Now, About Those Differences, Part Twelve

NickOfTimeRead Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, and Part 11.

Together (Only?) for the Gospel

The differences between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals include considerable disparity in their attitudes toward miraculous gifts. Fundamentalists are almost universally and vigorously cessationists. Conversely, many conservative evangelicals are continuationists, and those who are not can still function comfortably with the ones who are. From a fundamentalist perspective, this difference is rather a significant one.

Nevertheless, fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do hold much in common. What they hold in common is properly designated as koinonia or fellowship. It would be hypocritical to pretend that this fellowship does not exist, just as it would be hypocritical to pretend to enjoy fellowship where none existed.

Most fundamentally (the word is deliberate), both groups are united in their affirmation and exaltation of the gospel. None of the differences that we have examined to this point results in a denial of the gospel. Both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals believe the gospel, preach the gospel, and defend the gospel.

This mutuality in the gospel leads to a question. Since conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists are united in their allegiance to the gospel, should they not be able to cooperate at the level of the gospel? To put it positively, should fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals get together for the gospel?

Frankly, I am still thinking through an answer to that question. It is not really an urgent question, though, for two reasons. On the one hand, fundamentalists do not seem to be sponsoring any enterprises that center on the gospel alone. On the other hand, conservative evangelicals (who do sponsor such enterprises) do not seem to wish for fundamentalist involvement. I know of no recognizable fundamentalist leader who has been invited to speak at T4G or The Gospel Coalition.

Consequently, I have the luxury of making a few guesses and testing a few speculations. The following paragraphs are a tentative effort to think through the problem. Should fundamentalists join conservative evangelicals in projects such as T4G and The Gospel Coalition?

A moment ago, I noted that fundamentalists are not sponsoring any endeavors that center upon the gospel alone. Why is that? The answer cannot be that fundamentalists have no concern for the gospel. Every fundamentalist I know—even the most aberrant ones—care deeply about the gospel. In fact, fundamentalists have championed the preaching and proclamation of the gospel. Their most distinctive practice (ecclesiastical separation) is an effort to maintain the purity of the gospel.

So why don’t fundamentalists have an equivalent to T4G or The Gospel Coalition? I think that it is because fundamentalists realize something, although it is so basic that they might even have trouble explaining it. It is this: while our joint profession of the gospel constitutes the most basic form of Christian fellowship, our fellowship is rarely about the gospel alone. Nor should it be.

The gospel is the atmosphere of Christianity. It is the very air that we breathe. It is assumed in and by everything that is genuinely Christian.

Viewed from this perspective, it makes as much sense to have a rally in favor of the gospel as it does to have a rally in favor of air. Do we value air? Are we committed to its centrality for breathing? Of course! Under normal circumstances, however, someone who wanted to focus simply on air would leave us all nonplussed. The same would be true of a Christian who wanted to focus just on the gospel.

Of course, not every circumstance is a normal circumstance. We actually do focus on air under two circumstances. We become deeply concerned when we see someone who needs air. We also become concerned when the air is threatened by harmful pollutants.

Our focus on the gospel is analogous. We concentrate on the gospel when we see someone who needs it (i.e., evangelism). We also concentrate on the gospel when we see someone who threatens it (i.e., polemics). These are the two circumstances under which Christians might band together for the gospel: to propagate it through evangelism, or to defend it polemically. Under neither of these circumstances are they simply together for the gospel.

The task of evangelism does not terminate in the proclamation and acceptance of the gospel. Biblical evangelism includes baptizing. It includes teaching disciples to observe all the things that Jesus has taught.

If baptism and discipleship are part of biblical evangelism, then organizing for the gospel simpliciter is really a truncation of Christian responsibility. To come together for the gospel actually requires us to come together for more than the gospel alone.

The organizers of T4G and The Gospel Coalition seem to realize this. When they get together for the gospel, they actually feature a pretty narrow slice of gospel-believing theology. In fact, whole ranges of conservative evangelicalism have been excluded.

If they simply wanted to get together for the gospel, we might expect to see an outspoken non-Calvinist or two in the lineup. We might expect to see someone who expressed questions about Lordship Salvation. We might expect to see an avowed (i.e., non-leaky) dispensationalist. We might expect to see someone whose theology was not explicitly Reformed.

After all, organizations like T4G and The Gospel Coalition feature continuationists. Their leaders are willing to work with people like Mark Driscoll and Rick Warren. Is it really believable that they cannot find a place for Christian statesmen like Charles Ryrie or John C. Whitcomb?

The leaders of T4G and The Gospel Coalition certainly make choices about acceptable boundaries. Those choices are reflected in the names that are featured on the platform. That is not wrong. In fact, recognizing boundaries is important. In view of the choices that these leaders make, however, it seems a bit facile to think that their fellowship in these meetings is determined by nothing but the gospel.

Lovers of the gospel may band together for evangelism. They may also band together to defend the gospel. The gospel requires defense when it is attacked and subverted by apostate teachers.

The gospel is not defended merely by restating it. It is not defended merely by exploring it. It is not even defended merely by replying to the arguments of those who attack the gospel. Each of these things is necessary, but even together they are inadequate as a defense for the gospel.

The defense of the gospel requires that apostate teachers be exposed and labeled. It requires that Christian recognition be withheld from them. It requires that the Lord’s people be warned against them, much as Paul did in Galatians 1:6-9 or John did in his second epistle.

In other words, being together for the gospel implies being separated unto the gospel. It implies a radical break with those who deny the gospel. Furthermore, I think it involves a refusal to follow the leadership of Christians who betray the gospel by making common cause with apostates.

This is not the time or place to develop these ideas. What I will note here is that these considerations introduce the fourth, and (in my opinion) most serious difference between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. The bone of contention between us is over the necessity of absolute ecclesiastical separation from gospel deniers.

