Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Repentance, People Who Dilute It, and Much, Much More

1. I can't remember a more helpful sermon explaining the biblical definition of repentance than Michael Lawrence's from August 7, 2011. A couple brief quotes follow, but listen for much more, including an apt analogy between a conversion to Islam and the way too many Christians think about "the sinner's prayer." Lawrence argued, "A regenerate heart repents," and, "When we separate repentance—biblical repentance—from conversion, it's kind of like we're giving people a vaccine against the gospel."

2. I'm wondering, if one were of a mind to do so, if it might not be possible to make the argument that John MacArthur is to the ideological right of several leaders of independent, fundamental Baptist institutions.

3. Some folks might argue that the problem with this [PDF] is the association it creates with another speaker. I actually think that the real issue is direct fellowship with false doctrine about how God has spoken. Which issue bothers you more, or whether any of it does at all, reveals a bit about whether your analytical grid is shaped by the tradition of a movement, doctrinal fidelity, or a set of networked relationships.

4. Thank you, Michael Horton, for saying some things that needed to be said. And frankly, we only needed title of the CT article to know that someone needed to say it.

5. From Carl Trueman's argument that we ought to fire boring preachers:
Praise and worship - the ascription to God of the honour and glory which is his - is a response to knowing who he is and what he has done. It is provoked and shaped by the description of God which the teacher gives. Anything else which calls itself worship, whether traditional or contemporary, whether exhilarating or soothing, is not worship. It is merely an aesthetic experience which helps to achieve a certain psychological or emotional state. I remember at college I would often hear people talk of this church as being great at doctrine and that church as being great at worship. That should a false dichotomy. One cannot really be good at one and not the other, for they are intimately and inseparably connected.
6. I do not know of a more useful extra-biblical pastoral tool than a well-designed and maintained membership directory.

7. Here's a piece of the late Mark Hatfield's story that you won't find in the mainstream media.

8. No more Mars Hill "campuses." This is an intriguing shift. Of course they're right that the NT speaks of "churches," not "campuses." But I'm not exactly sure how this structure is meaningfully distinct from Anglican polity.

9. Michael Green shares an absolutely priceless Francis Schaeffer anecdote beginning at the 35:35 mark of this video:

Panel 20/20 Collegiate Conference 2011 Session 3 from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

37 comments:

Don Johnson said...

On #3, I am not exactly sure what you are referring to with respect to false doctrine about how God has spoken. I am not up on the positions of all the speakers on this point (I assume you are referring to some kind of KJO position??). Depending on exactly what kind of KJO position (if that is the issue), then I would say both are equally important.

For what it's worth, at least one speaker bowed out of this conference when he heard who all was involved.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

James Kime said...

So after helping to maintain "fundamentalism", BJIII helps solidify that it is a movement unconcerned with doctrinal idiocy. I doubt we will see the self proclaimed guardians of defending the gospel actually mention this. This kind of cowardice is more commonplace in the social movement known as fundamentalism.

Ben said...

Don, I don't know who you're referring to, but that's incidental to my point. Actually, the reason you've given makes a bit of my point. As I argued, the issue, in my mind, is not at all who the other speakers are, but the false doctrine on Scripture that the host church affirms. That's what I linked to in the original post.

Reforming Baptist said...

Mars Hill seems to be building a new denomination or something. How can a local church be called out and assembled when you are in three different states? This is unbiblical polity. I guess that's the Baptist coming out of me.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Ben,

Sorry, I missed the second link. Incidentally, Norton 360 flags the church site as "malicious" site and I have to tell its warning message to go away before I access it.

I realize that my bit about the fellow who dropped out of this conference is incidental. I wish Dr Bob had dropped out also.

But as to making your point, perhaps that's so, but the matter of associations is important. It's not nothing.

Let me ask you - do you think the associational issues are irrelevant? I am not sure if you joined the chorus of criticism that Dr. V faced when he was involved in another conference where Jack Schaap also participated, but I am sure you recall the furor over that. Would you say the furor was misplaced and no-one should care about associations?

Doctrinal error is also important, of course. I don't agree with the doctrinal statement of the church, although I am not sure I would label it false doctrine, unless it reflects a Ruckman-like view of the issue.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Anonymous said...

Don, you seriously don't know how KJVO is false doctrine?

Tony

Don Johnson said...

Well, that depends on what you mean by false doctrine and whether you think various forms of KJO fit the definition.

