Kevin Bauder critiques my recent post “Response to Tyler Robbins” beginning this way:

In Pastor Don Johnson’s description of “Convergent” evangelicals, the first item is “Anti-separatism (or at least non-separatism).” This descriptor is so vague as to be nearly incomprehensible, and to the degree that it can be comprehended it is misleading. To know what Pastor Johnson means by “anti-separatism,” we would first have to know exactly what he means by separatism. Presumably he is thinking in terms of some version of ecclesiastical separation, though exactly what his theory of ecclesiastical separation is, I have never quite been able to understand. At any rate, assuming that he is accusing “Convergents” of rejecting (or at least not implementing) ecclesiastical separation, the accusation is terribly unfair.

Even the Neoevangelicals were not completely anti-separatistic. They never argued for engaging in Christian fellowship with Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, Jainists, Sikhs, Bahaists, Theosophists, Spiritists, Atheists, Satanists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Millennial Dawnists, or Mormons. They clearly understood that no Christian fellowship was possible with adherents of these gospel-denying systems.

It is true that I did not define what I meant by anti-separatist, but I think brother Bauder is well aware of what I mean by separatism as he goes on to describe it later in his post. I think his opening, however, is an odd attempt to muddy the waters as he argues that the New Evangelicals were somehow still a kind of separatist. If everyone is a separatist, no one is a separatist. Clearly the New Evangelicals were not for separation from theological liberalism, rather they sought to infiltrate and cooperate with liberalism for various ends, some of which Bauder lists in his post.

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is a modalist a Christian?

First, what is modalism?

Modalism maintains that there is one God who manifests Himself successively as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but who is not contemporaneously all three. [Believer’s Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), Glossary.]

The ESV Study Bible expands on this with this paragraph:

One of the most fundamental ways to misunderstand the Trinity is tritheism, which overemphasizes the distinction between the persons of the Trinity and ends up with three gods. This view neglects the oneness of the natures of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the other end of the spectrum is the heresy of modalism (also known as Sabellianism, named after its earliest proponent, Sabellius, 3rd century), which loses the distinctions between the persons and claims that God is only one person. In this view, the appearance of the three persons is merely three modes of existence of the one God. For instance, God reveals himself as Father when he is creating and giving the law, as Son in redemption, and as Spirit in the church age. A contemporary version of modalism is found in the teaching of Oneness Pentecostalism. [Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2514-15.]

Sabellius, the man usually credited as the earliest proponent of the view was excommunicated by the Bishop of Alexandria in 260 or 261. The Sabellians appealed to Rome (the church in Rome played an early leading role, but there was as yet no papacy). In 262, the Bishop of Rome held a council and condemned Sabellius and his modalism along with tri-theism and subordinationism (an early variant of what would become Arianism).

False doctrines like modalism were condemned by the church in the third and fourth centuries. That settles the question, right?

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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:

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kjo = neo-e?

One of my friends posted a link on Facebook to the latest ‘Nick of Time’ article at Central Seminary. I replied that I agreed with the main thrust of the article, but disagreed with a certain paragraph… Well, I discovered that Facebook isn’t a good place for controversy! (I am not sure exactly what Facebook is good for… that’ll be another blog, however…)

In re-reading the article, I think I am a little less enthusiastic about it than I was at initial reading. But on the positive side, let me say that I agree that the King James Only movement is a serious problem, one that hasn’t ever been properly addressed in fundamentalism.

Some of my friends hold that the King James Version is the best version to use for study and preaching. Some might even hold that it is the only version that should be used. But when someone holding those views decides to brand anyone who holds a different view as an heretic or a ‘person of interest’ for the crime of false teaching, well… that is going too far. Such views will inevitably lead to a breach of fellowship. And, I believe, ‘Onlyist’ views of this sort are heretical in themselves, that is, they are an unwarranted and unbiblical source of divisions that ought not to be.

So I agree that the ‘Onlyist’ views are a serious problem, demanding serious rebuke. To the extent that this essay does that, I agree entirely.

However, there are a couple of areas in the essay where I have disagreement.

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should early Fundamentalism have embraced the flappers?

One could come to that conclusion by reading Kevin Bauder’s latest. He is continuing his unproven thesis:

My thesis has been that the early Fundamentalist movement was deeply influenced by Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism.

And is now asserting:

Because of these three influences, the Fundamentalist movement was never dedicated purely to defending the faith. To some extent, its defense of the faith always presumed and included a defense of the ideals of Common Sense, populism, and sentimentalism.

As evidence he cites the example of Billy Sunday, who, he says, was defending Victorianism as over against the ‘flapper’ lifestyle of the Jazz Age. If this defense of culture is truly a characteristic of Fundamentalism, should Fundamentalism instead have embraced the Jazz Age culture?

I don’t think that is where Bauder would want to go, but would such a conclusion be out of place, given his arguments?

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cart before the horse [2]

In light of comments to the first edition of this article, I have decided to rewrite what I wrote. My original article including the comments can be found here. After reviewing my earlier article, I find that, as is often the case, I am too reactionary and too sarcastic. Hopefully this effort will prove to be at least less sarcastic.

In Kevin Bauder’s ongoing series purporting to retell the story of fundamentalism, he makes two charges against Fundamentalism, one that Fundamentalism settles for an abbreviated form of Christianity and the other that Fundamentalism is guilty of adding elements that are not necessary to Christianity.

The charges are stated thus:

On one hand, as an actual, historical movement, Fundamentalism has often tended to settle for an abbreviated form of Christianity. Though clear exceptions exist, it has often sacrificed doctrinal breadth and detail. On the other hand, Fundamentalism has also tended to add elements that are not necessary to any form of biblical Christianity. Over the next few essays, I wish to explore three of these additions: Common Sense Realism, populism, and sentimentalism.

