Political Correctness and Pastor Joel Osteen

Let me share with you an answer to the below question I had to formulate for a church history class I am taking through LBTS:

What political developments of the 20th century had the greatest impact on the church?

Is it possible that the spirit and endeavor to be politically correct can be classified as a political development? If this in fact can be seen as a political development, then I certainly would like to argue that this is the development that has had the greatest negative effect on the collective church.

By church, I presume the definition is limited to evangelical and fundamental assemblies. I certainly would not think that anything associated with Rome or anything that exalts a mother as another mediator could be part of the body of Christ. Furthermore, I would think that the church could not include any religious entity that denies the only begotten Son of God as God Himself!

Yet it appears that the political correctness that permeated our society has secretly infiltrated into the studies and pulpits of pastors all across America who no longer proclaim the exclusivity of Christ to the exclusion of anyone who doesn’t exalt Christ and Christ alone. (Think about the number of times you have heard LDS referred to as Christian by the mainstream media.)

The fear of offending a visitor or the desire to be politically correct when referring to sin and sinners has so affected the thinking of church leaders that churches are actually classified as seeker-sensitive. In these institutions of social networking (churches), the gospel is difficult to find because there isn’t anything politically correct about “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!”

The Apostle Peter wasn’t concerned about being politically correct; he and the apostles chose to obey God rather than man without regard to who their message of repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus would offend.

Billy Sunday told people unabashedly that outside of Christ they were dying and going to hell—it almost sounds like, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” But it simply isn’t politically correct to tell homosexuals that their perverted sexual activity makes God sick! It isn’t politically correct to tell Governor Mitt Romney that his brand of Christianity is a cult. Pastor Joel Osteen refuses to tell his congregation that they sin and their sin separates them from a holy and righteous God outside of the shed blood of the Lamb of God. Larry King presses him to tell the world what happens to people outside of Christ when they die, and Joel isn’t willing to be anything but politically correct; so this son of a Baptist preacher misses a glorious opportunity to preach the Word and let the world know that God will sort that out. Check it out for yourself and see how the political correctness of the 20th century has so affected Joel in this You Tube clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfwYU2pmWYQ.

God has already revealed His plan of sorting things out—His plan is called the gospel, but the exclusivity of the gospel is not politically correct. Jesus said it like this: “if you don’t repent you will perish” and then as though they perhaps didn’t get it He said it again (Luke 13.3). Joel knows that the Apostle John’s message in 1 John 2.23 that if you don’t have the Son you don’t have the Father will not go over well in India—it just isn’t politically correct to go to a foreign country and tell them they are heathens. Someone should have told William Carey that “heathen” isn’t very politically correct.

No, the political correctness of the 20th century has so infiltrated evangelical and fundamental Bible believing churches that in the 21st century people are now offended at absolute truth.

One can only wonder about how complicit the church has been in setting the conditions for the denial of absolute truth by being politically correct in the 20th century.

Book Review of In Pursuit of Purity American Fundamentalism Since 1850

Dr. David O. Beale, author of In Pursuit of Purity: American Fundamentalism Since 1850, is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Franklin, Virginia and a professor of church history at Bob Jones University. Beale is a Fundamental Baptist Pastor and professor, but he writes as a historian committed to preserving the record of the fundamentalist fight against the infiltration of liberalism in American Christianity in both the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century through articles and books like In Pursuit of Purity published by Bob Jones University Press, 1986. Beale begins by defining Fundamentalism and then progressively works through periods of time in a logical and well-defined manner with short well-documented chapters focused on specific issues and denominations. Beale’s work provides any evangelical Christian with a single volume resource to gain a clear appreciation of why Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalist and other Bible believing Christians united to fight those who sought to undermine and ultimately destroy a believer’s confidence in the Word of God and the person and work of the Son of God.

