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: 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dealing with Conservative Evangelicalism Part IV

 An Interdenominational Amalgamation

Conservative Evangelicalism is like the Curate’s egg.  This British term dates from an 1895 Punch cartoon in which a deferential, diplomatic curate (a person serving under the superintendence of a Bishop who is entrusted with the care or cure of the souls of a parish church), unwilling to acknowledge before his bishop that he had been served a bad egg, insisted that “Parts of it are excellent!”[1]  This is why I refer to Conservative Evangelicalism (Young Fundamentalism) as an amalgamation.  Like the Curate’s egg, it is an amalgam of good and bad features; of assets and liabilities, of strengths and weaknesses, and of pros and cons.  Those promoting Conservative Evangelicalism, or defending it, are very much like the Curate mentioned in the illustration.  

A consolidation is the union of two different entities or organizations into a new entity or organization at which time the original constituent entities or organizations cease to exist.  A merger is when one entity or organization absorbs another entity or organization.  An amalgamation is used to designate the outcome of a consolidation or merger[2].  An amalgamation may or may not come into existence without changing the original purpose statement of the merged or consolidated entities or organizations if the original purpose statements of those entities or organizations are the same.  However, that is seldom the case.  Usually there are varying degrees of compromise and change as the outcome of the amalgamation.  

Conservative Evangelicalism is an amalgamation of New Evangelicalism and compromising Fundamentalism to formulate a pseudo-unity around a redefinition of how separation is to be applied in real life situations and within interdenominationalism.  As soon as separatist Baptists enter into this dialogue (dialogue is not mere discussion of issues, but is another word for Diaprax[3]), they cease to be separatist Baptists because they begin to cooperate within interdenominationalism thereby minimalizing or sacrificing their doctrinal distinctives.

I would not drink muddy water unless I was dying of thirst.  I have a pretty good idea what is in muddy water.  However, I would be more concerned about drinking water that I am not sure what might be in it or that I suspect has been purposely or haphazardly contaminated.  That is my great concern with the New Neo-evangelicalism called Conservative Evangelicalism or Neo-fundamentalism.  I really do not know what is in it, but I highly suspect it is contaminated with things not good for me spiritually and to which God does not approve.  I certainly believe it is contaminated enough for me to warn others about it and to separate from those within it.  

Some of this discussion regarding redefining separation is being done by men I have counted as friends and have respected.  After listening to their discussions for about two years now, it seems to me they are a little like the guy who drove far too fast into his garage and is trying to back out slowly to avoid all the destruction and carnage created by his original haste.  They entered into the discussion critical of what they viewed as extremes in separation (and some areas are extreme in my opinion), but ended up driving that discussion to another extreme and through the back wall of the garage.  The automatic door closure of the Old Guard has begun to close the garage door on them locking them in with the carnage they have already created.  The more they try to move around in their havoc, the more carnage they create.  This is what Rationalism always does.  

This discussion is being driven by leadership in what historically have been separatist Baptist higher education institutions.  I would say this is unique, but of course it is not.  It is merely a repeat of history in the praxis of the Hegelian Dialectic within theological dialogue.  The dynamic of the Hegelian Dialectic in this dialogue takes place within the academic institutions when diverse theological positions are allowed to enter into public debate.  The outcome is always that the majority of the hearers/listeners to the discussion are moved (or manipulated) to land theologically somewhere in the middle of the diverse positions being postulated.  In the continuation of this discussion over a lengthy period of time, the middle or center is constantly evolving and changing.  The more diverse the positions in the theological dialogue, the more the center moves.  All during the discussion we hear the leadership of these educational institutions proclaim that their theological positions have not changed and that they are merely discussing or re-evaluating the application of those positions.  This is the historical pattern in the moving of orthodoxy to heterodoxy by redefining orthopraxy.  In other words, the position of the institution does not change, just the practice.  THIS IS DOUBLESPEAK!

“Doublespeak (sometimes called doubletalk) is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.  Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., ‘downsizing’ for layoffs), making the truth less unpleasant, without denying its nature.  It may also be deployed as intentional ambiguity, or reversal of meaning (for example, naming a state of war ‘peace’).  In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth, producing a communication bypass.”[4]

Things that are different are not the same. That is a Praxis Grammatica. However, things that are similar are not the same either. In theological dialogue, the emphasis is taken away from the things that are different and placed upon the things that are the same thereby creating an aberration to which God vehemently condemns by numerous metaphorical examples; “Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee” (Leviticus 19:19).

This theological discussion regarding separation is no new discussion. Many
[5] before me have adequately laid these principles before us. Why then do they need to be restated? Simply, because there are those that are seeking to broaden and redefine the application of these principles. Usually when people seek to redefine truth, these Old Path issues need to be refined in their definitions and applications. Sadly this redefining is being presented as refining with an outcome that looks radically different than the Old Paths. They may be saying they are not abandoning the Old Paths. However, they are surely moving the road signage around considerably. The redefining of orthopraxy while promising not to change orthodoxy is heterodox doublespeak. Those listening to this kind of discussion should regularly evaluate if the ground they stand upon is still theologically and exegetically solid because there are no shifting sands in the realm of Absolute Truth. This should be of special concern if the vast majority of the discussion is absent of any real exegesis. If you find yourself standing on shifting theological sands, be sure it is not quicksand.

