Matt Olson: "to draw dividing lines that He has not drawn grieves Him, hurts the body of Christ"

What Matters Most: How We Draw the Lines

I can visit a church on Sunday morning, fellowship with believers, love what I am seeing, encourage fellow believers in what they are doing—and still choose not to join that particular local assembly. When we start separating over every belief and opinion we soon find ourselves standing all alone, criticizing the rest of body of Christ. I don’t think that is what God intended

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:

The last time I was in a private meeting with John MacArthur chatting about, of all things, "Purpose Driven", he excused himself to go have lunch with................

...............Chuck Smith.

 

Yes....THAT Chuck Smith.

 

Smile

And our Lord ate with prostitutes and other sinners. The point of your anecdote is?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:
Many of us actually do disagree with any intimation that the Holy Spirit somehow moves us. He convicts of sin; He illuminates scripture. I, and many others, find no scriptural evidence that He directs our decision making on an individual, extra-biblical basis.

Here:

Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Don,

With all due respect, that verse is no closer to teaching individual, personal revelation in decision making than the verses used by the KJVonly crowd to prove their position. That verse is equally supportive of the position I briefly described in the post you quoted. It says nothing about how the Spirit is going to do His leading. You may certainly apply it in the way you describe, but it doesn't provide enough evidence to support that assertion on its own.

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

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Joel Tetreau wrote:
I actually was invited in Jamaica to teach a group of Pentecostal-leaning, non-denominational believers the difference between Spirit Baptism, Spirit Filling and Spirit Indwelling. After the presentation the pastor stood up and said "our brother from America has given us some important Bible teaching that we cannot ignore." Afterwards he told me no one with my belief had ever spoken for him on this topic and he was very grateful that we had ministered with his people. You see if I believe like some of the guys here, I couldn't have gone and taught those dear believers doctrine that they desperately needed.

Joel,

I have said this to you personally when you have used the Jamaica anecdote in similar discussions, and I will repeat it here. The anecdote you give is in a completely different sphere than the discussion going on here. If SGM/Mahaney were interested in being taught further on the subject with the open possibility of changing  their minds, I can't imagine anyone here would say "don't converse." There is no evidence they are considering the possibility they might be wrong, and, even if they were open to change, there is no evidence evidence that is what the remote NIU employee is there to do. He is joining in their work within their doctrinal framework, not trying to change/correct their positions. 

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

Joel Shaffer's picture

 My take on your example is that this man's sub-conscious mind operated during his sleep and brought to him various thoughts about the gospel.  In other words, assuming that he is not lying or delusional, he had a real dream.  I do not assert or believe that it was a revelatory dream. 

 

I'd be curious what your view is about the thousands of Muslims in closed countries that have come to Christ, never hearing of Jesus and never hearing of the gospel, yet somehow they had various thoughts through their sub-conscious mind during the dream. How could they have thoughts about the gospel when they never ever heard of or seen pictures of Jesus before?   

 

Interestingly enough, one of my seminary professors, the late Dr. Robert Rapa, who was one of the strongest advocates of cessationism, yet later in life, allowed for dreams and visions in closed countries.  The reason?  Dr. Rapa was a professor as well as a seminary president in Thailand and Singapore for over a decade.  He had so many Baptist students under him that came from Muslim-controlled countries that had never heard of Jesus or the gospel, yet they had a dream or vision that caused them to seek out the person that they had a dream or vision about.  Through God's providence it brought them around to meet a Christian where someone told them it was Jesus in their dream or vision.  

 

This became Dr. Rapa's only exception to cessationism.  

Steve Davis's picture

Mike Harding wrote:

Steve,

 

First, thanks for the kind words.  Our friendship is still in tact.  I re-read your article.  My take on your example is that this man's sub-conscious mind operated during his sleep and brought to him various thoughts about the gospel.  In other words, assuming that he is not lying or delusional, he had a real dream.  I do not assert or believe that it was a revelatory dream.  Of course, I realize "that the man with the experience is not at the mercy of the man with the doctrine," to quote Hobart Freeman who left Grace Seminary after converting to charismaticism.

 

Regarding Matt's personal integrity, no one has accused him of lying.  Nor do we consider visiting a church and appreciating the good things he saw as an unqualified endorsement.   That would be unfair.  My opinion is that Matt overlooks certain issues because he does not think they are very important.  He does not see the seriousness of those issues.  Does this concern me?  Yes.  I have students at that school.  I have Northland grads in my church.  I have sent many young people to that camp.  I have had numerous groups from the school minister in our church.  I wonder, "What are they being taught and what is being neglected?"

 

Steve, you have been very clear as to your change of direction.  I don't think it is a radical change, but it is according to your own statements a change.  You and I handled that change as Christian gentlemen.  To be candid, I am somewhat saddened by it and you are probably disappointed that I have remained in "IFBdom" as you call it; however, I know you love God, the Gospel, the Bible, the church.  The same could be said of Matt.  I know you are sacrificing in many ways to plant a new church that is consistent with your values, beliefs, and philosophy.  The difference between you and Matt is that Matt is overseeing an IFB Bible college that agreed with us on music, dispensationalism, Baptist distinctives, ecclesiastical and personal separation and a host of other issues.  We sent them students, money, public support.  It appears to me (and I say "appears" because I am an optimist and sincerely pray for the best) that the positions of the school as led by Matt are changing even as some of your positions have changed.  Based on what you have written, I am fairly confident that you also have noticed these changes and that you are in whole-hearted agreement with them.  I understand what you are saying and why.

 

If I were a Bible college president, I would be very concerned about what my Bible professors believed in regard to the cessationist/continuationist debate.  If my Bible professor was an active member of a SGM church, I would have to let him go.  The issue of continuationism is far too serious to confuse my students with that level of ambiguity or confusion, particularly in light of my school's documents, policies, history, and constituency.  Even conservative evangelicals like John MacArthur would be doctrinally militant on this issue.  I have known Matt as long as you have and have many fond memories of our friendship and mutual involvement in ministry.  Friendship is important.  Truth is more important.  On this issue of continuationism truth is on the line as I stated in my previous post.  Truth trumps ecclesiastical fellowship on something like this.

