November 16, 2023

Archival Series: It's Called "Calvinism," & It's Not That Long of a Line

 Nearly two years ago [2019] I heard a radio broadcast of a sermon series by Pastor Steve Lawson.1 The message title is, The Long Line Continues.2 In the message Pastor Lawson makes frequent use of the phrase, “the doctrines of grace.” What does this phrase “the doctrines of grace,” mean? Very simply “the doctrines of grace,” is a new way of introducing a centuries old theology popularized by the French theologian John Calvin (1509-1564). That theology is commonly known as “Calvinism.”

What is Calvinism? Calvinism is best known for its emphasis on five distinct doctrines. These are technically known as the “Five Points of Calvinism.” The five points are commonly recognized and defined from the acronym T-U-L-I-P. Taking each in turn, the letters of the acronym stand for:
  1. Total (Human) Inability
  2. Unconditional Election
  3. Limited Atonement
  4. Irresistible Grace
  5. Perseverance of the Saints
The whole of Calvinism rests on these five points, and they are inseparably linked. So that you have a basic understanding of Calvinism’s five points, following this article I will be providing definitions for each under the heading, Defining Calvinism’s TULIP? Here we will demonstrate the terminology that Steve Lawson, essentially representative of every Calvinist, uses to rename Calvin’s T-U-L-I-P.
  • Total Inability is renamed, “Total Depravity,” or “Radical Corruption.”
  • Unconditional Election is named the same or “Sovereign Election.”
  • Limited Atonement is renamed, “Definite Atonement,” or “Particular Redemption.”
  • Irresistible Grace is renamed, “Effectual Calling,” or “Sovereign Regeneration.”
  • Perseverance of the Saints is named the same or “Persevering or Preserving Grace.”
I do not believe it wise to accept and/or adopt in our language the evolved labels for John Calvin’s theology. We do not want to allow for terminology that tends to cloud, confuse or camouflage the theology of Calvinism’s T-U-L-I-P.

Compounding Error Upon Error
A fundamental understanding of Scripture makes clear that Calvinism is held together by forcing into or extracting from the Bible things that are not there. Calvinism proper, therefore, has spawned numerous theological errors.  Among them for example Steve Lawson said, They [the doctrines of grace] are completely counter intuitive…are entirely antithetical to the natural mind…We would naturally reason that you must first believe and then you will be born again.” Lawson is saying that to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved (John 3:16Acts 16:31), is solely based on our own human reasoning.

The Calvinist believes man is so “dead in trespasses and sins” that he must first be regenerated: That is to say, be born again (initial justification), made alive by the Spirit of God, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and given the new nature prior to and apart from personal repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).3 Furthermore, even faith, according to Calvinism, is the gift that was given to him after he has been regenerated (Eph. 2:8-9).4 These are two examples of egregious errors rooted in Calvinism.

Just How Long is That Line?
Pastor Lawson gives the impression that Calvinism’s “long line” can be traced back to the Pentateuch, as far back as Genesis and throughout the Old Testament. He believes the “long line continues” through the New Testament, on to the church fathers, the Reformers and beyond.  He said,
These teachers of the doctrines of grace [Calvinism] really began with Moses and Joshua and Samuel…. As we come to the New Testament we see Jesus Christ Himself…proclaimed and taught the doctrines of grace [Calvinism]…. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, began teaching the doctrines of grace [Calvinism]…the Apostle Paul became a chief author and architect of the doctrines of grace [Calvinism]….”
What we find, however, is that the “long line” of Calvinism is not so long after all. Calvinism traces directly from Augustine (4th century). New Calvinists say Calvin merely re-iterated Augustine. Any placing of the five points of Calvinism to Genesis would be based on the idea that the church began in Genesis and continues to today.