Practice (orthopraxy) does not define position (orthodoxy), but rather practice (orthopraxy) is determined by position (orthodoxy). To reverse this priory is heterodoxy. I am sure that there will be those in the discussion who will object to me even raising this point in that they would agree that it is a true statement. However, they would vehemently disagree that they are not defining their position by their practice when to any intelligent onlooker that is exactly what they are doing. Just as position is defined exegetically (Eph. chapters 1 through 3), practice is defined exegetically out from an already established exegetical position (Eph. chapters 4 through 6).

The exegesis of the commands of Leviticus 19:19 has been a major contributor in establishing the theological precedent for the doctrine and practice of Biblical separation. The three commands address the practice while the exegesis of the text discovers the position or the why of the commands. Uniquely, the commands regarding practice are focused upon the aberrations that the amalgamations of the three categories produce. The commands are to insure that the aberrant amalgamations are never produced in that the amalgamations gender extended aberrations. The three commands are collectively referred to in the Mishnah and Talmud by the Hebrew word Kil'ayim. The term literally means a mixture, but more than likely refers to the confusion that the forbidden mixture generates. The principle is that no one should commingle that which God has supernaturally separated in creation.

“Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind”

The word “cattle” is a general term for livestock or any species of large, four-legged dumb beasts. The word “gender” merely means to lie down together. The implication is that of breeding. The command is against breeding animals of different species together thereby creating an aberration of species like a mule from the crossbreeding of a horse and an ass/donkey. In almost every case of such crossbreeding, the aberration produced is sterile or impotent. The critical point in this application is when it is applied to spiritual power and evangelism when theological compromise produces some aberration that is inconsistent with doctrinal positions.

An essential point of reproduction is found in the very first chapters of Genesis; “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so” (Genesis 1:11; see also 12, 21, 24, 25; 6:20; 7:14). In this application of separation, failure to obey the command creates an aberration that is impotent spiritually in power with God.

Perhaps this is why the modern Church Growth Movement must attempt to manufacture growth through adoption and assimilation of converts and through the seduction of the mixed-multitude rather than make their own converts. They have to steal sheep because they are impotent to produce their own. Someone has rightly said that most local churches today are simply being maintained (status quo) by a pacifist leadership that never fought the fights or made the sacrifices that built the churches of which they are now in leadership. Someone else built the flock that feeds them and they simply want to insure that the sheep and goats keep coming to the barn to give wool and milk.

“Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed”

Again, failure to obey this command creates an aberration in amalgamation. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary
[6] deals well with the doctrinal intent of this text.
“ . . . those who have studied the diseases of land and vegetables tell us, that the practice of mingling seeds is injurious both to flowers and to grains. ‘If the various genera of the natural order Gramine√¶, which includes the grains and the grasses, should be sown in the same field, and flower at the same time, so that the pollen of the two flowers mix, a spurious seed will be the consequence, called by the farmers chess. It is always inferior and unlike either of the two grains that produced it, in size, flavor, and nutritious principles. Independently of contributing to disease the soil, they never fail to produce the same in animals and men that feed on them’ [WHITLAW].”
Richard V. Clearwaters [7] makes an interesting comment on the theological ramifications of mixed seed theology:
“An ecclesiastical label does not prove one a prophet of Christ. Jeremiah and Hananiah were both ministers of the same day, and addressed themselves to the same people; but they represented mixed seeds, in the prophetic world the one God-sent and the other self-commissioned; one inspired of the Holy Spirit, the other aspiring to political popularity. . . When mixed seeds are sown together, separation becomes impossible.”
Dr. Clearwaters goes on to say:
“It is so difficult to discern between wheat and darnel (the thing we call ‘cheat’ in this country) that men from time to time have been deceived into supposing that they were the same, and some have claimed darnel was merely degenerate wheat! But it is scientifically certain that such is not the case; they are different species. Cheat is not a variety of wheat at all.”
Mixed seed theology has created an aberrant amalgamation of theological “cheat,” especially in the paradox of interdenominational fellowship in the breach of God’s separation commandments. Critical to the discussion regarding the application of separation is the obvious differences between separation among fundamental Baptists and other species of Christianity and the separation of the interdenominational Fundamentalist Movement. It is within this dialogue in this new kind of interdenominationalism that the waters are being muddied by educational institutions that were once solidly Baptists and who are now merely becoming baptistic (i.e., similar, but different than Baptists).

This interdenominationalism can certainly be traced to a faulty Ecclesiology. The manner sought to correct this faulty Ecclesiology was the creation of a more definitive denominationalism among Fundamentalists through local church conventions, associations, and fellowships such as the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (I.F.C.A.; now International), Bible Baptist Fellowship (B.B.F.I.), Baptist General Conference (B.G.C.) General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (G.A.R.B.C), North American Baptist Convention, Southern Baptist Convention, & ad infinitum; these in themselves merely generated a different faulty Ecclesiology.

