January 23, 2023

Bob Jones University Foundations Conference: An Intrusion of Reformed/Covenant Theology, New Calvinism & Lordship Salvation

Key Speakers at the Foundations Conference at BJU Dec. 8-9, 2022
Conference organized by SermonAudio

Dr. Steve Pettit: BJU President
Only days after the contested renewal of his presidency.

Dr. Steven J. Lawson:
Is Reformed throughout in his Theology.
• Is on the board at John MacArthur’s Master’s Seminary, where he also serves as
Professor of Preaching, and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program.
• Is a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary (DMin).
• Serves as the Executive Editor for the Reformed Expositor Magazine.
• Is a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. 

Ligonier Ministries is a Reformed organization in the greater Orlando, Florida
area. Ligonier was founded in 1971 by R. C. Sproul in the Ligonier Valley,
outside Pittsburgh. In their magazine “Tabletalk,” R. C. Sproul, Sr. and R. C.
Sproul, Jr. endorsed a book titled, Aquinas was a Protestant, written by John H.
Gerstner. In 1567, the Roman Catholic Church had declared Thomas Aquinas
(1224-1274) a Doctor of the Church (Doctor Angelicus). In 1823, Pope John XXII
had canonized Aquinas. In 1879, an encyclical of Pope Leo XIII had decreed
Aquinas’ theology to be the definitive exposition of Roman Catholic doctrine. All
Roman Catholic seminaries and universities are to teach Aquinas’ doctrines.
Despite all that, John Gerstner insisted that Thomas Aquinas “taught the biblical
doctrine of justification so that if the Roman church had followed Aquinas the
Reformation would not have been absolutely necessary” (page 14). Ligonier
Ministries published the book.

Paul Washer:
• Completed his undergraduate studies and enrolled at Southwestern Theological
Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree.
• Is a Southern Baptist Convention evangelist.
• Is strongly Reformed in his doctrine.

Dr. Joel R. Beeke (b. 1952):
• Is a Reformed pastor and theologian.
• Received his PhD at Westminster Theological Seminary; his dissertation is on
Reformation and Post-Reformation theology.
• Is a minister of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
• Is President of the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and is the professor
of Systematic Theology and Homiletics.
• Wrote the 3- volume Reformed Systematic Theology.
• Is editor of “The Banner of Sovereign Grace Truth.”
• Is editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books. 
• Is president of Inheritance Publishers and vice-president of the Dutch Reformed
Translation Society.
• Is frequently called upon to lecture at Reformed seminaries and to speak at
Reformed conferences around the world.

Armen Thomassian: The minister of Faith Free Presbyterian Church, Greenville SC,
since January 2019.

Bob Vradenburgh: Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC.

Below is from the BJU website
We have assembled an incredibly unique combination of speakers including Steven Lawson, Paul Washer, Steve Pettit, Joel Beeke, Armen Thomassian, and Bob Vradenburgh. It is a rare occurrence to have such diverse men all together at a single event so we're looking forward to a very special time of Christian unity and friendship.

We are pleased to be partnering with Reformation Heritage Books for this event.... They will be offering a broad array of classic works at a steep discount for conference attendees along with a free gift. Be sure to take advantage of this special offer.


Related Reading:

"New Calvinism is a system of theology that combines: Reformed, Covenant, Puritan, and Augustinian theologies with present day, Post-Modern culture in an attempt to make Christianity seem more relevant to today’s Christian. Recognizing that churches are declining in numbers, fewer people are being saved, and that many Christians are carnal, not leading holy lives, concerned Christian leaders are looking back to the earlier days of the church for a solution. One solution they are turning to is New Calvinism. They are re-thinking and re-invigorating their teachings in order to make it relevant to our generation of Christianity. 1) Relevant is a key goal of New Calvinism. 2) Adherents to New Calvinism believe that the answer lies in reaching out and building bridges between all segments of Christianity. 3) According to the teachings of New Calvinism, the spiritual gifts of signs and wonders are valid for the church today. 4) New Calvinism seeks to create and redeem culture. 5) New Calvinism unites with Worldliness."
"BJU may not officially be a Reformed or Calvinist school. But its recent publications suggest an awareness and endorsement of Reformed/Calvinist thought and teaching.... If...BJU is following the pattern exhibited by New Calvinist writing, then there is a much deeper problem at work requiring immediate action to reverse this intrusion of Reformed and Calvinist theology."
"The new Calvinism is not a resurgence, but an entirely novel formula which strips the doctrine of its historic practice, and unites it with the world.... New Calvinists do not hesitate to override the instinctual Christian conscience, counseling people to become friends of the world."
"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
Lordship Salvation is a works based, non-saving message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).
Franklin Graham, like his father before him, gives Christian recognition to the "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18). Cooperating with Franklin Graham was an act of sinful disobedience to the Word of God. It is an egregious example of ecumenical compromise at BJU that was heartily endorsed by Dr. Steve Pettit.

Addendum (Jan. 24, 2023):

At the SermonAudio site is a lengthy page dedicated to promotion of the Foundations Conference. In fairness, the conference held at BJU was largely organized by SermonAudio with the complete cooperation and assistance of the university. That established following is an excerpt.

"I am always personally blessed by these conferences because of the unique assembly that takes place between brethren that don't normally gather together. The Foundations Conference does not tie itself down to a particular denominational label or theological stripe. But, like SermonAudio's Articles itself, it is an attempt to promote Christian unity around essential truths that we can all agree on -- namely, the importance of the Word and prayer." (I was not able to identify the author)

For a moment, reflect on, "...does not tie itself down to a particular denominational label or theological stripe." For those of us who remember does that statement not appear eerily similar to the sixth of seven promises of a Promise Keeper? Promise Keepers #6 UNITY, "A Promise Keeper is committed to reach beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.By "denominational barriers" they meant to set aside any doctrinal barriers, especially the doctrinal barriers of separation, to have their unity.

January 16, 2023

A Review- David Beale’s Christian Fundamentalism in America: The Story of the Rest from 1857 to 2020

Reversing Paul Harvey’s familiar maxim, “The Rest of the Story,” this book is a story that frequently reveals the rest of many untold truths hidden from years past.

As one reads through Beale’s book on American Fundamentalism, he is impressed with just how much Beale is at home with the vast amount of sources (many of them original sources) of biographical and organizational material he includes in his study. His present book is a revision and great expansion of his earlier work on the topic of Fundamentalism, bringing it up to date (2020). His book shows his careful research regarding many of the leading individuals who preached and wrote to promote the key issues with which Fundamentalism was concerned. While this book centers on Presbyterian and Baptist groups, it also includes vital issues and events leading up to Fundamentalism. For example, smaller groups, such as developments at Grace Seminary and the Grace Brethren denomination. Beale’s book clearly explains the many controversies that distinguish Fundamentalism from Broad Evangelicalism. These would include ecclesiastical separation and dual affiliation, as well as personal separation standards and entertainment issues. Dr. Beale has done a wonderful thing for Fundamentalists, by giving us a current history of our movement and helping anyone to understand where we have been in the past and where we may be going in the future.

A review by Dr. George Houghton, retiree, Faith Baptist College and Theological Seminary, Ankeny, Iowa.

January 9, 2023

Archival Series- Your First Step Won't Be Your Last: Avoiding the Path to Compromise

Few people walk away from the faith suddenly. Usually it is an incremental series of compromises that eventually tear down the absolute authority of Scripture.”Pastor Mike Harding, a thread comment from the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron blog under, Are You REALLY a Fundamentalist?