After defining a Christian Fundamentalist as “one who desires to reach out in love and compassion to people, believes and defends the whole Bible as the absolute inerrant, and authoritative Word of God, and stands committed to the doctrine and practice of holiness,” (3) Beale gets to work by establishing that fundamentalism is not some new phenomena in Chapter one but merely an extension and continuation of a long line of dissenting groups who have always stood strong for Orthodox Christianity. Beale assumes that his reader has very limited understanding of what fundamentalists were fighting for; therefore, he systematically explains the issues and communicates well-documented facts in short, easy-to-read chapters. Beale’s organization makes his work valuable as both a single read for clarity and a lifelong reference work for further information on specific topics like “The Fall of Princeton Theological Seminary.” (165) Beale’s opening sentence in chapter thirty-one provides a good flavor of his writing style and focus; he writes, “There have been several notable Fundamentalists who sounded a clarion warning of Methodism’s drift into modernism.” (309) Then Beale goes on to provide names, incidents, points of reference, articles and such all relating to fundamental Methodists and their either individual or collective impact.

At times, Beale writes with “rose colored glasses” as he opens his final chapter with “Fundamentalism has shown a desire to reach out in love and compassion to people.” (353) This is exceptionally difficult to completely substantiate. In fact, Beale seems to contradict himself as he presents men like J. Frank Norris as those who tremendously impacted fundamentalism in a positive manner. Although it was true that Norris impacted fundamentalism, he does not have a reputation of reaching out to people in love or compassion. Beale makes specific reference to Norris as the “Texas Tornado,” a Baptist that would use his pulpit to attack people and at one point shot a person in what was later determined to be “justifiable homicide” as self-defense. (235)

The greatest strength of Beale’s work is the manner in which it is trans-denominational. Beale’s Baptist association does not affect his ability to present an inclusive work showing that it was not just one particular denomination that was concerned about the fundamentals of the faith. Beale’s reader will gain a much greater understanding of the complexity and depth of the fundamental movement. He or she will learn of Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and other denominations that were active in fighting against the negative effects of liberalism. Some chapters are exclusively dedicated to particular denominations while other chapters show how denominations came together in associations like the World’s Christian Fundamentals Association. (97)

Perhaps one weakness of Pursuit of Purity is Beale’s failure to help the reader understand the relationship between Evangelical and Fundamental churches and seminaries. Beale would have done well to address the differences and similarities between Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. He briefly mentions churches that include “evangelical” in their name but does not devote any time in educating his reader in what makes a person or a church evangelical or fundamental. Maybe the lines are not clear enough in Beale’s mind to identify a distinction, but he does not communicate that either. Evangelical churches are too large of a constituency in the body of Christ to ignore in a work whose readership is theologically conservative but not fundamentalist.

Pursuit of Purity needs to be mandatory reading for pastors, teachers, trustees, directors and any lay person involved in the leadership of an evangelical or fundamental Christian institution like a church, college or seminary. The manner in which Beale shows his reader the importance of five key fundamentals of the faith in a non-theological work is exceptionally compelling. Anyone who questions the importance of “earnestly contending for the faith once delivered” will be encouraged by the historical examples Beale provides in a well–written, easy-to-read record of over one hundred years of American Christian Fundamentalism.

FORCES Command is Coming to Fort Bragg

Tuesday morning’s front page article in the paper concerning the $288 million construction project contract coming to Fort Bragg is great news for Fayetteville and Fort Bragg.

A company out of VA will be responsible for building the new Forces Command HQ building. This headquarters unit will have Soldiers. Soldiers who need to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Soldiers who will need a good Bible believing, Christ exalting, loving, caring, friendly church to be a member of once they arrive at Bragg. We need to stay focused on being that church.

The front page has a color photo of the beautiful building in which these Soldiers will work. These officers, NCOs and Soldiers, will bring families with them. Families who have children who need to hear the gospel through Sunday school, AWANA, Upward Sports, VBS or any other child discipleship ministry of BBC.

We must stay focused on the purpose of BBC. We want to grow because growth equals people growing in their relationship with Christ as long as we stay committed to the fundamentals of the faith and continue to exalt Jesus the Christ in everything we do. If BBC keeps that focus, God is most glorified through each and every one of our ministries.

