Interesting report from AtC Conference

Kevin Mungons reports on today’s panel discussion at the Advancing the Church Conference in Lansdale. I am not sure if this is a verbatim transcript or not, it looks a little edited. However, Kevin reports these words from our friend, Dave Doran:

Doran: I doubt we all agree with each other on the right way to solve that problem, but I do think (I’ll speak for myself on this one) that we are committed to the same principles of separation that we have always been, yet I do and have tried to acknowledge that there have been changes that have forced me to think through the applications differently than I have since becoming a pastor 22 years ago…[.in the midpoint of the last dedade, 2005-2006 there were some things that I thought were significant in a change of landscape, both internally and externally

Dever: I’d be curious to hear—what were those changes?

Doran: In early 2005 there was a meeting in which Kevin and I were both speakers. Both of us tried to make a case (I’ll try to say this as tactfully as possible) for drawing a circle, to say that if you are going to identify with historic fundamentalism,  certain theological aberrations have to be rejected. We tried to make an ernest appeal, but I didn’t think that that was actually going to get traction. I would say that outside [fundamentalism] in March 2005, Phil Johnson did his presentation on “Fundamentalism: Dead Right?” We spent four or five weeks going back and forth about it. The month right before that I had asked the folks at Grace [Community Church, John MacArthur’s church] very specifically on the issue of secondary separation, an idea they never publically accepted. But in his presentation, Phil Johnson said “we do believe it is valid, but has not been used properly.” So that was a significant change.

And later…

Doran: Right. And his book was beginning to talk about this. There’s probably a dozen books that began to talk about the problems of the evangelical left. Grudem in his book on Open Theism. Carson, Love in hard Places…the necessity of separating over the gospel. Mohler’s chapter in Horton’s book….so there actually was an uptick of talk about separatism among a certain segment of evangelicalism, that’s what I meant by a change in the landscape. [The evangelicals] were not as thorough and as consistent as I would have preferred…

I am cutting off a bits on these quotations, so please read the whole article for yourself to get the whole context.

It is interesting to note a few things here:

  1. Dave has alluded to his change of mind in the past. He thinks these changes make a difference in how he applies separation. He has said this in various places and he says it here. The changes were internal and external, i.e., within Fundamentalism (although Dave says there is no Fundamentalism anymore) and outside Fundamentalism (if there is an internal and external… is there something defined by that boundary? but I digress).
  2. The internal change seems to be that other Fundamentalists refused to be as aggressive against “certain theological aberrations” as Dave would have liked. I think we know what those aberrations are.
  3. The external change seems to be that conversation on SI with Phil Johnson (and some other contact with PJ about that time). The change on the Johnson/MacArthur side is an acknowledgement on their part that secondary separation is valid, though misapplied. In addition, some other evangelicals were talking about separation (to some extent at least).

Is there any more to this? Please correct my impressions if I am missing something, but this does seem to sum up Dave’s view of what changed in 2005 resulting in a changing application of separatism.

What do you make of this?

  • Should fundamentalism take some steps to draw a line over the versions issue?
  • If yes, how tightly should that line be drawn?
  • Does a ‘kinda, sorta’ acceptance of secondary separation by Phil Johnson constitute sufficient change on the part of Conservative Evangelicals to warrant ministry cooperation at any level?
  • Does Phil Johnson speak for every conservative evangelical? Can we say that Phil’s acceptance of some form of secondary separation means that Mark Dever, for example, holds the same views and thus validates ministry cooperation with him?

I’m not sure about the answers to all of these. I am inclined to think that the ‘internal changes’ sound a lot like, ‘I’ll take my marbles and go home if you don’t play my way’ and the ‘external changes’ don’t go far enough in embracing separation as taught in Scripture. What do you think?

don_sig2

Comments

  1. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Talk is cheap, no matter who says it. It is our actions (practice) that validate our talk (doctrine). Personally, I’ve seen nothing from any CE to give me hope that they have actually seen the light, turned the corner, and are moving in the right direction. As far as Dave’s desire for separation from the fundy fringe (I think that is what he was alluding to with his comments with Bauder in 2005), so where is the wide area of fellowship? I’ve not seen it consistently practiced anywhere. Whether it is a separation issue or not, the KJV issue did cause the extremists to separate from the mainstream Fundamentalist and have nothing to do with us. I personally witnessed this back in the 90’s when I was on deputation. I was denied several meetings because, while I use the KJV, I did not believe as they believed about the KJV so I was not going to be invited to that church.
    Doran needs to move on from that scenario. The fellowship between mainstream and fringe Fundys is pretty much non-existent and therefore a non-issue.

  2. I think it would be great if Dave expanded a bit on what his proposal was back in 2005. I suspect it did include the version issue but probably more than that as well. I think it would be helpful to see what was “rejected” by this group (and I”m assuming it was the AACCS meeting that he was talking about).

    I’ve been thinking a great deal about what is going on in Lansdale right now. The SBC is a hard thing for me to get over, because of things like you just posted regarding Alliance churches. Evidently there are subtleties regarding the SBC that are supposed to make those types of things OK even though it doesn’t seem OK. Same thing with liberal professors that are still employed by Southeastern. These are things that are troubling to me, even though I do acknowledge that things are much better overall due to the conservative resurgence that has taken place. There does seem to be a movement in the right direction, at least in some quarters, and Dave is right that people in non-fundamentalists quarters are beginning to think and talk about separation in ways that they hadn’t before.

    Here’s the thing I keep coming back to…speaking and having fellowship with Dever is less of an issue with me than speaking and having fellowship with someone like Jack Schaap. The CE guys don’t practice separation the way I think is Biblical but (and this is a generalization that I can think of exceptions for, but nevertheless I’m going to say it) they are basically doctrinal sound. I can listen to genuinely helpful messages from Dever, Mohler, or MacArthur, but I wouldn’t pick up a book or listen to an mp3 from Schaap. The doctrinal aberrations on the extreme right are horrid.

