Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SBTS student vs Sunday School


The following is from C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography:

Mr. Spurgeon used often to say that his best deacon was a woman,—alluding to Mrs. Bartlett. In the summer of 1859, one of the teachers of New Park Street Sunday- school was going away for a month, and asked Mrs. Bartlett to take charge of her class during her absence; but, on presenting herself at the school, the superintendent (Mr. Thomas Olney, Junr., as he was then called,) directed her to the senior class.

There were only three young women in attendance that afternoon, but in the course of the month the number had so increased that she was asked to continue as teacher. She did so, and before long the class had outgrown its accommodation, an experience Which was again and again repeated until it was finally settled in the lecture-hall of the new Tabernacle, where there were some 600 or 700 regularly present.

When Mrs. Bartlett was “called home,” in 1875, it was estimated that between 900 and 1000 members of her class had joined the church at the Tabernacle, and Mr. Spurgeon thus wrote concerning his esteemed helper:—

“Mrs. Bartlett was a choice gift from God to the church at the Tabernacle, and the influence of her life was far-reaching, stimulating many others besides those who by her means were actually led to the Savior. We miss her sadly, but her spiritual children are with us still; ‘they have stood the test of years, and the most searching test of all, namely, the loss of her motherly counsel and inspiring words. . . . . Her talk was always concerning ‘the old, old story,’ and never of new-fangled doctrines or imaginary’ attainments. She kept close to the cross, extolled her Savior, pleaded with sinners to believe, and stirred up saints to holy living. . . .

"Her addresses were always practical; never speculative, or merely entertaining. She aimed at soul winning every time she met the class, and that in the most direct and personal manner. In pursuing this object:, she was very downright, and treated things in a matter-of-fact style. . . . She had the energy of vigorous health, and yet was almost always an invalid. It cost her great effort to appear on many occasions, but then she would often succeed best, as she pleaded with her hearers, ‘as a dying woman’ to be reconciled to God. . . .

"She has met many of her spiritual children above, and others are on the way to the sweet meeting-place. We are thankful for the loan we had of such a woman, thankful that she was not sooner removed as sometimes we feared she would have been, thankful that she has left a son to perpetuate her work, and thankful, most of all, that there is such a work to be perpetuated.”

On the monument over her grave in Nunhead Cemetery, is the following inscription, which was written by Mr. Spurgeon:—

In affectionate memory of
Who departed to her blissful home,
August 21, 1875, in her 69th year.

The Pastors, Deacons, and Elders of the Church in the Metropolitan Tabernacle unite with her Class and the students of the College in erecting this memorial to her surpassing worth. She was indeed ‘a mother in Israel.’ Often did she say, Keep near the cross, my sister.’"

[Excerpts from C. H. Spurgeon's Autobiography, Volume 3, pages 36-38].

I do not have to extol the usefulness of the Sunday School as a means of influencing youngsters with the Word of God and to come to Christ for salvation. Its record over the years speaks for itself. You would probably have emptied Southern Baptist churches for many years past and present if you deprived them of the members who were influenced by the Sunday School to accept Christ as Savior, be baptized, and join the church.

There is a blog called "Said at Southern Seminary," but there is a disclaimer that the blog "has no official connection" with the Seminary but is "published by students of the seminary without faculty or administration oversight."

According to a chart of statistics on this blog, for the year 2006 there were 4,183,237 in attendance at 44,366 Southern Baptist Churches -- both figures being all-time highs.

Yet some folks do not seem to appreciate the Sunday School and the significant role it has played in winning the lost and in the establishing of churches. For example --

There is also another blog by an SBTS student, Matt Svoboda, called "Stay Off the Paved Road." Matt appears to be a Hybrid Calvinist, as he endorses a statement of faith which contains language to the effect that one is "born again before faith."

Matt appears to be in the "circle" of other Hybrids such as SBTS student, Timmy Brister, who has aligned himself with Flounders' leader, Tom Ascol, and promotes the "Band of Bloggers," many of whom I know to be Hybrids and advocate "born again before faith."

Here is an excerpt from what Matt Svoboda says about the Sunday School in the "comments" on the "Said at Southern Seminary" blog:

"I am glad Sunday School is on the way down. I personally believe that they are low impact. . . . If I had it my way Sunday School and Sunday Night service would cease to exist."

This is indeed a sad commentary on the current trend among some, if not many, students at Southern Seminary. Their minds are evidently being influenced by Hybrid Calvinism and its indigenous negative spirit and attitude against evangelistic methods which are designed to win souls to Christ. Many of them oppose invitations, the use of the sinner's prayer, and now here is an anti-Sunday School attitude.

I recall in the 1950s, when a group of young preachers in the Kentucky and Ohio River area led by Lasserre Bradley, Jr. went off into Hybrid Calvinism and joined the Hardshells, one of the first things they did was to denigrate Sunday Schools.

What will become of these SBTS students who are having their minds corrupted with Hybrid Calvinism?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jonathan Edwards misrepresented


Hybrid Calvinists are in the habit of misrepresenting various leaders of the past, especially on the new birth, as if they held to the notion of "born again before faith." Jonathan Edwards is another case of such misrepresentation.

While we have briefly presented Jonathan Edwards' view on regeneration in an earlier post (here), I have occasion to mention it again after seeing an item on the Internet where Hybrid Calvinist John Gerstner has in effect repudiated Edwards on "regeneration" yet still persists in trying to make Edwards a Hybrid Calvinist. Gerstner is quoted on a Hybrid website as follows:

Effectual calling, conversion, repentance, and regeneration were approximately synonymous terms for Edwards. An important statement in Original sin shows the identity of the last three terms.

[Gerstner quotes Edwards:]
I put repentance and conversion together, as the Scripture puts them together, Acts iii. 19, and because they plainly signify much the same thing. The word metanoia (repentance) signifies a change of the mind; as the word conversion means a change or turning from sin to God. And that this is the same change with that which is called regeneration (excepting that this latter term especially signifies the change, as the mind is passive in it), the following things do show....

This is a rather unfortunate and unscientific way of proceeding. While it is true that Scripture tends to use these different terms synonymously, there are significant differences.

[Bob Ross:]
Of course, Gerstner, being a pedobaptist Hybrid Calvinist who holds to the idea that both infants and adults are "born again before faith," naturally would be expected to try to spin things to favor the "born again before faith" notion. But notice: while Gerstner repudiates Edwards' "proceeding," nevertheless he acknowledges that "Scripture tends to use these different terms synonymously. . . ."

And while Gerstner alleges that Edwards held that man is "passive" in regeneration, what Gerstner has in mind by "passivity" is not exactly what Edwards had in mind.

Edwards did not use "passive" to refer to any inactivity in the sinner's faculties in regeneration, but rather that the sinner simply does not provide the efficient power which regenerates -- that power is the Holy Spirit's power using the Word of God to bring about the activity of faith in the sinner's faculties.

Jonathan Edwards' view may be understood from reading his sermon, A Divine and Supernatural Light, etc. and may be consulted on the Internet here.

Edwards teaches the Creedal view that "effectual calling" is effected by the Word and Spirit inseparably, these two being essential to the producing of "light" (faith) in the "natural faculties" of the sinner.

Under his second major heading, Edwards says:

"It is not intended that the natural faculties are not made use of in it. The natural faculties of the sinner receive this light: and they receive it in such a manner that they are NOT MERELY PASSIVE, but ACTIVE in it; the acts and exercises of man's understanding are concerned and made use of in it. God, in letting in this light into the soul, deals with man according to his nature, or as a rational creature; and makes use of his human faculties."

Edwards continues under this same heading:

2. It is not intended that outward means have no concern in this affair. As I have observed already, it is not in this affair, as it is in inspiration, where new truths are suggested: for here is by this light only given a due apprehension of the same truths that are revealed in the word of God; and therefore it is not given without the word. The gospel is made use of in this affair: this light is the "light of the glorious gospel of Christ", 2 Cor. 4:4. The gospel is as a glass by which this light is conveyed to us, 1 Cor. 13:12. "Now we see through a glass." . . . Indeed a person cannot have spiritual light without the word.

Edwards' view is obviously what is found in the Creeds on "effectual calling," and there is no "born again before faith" doctrine in his remarks. The sinner is simply "passive" in the sense that he does not furnish the "power" which is necessary in the new birth, but he is "active" when the Spirit uses the Word of His power to influence the sinner's "natural faculties" to receive or believe the Gospel.

Thus, according to Edwards' view, faith may be referred to as a "gift" on account of the power of the Spirit in His use of the Word of Truth in influencing the sinner to receive the Gospel.

