Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Defining Points

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Defining Points

Defining Points

          I have recently received some criticism from my peers over an article I wrote entitled - The Subtlety of “Good Words and Fair Speeches.”  The criticisms are accepted.  I am a big boy.  I can handle it.  I just do not agree they are viable criticisms.  I stand by the article and what I wrote.  There may be a few statements I would like to have clarified because they were ambiguous to some.  Those that know me know I do not like to be ambiguous (maybe verbose, but not ambiguous).  The criticisms have come from a wide diversity of theological positions.  It soon became quite apparent to me that we were all using the same words, but those words had significantly different meanings to different people involved in the discussion.  This is of course a common problem in theological discussions.  I guess it is appropriate to disagree with our peers as long as we do not discredit them in any way.  Yet, criticism is often not intended to be constructive.  My article was not intended to be a criticism.  It was intended to be a rebuke and a call to repentance.  I have received far more calls and notes of agreement and encouragement than I have criticisms. Thank you for those!

Baptist fundamentalism and Interdenominational Fundamentalism

          When independent, fundamental Baptists (I.F.B.) practice separation, most churches that are interdenominational are excluded by that separation without other considerations.  This practice has certainly always included all those believing in paedobaptism and those holding to any sacramental views of salvation.  Therefore, independent, fundamental Baptists would not cooperate with fundamental Presbyterians and Congregationalists without consideration of any other doctrines to which they might agree.  This would be true of fundamental Pentecostals and Charismatic churches as well.  In most cases, this was true of any churches that did not believe in the eternal security of the believer.  These were doctrines that resulted in separation from those believing them. 
          The contradiction of all this is that men like Dr. Kevin Bauder, Dr. Doug McLachlan, Dr. Timothy Jordan, Dr. David Doran, and Dr. Matt Olson all profess to be independent, fundamental Baptists.  However, their new definition of the practice of separation is like that of the interdenominational Fundamentalism.  They want most other doctrines other than the Gospel to be eliminated from the practice of separation.  Independent, fundamental Baptists do not agree and do not like what they are trying to do.  They are convoluting what it means to be an independent, fundamental Baptist.  Certainly we can agree that the Gospel of Presbyterianism, Congregationalism, Pentecostalism, the Full Gospel churches, and the Charismatic Movement is corrupted in numerous ways.  To ignore these differences is just – well it just plain ignorance. 
          The way I.F.B. churches practiced separation is not true of interdenominational Fundamentalism.  In fact, in most part their agreements were more upon the things they opposed than upon the things with which they agreed.  There are certain groups of local churches, such as the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (I.F.C.A.) that held to similar as the practices of I.F.B. churches.  The I.F.C.A. had fundamental Presbyterian and fundamental Congregational churches in the membership of their organization.  They excluded Pentecostals and Charismatics from their organization.  I was a member of the I.F.C.A until 1984.  Dr. Ernie Pickering was a leader in the I.F.C.A. for years.  I left that organization because of the influx of numerous New Evangelicals into the organization.  Dr. Pickering left years before I did.  I personally would consider the I.F.C.A. and the Southern Baptist Convention to be New Evangelical organizations.  Although there is still what would be described as fundamental local churches within those organizations, because those churches do not separate from the organizations, they cease to be fundamental in their practice of separation.  Separation is a fundamental of Fundamentalism.  Dr. George Dollar, one time president of Central Baptist Seminary, spoke of both the S.B.C. and the I.F.C.A unfavorably in his book A History of Fundamentalism in America[1] published in 1973.  The reason for this view of the I.F.C.A was the progressive capture of the organization as the membership became dominated by men moving away from Fundamentalism, to Evangelicalism, and then into New Evangelicalism. 

Clear or Clever

          Sometimes it appears that some in this discussion are trying to be more clever than clear.  I think they know the differences to which I refer above.  These are not uneducated or ill-informed men.  Therefore, their talking points have to be calculated.  They are providing more confusion than they are clarity.  They are trying to draw independent, fundamental Baptists into interdenominational Fundamentalism by redefining how separation is going to be practiced.  They consider their new Fundamentalism to be Authentic Fundamentalism.  What is Authentic Fundamentalism?  Authentic Fundamentalism is now interdenominational Fundamentalism.  Do not fall for this bait and switch.  If this is what Fundamentalism is going to become, then I.F.B. need to abandon the term altogether.  It is a term that has become useless to define anything anymore. 


          Dr. Bauder wrote a number of articles from his blog defining what he calls Hyper-fundamentalism.  Part of one of the articles is quoted below. 

      “Of course, the King James Only movement is only one species of hyper-fundamentalism.  Hyper-fundamentalism may revolve around personal and institutional loyalties, idiosyncratic agendas, absurd ethical standards, or the elevation of incidental doctrines and practices.  The thing that characterizes all versions of hyper-fundamentalism is the insistence upon draconian reactions for relatively pedestrian—or even imaginary—offenses.
“Hyper-fundamentalism and the new evangelicalism are mirror images of each other.  The old neoevangelicalism damaged the gospel, not by denying it, but by attacking its role as a demarcator between Christianity and apostasy. The hyper-fundamentalist does the same kind of damage by adding something else alongside the gospel.  If anything, King James Onlyism is worse, for it shows contempt for the Word of God. It attacks the heart of Christianity by sitting in judgment over its source of authority.
“Neoevangelicalism and hyper-fundamentalism are equal errors. Whatever we should have done in response to the new evangelicals is the same thing that we should do now in response to hyper-fundamentalists. Historic, mainstream, biblical fundamentalism has no more in common with Pensacola, Crown, and West Coast than it had with Ockenga, Carnell, and Graham.”[2]

