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I Don't Get It!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I have been following the discussion on Chris Anderson's Blog regarding the recent Together For the Gospel Conference. It is in many ways similar to another discussion that occurred about the Resolution of the Ohio Bible Fellowship regarding reading with caution the works of Conservative New Evangelicals.

I don't get what the big problem that Keith and others have with a word of caution that is indeed in order in these situations.

I don't want to say it over there because Dr. Doran and Pastor Anderson are handling things quite nicely without my interference, but since this is my soap box, I will go ahead and say it here: WARN AWAY!!

The reality is that the greatest need for a warning is where there is the most likely opportunity to fall.

The typical "young fundamentalist" of this generation is not being enamored with liberal Protestantism. They are not leaving the pastorate for the priesthood. They are not trading in their Bibles for Korans. They are not even discarding the principles of separation in order to preach at a Billy Graham crusade. There are some, however, who look at the good things done, written and spoken by the type of men represented by T4G and think "these are good men, smart men, successful men and they do not have a problem with lending credibility to open theism (for instance) by being associated with its main proponent in the same denomination," so maybe separation from error is not really that important. After all, how could such good men be wrong on this issue?

A lot of people have taken umbrage against the fact that the OBF (and Chris) warned against those whose ministries are most similar to their own as if it was some kind of "power play."

The reality is that in life, as well as in ministry, there are some problems that some people are more prone to fall into than others. A wise person, yea a wise shepherd, sees the need to warn and protect the sheep from the traps that are most likely to snare them.

As a teen, my parents used to joke around with me about "playing in the runway" at the airport. The reality was that they knew that would never be a problem, so we could joke about it, etc. However, when a particularly pretty blonde started to pay a lot of attention to me one summer, my dad did not joke about this issue, but rather sat me down and discussed some things that he had noticed regarding her that would help me to be more cautious when around her. Now, did I absolutely need the warning my dad issued? I would hope that the answer is "no." I had become a Christian by this time (I was saved as a Freshman in high school) and had started to develop some personal standards in this area. However, did I begrudge my dad for giving me a wise and caring caution about a situation that he thought could lead me to trouble? Absolutely not. I may have been a little embarrassed, but I appreciated his concern.

Now, judging by the responses of those like Keith on Chris' blog, one might argue, well you dad should have been out there giving you a warning every time you saw a girl or to not warn you about that particular girl if he was to be consistent. The reality is that such an argument is foolishness. There was already a general warning about relationships to the opposite sex (albeit my convictions were stronger than his in this area). Further, he knew that most of the "looser" girls were not even going to be an issue with me. He also knew that most of the more "conservative" girls that I might be interested in were not going to be a problem initially (unless I started to get too attached to them). This particular girl, however, had some very appealing qualities and did a better job at hiding the "looser" qualities than most, so my dad thought it wise to give me a warning in this area. I am thankful for that warning, even though I think I would have been fine without it.

Now, applying that example to the situation at hand. Most of the liberals and mainstream New Evangelicals do not have an appeal to the typical "young fundamentalist" (I don't like that term). Most of the conservative fundamentalists (not IFBx) are not going to be a problem unless our young fundamentalist friend begins to get too serious in following them. The conservative new evangelicals, however, have much that makes them appealing and their flaws are hidden much better than most. Be thankful for the warning. If you are strong enough and see the issues clearly enough to not need the warning, praise God. If you were getting caught up in their appeal and ignoring their flaws, then maybe the warning will be a help.

Just my thoughts,


File under Fundamentalism_, Hot_Issues, New_Evangelicalism


Greg in Colorado said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg in Colorado said...

I removed my previous post because I realized I really don't have time for a discussion. I don't want to jump in somewhere, dump my thoughts and never return. Maybe another time...

In Christ,

Keith said...


What your dad did was wise.

What I'm getting at by challenging the warnings in relation to the conservative evangelicals is that the conservative evangelicals are not analogous to the bad blonde.

What I'm trying to say is that there is no more to warn about in regards to these guys than there is in regards to fundamentalist leaders.

If some guys begin to "follow" the conservative evangelicals -- who ought not be worshiped or be the object of crushes by the way -- I don't think anything harmful or unbiblical will occur. Therefore, no need for special warning.

I understand that you Chris and Dave disagree with me, and that is fine. I am not intending to be rude. You are welcome to your position.

Some of us just don't get how some of you can think that any of these guys endorse things like open theism. It seems like your position requires independency, which is a position that does not seem to be self-evidently a biblical requirement.

Thanks for the forum

Frank Sansone said...


