Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today's "Calvinism" and evangelism


While professed Reformed Calvinists are often wont to "wallpaper" their blogs and websites with Spurgeon photos, there is a noticeable lack of similarity between them and Spurgeon. For example, I know many who would probably decry Spurgeon's message on salvation by faith -- just as the "high" and "ultra" Calvinists did in Spurgeon's own lifetime.

Modern Reformed Calvinists react rather strenuously against the idea that "Calvinism kills evangelism" (See Ernest C. Reisinger, A Biography, page 72), and the usual retort is to mention past personalities such as Spurgeon who were evidently not retarded in their zeal and efforts by their version of Calvinism.

However, no less a Calvinist "reformer" than Iain Murray apparently recognizes the lack of Spurgeonic evangelistic emphasis in the so-called "resurgence" of Calvinism in our time.

In the Preface of his 1995 book, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism, Murray says:

In the 1960s it seemed to many of us that Spurgeon's continuing significance had to do with his witness to the free-grace convictions of the Reformers and Puritans over against the shallow and non-doctrinal evangelicalism of our day. Thirty years later that witness remains relevant and yet it is apparent that the recovery of doctrinal Christianity is not necessarily our chief need today.

In many churches there has been a real increase in knowledge and a resurgence of Calvinistic belief has occurred across the world. The word 'forgotten' is happily far less applicable to Spurgeon than it was forty years ago. But it may well be that the time has come when we need to be MUCH MORE FAMILIAR with a rather different emphasis in Spurgeon.

While I know of no evidence that Hyper-Calvinism is recovering strength, it would appear that THE PRIORITY WHICH SOUL-WINNING HAD IN SPURGEON'S MINISTRY IS NOT COMMONLY SEEN TO BE OUR PRIORITY.

The revival of DOCTRINE has scarcely been matched by a revival of EVANGELISM. While not accepting the tenets of Hyper-Calvinism 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 SOULS OF MEN.

Doctrine without usefulness is no prize. As Spurgeon says, 'You may look down with contempt on some who do not know so much as you, and yet they may have twice your holiness and be doing more service to God.'

This leads one to wonder about the sort of "Calvinism" of this age when compared to that of former years. My own personal observation is that there has been far too much emphasis on what Murray calls "consistency of doctrine" than what he calls "the Biblical priority of zeal for Christ and the souls of men." I have -- for better or for worse -- since the mid-1950s had a firsthand knowledge of several centers or bases of what Murray calls the "resurgence of Calvinistic belief," and looking back upon the subsequent aftermath of those distant "resurgencies" is not very inspirational.

Groups of individuals and churches over the country which gathered around an emphasis on "Calvinistic belief" at "Grace Conferences" such as those held in Cincinnati OH, Ashland KY, Carlisle PA, Houston TX, London UK, and in other cities have not left a very desirable, attractive landscape. Few would care to recall in detail and with perfect candor what has developed in certain places across time. What began in various locales as a sort of "burning bush" has over the years become more like unto the "withered fig tree."

What seems to have been a "common" missing element in each of these "resurgent" scenarios is what Murray himself cites -- "the PRIORITY which soul-winning had in Spurgeon's ministry." What mattered most seems to have been theoretical "soundness," ecclesiastical "reformation," and what Founders' founder Ernest Reisinger called "experiential application in areas of worship and witness." Looking back on these areas today is to behold something on the order of an old Western "gold rush" town filled with balls of sagebrush rolling around on the streets.

An acquaintance of mine, Stephen Garrett, has recently reflected upon this same topic. You may read his article, Spurgeon and Today's Baptists, at the BaptistGadfly.

Spurgeon: what is it to preach the gospel?


Bob's Note: The following from Spurgeon is an example of why we prefer reading a Spurgeon sermon over anything we have heard preached today by any of those who claim to be "Reformed," "Sovereign Gracers," "Five Pointers" and "Founders."

C. H. Spurgeon
New Park Street Pulpit, Vol. 1, Year 1855, Sermon No. 34.
The following excerpt is from page 263:

Am I asked what it is to preach the gospel?

I answer, to preach the gospel is to exalt Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is the best answer that I could give. I am very sorry to see very often how little the gospel is understood even by some of the best Christians.

Some time ago there was a young woman under great distress of soul; she came to a very pious Christian man, who said “My dear girl, you must go home and pray.”

Well I thought within myself, that is not the Bible way at all. It never says, “Go home and pray.”

The poor girl went home; she did pray, and she still continued in distress. Said he, “You must wait, you must read the Scriptures and study them.”

That is not the Bible way; that is not exalting Christ; I find a great many preachers are preaching that kind of doctrine. They tell a poor convinced sinner, “You must go home and pray, and read the Scriptures; you must attend the ministry;” and so on.

Works, works, works -- instead of “By grace are ye saved through faith.”

If a penitent should come and ask me, “What must I do to be saved?” I would say, “Christ must save you -- believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I would neither direct to prayer, nor reading of the Scriptures nor attending God’s house; but simply direct to faith, naked faith on God’s gospel.

Not that I despise prayer -- that must come after faith. Not that I speak a word against the searching of the Scriptures -- that is an infallible mark of God’s children. Not that I find fault with attendance on God’s word -- God forbid! I love to see people there. But none of those things are the way of salvation.

It is nowhere written -- "He that attendeth chapel shall be saved,” or, “He that readeth the Bible shall be saved.” Nor do I read -- “He that prayeth and is baptised shall be saved;” but, “He that believeth,” -- he that has a naked faith on the “Man Christ Jesus,” -- on his Godhead, on his manhood, is delivered from sin. To preach that faith alone saves, is to preach God’s truth.

Nor will I for one moment concede to any man the name of a gospel minister, if he preaches anything as the plan of salvation except faith in Jesus Christ, faith, faith, nothing but faith in his name.

But we are, most of us, very much muddled in our ideas. We get so much work stored into our brain, such an idea of merit and of doing, wrought into our hearts, that it is almost impossible for us to preach justification by faith clearly and fully; and when we do, our people won’t receive it. We tell them, “Believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” But they have a notion that faith is something so wonderful, so mysterious, that it is quite impossible that without doing something else they can ever get it.

Now, that faith which unites to the Lamb is an instantaneous gift of God, and he who believes on the Lord Jesus is that moment saved, without anything else whatsoever.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reisinger biography reviewed


A brief book review by Bob L. Ross.

Ernest C. Reisinger, A Biography by Geoffrey Thomas, published by The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002; 262 pages, hardback binding; $29.75.

The late Ernest Reisinger (1919-2004) was won to Christ in his mid-20s, primarily thru the witnessing and prayerful efforts of Elmer Albright, a member of the "Arminian" Christian & Missionary Alliance church (chapter 3). His conversion experience involved his praying "the sinner's prayer" after reading a Gospel tract entitled, "What Must I Do to be Saved?" and other tracts (page 20). He thereafter made a public confession of faith in Christ as Savior at a Salvation Army meeting (page 20), and soon thereafter was baptized at a Southern Baptist Church in Havre de Grace, Maryland in 1943 (page 22).

After his conversion, Ernest became a very zealous witness for Christ, an ardent evangelistic tract and book distributor as a means to reach lost souls with the Gospel. He was so zealous that his Mother suggested that he might have had a "nervous breakdown" (page 33). "He's always handing out pieces of paper to people," she said, referring to Ernest's Gospel tract distribution.

The wife of one of Ernie's acquaintances who became one of his closest friends, remarked, "That man goes about Carlisle in a pickup truck wearing a porkpie hat and talking to everyone about being 'saved'" (page 56).

His unsaved brother, John, was so irritated by Ernest that he "decided it was time to get away from his older brother and his little black book," so John moved from Pennsylvania to St. Louis for awhile, but there John was soon confronted on the job by a fellow carpenter who "began to talk to him about Jesus Christ."

John said, "I've only met two nuts in the world . . . my own brother and you." After two years, John returned to Pennsylvania and was himself converted (pages 13, 14).

As time passed, and as Ernest became a very successful businessman in his and brother John Reisinger's construction company, he utilized his own financial resources to engage in personal evangelistic activities and soul winning efforts, especially in the distribution of literature -- which in later years would be classified as "Arminian literature" (page 72).

Another close pastoral acquaintance of Ernest summarized the "first love" of his earlier years: "Ernie was above all else a soul-winner, an avid witness for Christ" (page 72).