Mike:
 

I appreciate your careful response. In the story I shared you may be right except that the man had never heard the gospel in any way, shape, or form. For him to have a real dream about the gospel is still exceptional. The dream was certainly not revelatory in the sense of revelation which was then inscripturated. I think I have been careful in my understanding of how God may work in pioneer settings and how that differs from the nonsense we see around us today.
 

I understand your concern about what students are taught at Northland and that professors be in accord with the doctrinal statement. I do not know if the employee moving to Philly and joining a SGM church in question is a professor. However, I still am not convinced that the Northland statement on the Charismatic Movement can be applied to SGM. In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia. There may be some but I don’t know of any solid IBF churches in Philadelphia.
 

I think Northland can retain its distinctives and yet demonstrate that in many areas there are legitimate differences among Bible-believing Christians and present other views. If not, students will eventually find out that they have been sheltered and they will not be prepared for the challenges. I also think a school can tell its students that it holds to certain positions but not all are a test of fellowship.
You say that Northland as an IFB school “agreed with us on music, dispensationalism, Baptist distinctives, ecclesiastical and personal separation and a host of other issues.” Who’s the us? Can you get two Baptists who agree on these and a host of other issues? There would be no school if agreement in all these areas was necessary. Is Calvinism one of them and if so how many points?  It seems that is one area that is not in the “host of other things” where there is disagreement but not a hindrance to fellowship.  So who decides which issues demand agreement? I think it may be time for Matt to sit down with you and other concerned leaders for a roundtable discussion.  If IFB’s continue to draw the lines beyond Scripture they will continue to decline.  As I see it Northland is not alone in changing direction, in healthy ways IMO. When I see Dever at Calvary Baptist Seminary along with Bauder, Doran, etc (and D. A. Carson next year), changes are clearly taking place. 
 

Finally, I am not disappointed that you remain IFB as you believe God has called you.  There are IFB guys like you that I would gladly fellowship with and partner with.  You are right.  I have changed but not radically. I have the same commitment to Scripture and desire to be a disciple of Jesus. The problem is that we have added so many things to agree on in order to fellowship and partner in ministry. You are also right that truth trumps friendship. But I’m afraid we sometimes claim to hold the Truth in some areas when we really hold to the truth as we understand it, where we can disagree until further light is given. And when friendships suffer because of that, that is tragic.

Blessings my brother,

Steve
 

 

 

 

Jay's picture

I do not know if the employee moving to Philly and joining a SGM church in question is a professor. However, I still am not convinced that the Northland statement on the Charismatic Movement can be applied to SGM. In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia. There may be some but I don’t know of any solid IBF churches in Philadelphia.

If he is leaving Northland's employ to go help with church planting and be their representative (which is what I think he's doing), then he can't, ipso facto, be on faculty unless he's going to video-teach a bunch of classes, and I don't think that will work for a collegeuniversity setting.

This discussion on cessationalism is interesting for a variety of reasons, but the one aspect that jumps out at me is how many people talk about being 'hard cessationalists' (as in, there is no ongoing supernatural help of any kind) yet they keep carving out exceptions to the rule (this discussion about the Muslim man is a good example - other discussions about whether or how God 'leads' through a subjective means like a "Holy Spirit Impulse To Call Someone (see the embedded clip)" or a "Call to Ministry" is another).  I've quietly called myself a soft cessationist for a few years now simply because I can't with absolute authority say that God doesn't lead via "Call to Ministry" or "Holy Spirit Impulse" or whatever.  I've heard plenty of stories (and they are just stories) where it certainly seemed like the Holy Spirit moved someone to do something that was absolutely in line with what the Word of God said, and I think that stories like the one about the Muslim man would be more prevalent in a places like the 10/40 window.  Of course, measuring all things against what God's Word is key, which is where wackos/heretics like Benny Hinn and TBN go horribly astray (to mention just one small area of that whole mess).

At the end of the day, I do think that it is possible to believe that God can and does work through supernatural means in today's society (James 5:13-15) but also completely affirm that the canon of Scripture is closed and that any belief in 're-inspiration' or 'ongoing revelation' are heretical.  God has given us His Son (Heb. 1:1-4) and His Word (2 Tim. 3:12-4:4).  That's all we need.

"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

Joel Tetreau's picture

Jay,

Great post! I agree with your thoughts there.

 

Chip,

You make your case well. You and I have discussed this before. I certainly agree with you that the Jamaica situation is a bit different than the CJ thing. My point in using the illustration goes back to the purpose of this thread - which is the discussion on how you draw lines. As you know at SVBC the elders have determined that each potential application of ecclesiastical separation will happen on a "case-by-case" basis based on what we believe Biblical wisdom would dictate. One of the results of that approach is if we have an open door - and a ministry is open to being helped and taught - especially if there is little chance of further contact - we'll take that opportunity to influence. Because we at SVBC do not believe in a "one size fits all separation" from other evangelicals, our unity/separation approach is not 100% vis-a-vis 0%. I made the case in our Standpoint Conference a few years ago that the NT demonstrates a graded "koinonia." So the question is this - are the differences that we have with CJ and gang - do those constitute a serous enough threat to the gospel and orthodoxy to warrant a 0% koinonia. We would say, "no it does not." We would say the kind of differences we have with CJ are similar to the differences with fundamentalists that have a more "active" view of "the voice of God." Now does that mean our koinonia is at 100%? Absolutely not! On the evangelical side we would not have CJ come and talk about his view of prophecy. On the fundamentalist side we would not have the Van's come in and talk about the Keswick thing. However, might there be a time we would have some kind of connection with a CJ kind of an evangelical church - and might thee be a time we would have some kind of connection with a Keswick-leaning fundamentalist church? To be clear I wouldn't seek that out but in all honesty -yeah there might be a time we would be partially involved with either kind of ministry for the Gospel sake. Why? Well both groups preach the gospel and in gospel work there will be times when the gospel can be presented and ministry happen outside of the differences we might have with both groups.

Chip, forgive my wondering. Your initial point is fair. In honesty you are correct that the Jamaica situation is indeed a bit different. Good call and God bless!

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Jim's picture

Steve said: "In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia."

