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Archive for the ‘Denominations’ Category

I have had the privilege of meeting John Henderson in the Concerned Nazarenes Facebook Group. This Group is primarily concerned about the invasion of postmodern heresies into the Church of the Nazarene denomination. But the Group is also  working for the revival of born again, biblically sound, “fundamentalist” Wesleyan Holiness. Following is a repost of John’s combined articles on Entire Sanctification, originally posted here.

I am in the process of adding links to John’s articles below, as well as emphasizing certain points by bolding, and inserting comments in [brackets].

Combined Articles on Entire Sanctification
By John Henderson

The following are articles and portions of articles I have posted recently on Concerned Nazarenes. Since a discussion has arisen about it, I thought it proper to repost this information.

Scriptural Holiness

There has been a neglect of Scriptural holiness in a general sense throughout the Wesleyan holiness movement. The drift has been going on for some time as revealed by the now well-known message of Dr. Keith Drury of the Wesleyan Church, “The Holiness Movement is Dead!” It was a message that alarmed and challenged those of us in attendance at that Presidential Breakfast of the Christian Holiness Association in 1995 at First Church of the Nazarene in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a message that completely redirected my perception and determination of what I already instinctively knew was happening.

Dr. Millard Reed, Trevecca Nazarene College’s new president, was to be the next speaker in a late morning service. He went to his home nearby and completely re-wrote his message to supplement what Drury had just presented in order to show the possibilities of holiness renewal. It was a perfect supplement. With the disease of a dead holiness movement now fully exposed and the possibilities of recovery encouraged, I felt compelled to try to do something about it in some way. What could a powerless, uninfluential aging nobody do? That was my starting point.

We continued the slide as bemoaned by Dr. Drury some ten years later when he observed that, although there was an initial response that day that seemed positive and enthusiastic, nothing was actually done over that period to raise us from the deathbed of the movement.

As we are in 2014, almost another 15 years later, we see that not only have we remained dead and the corpse is now rotted, but the skeleton has been bleached and re-fleshed in the progressive new age apparel of mysticism and doctrines of demons. Even John Wesley has been morphed into the postmodern mold to the point that Scriptural holiness is counterfeited in a fabricated frame of reference, thus becoming a false doctrine itself. They have become words without substance and void of life. What could be worse than neglected holiness? Could it be hypocritical holiness or counterfeited holiness?

Drury predicted that if the heirs of the Scriptural holiness movement did not turn it around, God would seek out other venues and other people. I think He is doing just that at this point in time because the caretakers of the holiness movement have abandoned it and gone over to the enemy, even opposing in deed and word the very truth of the matter. In the very midst of “holiness apostasy” (my term), God is, at this very moment, raising up the dry bones, as it were, to once again become His mighty army of Scriptural holiness.

Although Scriptural holiness is defined in doctrinal statements and exegetical teachings, it is more than how we define and explain it. It is the very heart of the victorious Christian life and a necessity for all believers who would follow their Lord in total commitment.

Scriptural holiness is just that—Scriptural—and it transcends all philosophical and theological expositions of it. If it is only of the head, that is not enough! It must be more and also be of the beating heart of the soul. It is the epitome of Christ in us, the hope of glory. It is His life in us on the highest plane of spiritual living through the fullness of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying grace, a grace that is first instantaneous and then progressive throughout a life of obedience to the will of God. It is the sanctified believer following Christ, walking as He walked; walking with Him. It is being made pure as He is pure, righteous as He is righteous, and, yes, perfect as He is perfect. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). Being in this world we are not of this world!

Consider this comparison. Adam was created as a perfect man. That was God’s design for the human race. He was to multiply and replenish the earth with his kind. Instead, Adam sinned and sin came upon his descendants. He then reproduced fallen humanity with a carnal nature—a deformity of the creation of God.

Jesus reverses that on a higher level. He saves from sin, then sanctifies us wholly through the fullness of the Spirit (baptism of the Spirit), thus returning us to what John Wesley correctly calls Christian perfection. Just as Adam was able at all times to obey or disobey, so is the sanctified believer. I should hasten to remind us that Adamic perfection and Christian perfection are not the same. Adam’s was perfection by creation and the sanctified Christian’s is made perfect (a spiritual sense of perfection) by grace through faith. Both are tempted to sin but both needed not yield to temptation. Both were granted the gift of free-will. Adam failed. We need not! The sanctified can still sin but are not under bondage to sin. Any sin must be forgiven.

Sin has never resided in the flesh. All the affections of the “flesh” are spiritual, not bodily. It is only in the spirit of man and there it infects the human soul. The host (the mortal body) does indeed suffer because of the sins of the spirit but is not responsible for those sins.
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Scriptural Holiness, a Practical Experience

I watched a video several years ago of a camp meeting service where the evangelist was preaching on Scriptural holiness. As the cameras panned the audience and the preaching continued, I noticed two things: (1) the evangelist was “cut and dried.” Each point was like a lecture preparing you for the exam to follow; and (2) the audience was bored out of their “gourd”.
Scriptural holiness is much more than a doctrinal system or a systematic outline. There is a holiness doctrine for sure because there is a dynamic reality we call by various terms but all referring to the same grace of God. The terms are generally interchangeable, usually describing some comprehensible aspect of Scriptural holiness. Even Scriptural holiness is one of the terms. Some will parse the words, but they actually are so interchangeable as make that unnecessary. A Scottish educator of the mid-20th century, Stanley Banks, provides some of the thoughts for this article. Aside from Scripture quotes, direct quotes will be his comments.

Banks’ use of concise concepts proves very useful for our purposes here. Recognizing that it is possible to so mishandle the loftiest statements in the Scriptures on holiness in such an objective and prospective manner that the actual realization of being entirely sanctified is missed, it is necessary to always be Scriptural rather than merely theological or philosophical. Philosophy and theology serve the Scriptures, and not the other way around.

The life of Christ is our example of this holy life in Christ. His life is our pattern for living in holiness. We are to be Christlike, not analogous to Christ. It is His nature in us, not something to merely mimic. A Christian is neither almost saved nor almost sanctified. It is always complete salvation and entire sanctification.

We should understand that there is “a sin that dwelleth in me,” as Paul says it. “It is something distinct from the acts of sin, and is related to those acts as is cause to effect.” Banks says it is the “infection of nature” that remains in the regenerated.

Romans chapters 6-8 provide several descriptions of the same nature: the old man (hereditary evil); the body of sin (accumulated evil); inward enmity (hostility to God); the law of sin (downward drag); and the inward moral corruption (carnality from the fall of Adam). It is the “germ of sin that has caused all disruption and perversion in the human nature, and that causes us to be so un-Christlike, and which in its very essence is antagonistic to the operation of the Holy Spirit’s activities within us to make us Christlike.”

There is no hope of our being Christlike in the fullest sense unless God does something about this indwelling sin nature that is incurably hostile towards God. There cannot be a fight going on. Suppression only leads to eventual explosion. There has to be full surrender on our part and the “old man” must be crucified so that Christ reigns unchallenged in our hearts. It is all His work in “destroying” the old man. We cannot do a thing about it any more than we can save our own souls. It is as much an act of faith as it is of being born again, relying solely on His work in us.

This deliverance can only be enacted by God in the believer. The unredeemed are in no position to deal with the carnal nature or for God to deal with it. They are disqualified from this until they are regenerated. They are lost and need first to be saved. Once they have been saved by grace, they are in position to “go on unto perfection” as the Scriptures admonish. Thus, entire sanctification is attainable only by the born-again. This is clearly shown to be so in the prayer of Jesus in John 17 when He prayed, “sanctify them through Thy truth.” The “them” are all believers of all time, just as Jesus made it clear in John 17.

The Executor of all grace is the Holy Spirit. He brings us to salvation and He brings us to sanctification. Being born of the Spirit is a crisis of faith and being purified in our hearts is a crisis of faith. Both are instantaneous and both are definite and drastic works of grace enacted by the Holy Spirit in response to our faith. Salvation is the rescue and sanctification is the empowering. Someone once said that in salvation we have the Holy Spirit and in sanctification the Holy Spirit has us.

