Credalist Torch and Pitchfork Society

While the vast majority of the Beth Moore defenders were overcome with the vapors and collapsed on their fainting couches in response to John MacArthur’s comments, there was another side controversy with him that went unnoticed. During his opening message to the GTY Truth Matters conference, John cited the following Tweet that states,

MacArthur never mentioned the tweeter by name, but a number of folks demanded that he apologize forthwith to the man for slandering his character. One has to wonder what it is exactly he needs to apologize for seeing that he merely just read the guy’s tweet.

Never the less, the tweet represents a small number of Reformish folks who insist MacArthur’s position defending the Lordship of Christ in salvation is adding works to the Gospel. Now, anyone who is familiar with what it is he has taught over the years about the Lordship controversy is bumfuzzled by such a bizarre assertion. That was the smear that rose out of the fever swamps of independent fundamentalist Baptists who hated Calvinism. Why would those Reformish people claim such an absurd assertion against MacArthur?

I’m here to help, so let me break down the basic complaint.

Their charge against MacArthur emerges out of their idea that the Bible must be rigidly interpreted alongside one of the many historic creeds. In the case of the tweeter, the 39 Articles of Religion. The historic creeds, that can also include the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, as well as the early church creeds affirmed at Nicea and Chalcedon, are considered guard rails that prevent the misinterpretation of Scripture. The London Baptist Confession of 1689 is the exception because these Reformish types tend to believe Baptists are heterodox renegades.

MacArthur, of course, acknowledges the importance of those creeds in defining for the modern church the theological thought of Christianity throughout the centuries. He has never said church history or creeds are of no value for the church in understanding what it is Christians have believed and confirmed about Scripture. It’s that idea of the Bible MUST BE interpreted according to those creeds, that’s the sticking point. That sounds an awful lot like the Roman Catholic Magisterium handling of Scripture and their notion that the Bible is interpreted by church authorities. It’s like a Roman Catholic “sola scriptura.” MacArthur’s Reformish critics insist it’s not really, because it’s Protestant, which is okay, because it’s not Roman Catholic. BUT, if the biblical teaching from your church or denomination isn’t governed by one or more of those creeds, you’re all in danger of ignoring church history, and becoming “Bible Only” biblicists or a Dispensational. That’s like really bad.

Their Protestant magisterium application of the creeds and confessions brings them to nitpick over the semantics of theological terminology and concepts. Because MacArthur hasn’t used the credal precision in his preaching about soteriology and the Lordship of Christ as they insist he must, they accuse him of confusing law/Gospel distinctives and mixing up sanctification and justification, and being a dastardly Dispensationalist.

For those familiar with MacArthur’s views on Christ’s Lordship, he was originally responding to the spiritually disastrous teaching that was permeating all of evangelical Christianity in America at the time, that being, in order for a person to be saved all he ever has to do is pray a prayer telling Jesus he wants eternal life. That person is now saved, and even if his life never changes so as to conform to godly Christlikeness, and he continues to live worldly, he is saved, because he prayed what amounts to a Christianized mantra when an evangelist told him to raise his hand if he wanted salvation.

MacArthur then spent a lot of his time — like years! — preaching and writing against such easy-believism infecting the church. Salvation entails much more than just “praying a prayer” or “walking and aisle.” It involves repenting from sin and making Jesus Lord of your life. His sermons and books, like the Gospel According to Jesus and Hard to Believe, flesh all of that out. But again, because he doesn’t use credal terminology, the credal only Reformish insist he is confusing law, gospel, works and grace, and teaches justification by grace+works.

There are a number of individual articles, podcasts, and Youtube videos berating  MacArthur about this, for instance HERE (featuring our tweeter). His critics come from two extremes on the theological spectrum from R.Scott Clark (HERE) and of recent, Brannon Howse (see HERE).

So to recap:

The tweeter took note of MacArthur reading his tweet and responded to him by retweeting his original tweet (see above) and then expanding on his view against “Lordship salvation” under the thread. The responses he offered to inquirers asking why MacArthur’s Lordship view is works oriented were — to be charitable here — a tad misleading.

Consider his examples,

He cites from a couple of places in MacArthur’s seminal book on the topic, The Gospel According to Jesus. The examples provided has MacArthur saying that faith is humble, submissive, and encompasses obedience. The implication is that he is advocating that true faith somehow requires humility, submissiveness, and obedience from the sinner in order for it to be genuine. Meaning, the sinner musters those qualities FIRST so as to generate true faith. Thus, faith is not a divine work and considered alone with humility, submission, and obedience being the fruit that grows in the work of sanctification. The conclusion drawn by our critic is that MacArthur is saying that faith is an act of obedience on the part of the sinner and is so confusing justification with sanctification.

There are a couple of problems with these examples.

First, the citations are taken out of context, and that’s kind of big. Let me reproduce the paragraphs in their entirety. I will bold the quotes mentioned in the tweets.

This is taken from chapter 12, The Treasure of the Kingdom,

Obviously, a new believer does not fully understand all the ramifications of the Lordship of Jesus at the moment of conversion. But a true believer has a desire to surrender. This is what distinguishes true faith from a bogus profession. True faith is humble, submissive obedience. As spiritual understanding unfolds, that obedience grows deeper, and the genuine believer displays an eagerness to please Christ by abandoning everything to His lordship. This willingness to surrender to divine authority is a driving force in the heart of every true child of the kingdom. It is the inevitable expression of the new nature. [GATJ, 1st edition, 140].

In context, MacArthur is nowhere saying that obedience, or submissive humility, are necessary preconditions for saving faith. That charge is rather scurrilous to say the least.

Consider the second and third citations taken from pages 172 and 173,

This is taken from chapter 16, The True Nature of Saving Faith.

We have seen already that repentance is a critical element of genuine faith, and that repentance is granted by God; it is not a human work (Acts 11:18, 2 Timothy 2:25). Likewise, faith is a supernatural gift of God. Ephesians 2:8-9 is a familiar passage: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” [GATJ, 1st edition, 172).

The third citation is terrifically dishonest,

Again, taken from chapter 16,

The faith God begets includes both the volition and the ability to comply with his will (cf. Philippians 2:14). In other words, faith encompasses obedience. [Here the critic inserts ellipses, but in doing so robs MacArthur of his argument and making him say something he never did] Berkhof sees three elements to genuine faith: an intellectual element (notitia), which is the understanding of truth; and emotional element (assensus), which is the conviction and affirmation of truth; and a volitional element (fuducia), which is the determination of the will to obey truth. Modern popular theology tends to recognize notitia and often assensus but eliminate fiducia. Yet faith is not complete unless it is obedient. [GATJ, 1st edition, 173].

Put together in context, MacArthur is not confusing law/Gospel or sanctification with justification. He is clear that saving faith, and even repentance, are a supernatural, divine work of God. His point is that real faith is more than just a profession that never amounts to a changed life. Real faith is the fuducia kind mentioned by Berkhof that is a determination to willfully obey truth, not just the emotional acknowledgement of facts as true. Our tweeter (and the entire host of credal critics) have, I can only guess intentionally, misrepresented everything that MacArthur has taught on this topic.

But even worse, those critics are arguing with the first edition of the Gospel According to Jesus. The second edition contains some clarifying rewrites and an entirely new chapter on the topic of justification that was added for the purpose of addressing those sorts of dishonest criticisms. MacArthur writes this important paragraph in the preface of the second edition,

The original edition had no treatment of the doctrine of justification by faith. My goal in writing the book, of course, was not to set forth a systematic soteriology, but simply to expound the major evangelistic messages of our Lord. I rather assumed that evangelicals on both sides of the lordship question were in basic agreement on the matter of justification. Admittedly, this omission was unfortunate. It seems to have contributed to some reader’s [Insert here: pedant Reformish credal nitpickers] of my views. A few even imagined that I was explicitly repudiating the great Reformation emphasis on justification by faith alone. Of course, that was not at all the point I was making. [GATJ, 2nd edition, 13-14].

Peruse MacArthur’s catalog of sermons and books and it will be discovered that he affirms and teaches a forensic understanding of justification, that men are saved by faith alone in Christ alone by the grace of God. This is clearly seen in his sermon series on the book of Romans, specifically his study on chapters 3 and 4. I would also add his messages on the Doctrines of Grace, as well as his message specifically on the Gospel According to Jesus.