A Christian does not go to bed one night in fidelity to the Scriptures and wake up in the morning a full-blown compromiser. If compromise is going to happen, it will happen over time. The first step of compromise is the hardest. Who hasn’t faced the choice to remain true to biblical principles or to take the easy road of compromise? The Spirit of God pricks our consciences when we face those choices. You know the voice; Scripture comes to mind, and if we listen, it protects us from making wrong choices. If we have taken that first step of compromise, subsequent steps become easier to take. The term “slippery slope” is a very good way to describe the road to compromise and modernism. Set one foot on the slope of compromise, and you’ll find the rest of the downhill slide quick and easy. 

You’ve heard the expression—“One foot over the grave and the other on a banana peel.” In a small way, that statement illustrates the threat of the Church Growth, Seeker, and Emergent Church movements we find ourselves confronted with today. Those ministries are the “grave” in that they are led by men who run roughshod over the Word of God. The “banana peel” is listening to them. There is a strange allurement and attraction with cults and compromising ministries. Today, you may hold the high ground with both feet fixed on the absolute authority of the Bible. However, once you decide to keep an open mind about the philosophy and practices of organizations like Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek and Rick Warren’s (Purpose Driven) Saddleback churches and the movements they represent, you will have hung one foot over an open grave and placed the other on the banana peel. 

The Law of Gravity: It is easier to get pulled down into compromise than it is to pull the compromiser up to the high ground you occupy. If only out of curiosity you begin to interact with compromisers, to read them, and to begin a dialogue with them, you may be on your way to becoming one of them. You might like to learn who and what these movements are, if only to understand and refute them. Your motive may be good—you intend to hold your own ground—but that is not usually the way it works. Stand a 200-pound man on a chair and a 125-pound eighth grader on the ground. Let them clasp hands and see who wins the tug-of-war. You might think you have enough spiritual muscle to resist the force of gravity, which is the magnetic attraction of the Church Growth and Emergent movements, but we have seen enough examples of those who succumbed to the appeal to realize that anyone can be pulled down the road of compromise. If you show an interest in compromise, the compromisers will become interested in you

How does one start down the road of compromise? For most, it probably starts with some disappointment or disillusionment. For others, it may be the attraction of what appears to be a successful, exciting, and vibrant ministry or organization. In any working environment, even Christian ministries, there is the possibility that someone you trust and appreciate might one day let you down. I spent eight years on two different Bible college faculties. I loved my students, prayed for them, and poured my heart and soul into them. It would be na├»ve of me to think that I never rubbed one of my students the wrong way and offended him or her. Careless words and an insensitive heart are some ways I may have disappointed or discouraged a young person. If you’re out there, and I offended you, I want to make it right. Any Christian in a position of leadership, who truly cares for those in his care, should want to right any offense. There is no such thing as the perfect job or ministry because there are no perfect people. Because you interact with imperfect people, you will run into disappointment. There is never too much water that has run under the bridge to restore fellowship and to rekindle your joy in the Lord. I have spent many years in both full-time ministry and the secular workplace. It does not take long to learn that you are going to meet with discouragement in either sphere. I have been gainfully employed on Monday and unemployed on Tuesday. Twice in the last 25 years, I have known what it is like to wonder where the next paycheck is coming from. My wife and I have been in the grocery store with a short list, hoping we would not have to leave anything behind once we discovered our total at the checkout. I have looked at my wife and children and reminded God that they need to see Him work on their behalf and provide for them through me. Then reassuring truths like the following come to mind:

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,” (Ps. 37:25). 

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” (Matthew 6:31-33).

