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An Example of the Legalism of the “Running the Race” Teaching

January 24, 2014

I happen to stop by David Cloud’s “O Timothy” to see what he’s harping on these days, and it’s the same old non-stop criticism of new-evangelicals and related “old vs new culture” subjects. This is a person who seems to be fairly respected in “old-line” fundamental Baptists (particularly Independent Fundamentalist Baptists or IFB’s), and basically harps on “compromise” through modern music and worship, modern Bible translations, psychology in Christian teachings, female pastors, and “associations” seen as leading to “ecumenicalism”.

While there is a lot of grains of truth in all of these issues; maybe even a few legitimate points, still, leaders like this publish unceasingly “exposes” on all these errant movements or secular influences and those who begin opening up to them. The premise is the message of Paul to Timothy: “preach, exhort, rebuke” (2 Timothy 4:2). The “about Way of Life” statement at the bottom of articles says:

The name “Way of Life” is from Proverbs 6:23: “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” The biblical instruction that molds men to God’s will requires reproof. It is not strictly positive. It does not focus on man’s “self-esteem.” It does not avoid controversial or unpopular subjects. It warns as well as comforts. It deals with sin and false teaching in a plain manner. It is reproves, rebukes, exhorts with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2)

But you have to wonder if Timothy would then spend quite THIS much time badgering these sorts of issues. They wrote their epistles, but not periodical publications repeating the same things over and over about every leader or movement that was wrong, and most importantly, having a premise of some “godly culture” mixed in with it. All the “separatist” language, historically, ends up tied to America and it’s supposed “godly past” which was destroyed by “liberalism” and its influence in the Church.

Jesus, Paul and others admonished people and churches to clean up sinful behavior, but it was those imposing the strictest applications of the Law whom they reserved their sharpest denunciations for! They were mostly the “false teachers” referred to throughout the New Testament.

And this raising the question of whether a lot of what this [modern] teacher and others like him is teaching really even the “faith once delivered to the saints” the Apostles were guarding to begin with!
The KJV didn’t exist then, and neither did what he considers “godly music” or any of the hymns he would consider “acceptable”, or any of the other “Anglo-American” cultural trappings of the Baptist faith he is promoting (and the “trail of blood” theory they use to dispute that last point is a total distortion of history).

And leaders like this take warnings such as v3 about “falling away” as referring to our time, which acts like Paul was writing directly to them, and their churches are equal to first century Christianity. (What about the actual “falling away” Paul was referring to then, that ⦅according to most Baptist and other views of history⦆ led to Rome and everything in between and afterward? That couldn’t have happened then as he wrote, if we still had it all together until recent generations, when this “end times apostasy” supposedly “really” began.)

Typical of his literature is an article on rap listing HUNDREDS of deaths, to prove its “violent” nature. While there’s a lot of truth to that for many of them, he includes Heavy D, who died young, grant you, but of “unknown causes”, rather than violence or even a sinful lifestyle (substance abuse, AIDS, etc. And he was not even one of the “violent” rappers!) It looks like the insinuation is like he died just for being a “rapper” (do I hear “[spiritual] CURSE”, as fellow KJVO Jack Chick might argue? I’ve seen the same thing with rock and CCM, listing Rich Mullins, who also died from a non-“lifestyle” related cause). Does this mean that people who follow the “way of life” as filtered through his beliefs never die at young ages?

So now is this article on how people grow tired of “paddling upstream”, and as soon as they slow down and stop, they get totally caught up in all the “bad” (“downward”) modern trends.

End-time apostasy is like a great river sweeping everything along with it, and the Bible-believing New Testament church is like a boat. If we aren’t paddling hard upstream — through such things as conversion salvation, separated Christian discipleship, and uncompromising preaching — we are carried along with the flow.

There is no neutrality, no relaxing, no retiring. If you get tired of the work and put down the paddles of godly living and biblical reproof and separation, you immediately begin to move with the flow.


The thing that everyone keeps repeating is that life is so much more fun now that we don’t have to paddle upstream. It’s wonderful to finally be free to make your own choices and not be hemmed in by the rantings of some fanatical preacher.


They start feeling a bit uneasy…by now it’s too late. They are moving too fast. The river has them firm in its grip. There is no turning around. And then they hear something in the distance, a sort of roaring, and it is getting louder. And louder. And then they see it. The water is heaving and boiling as it is swept over the great fall. They are helpless now, in the grip of something too powerful to resist. The time to turn around is past, and they shoot over the fall and crash on the rocks below.

Just before they go over, their cool pastor cries out, “But all we did was stop paddling!!!!”

This is the epitome of the “merit of discomfort” philosophy that undergirds most of Christianity (even though many may have softened it down in different ways as he constantly scolds). Just like the rest of their teachings. The discomfort of giving up your lively music in favor of old hymns with plain “marching” rhythms, or learning the old English of the KJV, or just accepting pain as God’s “tests” and developing a “cheerful attitude” to heal instead of psychological therapy.

This “paddling upstream” is not even a Biblical analogy, but is taken from the natural phenomenon called the “salmon run”, where they swim upstream. This I don’t think even occurs where the Bible was written, but was purely a North American (or at least northern Atlantic/northern Pacific) occurrence.
(So when Michael Horton, Beyond Culture Wars, p.145 rhetorically asks if our sermons are “essentially pep talks seasoned with personal anecdotes and helpful illustrations?”, we see the old-line “separatists” are just as culpable as the new evangelicals both of them are criticizing).

It’s supposed to be an allusion to the “hardships” faced by “true Christians”. But is his camp really “paddling upstream”? They’re not the ones who have to give up any music, worship style, Bible version or associations they might really like, like they’re telling others to.
(He’ll claim “his flesh” likes the rock beat, but I don’t think these people are secretly struggling thinking “man, I really wish I could bop to some rock right now” when singing their hymns. He can appeal to a “changed nature” making him like the old style, but then you are still doing something you “enjoy” just as much as anyone else, and the debate becomes whether what they enjoy is really of “the flesh”, while what you enjoy is of “the spirit”).

It’s also noteworthy that in the “female pastors” issue, he cites 1 Tim. 2:9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves…with shamefacedness and sobriety…” The word that sticks out to me is “shamefacedness”, which is the KJV translation for the Greek aidōs, which is believed to stem from “a-” (without) + eidō (to see), and thus “(through the idea of downcast eyes); bashfulness, i.e. (towards men), modesty or (towards God) awe:—reverence”; hence “a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfulness, reverence, regard for others, respect”. And that’s pretty much what their wives look like, from what I’ve seen in the movement.
But the same word is also translated as simply “reverence” in Heb.12:28, which applies to everyone, not just females.

Of course, this is the total opposite of the haughty “preacher against sin” posture Cloud and the rest of the male leaders in his circle take on. They have anything but any sense of “shame” or “bashfulness”. (Even though old time preachers, from Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon and others, on, would often call themselves “lowly worms” and such, however, when adressing others they saw as “sinners”, all of this went out the window, and they acted like anything but self-recognizing lowly worms, but instead called the other person that and worse. I would say such behavior was really the “proof of the pudding” of how they truly felt about themselves, as the penance is revealed to be just the “false humility” Paul describes in Col. 2:18).

And so we see part of the reason the KJV is so favored by them is because some of its language is easy for them to take advantage of like this. The result is always for the leaders like this to be granted the same level of haughtiness, self-interest promoting and practical “pride” they condemn as ungodly in everyone else, as in fact a Biblical mandate. Who could ask for anything more? It’s basically Heaven on earth!

So they get to maintain and defend what they like and also think is right. No one is persecuting them. They may feel the encroachment of the new trends upon them (e.g. people trying to bring it into their churches), but they then get to stand up in a righteous posture and preach against these influences. (That’s where the “fight” really lies, but it looks like it comes pretty easy to them!
As we shall see, it’s money and power that’s the real threat!)

The attitude here is pure works-righteousness, but they won’t see it as this, because notice, he’s not exactly saying any of these people are going to Hell (i.e. not saved. And he elsewhere speaks of “the heresy that a born-again believer can lose his salvation”). They’re just “disobedient ‘carnal Christians’”. (He doesn’t say what “crashing on the rocks” is supposed to represent, but it probably would be the “end times One World apostasy”).
It’s pretty much like the Adventists not denying the salvation of Sundaykeepers (at least not until the “third angel’s message” when Sunday officially becomes the “Mark of the Beast”). They’re just “disobedient” to one of God’s commandments, and God has called the sabbatarians to set everyone straight.

Of course, the teaching of both groups is grounded in the common theme of futurism, with its focus on the still future “soon” end [of the “world”], and all the “apostasy” (assumed to be some “one world religion/government” scheme with these movements as the latter day prophets against it); yet ignoring that “soon” was spoken to Timothy and the rest of the NT hearers and readers, not us thousands of years later. For that is no longer “soon”.
Hence, them thinking the “falling away” is whatever pet peeve they are criticizing in the modern Church today. (Cloud also mentioned “allegorical interpretation of prophecy” as one of those things others are wrong for not taking a stand against, but then the clear language of “soon” becomes allegorical or worse in futurism. It’s less clear language and figures in prophecy they insist are “literal”).

Of course they also have to engineer the definition of “legalism” so that it doesn’t include their teaching.

As I mentioned in my page on CCM (also aimed at old-line IFB teachers like this) legalism is redefined by them as only “adding works to God’s grace”, or “doing things to gain God’s favor”, ignoring that it also means a preoccupation with rules, and being so quick to judge other believers on issues like this, and this is not even dealing with the issue of whether or not all the rules they are trying to impose are even really biblical to begin with. (In which case, it does in fact become “adding works to grace”! You have to keep paddling “hard”, keep striving, can’t ever stop and relax, remember!)

Another CCM critic had said “we do good, not to gain God’s favor, but to show our love to Him”. But this puts the cart before the horse. We are debating whether some of the points of this radical “separatism” are necessary acts of “doing good” in the first place. If they are not, then adding them as a mandatory rule of not just love, but “obedience” and “pleasing God” IS a type of legalism, whether you call it “gaining His favor” or not. (Mark 7:7, 9)

With this utter emphasis on “paddling hard upstream”, and you can’t relax at all, to stay on the right course before God; you wonder what happened to Hebrews 4:10 “For he that is entered into his REST, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

Leaders like this generally think “works” must only refer to “old Jewish laws” like sabbaths, circumcision and the sacrifices. And of course the Adventists will think it refers to only the laws other than the weekly sabbath (and dietary laws), and the more radical sabbathkeeeping groups will simply subtract what other sabbaths and laws they think are excluded from this scripture. But all will greatly emphasize this “paddling upstream” philosophy against those who are not as rigorous in rules and laws as they are.

They’ll even cite Christ’s “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST. Take my yoke on you…and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt.11:28-30)

Ultimately, to all of them, “His rest” and “light burden” ends up as the “peace” of the “changed attitude” toward the pain of the “struggle” of “paddling hard upstream” or whatever other analogy they employ. In other words, you’re “laboring and heavy laden” from “swimming upstream”, and taking the “hard path” (people assume “narrow path”=”hard path”, and is in opposition to “easy”), but then Christ makes it “easier” in your mind only.
But there really is to be NO real, actual REST!

Of course, they all turn to various scriptures about obedience and repentance (including many from the Old Testament), and like the rest of evangelicalism they criticize, “running the race” to “the end”, and other passages commonly understood as “behavioral improvement” are appealed to.
“Holiness” is another concept they appeal to, but holiness is the goal of sanctification, which is not about our acts, but rather God’s, and ultimately positional, not behavioral.

Evidence of the true context of all these “effort”/”behavior” scriptures (which would seem to contradict the Hebrews verse, Christ’s “easy yoke” and the rest of the “Grace not works” passages) can be seen in both Christ and Paul’s warnings about being “handed over” to the “judgment” system (which Paul calls “Satan” in one instance. It was referring to the legal system of Israel; hence punishing sins like blasphemy or adultery).
The special power to obey, or more accurately, manifest love (through faith in the risen Christ) that these leaders emphasize (as the answer to therapy) was part of the “testimony” of Christ.

We can see in Rom.3:7,8 that people were accusing Paul of teaching “license”. In Jude 4, it is very likely that the false teachers “turning grace into licentiousness” were actually those preaching “the Law” (not doing away with it), and accusing the concept of “Grace” as being licentious. (This is what we hear constantly from the sabbatarians, when we tell them “the Law”, regarding the sabbath and others, is no longer binding in the “age of Grace”!)

Hence, “testimony” indicating a trial, as in a court; it was against the accusing Law system (which still stood and imposed itself during the NT). A system that is long gone now!
This is the only way to reconcile “grace” and “works” in the New Testament.

Naturally, to such leaders, (following those Paul and Jude wrote about), removing Law as our motivation leads us to no motivation at all to please God or do anything good. (They characterize the entire non-Christian world as TOTALLY a-moral; and of course morality is judged by pre-1960’s America).
This betrays the works-righteousness and essential [hidden] lawlessness of their mindset. The only reason to please God is the fear of either Hell, or at least “falling into the end-time apostasy”. Without that, there is no other reason.

