Archives for August 2010

who and when

Ran across this in my reading:

“Conservatives were contemptuous of [his] pulpit pyrotechnics, dubious of the validity of the sudden conversions he achieved, and sure that the church would degrade itself by diluting its message and making religion ‘easy’ for the common man.”

So… who is the preacher I mask by ‘[his]’ and when is the historical setting?

No Googling!


a new-fundamentalist manifesto?

In a relatively recent (but undated) press release, Central Baptist Theological Seminary announced that discussions of a proposed merger between Central and Faith Baptist Theological Seminary have ceased. Instead, some kind of cooperation between the two institutions will be pursued “short of a merger”.

Below the press release, links are provided to several ‘ethos statements’, also undated. They provide an interesting glimpse into the state of mind CBTS considers to be its “distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs”. *

In reading these documents, some observations come to mind. First, comparing the “Ethos Statement on Salvation & Sanctification” and the “Ethos Statement on Hermeneutics & Eschatology” with the “Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism”, a curious difference is immediately noticeable. The first two documents are full of phrases like this: “Some of us believe that…” contrasted with “while others believe…” or “while others understand…” The third document contains no expressions like this at all. One has to wonder how much these first two documents really distinguish the character or guiding beliefs of the institution. Some believe one thing, others believe another. Doesn’t sound like a statement of certainty to me. It seems that the third document, the “Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism” is more definitive than the first two.

Second, regarding the “Ethos Statement on Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism” specifically, my first impression is that it represents something new. It isn’t the way fundamentalists have typically expressed themselves in the last 60 years, but it does seem to be a summary statement of new views of fundamentalism that some have been advocating in recent years. Yet, this statement is perhaps less definitive than it appears because there remain several important unanswered questions.

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In an interview with Peter Hitchens (brother of Christopher), Hugh Hewitt brings up the subject of marriage. Peter Hitchens’ comment is very interesting.

HH: As we speak, marriage is up, it’s a knockout punch that is being aimed at marriage in California.

PH: Yes.

HH: The consequences of that, do you have any opinion?

PH: Well, I think it’s immensely serious, and it’s also rative of a fight, because those who fight it on the grounds on which the left have chosen to make it a battle, can very easily be portrayed as bigots and intolerant and cruel, because it’s always an issue of allegedly giving something to somebody, and why are you against giving something to somebody? Are you a cruel person? Are you a nasty person? Are you a vindictive person? And it’s turned into that development. And this is partly, of course, because the battle over divorce, which both in your country and in mine, was made so ridiculously easy in the 1960s. The battle over divorce has already been conceded, and therefore marriage among heterosexuals is so weakened, that this assault on it is not seen for what it is, namely a further blow at what I regard is the constitution of private life, that the marriage contract is the basis on which private life can be lived. And the moment the state becomes more important, and the moment big corporations become more powerful than the marriage bond, then private life is over, and we’re all slaves. And this is the difficulty. You need to find, and the conservative movement on both sides, I think, need to find a language in which to fight this war without it being easy for the other side to portray them as bigots.

(Quote comes about 2/3 of the way through the interview)

Most of my readers are probably aware that this is a present battle for the essential building blocks of human society.

Recently, I conducted the ceremony for my sister and her husband. Two comments highlight how much on the front lines of the battle real Christian marriage is.

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the idea of fundamental truths

The Baptist Church in Horse Fair, Stony Stratford, Bucks, England in the year 1790 covenanted together:

To maintain and hold fast the important and fundamental truths of revelation. These we apprehend to be such as respect the natural and moral character of Jehovah, and the various relations He stands in to His rational creatures; the original purity but present depravity of human nature; the total moral inability and yet absolute inexcusableness of man as a guilty sinner before God; the perpetuity of a divine law, and the equity of its awful sanction; the infinite dignity of the Son of God in His original character as a divine Person, possessed of all the perfections of Deity, and His all-sufficiency for the office of Mediator between God and man, in consequence of the union of the divine and human natures in one person; the acceptance of our persons with, and the enjoyment of all good from God, through His mediation; the proper divinity and blessed agency of the Holy Spirit in our regeneration, sanctification, and consolation; in one word, that our full salvation, from its first cause to its final consummation, is a display of sovereign goodness accomplishing the glorious purposes of Him, who worketh all things according to the Council of His own will, and known unto whom is the end from the beginning.

It is quite interesting to me that this church in 1790 uses the terms "fundamental truths". Also of interest are the specific list of doctrines noted as such. It seems that the ideas of fundamentalism are not such a new thing as some suppose.


* Quoted from Baptist Confessions, Covenants and Catechisms, Timothy and Denise George, eds., p. 188, emphasis mine.

documenting deletions

Bob Bixby is at it again. In his article, among other things, he says this:

Go to an FBF meeting and look at their leaders beginning with the president and do a study of their adult children. (The last one I attended in 2009 it was obvious that most of the attendees were old enough to have adult children.) You will find that the second-generation of Fundamentalism results very frequently, if they are graced by God, in abandonment of their fathers’ ideology while retaining true fundamentals (thankfully) or, sadly, a whole-hearted plunge into antinomianism.