There will be times of fear, concern, and worry; but they are also times of rich blessing from God. The trials that come in life are not easy to go through. Who hasn’t questioned God at one time or another when trials and difficulties have come? God is in the trials; He is teaching you things to build you into what He wants you to become for Him and His glory. The Lord is with you in the trials. He has blessings on the other side waiting for you; you would miss them if you decided to cut and run from the lesson God has for you. Lest anyone think I am some kind of spiritual giant who is impervious to worry and fear, let me tell you this: More than once, I have been afraid, I have worried, I have questioned God. But there is one thing I did not do: I did not quit! 
Don’t Quit 
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the bills are high, When you want to smile, but have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don’t you quit. 
Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about, When he might have won had he stuck it out. Don’t give up though the pace seems slow, You may succeed with another blow. 
Success is failure turned inside out. The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell just how close you are, It may be near when it seems so far; So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.Author Unknown 
Don’t let those inevitable trials and disappointments that come in life and ministry turn your head. Don’t get caught up in the thrill and excitement of the Church Growth & emergent movements you see reported in various media. Big things don’t necessarily mean good things. Don’t measure success or blessing the way man does. Who wouldn’t want to have—or be part—a large following? If all of us were honest, we would admit that we would get more excited about preaching to (or being part of) a crowd of 10,000 than to a crowd of 10. That is the flesh speaking to us, and if you are like me, it can sound pretty good. We all need to remind ourselves that with God, whether it be 10 or 10,000, it’s all the same to Him. I have had the privilege of preaching at state-of-the-art venues where more than 3,000 were in the service. I have also had the privilege to preach in a 10-foot by 12-foot room under a sheet-metal roof with only a candle to light my Bible so three souls (through an interpreter) could hear the “wonderful words of life.” There I was, standing on a cold concrete floor, preaching from a Bible so poorly lit I could hardly make out the words. I don’t remember the text from which I preached or even what I said that night, but I still remember thinking to myself, The preachers back in America don’t get to do this.

Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example,” (Phil. 3:17).

Preacher boys and Christian young men and women: Why don’t you decide to become the type of Christian who might be the example for other Christians to follow? I am not talking about turning into a high-minded, puffed-up, pharisaical snob. Set out to become a man or woman who, above all things, wants to please God with his or her life. While you are growing and maturing into that kind of example, look for and mark those among you who set an example you can follow and pass that example on to those who will one day follow you. 

Young people, you’ve got it all ahead of you. Don’t listen to the voices and movements of compromise. Keep close to the Lord Jesus Christ! He is the living Word of God! When men compromise the Word of God, they compromise their allegiance to Jesus Christ, whom they claim as Lord and Savior. Don’t listen to men who have already caved in and made the compromise. 

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus,” (2 Tim. 1:13, emphasis added). 

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers,” (Titus 1:9, emphasis added). 
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession,” (Heb. 4:14, emphasis added). 

In personal life, professions, or ministry, any one of us might prefer the easy road rather than to face trial, struggles, and frustration. Many of us can look at our lives and find times when compromise might have been convenient and even a possibility we considered. Hold fast! Don’t do it! Stand firm! Don’t quit! 

In seasons of life, there will be times when the wind will howl and the waves will crash. In those tempests, you will hear the calls to give in, to take an easier road. Oh, but listen for a familiar voice! You have heard His voice before. “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39). The winds will cease, the seas will calm, the clouds will part; and there will be sunshine again. Walk with Him, talk to Him, and trust in Him. “Hold fast” to the doctrine and to your profession of the One who gave Himself for you

Young people, there are godly men and women in Bible believing churches and Bible colleges and interacting with you at some blog sites who love you and want to see you go on to experience the best God has for you. If you take that first step of compromise today, you will wake up tomorrow morning ready to take the next step. With each successive step, your “first love” (Rev. 2:4) will eventually become a hazy memory, wiped away by a gradual slide into the shallow, murky waters of the modern church growth and marketing culture. 

Keep those movements and advocates at arms’ length. Do not listen to them. Do not read them. If you want to understand what these movements stand for, consult someone who can counsel you from the Word of God. From a balanced biblical perspective, you can be shown just how far the Church Growth and Emergent movements has drifted from the moorings of Scripture. 

The work of God that will count for eternity has been done and will be done by Christian men and women who did not quit, who did not compromise, and who did not retreat when the testing came. 

Yours faithfully, 

Lou Martuneac 
Originally published at Sharper Iron, (May 23, 2007). Reproduced by permission.