    It does seem to me that reaching out to some of these guys may help them think about issues that they haven’t thought of before. This probably applies more to people like Dever than MacArthur, because MacArthur has a history in fundamentalism that Dever doesn’t. I think it is good that Minnick, for example, that he participated on the 9 Marks audio to discuss these things. I”m less inclined to have Dever talk to fundamentalists at a seminary about how we should do separation, though. From Brian McCrorie’s summary, Dever said this on Wednesday, “Should we fellowship with those who disagree? If they have the Gospel, we should.” So, here I would say that is not gospel-centered separation the way I would promote it. To me, separating in defense of the gospel means separating from those who are not walking according to the gospel, not just whether they personally believe the gospel or not. This is an example of a minimalist view of gospel-centered separation that I would not be in favor of. So, there are still issues and Dave has highlighted some of those issues with his criticisms of the T4G affirmations.

    Anyway, I’m observing all this with great interest, still trying to think though these issues in my own mind. These are just some of my preliminary thoughts.

    • Hi Andy

      First, I wonder if you could post a link to McCrorie. I haven’t seen it.

      Second, some are trying to defuse the problems of association with Conservative Evangelicals in general and SBC in particular by pointing to Dr. Vaughn and Jack Schaap. While there is similarity in the issues, we all agree that two wrongs don’t make a right, don’t we? (That’s in the Bible somewhere, right??? heh) In other words, the issues are similar, but not related. One doesn’t justify the other.

      As far as Schaap goes, in defense of Dr. Vaughn, his visit to Clarence Sexton’s conference last year was for the sake of Sexton, not Schaap. I wish Sexton would not invite Schaap. I have the same problems with Schaap that you do. And I don’t think Dr. Vaughn will repeat the association with Schaap. I hope Sexton can be appealed to for the same. Sexton seems to be among the more reasonable of the KJO crowd, but the reasonable KJOs need to distance themselves from the nutbars.

      I will be very interested to get the audio of the Lansdale conference and hear what Dever says with my own ears.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  3. Here is the link to message I was referring to:

    http://sharperiron.org/eventblog/wednesday-morning-mark-dever-sufficiency-of-bible-about-local-church

    The issue with Schaap is on going and does not just involve that one conference with Clarence Sexton. I am not trying to excuse one situation by referencing another. I’m looking at the entire landscape and saying that I’m more concerned about the Schaap-type stuff than the Dever-type stuff. I have concerns about both, as I tried to make clear in my post. I’m not yet comfortable with the whole SBC thing or some of the other association issues that Dever has but I do appreciate his 9 Marks ministry and think that in general it’s good stuff — I can’t say that at all about Schaap. One thing I’ve noticed is that he (Dever) approaches passages and ideas from a slightly different angle than what I”m used to — probably due to his background — and I think it is a helpful perspective.

    • Andy, thanks for the link. I missed that one.

      As for ‘more concerned about the Schaap type stuff’, well, I hear you, theologically speaking. However, do you think Schaap represents a danger or a position of influence for the fundamentalist circles you and I are a part of? I highly doubt many of our young men are likely to be influenced towards Schaap et al. Many of them, on the other hand, are heavily being influenced by Piper, et al. Both areas are problematic, in different ways, and will result in a weakened church if followed. That’s my opinion, anyway.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. So, it’s ok for Vaughn to go to a conference with someone who has a heretical view of inspiration b/c of Sexton, but it’s not ok for Doran/Bauder to go to a conference for the sake of Jordan with someone who is doctrinally orthodox but doesn’t have all the associations we like?

    I think that shows that Brian’s comment about KJVO not being an issue anymore is inaccurate. It obviously is an issue, just not an issue fundy’s like to talk about. (Maybe they’re too busy finding the platform fellowship heretics to worry about issues of biblical inspiration and inerrancy :) )

    Ed

    • Ed, that’s not what I am saying at all. I wish Dr. Vaughn hadn’t gone to Sexton’s conference last year, I have discussed it at length with him, understand his reasoning and certain extenuating circumstances, but I still wish he had not gone. He is not going to make the same mistake again, I believe.

      Please read my subsequent post about the SBC and the Alliance churches within it. This isn’t just “doesn’t have all the associations we like”. The SBC still has serious problems. Dever is an important officer in the SBC, not just some fringe conservative guy who isn’t tightly involved with the inner machinations of the body. Dever is on record as saying there are no more liberals in the SBC. Well…

      In any case, please don’t think that I am not concerned about Schaap et al. But this post isn’t about Schaap. I appreciate the concerns, but let’s keep the thread on topic.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  5. Larry says:

    I think what is interesting to me is that Dave has been pretty clear about the differences between him and Dever. If you remember at the conference at Troy, Dave specifically laid out why he would not speak for Dever, and he said he specifically told Dever why which caused Minnick to say something along the lines of “You were more direct than I was.”

    In spite of this, some are saying that Dave has said nothing and will never say anything in order to cover this over. That is simply incorrect.

    I think there is a lot of warrant to “I’ll take my marbles and go home.” When people do not agree on some major points, we separate from them, even if that means we leave “the group” whatever that group is.

    In answer to your questions:

    * Should fundamentalism take some steps to draw a line over the versions issue?

    Yes

    * If yes, how tightly should that line be drawn?

    Very tightly. No one who affirms that the Word of God is found only in one translation is a fundamentalist.

    * Does a ‘kinda, sorta’ acceptance of secondary separation by Phil Johnson constitute sufficient change on the part of Conservative Evangelicals to warrant ministry cooperation at any level?

    At “any level”? Sure. At all levels, no.

    Here, the point is that we should be cautious about insisting that every draw lines exactly where we draw them. We might be wrong, as hard as that is to accept by some. And cooperating with some of these men is not a matter of clear biblical obedience. As Dr. Pickering said, it is a wisdom matter in some cases (not all).

