I. Speak with authority and instruct your flock with these truths.
Paul wants Timothy’s proclamation to be authoritative. The first point that Paul makes to Timothy is that his ministry should be authoritative. He’s talking about authoritative proclamation. Notice what he says in verse eleven: “Prescribe and teach these things.” Some of your translations may say “command and teach these things.” That’s a perfectly good translation. It’s a military word that’s being used. “Command” or “prescribe” here is the word that is used to speak of the orders that are given by a superior officer to inferior officers. Paul is saying to Timothy that his proclamation needs to be authoritative.
Do you realize how counter-cultural that is? I’m told by everybody around me today that the pattern of ministry in the Christian church needs to be changed because people don’t like to be “preached at.” They don’t like a sermon. They like dialogue. They like advice. They’re more into the give and take of therapy than they are in the direct proclamation of a lecture or a sermon. And so we’re told on every side the way we go about doing church needs to change, because people don’t like that. Well, I’ve got some news for you: people have never liked this!! There’s never been a time when people liked to have their hearts probed. There’s never been a time where people liked to have somebody discover where they have been weighed in the balance and found lacking. There’s never been a time where people liked to be told ‘you’re dead wrong; you need to go another direction.’
And Paul says that’s exactly what people have always needed, whether they like it or not. So he says, “Timothy, prescribe and teach these things.” In other words, in your preaching, be authoritative. You’re not speaking for yourself. You’re not sharing your opinions. You’re not burdening people with your own idea about life. You’re speaking God’s word to them, so be authoritative about it! And you know what? Because all faithful Christian teaching has with its view the production of a life of fellowship and obedience to God, it’s got to be authoritative because we’re not just speaking the word in order to tell you something new or interesting. We’re not just giving you some fun facts to know and tell. Christian teaching has in view the transformation of life. And so it’s got to be authoritative.
And as Christians, we ought to want to sit under a ministry that is faithful in the authority of its proclamation. That’s something that, if the Lord moves you from this place to another place, that’s something you ought to look for. Not a ministry that’s ‘dialoguing’ with you; not a minister that’s doing a late-night talk show chat on a bar stool; but someone who’s proclaiming authoritatively God’s word. That’s what Paul says we ought to do. This isn’t the opinion of up-tight Presbyterians: this is Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit telling you what God wants in ministry.
The sum of Paul’s teaching to Timothy is the faithful transmission of God’s authoritative, inerrant word. One simply cannot claim Christian fellowship with a doctrine of soul competency and liberty of conscience which allows another faith to be held other than that one once and for all delivered to the saints. Personal interpretation is condemned in Scripture. Opinions breed quarrels, and so we see the out working of that in the SBC where war between brothers is the scourge of a peace found only in the freedom to hold a personal opinions as doctrine rather than that one faith held out by Scripture.
This is no other than what Paul taught elsewhere. There is one mind of Christ, he is not divided and what one has received, all have received. The Holy Spirit does not deliver to the saints a double-minded Christ. He delivers to us the thing freely given to us to understand. We have the mind of Christ, not ours.
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2 ESV)
The preaching of truth has to be authoritative. The words are life changing, or they are life destroying. It is a serious charge, one that carries with it the greatest weight and will be judged the harshest in those who call themselves shepherds of the flock.
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Opinions are not from God, and Paul’s teaching to Timothy was to command silence of vain babbling which brings shame and does not edify but can only tear down. The pulpit is to remain pure, and it was this that Paul was addressing, that the sheep are weak and long for those words that tickle the sensuous mind so the shepherd must be ever watchful with a clear eye. A good shepherd knows what is good food and what is not. And a good shepherd knows how to transmit the sound doctrine once and for all delivered to other faithful men who will tender the flock likewise. All those who teach contrary to the doctrine that was received are thieves, killers, liars, whose god is their belly, who flee at the sound of trouble, whose reward is only condemnation. Take care, then, to not go beyond what is written, proving what is good, as a man who is stable, holding to it without wavering, as one approved of by God. The reward of the good race belongs to such. Teach these things, and your progress will be known to all.
We do question sincerity when mishandling of facts makes us do so. If the anti-Calvinists cannot be honest about things under examination and must resort to distortions, why would anyone call them sincere?
Finally, an admission. There are those, quite a few actually, of The Statement kind who label Calvinists heretics, false teachers, magicians, et cetera, ad nauseam, for holding to what they think is the logical outcome of Calvinistic Biblicism. It is duplicitous to claim one doesn’t want to convert the opposition by exposing error, just as Reynolds is doing. His hypocrisy moves him no closer to sincerity.
