Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Not surprisingly, there is a lot of talk about "evangelism" in the church world. Probably everyone reading this knows the English word is derived from the Greek εὐαγγελίζω--a compound word meaning "to announce or declare good news"......and Gospel means "good news"........So primarily , evangelism is declaring the Gospel. I would postulate that any effort which does not declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not evangelism, not matter what else it might be.

The so-called evangelical world has seen some strange practices in the name of this "evangelism" In my early days as a believer, there was a very prominent Baptist preacher who taught and practiced what I call "easy-believism"--an extreme form of decisional regeneration, which still infects the Baptist world. This fellow boasted of encounters during his door-to-door "soul-winning" efforts in which he duped confused people into saying the "sinner's prayer" and thereby, according to his theology, led them to Christ. This preacher regaled us with stories such as meeting with a young couple who were desperate financially, unable to pay their apartment rent. He offered to pray with them, those two unbelievers, about their plight and "cleverly" had them recite a form of the sinner's prayer during their plea for help paying the rent. Following that, he pronounced them to be "born again"! Similar stories abound but all are the same with regard to trickery and emotional sleight-of-hand being used to manipulate people into reciting the "magic words" of the sinner's prayer, as if that had any effect on the eternal state of those misguided souls.

A second area of cleverness is in church signs. Of course, these are quite a topic of conversation. There's even a blog dedicated to them. These signs are literally a "declaration"--too bad so few of them declare the Gospel. For the most part, they declare nonsense; they declare insipid sentimentality; they declare vulgar trivializations of the Word; they declare unscriptural, humanistic philosophy. It's a rare church sign which declares Christ. Above is a photo of one I saw recently. When I posted it on Facebook, without comment, there were actually favorable reactions to it. People think it's clever! The fact that it diminishes the Glory of Christ, equating His work and being to something mundane and worldly does not even register on some readers.

I have it in my mind that we are commanded to bear a certain attitude when approaching lost people with the Gospel. We are ambassadors for Christ, are we not? Does not a calling like that require us to behave in the manner appropriate to a servant of the King? Yet, in street preaching and other situations where opposition is met, there is too often a confrontational attitude which does no credit to our Ruler. We can also be tempted by the ways of the world, by the appeal of clever marketing, subtle trickery in order to gain the foothold we feel is necessary for "success" I saw a gospel tract recently designed to be distributed to shoppers--in a store or in a mall. The "gospel" aspect of it looked good, but the opening sentences were along the lines of "Welcome to this shopping facility. The management appreciates your business......" I'm sorry but that's just too clever for me. Does that not imply "management's" endorsement of the tract and the person handing it out? Does it not imply authority from the store/mall ownership to be there? And, more than that, I have to ask: Why? Is it even necessary? Why cannot one simply hand out a tract bearing the Good News without the deception? How dare any believer take it upon himself to speak with the authority of a business owner in a situation like that. Oh, you may say "very few will take any notice of that..." True, probably.......very few will read the tract at all; but how about the ones who do and see through this trickery? More ammunition for the enemies of the the enemies of God cause to blaspheme. We are called upon to be blameless in our behavior, especially since we represent Him before this lost world.

Clever, clever, are so clever. In my book-selling business, I make lots of trips to the post office. Every time, no matter how familiar I am to the clerks, how many hundred packages I have mailed previously, they always ask: Does your package contains anything liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous? It's their job; they have to ask that. I'm sure it's much more boring to them than it is to me. I heard about a preacher who was shipping a box of Bibles and decided that was a good opportunity for "evangelism"......During the question, he interrupted the clerk with clever comments like: "liquid?--it's the Water of life"......"fragile? well, no, but they contain the Ten Commandments and we've broken all them"......"perishable? unless you repent you will likewise perish..." Then he gave the clerk a gospel tract. Is that clever, or what? I am at a loss as to how exactly that behavior glorifies God, declares the Gospel, or is in any way the type of evangelism we are commanded to do. I've been embarrassed by the public performances of some preachers in the past but I am grateful I was not there for this monumental display of cleverness.