 

I'm skeptical about this statement but admit you know more of the area than I. I lived in greater Philly (Haddon Heights NJ, Cherry Hill, NJ, and Moorestown NJ). I know that there are fine IFB churches on the NJ side of the river. One such example is Haddon Heights Baptist

Dan Burrell's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:

The last time I was in a private meeting with John MacArthur chatting about, of all things, "Purpose Driven", he excused himself to go have lunch with................

...............Chuck Smith.

 

Yes....THAT Chuck Smith.

 

Smile

And our Lord ate with prostitutes and other sinners. The point of your anecdote is?

 

Alex....others may choose to respond to your constant stream of condescension and stridency with sincerity and a misguided a belief that you will ever concede a point or position, I'm not one of those.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Jay's picture

Jim brought up a good point - in southern NJ (where I grew up), Hardingville Bible Church is supposed to be really strong, although I don't know a whole lot about them.  

I would be hesitant, however, to say that the NIU grad MUST attend a certain church, and if he is going there to help strengthen and establish a new church in the Philly area that will preach the Gospel, then more power to him...it's not like there can be too many gospel preaching churches in a city of about 6 million.

It's one thing to move there with the intent of helping a new church plant, and another thing to move there and go to a church that is 'safe' in terms of our affiliations.  It's also another thing decide to pack your family up and drive them an hour (or more?) to a 'safe' church when a Gospel preaching church plant (that may or may not be weak on this - all we know is that they're affiliated with SGM) is only twenty minutes away (to pick numbers from the air).

"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

Jim's picture

Hey Jay

You said: "I would be hesitant, however, to say that the NIU grad MUST attend a certain church"

But if I understand the issue correctly (and perhaps I don't) .. it isn't just any Grad .. he directs the online ministry as an employee

And Matt O didn't really answer that question at all or even attempt to. If NIU has a stated doctrinal position (and they do) ... it would seem logical that employees should agree with that position. Perhaps he does. But if he does ... does he disagree with his church's position?

Help me out if I am wrong about this.

Thanks

 

 

 

Don Johnson's picture

It's all very well to discuss and debate SGM's Charismatic Intensity Index, but they claim the title for themselves. A cursory study of their teachings will reveal what they mean by all New Testament gifts being available today and ought to be sought out by believers.

But the questions we are asking have to do with Northland, not SGM. Northland has a clearly stated policy of separation from Charismatics including their ​doctrinal statement​. You can debate whether that should be their policy, whether it should be in their statement, but it is.

So the situation is that Matt says an SGM pastor and his young church members "get what matters most" and is allowing an NIU staff member to continue his employment while being a member of this self-proclaimed Charismatic church. The employee, Greg Dietrich, is currently "Assistant Director Northland Graduate School". He is also the Director of Northland Online. It is not clear which jobs he will be doing while in Philadelphia, one would think the Online part of his portfolio might be part of it.

Regardless, Greg is not an insignificant figure among the Northland staffers.

So the questions remain. Will the NIU doctrinal and policy statements be changed? Will the teaching of NIU be changed in any way relative to Charismatics? Or will the employee be retained?

The questions I raised are about Northland, not about SGM.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Joel Tetreau's picture

Don,

Your refocus is good here - back to the original point. I have to admit to you and everyone else I just had a pretty good laugh with your, "Charismatic Intensity Index." OK - I know you are making a point - but that was funny!

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Steve Davis's picture

Jim wrote:

Steve said: "In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia."

 

I'm skeptical about this statement but admit you know more of the area than I. I lived in greater Philly (Haddon Heights NJ, Cherry Hill, NJ, and Moorestown NJ). I know that there are fine IFB churches on the NJ side of the river. One such example is Haddon Heights Baptist

 

Jersey is not Philadelphia. Greater Philadelphia is not Philadelphia. Philadelphia is 1.5 million in the city. GP includes the suburbs and maybe Jersey. GP and NJ may be close geographically but they are worlds away in so many ways.  Philadelphians generally do not leave the city to attend church somewhere in the suburbs or New Jersey unless attend is all they plan to do (to say nothing of the bridge tolls going to Jersey). There may be some IFB churches in Philadelphia. It's a big place and Grace Bible Church is in Northeast Philly on the other side of the city from us in West Philly (where there are certainly no IFB chuches). The ones I knew of in the past were KJV only. There may be some others of which I am unaware. I was going to belabor that being charismatic does not equate with being part of the Charismatic Movement but as I said before for some there is little nuance (not speaking about you Jim).   

Rob Fall's picture

I see here a difference between how Californians view distances and how Easterners do the same.

Steve Davis wrote:

Jim wrote:

Steve said: "In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia."

 

I'm skeptical about this statement but admit you know more of the area than I. I lived in greater Philly (Haddon Heights NJ, Cherry Hill, NJ, and Moorestown NJ). I know that there are fine IFB churches on the NJ side of the river. One such example is Haddon Heights Baptist

 

Jersey is not Philadelphia. Greater Philadelphia is not Philadelphia. Philadelphia is 1.5 million in the city. GP includes the suburbs and maybe Jersey. GP and NJ may be close geographically but they are worlds away in so many ways.  Philadelphians generally do not leave the city to attend church somewhere in the suburbs or New Jersey unless attend is all they plan to do (to say nothing of the bridge tolls going to Jersey). There may be some IFB churches in Philadelphia. It's a big place and Grace Bible Church is in Northeast Philly on the other side of the city from us in West Philly (where there are certainly no IFB chuches). The ones I knew of in the past were KJV only. There may be some others of which I am unaware. I was going to belabor that being charismatic does not equate with being part of the Charismatic Movement but as I said before for some there is little nuance (not speaking about you Jim).   

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:

Dan Burrell wrote:

The last time I was in a private meeting with John MacArthur chatting about, of all things, "Purpose Driven", he excused himself to go have lunch with................

...............Chuck Smith.

 

Yes....THAT Chuck Smith.

 

Smile

And our Lord ate with prostitutes and other sinners. The point of your anecdote is?

 

Alex....others may choose to respond to your constant stream of condescension and stridency with sincerity and a misguided a belief that you will ever concede a point or position, I'm not one of those.

It appears my earlier response was moderated so that you are spared my wit, that's fine. So I will be more direct. Show me the point to which you believe I should concede and make your argument otherwise ad hominem complaints only give the appearance that you do not have any arguments beyond your assertions. So if you provide no arguments and only anecdotal assertions and ad hominem complaints then there's nothing for me to concede to and really nothing for you to complain about.