And the goal, as always, is to maintain “order in society”; i.e. the lessening of preaching of Biblical “rules” has led to all the evil in the world. This changes the Gospel into a utopian scheme every bit as much as the liberals who thought preaching “peace and love” or using the state to impose it would do the same thing. It’s basically the “conservative social gospel”.

Love is to be our motivation now, and “true Love casts OUT fear”. (1 John 4:18, 19).
If people “take advantage” of this, and you fear they won’t do good, then all that has been done is to expose what would otherwise be suppressed (Luke 8:17, 12:2,3). Even with the fear, sin is still there, loopholes are found, and then people think they’re doing so well, they are entitled to a few slip ups (that can often spiral into a total “fall”). How do you think all those big time preachers fell decades ago? They were not the “liberals” or “modernists”, but rather the moral conservatives! Even the IFB movement has started to have some sex scandals revealed at times!
The only thing we lose is the illusion of “order” in society, but what is this really before God? (Isaiah 64:6)

New-evangelicalism has remained largely silent towards this “Separatist” movement, fostering the illusion that these leaders are truly on the side of the Bible, and thus cannot be refuted, and that the “wayward” modern Church is simply ignoring this “godly reproof”.
Michael Horton is someone who somewhat identifies with New-evangelicalism (at least he criticizes separatism and praises Harold Ockenga, who is pretty much the founder of new-evangelicalism), yet does criticize a lot of the excesses and deviation of modern worship, other trends, and ignorance of doctrine. Yet he ties this in as having its beginnings in new-evangelicalism’s “old-line fundamentalist” roots.
(For instance, the whole “Christian ghetto” approach to worship and entertainment basically stemmed from “separatism”; where the Church started out rejecting “the world” but then ended up having to get their own copies of everything in the world! The old-liners are no less guilty of this, even if it’s the ‘culture’ of generations or centuries ago they reflect, which they seem to think was not “worldly” like today).

Anyway, in his excellent exhortation Beyond Culture Wars, he makes two good points that speak to this issue:

But we have confused the Law and the Gospel in our day, just as the Galatians had done, and the medieval church had done. We would know better than to say ‘We are saved by our obedience to the Law’, but we find it more difficult to detect that ‘We will achieve victory by following these principles or steps’ is a new way of saying just that. (p.114)

Again, old-line fundamentalists might not use those exact terms as much as new-evangelicals, but clearly, what they are teaching as the way to avoid this “downward stream” is the same exact thing! It’s clearly “the Law“, and that term they even do use, as in the citation of Prov.6:23.
And most importantly, regarding the “spiritual armor” in Eph.6:

Each piece of the armor has something to do with the objective Gospel. Not one piece of this armor is something we have fashioned. Nowhere in the list, for instance, is ‘the pistol of piety’, or ‘the boots of a good heart and cheerful attitude.’

[And no “paddles of godly living and biblical reproof and separation” either! This was also brought to mind by the steps, -er-, points of Cloud’s supposed “Biblical path” cited in the article comment linked below].

Not because piety is unimportant, or because our inner experience is insignificant, but because when the enemy comes, he is not coming to ‘bind’ our house or give us generational curses; he is coming to strip us of our faith in the Gospel. He is coming to try to persuade us that we are too sinful; too unholy…We have not advanced enough in the Christian life; we have quenched the Spirit
It is faith that unites us to Christ and all His benefits, so if the devil can take away our confidence in His atoning work, he couldn’t care less about wreaking temporal havoc on our family line.(p.233)

Now Horton criticizes the modern “therapeutic” approach and focus on “self-esteem” in the Church just as much as Cloud and the others, yet Cloud and others’ answer to self-esteem seems to be to focus on “sinfulness” and “unholiness” and remain there, just having the preacher preach against it to the congregation; to the body of Christians (of course, like the model inspired by Spurgeon and Edwards and the great revivalists of old), and to individuals seeking counselling.
Recall, the believer struggling with some problem needs “regeneration”, “repentance” and “obedience” among other things in order to “soothe [his] conscience” in place of therapy. (See

Hence, the universal answer boils down to how people “have not advanced enough in the Christian life”, and this the cause of all their problems.
This is the true message (accusation) of the Devil! We can judge it by its fruits: “hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies…” (Gal.5:20). Of course those guilty will all claim their “hatred”, “variance”, “emulation” (oneupmanship; trying to outdo the next guy preaching), “wrath”, “strife”, “sedition” (dissension) —is simply them trying to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” everyone else’s “heresies” (or “lawlessness”)! (We can see this in someone even more radical than Cloud, such as his one time sparring partner, hyper-KJVO Peter Ruckman).

One thing that is particularly striking, is that the traditional “five fundamentals of the faith”

1. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture
2. The deity of Jesus Christ
3. The virgin birth of Christ
4. The substitutionary, atoning work of Christ on the cross
5. The physical resurrection and the personal bodily return of Christ to the earth.

that originally defined fundamentalism, omitted grace alone; which is THE “fundamental” of fundamentals! There is absolutely NO GOSPEL at all and the others are essentially meaningless, without that one. (“Substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the Cross” doesn’t specify grace vs works! Other versions have been put out, that may add other points by combining some of these to make room).

This is a manmade list drawn up purely on the specific doctrines conservatives felt were under threat 100 years ago, in the beginning of the battle against “modernism”.
And this list allows people to virtually deny grace in favor of works, and yet still be accepted as truly “fundamentalist” or “orthodox”! (Then, people like this will often go on to insist that the true Gospel is not just five doctrines after all, but “every doctrine”, by which they get to denounce other evangelicals as heretical or “compromising”; and yet they continue to set the standard themselves).

This is why this movement has slipped by the radar of apologetics that goes after any one or any group that teaches anything seen as remotely softening on those other doctrines or the Gospel.
So this is what we are seeing here.

Seeing the removal of Law as our motivation to please God as leading to no motivation at all betrays the hidden lawlessness of their mindset. The only reason to please God is the fear of Hell; there is no other reason. This changes the Gospel into a utopian scheme every bit as much as the liberal “social gospel”

As for the problems of ecumenicalism and even other issues such as shallow worship and female pastors, the problem there is in the Church growing into an organization that has to survive financially, and thus essentially become subject to what any other money-making corporation has to live on, which is “market” factors!

The Church was originally an informal body of believers in Christ who fellowshipped, at first in the synagogue most of them came out of, and as they were cast out of that institution, they met in homes. Apostles spread the Gospel, and “overseers” (episkopos) acted as “shepherds” (poimen or “pastors”), including “elders” (presbuteros) and “teachers”, to safeguard the teaching.

When Christ did not return “soon”, at least in the way that many thought He would come, the succeeding body then reshaped itself in adaptation to the secular world. Leaders took on a lot of authority in the face of persecution, false doctrine and schism. It became a paid “profession” like “doctor”, “lawyer”, etc. that would become almost kingly. It eventually grew into the very “Romish” system leaders like Cloud condemn evangelicals for softening up to. It then fractures into smaller bodies, all with power-wielding leaders. These continue to fracture into smaller bodies, and finally, “independent” congregational bodies. Yet still with “offices” as paid, professional positions.

This is what the IFB movement advocates. (Though they will claim theirs existed side by side with the big churches the whole time, since the apostles. But the “small persecuted groups” they cite as forming this “unbroken chain” or “trail of blood” had vastly different doctrines and practices from modern Baptists. And even if some of the smaller churches don’t have seminary trained pastors, the position they in practice hold is still an official “profession”).

Yet even this scaled down organization begs the questions of why can’t women have “equal opportunity employment”, just like they supposedly can in any other incorporated institution? Isn’t it financially “responsible” to follow the market (the backbone of the capitalist system they believe is so “godly”), and give people what they want, make it “user friendly” for them, to survive and keep the money coming in so we can pay the leaders, and for the building and any other “staff”?
And people today want modern music, entertainment, “meeting felt needs”, psychological therapy, gender equality and harmony with other religious groups.

The point here is that while this movement argues about “separation” from the trappings of the big institutional churches, it still holds on to one of their central tenets, and that’s the magisterial power of the leader. (Even though they never use the term “magisterial”. Yet in practice, it’s just a microcosm of the same thing as the big churches). Some of these leaders have even been described in terms like “mini-popes”. A “pope” ruling over a single congregation. Revivalist Sam Jones, whom they follow, said “The pastor is king and the pulpit is his throne”.

So if you argue “the purpose of the Church is not to meet people’s needs”, then why do we have it meeting only one person’s need; the one “hired” (John 10:12) to run it?

Giving up that power and going back to the actual New Testament form of fellowship would break all these trends Cloud and others condemn. If you hosted fellowships in your home, then your wife would not be running it, and you can use whatever kind of music, Bible translation or counseling principles you think are Biblical, and associate with whatever other leaders, fellowships or movements you think are teaching the truth. If people don’t like it and leave, then there’s no pressure to entice them back in by changing.

But you would likely lose the adoration, power, and most importantly money and accommodation official paid leaders enjoy. (But the money now could all go into spreading the Gospel, and it was those who were not settled and constantly moved from place to place who were the ones Christians were commanded to support or accommodate, and also struggling churches and brethren. More on this subject:

The reason many of these issues have become so disputed as far as what Scriptures really teach is because Scripture does not recognize this later developed Church system. Not the huge powerful version, nor the scaled down “congregational” version. So it is not teaching us how to run it.
So it ends up with basically every man having their own idea of how the scriptural teachings are applied, and then splitting off from an older body to do it their own way.

If they were really consistent with avoiding the corruption of “the world” and the big churches, they would go back to this pattern. But most of them will not want to do that.
So they can just continue maintaining and guarding their little [501(c)3 protected] power base against all the encroaching enemies from without, and talk about all the effort “paddling upstream” and then comparing themselves to others seen as not keeping up enough. That really is the “easy” path!

  1. On a side note (since music is one of the ways they emphasize “paddling upstream” against the modern trends of “the world” coming into the Church), here, as much as they may fiercely deny, is the original sentiment of their teaching on the “holy” vs “profane” in music:

    As I point out on the CCM article, instead of trying to salvage the corrupt doctrine built on this bad foundation, it’s time to admit it’s wrong. It is part of a false gospel of “chosen” races (as if this African so-called “savagery” were exclusive to them, and white Christian culture was naturally “better”, rather than all men being stained with sin whichever form it takes; and that was supposed to be the very “Gospel” those “good Christians” of old preached!), as much as they try to cover up that part of it!

  2. On FB, someone posted this book excerpt:

    The “gospel” in the churches today is no gospel at all. It’s a call to personal and social activism that engages the affections with sin, self and sanitation: we must do away with sin, we must control ourselves for Jesus (known in Christian camps as, “dying to self”), we must sanitize the world for Christ…
    Morality campaigns in churches today are displacing Colossians 2:10, which says that we are complete in Christ. I’m not saying there is no place for instruction in the living arts. I am saying that knowledge of self in our modern churches is substituted for knowledge of God and Christ. The cross was Christ’s message that self is finished, yet the Christian message today is self’s new beginning. It’s the digging up of the corpse of the old humanity that Christ buried at Calvary.
    Yet scripture is a revelation of God’s work, not ours.
    Freedom from sin, therefore, has to do with what Christ did, not with what we are doing. Otherwise, we could never be free from sin.
    Martin Zender

    How to Be Free From Sin While Smoking a Cigarette (2007) Page 26

    Looking up the book on Amazon, I see some good reviews:

    Once again, Martin takes a shot at traditional Churchianity and delivers a solid blow, using scriptural backing to make his points. Martin once again has great illustrations (literal pictures and parables) to deliver his message in a way that is always effective and never boring.

    One of my favorite parts of the book is where Martin discusses the passages in Romans and I Corinthians that clearly show that the same principle that says all were condemned in Adam, says all were made alive in Christ. Churchianity has no problems with the first part of the passage. Say you weren’t there when Adam sinned, they say “It doesn’t matter.” Say you don’t “accept” Adam’s acting on your behalf, they say “Too bad.” But, OTOH, they tell you that you have to accept what Jesus did for you for it to count. They have no problem with you being unfairly condemned. Yet, they think you have to be “fairly” justified. You have to perform some act to be justified when you had nothing to say about the condemnation. There’s a cartoon on page 36 that is one of my favorites of Martin’s (sorry, you gotta buy the book to get it). It’s very simple and to the point. Of course, Martin addresses the inevitable charge that he’s actually encouraging people to to out and sin more (just as Paul had to). It always amazes me when people jump to that.

    Martin points out that being a slave of Sin doesn’t necessarily mean we are committing lots of sin. Being a slave of Sin means being obsessed with sin. If we’re fretting about sin, worried that sin is removing us from G-d’s favor, we are, in effect, slaves of sin. I had never thought of this this way. But, it makes perfect sense to me. If we want to be free from sin, the first thing we have to do is stop obsessing about it.
    (Brian D. Smith)

  3. Modern creationist leader Ken Ham is someone endorsed in part by Cloud, though with some reservations:

    “Some of the New Evangelical ministries do a lot of good, and for this reason fundamentalists are enticed to associate with them. For example, Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research do a fantastic job of defending the literal Genesis account of creation and defending this against Darwinian evolution. Ken Ham’s Creation Museum is a masterpiece of biblical apologetics. Ray Comfort does a tremendous job in apologetics and personal evangelism. I truly and fervently thank the Lord for what these men are doing for the cause of Christ ……. as far as it goes.
    The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and the part that is lacking is very serious.”