I would hope that going forward, the credalists would interact with John’s most recent thought on this topic, rather than cherry-picking selected highlights from an older work. Even still, the older work, when considered in full, doesn’t even come close to advocating what they claim it does.

The Last Temptation of Christ

The Australian arm of The Gospel Coalition recently published an interview with Ed Shaw, one of the founders of Living Out, the U.K. version of Revoice. Consider the title of the interview, “The Church and Same-Sex Attracted People.” It assumes such a category as “same-sex attracted people” is a reality of the human existence, that Christians should recognize them as legit, and accept them into the body dynamic of the local Church. Shaw, for example, even wrote up a church audit that determines just how inclusive a congregation is for same-sex attracted, LGBT+ people. I wrote a response to it HERE.

The interview was troubling and sound-minded folks on social media rightly blasted it. The reaction was so overwhelming, that the TGC Australia editors felt it necessary to add a postscript responding to the backlash. It states,

Editor’s Postscript: In view of some strong reactions on social media to some of the material in this interview, the TGCA editorial panel would like to make clear that we are very grateful for the heroic stand of Christian leaders such as Ed Shaw who have been open and honest about their own struggles with sexuality while defending biblical standards of sexual practice.

We would urge those who believe that there is something wrong with the idea that Jesus might have struggled in regard to matters connected to his sexuality to consider the meaning of Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15. Jesus (i)  was genuinely tempted in every way like us; (ii) suffered in the process; (iii) did not sin. Every one of those statements is important—not just the last. The Bible does not tell us what particular temptations Jesus may have experienced in these areas, but it stresses that he had a human nature that was capable of being tempted. Temptation, in other words, is not the same as sin.

We would also urge readers who want to be properly informed about what Ed Shaw and Living Out believe to take some time to visit http://www.livingout.org and spend some time looking at the questions and answers discussed there.

For the purposes of this post, I want to focus in upon that second paragraph.

Advocates for the Orwellian named “same-sex attracted Christian” want us to believe that same-sex attraction is a possible category of human existence — about two percent of the population. Out of that group, there are same-sex attracted people who will profess Christ as their Lord and Savior. Those individuals, we are told, will struggle throughout their entire life with romantic feelings and sexual desires for someone of the same-sex. The church must not guilt them into believing those desires must be changed, but instead, should help LGBT people accept who they are, exhorting them to remain celibate, and serve in the church as vibrant, single members.

The first sentence of the postscript says, “We would urge those who believe that there is something wrong with the idea that Jesus might have struggled in regard to matters connected to his sexuality…” Whoever wrote that comment seems to believe Jesus might have struggled with homosexuality. That our Lord and Savior, the Son of Man, the Son of God, Who always did the will of the Father, may have had sexual attractions to other men. Perhaps, for example, the apostle John, because, well, he did lean on Jesus’s bosom at the Last Supper and he is said to be one of the disciples whom Jesus loved (John 13:23).

The reason that such a filthy, blasphemous idea is even suggested has to do with a terrifically bad take on two crucial passages, Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15.

Hebrew 2:18 states, For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. And Hebrews 4:15 states, For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. The editor of the post script goes on to conclude that Jesus was tempted just like us, suffered in the process, but didn’t sin, and though it is noted that we cannot know for sure what temptations Jesus may have experienced that enticed Him toward sin, he did have a human nature that was tempted and temptation is NOT the same as sin.

In the context of the backlash TGC Australia encountered, the suggestion is that Jesus could have struggled with gay attraction (He was of course single), He agonized throughout that temptation, but he did not give into it (remained chaste and advocated for biblical men and women relationships). Haters need to turn down the anti-SSA rhetoric. Even though there are Christian men who really want to have sexual intercourse with other men, the fact that they may think about it, but refrain from engaging in the act, proves they are modeling how Jesus responded to the same temptations.

The post script not only has a terrible biblical anthropology, it has a terrifically bad christology as well.

First, SSA advocates insist that temptation is different and separated from desire and sin. In other words, a person may struggle with SSA, desire a romantic/sexual relationship with a person of the same sex, but the temptation to act upon homosexual sin is not sinful in and of itself. The person was merely tempted, yet struggled with resistance and took victory over those temptations. The person didn’t commit any sin. So, just because a person has the desires of SSA doesn’t mean they are in sin if he or she experiences temptation to behave sinfully on a daily basis.

But Jesus never chopped sins into different categories. When he preached the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus confronted head on the false notion that desire and sin are separate. If a person is angry with his brother, curses him, and speaks ill of him before others, he is a murderer (Matthew 5:22). The person never even raises so much as his fist against the man, but his animosity against him makes him a murderer none the less. His desire is hatred toward his brother and Jesus calls it sinful murder even though he has done no physical act against him. Jesus also talks about adultery in the same way (Matthew 5:27-28). Even if a man never has physical intercourse with a woman, the lust he feeds in his heart toward her makes him an adulterer. The woman may never even know a man is committing adultery with her.

The point Jesus makes throughout the Gospels is that man’s sin originates from his heart (Matthew 15:18-19). Notice the first sin listed in verse 18 is “evil thoughts.” In other words, desires. The heart is the seat of man’s desires and so specific desires can be sinful. Scripture calls those desires like SSA, inordinate affection, a desire that is disordered (Colossians 3:5). The King James translates the phrase concupiscence, an old fashioned word meaning strong, sensual, involuntary sexual arousal. That captures exactly what SSA is.

Secondly, there is a fundamental misunderstanding about what happened when Christ was tempted. Christ is not overcoming temptation as a model for how we all overcome temptation. He was not struggling with every sin that ever was so as to sympathize with those people who struggle with and often yield to those same sins.

The point of Christ’s temptation by the devil (Matthew 4, Luke 4) was to demonstrate that Jesus was unable to sin and thus was God’s perfect, second Adam. That is what we call the doctrine of impeccability: Jesus was unable to sin. (See W.G.T. Shedd’s chapter on this important doctrine). He was unable to sin because He did not have a sin nature like all of humanity. He was impervious to sinful attractions because he had no sin nature to actualize sinful desires that would lead Him to sin. Hence, the temptations were designed to show how it was impossible for Jesus to fall into sin, not whether he can overcome sinful desires that were in his heart. I recall one old preacher likening it to a newly built  bridge over a river. We drive a heavy truck over it not to test if we can make the bridge collapse into the water, but to demonstrate that it is incapable of collapsing.

But someone is asking, “What about Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15?” Those passages are describing the doctrine of impeccability. Jesus was tempted (tested being a better word) in the larger areas of human experience in the world. The apostle John describes them in 1 John 2:15-17 as the lust of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life. Jesus suffered temptation, but it was not a suffering of having to placate sinful desires. It was the common suffering all men in their human natures encounter, but unlike humanity, Jesus was never susceptible to them and remained unconquerable.

Worldly thinking regarding homosexuality has poured into the church at an alarming rate. Christians have so submerged themselves in the flood that their apologetics and counseling have become soaked through with heretical error. They truly believe they are helpful witnesses for the faith, when in fact they are blind guides leading the blind. I recently was in a twitter exchange with a guy who was emphatic that modern science has shown that homosexual orientation is a genuine expression of human sexuality. He argued that the Bible is not scientific and Paul wrote his words to a scientifically illiterate audience who would have no understanding of sexual orientation. He also claimed to be a Christian. Many who advocate for same sex attraction embrace that false notion of “orientation.” Their error, however, leads them to direct people away from Scripture and the life changing, transformative power of the Holy Spirit. They accommodate those men and women trapped in the sin of homosexuality, affirming the lie that the world tells them, that their orientation will never change and they must resolve themselves to a life of celibacy. Their counsel only enslaves them into more misery.

What we see happening now is a redefinition of historic doctrinal terms that have shaped the theology of the Christian church for centuries. What Scripture has always taught regarding sex, gender, gender roles, and even orientation, is cast off as unscientific and hurtful to a new generation taught to believe sexual perversion is normal for a Christian who has been made holy before God. The inevitable result of that cataclysmic change in terminology is a new Christ. A Jesus who was just like us to the point he was enticed to involve himself in sinful, sexual deviancy. We are watching the emergence of a brand new psuedo-Christian cult.

Ken Ham vs. the SES Apologetic

I wanted to spend a few moments interacting with this article over at the Southern Evangelical Seminary blog,

Does Ken Ham’s Defense Biblical Authority Lead to Biblical Skepticism?