In the due course of time, however, Ernest came under the influence of Presbyterian pedobaptists, and their theology gradually began to have its effect upon his evangelistic outlook and witnessing methods. His zeal and resources were to become redirected to be more in accord with the pedobaptist theology which he was imbibing.

As this continued over the years, Ernest's primary concern in ministry became directed to the advocacy of "reformation" among Southern Baptists toward pedobaptist soteriology, eschatology, and to some extent pedobaptist ecclesiology.

The Biography relates that he first became acquainted with pedobaptists as a teenager, even before he was converted, attending a Presbyterian Sunday School and becoming a "registered member" of a pedobaptist church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania (pages 10-12). Later, in January of 1946, Ernest was even commissioned by the Carlisle Presbytery as a "lay preacher" (page 52). It was even later in life, however, that pedobaptist theology was to become so greatly influential in the formation of Ernest's theological ideas and practices which were to characterize his ministry as a pastor, writer, and leader of a "movement" focused on "reform."

The Biography reveals that by his personal acquaintance with notable pedobaptist ministers and by reading pedobaptist writers, Ernest was indoctrinated with a great deal of conservative pedobaptist theology even without attending seminary (page 217). While he never adopted pedobaptist views on infant baptism and infant church membership, he did absorb enough of their theology to lead him to revise his procedures in evangelism from what he had practiced in previous years. His zeal and energies became more engaged in promoting certain "Reformed" theological views and practices, and he remonstrated strongly in opposition to what he regarded as "Arminian" practices, such as the "altar call" and what he called "decisionism."

Despite his early teenage affiliation with Presbyterianism, in the 1950s he helped establish the Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. However, within a few years both he and the church had become so greatly influenced by pedobaptist sources and literature that Ernest wrote his first letter to pedobaptist Iain Murray of The Banner of Truth Trust in 1964, saying --

"We all seem to lean to the Presbyterian idea of elders and deacons . . . We are a congregation of Baptists that is almost Presbyterian" (pages 104, 105).

Following that first contact with Iain Murray, both Ernest and the Church became closely and personally associated with Murray and The Banner of Truth. Ernest visited Murray and spoke in England, and Murray visited Carlisle and spoke in the USA.

[The Pastor of the Carlisle church from 1963 to 2002 was Walter J. Chantry, and since retirng as pastor he has been appointed Editor of The Banner of Truth magazine. A "Reformed" website describes the magazine as being "part of the glue binding together people of the Reformed persuasion around the globe. . . . While there may be a certain Presbyterian "flavour" to the Magazine, Reformed Baptists will find the Magazine a blessing as well."]

Paradoxically, these Carlisle "Baptists" established an official distribution branch in the USA for BT's pedobaptist publications, and Ernest actually became a trustee of that organization -- an organization which is committed to the pedobaptist theological standards and financed by a Trust Fund established by a multi-millionaire businessman, D. W. Cullum (1910-1971), a pedobaptist friend of pedobaptist Martyn Lloyd-Jones of Westminster Chapel in London (page 106. Banner of Truth, No. 93, pages 1-5).

The influence of Murray, Jones, and other pedobaptists on Ernest was obvious, especially in matters such as their anti-public invitation stance, pro-Presbyterian type elders, and the advocacy of the "born again before faith" idea on the new birth. The influence of Murray also seems to account for Ernest's repeating a great deal of Murray's misrepresentation of C. H. Spurgeon.

Ernest became so "presbyterianized" that he even served as a nationwide promoter for the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and "had an influence on the shaping of Westminster Seminary in California" -- according to his biographer who quotes a comment by Bob den Dulk, Ernest's friend, who was appointed to be its second president (pages 119-124). "After each trip Ernie would present a report to President Clowney" of the Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia (page 124).

When it was decided by the Carlisle church in 1971 that Ernest should be ordained, who but a pedobaptist was selected to bring "the charge to the church" at the ordination service -- the popular Dr. Cornelius Van Til of the Westminster Semnary (page 136).

But what was to primarily captivate Ernie's latter-year intensive interest and devotion was the promotion of a post-17th century pedobaptist version of "Calvinism" as a "reform" movement among the Southern Baptists who would give him their ear. This obsession with "reform" led to the eventual development of what is often called the "Founders movement."

In 1982, Ernest and a few of his ministerial proteges among the Southern Baptists -- Fred Malone, Tom Nettles, Bill Mitchell, Bill Ascol and Tom Ascol -- met together and planned a "Conference" to be held in Memphis. This Conference and subsequent similar Conferences over the years were "chaired" by Ernest, they often featured pedobaptist speakers, and contributed to the movement's eventual formation as the Founders Ministries.

This movement operates today as a "parachurch" organization, primarily directing its proselyting efforts toward an alleged "reform" of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, and seeking to promote the Hybrid Calvinism characteristics of modern "Reformed" or pedobaptist sources.

One of Reisinger's most prominent personal efforts at "reform" -- or what some might call the "presbyterianizing" of a Baptist church -- was in his pastorate at North Pompano Baptist Church, North Pompano, Florida, beginning in the late 1970s. He offers the North Pompano church as an example of "reform" in his small book, A Quiet Revolution (chapter four), but his effort eventually floundered into an ultimate split, according to the biographer (page 197), and the original church apparently is either very small, or no longer extant.

Unfortunately, the Founders' "reform" approach has often been blamed for similar splits and internal strifes within some Southern Baptist churches. The movement seems to be something on the order of a sect-in-the-making. Its website even now categorizes a number of churches as "Founders friendly churches." In its "FAQ" section on the website, the question, "How can I find a Founders church?" is asked. The answer includes the following:

"To encourage such networking, we have established two lists on our web site that allow individuals and churches to voluntarily associate themselves with the Founders movement. We invite you to use these lists to find churches or individuals who share a burden for the recovery of the gospel and the reformation of the local church."

One of the Houston churches "voluntarily" on this list bears the name of Founders Baptist Church. I have also noticed several church websites which indicate affiliation with the Founders.

The Founders has really become almost a "small denomination within a large denomination," the Southern Baptist Convention. That's where it wants to remain, for proselytizing is much more readily accomplished from the inside rather than from the outside. Influencing church members to become so "reformed" that they split off of an existing SBC church to form a new Founders-friendly church is more convenient than the "old fashioned way" of winning souls, baptizing converts, and forming a church.

Those who are not aware of the pedobaptist influence on Ernest Reisinger and how it has served to "presbyterianize" the Founders Ministries will gain a great deal of insight thru reading Ernest Reisinger, A Biography by Geoff Thomas. It furnishes a great deal of theological and ecclesiastical understanding about the pedobaptist roots behind the Founders' efforts to proselyte and "presbyterianize" Southern Baptist churches under the guise of "reform."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bunyan vindicated


Bob to Charles:

That blog (to which you referred in your email) quoted John Bunyan as saying "believing is the consequence of the new birth."

But the blog fails to include material from Bunyan which would reveal what Bunyan taught about how the "believing" is wrought, and how the new birth is wrought. This would, of course, conflict with Hybrid Calvinism's "born again before faith" theology, so the blogger somehow chose not to represent Bunyan on that.

I suppose that all professing Calvinists and others who accept the Westminster Confession, the 1689 London Confession, and the 1742 Philadelphia Confession could agree that believing is the "consequence" of the new birth, for according to the old confessions, "The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word" (Chapter XIV, Of Saving Faith).

The same confessions teach that effecual calling is "by His Word and Spirit . . . enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God" (Chapter X, Of Effectual Calling).

This is the historic creedal view, and if we understand Bunyan rightly, this is what he held.

Also, Baptists who accept the older Baptist confession -- the 1644 London Confession -- would agree that "Faith is ordinarily wrought by the preaching of the Gospel, or Word of Christ," and this "Faith is the gift of God, wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God; by which faith they come to know and believe the truth of the Scriptures"
(Articles XXIV, XXII).

Below is some material from Bunyan which shows that he obviously held the creedal view that the new birth is wrought by the Spirit thru the Word preached, by which work "believing" is produced in the soul. Believing is therefore referred to by Bunyan as the "consequence" of the Spirit's use of the Word preached in bringing about that believing. The believer is "born to faith" in that the Spirit blesses the Word to bring about the "birth" of believing.