This understanding dispels the Hybrid Calvinist notion that the sinner "cannot" believe until after he is regenerated, and holds that while the sinner does not believe "apart from" the power of the Spirit's use of the Word, he does believe simultaneously with the Spirit's use of the Word.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A casualty of "reform"?


On the Flounders' blog in the comments section about The Baptist Standard, we find the following tale of woe, blamed on the "doctrines of grace," no less:

Tom, I hope this is alright to post here. These doctrines so freely spoken of here have cost me my pastorate. I desperately need all of you to pray for me and my family. I am quite devastated.

Looks like another case where an over-zealous Flounder was so obsessed with "these doctrines" that he apparently left his first love, the Gospel, and lost his church.

A similar thing happened in this area about 20 years ago when Brother Ernest Reisinger, Founder of the Flounders, came to a nearby Houston church and while in town he visited my bookstore. He came over to see me along with the young pastor of the church, and they indicated they were having difficulties in their efforts to "reform" this church. I'm now looking at a photo of all of us, standing in front of my store, as I write this, and on the backside it's dated June, 1987.

After Ernest and this young pastor did their thing in trying to "reform" the church, it wasn't long until I heard that the young preacher was no longer the pastor. I don't know, but I suppose he lost out. Instead of majoring on the majors, he evidently kept promoting Floundersism "reform," and he couldn't get enough support, so he had to move on. I later learned that he was doing some writing for the Flounders and also some pastoring

Help for Flounders from Spurgeon


In an article last year (here), the Flyswatter noted that Mark Dever, Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC who once served on the Board of Trustees of the Flounders, put forth the idea (here) that Pilgrim Publications' reprinting of C. H. Spurgeon's sermons was somewhat responsible for the "prominence of reformed theology among the young in the American evangelical scene."

As the Founder and Director of Pilgrim Publications, I took issue with that assertion on the grounds that Spurgeon's "Calvinism" was not the "Reformed theology" such as found on the American evangelical scene of this age. I wrote:

"With all due respect, Brother Dever, we must say 'No Thanks;' we neither appreciate nor accept your attribution . . . . This modern 'reformed' doctrine represents neither our views nor those of C. H. Spurgeon, but rather it is an aberrant and non-creedal form of historic 'Calvinism.'"

Furthermore, on the Flyswatter blog, we have demonstrated that Spurgeon and Pastor Dever are far apart in regard to the conversion and baptism of young children. Spurgeon believed, for example, that even pre-schoolers are capable of being saved.

In his sermon, "Children Brought to Christ, Not to the Font," Spurgeon refers to "children of two or three years of age" as rejoicing in knowing Christ as Saviour (Vol. 10, page 422, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit).

Also, in the sermon entitled, "Open Heart for the Great Saviour," Spurgeon said of faith in Christ, "It is so simple, that children of three and four years of age have doubtless been capable of it; and there have been many persons, but very little removed from absolute idiocy, who have been able to believe" (Vol. 11, page 19, MTP).

In the little book, "Come Ye Children," Spurgeon remarks, "Many dear children are called of God so early, that they cannot precisely tell when they were converted; but they were converted: they must at some time or other have passed from death to life" (page 63, online).

"The holy scripture may be learned by children as soon as they are capable of understanding anything," said Spurgeon; "Give us the first seven years of a child, with God's grace, and we may defy the world, the flesh, and the devil to ruin that immortal soul" (Vol. 31, page 579, MTP).

In the sermon "Jesus and the Children," Spurgeon said: "I could spend the whole morning in giving details of young children whom I have personally conversed with, some of them very young children indeed. I will say broadly that I have more confidence in the spiritual life of the children that I have received into this church than I have in the spiritual condition of the adults thus received. I will even go further than that, and say that I have usually found a clearer knowledge of the gospel and a warmer love to Christ in the child-converts than in the man converts. I will even astonish you still more by saying that I have sometimes met with a deeper spiritual experience in children of ten and twelve than I have in certain persons of fifty and sixty" (Vol. 32, page 570).

In "The Children and Their Hosannas," preached in 1884 (MTP, Vol. 30, page 325-336). Spurgeon said:

"There are still among us those who hardly think that children can be truly converted. . . . As to faith, I am sure that no one who has seen converted children will ever doubt their capacity for faith. In the hand of God’s Spirit, a child’s capacity for faith is in some respects greater than that of a grown-up person; at any rate, the faith of children is usually far more simple than that of adults. . . . What would you think if I introduced six children to you whom I saw one after another last week, and who all came forward with eagerness to say, 'We have been washed in the blood of Jesus, and we want to join his church.' I said, 'Come along, my children; I am glad to see you.' When I talked with them, and heard what God had done for them, I had great confidence in proposing them to the church."

For more from Spurgeon on child conversion see here, here, and here.

Mark Dever, who differs with Spurgeon on child conversion and baptism, has long played a significant part of the Flounders, serving as a Trustee, a frequent conference speaker, a writer, and other means of promoting Flounderism's "reform" and the "recovery of the gospel" propaganda. He has all too frequently tried to embellish Floundersism's agenda by using the name of C. H. Spurgeon, just as the Flounders wallpaper their website with Spurgeon's picture, as if they stand for what Spurgeon stood for.

Since they profess to be such admirers of Spurgeon, and since they say they are trying to "recover the gospel," I think they might get some assistance from the following item.

Years ago (February, 1963), I came upon, copied, and published a short item on page 4 of our little "Salvation" monthly church paper of that period about Spurgeon which should be of some help to Flounders such as Tom Ascol and Mark Dever in their efforts to "recover the gospel." It is as follows:


At a London meeting at which C. H. Spurgeon presided a young minister was asked to speak. He started by saying that he was a poor speaker and all he knew was the A. B. C. Gospel.

He went on to say --

"A" stands for the text we should all learn first as it is the very beginning of the Gospel for every sinner--"All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God."

"B" stands for --"Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."

"C" is --"Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

At the close of the address Mr. Spurgeon, with tears streaming down his cheeks, said --

"Stick to that kind of preaching and you will be a real A. B. C."

Mr. Spurgeon meant by this, an "Able Bodied Christian."

May the day soon come when we can say that the Flounders-Friendlies are likewise "Able Bodied Christians" and that they preach the ABC Gospel!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Conversion of Nathan Finn


Read the full account of Nathan Finn's conversion at this link. Here is the "heart" of what is called his "pilgrimage:"

But the thing that ultimately convicted me of my spiritual state was the radio sermons of Adrian Rogers. His program came on every day at the one time of day I had a standing delivery to make. Dr. Rogers was preaching through the book of Revelation, and I was cut to the quick. Little by little, over the course of three or four months, all of my legalisms were laid out before me. I was forced to confront every argument I had made to justify my standing before God. One by one the walls came down. I think it was probably during this time, in the spring of 1997, that I began to rest in the finished work of Christ. I verbalized that in my prayer at the North Greenville Centrifuge camp that summer.

Now, it is rather well known that Adrian Rogers was one of the alleged Southern Baptist "Arminians" who could and did sometimes make the Flounders fairly bristle with "righteous indignation" and contempt for his comments about "Calvinism." Rogers is even said to have written to Ernest Reisinger and told Ernie that he had "more zeal for the cause of Calvinism than for missions and evangelism" (Ernest Reisinger, A Biography, page 226).

Wonder what on earth could have given Adrian that idea?

Despite Rogers' flaming "anti-Calvinism," Nathan Finn, a young and apparent Flounders-Friendly faculty member at Southeastern in Wake Forest, says he was converted after listening to Adrian Rogers' sermons on radio, and I assume that the "prayer" to which Finn refers was something on the order of "the sinner's prayer" (another "no-no" to many of the Flounders).

Evidently, that period of Finn's life must have been when he was affiliating in some manner with what he might now categorize as "Arminianism" and "Arminians," and perhaps he would now think that those folks needed to be "reformed."

It seems rather paradoxical, to say the least, to consider that, according to the Flounders' version of "Calvinism," it must be concluded that before the foundation of the world, Nathan was elected, and it was before ordained, or predestinated, that he would be converted by means of the ministry of an alleged "Arminian," but would later find favor with the Flounders-Friendly camp, many of whom seem to have despised Adrian Rogers, the Gospel minister who was virtually Nathan's spiritual "father" (1 Cor. 4:15).

As the Flounders continue on their Sir Launfal-like search for the "holy grail" of "recovering the gospel," wonder if it might be of help to them if they, too, listened to some of Adrian Rogers' sermons?