It is within the ever broadening dynamic of commingled seed in interdenominationalism that the praxis of Biblical separation becomes untenable. This all hinges on our Ecclesiology and what defines the common nomenclature of like precious faith. This then extends to unity in purpose in the practicum of evangelism in the three phase commandment of Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Until the orthodoxy of these three phases of the Great Commission is defined, there can be no agreement upon unity in praxis regarding how this is to be accomplished. Therefore, separation must focus both upon the purity of the gospel and the purity of the local church. People cannot be saved through the preaching of a corrupted Gospel and those that are genuinely saved cannot be discipled through a corrupted discipleship process. A Biblical discipleship process begins with the proper understanding of both the purpose and mode of the ordinance of water baptism in the uniting of that believer to God’s official organism for that discipleship process; the LOCAL CHURCH! Therefore, separation is centrally focused upon maintaining the purity of the local church, which is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” Yes, the purity of the Gospel must be maintained as a primary emphasis as it is the foundation of all true conversion, but purity of “the faith” must also be maintained as it is the foundation of all true discipleship.

There is a confusion of “seed” in trying to maintain either the purity of the gospel or the purity of the local church when we have a faulty Ecclesiology that defines the Church interdenominationally as a general term referring to all Christianity. I believe it is from a faulty interdenominational Ecclesiology that this discussion regarding the application of separation finds its source of adulteration.

[8]A true New Testament witness will always deny ‘Apostolic succession’ of individuals and will always affirm ‘Apostolic succession’ of the institution of the local church. Jesus said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matt. 16:18).”
Therefore the praxis of separation must begin with a pure Ecclesiology that BEGINS with the local church as opposed to some invisible, intangible, non-entity that has never assembled and has no formal membership accountable to one another in any real way. This latter is just impractical theological nonsense (heteropraxy). How can anyone make practical sense out of separation when they begin with Ecclesiological nonsense? Anything less is an aberrant amalgamation of commingled seed. This aberrant amalgamation is the outcome of dialogue between people holding aberrant views of Ecclesiology. Aberrations can only produce different verities of aberrations. That is the practical essence in the command of the metaphor against commingled seeds.

“Neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee”

Although there are many explanations of why God makes this command, and most of them are tenable, understanding the application by interpreting Scripture with Scripture will get us the best results. “Woollen” garments were common wear. “Fine twined linen” and linen for priestly garments was sacred fabric. Although Jews could wear either linen garments or woolen garments in their daily routine, they were not to commingle the two. One of the reasons why purity of linen was commanded was simply that the production of body impurities (sweat) during work is increased when these two yarns are commingled. Linen was a refined yarn while woolen fabric was often rough and course. That which is forbidden is the commingling of the refined with the rough and course thereby portraying confusion in purpose or work. The refined should not be commingled with the unrefined. The sacred should not be commingled with the common. That which is sanctified should not be commingled with that which is unsanctified.

“17 And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within. 18 They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat” Ezekiel 44:17-18).
Ezekiel 44:17-18 is for the Levites when they serve in the Millennial Kingdom Temple. We notice that they are not merely forbidden to wear fabric made from commingled yarns, but they are forbidden to wear commingled fabrics. Clearly the idea is intent upon avoiding confusion between the sacred and the common, between God’s norm and the abnorm. Perhaps in a similar text we can better see that the emphasis of this command about carefully avoiding confusing appearances. Here the issue is primarily that of identification. How we dress and who we associate with gives us identification. It can give a false identification. We need to be extremely careful about identification in our associations lest we give an improper endorsement or condone some error by that association. Although Deuteronomy 22:5 may seem like a departure from the threefold variations defining the principles behind practical separation, it is not. This is merely an extension of these same principles. 

“5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. . . 9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled. 10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. 11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts {various kinds or blends}, as of {like} woollen and linen together” (Deuteronomy 22:5 & 9-11).
The phrase “pertaineth unto a man” is critical to the application of the text. The word “pertaineth” is from the Hebrew word k@liy (kel-ee'), meaning the prepared apparatus or armor of warfare. The word “man” in this text is from the Hebrew word geber (gheh'-ber), which refers specifically to a valiant man or warrior. The text refers more to dressing women in men’s armor and with armaments, as was done in many of the pagan nations and religions, rather than an application to cross-dressing. Men and women were not distinguished so much by the clothing they wore, for their clothing was very similar. Yet, there is an application to gender confusion or gender role confusion. Certainly the second part of Deuteronomy 22:5, “neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment,” refers to men wearing feminine garb creating a gender confusion or gender permutation. Just like the commands against cross breeding different species of cattle, and the cross pollination in sowing together different grain seeds are to avoid the aberrations of permutations in these areas of God’s creation, there should be care taken in appearances in gender confusion, especially regarding sexuality, in order to avoid gender permutation that might lead to homosexuality or other cross-gender permutations. This then leads to the question, does what we are determine the way we think or does the way we think determine what we become? Can the way we think change the chemistry within our brains? Therefore, the subject of the command is intended to avoid the outcomes in gender confusion, which is permutation in sexuality.

The central way to distinguish between men and women was the hair on their heads. Mainly, men had long, unpolled beards and women had hairless faces. Men had polled hair, or hair cut short, while women never cut their hair. It was a disgrace for Jewish woman to have short hair (I Cor. 11:1-1). Pagan men polled their beards and shaved their heads. Both of these practices were forbidden to the Jews (Ezekiel 44:20). Pagans regularly confused gender roles in sexuality in their licentious worship practices thereby creating permutations in sexuality.

If we were to apply this to modern day culture, it would apply more to men with long hair who shave their faces than it does to women wearing pants. It would apply to women who cut their hair short and/or who dress in combat garb, or go into combat, in the confusion of gender roles. The application is appearances that confuse. Therefore, there is a mere appearance aspect in the command, but the focus is more upon the outcome that such confusion in appearance creates. This is true in the area of both personal and ecclesiastical separation as well.