The gospel is surely the most important thing in the world. It is the most important thing in Christianity. What is of utmost importance in the Christian faith is expressed in, assumed with, or implied by the gospel.

If we are Christians, then we live and move and have our being in the gospel. Precisely because of its sweeping importance, however, it comes into focus only when it needs to be proclaimed or when it needs to be defended. Both of these activities, however, turn out to entail more than just the recognition of the gospel message.

If my musings come anywhere close to the truth, then evidently we are never simply together for the gospel. For Christians, other factors will necessarily be at work in decisions about fellowship and cooperation. Some of these factors appear to be recognized in practice by the planners of T4G and The Gospel Coalition.

So what about fellowship and cooperation between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals? I suggest the following considerations.

First, when conservative evangelicals get together for the gospel, they appear to use more than simply the gospel as their basis of fellowship. Perhaps they are wrong to do so, but I am inclined to think that they are right. Whether it is proclaimed or defended, the gospel points beyond itself.

Second, if conservative evangelicals are right to base their cooperation upon more than the gospel, then it becomes difficult to criticize fundamentalists for doing the same thing. The factors that fundamentalists consider are sometimes different than the factors that conservative evangelicals consider. We can weigh each factor for its merits. What we cannot do, however, is to suggest that fundamentalists must strip aside everything except the gospel as a basis of cooperation—unless we are willing to demand that conservative evangelicals do this as well.

Third, if both fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are weighing factors that go beyond the gospel, then an additional possibility opens up. That is the possibility that the two groups are not necessarily obligated to cooperate for the sake of the gospel. They are not obligated to cooperate in its proclamation and they are not obligated to cooperate in its defense. They will need to determine the extent of their cooperation, not simply on the basis of their mutual allegiance to the gospel, but also on the basis of the other factors that they are weighing.

Fourth, if these two groups choose not to cooperate, then their non-cooperation must not be construed as opposition. Choosing to work separately is not the same as antagonism. It is possible to love one another, be grateful for one another, pray for one another, and wish one another success without necessarily working together. Possibly (remember, I am simply testing the idea) such fraternal non-cooperation might be the best course for fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals at more than one level.

Up-Hill
Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.


Dr. Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). Not every professor, student, or alumnus of Central Seminary necessarily agrees with every opinion that it expresses.

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Ted Bigelow's picture

[quote=Aaron Blumer ]So are you asserting that Rom.10.13 has nothing to say to sinners at all? Surely we're agreed that there is a calling and a saving there. Who is being saved? Someone already saved?

Aaron, just because he said there is no sinner's prayer found in Rom. 10, doesn't mean he believes there is nothing to be said to sinners in that chapter.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Aaron,

I am simply saying that Paul is quoting Joel 2:32, which speaks of a physical call (i.e., scream, if you will -- "the house is on fire") at the middle of the tribulation, by Jews (and apparently others) when God destroys the northern invading armies (Joel 2:20) and anti-christ begins his domination of Israel.
Paul alludes to this in Rom. 10:13 while he is talking about the fact that the gospel today is going to the Jews as well as the Greeks, and anyone can be saved. "The house is on fire" -- hell awaits those who do not believe, and the offer is open to you right now if you believe by faith (Rom. 10:17). You don't have to pray/call/speak to be saved -- but you just might let out some words if you really understood the seriousness of the situation!!
If the chapter is exposited in that fashion, with clear understanding, it is a great text to preach the gospel from.
As traditionally used by fundamentalists (and, in fairness, evangelicals), I do not think it makes a very good "altar call" sermon without first wrenching it out of its context and re-loading it with a bunch of unintended meaning. It is actually a pretty difficult chapter in a very complicated, dispensationally-oriented, section of the most important book of the New Testament.

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

rogercarlson's picture

It is interesting the "invitation" has come up. I think this is one area where we Fundamentalists need to tweak. I think most know I am a Calvinist. I do use invitations, but they are very soft sell - more to the point they are not MANIPULATION. I think many in are camp do err and do wickedness in their invitations. I used to be one of them. I was at a teen rally a few years back where a nationally known, mainstream evangelist was preaching. He preached three very good messages, but the alter response wasn't what he wanted (or maybe it wasnt what the promoters wanted). So, at the end of the last message he kept dragging the invitation out to get people walking the aisle. At the end of it, he finally said something to the effect of, "if the Lord has worked in your heart in that last while comeforward." Many came forward, but was it the Holy Spirit or the manipulation of the Evangelist? I believe it was the latter. When I was in college, this same man taught us "how to give an invitation" in preacher boys. He had someone come up and play a song softly, and said a few things. Many of us wanted to go forward and the Gospel was given nor was the Word preached! It was pure manipulation and it was wicked. This man is a great, Godly man. He means well. But those type of invitations are dangerous because, while God can use them, they typically just get someone to make a "decision" with out the Holy Spirit.

There are many things those of us who are Calvinist have to be vigiliant against (example, fatalism). But this is an area you non Calvinist brothers need to equally guard against. By manipulating people into "decisions" and never be not be saved. That is what happened with me.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Joseph Leavell's picture

Aaron wrote:
I'm a bit unclear on what you're saying, Joe. Is the gospel "the whole point" or are the things Kevin said we need to pursue in addition to the gospel "the whole point"? The part you quoted there is not the gospel but part of where it points.

Thanks for the question Aaron. Sorry I wasn't clear. What I'm saying is that there is no going on from the Gospel, and Bauder seemed to indicate it in that sentence where he states, "The task of evangelism does not terminate in the proclamation and acceptance of the gospel. Biblical evangelism includes baptizing. It includes teaching disciples to observe all the things that Jesus has taught." Sharing the Gospel doesn't end at salvation, it merely begins at salvation and continues through the sanctification process until we are promoted to glory.