    Of course, what’s “lacking” is his position on “separation”, meaning “a clear stand against unscriptural modes of baptism (e.g., infant baptism, pouring, sprinkling), women pastors, allegorical interpretation of prophecy (rejection of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture), the heresy that a born-again believer can lose his salvation, errors pertaining to Holy Spirit baptism, sealing, and filling, Franklin Graham-style ecumenical evangelism, the errors of the church growth movement (e.g., Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Bill Hybels), the error of Christian psychology, and the heresy of modern textual criticism.” (So, “I am not saying that we won’t use some of their materials; I am talking about joining hands together for ministry.”)

    Note, association with Catholics and Modernists, the traditional objects of “separation”, is not even on the list anymore, but it’s all about the “errors” of New-evangelicalism and charismaticism. These are whom “separation” is now to be from (they have now been downgraded to the level of those other two groups), indicating the “degree” has been stepped up from groups seen as outside the faith, but others could step it up even further and say he shouldn’t be using their literature then!

    And it’s not even that Ham necessarily associates with these groups; he simply doesn’t actively “stand against” them (pointing out his ministry is “not a church” and thus doesn’t have to concern itself with other issues besides Creation).

    This type of dynamic is covered in new article “Emulation: The Forgotten Sin (Oneupmanship)”:

    Any way, the point today was this article on Ham:

    Creationist Ken Ham Says Aliens Will Go To Hell So Let’s Stop Looking For Them

    “You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe,” Ham wrote on his blog on Sunday. “This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.”

    This is totally unbilical logic.
    It starts from their understanding of “Adam’s sin affecting the whole universe”, which is based on assumptions about Eden and the immediate effects of the Fall, which of course ties into their “young earth” literalism —all physical death, thorns, etc. are assumed to have begin then, and ignored is that the “death” God pronounced, to begin THAT DAY was obviously spiritual, not physical. They will acknowledge spiritual (hence, everyone defaulting to a Hellbound state), but assume physical as well, and this is where the whole problem in their doctrines, from Genesis to Revelation, begins up to Ham’s current statements!

    As one commenter (either on that site or on the FB post) pointed out, this is just making the earth the center of the universe all over again. There is nowhere in the Bible that even remotely indicates such a thing. Yet this is what led to Christians generations ago insisting vehemently that there CANNOT be any other life in the universe. Only now, Ham, is remotely allowing that there could be, but going past the others in saying they’re all going to Hell, then. But he’s still “compromised” from that earlier “faith of our fathers” in allowing even that much.

    As Armstrong used to point out, in an old article of one of his magazines, “Yes, there IS life out there!”, referring to the angels. Not in the physical universe, but still, “extraterrestrial” in a very technical sense. Their “fall” was before Adam in order for Satan to be in a position to “tempt” Adam in the first place, and yes, then he and those that followed him seem to be left without any kind of prospect for salvation. But the angels that did not follow him remained “good”, and were not so affected by “Adam’s sin”.
    This right here obliterates the argument used by Ham and all those before and beside him that all creatures in the universe would have inherited “Adam’s sin.”
    (They’ll probably try to emphasize a difference between the physical “universe”, and the spiritual realm where the angels reside. But again, scripture makes no such distinction. Sin is ultimately spiritual, and it could only be a spiritual means by which it would even spread across the physical universe, where the descendants of Adam have had absolutely no influence).

    The condemnation that leads to Hell is based on a person’s own PERSONAL commission of sins. Likewise, let’s not forget infants under “the age of accountability”, whom they adamantly insist will go to Heaven if they die in that state. (Some Calvinists may argue otherwise, but these “revivalistic” type “fundamentalist” leaders tend to be among the most vigorously opposed to Calvinism).

    What Adam’s sin gave us is a nature that leads us to sin. This says nothing about aliens trillions of miles away.
    For a start, what about our own animals then? They are sentient creatures, but no one says any of them are going to Hell (though many will dispute whether they’ll be in Heaven or not).

    So even apart from the matter of what the “universal” spread of “death” really means, what none of these type of apologists has ever considered, is that for any “aliens” to be apart of any plan of salvation, their counterpart to Adam would have to have sinned. (And this assuming God is even working out the same kind of plan with them as He did with us).
    The One we know as Jesus Christ was really the eternal creative Word who had existence outside the fleshy form He took on in earth history. So He could just as well manifest as Savior to that race. If you say He couldn’t that is limiting God’s omnipotence and going WAY outside scriptural bounds!

    And this is again granting their definition of “the universal effect of Adam’s sin”

    But again, as radical as Ham is, he’s still seen as too moderate by the likes of Cloud! They really don’t think of what a bad testimony stuff like this gives. It’s everyone else who is blind or “rebellious”.

  4. And here, an article from a whole site focusing on Bill Gothard, who is an influential leader in IFB circles, especially with his “scientific” supports for their teachings on music:

    I like how it especially focuses on the “mechanistic” approach to human personality and the Bible, which is what I’ve been criticizing.

    There are ten steps for this and five steps for that, yet eight steps for another. Such an approach to human personality accords neither with the variations in people or with the dynamics of Scripture. The listing of these “steps” is pure human invention, but Gothard presents each of the lists as though they were the direct teaching of the Bible. This is my principle objection to his ministry.

    The Bible uses various terms at various times to describe differing people, or even the same person in differing aspects. That is, the presentation of folly in the Bible is dynamic and relational, not mechanistic and impersonal.

    Gothard’s approach is not that of the careful exegete who wishes to determine the meaning of the text, but of the engineer who wishes to use the material in his own programmatic approach which is mechanical and not personal, mechanistic and not dynamic. Gothard does not really teach the Scripture; he really uses the Scripture to fit into his own categories.

    The Book of Job presents a point of view that is dramatically different from Gothard’s lists. In fact, Gothard is a splendid modern example of Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar—each of whom approached the problems of Job from a mechanistic, cause-and-effect, point of view. Here was their principle error: while there is a cause-and-effect approach to reality that is found at times in the wisdom literature of Scripture, that is not the only approach to life that the Bible teaches.

    The clear teaching of the Book of Job is that a mechanistic, cause-and-effect approach to life may be way off base!

  5. Here’s a Campbellist (Church of Christ) on worship. While I don’t advocate all the jumping around he’s characterizing in many churches today; still I find it funny how he uses a few select passages and then mostly artistic portrayals showing the people of God bowing, while the pagans dance around; he appeals to not just Islam, but even Buddhism, as examples of the right way to worship, even though, it’s a “fake god” as he calls it. His point is that we’ve done a total turnaround, where “pagans” are “reverent”, and Christians want to dance and party.
    But if the dancing and liveliness by pagan worship anciently was proof it was indelibly wrong, then how can “solemn” worship being used by them today be taken as proof it’s the right way?

    He makes the mistake of the IFB’s in assuming ALL pagan worship was rhythmic. They forget about the ascetics, Stoics, etc. And I wonder if this guy ever addresses David’s dancing, and the fact that “there is a time for everything” —solemnity-to mourn, to dance, etc; it’s not ALL one OR the other.

    And he makes the mistake a lot of “old-time religion” makes as if “the presence of the Lord” is confined to that one place (and that “if you curse or tell a little white lie; you ought to know better than to do it HERE…!”) This actually supports the compartmentalizing of one’s walk with God that many of these wayward modern [nominal] “Christians” people like him condemn, have fallen into. [Edit: great article on this: ]

    Everything is copied wholesale from the Old Testament. EXCEPT, of course, for the original sabbath (in Campbellism, two or three passing references to Sunday in the New Testament are assumed to somehow command the new day), and the rest of the specifically “Jewish” aspects of the Law.

    It’s amazing how this absolute perfectionism regarding obedience to God can be preached, when they’ve selectively picked and chosen what aspects are still in effect, using weak proof-texts, and then going on and on about how others are failing.

    What stood out to me, is not only using artistic illustrations of Old and New Testament services as absolute proof, like they were part of the inspired text, but then, “That looks like US; the way WE worship”. It’s not even “We’re aiming to look like them (to copy their reverence)”; it’s “they look like us“. Clearly, that is tickling the ears, and making themselves the standard; the reference point even scripture is judged by!
    And of course, it is always about comparison with others who fall short, including the reference to 2 Tim. 4:2; that it’s his JOB to compare with others. This is the “emulation” I discuss here:
    And like a good Campbellist, salvation (“getting into Heaven”) is not just believing, but also getting all the works right, including the worship, as well as of course, baptism. (Which is where they will be cast outside the “pale of orthodoxy” by many who might otherwise agree with them).

    People like this don’t realize that if salvation was on our doing everything right, even the ways shown above of how they’ve distorted scripture would render them in the position of those Old Testament people who worshipped the golden calf or brought strange fire. May the Gospel of Grace be true, and these men be liars!

  6. Above, I mentioned that IFB’s are starting to have sex scandals revealed at times. So just now, I run across this:

    “Nearly everyone at Bob Jones grew up in a fundamentalist environment, so if you were abused, your abuser probably came from inside that bubble, too, which is what happened to me,” she said. “The person who supposedly counseled me told me if I reported a person like that to the police, I was damaging the cause of Christ, and I would be responsible for the abuser going to hell. He said all of my problems were as a result of my actions in the abuse, which mostly took place before I was 12, and I should just forgive the abuser.”

    Notice the assumption that the “abuser” was lost; and as far as I know, BJU is typical [Baptist] four-point Arminian which believes in “once-saved-always-saved”. This is subtle denial of any sin in their ranks, by “splitting” the offender off as “unsaved”. Ultimately; it’s all about the image, especially as this school is supposedly so strict on sexual morality, that skirt lengths were measured, and rock beats were condemned for their “sensuality”.
    What we’re seeing here is the huge “shadow” of this institution, and the whole movement. (And of course, psychological terms are conveniently rejected as well. Though Biblical Discernment Ministries thinks BJIII “compromised” by using a particular term in a book!)

  7. Here’s another one (not sure what movement he is, though he is of some sort of “perfectionist” [i.e. you can “stop sinning”] persuasion).

    He dismisses the common teaching on Isa 64:6 in saying “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” and Rom 3:10 “There is none righteous, no, not one”.
    He claims these were just referring to those particular people (would he accept when the Fulfilled view says all those warnings of judgment; Rom 1, etc. apply only to specific people? I think not).
    In other words, to people being “ungodly”, their righteousness is “filthy rags”, and no, “not one” of them does “good”. But isn’t that really all of us? No, “These are the description of the rebellious ungodly people, who are even filthy criminals. Why these preachers pull this passage and connect it to godly people? It is because they want to deceive godly people. Is it not the work of Satan?” (So here we see the justification ot taking one’s self out of the equation of “all”, and just pointing at “others” that characterizes much of “conservativism”; both religious and political).

    So then we get three scriptures mentioning “the righteous”:

    “Deut 6:25 says- it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us. Yet, they teach that we can swap our righteousness with Jesus Christ. It is a lie of the devil. Nobody swap nobody’s righteousness. Yet false preachers teach this.”

    “2 Sam 22:21 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me. 22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 23 For all his judgments were before me: and as for his statutes, I did not depart from them. 24 I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine iniquity. 25 Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness in his eye sight. These preachers say the righteousness of godly people is filthy rag.”

    “Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. … 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

    The problem is, who really lives up to any of this, in actual practice?
    Deuteronomy is giving us the condition: “IF”. The nation as a whole never satisfied this, and individuals had to rely on the atonement system to represent a [temporary] means of “grace”. So in that case, if they were doing all the right things as much as possible, and then being “covered” properly, then they could claim “righteousness”. But this was not the final setup. Something CHANGED after the Cross, and furthermore, after the system of Law was finally removed, but people like this assume everything is the same, except that [only] physical blood ritual is removed. (And notice the direct denial of imputation. “Nobody swap nobody’s righteousness”! If that were true, then nobody could be “covered” by Christ at all. We would simply stand on our own righteousness!)
    What was being taught the whole time was that man couldn’t actually work his way to the perfect, literal “righteousness” that God requires.

    The Samuel passage is David’s Song of Praise. He was obviously a sinner, doing worse things than many of us, and yet, in the end was declared righteous. This was not from his behavior, or him just “trying”, or never sinning again after that. It was obviously GRACE; his sins not being COUNTED against him (2 Cor. 5:19).