The vast majority of the discussion regarding the application of separation is nothing more than Theological diaprax
[9] intent upon formulating a majority consensus and then governing according to that consensus. The Latin proverb Vox populi, vox Dei (the voice of the people/majority is the voice of God) is certainly the impetus of that which calls itself Democracy, but it is also seldom true. However, be forewarned, diaprax almost always is a method of deception in the manipulation of the masses through dialogue. The confusion of the application of Biblical separation creates a permutation of practical Christianity. Any permutation of practical Christianity creates pseudo-Christianity because the word Christianity is more descriptive of orthopraxy than anything else. The word Christianity is more descriptive of our practical sanctification in our supernatural connection to the Christ-life through the filling of the Holy Spirit than it is descriptive of our filial connection “by grace through faith.”

What then is the message of God to those rethinking the applications of separation and who thereby are creating a permutation of Christianity? First of all, don’t think out loud. Don’t generate your theology through internet diaprax. And finally, once you take into consideration that all these new things you are discussing are just a new discussion with the same old arguments, admit you have been chasing the wrong rabbit. If you are part of educational institutions that fear cultural obscurity and fear that your voice is not being heard by your theological academic pears, maybe you should just recognize they are not your peers after all. If you are part of an educational institution that is seeking to broaden its enrollment base in order to increase its impact upon other species of so called Evangelical Christianity, you should probably take heed to the old proverb; He who chases two rabbits at the same time will never catch either! God’s solution is simple; return to the Old Paths of the “narrow way.”

“12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil” (Joel 2:12-13).

[2] Justice Rodney on Kemos, Inc. v Bader, 545 f.2d 913 (1977), http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/A/Amalgamation.aspx
[3] Diaprax it is simply another word for the Hegelian Dialectic or consensus process
[5] Clearwaters, Richard V., The Great Conservative Baptist Compromise, Central Seminary Press, MPLS, MN

Cook, Arnold L., Historical Drift: Must My Church Die?; Christian Publications, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

Dollar, George W., A History of Fundamentalism in America, Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC

Pickering, Earnest D.:
1.       Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, Regular Baptist Press, Schaumburg, Illinois, 4th Printing 1983
2.       The Tragedy of Compromise: The Origin and Impact of the New Evangelicalism, Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, SC

Teachout, Raymond L., Breaking Down the Walls . . .and the Gospel: The Subversive Work of “Evangelical Inclusivism”, EBPA, Canada, 2nd Printing
[6] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, SwordSearcher Software 4.8
[7] Clearwaters, Richard V., The Great Conservative Baptist Compromise, Central Seminary Press, MPLS, MN, page 70

[8] Richard V. Clearwaters, The Local Church of the New Testament, Central Press, Mpls, MN, Forward, pg 1
[9] Diaprax it is simply another word for the Hegelian Dialectic or consensus process

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dealing with Conservative Evangelicalism Part III

Illusion: Replacing Unity in Doctrine with Unity in Devotion

Inclusivism comes in many forms and degrees. However the subtle shift in Conservative Evangelism’s issues in separation seems to me to be based upon the same problem we saw originally in the early development of New Evangelicalism and which has now moved most of New Evangelicals into varying degrees of Emergent Church philosophy. This is the desire for cultural relevancy. This desire for cultural relevancy is carried forward by a deeper undercurrent of philosophy that I believe is even more subtle. This undercurrent is the erroneous basis for Christian fellowship through unity in devotion rather than unity in doctrine. I believe this undercurrent is also the practical foundation of the pseudo-unity of Conservative Evangelicalism. Unity in devotion is really non-definitive for devotion becomes ambiguous if what devotion is centered upon is not defined doctrinally. Perhaps this ambiguity is the very essence of the Fundamentalist Movement, New Evangelicalism, and now Conservative Evangelicalism. This is contrasted with fundamental Christianity (New Testament Christianity) that is doctrinally definitive and intent upon removing this ambiguity. Certainly this is the substance of all the New Covenant epistles.

These varying degrees of this doctrinal ambiguity led to various denominations (heresies or sects) within Christianity. Therefore, the promotion of unity in devotion over unity in doctrine is essentially interdenominational. This is the essence of various levels of Ecumenicism within Evangelical Christianity. We must then understand that this cooperation within this new interdenominationalism is really nothing more than various heresies agreeing to ignore their doctrinal differences in order to cooperate based upon some ambiguous unity in devotion. Of course, there is nothing definitive in the purpose of this pseudo-unity or what the outcome of this pseudo-unity might accomplish.

As I listen to the arguments being postulated in order to justify a departure from fundamental Christianity, or more appropriately to redefine what fundamental Christianity really is, it would appear that doctrinal inconsistencies among the constituency of Conservative Evangelicals (Young Fundamentalist) is really not important to them. What seems to be important to them is that they believe that they are formulating a new historical paradigm of interdenominationalism that will return Evangelical Christianity to cultural relevancy. My simple response to this postulation is: GET REAL!

What has been the history of the inclusivistic philosophy of unity in devotion within New Evangelicalism? The history of unity in devotion within New Evangelicalism has been an ever broadening Inclusivism. This is really just another form of Positivism. This Positivism of New Evangelicalism manifests itself in two forms of unscriptural acceptance: being TOLERANT and NON-JUDGEMENTAL. The word of God condemns both of these two compromising vices of pseudo-spirituality. Billy Graham became the spokesperson for this unity in devotion in its opposition to unity in doctrine.