One more example.......just the other day, I saw one of those ubiquitous fwd emails with the recommendation that all believers send a Christmas card to the ACLU. Of course, this was motivated by the anti-Bible, anti-Christian lawsuits and so forth which the ACLU gets involved in. They are notorious for being on the "wrong side" most of the time. Most revealing in this appeal for the clever action was the statement, yea, the hope--that the great influx of mail would have a devastating effect on their operations and cause a great deal of inconvenience, expense, and so forth. So clever!......but is this the heart of Christ? Is this evangelism? Is there any indication of love for the lost herein? Or is this merely, as it appears to me, a way of retaliation, a bit of clever warfare.......harmless, right?

Harmless and clever. Are these the criteria for our efforts in the name of Christ? Is there Gospel in any of this? Where's the Good News? What does this say about the heart of the perpetrators? And, these things are from "the church".....this is what is offered to a lost, dying, hopeless world. No wonder the world laughs at "the church"....sometimes it's just as clever as the rest of the world.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Here's some "inside" background to the attack on John MacArthur I've referred to in earlier posts.

John MacArthur is not saved!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


If you scroll down, you'll find a post entitled: Batting .333 which reads:

If I'd ever been good enough to play pro baseball, a .333 average might have been pretty good.....but in this world of picking and recommending doctrinally-sound ministry sites, it ain't too hot.

That's what I did about 2 or 3 months ago when I posted an article here recommending 3 sites I had just discovered.

About a month later, I had to delete one when I found out the main emphasis was the bitterness of the author who used the site for his personal ax-grinding.

Today, I had to delete another one, having learned that the leader of this one is just another "I am not accountable to anyone" ego-driven juvenile. I'm sure there are lots of Godly people involved in that one but fear that they'll not get much guidance from this "pastor"

Sad, but not surprising.

Here's an update: I am now batting 0 for 3. The last of those 3 "exciting" ministries has showed itself to be less than one would hope. The idea of exposing the Word of Faith wolves is still commendable but the leadership there has been carried away by various winds of doctrine, trying to be all things to all men in the worldly way. Currently they are enamored of all the anti-Obama nonsense: "he's a Muslim" "he's the Anti-Christ" and they seem to find this much more urgent than striving for pure doctrine in their churches.

I expressed my thoughts to the leadership there and found that criticism is not Actually the leadership did not bother responding to my personal email but threw out a few public comments and then did the ultimate dismissal: he defriended me on Facebook! So, I'm in mourning over that.....

Seriously, though, I recommended this ministry because I appreciated what they were then doing. I now un-recommend it (for what that's worth) because they have lost their way. We're praying (I'm not the only one who has been discarded) that God will lead them back to the battlefield.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


In the previous post I postulated that the current "resurgence" of sound doctrine seems to have peaked and is now on a downward slope. My view of this is two-fold: Practice and Doctrine.

In the area of Practice: Local churches arose during this resurgence, preaching the doctrines of grace, aiming at a truly-regenerate membership, exercising Biblical church discipline, emphasizing expository preaching, etc. Now, at this point in the journey, I see the leaven beginning to work. All around these "sound" churches were the world's pseudo-churches with their Word of Faith, prosperity "gospel" teachings, big crowds, big budgets, high-flying celebrity preachers. Some of this has been assimilated into the doctrinal assemblies.

One begins to hear the distant echo of "prosperity" preaching amongst the nuggets of Truth. As budget shortfalls occur, as leaders try to maintain their salaries and their multi-million dollar edifices, the appeals for increased offerings include tales of "how God blessed me" for various feats of giving money. Of course, since my experiences are almost 100% Baptist, one is never far from Malachi 3:10 and the absolute dictum that all giving must come to the local church.

The Doctrine side, however, is even more telling, it seems to me. Basically, the Reformation was about Justification by faith alone, apart from works. Now, as we approach the 500th anniversary of Luther's declaration, we see this doctrine in dispute again. Today, however, the idea of Justification by faith alone is not being undermined by Rome and their Tetzels selling indulgences....but by men who are labeled by themselves and by others as "reformed".

First, a bit of an aside as to what I see as an underlying element in the problem today. If one is labeled "reformed" he is "in".....whatever else he might say or do is acceptable to the "reformed" world. That's why we have foul-mouthed pastors like Mark Driscoll being pampered and tolerated: oh, he's "reformed" That's why we have theologians pushing heretical doctrines like "conditional justification" being welcomed by prominent leaders: oh, they're reformed.