Steve Lawson’s message sheds light on how he arrives at five-point Calvinism. What we find is in the answer to the question, What is Rationalistic Fatalism?
“Rationalistic fatalism is understandable in light of dictionary usage.  According to Franklin’s Dictionary and Thesaurus, ‘rationalistic’ is literally: ‘reliance on reason as the basis for the establishment of religious ‘truth,’ and ‘fatalism’ is the ‘belief that fate determines events.’ Of course, ‘fate’ is a cause beyond human control to determine. Looking at that statement in this light demonstrates that those referred to rely solely on reason rather than revelation as the basis for their theological moorings. The ‘circle logic’ of five-point Calvinism is just that for the whole system crumbles when a single link in the chain is broken. One must approach the system with reason rather than faith. That of course leads to the fatalism, which holds that God has predetermined the destiny of human souls and that all the witnessing, praying, and missionary effort in the world will not change the outcome.”5
Those who reject Calvinism should avoid falling into the trap of accepting and agreeing to the new terminology.  In any discussion about or debate over Calvinism, no matter how many times the term, “doctrines of grace” appears, we will refer to and reiterate the historic, unambiguous label, “Calvinism.” Calling the theology of John Calvin “the doctrines of grace” does not change the theology of what we know today as “Calvinism.” Our priority is to equip uninformed and/or unsuspecting believers to first recognize the so-called “doctrines of grace” as Calvinism, and then be able to reject it from the Bible.

Yours faithfully,

(Originally published Sept. 20, 2021)

Among the many works available refuting Calvinistic theology the most recent, comprehensive and compelling I am aware of would be Forewarned and Forearmed: Preparing for Battle Against the Errors of Calvinism by Dr. Chris Shepler. 
"Forewarned and Forearmed will walk you through the five major tenets of Calvinistic theology of represented by the acronym TULIP. It will explain what Calvinists mean and teach by each of them. It will also expose Calvinism's error and show how it is truly misaligned with the clear teaching of the Bible."
1) Steve Lawson: Professor of Preaching at The Masters Seminary (John MacArthur, chancellor emeritus), member of The Gospel Coalition. 

For the 2023 BJU Foundations Conference five-point Calvinist Steve Lawson was presented as a keynote speaker. This was further evidence that BJU has adopted Calvinism and Reformed theology are core doctrines to be taught and promoted in the college and seminary. See also, An Analysis of BJU's Position Paper on Calvinism, Arminianism & Reformed Theology.

2) The Long Line Continues (Feb. 6, 2019 edition).

3) The key to understanding Calvinism’s irresistible grace is that the Holy Spirit regenerates the elected individual, thus, they can then receive the Word and exercise faith. This regeneration can occur years before exercising their act of faith. Some Calvinist’s define this regeneration as taking place at conception, others at physical birth, and others at some later time. But ALL Calvinist’s teach it occurs prior to and independent of any act of faith or any foreseeing by God of their eventual faith. When thought through, biblically to be regenerated, literally meaning to “be born again,” means that the elect one possesses or is indwelled by the Holy Spirit at that point. For further study see,
The Danger of Teaching That Regeneration Precedes Faith

5) Dr. David L. Cummins, in an email to me answering the question, what is rationalistic fatalism.  Dr. Cummins response appears on pp. 261-262 of In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation, 1st edition only, 2006.

Related Reading:
After reading Bob Jones University’s position paper, I feel that it reflects a style commonly employed by many New Calvinists. Their writing typically skirts issues to avoid offense or exclusion, while maximizing inclusivity. They achieve this by allowing the reader to supply his or her own theological definitions rather than offering clear-cut ones that would reveal Calvinist views. The fact that BJU’s paper appears to use a similar strategy concerns me. I see this tendency through the paper. For example, it contains the term “exercise faith” four times. (Dr. Rob Congdon: An Analysis of Bob Jones Universitys Position Paper on Calvinism...)

Oops! I Thought I Was a Four-Point Calvinist & An Alternative View of Election

Defining Calvinism’s T-U-L-I-P?
Following is a succinct definition of T-U-L-I-P. Following each of the five-points we will reiterate the way Calvinists rename each of the five points.

T- Total (Human) Inability
The Bible teaches man’s human depraved nature, human depravity, – that is all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3: 23). All are sinners and separated from God.  Calvinism added the term “total” to the term human depravity, to indicated that apart from God’s intervention through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit prior to faith, man can never understand, accept, react, or respond spiritually in any way to God, His Word, and the work of the Holy Spirit. (Jer. 17:9; Romans 3:10-12; Eph. 2:1)
Lawson renames Total Inability, “Total Depravity,” or “Radical Corruption.”