In sanctification we move from the realm of struggling with the sin nature as described in Romans 7 to full liberty in the fullness of the Spirit in Romans 8. We have not been paroled from carnality; we have been set fully free.

We speak of being filled with the Spirit. It is a simple thing to understand that if we are filled with the Spirit, there is nothing else there. Our having been emptied of self, He has the whole heart to Himself. The potential at salvation is made actual in sanctification. We are now empowered (His power working in us) to a life of dependence—a constant reliance on the Blood of Christ for continual cleansing and strengthening. “We must abide in the place where the precious blood goes on cleansing.” Those who really know the mind of John Wesley may recall that he once wrote Adam Clarke that “to retain the grace of God is more than to gain it” and “this should be strongly urged upon all those who have tasted perfect love.” (Perfect love was one of Wesley’s favorite terms for Scriptural holiness.)

It continues as a life of discipline and development. In full cooperation with the Holy Spirit, the sanctified person necessarily launches into a life-pattern of the discipline of body, mind, emotions, and will. Nothing is held from Him in reserve for self-indulgence. The purity of the heart develops into maturity of character and experience. The world can see the difference. They will know that we have been with Jesus. It is rightly called a mountaintop experience as compared to Moses being on Sinai with God and his face shining when he returned.

Do you want to see a real revival? This will bring it about. The world and the backsliding church are plunging headlong together into perdition and there is no rescue possible other than the faithful evangelistic drive by a sanctified Church that is committed to holiness of heart and life-style and that is followed by boldly witnessing to that world and apostate church without fear or favor.

NOTE: While it is sadly true that the holiness movement has had more than its fair share of shallow and often hypocritical “testimonies” of entire sanctification, I believe there have been much more that were genuine such as those presented in the following:
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Understanding Entire Sanctification Through Testimonies

This matter that we in the Christian community variously refer to as sanctification, being filled with the Holy Spirit, holiness; and other terms is being, in my opinion largely neglected for any number of excuses, even by those who hold to sanctification as what is often called a second work of grace.

The general concept of Christian holiness is not merely a pet doctrine of those who hold to the doctrines of Wesley or the Keswicks. There is ample evidence that it is generally accepted among evangelical Christians as an integral part of the Christian experience, however defined and taught. It is not my intentions here to delve into the doctrine all that much, if at all. That can be for another time if needful. I want to go directly to the experience of what I choose to call entire sanctification, that moment after the new birth when the believer is endued with the power of the Holy Spirit—the divine baptism of the Holy Spirit—and cleansed from the dominion of inbred sin through the crucifixion of the old man or carnal nature. I use as a guide the testimonies of several Christians in a single meeting of a day of prayer at Emmanuel Bible College in Birkenhead, Scotland Wednesday, March 6, 1946. Reporting was the college founder, J. D. Drysdale.

Important aspects involved in the testimonies speak, I think, to us today in a very significant and challenging way. Drysdale sets up the testimonies with the statement: “When one has experienced the baptism of the Holy Ghost and fire (Matt. 3:11), as I did in 1906, one can never be satisfied with formal religion, or lukewarmness in one’s own heart.”

I offer excerpts from four testimonies together in the hopes of providing a thread of what we face in our own lives in 2014. All those speaking appear to be long-term Christians. I number each speaker for clarity.

Speaker 1: “I became conscious that the old lusts and passions were beginning to take hold upon me, and were bringing me into captivity.” [This person had sought the blessing of entire sanctification several times in the past and deeply longed for holiness and purity. The person then stated:] “Suddenly the Holy Ghost fell upon me, and I felt within myself that I had been liberated from the power of indwelling sin, that the old man had received the death blow, and that, at long last, I was free within.”

Speaker 2: “For a long time I had been conscious that God had something better for me than I was experiencing . . . I wanted to plan my own life. I was in utter agony for the blessing of a clean heart.” [He (I use the editorial “he”) continued until he then said,] “I, too, cried out for deliverance from the bondage from within, and glory to God, He set me free. . . . The Word of God is alive to me now and it is easy to get through to God in prayer. Oh, how long I have been trying to reform myself but now the Lord is transforming me by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

Speaker 3: “He faithfully revealed to me that everything must be put upon the altar, then the fire fell and burned up indwelling sin.”

Speaker 4 [an especially significant testimony]: “I knew that some needed the blessing of a clean heart, but never thought that I myself needed it. I often professed to have it, and it was this old profession to which I was so tenaciously clinging that blurred my vision and kept me from acknowledging my need. And yet, how powerless I was! Many a time I longed to be free, and was often perplexed because I had no more liberty. . . . I began to pray, and tried to praise like others, but in my heart I was as dry as a stick. . . . I kept on praying for others, and even sought to help others through; but all the time, deep down in my heart, I knew there was not complete satisfaction; and as questions arose in my heart, I tried not to yield to them, and kept looking back to the time when I got the experience, in the hope that I would get peace in that way. At last, when nearly all the others had got through, the Lord broke me down. Oh, the pride of past professions! When I had opened my heart to the Lord, confessed my state and laid all on the altar, my trouble now was to claim the blessing by faith, and this I did by taking God at His word. Immediately I did so, the witness came and my heart was filed with praise.”

There were many other testimonies, each powerful and convicting. That was a great day for that Bible College. God is no different today. That blessing is for us here and now as it was in 1906 for Drysdale and 1946 for those at the college day of prayer. It is there for the receiving if we but forsake our pride and seek only Him. Know Him in His fullness first, then seek out the explanations.

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(revised 06/19/14)

I stand strongly for the King James Bible. Although technically I am Textus Receptus-King James Bible only, not King James only – there is a difference. I hold the TR-KJB only position of Bro. David Cloud; here Bro. Cloud explains his position.

Following is a brief definition of the TR-KJB only position:

I believe that the only authoritative, preserved source text of God’s Word is the Textus Receptus New Testament and the Masoretic Old Testament. In the English speaking world, the King James Bible is the TR-MT translation which I accept as authoritative. In other languages of the world, translations directly from the TR New Testament and Masoretic Old Testament are acceptable. (King James only people – i.e. followers of Peter Ruckman – believe that users of every language of the world should learn English and use the King James Bible.)

From this point on, I will use the term KJV-only since it is more common (although I prefer the term KJB-only).

In this blog, I am using the term KJV-only in a more general sense, for all English speakers who use the King James Bible exclusively. (That is, TR-KJ followers as well as KJ-only adherents.)

Concerning the KJV, in the past I have recommended a fundamentalist school which I thought was still KJV-only, namely Bob Jones University. I have since pulled my blog recommending BJU. Turns out BJU is no longer KJV-only.

And BJU is not the only fundamentalist school which has stopped exclusively using the KJV. Check out the following excerpt from Bro. Cloud, found here:

If it is wrong for Pensacola Christian College, Heritage Baptist University, Maranatha Baptist Bible College, Landmark Baptist College, Fairhaven Baptist College, the Dean Burgon Society, etc. to preach on this issue and to issue warnings, why is [sic] not also wrong for Bob Jones University, Northland, Clearwater, Detroit, the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship, etc., to preach what they believe on the issue and to issue warnings? [The first  listing, in green, still holds to the KJV; the second listing, in red, is no longer KJV-only.]

I found a more detailed discussion and listing of  BIble schools (on both sides of the KJV issue) here. I am providing a lengthy excerpt below:

1 Access the web-sites below (the ones available) that were selected in alphabetical order (there are many more…) in the USA. They are Seminaries and Bible Colleges which are faithful to the King James Bible: Some, also, have courses by correspondence (see “Independent Baptist Bible College” and “Internet Bible Institute” below). Note the absence of the schools recognized by Regular Baptists, for the ones officially approved by GARBC have already slipped into apostasy about the issue of bibliology. It is more than proved that is the first step to fall into Neo-Evangelicalism, being only a matter of time the fall into total apostasy. These heresies begin inside the Unfaithful Seminaries and Colleges, for when they fly with their own wings, connected with the denominational machine, they become the source of heresies, apostasies that destroy fundamentalism. Notice, therefore, in alphabetical order, only 18 schools below, which represent the faithful remnant (there are more…):

BIBLE BAPTIST INSTITUTE 1618 Womrath Street, Philadelphia, PA 19124. (215) 288 5667
Pr. Victor M. Rivera / Pr. David Peterman, Sr., Director.

