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: Dealing with Conservative Evangelicalism Part IV

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 Gramineæ, 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

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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.

1 comment:

Lance Ketchum said...

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