U- Unconditional Election
For the Calvinist God has elected only a select group of the world’s population for Heaven, while all the rest enter this world headed to an eternal existence in Hell. Some Calvinists explain God taking an active role in bringing the elect to salvation, but as for the rest, He is completely passive toward, and essentially abandons them on the road to Hell. (2 Cor. 5:18-19)

Many Calvinists, however, teach that God elected some to heaven and some to hell – in other words, He did not just extend grace to some, the elect, and allow the others to follow their own path, independent of God’s electing them to Hell. It should be noted that most people believe in Calvinistic Unconditional Election or Arminianism, which allow them to reject God later after first trusting Him. It is important to realize that the Bible’s use of the term “election” always refers to service and never salvation; hence there is a third view of election, independent of both Calvinism and Arminianism.
Lawson retains “Unconditional Election,” or “Sovereign Election.”

L- Limited Atonement
Limited Atonement is the most controversial of the five points. Many in the Reformed camp back away from this point of Calvinism and call themselves four-point Calvinists. Many five-point Calvinists consider those who do not fully embrace a limited atonement as falling short of being a true Calvinist. The five-point Calvinist believes Christ died only for the elect; the shed blood of Christ and His atoning work on the cross were intended only for the select group chosen for salvation. This means Christ’s substitutionary death paid the penalty of sin only for certain sinners, and not for the sins of all mankind past, present and future. (Isaiah 53:6; John 3:16; 1 Jn. 2:2)
Lawson renames Limited Atonement, “Definite Atonement,” or “Particular Redemption.”

I- Irresistible Grace
Calvinism teaches that the Holy Spirit extends a special inward calling, but only to those elected to salvation. Through this calling the sinner is irresistibly drawn to Christ and the Spirit causes the sinner to cooperate. The lost man may have no desire for Christ, no interest in the claims of the gospel, but he has no choice in the matter. Because he has been unconditionally elected for salvation the Spirit puts the choice in his mind, removes any barrier or hindrance and compels him to respond to the gospel invitation.

Many indicated it is not necessary to respond to a gospel invitation. They describe an eventual realization that they are elect and rather than an act of response, they merely believe their spiritual interest and/or acknowledgement of Christ indicates they are elect. The Calvinist often uses the term “exercise faith” rather than trust in Christ alone for their salvation.

This irresistible grace cannot be rejected and does not depend on man’s cooperation. The ability of individuals to reject Christ’s offer of salvation answers Calvinism’s irresistible grace. The Bible teaches that man can be reproved over and over, and resist the working of the Holy Spirit in his heart. (Gen. 6:3; Prov. 1:24-26; 29:1; Matthew 23:37; John 5:40; Acts 7:51-52)
Lawson renames Irresistible Grace, “Effectual Calling,” or “Sovereign Regeneration.”

P- Perseverance of the Saints
There are two views on Perseverance of the Saints. The traditional position is found in Reformed confessions of faith. The non-traditional view is typically found in some Baptist and Evangelical circles. The common denominator is that the elect are eternally secure and will persevere in the faith. The way Perseverance commonly addresses those who fall away is to conclude they were never saved in the first place or will return eventually. In its most extreme form Perseverance is articulated (for example by John Piper and Kevin DeYoung) as the only way to ensure “final salvation,” of final justification, to reach heaven, i.e., glorification.

To the Calvinist, a person must persevere their entire life by doing good works and spiritually living to demonstrate at the Great White Throne Judgment that they are truly elect. Thus, all men will appear at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). Notice they are judged by their works. You often read in Calvinistic writing that a person cannot truly know they are righteous or the elect until the day they die, but Scripture says you can know you have eternal life right now (1 John 5:13). For the true believer who has accept God’s gift of salvation by faith alone, he does not have to persevere but depends upon God to preserve Him as promised in Jude 1 and Jude 24.