    And Paul’s whole discussion of “freedom” in Romans tells us that the “power” of sin is the Law; and that’s what we’re made “free” from! So “sin” and “Law” are used interchangeably, for “by Law is knowledge of sin” (3:20).
    Teachers like this turn the whole premise on its ear by citing the verses where “sin” is mentioned only, and teach that this “freedom” then is a “difficult” path of striving against “sin” every day, and [in the case of someone like this], by that means, you can “stop sinning” completely. (And the stress is on “difficult” process, as no one believes you can just say a prayer or something, and are “changed” automatically, where all bad habits are automatically broken).
    So it’s like another one of those counterintuitive “paradoxes”; that that (a difficult, strict “daily process”) is actually “freedom“! But it’s not the Gospel (“Good News”); it’s just the same old “law of sin and death”, rehashed, and actually the very “slavery to sin” scriptures were talking about! (And he even concludes that this is how we’re saved!)

    And its result is denial of one’s own sin (you must, in order to maintain the claim you’ve stopped sinning), and then, judgment of others (as we see here), and everyone trying to rise up and correct each other, leading to all the dissension. As I pointed out in the sister article of “Salvation or Psychological Health”, this page: points out: “the Law gets softened into helpful tips for practical living [such as “steps” for getting over habits and addictions], while the Gospel gets hardened into a set of demands that we have to live out.” That’s ironic, that they are the ones actually softening the Law (which many of them may be heard accusing others of), but again, they have to, in order to reach that “perfect” status.

    The demands of the Law have to be brought down in some way, for it to be attainable. It’s often things they refuse to even consider as sin, while deflecting focus toward other sins (this is how the past society and all the stuff that went on back then could be seen as “godly” simply because one area of sin: sex, was repressed then, but burst out into the open more recently. Or how meanspiritedness and even hatred could be justified. They claim it is “preaching the truth” to the sinners of the world, while one’s own sins —such as meanspiritedness itself, is completely reattributed to a “godly” intention).

    He basically acknowledges Satan as an “accuser”, but applies it to people saying “the godly” are still sinners. But it’s those who think they’ve got sin completely licked in their own lives, who always then go after others they see as not on that level. This is the true “accusation” of Satan, as we see all throughout the New Testament. And when the accusations come back on them, it really is Satan, but they are the ones who “gave him occasion”.

  8. “Noah could have basked in God’s goodness and grace and favor day and night, but if he didn’t obey God’s commands, he would have drowned with the rest of the world.”

    See this one on FB, and from a Christian, meaning an evangelical (a charismatic leaning “new”-evangelical; not even an old line fundamentalist or anything like that), rather than a “cult” group that openly teaches salvation by obedience.

    If he could have basked in “grace” all day, and still not be saved, then what is “grace” then?

    People just don’t get it, that while the Old Testament is for us to learn from, it is not for us to copy. “Learning from” means seeing its whole point, that when man is left to his own efforts to save himself, almost no one is saved. The whole lesson with Noah was that “only eight souls were saved”.
    And that’s exactly the way it would be today (with eternal salvation rather than from a flood), if God were holding us up to the same principle. That’s why there was a New Testament, and during the transition (in the part of the Bible we call the “New Testement”), the Noah story was appealed to in an “antetypical” fashion; that too would end shortly, when the the system of Law would finally pass away in that generation.

    Commenters give the usual “methodistic” interpretation of “grace” (and as typical, the Hebrew names of God come out, showing you the sort of groups this kind of meme attracts. Keep in mind, nearly all of today’s major “cult” groups ultimately stem from the Methodistic traditions with its “impartation” of “whole sanctification”; whether with charismatic “gifts” or no gifts).

    You have a choice in life. You choose to live the life God instructed you to live or to live your own life, not considering Gods law. Grace is in abundance, your choice if you want to open the tap. You can close the tap to the source or you can open it. Jesus life on the cross gave us the chance to enter heaven, even though we sin( open the tap) The tank is full of grace, for every one. The ticket for your trip to heaven is paid, you have to use it and get on the train. The important thing is. Do you want to accept the grace of Jesus perfect life. If you say yes, then you have the responsibility to live your life according to Gods will, take responsibility for your actions( use your ticket with your name on) Grace will not get you in heaven if you don’t accept it, or not to life your life according Gods will. If you are in the train( made your choice) you may fall, but you are still in the heaven train. You are moving forward, by accepting your mistakes. Alot of people think, If you accept Jesus death on the cross alone, you are saved. Not true. Even the devil accept that Jesus died on the cross for human kinds sin. If we all were saved by grace alone, regardless of our actions, why do we preach of a “hell” . You see. Grace became a cheap ticket to use to get into heaven, to live your life as you wish, regardless of the boundaries God set up for us, not regarding Gods will (law) for your life at all . Paul said. If it was not for the law, how would he know wrong from right. So there is a wrong and a correct. Jesus said to the people on earth when He lived here for just more than 30 years of He’s perfect life. Pick up your bed, go and sin no more. When you confess your wrong doing, you receive the privilege of Jesus perfect life , you pick up your new life and you move on in life with caution. Jesus lived the perfect life for you and me, but we need to be cautious. Once saved, always saved is a lie the devil is teaching us from the pulpit( church) . we cannot live a perfect life, God knows that, that’s why He give us a choice. Yes, also true, you can forget to confess some sins, you may say, so I will be lost. No, God knows your life, He knows if you put Him first in line every day and He’s grace steps in because of the relationship you have with Him. To stand in relation to someone is to please or not to please that person in your doing. So you can have a bad or good relation. The thief on the cross, crucified next to Jesus. He accepted Jesus as the saviour, hes sins was forgiven. He confessed hes wrong doing by taking responsibility of hes wrong doing. If he was given the chance to get down from the cross, hes life should have showed hes new choice in Jesus. But for him, grace was enough because of Jesus perfect life on the cross.

    So we see here the “tap” concept that Horton, Christless Christianity refers to. As he calls it in this book, it’s “Law Lite” or “neo-nomianism”. Not the full Law as given in the Old Testament, but a greatly scaled down version, only retained, because of the assumption that God has to “require” something of us, in order to maintain order. You also see the “payback” principle, that we must give God something, and once we do, then He gives us something. The mistake this makes is projecting human legal interaction (such as buying and selling, as well as the need to maintain order through fear of punishment and promise of reward) onto God. And that something He then gives us is that then and only then, does He now look at our limited ability and imperfection and pardon the “mistakes”. Grace then “steps in”. (A constant back and forth system of transaction, just like in daily human affairs. Which is also how they see prayer and devotions, which many will even revoke someone’s salvation over, if they’re deemed not doing it enough!) They would cry holy heresy if someone said the unconverted would saved by their “sincerity” (as many in the world have pled), but what they’re teaching here is precisely “sincerity”, but only in addition to some works, on top of “faith”.

    This shows us that they are the very ones who have a mindset of a “cheap ticket to Heaven”. But unlike these others they talk about, who think “nothing” is required, they can claim to be doing “their part”. Then, they’re “off the hook” (for now, that is). And then in the position to go and point at others. (And we see this is not even completely coherent, because it says the ticket is paid for, and the person must “use” it, so then what is a “cheap ticket”? In reality, the cheap ticket would be the “our part” in contrast to Christ’s payment of the ticket. The analogy is really poor, because once on the train, you’re still not in Heaven yet, and so the train represents the “Christian walk”, which is still all about our efforts at [the “process” of] getting to the desination, again, even though being onboard now grants us the pardon for “falling”).
    This is why there is so much dissension in the religious world, and especially all the different movements arguing over “once saved always saved”.

    Sentiments like this also don’t realize that all of this “caution” contradicts the “rest” we are promised (Heb.4). “Rest” to them, then ends up as some nondescript “peace” God gives you IN all this “difficulty” of the “walk”; not taking any of the discomfort away, but rather changing your attitude about it. I guess, IF you’re “doing your part” (with His “help”, of course, whatever that really means), then you will have the peace of forgiveness. But only until the next time you sin, of course. (Again, it’s an on and on, back and forth transaction).

    And notice how Hell is “because” of salvation (presumably) not being by grace alone. (i.e. “if” that were so, then “why do we preach hell?”) The answer, to scare people into doing the right thing. But they all forget, it’s supposed to be about “love”, and “true love casts OUT fear”. (1 John 4:18) It’s good for maintaining an institution of control, though!
    As “death” (what they’re calling “hell”) is the wages of sin, this is why it must be grace alone. To maintain a bit of Law, and simply reduce the amount of works “required”, man still falls short, and then would earn “death”.

    And again, this is completely unaware of the transitional nature of much of the New Testament, (and that most of the Gospel accounts were pre-Cross, and thus wholly under the Old Testament, still, even though they are considered part of the “New Testament”, because they are where it is introduced). When Christ said “go and sin no more”, it was not because “the next time, I won’t give you grace”. Who was threatening to judge the person in the first place?
    The doctors of the Law! A group of men, in an institution that had been given that legitimate authority by God, but by not recognizing their own sinfulness and by getting hung up in the politics of the time, had corrupted it; and misused the Law, both on the people (like the actual law they were appealing to actually said to bring BOTH the MAN and woman taken in adultery, but where was the man in that instance?), and to try to trap Jesus, who angered them by exposing their sin. THAT is who would “judge” her, and the next time, He might not be around to rescue her from them.

    This is not to say that Jesus doesn’t want us to try and sin no more, but this really is not what salvation is about, and to make it so, denies His work on the Cross, every bit as much as those who rejected Him, with the Law back then, or without Law today. Either grace is free, or it is no more grace (Rom.11:6, 4:4).
    It should also be pointed out, that when Paul spoke of “knowledge of sin” being by the Law, he was showing how for this very reason, it brought death; not how by looking at it and doing what it says, it brings life. (Recall, that “knowledge of good and evil” is what marked the Fall to begin with, not the loss of knowledge of good and evil!) James appears to say something like that, but then you must remember, both apostles were writing to people who believed they were still under the Law, and so had to show them exactly what it required, and the ultimate conclusion, brought out by Paul, is that with man’s nature, it is futile, and so grace alone is what’s needed.
    And while the devil knows the truth about God, his evil is deceiving man about His plan, and urging them to save themselves, and then accuse others (his main function) who aren’t working hard enough to do so.

    Also, someone else just now asks: “I heard somebody say that self-pity is the sin of idolatry……..
    What do you think?”

    There may technically be some point to that, but then it’s just part of the natural self-focus all of us are inclined to engage in, so it’s highly unfair to try to hit someone unhappy with something with that charge (as if they’re particularly ‘worshiping self’). But that’s exactly what many Christians, including leaders will do (and then go back to bemoaning their loss of influence in society, or how people aren’t giving enough in church, thinking they’re not doing the same thing they scolded the other person for doing).

    To throw out the term “idolatry” is to appeal to the Law, and people forget, none of us keeps it right (as can be seen in the above example). So we need grace and mercy instead of judging each other.

    • This same meme, reworded:
      Faith did not save Noah ...obedience did

      In the ensuing discussion, people of course mentioned “true faith” that without works, was “dead”.

      “Faith” and “grace” have been conflated here, and the argument becomes contrasting them to works. But they are different, and we’re dealing with two different ages.

      So no, “grace” did not save Noah, because grace (as we know it; in Christ) was not being offered at that time. Man had fallen, by taking on the knowledge of good and evil, and God was holding man up to this, so beginning with Cain and Abel, he had to do works. But this was not some eternal blueprint, to show us what’s “required” from us today. The point was, to teach man, that his works could not save him, at least for long. Someone like Noah might [relatively speaking] be able to be called “righteous”, but the rest of men would always quickly devolve back to rampant sin.

      In the New Testament period, the two “ages” were overlapping, and as that old age was getting ready to finally pass, antetypical fulfillments of Noah, Israel in the wilderness, etc. began to play out in the Church. That’s why the Church is given those analogies and pointed to a kind of “grace” that came through a “faith” that must be expressed through works. That doesn’t mean that “grace=faith=works” for all time as this argument is saying. It was an “EARNEST” of the fullness of redemption that was to come “SHORTLY”.

  9. Much of religious concept of “holiness” goes beyond being directly about obvious sin, but rather supposedly “questionable” things that will “lead you” into worse stuff. But this ends up becoming focused on us and our efforts at saving ourselves (whether from a particular result, if not from eternal condemnation itself) by being good.
    There are scriptures they can use that seem to support this, beginning with the strict commands to “learn not the way of the heathen”, “the “strange fire” and other such strictures in the Old Testament. While this is obviously “the Law”, in the new testament, they appeal to Romans 1: people being “given over” to worse [sexual] sin, to which we plug in “they must have been starting with lesser sin, and then got ‘jaded’, or they ignored conscience and general revelation [v18-20, ch2:15] and God finally got fed up with it” [I remember waiting for a certain ‘Christian’ person I knew, to “fall” because of all the stuff he was doing on the downlow, but he never did; and then it’s like, what am I doing waiting for someone to fall?]; “demons coming back sevenfold”, “the spirit of the Law”, where even our thoughts violate the commands, and avoiding “the appearance of evil”.