    * Does Phil Johnson speak for every conservative evangelical? Can we say that Phil’s acceptance of some form of secondary separation means that Mark Dever, for example, holds the same views and thus validates ministry cooperation with him?

    No. This has been Dave’s point for a long time that we should look at what individuals believe and do.

    You say, Don, that Dave alludes to “his change of mind in the past.” What are you referring to with this?

    • Larry, quick answer, I’m on the run…

      The change I am referring to seems to be the one he mentions here, the change of mind that came about after pushing for something in 2005 and not seeing the results he wanted.

      As far as the versions issue, I wouldn’t draw the line that tightly. Fundamentalists haven’t made it an issue for fifty years. As long as the KJO person is willing to work with a non-KJO person and not be divisive about it, I see no need to be divisive on my side of the equation. I think it is pretty extreme to say that a KJO person is not a fundamentalist.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  6. Maybe not but the real danger, and what is actually happening, is that the lack of separation in this case (and others like it) is a repudiation of the practice in general and the whole idea of fundamentalism in particular. In other words, we are losing people from fundamentalism because the “old guard” is not practicing what we preach with those on our right. I think this is part of what Doran is talking about and why he says the movement is dead. If we are not dead, yet, it is certainly killing us — and that is why it is such a major concern of mine.

    • Hi Andy

      Whoa… maybe you want to clarify that first sentence… are you referring to Dave and Kevin in that sentence, or the youngsters in general?

      I hear you as far as losing people because of allegedly not practicing what we preach on the right. I’m not so sure there is much we need to do, as Brian said earlier in the thread the nutbars have pretty well already separated from us.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  7. Did you have the same discussion with Mike Schrock and BJU leadership? Are they not going to make the same mistake again too?

    Ed

    • Ed, no I haven’t talked to Schrock or BJU on this specific issue. While I do have some ties, there, I have more access to Dr. Vaughn at the moment, and quite frankly, his appearance there was more important to me. He occupies a more significant place in our stratosphere than Schrock does. (Nothing against Schrock, but he isn’t the president of the FBF.)

      So I’ll leave that task to you. Why don’t you call them up and talk about it?

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  8. Brian Ernsberger says:

    Don,

    Thanks for bringing up “where the influence is coming from” point to all this. It has been noted elsewhere that, for the most part, men like Schaap are not an influence within mainstream Fundamentalism; whereas, these “conservative” evangelicals are an influence. I’ve yet to see a link to Schaap and FBC Hammond, or Hyles-Anderson at a mainstream Fundamentalist website, but I have seen scores of supposed mainstream Fundamentalists link to Piper, Dever, Mohler, et. al. Clearly, these men are influencing what is considered mainstream Fundamentalism and it is problematic, as you say.

  9. I really messed up that comment. Here is what I meant to say:

    “Maybe not [i.e., Schaap may not be influencing people in our orbit] but the real danger, and what is actually happening, is that the lack of separation in this case (and others like it) is [influencing people to] repudiate the practice [of separation] in general and the whole idea of fundamentalism in particular. “

  10. The SBC used to be a no-brainer in fundamentalism, revivalist and non-revivalist. Before Jack Schaap there was this guy named Jack Hyles. How does Jack Schaap change anything? Schaap is being used, not to be more of a separatist, but to be less of one.

    In the Minnick interview, and now when he was questioned at this Lansdale conference, in both instances, Dever says that property and money is an important reason to stay in the SBC. What does that sound like as it regards Scripture? What kind of example is that to any Christian?

    • Hi Kent,

      Thanks for the comment. I was talking to a retired BJU professor a few weeks ago. He told me of a time when it was his turn to give the devotions at the faculty meeting. He recalled starting out by asking, “Do you think God cares about the buildings we have around here?” His point was that God cares about the people, and not the buildings. He said, “Look at the Jews. They turned their back on him and they lost their temple. Look at Harvard. Do you think God cares about buildings?”

      Your comment reminded me of that conversation.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jeremiah 33.3

  11. Larry says:

    Couple of quick things:

    To Don, on the KJVO thing, there are two points: (1) KJVO people deny what the Bible teaches about itself and therefore have denied a fundamental of the faith; as fundamentalists, if there were ever a cause for separation surely this would be it. Fundamentalism’s willingness to tolerate doctrinal aberrancy in this situation is why many people are leaving it. (2) I am for not making it an issue. KJVO people make it an issue which they have done by their vocal stands. I am fine if someone uses only the KJV or believes it is the best translation or believes that the TR is the best text. I can and will work with that kind of person. There are no problems there for me. I would only make an issue of it if they did.

    On the change of mind thing, from what I hear Dave Doran saying, his change of mind about separatism was as much as about the future of fundamentalism as a movement and the obviously changing landscape in evangelicalism. The idea that no evangelicals are practicing separation is clearly wrong. Couple that with the refusal of fundamentalism to practice separation in its own midst, and many of us are in a situation where we can’t stand with the “separatists” because they don’t separate consistently, and we can’t really stand with the evangelicals because they don’t separate consistently.

    To Brian, about links, the reason why Dever/Piper/Mohler/et al are being linked to as opposed to Schaap and company is because the former are viewed as having something worth saying. Their doctrine is, for the most part, sound doctrine. They draw lines of separation in different ways, and that is troubling to me and others. But they speak the truth and have taken stands for right doctrine.

    The only way I see that as problematic is if we haven’t done a good job teaching young people. I think that is what we are seeing. I think the dangers come because we gave young people lists (i.e. Kent’s “the SBC used to be a no-brainer”) rather than principles. I know I was taught growing up that the SBC was bad. Why? I didn’t know, but they were “them” and we stay away from “them” because they are not “us” and we have the truth. When these young people found out that Al Mohler isn’t really a liberal and the John MacArthur really wasn’t the second coming of Fosdick they decided that they could not trust what they were taught. And we need to be honest that the SBC of today is not the SBC of twenty years ago. The conservative resurgence, while not going far enough, has come a long ways.