Flounders and the future


It has been asked by a Flounders-Friendly writer of recent date, "Does the SBC Have a Future?" and he offers comments along the lines of pessimism toward the SBC which was highly pleasing to the Flounders' Flounder-in-Chief, Tom Ascol. Ascol exubriantly proclaimed that Nathan Finn's "insights are prophetic."

We will leave the prophetic speculation about the future of the SBC to the likes of Finn and Ascol. A more realistic question might be, "Do the Flounders Have a Future?" Can they survive solely on their proselytization of naive Southern Baptists to "Reformed" Hybrid Calvinism?

The Flounders up to this point have not grown thru evangelization. To my knowledge, not a single one of their Flounders-Friendly churches were "planted" by the newly converted, but were already existing or were formed by those who split from existing churches over "Reformed" issues.

And although they proclaim themselves to be a "Reformed" group, they do not practice the procedure which sustains "Reformed" pedobaptist sects, which is infant baptism. Will proselytization of Southern Baptists alone sustain the Flounders in the days ahead?

The recent report of the SBC's statistics for the past year are not really as earth-shaking as Finn and Ascol propose. The Flounders would be happy to have such numbers! Read the numbers for yourself here.

There were 345,941 baptisms in 2007,
473 new churches,
6,148,868 average Primary Worship Attendance,
7,876,611 average Sunday School Attendance.

The most conservative of the pedobaptist "Reformed" sects, the Presbyterian Church of America -- which is often extolled by some of the Flounders-Friendlies on account of "Reformed" theology -- is not exactly known for evangelism of the lost, but is largely dependent upon baptizing and adding infants to the church membership.

Note the latest numbers which the PCA has posted for the year 2006:

Adult baptisms, 2,689
Infant baptisms, 5,368
Number of churches, 1,345

Those figures reveal that over 66% of the members added to the "Reformed" PCA churches in 2006 were unbelieving and, by Baptist standards, unregenerate infants.

As we have noted before, adding infants to the church is obviously the primary life-line for the PCA's survival. On the whole, their churches are not known to make much effort to evangelize, but they do pick up some members by proselytization from other denominations. Reportedly, the PCA has received some members from the SBC who have become infatuated with the PCA's Hybrid Calvinist theology. In fact, even some of those influenced by the Flounders reportedly have opted for leaving Baptists for the PCA.

Since the Flounders are committed to what they call "reform" rather than to evangelism and soul winning, what kind of future can the Flounders expect from theological proselytization alone?

Furthermore, if the SBC leadership, pastors, and churches become widely incensed with Floundersism and its divisiveness, and call for the "disfellowshipping" of the Flounders-Friendlies, the Flounders would most likely suffer a very serious decline even in proselytization. What then?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Recovering the gospel"?


Charles said...

The Flounders on the other hand believe the gospel is so complicated that they must somehow "recover" it for all of us simple Southern Baptists!

I know of no group, Charles, more in need of "recovering" the Gospel than many, at least, of the Flounders themselves.

Have you ever heard one of them preach it? I mean, really preach the Gospel directly, specifically to lost, unbelievng sinners, purposely to win sinners to faith in Christ for salvation?

They talk a lot about it "to the choir" at "conferences" where they get "together for the Gospel;" they propose to "define" it; they claim they "defend" it; they profess that they are "committed" to it -- but do they really ever preach it or tell it to a lost sinner?

When a person, such as Tom Ascol of the Flounders, scolds a Pastor who says to an unbelieving, lost sinner, "Jesus died for you," -- or, like Spurgeon said in the closing words of his "Come and Welcome" sermon, "See on that bloody tree Jesus hangs; behold he pays his life a ransom for YOUR sins and mine. Believe on him, trust him, commit your soul to him and be saved" -- then that person surely needs to "recover" the Gospel.

Perhaps Ascol and other such Hybrid Calvinists simply testify for themselves when they say the Gospel needs to be "recovered." They seem to have so burdened their minds by trying to "box" the Gospel in a certain theological crate that they indeed have complicated the Gospel. Is the Gospel really so elusive?

I have lately seen where some Hybrids are using the expression, "Theology matters." But so does everything else on this earth! Money matters, food matters, toilet tissue matters! The fact is, however, the Gospel is not confined to any theological system as such, and so no particular school of "systematic theology" really "matters" so far as its being the exclusive source of the Gospel.

One does not have to hold to a particular theological "system" to hold to the Gospel.

If a particular theological system is the exclusive "box" in which to find the Gospel, how many of Ascol's Flounders-Friendlies would have ever been saved, since perhaps most of them heard the Gospel and were converted -- like Ernest Reisinger -- under what they now brand as "Arminianism"?

Spurgeon, you will recall, was converted in an Arminian Methodist Chapel where he heard a simple lay-member speak for a few minutes on Isaiah 45:22. Think of it! The most quoted preacher since the 1800s heard the Gospel in that "Arminian" circumstance and was saved!

Doesn't that tell you something about the fact that "the Word of God is not bound" (2 Tim. 2:9) to anyone's theology, anyone's denomination, anyone's ministry, anyone's anything?

There is a local elderly Christian brother who comes into my bookstore very often -- in fact, he was here yesterday -- to pick up Gospel tracts. I give him free tracts, and I have "ordained" or "adopted" him as our "official" bookstore missionary. He is a "miracle" of sorts.

He is a Veteran of World War II and always wears his WWII cap. He was in the First Wave of US troops at the Normandy invasion. He was a lost man at that time, and is grateful to the Lord for his preservation. He says he saw hundreds of legs, arms, heads, and bodies blown away on the beach at that dreadful scene.

I do not exaggerate one bit when I say that this aging brother is always spreading the Gospel at every opportunity, and he frequently tells me of professions which have been made by those to whom he has witnessed. No man or woman in this city, to my knowledge, spreads the Gospel more than this brother.

Yet, he does not hold to any "system" of theology as such, and he probably could not clearly explain to you the theological differences between "Calvinism" and "Arminianism" -- but I can tell you this: he can clearly present the Gospel in "no time flat" to a lost soul. And that is what matters most to him.

This brother would probably be astonished at the idea that the Gospel needs to be "recovered"! He might ask Tom Ascol and the Flounders "under what rock" they have been hiding their heads!

We provide a cap and a t-shirt which bears the symbol of Spurgeon's sermon set, "We preach Christ, and Him crucified," and when I have worn it, for instance at a restaurant, a curious waitress might look at it and ask, "What does it mean?"

That "invites" me to then proceed to tell how Jesus used the story of Moses and the Serpent in Numbers 21 to illustrate the simple Way of Salvation in John 3:14-18. Several of my bookstore customers also have done likewise. This story of Moses and the Serpent is the only Old Testament illustration Jesus ever used to present the Way of Salvation, or the New Birth. It is not a very "complicated" Gospel, but rather simple.

If Ascol and the Flounders want to "recover" the Gospel, I suggest they try John 3:14-18. It will serve them very well. They might even like to wear some of our t-shirts!

Friday, April 25, 2008

"Do not sin against the child"


"Let us judge them righteously, but let us not judge them censoriously. Let us be willing to receive them to Baptism and to the Lord’s Table . . ." -- C. H. Spurgeon.

Charles' recent article prompted me to take another look at Spurgeon's great sermon, "Do Not Sin Against the Child" (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 14, Sermon #840).

You can read it on the http://www.spurgeon.gems/ website. Any one who has fallen under the influence of Flounders' minister, Mark Dever, might do well to consider what Spurgeon had to say.

One of Tom Ascol's Flounders-Friendly fellows, Nathan Finn, in his comments on the recent SBC statistics report, has remarked, "Those stats are bloated because of toddler baptisms . . . If we annually baptize 75,000 lost people over the age of 12 who are not already attending our churches’ activities, I would be shocked."

This type of attitude toward child conversions is part of what the Flounders' Hybrid Calvinism is all about -- denigrating evangelism.

"Toddler baptisms," Finn says? And Ascol has the gall to complain about "caricatures"? What balderdash!

Quite a contrast to the attitude of C. H. Spurgeon on the conversion of children!

Spurgeon was so zealous for the conversion of children at his Church he had a Minister, Mr. Hammond, who was gifted in leading children to the Lord for salvation, to come to the Tabernacle for the purpose of winning children to Christ.

Also, Spurgeon was the inspiration for the launching of the "Child Evangelism Fellowship" ministry which is a work entirely devoted to seeking the conversion of children. Spurgeon knew from his own personal experience that an early-life conversion is of great advantage to the youngsters who are blessed to experience it.