BLESSED HOPE BAPTIST COLLEGE 5386 Hwy. 67 South, Benton, Arkansas 72015, voice: 501 – 315 5005 Dr. Ken Graham

CAROLINA BAPTIST COLLEGE 116 S. Franklin St., Reidsville, NC 27320. (336) 634 1345
Dr. Jerry L. Carter, Pastor and President.

CROWN COLLEGE OF THE BIBLE 1700 Beaver Creek Drive, Powell, TN 37849. http://www.go4thecrown.com (web site). Dr. Clarence Sexton, President.

EMMANUEL BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY Emmanuel Baptist Church, 296 New Britain Ave., Newington, CT 06111. 860-666-1055 (voice), 860-666-0146 (fax), http://www.emmanuel-newington.org (web site). Dr. J. Michael Bates, Pastor/President; Dr. Thomas Strouse, Dean.

FAIRHAVEN BAPTIST COLLEGE Fairhaven Baptist Church, 86 E. Oak Hill Road, Chesterton, IN 46304. 800-733-3422, 219-926-6636 (voice), 219-926-1111 (fax), http://www.fairhavenbaptist.org (web site), Fairhaven@CleanInter.net (e-mail). Roger Voegtlin, Pastor/President.

FAITH BAPTIST BIBLE COLLEGE Faith Baptist Church, Rt. 1 Box 464, Horsecreek Rd., Seneca, PA 16346. 814-677-5172 (voice), http://www.csonline.net/fbbc (web site), fbbc@csonline.net (e-mail). Larry Williams, Pastor/President.

FAITHWAY BAPTIST COLLEGE OF CANADA Faithway Baptist Church, 1964 Salem Rd., Ajax, Ontario L1S 4S7. 905-686-0951 (voice), 905-686-1450 (fax), faithway@faithway.org (e-mail), http://www.faithway.org (web site). Gregory Baker, Pastor and President. Extension graduate studies available.

FELLOWSHIP BAPTIST COLLEGE 1150 SR 144, Mooresville, Indiana 46158. voice: (317) 834 2170
Dr. Everett Barnard, President.

FOUNDATIONS BIBLE COLLEGE PO Box 1166, Dunn, NC 28335-1166. Phone (910) 892-8761, web site http://www.foundations.edu. Dr. H. T. Spence, President.

GULF COAST BIBLE INSTITUTE Post Office Box 1451, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32549
Dr. M. H. Tabb, President and Founder.

HERITAGE BAPTIST UNIVERSITY AND SEMINARY 1301 W. County Line Rd., Greenwood, IN 46142. 317-882-2327 (voice), russjr2@hotmail.com (e-mail). Russell Dennis Jr., President.

INDEPENDENT BAPTIST BIBLE COLLEGE Independent Baptist Church, 9255 Piscataway Rd., P.O. Box 206, Clinton, MD 20735. 301-856-1616 (voice) Pastor Mike Creed. Extension training via the Internet.

INTERNET BIBLE INSTITUTE Mainville Baptist Church, 57 E. Foster-Maineville Rd., Maineville, OH 45039. drsteve@iglou.com (e-mail), http://www.biblebelievers.com/MBC1.html (web site). Pastor Steve Hammon. A two-year extension program.

LANDMARK BAPTIST COLLEGE AND SEMINARY Landmark Baptist Church, 2222 East Hinson Ave., Haines City, FL 33844. 800-700-5322, 941-421-2937 (voice), 941-422-0188 (fax). http://landmarkbaptistchurch.org (web site), LBCDOS@juno.com (e-mail). Dr. Mickey Carter, Pastor/President. Extension training also available.

MARYLAND BAPTIST BIBLE COLLEGE Maranatha Baptist Church, P.O. Box 246, 4131 Old Neck Elk Road, Elkton, MD 21922. 800-226-0869 (voice), 410-398-6667 (voice), http://www.findchurch.com/maranathabc/marylandbc.htm (web site). Dr. Allen Dickerson, Pastor. Dr. Robert Hitchens, President. Extension courses available.

PENSACOLA CHRISTIAN COLLEGE AND SEMINARY 25 Brent Lane, Box 18000, Pensacola, FL 32523-9160. 877-787-4723 (voice), 850-479-6548 (fax), 850-478-8496 (voice), pts-grad@pcci.edu (e-mail), http://www.pcci.edu/pts (web site). Arlin Horton, President. Dr. Dell Johnson, Dean of seminary.

TABERNACLE BAPTIST COLLEGE 3931 White Horse Road Greenville, SC 29611-5599 phone: (864) 269-2760, e-mail: college@tabernacleministries.org. President: W. Melvin Aiken, D.D., D.R. Ed.

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NOTE – Here are articles about  additional schools, associations and individuals I have found which still support the KJV ala the “Textus Receptus only” view:

Bible for Today’s author listing

Conservative Holiness schools and ministries – Most if not all of these are KJV/TR-only.

Far Eastern Bible College (FEBC) article defending the TR-only view

Lighthouse Trails list: “Colleges That are Not Promoting Contemplative/ Emerging and Do Not Have a Spiritual Formation Program” – Note – these may or MAY NOT be KJV/TR only. I need to go through the list and examine each school’s website.

Trinitarian Bible Society’s website
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Now back to excerpts from “the Brazilian article”:


Attention: The American Schools and Seminaries cited below, ARE NOT RECOMMENDED because adopted or changed to the heretic position ( or eclectic – doesn’t matter) in relation to the text of the Bible:

If a missionary that you know in Brazil, fundamentalist friend, doesn’t use only the Bible Almeida Corrigida e Fiel (and King James Version in English) and came from one of these schools, now you know why!

NOT RECOMMENDED:

Bob Jones University – Greenville, SC

Note: All this is also valid for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF), institution dominated by Bob Jones University.

1. They sell the corrupt Bible NASB in the University bookstore.

2. Produced a despicable book called “The Mind of Man”, conceived inside the president’s office of Bob Jones University, mocking the King James Bible, which was once defended.

3. They put in the front cover of this despicable book (making a clear advertisement), a picture of the corrupted Revised Standard Version, a scandal of Bible which copyright is owned by the apostate National Council of Churches! What a shameful disaster!

4. Bob Jones IV (son of the current president) went to study in Notre Dame, a Catholic University!

Below is what Dr. Bob Jones III forgot about his grandfather:

The following is from The Sword Scrapbook, Sword of the Lord Publishers, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1969:

“The King James Version is, after all, the best translation we have ever had. The very words of the Bible in the original languages were inspired of the Holy Ghost. That is what the Bible claims for itself; and that is what the born-again, Bible-believing Christians believe about the Bible. We are to search the Scriptures as our Lord commanded us; but, remember, there is a curse to those that add to the Word or take away from the Word. The hottest place in Hell will be reserved for these modernistic conspirators who, in a subtle, pious way, are trying to steal the faith of humble Christians in the Word of God. Remember, you do not have to be a scholar. You do not have to be a great authority on languages. You do not have to be a great literary genius. Remember this: any man who wonders if the Bible is the Word of God has not been born again. All born again Christians believe the Word and love the Word.” —

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.

[see also this article critiquing BJU]

Calvary Baptist Seminary – Lansdale, PA

Central Baptist Seminary – Plymouth, MN

Cedarville College – Cedarville, OH (fell into neo evangelicalism – they had even jazz-concert on campus!)