To me false doctrine would be something like denying the deity of Christ or the Virgin Birth. I would call baptism of infants mostly aberrant doctrine, but not false as practiced by the Presby's for example. But infant baptism as practiced by the RCs would be false doctrine.

So... there are variations among the KJOs, some worse than others. The way I see it, some are just in error, while some (Ruckmanites) are teaching false doctrine.

Do you have a different meaning for 'false doctrine' than me?

I don't think we need to constantly define our terms every time we use them, but in this case a major point is being made on the term. So it probably would be helpful to define the term.

Then of course we would have to know exactly what is meant in that doctrinal statement. The way it is stated, it could be expressing merely an aberrant understanding or it could be expressing full Ruckmanism. Hard to tell, I don't know the church or the pastor personally.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Anonymous said...

So, you can have abberant, true doctrine? Hmm?

Actually, the common meaning of abberant is straying from the norm. Which means that if anybody's got abberant doctrine on baptism it's Baptists and Anabaptists.

But it really doesn't matter. Truth is what matters. So, if Presbys are right, Baptists have a false doctrine of the sacraments (as do Lutherans and Catholics). If the Baptists are right, then the Presbys (and Lutherans and Catholics).

Some or all of us have false doctrine on this point. We can still be brothers and friends.

Keith

Ben said...

Keith, please tell me you watched the Schaeffer story.

Ben said...

RB, I think it's four states, or will be soon: WA, OR, CA, NM.

Anonymous said...

Don, I mean this with all cheerfulness, but I don't like what I am reading from you. This constant quest for definition and clarity seems to be endless. At some point, a decision has to be made that there is a line that is crossed.

Whenever anyone claims that God preserved one translation (without dragging up the KJV history of revisions and whatnot), and that it is THE Word of God, as though others are not, a line has been crossed.

The doctrine of the inspiration is something I take very seriously and all KJVO do not. This is not good men disagreeing. This is doctrinal compromise that the Fundamentalists would have fought.

Tony

Ben said...

Don, I had to do some checking to figure out who Dr. V was. I must be getting old. I actually wouldn't argue that associations are meaningless. I just don't think there's much to be made over who else spoke somewhere a couple weeks before I do. That sort of connection really implies very little, if anything, about the level of fellowship or cooperation between two people.

As for KJVO-ish-ness, would you still consider the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture to belong among the fundamentals of the faith? Do you think the SoF in question teaches false things about inspiration and inerrancy, or is it all true? Would you want to minimize the significance of those false things by calling them an aberration?

Ben said...

Don, one more question: What would a fundamentalist call a person who fellowships with someone who propagates false teaching on a fundamental of the faith?

James Kime said...

I will take a stab at that Ben. My guess is...

Lou Martuneac?

Oh I see what you did there.

Don Johnson said...

Hi Ben

Well, let's turn the question around in a different direction, then. As I understand the meaning of "fundamental of the faith", it means that a denial of that fundamental means you are not a Christian.

Deny the deity of Christ = not a Christian.

Deny the virgin birth = not a Christian.

etc.

Would you agree so far?

Now on inspiration... Can someone deny inerrancy and be a Christian?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

d4v34x said...

I think Keith and Don have a point.

Let's be generous and assume that this iteration of KJVOism is the most theological sort--that the promises of preservation mean that every last word will be preserved, generally available, and approved/received/identified by at least a segment of the church.

Is BJ3 fellowshipping with that sort any different than a prominent SBC pastor speaking in a PCA church coference?

Ben said...

Don, if you made an attempt to answer my questions, it doesn't seem to have made it through the blogger software.

You seem to think that your question is problematic for me. I don't think that's true at all, but I'm not going to take your bait and leave the matter at hand.

If you answer my questions and explain how your question is relevant, I'll gladly answer it.

Anonymous said...

Ben,

Haven't had time to let the video load and watch it yet. I'll try to soon.

D4, I was more ribbing Don about "not false but abberant" and trying to point out that we all have to fellowship with error all the time -- since no one is error free.

Of course there are some lines that can't be crossed -- there is such a thing as heresy. As to how that all applies to the KJV only issue, I don't know. Usually, it seems like it's not an issue to me since the KJV Only guys won't fellowship with me!

Some who will only use the KJV, I would most certainly be willing to be friends with and fellowship with. They are wrong but not heretically, harmfully so. In fact, I have a couple of friends like that.