We still have yet to find anywhere a definition of what a traditionalist is. SBC Calvinists are traditionalists. We only know that those who use the moniker Traditionalist are always opposed to Calvinism. To switch to Traditionalist doesn’t clarify, for tradition in the SBC is whatever one wants it to be, apparently. So it is best just to call all those who oppose the doctrines of grace, anti-Calvinist. Why, if one is sincere, use a non-descriptor? Why obscure if one is sincere? Honesty would seem to be necessary to maintain a claim to sincerity. To call one’s self a SBC Traditionalist is obscurantist double-speak.
The Council of Orange didn’t condemn foreordination to evil. It condemned those who said God foreordained evil by the power of God. If as Edwards said, by author it is meant that God ordains evil, that is he foreordained whatever comes to pass, then by all means he is the author. But if by it one says God does the evil in man, then of course it is rejected. The Council did not put this phrase in a Canon, by the way, instead it was in the conclusions. The Canon’s reject Brad Reynold’s take on their words:
If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12).
We have to ask Reynolds, just who was it that cursed Adam’s offspring? Does he agree that God did this? Does he agree with the BFM that all will eventually commit actual sin because God foreordained it through the curse? Or, is he admitting that some might not sin because God didn’t curse the offspring of Adam with a corrupt nature and environment? Where does the BFM come off in saying that all will eventually sin if it is not foreordained? Does God control the circumstances, and therefore the outcome, the nature and environment, and therefore all the means by which decisions of his free creatures are made, which leads inexorably to sins, or not? Just who creates the nature? Chance? Just who establishes the environment, that is the lot of mankind? Fate? If God has not foreordained that evil will eventually work out in all who reach the age of moral decision making, then who?
Of course, Reynolds is not above calling all Calvinists heretics by definition, if not by name, by misquoting the Canons. He has also indicted the BFM: God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. Only an open-theist believes that God doesn’t know the future at some point in eternity past, but by knowing it is concluded that he has foreordained them. The world God instantiated, even if one is a Molinist heretic, is a foreordained world. Creation cannot exist upon any other foundation other than God said, Let there be. Some of the Traditionalist claim man has been given creative powers. Some how they believe that in diminishing God and exalting man they do service to the declaration of Scripture which says that there is no other creator.
Calvinists believe that God foreordained all things that come to pass. Not only that, but God actually did execute judgement on Adam and his posterity by foreordaining that the conditions would be exactly what the BFM describes. What has changed since the fall? Does not death and sin pass to all the offspring of Adam? And why? And did not God do this? The Canons of Orange confirm that God did so. It doesn’t deny it is so. What it did deny is that it is God who is actively in man doing evil. The contrast screams at the understanding when the Canons Conclusions say that good in the regenerate is done (powered) by God, where it is not the power of God working evil in anyone, regenerate or not. Even at that, no one would deny that God upholds all things by the power of his might, would they? This doesn’t mean, and cannot mean that God is doing evil, even though it is his power that sustains all things that exist including the free decisions of his creatures. Reynolds manipulates the Canons of Orange by stupidly assigning meanings where and when he wants by manipulating a word here or there. The phrase employed by Reynolds the belief that God foreordains men to evil changes the Canons’ anathema to something never intended when it said foreordained to evil by the power of God. Contrary to Reynolds the Canons are explicit that the conditions which will inexorably lead to sin are the punishment of God. To wit, Romans 1 bears witness that God gave them over to a depraved mind to do evil. Anyone reading Romans 1 is immediately struck by its creation reference, and the fact that all that then proceeds out of man was by the curse of God such that man is given over to evil by God’s decree of punishment. Just as the Council declared. Does Reynolds not believe the fall was decreed? That it took God by surprise? Does he think that God in the decree of the fall didn’t decree the fallen nature of man, also?
Reynolds speaks of duplicity as if uncovering the truth of what is being taught is not the seeking of unity. The Traditionalist Statement is semi-Pelagian, just as Reynolds is. One of the aspects of semi-Pelagianism is the denial of imputed guilt. Another is the denial of total depravity. Both Reynolds holds, and here, and I would imagine in his classroom, as an authority he teaches so. He is no innocent layman, but Doctor.
To put a word to a definition is not divisive if the word fits the definition. What is amazing as I watch this unfold is how those who are Dr. of this and Dr. of that of the anti-Calvinist side make such absurdly, stupid mistakes. With such illogical leaps that unity cannot be sought in exposing error, (just what is the worth of the historic councils and synods, anyway) we can only conclude that Reynolds is irrationally ego-attached to his cause. By not understanding, or at least not admitting, that semi-Pelagianism is broader than he infers, he not only undermines his credentials, but is disingenuously insulting. By defining, even by contrarily defining as Reynolds does, he necessarily labels. He is as bad at name calling as any. But his pride blinds him to his duplicity.