Here are a few excerpts from Spurgeon's sermon, introductory to the special series of services by Mr. Hammond to win young souls to Christ:

I thought it meet, beloved Friends, as our friend, Mr. Hammond, is coming among us to labor for the conversion of the young, that I should, as it were, this morning deliver the preface to his series of services.

Perhaps by enlisting the consideration and the affectionate prayers of God’s people for the young, I may be doing more to help my friend in his work than it would be possible for me to do by any other means. . . .

When teachers and others are earnest about the conversion of children, and some of them are converted, they then come into relationship with the Church, and too often the Lord’s people need the advice, “Do not sin against the child.”

How can a Church so offend? It can do so by not believing in the conversion of children at all!

I am persuaded there are hundreds of Christians who, in their hearts, altogether mistrust the worth of regeneration unless the party born-again is of over 16 or 18 years of age! If the inmost thoughts of many professors could be spoken, it would be seen that they are at once suspicious of a conversion if the convert is only 13 years of age, and yet would cheerfully endorse the same conversion if the person were 30 or seventy!

There is a sad respect of persons among us still—a lingering belief that a certain period of years spent in sin must have elapsed before a work can be commenced! And yet, if you were to think, the conversion of a child is, in itself, no more difficult than the conversion of a full-grown man! With God all things are possible!

If it were right to compare two equally Divine works, it should seem to be an easier thing to renew the child than the man! There is less of the dire force of habit to overcome! There is less to forget, less to repent of! Though there is nothing spiritually good in us by nature, yet there is a certain simplicity about the child—a readiness of belief, an absence of cautiousness and questioning— which is exceedingly helpful in receiving the Truth of God.

Where two things are both impossible, except with God, we may draw comparisons. I should really say that the conversion of the child appears to be the simpler work of the two—and how, then, have we come to imagine it not to be so, I can scarcely tell! Surely that same Holy Spirit who can enter into the man of 70, and overcome his sins and make him to become like a little child, can enter, also, into the child and overcome his natural depravity and make him willing, in the day of God’s power, and lead him to faith in Jesus!

If salvation had to do with mysterious doctrines hard to be understood, if to be a Christian one needed to comprehend the Hebrew and the Greek languages, we might admit the difficulty of the conversion of little children. But if it is all so simple that he that runs may read, and he that reads may still continue to run—if it is all so plain as to be nothing more than this, “He that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved”—why not a child as capable of faith as a man?

And why may it not be as probable that we may see numbers of children converted to God as that numbers of adults may give their allegiance to the faith? Get rid of this base idea, then, lest you be found sinning against the child!

God can save children! He has saved many! He has proved to His unbelieving Church the greatness of His power towards the little ones. Thrust out the thought, then, and expect, from this day forward, that God will save the children as well as others. Having believed that their conversion is possible, when you hear of it, be willing to believe it is so. . . .

Many say, “We must hope for the best, and we must not expect too much of a child;” but I reply, we would do that child most serious injury if we taught him to be satisfied with that which is unsatisfactory and to rest anywhere but in the Lord Jesus! We must expect as much, but what I plead for is we must not expect more!

I am sure that there are some ministers and Church members who discourage, at once, any profession of faith from boys and girls. “Oh yes,” they say, “it is the morning cloud and the early dew. It will soon pass away.” They utter sharp and hard things, which, if Satan needed instruments, would be the very ones to grieve tender hearts! They put on such frowns, and give themselves such lofty airs that humble, timid children shrink back and are to the Church, for many a day, perhaps, kept outside her pale.

Let us judge them righteously, but let us not judge them censoriously. Let us be willing to receive them to Baptism and to the Lord’s Table, and when they are received, instead of thinking of them as though they were less valuable than other members, let us count them to be the very pride of the flock!

I hate to hear people say, “They have received a pack of children into the Church.”

“A pack of children,” yes, and if Jesus carries them in His bosom, surely you are not imitating Christ, nor exhibiting much of His spirit when you look down upon them and despise them! To me, one soul is as good as another. I rejoice as much in the addition of the poorest mechanic to this Church as if he were a peer of the realm!

I am as grateful to God when I hear of repentance in the young as in the aged, for souls, after all, are not affected in value by rank or age! Immortal spirits are all priceless, and not to be weighed in the scale with worlds.

I pray you, therefore, rejoice if the Spirit of God dwells in the lowly or in the great—in the young or in the old! He is the same Spirit! He makes each renewed person equally His temple—and each saved one is equally a jewel of Christ—dear to the heart of the Eternal Father, beloved by Him who redeemed all His people alike with His most precious blood!

Let us not, therefore, as a Church, sin against the child.

Mark Dever and Children's Baptism Revisited

On an older thread regarding Mark Dever and his reluctance to baptize children, a recent (April 19, 2008) post from an Anonymous commenter said:

"Baptists never baptized anyone under the age of 18 prior to 1900's. Also, Baptists outside of America do not baptize anyone under the age of 18. ."

My response to him:

Anonymous, Hello!

Yes, Mark Dever is a true blue Baptist, isn't he? So
much so that he recommended Presbyterian churches on his web site!

Regarding your April 19, 2008 comment, you wrote, "Baptists outside of America do not baptize anyone under the age of 18." Then you say that I am ignorant of Baptist history.

I will answer with a quote from Spurgeon:

Let us be willing to receive them to baptism, and to the Lord’s-table, and when they are received, instead of thinking of them as though they were less valuable than other members, let us count them to be the very pride of the flock.


For more on Mark Dever and his strange theology and polity, see:

Mark Dever vs. the SBC and Charles H. Spurgeon,

Why Did Mark Dever Lose at the Southern Baptist Convention? ,

Mark Dever For "Regulative Principle?",

Children: Mark Dever vs. Charles Spurgeon ,

Children: Mark Dever vs. Charles Spurgeon, part 2 ,

Children: Mark Dever vs. Charles Spurgeon, part 3 , and

New Book On Baptism By Mark Dever and Southern Seminary Professors .


The sky is falling!


The Ed Stetzer report in regard to Southern Baptist statistics for 2007 says that "Southern Baptists are in decline," and nothing seems to cheer the heart of Tom Ascol and his Flounders-Friendlies more than such "bad news." Surely, this can be of use to the Flounders as propaganda in their ongoing proselytizing enterprise.

Ascol and one of his friendlies, Nathan Finn, seem to have been overcome by a veritable ecstatic swoon over Stetzer's analysis. In fact, Ascol has even ventured to pronounce Finn to be some sort of a "prophet." "His insights are prophetic," Ascol proclaims on his latest blog.

One might wonder, however, why a prophet would not have enough insight to see the follies of the Flounders and to refer to those follies at the "Bridge to Nowhere" Conference last fall?

I recall, in my earliest days as a member of a Southern Baptist church in the 1950s, the SBC was apparently in far worse condition than it seems to be today. Neo-orthodoxy was the popular theology of that era, and it was "in the saddle" at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and other seminaries and colleges as well.

If you attended Union University in those days, you would hear Dr. R. C. Briggs and Dr. T. O. Hall deny the verbal inspiration of the Bible and the substitutionary atonement.

If you attended Southern Seminary, you would hear speakers on the order of Nels F. S. Ferre of Vanderbilt who offered the idea that Jesus might have been the son of a German soldier. You would read President Duke McCall's endorsement of Ferre's book in a Southern Baptist state paper where he said the book was "warm-spirited" and put forth "profound new insights."

If you attended New Orleans Seminary, you would hear the likes of Frank Stagg teach that "Jesus is not our mediator."

If you attended Southeastern Seminary, you would hear Dr. E. A. McDowell proclaim that "we are now in the millennium."

At Southern again, Eric Rust would tell you that the Bible must be corrected by modern science, that where the Bible is in error, "We shall accept unreservedly the facts of modern science."

At Southern, you would also be privileged to hear guest lecturers such as Robert J. McCracken, successor of Harry Emerson Fosdick, at the liberal Riverside Church of New York where Fosdick was known to reject the Virgin Birth and the substitutionary Atonement.

At Southern, you would also bask in the teachings of Dr. Dale Moody, who studied theology in Europe under Emil Brunner, the noted Neo-orthodox scholar, and you would learn that eternal security is not true.

And if you dared to speak up about such things, you were immediately branded as "uncooperative" and "disloyal" to the SBC.

Like John Ross (no kin), a good preacher-friend of mine who attended Union University and in the classroom took issue with Dr. R. C. Briggs' teachings, you might lose your pastorate after you were "reported" to R. C. Newman, the Assassinational Missionary in the Association, who used his denominational powers to influence the church to "vote you out" as pastor.