    The strength of the argument is that you can’t disprove what they’re saying; that what you’re doing is going to take you down a path to other things. And they can appeal to the “fall” of many other people into habits, addictions, and even crimes. So to not heed them, you’re just being another stubborn blind rebel.
    But this ends up having people live totally by fear, as well as piling up precautions to ensure we come “nowhere near crossing the line”. This is why the Israelites of Christ’s time had added 39 restrictions on the Sabbath. So it ends up leading to self-righteousness (trust in ourselves, even as we claim to “trust Christ”), and hence, leading to those leaders rejecting Christ. Today, it just causes the “division” Christ promised (which is not from His Gospel offending the sinners, but rather the people with the Law, being offended by the Gospel, and trying to kill others’ freedom under the guise of trying to remove sin).


    Article criticizing something called “Womanist Theology”, which “is a feminist theology that was created starting in the mid-late 1980s by a sector of black feminist academics from secular theological schools and universities. It was actually based on feminist theology and black liberation theology, both of which themselves draw from liberation theology.” They’re calling it “another gospel”.

    What struck me, is their alternative:

    “What is the Gospel?

    ‘[For the LORD] cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.’ (Ps 96:13)

    ‘And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt.’ (Daniel 12:2)

    Every person who have ever lived, including all of the dead, will one day stand before God to be judged for the things each has done in his or her life on this earth. That judgment will decide how each person spends eternity. The eternal state of all sinners will be condemnation, ‘everlasting shame and everlasting contempt’ in an eternal lake of fire originally prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41).”

    Basically judgment is the Gospel, which is the “Good News”.
    The above is all the BAD news, that necessitated the Good News.

    It does then, get into “According to scripture the Gospel is the good news that God has made a way through His grace to escape this coming condemnation and to live with Him for eternity”. (And from there, the basic facts about Christ, and Him being the once in history offering; leading to this Gospel being “exclusive”).
    One can claim that all that bad news is needed, to establish the premise of the good news, and that is correct, except that the focus here is clearly on the judgment, with the “escape” sounding almost like a sort of afterthought tacked on at the end. And of course, the “exclusivity” is not about its efficacy in itself, but in man’s effort to “come” unto it. (Which then is what narrows its efficacy to a relative “few” who are convinced of it and then make the mind and life change, which is often said to be a “hard walk”).

    Clearly, this is all a “works” focus, which is the very “other gospel” Paul was warning about in the cited Galatians passage. Manual application of the gift (through repentance and faith) was still preached then, because they were in the transition to the full age of Grace, and the Law system was still partly in effect, yet on its way down. So “grace, not works” was preached, yet it was only an “earnest” that they had to “run the race” in order to fully gain the redemption.

    Though, of course, evangelical ministries like this don’t believe that part of it. So we end up with all these contradictions -er- “paradoxes” in modern Church teaching today. The difference between Paul’s teaching and the Galatians and other legalists is that they maintained Law as a permanent means of maintaining behavioral order and pleasing God, with the Messiah to come to reward the “godly nation” with rulership; that is, if not for all these “sinners” within, not following the Law, bringing “judgment” instead (sound familiar?)
    To Paul, it was largely to not give the enemy “occasion” to defame the Gospel (Eph.4:27, Rom.3:7,8, also Jude 4). That’s why some human effort (repentance, basically) could be preached then, without contradicting “Grace”.

    It’s when we today claim to be fully in the new “covenant”, and that the old one has COMPLETELY ended (you especially see this when sabbatarians come and point out to non-sabbatarians that they themselves are not keeping “all the commandments”), and yet seeing this as an extension of the same “New Testament age” recorded in the NT. The “age to come” then becomes something else besides “Grace” in itself, and the “age to end” now becomes the physical universe, deemed evil and “fallen”, including the people still born into it. “Soon” as the timeframe for this end, becomes stretched out to thousands of years and counting, because hey look, we’re still in this physical world. We must have misunderstood what “soon” meant (rather than considering we may have misunderstood what the “age” or “world” meant). Every moral or political shift is then taken as the start of this “soon” end, though none of them ever comes true. Yet we must keep preaching this, to try to scare as many people as possible, into the fold.

    So then “repentance” and good works afterward become the means of getting out of this [physical] old age and into the [“spiritual”] new one. But removed from the framework of Law vs Grace, it becomes a contradictory age of partial Law and conditional “grace”, where salvation is still based on the same “give and take” transactional process leading to death (for most), as it was under the old full Law.

    So then, the Gospel becomes purely about behavior and some often non-descript peace of mind or other good effect in general life, such as “happiness”, “fulfillment”, “abundant life”, etc. This then becomes what other philosophies (whether political liberation, psychological therapy, etc) are put down or condemned in favor of. People’s genuine earthly needs and concerns are dismissed, because “all they need” is this spiritual “cure” for life’s ills. However, when this is spelled out in common Christian teaching, it’s a whole lot of self-initiated mechanical “steps” that is not “exclusive” to the Christian Gospel or any specifically supernatural act of God.

    “The Gospel of the Bible offers a sure foundation, a heavenly affirmation and a genuine liberty and hope which no man-made theology or philosophy can offer. ‘Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,’ commands the Lord Jesus (Matt 3:2). God wants us to enter His kingdom through the only Way that He has ever created — faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in the Holy Scriptures that He inspired. The way of the Bible offers everlasting life, greater freedom and liberty, and a better way to achieve any worthy goal than any way this world can offer, and that Bible Way is the only Way that the Christian should follow.”

    The “freedom, liberty and hope,” were from the curse of the Law, but here, they are made essentially part of the Law (notice, how man’s “response” to “the way” is made the central point), and also the fulfillment of earthly “goals” (is it any wonder, the “prosperity gospel” has become so prominent in evangelical circles?) So while we can have earthly liberty and freedom (like what conservatives often push for in political debates), we still end up in spiritual bondage, with the demands of the Law hanging over our heads, ready to condemn (which we must then continuously broadcast at the world, and every other belief system or lifestyle that arises in it), if people have not proven themselves through obedience and the right beliefs and actions.

  11. Looked up the “pillars of Reconstructionism” to see how they compared with the table I put here

    I first find an “Arminian revivalist” old line-fundamentalist page, on “the Scourge of Calvinism”, and then look at some of their other articles.

    Drawing upon a military analogy:

    Day after day, month after month, year after year for the past 95 years, there has been a constant and continuous vigil maintained over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. From April 1 through September 30, the sentinels are relieved every half-hour. When relieved, the relief commander gives the verbal order to the relieved sentinel, “Pass on your orders.” The relieved sentinel then passes on to the relieving sentinel, “Post orders, REMAIN AS DIRECTED.” The newly posted sentinel then responds, “Orders acknowledged.” This would be consistent with saying, “Orders remain unchanged.” For 95 years the mission has not changed, the purpose has not changed, and all things remain as they have been without any deviation. Times have changed, society has changed, culture has changed, sentinel personnel have changed, but the mission has remained the same – exactly the same. Nothing has been altered nor tampered with. One could have attended every changing of the guard over the past 95 years and there would not have been one scintilla of difference. “Orders remain unchanged” and “Post orders, remain as directed.”

    For 2,000 years our orders have not changed. As one generation has passed on to another, and there has been many “changings of the guard,” yet our “orders remain unchanged.”

    As the super-sharp sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry have their mission statement and their operational manual and directives, we also have our “Mission Statement,” our “Operational Manual” and “Operational Directives.” Our orders are contained in the Word of God, “which liveth and abideth for ever.” These orders are issued by our Commander in Chief, the Lord God Almighty, and they are to be obeyed without any deviation or variance. We are to change nothing, tamper with nothing, add nothing, and take away nothing. Our “orders remain unchanged.” We are to “Post orders,” and “remain as directed.” As a good soldier of Jesus Christ we are to obey and do whatsoever our Supreme Commander bids us to do. But sadly we live in a day of professing Christianity that is marked by rebellion and compromise. The agents of change have been hard at work attempting to reinvent and redefine the mission of the Army of God, and this disobedience to orders has wreaked havoc as many have committed the ultimate act of mutiny against a holy and righteous God. Many churches today are being led by mutineers who fill them up with folks who are being given what they want. Giving a worldly-minded people what they want is the basis behind the entire emerging church movement.

    1. This assumes their Baptist tradition is the original first century church. “Nothing has been altered nor tampered with. not…one scintilla of difference“? Are they serious? They’re worse than the sabbatarians and Church of Christ with this one! Things have changed a LOT, and many times since then, and there was no “trail of blood” of an identical “Baptist” group going all the way back.

    2. If the orders have not changed, then that changes the whole scope of modern evangelism, as they have been practicing it. People have really skipped over some of Christ’s actual teachings and the recorded “acts” of the apostles. Like if we find all the people in a society are rejecting the message, then we are to move on, not stay and just complain about how everyone is falling away, under the guise of “revival”. Never was there any “pastor-king” with a “pulpit-throne”, ruling over, then losing, and then trying to take back culture, then lamenting how everyone is turning from their old traditions or in any way “taking” something [nation or “culture” itself] that is really “theirs”.

    I find it funny how they are so hung up on these military analogies. This we shall see again, below. While the Bible does use such analogies, old line fundamentalism seems to be a little bit too “into” them, and it seems to create this cold, dictatorial cult-like mindset (but they’re not considered “cults”, because they have a “historic” denominational name, and believe in the “five fundamentals” or the Trinity, Sunday and Hell).
    Really, this (all so common in the writing and preaching of these types) would fit what Horton described as “pep talks seasoned with personal anecdotes and helpful illustrations” (Beyond Culture Wars, p.145), even if plugged into a scripture passage. Of course, the new evangelical churches are guilty of this, but this is where they got it from!


    11. Standards

    “I believe that every Christian ought to practice holy and separated living. ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared unto all men. Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.’ (Titus 2:11-12) However, I have found that around four decades ago, there was an emphasis on standards that was not based upon teaching and understanding, but more on pressure and force, more on force and not faith. The result today has been “backlash” and rebellion. Though rebellion is never justified, I am not sure we would have seen the magnitude of this rebellion if good men would have patiently taught sanctification and holiness, waiting upon the Holy Spirit to change hearts so the preaching and teaching of the Word of God could change minds. Emphasizing external change without a changed heart can eventually create spiritual casualities. When we substituted standards for sanctification, we got ourselves into trouble. I am for godly standards, especially in the area of modesty and pure living. But, it must be recognized that when the pressure is lifted from those who have not been properly taught and indoctrinated, they will drop any standard that was adopted only as a result of human pressure. We must have a godly standard for our church leaders, but care must be taken that they are in those positions because they have standards the result of biblically held convictions, not after they are placed in a position of responsibility and required to have standards in order to keep that position. Sanctification will lead to a good, godly standard, and I believe we should have them.”

    This is interesting, and something I’ve never seen from a fundamentalist. (And precisely what I’ve always been saying in my treatments of them, and what new evangelicals often say when they do address them. Like in the CCM issue, I had pointed out “The Biblical way to resolve this would have been to all sit down and discuss it prayerfully as brethren, but the problem was that those favoring the old ways were usually totally unreasonable, and did not even believe in discussing or debating [and I later gave an example of at least one who still didn’t], so actually, the brunt of the blame for this discord would fall more on the traditionalists! If leaders on the conservative side…knew scripture so well, then they should have been the ones to have handled this scripturally from the beginning! Instead, they allowed emotion to take completely over, thus setting the stage for one of the very things they criticize CCM fans for— choosing music based on emotion and feelings!”).
    So here is someone on that side saying practically the same thing! It’s usually an insinuation that those “good men” (here we go with that again, like John R. Rice said regarding race) in the past were completely right, and people just up and started rebelling for no reason at all, or because “the godless” captured their minds.

    However, the aim here to fix the “not based on teaching and understanding” is with all of these ridiculous, pseudo-intellectual arguments they have come up with, as in the music issue:

    22. Music

    “I believe that God’s Word establishes clear standards with regard to music totally apart from personal tastes or modern trends. I believe that Godly, triumphant, melodious, sacred traditional music alone meets those Biblical standards and that only such music is acceptable for the worship and service of God. These standards exclude what is commonly known as Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), and any form of the rock beat, or music of the country and western, rap, bluegrass, pop, jazz, or southern Gospel genre. (Ephesians 5:9–10, 18–19;¹ Colossians 3:16–17;² 1 Thessalonians 5:21–22³)”

    I see Southern Gospel mentioned in there. While Tim Fisher, who did the book we used in the IFB music class I once took, was giving a light warning about “gospel songs” (particularly “19th century” ones) as far as being shallow (and setting the stage for that aspect of CCM), now it seems “gospel” has been totally cast onto the heap with rock and the others. (Including country and bluegrass, which the loudest anti-rock critic I ran across seemed to offer on his site).
    I’m not completely sure what exactly he’s calling “Southern Gospel”, as “gospel” is a very broad category. It’s probably the more “soulful” and/or “lively” hand-clapping style (which is very black-influenced, of course). Most likely stuff like Gaither, which these types seem to have been suspicious of as too close to the “line” all along. When I look it up, on videos, I see a lot of the same sort of “quartet” singing they seem to think is the “sacred” style.