    If we are going to be fundamentalists, then we are going to have to have a renewed commitment to truth. That means we are going to teach it and defend it. It means we are going to stand up and rebuke those who refuse to tell it, whether it is about Scripture or about other men. We are going to have to risk friendships for the sake of it. We must not pretend to be fundamentalists and let truth become a pawn to be bargained away in an attempt to score points against people we disagree with. We must not pass over problems because we are friends with people who have the problems.

    I am not saying that everyone must deal with it the same way I do, or at the same pace. But we all need to be dealing with it.

    To answer Kent’s point, money and property can be a good reason to stay in and fight for something, particularly if there is reason to believe that it can be regained. Harvard is way past regaining. SBTS was not, and Mohler was able (with a lot of grief) to purge the faculty. Yes, there are still problems. But it was, at some point, a matter of stewardship. I think a good case can be made that it would be unwise and poor stewardship to walk away from something like that if there is a chance that it could be regained. If you haven’t, you should listen to Mohler’s talks about what happened at SBTS in those years.

    SBTS is not where it needs to be in a lot of ways, and Mohler is inconsistent IMO in many things. So don’t read this as a defense of Mohler, Dever, SBTS, etc. I am not saying they should have done it, or that I would do it. I am simply saying that I can see the case that can be made for it.

    • Wow, Larry, for a quick one, you really went at it! I would hate to see you making a LONG reply!

      I’ll have to think over your whole post, maybe reply more later. But a couple of quick thoughts….

      I can’t speak to your experience, but I don’t think Fundamentalism as a whole simply said, “SBC bad, stay away”, with no explanation or reason why. Those pastors who had the pain of leading their churches out of the SBC had lots to say, at least to their own congregations, and surely to outsiders also, as to why they were compelled to take those positions. And as an attempt to address the issue, BJU published David Beale’s “SBC House on the Sand” as part of the public argument about the issue. So I don’t think you can say Fundamentalism as a whole just had a knee-jerk reaction to the SBC with no documentation or explanation. Maybe you weren’t aware of it, maybe you were poorly served by your particular pastors/mentors, or maybe you weren’t doing a good job of listening. In any case, I don’t think it was just a demand for blind loyalty if you consider fundamentalism at large.

      On the KJO point, I am a little astonished at your vehemence. Are you saying the KJO guys aren’t saved? You seem to be elevating this doctrine to the level of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. When you say they they deny what the Bible teaches about itself, and therefore have denied a fundamental of the faith, are you saying that it is essential to believe in inspiration in order to be saved? Is that what you are saying? Are you equating the KJO error with a denial of miracles or a denial of the deity of Christ?

      I think that’s a pretty serious level to take the discussion. I would put Ruckmanites in the same category as Modernists in terms of the level of their error, although it isn’t the same kind of error. But I wouldn’t put every KJO fellow in the Ruckmanite category.

      More later.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  12. “Dever says that property and money is an important reason to stay in the SBC. What does that sound like as it regards Scripture? What kind of example is that to any Christian?”

    Isn’t that the example Clearwaters left? Didn’t he used to fondly look back at being able to “save the furniture” in MN? Is it too far-fetched to think that if he could have done that for the entire NBC, he would have done that instead of pulling out?

    Ed

  13. Don,

    I’m not going to call, b/c I have no formal connections to Schrock or BJ. But I’m also not going on about the problems of other pastors I have no formal ties with going to a conference in Lansdale.

    That’s why it seems like a double standard: You defend Vaughn publicly and express your concerns mostly privately, (while ignoring your alma mater altogether) but publicly criticize Doran and Bauder, with whom I think you have no formal ties at all. Have you expressed any concerns to them privately?

    Also, it can come across as though you are more concerned about the politics of the issue (Vaughn’s significance as FBF pres; the problem of reaching outside of fundy circles with Dever) than you are about doctrinal issues. (i.e., are you really more concerned about Dever’s doctrines than you are Schaap’s?)

    Ed

    • Ed, please read my original post again. What am I talking about? Am I talking about Dever’s problems in this post? No. Am I talking about Schaap? No. What am I talking about?

      What I am talking about is the interesting point that Dave brings up in his discussion in Lansdale. I do have some ties with Dave, but I haven’t addressed this specific question privately that I can recall. If you will look back a few weeks on my blog you will see that Dave and I had an exchange about some of these issues (see the post “something I don’t understand”). These are public issues and I don’t think there is any requirement to discuss them first privately. I appreciate Dave’s earlier participation and also note that by discussing them, he legitimizes this forum. However, please note that he isn’t required to reply, but I do appreciate the fact that he often does interact here.

      In any case, this post and this thread is about the interesting point Dave apparently raised at Lansdale where he himself outlines the reasons for his change of application. He claims that his view of separation has not changed. He has been fairly public in his sermons, lectures, blogging, etc. about his view of separation. I agree that for the most part he hasn’t deviated in his expression of separation, what it means, how we derive it from Scripture, etc. But here he says, essentially, I have changed my applications and here is why. I find that interesting and worth pointing out.

      You, on the other hand, want to make this an argument about other things. Well, I’m just not going to bother with that argument any more. I’ve spent too much time on it already and it is just a distraction from what I intend this post to be noting.

      As another on-line friend says, ‘have a good one’.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  14. The SBC issue wasn’t ever categorical for me. I read two books on the SBC and I’m out here next to one of their six seminaries, Golden Gate Seminary. Even if we are deciding based on the gospel only, we would separate from SBC—that’s the no-brainer of it. I truly can be happy if anyone makes anything stronger than what it was, but we don’t have a basis for staying in fellowship with unbelievers.

  15. Larry says:

    Quickly on the KJVO (do you believe me?)