Clearwater Christian College – Clearwater, FL

Detroit Baptist Bible Seminary – Detroit, MI

Faith Baptist Bible College – Ankeny, IA   ( sell the corrupt NIV Bible in the College bookstore)

Maranatha Baptist Bible College – Watertown, WI

Moody Bible Institute – Chicago, Il

Northland Baptist Bible College – Dunbar, WI

Western Baptist College – Salem, OR

(fell into neo-evangelicalism: Had drums and had female students using shorts in Chapel! Maybe that’s the reason why an ABWE missionary, that promotes this institution, advertises the apostate ministry of Willow Creek and doesn’t bother with the corrupt Atualizada Bible nor the NVI.)

Wheaton College – Wheaton, Il   (fell into neo-evangelicalism since 1960’s)

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(revised 04/20/14)

For quite awhile now, I have been reading the literature (and visiting the churches) of Independent Fundamentalist Baptists (IFB). I would point out that they span an increasingly wide variety of doctrinal positions, some more biblical than others. I am especially impressed by IFB David Cloud and churches that take his positions. Some of the most obvious of these views are: holding to the King James Bible (and the Textus Receptus NT and Masoretic OT), opposing Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), etc.

However, coming from a Wesleyan Holiness background, there are some beliefs of mine which do not quite match those of IFB churches, including those in Bro. Cloud’s circle. One of these which I hold is the Arminian position of conditional eternal security. So I was fascinated when I recently came across an association/denomination called the Free Will Baptists. This is how Wikipedia begins its article on the Free Will Baptists:

Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will.

Wow! From what I’ve researched so far, this sounds like the kind of association/denomination I’d love to attend and/or join.

Some background: I left the Evangelical Friends Church International aka EFCI years ago, and have vowed I will never become an EFCI member again. Today the EFCI is continuing to back Spiritual Formation’s heretical contemplative Richard Foster, who got his start in the EFCI. Also, the EFCI continues to be heavily involved in heretical Emerging/Emergent teachings – in spite of repeated warnings.

Note – just as I am beginning to research the Free Will Baptists, I am discovering that various Free Will Baptist churches, schools and individuals (including many in high leadership positions) are drifting away from separatist fundamentalism, the KJB, etc. They, like the EFCI and many other evangelical denominations, are having more and more “itching ears” for the heresies of Spiritual Formation and the Emerging/Emergent church movements. Thus, I can only recommend Free Will Baptist churches and schools which are continuing to hold strongly to separatist fundamentalist teachings and practices. The most obvious trait I’ve found in the separatist fundamentalist churches and schools, is that they continue to hold exclusively to the KJB. Thus, in this and future blogs I write about separatist fundamentalist Free Will Baptist churches and schools, I plan to simply refer to them as KJB Free Will Baptists.

I should mention a few distinctives of the Free Will Baptists. I am very impressed with some of these distinctives; I have mixed feelings regarding others. I hope to explore Free Will Baptist doctrines in other blogs.  Following is a good summary of Free Will Baptist distinctives/differences from other denominations, found here:

Distinctive

 There are a few doctrinal positions on which Free Will Baptists hold a distinctive position, even from other groups with whom we may enjoy close fellowship and cooperation. So the question often arises, “What’s the difference between Free Will Baptists and..

Southern Baptists, Missionary Baptists, or Independent Baptists? –

 We believe the Scriptures give consistent emphasis to the responsibility every Christian has to continue to trust Christ throughout his life (Hebrews 3:6, 14, 10:23). Contrary to what some say Free Will Baptists do affirm salvation by grace through faith only, and further insist that the faith that saves is an on-going and active faith. (John 10:1-21). Further, Free Will Baptists believe that there are sufficient warnings in scripture that suggest the possibility that one may forfeit the faith (Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:29), though such a forfeiture is not probable. We do not believe that the forfeiture of the faith is easy, nor sudden, but do affirm the truth that if such state is reached, there remains no more sacrifice (Hebrews 6:6). Consequently, that person who forfeits his faith is irreversibly lost.

Nazarene, Methodist, Holiness Groups? These groups are generally called Wesleyan , the founder of which was the 19th century Methodist Evangelist, John Wesley. A key distinctive of their  theology is the teaching that a person may experience a second, definite work of grace, at which time the believer reaches a point of entire sanctification, and from that moment forward, the believer is capable of living a sinless life. We believe, on the other hand, that the Holy spirit is at work in the believer’s life to progressively mold him into the image of Christ, and that this process will not be completed until we reach eternity.

Assembly of God, Charismatic/Pentecostal Churches? We believe that the sign gifts mentioned in the historical record if the early church (the book of Acts) were used by God for the unique purpose of validating the authority of the Apostles, through whom He transmitted the Holy scriptures (I Corinthians 12-14). Do we believe that these gifts have ceased altogether? No, we do however assert that with the completion of the New Testament canon, the need for, and exercise of these sign gifts faded. We do not seek a Baptism of the Spirit sub-sequent to salvation, nor support the use of tongues or other sign gifts as evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work in the Christian life.

Presbyterian, Reformed Churches? Rather than affirming the predestination of specific individuals for grace, as the Reformed Churches do, we believe that when acted upon by the Holy Spirit, and individual as the freedom of will to accept or rejects God’s offer of salvation. We do not believe, as we are often accused, in a works oriented salvation, affirming with Paul that faith is not a work (Ephesians 2:8-9). Further, we agree that sinful man is dead in sin, that is, he is unresponsive and insensitive to the work and presence of God unless and until he is acted upon from the outside by the Holy Ghost. Once the individual has experienced this work of grace by the Holy Ghost, it is given that he should persevere in that faith until the end. We hold that whosoever will may exercise his God given freedom of the will to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and in believing, receive everlasting life. (John 3:16)

I have reposted the current (as of 02/18/13) Wikipedia article on the Free Will Baptists below. Click here for the original source of this article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding in orange, and inserted comments in [bolded orange in brackets].

Free Will Baptist

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Free Will Baptist is a denomination of churches that share a common history, name, and an acceptance of the Arminian theology of free grace, free salvation, and free will. Free Will Baptists share similar soteriological views with General Baptists, Separate Baptists and some United Baptists. Evangelism and the self government of the local church are highly valued. The denomination remains relatively small-town demographically and is especially strong in the southern United States and Midwest, although it was once also strong in New England. The National Association of Free Will Baptists reports just over 250,000 members. The National Association’s offices are located in the Nashville, Tennessee neighborhood of Antioch. The denomination operates a regionally accredited college, Welch College (formerly Free Will Baptist Bible College), in Nashville; North American and International Missions agencies; and a publishing house, Randall House Publications. Smaller groups unaffiliated with the National Association are the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, the United American Free Will Baptists (African American), and well as several local associations in the South.

Theology and practice

Free Will Baptist congregations believe the Bible is the very word of God and without error in all that it affirms. Free Will Baptist Doctrine holds to the traditional Arminian position, based on the belief in a General Atonement, that it is possible to commit apostasy, or willfully reject one’s faith. Faith is the condition for salvation, hence Free Will Baptists hold to “conditional eternal security.” An individual is “saved by faith and kept by faith.” In support of this concept, some Free Will Baptists refer to the Greek word translated “believeth” found in John 3:16 KJV. This is a continuous action verb, and can thus be read, “..that whosoever believes and continues to believe shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The concept is not of someone sinning occasionally and thus accidentally ending up “not saved,” but instead of someone “repudiating” his or her faith in Christ. [1] Thus “once saved always saved” is rejected by the denomination. Many Free Will Baptists believe that once a person has truly turned from his or her faith, it is impossible for that individual to return to Christ(Hebrews 6:4-6) and the person will have reached a point in which God will have ceased to deal with his or her heart, disabling the individual from even desiring to repent (John 6:44, Genesis 6:3,Romans 1:21,28). Thus Free Will Baptist do not believe that an individual can oscillate between being lost and saved. There exists some Christian denominations which believe that salvation can be lost and found repeatedly; Free Will Baptists do not fall into this grouping. Free Will Baptists believe that once a believer has abandoned his faith and has lost his or her salvation, there is no more hope for that person. The book of Hebrews offers many supporting verses to this concept, particularly chapters 2:1; 3:6,12-14; 4:1,11; 6:4-8,11,12 & 10:23-39 where the Apostle Paul consistently warns that one must “hold fast” till the end.