Scripture has authority. Absolutely, and inerrancy cannot stand where it does not, Reynolds rightly says. But then he goes off the rails. How can unity in education take place when the whole of Baptist doctrinal history is not taught? The unity of education that the BFM calls for is openness in academic learning because the true pursuit of knowledge will not rule facts out of bounds. When schools and churches deny in the education of their members the whole of the history and doctrine of the Baptist traditions and of Christianity as a whole, or obscures them as Reynolds does, they bind disciples to ignorance and turn them away from the freedom the BFM alludes to in honoring and glorifying Christ by those very institutions. Reynolds, here, in not honestly examining the Councils of Orange, denies the very education that the BFM seeks to employ for its mission and engages himself in propaganda. Seeing that SBC Today is a ministry arm of a Seminary, he undermines it too. In not advocating for teaching without prejudice the doctrines of historic Southern Baptistism, he becomes an obscurantist. The BFM’s own witness infers the opposite of what Reynolds said about the doctrine of imputed guilt. Why didn’t he admit it?
It is true that the BFM2K obscures the 1925, but in its preamble it states:
We also respect the important contributions of the 1925 and 1963 editions of the Baptist Faith and Message… The 1963 committee rightly sought to identify and affirm “certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.” Our living faith is established upon eternal truths. “Thus this generation of Southern Baptists is in historic succession of intent and purpose as it endeavors to state for its time and theological climate those articles of the Christian faith which are most surely held among us.”
The 1963 states:
In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.
Speaking of original sin, the basic content of the 1925 was:
He was created in a state of holiness under the law of his Maker, but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit a nature corrupt and in bondage to sin, are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors.
And though the later BFM’s obscure this by changing word order (interesting Reynolds takes the same political tact), they don’t rule it out (and this despite the fact that Hobbs and Rogers were haters of Calvinism, as their commentaries and sermons testify). Condemnation, that is guilt, was part of the original formulation because anything less is semi-Pelagian. The later BFM’s are reworded, but I believe that for the purpose that there could be fitted under the broad statement those who now dominate the SBC, and are semi-Pelagian, without loosing favor with the historic traditionalist Southern Baptists, the Calvinists.
Original sin includes guilt, to diminish it or eliminate it as some interpret the BFM2K as saying that condemnation is result of sins committed destroys what Scripture teaches was the imputation of Adam’s transgression. Namely that one mans man’s transgression brought condemnation to all men. To destroy the imputation of condemnation in Adam destroys the imputation on no condemnation in Christ. A person who is merely corrupted but not condemned in that corruption is an oxymoron. It is corruption, that is sin which is condemned. That is to say, corruption is not merely a defect in a person, it is a sinful person. And, not merely one who sins, it is one who is condemned and in need of a savior. It is not one who is merely diminished who needs to be made a new creation, but a totally unmade man who needs to be made new. A dead man needs a resurrection, not a cripple.
One might read the last clause of the BFM’s description of the fall and the state of man, that in editing was left dangling like a half severed foot, and are under condemnation from an ahistorical view, prejudiced by the vain philosophy of freewill, to mean that condemnation is a result of sins committed rather than inherited sin, but you have to insert the word results, and you have to deny that the BFM2K reestablished the 1925, instead of nullifying it. Obscuring the history is the same as lying. Calvinists can claim the BFM2K because it doesn’t change the 1925. The 1925 traces its history through Calvinistic confessions. So the traditions that the writers of the BFM were working from assume a Calvinistic interpretation while allowing for interlopers to take a place at the table. They have proven to have very poor manners as guests, however, as they now seek to evict the hosts having consumed the great bounty they were provided.
Going on, he says that we must not sacrifice Scriptural truth for unity right after saying that certain doctrines by necessity separate. Which is it? The secondary doctrines of grace should, or shouldn’t divide? Are doctrines Scriptural truth, or not? Should Scripture divide? Many don’t think that necessary inferences of secondary doctrines of soteriology make them secondary. Some actually think that doctrine must be complimentary and not contradictory. In any case, if secondary doctrines, like baptism and ecclesiology can divide, why can’t, or shouldn’t, soteriology? If the secondary doctrines of something so important as soteriology don’t, why? Isn’t this lifting the horse’s tail to check his age instead of looking at his teeth? Unity cannot be achieved by denial of truth, as in what Reynolds did with the BFM and the Canons. But, then, why wouldn’t Reynolds bring the charge to the Convention that there is a need to divide, seeing that secondary issues are indeed a reason for it, by his own admission? Why challenge others when he should by his own admission do it? Shouldn’t the BFM be clarified to deny the 1925 rather than uphold it, if it was in error? Heresy or not, if what one side holds is by the admission of Reynolds contrary to truth, (heresy), then that contrariness stands in the way of unity, doesn’t it? It stands in the way of inerrancy because it stands opposed to authority, doesn’t it? And since when is false teaching (heresy) not a reason to divide? If Presbyterians hold to fundamentals, but it is only secondary doctrine which divides, how petty and arrogant is it for Baptists to divide from them if other secondary doctrines don’t divide? Why can’t anyone hold to secondary doctrine and still be in unity? Isn’t that the essence of the big tent of the SBC? Reynolds is simple self-contradictory. Irrational, is another way of saying the same thing. The man opposes himself and is unstable in all his ways.