    I am not vehement about it. But they are. And that’s what makes it a problem. Historically, I don’t think versions have been an issue. It’s only recently that some made it an issue, and therefore it is an issue by their choice, not mine.

    I have no idea whether they are saved. Being KJVO doesn’t exclude that. I would presume that they are.

    My point is that the Bible clearly teaches a doctrine of inspiration and clearly demonstrates a pattern of preservation that the KJVO movement denies. If bibliology and inspiration is a fundamental (which has always been acknowledged), then they have denied it.

    Again, the issue for me is not their preference. It’s not even that they think a certain translation or text is bad. It’s the affirmation that the Word of God is found only in one translation or text and all others are Satanic, etc.

  16. Larry,

    Don already alluded to this, but I your comments about the SBC to be very surprising.

    “I know I was taught growing up that the SBC was bad. Why? I didn’t know, but they were “them” and we stay away from “them” because they are not “us” and we have the truth.”

    Wow! Unless you are different Larry than I thought, I am pretty sure you were at BJ during the days of “SBC: House on the Sand?” being around. Dr. Beale went into pretty specific details of what was wrong with the SBC at the time and it was a lot more substantial than “they are not ‘us'”. I agree with you that the SBC of today has changed somewhat from the SBC of that time period, but to indicate that your above statement was an accurate presentation regarding the Fundamentalist position about the SBC when you were younger makes me wonder “How could you have missed it?” And I generally count you to be pretty astute on a lot of these issues.

    Don,

    I surely cannot speak for Larry (especially after my above comment), but I think you may be misreading Larry in regards to the KJO folks.

    In his first post, he states, “No one who affirms that the Word of God is found only in one translation is a fundamentalist.” In the context of that perspective, he also states, “I am fine if someone uses only the KJV or believes it is the best translation or believes that the TR is the best text. I can and will work with that kind of person. There are no problems there for me. I would only make an issue of it if they did.”

    I use the KJV and believe it is the best translation (because it comes from the best texts), and I could definitely agree with Larry’s position (as I understand it).

    Larry is not calling for separation from those who hold to the KJV or TR as the best translation, he is saying that the KJO folks that hold that the King James is the ONLY Word of God in English are teaching a false view of inspiration – and the inspiration of the Bible IS (at least last I checked) one of the Fundamentals of the faith – and therefore they should be subject to separation. (And, by the way, those who hold to the position that Larry is rejecting here are going against the words of the KJV translators themselves, who wrote: “Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English… containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God.”)

    I can agree with that sentiment, as I believe it is Biblical. (Assuming I am correctly understanding Larry.)

    I think part of the confusion may be in how we define the O in KJO :). If the O = ONLY in that ONLY the King James is the Word of God and all other translations are wicked,etc., then the KJO person has a view of inspiration that is aberrant and such a person should be separated from because of this aberrant view of a Fundamental of the Faith. If, however, the O = Only in that the KJV is the ONLY translation that a person uses or promotes, then they are not necessarily subjects for separation. (For lack of better wording.)

    I have tried to write this three times and I still am not sure I am clear on what I am saying, but can’t justify any more time at the moment. I’ll have to try again later, if necessary.

    Just my thoughts,

    Frank

    P.S. to Ed – Since you mentioned this, the Shrock situation has been addressed with appropriate folks and I don’t think it will be repeated, either.

    • First, to all, sorry for the delay in posting the last three comments, my server was down for maintenance.

      Frank, I appreciate your comments. I always love to see you blogging!

      Inspiration is considered a fundamental of the faith, it is true. However, to Onlyists not believe in Inspiration? They have a warped view of the English Bible, it is true, but I don’t see how their view is the equivalent of Neo-Orthodoxy’s approach or the Liberal approach to inspiration. That would be an interesting article for someone to write.

      Having said that, I agree that the view that ONLY the KJV is inspired, the other versions, all of them, are NOT the word of God is a huge problem. At some point, I will make a break from people who hold such views, if they haven’t broken with me already.

      However the problem with saying we must separate from KJO people and declare them heretics is that KJO is too broad a term in popular usage. Some would include you, Frank, in that term, even though your position is not so problematic to our more zealous brethren. And of those some, some would go so far as to call for separation from you, they are that zealous in their anti-KJO rhetoric.

      I think we need a better way of establishing what we mean in calling for “separation on the right”.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  17. Larry says:

    To Frank, with respect to the SBC, *House on the Sand* was not until my college years. By the time of college, the groundwork was laid. Most people probably have no clue what was behind *House on the Sand* or the document used in it. On top of that, my guess is that most SBC churches were not liberal. In fact, they were probably largely indistinguishable from IFB churches aside from the three letters.

    I am not saying my statement was an accurate representation of “the fundamentalist position.” If we have learned anything, it is that fundamentalism is different depending on where you were and who you were around. I doubt there is any thing remotely resembling a universal fundamentalist experience.

    But when someone calls Al Mohler a liberal, it is clear that they have bought the old line that the SBC is bad because they are them and we are us. They are not operating on the facts, and they don’t know the truth. And I am saying that is the case for many people out there.

    Part of the problem is that we (then and now) draw lines (us vs. them) but sometimes do not say clearly why the lines are drawn. So you end up with lines without explanation (which is what I was referring to). That is worse, in many ways, than having no lines. And then when the reason for the lines is gone or diminished, the lines still remain.

    I think failing to note changes, and applying the old paradigm (or application to use Doran’s words) to a new situation is not a good way to go about it.

    To Don, with respect to KJVO and inspiration, the short answer is “no” the KJVO does not believe in inspiration as defined by the Bible. They believe in inspiration, as do the liberals and neo-orthodox, along with painters, musicians, and sculptors. But they have redefined it to fit their system. They have abandoned the biblical teaching about inspiration. And that means that we cannot fellowship with them.

    You talk about how broad KJVO is. I defined it pretty narrowly for my purposes, though I won’t speak for others.

