Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spurgeon Rebukes The Founders

In his March 28 blog, Brother Tom Ascol quotes from Spurgeon’s Lectures to My Students. I wish Brother Tom would read the rest of the book and take it to heart. If he did, he would shut down Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry) faster than the running of James White from Bob Ross.

Do Spurgeon's words remind you of any modern day organization?

.... it will be seen that those who never exhort sinners are seldom winners of souls to any great extent, but they maintain their churches by converts from other systems. I have even heard them say, "Oh, yes, the Methodists and Revivalists are beating the hedges, but we shall catch many of the birds." If I harboured such a mean thought I would be ashamed to express it. A system which cannot touch the outside world, but must leave arousing and converting work to others, whom it judges to be unsound, writes its own condemnation. (page 343, Zondervan 1954 edition)

Now change the words "Methodists and Revivalists" to "Southern Baptists." Sound like anyone you know? What about it, Tom?


Friday, March 23, 2007

Whither Modern Calvinism?

I hope you enjoy this article by Brother Bob Ross. It was sent originally to his email list. He later sent it to me and somehow I let it slip through the cracks and didn't post it.

See also What's Wrong With Modern Calvinists?, another article by Brother Bob.

No wonder one pastor wrote Brother Bob to say,

I am a Southern Baptist and a Calvinist. I used to attend the Founder's meetings, but these guys are completely out of balance. I wonder why some of them are not Presbyterians.

They claim to revere Spurgeon, but know nothing of the fire and evangelistic zeal that Spurgeon modeled. By and large, these Sovereign grace men are arrogant and proud. I know I am sterotyping, but I am not comfortable with them.

Last time we were hiring a Student minister, I interviewed a recent Southern graduate. This man was on a crusade to make everyone a Calvinist. I told him that I was one of the few who agreed with him, but that his beligerance on the subject would make him impossible to work with.
Sad but true.


The challenge that now confronts this theological train is, where does it go from here? Shall it expand or expire? "Go to seed" and rot, or flourish evangelically?

Mr. Iain Murray complains in his book, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, that "it may well be that we have NOT BEEN SUFFICIENTLY ALERT TO THE DANGER of allowing a supposed consistency in DOCTRINE to override the biblical priority of zeal for Christ and the souls of men" (page xiv).

Calvinism's immediate future as an aggressive evangelistic entity with "zeal for Christ and the souls of men" may hinge upon a few fundamental elements:

1. The respectful toleration of differing theological concepts held by others who have little understanding or appreciation of Calvinism as a system, yet are engaged in evangelistic outreach. Hardcore, hardline, hardheaded, hair-splitting Calvinism which becomes isolationist, exclusivist, nitpicking, and deliberately confrontational in attitude will generally be perceived as "hyperism," "extremism," and "sectarian," if not "cultic."

2. Engagement in aggressive, simplistic evangelism. The average Joe and Jane, Jose and Maria, will only be reached and converted with the basic Gospel, not with the "ordod salutis" layers of logical propositions which characterize theological systems of thought. Ministers and churches rooted in Calvinistic principles will not make converts to Christ except by the simple A-B-C Gospel.

Calvinists must devote evangelistic effort to convert the unsaved rather than being overly evangelistic in efforts to make proselyted theologians of those already converted. Too often we have witnessed churches begin with a few proselyted believers, then "die on the vine" for lack of evangelistic, soul winning outreach to the unsaved around them.

The "reformed" pedobaptists who baptize babies, such as the proteges of Berkhof, Sproul, and Murray, have little to be concerned about in the making of disciples, so long as they have families which beget their own "converts" biologically; but Baptists have only the Gospel as the means of making converts. If Baptists do not win converts with the Gospel, they will not grow and thrive for the cause of God and truth, therefore evangelism is imperative.

3. Magnify Christ and the Word of God more than Calvinism as a theological system. One does not have to be a Calvinist to be a good Christian, nor does being a Calvinist make one a good Christian. And contrary to some, the two are not necessarily synonymous. It is not more important to be Calvinist in theological thought than to put Christ and the Bible first in practical living.