I have to agree, if there is heresy, if there is any false teaching, it should have its day in court. The problem, however, is that there is no court in the SBC. Resolutions are not constitutional requirements. SBC churches are free to hold to their own confessions and reject the BFM if they so decide. Read the BFM, it allows its own rejection. So, even the stronger resolutions, such as those on marriage and inerrancy, which have been incorporated into the BFM, are not binding. Only when it becomes a constitutional article does it have binding authority. Such is the case with homosexuality. Short of that, the Constitution of the SBC is so loose as to what makes for exclusive doctrine as to be laughable. The SBC is not a denomination which by definition has a confessional basis for its constitution. The SBC is a convention which has for its basis a constitution and not a confession.
There are three parameters for membership churches in the SBC: First and foremost, money; second, a church of like faith and practice; third, anti-homosexuality.
The first is of course the almighty controlling factor for cooperation and for power. The SBC is a truly a political organization, a conventional, liberal in its self-definition, a strict, democratic congregationalism, after all. Because the second makes it possible to formulate any doctrine or any practice, it is possible anything “like.” Then, the first is the only one that “makes” one part of the club. The second also makes it possible for individual members, and therefore their churches, to hold to any form of belief, biblical or not, as long as they call it Baptist. The last, the exclusion clause, is unlike the first two. The first two are how one is included, (really, it is only the first that matters), the last, is the only one by which a member church can be excluded.
So the reality is, that it would not matter what the resolutions might say, they’ve passed tons of them, and none are binding. Only the constitution is. Not even the mighty BFM is binding by its own declaration of liberty and finds no place in the constitution as a required subscription. By its own admission, the BFM does not require that any hold to it. For each church or entity no matter how small has the right to draw up its own confession of faith and practice. Rather than subscription, the BFM encourages freedom from subscription. Absolute autonomy, not accountability forms the what is thought to be the unity of the SBC. And this is why the SBC is not a denomination, but a convention.
Were either a Calvinist or a Traditionalist to state his doctrines and/or a reviving in the beliefs of his doctrines are from God is blatantly arrogant. To say such is to imply the other side is holding views which are against a movement of God or the truths of God. This type of rhetoric has no place at the table of unity. The Traditional Baptist doctrines and the doctrines of grace are not equivalent to Scripture by any stretch of the imagination. They may be a summary of what we believe Scripture teaches but that is not the same as Scripture. May we be careful to recognize the fullness of the boundaries in the BFM2000 (affirmed by both Traditionalist Baptists and Calvinist Baptists). Further, may both sides be careful to affirm we believe our position is closest to Scripture and therefore we think God may be blessing us without crossing the line to affirm that our position is God’s position (such reveals a blindness to our own subjectivity).
This is perhaps the most confused, insane, and pride-filled statement Reynolds makes. Reynolds, himself, doesn’t hold to the fullness and boundaries of the BFM, as shown above. Why would he even teach or preach what isn’t of God, anyway? Is he saying that what he believes is not what God has revealed? Of course to hold certain beliefs can be from God. Is Jesus the Son of God? Scripture declares so. But, because Reynolds believes so it is arrogance on his part according to his own parameters? Of course by stating beliefs one is, by the very nature of what it means to believe, saying that what others believe is wrong. And that it came from God. Believing is to say that it is the faith which they have received from God. But, since Reynolds brought up the BFM, let’s see, oh yeah, it was written to state what some Baptists surely believe and to stand against what some other Baptists and non-Baptists don’t believe. The BFM calls its doctrines eternal truths. I suppose eternal truths come from God. What would that make others? The BFM by its very nature, not claiming to be Scripture from God, certainly claims its own writing as derived from God’s Holy Word. It makes no bones about holding what, as far as it knows, is from God. Who would claim otherwise, anyway? Does Reynolds understand that he is saying that his beliefs are not from God but his own imagination or elsewhere? What arrogance on his part to think that God is blessing him, though he may be wrong because he is just making things up, but not blessing others, though they may be right and simply claim their doctrine is from God. He is just a fool for thinking so.
