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: March 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oxymoron: Theological Movement

“1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. 5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. 6 For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:1-6).

“16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:16-17).

I have always had problems with those individuals who have thought of, and speak of, Christian Fundamentalism as a movement. Fundamentalism, in its purest meaning, simply refers to a literal interpretation and strict, dogmatic application of the verbally inspired Words of God recorded in the 66 books of Holy Writ. There can be movement towards this dogmatic understanding and application of those Words or movement away from this dogmatic understanding and application of those Words, but the correct understanding and application of those Words is a constant that is as unmovable and unchanging as the One Who inspired them.

Therefore, a person can be moving towards orthodoxy and the resulting orthopraxy or a person can be moving away from orthodoxy and the resulting orthopraxy, but if he is moving, he has not yet arrived at the destination (orthodoxy and orthopraxy), which never moves and never changes.

Every believer’s loyalties are first and foremost to Christ and His Word. If the local church is going to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” that Christ intends for it to be, loyalty to Christ and His Word must be foremost in every consideration. “25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-26).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at:

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

Monday, March 8, 2010

Progressive Fundamentalism

A new kind of Fundamentalism has been evolving for about 25 years. It is not like the old Fundamentalism. but yet retains old terminology with new definitions. In other words, this new Fundamentalism is trying to redefine itself with old terminology that is gradually being redefined. Others have called this new movement Green Evangelicalism, New New-evangelicalism, and Conservative Evangelicalism (they do not like to be identified with old Fundamentalism). I believe a more apt term to describe them is Progressive Fundamentalism using the term progressive in the same way Marxist Reconstructionists or Fabian Socialist use the word to describe the gradualism by which they change a society into Socialism.

Defining Fundamentalism

The term Fundamentalism has always been theologically ambiguous. Any attempt to define it has historically been done by trying to add adjectives to it such as Fighting, Militant or Biblical. Fundamentalism, as a movement, was born out of the battle against Liberalism and Liberalism’s denial of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures and the cardinal doctrines of the Faith. However, Fundamentalism as a theology existed long before this.

If one were to read the little, four volume set 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), one would find it dealing mainly with the arguments of Higher Criticism and the resulting denial of various cardinal doctrines. A basic reading of the Table of Contents on the opening pages of these four volumes should reveal to us that the unity of the authors of each of the chapters centered more on their disagreement with their opposition than it did with theological unity on many important theological arenas of discussion.

· Volume One deals mainly with Higher Criticism

· Volume Two deals mainly with the inspiration of the Bible and the Deity of Christ

· Volume Three deals with Anthropology and Soteriological (the most doctrinally definitive articles are “Is Romanism Christianity?” by T.W. Medhurst and “Rome, The Antagonist of the Nation” by Rev. J.M. Foster)

· Volume Four deals with various “modern” Philosophies and the Cults (“ISMS”)

Although most Fundamental Baptists would agree with a great deal of what is written in these four volumes, they would not “fellowship” with the vast majority of the authors. The vast majority are Reformed/Covenant Theologians from diverse denominational backgrounds.

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[i]) gives what I believe is the best definition 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.”

Therefore, when we take the idea of Fundamentalism out of the Modernists controversy of the early Twentieth century, we should simply define it as Apostolic, New Testament, Biblical Christianity. This may not be the meaning of the word as it was coined, but we must ask ourselves, did Fundamentalism exist before the term was coined? If so, how would that Fundamentalism have been defined?

This wide theological diversity among early Fundamentalists naturally led to a tolerance of theological differences. In this dynamic, the focus is centered upon the areas where agreement is found while minimizing the areas of disagreement. As a result, this tended toward inclusivism. This programmed many of the early fundamentalist for Neo-evangelicalism (as it continues to do today).

“Jot and Tittle” Fundamentalism

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).

Barthian Inspiration:

The center of revelation is Jesus Christ; the Bible stands on the periphery of that circle. Jesus Christ is the Word. Therefore, the most important parts (the Majors) are those that witness about Jesus Christ. Barthians also embrace the conclusions of liberalism regarding the Gospels, which teach that there are errors in their records. The idea of Major and Minor doctrines was a foundational premise for the development of Neo-Evangelicalism.

“Let’s major on the Majors and minor on the Minors.” We have all heard someone make a statement like that at sometime or another. Another phraseology that communicates the same idea are the words essentials and non-essentials. What those phrases reveal is the influence of the Barthian concept of inspiration upon Christianity. It is, in many cases, the first stepping stone to New Evangelicalism (although many people use these terms in ignorance of their meaning).

The Barthian concept of inspiration obviously redirects the priority of Scripture away from its doxological purpose to a soteriological purpose. In doing so, it makes the priority of Scripture to be evangelism. Doctrines like personal and ecclesiastical separation are moved down in the list of subordinate doctrines in order for people to hear the gospel (even to the place of rationalizing these doctrines out of existence or relegating them to irrelevance and obscurity). This is the driving rational of the Carnival Church.

When it comes to Christ’s “commandments” (i.e., directive truths for living), there are no Major or Minor doctrines. There are no essentials and non-essentials. Truth is not categorized vertically according to importance or priority. Truth is cataloged horizontally and all of it is on the same level of importance. Every Christian becomes a depository for every single commandment of God and is responsible to “contend” for each tenaciously. I believe that is the exact meaning of Jude 1:3 and is the exact meaning of the “jot and tittle” command of Christ.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

The word “delivered” in the above verse is from the Greek word paradidomi (par-ad-id’-o-mee). It means to deliver something to someone to keep, use, take care of and/or manage. The idea is one of guardianship. (We will deal with the commands of Jude 1:3 more extensive later in this article.) According to Matthew 5:17-19, we are commanded to be “jot and tittle” Fundamentalists.

Defeat takes place anytime we surrender any single truth and cease to fight for any single issue of truth. That does not give us permission to be rude or unkind, because we are also commanded to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). Paul uses the word epieikes (ep-ee-i-kace’) in Philippians 4:5 when he says, “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” That word (translated “moderation”) means mildness or gentleness. Contending for “the faith” needs to be done tenaciously without being abrasive or crude.

[i] The Fundamentalist Movement By Louis Gasper, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1981 reprint

Anonymous comments will not be allowed.
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at:

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