Not only was near infidelity reigning in the schools, SBC members reportedly ranked 40th in per-member gifts, compared to other denominations. In fact, statistics revealed that they averaged less than $1.00 per Sunday in giving for "all causes."

As for gifts to missions, in a letter to me from the office of Dr. Cauthen of the Foreign Mission Board, I was informed that for foreign missions Southern Baptists averaged giving a little more than 3-cents per Sunday, or $1.67 for the year.

The denominatonal leaders of that time would tell you such novelties as the Cooperative Program is "the arm of God," and is "the Holy Spirit's way of doing missions," and that you "blasphemed" the Holy Spirit if you criticized the Program.

As for statistics in those days, Dr. Duke McCall "warned" Southern Baptist in an article in the state papers entitled, "Storm Warnings." McCall noted that offerings, baptisms, ordinations, student entrollments at seminaries, and missionary volunteers "have declined."

McCall said, "Spiritual pride has blinded Southern Baptists to the warning flags that are clear throughout our denomination . . . We have a good machine, it is just that we are running out of gas."

Those were the days! O, for the "good ole days"!

And just to think, Southern Baptist churches somehow managed to stay alive and even get professions of faith from so many of those fellows who lead the "conservative resurgence" and perhaps from many who are part of the "Flounders" movement!

Will wonders ever cease?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Broadus on D. L. Moody


Charles said...
"Brother Bob, Hello! I can think of someone else who would probably not be welcome in Ascol's pulpit: D.L. Moody. . . . if I remember correctly, didn't Boyce have Moody come and preach at Southern Seminary?"

You are right on both counts. Not only Spurgeon and Boyce, but John A. Broadus was a good friend of Moody's, dined at Moody's home in Northfield, Massachusetts, and preached for Moody's Northfield Conferences. These items are brought out in A. T. Robertson's "Life and Letters of John A. Broadus."

One of the letters Broadus wrote to W. D. Powell says this of D. L. Moody:

"Louisville, Feb. 26, 1895: I am glad to hear about your proposed Missionary Conference, and to learn that our honored friends, Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey are expected to attend. I have never heard Mr. Moody speak without gaining fresh and wholesome impulses in the right direction. He is one of THE MOST USEFUL AND JUSTLY HONORED CHRISTIAN MEN OF THE AGE, and I shall be exceedingly glad if he can give you his help" (pages 428, 429).

Probably the reason why the Flounders disdain Mr. Moody is due to the disdain for the great evangelist by Iain Murray of the Banner of Truth. It seems that every chance Murray gets to denigrate Moody, he attempts to so in his writings, which are so popular with the Flounders.

The pedobaptist disdain for Moody dates back to the 19th century when Moody went to Great Britain and was instrumental in the conversion of hundreds of Presbyterian pedobaptists, in both Scotland and later England, who supposedly had been "born again" as babies. Even quite a number of their ministers followed and supported Moody, and it so upset Hybrid Calvinist John Kennedy that he feared his pedobaptist denomination might be destroyed.

Kennedy wrote extensively against Moody, but Spurgeon came to Moody's defense. Iain Murray, however, favors Kennedy's Hybrid Calvinist opposition to Moody, and disagreed with Spurgeon. See my article, "Hypers vs. Spurgeon and Moody."

The difference between Moody and Murray is that Moody made converts to Christ, Murray makes proselytes to Hybrid Calvinism.
Moody's preaching brought revival, Murray's writings criticize revival. Moody was active in personal soul winning; Murray is active in the denigration of soul winning.

Spurgeon's "universal" aspect


My Daily Bread said . . .

"Did not Spurgeon believe that Christ died for only some sinners and not all of them? "

Spurgeon evidently believed that there is a "universal" aspect of the death of Christ, while at the same time believing that its ultimate benefit was to believers only.

And I think that is really what all professing Christian theologies teach, except those who claim that Christ's death will result in "universal salvation."

I could cite a number of instances in Spurgeon's sermons, but I think the following will serve the purpose of demonstrating his view of a universal aspect to the death of Christ:

CHRIST’S ONE SACRIFICEFOR SIN, No. 2283, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, pages 559, 560, 562:

It is the Son of God who has undertaken this more than Herculean labor! He appeared, Sinner, to save YOU! God appeared to put away sin! Lost One, to find you, the great Shepherd has appeared! Your case is not hopeless, for He has appeared! Had anybody other than God undertaken the task of putting away sin, it could never have been accomplished! But it can be accomplished, now, for HE who appeared is One with whom nothing is impossible! Listen to that and be comforted. Christ appeared “to put away sin.”

What can that mean?

It means, first, that Christ has put away sin as to its exclusion of men from God. Man, by his sin, had made this world so obnoxious to Jehovah that God could not deal with its inhabitants apart from Christ’s Sacrifice. He is infinitely merciful, but He is also infinitely just—and the world had become so putrid a thing that He declared that He regretted that He had made man upon the earth. Now this whole world of ours would have gone down into eternal ruin had not Christ come.

John the Baptist cried, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world,the whole bulk of it! It was then and there removed at one stroke, so that God could deal with man, could send an embassage of peace to this poor guilty world, and could come upon Gospel terms of Free Grace and pardon to deal with a guilty race. That was done. You may all thank God for that! . . .

Christ’s death was UNIVERSAL in the removal of the hindrance to God’s dealing on terms of mercy with the world, yet He laid down His life for His sheep.

No one, to my knowledge, but the Universalist -- who holds to the actual universal salvation of every man that ever lived or shall live -- believes that Christ's death in its application is not "limited" to believers. Arminians, Calvinists, and all the "tweeners" believe in such a limitation. It is rather senseless to argue this point simply for the sake of a theoretical system of theology, for all agree that believers are the only ones who shall finally be saved.

Obviously, there is a distinction between (1) the "limitation" of the ultimate benefits of the atonement to believers, and (2) the unlimited preaching of the Gospel to "every creature" (Mark 16:16).

Spurgeon did his part to preach the Gospel to "every creature," and could say "Jesus died for you" to every creature,
evidently on the grounds of what he believed to be the "universal" aspect of the death of Christ.

At any rate, regardless of any particular theological theory about the death of Christ, the Commission says the Gospel is to be preached to EVERY creature, and to Spurgeon that meant INDIVIDUALS EVERYWHERE:

Oh, we cannot discharge the work for which God has put us here until we have looked into these alleys, these lanes, these courts, these dark places, and have tried our best to take Jesus Christ’s Gospel to every dweller in it! I know you have your Sunday schools and I am thankful you are doing your work there, but do not confine your aspirations to that class. I know I have with this congregation work enough. Still I am not bound to limit myself to any parish or to any locality, but if I can, I must, as much as lies in me go in all directions and in all manner of places to make known the Gospel to every creature! Have you been the means of the conversion of fifty? That is not “every creature,” press on! Were there a 100 added to this Church the other day? That is not “every creature”! There are millions yet to whom Christ is not known! Preach the Gospel everywhere, then.

The majesty of this command overwhelms me! Such a commission was never given before or since. O Church of God! Your Lord has given you a work almost as immense as the creation of a world! No! It is a greater work than that! It is to re-create a world! What can you do in this? You can do nothing effectively, unless the Holy Spirit shall bless what you attempt to do. But that He will do, and if you gird up your loins and your heart is warm in this endeavor, you shall yet be able to preach Jesus Christ to every creature under Heaven! I must not enlarge, for time flies too quickly. It will suffice if I have put the thought into your hearts, that to the servant girl and the duchess, the chimney-sweep and the peer, the man in the poor house or in the palace, we must account ourselves debtors for Christ’s sake to present the Gospel to them according to our ability, never limiting the sphere of our enterprise where an opportunity can be found to carry the Gospel to every creature! . . . It shall be sufficient answer to many of you to say that the reason for preaching the Gospel to every creature is that God has said it.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 15, Year 1869, pages 630, 631.

It appears that Spurgeon held that the Commission to preach the Gospel to "every creature" is grounds for the theoretical possibility that "every creature" could be saved. In Spurgeon's sermons, time and time again he declared that there is nothing to hinder the salvation of any man but unbelief, and that "damnation is all of man."

Furthermore, I have never found Spurgeon to pronounce any man "elect" or "regenerated" until that man was a believer in Christ. Therefore, he preached to every creature as if that person was a candidate for salvation.

One of his own Evangelists on his Tabernacle staff of Evangelists, said Spurgeon prayed, "Lord, hasten to bring in all Thine elect -- and then elect some more" (Charles Haddon Spurgeon by W. Y. Fullerton, page 153).