You seem to be saying that the things that we pursue "in addition" to the gospel indicates that they are separate from the Gospel. My contention is that sanctification is the process of living the Gospel. What I mean is that instead of these other things being "in addition" or separate from the Gospel, they are expositions of the whole of the Gospel Message. The Gospel is not just the point of conversion but the whole of our very lives! It's like saying that when you talk about marriage you're always talking about the wedding. Marriage is a good example because there are tons of types of discussions that you could have on relationships and all the while you're just expounding on the different aspects of marriage. You brought up stealing - why not steal? The Gospel? Is that a separate issue from the Gospel itself? Semantically, yes, but in the same breath, no. Why we do not steal is a part of the whole discussion of the Gospel. In itself it is not the Gospel, but is part of sanctification, which is a part of the Gospel. The Gospel of Christ is the foundation (ironically the Rock that we're mentioning from Matthew and Luke) upon which we are who we are and live as we live. Everything flows from the Gosepel of Christ, which in itself flows back to the nature and character of God. Somehow we've gotten this picture that the whole counsel of God means we're not talking about the Gospel anymore, but in reality, it all ties back to the Gospel and the nature and character of God. That's what I mean by "the whole point." This is the work of a pastor - to edify...i.e help disciple/build people up into the image of Christ, observing all the things that Jesus taught. That's why just preaching morality without centering it on Jesus and the Gospel is explained as "moralistic deism."

As a side note, my mother was raised as a pastor's kid of a Fundamental Baptist Church. When she was 8 she was fidgeting during the invitation and the song leader asked her to come forward. She thought he wanted something so she went forward. She was asked if she wanted to get "saved." She said, "sure." They then led her into a side room where she prayed a prayer. She had doubts all growing up but her parents and her church family kept telling her "no, you got saved at 8 when you prayed that prayer." So, until after she was married and I was born she based her salvation on a prayer. She got severely depressed until she realized that she her depression was because she didn't have a relationship with Christ, and she genuinely accept Him as her Savior. To this day my grandma maintains that my mom was saved because she prayed a prayer as a kid. So...it does happen in Fundamentalism where people believe that if you pray the prayer then that makes you saved.

Aaron wrote:
In general, I think we're all better served by not overreacting to the errors of emphasis and terminology that are out there. As much error comes from overreaction as from the problems themselves.

Well said, Aaron! I needed to hear that myself. Good thought.

Don Johnson's picture

Joseph Leavell wrote:
Don wrote:
The endless argument pro and anti Calvinism that has sprung up is typical. It involves a lot of sophistry, and it is definitely a red herring because it completely diverges away from Bauder's article.

I agree...but...I believe it was you brought it up in the first place, wasn't it?

I suppose, but not outside the context of Bauder's article. We have jumped from discussing differences between Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists to a discussion of nits of Calvinist theology.

For my part, it is in this area where some clarification needs to be made. Conservative Evangelicals aren't limited to Calvinists (see Paige Patterson, for example). Yet when we have this discussion, everyone assumes we are talking about T4G and TGC. These fellowships are actually narrower than Conservative Evangelicalism. They are centered on Calvinism. It appears that many erstwhile fundamentalists who are enamored of "CEs" are mostly enamored of the "Together for Calvinism" variety. There is something wrong with making that the ground of fellowship, in my opinion. Fundamentalism has never been centered on a single aspect of soteriology as its paradigm for fellowship.

Joseph Leavell wrote:
Don wrote:
Calvinism is the operative ground for fellowship in these minds, not the fundamentals. And not really 'the gospel', unless you define Calvinism as the gospel (as some are doing).

So...I assume you didn't like the Spurgeon quote as Spurgeon fits that category?

Actually, that isn't true. Spurgeon recognized men who were Arminian as brethren and thanked God for their ministry.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

Joseph Leavell wrote:
As a side note, my mother was raised as a pastor's kid of a Fundamental Baptist Church. When she was 8 she was fidgeting during the invitation and the song leader asked her to come forward. She thought he wanted something so she went forward. She was asked if she wanted to get "saved." She said, "sure." They then led her into a side room where she prayed a prayer. She had doubts all growing up but her parents and her church family kept telling her "no, you got saved at 8 when you prayed that prayer." So, until after she was married and I was born she based her salvation on a prayer. She got severely depressed until she realized that she her depression was because she didn't have a relationship with Christ, and she genuinely accept Him as her Savior. To this day my grandma maintains that my mom was saved because she prayed a prayer as a kid. So...it does happen in Fundamentalism where people believe that if you pray the prayer then that makes you saved.

Just wanted to comment on this. I agree, this does happen in fundamentalism. It also happens in evangelicalism. A LOT!!!

Now, let me ask you something, not meant to be critical at all, but at what point did your mother actually get saved? You are asserting that it didn't occur with the 8 yr old prayer. I would agree, most likely that wouldn't be it. But did it actually depend on the "genuine acceptance experience" as an adult? How are the two experiences substantively different? Isn't it possible that true salvation occurred prior to the 8 yr old prayer?

Of course, I don't know the answers to these questions, and I'm not really asking about your mother's experience at all. I do agree that we need to get past some kind of formulaic experiences as "the way" to get saved. When I was in seminary, I had a 5th grade boys Sunday school class at a fairly well known formerly fundamentalist church. In one of our lessons the topic of salvation came up. Something one of the boys said prompted a question from me: "How do you get saved?" Response: "Well, you go forward at the end of a church service and pray and then you are saved." I said, "OK, suppose you have a guy with a heart condition. He hears the message, he is under deep conviction. He hears the invitation, he decides to go forward, but as he is going forward, the stress is too much and he has a heart attack and dies before he can pray. Is he saved or not?" The boys really wrestled with that one. I kept giving examples, moving the heart attack back to the moment the hypothetical guy decided to go down the aisle and even earlier, in the sermon where he hears the gospel. (I was cruel.) My point was that salvation isn't by a formulaic experience but by faith in Christ alone to save a man from his sins.