Precious souls will be moving from GA to NC in the months and years to come, and we as a local body of Christ must be ready for those precious souls and all the others that are currently on Fort Bragg without a church and without a home away from home.

Every effort must be made to stay focused on being friendly and receptive to our visitors who are lonely, hurting, needy people who are looking for just one friend. Let’s be ready to introduce them to the Friend that sticks closer than a brother and show them that Friend in ourselves when they visit our small group Bible study on Sundays.

Join me in praying that the Lord of the Harvest will send more laborers.

Sermon on Historical Fundamentalism

The Eternality of Jesus Christ and a Lesson in Historic Fundamentalism
John 16.28

John 16 is where I’d like to ask you to join me. We’re going to look at one verse. I’m going to try to do two things simultaneously tonight. First, I’m going to exegete John 16:28 and second, I’m going to do my very best to give you a lesson in historical fundamentalism. I’m going to try to do two things at the same time. Jesus says one simple sentence here.

I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

I am going to do my best tonight to show you how that simple verse, that simple truth and all that’s involved in that verse, highlights the absolute importance of fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism is about 150 years old in this country. 1850 - 1860 is when Baptist, Presbyterians, fundamental Episcopalians, and Congregationalists united to fight liberals and to defend and contend for the faith once delivered. I’m going to try to show you by this simple verse how this worked, why it was critical, and why all of us need to consider this even in the 21st century.

Question: Do you believe in the Fundamentals of the Christian Faith?

So we’re using this word, fundamentalist. Do you believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith? More and more Christians are saying “no”. More and more Christians are shying away from this. Statistically, the numbers of people who would say, “Yes, I’m a fundamentalist. Yes, I understand the fundamentals of the faith” are getting pitiful. More and more people are denying absolute truths. More and more Christians are shying away from this, and they are making sure that they don’t associate themselves with fundamentalism. This is an error. This is a mistake. This is something that I’m going to try to show you why it is. Let’s define a fundamental.

A fundamental is one of the minimum constituents without which a thing or a system would not be what it is (Merriam-Webster)

Let me see if I can give you an analogy that you will surely understand. (Show slide of pictures of macaroni and cheese) Do you recognize what that is? That’s macaroni and cheese, isn’t it? Alright, now let’s talk about the fundamentals of macaroni and cheese. How many of you ladies put milk in your macaroni and cheese? Alright, do you have to have milk in order to have macaroni and cheese? No, absolutely not. You can take some noodles, and you can take some cheese. You put those things together, and, if you stir enough and if it’s hot enough, then what do you have? You’ve got macaroni and cheese. So wouldn’t we say tonight that cheese is a fundamental to macaroni and cheese? Yes, you would. You take away cheese and you no longer have macaroni and cheese. How about the noodles? Is that a fundamental of macaroni and cheese? Yes, absolutely. You take away the noodle, and you don’t have it any more.

Now Pastor, why are you using this analogy? I want you to grab a hold of this idea that when you remove the things that I am going to present to you tonight, you no longer have Christianity. In the same way that if I take a big bowl and I say “Let me share with you some macaroni and cheese, Ray.” Now when you get your big spoon and when you dip in there, you are really expecting a cheese favor, aren’t you? And if there’s no cheese in that mac and cheese, you are saying, “Hey, I don’t know what kind of mac and cheese you’re trying to sell, but this isn’t the mac and cheese I know. The mac and cheese I know has noodles and it’s got cheese in it.” Now some of you like bread crumbs in your mac and cheese. That’s a great way to ruin it, but some of you like bread crumbs. Some of you will take like a quarter stick of butter and add there. Nothing wrong with that! That’s fine, but that’s not an essential to macaroni and cheese. That’s not an essential. And what we’ll find is that in the 1900’s, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and conservative Episcopalians could find some essentials over which they were willing to unite. And they would fight everyone else that denied these things. Yes, within themselves they had some internal differences. They disagreed on some things. Baptist and Presbyterians were strictly opposed one to another on baptism. They were extremely opposed one to another. But they could unite around two key things: mac and noodles, cheese and noodles. What were they? The Word of God and Jesus Christ. As long as you were talking about the Bible, and if you were talking about Jesus Christ the Son of God, they would unite together. They would stand together. They would lock arms as brothers in Christ. They were willing to fight anyone who denied those types of things. So, if you are able to grab a hold of that idea tonight, I’ll show you why it was so important.