“I am far more tolerant of other kinds of Christians than I once was. My contact with Catholic, Lutheran and other leaders, people far removed from my own Southern Baptist tradition; has helped me, hopefully, to move in the right direction” (Billy Graham, “I Can’t Play God Any More,” McCall’s magazine, Jan. 1978).

“I’m not a charismatic. However, I don’t feel it’s my calling to shoot great volleys of theological artillery at my charismatic brothers and sisters. . . More than ever we need grace-awakened ministers who free rather than bind: Life beyond the letter of Scripture. . . absence of dogmatic Bible-bashing” (Charles Swindoll, The Grace Awakening, pp. 188, 233).

“At Fuller we are characterized by balance in that we are an institution of ‘both-and’ rather than ‘either-or.’ We seek to be both Evangelical and ecumenical. . .” (David Allan Hubbard, President, Fuller Theological Seminary (Christianity Today, Feb. 3, 1989, p. 71).

Notice the terminology that we find common between the unity in devotion philosophy of the ever increasing Inclusivism of New Evangelicalism and the lanquage of the Conservative Evangelicals (New Neo-evangelicals):

1.tolerant of other kinds of Christians,” Graham; let me translate, “tolerant of divisive heresies”

2. Life beyond the letter of Scripture . . . absence of dogmatic Bible-bashing,” Swindoll; let me translate, “Christian life beyond doctrinal unity by abrogating doctrinal dogmatism”

3. characterized by balance in . . . ‘both-and’ rather than ‘either-or,’” Hubbard; let me translate, “characterized by theological Centrism rather than divisive theological dogmatism”

Harold Ockenga is reputed to be the man that coined the term New Evangelical. He defined it further in his forward to the book The Battle for the Bible by Dr. Harold Lindsell.

“Neo-evangelicalism was born in 1948 in connection with a convocation address which I gave in the Civic Auditorium in Pasadena. While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory. The ringing call for a repudiation of separatism and the summons to social involvement received a hearty response from many Evangelicals. . . . It differed from fundamentalism in its repudiation of separatism and its determination to engage itself in the theological dialogue of the day. It had a new emphasis upon the application of the gospel to the sociological, political, and economic areas of life.”

There exists some major contradictions in his statement; “While reaffirming the theological view of fundamentalism, this address repudiated its ecclesiology and its social theory.” The “theological view” of Fundamentalism CANNOT be separated from Biblical separation from apostasy or from Fundamentalism’s “social theory.” Fundamentalism did not invent these two commands. Yet, these two commands are part of what defines a Fundamentalist. To repudiate either of these Biblical commands is to reject both Biblical absolutism (dogmatism) and the “theological view of fundamentalism.” Notice the clear demarcation from Biblical commands in four areas.

  • Repudiation of Biblical ecclesiology (local churches are exchanged for the Universal Church; “body of Christ”). This distortion demands unity within Christendom. It demands unity among various local churches and denominations, rather than within the formal membership of a local church (Ephesians 4:1-7).
  • Repudiation of fundamentalism’s “social theory” (i.e., evangelism/discipleship is God’s intended methodology to change any society or culture)
  • Repudiation of Biblical ecclesiastical separatism (from apostasy and apostates) to gender theological dialogue
  • Adaptation of the “social gospel” and political activism as means to impact cultures and societies

It has been said that New Evangelicalism is the bastard child produced by a union between ecumenical Liberalism and compromising Evangelicalism. If that is true, and I believe that it is, Conservative Evangelicalism is the bastard child of the union of compromising Evangelicalism, known as New Evangelicalism, with compromising Fundamentalism from within the interdenominational Fundamentalist Movement. This is nothing more than New Neo-evangelicalism.

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dealing With Conservative Evangelicalism Part II

The Doctrine of Separation and the Priesthood of the Believer

5 Ye also, as lively {living} stones, are built up a spiritual house {a new Living Temple of Living Stones}, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ {the High Priest of the new Living Temple}. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone {of the new Living Temple}, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye {Church Age saints collectively} are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:5-9).

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:6).

When most modern Evangelicals speak of Fundamentalism, they do so with an almost complete historical disconnect. They think of Fundamentalism as defined by the Fundamentalist Movement of the early 1900’s. Fundamentalism and the Fundamentalist Movement are not the same thing. Fundamentalism and the Fundamentalist Movement are based on two different definitions of the word fundamental.

1. Fundamental used as an adjective: that which serves as an original or generating source in the sense of something that is foundational to reality or that which serves as a basis supporting existence or determining essential structure or function. In this sense the word fundamental is used merely as an adjective describing a noun as in fundamental Baptist or fundamental Presbyterian. The whole of “the faith” revealed by the inspired 66 books of Scripture would be considered fundamental under this definition. This is the definition of Fundamentalism existing prior to the Fundamentalist Movement (although divided in numerous sects and denominations all believing that their statement of faith as defining “the faith”). This is also the Fundamentalism that co-exists within the Fundamentalist Movement, yet separated in cooperation from many of the variations within the Fundamentalist Movement.