I do not find any evidence in Bunyan's writings that he taught the phantasmagorical "born again before, without, and apart faith" notion advocated by Hybrid Calvinists and Hardshell Baptists, whereby the elect are supposedly "born again" by a supposed "direct operation" of the Spirit before, without, and apart from the use of the Word as the instrumentality in the new birth.



And whereas you ask me, 'What is that which worketh faith? And where is it, within or without?'

I answer, That which worketh saving faith, is the holy Spirit of God, which is renewed through the hearing of the word, preached by the Apostles or ministers of Jesus Christ: Now the Spirit when it doth work, it entereth into the soul, and as I said before, doth enable the soul to believe, and lay hold on the merits of the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ. For saith he, when he is come, he shall glorify me, for he shall take of mine, and shew it unto you (John 16:14).

Bob's comment: This obviously means, according to Bunyan, that in the new birth the "means" are BOTH the Spirit and the Word, not the Spirit only. He "worketh" in the soul by means of the Word in order for the soul to "believe." This is not the "direct operation," "no means," "no instrumentality" idea which is advocated by Hybrid Calvinists who follow Shedd, Berkhof, etc.

. . . . .

As to the latter part of your query, I answer; The new birth is wrought through hearing of the word preached. And yet not by conscience, nor by the obedience to the law, or dictates of nature; but by the Spirit coming into the soul, and shewing its lost condition without the obedience of the Son of Mary, the Son of God; and his freeness and willingness to communicate, or give himself, and all his things unto it; which being done, the man is thereupon given up to God, and is become a new creature.

Bob: Notice that Bunyan's view on the "new birth" -- becoming a "new creature" -- is that it is "wrought through hearing of the word preached," and this is how the Spirit "shews" things to the soul to thereby bring about "believing" in the soul.



Ans. 1. Although the soul that in truth receiveth Christ, receiveth him wholly, and entirely as Christ, and not as chopt, and pulled in pieces: yet I distinguish between the act of faith, which layeth hold of Christ for my justification from the curse before God, and the consequences of that act, which are to engage me to newness of life. And indeed, as it is impossible for a man to be a new man, before he be justified in the sight of God; so it is also as impossible, but that when faith hath once laid hold on Christ for life, it should also follow Christ by love.

Again, notice that Bunyan says "truth" is involved the soul's "receiving Christ." It is the "act of faith" which "layeth hold of Christ," according to Bunyan. He does not consider a man to be a "new man" BEFORE justification, but it is "when faith hath once laid hold on Christ" that he has "life."

The quotation on the blog is typical Hybrid Calvinist piecemeal misrepresentation.

For further comment about the Confessional view, see my article on this blog, Regeneration -- Calvinism

Ascol's taut ship


A few days ago, I saw a post on the "Flounders" blog which was rather critical of Tom Ascol's materials. Later, however, when I went back to peruse the latest comments, I found this remark from Ascol:

Tom said...

I have been out and just now checked the comments to find the irrational rant by Mike. I concur with you, and have deleted it.

This is perhaps one reason one seldom reads any negative commentary about the Flounders and Hybrid Calvinism on the Flounders blog -- Ascol makes sure it gets deleted. Would it not be interesting to see some of the posts by the critics of the Flounders and how Ascol responds to their criticisms?

However, Ascol evidently does not mind at all posting comments from those who criticize the critic whose comments were deleted and who evidently has forfeited any right to reply to his critics.

Charles has gained respect for the way he handles the Flyswatter -- he has allowed the comments by critics and has replied to them. This is consistent with that old saw, "The truth has nothing to fear."

Wonder if Ascol has something to fear?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Piper's view on the New Birth


Since writing the post for the The Flyswatter on Friday, December 07, 2007, Is John Piper Correct On The New Birth? it has been brought to my attention that years ago Piper had written material which at that time apparently expressed the Hybrid Calvinist "born again before faith" idea.

However, we understand Piper's very recent sermon series on the New Birth to be more expressive of pre-18th century Creedal Calvinism on "Effectual Calling" and likewise consistent with the Puritan view of such men as Stephen Charnock and John Owen, in contrast to the "born again before faith" view as advocated by some post-17th century pedobaptist "Reformed" sources.

This raises the question -- Has Piper altered, or more fully developed, his views on the New Birth?

Currently [February 17, 2008], on his website, in a sermon entitled Faith: Unique and Fruitful Effect of the New Birth, Piper has what appears to be a clear message which affirms the Creedal view of the New Birth which is in contrast to the "born again before faith" idea.

This message affirms that God's Spirit is the efficient cause of the New Birth and Word of God, the Gospel, is the instrumental cause.

And as Piper said in the former sermon from which we quoted, "we should never separate the new birth from faith in Jesus. From God’s side, we are united to Christ in the new birth. That’s what the Holy Spirit does. From our side, we experience this union by faith in Jesus.

Never Separate the New Birth and Faith in Jesus

. . . Born of God–the key to victory. Faith–the key to victory. Because faith is the way we experience being born of God.

. . . In the new birth, the Holy Spirit supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. For Jesus is life. "

In the current sermon on his website, Piper says:
First Peter 1:23 says, as we saw last week, that we “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” This sentence is stupendously important. We are born again, that is, we are united by the Holy Spirit to Jesus Christ so that we share in his new, eternal resurrection life through the word of God. This miracle, this transfer from death to life, happens through the word of God. . . .

After saying in 1 Peter 1:23 that we are born again “through the living and abiding word of God,” Peter says in verse 25, “This word is the good news that was preached to you.” In other words, the word through which we are born again is “the good news that was preached to you.” And what is that? What is that gospel or good news? . . .

The Gospel Is News

In other words, the gospel is news. It’s about events that happened, that you can see with your eyes and touch with your hands and think about with your mind and describe with your mouth. It’s the news about the death of Jesus in history and his resurrection getting their meaning, as Paul says, from Scripture: “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.”

We are saved, he says in verse 2, by believing this news. And we believe it because we heard it and understood it with our minds. Paul ends that section in 1 Corinthians 15:11 by saying, “So we preach and so you believed.” As he said in Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” And Galatians 3:2, 5, “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? . . . Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.”

In other words, “hearing with faith” is what happens when we are “born again through the living and abiding word of God.” The gospel—the news about Jesus Christ—is preached, we hear it, and through it we are born again. That is, faith is brought into being. James 1:18: “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth.” . . .

You were born again through the living and abiding word of God. This word is the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen. Don’t fall prey to another gospel. There is no other gospel, and there is no other path to God, or to ultimate well-being, than hearing, understanding and believing the scandalous news of Jesus Christ. . . .

The Word was God. But the Word became flesh. And the story of his saving work—the gospel, the word of God—is the way Jesus Christ, the Word, comes to us and regenerates us and renews us. We hear this word, and by grace, we understand this word, and receive this word, and are born again by this word. . . .

God’s act in bringing about the new birth is the creation of a believer where once there was only spiritual deadness and unbelief. The reason that the new birth is the creation of a believer is that this new creation happens through the word of God (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18)—through the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ, by the power of the Spirit, creates spiritual understanding and faith where once there was blindness and unbelief. It does this as a narrative of historical events—the cross and the resurrection—that reveal the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). This narrative is the power of God bringing about the new birth and awakening faith (Romans 1:16). . . .

And because of that I can—and I do—appeal to you: Look at him in the gospel. See his glory and his truth. Receive him and believe in his name. And you will be a child of God.

Bob's note: This sermon is consistent with the same view expressed in the old Confessions and by Stephen Charnock, John Owen, Abraham Booth, C. H. Spurgeon, John Calvin, B. H. Carroll, A. H. Strong, and others we have quoted, and it is in stark contrast to the "born again before faith" view of many of those today who refer to themselves as "Reformed."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Spurgeon's eschatology


The pamphlet published by Rose Publications entitled "Four Views of the End Times" will be corrected, according to an email which I received from the Editors of that company.

The original pamphlet had inaccurately categorized C. H. Spurgeon as holding to "postmillennialism" in his views on the endtime.

We sent an email article to our own mailing list about this error on February 6, 2008 entitled:


After checking further on this matter, Rose's Editors have sent us the following email. As has so often been the case, the untrustworthy sources of the error about Spurgeon's views involve Pedobaptists Iain Murray's and R. C. Sproul's writings. How many people have been mislead about Spurgeon by the Pedobaptists!

Here is the email from Rose:

Dear Mr. Ross,

Thank you for your message and for your patience as we researched our sources for the material.