It’s an article written by my past internet foil, Adam Tucker. He has provided us with a helpful treatise expaining the methodology behind how SES teaches apologetic engagement. He excellently contrasts a classical/Thomist approach to apologetics from a presuppositional/Bible-based one that I believe lends us insight for sharpening our apologetic focus.

Bear with me, this is gonna be a long one

A Little Background

Now the first thing one is probably wondering about is what exactly does Ken Ham have to do with all of this. Well, since about 2012, folks over at Southern Evangelical Seminary have expressed dismay at Ken Ham’s presentations defending biblical creationism. The first real vocal critic was SES professor, Richard Howe, who wrote an emotional critique of a talk he heard Ken Ham give at a church in his area. I wrote a response to Howe’s article that can be read HERE.

His critique eventually grew into a written journal dialogue between him and Jason Lisle who now operates the Bible Science Institute. A discussion on creation was also held at the 2013 SES apologetic conference between Howe, Lisle, and Scott Oliphant, and eventually a discussion between Howe and Ham at the 2017 SES apologetic conference.

The main complaint against Ham is the manner he goes about defending the historicity of Genesis and his young earth views. If you hear his talks or read the literature of Answers in Genesis, the creation ministry founded by Ham, his talking points remain consistent. In sum:

We must begin with Scripture as our starting point for understanding origins. Any attempt with revising the straightforward interpretation of the creation week from Genesis with the constructs of Darwinian evolution or deep time ideas is reading man’s interpretations of the world onto Scripture. Men, according to Scripture, are fallen and their interpretations are fallible. Thus, we allow the revelation of Scripture to inform and shape our interpretation of the world and the history of it’s origins, and we should never allow man’s fallible interpretations of the world apart from Scripture shape our reading of Genesis.

Adam insists Ham’s apologetic “starting point” ultimately spirals into skepticism. After he lays out some of Ham’s main arguments from his written articles, fundraising letters, and various talks, Adam summarizes his apologetic methodology,

I think the reader is intelligent enough to recognize the pattern of thought here. It seems Mr. Ham’s position is that because of our fallen state, introducing outside ideas, or man’s word, into the mix of our interpretation of God’s Word ultimately undermines biblical authority. The problem is that there are at least two reasons why this position actually leads to biblical skepticism instead.

He the goes on to explain what he means by skepticism by framing his critique around those two reasons he mentions. Let me outline each one in turn.

First, he says Ham has a “knowledge problem.” By that he means when Ham uses such descriptions as “worldview,” “worldview neutral,” “autonomous human reasoning” or says everyone has the same evidence and that evidence must be interpreted based on a belief system, he is essentially contradicting himself. He is in fact bringing human reasoning to bear upon the Bible, Ken Ham’s reasoning. That’s because none of those concepts, worldviews, autonomous reasoning, etc., are directly talked about in Scripture.

Additionally, if it is universally true that all evidence is interpreted according to one’s specific worldview as Ham insists, then that fact is true across the entire spectrum of human worldviews making that fact “worldview neutral.” That in turn makes his position false. Laws of logic, Adam, goes on to note, are the same across ALL worldviews. They don’t differ from one culture to the next, and that again falsifies Ham’s position. He also asks how Ham knows the Bible is the starting point and not the Quran or the Book of Mormon. He has to make that determination from outside the Bible, so his starting point begins elsewhere, not from Scripture.

He goes on to write that the Bible is a part of the very reality that Ham claims one cannot know apart from Scripture. That view creates a glaring inconsistency, because as Adam asks, “If all of my thinking is skewed by my “fallen” and “fallible” worldview, how can I in principle “let God speak to me to the best of my ability to not try to impose my ideas on Scripture”?”  In other words, a person has to properly understand a specific part of our reality, the BIble, before having a starting point for properly understanding any other part of reality. That, Adam insists, is “a contradiction and rules out the possibility of properly understanding anything!”

Secondly, Ham has an interpretation problem. While it is true that Ken Ham employs the grammatical-historical hermeneutic for interpreting the Bible, his problem is that the Bible nowhere teaches that interpretive method. Ham is using the right hermeneutic, but he came to the use of that hermeneutic apart from Scripture. In other words, he is again starting with “man’s ideas” to read the Bible, not the Bible itself. Additionally, the Bible Ken Ham uses is translated into English from Hebrew and Greek. How does he know the language scholars translated it correctly? In fact, in his talks, he often appeals to what Hebrew scholars say about the Hebrew in Genesis 1 to defend his hermeneutic. Is he not trusting in man’s words?

Moreover, why exactly is Ken Ham’s interpretation the correct one? Adam points out that he says in his talks that anyone can read the Genesis account and plainly see that it speaks of creation happening in six days. But if that is true, why are there so many different interpretations of not only Genesis, but other biblical doctrines like those who deny the deity of Christ or affirm open theism? Those various groups are claiming they are plainly reading the Bible to draw their conclusions. With all those different interpretations, why is Ham’s the right one? Especially if everyone is fallen, as he says, and cannot trust their human senses to know things about the history of the physical world.

What can we say about Adam’s critique?

First, there is a huge failure with understanding what Ken Ham is saying. The most significant problem with Adam’s article is he fails to actually engage with what it is Ham is saying. He is providing a biblical defense of young earth creationism. When he says “we don’t bring man’s autonomous reasoning to Scripture” or take “man’s words and add them to Scripture,” he is NOT saying there is nothing of value outside of Scripture human beings can learn that helps us understand the Bible. Rather, his point is that Genesis chapter one clearly states that God created the known universe, the earth, and all life contained with in it in six days. The reason Ham’s says that is because the Bible says that. The language of the text is unambiguous. Hence, if we, as Christians believe the Scripture is our ultimate authority, we believe what it says regarding origins. We allow it to direct our understanding of origin history and how we evaluate the scientific evidence.

What Ham is arguing against are those individuals, especially Christians, who are influenced by Darwinian deep-time views of earth’s origin history (earth came into existence 4 billion years ago after a big bang event several billions years before that) that allow those views to reread the creation narrative of Genesis. Instead of Genesis revealing God creating everything over the course of six days and then resting on the seventh day, our understanding of a week, Sunday through Saturday, those individuals influenced by deep-time insist that Genesis must be reinterpreted. The creation week is something of a theological tract explaining God’s purpose of redemption, or a polemic against ANE mythology, or whatever, rather than an historical narrative providing real, historical information about the origin of the earth. Ken Ham is essentially upholding article 12 (XII) of the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy which reads,

We affirm that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

 

We deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

He is also affirming what is written in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics under article 19 (XIX) and article 22 (XXII) that denies the teaching of creation in Genesis can be overthrown by “scientific hypothesis,” which is another way of saying “Man’s autonomous reasoning.”

Second, he misunderstands Bahnsen’s distinction between the knowledge of sinners and the saved. Adam cites two quotes on logic from Greg Bahnsen’s posthumous work, Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended for the purpose of demonstrating that Ham creates a false dichotomy between what fallen men know and what the Christian knows. He implies that Ham, following Van Til, Bahnsen, and other presuppositional apologists, is saying fallen men cannot truly know reality with their senses. Adam asks, “Why can man not trust his senses to reveal truths about the creation timeline?” The answer, according to Ham and Bahnsen, is that the minds of men are fallen and the conclusions they draw with their knowledge cannot be trusted.

Consider the fuller context of what Bahnsen wrote,

Even though the Christian and the non-Christian have the facts of the objective world in common, they have radically divergent interpretations of them. For the Christian all facts are pre-interpreted by God, created by God, and revelatory of God; they must be handled in such a way that glory is brought to God. But the non-Christian views these facts as meaningfully interpreted only by his own mind, as uncreated and free from God’s control, as ambiguous and contingent; he uses them to bring glory to man. Hence the Christian and non-Christian have different interpretative schemes.

Even when the believer and unbeliever share the same rules of logical inference, they nevertheless can be said to have different “logics.” For the believer and unbeliever differ as to the use, significance, ground, and authority of these rules; basically one subordinates logic to God while the other does not. [emphasis mine]

If one reads the entire section from his book, Bahnsen is demonstrating that all men without exception evaluate any factual evidence according to a set of preconditions concerning how they view the world. The scientific materialist for example, will never consider the possibility of the supernatural, because in his mind, the supernatural doesn’t exist. The idea of a miraculously created world, or even a resurrected man, is dismissed out of hand as fantasy and not worthy of serious thought. Whereas the Christian believes the supernatural does exist, because God has provided revelation telling us it does, so he accepts the historicity of a miraculously created earth and the resurrection of Jesus as really happening.