On Perseverance of the Saints from the official Treatise:

“There are strong grounds to hope that the truly regenerate will persevere unto the end, and be saved, through the power of divine grace which is pledged for their support; but their future obedience and final salvation are neither determined nor certain, since through infirmity and manifold temptations they are in danger of falling; and they ought, therefore, to watch and pray lest they make shipwreck of their faith and be lost.”

Free Will Baptists observe at least three ordinances: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Washing of the Saints’ Feet, a rite occurring among some other evangelical groups but not practiced by the majority of Baptist denominations.

Free Will Baptist congregations hold differing views on eschatology, with some holding premillennial and others amillennial views. Churches advocate (voluntary) tithing, totally abstaining from alcoholic beverages, and not working on Sunday, the “Christian Sabbath.”

Historical sketch

Free Will Baptists can be traced to General Baptists from England who settled in the American colonies in the late seventeenth century. The first Baptists, who originated with the ministry of Thomas Helwys near London in 1611, were General Baptists. That is, they believed that the atonement of Jesus Christ was “general” (for all) rather than “particular” (only for the elect). They were Arminian in doctrine.

Benjamin Laker was an English Baptist who arrived in colonial Carolina as early as 1685. Laker had been associated with Thomas Grantham, an illustrious General Baptist theologian and writer, and had signed the 1663 edition of the General Baptists’ Standard Confession of Faith. The earliest Free Will Baptists in America developed from English General Baptists in Carolina, who were dubbed “Freewillers” by their enemies and later assumed the name.

Two distinct branches of Free Will Baptists developed in America. The first and earliest was the General Baptist movement described above, known as the Palmer movement in North Carolina, from which the majority of modern-day Free Will Baptists have their origin. The later movement was the Randall movement, which arose in the late eighteenth century in New Hampshire. These two groups developed independently of each other.

The “Palmer” Line

In 1702, a disorganized group of General Baptists in Carolina wrote a request for help to the General Baptist Association in England. Though no help was forthcoming, Paul Palmer, whose wife Johanna was the stepdaughter of Benjamin Laker, would labor among these people 25 years later, founding the first “Free Will” Baptist church in Chowan, North Carolina in 1727. Palmer organized at least three churches in North Carolina.

His labors, though important, were short. Leadership would descend to Joseph Parker, William Parker, Josiah Hart, William Sojourner and others. Joseph Parker was part of the organization of the Chowan church and ministered among the Carolina churches for over 60 years. From one church in 1727, they grew to over 20 churches by 1755. After 1755, missionary labors conducted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association converted most of these churches to the Particular Baptist positions of unconditional election and limited atonement. By 1770, only 4 churches and 4 ministers remained of the General Baptist persuasion. By the end of 18th century, these churches were commonly referred to as “Free Will Baptist”, and this would later be referred to as the “Palmer” line of Free Will Baptists. The churches in the “Palmer” line organized various associations and conferences, and finally organized a General Conference in 1921. Many Baptists from Calvinistic Baptist backgrounds, primarily Separate Baptists, became Free Will Baptists in the nineteenth century.

The “Randall” Line

While the movement in the South was struggling, a new movement rose in the North through the work of Benjamin Randall (1749–1808).

Randall initially united with the Particular or Regular Baptists in 1776, but broke with them in 1779 due to their strict views on predestination. In 1780, Randall formed a “Free” or “Freewill” (Randall would combine the words “free” and “will” into a single word) Baptist church in New Durham, New Hampshire. By 1782 twelve churches had been founded, and they organized a Quarterly Meeting. In 1792 a Yearly Meeting was organized.

The “Randall” line of Freewill Baptists grew quickly. However, in 1911, the majority of the Randall Line churches (and all the denominational property) merged with the Northern Baptist Convention. Those churches that did not merge and remained Freewill Baptist joined with other Free Will Baptists in the Southwest and Midwest to organize the Cooperative General Association of Free Will Baptists in 1916.

The Union of the Lines

Fraternal relations had existed between the northern and southern Free Will Baptists, but the question of slavery, and later the Civil War, prevented any formal union until the 20th century. On November 5, 1935, representatives of the General Conference (Palmer) and the Cooperative General Association (a mixture of Randall and Palmer elements west of the Mississippi) met in Nashville, Tennessee to unite and organize the National Association of Free Will Baptists. The majority of Free Will Baptist churches organized under this umbrella, which remains the largest of the Free Will Baptist groups to this day.

Free Will Baptist Bodies

Other major Free Will Baptist groups include:

  • Original Free Will Baptist Convention – a North Carolina based body of Free Will Baptists that was organized in 1913 and initially joined the National Association of Free Will Baptists, but split from the National Association in 1961 due to some inner differences. The Convention comprised the majority of North Carolina-based Free Will Baptist churches, though a minority would split from the North Carolina state convention and maintain affiliation with the National Association. The Convention also maintains mission activity in eight countries – Philippines, Mexico, Bulgaria, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Liberia, and Guinea.
  • United American Free Will Baptist Church – the largest body of African-American Free Will Baptist churches, organized in 1901 and headquartered in Kinston, North Carolina.
  • United American Free Will Baptist Conference – a body of African-American Free Will Baptist churches that withdrew from the United American Free Will Baptist Church in 1968; headquartered in Lakeland, Florida.
  • Unaffiliated Free Will Baptist local associations – a number of local Free Will Baptist associations remain independent of the National Association, Original FWB Convention, and the two United American bodies. Researchers have identified 10 such associations, though there may be more. The unaffiliated associations of Free Will Baptists include over 300 churches with an estimated 22,000 members. They have no organization beyond the “local” level.
    • Eastern Stone (TN)
    • French Broad (NC)
    • Jack’s Creek (NC,TN) Has member churches in these states according to the 2008 Minutes of the Jack’s Creek Free Will Baptist Association
    • John-Thomas (NC,KY,WVA,VA)
    • Mt. Mitchell (NC)
    • Original Grand River (OK)
    • River Valley Association (AR)
    • Stone Association of Central Indiana (IN)
    • Toe River (NC,TN, & SC)
    • Western (NC)
    • Western Stone (TN)

Notes

  1. ^ [1].

Sources

  • A Free Will Baptist Handbook: Heritage, Beliefs, and Ministries, by J. Matthew Pinson
  • A History of Original Free Will Baptists, by Michael Pelt
  • Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
  • Dictionary of Baptists in America, Bill J. Leonard, editor
  • Encyclopedia of Religion in the South, Samuel S. Hill, editor
  • Sub-Groups Within the Baptist Denomination (in the United States), by R. L. Vaughn
  • The Free Will Baptists in History, by William F. Davidson

External links

Wikisource has the text of the 1920 Encyclopedia Americana article [[s:The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Baptists, Freewill|]].

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NOTE – The blog below is not my latest blog. To find more recent blogs, browse through the “Archives” section to the lower right.  ——>  ——>  ——>
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(revised 01/02/13)

I have posted many blogs covering occultish Spiritual Formation (specifically contemplative spirituality) and heretical Emerging/ Emergent teachings.  A number of Wesleyan Holiness denominations are increasingly teaching these heresies.

And, these Wesleyan Holiness denominations are taking part in a number of joint projects. There may be additional joint projects, but we are tracking the following:

Global Wesleyan Alliance (GWA) ( note – these are prospective members – the Alliance is still in formation)
– UPDATE: press release describing 2012 meeting of GWA – 14 prospective members as of Dec. 2011, 18 as of Dec. 2012
National Association of Evangelicals (NAE)
National Council of Churches (NCC)
Wesleyan Holiness Consortium (WHC) (producers of the Holiness Manifesto; 16+ denominations; for the official list of Participating Denominations click here)
WordAction curriculum (WA)(6 denominations)
World Methodist Council (WMC)

I am working on adding stats for each member denomination.  Also, I am adding links to articles showing how contemplative and Emerging/Emergent heresies are entering each denomination (some more than others).