Joel Tetreau's picture

My guess is I must be one of the most vocal supports of NIU here at SI who actually never attended NIU. Matt is my friend. I've been on record of defending both Matt and NIU and I am happy to carry whatever "ill" that might mean. Having said all that as a dear friend of NIU I would say to our dear friends in Dunbar that it is good to make a determination on how to respond here. If indeed you determine your critics are wrong - I think you could respond with at least 4 choices:

1. You can decide that the noise on this will go away - it is an "over-reaction" and you leave the doctrinal statement as is. Perhaps connected with that is the determination to not say anything in public. You may determine to allow your continued character to defend you. Sometimes this might be the best call in situations like this.

2. You can decide that the noise will not go away - you note that the people making the noise will continue to make noise because they are noisy people - and they don't like your direction any way - so why do or say anything. Perhaps you buy everyone Green and White "ear-plugs."

3. You look at your doctrinal statement and say - the doctrinal statement stays the same because we don't view the views of CJ and their churches as part of the charismatic movement and we'll make a public statement defending our view on that.

4. You re-work your doctrinal statement so that you hold the non-charismatic position of the school while allowing the leadership to make a "case-by-case" determination as to when other ministries that might be different but not so different that you can't have some kind of appreciation or cooperation.

If I were on the administrative team of NIU (and I am not so don't hold them accountable for what I say here) - but if I were you guys - I would just review with all the leadership "who we are." Let's all affirm this. You then settle in your hearts that based on that view of truth - you will have friends who will stand with you and you will have friends (and maybe some who really are not friends) who simply cannot stand with you because you are too different. I get the sense you guys have already done that - but it might be that everyone can be reminded of that. You then trust that as you continue down the journey of ministry, God will give you all the friends you need to accomplish your ministry. That is exactly what God has demonstrated to our ministry after making a similar commitment some years ago. 

One thing is for sure - you can depend on one congregation and it's leadership team in Gilbert, AZ that loves you, supports you and is on public record of agreeing with your direction and the character of your leadership.

Straight Ahead and please......stay warm! It is very cold up there.

jt

 

 

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Dan McGhee's picture

Just as a side-note, we sent our middle school and high school students to Northland's camp this past July. These were almost exclusively public school students. Their lives were tremendously impacted by their time there. As a pastor, I am very thankful for Northland's ministry emphasis of majoring on the majors and leaving minor differences (matters of preference and style) to be sorted out by the local churches themselves.   

 

Ron Bean's picture

Paul J wrote:

It is interesting that these two churches are only 5 miles apart both very vibrant and growing.  And someone is trying to find a fundamentalist church in the greater Philly area which has 5 million people living there.

http://gbcphilly.com/

http://www.ccphilly.org/

That is interesting. I'd be interested to see some accounts of IFB church plants that are vibrant and growing as well.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Joel Osteen called, he wanted to thank those who consider "vibrant and growing" as qualifications for biblical ministries.

Now to a more important point. For those of you interested in SGM, here is an article that is worth reading:

Sovereign Grace Ministries Soon to Decide on an Apostolic, Presbyterian or Independent Form of Church Government

It is from the blog of Brent Dewiler to inform those going to the link of its source. But what it contains is some information about dates and approaches on the formation of a new church government at SGM which you can also get at the SGM website. It is a letter from Phil Sasser, Chairman of the Polity Committee (Brent adds his commentary in blue font). I found a few interesting quotes by Sasser:

But polity has historically been a basis of acceptable separation between solidly orthodox Christian churches.  And if we separate for these doctrinal reasons, may God grant us the grace to do so in a God-glorifying way. 

So it is clear that these enlightened SGMers aren't so enlightened after all because Sasser accepts the legitimacy of a separatist view over polity, what do you know?!

But here is amore interesting one:

Remember that Sovereign Grace churches have enjoyed a wonderful history of connectivity that will never be erased; even if we no longer share the same governance we will still have much more in common with each other than we do with any other churches or denominations with which we presently enjoy fellowship.

Hmmm...so if Matt Olson is going fishing for students for NIU (I do not know but it seems a reasonable possibility) hopefully he is fully aware of what he is up against. Sasser views those churches as ones with which they now share connectivity, though they may depart when the new government is formed due to polity separation, associations with which they will have "much more in common" than any other church or denomination outside of that particular group but with which they enjoy fellowship.

Finally this quote:

The Polity Committee is working hard to not drag the process out too long but at the same time to carefully consider the options and the implications of each option.  The Committee has not yet decided whether to adopt an apostolic, presbyterian, or independent polity.

So whatever has been said or claimed about the SGM apostolic doctrine, it is quite clear that the Polity Committee has not reckoned this fully charismatic doctrine to be non-bibical in its continued consideration as an option for polity.

For those who feel not so at ease with SGM and the strange development of its embrace by conservative Evangelicals and now a historically Fundamentalist Institution, here is a fascinating article which documents the parallel between the giving of SGM under Mahaney's direction and his rise within the SBC and Southern Seminary itself along with Together for the Gospel and the Gospel Coalition emphasizing his relationships with Mohler and Dever.

The Mahaney Money Machine

 

Paul J's picture

"Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in their faith and grew larger every day."

Mike Harding's picture

Joel,

 

Here are class notes from one of my seminary profs on "Contemporary Theological Issues".  It does not answer your historical question, but gives more info on the current scene.

Miraculous or so-called “sign” gifts are usually identified as prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. Some have extended healing to include a variety of phenomena of the Spirit, e.g., exorcism, healing of social or personal relationships, and even bodily resurrections. Also, some charismatics have considered the gift of tongues to be foreign languages; others, special ecstatic speech.

Two general categories of Christians may be noted in relation to miraculous gifts for this current church age—cessationists (those who believe the miraculous sign gifts ceased with the closing of the NT canon), and continuationists [or non-cessationists] (those who believe that these gifts are meant for Christians to experience throughout the church age. The latter are usually called pentecostalists or charismatics. Within the current Charismatic or (more properly) the Neo-Charismatic Movement there are various schools of thought and interpretation of the miraculous gifts. Two principal ones are the Pentecostals (or charistmatics) proper, and the Third Wave or Vineyard group.

