Friday, August 22, 2014

Why I Am Still A Southern Baptist

  • We commented about the total lack of doctrinal standards applied to the question of what books are sold at LifeWay Christian Resources stores.
  • We remarked about the danger of false conversion brought on by a climate of “easy believism” and belief in “decisional regeneration.”
  • We discussed inflated membership numbers driven by pride and ego in leadership.
  • We talked about how national entities and state conventions ignore the wishes of local churches, and how political expediency instead of Biblical conviction so often drove the decisions made at all levels.

I was one of four Southern Baptists who spoke from the platform at the 2014 Reformation Montana conference, and, despite the fact that slamming the SBC was not the focus of the conference by a long shot, each of us had critical things to say regarding the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Several times during the conference, I had people come up to me and ask variations on the same question. They would say something like, “You've got a lot of harsh things to say about the Southern Baptist.” Then they would ask, “Why are you still a Southern Baptist?”

Good question.

Here is my answer to that question:

On October 31 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany, he had no intention of starting the Protestant Reformation. No, what he was doing was calling for reform. He had identified some… Issues… Inside the Catholic Church that he felt needed to be addressed. And, so, Martin Luther was calling for debate on these issues. You know, stuff like the selling of indulgences and the use of Church funds to build ever more elaborate palaces for the popes and the bishops to live in. He wasn't trying to split the church, he was trying to fix the church.

That, as history shows, didn't work very well. And 3 years later, the Roman Catholic Church threw Martin Luther out. Actually, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to kill Martin Luther, as they had Jan Hus 100 years before (Hus had pointed out many of the same problems that Luther later saw. In fact, Luther was influenced by the writings of Hus.) But Luther was smuggled away and hidden by some of his friends. And that, Martin Luther's excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church, is what really began the Protestant Reformation. Until that happened, Martin Luther was trying to work inside the church to correct the errors of the church, and bring the Roman Catholic Church back into line with what is taught Holy Bible. But the pope in the bishops rejected the calls to reform, and the Protestant Reformation, with its calls to Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Sola Fide (by faith alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone) began to revolutionize Christianity and restore the true Biblical faith.

The Protestant Reformation grew and spread, and Protestant theologians, examining the Scriptures, began to develop doctrines and theological understandings that were further at odds with what the Roman Catholic Church taught than even Luther's 95 Thesis had been. And, so, almost 30 years after the Reformation began, the Roman Catholic Church called a council in the city of Trent in northern Italy to respond to this growing challenge to church authority and church teachings. The Council of Trent met several times from 1545 until 1563, and, in the end, determined that all of the Protestants were damned for rejecting the authority of the Pope and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. If anyone believed what the Protestant Reformers taught, then, according to Rome, that person was anathema – damned. And, because Roman doctrine considers the Roman Catholic Church itself to be infallible, the pronouncements made by the Council of Trent are still the official position of the Roman Catholic Church today. Rome still says, "If anyone believes what the Reformers taught, let him be anathema." For Rome cannot say otherwise without saying that the Council of Trent was wrong, which would destroy their insistence on the church of Rome's infallibility.

So, why am I still a Southern Baptist? I was raised a Southern Baptist. My parents, my grandparents, all were Southern Baptists. I cannot easily turn my back on such heritage. The Southern Baptist Convention is flawed; it is ill. But I do not believe it is beyond recovery. I'm still a Southern Baptist because there are men, others like me, within the Southern Baptist Convention calling for and working towards reform. And I must stand with them, joining my voice to theirs in calling for reform. If it is possible to pull this convention back from the brink of utter ruin and rank heresy, then we must do all that we are able to see this thing done. The stakes are high, the task is difficult, and the road is long and hard, but we must try.

Why am I still a Southern Baptist? I am still a Southern Baptist because, until the SBC cast me out, and, holding its own "Council of Trent," pronounces me anathema, then a reform-minded southern Baptist I will remain.

“Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”

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Monday, June 23, 2014

"You Would Be Safer On a SWAT Team!"