4. Avoiding attachments to certain tangents on theological concepts. There has always been a tendency associated with the acceptance of Calvinism of "going to seed" on certain issues, and riding a hobbyhorse. It is especially noticeable today on the Internet, how much "muscle flexing" on certain points of Calvinism is emphasized by some websites. It's like going to a Cafeteria and the only selections offered are steak, ham, pork, chicken and turkey, but no veggies, beans, potatoes, salads, fruits, relishes, breads, desserts and condiments. Variety is still the "spice of life" and there is more in the Bible than strong doctrine and theology.

Since C. H. SPURGEON is so greatly admired by many Calvinists, perhaps this word of exhortation as to what is most important will be appreciated:

I want you to notice still further, that in this summary there is no exhibition of mere doctrine.

I believe, most firmly, in the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, and I hold them to be very fraught with comfort to God’s people; but if any man shall say that the preaching of these is the WHOLE of the preaching of the gospel, I am at issue with him.

Brethren, you may preach those doctrines as long as you like, and yet fail to preach the gospel; and I will go further, and affirm that some who have even denied those truths, to our great grief, have nevertheless been gospel preachers for all that, and God has saved souls by their ministry.

The fact is, that while the doctrines of election, final perseverance, and so on, go to make up a complete ministry, and are invaluable in their place, yet the soul and marrow of the gospel is not there, but is to be found in the great fact that “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit,” and so on.

Preach Christ, young man, if you want to win souls. Preach all the doctrines, too, for the building up of believers, but still the main business is to preach Jesus who came into the world to seek and to save that which was lost.

The apostle tells us in the Corinthians that first of all he delivered unto us as soul saving truth, “how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures.” Facts about Christ Jesus, and the promise of life through him, these are the faith of the gospel. . . .

The gospel which is to be vehemently declared is this:-- “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” So long as London is reeking with sin, and millions are going down to hell, let us leave others to prophesy, let us go with anxious hearts to seek after souls, and see if we cannot by the Spirit’s power win sinners from going down into the pit.

You will, doubtless, have observed that this summary of the gospel is VERY SIMPLE. Whenever you meet with teaching which is cloudy and complicated, you may generally conclude that it is not the gospel of your salvation, for the truth of Christ is so plain that he who runs may read, and the wayfaring man though a fool need not err therein.

Perhaps some of you have been thinking that conversion and salvation are dark and mysterious things, and that you have to pass through many singular operations and feelings in order to be saved. Now, beloved, the whole of our faith lies in a nutshell. He that BELIEVETH in Jesus Christ the incarnate God, is saved.

These few truths if grasped by the mind, received and trusted in by the heart, will save you. It is at the cross that salvation must be found. We have not written over our religion, “Mystery, mystery, mother of harlots,” this is the sign of Babylon, but we have this to tell you, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned,” and the things which you have to believe are just these SIMPLICITIES:

Jesus the Son of God has come into this world as man to save men; he has bled and died; he is proclaimed and preached; he is to be received and believed in; he has gone up to glory to prepare a place for them that trust him, and that is all.

THE INFERENCES I draw from this are just these. If this be a great gospel, then how important it is for us to receive it. If the gospel were a laborious system of ethics, there are many in this house who never could be saved, for they could not understand it; but since it is SO SIMPLE, why do men refuse it?

"Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

O will you not lay hold upon that truth? I do pray the Spirit of God to take off your minds from all philosophies and mysteries, that you may come to Jesus only.

Trust in Christ and you are saved.

Receive this simple truth. God calls it great; angels think it great; the Holy Spirit attests it to be great; we who preach it feel it to be great; they who receive it acknowledge it to be great; Christ in glory bears witness that it is great; O ACCEPT this great salvation! May the Spirit lead you to believe in the great Savior of great sinners.