Thanks for stopping by. For the record, I was not really trying to pick on you personally, as many others have taken a similar position during these discussions - you just happened to be the guy most involved in the current version of this conversation.

I think the crux of the issue hinges on two factors.

The first factor deals with an understanding of the nature of our response to those who oppose the truth. Now, please understand, I am not claiming that the T4G guys oppose the truth, but this is the starting place in the whole discussion.

Is the Biblical response to those that oppose the truth separation or support? I believe that the Bible is clear that the Biblical response to those that oppose the truth is separation. One of the passages that demonstrate this is II Corinthians 6:14-17.

2Co 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

I believe that God, who is holy, has always demonstrated the importance of the fact that the holy is to be separate from the profane and that righteousness is to be separate from unrighteousness. When Piper, who is surely much smarter than I and whose ministry has been an encouragement to many, continues to lend credence to Boyd and Open Theism by his official ties with him in the BGC, I believe that this is a failure to respond properly - and, dare I say it, Biblically - to the error represented by Boyd's view. I do not understand how one can claim that this situation is tertiary or not addressed by the Bible, for it seems to me to be a very clear "yoking".

The second factor deals with an understanding of the nature of our response to those who do not respond Biblically to those who oppose the truth. This is generally the place where the rubber meets the road when it comes to the ministries of the T4G men.

When Graham supports Catholics and Liberals, that is the error of the first area. When Mohler serves as chairman of his Louisville crusade, that is an error in the second area.

Now, I am sure that I am just an ignorant Fundamentalist, but it seems to me that if one is to take seriously the Bible's teaching regarding our responses to those who would oppose the truth, then this mandates separation. How can there be a claim of being "together for the Gospel" in one conference and being "together with liberals" for a BGEA crusade?

When you say that "there is no more to warn about in regards to these guys than there is in regards to fundamentalist leaders", this is only true if we take the conservative new evangelical person that it is perfectly okay for Piper to officially tied to Boyd or for Mohler to be officially tied to Graham or if you have purposely lumped the IFBx leaders (who I reject as Fundamentalists) into your description of Fundamentalists.

I have to go, for now. I will come back later and see if this made any sense.


Keith said...

Even though it's fine with me if you pick on me (it's your blog after all), I didn't think that's what you were doing.

The only reason I weighed in was that you claimed not to "get" my position. So, I thought I'd try to clarify a bit.

I'll try to weigh in with a more complete answer later, if I can find the time.

In the mean time, though, may I just say two things:

1) I don't know what an IFBx is

2) I think your fundamentalist position is someting of a lawyer's dodge. You criticize guys like Piper because they are "officially" tied to erroneous people, and you let yourselves off the hook because you are not "officially" tied to people you think erroneous. You say, "who I reject as fundamentalists".

Piper has made it perfectly clear that he is not with Boyd. He has fought openly, publicly, deliberately, and at great expense to oppose Boyd's position. Yet, because he's in the same denomination, he's "officially" supporting Boyd.

On the other hand, all fundamentalist independents have to do to say they aren't supporting the bad one's in their midst is say, "Well, I don't consider him to be one of us."

Frank Sansone said...


Thanks for coming by again.

I am sorry for using expressions with which you are not familiar. IFBx stands for Independent Fundamental Baptist eXtreme. You can probably fill in the blanks with examples of this (many tend to "bow" towards a certain section of Indiana.

In regard to the "lawyer's dodge", I would say, first of all, that this is one of the blessings of independence :D. Seriously, though, there is some truth in the fact that as an Independent Baptist, I am not put under the pressure of remaining in any group that begins to compromise.

I am not sure how being in the same denomination with Boyd can be considered anything other than being officially "yoked" together.

I hope that clarifies a little.


Keith said...

I'll apologize in advance for another quick, less than thorough, and maybe less than coherent reply.

But . . . Why is being a part of the same incorporated denominational organization so much worse than sharing the same denominational name?

I can think of an answer or two to that question that I would probably agree with, but I'm not the same kind of separatist that you are. So, bear with me . . .

If the separatist position is truly acurate, why are so many of you separatists willing to share a denominational name with open theists? Why don't you come out from that name baptist and be separate?

In the Bible, names mean something. Even today, in traditional marriages, the woman takes the man's name -- to signify something.

Of course, someone can falsely take one's family name. If they do, there are ways to address this wrong.

However, when it comes to denominational names, if independency is correct, there is no way to address wrongly used names -- except to give up your own name and take a new one.

On the other hand, if connectedness is correct, there is a way to address wrongly used names. It may take decades, or more, to resolve the wrong, but there is a way.