But, others seem to be schismatic teachers of lunacy -- you know, the KJV came down on a silver platter carried by an angel and delivered to Peter Ruckman. Well, if they don't die off of their own irrelevance and isolation, then the church needs to discipline them.

Keith

Don Johnson said...

Ben, I am not baiting you.

As for your questions, they are really pretty leading questions, aren't they? Here's the first one:

As for KJVO-ish-ness, would you still consider the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture to belong among the fundamentals of the faith?

As I recall, inspiration was included on the list of the five fundamentals. Inerrancy wasn't. (For the record, I hold to inerrancy.) But in turning the questions in the other direction, I am pointing out that some believers do hold to inspiration but err in their understanding of it. I am not including a liberal view of inspiration (i.e., outright denial) or a new orthodox view in my question (i.e., a practical denial). There are believers who, wrongly, hold there can be historic/scientific etc errors in the Bible and it all still be inspired. They are wrong, but I don't think I could reject them as believers, can you?

---Ok, I'm going to have to split my reply up, more to follow in next post---

Don Johnson said...

--- continued ---

Your next two questions are really one question: Do you think the SoF in question teaches false things about inspiration and inerrancy, or is it all true? Would you want to minimize the significance of those false things by calling them an aberration?

They are one question since you answered the first in the second.

Let's look at each statement:

The Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. The Bible was given to us by plenary, verbal inspiration, meaning that there was a supernatural moving of the Holy Ghost upon holy men of old who penned God's Words verbatim, so that their writings are as no other writings have ever been or ever will be (II Peter 1:21; II Timothy 3:16-17).

True or false? There might be an error in the word "verbatim", implying a 'dictation view' of inspiration, but on the whole I'd say that statement is true.

The Bible is the complete and final revelation of the will of God to man and so is the supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct (I Corinthians 13:9-10; Revelation 22:18-19).

True or false? I'd say true.


---Ok, I'm going to have to split my reply up, more to follow in next post---

Don Johnson said...

-- continued --

Further, God has accurately preserved His Words (John 17:8; II Timothy 1:13) for the English-speaking people in the King James Version (Psalm 12:6-7; Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35; I Peter 1:25a);

True or false? Well, since there is no word 'only' in this statement, I'd say that it is basically true, although those who wrote the statement probably meant 'only'. As the statement goes, however, there is nothing blatantly false about it. You would accept the KJV as authoritative and accurate as say the NASB or the ESV, wouldn't you?

therefore we believe that the KJV is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Bible for the English-speaking people.

True or false? Well, there is a sense in which most of this is true. I wouldn't use the word 'inerrant' with respect to any version, and I wouldn't use the word 'the' in the phrase 'the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Bible'. I would prefer, at least 'an'. And I wouldn't put such a statement in a statement of faith.

But false? Well, not in the sense of denying inspiration itself and not in the sense of denying the deity of Christ. In error, yes. False? I think it safe to say that you think so.

What would a fundamentalist call a person who fellowships with someone who propagates false teaching on a fundamental of the faith?

I don't know, you tell me.

My point in asking my earlier question (what about the guy who denies inerrancy but affirms inspiration) is to point out that there is a range of beliefs under the fundamental categories. I wouldn't want to promote a guy who denies inerrancy and I wouldn't want to promote a guy who affirms Ruckmanism.

As far as this particular church and statement of faith are concerned, I don't know enough about them to say they promote Ruckmanism. To me, the far bigger concerns in this conference is the involvement of Schaap, although it is possible the doctrine of the church would be a concern also.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

d4v34x said...

I don't know, you tell me.

Sure you do. I quote:

"...who is calling Al Mohler a liberal? I would call him a typical new evangelical, maybe. Certainly a compromiser."

from http://bit.ly/r9lQuJ

Ben said...

Don, yes, I intended for those questions to lead the discussion toward a particular point.

As to inerrancy and the five fundamentals, Marsden says in Fundamentalism and American Culture that the 1910 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church coined the original formulation of the five and specifically cited inerrancy among the five. And to answer your previous question, I would not understand affirmation of inerrancy to be essential to conversion, because I don't perceive it to be part of the gospel that's proclaimed. But I'd happily change that view if I were persuaded by a biblical argument.

I completely agree with your analysis in the 2nd of your 3 recent, consecutive posts, though I'd quibble with the SoF's use of proof texts from 1 Cor and Revelation.