Again, if it be so great, how important it is for us to spread it! It does not require us to go to college in order to tell of Jesus: we can each in our sphere publish his fame abroad. If this simple truth be the message of God to perishing sinners, then in the name of common humanity, and above all, in the name of the love of Christ, let us deliver it.

How this text ought to encourage us to spread the gospel. When I am preaching the gospel, many may say, “Oh, he is only telling us commonplace truth.” Just so, I know that; and yet I feel within myself as if I was wheeling up God’s great cannon, which will blow the gates of hell to pieces yet.

“What! none of the venerable mysteries of Rome? What, none of the new philosophical discoveries? None of the imposing ceremonies?"

No, brethren, not one of them, they are all wooden guns, shams and counterfeits, and if ever they are fired off they will go to shivers. This plain truth, that “God was made flesh and dwelt among us,” is God’s great battering ram against which nothing can stand.

Never lose heart in the gospel, my brethren, but think you hear the apostle calling across the ages, “Great is the mystery of godliness.” Look for nothing greater, the gospel is great enough. Keep to it, never think you have told men times enough about it. As Napoleon told his warriors at the pyramids, “A thousand ages look down upon you!” bleeding martyrs who from their graves, call to you to be faithful; confessors who ascended to heaven in fiery chariots, implore you to be steadfast.

Hold fast that ye have received. Attempt not to mend the truth, venture not, to shape it according to the fancy of the times, but proclaim it in all its native purity. By this hammer the gods of Rome and Greece were dashed to shivers, by this lever the world was turned upside down; it is this gospel which has brought glory to God, filled heaven with redeemed souls, and made hell to tremble in all its palaces of flame.

Bind it about your heart, and defy the hosts of Rome or hell to unloose its folds. Wrap it about your loins in death, and hold it as a standard in both your hands in life.

This simple truth, that “Jesus Christ has come to seek and to save that which is lost,” and that “whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life,” must be your jewel, your treasure, your life.

[Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 13, Year 1867, #786, excerpts from pages 706-708].

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Al Mohler: Homosexuality May Be Genetic

Dr. Al Mohler is at it again. Instead of concentrating his efforts on training pastors, something he is paid to do as the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has apparently decided again that he wants Richard Land's job.

Mohler's latest offering is to declare to the world that a homosexual's sinful behavior might stem from a genetic defect. This comes right on the heels of his inviting an open homosexual on his radio show for a friendly chat and expressing great appreciation for the man’s writings. A few weeks later, he rebuked pundit Ann Coulter for using a slang word describing homosexuals. Anyone see a pattern here?

Even the hybrid/hyper/neo/extreme Reformed Calvinists, Mohler's main base of support, are frustrated with him. Carla Rolfe, in an article on "Mohler and Queers," said it best: "Color me confused."

I have a question for my fellow Southern Baptists: Are we getting our money's worth from Dr. Al Mohler? We pay him to train pastors even though he's never been a full-time pastor. He seems to want to do everything except what he is paid to do. So why do we keep paying him?


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Does 1 John 5:1 Teach An "Order" To The New Birth

Some hybrid/hyper/neo/extreme Calvinist blogs have recently posted articles arguing that 1 John 5:1 supports the heresy of "regeneration before faith."

I never cease to be amazed by the eisegesis of these Flounders and James White sycophants. In this article, originally sent to his email list, Brother Bob Ross correctly explains the meaning of 1 John 5:1.




It is argued by James White in his books that I John 5:1 teaches that there is "pre-faith" New Birth, or Regeneration, to the effect that the new birth precedes believing. On the other side are some who contend for the idea that faith precedes the new birth.

Both these views, we believe, are in conflict with our orthodox Confessions of Faith and of course with what we understand is taught in Scripture. Faith and the New Birth are SIMULTANEOUS and cannot be separated, for the New Birth is the efficient work of the Spirit's use of the Word in creating faith. If there is no faith, there is no new birth.

First John 5:1 reads:

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him."