I.  The Third Wave movement (Signs and Wonders movement).

     A.  Early Leaders: John Wimber (1934–1997), former leader of Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Anaheim, and C. Peter Wagner (b. 1930), formerly professor of church growth, Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission.   Term coined on spur of moment by Wagner (cf. MacArthur, p. 128). Real beginning with “MC510 Signs, Wonders and Church Growth” at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1982 with John Wimber. See entire issue of Christian Life (October, 1982), devoted to the movement.

     B.  Teachings.

           1.  Not wishing to be identified as charismatic, or Pentecostal, but a “third” movement of the Spirit of God. But really a semantic diversion.

           2.  A preoccupation with all the charismata or sign gifts—all are available today: tongues, healings, prophetic revelation, visions, ecstatic experiences, mystical phenomena, and miraculous powers—even surpassing the Apostles! These phenomena are available (some say essential) supplements to the gospel.

           3.  A significant difference between Pentecostalism and Third Wave: the former holds to the doctrine of subsequence, i.e, that Baptism of the Spirit is a special experience after or subsequent to conversion; the latter group generally believe that Spirit baptism occurs at the time of conversion. However, both groups indicate not only the continuation of miracles, but of miracle workers. Some cessationists will say that miracles do continue but not the gift of miracles.

           4.  There is an ethical “oughtness” to the signs and wonders: you must evidence these to be true witnesses to a spiritually-starved world.

     C.  “Excuses” for people not being healed.

           1.  Insufficient faith for healing (James 5:15).

           2.  Personal, unconfessed sin (James 5:16).

           3.  Persistent and widespread disunity in the fellowships of believers (1 Cor 11:30).

           4.  Incomplete or inaccurate diagnoses prevent people from praying correctly.

           5.  Sometimes God heals gradually, not immediately (Wimber, Power Healing, p. 152).

     D.  Power evangelism. Importance of salvation found in signs, not repentance. For mamy,  miracles are more important than the gospel message. What produced amazing evangelistic results in the early church? “The answer is deceptively simple. While Christianity was being presented to unbelievers in both word and deed, it was the deed that far exceeded the word in evangelistic effectiveness” (Wagner, The Third Wave, p. 79).

     E.  Current promoters of Third Wave and their views.

           1.  John Piper, Reformed Baptist pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, is associated with Third Wave. See his endorsement at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/3505/signwonder.html    Piper writes,

"It would be a risk not to seek spiritual gifts for myself and my church. It would be a risk not to pray with the early church, “Grant your servants to speak your word with boldness while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through your holy servant Jesus.” Disobedience is always a greater risk than obedience."

           2.  C. Samuel Storms, president of Grace Training Center, a Bible school connected with the Metro Vineyard Fellowship of Kansas City, where he also serves as associate pastor. Storms believes that the NT does not preclude subsequent experiences of the Holy Spirit, but encourages and endorses them. He associates these experiences with the filling of the Spirit, or rather “fillings,” since there can be many. Storms speaks for most continuationists by noting differences between them and the cessationists:

 
CESSATIONISTS                                                                                                                                     CONTINUATIONISTS

Possibility of miraculous phenomena after the apostolic age, but no gift of miracles.                         The gift of miracles is available today.
No continuation of revelatory gifts (prophecy, tongues, interp. of tongues)                                       Revelatory gifts do continue.
Possibility that God can miraculously heal today, but no gift of healing.                                            The gift of healing is in operation today.

Storms spends a great deal of time arguing for the “normalcy” of miraculous phenomena in the OT and also in the NT. But this is not the same as accounting for the gift of miracles being granted to individuals today. God can sovereignly and directly produce a miracle, but does he grant the gift to human beings to perform miracles today? Storms argues in the affirmative on the basis that since other (non-miraculous) gifts are granted (such as mercy, edification, etc.), then miraculous gifts must be granted also. Storms also argues that miraculous gifts (signs and wonders) were not exclusively or uniquely apostolic, and therefore should not be limited to the apostolic age. But, again, the question is not the legitimacy of signs and wonders, but whether God grants the gift to individuals to perform them as he did the Apostles. Yet, the assumption by Storms is that the reason that sign gifts were less prevalent in some periods of history is because of unbelief. Storms summarizes his reasons for support of continuation of miraculous gifts:

                a.  The Bible gives no evidence indicating they are not valid.

                b.  The ultimate purpose of each gift is to build up the body of Christ.

                c.  Three texts in the NT support the duration of spiritual sing gifts: 1 Cor 1:4–9; Eph 4:11-113; and 1 Cor 13:8–13.      

                d.  These gifts have been designed by God to characterize the life of the church today.

                e.  The Holy Spirit would not simply inaugurate these gifts and then disappear.

Storm’s thorough discussion reflects the common arguments in support of continuationism and may be found in “A Third Wave View,” Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views, ed. Gundry and Grudem Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, pp. 156–223.

Other advocates of Third Wave continuationism are Stanley Gundry, Wayne Grudem, Jack W. Hayford, Gordon Fee, and C. J. Mahaney.

 

II.  Cessationist Response.

Two major considerations in terms of the purposes of sign gifts: authentication and revelation. Continuationists have these two BIG questions to answer: if miraculous gifts are current, what do they authenticate?  If sign gifts are in any sense revelatory, then how can we say that the Bible is a closed canon and that is a sufficient revelation? 

    Major problems.

           1.  Continuationists believe that miraculous signs are given today for various purposes, such as God expressing His compassion. However, it appears clear from the NT that miracles were performed for the primary purpose of confirming or authenticating the ministry of Christ and the Apostles. If He and they are no longer present, why would miraculous signs need to be permanent?

           2.  Continuationists say that the church of today has the same needs as the NT church, and therefore the same activity must continue as well. In the NT the signs confirmed the apostolic ministry; today, they confirm the Scripture. However, there is a major difference: new revelation was progressively being given by Christ and the Apostles. The Scriptures need no complimentary witness for authentication; they are self-affirming and self-authenticating.

           3.  Continuationists argue that since all gifts were for the edification of the church, and the church still needs edification, then all gifts must still be present, not just some of them. However,
most would agree that at least one gift has ceased—that of the Apostle. Therefore, not all gifts continue. Likewise, circumstances have changed since the end of the apostolic era and the closing of the NT canon. These two factors alone indicate that the Spirit’s ministry is essentially different than during the NT era.