2. Fundamental as used as a noun: a basic principle, rule, law, or the like, that serves as the groundwork of a system; essential part. This is the way the word fundamental is used in the Fundamentalist Movement defining itself by a category of essential doctrines. These fundamental doctrines were essential for anyone, primarily individuals, to be included within the framework of the Fundamentalist Movement and be given a voice in speaking from their platforms or given an ear by official endorsement of their writings.

Fundamental Christianity (using the adjectival form and definition) is simply New Testament Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ in the Gospels and as extrapolated in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Epistles. It is normal, Biblical Christianity. William Ward Ayer, in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in April 1956 (as quoted in Louis Gasper’s book, The Fundamentalist Movement) gives what I believe is one of the best definitions of Fundamentalism I have ever read:

“Fundamentalism represents a resurgence of ancient practices, which began not with Martin Luther but at Pentecost. Fundamentalism is apostolic, and the doctrine of justification goes back to Paul. That branch from which the fundamentalist movement sprang lived obscurely through the ages and had never been completely silenced even in the Dark Ages . . . What fundamentalism did was awaken the slumbering apostolicism from lethargy.”

Note that Ward states that the “fundamentalist movement sprang” from the “Fundamentalism” that is “apostolic” Christianity. This is certainly true. I certainly do not agree that “fundamentalism” needed to be “awaken” from some “slumbering . . . lethargy.” For instance, most Baptists (those that had not succumbed to Liberalism, New Evangelicalism, and Reformed Theology) would quickly have asked the question, “What do you mean by ‘resurgence of ancient practices’? Baptists have always historically represented true apostolicism.”

This is really a point that seems to be ignored in the present day discussion regarding ecclesiastical separation among those in the Fundamentalist Movement and those that call themselves Conservative Evangelicals or Young Fundamentalists. These latter terms invariably refer to inter-denominationalism. All of these terms also refer to people or groups of people who are theologically inclusivistic by nature. In other words, they think inclusivistically because they view the Church as some disconnected mystical entity that must find unity somehow lest they be judged by God for failure in their disunity. Baptists historically have always been free-church (separation of Church and State) and their Ecclesiology has in most part been independent of any hierarchy and local church. Denominations of Baptists never really existed in history until the 1644 Baptist Confession was signed by 7 Particular Redemption (Reformed) Baptist Churches. The 1689 London Baptist Confession would add many more signatories and form the first real Baptist Convention/Association of Churches. It was this group that became the Baptist Union with which Spurgeon struggled in the Down-Grade Controversy about 200 years later. The stress of this struggle is thought by many to have led to the early death of Spurgeon. Although local churches maintained their independence in the Baptist Union (in most part), they were dominated from a top-down oligarchy formulated through denominational structuring. I think that the present controversy is very similar in nature, although the area of discussion is different.

The point is that true independent Baptists have always separated from other local churches or denominations over issues of what they think truly defines Sola Scriptura, what they think truly defines Sola Gracia, and what they think truly defines Sola Pistis. Baptists have historically separated from other churches over numerous theological issues outside of those listed in The Fundamentals[1]. They separated over the issues of Church polity and positions of error regarding Eschatology such as Preterism and Amillennialism. I know they have done so historically because I have been part of about a half century of that history and because I have seen it practiced by hundreds of local Baptist churches individually and within Associations of local churches on the State level in numerous states. Most of those State Associations require local churches to have the word Baptist in their name before they will allow them in the fellowship. They certainly have a definitive doctrinal statement to which any local church wanting to cooperate in the fellowship must adhere.

What we are seeing in the dynamic of the redefinition of Fundamentalism by redefining how separation is to be applied is really an example of the praxis of Social Constructionism[2]. Hermans writes on page viii of the introduction:

“All scholars working within the field of practical theology agree on the fact that their discipline cannot be defined as applied theology. This idea is clearly expressed in a recent volume by leading scholars within the International Academy of Practical Theology (Schweitzer & Van der Ven, 1999). According to Osmer three elements of practical theology set it apart from dogmatic theology and Christian ethics, namely:

(1) a performance orientation, based on this literature’s interest in how best to perform a particular practice or activity in concrete circumstances;

(2) a theory of formation and transformation guiding the praxis of the Christian life over time; and

(3) a practical theological hermeneutic of the field in which an action or practice takes place, locating the actors involved in moral time and space’ (Osmer, 1999, p 126)”

In the very first chapter by Kenneth J. Gergen entitled Social Construction and Practical Theology: The Dance Begins of the above quoted book, it seems apparent that Fluid Constructionism (the interpretation of Scripture according to evolving cultural mores rather than a grammatical/historical hermeneutic) as this relates to Modernism and Postmodernism will be the focus. Gergen states in his first paragraph:

“It is quite possible that the closing of the 20th century represents the twilight of the modernist project of knowledge. This project – with deep roots in Enlightenment philosophy and subsequent installations in our institutions of democracy, public education, law, and public morality – casts individual knowledge as the critical benchmark of cultural achievement. In the modernist world, knowledge is defined as a condition of the individual mind. And, while the object of such knowledge can be mental or spiritual life, the modernist project has become increasingly identified with the individual’s knowledge of the ‘external’ or material world – objective as opposed to subjective. In this sense, scientific knowledge stands as the crowning achievement of Western culture, with individual scientists singled out for their individual accomplishments. In this desideratum of individual knowledge to which we can also trace the flourishing of the social sciences within this century, and the increasingly central place occupied by the natural sciences in society. And it is the conflation of individual knowledge with science that has functioned antagonistically with long standing beliefs in the knowledge of the sacred (subjective, mystical), and served within the 20th century to recast religious studies as a social science.”