So neither Bahnsen, nor Ham, is saying fallen men can never learn things about reality using their senses. Fallen men do live in God’s created world and they bear the image and likeness of God, which means all men are designed to learn things using their senses. Rather, the conclusions they draw from their learning is often skewed, or mistaken, and many times untrustworthy, especially when it comes to so-called evidence regarding origins, mankind, and history. The fallen man, with the use of all his senses, will only default to a Darwinian model and deep time when it comes to evaluating any such evidence, because he is convinced his senses is telling him the truth about it. The believer, on the other hand, while using his senses to gain knowledge, submits that knowledge to what he knows is absolutely true regarding God’s revelation contained in Scripture. That’s why Ham says we start with Scripture.

Third, he has a deficient anthropology. A number of times throughout his article, Adam chides Ken Ham for his distinguishing between the thinking of “fallen” men, those men who are unregenerate, and the thinking of men who are regenerated. The general consensus among classic, Thomist apologists, what is advocated and practiced at SES, is that even though man is fallen into sin, his fallenness is merely moral and has no direct influence on his rational faculties. In other words, fallen men are in bondage to sinful desires and are morally corrupt, but their mental abilities that gather information with their human senses can draw accurate and honest conclusions about that evidence.

But is such a dichotomy within human nature biblical? As Christians, we should gather our understanding about humanity from the very One who created us and has left us a lengthy record documenting mankind’s interactions with both his Creator and each other. When we evaluate Scripture, the Bible doesn’t paint for us a picture of men who are bifurcated into a morally corrupted person, but has a mind freed from the taint of sin allowing him to make sound judgments about the evidence they gather with their senses. Certainly, men are created in the image of God. He has created them with their sense organs to interact with the world. However, that doesn’t mean their minds are freed from sin.

The Scripture, especially the NT, frequently speaks of the bondage that traps the mind of men so that they corrupt any use their natural senses may provide them. Man is said to have a “depraved mind” (Romans 1:28), a mind imprisoned by “law of sin” (Romans 7:23), a mind “set on the flesh” (Romans 8:6,7), minds that are satanically blinded (2 Corinthians 4:4), minds that indulged the desires of the flesh (Ephesians 2:3), and minds hostile to God that engage in evil deeds (Colossians 1:21). Additionally, Paul describes spiritual warfare as destroying speculations and those lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:4,5). In other words, areas of the mind that are fed by our senses.

Further, salvation brings renewal of mind (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:10). That means a fallen man, while he may have a general understanding of reality with his senses, is most certainly deceived, and operates in a state of hostility toward God causing his five senses to serve his fundamental rebellion against God. Sinners need regeneration in order to accurately interact with God’s world so that his sense carry him to the correct conclusions about reality. For if our minds were untainted by sin, then there would be no need for the call to “renew our minds.”

Fourth, the relegation of Scripture to a secondary importance. A truly frustrating area with Adam’s article was the dismissive approach to the use of Scripture as the primary means in apologetic engagement. This has been a sticking point when I have exchanged responses with him on apologetic matters in the past. One thing that can be said about Ken Ham is that he consistently appeals to the authority of Scripture when he reasons with unbelievers and defends the faith. He doesn’t try to prove the reliability of Scripture first, but just presents it as truth whether or not the person believes it or not. Though I am sure Adam, and others who utilize the SES apologetic, maintain a high view of Scripture, the tone presented in his article leaves the reader wondering if that is really the case.

For instance, one reason he states as to why we can never start with God’s Word is because there are so many various interpretations of the Bible. Why is Ken Ham so certain HIS interpretation is the right one? Adam points out how open theist heretics like Greg Boyd read the Bible but see passages that talk about God changing His mind and so conclude that God doesn’t know the future. And other cultic groups read passages that speak of God having eyes, or arms, and even wings and conclude God is made up of physical parts. Even passages that tell of the “four corners of the earth” imply the earth is square or flat. So because of all those confusing views on Scripture, no one can genuinely start with the Bible because we don’t know which view is the right one.

That sort of petty reasoning, however, generates as much skepticism as Adam accuses Ken Ham of causing. He is essentially saying that understanding the Bible is a big toss up because there are so many possible interpretations no one person can really say he has the correct view. Why even bother using the Bible to begin with if it has such potential for confusion.

Again, no one is saying we can’t use teachers or learn from the expertise of the translators of biblical languages. However, when God gave the Scriptures, He did so with the intent of being understood. He made Revelation clear. Of course there are metaphors, types, analogy, and all the other areas of grammar all human language utilizes found in the Bible. Moreover, a consistent and careful study of Scripture, empowered by an unction from the Holy Spirit, is definitely necessary to cut the meaning of Scripture straight (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

However, the fact that God made man in his image and in his likeness means He created man to communicate not only with Him, but with each other. Human language, logic, grammar, and the rules of hermeneutics (interpreting written material secular or religious) was hardwired into humanity at man’s creation, and that ability exists in all people today. It had to be or men couldn’t even begin to communicate with each other, reason with each other, understand even how to make sense of what it is their senses sense.

How Exactly Do Men Know Stuff?

What is missing in Adam’s critique is what we do know about reality. That being, lost, fallen men, even though many of them may be smart and leading experts in various fields of study, are by nature cut off from their Creator because they are born in sin. That is what Scripture proclaims AND it is what we see played out in everyday society. Their fallenness has a debilitating effect upon their rational faculties, particularly when they draw conclusion about the reality they are exploring.

Take for instance genetic researchers discovering that  humans share Neanderthal DNA. The fallen man, using his autonomous reasoning and starting with his anti-supernatural worldview, boldly shouts that this is proof men share common evolutionary traits with Neanderthals. Evolutionary theory is proven. Biologos and other theistic evolutionary “ministries,” insist the evidence is overwhelming and Christians must reinterpret the Bible so as to take this evidence into consideration. Christians run the risk of creating stumbling blocks before unbelievers if they don’t, even if it means overturning preciously held traditions like inerrancy and biblical creationism in 6 days like Answers in Genesis teaches. The Christian, on the other hand, like Ken Ham, allows what Scripture says about creation to inform his reasoning. He takes the same evidence and draws the conclusion that rather than Neanderthals being some lost evolutionary link in humanity’s past, insist that evidence only proves Neanderthals were humans. [By the way, I wrote an article for Creation Ministries addressing the very issue how such compromise is a disaster for apologetic ministries – SEE HERE].

Fallen men draw those conclusions about various areas of reality apart from God’s Revelation, apart from the power of the Gospel to set men’s minds to think rightly. And while people, both saved and fallen, may derive benefit from their work due in part to a shared general grace everyone experiences from one degree to another because they live in God’s world, that work is often times mistaken and directs us in the wrong way to think about the reality. As Christians, we do want to think correctly about reality, but that only comes in it’s purest form from a mind set free from sin, who filters what he gathers with his senses through the starting point of God’s Word and our ultimate authority.

Can We Redeem Queer Culture?

I tussled with a few of the folks from Revoice right before Easter weekend, particularly Nate Collins. He was bothered by a tweet I posted. I wrote,

The Hunky Jesus and Foxy Mary pageant, along with the Folsom street fair, drag queen library story time, and a number of other similar homoerotic, fetish themed events that take place around the world, is the core of what defines queer culture. Any individuals attempting to normalize same-sex attraction and queer culture within the Christian church may not like that reality, but it is the truth.

The one breakout session that Nate kept insisting I hear is the lecture called, Redeeming Queer Culture: An Adventure.  Leading up to their first conference in the summer of 2018, that was the most controversial workshop advertised because the original description stated that queer treasure will be brought into the new heavens and earth. It was described as,

For the sexual minority seeking to submit his or her life fully to Christ and to the historic Christian sexual ethic, queer culture presents a bit of a dilemma; rather than combing through and analyzing to find which parts are to be rejected, to be redeemed, or to be received with joy (Acts 17:16-34), Christians have often discarded the virtues of queer culture along with the vices, which leaves culturally connected Christian sexual minorities torn between two cultures, two histories, and two communities. So questions that have until now been largely unanswered remain: what does queer culture (and specifically, queer literature and theory) have to offer us who follow Christ? What queer treasure, honor, and glory will be brought into the New Jerusalem at the end of time (Revelation 21:24-26)?