    But there are other reasons to separate from people on the right, including behavior (like lying about others, powertrips, abuse of power, etc.), revivalism which in effect compromises the gospel by manipulating people, philosophical pragmatism not all that different than Rick Warren, etc. But the KJVO side has made versions an issue and we can’t pretend like its not.

    Thanks all.

    • Larry, I missed it, who is calling Al Mohler a liberal? I would call him a typical new evangelical, maybe. Certainly a compromiser. But I don’t know anyone with any credibility in these debates who would call him a liberal. Maybe you can point me to that…

      As for your claim about the KJO position, well… that’s a pretty amazing charge. I am not sure I would even say a Ruckmanite or Ruckman himself believes “in inspiration as do the liberals and neo-orthodox.” That’s a breath-taking charge. I am sure you have a clear explanation for that and aren’t just drawing lines without making an explanation, right?

      And lest anyone misunderstand, I believe that most of what you say in the ‘other reasons’ paragraph is correct. I’m pretty sure that we would be in agreement about most of these errors. I would push you on revivalism, because that is a loose term that has been turned into a pejorative. If you mean Hyles-type manipulation, yeah, I agree. If you mean anyone who gives an invitation or sings hymns by Ira Sankey or Fanny Crosby, well… I think that would be going too far. But in the main, we would probably agree about these issues.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  18. Larry says:

    I once suggested to someone very steeped in the old ways of fundamentalism that they should listen to a particular message by Mohler. This person told me on the phone that Al Mohler was a liberal and what was I doing listening to him. My point is that there is an old way in fundamentalism that has been taught stuff like that … that the SBC is liberal and everyone in the SBC is liberal. It’s not true, but that’s what’s been taught. And when people attack Al Mohler unjustly, they further that.

    I am not sure what is amazing about my charge against KJVO. When you study the historical doctrine of inspiration, it has no resemblance to the doctrine of the KJVO. I am not sure that’s even debatable.

    And the word “as” does not mean “same as.” They believe in inspiration, as do liberals. In other words they both believe in inspiration. That doesn’t mean they believe the same thing about inspiration. The point is that while both believe in inspiration, both believe different things about inspiration, and neither believes what the Bible teaches and demonstrates.

    As for revivalistic, I don’t mean giving invitation or singing Crosby or Sankey (though there are some of those we could do without). I am speaking of the manipulative techniques, the second blessing theology, and the like.

  19. Larry,

    I was thinking you were the same years as I, in which case, House on the Sand came out in 1985, two years before I started. Doesn’t really matter, though, I guess.

    In regards to the comment that “my guess is that most SBC churches were not liberal”, I would agree – and I am pretty sure Beale would agree as well, since part of his point was that there were plenty of Bible-believers in the churches that were unwittingly supporting the liberals in the colleges and seminaries and (to a lesser degree) the IMB through the CP.

    However, while there were many churches within the SBC that were not liberals, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t different from the IFBs of the day. For one thing, many (most?) of the SBCs of the day would have no problem supporting Graham (for example) and the rest of the NE philosophy.

    The thing that I was trying to point out with House on the Sand, etc., was that it is unfair to present that as an “us” vs. “them” thing as you did in this comment: “I know I was taught growing up that the SBC was bad. Why? I didn’t know, but they were “them” and we stay away from “them” because they are not “us” and we have the truth.”

    When a whole book was published that documented example after example of the problems within the SBC, I don’t think it is fair to present it as an “us” vs. “them” thing. Perhaps when you were in high school you did not pick up on the reasons and thought of it as “us” vs. “them”, but, if so, I don’t believe it is because reasons were not given, but perhaps because you did not pick up on the reasons. (Of course, how many of us pick up on those types of things in high school? I’m not sure I would have done so.)

    As far as the Al Mohler = liberal comment, I have not heard that, but there could surely be people who 1) speak ignorantly or 2) speak non-precisely and are meaning “liberal” in the sense of “to the left of me” instead of “liberal” in the sense of “theologically aberrant.” However, I can’t imagine hearing the claim of AM = liberal from any theological leaders of the movement or thoughtful pastor.

    When you say, “Part of the problem is that we (then and now) draw lines (us vs. them) but sometimes do not say clearly why the lines are drawn. So you end up with lines without explanation (which is what I was referring to).” I partially agree with you. There are times when the issues have not been as clearly articulated as they should. However (as it seems you demonstrate with your comments regarding the SBC in the mid-to-late 1980s), there are also times when the explanation has been given, but people were not/are not listening to the explanation – or assume the explanation has not been given because it was not given in the context where they were listening, even though it had been given in plenty of other contexts.

    Just my thoughts,

    Frank

  20. David Barnhart says:

    Don,

    The issue with the “nutbars,” as you call them, is not that they haven’t separated from mainstream fundamentalism themselves, but that they have not, by and large, been clearly repudiated by mainstream fundamentalism. It’s almost as if they are a rich ancestor that has lost so much of their mental faculties they should be in a nursing home, but we are afraid to do anything to them because we might somehow “lose our inheritance.”

    Even brothers can be noted and avoided that they may be ashamed, and fundamentalism should clearly do this with the extremists, just as they do with the NEs. Not dealing with the extremists on the right absolutely contributes to the young people then not believing what is said about those on the near left, especially when what they hear from them is much sounder doctrinally than the preaching they hear from those on the right that are tacitly accepted. The fact that CE’s may be weak on separation is not seen as a problem since mainstream fundamentalism has a problem with that in its own camp.

    On the SBC, I also didn’t hear much about them other than “SBC bad” with a couple extra points added in like “compromisers” or “supports Graham.” It may, as Larry said, just have something to do with which segment of fundamentalism one was a part of. Of course, the mentioned book also did not come out until I had graduated from college, and I don’t recall hearing it ever mentioned from the pulpits of any of the churches I attended after that point. If one is not a seminary student or a pastor, much of what one hears is the very briefest overview of a topic like the SBC.