          Is this statement, Dr. Bauder has declared me to be a hyper-fundamentalist, along with thousands of other pastors just like me.  In the same breath, he equates hyper-fundamentalists to be synonymous with neoevangelicals.  So I guess I, and all those that believe like I believe, are now both hyper-fundamentalists and neoevangelicals.  That is his right.  I only use the King James Bible in my preaching and I believe God has preserved His inspired Words in the Received Text.  However, such a belief has never been an exclusion from historic independent Baptist fundamentalism.  In fact, in most part, it has been a tenet of historic independent Baptist fundamentalism.  For the most part of history since A.D. 1611, it has been a basic tenet of historic Protestantism.  It was never any different until the Anglo-Catholic influence of such men as Tischendorf, Westcott, and Hort came on the textual scene and Eclectic Textual Reconstructionism (Lower Criticism) began to infiltrate Protestant Christianity.  In the book One Bible Only, Bauder refers to those defending the preservation of God’s inspired Words in the Received Text as controversialists[3] because they believed this translation was the only English translation that was actually translated from the Received Text.  Although there are many Seminaries and Bible Colleges that pay lip service loyalty to the KJV, behind the scenes they use and promote the Eclectic (Reconstructed) Greek text.  They did this to keep pastors who were loyal to the KJV recommending students to their schools.  I think this manifests a real lack of moral integrity.  I do give Bauder credit for being honest regarding his position on the Eclectic Text and Textual Reconstructionism.  That has not been true of many theological schools. 
          I think Eclectic Textual Criticism and Textual Reconstructionism essentially abdicate the practical aspects of verbal, plenary inspiration since no one can be sure they have ever reconstructed the original texts.  If Reconstructionism is true, than Preservationism is false and no one can be sure of the jots and tittles of the Words of God any longer.  This certainly explains why these same men are willing to except translations by the methodology of Dynamic Equivalency.  Men can believe what they want to believe about these things.  They can even declare men like myself to be hyper-fundamentalists if they so desire.  However, if they do, they are declaring a very large number of independent, fundamental Baptists to be hyper-fundamentalists.  Are those who are declared to be hyper-fundamentalists then wrong to declare the Textual Reconstructionists as hypo-fundamentalists?  Or, is it just a one-way street?


          Undoubtedly there are all kinds of Calvinists in the world today.  We have many people who say they are Calvinists simply because the word election is in the Bible and because they believe in eternal security.  Personally, I reject all points of Calvinism as defined by Theodore Beza.  However, many consider Beza’s Calvinism to be hyper-Calvinism, because they do not find limited atonement in Calvin’s Institutes (yes, I have read his Institutes and have many of Calvin’s commentaries).  This is how I define hyper-Calvinism.  Therefore, by brother Bauder statements, he would not be a hyper-Calvinist in my opinion.  However, there are many extremes of Calvinism that go far beyond where Calvin went.  According to my understanding, John MacArthur does believe in limited atonement (I have read almost every book he has written).  He has therefore gone beyond Calvin’s Calvinism. 
          Is MacArthur being a Calvinist or a Hyper-Calvinist really the big issue?  It is to me.  However, when it comes to separation, I would separate from MacArthur simply because of his Resolve Conference if nothing else.  I would separate from him because of his Lordship Salvation.  I would separate from him because he rejects Congregational Polity. 
In the doctrinal statement of the Midwest Independent Baptist Pastors’ Fellowship[4], we have excluded pastors who hold to Calvin’s Soteriology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology from leadership or preaching.  However, they are welcome to attend and be encouraged in their ministries.  Our next preaching conference will be August 12th and 13th, 2013 at Ravenwood Baptist Church in Chicago, IL.  The subject of the preaching will be – The Local Church: the Pillar and Ground of the Truth.  Dr. Clay Nuttall will be the main speaker.  By the way, Central Baptist Theological Seminary will not be allowed to set up a display there either. 

Theological Reactionism against Extreme I.F.B. Pastors

          There are undoubtedly many Baptist Popes in many pulpits in I.F.B. churches.  Some of them deserve this aberrant title as they lord over God’s sheep.  Most of the other I.B.F. pastors are just trying to hold the line in the church “over the which the Holy Ghost hath made” them “overseers” (Acts 20:28).  Unfortunately, the Young Fundamentalists tend to lump most I.F.B. pastors into this Baptist Pope category.  That is painting with a very broad brush.  Almost all the I.F.B. pastors I know (I have over 7,000 in my data base) are just humble, godly men struggling to survive in their ministries while being resisted by many of the very people they love dearly.  I do not like it when some Academian gives people ammunition to shoot at these men and harm them.  Apply the label where it is due.  Just do not use a spray gun to put it on all I.F.B. pastors.  This kind of broad brush labeling is unfair and unjust.  Doing so manifests a real lack of biblical ethics and character. 

[1] Dollar, George W. A History of Fundamentalism in America.  Greenville, S.C.: Bob Jones University Press.
[2] Bauder, Kevin. http://www.centralseminary.edu/resources/nick-of-time/in-the-nick-of-time-archive/100-now-about-those-differences/229-now-about-those-differences-part-twenty-three-sinister-et-dexter
[3] Bauder, Kevin. One Bible Only?. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001, page 15.
[4] Midwest Independent Baptist Pastors’ Fellowship Doctrinal Statement. http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/Midwest%20Independent%20Baptist%20Pastors%20Doc%20Statement%20booklet.pdf. Pages 3, 4, 5, 5, 8, and 11.

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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