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)