In conclusion: If someone says to you, "I heard that baptists don't believe that God knows the future," you can respond, "I'm not that kind of baptist." Well, I think Piper could give the same answer. And, he can do something toward preventing open theists from using his name.

Frank Sansone said...


I am not sure that I am going to be able to answer this to your satisfaction, but I do believe that there is a difference between a shared label and a shared organization.

I am a Baptist. Historically that has indicated that I hold to a certain set of distinctives that I believe that the Bible teaches. I would argue that if you do not hold those distinctives, you are not really a Baptist regardless of what you call yourself. I believe I have accuracy and history on my side when claiming the term.

I believe that you would probably do the same thing in regards to the term "Christian" - I do. There are many who claim the term and yet deny what the Bible teaches. Their claiming of the term does not make them any more of a Christian than does claiming the term Baptist make one a Baptist.

Because of the fact that many have co-opted the term, I tend to clarify that I am an Independent, Fundamental Baptist to further clarify what type of Baptist I am. Obviously people can (and do) co-opt those terms as well.

Since I have no control over the language that others use, I cannot do anything about those who would take terms like "Baptist" or "Fundamental" and apply them to those who are not "Baptist" or "Fundamental." I belive that, given an accurate understanding of those terms, they still contribute to a useful understanding of who I am. I am not wed to those labels, I am just using those labels to help define for others what I believe and where I stand - and I believe I am doing so with an accurate and historical understanding of those terms on my side.

Regarding the need to separate from the name "Baptist", the reality is that no matter what name you choose, someone can come along and take the same name and use it in a way in which you disagree. Logically, you would then be open to changing names every time you turned around. I could not even say that I am a "Frank Sansone" without having to clarify what/which Frank Sansone I am. (Apparently there is at least one who is an oceanographer in Hawaii and I have never been to Hawaii.)

Further, I have not only identified myself as an "Independent" Baptist. Independent would set me apart as not not be connected with other groups of Baptists, by its very meaning. This further helps to clarify where I stand and separates me from those who would use the term "Baptist" for those things that would not accurately be truly Baptist, etc.

When it comes to organizations, there is clearly a closer relationship. There are elected officials, there are rules, there is an agreement of common beliefs, etc. It is not just a common name that is shared, it is a relationship that is entered into, ties that are made.

I would find it very suprising that there would actually be many (any?) who would think that sharing a common broad name (like Baptist) is a closer tie than being part of the same organization (such as the Baptist General Conferene).

I am not sure I am answering your question here, so please clarify if I missed something.


Keith said...

Dear Frank,

I agree with you that history can establish the traditional definition of a baptist. I also agree that Scripture sets the parameters of who should be called a Christian.

I further agree that few if any knowledgeable people would consider sharing a name a closer tie than being part of the same organization.

What I was trying to get at -- and in hindsight I think less than effectively -- is the fact that to most people a baptist is a baptist. Tell them you're an IFB and Boyd's a BGC, and they'll say great, but walk away thinking, "baptist." In other words, while the IFBs are probably more separate than the BGCs, they might not be as separate as they think.

Nevertheless, I must concede that sharing a name is not the same thing as sharing a covenant. All Mrs. Sansone's aren't your wife because only one is in covenant with you. So, all baptists aren't in covenant with Boyd.

Now back to an earlier post . . . All of Scripture is God's word, so clearly all those who desire to submit to God's word must deal with II Cor 6:14-17. They must deal with the call to avoid entering covenant (becoming yoked) with unbelievers.

Once one is in covenant (Piper and Boyd for example) though, shouldn't one separate according to the provisions of the covenant -- and won't this look different and take longer than avoiding the covenant in the first place?

Again, all of Scripture is God's word, so we must also deal with these words of our Lord:

Matthew 13: 24. Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.
25. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.
26. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27. The owner's servants came to him and sid, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where did the weeds come from?'
28. 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you wnat us to go and pull them up?'
29. 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.
30. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

It just seems to me that independency has two significant flaws -- (1) It provides no means for you to discipline error, and (2) It provides no means for you to be disciplined. Each independent congregation is its own college of cardinals.

I know that every form of church government has its flaws -- just like every form of civil government. I also know that sensible advocates of any particular form must think something like, "This is the worst form of church government, except for all the rest."

I don't know if I'll be able to continue this discussion any further. If you have direct, easily answered questions I might be able to reply. However, I have quite a bit going on in my work right now.

I'd like to close, though, by expressing my appreciation for your manner of discourse. I have been quite impressed by your graciousness. Thank you.