The author's reference was based primarily on Iain Murray's classic text The Puritan Hope, as well as a statement in one of R.C. Sproul's books. As such, the sources were reliable sources. That said, after working through the primary source materials referenced by Phil Johnson on, it appears that Murray and Sproul were in error.

We have decided to delete Spurgeon’s name from the postmillennialist section. It is clear from the author, as it is from our own editorial perspective, that the original decision to include him there was based on proper research of reliable sources. We work hard making sure that our content is always well researched and accurate. But we recognize that even careful and thoughtful work can have flaws, so we are grateful to our readers who feel comfortable sharing their knowledge to improve our products.

Thank you for pointing out this important detail to us. We have made the necessary arrangements to correct it. We hope we can continue to serve you in the future. We wish God's continuous blessing on you and your ministry.

Sincerely in Christ,

The Editors
Rose Publishing, Inc.
4733 Torrance Blvd. #259
Torrance, CA 90503

Here is our reply to the Editors at Rose Publishing:


Thanks for your kind reply and for your attention to correcting the pamphlet in regard to C. H. Spurgeon's views on Eschatology. This correction will probably spare us from having to reply to several inquiries in the future from those who would have been confused about Spurgeon's views.

In regard to Mr. Iain Murray, I regret to say that he has unfortunately often come short of being a very reliable source on Spurgeon's views.

Mr. Murray has a theological bias in favor of pedobaptist theology and practices, and I think perhaps that bias influences him to the extent that we have found it necessary to take issue with him on a number of items relating to Spurgeon, including --

(1) Murray's effort to represent Spurgeon as favoring the post-17th century pedobaptist view that a person is "born again before faith."

(2) Murray's idea that Spurgeon did not approve of the use of the "enquiry room" or public invitations -- [C. H. Spurgeon & the "Public Invitation System" -- Did He Oppose Its Use?; Was Spurgeon the Innovator of the Public Invitation?, A Reply to Murray's Anti-Invitation Booklet; Murray's Crafty Misuse of Spurgeon] -- see more articles at

See also -- Bob Ross: Spurgeon Misrepresented by Murray on the Down Grade Controversy.

Ever since 1969 when we began republishing Spurgeon's sermons and other works, we have had to furnish information about Spurgeon to several people in regard to Mr. Murray's unfortunate misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Spurgeon on certain matters.

We appreciate your integrity in regard to correcting the mistake in the pamphlet, and we hope it will have a wide circulation.

Yours Sincerely,

Bob L. Ross

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Responding, not attacking


It seems that some have gotten the false impression from reading The Calvinist Flyswatter that we are "attacking" the Founders Ministries, some professors at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Presbyterians, Calvinism, Tom Nettles, Ernest Reisinger, and other names or entities which may have been the focus of our posts.

We respond to this by saying that it is a misconception: we are not attacking anybody -- we are simply responding.

I will not attempt to be exhaustive in this, but in summary will just call attention to a few things which illustrate my point.

1. The Founders Ministries, under the guise of promoting "reform" and the alleged representation of certain Baptist "founders" of yesteryear, has been attacking and misrepresenting Baptists on each of those items to which we have responded -- such as the new birth or regeneration, effectual calling, initial confession of faith in Christ, baptism, elders, the baptism of young professors, Baptist confessions, Spurgeon's views (and those of other Baptists in history), etc.

2. Individuals who have either attacked or misrepresented Baptists have likewise been the subjects of our responses. They "fired first," and we have simply returned "fire."

3. On "Calvinism," we have simply limited our materials to showing the contrast between the historic Calvinist Confessions and the modern "Reformed" version. We contend the latter version is a HYBRID and heretical theology represented primarily by post-seventeenth century Pedobaptists (baby baptizers) and their disciples among those who identify themselves as "Reformed." We consider the "Reformed" version to be an attack upon Creedal Calvinism.

4. No effort has been made on this blog to attack Creedal or Confessional Calvinism, nor Spurgeon's Calvinism, regardless of what either Charles or I might think about these. As Charles has carried in his banner since he started this blog, we are "swatting the theological flies produced by the reformed calvinist blogosphere." We are neither promoting nor attempting to refute legitimate Calvinism, but we are responding to sources of aberrant "Calvinism."

There is no instance, to my knowledge, wherein we have been guilty of misrepresenting any source or person to which we have responded. We have taken note of their views as they have presented them, referenced the sources, and then rendered our response.

Pray for Dr. Mohler

Mohler to undergo colon surgery, to forego SBC president nomination

By Baptist Press staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will require additional surgery after a scheduled colonoscopy Feb. 11 revealed a tumor in his colon. An initial biopsy indicated that the tumor is pre-cancerous and further tests are to be scheduled, along with surgical options.

The surgery will require that he forego nomination as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, Mohler said.

Mohler, 48, underwent major abdominal surgery in late December 2006, complicated by the development of bilateral blood clots in his lungs. Doctors will take special precautions to prevent a recurrence of the blood clots with this new surgery. Specialists are consulting on the case and a decision on the date and location for the surgery is to be made in the near future. The procedure is likely to require an extensive period for recuperation and recovery.

Mohler said his time of recuperation would necessarily alter some of his plans as he gives first priority to his health and his family.

"Some have asked how this new development affects my nomination to be president of the Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis this June," Mohler said. "I have decided to give my greatest attention right now to addressing this new challenge and to ministering to my wife and children. This is clearly not the right time for me to accept this nomination. I have asked my good friend Robert Jeffress not to proceed with nominating me for president of our Southern Baptist Convention this year.

"Frankly that decision is made much easier by my knowledge that there is at least one strongly conservative, committed pastor who intends to be nominated in Indianapolis," Mohler said.

Mohler expressed gratitude to God that medical personnel found the tumor this early.

"Sometimes we take it for granted that we live in an age like this one, in which God has given us the blessing of medical technology," Mohler said. "For most of human history, a tumor such as this one would have gone unnoticed until it was too late. I am thankful for modern medicine, but I am even more thankful that we live in a world in which our God hears us when we pray, a Father who listens to his children."

Mohler said Southern Seminary "would not skip a beat" during his recuperation.

"I have absolute confidence in the seminary leadership team. We will move forward with momentum," Mohler said. "God has blessed and is blessing Southern Seminary. We do not take that for granted, and we pledge to be good stewards of that blessing, even through this time."

Southern Seminary will release additional information as it becomes available. The Mohler family has expressed appreciation for all concern, prayer and encouragement.

Surgery causes Al Mohler to bow out of SBC race

By Robert Marus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) -- Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptists’ oldest seminary and spokesman for conservative social causes, will bow out of the race to head the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, according to a Feb. 14 statement.

Mohler will undergo surgery for a pre-cancerous tumor in his colon, according to a release posted on the website of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mohler, 48, has headed the institution since 1995.

Three other candidates for the SBC presidency have already been announced: Georgia pastor Frank Cox and Californians Wiley Drake and Bill Wagner.

Doctors discovered the tumor during a routine colonoscopy Feb. 11, and a subsequent biopsy revealed that it was pre-cancerous.

Mohler went through similar surgery in December 2006. That surgery was complicated by blood clots that formed in his lungs. The Southern Seminary statement said Mohler’s physicians “will take special precautions to prevent a recurrence of the blood clots with this new surgery.”

It also said a date for the surgery had not yet been determined, but it will likely “require an extensive period for recuperation and recovery.”

Because of that, Mohler said, “I have decided to give my greatest attention right now to addressing this new challenge and to ministering to my wife and children. This is clearly not the right time for me to accept this nomination.”

He continued, “Frankly that decision is made much easier by my knowledge that there is at least one strongly conservative, committed pastor who intends to be nominated in Indianapolis.” He was presumably referring to Cox.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Spurgeon "quote" distorted by Hybrids


In C. H. Spurgeon's ministry, the use of the "inquiry room" was quite common. This was a room or perhaps a lecture hall to which the unconverted were invited to come to be instructed by Ministers and Christian workers in the way of salvation -- somewhat similar to the "altar call" or "invitation" today.

In regard to inquiry rooms, Spurgeon once said --

"It is all very welt to have an enquiry-room, and I have not a word to say against it" (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 26, page 233), and in the same volume on page 186 he says, "I do not condemn that action" (of going into an inquiry room).