Note the statement “knowledge of the sacred” is defined in parenthesis as “subjective, mystical.” In other words “knowledge of the sacred” can no longer be determined by exegesis of the inspired objective Truths of the Holy Scriptures. This low view of Scripture is manifested in varying degrees by varying positions on inspiration and preservation of the Word of God. This is certainly manifested by those involved in, or accepting of, Textual Reconstructionism in their belief statement, “We do not believe that God has preserved His Word perfectly and miraculously in any manuscript or group of manuscripts, or in all manuscripts.”[3] If this statement is true, we have NO FOUNDATION FOR OBJECTIVE FAITH OR PRAXIS! If this statement is true, everything we have in any original language text or derivative translation of such texts must be in question and therefore subjective. Therefore, the only avenue left to moral praxis is rationalism.

It seems to me that much of the teaching on separation that we are seeing being propagated by the new sect that call themselves Conservative Evangelicals seems almost completely disconnected from Biblical exegesis, at least little is offered. There is really a very narrow line between the old arguments of New Evangelicals and the new arguments of Conservative Evangelicals. In both cases, the arguments are based more on cultural relativism than upon Biblical exegesis. At least I hear the same kind of language coming from the Conservative Evangelicals that we heard from the New Evangelicals 50 years ago. The one difference today is the way Conservative Evangelicals embrace Reformed and Covenant Theology. Interestingly they do this why calling the old Main Stream Fundamentalists unloving and extreme. Are they completely ignorant of Calvin’s Theonomic Model of government erected at Geneva beginning in 1536 A.D.? Are they completely ignorant of Luther’s hateful book The Jews and Their Lies? We need look no farther than these two examples of Reformed Theology’s praxis in exemplifying unloving and extreme. Yet, they wonder why we refuse their invitation to be called to their discussions around their Camp fire. Baptists have been there before.

It certainly appears to me that this new discussion regarding separation is disconnected from the doctrine of the Priesthood of all believers “in Christ.” How can we understand the doctrine of separation if we disconnect it from the primary example in the Old Testament type in the Levitical priesthood? The Old Testament (Mosaic Covenant) Levitical Priesthood and High Priest are merely typical of the New Covenant Priesthood of all believers with Christ as our High Priest. However, the responsibilities regarding separation in the transition from type to actual remain.

Take separation away from sainthood and you reduce fellowship to boys in da hood. Separation and holiness are a collaboration. They co-exist like a married couple. Holiness is the outcome of separation. Without separation, we cannot have holiness. In the simplest sense holiness defines the peculiarity of a distinctive possession of God set apart to be used only to His glory and only for His purposes.

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD. 3 Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD. 4 What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him; 5 Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath; 6 The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water. 7 And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food. 8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD. 9 They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them” (Leviticus 22:1-9).

Holiness is the practical responsibility of our position in Christ. Every truly “born again” believer is a “saint” before God. The word “saint” is from the Greek word hagios (hag'-ee-os). It is a word that describes a most holy, sacred thing. It refers to something or someone that has been set apart for God’s use and God’s use alone. As it refers to believers, it refers to their particular calling as servants of God. It refers to their position “in Christ.” It refers to the Priesthood of all believers. All “born again” believers from the Day of Pentecost forward makeup a new priesthood. We are to be faithful where the Levitical priesthood failed in the preservation and proclamation (discipleship and evangelism) of the Word of God.

The Priesthood of the believer refers to the ministry that is common to all believers. The word ministry defines God’s work. The word “priesthood” describes both the believer’s position in this world and his responsibility. The word “priesthood” is associated with a job description and the responsibilities of that job description. Any time a believer fails to fulfill his job description as a priest before God, in any way, that individual believer is living in sin.

Every true believer is a Sanctified One. All believers are God’s representatives before lost mankind. They are representatives of the character of God to restore His image and bring Him glory by being living embodiments of the Word of God. They are to represent God by working to replicate His character in their lives.

When the Word of God says “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), God is saying that we come short of replicating the character of God in our lives and therefore do not deserve His blessings or praise. The character of God is what distinguishes Him from every other being. The central and foremost responsibility of every Believer Priest is to replicate the character of God in our lives through the enabling power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Therefore, a major part of the “work of the ministry” relates to this issue of personal holiness. Again, we must remind ourselves that the word holy does not refer to moral perfection or personal piety. (Those realities may be achieved to some degree by personal holiness.) The twofold reality of personal holiness is defined on two spiritual battlefronts:

1. Separation from worldliness

2. Separation unto God

These two realities are essential to the “work of the ministry” of the Believer Priest. The “work of the ministry” refers to the “spiritual sacrifices” that the Believer Priest offers up to the Lord. In order for those “spiritual sacrifices” to be “acceptable” to the Lord, holiness is an absolute essential.

10 In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:10-14).

The “work of the ministry” is spiritual work. It is unlike any other kind of work. Spiritual work is a supernatural endeavor that brings the physical world into contact with the supernatural world. Anytime that happens, like metal in a microwave oven, sparks start to fly. The separated Believer Priest becomes the spiritual conduit through which God works. Before a Believer Priest can become that spiritual conduit, all that he is and can be must be absolutely and completely given to the Lord and separated from the world. In the Old Testament, this relationship was expressed by the words “perfect heart.” The idea is that there was no difference between the will and desires of a person and God. They were one.