Scripture on the other hand reveals that God hates a liar. It doesn’t allow for error, especially error taught by teachers as truth. Scripture is demanding in commanding that the faith, the one faith, be taught. It is not arrogance which says that God has revealed this or that, but it is quite arrogant to say that God reveals to each sometimes truth and sometimes error. God is not as double-minded are Reynolds and the Traditionalists. We do not hold ourselves infallible. Yet, we do not teach what can be proven to be fallible. Simply, Jesus said, everyone will be judged for every word spoken which does not work. And Paul commanded silence where truth cannot be proven. We are not to go beyond Scripture but prove all things and hold to what is good. According to Reynolds view here, nothing can be proven… except what God has blessed him with.
Now that is arrogant.
Addendum: This church is acting in violation to the clear teachings of the Bible and to the clear text of the Baptist Faith & Message. The Southern Baptist Convention needs to become a confessional fellowship in which actions like this one that are in violation of the Baptist Faith & Message constitute clear grounds for removal from the convention.
I am adding this just so the reader will know that even an advocate for the Baptist Identity Movement and a vocal opponent of Calvinism understands what few in the SBC do. Namely, that the SBC is not a denomination. It has no controlling confession of faith. The nearest it can come to that is seeking a majority vote at a convention to expel a member. Though Barber calls it a confessional fellowship, he uses the singular noun and he means denomination. Only a centralized authority could define and enforce a single interpretation of the BFM. One must understand that an autonomous church ceases to be autonomous under a confessionalist, denominational structure. That would end what is known as Baptist Identity, it would put an end to the SBC pride and joy, autonomy. As much as Barber wants it, becoming a confessionalist denomination, would end much of the cooperative Spirit of the SBC as it would vastly expand the inclusionary and exclusionary requirements of membership. It would require and entire shift away from autonomy to the establishing of local and regional courts… presbyteries in other words.
It is easy for Dr. James White to paint Ronnie Rogers as incompetent. And the fact is, calling someone an eisegete is to call him a liar. As Dr. White says, this is not isolated to Rogers, its endemic in the anti-Calvinist camp and it never ceases. The anger and agitation are evident along with the accusative pronouncements of fraud. Now the question, is Dr. White a bunker or coffee shop Calvinist? Actually, neither. He pilots a strategic bomber.
As I begin to read the book, Killing Calvinism, I am immediately confirmed in the fact that this is yet another attempt by someone who doesn’t really get the issues. It is a book which will silence Calvinist opposition to anti-Calvinist diatribes by pulling teeth through banning emotive responses and by incrimination through suggestion. That isn’t the only problem and I am noting much in the book where Dutcher is not right. I have a feeling that those who are promoting the book are doing so out of political correctness and a desire for acceptability. There is no other explanation except that the premises are accepted without nuance as if appeasement actually works.
There is more than Dutcher’s tiny slice of observed Calvinism out there. There are those who have had their families and careers greatly damaged by those who hate Calvinists. There are those like Ronnie Rogers who are willing to deceive to do so. There are those whose personal integrity has been destroyed by that deception, whose friendships have been destroyed by the anti-Calvinist side. There are those who have been drafted into defending their Calvinistic heritage though they were not the aggressors, but merely victims. What upsets many Calvinists who depend upon authorities -pastors, elders, apologists- to defend the faith, is that the overseers of the flock and faith are often all too willing to remove their spine in doing so by declaring a truce in the midst of attacks continued against them. Their attackers decry aggressive, harsh and mean-spirited Calvinists while lobbing molotov cocktails. With every concession by appeasement, the anti-Calvinists advance. They do not retreat, they do not cease their aggression. Dutcher addresses anger later, but doesn’t address righteous anger. He only deridingly admits that there is such. Nor does he recognize, justly, that the enemies of Cavinism have a political strategy not much different than we see utilized by the secular, political left. Nor, that their agend is to eliminate their opposition.
Luther used a steel fist in a felt glove to pound his enemies. Calvin labeled his detractors with all sorts of invective no less explicitly and implicitly than Luther. Whitefield made clear to Wesley that he was promoting heresy and blasphemy, making a clean break with him never to reconcile again despite claims to the contrary. In fact, I have found few Calvinist “old guys” who did not use language, as a friend has said, which would be politically incorrect today. They would not in the least, by today’s standards, fit the definition of gracious. I suppose, those like Dutcher who apparently lost nothing becoming a Calvinist cannot understand the defensive posturing and the entrenching offensive response to the attack on Calvinism. Whitefield understood the cost, he understood the threat posed by brothers. As Dr. White said, it is easy to sit comfortably self-assured when it has cost nothing. Most in the Calvinist resistance are not bunker Calvinists, and surely not limp-wristed, patsies sipping coffee and engaged in dialogue. Dutcher’s hero Keller might be, but authentic defenders never have been. They are strategic freedom fighters hoping to secure protection for those who are vulnerable to being abused by their captors and those who might be taken captive by the anti-Gospel of anti-Calvinism. They are not the YRR. And why, because they have personally felt the enemies voracious appetite for carnage, and know that the only way to survive is to fight.