In his Lectures to My Students, Second Series, page 190, he taught his ministerial students to "hold numerous enquirers meetings."

He emphasized a "reasonable" approach:
"Hope for the best, but in your highest excitements be reasonable. Enquiry-rooms are all very well, but if they lead to idle boastings they will grieve the Holy Spirit and work abounding evil" (The Sword and the Trowel, November 1879, page 505).

Spurgeon was very aggressive in seeking to win souls, and he said he expected unconverted hearers to come to Christ and be saved in every service. He approved of reasonable methods, such as the inquiry room, in encouraging his hearers to become believers and confess their faith in Christ. He even had some members whom he called his "dogs" and "sharpshooters" who would seek to win souls to Christ immediately after the services had concluded.

Spurgeon: We mean never to let you have any rest till you come to Christ. I have heard that there are some friends about this Tabernacle who “bother” people concerning their souls; and I hope they will keep on “bothering” them. They will not let them come and go out of this building without having an earnest word with them; I hope it will always be so. We have some brethren here who are sharpshooters; they are just now lying low in the rifle-pit, taking aim at some of you; and they will shoot at you before you get away tonight. I hope they will hit you, too, because whosoever hears the gospel is bidden to say to others, “Come.” You will get girdled round with a ring of invitations, for God means to bless you; and, therefore, if you escape one, he will not let you escape another. -- Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 46, page 357.

Spurgeon: There is a wonderful work to be done in those lobbies, and in those pews, after a service. There are some dear brethren and sisters who are always doing it; they call themselves my “dogs”; for they go and pick up the birds that I have wounded. I wish that they might be able to pick up many tonight. -- Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 38, page 549.

It's true, Spurgeon warned against the misuse of any and all tactics and practices which might inappropriately become substitutes for the simple Gospel of salvation by simply believing in Jesus. But -- he never opposed the inquiry room, for he actually used it at the Tabernacle. He would indeed oppose putting anything before believing on Christ for salvation, whether it be prayer, the inquiry room, baptism, the preacher, the church, or anything else. He regarded anything which was put ahead of believing as a "superstition" and salvation by "works."

Yet, I have often seen a distorted "quotation" from C. H. Spurgeon in some Hybrid Calvinist sources which is frequently misused by certain writers to create the impression that Spurgeon opposed invitations and inquiry rooms. The chopped up quotation" is lifted out of context and has Spurgeon supposedly advising the unconverted person to "Go home" rather than go into the inquiry room. You can find the authentic material in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 30, Year 1884, page 456.

I think I first saw the mangled quotation in the Founders' founder Ernest Reisinger's book, Today's Evangelism, page 75. I later saw the same mangled item in Errol Hulse's The Great Invitation, page 149, and then Robert B. Selph's Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election, page 140.

I think I have also seen it evidently copied and used in some Internet articles which oppose invitations. I have received the impression that few, if any, of these sources have actually read Spurgeon's original words in context, and none of them even gives a reference where the words are found! It's as if someone does not want you to read the words in context.

In context, Spurgeon was simply urging upon the sinner that his FIRST, foremost, and immediate need was to believe in Christ for salvation, and to put nothing ahead of that believing, not even prayer or going to the inquiry room.

Notice Spurgeon's emphasis in the first part of the paragraph which is NOT quoted by the Hybrid Calvinist writers:

Oh, that you would trust in the Lord Jesus! Repose in him, and in his finished work, and all is well. Did I hear you say, “I will pray about it”? Better trust at once. Pray as much as you like after you have trusted, but what is the good of unbelieving prayers? “I will talk with a godly man after the service.” I charge you first trust in Jesus. Go home alone, trusting in Jesus. (MTP, Vol. 30, 1884, page 456).

The idea that Spurgeon is advising an unconverted person to "go home" BEFORE trusting in Jesus is obviously not what he is saying.

There are some other places in Spurgeon's sermons where he uses the words "Go home," and the following examples clearly demonstrate that he wanted the unconverted who heard him preach to immediately believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation:

Take care thou dost not try to make a righteousness out of thy feelings. If you say, “I may not go to Christ till I feel my need of him” — that is clear legality; you are on the wrong track altogether, because Christ does not want you to feel your need in order to prepare for him; he wants no preparation, and anything which you think to be a preparation is a mistake. You are to come just as you are — to-day, as you are, now — not as you will be, but just now, as you now are.

I do not say to you, “Go home and seek God in prayer; I say come to Christ now at this very hour;” you will never be in a better state than you are now, for you were never in a worse state, and that is the fittest state in which to come to Christ. (NPSP, Volume 6, page 403).

* * *

Again, I am afraid some persons with the water at their feet, do not drink it because of the bad directions that are given by ministers. When a minister closes up an address to the unconverted with this exhortation -- "Now, my dear friends, go home and pray,” that is a very right exhortation; but it is given to the wrong people, and in the wrong place.

I do not say to you this morning, I dare not say to you, as though it were the Gospel message, “Go home and pray.” I hope you will pray; but there is another matter to come before prayer, namely, faith in Jesus.

When Christ told his disciples to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, he did not say to them, “He that prayeth shall be saved,” though that would be true if he prayed aright; but “he that believeth shall be saved.” Your present duty is, not praying, but believing.

You are to look to Jesus Christ upon the cross just as the poor serpent-bitten Israelites looked to the brazen serpent and lived. Your prayings will not do you a farthing’s worth of good if you refuse to trust Jesus Christ. . . . It is depending upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone which is the true vital act by which the soul is quickened into spiritual life. (MTP, Volume 12, Year 1866, page 163).

* * *

Suppose I should go home to-night and spend the night on my knees, and think that by that means I should satisfy God? What should I have done but made my knees ache? . . .

But while I remark upon these things, let me also say that to obey the precept “Believe and live” is certainly a great deal more effectual to the soul’s salvation than all the sacrifice and all the fat of rams which you can offer. . . . I would not give a penny for a wagon-load of them. The whole of them are just what Paul calls them --”refuse.” He says, “I count them but dung that I may win Christ, and be found in him.” All your best works are but so much rubbish to be carted out of the way, and if you trust in them they will be your ruin, and all we say to you is, “BELIEVE AND LIVE.”

. . . “Believe and live,” oh! that is too simple! What! just trust Christ and be saved on the spot? Why, it cannot be, you think. If we bade you do some great thing you would do it, but you refuse to do so simple a thing as to believe.

But if Naaman had gone to Abana and Pharpar he would not have been healed, and if he had sought out all the physicians in Syria and paid away all his money, he would have been white with leprosy still. There was nothing but washing in Jordan that would heal him.

And so with you, sinner, you may go and do fifty thousand things, but you will never get your sins forgiven, and you never, never shall have a hope of heaven unless you will obey this one precept: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” but if you do this you shall find that “to obey is better than sacrifice” indeed, and “to hearken than” all “the fat of rams.” Again, I am afraid some persons with the water at their feet, do not drink it because of the bad directions that are given by ministers. When a minister closes up an address to the unconverted with this exhortation -- "Now, my dear friends, go home and pray,” that is a very right exhortation; but it is given to the wrong people, and in the wrong place.I do not say to you this morning, I dare not say to you, as though it were the Gospel message, “Go home and pray.” I hope you will pray; but there is another matter to come before prayer, namely, faith in Jesus. When Christ told his disciples to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, he did not say to them, “He that prayeth shall be saved,” though that would be true if he prayed aright; but “he that believeth shall be saved.”Your present duty is, not praying, but believing. You are to look to Jesus Christ upon the cross just as the poor serpent-bitten Israelites looked to the brazen serpent and lived. Your prayings will not do you a farthing’s worth of good if you refuse to trust Jesus Christ. . . . It is depending upon the Lord Jesus Christ alone which is the true vital act by which the soul is quickened into spiritual life. (MTP, Volume 12, Year 1866, pages 224, 225, 226).

It seems to be a trait of Hybrid Calvinist writers to "quote" Spurgeon piece-meal, out of context, and to the disregard of what he says in other places on a subject. It seems that most of them have Iain Murray's writings for their source material, and few if any are as adept as Murray at disfiguring Spurgeon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Founders fostered by Pedos?


Not a few Baptists have observed that the Founders Ministries, a parachurch organization in the Southern Baptist Convention, relies heavily upon Pedobaptist authorities for many of its various peculiarities which are dubious in the light of even the Pedobaptist Confessions of Faith such as Westminster.