Christian vs. Baptist Fundamental
Now tonight, I’m going to talk about Christian Fundamentals. We could dedicate a separate night to Baptist Fundamentals. What do you mean by that, Pastor? There are certain things that make a Baptist church a Baptist church. For example, believers baptism is a distinctive. It is a fundamental to Baptist churches. If you say that you baptize infants and you don’t care if someone’s a convert or not when you baptize them, I am going to tell you that you’re not a Baptist church. You might have Baptist on your name, you might be presenting yourself as a Baptist, but historical Baptists have stood against infant baptism and have always stood for believer’s baptism. We’ve always said that a person has to be converted first and foremost.

Another clear distinctive of a Baptist church has been the separation of church and state -- the clear separation of church and state. We would never submit to you that they can be united. We would always say, no. The church and state need to be separate. That’s a clear Baptist distinctive.

Here’s another one – the authority or the autonomy of the local church. We would always say, “No hierarchy. No hierarchy whatsoever. Each church stands for itself. They own their own property, they hire their own pastor, they have their own trustees, no bishops overhead. Those are Baptist fundamentals, if you will. That’s what distinguishes a Baptist church from a Methodist church and from a Presbyterian church.

Question: How do I know if I am a fundamentalist?

A fundamentalist believes that there can be no compromise on the fundamentals of the faith. No compromise. If you are willing to say no compromise on the deity of Christ, no compromise on the verbal inspiration of the Word of God, no compromise on the bodily resurrection, no compromise on the second coming, no compromise on these types of things, then whether you realize it or not, you are very close to being a fundamentalist.

Fighting Fundamentalist: Jude 3
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

What should we fight over or for?

Now, let me show you what’s going to put you over the top. If you think that we should contend for the faith, you are a fighting fundamentalist. And that’s what we did! And it did not matter. In the 1900’s, it did not matter whether you were a Presbyterian or not, we were not going to stand for liberals coming in and taking away the supernatural from Christianity; taking away the virgin birth, taking away the miracles, taking away the authority of the Word of God, taking away the second coming, taking away the bodily resurrection. We were not going to stand for those kinds of things. And so they united in conferences, in textbooks, in seminaries, in every possible way they could in order to promote fundamentals of the faith. Now what are the fundamental truths communicated in this verse? That’s what I’m going to try to show you tonight.

What are the fundamental truths communicated in this verse?
John 16.28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

“I came forth from the Father”. The liberal scholar, now when I say liberal scholar, I’m not talking about a political party. A liberal scholar is someone who denies the fundamentals of the faith. A liberal scholar is someone who would say, “This contains the Word of God, but may not be the Word of God.” And there’s a huge difference between that sentence right there. Huge difference! And what you found happening in the 1900’s is that liberal scholars infiltrated seminaries and churches all across the United States and they took on the same language. But the way they defined the terms was not the same way. You had to listen very closely. And when you listened very closely, you had to follow up with, “What do you mean by that?” Because they would use the same words, but when you really began to pull it back, when you peeled that onion back, what you found was a core that was rotten.

Attacks on Christ

So, a liberal scholar or a cult does not deny the existence of the man, Jesus Christ, but instead, goes after His deity or His eternality. That’s what they go after. So, they are going to talk about Jesus. They are going to act like Jesus is the same Jesus that you believe. If you talk to a Mormon in a casual conversation, you are going to think you are talking about the exact same Jesus. If you talk to a Jehovah Witness, you’re going to think you’re talking about the same Jesus. They are going to use the same type of words. They are going to be very clever. They are going to be very slick; the same thing with a liberal scholar. You’re going to believe, “Man, we’re talking about the same Jesus.” But only until you dig further, only until you examine what they write a little further, are you going to recognize that they don’t believe the same Jesus that you believe. Because let me tell you something, the Jesus that I believe, according to this Word, says “I came from the Father”. That says to me that He doesn’t have a beginning. He was there before there was anything. But the liberal scholar says, “No, I can’t go there with you.” And they are going to say that He has a birth in the same way that any other human being has a birth.