Justin Peters, in talking about the lack of discernment applied to deciding what books to stock in a Christian book store, says that there is no more dangerous place for a Christian than most "Christian" book stores. The title of this post sums up his assessment of that threat.

I've been in several discussions these past few days about all the downright heretical books that are for sale at the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway Christian Resources bookstores. It is a shame that there are not strict doctrinal standards applied to what they sell -- then again, if they applied strict doctrinal standards, they would have to stop peddling books by Southern Baptist heretics like Beth Moore, Rick Warren, and Don Piper. Lifeway is, in many ways, just an update on the moneylenders and animal merchants in the Temple courtyard, where profits trump actual service to the people of God.

But, sadly, for many evangelicals, Southern Baptist in particular, there persists the idea that, "Well, Lifeway sells it, so it must be okay." This is a dangerous attitude, as just a casual stroll down Lifeway's shelves with some discernment will quickly demonstrate, as this picture of JD Hall and Justin Peters in the Lifeway store in Billings during last week's Reformation Montana 2014 conference shows.

By the way, this is not at all intended as a slam on anyone who works at a Lifeway bookstore. This is a call to the top administration of Lifeway in Nashville to reform and become a doctrinally sound bookstore that Christians can trust.

So, in calling Lifeway to reform, every Monday on some sort of simi-regular basis, I think I'll post Lifeway's top-10 bestsellers list with commentary.

This week's top-10 best sellers from Lifeway's website:

  1. I Am a Church Member, by Thom Rainer - Thom is head of Lifeway, I've not read the book and cannot speak to its content.
  2. One Nation, by Dr. Ben Carson - Again, a book the contents of which I cannot comment on. I have liked a lot of the stuff Carson has said politically
  3. Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young - this book is full of heretical mystic blasphemy. Avoid at all costs
  4. Child of Mine, by David and Beverly Lewis - Amish fiction. Enough said.
  5. The Daniel Plan, by Rick Warren and some other guys - Reinterpriting a passage of Scripture, wrenched from its context, and turning it into a weight loss scheme? Money grubbing heresy, but with a third less calories than regular heresy (There is also a cookbook and a DVD and whatnot to go with it. I wonder when the Daniel Plan® dinnerware comes out?)
  6. Bridge to Heaven, by Francine Rivers - More Harlequin Romance, Christian-style...
  7. The Closer, by Mariano Rivera (with Wayne Coffey) - Ghostwritten autobiography of a Christian baseball player. Haven't read it, so can't comment on the doctrinal soundness of the content.
  8. Good Call; Reflections on Faith, Family, and Fowl, by Jase Robertson (with Mark Schlabach) - Ghostwritten humor from one of the guys from Duck Dynasty. Can't speak to the content, but I do know the family has some errors regarding baptismal regeneration. But, for all that, judgeing by the TV show, the book is probably funny...
  9. You'll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times, by Max Lucado - have not read it, but I generally find Lucado's stuff to be not very deep, doctrinally anemic, and not worth my time. Your mileage may vary.
  10. Recovering Redemption: A Gospel Saturated Perspective on How to Change, by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer - I've not read this book, but I've generally liked what I've heard Chandler preach. This one might be worth reading. Maybe. I don't know, for sure.

So, Lifeway, what are the chances of clear doctrinal standards being developed and applied? Please?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Southern Baptist "Sinner's Prayer" Resolution - Compare & Contrast

The following is offered without commentary:

This is the text of the resolution that was passed yesterday at the Southern Baptist Convention:

Resolution 3

An Affirmation of a “Sinner's Prayer” as a Biblical Expression of Repentance and Faith

WHEREAS, The Gospel of Jesus Christ offers full forgiveness of sins ans reconciliation with God to anyone who repents of sin and trusts in Christ; and

WHEREAS, This same Gospel commands all persons everywhere to believe this Gospel and receive Christ as Savior and Lord (Mark 1:15; John 1:12; 6:25-52; Acts 17:30); and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures give examples of persons from diverse backgrounds who cried out for mercy and were heard by God (Luke 18:13; Acts 16:29-10); and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures also give numerous examples of persons who verbally affirmed Gospel truths but who did not personally know Jesus in a saving relationship (Luke 22:47-48; John 2:23-25; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5); and