I will cite a few examples from the Founders Ministries itself.

1. The "command, example, and inference" hermeneutical approach in regard to defining what is authorized in the worship of God. This is the thesis of the book on "Worship" by Ernest Reisinger and D. Matthew Allen. The book amounts to little more than an exposition of the pedobaptist and Campbellite approach in "establishing biblical authority." The Campbellites borrowed this from the Presbyterian Church from whence they originally derived.

This book acknowledges the fact that the so-called "regulative principle" has been primarily promulgated by the pedobaptist Presbyterians. This is the avowed interpretive guideline for the Founders in regard to what constitutes the approved elements involved in worship (pages 49, 79).

The Campbellite system of "command, example, and inference" as the method by which to determine what is authorized by the Bible is promoted by this book published by the Founders Press (page 79). Thomas and Alexander Campbell brought that over into their "restoration" movement from the Presbyterians from whom they separated in the early 1800s..

In fact, the bibliography of the book contains more Pedobaptist (baby sprinklers) sources than Baptists and perhaps all others combined. Names such as Bannerman, Packer, Frame, Murray, Hodge, Girardeau, Cunningham, Calvin, Luther, Dabney and others are enlisted by the authors in the effort to substantiate their conclusions.

2. I do not know if it is characteristic of all Founders affiliates, but the "elder rule" type of church government practiced by the Pedobaptists and Campbellites is favored by many pastors and churches related to this movement. This has been a cause of division, and even the church which Founders' founder, Ernest Reisinger, pastored in North Pompano, Florida was split over this system of church government (Ernest Reisinger, A Biography, page 197).

Reisinger offers the North Pompano Baptist Church as an example of "reforming" a Southern Baptist church according to the "pattern" promoted by the Founders (A Quiet Revolution, pages 73-75; Ernest Reisinger, A Biography, Chapter 19). I'm not sure, but it appears that this Florida church no longer exists. The "reforming" work by Reisinger seems to have come to naught.

3. The anti-invitationism which characterizes many in the Founders -- such as Reisinger and Tom Nettles -- derives from Pedobaptists, notably Iain Murray and Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Whenever someone writes against invitations, he usually will quote from Pedobaptist Murray. Of course, pedos have no use for invitations other than inviting parents to dutifully bring their infants to the minister for infant baptism and immediate enrollment as church members. This is how the pedos get the majority of their members.

4. Hybrid Calvinism -- the "born again before faith" theology -- also derives from pedobaptist sources, as we have frequently observed on this blog. This is a post-seventeenth century departure from the Puritan and Creedal view on Effectual Calling. Iain Murray, the "grandfather" of the Founders movement, has published and promoted the Systematic Theology of Louis Berkhof in which this aberrant teaching is dogmatically promulgated. It is perpetuated by modern pedos such as R. C. Sproul, John Frame, John Murray, Iain Murray, and similar "Reformed" pedobaptist sources.

Clues by which you might
recognize a "Hybrid Calvinist" --

If you happen to meet someone who makes one or more of the following remarks, it is possible, even probable, that you have met a Hybrid Calvinist. Here are a few clues which point in that direction.

If the person says --

"I have never met and don't know a hyper Calvinist."

"I don't follow any man's theology; I just follow the Bible."

"We don't win souls, the Holy Spirit does."

"Invitations to accept Christ are Arminian."

"Charles Finney invented public invitations."

"How can a dead man believe on Christ?"

"Most professions by youngsters are false professions."

"Most of those who respond to invitations are false professions."

"Invitations have corrupted evangelical Christianity."

"Regeneration (new birth) precedes repentance and faith."

"Praying the sinner's prayer is Arminianism."

"Making decisions for Christ is Arminianism."

"I am Reformed, a Monergist, and a 5-point Calvinist."

"My favorite websites and blogs are by Reformed writers."

"I am affiliated with the Founders Ministries."

"I like the writings of R. C. Sproul, Iain Murray, Tom Nettles, Ernest Reisinger, James White, and similar writers."

"I like to attend Reformed conferences on the doctrines of grace."

"I believe in Covenant theology."

"I believe in following the Regulative Principle."

"I believe in the primacy of expository preaching."

"If it were not for baptism, I would be a Presbyterian."

These are a few of the clues which may -- but not necessarily -- indicate that you just might be talking to a Hybrid Calvinist, one who advocates the heresy of "born again before faith."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unanswered email to Nettles and Mohler


Bob's Note: I sent the following email on April 23, 2006 and have not as yet received a reply, even after sending it again later. Both Dr. Tom Nettles and Dr. R. Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary had previously corresponded with me via email, but since I sent this email, neither has had any contact with me.

The announcement that Dr. Mohler is going to be one of the candidates for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention has once again revived my interest in why neither Dr. Nettles nor Dr. Mohler has ever responded to this inquiry.

The words in brackets have been added to the original email for the sake of clarity to current readers.

To: Dr. Tom Nettles and copy to Dr. R. Albert Mohler

Dear Brother Nettles:

As you know, I have expressed a great deal of public concern over the rise of certain views on the New Birth for quite sometime. I have recently had a disturbing email from a very reliable Southern Baptist Pastor and leader who alleges that Dr. Nettles has been "fellowshipping" with Pastor Lasserre Bradley Jr., the leading Hardshell Baptist preacher in the United States for the past 40 plus years.

I have personally known Lasserre Bradley Jr. since he was 19 or 20 years old [when I first met and talked with him in Ashland, Kentucky at the residence of Pastor Henry Mahan of 13th Street Baptist Church], and when he went into the Hardshells [Primitive Baptist Church] in the late 1950s he reeked havoc in Eastern Kentucky among some churches when I was living in Ashland. He [Bradley] led astray several of our personal preacher friends who traipsed off after him into Hardshellism on the matter of "regeneration" [the new birth].

It grieves me to bring this matter to you, but since you hold such an influential position in Baptist ranks, I would not have an easy conscience unless I heard directly from you about the nature of your association with Bradley, if this allegation is indeed true. This is simply an inquiry, and yet I must tell you that this could become a matter of public notice, so your reply will hopefully express in exact detail the nature of your association with Lasserre Bradley Jr. and what, if any, doctrinal implications are involved, from your point of view.

I have not concealed my deep disappointment with the Southern Baptist Seminary's decline in the direction of what I believe to be detrimental theology on the new birth, and I will continue to scrutinize the developments that arise in days ahead and make public commentary concerning them.

Thank you for giving this matter your attention. I await your response.

Sincerely,Bob L. Ross, 3 John 2
[End of email to Nettles and Mohler]

NOTE to Flyswatter readers:

Subsequent to the above email, the following report of the visit was made by Lasserre Bradley, Jr. himself to the Pastor who passed it along to me. This Pastor said:

"He [Bradley] mentioned that he had been in chapel at Southern, not long before the time I met him. He had gone to Southern to visit Tom Nettles at Nettles' invitation. In all fairness, he was merely having a dialogue with Nettles as he and I were talking."

If Tom Nettles invited Lasserre Bradley Jr. to Southern Seminary, it raises some very serious questions. Bradley is the most noted Hardshell heretic of the past half century, and one who for years has been an enemy of the confessional Baptist doctrine taught in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. He is a champion of the "regeneration precedes faith," "born again before faith" heresy.

Unless Nettles invited Bradley to the Seminary as a means of confronting him for his heresies, I see no other legitimate and reasonable purpose for such an invitation. It makes no sense whatsoever to have a Hardshell preacher in the chapel at SBTS nor to "dialogue" with him other than to refute his heresies.

I am very interested in what Tom Nettles and Al Mohler might have to say about Bradley's visit. It has been nearly two years, and I have had no reply from either Nettles nor Mohler about this matter. Perhaps someone at the next SB Convention meeting can get some reply from Mohler about Bradley's appearance at the Seminary.

Of course, Lasserre Bradley Jr. is not really such a very "special" case inasmuch as Mohler has also had Presbyterians such as John Frame and R. C. Sproul at the Seminary, and they stand for the Pedobaptist heresy that infants which are born to believers get "regenerated" in infancy, or even before they are born (according to Frame).

About money offers from abroad


NOTE: I receive several emails -- as you probably do, too -- about money available from overseas sources, especially from Nigeria. Here is a reply which I have sent to some of these sources. You are free to use it if you choose. -- Bob

Dear Widow Brown:

We appreciate the offer, but we are not able to accept it at this time.