Nevertheless, I am not against giving invitations. Jesus gave them.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Don wrote:
We have jumped from discussing differences between Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists to a discussion of nits of Calvinist theology..
Well, there is a connection. Much of the piece is about the role of the gospel as a basis for or obligation for cooperation, etc.
And the claim that got us going in this direction was that Kevin's view of the gospel is flawed... which would mean his reasoning about how it relates to cooperation is flawed.
So it's not really a rabbit trail.

Joseph Leavell wrote:
What I'm saying is that there is no going on from the Gospel, and Bauder seemed to indicate it in that sentence where he states, "The task of evangelism does not terminate in the proclamation and acceptance of the gospel. Biblical evangelism includes baptizing. It includes teaching disciples to observe all the things that Jesus has taught." Sharing the Gospel doesn't end at salvation, it merely begins at salvation and continues through the sanctification process until we are promoted to glory.

I think we need to be more precise in the terms we use. "Evangelism" cannot include baptism unless we believe in baptismal regeneration. Smile The Great Commission certainly includes baptism but we know baptism is not a component of conversion. So we need a word for the act of teaching the gospel to someone with the aim of brining them into the faith, as distinct from the things we teach them after that. We already have that word: "evangelism."
Kevin is using the term more broadly there I guess, but I don't think that's helpful.

(I don't think anybody here is saying that there is a point where we don't talk about the gospel anymore, but that that we do build on it. It does point beyond itself.)

We also need a word for the body of ideas that consists of the ideas that we are sinners, have incurred the just wrath of God, that Jesus died for us and rose again--as distinct form the things we teach in addition to that. As turns out, we do have such a word: "gospel."
So we certainly do "go on from the gospel" in that sense.
If we want to use the word "gospel" to mean "everything in the Christian faith," we have to coin a new term for the minimal set of ideas that are (along w/the Person they are about) the object of "saving faith."

I really don't think there's anything to gain in blurring the difference between the gospel and the rest of the body of Christian doctrine.[br ]
To get back to the article, this is why Kevin is correct that gathering/cooperating "for the gospel" would be something we do either to engage in evangelism or to engage in apologetics (he says "polemics"). Otherwise, we're getting together for more than just the gospel, and that is in fact what the gatherings Kevin mentioned do. They are partly about defense of the gospel ("polemics") maybe partly about evangelism (I don't know... haven't seen that aspect), but they are also about other ideas beyond the gospel itself, Calvinism and things Reformed in general are clearly among the additional ideas.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Joseph Leavell's picture

Since Calvinism is the study of Hamartiology and Soteriology, would it then not make sense to talk about Calvinism in the context of the Gospel?

Aaron wrote:
I think we need to be more precise in the terms we use. "Evangelism" cannot include baptism unless we believe in baptismal regeneration.

Good point! LOL Smile I think Dr. Bauder was using the term in the sense of the Great Commission, that evangelism's goal isn't just getting people to say the sinner's prayer, it's about discipleship making.

Quote:
(I don't think anybody here is saying that there is a point where we don't talk about the gospel anymore, but that that we do build on it. It does point beyond itself.)

That's good. I'm glad to hear that. I agree, and my point is that all things in our lives point back to it as well. That's really my point. I'm not really wanting too much to get into the semantics here of word choices, though I'll answer what you said. My point is that the tie in back the Gospel in preaching and teaching, really isn't a definitive characteristic of Fundamentalism. It is more assumed that all these other things tie in. It's almost a "duh" but I'm saying that to assume that tie in is dangerous because the next generation won't get the "duh." We've reeping the results of that type of crossless preaching. I'm saying that Bauder's article kind of reflected that problem and he criticized those who see the Gospel as sufficient reason for discussion or a conference for its own sake.

Aaron wrote:
We also need a word for the body of ideas that consists of the ideas that we are sinners, have incurred the just wrath of God, that Jesus died for us and rose again--as distinct form the things we teach in addition to that. As turns out, we do have such a word: "gospel."
So we certainly do "go on from the gospel" in that sense.
If we want to use the word "gospel" to mean "everything in the Christian faith," we have to coin a new term for the minimal set of ideas that are (along w/the Person they are about) the object of "saving faith."

Let me put it th is way, if I use the term "marriage", one of the things you think of is "wedding." When we think "Gospel" in our fundamentalist background, we think "salvation." I would use "marriage" as an example of what I'm talking about. Marriage is understanding that we are alone, that we need a spouse and that we cannot have marriage without one. It entails finding the right person, developing a loving relationship with them, and having a wedding. But if I said, "that's marriage", you'd say, "No! That's only the beginning of marriage! It's so much more than that." Now, going down the timeline a little bit - when I have a meal together with my wife, is that marriage? No...it's just eating dinner together. But at the same time, our meal is a reflection of our marriage, and a part of our marriage. Everything we do, everything we are together is a result of our marriage. It continues after the process that began at the first "hello" and then the wedding...till death do us part. The message of the cross is indeed the Gospel! I'm not denying that. That's where it begins. But just like marriage doesn't end at the wedding, so also the Gospel doesn't end for the believer after accepting Christ as Savior. The need for the Gospel, the acceptance of the Gospel is only the beginning. Next, we are to LIVE the Gospel. That's why Paul was so mad at Peter in Galatians 2:14 when Peter was separating from Gentiles, he wasn't living the Gospel. So Paul went over the Gospel again, with a believer...because his actions did not reflect the truth of the Gospel. He didn't just tell Peter that he was being rude and needed to get over it, the Gospel was the reason Peter was wrong. Remember Paul's desire in Philippians 3:10 and 11, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead."? What drove Paul foward? Knowing Christ, experiencing (ginosko) the Gospel (His death and resurrection). The Gospel, and more specifically Christ Himself, was the center of who Paul was. "For me to live is Christ." Paul lived the Gospel. While he talked about a myriad of other things, all things he talked about are because of the Gospel and point back to the Gospel.