    Now, to truly be “scriptural”, and not just use empty “proof-texting” (“citing without saying”, which has been recognized as a common “cultic” technique), the cited scriptures are:

    1) “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
    And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord”

    2) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

    3) “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

    This is the standard anti-CCM fare, and none of it mentions (let alone “clearly establishes”) the specific meticulous details they employ in these “standards”, nor does it prove only “triumphant, melodious, sacred traditional” music alone is “what’s acceptable”. Meaning, it’s not just any “standard” that men may establish, but SCRIPTURAL standards. (This particular style, didn’t even exist as we know it, in Bible times! It’s clearly a late “Western” product).
    Yet, as always, this whole argument is built off of these three passages. (When the first passage says “make melody in your hearts”, it is not going into any comparison with “rhythm” or “harmony”, and arguing which should be “dominant”. Especially when you have a separate category there, called “spiritual songs”, and again, rhythm and style (overall sound) were not seen as determining what was “spiritual” as the Platonists had done. And the marching-style “battle” music [see below] they are advocating can be seen as an “appearance of evil”, like to those who watched military marches in evil regimes like Nazi Germany. How in the world is that seen as “sacred”?)

    While disclaiming “Reconstructionism” and “Dominion Theology” in point #2 of the statement of faith, they don’t realize how all forms of “superiority” (such as this music issue) stem from the Puritan Calvinist (and ultimately, Catholic Augustinian) notion of the Western Church-controlled nations as God’s kingdom, and its people as the “exceptional” new “chosen” ones, while others are “cursed” (which is ultimately why their music is no good, while traditional Western music is no less than “sacred”). Like I said in the Reconstructionism table comment, people chip off various parts from the whole ideology, trying to “dog-whistle” the message through indirectly, or in many cases some might genuinely have lost sight of the full agenda, but its watermark is still clearly printed all over it.

    Basically, it should be “too good to be true” that your culture and identity is the “godly” one, while others’ are evil, and need to be given up in order to be “right with God”. All have sinned, and no one has been placed into any “exceptional” category.

    Then, looking up what this “triumphant” music is (which I had never heard of; I figured it’s the same thing I was calling “majestic” in the old CCM essay. You know, the “King proceeding out of the drawbridge of his castle”, which was the sound of nearly everything the class played).

    I find this:

    “CCM is not just rock music; its elastic, existential nature reflects the multicolored facets of contemporary styles. We are witnessing today in such churches an enticement toward the perimeter of these contemporary facets. This attraction is evidenced by the surrealistic, ethereal, easy listening sound of piano and orchestral accompaniments as well as by the soft, meandering melodies rewritten for our stately traditional hymns.”

    That’s interesting. (And note, the “multicolored facets” point!) So apparently, even some soft, melodic orchestral music is being gone after now! Does this refer to regular classical? I imagine it might be something like the old Maranatha or Integrity Hosanna music I used to hear when first becoming a Christian. This was what the more modern, moderate charismatics, such as in Brooklyn Tabernacle, used to listen to a lot. When considering whether I had to give up all secular music and listen to worship only, this seemed to be the default, and what I was calling the “praise tapes” in the CCM article, thinking this was part of what they were saying was the good style. To that particular church I took the class in [which actually has the same initials as this one, and I at first thought it might have been the same, except for seeing it is in NC], it might have possibly passed, but now, some are really doubling down on the “standards”!

    When I played some of Fisher’s “Sacred Music Services” files years ago, some was the “majestic” sound, some sounded almost a bit like “show tunes” (!) my wife pointed out, and some was that soft “meandering” sound (where the vocalists “pulled/stretched” the words, as my wife put it). So again, if they’re condemning even this now [more evidence below], it seems they’re “upping the ante” as far as these “standards”.
    So when Fisher himself talked about how CCM (those with lighter standards then his) were “dividing” the church, what I keep seeing (as with the sister KJVO issue) is old-line IFB-ism fracturing from positions more strict than his! As we see [especially] in today’s political headlines, this old racially/culturally defined paradigm is dying, and so they’re tightening up and battening down on everything, leading not to more unity among themselves, but rather more fracturing, as everyone tries to run behind higher or more radical standards on everything (including political candidates in the secular arena), and each leader, emulates [Gal. 5:20] the prophets or apostles calling out everyone else as “false” or at least “compromising”. They end up becoming, instead, what Paul described as “contrary to all men” (1 Thess.2:15).

    “The Liberals took the blood out of their hymnals; we are now witnessing the destruction of honorable militancy from our hymnody. The book of Psalms, the divinely inspired hymnbook of the Bible, gives not only praise to God but also a militant call for the battle. May God help us to preserve this paradoxical legacy.”
    But if you were consistent, isn’t that “music that sounds like war”? Of course, if David did it, it must have been OK in that instance; but then David also danced (rigorously, apparently) as well.

    All of this is the “emulation” mentioned in Galatians. Copying the zeal of the Old Testament, but then picking and choosing what you copy, often out of context, and using it to erect bogus “standards” (propped up by nonsupporting proof-texts) you then sharply judge others by. Their whole theme is “battle”; the “us vs them” mindset that pervades both conservative religion and politics. Yes, that did figure in both the Old and New Testaments, but it in practice becomes an end in itself with them, with themselves readily assumed to be the “good” guys, no matter what they do or teach, and this is the whole problem.
    So their use of “battle” is not “the Lord’s battle”, but rather Satan’s, manifest by its own “fruits” of accusation, discord, and the rest mentioned by Paul as “the flesh” (even if it is accompanied by dry “contemplative” or “marching” style music!)

    They sell a book Confronting Contemporary Christian Music, H. T. Spence, which seems like an expanded version of Cloud, Godwin or Fisher’s books.

    The foreword is the typical “guilt by cause and effect forecasting based on generalized patterns” I have noticed; like what I describe above regarding Cloud’s “paddling upstream”. “Dr. Spence demonstrates the truth that the rock musicians of our age are a part of Satan’s plan for attacking our culture, destroying logic, and preparing the world to accept the Anti-Christ.” Again, it always, without fail comes back to “our culture”, showing the indelible nationalistic undergirding of this teaching, and plugging it all into the dispensational futurist assumptions, elevated to one of the “fundamentals” (the prophecies of which were all supposed to have occurred “shortly” after the NT prophecies were written, but that’s an entirely separate debate that we’re not ready to get into here [re: Heb.5:12-4], when this movement can’t even separate their “culture” from original scriptural contexts and stop thinking of themselves as “exceptional”, despite all the well-known clear scriptures saying all nations are sinful).

    “Yes, this is another book on contemporary music. But, it is not the same as most of the others. It takes its time in getting to the point by laying a biblical foundation and then tracing the extensive genealogy of CCM. It identifies the major writers and performers in the field. It names names.”
    Uh, that’s nothing different from what all those others do as well.

    When you see these chapters and sections:

    Chapter One: The Principle of Light for Music – An “A Priori”

    General Principles of Light
    The Electromagnetic Spectrum
    The Various Forms of Light
    Spiritual Light
    A Presupposition for Light
    To See and Know My Age

    Chapter Two: The Jamming of Light

    Philosophical Approaches to Broadcasting
    External Broadcasting – A Jamming Effect
    Spiritual Jamming
    Present-day Jamming

    It seems clear that he’s going to take the “scientific” approach, (which Fisher did, but apparently nowhere near to this extent), to build the case of how the “frequencies” are what make the sound bad, no doubt. He starts not with “sound” (which is what you’d expect for music), but with the other form of sensory energy, light! Never seen anything like this before; he’s really going to great lengths to build the argument. And we see, he suddenly introduces “spiritual” light, in conjunction with physical light. When people try to cross physical and spiritual analogies like this, to make a spiritual point, that’s where they usually go off track. (He sounds a bit like some of the most way-out charismatics with that, or even [occult] gnostics or spiritualists!)

    Otherwise, it’s the standard format, of the overarching power and “philosophy” of music (which they fail to realize is itself an ancient pagan philosophy), the “world”, the “flesh” and “separation”, the good Christian or at least classical past, and the “music of Hell” in the 70’s, and leading up to it, and beyond, the “The Crossover to the White Sector of Society” (which is what this is really all about, as we saw clearly in the CCM article), and naturally, the evil of the secular rock stars, like the Beatles, who have their own chapter. Also, an outline regarding various “Gospel” music (including “early commercialization”, Southern, Black, and “recent decades”), and in the chapter on Fundamentalism, “Influences of the Neo-Evangelical Music: The Soft, Non-offensive Sound” (apparently what we saw addressed on the other site; on Amazon, I can see he even claims Garlock has “accommodated” —even with his “presuppositional melodic fabric”, and that is basically the same circle [BJU/Greenville] Fisher was in), and also something about “The Steve Green Issue”. The final section: “A Final Word on Endtime Music”. The book closes on how everyone is falling away, and while the Bible described a “falling away”, we’re now heading into the [real] “falling away”, after God had raised the fundamentalist movement in the 19th century.

    Again, the whole issue is grounded upon futurism, and they are pretty much making the same argument the sabbatarians make; that the wider Church is “disobedient to one of God’s commandments”, and this is going to lead to “the Antichrist” and the rest of the “endtime” scenarios. But at least the sabbath is one of the actual Ten Commandments (nothing there about avoiding backbeats), and there’s a recurring prophetic reference in Isaiah about an “end-time” sin of eating “swine’s flesh”. IFB’s reject those two precepts, but insist even more fervently, on nearly the rest of Old Testament, via “principle” (not even “Law”, but principle, which is cloudy and prone to faulty interpretations, and they have clearly gone beyond what was written, just as much as the rabbinical leaders of Jesus’ day).
    While they can easily appeal to the destructive effects of the secular rock stars’ lives, the only thing they can hit churches (including, increasingly, ones they formerly identified as fellow fundamentalists/IFB’s) with is “what it will lead to”. They’re waging this entire war over something that is not even concrete; but they’re only ‘forecasting’ (i.e hypothetical), purely from “guilt by association”; based on a generalization of what others have done.

    Now, for their own sound files:
    Standard “quartet” sound, and some is a-capella, reminding almost of old chanting, and another has a simple organ, like what you would hear in a cathedral. Then you have the standard horns and strings rendition of “Blessed Assurance”, (Then, another one, a female quartet that goes Sorrow shall be…, sounds a bit jazzy in places, if you ask me. Really, the nitpicking over the different styles is ridiculous, and is nothing more than a cultural “association”. Whatever Garlock is doing now, it can’t be all that different from this). One song, I believe “The God of Abraham Reigns” reminds me of Nat King Cole’s version of “The First Noel”, especially the vocal opening (I’m very traditional like this when it comes to Christmas music).

    Pretty nice, but there is no scriptural warrant to say this is the only acceptable music, and judge everything else by it. If the rock stars did a lot of crazy things and sinful behaviors, the “cultures” producing these styles did horrible Satanic things of their own. He lists various Christian leaders such as Luther, as having “godly influence”, contrasting with a list of evil dictators (Hitler, etc) as “ungodly influence”; but the Reformers (who still held onto a state church controlled society) could be tyrannical themselves (especially Calvin; and Luther was extremely anti-semitic), so this ongoing attempt to split off some people with such broad categories (as applies to what he calls a “presupposition” based on one’s “inner thoughts”; with a whole “practical” philosophy built off of Psalms 1 and Prov.23:7, which they all forget is the Law and not the Cross) just doesn’t work. (Like Hitler and the others mentioned [Mussolini, etc.] likely used precisely the kind of music he’s saying is good!)

    “This world’s sin is the amalgam of the thoughts of the hearts of many people. Inheriting this evil legacy, the next generation draws thoughts out of its own sin-polluted well and pours them into the contemporary melting pot with the philosophies of previous generations” (p.8).
    The mistake they always make is taking their own “culture”, or at least earlier generations, or “society” of centuries ago out of the equation, just because they more openly “reverenced” God and suppressed “sin” (only certain ones, that is), or an individual gets “converted” and prays and reads the Bible, and so as the philosophy goes, he’s “filling his heart with the things of God”, and thus can safely be excluded from this negative dynamic working out in the rest of “the world”.
    Any charges brought against them, like racism, conquest, the problems of capitalism, or even the meanspiritedness many of these types are known for, is just a “satanic attack” against a “true man of God”, for some ulterior purpose (usually, to “take our nation/culture from us”). They just can’t ever be wrong, because they have the “godly influence” from what they fill their “inner thoughts” with. This is how the other kind of “presupposition”, as used by Reconstructionists, works.

    But if this were true, then the people who rejected Christ were really the most “spiritual” of all, as they were the ones most versed in scripture, and worship! On the other hand, most cult leaders will say the same things about “inner thoughts” and cite the same scriptures on them (especially sabbatarians like Armstrongism), but still teach all sort of wrong things, and some even engage in things most of us would regard as wicked and immoral, including sexual deviations. Sorry, there is no magical formula for inerrancy or maximum “truth” or “exceptionality”. (And it sounds very “psychological” to me. They reject that over some of the terms and concepts it uses, but then end up turning scripture into essentially the same thing).