Calvinism has been drained, historically, of its strength because of complacency and modification through being assimilated into the greater evangelical world. It is far easier to be non-Calvinist, and it is cheaper to not resist takeover. Anyone knowing the history and decline of Princeton or of the SBC, understands that. Machen was a great warrior for the truth. His problem was his compromise with the anti-Calvinists for the security of victory over liberalism. Winning people to the Gospel by any means produces meaninglessness and meaninglessness, despair. Exactly what the liberals sought. The cost was a weakened confessionalism which resulted in no need to catechize and strengthen disciples against falsehood. Disarmed, today’s Christian is most likely to no know even the elementary teachings of Christ. There was a short-lived peace as far as Calvinism goes. The enemy who was a friend turned out to be more destructively aggressive against Calvinism than the enemy who was defeated through the unholy alliance. We have come to the divide again between those who would be victors though man’s philosophies and those whose victory has been secured by Christ.
I will continue to read the book, but seriously… the guy has no clue as to who the men were that he wants to reference in the introduction if he thinks past reformers were coffee shop yuppies of the likes of Keller, and not soldiers attacking strong holds with purpose, and yes, often with language that would make the modernist Reformed, kowtowed, wimperers blush. It may be true that the Piper’s of the new Calvinists are Birkenstocks wearers and Starbucks sippers, but there are many Calvinists who aren’t. The theater of war is far more widespread and complicated than the coffee shop. Certainly many are not hunkered down in bunkers, but are out there everywhere unwilling to compromise for the sake of a faux peace. They are not embarrassed by the attacking and don’t adopt the subversive posture of some Calvinists who think that only mollycoddling and appeasement will win the day. This is a war for what is truth even if the enemies are members of our own household. It is a war to defend the weak, not just to make a point. Those Calvinists who claim that they are defenders of the truth are anything but if they are willing that anything can stand along with the doctrine clearly revealed, demonstrably so, from Scripture. If they think that they are equipping the saints to stand in the day of battle by defining the armor of God as whatever one wants to believe, the children will never fit into it. And they will be slaughtered.
Dutcher doesn’t seem to grasp the gravity of the dispute- its destruction of truth, its destruction of lives if there is let to stand what cannot be examined ( dok-im-ad’-zo) and proven (ghin’-om-ahee) from Scripture. Whitefield did, and White does. While at the same time loving with tender affections, Whitefield’s visceral anger was in full display, so is White’s. But being visceral is not a bad thing, necessarily. Visceral simply means coming from the inmost seat of the emotion, that is the heart. So loving God with visceral response is the first commandment. Dutcher demeans that as a self-righteousness. So be it. But in doing so he sides against the zeal for the household of God. It is not wrong to get viscerally angry, despite what the sweet boys like Piper say. Check the prophets, and do not forget those of the NT, like Jesus and his followers. Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? What zealousness is there in taking up a submissive posture? Doing good requires the tested and proven testimony of Scripture, for it is that which Jesus commended the church of Ephesus. There is no gentleness which is not distributed by a warriors hands which hold the shield and sword. Should we follow the Lord’s command concerning the Nicolaitans, or just let them remain? This was Timothy’s charge, the one in which he was supposed to set the church in proper order. The proper order is a necessary means for faithful transmission of truth which does not allow for error. Where there is no truth, there is no proper church order.
The warnings of our Lord fall on spiritually deaf ears if they think that silly squabbles over opinions about doctrine is what this is all about.
Collins might respond that he himself is not arguing for these different scenarios. In fact, he argues in his book Science and Faith that dust in Genesis 2:7 refers to soil out of which God fashioned the first man. If that is Collins view, then what is the problem? The problem is that not just the views which a person affirms are important, but also the views which a person is willing to accept are also very important. For example, what if a person affirms that he believes that Scripture teaches the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, but then he is also willing to receive as acceptable, or within the parameters of what Scripture teaches, the view that Christ only arose in a spiritual sense? Such a stance would cause major problems because it would allow the possibility for unacceptable views to be considered as acceptable. This has implications for what should be considered as acceptable views for ministers of the gospel within our churches and presbyteries. Should presbyteries accept candidates for ordination who do not hold to the view that God created the first man Adam from the dust of the ground?
Professor Belcher is free to prefer a church setting in which people like Francis Schaeffer and Benjamin Warfield would be unwelcome to minister; but let him come out and say that this is his preference. I myself cannot imagine what good would come of such an arrangement.