To which I responded with this:

Don Johnson, on August 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm Said:

Bob, your shot at fundamentalists and their children is really unkind. Do you think that fundamentalists are the only ones who have problems with their adult children? Do you think adult children is what Jesus meant when he said you can judge a tree by its fruit?

Your ranting once again vents spleen and speaks more about you than about those you attack.

Don Johnson
Jeremiah 33.3

Immediately afterward, another commenter added this:

Hope said on Legalism is the Slippery Slope

August 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm

In response to Bob Bixby on August 19, 2010 at 10:50 am:

The man who today forbids what God allows, tomorrow will allow what God forbids. ~ R.B. Kuiper I want to push back. A Fundamental Baptist pastor has alerted his people to the dangers of Bob Bixby, saying that I am a New Evangelical and have opened the door to compromise and worldliness. I think a […]

Amen to what Don said!

You will look in vain for this comment. Apparently Bob doesn’t want you to see it. Bob replied to me:

Bob Bixby, on August 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm Said:

Don, in the interest of Christian civility I deleted my longer response and will stick to this:

You are the one that is inconsiderately derailing the conversation by your ad hominem argument. You know as well as I do that biblically these teachers are open to scrutiny and, yes, it is right to look at a man’s adult children to consider the long-term effect of his teaching. It is not an wild attack to raise the question when some scholars even believe (though I do not think I can fully agree) that a man is potentially disqualified from ministry if his adult children are not believers. My point is that my invitation to check these men out is not outside of the God-given parameters.

Please do not post on my blog again. Your modus operandi with me is never discussion but an immediate attempt to discolor the whole thing so that people miss the point because you actually have no substantive argument in response. This is typical of fundamentalism.

To this comment, I offered these words:

Bob, do you think that Jesus meant adult children when he said, "by their fruit ye shall know them"?

As for your request, you are free to delete anything I write. It does seem somewhat contrary to the spirit of the blogosphere which you have espoused in the past. I am not anonymous, your site is not moderated, and I don’t think I have said anything untrue.

And you haven’t dealt with the heart of my question.

BTW, if it is right to attack a man for his adult children, then you will have a field day with many of your evangelical friends.

Don Johnson
Jeremiah 33.3

You won’t find this comment either. I don’t know how long it was up, but Bob soon deleted it.

You may make your own conclusions, but my opinion is that it is at best unkind of Bob to make personal attacks in trying to make his point, however dubious. Please note, I am not concerned with Bob’s opinion of me, or anything he has said of me. I am referring to the personal attacks he is making in his post, attempting to demean fundamentalism by mud-slinging against some of those with whom he disagrees.

The fact is, I have often agreed with Bob in the past on various points and have commended him for those points, both on his blog and in private correspondence. I do think Bob is often intemperate in his speech and I don’t mind saying so. He cheapens his own arguments by such intemperance.

Now, is Bob correct about some of the problems that he says are in fundamentalism? Certainly. There are problems of all sorts, including abusive pastors, legalistic churches, shallow preaching and the like. Are there none in fundamentalism addressing these problems, or tying to hold to a higher standard? Of course not. There are a lot of good men who try to model biblical ministry within fundamentalism.

But really, read Bob’s post again. His first paragraph tells you what it is all about. Someone called him a New Evangelical. So Bob reacts with a diatribe against all fundamentalism. Why the vehemence, Bob? Why not the grace to turn the other cheek? What does it matter what others say, are you answerable to them? And why do you so easily and willingly resort to personal attacks in trying to defend yourself?


P.S. In my comments section, a reminder that I won’t tolerate abusive speech or those who simply want to distract with sneers and jibes. You know who you are.

we’ve been a little busy

This is my sister.


When we began our ministry in Victoria, she had just graduated from University. She took a job here in order to help us in our church. We had a handful of people. She came, not knowing how the Lord would lead, but she came knowing that the chances of finding an eligible Christian man might be slim.

That was 24 years ago.

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well blow me down

I have been playing with Logos 4 for about five days now. I was fully prepared to disdain L4 as much as I do L3 and previous versions. Well…

Well blow me down, I actually like Logos 4. They said they rebuilt it from the ground up. They did! And it shows!

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Van Til – not a fundamentalist

One of the books I read this spring is Cornelius Van Til: Reformed Apologist and Churchman by John R. Muether. My son gave me this book about a year or more ago and I decided it was high time I read it. This is the first biography of Van Til that I have read. A friend who also read it said that it was a good book to fill in some background that other books missed. He recommended reading some of the other books in addition to this one.

While I will put this post in the ‘book reviews’ category, this article isn’t really a book review. I do recommend this book and think it will be worth your while to read if you are interested in Van Til at all.

One of the things that I learned from this book is that Van Til was definitely a separatist. But he wasn’t your fundamentalist type of separatist. He had his own branch of separatism, making himself distinct from both evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

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