My detractors implied that after hearing the talk and thoughtful reflection, I would not have made such an incendiary remark suggesting that Revoice leadership is bringing sexual perversion into the church. I took up the request and gave the session a listen. Are there virtues within “queer culture?” Is “queer culture” even a legitimate description? I wanted to provide my review for others to consider.

Disappointingly, the overall presentation was untethered from Scripture. I guess that should be expected, though. Sure, a few passages were mentioned here and there. For instance, Acts 17 and Paul’s confrontation with the philosophers on Mars Hill receives the most examination. In the same way Paul cited a couple of secular, Greek poets in his sermon, so too can Christian utilize positive elements of so-called queer culture.  But what God’s Word clearly says about homosexuality, relationships, marriage, and sins of the heart, was not even expounded upon. Instead, the presentation’s trajectory is set early on with affirming the secular definition of orientation as defined by the American Psychological Association.

After the introductory pleasantries, the bulk of the talk is a hagiographical retelling of the gay struggle in the United States. Gays are identified as “sexual minorities,” an Orwellian-style description that has floated throughout the vernacular of Revoice advocates and their Living Out counterparts in the UK for a while now.

Similarly to how other cultural minorities were mistreated and marginalized in early 20th century America, so too were homosexuals who had to remain closeted for fear of losing jobs, friends, and even family. The heavy promiscuity within the homosexual community is blamed on society forcing gays to live in the shadows. Gay literature, like The Price of Salt and Angels in America, is recommended to the audience as having helpful insight with understanding the gay experience. Christians can gain sympathy for the personal trials homosexuals have had to silently endure, often times alone.

Moreover, the history of homosexuality in America is white-washed and the sexual deviancy of the various activists groups and individuals within the movement is played down or dismissed altogether. Take for instance the Stonewall riot. The traditional gay narrative of oppressed homosexuals standing against bigoted police brutality is advanced, while ignoring the fact that the police were not raiding the establishment for violating sodomy laws, but because illegal drugs and alcohol was sold. Additionally, there is no mention of radical homosexual activists groups like GLSEN aggressively working to introduce homosexuality and other perversions within public school curriculum, nor the various explicit versions of gay manifestos posted online. Instead, what is defined as “gay culture” is the expressions of writers and artists and fashion designers. That is the queer treasure that should be filtered out and brought into the New Heavens and New Earth.

The talk concludes with exhorting churches and straight Christians to recognize the struggles of Christian sexual minorities. Rather than speaking about biological families and the importance of marriage, Christians need to think in terms of biblical families, those who have left biological families, fathers, mothers, and siblings, to find spiritual kinship within a chosen family that is following Christ. What Jesus told the disciples in Mark 10:28-30.

After listening to that presentation, I must confess that I am even more troubled by what is being brought into the church.

Reflecting on the talk I think what bothered me the most was the unspoken assumption that there is a legitimate group called “sexual minorities” and that Christians may identify with them. It’s just an unspoken given that individuals who struggle with the inordinate affections of homosexuality are “born that way” and must accept the reality that they may never change. And as a sexual minority Christian, a person must resign to the fact that he or she will remain celibate, only finding intimacy among the companionship of friends within the so-called shared community.

On top of that, friends, family, and parents also must accept them as they are, never assuming that change in desire can happen and certainly never pressuring them to change. Instead, loved ones need to involve themselves in their struggle, realizing that these sexual minorities have unique needs and produce their own special culture. Instead of looking to change them to like girls or boys, Christian friends should seek to understand and embrace the best of what queer culture has to offer, like creativity, interior decorating, and sharp clothing.

However, the problem with the notion that the best of what queer culture has to offer is vibrant creativity that will provide wonderful treasure for the kingdom of God is that it’s a stereotypical myth that gays own the market on creativity. Artistic expression has never been exclusively a gay culture thing. Bach, for example, is one of the greatest composers the world has known and he wasn’t gay. The same can be said about hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals throughout history.

It truly is a despairing outlook that was presented. I would even go so far as saying Christless. Jesus doesn’t genuinely save souls and redeem lives. There isn’t any newness of life, freedom from sin, or a new heart that is promised in the New Covenant. There is no hope that a man or woman can obtain healthy, natural sexual desires for someone of the opposite sex. Instead of putting off sinful habits and desires and putting on the new man in Christ that is robed in holiness, those struggling with homosexual desire should muck through the sewer that is “queer culture” attempting to redeem various facets and adapting them to Christian living.

Tragically, I believe we are witnessing a similar pattern emerging in the church that happened with Israel in the book of Judges. Rather than casting out the Canaanites from among them, Israel began to befriend them, eventually giving their sons and daughters to them in marriage. Those serious compromises became a snare for Israel. It led them to idolatry and covenant unfaithfulness and eventually to God’s judgment. The more the Christians adopt worldly thinking regarding sexual sin, the quicker we move to having Christ write Ichabod across the doors of our churches.

Are Evangelical Continuationists The Same As Mormon Continuationists?

The leadership of the Mormon church recently changed their policy regarding parents of gay children.

Children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender may now be blessed as infants and baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without First Presidency approval, President Dallin H. Oaks announced Thursday morning, April 4.

In addition, the Church will no longer characterize same-gender marriage by a Church member as “apostasy” for purposes of Church discipline, although it is still considered “a serious transgression.”

The policy was changed by a divine revelation as God supposedly guided the leadership,

the changes reflect the continuing revelation that has been a part of the modern Church since the Restoration.

“These policy changes come after an extended period of counseling with our brethren in the Quorum the Twelve Apostles after fervent, united prayer to understand the will of the Lord,” wrote President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring, in the statement.

Note the words, continuing revelation. Al Mohler then discussed that policy change on his Briefing podcast and stated in a tweet,

Mohler is dead wrong about that difference. While certainly the polytheistic pseudo-Christianity of the Mormon church is radically different from historic, orthodox Christianity, when it comes to continuationism, the leadership of the Mormon church receiving direct, divine revelation is really no different than evangelicals claiming they receive direct, personal revelations. In response to Mohler’s tweet, I stated,

Unsurprisingly, there were a number of naysayers who sternly disagreed with my comment. One individual wrote in response that it is absolutely untrue that any continuationist would equate his or her gift of prophecy with Scripture. Another opined that every SBC pastor he has known insists God spoke to them by “calling” them to the ministry. Still another person echoed that every pastor received a divine revelation from God to pastor the church where he currently serves. One guy was upset that I would slander the good name and reputation of Beth Moore who regularly shares in her sermons how God tells her stuff.

The common misconception among average Christians is that the gift of prophesy is very much active in today’s church. The gift is meant to be a divinely encouraging word to other believers, rather than some new divinely given revelation. Usually it is equated with preaching by a pastor or a teacher. Additionally, any stirring or prompting of believers to some spiritual duty is God “speaking” to them, but that speaking is never equated to new revelation.

But that misconception demonstrates a profound ignorance of theological categories and a sloppy application of biblical terminology. It really stems from a deficient understanding of what prophesy was in the Old and New Testaments and the role prophets and apostles played when exercising the use of the gift of prophesy.

New Testament professor, F. David Farnell, provides a basic working understanding of the gift of prophesying. He writes,

In general terms, prophesying in the Old and New Testament may be defined as
the supernatural, Spirit-given communication of God’s will and word to God’s people. The prophetic gift is always a supernatural gift. It is not merely heightened human insight, nor can it be equated with today’s preaching in the pulpit. TMS Journal, Fall 2014.

There are a couple of important highlights from that citation. First, the gift of prophesy must be distinguished from preaching. One of my more persistent Twitter detractors was vehement that prophesy is the same as preaching from a pulpit. But throughout Scripture, preaching is proclaiming the Word of God already revealed through prophets and apostles who wrote it down and is now available for all to read.

A second highlight is that prophesy is a divine, supernatural, Spirit-given communication of God’s will and word to His people. Again, throughout Scripture, both the OT and NT, those individuals anointed with the prophetic utterance were granted a divine revelation. That revelation was either inscripturated into the 66 books of our Bible or spoken to God’s redeemed people as a word of exhortation or direction. Never was prophesy meant to convey vague, whimsical musing that grant some person the ability to ascertain God’s otherwise secretive will his or her personal life.