WHEREAS, Empty religion and formalism, of whatever kind, apart from personal relationship with Christ, cannot wash away sin or transform a heart (Matthew 7:21; 15:8; John 3:3); and

WHEREAS, The Bible speaks of salvation as including botha a confession with the mouth that Jesus is Lord and a belief in the heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Matthew 16:16; Romans 10:9-10); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19-20, 2012, reaffirm our Gospel conviction that repentance from sin and personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are necessary for salvation (Acts 20:20-21); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we affirm that repentance and faith involve a crying out for mercy and a calling on the Lord (Romans 10:13), often identified as a “sinner's prayer,” as a biblical expression of repentance and faith; and be it further

RESOLVED, That a “sinner's prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7; 16:7-9); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we promote any and all biblical means of urging sinners to call on the name of the Lord in a prayer of repentance and faith; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists everywhere to continue to carry out the Great Commission in North America and around the world, so that sinners everywhere, of every tribe, tongue, and language, may cry out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).

This is the text of the resolution originally proposed by Dr. Eric Hankins, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Oxford, Mississippi, and principle author of the "Anti-Calvinist Manifesto":

A Resolution on the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be presented at the SBC in New Orleans, June 2012

WHEREAS, God desires for every person to be saved and has made salvation available for any person who hears the Gospel (John 3:16; Romans 10:14-17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:2); and

WHEREAS, A free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel is both possible and necessary in order for anyone to be born again (John 3:1-16; Acts 16:30-31; Romans 10:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13); and

WHEREAS, Prayer is God’s gracious means through which any person can communicate with Him and is everywhere in Scripture commanded and commended for every matter and every person (2 Chronicles 7:14; Matthew 7:7-11; Mark 11:17; Philippians 4:6); and

WHEREAS, Praying to God to express repentance for sins, to acknowledge Christ as Lord, and to ask for forgiveness and salvation is modeled in the Bible (Acts 2:37-38; Romans 10:9-10); and

WHEREAS, While there is no one uniform wording found in Scripture or in the churches for a “Sinner’s Prayer,” the prayer of repentance and faith, acknowledging salvation through Christ alone and expressing complete surrender to His Lordship, is the biblical means by which any person can turn from sin and self, place his faith in Christ, and find forgiveness and eternal life (Luke 18:9-14, 23:39-43); and

WHEREAS, It is biblically appropriate to help a sinner in calling on the Lord for salvation and to speak of Christ’s response to such a prayer as “entering a sinner’s heart and life” (John 14:23; Acts 2:37-40; 16:29-30; Romans 10:11-17; Ephesians 3:17); and

WHEREAS, A “Sinner’s Prayer” is not an incantation that results in salvation merely by its recitation and should never be manipulatively employed or utilized apart from a clear articulation of the Gospel (Matthew 6:7, 15:7-9; 28:18-20); now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in New Orleans, LA, June 19-20, 2012, commend the use of a “Sinner’s Prayer” as a biblically sound and spiritually significant component of the evangelistic task of the church; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we encourage all Christians to enthusiastically and intentionally proclaim the Gospel to sinners everywhere, being prepared to give them the reason for the hope we have in Christ (I Peter 3:15), and being prepared to lead them to confess faith in Christ (Romans 10:9), including praying to receive Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12).

Class assignment: Compare and contrast these two documents.

Class dismissed.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Parkside Baptist Has a Need

My uncle used to always say that Montana only has two seasons: "Winter" & "Getting Ready for Winter." Well, he was (mostly) right. Spring is here, and the weather is getting warm. But, in Montana, summer is a short season, and autumn will get here before you know it. And, so, the season is short to raise the funds to replace our small church's heating system.

Parkside Baptist Church's current heating system has surpassed its designed lifespan -- Indeed, we were told that it needed replacement a full year ago. $2,000 towards the replacement cost of $8,600 has already been raised. If you can help, any assistance would be greatly appreciated! Or if you know anybody who can help, please spread the word!

Thank you!

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