Thus, a saved man’s eternal security, his assurance and position in Christ are not dependent on how he performs as a Christian. He is saved and secure because of what Jesus Christ has done for him. (John 10:28-29; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Peter 1:3-9Lawson retains Perseverance of the Saints,” or “Persevering or Preserving Grace.”

November 1, 2023

Archival Series: May the "Northland Heart" Perpetuate

 After a while, one runs out of adjectives to describe the tragedy of Northland. This recent news of SBTS's decision NOT to bring the school under its wings after all is yet another embarrassing blow to the ministry.* I was not expecting the Southern Baptist support to be an improvement anyway, but their rejection of accepting the school as a gift seems to affirm the hopelessness of bringing the college into financial and ministry solvency. 

One grief is added to another for those of us who felt a deep loyalty to what the school stood for in its best years. Was the school ever perfect? None of us believed that. But the overall direction, humility, and sincere attempt to be Biblical were consistent qualities over most of its existence.

The rapid ruin of the school brings to mind images of the Hindenburg. The fact that the disaster might have been prevented or at least delayed had there been honesty and a willingness at the top level 4-5 years ago (cf. Jeroboam in 1 Kings 12:8) to hear counsel from scores of pastors, alumni, and staff brings to mind images of the Titanic.

I hope no one will respond by saying “well, fundamentalist/conservative Baptist ministries are failing everywhere because they have become irrelevant, old-fashioned, or legalistic.” Northland and most of its supporting churches had much life and refreshing ministry as evidence of its heart and faithfulness to the Scriptures. I saw this first hand for over 12 years and continue to see this in Northland alumni in our own local church and school ministry.

These images may seem overinflated to those watching Northland Baptist Bible Colleges demise from the outside. However, Northland had a lot of wonderful ministry for most of its years as an independent Baptist college. Thousands of people who have been trained, inspired, and encouraged by the school’s ministry are now seemingly watching the last faint pulses of the “Northland Heart.”

Hopefully, alumni and former faculty and staff who have transplanted the “Northland Heart” into themselves, and into their ministries and will perpetuate that kind of Biblical attitude till the Lord returns.
“Lord, in your mercy please bless and protect other schools and their leadership, which are doing your work with integrity and a right heart!” 

No doubt there will be last-gasp attempts to salvage the ministry, but unless the LORD by some miracle sends wholesale revival, R.I.P. Northland Baptist Bible College.

Dr. Dana F. Everson

Epilogue (October 2023): There was no saving Northland from the ruinous decisions made for the school by Matt Olson and his administration. They attempted to transform the once fine fundamental Baptist college into a non-separatist, compromising evangelical institution. The base gradually abandoned the school as Olson made it clear he would not reverse course.

Originally appeared: April 27, 2015 with commentary.

Here's a Video of Northland's Campus taken in 2021. This will be a bittersweet moment for those who remember Northland at its best. The campus grounds remain beautiful, but the classrooms and dorms are empty shells.

Previous articles by Dr. Everson, on the tragedy that has become NIU:

For Dr. Eversons philosophy of music please see Sound Rootshis dissertation in book form.

Related Reading

October 19, 2023

Alan Benson's Hidden History: Censorship by Omission

Dr. Alan Benson is the Acting CEO for Bob Jones University (BJU). He assumed this role shortly after Steve Pettit’s departure.1 Applications for BJU president are now being accepted and Benson was recently quoted saying he will apply for the vacant position of BJU president.2

In several places at the BJU website Benson’s ministerial history is referenced. For example at BJU's University Leadership3 page we find Benson's ministry experience expressed as, 
Alan served as a youth pastor and senior pastor in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois for 25 years. He came to BJU from Bethel Baptist Church in Schaumburg, Illinois.…
From BJU Today, Diversity Equips Benson for Role with Seminary,4
He first served as youth pastor at a church in Wilmington, North Carolina. He then served as pastor in Winter Garden, Florida; back in Wilmington; and finally, in Schaumburg, Illinois.” 
At BJU News (April 16, 2021) under Dr. Alan Benson Named Executive VP 5
For over two decades, Benson served as a youth pastor and senior pastor in Florida, North Carolina and Illinois.”
In each of the examples above (images archived) we read of ministries in three states, but are those the only states he ministered in? The BJU Today article says, “first served…in Wilmington, NC. He then served…in Winter Garden, Florida.”