Flounders' numbers game


It appears from Tom Ascol's Flounders' blog that he is just "itching" to churn out more repetitious propaganda spin based on the recent 2007 Annual Church Profile report for the Southern Baptist Convention -- as if playing the "numbers game" will serve the cause of the Flounders parasitical proselyting sect within the SBC.

This is perhaps a ventilating personsal "escape mechanism" of sorts for Ascol since it might create some degree of solace for the lack of any substantial statistics he can report on behalf of the Flounders' sect. To my knowledge, the Flounders organization has not made a statistical report since their beginning in the 1980s, and may have little to nothing to report by way of conversions of the "elect" to Christ and their baptisms.

So far as I know, the Flounders group has never made any report on how many first-time professions of faith and baptisms have taken place in Flounders-Friendly churches, conferences, or other meetings. From my personal observation of Flounders' groups, they have little to nothing to report other than related to proselytism.

Actually, it may be that the only signficant "number" which they could possibly report for all these years might be the number of proselytes and small new churches which have been "planted" as a result of some type of split or division in a Southern Baptist Church, probably instigated by Flounders' "reformed" propaganda and propagandists.

I doubt very seriously that they could report many (if any) first-time professions and baptisms which were the result of evangelistic outreach. Ascol and the Flounders, as we have noted before, have an aversion to reporting statistics in contrast to the practice of C. H. Spurgeon at Metropolitan Tabernacle. Thus, it might serve Ascol somewhat as a psychological "therapeutic" to piously nitpick the SBC statistics, emphasizing the "negatives," for it seems to be true that "misery loves company." One might wonder, however, what consolation is to be found by bemoaning the stats of a denomination which some of the Flounders have branded an "unregenerate denomination" -- a denomination which probably can take "credit" for the professed "conversions" of most of the Flounders themselves!

In a recent Flounders' circular, promoting their 2008 National Conference, reference is made to the fact that "a stagnant pond suffocates the life in its waters," -- and if we may judge of the Flounders' own stagnancy in the area of evangelism, soul winning, and the baptism of new converts, the waters of this sect may be seriously contaminated with all sorts of decay.

The one thing the Flounders must be most concerned about is not the non-Calvinists in the SBC, nor the "caricatures" of the Flounders' brand of "Calvinism," nor blogs such as the Flyswatter and SBC Tomorrow -- but what they have most to fear are the "cancers" which fester within the movement itself which tend to denigrate compassion for lost souls and evangelistic enthusiasm to win them. They can't thrive simply by making proselytes who were originally won to Christ by alleged "Arminians," and who later became "reformed" by reading Banner of Truth books and other writings promoted by the Flounders.

Iain Murray of the Banner of Truth has observed:

". . . it would appear that THE PRIORITY WHICH SOUL-WINNING HAD IN SPURGEON'S MINISTRY IS NOT COMMONLY SEEN TO BE OUR PRIORITY . . . 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" (Spurgeon vs Hyper-Calvinism, page 14).

Those must be rather stinging words coming from the virtual "father" of the Flounders' movement who exerted the greatest influence on Ernest Reisinger, founder of the Flounders.

Do the following words remind you of any modern day "Calvinists"? --

". . . 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." (C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Second Series, page 187, Pilgrim Publications 1990 edition).

Notice here what Spurgeon says about statistics.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spurgeon vs. Tom Ascol


In an earlier post, I took note of Tom Ascol's comment on his blog where Tom criticized Steven Gaines, asking --

"Where is there any record of any apostle going up to a person, stranger or not and saying, 'Jesus died for you?"

While Tom constantly uses an art drawing of C. H. Spurgeon on his website, Tom's above question simply reveals how the head of the Flounders is once again found to be at odds with Spurgeon.

Here's a quote from Spurgeon's sermon, "Immeasurable Love," which clearly shows that Spurgeon had no problem with urging "a" sinner to believe "Jesus died for you."


See, then, the love of God in putting it in so plainly—so easy a way. Oh, you broken, crushed and despairing sinner, you cannot work, but can you not believe that which is true? You cannot sigh, you can not cry. You cannot melt your stony heart, but can you not believe that Jesus died for you and that He can change that heart of yours and make you a new creature? If you can believe this, then trust in Jesus to do so and you are saved, for he that believes in Him is justified! “He that believes in Him has everlasting life.” He is a saved man! His sins are forgiven! Let him go his way in peace and sin no more! -- Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 31, Year 1885, pages 391, 392

It is rather paradoxical that Ascol claims that his Hybrid Calvinist sect is trying to "recover" the allegedly "lost" Gospel yet he probably has this very sermon in his library, but has not yet "recovered" the Gospel as preached by Spurgeon wherein Spurgeon appeals to "a" sinner to believe that "Jesus died for you."

Just rack up another case of Spurgeon vs the Flounders. Do you suppose Ascol would allow Spurgeon to preach that at the Flounders church in Cape Coral? If so, it would probably be a "first" in that church!

Quote of the Week

Founders, I contend with you, Brother Bob, equate the rising popularity of their brand of Calvinism with recovering the Gospel itself.

-- Peter Lumpkins, commenting on Brother Bob Ross' article on What "Gospel" Needs To Be "Recovered"? Brother Lumpkins' own blog is SBC Tomorrow where he often critiques Founders Ministries (yes, they really believe what they are doing is a ministry) and its methods.

Ascol on "caricatures"


Flounders leader Tom Ascol says, "I hope I live long enough to see the day when the common caricatures of the doctrines of sovereign grace have been so widely exposed that any self-respecting preacher will be ashamed to keep serving them up," etc.

Some Christians who are not a part of the "Flounders Friendly" sect likewise probably long to see the day when common caricatures put forth by the Flounders will meet a similar end.

For example, the repeated caricatures by Flounders and other Hybrid Calvinists which allege that those who are not Hybrid Calvinists are guilty of --

(1) "decisional regeneration," when they insist, as Spurgeon did, that "decision" is involved in repentance and faith in Christ;

(2) "invitational salvation," when they proclaim that those who hear the Gospel are responsible to accept it and respond by making a public confession of faith in Christ, as taught by Dr. John A. Broadus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary;

(3) "say- a- prayer salvation," when they say the "sinner's prayer" is appropriate in urging men to accept Christ, just as Ernest Reisinger prayed that prayer when he was saved; and just as Spurgeon used it at Metropolitan Tabernacle

(4) "Arminianism" when they say no more or less than what B. H. Carroll, C. H. Spurgeon, A. H. Strong, J. L. Dagg, and other Baptists and Puritans taught, that one is not born again, or regenerated, until he is brought by the combined influences of the Word and Spirit to faith in Christ;

(5) "not honest" when they differ with Hybrid Calvinist views. How many times have I read statements such as Ascol's which begin, "No honest theologian," etc. Why are others denigrated as dishonest when they differ with Hybrid Calvinism?

Yes, that'll be the day if and when such caricatures by the Flounders and other Hybrid Calvinists ever cease.

Ascol's generic gospel?


Perhaps Flounders leader, Tom Ascol, has "clarified" somewhat exactly what "gospel" it is which he thinks needs to be "recovered." It seems to be, "Jesus died for sinners as sinners," but where is the Scripture "proof-text" which says this?

Apparently, Ascol holds to a GENERIC Gospel theory, that it is OK to say that "Jesus died for sinners as sinners," but it's not OK to say "Jesus died for you" to a "particular" sinner. That is -- Ascol says it is improper to say to any particular sinner, "Jesus died for you," but it is OK to say "Jesus died for sinners as sinners" -- in a generic sense.

Being put into practice, I think this probably means that Ascol could visit every individual sinner in Cape Coral, or even every individual sinner in the entire state of Florida, and he could not say to any one of them, "Jesus died for you."

He could say to the whole state collectively, "Jesus died for sinners as sinners," but he could not say to any one of the Floridians, "Jesus died for you." Although the Great
Commission authorizes disciples to "preach the Gospel to every creature," evidently this does not mean that it is correct to preach it to every individual "creature" as such.

Paul, on the other hand, referred to "the Gospel which I preached unto you" in I Corinthians 15:1, and went on to say that "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures." Apparently, Paul thought his Gospel could be preached to "every creature" as such, and not merely to "creatures" collectively (Mark 16:15, 16).

That apparently means that when Paul personally, as an individual ("I"), "received" the Gospel, he was "a" sinner, and when he preached to the Corinthians they were "sinners," and the message was "Christ died for OUR sins." He did not seem to have any problem with applying this to himself as "a" sinner, nor as applying it to a group of "sinners." In fact, Paul even says in one text that Christ "gave Himself for ME" (Galatians 2:20).