The most evident truth of this verse is that faith and the New Birth are COEXISTENT, where there is one there is the other.

They are somewhat like life itself: where there is life, there is breath; and where there is breath, there is life.

Since the person who believes in Christ is born of God, or retrospectively has been born of God, then conversely the person who does not believe is not and has not been born of God.

The believer is born of God.
The unbeliever is not born of God.

There is no "middle ground," no "in-between" state, no "half-dead, half-alive" condition, so far as this passage is concerned. Believing is simply presented here as the "living proof" or evidence that one is, or has been, born of God. Conversely, no faith in Christ equals no new birth. It is just as simple as that.

The verse does not deal at all with an alleged "sequence" or "order" of actions, as is advocated by James White and some others. That is not even the obvious intention of the writer, John, for he is not trying to convince his readers about what some zealous pedobaptist analysts call the "ordo salutis," a device conceived to allegedly present the "order" of the elements involved in the New Birth

John, of all the New Testament writers, emphasizes the important necessity of faith in regard to salvation (John 20:31), that one who believes has life and the one who does not believe does not have life. The instant of faith is the same instant of life.

John does not specifically deal in this verse (5:1) with the matter of the "means," or "how" this faith comes about, or is experienced. From other passages, however, we know that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17). Faith presupposes an object of faith, and that is presented thru the Word of God.

We also know that faith not only comes by hearing the Word of God, but that Word is made effectual by the accompanying efficient "power" of the Holy Spirit (John 1:12, 13;1 Thessalonians 1:5; John 6:45, 63). This is why and how faith is created, by the Word and the Spirit, and when faith is actually produced or born in a person then that person has experienced the New Birth, or regeneration.

Until that faith in Christ is existent, the New Birth has not taken place -- -- otherwise you have a regenerated unbeliever.

Faith is not some type of "gift" that has no object, or that comes via an alleged "direct operation" of the Spirit before and apart from the accompaniment of the means necessary to create faith.

Whatever preliminary, preparatory, or prevenient work the Holy Spirit may do does not constitute the New Birth. John does not say, "Whoever is convicted is born of God," or "whosoever has been enlightened has been born of God," or "whosoever is concerned is born of God," or "whosoever is sensible of his sins is born of God" -- no, he simply says "whosoever believes is born of God." One is not born until faith is born in him by God's Word and power.

James White tries to justify his faulty interpretation by comparing 1 John 5:1 to 1 John 2:29 where John says that "every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."

But James fails to note the fact that the very first act of righteousness that a person does is to believe in Christ. "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 3:22). This is what Paul told the jailer to do in Acts 16:31. This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He hath sent (John

The very first commandment is summed up as love for God, and faith incorporates that love, for "faith worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). Love is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5), and love has as its object the Lord Jesus, and the one who loves Christ is born of God (1 John 4:7).

How could one be "born again" and not have love for and faith in Christ created in him by the power of the Word of God and Holy Spirit?

The idea that James White tries to prove is that in the New Birth there is an order whereby one who HAS NOT YET BELIEVED "has been born of God," and then after being supposedly born of God he is thereby given "ability" to perform the act of faith in Christ. He claims that "birth precedes . . . faith" (The Potter's Freedom, page 288).

What kind of "new birth" is it that lacks love for Christ and faith in Christ?

We are nowhere taught in Scripture that such a birth devoid of love and faith precedes faith. Actually, may we not say that faith itself has a "birth," being born by the Word and power of the Holy Spirit?


B. H. Carroll, Founder of Southwestern Baptist Thelogical Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas, stated:

(1) Every one born of God has the right be called a child of God.

(2) But no one has the right until he believes in Jesus.

(3) Therefore the new birth is not completed without faith."

Page 287 of Volume 10, Part I on The Gospels, An Interpretation of the English Bible.


Now, here is Spurgeon's Immaculate Syllogism, which is based on 1 John 5:4. This is on page 142 of Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 17, 1971, Sermon #979, "Faith and Regeneration."