I'm not advocating blurring the Gospel with all the other doctrines...but what I'm saying is that they are all interwoven together with the Gospel. Look at Theology! Even the nature and character of God is reflected in the Gospel (God's wrath, love, justice, etc. all displayed by the cross). The church - our mission is the Gospel to all nations, our sanctification is because of the Gospel. Even Eschatology is reflected in the Gospel as reflected in 1 Corinthians 15 - our eternal hope is because of the Gospel! My point is that often in Fundamentalism we have sliced off the Gospel from all other doctrines and practices and have religated it to simply being about our salvation. And yet we are commanded to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). Why? Because of Christ's humility and ultimate glory as reflected in...the Gospel (Phil. 2:5-11).

Aaron wrote:
We also need a word for the body of ideas that consists of the ideas that we are sinners, have incurred the just wrath of God, that Jesus died for us and rose again--as distinct form the things we teach in addition to that. As turns out, we do have such a word: "gospel."

That is the overarching term yes - but to be even more specific for the purpose of semantics, wouldn't we also call what you described "salvation?" I believe this distinction is brought out in Romans 1:16 where the Gospel of Christ is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. The Gospel (i.e. the Good News), is the power of God to salvation. They are together here, yet the Gospel message here is not relegated to being synonymous and limited to our salvation experience.

Eric R.'s picture

I agree with Joseph. Every inch of the tapestry of NT teaching has the golden thread of the gospel running through it. Every moment of the Christian life must be carried out in full cognizance of the gospel. In our movement (and we can all only speak from our own experience and observations here) a common major weakness is that one generation has assumed that gospel truth has been sufficiently covered if one has been converted, and then all that remains is to "move on" from it to other things. The result is that the next generation thinks those "other things" are the foundation of the Christian life. Thus, we tend to gather around things like "Personal standards of holiness" or "Personal and Ecclesiastical Separation" -- important doctrines, but they are several layers up the building from the gospel foundation. As the second or third generation starts to treat THEM as the bedrock, the building weakens, and eventually crumbles.

Kevin's comments, and some subsequent ones in this thread, reveal the view of that first generation that the proclamation of the gospel message has only two possible contexts: evangelizing the lost and defending against false teaching. This completely ignores how the message of the cross is primarily and consistently used in the NT: as motivation and empowerment for believers to live the Christian life.

Until our preachers realize (and many have) that the cross and the tomb of Christ must be at the center of EVERY sermon, we will continue to build the next generation on the wrong foundation. We need to stop "getting together" only for the peripherals, and start "getting together" for what is truly THE Fundamental.

I agree with Aaron that we need to be more precise in terminology. "Salvation" is not synonymous with Justification or Conversion. The latter are only aspects of the former. Thinking of salvation a merely a past event is tied directly to thinking the gospel is only for the unsaved. When we realize that the gospel is "the power of God unto" our sanctification as well, we can see clearly why we can never "move on" and leave the gospel behind. A generation of crossless preaching is the primary cause of the central evils in our camp: externalism (phariseeism) and legalistic sanctification (Galatians 3:3).

Ted Bigelow's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
You are asserting that it didn't occur with the 8 yr old prayer. I would agree, most likely that wouldn't be it. But did it actually depend on the "genuine acceptance experience" as an adult? How are the two experiences substantively different? Isn't it possible that true salvation occurred prior to the 8 yr old prayer?

Is it possible?? Of course, its possible, in a realm where anything is possible. But its unbiblical. Those who are born of the born of the Spirit produce the fruit of the Spirit. For this woman to not have the fruit of the Spirit for years requires a simple and humble pastoral call of unregeneracy.

This is simply one reason the altar call/invitation is sooo dangerous. It substitutes the fruit of the Spirit for a humanly generated/manipulated decision.

Don Johnson wrote:
Nevertheless, I am not against giving invitations. Jesus gave them.

Gag. Ack. Meh Where did Jesus ever use anything even remotely resembling the invitation system?

AndrewSuttles's picture

Now I've finally got it. I'm glad Bauder has finally put his cards on the table with this post. He is not actually writing about the differences between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism at all. In fact, he seems to have an axe to grind against the TFG crowd. This really clears a lot of things up, especially as he has focused on continuationism, Calvinism, and Covenant Theology in the series - none of which are in any way characteristic of the Evangelical movement as I've pointed out before. Not only has Bauder mischaracterized Evangelicalism (without citing any sources to back his claims), but he has mischaracterized Fundamentalism as well, by focusing exclusively on IFBers. Of course Fundamentalist Presbyterians and Pentecostals would have differing views from the ones Bauder claims. If Bauder doesn't like a group of Calvinistic men gathering together for gospel-centered conferences, just say so - don't do it under a false and non-sensical pretense.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

AndrewSuttles wrote:
Fundamentalist Presbyterians and Pentecostals

Curious, where do we find fundamental Pentecostals?

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Joseph Leavell's picture

We need a "like" button on facebook so that we can "agree" with a person without having to post. Smile Just my opinion. Anyway, since we don't have one, I "liked" Eric's post. I agree with you with what you said about salvation as well.

Ted wrote:
Gag. Ack. Where did Jesus ever use anything even remotely resembling the invitation system?