This paragraph is the premise for the article that follows dealing with the philosophy of Scottish Common Sense Realism and the next article  which focuses on populism. We will shortly see an article about sentimentalism (presumably).

The way this premise is stated, it appears that these flaws are intrinsic to Fundamentalism. They are stated as if they are uniquely Fundamentalist problems and as if they are major stumbling blocks to Fundamentalist success.

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my take on the hissy fit

I have been watching the current conflagration in the Fundamentalist blogosphere over the last five days with utter astonishment. The rapid developments in this issue give cause for concern. One hopes that sober minds will think long and hard about how to deal with the it.

The brouhaha ensued with a May 13 post by Bob Bixby calling attention to a sermon preached by Pastor Danny Sweatt at the Southeast Regional FBF meeting held at The Wilds. The sermon was about bro. Sweatt’s concerns for the state of fundamentalism and his perception of some of the causes. Apparently he believes that the rise of Calvinism especially among the younger set is at least partly to blame for the problems. He made remarks that were critical of Calvinism. I am not going to evaluate the merits of those remarks at this point, the point is, criticisms were made.

Bob and another blogger are often quick to react to any criticism of Calvinism by Fundamentalist preachers, especially those considered to be in prominent positions of leadership in the FBF/BJU/Maranatha et al wing of fundamentalism (what a mouthful!). As evidence, see Bob’s jibe at Chuck Phelps in the same post linked above and read back through Also look through posts at Paleoevangelical, the other blogger I mention.

For these commentators, it seems that one is not allowed to say anything against Calvinism. They might protest that they only want Calvinism to be fairly represented and that it was misrepresented by Danny Sweatt, hence the heat. Well. Check their attacks on Chuck Phelps. Chuck hasn’t ever misrepresented Calvinism to my knowledge — he has only stated his opinion of it in a rather understated way. The two points he gets criticism for is his message at last year’s national FBF meeting and a comment in a promotional piece where he spoke of “uniquely perilous times” which seemed to imply that he felt Calvinism to be one of the perils. He immediately received a barrage of e-mails and questioning over the “uniquely precarious” comment. For evidence of that, see Maranatha’s sermons online and listen to the chapel sessions entitled “Ask the President”. There are two parts, I don’t recall in which part these comments occurred. I think both are well worth the listen, so you won’t be bored (at least I wasn’t) while you wait for those comments.

So I would like to point out that these kinds of attacks and this defensiveness over Calvinisim is not merely due to misrepresentations of same. [Read more…]

is fellowship the same as unity

We are in a series of posts which serve as commentary on Kevin Bauder’s tenth lecture on the subject of Biblical Separation, delivered at International Baptist College September 15-17, 2008. This is post number 7. Earlier posts on the lecture series can be found here:

Posts specifically regarding Lecture 10:

  1. is separation a fundamental doctrine
  2. indifferentists defined
  3. not indifferent, but not allies
  4. how should we proceed
  5. the danger of theological drift
  6. NE is dead, long live NE

In concluding this series, I am first going to discuss one remaining point of philosophical difference that may or may not be important. After that discussion, I’d like to add a few summary thoughts.


I have no clips to play for you for this post. I am just going to quote a statement made frequently throughout the lecture series, almost as a defining mantra:

“Unity is a function of that which unites; fellowship is a function of that which is held in common.”

Are unity and fellowship really synonymous terms, as the statement (and much of the lecture series) implies?

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NE is dead, long live NE

We are in a series of posts which serve as commentary on Kevin Bauder’s tenth lecture on the subject of Biblical Separation, delivered at International Baptist College September 15-17, 2008. This is post number 6. Earlier posts on the lecture series can be found here:

Posts specifically regarding Lecture 10:

  1. is separation a fundamental doctrine
  2. indifferentists defined
  3. not indifferent, but not allies
  4. how should we proceed
  5. the danger of theological drift

My last two posts (including this one) concern what may seem to be niggling points of difference.These differences are perhaps minor — only semantics? Nevertheless, they seem significant enough to me. They reflect what may well be deeper philosophical differences between the Dr. and me. Since Bauder holds the position he holds, and carries the amount of influence he does, his philosophy has the potential to have a fairly wide impact on the fundamentalist world at large. So the differences that may seem niggling may in fact speak to very serious issues concerning the future of fundamentalism. [Read more…]

update to article 3

I just want to highlight an update to the third article in my current series. I added a link to the article not indifferent, but not allies in this paragraph:

The next clip, [36:38] New Evangelicalism is Evangelicalism is Indifferentism, describes this equation: Old New Evangelicalism = Mainstream Evangelicals = Indifferentists. The mainstream Evangelical institutions are unable to break their ties with some who are apostates. Bauder cites the Evangelical Theological Society, for example, who are unable to oust the Open Theists, essentially because of Indifferentism. (It is interesting to hear him cite this example when Fundamentalists continue to hold memberships and publish papers in the ETS. But that is another post!) In this clip, Bauder is asserting that Indifferentism has become the Evangelical mainstream.

It is worth thinking about, this connection of Fundamentalists with the ETS. Is this kind of activity a step forward for Fundamentalism? I don’t think it affects the average pastor, who may be barely aware of the ETS and what goes on there.

But how does this affect the next generation of Fundamentalist (hopefully) pastors in training under the leadership of these professors? Surely they are aware that their professor is away at ETS. Surely they are aware that he is publishing a paper.

What are they to think?

What are they to think especially when their seminary president identifies the ETS as an Indifferentist (New Evangelical) institution?

Are we supposed to now be Indifferent to Indifferentists?