It is true, in the past we have been able to assist a number of African and other foreign sources of wealth with their problems of how to handle their financial situation. At one time, we had a large green truck, painted with dollar marks ($$$), canvasing the continent of Africa to pick up large bundles of money. Unfortunately, the driver, Saddam Hussein, absconded with a large load and was later apprehended in a hole in the ground in Iraq. We have not been able to find a replacement for him, so our truck is not currently being used. But that may be just as well, for we really have no room at this time to store the money. We have had our problems, believe me.

For example, a few months ago we airlifted heavy loads of money to the USA in scores of chartered planes but had to toss out several bundles over the Pacific Ocean due to the excessive weight. Still there was so much dangerous overweight, we had to require some members of the crew to bail out to lighten the load. The crew members were all later rescued and are safely home, now living in great splendour from their share of the funds we received. However, they are filing a class-action lawsuit against us for the physical and psychological damages resulting from their experience, which may drain a large amount of the money we have in storage, and this may free-up some of our storage space.

Space to store and properly preserve the money has become such a problem that we have put all offers of African funds on "hold" at this time.

I think we have recently received at least a dozen or more reports of our having been selected either by God or by men to receive large funds, even long after we notified the Lord that we had no more room to store money at this time. We even rented the nearby Astrodome and also the adjacent Astrohall, and were considering trying to buy the Reliant Stadium for more space.

Currently, we have over five acres of money neatly stacked on skids, covered by heavy plastic, on the King Ranch in southern Texas, the only available space we could find large enough to hold our supply of African money. We are currently investigating the possibility of leasing the Baja Peninsula for potential storage space, as there seems to be a lot of open space over there.

Therefore, I suggest you contact Benny Hinn and offer him the money, or you might try Robert Tilton in the Dallas area. There is also Paul Crouch at TBN, needing money to setup more TV stations. Even Michael Jackson might have some use for it, as it appears he may be facing some rather stiff expenses.


Notice to our readers


Although I have been "promoted" to be a Contributor on this blog and can now post articles directly, Charles is still the only Administrator and has control over posting comments by readers. Since Charles has periods of time during which he has to be away, your posts may often be delayed for awhile before being posted -- but in due time, they will be posted.

In the meantime, if you wish to address a comment to me directly, you may email me at

Also, if you wish to be added to my email list to receive my regular articles which I mail from time-to-time, you are invited to send your request to the same email address. -- Bob

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dr. Akin on "Invitations"


Bob's Note: The following item is an article I recently sent to my regular email list (02/07/2008). If you are not on my list, I will be happy to add your address. Simply send your email address to

A Conference was held in North Carolina last Fall, sponsored by some Southern Baptists, entitled "Building Bridges: Southern Baptists and Calvinism." In taking notice of some of the comments on the Internet in the aftermath of the Conference, I came upon an item which evidently was a report of an "Open Forum" which was held during the Conference.

Among other items discussed, the Southern Baptist brethren gave a portion of time to varous views on the use of public invitations.

This practice has been common for years among Southern Baptists but has in recent times become an object of severe criticism and repudiation by the "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinist adherents, represented by the likes of the Founders Ministries, Southern Seminary professor Tom Nettles, and some others who are disciples of Pedobaptist Iain Murray who has written against invitations.

I was encouraged to notice that Dr. Daniel Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, appears to strongly support the use of invitations. Here is an excerpt from the "Open Forum," available on the Internet at the following link:

Southern Baptist In NC, November 28, 2007

How do we work together in evangelism if the altar call is rejected.

Dr. Akinit is unconsciousable to preach the Gospel and not challenge people to repent and follow Christ. If you have an aversion to not giving an altar call you will be guilty of ministerial malpractice if you shut down the call.


Another participant in the Conference and a SEBTS faculty member, Dr. Kenneth Keathley, also expressed his approval of the use of invitations, and I have been informed that Southeastern professor, Dr. L. Russ Bush, who passed away in January, also used invitations. It is encouraging that these leaders at the Seminary are standing for what has historically been practiced by Southern Baptist churches, pastors, and evangelists.

Dr. Tom Ascol, however, who is head of the Founders Ministries, expressed his disapproval of the use of invitations. In this, Dr. Ascol is simply following in the footprints of the founder of the Founders, the late Ernest Reisinger, who imbibed anti-invitationism thru his association with "Reformed" Pedobaptist Iain Murray, and Ascol is also in the line with the views of Founders' board member, Dr. Tom Nettles, who has written against invitations.

The common denominator for Ascol, Reisinger, Murray, and Nettles is that they all adhere to the Hybrid Calvinist Pedobaptist "ordo salutis," spawned by the "baby regenerationists" who departed from the view of Calvinists of the 17th century on effectual calling. They all hold to the theory of "born again before faith." This error tends to choke out any type of "appeal" to lost sinners for them to respond to an invitation to accept Christ as Saviour.

I have a book entitled "Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election," authored by Robert B. Selph, and it carries a very high recommendation from Dr. Nettles. In fact, Selph relies heavily upon quotations from Nettles throughout the book. This writer also opposes the use of invitations, and also utilizes quotes from Reisinger and Murray.

Another error promulgated by Selph, in which he aligns with Murray, Nettles, Reisinger, and other "Reformed" Hybrids, is the idea that "the public profession of faith is done at baptism" (page 132). I commented on this error a few weeks ago in an email entitled, "HYBRID CALVINIST ERROR ON BAPTISM" [01/12--2007]. Selph uses this idea in his effort to rule out the public invitation as a method to accommodate professions of faith. Selph -- like Murray and Reisinger -- tries to tie the name of C. H. Spurgeon into his scheme of things.

However, as Spurgeon did not oppose inquiry rooms and invitations, he did not oppose the practice of public confession prior to baptism. In fact, it was Spurgeon's practice to require public confessions of faith prior to baptisms. Here is an excerpt from a sermon which clearly demonstrates Spurgeon's practice:
He said:

"I should think there is no condition of gentleness, or of obscurity, or of poverty, or of sorrow, which should prevent anybody from making an open confession of allegiance to God when faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has been exercised. If that is your experience, my dear friend, then whoever you may be, you will find an opportunity, SOMEWHERE OR OTHER, of declaring that you are on the Lord’s side.

"I am glad that all candidates for membership in our church make their confession of faith at our church-meetings. I have been told that such an ordeal must keep a great many from joining us; yet I notice that, where there is no such ordeal, they often have very few members, but here are we with five thousand six hundred, or thereabouts, in church-fellowship, and very seldom, if ever, finding anybody kept back by having to make an OPEN CONFESSION of faith in Christ.

"It does the man, the woman, the boy, or the girl, whoever it is, so much good for once, at least, to say right out straight, 'I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and I am not ashamed of it,' that I do not think we shall ever deviate from our custom. I have also noticed that, when people have once confessed Christ before men, they are very apt to do it again somewhere else; and they thus acquire a kind of boldness and outspokenness upon religious matters, and a holy courage as followers of Christ, which more than make up for any self-denial and trembling which the effort may have cost them" (MTP, Volume 46, Year 1900, page 289).

Spurgeon also said, "I believe that it is a great help in bringing people to decision when Mr. Moody asks those to stand up who wish to be prayed for. Anything that tends to separate you from the ungodly around you, is good for you." (MTP, 1897, page 516).

An illustration which shows how Spurgeon required confession of faith in Christ before baptism appears in his sermon, "Who Should Be Baptized?" He would not baptize a person who did not profess to be saved, and this naturally meant that the person confessed his faith before baptism.

Some years ago, a man came to me, and said that he wished to be baptized. I put this question to him, “Why do you wish that?”

He answered, “Because I want to be a Christian.”

“But,” I enquired, “do you think that baptism will make you a Christian?”

“Yes,” said he.

“Then,” I replied, “you are grossly mistaken. We baptize none but those who profess to be already saved through faith in Jesus. Baptism can have no possible effect in helping you on the road to heaven.”

The man seemed to be utterly staggered at that idea, for he had somehow got into his head the notion that there was something efficacious in the ordinance itself; and when I tried to explain to him that the Scriptures contain no warrant For such a thought as that, and, therefore, that we would not baptize any who did not believe themselves to be already saved, the man went away staggered. Yet I hope that he also went away resolved to ask himself such solemn questions as these, “How is it that I am not a Christian?. . ." (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 47, Sermon #2737, page 355).