…I wonder whether we can conduct such disagreements without insinuating that the other party has somehow undermined the authority of Scripture. Be that as it may, I do think that we owe it to one another, and to the Church, to give an accurate representation of the views we find displeasing. I find that Professor Belcher has done neither of these. Reviews, including severely negative ones, are of course part of a fair game. But I am left wondering why, if someone comes to suspect that a brother minister in the same denomination has articulated things that seem to have compromised his ordination vows, the first thought isn’t, “That can’t be right! Let me call that guy and see if I understood him correctly before I get us into the process of public warning which calls forth a public reply.” It would sure save a lot of time.
I think he has confessed. Ambiguity is the word mush of the postmodern. Why wouldn’t a person just say, “I believe in fiat creation of Adam out of the ground.” Or, “I reject any other mediate creation of Adam?” We care less of BB or of Schaeffer, they are not the authority of Scripture. It seems clear that by authority what the professor means is what icons of the faith have said, rather than what the Scripture says. At least that is the most that one can take from his closing paragraphs.
Yes, I know, some will say that calling Obama a heretic is an absurd statement. Yet, the fact is, you can’t be a Christian at all, even a liberal one, if you deny the essentials of the Christian faith. To do so makes you a heretic.
Now, we shouldn’t be surprised that Franklin Graham cannot tell the difference. After all, the fruit in that family hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
But that brings up another point. Billy Graham has said essentially just what Obama has said, just what Franklin said (which strangely enough, son of another former Southern Baptist, Joel Osteen said. It makes one think that there is something in the baptismal waters of the SBC). But, you won’t find Denny Burk padding the deck in reference to the heretic idolized by the SBC by saying his universalism is merely liberal Christianity. It isn’t merely liberal Christianity, BG is a heretic. On the other hand, he is SBC, so it doesn’t matter what he believes, they have autonomous soul competency, and no one can tell them what they must believe, after all, the Scripture is wide open for personal interpretation. So, Billy Graham is well within his rights as a Southern Baptist to deny the faith, but not within the bounds of Christianity to do so.
Michael Horton, though, brings some necessary balance. It simply doesn’t matter that there is or is not a Christian in the White House. There has rarely, and perhaps has not ever, been one there. It does matter what one’s world view is. For that is what will dictate the President’s leadership for the common good:
Yet believers also must stop expecting politicians to double as high priests of a false religion, an idolatrous religion, that substitutes real confessional communities for a generic moralism. Even where a candidate’s confession differs from our own, we have to ask what we’re looking for in our political leaders. Are we seeking an icon who will reassure us that even in a wildly pluralistic and relativistic society we are the ones in the right, safely ensconced in the walls of absolute truth? Or do we have the more modest goal of electing presidents who will eschew any messianic mantle and pursue policies that we believe are more likely to do more good than harm to the republic’s common good and the Constitution that they swear to uphold?
On all points Obama fails. He won’t take a stand one way or the other, really. And in that he is postmodern, without any foundation for decision-making. That is why he fails in the pursuit of good and right for the republic. He has no right, nor any good, that is inviolable.
We, in a republic, elect not a person who will do the will of the people, or even his own will, that is either a bare democracy or a dictatorship. We elect those who will, hopefully, govern in such a way that what is in view is the right and good of the people despite what they think is in their best interests, or what is in the best interests of the office holder. The reason that we have disagreements as to the best course our country can take is based upon this very thing, that not all people agree as to what is the right and good. It is far easier to determine when the candidate is patronizing or self-aggrandizing, than to know that they are pursuing the right and good. Regardless, we elect, though blindly with such hopes, based upon what can be known about the absolute unwillingness of the candidate to compromise his own ethos.
Pigeon-holing a President by applying a religious test is the furthest thing from the considerations of those who established the free exercise clause and exempted the faith of the individuals for public office from any religious qualifications for office. And as Michael says, it is simply idolatry. Still, we must consider what they believe, and establish as far as is possible that they are sincere in those beliefs.
Too often, as Horton explains, Christians fall for the trap that a person’s particular belief system is the qualifier. And while all Christians would like it if a Christian was elected, those who would run for office on their faith are usually the furthest from it. Obama needs to be tested in other ways. One of those is his claim to be a Christian. That is a lie. But it is not the fact that he is not, but the fact that he lies about it. The same can be said of Romney. He is a liar, and that is the liability that disqualifies him. Indeed, it is the integrity of the individual, his “best” effort to toe the line on his world view’s out working in policy making that is what we should look for in a candidate. When a candidate cannot hold consistently in their testimony before the people about what they believe, then we have every reason to suspect they will be untrustworthy in discharging the duties of the office.
Examine what a person believes. But let it evaluate itself. If it is self-contradictory, then that person is a contradiction of truth and not the person who can be trusted to carry out the mandates of the pursuit of what is the right and the good for we the people.