Note: it is not my intent to “attack” Wesleyan Holiness denominations. On the contrary, I love what Wesleyan Holiness denominations used to stand for. Specifically,  a biblically sound theology which placed priority on the message of Calvary (John 3:16) and personal holiness (Rom. 12:1-2). And the rejection all unbiblical heretical teachings. The Wesleyan Holiness denominations of yesteryear fought modernism tooth and nail. Unlike today’s Wesleyan Holiness denominations listed below, they would have condemned today’s heresies of Spiritual Formation/Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

I know what these Wesleyan Holiness denominations have lost. I am fighting (along with many others in counter-Emergent discernment ministries) to help these straying denominations hopefully return to a biblically sound theology, rejecting Contemplative Spirituality and Emerging/Emergent teachings.

If the denominations themselves reject correction (as is usually the case), we are encouraging members of these denominations to separate, to leave for biblically sound churches. I recommend Bro. David Cloud’s Independent Fundamentalist Baptist directory – particularly the “two-asterisk” and “three-asterisk”  churches – although these churches vary on some doctrines from fundamentalist Wesleyan Holiness churches of approx. 1890-1942.

WESLEYAN HOLINESS DENOMINATIONS FALLING FOR EMERGING/EMERGENT HERESIES

nazarenelogo  Assemblies of God  – in NAE, WHC
2010 stats: 12,457 U.S. churches, 1,753,881 U.S. attenders
main Wikipedia article
Assemblies of God (AG) claims to oppose the NAR and other heretical movements, but recent AG activities show otherwise
Repost critiquing the heretical Alpha Course: “ALPHA: New Life or New Lifestyle?”, by Elizabeth McDonald (AG is a big promoter of the Alpha Course)

brethren in christ logo Brethren in Christ Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance– in WHC
Wikipedia article x
Christian & Missionary Alliance Workers will soon be learning Ancient Spiritual Disciplines (12/02/09)
a list of blogs exposing Spiritual Formation in the C&MA

 cma logo Christian & Missionary Alliance – Canada – in WHC

Church of Christ Holiness USA – in GWA
Wikipedia article

churchofgodandersonlogo Church of God – Anderson (aka Church of God Ministries, Inc.) – in GWA, WHC
Wikipedia article

churchofgodclevelandlogoChurch of God – Cleveland – in WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoChurch of the Nazarene – – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
– Wikipedia article x
Reformed Nazarene website (provides many blogs and links exposing CotN involvement in heresies)

Churches of Christ in Christian Union – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Congregational Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

the evangelical church logo The Evangelical Church of North America – in GWA, WHC

Evangelical Friends Church International – in NAE, WA
my critique of the EFCI and EFC-ER
I have many blogs on my blogsite exposing heresies of the Evangelical Friends (and Quakers in general). Click here for a partial list of my blogs on the Evangelical Friends.
Wikipedia article

 Evangelical Methodist Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

Evangelical United Methodists – in WA

foursquare logo The Foursquare Church (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel) – – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogoFree Methodist Church USA – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo Grace Communion International – in NAE (joined 1997 as Worldwide Church of God), WHC
Wikipedia article

International Fellowship of Bible Churches – in GWA

ipchlogo International Pentecostal Holiness Church – in NAE, WHC
Wikipedia article

The Methodist Protestant Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

The Missionary Church, Inc. – in GWA, NAE
Wikipedia article

Pilgrim Holiness Church – in GWA
Wikipedia article

nazarenelogo The Salvation Army – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC
Wikipedia article
Lighthouse Trails exposes The Salvation Army’s involvement in Spiritual Formation
– “A Simple Way to Begin the Day with Prayer” (Richard Foster, The War Cry, October 1985)
– Cory Harrison, Emergent Salvationism? (blog by an Emergent Salvation Army member)

shield of faith logo4   Shield of Faith – in WHC

united methodist logoUnited Methodist Church – in NAE (observer status), NCC, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

*** United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) – WARNING – Oneness Pentecostals; UPCI was in the WHC at one time, but as of 12/11/12 the UPCI is no longer listed as a member. Why was the UPCI allowed to become a member in the first place?
Wikipedia article

wesleyan church logo The Wesleyan Church – in GWA, NAE, WA, WHC, WMC
Wikipedia article

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I have been searching for articles on the doctrine of the Atonement. I came across the following article, which lists a number of Bible scholars favoring “unlimited atonement.”

I am reposting the article here – not to start an argument with hyper-Calvinists (i.e. five point Calvinists, followers of “TULIP”) – but merely to provide leads to authors for Christians favoring unlimited atonement.

Note – I do not believe that because Christ died for all mankind, every person will go to Heaven. This would be Christian universalism. I do believe that salvation is made available to every person, so that whosoever believes on Him will receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Click here for the original source of the article. I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? A Defense of Unlimited Atonement

Proponents And Defenders Of The Fact That Christ Died For All

 In establishing any doctrine, it is what God says that counts. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Having already established from the Scriptures that upon Christ were laid the iniquities of all of us, it is of interest to consider what great and godly men of the past have said about this issue of the universal extent of the atonement.

Norman F. Douty, in his excellent book The Death of Christ, lists over 70 of the Church’s leading teachers, from the early centuries to the modern era, who stood firmly for the doctrine that Christ died on behalf of all men, not the elect only (pages 136-163). Here are some of the names on the list: Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Athanasius, Chrysostom, Augustine, Martin Luther, Hugh Latimer, Myles Coverdale, Thomas Cranmer, Philip Melanchton, Archbishop Ussher, Richard Baxter, John Newton, John Bunyan, Thomas Scott, Henry Alford, Philip Schaff, Alfred Edersheim, H.C.G. Moule, W.H. Griffith Thomas, and A.T. Robertson.

The following quotes are of interest:

“Although the blood of Christ be the ransom of the whole world, yet they are excluded from its benefit, who, being delighted with their captivity, are unwilling to be redeemed by it” (Prosper, who died 463 AD).

“For Christ only, and no man else, merited remission, justification, and eternal felicity, for as many as will believe the same; they that will not believe it, shall not have it, for it is no more but believe and have.  For Christ shed as much blood for Judas as He did for Peter; Peter believed it, and therefore he was saved; Judas would not believe and therefore he was condemned – the fault being in him only, and in nobody else” (Hugh Latimer, devoted bishop and martyr, 1485-1555). [Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p. 130.]

“Christ died for all, yet, notwithstanding, all do not embrace the benefit of His death…they despise the offered grace” (Benedict Aretius, 1505-1575).

“We may safely conclude that the Lamb of God offering himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, intended, by giving sufficient satisfaction to God’s justice, to make the nature of man, which he assumed, a fit subject for mercy, and to prepare a medicine for the sins of the whole world, which should be denied to none that intended to take the benefit of it” (Archbishop Usher, 1581-1656).   [Cited in James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, p. 136.]

James Morison argues that the doctrine of a limited atonement was never taught in the early centuries of church history:

The doctrine of a propitiation for the elect alone is not yet above fourteen hundred years old. Such a doctrine was unheard of during the glorious first three centuries of the Christian era. Nay, it was not known for about two hundred years after that. This surely is a striking fact, and should make some men pause and ponder before they condemn. “I think,” says the illustrious Bishop Davenant, a divine most intimately versed in ecclesiastical history and the writings of the Fathers, “that it may be truly affirmed, that before the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius, there was no question concerning the death of Christ, whether it was to be extended to all mankind, or to be confined only to the elect. For the Fathers, when speaking of the death of Christ, describe it to us as undertaken and endured for the redemption of the human race; and not a word (that I know of) occurs among them of the exclusion of any person by the decree of God. They agree that it is actually beneficial to those only who believe, yet they everywhere confess that Christ died in behalf of all mankind. [He then quotes from Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Primasius, Athanasius and Prosper].