           4.  Continuationists insist that there is no NT passage stating that sign gifts would cease. However, the NT does not teach that they would continue either. Possibly one reason for the silence on this matter is the early expectation of the Lord’s Second Coming.

           5.  Continuationists’ explanation for the reason that miraculous gifts have not been the continuous experience of the Christian church is lack of spirituality or ignorance of biblical truth in various periods of history. Yet it is often during the times and places of biblical ignorance and superstition that reports of miraculous signs have been most notable (e.g., the Middle Ages).

           6.  Continuationists (such as Storms) define the gift of prophecy as “the human report of a divine revelation” (Are Miraculous Gifts for Today, p. 207). And they admit that the report of the prophecy can and often does include human error. Yet prophecy in the Bible (especially the OT) does not make such a distinction; the report is the prophecy, and is expected to be infallible and inerrant. Storms and other continuationists want to separate the divine revelation (which is infallible) from its reception (which may be fallible). However, how is revelation communicated and received? It is by word. Otherwise, one is given to existentialist impressions, which can never be trusted. It is clear from Scripture that the prophet’s words are God’s word (or revelation) and are not simply a human report, and carry the weight of divine inerrancy (2 Sam 23:2; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:1; Jer 1:7, 9; 1 Cor 2:13). Continuationists use Agabus in Acts 21:11 as an example of an erroneous prophecy. However, if we explain the prophecy as Paul having already been handed over to the Romans before he left Jerusalem, we have no discrepancy. The Jews were the cause of Paul’s arrest by the Romans. “Paul’s statement and the prophecy of Agabus are thus to be understood as a condensed statement of the event that ‘the Jews were responsible for his being in the hands of the Romans’” (Robert Saucy in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today, p. 231).

           7.  Continuationists use James 5 as an example of the miracle of healing being granted in connection with the prayer of faith. However, there is no indication in this passage that anyone was given the gift to heal, but that they all prayed in faith. This passage is greater support for God using prayer as His means of healing rather than giving that gift to someone else. To cite Jesus’s compassionate healing ministry as a guarantee that the same gift is available today is to completely overlook the significance of Jesus’s miracles as a mean of authenticating His messiahship (John 20:30–31; Acts 2:22). This idea of connecting God’s compassion with the healing miracles is to suggest that God is less compassionate when He doesn’t heal, even after fervent entreaties by His most godly saints.

           8.  Continuationists justify the gift of tongues as a means of private edification to improve the devotional life. Storms speaks for most charismatics when he writes, that the tongues bring “peace and joy,” are “profoundly helpful...in [our] prayer life,” “deepen [our] intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ,” and increase our zeal in worship (Are Miraculous Gifts for Today, pp. 215, 216, 222). However, two points must be raised in opposition to this: (1) if such is the case, then why aren’t all Christians experiencing the gift of tongues? but (2) Scripture indicates that this gift was not given to everyone but that it, along with other gifts, was for the mutual edification of saints (1 Cor 12:30).

           9.  Continuationists say that speaking in tongues and modern day prophecy are forms of revelation. If so, then this is inspired speech from God and implies that the inspired canon of the NT is somehow incomplete and therefore insufficient. This undermines the doctrine of the absolute authority of Scripture. It also opens the issue of apostolic witness, which was unquestionably connected to divine authority. Does this “witness” continue? The general consensus of Christians has been yes, but not seen in the same way. Note:

Roman Catholicism — apostolic witness continues with the apostolic office (i.e., the papacy)
Pentecostalism — apostolic witness continues with apostolic miracles (i.e., miracle workers)
Biblical Protestantism — apostolic witness continues with apostolic doctrine (i.e., NT truth)

The first two are extra-biblical authorities which practically make Scripture insufficient; the third position affirms the absolute sufficiency of Scripture for faith and practice. Question: if the apostolic office is connected to signs and wonders, how can you account for the continuation of the one (signs and wonders) without the continuation of the other (the office)? As Gaffin writes,

If prophecy today...is of divine inspiration, in effect Scripture has been added to.... In view is additional immediate revelation that functions, especially where guidance is concerned, beyond Scripture and so unavoidably implies a certain insufficiency in Scripture that needs to be compensated for. The tendency of this view, no matter how carefully it is qualified, is to divert attention from Scripture, particularly in practical and pressing life issues (Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? pp. 47, 52).

         10.  Continuationists maintain that extra-biblical prophecy is subordinate revelation and not on the same level as Scripture. And yet they say that “true prophecy is the very utterance of God” (Richard B. Gaffin Jr., citing J. R. Williams’s Renewal Theology [2:382, 386] in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? p. 46). However, if the prophecy is erroneously given, this impugns the very nature of revelation, which is infallible, and therefore of God Himself. Also, if prophecy is uttered which has no relevance to Scripture (such as a dreams, visions, etc.) how can it be verified as authentic, since it cannot be tested by Scripture?

         11.  Continuationists, in their passion for the personal, experiential, mystical approach to Christianity play into the hands of the postmodernist rejection of Enlightenment rationalism. The modern charismatic movement, emphasizing “the nonrational and intuitive aspect of human spirituality—is now being taken into account more adequately in contemporary philosophy” (Gaffin, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today?, p. 27, citing postmodernist Henry Lederle). But what Enlightenment modern rationalism and postmodern experientialism have in come is human autonomy. What is basic to both is ultimate authority’s location—the human mind.

         12.  Continuationists make the Pentecost experience not only normative for contemporary Christians, but include it in their ordo salutis as a second work of grace subsequent to salvation, and as part of (even essential to) sanctification. Yet the Book of Acts relates salvation history, not necessarily salvation order. Sign gifts confirm and authenticate gospel salvation and are means (i.e., tongues) of conveying the salvation message to unbelievers. They are not designed primarily for sanctification, but confirmation of salvation.

     D.  Summary: The foundational nature of the apostolate is evidence for the cessation of miraculous gifts. Note Samuel E. Waldron’s “cascade argument” in To Be Continued: Are The Miraculous Gifts for Today? (Merrick, NY: Calvary Press, 2005):

           1.  Apostolic foundation for the church: Eph 2:20; Matt 16:18; Rev 21:14.
           2.  The apostolate has ceased since no one can fulfill the qualifications of an Apostle.