As much as Christians will swear that their Spirit induced declarations are not direct, authoritative revelation from God, certainly not the kind that the Mormon leadership would receive, they most definitely speak as if they are. Regardless of what Al Mohler may think, the “God told me” or the “Spirit led me” rhetoric is found in practically every corner of evangelicalism. From ultra-fundamentalist Chick tracts (see for example his Reverend Wonderful tract in which the bold Christian receives divine direction to evangelize a celebrity ecumenist preacher) to the daily nonsensical superstitious soothsaying peddled at the Charisma Mag and Elijah List websites as spirit-filled Christianity. An even more recent illustration comes from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow salesman, who spoke at CPAC 2019 about how he knew God had miraculously appointed Donald Trump to be president. In fact, the first words out of his mouth was him telling the audience that God had given him the speech he was about to deliver at three in the morning. 

This continuationist view of prophecy is not contained merely among fringe internet ministries or charismatic denominations like the Assemblies of God or the New Apostolic Reformation, but also among traditionally non-charismatic groups like the Southern Baptists. The members of the SBC have been indoctrinated to think in the way of the Mormon prophets by such teachers like Henry Blackaby and his Experience God books. Blackaby teaches that Christians should expect the same divine direction that the Old and New Testament people experienced. The only way Christians can have a genuine relationship (experience) with God is if He is allowed to direct our everyday lives with specific details that are not particularly revealed in Scripture. In other words, by divine, personal revelations. An excellent review of Blackaby’s experiencing God view was written up by Dan Phillips and can be found here, Part 1 and here, Part 2.

Lifeway-made celebrity, Beth Moore, is probably the most prominent public example of an SBC personality who claims to have a direct conduit to God who channels divine revelation to her on a frequent basis. She is notorious for her infamous “hair brush” story, in which she claims God told her to brush the hair of a disheveled stranger as she waited for a plane at an airport. In the preface of her book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Moore writes the following,

Moore is clearly saying that the book was a message given to her directly by God, for if she had not obeyed and written it down, the rocks in her yard would have cried out. Now, she does give herself an out in the following paragraph when she writes that she is not saying her book is divine revelation. But if the message was assigned to her by God, even delivering it to her while she sat bug-eyed at what she read, and if she had not written it down the rocks would have cried out, how can that book be anything else BUT a divinely given revelation?

Contrary to what Al Mohler tweeted regarding Mormons and Evangelicals, while they may be divergent religions, both groups are identical when it comes to their acceptance of the gift of prophesy and continuing revelation. Evangelicals may soften the severity of what they are believing by tacking on the disclaimer, “I’m not saying my message is on the level with Scripture,” but if they are saying God is revealing a special message or some aspect of His will to a person, how could it not be of the same authority as Scripture? Either the message is infallibly coming from God or it is not. That there are great swaths of pew sitting Christians who can’t tell the difference is troubling. Even more concerning are those who believe those personal revelations are valid and blast against anyone who would question their legitimacy.

Worldview Fail

Conspiracy provocateur and vitamin supplement grifter, Brannon Howse, continues his personal campaign of humiliating failure. His latest attempt was a blinding pyre of self-immolation that was wildly entertaining to behold.

In his pursuit to discredit the 50 year ministry of pastor John MacArthur, Howse manufactured a fake scandal that rivals the hacks at Buzzfeed News that involves him misleading Civil Rights icon, Charles Evers, in a phone interview and then dispatching one of his social media toadies to write up a deceptive report about it that was debunked within a matter of hours.

Stay with me, this is gonna be fun!

It went down like this:

Those who are familiar with pastor John MacArthur knows that before he pastored Grace Community Church, he was involved for a few years in the 1960s with revivals and ministry crusades in the segregated south with his friend John Perkins. During the week of Martin Luther King’s assassination, March 31st to April 6th, 1968, John was with Perkins helping with some crusades in Mississippi. While in Jackson, news broke of MLK’s assassination. Listen to John recall the events surrounding that day:

John has recounted that story a number of times over the years. In that particular video, he was with Perkins when he retold it. If there were any details amiss about his version of events, Perkins could have corrected them, because he was on the front row. If not there, at some later point. Moreover, John even asked him to clarify about Evers being the first black mayor in rural Fayette, MS.

Sometime last year, Brannon Howse was able to finagle a phone interview with Charles Evers. In that interview, Howse asked Evers, who is now 96 years old, if John was with him on the night of MLK’s murder. Evers answers that he does not know John, that he was alone when he received the news of MLK, and that whoever John is he needs to stop lying to people. The interview can be heard HERE.

The audio interview was added to a larger fake news report written up by one of Brannon’s social media sycophants and posted on an ad heavy screaming eagle patriot style website. The obvious take away from the entire article is that John MacArthur is a liar who made up his involvement with those men on that night. He is essentially like Ergun Caner, creating a bogus history about his early life.

Once that article went live, all of the woker-than-thou social justice scolds, and other various MacArthur haters from the survivor blogger fever swamps, breathlessly rushed to twitter to link it and grimly shake their heads at how awful John is. The celebrity pastor who was behind that terrible Statement on Social Justice inserted himself into a fraudulent narrative with key Civil Rights era leaders to boost his credibility as to speaking against social justice. This is certainly an explosive story. One that could ruin John’s legacy, that just so happens to have come to light right on the eve of him celebrating his 50th anniversary at Grace Community Church! How convenient! Will he respond?

Now this is where it gets really good

As soon as the web article was circulating and folks were listening to the interview with Evers, a number of people wondered if the interviewer was Howse. Even though the voice didn’t sound like his, the cadence and inflections sure did sound like him. The marvel of the internet is how immediately a story like this can be truly fact checked and then blown up. One resourceful fellow downloaded the audio and then adjusted the pitch to normal.

He discovered this,

Oh boy.

Of course the most obvious question that comes to mind is why did Howse mask his voice? What was the point? Typically when a person is interviewed, it is his or her voice that may be masked for personal protection. But masking the voice of the interviewer? Odd.

A doctored interview should immediately raise suspicions of journalistic fraud, but the website hosting the article believes it represents “well-researched journalism.” Seeing how the mainstream media has so tainted actual journalism by turning lies into truth, I understand why they are naive like that.

I can only guess Howse is a coward and preferred to have his toady thrown under the bus if the story backfired on him. I mean, it could be that his toady masked his voice and he was unaware of the change. Maybe. But seeing that he dropped a now deleted Facebook comment from November 9th, 2018 claiming to have “taped interview with personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” who essentially contradicts a “story told over & over by well-known pastor from pulpit,” the likely scenario is that he gave the writer the interview with his voice already masked.

Whatever the case, his explosive bombshell was a spectacular fail.

Now.

Rather than stepping back and acknowledging that this was a blatant hit-piece designed to smear MacArthur’s reputation, many folks were genuinely troubled by Charles Evers’ seemingly contradictory account as to where he was when he received the news of MLK’s assassination compared to where John said he was when he received the news. Evers insists in the interview he was alone, whereas John maintains that he was with Perkins and Evers in Evers’ office in Jackson.

Howse and his fake news friend, however, failed to mention that Evers has given at least three different versions of where he was when he received the news of MLK’s death. Putting aside the fact that the Watchman Wakes blog is maintained by a raging lunatic who believes Perkins, Evers, and MacArthur colluded to kill MLK on behalf of the Freemasons, if you can muscle your way through the rambling madness, he documents that there are at least three separate accounts where Evers said he was:

1) Driving highway 28 to Natchez when he heard the news on the radio,
2) Heading to a meeting in Fayette, and
3) In Indiana with Bobby Kennedy.

Now with the addition of Howse’s deceptive interview, Evers says he was in the car and received a phone call from his secretary. Weird seeing that portable phones in 1968 were rare, cost like 4,000 bucks, and would be virtually unusable in rural Mississippi, but I digress.

Fayette is on the way to Natchez so 1) and 2) are pretty much the same scenario and probably closer to what really happened. Evers saying he was in Indiana with Bobby Kennedy when he received the news is virtually impossible, and if one watches the interview in which he says that, he gives the impression that he was misremembering the details.

We do know, however, from an article in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger from April 5th, 1968, that Evers was in Jackson with a group of black leaders trying to restore peace to the black community,

We have at least four inconsistent retellings from Mr. Evers of the details surrounding the same event. I personally don’t believe he is lying. He is more than likely telescoping and conflating details from an event 51 years ago. I’ve known a number of 90 year olds in my life and their memories can be fuzzy about events from 20 years ago, let alone 50. Still, it is pathetic for the woker-than-thou scolds on social media to insist John is the only one required to give a response or clarifying statement. It’s John’s account called into question, not Evers.