    The advent of the internet has made it much easier for the average church-goer (like myself) to research these topics without making trips to seminaries or colleges to obtain works they may not even have known existed, so where some of this was glossed-over from pulpits before, pastors can’t assume that that will suffice today.

  21. Don,

    It’s your blog, so you’re free to limit comments however you see fit. But, I don’t feel that Schapp/Vaughn and Dever were not part of the original post:

    ” * Should fundamentalism take some steps to draw a line over the versions issue?
    * If yes, how tightly should that line be drawn?
    * Does a ‘kinda, sorta’ acceptance of secondary separation by Phil Johnson constitute sufficient change on the part of Conservative Evangelicals to warrant ministry cooperation at any level?
    * Does Phil Johnson speak for every conservative evangelical? Can we say that Phil’s acceptance of some form of secondary separation means that Mark Dever, for example, holds the same views and thus validates ministry cooperation with him?”

    Thus, the issues I brought up are merely examples of the first two bullet points (i.e., drawing a line on the versions issue and how tightly it should be drawn.) And Dever not only came up in your comments, but is also the person at the conference these quotes have been taken from, and you are questioning the validity of cooperation with him (IOW, I didn’t bring him up…you did :) )

    If one thinks that the line should not be drawn that tightly on the version issue (arguably an issue of orthodoxy) but should be drawn that tightly regarding secondary separation (arguably a position of wisdom/discernment; at best a secondary issue like baptism), that seems like an issue to me. Thus, the examples I brought up.

    However, since you feel that these things are not relevant, I’ll be bowing out. I just wanted to explain why I brought them up and felt there were extremely relevant.

  22. Larry says:

    Thanks Frank for the gracious exchange,

    I think I got *House on the Sand* during Bible conference my sophomore year of college which was 88-89, so it was a few years after it was published. I think we were the same class. But remember, I grew up in that milieu. I think certain things that were known and assumed by those “in the know” were not passed down, at least clearly. And I am telling you I grew up with the idea that the SBC was bad and the IFBs were good. I will be perfectly willing to admit that I perhaps (probably) missed something. But most people do.

    Which leads to the issue you and Don are bringing up is a key one when you talk about no knowledgeable person or leader saying certain things. The point is not that the leaders were saying it, but that it was a sentiment that existed and was passed down. That’s why you have people today who say AM is a liberal. That didn’t come from nowhere. It came out of a milieu where SBC was bad because they were “them” (regardless of what reasons we had for them being them).

    And BTW, the kind of stuff that is being said in these days about leaders both in fundamentalism and evangelicalism reminds us that absurdities, misdirections, and flat out falsehoods abound apparently without pang of conscience on the part of some. I don’t think that has changed all that much, unfortunately.

    With respect to individual SBC churches, you say many or most would have supported Graham or the NE philosophy. How do you know that? I don’t know that. I don’t have any idea. You may be right, but how do you know? Are you just guessing?

    I think that contributes to the problem. We make blanket statements about “them” without any proof or support (that I know of). And then that gets passed around as fact and it gets repeated second, third, and fourth hand, and before you know it, Al Mohler is a liberal.

    The very way you frame it, that such “doesn’t mean they weren’t different from IFBs” because of alleged support of Graham and NE presents an “us vs. them” dichotomy, and I am not sure that dichotomy bears itself out as plainly as some might think it does. Again, I don’t know and I am not sure that it matters.

    In this same vein, Don has objected pretty strongly here to the idea of a silent majority. On what basis does he object though? They were silent so he really has no idea what they actually believed or practiced, and so far as I know there is no study that speaks for silent people.

    My point is that I think we need to cautious about the “us vs them” stuff, if for no other reason that a bunch of “us” have very little in common with me.

    We are probably a bit far afield here, perhaps.

    Maybe my participation can be summed up or concluded by this: We need to take separation more seriously than many do on both sides.

    (1) We should not separate unnecessarily (sometimes simple silence is sufficient), and should not be untruthful or misleading in our quest for supposed purity (whether or the church or the gospel that forms the church). Separation is not the chance for me to impose my conscience about Romans 16 or 2 thess 3 on everybody in Christendom and call them disobedient because they do it differently.

    (2) We should be willing to speak out about “us” just as freely and strongly as we do about “them.” People should not get a pass on doctrine or practice simply because they separate from the same people we do.

    Thanks again

    P.S. One other thing … I would not assume that everyone knew of the things in *House on the Sand.*

    • Thanks to Dave, Ed, and Larry for their last three comments. You all raise some interesting points. I’d like to address them in more detail, in addition to responding more thoroughly to an earlier comment of Larry’s. So I plan to write a new post, hopefully tonight. I have a little painting job here in our house to attend to and then we are out for an evening of fellowship in the home of a good KJO friend. (That’s really true, I’m not just kidding.) So hopefully you will see a lengthier response tomorrow.

      @Ed,

      I appreciate your comments and understand what you are saying. To me Schaap is an irrelevancy to the whole point under discussion here, I really didn’t have him in view in my bullet points at all. And, frankly, I thought your earlier comments sounded like “drive-by sniping”, just trying to score points and not really add to the discussion substantively. So maybe my reaction was incorrect. In any case, this latest post is just what I am after here. I want contrarian views to be expressed with some kind of rationale behind them. I am sure you can find examples of me posting quick snappy answers on various sites across the blogosphere, but I am trying to cultivate a better standard for myself and really do want good discussion here at oxgoad.

      @Larry

      I took the liberty of adding your little additional post as a P.S. to your longer one. I hope that is OK with you.

      @All

      Thanks for your participation, if anyone cares to continue to post on this thread, feel free. I will try to get any comments approved later this afternoon, it is just that I will have to take some time to compose a substantive reply.