1. "Whatsoever is BORN OF GOD overcometh the world."

2. But FAITH overcomes the world.

3. Therefore, the man who has FAITH is REGENERATE.

The Hybrid Calvinist Pedobaptist who has been so influential upon the "Flounders," Iain Murray, in one of his latest books, admits that Spurgeon taught that regeneration and faith are "SIMULTANEOUS," and that "faith 'occurs at the same time as the new birth" (The Old Evangelicism, pages 63, 65).

Friday, March 09, 2007

Apologetics: D. L. Moody vs. James White

Here is a report from none other than Charles Spurgeon about D. L. Moody's success with atheists and scoffers. As I read Spurgeon's remarks, I wonder what fruit "Dr." James White has to show for his efforts? After all, James spends most of his time challenging and debating people of similar stripe.

Where's the fruit, James? D. L. Moody didn't know Greek and didn't have one of those correspondence bought "Dr" degrees by his name, yet after contact with him the most hardened sinners came to know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Could something be missing from James's ministry? Did Moody have something that cannot be bought from a correspondence school?


[The below was sent from Brother Bob Ross to his email list]

The following is an excerpt from C. H. Spurgeon's magazine, The Sword and the Trowel, February 1876, page 86, "Messrs. Moody and Sankey in Great Britain."

Edinburgh is a city of wealth and leisure. Large numbers of persons who have either made or inherited fortunes reside here; and among the very highest classes of Edinburgh society were found the heartiest admirers of, and the most enthusiastic workers with, the evangelists [D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey] from across the sea.

But there are also, in this center of wealth and learning, a good many educated infidels, who have united themselves into clubs for the purpose of preaching their unbelief in much the same way as Christians unite in churches to enjoy the fellowship of faith. Among the notable cases of conversion was the chairman of one of these infidel clubs. He came to a meeting, intending not only to ridicule it, but hoping also to raise a controversy with Mr. Moody, and thus practically break it up.

In this, however, he was altogether unsuccessful, and would have been thrust out of the house for his interruption, if the speaker had not interposed in his behalf. He remained for some time after the congregation were dismissed; and Mr. Moody, seeing him, inquired if he wanted to be a Christian.

He replied that he did not, and that he had a very poor opinion of Christians.

"Would you like to have us pray for you?" said Mr. Moody.

"Oh yes; I have no objection to your trying your hand on me, if you like; but I think you will find me a match for you."

Mr. Moody kneeled down beside the scoffer, prayed for him earnestly and tenderly, and then left him, promising to pray for him still further at home.
It was not long before he was brought under deep conviction of sin, resigned his presidency of the infidel club, and earnestly and faithfully sought the Savior. At a subsequent meeting in Edinburgh, out of thirty persons seeking the Lord, seventeen were members of this infidel club, one of them its chairman, the successor of him whose conversion has just been related; and who has since become a successful evangelist.

The work in Edinburgh was repeated in many other towns of Scotland such as Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, etc., and with similar results, the people going so far as to tolerate Mr. Sankey's "unsanctified musical machine."

The campaign in Ireland which succeeded was still more remarkable when we take into account the national prejudices of the population. In Dublin the Great Exhibition building was hired for the meetings as being the only place in the city capable of accommodating the multitudes who came to hear.

This success of the evangelists in the Emerald Isle was a fine testimony to the power of the simple gospel; for while no fierce denunciations of the apostate church were heard from the platform, the converts came alike from the ranks of Romanists as well as from the houses of the Protestants. The Romish leaders raised the voice of warning, but to no purpose; and their machinations were aided by a club of atheists, who penetrated into the inquiry rooms to endeavor to turn the whole into controversy.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Church Discipline and Tom Ascol

In this post, Brother Bob Ross pokes a big hole in Brother Tom Ascol's crusade for increased church discipline.

Is Brother Tom "really as serious about it as he portrays -- or, is this just an item he can use to bash Southern Baptist churches, especially the very large churches?"