This was nothing but a sleaze ball hit piece against the character of a good man. Brannon probably still has the bitters that John and GTY didn’t come to his defense when he was getting push back after his sleaze ball hit piece against James White back in the summer of 2017. The whole affair reeks of those sins Peter says we are to lay aside in 1 Peter 2:1. And shame on all the dopey woker-than-thou scolds who desperately wanted this story to be true and gleefully promoted it on social media. To my knowledge, none of them have issued one retraction for being duped by it.

One can only hope this slimy affair will marginalize Howse and his disreputable joke of a “discernment” ministry.

Celebrity Preachers and Secondary Separation

Cody Libolt, who helps run the Christian Intellectual website, asks some questions of the organizers of three major Reformed conferences, G3, Shepherd’s Conference, and Ligonier.

The questions pertain to the ongoing battle with social justice warriors who are injecting their social justice ideology into the blood stream of the Christian church. A few men who have been labelled supporters for the social justice viewpoint have either been, or will be, speakers at those three conferences.

The main point of contention is between anti-SJW folks who wonder if those men should be uninvited from those conference. Allowing them to speak, even if their message is not related to social justice, devalues any argument against the social justice philosophy, say for example the statement on social justice. They should not be given a platform only for the sake of maintaining unity with celebrity preachers. Cody’s questions are an attempt to flesh out the thinking of those conference organizers in light of the social justice affirmations from those men. I’ll provide my personal answers, so I do not speak for everyone.

Questions for G3, ShepCon, and Ligonier:

1. On the topic of social justice, who are the ones you know are being divisive and should be receiving direct, public correction – by name? Do they exist?

Yes, those individuals do exist. I would add that I believe they are a menace to the Christian church. (This was discussed, by the way, at the G3 pre-conference hosted by Sovereign Nations). The folks coming immediately to mind who are flagrantly promoting social justice (which really amounts to cultural Marxism) are such individuals as Tim Keller, Jamar Tisby, Thabiti Anyabwile, Russell Moore, Matt Chandler, Dwight Mckissic, Eric Mason, David Platt and lesser known personalities like Kyle Howard and Brad Mason who sow discord among the brethren on social media.

2. Do you want to be publicly associated with those divisive people? In what way? Is there a principle here or not?

No. I personally would not want to be publicly associated with those divisive individuals I named above. I would imagine they wouldn’t want to be publicly associated with me, either. However, most of those men, at least to my knowledge, have never been associated with the conferences in question. David Platt is the only person I know who preached at G3. His message was on missions, not social justice; and as far as I know, the issue was not raised with him nor did he mention it when he spoke.

3. If there is someone known for repeatedly promoting those divisive people—someone who speaks as if the divisive ones were right and does not speak as if the truth were the truth (on a matter such as social justice that you say you consider primary), would you endorse them as being a trustworthy teacher?

I believe Cody is looking for someone to say, “Oh yes, but Al Mohler promotes Russell Moore,” or “Ligon Duncan wrote the forward to Eric Mason’s book on wokeness.” The question then turns to whether or not Al Mohler or Ligon Duncan can be trusted because they promote those problematic individuals.

Here we begin crossing the border into the area of secondary separation. This one, otherwise solid guy is associated with a person who has troubling orthopraxy, (not orthodoxy, which is a key distinction). Should Christians break fellowship, or in this case, uninvite the solid guy from the Reformed conference circuit because of his association with the troubling woke person? I would say no, it is not necessary, and only comes across as petty, as I will explain momentarily.

4. Do you believe that inviting them to speak at your conference constitutes a tacit endorsement of their trustworthiness?

Of course. As it pertains to the topic of the conference and the initial reason they were invited. For example, the 2019 G3 conference was focused upon missions and the Shepherd’s Conference will focus upon faithfulness. If those men are staying true to the topic at hand and are faithful to exegete the Scriptures, they are trustworthy. We can maybe discuss their odd association with the woke social justice warriors at some other point.

The Solution:

Cody then moves to providing a solution to our fraternal dilemma. How should we treat solid guys who mess around with troubling guys? His suggestions are a worthy effort, but I disagree on the finer points.

Despite the strawmen being burnt by some, the point of all this is not to excommunicate Mohler, Duncan, Platt, Dever, etc. Who said anything about that?

Excommunicate is a rather strong term. We must exercise care when employing it. Excommunication is an action reserved for those individuals who have abandoned the Christian faith and who teach contrary to Scripture. The men in question, Mohler, Duncan, Dever, even Platt, have done nothing worthy of excommunication.

However, it is not entirely inaccurate or burning a strawman to point out that critics of those men wish to excommunicate them. While it is true that those critics are not using the terminology of excommunication as if those men are now apostate because they entertain woke ideas, they are insisting that conference organizers must now uninvite them to speak at G3, Shepherd’s Conference, or Ligoneir, or any other similar conference, or they partake in their sinful deeds of wokeness and expose countless thousands of unwashed laymen to cultural Marxism. I’m sorry, but that is ridiculously absurd.

The point is this: You ought to be thoughtful about whether you will tacitly endorse their teaching.

I am assuming by “endorsing their teaching” you mean their overall personal ministry apart from a conference. Dever’s 9 Marks material or Al Mohler’s podcast, for example. As the person’s teaching pertains to the conference at hand where he is speaking, if he stays on point, I can endorse his teaching. But like with any ministry, regardless as to who that ministry may have endorsed or partnered with in other venues, I would exercise discernment with everything they present. That is not a compromised position.

There is a good solution. You can still bring them on your stage, if that is what you want.

Simply warn viewers at the event that there are major disagreements about social justice in discussion right now, and not all people on the stage agree about the answers or even about the relative importance of the questions.

There are a couple of problems I have with this approach. First, we are underestimating the conference attendees, assuming that they are uninformed as to those men’s woke affiliations. Why tell them something they already know and have laid aside for this unrelated conference? But then secondly, and more importantly, it is petty and unnecessarily humiliating to call out individuals before the entire conference audience that you have invited to speak regarding a disagreement that is unrelated to the conference. That just tosses an awkward wet blanket over the event and not only dishonors your guests, but insults them.

While I understand the need to take a stand against the social justice movement within the church, we still need to carefully distinguish between those individuals we certainly would not associate with from those faithful men that we have called friends, but who have offered encouragement to that other group. Of course separation from compromise is vital, but what we have determined is “compromise” needs to be expertly weighed. The last thing we need to do is become so consumed with the purity of our alliances that we inflict an equal amount of damage to the church as those we are separating from.

 

Look, Over There!

I haven’t been blogging regularly here for nearly a year. The primary reason is that I don’t have the time to write like I like. However, I have been blogging over here,

Bible Thumping Wingnut

Granted, many of those articles are old Hip and Thigh articles I reworked, but I do have a few that are new and fresh. BTWN has a much larger reach than my lowly, Alexa rated blog. One post I did last year pointing out how Francis Chan lied against his old church and threw them under the bus, has like 60,000 hits and over 200 plus comments! That’s like massive bluecheck mark Twitter celebrity numbers!

I also have had the opportunity to participate on a few BTWN podcasts.

So those faithful followers who have been around with me for the last decade or more, if you haven’t checked out my newer gig, swing on over. I do plan to keep this blog active. I often marvel at how often I am linking somebody to an article I wrote in 2008 in response to a question they have. Truth never grows old.

Gleanings from Judges [20]

Civil War in Israel – Judges 20-21

Judges 19 recounts the horrific event that took place in Gibeah. A group of thuggish perverts attacked a Levite, his servant, and his concubine wife. The wife was abused the entire night and died of her injuries the following morning. The Levite, as callus as he was by allowing that outrage to happen, hacks the woman’s body into 12 pieces, and sends them by messengers to the 12 tribes with a description of what happened.

Coming to chapters 20 and 21, the Bible records for us the military response.

1. The Rallying

Chapter 20 begins by noting that all of Israel came together. That was unique, because throughout Judges, generally a handful of tribes gathered together to face an adversary. Here in chapter 20, all the tribes from Dan to Beersheba presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, verse 2 states. The response was overwhelming with 400,000 foot soldiers gathering themselves together.

After the Levite tells what happened to his concubine wife, all the people united as “one man.” Everyone recognized the seriousness of the sin and they wanted the Benjamites to do the right thing by handing over the men who committed the terrible crime of raping the woman.