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  23. Larry,

    Thank you for your helpful interaction here. I appreciate it.

    I recognize that while both of us spent a substantial time at BJ (you much more so than I), that I am sure our experiences regarding a number of things in and around Fundamentalism were surely from different worlds. For one thing, I was not raised in a Christian home and did not come to Christ until my Freshman year of high school and did not really start growing and paying attention until around my junior year.

    I guess why I remember the SBC issues being presented much more substantially than “us” vs. “them” may be because it was something I was dealing with at the time – and therefore I may have been more alert to the reasons given rather than just taking what was being said as “SBC = bad” idea. My parents had moved during my freshman year at BJ and the church they started attending was an SBC church across the street from where they lived in Colorado. This led to some significant discussions about the SBC, including the devouring of the aforementioned book, talking with some of the profs at school, doing some research on my own, the giving of the book to my parents for them to read, extended conversations about the issue in the home when I was home for breaks from school, etc.

    Having said that, I would imagine there are probably plenty of times when we don’t care about an issue that we simply categorize it as simply “bad” or “good”, without caring much about the reasons until the issue becomes a concern to us.

    In regards to a sentiment being passed down – even erroneously – I agree that this happens. However, the reality is that people often pick up (or fail to pick up) things in a faulty manner no matter how clearly they are explained. I believe the issue with Dr. Bauder and the “fishwrap of record” illustrates that point. It is not fair to blame Dr. Bauder just because some people are uncritical and stupid listeners/readers. I am not sure how this could ever be truly stopped.

    If a leader says “Here are some concerns about the SBC that I believe warrant separation”, there are going to be some who accept it and some who reject it uncritically – the strength of the argument is not going to matter for people like this. I don’t think we can blame the leader for that, however.

    You ask: “With respect to individual SBC churches, you say many or most would have supported Graham or the NE philosophy. How do you know that? I don’t know that. I don’t have any idea. You may be right, but how do you know? Are you just guessing?”

    That is a good question. I would say that there is a sense in which I am guessing, although I believe it is a pretty educated and defensible guess. In addition to my personal connections (e.g., my parents’ church in Colorado, my uncle who is an SBC pastor, and my cousin who leads one of the state associations and was actively involved in another state association before moving to that one), I think the fact that he is a member of the SBC and has been repeatedly honored by the SBC (with chairs at Samford and SBTS) and the fact that even in this day in which there is more discernment among some evangelicals regarding his ministry (as seen in Murray’s book, Evangelical Divided) he was still honored with a large statue at the 2006 SBC Annual Convention (http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=23478) would seem to support my assertion that “many” SBC churches support him. I would not be able to substantiate “most”, but that is why I put a question mark by it :).

    You comment: “I think that contributes to the problem. We make blanket statements about “them” without any proof or support (that I know of). And then that gets passed around as fact and it gets repeated second, third, and fourth hand, and before you know it, Al Mohler is a liberal.”

    My first thought of this was “Wow – I thought it was only the radicals who used the slippery slope argument :) ” On a serious note, however, there is a significant difference between making an informed and reasonable statement (e.g. many/most? SBC churches supported Graham) and making an unreasonable blanket statement such as AM = liberal.

    In regards to the framing things as “us v. them” in the next paragraph, I will remind you that I was not the one framing, I was just putting the picture in the frame you provided when you commented, “On top of that, my guess is that most SBC churches were not liberal. In fact, they were probably largely indistinguishable from IFB churches aside from the three letters.” This provided a context of comparing the two, all I did was use this context and evaluate the comparison.

    Finally (I hope),

    I agree pretty well with much of your concluding comments:

    “My point is that I think we need to cautious about the “us vs them” stuff, if for no other reason that a bunch of “us” have very little in common with me.

    We are probably a bit far afield here, perhaps.

    Maybe my participation can be summed up or concluded by this: We need to take separation more seriously than many do on both sides.

    (1) We should not separate unnecessarily (sometimes simple silence is sufficient), and should not be untruthful or misleading in our quest for supposed purity (whether or the church or the gospel that forms the church). Separation is not the chance for me to impose my conscience about Romans 16 or 2 thess 3 on everybody in Christendom and call them disobedient because they do it differently.

    (2) We should be willing to speak out about “us” just as freely and strongly as we do about “them.” People should not get a pass on doctrine or practice simply because they separate from the same people we do.”

    I would make a caveat, however, that I don’t really see a lot of people making a case for separation based on “they are one of us” vs. “they are one of them.” While it may not be a complete straw man, I can’t say I have seen much (any?) of it.

    Thanks again for the interesting and gentlemanly conversation.

    In Christ,

    Frank

  24. d4v34x says:

    “Are you saying the KJO guys aren’t saved? You seem to be elevating this doctrine to the level of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy. When you say they they deny what the Bible teaches about itself, and therefore have denied a fundamental of the faith, are you saying that it is essential to believe in inspiration in order to be saved? Is that what you are saying? Are you equating the KJO error with a denial of miracles or a denial of the deity of Christ?”

    Wow Don,

    Sounds like you’re saying here that we don’t draw a sharp line unless 1) The people aren’t saved. 2) The doctrine is not at the level of those involved in the fundamentalist/modernist controversy. 3) The doctrine is one you must accept in order to be saved.

    Sounds like Bauder/Dever/Doran type Gospel-driven separation to me.

    Is separation something you have to believe in to be saved? Is it a fundamental?

    • Hi Dave,

      Well, no, separation is not a fundamental in the sense that you are describing it, but it is part of the essence of Christianity in that all Christians separate from error at some level. The most left leaning evangelical will make some distinction between himself and the unsaved world at some point (those who don’t can’t really claim the category).

      But I asked the question because Larry seemed to imply that the KJO view put people outside the faith, or at least as bad as modernists. My asking the question should not be interpreted to me that is what I think. I’m a little amazed at what people read into questions!

      Maranatha!
      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

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