    And these teachings always go off into space with Satan, using him to (quite literally) “demonize” everything they dissociate themselves from. But we must realize (which most don’t, following the futurist eschatology that extends the Law to our age), Satan is not [everyone else’s] “play-pal” (as everyone assumes), who deceives them into ceasing to “paddle upstream”, and instead have “fun”, which God does not want for us (He wants us “marching” to battle, as in an endless boot camp, after all!) He is primarily an ACCUSER (that’s what his name means), who opposes Christ by upholding the Law, deceiving men into thinking they are keeping it (which nullifies Christ’s precious blood; His work on the Cross), and then in turn judging (accusing) others with it (which denies Grace and thus the Gospel, in favor of works, and leads to endless strife and confusion), as we see these people are doing with much of these “standards” of theirs, which are not even completely biblical; and the almost solid reliance on the Old Testament (which they also selectively filter, as to which of the “commandments” that are there are still to be kept. At least the first century Israelite leadership preached actual commandments from the Law of Moses, though they too likewise added to it).

    It is too bad so much energy is being invested into propping up what they fear is a dying culture. The fact that they so identify with it shows they are not really trusting in Christ (whether returning “soon” in the future, or not). They are trusting in their identity, and just “baptizing” it in shoddy scripture “proof-texting” and then identifying it with Christ. (i.e. to follow that culture is to be “holy” or “revere” the “sacred”).

  12. His last words were it is finished not it's up to you

    Somebody quotes 1 Corinthians 9:24, Hebrews 12:1. 1 Timothy 6:12, and 2 Timothy 4:7

    I pointed out:

    Running the race and fighting the fight (to be SAVED) were all about EFFORT, and were thus part of the Law, which was passing, as Grace was being phased in. (They had to “run” and “fight” while that system was still there, potentially judging them; and this only UNTIL the full redemption they were running to was in place, which would be in their lifetimes, not in OUR yet future!)

    I also realized, that I’ve never addressed a common verse often used by “lawkeepers” (sabbatarians): “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1 John 5:3)

    I’m surprised no one recently has brought this one up, since the Fulfilled view seems to say that they are “burndensome” (newer translations). But the “commandment”, from the context, is “love” (which in the preceding chapter he said casts out fear!)

  13. On a board, someone posts a question of “How will God reconcile believers in heaven?”:
    “Many believers are divided against each other over secondary issues and many believers have been offended by others and so they do not speak with each other. So how will God reconcile believers in heaven? Will He wipe our bad memories? Or will we have them but just look at them differently? This is a tough question but as you know Christians are very divided against one another these days.”

    We get the usual “answers” regarding our afterlife perfect state, but one person’s response stood out:

    I think there are some issues with the question and assumption. First we are told this;
    Mat 6:14,15
    For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
    But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

    By that I am of the mind if we die in un-forgivness of another we are not forgiven.

    The second thing is I think there is not nearly as many Christians as many think.
    Mat 7:14
    Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.
    Mat 7:21-23
    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

    What I can tell you with some certainty is that there is NOT going to be any division in heaven. The real problem is being very sure we are going.

    Now that being said I feel I need to explain how to get there.

    Contrary to what some claim we do not get saved by asking Jesus into our hearts, praying a so called prayer of faith, accepting Him as our personal Savior, being baptized or confirmed, confessing our sin, or belonging to a church as the bible never teaches those things for salvation. Nor do we get saved by cleaning up our lives as that is works. Yes any or all of those things may make the church roles fat and the preacher feel or look good when we come forward, but they can also cause us one day to hear, I never knew you.

    Salvation takes repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20:21. Make no mistake. We cannot be a friend of Christ while remaining a rebel against God. The word repent, from the Greek word metanoia, means a change of mind or direction. It is not 50%, 75% or 99%. It is 100%. God is not interested in us almost repenting. It is like the command ‘about-face’ which is a 180 degree turn. When any person comes to the point in their life that they are broken over their sin to the point of being ready to get right with God no matter what it will cost them they are in a state/spirit of repentance toward God.

    We then take that heart that we have toward God and place it on the Lord Jesus Christ, for there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved, and that becomes faith. At that point God’s grace through Christ is applied to us and we are saved, born again, and will never turn back into the practice of sinning. It is a repentance/faith that is lived daily and never turned from as we are kept in that state by the Spirit. Acts 20:21, 1John 2:19 and 1John 3:9,10.

    Repentance of sin is the result of our salvation (new birth), and will be part of the sanctification process in our new life with Christ Eph. 2:10. While we may sin from time to time after being saved no one continues in the practice of sinning or returns to it after salvation 1John 3:9,10

    Then, a link is provided, to a YouTube video called “It Will Cost You Everything”, by a page calling itself “I’ll Be Honest”, and following the website links I see it’s a ministry associated with Paul Washer. That explains it! Lordship salvation! (BTW, the first article on him I saw there was a report that he had just had a heart attack recently).

    Here we see in its full glory that Lordshippism is the worst of Pelagian legalism, wrapped up with Calvinistic electionism (which is usually minimized in the message) to form a deadly “perfectionism”. (And I just realized, they probably hide it to avoid the stereotypical use of Calvinism and eternal security as an “excuse” to “slack off” if not outright backslide).

    They command such high standards, which of course people can’t live up to. It is works-salvation to the hilt, but because of the unconditional election, it’s seen as “God’s work” and not man’s. That gets them around the “legalism” charge. So they can preach all this repentance at the world (and Church) as if free will were true, but in reality, only those whom God elects will be able to respond, and do all the “works” (forgive, etc).
    As the video “Let Go and Let God” (which is emphasizing that this “abiding in Christ” is “active, not passive”) says, it’s all about the “power”; the “same power that raised Christ from the dead” is now focused solely on changing our behavior (“which is why we say radical things like this to people”; i.e. it’s nothing you “can’t” do; “no excuses”), and you don’t even “feel” it; it’s by “faith”. (This is the same power that raised Christ’s physical body from the grave; again, mind you; this is the way it manifests today!)

    So while this impossible regiment is all achieved by divine election, in actual experience, a person just wills himself purely by his own effort, to change his behavior. If he does it and “perseveres” to the end, he was “elect”; if not, then he was reprobate (but still “held accountable” for rejecting the preaching of the Gospel, or general revelation, conscience, etc).
    Of course, without this “power” it’s impossible. (Which means no non-Christian ever cleans up bad behavior; they just do everything they want that feels good, and if even if they did clean their behavior, then and only then do we tell them that doesn’t save; salvation is by “faith, not works”).
    So basically, they’re just imprecating everyone else (which Calvin even admitted).

    The one answer to this, whether conditional salvation, Fulfilled View, or anything else, is what is the GOOD NEWS [i.e. GOSPEL] in this then? Especially since Calvinism (and this doctrine following suit) allows that God gives reprobates a false faith that He then takes away. So even if you think you’re saved, and go as far as to be “bearing” all the “fruits” (for now, that is), you can still fall away (as scriptures seem to mention, and five-point Arminians and Pelagians will use to deny eternal security, and so then of course, the doctrine that works don’t save finally kicks in).
    And these people can say anything to you, and you most likely know nothing about their personal lives to see if they themselves are actually living up to it. (Rom. 2:21-4)

    So the good news then becomes that a relative handful of people will escape Hell and make it to Heaven, and we hope we are one of them, and work our hide off as much as we can to try to “prove ourselves elect”. This in practice is by now no different from Catholicism and most “cults” and many other religions, minus Christ.
    Doctrines like this (that its adherents love to cram down everyone’s throat as “the TRUTH”, and hardly anyone else questions) are why the Church is so divided, to answer the original question.

    On the charismatic (Methodist-derived; pure Arminian) front, we have John Burton (apparently associated with Charisma magazine) video “Five Marks of False-Grace Movement”

    1) “Exemption theology”: “Not all part of the Bible are for us”.
    But isn’t that true? Does this person keep the whole Law of the Old Testament? (And Gal.3:10 says “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”)
    It’s all to avoid “parts of the word of God that require response” [spoken all sternly]. We have to be “a people of response“. He even says they “overemphasize our sinful nature sin” and underemphasize, what else, but the “power”; the “power of the Cross”, which is all about behavior; “was it not sufficient to keep us from sin” (And it’s ‘not about being sinless’; but the old cliché of “not having to sin”; which is not even a biblical statement, but rather likely derived from a common misunderstanding of “slaves of sin” (which in their view is merely ‘slaves’ of bad “habits” that are “sinful”).

    We’re not overemphasizing sin; we’re taking it seriously; apparently more seriously than those who think man just needs some more “motivating” (“you can do it” and “no excuses” talk along with the fear of Hell) and some nondescript “power” as “help”, and then he can put away sin, meaning keep the divine Law. They used to criticize those they thought were too liberal as “under-emphasizing” sin; but now we’ve done a complete flip, and teachers like this end up as the ones in practice minimizing or softening down the Law, so it can be in reach of man (especially with the “it’s not about sinlessness” line); with simply more motivating and divine “help”. (This, as much as they wield the fear of Hell and condemnation of sin)

    Of course, they don’t realize the positional and not behavioral nature of holiness (in the total fulfillment brought by the Cross). He derides this as “automatically holy; innocent by association“; taking a “commandment to be holy” (Peter) as “a great goal” or “principle”, or “great ideal”, but not a “command” or “imperative”.
    (Never mind the concept of holiness by “imputation“. What these teachers are advocating is a competing view called “impartation”, which stems from Wesleyan semi-Pelagian teaching more than anything else). It’s all about “obedience and [behavioral] holiness”.

    He then appeals to the Rich Young Ruler, which he compares “many Christians” to, but the Rich Young ruler is for one, before the Cross; it’s warning those people trusting in the Law, and thinking they were keeping it that they weren’t. (These were not people “slacking off”, or thinking themselves “exempt”; he even asked “what else do I lack yet”, being that “obedient” and aiming to keep the whole Law perfectly).
    But of course, that can’t refer just to them back then, it must refer to us; we can’t possibly be “exempt”. (We wonder what the Cross was for, then. I guess it’s just the “power”. It then has nothing to do with forgiveness of sins; it’s just giving us what the Israelites supposedly lacked in the ability to keep the Law, and I guess removing the more difficult aspects of the Law, like sacrifices, sabbaths, etc).

    The result, people who even want to follow Jesus, are still “turned away”, “because of attitudes of the heart“. He says “people give more power to sin than to the Cross”, but in reality, the “power of sin” is the Law (1 Cor.15:56 i.e. the “commandments” that defined “obedience” and “holiness”!) The battle is not between The Cross and “sin” (meaning our behavior). That battle was finished instantly, on the Cross. The battle is between The Cross and our efforts (which then becomes the “sin” in that respect).
    The “power” of the Cross was the RIGHT to be called “sons of God” (John 1:12. This in opposition to those who thought only the Law and physical inheritance gave you that right). Never is it portrayed as some sort of psychic force (that we must “will” to “tap into”) that changes our behavior, with the behavior ultimately qualifying us for Heaven, or at least “making the difference”.

    What the Spirit does is bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16). But according to these teachers, people can go as far as to be “fervent” and “on fire”, but still lost. Where is the assurance then? How can one ever know for sure they are saved? It seems to be only based upon our own efforts and behavior. (We must presume “I’ve been doing well, ‘growing’ and sinning less, developing the right ‘attitudes of the heart’, etc. so I guess now I must really be saved”. This not even taking into account the possibility of falling back into condemnation!)

    But what work, then, really? Like that rich young ruler, we can ask, “what good thing do I lack yet?”, and will the answer be this one act, like giving up all your possessions, that will then give you access to Heaven?
    By now, it sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it (and it would certainly be more than just one additional work); but this fails to take into account how we often decide for ourselves what is enough, especially if you say it’s not about actual perfection. Of course, we will look down on people not doing as well as we are, but those teaching this should consider that maybe their level of works isn’t good enough either, even if they feel confident that it is. The question is “what causeth thee to differ?” (1 Cor.4:7)
    This of course shows how this is a slippery slope to loss of any hope of salvation. But it sounds so good, because it’s “tough”.

    They can talk this stuff as toughly as they want, but that is really all empty assumptions read into the texts. It sounds so “right”, because of that part of us that feels guilt (which they are exploiting; 2Tim.3:6), so salvation must be “hard”. (Which is what all the old pagan religions operated on). This then becomes “the way that seems right unto man”, but the end result, (as they themselves testify), is death! (Prov.14:12) This is the work of “The Accuser“!

    2) “Sin is treated as temporarily troubling but eternally benign” (cites Heb.10, “sinning deliberately“).
    But if you’re in “the process of deliverance”, then that’s not what he’s talking about. This is what I refer to as “as long as you’re trying. (Which people might fiercely deny when put that way, but that’s clearly what is being implied here). So the effort of “trying” to overcome sin is what saves you from it; not actual “cleanness” from sin. If you’re trying, then whatever sins remain will be forgiven. (This is what I was led to believe when I first entered Bible debate as a young unchurched convert, through Armstrongism and comparing others I was exposed to such as Campbellism, Catholicism and Russellism, which are all considered heretical. Yet you have these leaders, within so-called “orthodoxy” who sound just the same. They only differ in which commandments are necessary, and that they lip the protocol of “grace/faith alone”, which the others openly, but more consistently, reject).