It's in your 3rd post that things get messy. This is where the SoF purports to use Scripture to say things that Scripture patently does not say. Scripture says nothing about the preservation of God's Word in the KJV or any English translation. It just doesn't. Can we cite a translation as authoritative? Sure. Jesus and the apostles do that all the time. But the notion that there is one translation that is inspired and preserves God's Word for English-speaking people, and that that translation is inerrant and infallible, is incontrovertibly false doctrine.

Scripture doesn't teach it. And it's not even a true statement.

What you find to be a matter of what you "prefer," I find to be a matter of false teaching. Fundamentalists say they know what to do with false teaching when they saw it, or saw it tolerated. But you say you don't know what to call that. And you're asking ME what I THINK? I realize this is a tough issue for you to deal with on at least a couple levels in light of your theology, relationships, and commitments, but I think you have to recognize some irony there.

Let me just say again, "Which issue bothers you more [the association or the doctrine], or whether any of it does at all, reveals a bit about whether your analytical grid is shaped by the tradition of a movement, doctrinal fidelity, or a set of networked relationships."

Anonymous said...

Ben,

Watched the Schaeffer discussion. All classic Schaeffer. Are you referring the the "Can I have your girlfriend's number?" or the "Why shouldn't I bash your brains in?" bit?

There's another even more famous example of Schaeffer "taking the roof off." He was at Oxford or Cambridge having a discussion in someone's rooms and an Indian man kept saying, "I don't think we are communicating." He didn't believe real communication was possible. No matter what was said, he'd just reply, "I don't think we are communicating." So, Schaeffer stood up, took a boiling tea kettle off the stove, held it over the mans head and acted like he was going to pour. The man yelled out, "What are you doing?!" Schaeffer replied, "Oh, I guess we just communicated."

Anyway, I'm guessing your point is that our positions come from somewhere and lead somewhere. And, that the KJV Only guys are coming from a place that is not Christian/Biblical and on their way somewhere similar. I totally agree. I wasn't trying to defend KJV Only people at all. The position -- even in it's tamer, more inocennt forms, is just crazy.

All I was trying to say (and apparently said poorly) is that (1) if a position is wrong then it is false doctrine, and (2) we all fellowship with false doctrine all the time.

To add a (3) now, I'd say that off course we need to do something in response to that false doctrine. And, the something we do will be different depending on the nature of the false doctrine.

Carry on.

Keith

d4v34x said...

Interesting.

What is proper response to someone who holds false doctrine regarding the ordinances/sacrements?

d4v34x said...

@Ben,

I think Trueman's quote isn't as clear as with this sentence which lead into what you reproduce above:

The other aspect of this doctrine-worship connection is that, if doctrine which does not culminate in praise is not true doctrine, then praise which is not a response to true doctrine is not true praise.

James Kime said...

"Interesting.

What is proper response to someone who holds false doctrine regarding the ordinances/sacrements?"

Dave, we don't let them join the assembly and partake of the ordinances until they agree with the truth.

James Kime said...

Ben, regarding the connection between the inerrancy and gospel, I think

1 Cor 15 with its twice repeated "according to the Scriptures" in connection with the gospel

and

2 Tim 3:15
"and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus."

Oddly enough, it appears as though Don allows for inspiration to somehow not also mean inerrancy. That is exactly how the SBC liberals managed to hold onto their jobs.

The irony is that the neoFundies have gone full circle to allow for liberalism in the back door by welcoming KJVO into their fold.

Don Johnson said...

Scripture says nothing about the preservation of God's Word in the KJV or any English translation. It just doesn't. Can we cite a translation as authoritative? Sure. Jesus and the apostles do that all the time. But the notion that there is one translation that is inspired and preserves God's Word for English-speaking people, and that that translation is inerrant and infallible, is incontrovertibly false doctrine.

Well, I agree that Scripture doesn't teach preservation in the KJV or any English translation. Please note that I am strongly opposed to KJO-ism. (David Cloud said so!) But does the Emmanuel Baptist Temple statement actually say there is one and only one English translation that is inspired? It probably is what they mean, but it isn't what they say.

What you find to be a matter of what you "prefer," I find to be a matter of false teaching. Fundamentalists say they know what to do with false teaching when they saw it, or saw it tolerated. But you say you don't know what to call that.