2. The Battles

What transpires are three major battles against the tribe of Benjamin. The leaders of Benjamin would not honor their request to hand over the criminals. Instead, they prepared for battle against the rest of Israel. There were 26,000 men. Seven hundred of them were proficient left-hand fighters.  That was an advantage, because those men were trained with the use of swords and sling stones with both their hands.

The First Battle: The people of Israel ask the LORD who will go first against Benjamin. God communicates for the first time and says that Judah will go first. When they go out to meet Benjamin, the Benjamites kill 22,000 men.

The Second Battle: After the people regather, they weep before the LORD. The LORD once again says to go up against Benjamin, and this time 18,000 more men were killed.

The Third Battle: Again, the people ask whether they should go up against Benjamin or cease from fighting and this time the LORD said that He would deliver them into their hand. For the third attack, they changed strategy. One group lured Benjamin out, while a second group set up an ambush to take the city. Benjamin, confidently believing they were winning, had no idea that disaster was upon them (vs.34). Once the army moved out of the city, the second group burned it to the ground. The Benjamites panicked and ran for their lives, only to be overtaken in battle and defeated. They were mercilessly slaughtered both men and beasts. Basically, Israel did to Benjamin what they were to do with the wicked Canaanites.

3. The Consequences

The defeat of Benjamin was nearly total. The tribe came close to extinction.The text states that roughly 600 men were left. As the survivors remained in hiding, remorse as to what happened confronts the other tribes. They see that there is no one left of the Benjamites and they have no wives. Additionally, all the 11 tribes had sworn an oath that none of them would give their daughters to the men of Benjamin. As they contemplated the consequences of nearly destroying the tribe of Benjamin, the 11 other tribes devise a bizarre solution.

First, they led an attack against the people of Jabesh Gilead. They were across the Jordan, far removed from the events leading up to the civil war with Benjamin. Israel commanded 12,000 men to attack the town and kill every man and woman except for the unmarried, virgin women. It was a terrible crime; however, from their attack, they retrieved 400 unmarried women for the remaining men of Benjamin.

Second. There still remained 200 men needing wives. They were directed to a yearly festival near Shiloh, north of Bethel during which the daughters of Shiloh come out to perform dances. They were to wait in hiding, and when the women arrived to dance, they were to snatch a wife and head back to the land of Benjamin. When the fathers and brothers complained of what happened, the other tribes would keep them off their back, as it were.

Both events demonstrate the gravity of sin. Within just a few decades, or at least the first hundred years after the conquest, the generations following those who conquered the land under Joshua, had become in practice like the Canaanites they fought. They were like all sinners, susceptible to being led astray.

But the entire book of Judges is a powerful testimony of how faithful God is to deliver. In spite of their sin and often when deliverance is unwanted.

Books I Heard or Read in 2017

My annual book review list for the year 2017.

Books I Heard

In The Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette – Hampton Sides

A wonderfully written narrative detailing the first attempt to cross the Arctic Sea. At the time, it was believed that the Arctic was a vast ocean surrounded by ice. Once a ship punches through the ice, the crew could sail across the North Pole, punch through the ice again, and emerge on the other side of the world. That of course was a wildly disastrous theory that led to the Jeannette and its crew trapped in the Polar Ice Cap for two years. They were eventually forced to abandon ship as it was crushed to pieces.

Forensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA and More Tell Us About Crime – Val McDermid

A history of forensic science and how it has helped solve crimes. A bit ghoulish with some details, but this was one of the better books I heard this year.

The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace – H.W. Brands

As a southerner, I was born believing that U.S. Grant was an awful man who took state rights away from the South. Brands’s biography dispelled that myth for me. I finished this book loving the guy and actually thankful for his presidency after the Civil War. The first two-thirds of the book recounting Grant’s early life and military career during the war was riveting. Once he became president, the narrative got a bit boring at spots, but the author moved the story along at a good pace. He exposed me to a lot of forgotten history that was rarely covered in school. We can only wish we had more men like Grant today. I also look forward to exploring more of Brands’s history. He was an excellent writer.

Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign – Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes

Out of all the books I heard this year, Shattered was the most delightful. Primarily because I knew the ending and it would be an emotionally thrilling one. The two authors interviewed many individuals involved behind the scenes at Hillary’s campaign. They provide a month by month narrative moving us through Hillary’s announcement to run for president in 2015 to her meltdown on election day, 2016. They also border on turning the book into a hagiography as they gloss over Hillary’s corruption and criminal activities, and paint her opponents, particularly Trump, as sinister and conniving men wishing to deny this wonderful woman her rightful place as president. What was really revealing was the flagrant elitism of Hillary and her cronies who believed they deserved to win this election and that Americans were merely tricked by fake news and Russian meddling to vote for Trump. It is symphonic levels of delusions of grandeur.

Christianity and Liberalism – J. Gresham Machen

This is Machen’s classic, undeniable work demonstrating that Liberal Christianity is a false religion that has manufactured a god of their own making and has nothing whatsoever to do with biblical Christianity.

Why The Reformation Still Matters Michael Reeves and Tim Chester

Just finished this a week before Christmas. A well-written overview of the key men who ignited the Reformation. The authors cover what the five solas were all about and why they still very much matter for us some 500 years after the Reformation.

Books I read

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – JD Vance

The autobiography of a young man raised in Kentucky and Ohio among a white trash, hillbilly culture. Spurred on to accomplish greater things by his crass grandmother who was one of the only stable persons in his life, Vance moved forward by joining the Marines, attending Ohio State, and eventually graduating from Harvard law school. The book hit close to home for me, because every dysfunctional family member and neighbor he describes mirrors pretty much a number of folks I knew in my rural, Arkansas town.

Do not Hinder Them: A Biblical Examination of Childhood Conversion – Justin Peters

Justin’s short book explores why manipulating young children to be baptized at a young age is ultimately disastrous. My longer review of the book can be found HERE.

What About Freewill? Reconciling Our Choices with God’s Sovereignty – Scott Christensen

As I have been telling people for a while now, this is probably the best book on the topic of freewill currently in print. Easy to read, well written, and addressing all of the necessary topics related to the subject. A lengthier review can be found HERE.

Wesley and the People Called Methodists  – Richard Heitzenrater

A friend of mine — who is the only high, supralapsarian Calvinist I know who graduated from a Wesleyan college — recommended this book to me. It is written from a Wesley-friendly perspective. The author is also more honest with his evaluation of Wesley’s troubling personal and theological foibles. It provides a fuller picture of the man than what is usually found among other evangelical historians attempting to make him an admirable counterpart to Whitefield.

The Doctrine of the Word of God – John Frame

Frame’s marvelous doctrinal study on Scripture. All of his works were on sale for 25 bucks at ShepCon this past year. If they are again this year, I’m picking up his Doctrine on the Christian Life to complete my set.

The Life and Times of Cotton Mather – Kenneth Silverman

Phil Johnson and Mike Abendroth recommended this older biography on Mather. I was able to secure a used hardback copy in excellent condition. Silverman, to my knowledge, is not a Christian, but he handles Mather with respect. At the same time, he does not gloss over Mather’s eccentricities. The section detailing the Salem witch trials and Mather’s continuationist sympathies is alone worth the price of the book.

The Benedict Arnold Option – J.D. Hall

I understand that J.D. is a polarizing figure; but that aside, he has written a necessary critique of Rod Dreher’s retreatist philosophy that has taken root among the evangelical intellectuals. The Benedict Option philosophy is to academy elitists what they think Trumpism is to blue collar, red state evangelicals.

Navigating Genesis – Hugh Ross

This is Hugh Ross’s classic manifesto presenting old earth, progressive creationism. If one wishes to know the basic apologetic approach of Ross and his supporters, it is the book where one should begin. I wrote a series of critiques that can be found HERE.

Aggressive Girls, Clueless Boys: 7 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son Dennis Rainey

Dennis Rainey, host of Family Life Today, has put together a small, helpful book addressing the need for parents to direct teenage boys in assessing the character of young ladies. He draws his material from the book of Proverbs as he answers important questions in discipling young men.

I am currently working my way through Michael Kruger’s newest book on second century Christianity entitled, Christianity at the Crossroads. I plan a fuller review later after I finish it. As always, Kruger has written a needful work. Also, I am thoroughly enjoying Michael Vlach’s book, And He Shall Reign Forever, that is a study on the kingdom of God. It is an excellent entry on the topic of God’s sovereignty and His eternal kingdom.