           3.  The Prophetic office has ceased since the very nature of prophecy is revelatory and divine revelation implies infallibility. OT and NT prophecy must be held to the standard of Deut 18:15–22. “There is not a single passage in the New Testament where the biblical terminology related to prophecy or prophesying refers to anything but the inspired reception and utterance of direct revelation” (To Be Continued, p. 69). 

           4.  Since the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets (Eph 2:20), and the office of apostle has ceased, so must the office of prophet have ceased. The prophet referred to is in the NT period. The prophetic utterances are revelational even as those of the OT prophet.

           5.  If prophecy continues then revelation continues; if revelation continues, then we do not have a closed canon.

           6.  Tongues-speaking and interpreting are forms of prophetic utterance. But if the office of prophet has ceased, then there can be no extra-biblical prophetic or revelatory utterance.

           7.  Miracles are supernatural signs attesting divine revelation. They are means of direct revelation. Again, if they continue, then revelation continues, and therefore we do not have a closed canon.

If we need something revelatory outside of Scripture to authenticate it, then the authenticator becomes the means of testing the veracity of the Bible. But just the opposite is true. The Bible determines the authenticity of everything else. Let God be true, and every man a liar!  Then what authenticates the Bible? The Bible itself; it is self-authenticating. If we can see, we do not need anyone to tell us, when we look up into the sky, that the sun is shining. See Luke 16:31; Matt 12:39. 

     E.  Apostasy.

If, in the “latter times” (i.e., the Church Age) apostasy will increase, in what ways may we observe it? The Scripture gives several identifiers of apostasy, which, ironically, have been identified as characteristics of spiritual blessing or the outpouring of the Holy Spirit: spirituality (yet without the Spirit), seeking after a sign, counterfeit signs and wonders, women prophesying and preaching, greater self-esteem (private praying in tongues), financial prosperity (health and wealth gospel). Now the advocates of continuation of miraculous gifts will all say that these simply involve misapplication or misuse of that which is perfectly legitimate and beneficial. But they all focus on the experiential and mystical, and suggest the insufficiency of Scriptural revelation for the Christian life. They will say, “But these are used in Scripture for great benefit and are still available today for the same reason.” However, we must ask of what benefit can prophesying or speaking in tongues grant today beyond the edification of what God has finally revealed in the Scripture? If I need something else, then I need more than what God has promised. He never promised that I could make a lame man walk, nor speak miraculously in a strange tongue, nor prophesy some great truth that would supposedly compliment biblical revelation. But he did promise me spiritual growth on the basis of obedience to specific commands which do continue and will enable the faithful Christian to persevere and progress. Can I possibly persevere in the faith without miraculous gifts? Or put another way, do I have all that I need to persevere without them? Does the church of Jesus Christ have all that she needs to grow in grace apart from them? I would say yes, since they are nowhere in Scripture made a requirement for the successful Christian life. Then how can they be needful now, or even normative?  But let someone have an experience, it becomes not only regulative of his/her life, but must be normative if not necessary for everyone else as well. And if not shared, then it must be indicative of a spiritual deficiency. So wherein is the power? In miraculous sign gifts? No, the Antichrist can perform these. The real power is in the gospel of God to transform lives and make them conformable to His dear Son.

 

 

Pastor Mike Harding

Joel Tetreau's picture

Mike,

Thanks for the epistle! This is excellent organization of the material in question. I think I'm in agreement with the majority of what I see. #12 may be unfair - I don't think all of these guys would see it as a second work of grace or as your notes here read. I think a chunk of them believe it's a continuation from the first work of grace. I might actually ask a Sovereign Grace guy I'll see tomorrow at the area NANC meeting I'm headed to. As a matter of fact your list makes some pretty bold universal statements like "Continuationists believe such in such." I'm not sure all contiuationists believe everything your notes here list. You might be right - perhaps all continuationalist believe #1 - #12. Again I'll ask my SG buddy tomorrow. He's a great guy. Very honest. He'll tell me where your list represents his understanding or when it doesn't. Of course if I find out - we'll call him "Trey" - If I find out Trey is a continuationist yet doesn't agree with everything on the list - you might only have to change the statement from "Continuationists believe....." to "Many contiuationist believe......" or "Some continuationist believe........" or maybe even "Most continuationist believe X, Y and Z.

As good as all of this is here (and this is very good!) - I do think a "crux issue" is the very question left unanswered. Hey - I know life and ministry is busy. When you get a chance I'd love to see you answer (or you could barrow an answer from someone who knows) the question not dealt with here. How long have "cessationist evangelicals" been practicing total separation from "continuationist evangelicals?" Have evangelicals or protestants or puritans or baptists or proto-fundamentalists - have "we" been practicing consistently "total separation" from the "continuationist evangelicals" for the bulk of the church age ..... or is this a relatively new practice the last 50 years? Of course in fairness to you Mike we probably have to ask another question before that one - like where there any "continuationist evangelicals" to speak of prior to Azusa Street? Does anyone know that? Wow - my head hurts again!

I wonder if Spurgeon would have any fellowship with "continuationist evangelicals?" I know he took a hard stand in the downgrade controversy so obviously he's willing to practice separation. I wonder if Spurgeon would separate from CJ? I think that's a great question. I'm pretty sure CJ wouldn't separate from Spurgeon - of course that's not usually how separation goes.

Straight Ahead!

jt

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

chkdear's picture

Steve Davis: “In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia. There may be some but I don’t know of any solid IBF churches in Philadelphia.”

Heretofore I have spent very little time with SI, but friends emailed me the above statement and I feel compelled to set the record straight on the subject of IFB churches in Philadelphia.

One need only open the Philadelphia Yellow Pages to “Independent Baptist Churches,” to find a number of churches listed, most of which would label themselves as Fundamental, as well as Independent and Baptist.  Likewise, for the newer generation, one can use the internet with a similar search and find a number of Philadelphia churches on various church and community directories that would identify themselves as IBF.  Our church (Crescentville Baptist Church www.cbaptist.com) has been on the internet now for 17 years. AS to how "solid" we are, I will leave that to the witness of others who have known our ministry over the years and can testify that our faithfulness to the Word remains unchanged. 