Bishop Davenport goes on to give some further details respecting the opinions of Augustine: “We assert, therefore, that Augustine never attempted to impugn that proposition of the Semi-pelagians, that Christ died for the whole human race . . . For neither did Augustine ever oppose as erroneous the proposition ‘that Christ died for the redemption of the whole human race;’ nor did he ever acknowledge or defend as his own, ‘that Christ died, not for all men, but for the pre-destinate alone.’”

Augustine died A.D. 429, and up to his time, at least, there is not the slightest evidence that any Christian ever dreamed of a propitiation for the elect alone. Even after him, the doctrine of a limited propitiation was but slowly propagated, and for long but partially received. [James Morison, The Extent of the Atonement, pages 114-117.]

More recent advocates of unlimited atonement are as follows: D.L.Moody, Albert Barnes, L.S.Chafer, John Walvoord, Robert Lightner, William Newell, R.C.H. Lenski, D.Edmond Hiebert, Robert Gromacki, E.Schuyler English, R.A. Torrey, Charles Ryrie and all the members of the Independent Fundamental Churches of America who have made unlimited atonement part and parcel of their doctrinal statement. Unlimited atonement seems also to be the position of the GARBC (Regular Baptists) because the Regular Baptist Press published the original edition of Robert Lightner’s book, The Death Christ Died, which presents a strong case for unlimited atonement and also David Nettleton’s book Chosen to Salvation. Nettleton refers to “the erroneous doctrine of limited atonement” and says that “limited atonement is not a necessary corollary of the sovereign election of God” (page 79).

Note: One of the men mentioned in the above paragraph was the noted commentator, Albert Barnes (1798-1870), was an American Presbyterian preacher and Bible expositor. In 1835 he was brought to trial by the Second Presbytery of Philadelphia for his belief in unlimited atonement, but was acquitted. The case continued to stir the denomination and was one of the causes of the split in the Presbyterian church in the United States in 1837. See The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church, p.29. It’s interesting to read Barnes’ comments under such passages as John 3:16; John 1:29; Heb. 2:9; 1 Tim. 2:4-6; 1 John 2:2.

Those who are defenders of a Limited Atonement would include Berkhof, Crawford, Cunningham, Eldersveld, Haldane, Hodge, Lloyd-Jones, John Murray, Owen, Packer, Pink, Smeaton, Spurgeon, Stonehouse and Warfield (see Douty, page 163). To this list can be added John Gerstner, Gary Long, David N. Steele, Custis C. Thomas, W.E. Best, John MacArthur and many others. Though we strongly disagree with such men on this issue, we do not vilify them as Charles Spurgeon seemed to do with respect to those holding to unlimited atonement:

“There may be men with minds so distorted that they can conceive it possible that Christ should die for a man who afterwards is lost: I say, there may be such. I am sorry to say that there are still to be found such persons whose brains have been so addled in their childhood, that they cannot see that what they hold is both preposterous falsehood and a blasphemous libel….I feel quite shocked in only mentioning such an awful error, and were it not so current as it is, I should certainly pass it by with the contempt that it deserves” (cited by Norman Duty,  in The Death of Christ, p. 163).

FOR FURTHER READING

Ron Rhodes, The Extent of the Atonement: Limited Atonement Versus Unlimited Atonement (presents the case for Unlimited Atonement)

Wikipedia article on Unlimited Atonement (makes points for and against)

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(revised 01/29/14)

I came across an excellent list of “discernment questions” from “Stand Up for the Truth.” These are questions to ask a pastor when seeking a biblically sound church. (I hope to add additional questions to the list.)

Thank you for this great blog, Mike and Amy!

Click here for the original source of this blog.

Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church

Holy Hill steeple

I originally posted this late last year, but we’ve had some many requests from people who are looking for a new church home that I’m re-posting to bump it higher:

If you are looking for a new church, you need to ask some very important questions of church leadership before you become a member. Here are 35 to get you started:

FOUNDATIONAL BELIEFS

1.   Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit?

2.   Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus?

3.   What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens?

4.   Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy?

THEOLOGY

5.   What is the doctrinal statement of the church and may I have a copy?

6.   Does a person have any responsibilities to God upon accepting salvation?

7.   What books other than the bible have you used to develop sermons?

8.   What are your views on “Replacement Theology”?

TEACHINGS AND SERVICES

9.   Is your Bible Teaching solely based on the Five Sola’s ?

10.  How important is popular culture in structuring your services?

11.  How do you train and equip your people to carry out the Great Commission?

12.  Does your worship service include people laughing or being slain in the spirit?

13.  Do you preach sermons that talk about exposing false teachers and false doctrines, or do you preach that Christians should never question anointed teachers?

14.  What curricula do your children and teen programs use?

15.  Are you a Willow Creek Association church?

DEPTH OF SPIRITUALITY LEADERSHIP

16.   Who are some of your favorite authors? What books other than the bible have influenced your theology or teachings?

17.  To whom are church leaders accountable? Has your leadership ever been questioned by members? How was it addressed?

18.  What growth is more important to our church—growth in numbers or in depth of spiritual commitment of our members? (Only let them pick one, not both !!)

19.  What is the most crucial issue your church has faced and how was it resolved?

20.  How do you determine the spiritual growth of your members?

SOCIAL ISSUES

21.  What is meant by the word “Church,” and what is its purpose?

22.  What is the role of the church in social issues or politics?

23.  When do you believe that life begins?

24.  What are the church’s views on marriage and sexuality? Please share scriptures that confirm your beliefs.

25.  How does the church feel about/handle divorce among your members?

26.  What are your views on “contextualization” of the gospel? How important is being “relevant” to the community?

27.  Do you believe that Christians and Muslims pray to the same God; that Yahweh and Allah are the same?

MODERN MOVEMENTS WITHIN THE CHURCH

28.  What are your thoughts and the church’s stances on:

29.  The Purpose Driven Church

30.  Spiritual Formation

31.  Contemplative Prayer and Biblical meditation

32.  Word of Faith

33.  The New Apostolic Reformation

34.  Social Justice Movement

35.  The Emergent Church

Related articles

9 Responses to “Church shopping? 35 Key Questions to Ask the Church”

  1. Dan #

    I think fruit would have to be looked at to determine what you are dealing with:

    You can have a bible preaching church filled with self righteousness and religion who are inwardly focused, entirely lacking in grace and mercy and love. The idol here is knowledge and they deny the Holy Spirits power.

    You can also have the opposite where you have a building full of non Christians who outwardly appear better than Christians and think pursuing good deeds is the path to salvation. These will stay away from the gospel of Jesus Christ but will use God’s word to provoke action from the members as well as guilt. The idol here is works.

    If you go to a church and all the area demographics are represented and they hold up the word of life and the sanctifying work of the holy spirit. Where the elders know God’s word and love it and try to walk in obedience to it, knowing it is through obedience that the truth of God’s word is opened to us. Where no one thinks himself very much but Christ Jesus and him crucified is their boast. A group whose aim is to die to self as demonstrated by their love for one another and are willing to be held accountable to that standard of selflessness represented by our Savior, who came not to do His own will but the One who sent Him. That group you would want to tie into and not let go. Their banner is Jesus Christ and their lives show it.

    August 3, 2012 at 10:47 AM Reply
  2. Dan, I just heard a very interesting teaching on Fruit and what it really is. The teacher said most of us think of fruit as good works…. Anyway if you are interested, here is the link: http://bit.ly/MDJo9b

    August 3, 2012 at 10:50 AM Reply
  3. mw4tkn #

    Some great questions. Moved to Texas 2 years ago and asked many questions, I think allot of Pastors are like woah who is this guy? Allot of the readers may not know why some of these questions are important.

    August 19, 2013 at 2:59 AM Reply
  4. Buffy #

    This has been the huge dilemma of my life of late. I have been to every church that might have had hope in the area (about 50,000 population). Truly, they are either into seeker sensitive stuff, emergent, mystical stuff, eastern meditation, Beth Moore, Richard Foster on and on it goes! I have left several churches who told me they were not into this or that, only to find out that they were!

    I was in a church which I liked and joined and after assurances from the pastor that they were not into Rick Warren and within a short time, they trotted out the old Purpose Driven Church book and started using “The lingo”. Then I found out that the adult Sunday School teacher got his daily devotions right from Warren’s daily devotions. That pastor got mad at me, so did that teacher.