If Paul, as a Christian, could say that Christ died for "me," why could it not have been told to him when he was unsaved, that "Jesus died for Saul"? Would not that have been the truth before his salvation as afterwards?

I have lately listened to a recording of a sermon delivered by a professing "5-point Calvinist" pastor in Houston who is taking to task the "Free Offer of the Gospel" concept. He indicates that since "we don't know who the elect are," and since Christ "died only for the elect," there can be no legitimate well-intentioned "free offer of the Gospel" to each and every person. He thinks it would not be truthful to extend a "free offer of the Gospel" to every creature. He says this is a form of "Arminianism."

I can only suppose he must fear that one of the "non-elect" might be lead to believe the Gospel and be saved, or perhaps make a false profession of faith!

At any rate, as for Tom Ascol, if I understand him correctly, it appears that he cannot preach, as the Gospel, that "Christ died for our sins" to every individual creature in the state of Florida.

But . . . can he even preach it to the professing Christians in the state? Since Tom does not infalliby know who is really saved, or who the "elect" are, how can he say to any sinner, lost or saved, "Jesus died for you?"

In fact, can he even say to each member of his church, "Jesus died for you," since he does not really know the actual spiritual state of each member, whether each one is "regenerated," or whether each one is really "elect"?

Evidently, Tom is stuck with a generic message, "Jesus died for sinners as sinners," but he can't really make an application of that to any individual sinner, not even to a member of his church, since he does not really know who the elect are!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Jesus died for you"?


Down in the "Sunshine State," I don't suppose any sinner living in or around Cape Coral should expect to hear Pastor Tom Ascol of the Flounders tell him/her that "Jesus died for your sins."

On the Flounders' blog, Tom condemns Steve Gaines' view that Steve can tell a sinner that "Jesus died for you." Ascol says:

"Where is there any record of any apostle going up to a person, stranger or not and saying, 'Jesus died for you'? Jesus died for sinners as sinners."

Well, if you can't tell "a" sinner that "Jesus died for you," then how can you tell "sinners" that "Jesus died for sinners?"

Where is there any record of any apostle going up to persons, strangers or not and saying, "Jesus died for sinners as sinners"?

If you can't tell one individual sinner that Jesus died for you, how you tell many sinners that "Jesus died for sinners"? Are not "sinners" simply a collection of individual sinners?

Yet, Paul says "while we yet sinners, Christ died for us," the "ungodly" (Romans 5:6, 8).

Also, we read the Christ came into the world to "save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15), but I suppose Ascol would not tell an individual sinner that Christ came into the world to save him.

Ascol evidently cannot tell "a" sinner in Cape Coral or the state of Florida that Christ came to save him, and died for him. I wonder, if "a" sinner were to bring a couple of other "sinners" to a preaching service at Ascol's church, making a total of three "sinners," could Ascol specifically say to those three collectively, "Christ died for sinners," and "Christ came to save sinners"?

If Ascol could say that to all three "sinners," does that really include all three of them, or only two of them, or just one of them? If he could say it to all three sinners, why could he not say it to one of the sinners?

It seems to me that if Ascol can't say "Jesus died for you" to "a" sinner, he can't very well say it to three "sinners," and if he can't say it to three "sinners," how can he say it to ten sinners, twenty sinners, a hundred sinners, -- or for any number of "sinners" at all?

So how can Ascol tell any sinner, or all sinners, in Cape Coral and the state of Florida that Jesus died for any of them at all?

In reality, isn't Ascol really promoting the Hybrid Calvinist heresy that no sinner (or number of "sinners") can believe that "Jesus died for him" until after he has been "born again before believing in Christ"? Then, after he has been "born again before faith," then it is "safe" to believe that "Jesus died for him"?

James needs your help


Can any one reading the Flyswatter come to the aid of a frustrated James the Exegeeter?

Rather than demonstrate that he knew anything about Peter Ruckman's "King James Onlyism," James White has evidently been forced to resort to the defense mechanism of "chewing me up and spitting me out" due to his resentment of my revealing his misrepresentation about Ruckman's views.

It occurred to me that perhaps someone in the Flyswatter's audience might venture to help James . . . and at my expense. Here's my offer:

$100 reward to any one who can give a single line from Peter Ruckman's writings where he ever taught what James White alleges in his book, "The King James Only Controversy," page 4, 6 -- specifically, where Ruckman ever taught that God either "'inspired the King James Bible'" or that "God 're-inspired' the Bible in 1611."

I must admit that when James first published this book in 1995 before I ever met James, we assumed from the recommendations that he must have the facts for what he was writing. But when we did a more careful examination of the book, we found it sorely lacking, and we were embarrassed for having promoted it in our magazine before we had thoroughly scrutinized the contents. Of course, we had to "swallow our pride" and admit our mistake. But James has not been inclined to go and do likewise. His best and only defense has been to "bad mouth" old man Bob Ross.

I suppose that it has likewise been embarrassing to others whose names James uses as "endorsements" on the cover of his book, such as John MacArthur, J. I. Packer, Bruce Metzger, D. A. Carson, and Hank Hanegraaff. They probably also merely assumed that James had the documented materials necessary to validate his charges against Ruckman.

Since we have called attention to this misrepresentation of Ruckman by James more than once, and he has yet to come forth with anything which supports his allegations, we have long ago concluded that based on our research of Ruckman's writings, James has no such evidence.

I am not an "apologist" for Ruckman or "KJVOism" by any stretch of the imagination, but if one is going to represent himself to be an "apologist" and a "debater," it is incumbent upon him to know and properly represent that which he is critiquing. The worst "crime" one can commit in polemics is to misrepresent an adversary's views.

Can anyone rescue James from the snare of his own lips (Proverbs 18:7)? Can his "debate partner," Tom Ascol of the Flounders, help him? Can MacArthur, Packer, Carson, or Hanegraaff? Can any one?

Hair will most likely sooner grow on James' head than either he or any one else will be able to validate his charges.


Monday, April 21, 2008

White light on Marrs


For some inexplicable reason, appallingist James White is re-living his visit to Marrs -- Texe Marrs, that is.

Our friend James the Exegete, has currently been offering videos on his web site, expounding on his controversy of the 1990s involving the super-duper conspiracy buff, Big Texe Marrs, and others of the "King James Only" camp. For whatever reason or excuse James has for this, it only served to jog my memory once again about James' inadequate attempt at dealing with "King James Onlyism" in his book, The King James Only Controversy.

James' primary error in his book is his complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Peter Ruckman, one of the leading proponents of "King James Onlyism." He misunderstands and misrepresents Ruckman on two basic matters:

(1) James erroneously alleges that Ruckman's "system of belief" asserts that "God 're-inspired' the Bible in 1611." (The King James Only Controversy, pages 4, 6). Nothing could be further from the truth, for Ruckman neither believes that any translation, including the KJV, is "inspired," nor that the original writings of the Scriptures were "inspired." He believes it was the "speaking" that was inspired, not the "writing." See our website for quotes from Ruckman in the article at --

(2) James does not comprehend what Ruckman means by the KJV's "correcting the Greek" and the alleged "mistakes" in the KJV being "advanced revelation." Ruckman actually means no more by this than what James himself practices on this matter, for James is one of the leading "correctors" of the Greek, promoting what would constitute "advanced revelation" over alleged mistakes in variant copies of Greek manuscripts and/or texts.

Ruckman and James differ only in regard to which sources are the most accurate in "correcting" the variant Greek manuscripts/texts. Ruckman believes the KJV does the best job of "correcting" the alleged mistakes of the Greek textual copies, while James apparently favors the perspective of "textual critics" such as Metzger, Aland,and other moderns (TKJVC, page 151) -- except of course where James may be inclined to believe that he himself is the more accurate "corrector" of the variant Greek texts.

Why does James keep reminding us of his inadequacies as an "apologist," which make him more of an "appallingist"?


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ascol's "real deal"

Tom Ascol comments on his blog:

'This is not a Calvinism issue. It is a salvation issue. If you are content to preach a "Gospel" that apparently only converts at a 25-35% rate of "professions," you can have it. I want the real deal, and I believe that most serious, thinking Southern Baptist pastors do, too.'

Ascol's comment is based on the Flounders' "numbers game" being used in regard to the Southern Baptist Convention's statistics. Where is the "real deal" in this regard? Does Ascol know who is saved and who is lost, based on "attendance"?

The fact is, according to the Parable of the Sower, 25% would be an acceptable percentage of converts where even the pure Word of God is preached (see Luke 8:4-18).