This is just another one of those contrasts between Spurgeon and the "Flounders" who are given to the misrepresentation of Spurgeon on so many items of faith and practice.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reisinger's Error on Baptism


Ernest Reisinger [1919-2004] was the Founder of the Founders Ministries, and the driving force of this movement's becoming a parachurch organization within the Southern Baptist Convention promoting elements of post-17th century Presbyterianism.

One of Reisinger's teachings, which we regard as being unbaptistic, is the idea that the act of baptism is a person's initial confession of faith.

This is the same idea promoted by Tom Nettles and Robert Selph, two of Reisinger's brethren, who are like-minded on this matter. Nettles' view is expressed in his book, By His Grace, and for His Glory (pages 421, 422). Selph expresses the same view in his book, Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election (page 132). Both Nettles and Reisinger are on record as endorsing Selph's book.

This idea of these Founders brethren is one of the devicies employed in their efforts to discredit the use of public invitations as practiced by Baptists.

In Reisinger's case, it is likely that he imbibed this idea from Pedobaptist Iain Murray who promulgated it in his widely distributed anti-invitation booklet, The Invitation System (page 9), as one of his objections to confessing Christ as Saviour during public invitations. Reisinger's association with Murray dates back at least to the early 1960s.

In Reisinger's own writings, I have found at least three material sources in which he advances the same view as Murray:

1. On the Founders' website, Coming to Christ #2 at

2. In the book, Today's Evangelism, pages 73, 89.

3. In the book, Worship, page 96.

Baptism is certainly a physical and visible ordinance commanded by the Lord as a means of identifying with Christ. But it was never intended to replace oral confession of faith in Christ as Saviour. The fact is, oral confession is a prerequisite to being baptized, and the public invitation is a very practical format in which such confession is accommodated.

Murray's committal to Pedobaptism would apparently account for his view, since pedobaptists teach that unbelieving infant children, born to Christian parents, are proper subjects of both baptism and church membership. No confession is required on the part of the infants themselves, although they are presumed to be "regenerated" on the basis of their being what is called "covenant children."

Murray would, I suppose, naturally oppose invitations which might create spiritual discomfort in the minds and hearts of pedobaptist teens and adults who were baptized as "covenant children" and have since lived "at ease in Zion." It is conceivable that some might awaken to the fact, as viewed by Baptists at least, that children born to believers are not born again in their infancy.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Flounders Error Concerning Baptism As The First "Confession" Of Christ

In his misguided zeal to discourage or eliminate public invitations and altar calls, The Founder of Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry), mistakenly taught that baptism was the first "confession" of Christ. In this article, Brother Bob Ross points out his error as not only unbiblical but something that The Founder of The Flounders himself did not practice!


by Bob Ross

I recently ordered and read the book entitled, Ernest Reisinger, A Biography, by Geoffrey Thomas, published by the Banner of Truth. Brother Reisinger is perhaps best known as the primary person who was instrumental in founding the "Founders Ministries" in the 1980s, now headed by Pastor Tom Ascol of Cape Coral, Florida.

The Founders Ministries maintains that its primary purpose is to promote the "Doctrines of Grace," but in our estimation it promotes a "hybrid" form of "Calvinism" which is more in line with post-17th century Presbyterianism than with the historic Confessions of Faith.

Although for years I had known the late Brother Reisinger [1919-2004] since first meeting him in Carlisle, Pennsylvania at the first Grace Bible Conference at Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s, and had met him a few times thereafter, I had never heard or come across any detailed account of his conversion. I have not even been able to find such an account on the Founders's website.

The account related in this book, however, is rather detailed, and it immediately became of particular interest to me in view of the present negative attitude of the Founders Ministries in regard to certain evangelistic methodology, such as invitations, "the sinner's prayer," and related efforts to bring the lost to Christ. Reisinger's actual conversion experience seems to considerably contrast to the current theoreticalism of the Founders as to evangelistic methods.

On the whole, I have observed that the Founders Ministries criticizes the use of certain methods which they consider "Arminian," yet this biography paradoxically relates how Reisinger was brought to Christ in relation to such methods.

According to this biography, Ernest's salvation experience culminated in his praying "the prayer of the publican of whom Jesus spoke in the gospel, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'" (page 20), which is quite inconsistent with what is advocated by the Founders.

According to this biography, a Christian & Missionary Alliance layman named Elmer Albright sought Ernest's conversion, and consistently and frequently witnessed to Ernest over a period of time, prayed for him, and encouraged him to attend the C&MA church. (C&MA is a theologically "Arminian" denomination, founded by A. B. Simpson in the 1880s. Notable writer, A. W. Tozer, belonged to the C&MA).

In due course of time, this layman's witnessing efforts began to bear results. Ernest did agree to attend the C&MA church and began to experience conviction for his lost condition. After a subsequent visit to his home by Christian witnesses, Ernest determined that "settling this matter was more important than going to work," and that is what he set out to do.

On pages 19, 20, the book says:

"Ernest Reisinger listened earnestly and intently, and they prayed with him before leaving and gave him some leaflets to read. . . . He stayed home and read the leaflets his friends from the Sunday School had brought him. . . . Then he began to open the Bible, turning over pages at random. . . . He could not find how to be saved. . . . Then eventually he came across a little piece of paper tucked between two pages. It was a tract, and written boldly on the cover were the words, 'What Must I Do to be Saved?' The tract told him that he had sinned against God and that he would get nowhere unless he acknowledged that to him.

"Ernest C. Reisinger knelt down in his living room and prayed the prayer of the publican of whom Jesus spoke in the gospel, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'

"The tract then directed him to John chapter 5, verse 24. There he read these words, 'Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life.' As the words in all their simplicity and hope registered in his mind and affections, Ernie's heart was flooded with the assurance that Christ was now his Lord; he sat weeping before the Bible. On that day, through true repentance for his sins, and by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Reisinger knew he had met the God of grace."

Sometime not long afterwards, Reisinger went to a Salvation Army service and there "first bore testimony to his new life in Christ."

Later, since the Salvation Army did not practice baptism, Reisinger conferred with the pastor of a Southern Baptist church and was baptized in the First Baptist Church of Havre de Grace, Maryland (page 20).

So Reisinger bore his "first testimony" of faith in Christ at a Salvation Army meeting, and later he was baptized at the FBC in Havre de Grace, Maryland. This is the usual Baptist order of (1) Confession faith, and (2) Baptism follows Confession.

What was rather striking to me about this experience of Ernest Reisinger is how the Founders Ministries has since adopted the teaching of pedobaptist Iain Murray that baptism itself is the "confession." While it is true that baptism is a means of showing identity with Christ, Baptists believe that Confession of Faith is a pre-requisite to being baptized. This is what Ernest Reisinger did in his experience -- he confessed before being baptized; he did not substitute baptism for confession.

However, TOM NETTLES, a Founders Ministries board member, and a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, advocates the pedobaptist theory put forth by Murray in Murray's anti-invitation booklet, which contends that baptism itself is one's confession. Nettles asserts this fallacy in his book, By His Grace, and for His Glory (pages 421, 422).

The idea that baptism is the confession is wrong for the simple reason that one must make a confession of faith in Christ before he is even qualified for baptism which is based on that profession. The Ethiopian eunuch, for instance, confessed his faith in Christ before Philip baptized him (Acts 8:35-38). The pedobaptists (baby baptizers) have it backwards: they baptize babies who don't have a faith to confess, add the babies to the church membership roll, and hope that the babies will grow up and confess Christ later.

It is unfortunate that Ernest Reisinger fell under the influence of the baby baptizers such as Iain Murray later in his life, and adopted too much of the pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinism which has permeated and distorted the Founders Ministries. In fact, the biography relates that a church Reisinger later pastored in North Pompano Beach, Florida was divided and split over issues related to some of the Presbyterianism which Reisinger imbibed from pedobaptists such as Iain Murray (pages 196, 197). I understand that there is not much left of this church today.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


My apologies to all for neglecting the blog recently. Some events beyond my control have left me unable to attend to it as I ought.

In the next few weeks you should see some new articles from Brother Bob Ross and myself.

I have no plans to discontinue the blog, in fact my goal is to make it better than ever. I am planning a subject index to all the articles and some other improvements which will take The Calvinist Flyswatter to the next level.