There is no mention of another ministry experience before and/or between Wilmington and Winter Garden, but there is a history there. What part of Alan Benson’s ministry experience is censored?

What is the Hidden History?
Prior to taking a position at Calvary Baptist Church in Winter Garden, Florida Dr. Benson spent several years of ministry in Romeo, Michigan.

Late into the 1990’s Alan Benson was called to be senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Romeo, Michigan. Soon after a controversy erupted allegedly because Benson was trying to steer the church in a more conservative direction, and (of all things) the choice of new doors for the church. The controversy became ugly and divisive with Benson’s leadership receiving a good deal of resistance.

Benson didn’t know if he had even 50% support among the membership. He, therefore, chose to leave First Baptist voluntarily. This may have been a wise decision because he had become the focal point of controversy. Instead of removing himself to allow the membership to resolve their differences Benson joined a group that was cobbled together to support him. This group (of about 30), with Benson and one deacon as their leaders, split from First Baptist to start another church in the same community.

That splinter group (in 2000) began holding services in the home of the deacon who had left with the group. Later the splinter group rented a space in downtown Romeo above a store front. Overtime the store front may have grown somewhat, but Benson had become disillusioned. Benson allegedly told his deacon he was unhappy with “talk” about him in the community. Soon after he abruptly abandoned the splinter church for an opportunity in Winter Garden, Florida.

Following Benson’s departure from the store front church another man, Dale Hibshman, recommended by Benson, became the pastor. 
Hibshman was an aggressive advocate for Calvinistic theology, which didn't go over well, and other troubling issues came to light, which split that church. Soon after the church ceased to exist in any form.

Woodside, Romeo 2022
The original First Baptist Church is still there, but was sold to the non-denominational Woodside church6 that buys up churches and turns them into satellites (image at right).
 Remnants of Benson’s failed ministry eventually grafted into another Baptist church where they worship together in harmony.

Why is the Michigan episode censored from Benson’s ministerial biography? It’s inconceivable BJU had no knowledge of Benson's history in Michigan, and his role in the split of First Baptist Church. Gaps in an individual's work/ministry history invites questions that ought to be explored, especially in the case of high profile ministry positions. With the revelation of Alan Benson’s ministry in Michigan and censorship of it questions arise:
  • Will Dr. Benson acknowledge his years in Michigan, and role in the split of First Baptist Church?
  • Will BJU update Benson’s ministerial biography to include his role at the churches in Romeo, MI?
  • Does his role in splitting the church and burying this episode raise questions of integrity and fitness for any leadership position?
  • Should Benson voluntarily withdraw his stated intent to apply for BJU’s presidency?
  • What accountability does Alan Benson and BJU bear for burying the Michigan episode of ministerial experience? 
These are questions for Alan Benson, the Bob Jones University Executive Cabinet and Board of Trustees to address and answer.

*For a discussion about the description of Benson’s ministry at Bethel Baptist Church see the Addendum below.

1) Steve Pettit's Resignation from BJU Stands

2) The Collegian
When asked if he [Benson] was considering applying for the role of president, he chuckled and said, 'who actually is a candidate is going to be the process of the search. That’s the Board’s work, and I’m not in any way a part of that. Would I be willing? At this point I could say, yeah, when the time comes, prayerfully at this point, I will apply.”
3) University Leadership

4) Diversity Equips Benson for Role with Seminary

5) Dr. Alan Benson Named Executive VP

6) Woodside Bible Church

Looking back to the University Leadership page Benson’s biography included this evaluation of the condition he left Bethel Baptist Church in,
He came to BJU from Bethel Baptist Church in Schaumburg, Illinois, where he served for five years as senior pastor of the 600-member church and president of a Christian day school of nearly 1,000 students.”
The statement may give the impression that Benson built Bethel’s membership and school enrollment to those levels. Dr. Frank Bumpus was called to Bethel BC in 1960. The land where Bethel sits today was purchased in 1962. Dr. Bumpus primarily built that ministry to those numbers noted in Benson’s biography.