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

When a Believer Priest sins in any way, he defiles himself before God and makes himself “unclean.” What are some of things that defile the Priesthood of a believer? Any sin defiles the Priesthood of the believer. However, there are certain practices that are common that many Christians do not consider as defiling. Worldliness comes in many forms and is usually evidenced by the presence of any one of the “works of the flesh.”

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21).

None of us would have any problem with identifying the first seven things listed (“adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred”) and understanding that they would defile a Believer Priest from being used of God. However, many Christians do not see that the next seven things listed are equally defiling (variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings).

The word “variance” is from the Greek word eris (er'-is). It refers to a spirit of contention and strife. It refers to the wrangling that goes on behind the scene when someone wants to get their way or force their opinion on others. Bitterness results from self focus and a high self opinion that believes a person does not get what he deserves. This contentious spirit is absolutely defiling and almost always generates factions and bitterness between believers.

14 Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:14-15).

The word “emulations” in Galatians 5:20 is equally defiling. It is from the Greek word zelos (dzay'-los). It refers to an angry, contentious rivalry of a person or group of people that seek to punish or banish anyone that is not willing to bow down to their opinion. It refers to a selfish misdirected zeal. “Variance” and “emulation” are almost always the inseparable twin sisters of carnality. They are defiling sins.

The next defiling sin listed is the sin of “wrath.” It is from the Greek word thumos (thoo-mos'). It refers to the fierce kind of anger that blows up and vents itself against the person disagreed with. It comes from the Greek word thuo (thoo'-o), which means to sacrifice or slaughter. Although this wicked spirit may not seek to kill a person, it almost always seeks to sacrifice another person to get its way.

The word “strife” is from the Greek word eritheia (er-ith-i'-ah). It refers to the person who practices electioneering to gain power or position. It is almost always done through gossip and in secret. I call this politicking. It is probably one of the most destructive defiling practices that destroys more local churches and individual lives than any other sin. God condemns it on numerous occasions in Scripture.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).

13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:13-16).

The word “seditions” is from the Greek word dichostasia (dee-khos-tas-ee'-ah). It is from two Greek words. The word Dis (dece) means twice or again and stasis (stas'-is), which refers to insurrection. In other words, “seditions” is referring to an ongoing, standing insurrection against authority. “Seditions” refers to an ongoing, continuous work (not just a single act) of rebellion. Before God can use a Believer Priest, or a local church of Believer Priests, this spirit of insurrection must be rooted out.

The next defiling sin that destroys the usefulness of individual Believer Priests is that of “heresies.” “Heresies” is from the Greek word hairesis (hah'-ee-res-is). It refers to the act of taking a captive. Those promoting Conservative Evangelicalism are involved is this divisiveness in a major way. They are leading a whole generation of young believers away from theological Fundamentalism into a new sect (that is really not fundamental at all). A false teacher leads people astray from the right way (righteousness) by false teaching. A heresy is anything that generates wrong practices and divides into sects. That can come through the perversion of Biblical truth or through a practice of life. This type of person always tries to gather a following. He captures a person when that person follows him in doing what he is doing (usually sedition). Any one of the “works of the flesh” can generate “heresies.”

The last of these defiling sins we want to look at in this text is “envyings.” It is from the Greek word phthonos (fthon'-os). Although it simply means to envy, it probably relates more to its root word, which is phtheiro (fthi'-ro), which means to corrupt or to destroy. In the opinion of the Jews, the temple was corrupted or destroyed when anyone defiled it or damaged anything in it to the slightest degree. In the context of Galatians 5:21, it refers to a selfish, prideful attitude that results in leading a church away from the knowledge and holiness in which it ought to abide.

As Believer Priests, every Christian needs to regularly examine and cleanse his heart from these corrupting, defiling sins of “variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies and envyings.” We need to understand that God not only puts them in the same category as “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, murders, drunkenness and revellings, but that God presents them as equals. They render a Believer Priest unclean and useless to God.

Pride keeps a person from acknowledging the wickedness of these particular “works of the flesh.” Pride will keep a believer from even looking at his heart and seeing the corrupting influences of these sins in his own life and in the lives of others. Pride will keep a heart closed to the pointing finger of conviction as the Holy Spirit directs us all to repentance and commitment to change.

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Pride not only produces the “works of the flesh,” pride keeps feeding them. Without pride they will die. But pride will also keep a person from seeing his sin, acknowledging it as sin and repenting.

[1] A four volume set of books entitled The Fundamentals issued by the Bible Institute of Los Angeles in 1917; “Edited by R.A. Torrey, A.C. Dixion, and Others” (later reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan)

[2] C.A.M. Hermans, G. Immink, A.de Jong, & J. van der Lans; Social Construction and Theology, available on the web: http://books.google.com/books?id=5JRen1UxLkoC&lpg=PA63&ots=oPV9ExcChE&dq=Fluid%20Constructionism%20in%20Theology%20of%20Postmodernism&lr&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

[3] W. Edward Glenny, Larry Pettegrew, and Roy Beacham, The Bible Version Debate, Central Baptist Seminary, Mpls., MN

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.