My tongue is in my cheek here, but I'm sure that it stems all the way back to the Tabernacle which was the first tent revival meeting. I'm sure it must have been paved with sawdust. Smile

Don, my grandparents maintained that my mother had been saved at 8 not because of her walk with the Lord but because she prayed the prayer. My mom questioned her salvation all growing up, wondering why she was struggling with Christianity and her parents kept pointing her back to her "profession" as an 8 year old to make her feel better. The only reason she went forward in the first place was because she thought the song-leader wanted something. She fell into deep depression in her 20s because she just decided that she couldn't do Christianity. She was right. Smile She was trying to do it in her flesh. She got so mad at my dad because at the church they went to "that preacher" always preached against sin! "Doesn't he know that we're all saved??? Why keep harping on it all the time?" My dad didn't hear it at all - he heard sermons on tithing, etc. but she kept hearing some aspect of the Gospel in every sermon. My mom got so depressed that one of her friends gave her a book on depression. The first chapter of the book said, "Perhaps you're depressed because you don't truly have a relationship with Jesus Christ." It hit her like a ton of bricks that all this time she was basing her Christian life on a prayer rather than a relationship with Christ. My dad tells it like this, that my mom met him at the door that day with a smile on her face - that wasn't normal. Smile She said, "Guess what happened today?" "What?" "I got saved?" "Yeah right! You said you got saved when you were 8!" "No, I said a prayer but I just got saved today!" My dad says, "You know what? My wife got saved that day! The difference in our home from before and after was amazing!"

I use the example of my mom because it's close to my heart and life. There are many more examples of people who were sold the "pray a prayer and it will save you" "plan of salvation" method to "winning souls" that I personally could mention. How many unsaved people are there in our pews because they were sold that to be saved you just need to ask Jesus into your heart or say this prayer with me as I close and if you said this prayer come forward or mark it on a decision card and that means you're saved? I shudder to think how many people will not be in heaven because they were sold a false gospel of "You don't want to go to Hell do you? Well, congratulations, you prayed the prayer so now you're saved"? How many trusted in a prayer rather than trusted in Christ in a self-centered attempt to get out of hell free, and never entered into a personal relationship with Christ as a result of the Gopsel?

Don Johnson's picture

Joseph Leavell wrote:
I use the example of my mom because it's close to my heart and life. There are many more examples of people who were sold the "pray a prayer and it will save you" "plan of salvation" method to "winning souls" that I personally could mention. How many unsaved people are there in our pews because they were sold that to be saved you just need to ask Jesus into your heart or say this prayer with me as I close and if you said this prayer come forward or mark it on a decision card and that means you're saved? I shudder to think how many people will not be in heaven because they were sold a false gospel of "You don't want to go to Hell do you? Well, congratulations, you prayed the prayer so now you're saved"? How many trusted in a prayer rather than trusted in Christ in a self-centered attempt to get out of hell free, and never entered into a personal relationship with Christ as a result of the Gopsel?

Hi Joseph

I do appreciate the story. And I am not saying that in this specific incident the assessment isn't true, it seems the testimony as you state it is accurate. But I have often heard of "I've finally got saved" testimonies after a life that seemed to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit for years. I think some of these stories exhibit confusion on what salvation is.

In response to the quoted paragraph, I am against easy believism. I think a lot of damage has been done by poor gospel presentations and giving false assurance. But please be aware that this isn't a fundamentalist problem. I grew up in evangelicalism and it was rampant amongst the evangelicals I knew. Our camp ministries were full of it, our churches often assured unbelievers they were fine. This is a VERY wide-spread problem. The vitriol directed against fundamentalism for this problem is entirely inappropriate. Fundamentalism has nothing to do with this problem, even though the problem is present in fundamentalist churches.

As for Jesus and invitations: the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount is an invitation (Mt 7.21-27), also see Mt 11.28-30 and Lk 11.9-13 and Jn 6.53-58.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joseph Leavell's picture

Interesting that if the CEs that put on the T4G conference actually opened it up to anyone who might be genuinely saved, they would be accused of being a part of the eccumenical movement and they would be dismissed off handedly for that reason. Since it's basically a few friends in the ministry who disagree on some things but agree on the Gospel, are making a statement and a conference around that point, they are being accused of being exclusionary?

Also, they are being criticized for being too separated over a matter of doctrine (i.e. Calvininsm). Well...ain't that the pot calling the kettle black that fundamentalists should criticize Conservative Evangelicas for being separatists? Shouldn't they be commended for some level of separation? I mean, we separate over ministry personalities where IFB won't fellowship with each other because of music or methodology, or horrors, because one belongs to the GARBC and the other belongs to the FBF, or one is weird because they're dependent...even though they all pretty much have the exact same doctrinal statement. Yet we're going to criticize the T4G guys for separating over doctrine? Seriously? There actually are apostates in the realm of Arminianism (i.e. a lot of the mainstream United Methodist Church comes to mind) it is right to be separate from them, is it not? These guys are separating from real apostacy (See John MacArthur's book "The Truth War") and false doctrine regarding the Gospel and we're in a bunch about whether using a trap set makes a song blasphemous or not. We're fighting over whether a 400 year old translation is ok to let go or not. Sigh...

It's a lose lose situation. They will be nit-picked no matter what they do. Interesting that Ryrie was mentioned as someone who should be invited to the T4G conference when he called MacArthur someone who taught a works salvation. Hard to be together for the Gospel when one person thinks the other is a heretic. If Ryrie (for example) actually were invited they wouldn't be commended, Ryrie would be condemned for going! Do these guys have real issues and problems? Then talk about those. Don't get all upset because they're not inviting who we want to invite. It's their conference - they can't invitate anyone they wish. You don't have to go - you don't have to care. This discussion about the T4G and the TGC in such a negative light for such petty reasons makes no sense to me. At least Bauder's conclusion was right on. "It is possible to love one another, be grateful for one another, pray for one another, and wish one another success without necessarily working together." Don, will you wish them (Dever, Mahaney, McArthur, Mohler, Chandler, etc.) grace, peace, and actual success for their ministries? I would hope so.

Joseph Leavell's picture

Don wrote:
But I have often heard of "I've finally got saved" testimonies after a life that seemed to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit for years. I think some of these stories exhibit confusion on what salvation is.