Bob to Charles:

Of course you know, Charles, that Tom Ascol of the "Flounders" has been getting a lot of attention over what he calls "our need to recover our commitment to a regenerate church membership."

I don't suppose any Baptist -- especially a Pastor -- does not hope that all who are baptized and become members of the church are regenerate (born again). However, the more I think about Tom's crusade the more I wonder if he is really as serious about it as he portrays -- or, is this just an item he can use to bash Southern Baptist churches, especially the very large churches?

For instance, is Tom willing to "cover all the bases" with his disciplinary proposal, applying it to all categories of non-attending members, such as --

(1) Members who consistently, and for no good reason, do not attend Sunday evening services?

(2) Members who consistently, and for no good reason, do not attend midweek services?

The Scripture often quoted -- Hebrews 10:25 -- does not specify "assembling" merely for Sunday morning service. And it is not merely applicable to the "every-once-in-awhile" sorts.

So I wonder if Tom gives equal emphasis to those members who are skipping Sunday evening and Wednesday evening meetings? And does he apply this in his own church to all services?

I personally find that those who skip Sunday evening and Wednesday evening are more of "drag" on church morale than those who are simply "no shows" for any service.

Tom says:

My fellow pastors, we must be willing to lead our churches in these paths if we are going to be faithful to our Lord. Failure to do so is a failure of duty. It does not matter how loudly one proclaims his commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord or the Bible as His inerrant Word. If there is a blatant, ongoing neglect of the simple, plain teachings of our Lord regarding church membership (Matthew 18:15-18, for example), then Christ is being dishonored and His glory trampled.

Does this apply to midweek service and Sunday evening service? Or is it just applicable to Sunday morning service?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

One Year Anniversary of The Calvinist Flyswatter

Brother Bob Ross recently posted a comment which reminded me that The Calvinist Flyswatter is one year old! It's been a great year.

As Flyswatter readers know, Brother Bob has been a mainstay here for the past year. His writings on the strange origins of The Flounders and Hardshellism have helped many, and his research on hybrid Calvinism have exposed Tom Ascol, Tom Nettles, and others in the "Reformed" camp for what they are: deep water Presbyterians who oddly claim some sort of link to historic Baptists. Brother Bob has shown by meticulous research that these same historic Baptists rejected the "regeneration before faith" heresy being perpetuated by The Flounders and company. In my opinion, historic Baptists such as Charles Spurgeon would turn over in their graves if they knew how the truths they preached were being distorted.

Brother Bob, I want to thank you for sharing your research and knowledge so freely and fully with your fellow Baptists. May the Lord bless you!

Readers, there's more to come from The Calvinist Flyswatter. As they say on TV, you ain't seen nothing yet!


Bob to Charles:

The Anniversary of my first post on The Flyswatter draws near. I just wanted to "Thank You" again for your instigating your blog and for welcoming my comments.

Without your blog, it seems that little would be offered on the Internet which exposes the specific heresies of the Hybrid Calvinism of the Reformed pedobaptist camp and the Hybrid Calvinism of the Flounders and other "Reformed Baptists" with which the blog has dealt.

The Flyswatter has offered materials sufficient enough to demonstrate that the various Confessions of Faith do not advocate Hybrid Calvinism, nor do the several Baptist scholars and theologians who are often misrepresented in Hybrid Calvinist and Flounder writings. It has also demonstrated that anti-invitationism, anti-child conversion/baptism, and the "born-again-before-faith" soteriology are void of validity.

The Flyswatter has successfully responded to the animadversions of several friends and advocates (anonymous and otherwise) of Hybrid Calvinism, and they have skedaddled.

For my part, it has been a very gratifying year, knowing that the Creedal views of Biblical Truth have been both declared and defended. I consider it a result of Divine Providence that you were prompted to engage in this effort.

Thanks very much for the time and energies you have put into it. -- Bob L. Ross