Also, although Jesus had thousands often attending His ministry, after three years only 120 showed up on Pentecost (Acts 1). Was something wrong in Jesus' preaching which accounts for this comparatively small number?

Paul seemingly had a great response to his preaching in Galatia, but he later expressed some strong reservations about the spiritual status of these professors (Galatians 1:6, 7; 3:1-5; 4:8-20). He said, "I am afraid of you," "I stand in doubt of you." Was this Galatian circumstance due to a fault in Paul's preaching and methods?

Furthermore, since when is "church attendance" the measure of who is born again and who is not born again? If non-attendance implies these people are lost, does attendance imply that those attendees are indeed saved?

Do all of those who are still alive, who ever joined Ascol's church, still attend church services? If not, has he followed up on all of the missing ones and found some of them to be unsaved? If he has had such cases to join and drop out of attending, does this mean there was something wrong with Ascol's Gospel?

Also, is non-attendance of Sunday services the "test"? What about those who do not attend other mid-week services or special services at other times? Are they saved, despite not attending except on Sunday? What is their spiritual condition?

No doubt, there are names on the rolls of all churches which should not be there, but neither the SBC nor the "messengers" to the annual convention have any power to either dictate to or intimidate a local church in regard to how it regulates its membership roll.

Let Ascol and his church mend their own fences, and respect the rights of other churches to do the same.

As for Ascol's "Calvinism" remark, I could cite a number of "Calvinist" churches which not only have had some "joiners" who failed to faithfully attend, but the churches themselves have even ceased to exist! There have been at least six to ten such "Calvinist" churches within a range of 30 miles or so from where I am sitting.

And whatever became of that church in North Pompano, Florida which Ernest Reisinger claims to have "reformed"?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flounders' 2008 conference


I received by USPS a fancy printed folder-poster which announces the 2008 National Founders Conference at Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, Oklahoma, in the Tulsa area. Bill Ascol, brother of Tom, is Pastor.

The "keynote speaker" will be Ed Stetzer, who holds a denominational position at the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway Research department. I don't know much about Ed other than what I see, read, and hear on the Internet, but I assume that a good friend of Ed's at SBC headquarters apparently must have known him very well and helped him get this job.

It's often reported by sources on the Internet that Ed has "planted" churches in a few states, but I have not yet seen a reference to exactly where the churches are located or how they are getting along. Ed is only in his early 40s, but I have also read that he somehow has managed to teach in sixteen seminaries, including 3 years at Southern Seminary, according to his website.

I notice from his schedule of speaking engagements that Ed is evidently something on the order of an "equal opportunity" type of speaker, participating with various groups across the spectrum of professing Christianity regardless of some theological "boundaries" that tend to divide. Theologically, he says he is "a Biblicist." (Aren't we all!).

Currently, Ed seems to be "making a good enough living" just speaking at Conferences for "any and all" who can afford his fees. His corpulent body might also suggest that he is prospering enough to "live high on the hog," or perhaps he simply orders from the "super-sized" menus of fastfood restaurants. I hardly see how he would find much time to engage in "church planting" nowadays, for he is so busy fulfilling speaking engagements for the benefit of those who are seeking counsel about "renewing and planting" churches.

It seems that Ed is predominantly advertised as somewhat of an "expert" on church "renewing and planting," so I presume the Flounders are reaching out for whatever help they can get on "renewing and planting," if only from a "Biblicist." This could be a step in the right direction. Up to this point, the only "renewing and planting" which the Flounders seem to have accomplished involves the advocacy of divisive theoretical theological issues, seeking to "reform" Arminians to become "Reformed" Calvinists. I have not discerned that Stetzer himself is given to that sort of "renewing and planting," so it may be that he can inspire the Flounders to at least try a different approach from what they have had for so many years. Let's hope so.

It would be marvelous in our eyes if Ed could inspire some person or persons at the National Flounders Conference to be so "renewed" so as to somehow "recover" the Gospel to the extent that they succeeded in "planting" a church by making converts to Christ in contrast to making proselytes to "Reformed" Calvinism.

Tom Nettles on the program, too.

Another speaker at the conference will be Tom Nettles of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Nettles, as we have before noted, reportedly invited Hardshell Baptist, Lasserre Bradley Jr., to the SBTS, but has yet to explan "Why?" Bradley has had some experience in "church planting," for when he left missionary Baptists to join the Hardshells, he proselyted a number of young preachers and others and "reformed" them according to Hardshell doctrine and practice.

Wonder if Tom Nettles was trying to get a few tips from Bradley on "renewing and planting"?

Friday, April 18, 2008

What "gospel"?


I have been seeing comments for quite awhile by some of the Flounders, such as Tom Ascol, about "recovering the gospel."

What "gospel" are they talking about? This kind of talk reminds me of some the past self-proclaimed "restorers," "reformers," and "recoverers" who propagandized in the same manner, and they eventually produced sects and cults. For instance --

Alexander Campbell talked about "restoring the gospel." So did Joe Smith and Herbert W. Armstrong. Now we have the Flounders talking along the same lines.

I just wonder what they mean by the "gospel"? Are they talking about their little theological theoretical "system," or are they talking about the Gospel of salvation by faith in Christ, as expounded by the Lord in John 3:14-18?

If they are referring to the latter, then why are they wasting time and money on promoting anything other than that Gospel? It seems to me that they are more interested in promoting their theological "system" than in promoting the Gospel of Christ. They appear more interested in making proselytes to their theological "system" than they are interested in winning the lost by means of the Gospel of Christ.

But if they truly have the Gospel of Christ in mind, perhaps we can be of some help:

We publish a book of 35 sermons in English and in Spanish by C. H. Spurgeon exclusively on the Gospel. It's called "The Gospel According to C. H. Spurgeon."

I suggest to Tom Ascol and his "Reformed" brethren who are trying to "recover the gospel" that they get copies of this book and make use of it in their "recovery" efforts. Instead of wasting thousands of dollars on pedobaptist DVDs and so many "Reformed" conferences "preaching to the choir," I believe they would do much more for the cause of the Gospel if they invested in the distribution of Spurgeon's book -- especially to those who speak at their conferences, as they seem to need it most. So few of them demonstrate that they have a good grasp of the Gospel.

The fact is, we just recently provided 552 copies of the book to a Christian Radio ministry in Columbus, Ohio at a bargain price and the books were distributed at a special meeting of the ministers in that area.

We have been publishing and promoting these sermons by Spurgeon in various formats for nearly forty years, and I'm rather surprised that the "Reformed" brethren have not stumbled upon this Gospel by now, if they indeed are trying to "recover" the same Gospel as preached by Spurgeon.

I rather think they have less in mind, however, than that Gospel. It appears they are more obsessed with promoting their little theoretical "system" than the promotion of the more significant Gospel of Christ.

Spurgeon Gave Prominence to the Gospel, or
How to Attract a Congregation

I believe that the best, surest, and most permanent way to fill a place of Worship is to Preach the Gospel, and to preach it in a natural, simple, interesting, earnest way.

The gospel itself has a singularly fascinating power about it, and unless impeded by an unworthy delivery, or by some other great evil, it will win its own way. It certainly did so at the first, and what is to hinder it now? Like the angels, it flew upon its own wings; like the dew, it tarried not for man, neither waited for the sons of men. The Lord gave the Word; great was the company of them that published it; their line went forth throughout all the world, and the nations heard the glad tidings from heaven.

The gospel has a secret charm about it which secures a hearing: it casts its good spell over human ears, and they must hearken. It is God's own word to men; it is precisely what human necessities require; it commends itself to man's conscience, and, sent home by the Holy Spirit, it wakes an echo in every heart.

In every age, the faithful preaching of the good news has brought forth hosts of men to hear it, made willing in the day of God's power. I shall need a vast amount of evidence before I shall come to the conclusion that its old power is gone.

My own experience does not drive me to such a belief, but leads me in the opposite direction. Thirty years of crowded houses leave me confident of the attractions of Divine truth: I see nothing as yet to make me doubt its sufficiency for its own propagation. Shorn of its graciousness, robbed of its certainty, spoiled of its peculiarities, the sacred Word may become unattractive; but decked in the glories of free and sovereign grace, wearing the crown-royal of the covenant, and the purple of atonement, the gospel, like a queen, is still glorious for beauty, supreme over hearts and minds. Published in all its fulness, with a clear statement of its efficacy and immutability, it is still the most acceptable news that ever reached the ears of mortals. You shall not in my most despondent moments convince me that our Lord was mistaken when he said....


From The Sword and The Trowel, August 1883.