Crescentville Baptist Church has been in the city of Philadelphia, at the same location in northeast Philadelphia, for 77 years. Throughout those years, we have consistently preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and practiced Baptist polity and distinctives.  When others took “white flight” to the suburbs, back in the early 60's, we chose to continue our ministry where we are.  Our presence, and that of other IBF churches in the city, should have been known and recognized by Steve Davis and the others who have come to Philadelphia in more recent years. It also paints a incorrect picture of faithful IBF ministries, to our brethren who do not know the City of Philadelphia.

It is also absurd to suggest one must travel as far as Haddon Heights NJ, to find an IFB church.  IFB churches can be found from South Philadelphia through the far northeast and  mostly East of Broad Street in between.  As much as I try to keep up with new efforts coming to Philadelphia, many continue to come and go, and there may be others West of Broad Street unfamiliar to me.

If you expand your considerations beyond the city limits, you will find even more IFB churches, in Boothwyn, Upper Darby, West Chester, Chester, Bensalem, Elkins Park, just to name a few.
I seriously doubt that anyone, in any part of Philadelphia would need to travel more than 10-15 miles to reach an IFB church, in, or outside of the city. Our brethren in the suburbs and rural sections think nothing of driving 20 or more miles to church.

Jay's picture

Jim wrote:
Hey Jay

You said: "I would be hesitant, however, to say that the NIU grad MUST attend a certain church"

But if I understand the issue correctly (and perhaps I don't) .. it isn't just any Grad .. he directs the online ministry as an employee

And Matt O didn't really answer that question at all or even attempt to. If NIU has a stated doctrinal position (and they do) ... it would seem logical that employees should agree with that position. Perhaps he does. But if he does ... does he disagree with his church's position?

Help me out if I am wrong about this.

Thanks

Hey Jim-

Been super swamped lately, so I'm a little late on this.  Yes, the employee is directing the online ministry and yes, the concerns you noted are valid, as I have said elsewhere.

My points were this:

1.  Directing the online ministry is a little different from being a professor and teaching full time - someone said that he was a professor, and there's a difference there.  One makes his living teaching.  One makes his living doing admin work and wouldn't seem to have the time to do a lot of teaching.

2.  Yes, Olson didn't seem to address the actual question - it would be nice if he would do so and 'put some of this issue to bed', so to speak.  I'm really surprised that he hasn't addressed this directly at this point.  Something run on the FBFI Blog should not be ignored or put out of mind unless he's been in touch with Don or others directly and they're talking 'behind the curtain'.  If so, the FBFI or someone should say that NIU is talking with them about these concerns, IMHO.  

3.  I'm not sure what's going or how this employee can hold to both statements, but I don't see the massive difference between the two doctrinal statements (although I should probably go back and review).  I don't seriously think that Northland would promote any kind of tongues speaking, health and wealth gospel, or any of the kind of things that the typical Charismatic movements would promote; I know that they would argue that the Biblical canon is closed.

Finally, chkdear, I noted that the only church that I knew of (other than my home church) is in Franklinville and that I grew up in New Jersey.  Pardon my ignorance of what the churchgoing scene in Philadelphia - roughly an hour away - looks like. Wink

"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

Steve Davis's picture

chkdear wrote:

Steve Davis: “In any case the employee would be hard pressed to find an IFB church in that area of Philadelphia or in all of Philadelphia. There may be some but I don’t know of any solid IBF churches in Philadelphia.”

Heretofore I have spent very little time with SI, but friends emailed me the above statement and I feel compelled to set the record straight on the subject of IFB churches in Philadelphia.

One need only open the Philadelphia Yellow Pages to “Independent Baptist Churches,” to find a number of churches listed, most of which would label themselves as Fundamental, as well as Independent and Baptist.  Likewise, for the newer generation, one can use the internet with a similar search and find a number of Philadelphia churches on various church and community directories that would identify themselves as IBF.  Our church (Crescentville Baptist Church www.cbaptist.com) has been on the internet now for 17 years. AS to how "solid" we are, I will leave that to the witness of others who have known our ministry over the years and can testify that our faithfulness to the Word remains unchanged. 

Crescentville Baptist Church has been in the city of Philadelphia, at the same location in northeast Philadelphia, for 77 years. Throughout those years, we have consistently preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and practiced Baptist polity and distinctives.  When others took “white flight” to the suburbs, back in the early 60's, we chose to continue our ministry where we are.  Our presence, and that of other IBF churches in the city, should have been known and recognized by Steve Davis and the others who have come to Philadelphia in more recent years. It also paints a incorrect picture of faithful IBF ministries, to our brethren who do not know the City of Philadelphia.

It is also absurd to suggest one must travel as far as Haddon Heights NJ, to find an IFB church.  IFB churches can be found from South Philadelphia through the far northeast and  mostly East of Broad Street in between.  As much as I try to keep up with new efforts coming to Philadelphia, many continue to come and go, and there may be others West of Broad Street unfamiliar to me.

If you expand your considerations beyond the city limits, you will find even more IFB churches, in Boothwyn, Upper Darby, West Chester, Chester, Bensalem, Elkins Park, just to name a few.
I seriously doubt that anyone, in any part of Philadelphia would need to travel more than 10-15 miles to reach an IFB church, in, or outside of the city. Our brethren in the suburbs and rural sections think nothing of driving 20 or more miles to church.

 

As I said there may be some. I had googled IFB churches in Philadelphia. I know of three or four that all proclaim their allegiance to the KJV. I would not recommend them or consider them solid.  I did not see Crescentville Baptist Church in the Yellow Pages (might've missed it). It is in NE Philly not far from our second church plant in North Philly. However, these are different worlds and for city people to might travel 10-15 miles to find an IFB church is absurd. Of course that's assuming that "anyone" has a car.  Whatever our suburban and rural brethren might do, it's comparing apples to oranges and misunderstands the nature of  city ministry.  In any case there is a paucity of IFB churches in Philly and I have not found any that I would recommend apart from Crescentville :-). There is also Burholme BC in NE Philly which may be GARBC but I did not find  web site for them. There may be others but for a city the size of Philadelphia the IBF influence is insignificant.  To add churches from the suburbs is besides the point. Most people will not leave the city to go to a suburban church (and why should they?)
 

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