Given the big-tent mentality that McKissic trumpets, accepting Christian-modalists, can we soon expect that Christian-muslims and Christian-mormons will soon find a place in the SBC?
Here’s the Dividing Line program to which McKissic alludes. One cannot for a moment forget that heretical teaching is now accepted in the SBC as orthodoxy in the form of Keathley’s Molinism, and the denial of Original Sin in Lemke. As I noted before the wide-open door and the latitudinarian ethos of the SBC was a catastrophe marking its wholesale rejection of Biblical authority in favor of an ecumenical non-credalism that despite the fact that the SBC stood for inerrancy, it, by definition of broad doctrinal inclusivism, cannot establish that it really holds to it. Without authority, there can be no inerrancy. In the SBC, soul-competency trumps authority of the Scripture and creates a popery of the pew. Because of that, the mindless drivel of the likes of McKissic permeates the SBC.
We should note that dissent is not just coming from conservatives. E. J. Dionne, one of the most liberal columnists in the country, has argued against the ruling. Even The Washington Post editorialized against the move saying that President Obama is “requiring religiously affiliated entities to spend their own money in a way that contradicts the tenets of their faith.”
Elections do have consequences. And all those who were arguing in 2008 that candidate Obama would favor policies that reduce abortions have been proven tragically wrong. Not only has he adopted policies that will expand abortions, he is favoring laws that coerce Christians into funding abortions. President Obama’s latest actions are an appalling overreach that will have sad implications for pro-life Christians. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a President open up a more radical and intrusive attack on religious liberty and on unborn human life than what we are witnessing right now.
Ponder that for a moment. In effect, the Department of Health and Human Services is telling religious groups that if they don’t want to pay for practices they consider immoral, they should stick to serving their own co-religionists rather than the wider public. Sectarian self-segregation is O.K., but good Samaritanism is not. The rule suggests a preposterous scenario in which a Catholic hospital avoids paying for sterilizations and the morning-after pill by closing its doors to atheists and Muslims, and hanging out a sign saying “no Protestants need apply.”
The regulations are a particularly cruel betrayal of Catholic Democrats, many of whom had defended the health care law as an admirable fulfillment of Catholicism’s emphasis on social justice. Now they find that their government’s communitarianism leaves no room for their church’s communitarianism, and threatens to regulate it out of existence.
In actuality, the Obama Administration trampled religious liberty under the feet of the leviathan state, forcing religious employers to do what conscience will not allow. Religious organizations such as schools, colleges, and hospitals will be required to pay for services that they believe to be immoral and disobedient to God.
Of Malia and Natasha? Well, they’re just choices. Everyone should have the right to decide who to bring home and who… well… should just be… not allowed to live, right? It has to be hard to look them in the eye and say, “Well, Malia, Tasha, fortunately for you, you’re the choices we made. Believe us! We loved you just like you were our very own children even when you were still just blobs of flesh… otherwise (finger swiping across throat). Now off to bed. And don’t worry. Now that you made it into the world alive, there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. Don’t believe what your friends say, its Secret Service, not secret sacrifice. We might have killed you at one time, but there are still some decent laws on the books. Sweet dreams!”
This redefinition of childhood innocence as “fantasy” is key to the defining down of the deviance of pedophilia that permeated college campuses and beyond. Drawing upon the language of postmodern theory, those working to redefine pedophilia are first redefining childhood by claiming that “childhood” is not a biological given. Rather, it is socially constructed—an historically produced social object. Such deconstruction has resulted from the efforts of a powerful advocacy community supported by university-affiliated scholars and a large number of writers, researchers, and publishers who were willing to question what most of us view as taboo behavior.
Postmodern theorists are primarily interested in writing that evokes the fragmentary nature of experience and the complexity of language. One of the most cited sources for this is the book Male Intergenerational Intimacy: Historical, Socio-Psychological and Legal Perspectives. This collection of writings by scholars, mostly European but some with U.S. university affiliations, provides a powerful argument for what they now call “intergenerational intimacy.” Ken Plummer, one of the contributors, writes that “we can no longer assume that childhood is a time of innocence simply because of the chronological age of the child.” In fact, “a child of seven may have built an elaborate set of sexual understandings and codes which would baffle many adults.”
Claiming to draw upon the theoretical work of the social historians, the socialist-feminists, the Foucauldians, and the constructionist sociologists, Plummer promised to build a “new and fruitful approach to sexuality and children.” Within this perspective there is no assumption of linear sexual development and no real childhood, only an externally imposed definition.
Decrying “essentialist views of sexuality,” these writers attempt to remove the essentialist barriers of childhood. This opens the door for the postmodern pedophile to see such behavior as part of the politics of transgression. No longer deviants, they are simply postmodern “border crossers.” . . .