Why highlight only Bethel’s condition? Shouldn't the condition of each ministry Benson left be detailed? We know in Benson's wake two Michigan churches were left in disarray. What about North Carolina, Florida and even at Bethel, did things not go well at any of these ministries? 

September 18, 2023

Archival Series: Ominous Signs of Lordship’s Coming Storm

In May 2008 I received an e-mail from a Pastor Norm Aabye.[1] Pastor Aabye shared a unique view of events that predate the modern day Lordship Salvation controversy, which was reignited in 1988 with release of Dr. John MacArthur’s first major Lordship Salvation apologetic The Gospel According to Jesus.

From Pastor Aabye’s first hand historical perspective you can see that ominous signs of Dr. MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel were coming into view as much as seven years prior to the release of The Gospel According to Jesus. Pastor Aabye includes a reference to a related matter I have covered here, the IFCA meetings with John MacArthur in 1989.

I asked for and received permission to share Pastor Aabye’s e-mail, which follows.
Dear Brother Lou,

I “accidentally” came across your site while doing some research for a message I am preparing on the substance of the Gospel. Let me say that you are doing an admirable job of providing pertinent information on the Lordship Salvation issue.
My wife and I are currently involved in a ministry to the elderly in nursing homes in northwest PA and northeastern OH, but for 18 years I was the pastor of an independent Baptist church in Connecticut. But prior to my call to preach, I was employed for several years by Moody Press (this was before my wife and I determined that we were really more fundamental in our doctrine and beliefs than the Moody crowd, which has slipped further into New Evangelicalism!).
I clearly remember a staff meeting at Moody Press (MP) where Phil Johnson, who was then an editor at MP, presented one of John MacArthur’s newest books to us, The Ultimate Priority[2], which had to do with worship.

A controversy ensued at the meeting because of the back cover copy, which implied that a person’s eternity destiny was dependent upon how they worshipped. I clearly remember the director of MP requiring Phil Johnson to go back and rewrite the copy because of what was believed to be its erroneous implications. I believe this was around 1981 and John MacArthur was Moody’s “fair-haired boy” at that time. If I remember correctly, it was shortly after this that Phil Johnson left MP to work full-time with MacArthur in California.
When The Gospel According to Jesus was published in 1988, MacArthur’s favor with MP apparently quickly diminished.

Dr. Charles Ryrie was one of our key authors at that time, with his study Bible being the flagship product. His clear teachings on the substance of the Gospel were diametrically opposed to MacArthur’s Lordship view of the Gospel. I knew Dr. Ryrie and he was solid on all he taught, and a real Christian gentleman.
Years ago I was in a personal conversation with John MacArthur during a Christian Bookseller’s Association convention in Anaheim while I still worked for Moody. We were making some observations about Kenneth Hagin’s ministry and MacArthur began conversing with me about the charismatic movement in general. His knowledge on that topic is extensive, as it may be on other topics. While he demonstrated himself to be very capable in dealing with “certain” issues, I lost confidence in his [MacArthur's] ability to discern the simplicity of the Gospel itself. Dr. MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation is, of course, wrong primarily on the very basic issue of what constitutes saving faith, and certain other issues we are contending for.
The escalation of the Lordship Salvation debacle, as well as the blood issue and the eternal sonship of Christ [3], quickly made me lose confidence in him. Over the years, I have watched him plunge deeper into Reformed theology and was aware of his fall from favor from the IFCA International (I still have the tapes of the 1989 IFCA meeting in which John was asked to explain his views).
I have only begun to peruse the articles on your site, as there is so much to read, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate what you are doing and the importance of a clear Gospel of grace in our day of confusion. May God continue to bless you in your efforts.