The key word here is "seemed." A lot of us who grew up in church are good little actors. I know I can be one when I walk in the flesh. I call this exibition "wax fruit" because it has the appearance of Spiritual fruit, but lacks real substance. Whether it's a believer walking in the flesh or an unbeliever who is basing their conversion on a prayer, it doesn't matter. It's still not Spiritual produce. Judas sure looked like a convincing disciple to the other 11, didn't he?

Don wrote:
I think a lot of damage has been done by poor gospel presentations and giving false assurance. But please be aware that this isn't a fundamentalist problem. I grew up in evangelicalism and it was rampant amongst the evangelicals I knew.

You're right Don. This is why conservative evangelicals have been so unique - they have refuted both the new evangelicals AND the fundamentalists in their easy believism.

Regarding the Scriptural invitations, I don't remember Jesus asking people to come forward on the 5th verse of Just as I Am. I think that's the point that others are making about invitations. Invitations exist, yes, but the modern, peer pressure, guilt trip, emotional based invitation is not found in Scripture. Just to be sure, I'm not saying you're advocating this kind of invitation.

Don Johnson's picture

Joseph Leavell wrote:
The key word here is "seemed." A lot of us who grew up in church are good little actors.

True. But I'm not talking about people like that.

Joseph Leavell wrote:
This is why conservative evangelicals have been so unique - they have refuted both the new evangelicals AND the fundamentalists in their easy believism.

I don't think they are unique. Many people are concerned with easy believism, including some fundamentalists you would no doubt reject. My point is simply that it isn't a "fundamentalist problem" and it is just propaganda to rail against fundamentalism as if it is in the nature of fundamentalism to produce this problem.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Don Johnson's picture

Joseph Leavell wrote:
Interesting that if the CEs that put on the T4G conference actually opened it up to anyone who might be genuinely saved, they would be accused of
being a part of the eccumenical movement and they would be dismissed off handedly for that reason. .... It's their conference - they can't invitate anyone they wish.

Of course. Don't misunderstand the nature of the criticism. I am against T4G because they are still ecumenists at heart, though they have made their lines of fellowship less 'fuzzy' than others have in the past. But they really aren't separatists and still embrace a good deal, if not all, of New Evangelical philosophy.

The criticism of them on the Calvinist point is that they are not truly "Together for the Gospel" because they are together for the gospel plus, i.e., the Calvinist expression of the gospel. Their name is a misnomer at best and possibly disingenuous at worst.

Joseph Leavell wrote:
Don, will you wish them (Dever, Mahaney, McArthur, Mohler, Chandler, etc.) grace, peace, and actual success for their ministries? I would hope so.

Again, Of course. They are brothers, though misguided.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Ted Bigelow's picture

Don Johnson wrote:
As for Jesus and invitations: the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount is an invitation (Mt 7.21-27), also see Mt 11.28-30 and Lk 11.9-13 and Jn 6.53-58.

Nobody questions whether Jesus invited people to repent and believe. But that is 180 degrees different than the invitation system that you claim was like what Jesus used in posts 7 and 36.

Jesus never recommended, asked for, or encouraged in any way possible a physical action on behalf of any sinner as a way to obtain the benefits He promised. Yet, the invitation system does this every Sunday.

Why is this distinction so important?

Because to call on the sinner to repent and beleive is biblical. In that action they must call on the Lord and despair of any thing they can do, or possess, to get saved. They have to rely on God alone. But to ask them to physically do something to gain salvation (come forward, pray a prayer,etc.) is to teach them synergism, and to participate in a false gospel that saves not. They naturally rely on what they are doing, feeling, and experiencing.

They do something, and then "get saved." It is false salvation, and the pews of many churches are filled with unbelievers as a result. The very men - the pastors - who should be telling them about how to look away from self, and look to the perfections of Christ for all heavenly blessing, instead tell them to look to their own decision, or coming forward. On the day of judgment, the works of such ministers will be wood, hay, and straw - no value. They have not honored Christ. Not only that, the souls of those deceived people will condemn these men forever for leading them away from Christ.

If you want to be a straight up man, please provide us with a single instance of Jesus doing anything that even remotely smacks of the present day invitation system, in which the sinner is told to do something to gain the benefits God offers the sinner. But I'm guessing you won't.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

AndrewSuttles wrote:
Now I've finally got it. I'm glad Bauder has finally put his cards on the table with this post. He is not actually writing about the differences between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism at all. In fact, he seems to have an axe to grind against the TFG crowd. This really clears a lot of things up, especially as he has focused on continuationism, Calvinism, and Covenant Theology in the series - none of which are in any way characteristic of the Evangelical movement as I've pointed out before. Not only has Bauder mischaracterized Evangelicalism (without citing any sources to back his claims), but he has mischaracterized Fundamentalism as well, by focusing exclusively on IFBers. Of course Fundamentalist Presbyterians and Pentecostals would have differing views from the ones Bauder claims. If Bauder doesn't like a group of Calvinistic men gathering together for gospel-centered conferences, just say so - don't do it under a false and non-sensical pretense.

Andrew, I would suggest that you don't get it yet.
The series has been aimed at the differences between fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals not fundamentalists and evangelicals generally. The group Kevin is referring to under the term "conservative evangelicals" is indeed more inclined toward CT, more commonly non-cessationist, etc.

The argument in this installment is, in large part, that the CE's of T4G and Coalition do, in fact, get together for more than just the gospel, and that there is nothing wrong with this. But by the same token there is also nothing wrong with fundamentalists cooperating/getting together based on more than just the gospel.

These two paragraphs might help some...