The problem is that you have to show how this particular statement is FALSE. There is a sense in which one can take the words as true. Did God preserve His Word for us? Yes. Did he use the KJV as one vehicle for preserving His Word? There are probably various answers to this, but would anyone deny God providentially used the KJV in a remarkable way for a long, long time? Would anyone care to diss the KJV as some kind of inferior translation? Its language is old, to be sure. It has archaic wording in places, certainly. But as far as an accurate, quality translation goes, it still ranks in one of the top four or five.

So while I appreciate the fact that you are opposed to KJO-ism, as am I, I think you are over-stating the case to make it a heresy. The KJO person doesn't deny inspiration. His error is more 'hyper-inspiration' than a denial of inspiration. As such, I don't see how you can make it a heresy, unless of course the KJO individual goes to the extreme of saying that the Greek is corrected by the KJV and/or that the KJV translators were as inspired as the apostles.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

BE said...

"But does the Emmanuel Baptist Temple statement actually say there is one and only one English translation that is inspired?"

Yes, you already quoted it:
"therefore we believe that the KJV is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Bible for the English-speaking people."

If you don't realize that this statement means that there is only one English translation that is inspired, then I'd hate to see how you exegete Scripture.

Of course, you do know what it means, since you said: "It probably is what they mean, but it isn't what they say." Overlooking the fact that it is actually what they say as well, I wonder how you would respond to someone who spoke at a liberal church that still gave lip service to an orthodox statement of faith. If someone's defense was: "I know they don't really believe in orthodoxy, but you could interpret their SoF to be orthodox" would you be ok with that?

BE

Don Johnson said...

Could we keep the personal slurs out of the discussion? Thanks.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

James Kime said...

BE, cultural fundamentalists pretend to stand for principles. However, when those "principles" conflict with possibly harming their movement, they shy away and prefer vagueness. See exhibits above.

Ben said...

James, I'm not persuaded that those texts fully integrate inerrancy into the gospel. They do root the gospel in OT prophecy, of course. Though, if it needs to be said, I wholeheartedly affirm biblical inerrancy, and I appreciate recent statements from Mohler and Akin that people ought to be fired for denying Pauline/Petrine authorship of the Pastorals and the Peters.

Keith, I was mostly talking about the baseball bat story, but the other one was pretty good too. I think it was the level of orchestration that was most impressive.

Ben said...

Don, thank you for your thorough and candid answers. I think we've put the issues on the table sufficiently to see where we disagree and where our allegiances lie.

As Howard Dean might say (and I don't mean that as a low blow), you represent the fundamentalist wing of the fundamentalist movement. I would never encourage you to violate your principles. I would encourage you to apply them more consistently.

BE said...

Don,

Am I wrong to assume your reference to personal slurs was to me? If not, could you please point out the personal slurs so I can retract them?

I read through my comment again, and the only thing that would come close to a slur was my comment about exegeting Scripture (though I doubt most people would consider that a slur of any kind, especially since it was an if-then statement). That was not intended at all as a slur, but as a statement that the meaning of the phrase was easy to ascertain, so someone who was supposed to rightly interpret Scripture should be able to rightly interpret the phrase. Then, I pointed out that you did rightly interpret the phrase (i.e., you did know what it means). However, you were trying to argue out of it's plan meaning by offering ways one could interpret it and not mean what the authors meant. Thus, you were using an argument that I doubt you really believe in. Thus, my question (which you left unanswered).

Instead of feigning personal slight, perhaps you should consider answering my question: Would you find the approach you are using acceptable in relationship to a liberal church who no longer really believes it's orthodox statement of faith?

BE

BE said...

Sorry, my second sentence should say "If so," not "If not,"

BE

BE said...

Apparently the comment I left prior to my last one disappeared, so let me try it again.

Don,

I'm assuming your reference to personal slurs was regarding my comment. If so, could you please point to any personal slurs there so I can retract them?

I looked through my comment again, and the only thing that could come close to a slur was my reference to interpreting the statement of faith and exegeting Scripture (which I don't think most people would think was a personal slur). It was intended to highlight the plain meaning of the statement. It was also an if-then statement, after which I immediately pointed out that you didn't fall into the category of the "if." You knew what it meant, but were employing an argument based on possible interpretations--an argument I don't think you would consistently apply.

So, rather than feigning personal slight, maybe you should consider my question. Would you be ok with someone preaching at a liberal church that still employed an orthodox statement of faith even though they interpreted it in a liberal way?

BE