Pastor Norm Aabye
Saegertown, PA
Site Publisher Addendum:
For additional reading on the IFCA controversy with John MacArthur see these articles that include links to transcripts from the 1989 IFCA interview with John MacArthur-

IFCA Statement on the Nature of Saving Faith

Insights From the IFCA Interview with John MacArthur

John MacArthur Requested to and Resigns From the IFCA

[1] Pastor Norm Aabye was born and raised in Connecticut ; USAF veteran; saved in 1970, while serving in the Philippines; graduate of Colonial Hills Baptist College, Danbury, CT; ordained in 1987; founded River Valley Baptist Church in Ansonia, Connecticut in 1987, and pastored there for 18 years; taught in the Bible department for 9 years on the faculty of the New England School of the Bible, Southington, CT; founded C.A.R.E. Ministries (Christ’s Ambassadors Reaching the Elderly) in 2006, a nursing home ministry in northwestern PA and northeastern OH. Pastor Aabye and his wife, Priscilla, currently reside in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, serving as full-time missionaries to the elderly in nursing homes.

[2] You can view the back cover of John MacArthur’s The Ultimate Priority as it appears today.

[3] “Those who teach this view would include Ralph Wardlaw, Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes, Jimmy Swaggart, Finis J. Dake (Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible), Walter Martin (author of Kingdom of the Cults). Popular Bible teacher John MacArthur, Jr. for many years denied the doctrine of the eternal Sonship of Christ, but he has changed his position and now embraces this doctrine.” For detailed study see- The Eternal Sonship of Christ by Pastor George Zeller. But has MacArthur truly repented of that view? Serious questions raise doubts over whether or not MacArthur has repudiated his former view and genuinely abandoned it. See John MacArthur: Christ’s Eternal Sonship for a discussion of this controversy.

September 8, 2023

Another Look at the New Evangelicalism,” by 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 years since this article’s original publication (2002). 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, and their aversion to the biblical mandates for separation. Those trends crept into Pillsbury Baptist Bible College, Tennessee Temple, Clearwater Christian College and Northland International University, which contributed to the closure of them all. Those trends (and more) that contributed to those schools closing are strongly in evidence at Bob Jones University, especially having escalated during Steve Pettit's tenure at president.

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 soundedThis 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 & June 2014)

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)

August 23, 2023

BJU Presidential Profile: A Choice Between "Respect for" and Returning to the "Vision of Its Founder," or the Status Quo

In the previous article BJU Partners With Tim Challies we saw our first piece of concrete evidence that the Executive Cabinet and Administration intend to continue with former president Steve Pettit’s agenda to transform the university.1

Today let's consider and react to the BJU Presidential Profile (see link below). The BJU Board has called for input toward their search for a new president. Within the Profile the following appears.
"The Board of Trustees invites BJU administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of the University to review the current Presidential Profile and join the Board in suggesting additions, deletions, and/or revisions to the Profile."
Following are suggestions we have submitted for Board consideration.2

Ministry Qualifications
*Committed to the whole counsel of God including the biblical mandates for separation from unbelievers, disobedient brethren, ecumenical compromise and expressions of the world's anti-God culture in fine arts productions, the curriculum, and classroom instruction. See- 
Image from BJU Production

BJU Entangles Student Body with Franklin Graham's Ecumenical Movement

*Committed to closing the campus to persons and organizations affiliated with apostate churches and new evangelicalism. See- 

Roman Catholicism Isn't the Only Thing Come to BJU
"Over a mere two weeks [April 2020] BJU gave its Bible Conference offering to an ecumenical organization headed by a new evangelical, and rented the university [auditorium] for a Roman Catholic to take the platform. Looking at...these, as well as similar BJU sponsored events or affiliations (Tim Tebow, Ken Ham, Billy Kim, Cantus, BJGrass, the SBC, the Presbyterian Church of America...a conclusion can be fairly drawn. Evidence from on campus shows that the university is turning ecumenical."
*Has no history of affiliation, endorsement or participation with non-separatist, so-called "conservative" evangelicals and their conferences such as (but not limited to) Together for the Gospel (T4G), The Gospel Coalition, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), Promise Keepers and the Resolved Conference.

*Rejects CCM in all its forms including Getty Music, Bill & Gloria Gaither and Sovereign Grace Music.

*Rejects the modern-day Charismatic movement (popularized by John Piper).

