excused virtually every doctrinal aberration, ecumenical compromise and cultural relativism. 

Bauder and Doran hold up the star personalities of evangelicalism as examples to emulated.  Under the guise of a so-called "separation in academic contexts" we have seen scores of younger men encouraged to neuter, water down or dismiss the doctrine of biblical separation for the sake of cooperation with compromising evangelicals. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, et., al. have by their own example encouraged the next generation to cooperate with evangelicals, and thereby tragically put them on the road toward New Evangelicalism.

Pastors, Christians in leadership in the church, school, homes: The apostle Paul's admonition to the Ephesians elders is as practical and timely today as it was to the first century church, and I close with his admonition.
"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears," (Acts 20:28-31).
Yours faithfully,


Related Reading:

Just days before the SBC's conference on homosexuality Al Mohler, on behalf of the SBC, received as a gift the former Northland Baptist Bible College (NIU). Very sad. See, Northland Joins Southern: Culmination of a Modern Day Tragedy.

*Al Mohler sat as Chairman for the 2001 Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville, KY.

Al Mohler Signs the Manhattan Declaration, and never repented of it
Al Mohler Endorsed RAP music for the Church
Al Mohler in Cooperative Ministry with Rick Warren
Al Mohler Joins Hands with the Mormon Church

**I have no dogmatic position on whether same-sex attraction can be changed, I don't know.


1) ERLC: Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
2) News Now: Where are Southern Baptist Leaders Headed re: Homosexuality?
3) News Now: Southern Baptists tell pastors: Hold Line on Gays