KBauder wrote:
The leaders of T4G and The Gospel Coalition certainly make choices about acceptable boundaries. Those choices are reflected in the names that are featured on the platform. That is not wrong. In fact, recognizing boundaries is important. In view of the choices that these leaders make, however, it seems a bit facile to think that their fellowship in these meetings is determined by nothing but the gospel.
[emphasis added ]
KBauder wrote:
If my musings come anywhere close to the truth, then evidently we are never simply together for the gospel. For Christians, other factors will necessarily be at work in decisions about fellowship and cooperation. Some of these factors appear to be recognized in practice by the planners of T4G and The Gospel Coalition.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Jay's picture

Please redirect the Invitation / Altar Calls discussion to http://www.sharperiron.org/forum/thread-invitation-system-altar-calls ]this thread ; the assorted Lordship questions to http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-lordship ]this thread , and the assorted Calvinist bashing to http://monergism.com/ this site (just kidding).

---- Fixed alter calls link -------- [Jim Peet ]

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

rogercarlson's picture

Don,
I use an invitation. But I do think there are unbiblical uses of it in our movement that are dangerous and wicked. I am sure the CE's have them too. While Jesus did make calls for repentence, he never had several verses of a hymn or gospel song played "just right" to set the mood. He never tried to mapulate or psychologically wear people down. There are many in our movement that do and they need to stop because it is wicked.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Ted Bigelow's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Please redirect the Invitation / Altar Calls discussion to http://www.sharperiron.org/forum/thread-invitation-system-altar-calls ]this thread ; the assorted Lordship questions to http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-lordship ]this thread , and the assorted Calvinist bashing to http://monergism.com/ this site (just kidding).

Jay, you deserve some kind of commission from hatedispensationalism.com, oops, I mean monergism.com.

AndrewSuttles's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
AndrewSuttles wrote:
Fundamentalist Presbyterians and Pentecostals

Curious, where do we find fundamental Pentecostals?

When the fundamentalist/modernist controversy was brewing, Pentecostals were on the side of the fundamentalists - for inerrancy and against evolution. Fundys and Pentecostals share a common root: Keswick-ism, Weslyian-ism, revival-ism, Dispensationalism, etc. I clearly remember the old time (Bob Jones Sr./JR Rice era) evangelists share stories from the days (1950s/1960s) when they were having weeks-long 'meetings' and 'tent revivals' at AoG churches and with AoG congregations and pastors. Many of the early fundamentalist revivalists especially had fellowship with Pentecostals including Lyman, Moody, etc. Remember, Fundamentalism was, at its beginning, an ecumenical movement.

Don -

You criticize a group of men for being too inclusive, and yet you call them ecumenicists. Good night, man, get some consistency in your argument. If you hate Calvinists, just say so.

In general, I highly doubt than any of the T4G type crowd is sitting around wringing their hands over 'who is on my team' OR how inclusive are the Fundamentalists going to be at their upcoming Gospel Conference.

Aaron -

I think I do get it. I don't think Bauder is addressing conservative evangelicalism (whatever he thinks that is) at all. He is grinding his ax against the T4G crowd. We both know the things he has characterized the ECs with are not characteristic of, say the SBC, which is, by far, the largest collection of CEs. The T4G folks are a very small blip on the radar number-wise, but they get a lot of attention due to their focus on the Scriptures and Exposition and quality study materials.

Jay's picture

No, I am not a paid sponsor of monergism.com...but could be Wink

Seriously, I thought a good laugh was necessary.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
We both know the things he has characterized the ECs with are not characteristic of, say the SBC, which is, by far, the largest collection of CEs. The T4G folks are a very small blip on the radar number-wise, but they get a lot of attention due to their focus on the Scriptures and Exposition and quality study materials.
I'm not aware that the SBC CE's are all that different, but I have to admit ignorance on that point. Is Al Mohler a firm cessationist, passionate affirmer of "revivalist taboos," energetic supporter of dispensationalism?
Either way, I explained the argument of the piece (at least the T4G related part). I don't see how you're getting T4G/Coalition bashing out of it.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Jay C. wrote:
Please redirect the Invitation / Altar Calls discussion to http://www.sharperiron.org/forum/thread-invitation-system-altar-calls ]this thread ; the assorted Lordship questions to http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-lordship ]this thread

Please forgive me if I am just too much of a techno-newbie to "get it," but it seems to me like re-directing traffic to some other far-flung thread to continue an interesting discussion is the Web equivalent of saying to one's house guest, "I am going to bed now, but you all feel free to stay and visit as long as you like." Cool

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Is Al Mohler a firm cessationist, passionate affirmer of "revivalist taboos," energetic supporter of dispensationalism?

Aaron,
I believe that Mohler is an amill. Someone please correct me if I am wrong. I doubt he has many taboos, either. Smile

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

Rob Fall's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:
Jay C. wrote:
Please redirect the Invitation / Altar Calls discussion to http://www.sharperiron.org/forum/thread-invitation-system-altar-calls ]this thread ; the assorted Lordship questions to http://sharperiron.org/forum/thread-lordship ]this thread

Please forgive me if I am just too much of a techno-newbie to "get it," but it seems to me like re-directing traffic to some other far-flung thread to continue an interesting discussion is the Web equivalent of saying to one's house guest, "I am going to bed now, but you all feel free to stay and visit as long as you like." Cool
SNIP

No, it's an attempt to prevent thread creep. Many of us view this thread in a lineal fashion. The threads posted deal directly with "altar calls" and "Lordship" questions. SI has many rooms with various purposes. Jay was endeavoring to give directions to the proper room for in depth discussions of the two topics cited.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Jay's picture

Rob is correct - there are at least three seperate discussions going on right now, so I'm trying to keep them all from bogging down the thread. This one is primarily for discussion of Bauder's article(s).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Jay,

Please know that I am not upset or anything -- I just think most people (myself included) would not follow something like that to a new thread, unless maybe there were two guys who were really into it and wanted to spar for a while.
Personally, I would not know how the find the new threads unless I went back up to post #51 and followed it from there.
Like I said, maybe I am just technologically challenged :Sp

Church Ministries Representative, serving in the Midwest, for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry 

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