*Committed to a Dispensational hermeneutic, rejecting Covenant theology. See- 

Dispensational Theology by Myron J. Houghton, Ph. D, Th.D.
"Many people do not know what dispensationalism really is or how it affects the beliefs we hold. The purpose of this [brief] article is to explain dispensationalism by looking at some of our major beliefs."
Leadership Qualities
In part it states, 
"...with a personal awareness and respect for the history of BJU and a strong personal commitment to provide continuity in the advancement of its mission and the vision of its founder."
Does the Board mean to say that the next president must "respect" and restore the university to the fundamentalist, separatist "vision of its founder" or only certain, some other, elements while maintaining the status quo? 

Steve Pettit, the Executive Cabinet and Administration set out to erase and replace much of "the vision of its founder." A mission that continues to this day as we have just shown in BJU Partners With Tim Challies. While the process of identifying candidates for the presidency of BJU current leadership continues transforming the school into what many believe will become the first cousin of Liberty University and Cedarville.

One pastor (BJU alum), having read the Presidential Profile commented, "As written John Piper, Al Mohler and Tim Challies could be viewed as qualified candidates."

Based on the current profile, and current leadership continues executing Pettit’s transformation of the school, we believe it's possible, even likely, that the next president of BJU will be a compromising evangelical who will not fully "respect [nor restore] the vision of its founder."


Site Publisher's Correction: On 8/27 I posted a reply in the thread below to an anonymous person whose comment I accidentally deleted rather than publish. Yesterday I discovered that a portion of my comments about BJU's invitation to the male vocal group Cantus was in error. An employee of BJU informed me the portion in error was the following, "Cantus was invited with the foreknowledge of the group's homosexual members."

My source, having read that portion, sent an email to the person who invites and signs contracts with all the performers at BJU and has done it for the last 20 years. He asked him about what I alleged, that BJU had invited Cantus with the "foreknowledge of the group's homosexuals members."  That man replied emphatically, "We had no idea when we signed the contract with Cantus that they had homosexuals in the group. These groups change members all the time."

I have no reason to doubt the veracity of that first hand account and have therefore deleted the original comment and reposted a corrected version in the thread below. I offer my apology for the misinformation originally uploaded.

Update: This afternoon (8/23) I returned to the Presidential Profile page to submit the following under the Leadership Qualities section.

This phrase cries out for clarification, ",,,strong personal commitment to provide continuity in the advancement of its mission and the vision of its founder." Consider that statement in light of these questions:

  1. What is, define specifically, the mission(s) and vision(s) you require an individual to have a personal awareness of, respect for and a strong personal commitment? 
  2. Are you suggesting the mission and vision solely of its founder Bob Jones, Sr? 
  3. Or the mission of Steve Pettit, the Executive Cabinet to transform the school, but the vision of Bob Jones, Sr.?
1) The partnership with Challies demonstrates the BJU Executive Cabinet and Administration's on-going commitment to Steve Pettit’s agenda for erasing the university's fundamentalist, separatist legacy, embracing so-called "conservative" evangelicals and the proliferation of Reformed and Covenant theology.

2) The Ministerial Qualification suggestions above were submitted (Aug. 21) through the BJU portal.

Related Reading:
FACTS: An Enlarged Discussion by Dr. David Beale
After being the premier fundamentalist academic institution for eighty-seven years, BJU elected Dr. Steve Pettit in 2014, as the president who steered the University out of separatist Fundamentalism into the inclusive, Broad Evangelical movement,” David Beale, Christian Fundamentalism in America (Maitland, FL: Xulon, 2021), 179, 530.
"I shared with him [Pettit], in all honesty, 'you need to know, I need to say, what I feel I have to tell people now.' I've never told people not to go to Bob Jones University. In most cases I usually end up saying, 'I hope that you're able to do that and if you can I want to encourage you.' But I had to tell Dr. Pettit that, 'parents are going to have to be far more vigilant, they're not going to receive the same kind of reinforcement if they've come from conservative homes, the same kind of reinforcement in many, many of the situations'."

The Driving Force Behind BJU's Departure From its Historic Legacy

An Analysis of BJU's Position Paper on Calvinism, Arminianism & Reformed Theology

Steve Pettit's Break with the Conservative Base
"I cannot recall any of the main talking points other than that Steve was constantly saying, 'Millennials this and millennials that'.”