    I was in another church that I felt okay with because I used to go to it when my children were growing up. I was shocked to hear the pastor try to teach the whole church how to do meditation via Richard Foster! Then the women were doing Beth Moore stuff and then moved on to Joyce Meyer. When I came to talk to the pastor with an armload of material on Foster, he got mad when I mentioned Rick Warren in a negative way. It was like that whole church was under a trance. When I tried to talk to the women about Moore and Meyer, their answer was to remove me from their email list! I have since run into some of them around town and some (not all) would not even speak to me when I was a matter of inches from them!

    I had gotten to a point of having a long list of “pastor questions” and I am sure this was a pain for the pastors I talked to. Many had not a clue why I had trouble with Rick Warren! When I asked them if they would read a book about him…nope! Now I am the lay person in this deal, why don’t they have the answers?

    Then I read stuff by people who sit in judgment because others don’t have a church. They use stuff like the old rag, ”If you find a perfect church, don’t join it, because you will ruin it”. First off, I do not expect, nor look for perfection, but being free of false teachers should not be too much to ask! Why am I the trouble maker when I want to hear Bible and not feel good platitudes? Why am I ruining things when I want to sing hymns filled with wonderful doctrine, instead of mindless praise songs that belong at church camp campfires at best? Some of these praise songs have refrains that are sung over and over and over until I just can’t stand it anymore and stop singing. Have any of you ever noticed that many of the modern praise songs take the focus off from what the Lord has done for us and puts it onto what WE are doing to praise Him and how long WE will praise him.

    Grouchy old woman? Maybe, but I just want to worship an awesome God in a way that glories Him, not man. I want to hear God’s Word in church, not man’s, I want to sing Hymns that glorify Him and what he has done to save us. Anything less is not really worshipping Him, in my opinion! I drive way out into the country now and have found a lovely small country church that seems to love the Lord, preach the Bible, sing hymns and welcome those who want the same. I am happy to be able to have that, but sad that I am surrounded by churches that I don’t feel safe to attend. I am sad that I have to drive that far to go to a safe church.

    August 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM Reply
    • Marsha R. #

      Buffy, remember what Jesus said…..His true disciples will be persecuted! Matthew 7:14 says “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” We are the few who find it. God’s Spirit is within all of us that are feeling the exact same way. We are fed up with these churches of today that are NOT being the churches as Jesus commanded. In fact, when we attend, we feel a part of something that is almost “evil” if you will and the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of us tells us that we cannot be a part of the heresy taking place! Maybe it would be alright if God could use us in a church where we could speak His Truth and changes would take place. However, the apostasy is so widespread that I’m beginning to believe that we, as true Christians, are being called OUT OF THE CHURCH. Perhaps soon, we will be creating underground churches? I believe that’s where it’s heading. I am, personally, worshipping God from my home and know of many other mature Christian believers that are doing the same. They believe that God has called them out of the church as well. It’s no coincidence that we are ALL feeling this way. I believe the Holy Spirit is doing a mighty work in us and God is paving the way for His will to be done. Right now, we just don’t know what that is at the moment. However, I believe the Lord Jesus is coming very SOON! Praise God. :)

      August 22, 2013 at 6:05 AM Reply
  5. Buffy , wow thanks for sharing!!

    Lately, I can relate…

    August 19, 2013 at 2:58 PM Reply
  6. SammiD #

    Right on Buffy!
    I will not andI have not attended church for years because every church in my area is like the ones you described! I am a Christian and I worship God in my home.
    What else can we do?

    August 20, 2013 at 5:56 AM Reply
  7. You have a great list, but as a Pastor, I can tell you that Pastors will give you the answer you want. These questions need to be reworded to get the “real” answer. I’ve given a rework of the first 4 questions.

    1. Is the Bible the 100% true, accurate Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit? Change this to: “How do you hear from God?” If they say “The Bible and only the Bible,” you’ve got a winner. If they say “the Bible, circumstances, other people…” go ahead and end the interview.

    2. Is Jesus the Son of God and the only way to eternal life with God? Is there any way to God or eternal life other than through Jesus? Change this to: “What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel, are they saved?” While this is a tough question, it gives insight into the Pastor’s insistence that Jesus is the only way.

    3. What does the Bible say the world will look like when Jesus returns? Do we need to gain dominion of the earth before that happens? Change to: “What are some things the church can do to expand the Kingdom of God to usher Christ’s return?” If he gives any answer other than “nothing,” then move on.

    4. Can man, through his actions, change or alter biblical prophecy? Change to: “It seems like many things in the Middle East are a fulfillment of prophecy, or perhaps they are the result of some bad political decisions after WWII. Do you have some thoughts on this?” His answer will reveal whether or not he thinks there is a fulfillment of prophetic events.

    Bottom line: don’t give your answer then ask your question, because the Pastor will likely tell you what you want to hear. This may even be subconscious. Craft questions that force the Pastor to give an answer without knowing your position. Be careful not to respond too much to each question, or he will know your position by the end of the interview.

    I am a Pastor, and I love it when people dig into my theology. I want a good fit between me and my church members, and when they ask questions, I can begin to know whether this will work or not.

    August 20, 2013 at 7:29 AM Reply

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Schools in the Evangelical Friends denomination (EFCI) as well as the Nazarene denomination (aka Church of the Nazarene or CotN) are hotbeds of  contemplative and Emerging/Emergent teachings. I have been looking for ties between Emerging/Emergent Evangelical Friends schools and Emerging/Emergent Nazarene schools. The following press release provides the strongest evidence I have found so far.

Below I have reposted this press release which appeared in 2008. As of November 2012, Patrick Allen is still provost of George Fox University. In my repost I have emphasized certain points by bolding, and inserted comments in [brackets].

Bruin Notes
George Fox Journal, Spring 2008

“Allen fills top academic post”

Patrick Allen   Upon learning George Fox had an open provost position, Patrick Allen knew he had found his dream job.

“I saw the announcement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, cut it out, took it to my wife, Lori, and said, ‘Now this is the kind of place I’ve been talking about,’” he says. [Allen’s attraction to a contemplative/Emerging/Emergent hotbed speaks volumes.]

Allen, a chief academic officer at three universities over the past two decades [Southern Nazarene University, Point Loma Nazarene University, then GFU]  had reason to apply. “In several institutions where I led strategic planning efforts, George Fox was listed as a peer or aspiration institution — the kind of institution we desired to be like if we could,” he says. [Again GFU – a contemplative/Emerging/Emergent hotbed – is looked up to.]

The 57-year-old Allen was hired in December, culminating a search that began when Robin Baker [a contemplative/Emerging/Emergent I’m sure] vacated the provost position to become president in July 2007. The provost is the chief academic officer of the institution and is responsible for all academic staff and resources. [So Allen is directly aware of his contemplative/Emerging/Emergent faculty/staff and their teachings.]

Allen had been provost at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma since 2005, and before that served 10 years as provost and chief academic officer at 4,000-student Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. Other universities at which he has served include Anderson University, Friends University [Richard Foster taught at Friends University after a stint at GFU], and MidAmerica Nazarene University.

He earned a doctorate in higher education from the University of Oklahoma, and also holds master’s degrees in management (Southern Nazarene University) and liberal arts (Southern Methodist University). He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Olivet Nazarene University.

“I feel that the provost has the second best job on campus and the president has the third best job — the best job is teaching and shaping students,” he says. “I get my kicks when I can recruit, equip, develop, encourage, challenge, and support the true heroes of the institution.” [Allen is referring to the faculty – who are contemplative/Emerging/Emergent.  See also this article describing the duties of a provost.]

Allen has taken more than 25 student groups to Europe; has played guitar in a bluegrass band in San Diego; and speaks in churches, conferences, and retreats on the value of community and Christian higher education.

Allen will begin July 1.

FOR FURTHER READING

http://www.georgefox.edu/offices/academic_affairs/index.html

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