I'm not going to re-hash all the fine points of the doctrines involved here. I've ranted about them elsewhere and any Google search you do will provide loads of details if you are not familiar with the "New Perspective on Paul" born out of the writings of N. T. Wright and the idea of "Federal Vision" promoted by Doug Wilson among others. These are tied in with modern views on Second Temple Judaism and all involve "conditional justification" in one way or another.

What is eye-catching: the "welcome mat" being rolled out for these heresies by John Piper and those who are in his "camp" within "reformed" theology, within this resurgence of the past 30 years. Piper defends to some degree or another both these men and their philosophies and flatly will not say that they are preaching "another gospel" when in fact that is exactly what they are doing. These guys are great intellects. Calvinism has always had a weak spot in that there is such a great appeal to the intellect; calvinists are often accused (and often rightly so) of being intellectual snobs and possessed of an air of academic superiority over the lowly, ignorant arminians. The younger set in this resurgence is enamored of Piper and now enamored of the following generation: Driscoll, Chandler, Chan....They are also impressed by the intellectual prowess of Wright and perhaps of Wilson (who is not an academic). There is some fallow ground for these poisonous seeds......and here's the "father-figure" to all these young calvinists fawning all over these heretics.

R. Scott Clark has written very well on the technical, theological aspects of this, far beyond my abilities. I want to give you a brief, summarizing comment from one of his articles:

"Here's a gift and here's what you have to do to keep it" isn't good news for sinners who cannot do "their part," not even with the help of grace. If "grace and cooperation with grace" is such good news, why not skip the FV and simply become Roman Catholic? Honestly? That's been the consistent Roman doctrine since the early middle ages. It's been the official Roman doctrine since the session 6 of the Council of Trent.

"...simply become Roman Catholic".....exactly! That's where this is heading folks....not a surprise if you've ever read the Revelation. A week of so ago, I was reading on a particular point in The Catholic Doctrine of the Atonement by Oxenham. Their idea of "infused" righteousness as opposed to "imputed" righteousness fits right into this "conditional justification" heresy. The idea is, basically, that rather than having the Righteousness of Christ put on us as sinners (imputed), we have righteousness put into us (infused) by Him and thereby become righteous in and of ourselves. And now, Wright and Wilson say that in the final judgment we shall learn if we did well enough with that "righteousness" and have earned the reward of eternal life.

And this kind of stuff is coming from "reformed" preachers and being promoted by the leadership of the "reformed" church today. I think I can see the Seven Hills on the horizon.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


First, let me say that I am not only a premillennialist, my eschatology is pretty much standard fundamentalist Baptist stuff which means I see a real possibility of connection between the Church of Rome today and the future world government/church of the Revelation. That might be in the "less-than-dogmatic" column, however.

What's more clear is history. There was a Reformation. Certain dramatic changes transpired as Protestant churches were born out of the move to correct Rome's perversion of Biblical teachings.

Another thing clear, to me at least, is that the Reformation was not complete nor perfect. Many (most?) of those Protestant churches did more to correct doctrinal error than other aspects of Romanism, like liturgy, iconography, other trappings which were to some degree or another carried into the "new" churches.

One would have hoped, had he lived in the 16th century, to see the purification of doctrine continue through the years, getting purer and purer as time went on. I don't think this happened either. It peaked somewhere. Someone with a better grasp of church history might be able to pinpoint a guess is that the peak of "improvement" was long before 1840......maybe in the mid-1700's.

Since that peak, whenever it occurred, the doctrinal stance of the Protestant churches in general has been on a downhill slide. Consider a few factors: mid-19th century: Finney-ism begins, the German Biblical "higher criticism" begins; early 20th century, American "modernism" begins, led by the Fosdicks and Van Dykes among others. By the mid-20th century, we have the new permutation of Finney-ism promoted by the "fundamentalists" so-called, the decisional regeneration movement from Billy Graham to Jack Hyles.

A reaction to that superficial theology of the late 20th century gave birth to a resurgence of calvinist soteriology, especially in the Baptist world. The idea that God is truly sovereign regained a place of prominence in some circles. From 1990 or so, we have been taught and led by men like Al Mohler, John Piper, John MacArthur, and many others, and this has led to to a renewed appreciation of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, A. W. Pink, the Puritans, and other sources of solid Biblical teaching from the past.

I think another peak has been reached and passed, however, and will elaborate on that thought in Part Two.