    Then goes into “universalism”. He knocks “once saved always saved” in favor of “once saved rarely saved”. (Making up new unbiblical terms on the fly!) Again, what is the “Good News”? “Walking in the Spirit” is interpreted as our efforts at avoiding sin, trusting in our efforts at obedience; i.e. keeping the Law, rather than trusting Christ. (But then as with the Lordshippers, “trusting” or “abiding” is itself assumed to be “obeying”. “Trusting”, in actual Biblical use means that even though we do NOT have the required perfect obedience, we are still forgiven. The accuser, and all of these preachers are saying otherwise, but as far as escaping condemnation, we “trust” HIM, who actually died on the Cross as the Son of God, as opposed to trusting what the preachers say, or what we ourselves do. But they have turned this on its ear, into basically “growing” toward this hypothetical perfection, and “trusting” ends up apparently about the “difficulty” of this “process”.
    “Not under the Law” is interpreted as ceasing from doing the things condemned in the Law; just like the sabbatarians argue; otherwise “grace does not cover us”).

    So “grace” itself then must be this “power” to change our “attitude of heart” to embark on this long hard, narrow difficult “walk” of works. Again, is this a “gospel” at all? (And again is what those aforementioned “un-orthodox” groups teach. This “heart” teaching of theirs I have noticed is actually the whole doorway to judgment. No matter what you believe or do, or why, the “heart” is what they appeal to as condemning you, based on some scriptures mentioning the heart or conscience. So even among the Wesleyan/Arminian groups not as radically legalistic as Burton can begin to harshly judge, or question salvation, based on what they see as someone’s heart being “not right”. So the heart premise can totally void grace, and this won’t be seen as turning it back to works, because the “work” of changing the heart is all “will” without physical action. But since it’s so “hard”, as they put it, then it is still a kind of “works”, especially when it determines salvation).

    Also fails to understand that “walking in the flesh” means precisely what he’s preaching, and that’s trusting in our efforts at “overcoming” sin. This is what creates the endless “struggle” with all those sins mentioned, where you have to “strive” so hard to begin with. For that is what Paul is showing all our efforts lead to, even if we do appear to get the upper hand on some of them, and “grow”. Why would it be so “hard” otherwise”? They say because of our “old man”, but why would “the same power that resurrected Christ” then end up in such a tug of war with our old natures, and one where this power apparently loses most of the time? [i.e. in most people]. No one ever thinks about this; so they just use fear to quell all questions instead.
    Meanwhile, they don’t even try to address Romans 4:5 “But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” and Hebrews 4:10 “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (and in that one, the condemnation mentioned is those who refuse to enter the “rest”, which is the “disobedience” of v.11 and other places).

    (As a side note, sin as “temporarily troubling, but eternally benign” is the exact argument they use when trying to “comfort” someone suffering pain, or especially wrong by others. If so, then why wouldn’t our own commission of sins be the same? The argument generally is because sin “won’t be allowed” in Heaven, but then they believe no one has attained actual perfection, so then people going to Heaven are all instantly perfected upon death or rapture. If so, this has nothing to do with how much they were striving for it, or how far they advanced by the end of their life).

    3) “Repentance and confession of sins after salvation is not necessary.”
    This of course goes along with salvation constantly being in danger of being lost (and thus agrees with sects like Campbellism and even Catholicism), even by “little things” such as jealousy. Again, how could anyone call this “good news”? What really do we have that OT Israel didn’t; even if you say “the power” to help us; they had supernatural miracles and God’s tangible presence.

    4) “Biblical works message is renounced as ‘legalism'”.
    “Are you really serious that for me to obey is to put me in bondage to the Law?” Well, then, what are you “obeying”? If you have to worry that if you stop striving to obey beyond a certain point, then you will go to Hell, isn’t that “bondage”?

    The only point “obedience” is “legalism”, is “if we were to reject the Cross and resurrection of Christ and attempt to work our way into Heaven”
    They always do this. Redefine “legalism” in a specific way tailored to exclude their teaching. “Legalism” means “Law“. All they are doing is adding the Cross to Law and then that’s the only difference between the views. It’s once you “accept” the Cross and Resurrection, then working your way into Heaven, but since this is by the “power” given to us, they won’t ever admit it in those terms. But that’s exactly what he’s describing! (Then, gives more pre-Cross commands).

    Where people make much of the sins of the ‘secular’ (nonreligious) “world” as being what the Gospel condemns as “the old wine”, “the old Man”, the “old life”, etc.; in the original context, it’s really the Law, and those simply adding the Cross to the Law are the ones mixing the old with the new! (And no one is saying “obedience” itself is bondage or legalism, it’s when you place salvation on it, exactly as these teachers are doing. ⦅Or add non-biblical “rules” as points of “obedience to God” and denounce others over them, even if you don’t stake salvation on them; as other groups do⦆. They must always obfuscate what others are saying about their teaching.
    And it ties into the whole “without the fear of Hell, you have no reason to obey” belief. They say “out of love”, but the whole premise is founded upon fear, where the Gospel contrasts love and fear, saying one casts the other out—1 John 4:18).

    5) “Salvation is depicted as ‘easy’ and/or ‘permanent'”.
    “Jesus didn’t die on the Cross, to make it ‘easy’ to get saved; He died on the Cross to make it possible to get saved”. (Then goes into “the process of salvation”, which “people don’t understand”, and again, like the Campbellists and others, cites James 2:14 and says it’s only “works alone” that don’t save, but they otherwise “play a part” in salvation).

    The fact that you even talk about “easy” shows a total works-salvation focus.
    Salvation is by works, and God doesn’t make it “easy”; it’s “possible” by your own hard work, with the “help” of the “power”, which is not felt, but by “faith”, and so thus doesn’t even make it feel any easier.

    And of course, it’s narrow and few will be saved. Again, what do we have that OT Israel, following the flaming cloud, Moses on the mountaintop, or God in the Temple, didn’t have?
    “Another Gospel, that is NO Gospel [good news]”! (Gal.1:6)

    They do not realize that they are denigrating the Cross with these redefinitions of theirs. If Christ only made it “possible”, then He Himself didn’t really do anything. He only rehashed the Law and changed the method of “applying” its pardon. But this guy insists this whole fear basis and merit by “fruits as evidence” is “freedom“.

    The battle is not between The Cross and sinful behavior; it’s between The Cross and our efforts (which produce “sin”). The “power” of the Cross was the right to be called “sons of God”. Never is it portrayed as some sort of force that changes our behavior. What the Spirit does is bear witness with our spirit that we are children of God. The “power of sin” is the Law.

    All of this is like spiritual “gaslighting”, as they say “grace, not works”, but then describe works, they say “faith, not sight”, but then say there’s absolute proof of God you will be judged by, and they say it’s “easy”, but then describe it as “hard”. You can’t readily prove or disprove it, they cite scriptures, you can cite scriptures to show otherwise, but each view calls the other unscriptural. So they play with your mind and your heart (conscience).

    The accuser uses our guilt to condemn us and “convince” us (basically perverting our “conscience”; Titus 1:15, 1 Cor.8) this is true, so we either force ourselves to accept it, or we rebel against it (which “proves” to its adherents that this is “the offense of the Gospel”).
    More often than not, people do both; one after the other, and the very denominations that have taught things like this the most, in the beginning, usually become the biggest “liberal mainliners”, as the people eventually give up. If I’m going to do all that work and effort, and still might be “turned away” or not “persevere”, then what’s the use? They just hope for the best, like maybe before they die they’ll be able to get a grip and turn their lives around, but if not, then they were going to Hell anyway, so what’s the difference. (Hence, all the Catholics who make up much of “secular” Western society, and are trusting in “getting their last rites” to “make it to Heaven”. But many Protestant groups are just like this, minus the sacramental focus; especially the Methodists and related groups, from whom this whole “holiness” focus largely came from, as well as the “higher” churches holding to the monergism of Calvin and the other reformers, but still mixed with a strong pietistic focus).
    But again, the preachers rising up out of these groups, “calling them to repentance”, and looking down at all the “sin” around them, will only take this as support of their view (plugged into scriptures on “falling away”, which were described as occurring in NT times, not centuries later).

    This, is the work and plot of the Devil, as much as he has been portrayed as the one leading all the sinners away from Law with the promise of pleasure.
    Either grace is free, or it is no more grace (Rom.11:6, 4:4).

    So now, basically, we can identify three strains that are heavily legalistic.
    Old line fundamentalists“, most embodied in “Independent fundamental Baptists” (IFBs).
    Hyper-Wesleyanism“, such as Burton, who appear to be a more conservative form of charismaticism, which stemmed from Weslayan “Holiness” but then emphasized “spiritual gifts”. Whether a teacher upholds the gifts or not, the misconstrued “holiness” focus is what marks this group.
    Lordship salvation“, which is centered around John MaCarthur, and most popularly promoted by Ray Comfort and Pal Washer, and has a strong presence among Southern Baptists, and adds Calvinistic “Election” to a “holiness” premise.

    The first two are Arminian, but the second two (represented in this comment) are more alike in questioning salvation. The first group may be “legalistic” in their concept of “separation”, and avoiding modernity, where they can denounce both of the others as sliding on. They have a lot of ridiculous rules, but they usually do not question people’s salvation on them (some would even question instead the salvation of the other two groups for teaching a “false gospel” of works! What the first and last have in common is simply connection to the Baptist denomination, which is basically divided between Calvinism and Arminianism, and between stricter and more modernistic expressions).

    Apologetics has been going after the “feel good” message of Osteen and others, while totally ignoring this open rejection of the Gospel right under their own noses, because again, it sounds ‘good’ because it’s “tough”, and also “traditional” (with the likes of Spurgeon and Edwards long seen as the model of good preaching we wish the modern church never turned from).
    In other words, Osteen is seen as softening the Gospel into nothingness, but lordship’s denial of Grace in favor of works is “closer” to “historic orthodoxy”, though the apologists, like the Lordshippers themselves, will still pledge belief in “grace alone”. Only the teachers redefine grace in terms of works, and the apologists ignore this, seeing it not as bad as the “feel good” messages, and instead, perhaps the antidote to them.
    But this makes it no less worldly, as secular “self-help” is full of “tough talk” coaching; the only difference is that it’s not Hell after you die they are motivating with.

    Where I’ve spent a lot of time talking about IFB’s, with all their rules, they in a sense are not as bad as these other two groups, for at least they are less likely to deny salvation of Christians they see as compromising. (I’ve quoted one who ironically, instead questions the salvation of the lorsdshippers and similar, for preaching a “false gospel”
    for their works’ focus).

    For all of these groups, just imagine, a person coming out of the Old Covenant, where they had to do all the commandments, including the ritual system that represented atonement. This didn’t promise absolute certainty, but as long as they kept at it, they could hope for redemption.
    So now, they enter the New Covenant, which promises to be the fulfillment of the old system, and thus bills itself as “Good News”. But in the end, the Cross only gives you this “power” you can’t even feel, you just believe in by “faith”, and which doesn’t make anything easier, but only “possible”, and instead actually becomes a new burden for you to “receive” and “respond” to right, that you are judged on (and then the special revelation you had before is completely removed, and so all you have is your own choice to believe something, guided by fallible and often contradictory men and ambiguous “conscience” and “general revelation”), and it’s still about how much you “obey” the commands; only some of them have been changed (especially the physically bloody ones). Then and only then does this Cross grant you pardon from your sins.

    What really is the benefit there?

    You wonder with all of this judgment they preach, where Jesus really fits in. The Jesus we see in the Gospels who was patient with average people (including those who were obviously “sinners”. This may be a bit of a cliché among skeptics challenging Christianity, that “Jesus befriended the sinners, the prostitutes, etc”. but then this shows they have a better handle on Christ than those who claim to believe in Him, but then preach as if Christ never came, and man is standing before God with Law and no Mediator, and is just looking for reasons to condemn. They can’t say “Well if man rejects Christ, he’s not covered by His mercy”, because now you have people who believe in Him and can even be “on fire” for Him being “turned away”. (So salvation can’t be simply being “covered with the blood”).
    Is this really the Jesus we see in the Gospels? They might appeal to Jesus calling people vipers and driving out the money changers, but these weren’t people who simply had the wrong attitude of heart or weren’t diligent enough in “holiness”; they were the religious establishment; the guardians of the Law. So it’s clear that with, again, all the “tough talk”, it’s not Jesus being looked to, but rather man’s attempt (in His name), to prepare other men to come directly before the Father (hence, all the “holiness” focus, where it’s impossible to pass) on his own, with the “help” of the Spirit, instead of the covering of the Son. They’re all supposed to work together, with the Son covering, and the Spirit bearing witness to this. But teachers like this have changed the Gospel to something else entirely, with a “Jesus” who died essentially to seal the fate of most people (because that’s what most “glorifies” Him) through another impossible system of works, and smiles upon tough-talking leaders who promote this; but insist that it’s other people who are coming under condemnation, over works.

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