Either the supernatural is denied or deity.

A liberal scholar is going to deny the supernatural role of the virgin birth. The liberal scholar is going to say that Christ could not have been virgin born because there has never been anyone virgin-born since then and it’s an impossibility. That’s the significant dividing point. Jesus said, “I came forth from the Father” (John 16.28). The liberal scholar is going to say that Jesus had the same beginning as any other human being. And Jesus says, “Not so! I did not have the same beginning as any other human being, because I came from the Father.” Can any of you remember what your life was like before you were conceived? It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? That’s because we’re human beings. But Jesus said, “I had a life before I was conceived in the womb by the Holy Spirit. I existed before that time. I know what life was like.” We can’t think of that. That’s impossible for our finite minds to think of. But He says, “I had a life before I was born. I had a life on this earth. I’ll have a life after this earth. I came from the Father. I came to this earth. And I’m going to the Father.” Do you understand how different that is? If we were to graph that on a math line, we’d put a line that way with an arrow like that, and we’d put a line that way with an arrow like that, wouldn’t we? We’d say, “that goes both directions”.

And this is why it is so important for all of us to understand this kind of thing. Because I’m going to tell you right now, the liberal scholars all weren’t converted. They are still out there. They still write books. They still write papers. They still deny absolute truths. They still question Jesus Christ. And the cults haven’t gone anywhere. They are still in existence.

What are you telling us, Pastor? I’m telling you in the 21st century, there’s still a need to earnestly contend for the faith! It hasn’t gone anywhere. Do you understand that Jude 3 is just as relevant today as it was 100 years ago? And only until Christ comes and rules on His throne in Jerusalem will there not be a need to contend for the faith. That’s the only time it’s going to stop. Only until Satan is bound in the pit of hell, Christ is ruling in Jerusalem, then we’re going to get a reprieve for 1,000 years. But up until that point, there’s the need to earnestly contend for the faith. And what happened in the 1900’s is that the Baptists, Presbyterians, and the fundamentalists united, and they preached this message and the laity got involved, and everybody understood they had a reason to contend for the faith. Every single person understood that. And because the Islamic religion has grabbed a hold of the term “militant”, the fundamentalists were shying away from it. It has all kinds of preconceived ideas associated with it. But I’m here to tell you right now, I am a fundamentalist! I am … I AM! I’m going to show you tonight why it’s so important.

The Fundamentalist defends or insists upon the pre-existence of Christ.

What human being, as we said earlier, can say, “Before Abraham, I was there; I existed.” So now, what about the text, Pastor? How does the liberal get around John 16.28 or John 8.58? How do they get around that? Listen very closely, please. The liberal cleverly denies the accuracy and the integrity of the Word of God. Let me stop for just a minute here. I almost sense tonight that some of you are saying, “Pastor, I don’t like the way you are using the word ‘liberal’” Do you understand that if someone is on your doorstep and they are denying the deity of Jesus Christ, you’re not even suppose to bid them ‘Godspeed’? Do you understand that you’re not supposed to invite them in for coffee? Do you understand that if you have someone standing on your doorstep denying the deity of Jesus Christ, you aren’t talking about your future best friend? Now should we pray for our enemies? Yes, we should pray for our enemies. Should we share the gospel with them? Yes, we should. But let me tell you something, if you’re not trying to share the gospel with them, if you’re not trying to tell them the truth, if you’re not trying to get them converted, you’ve got no business associating with them. You don’t play bingo with them. You don’t play any other game with them. You don’t play croquet with them. You don’t sit around and watch the football game with them. Do you understand that if you have an infidel sitting there -- see, we don’t even like that term, but that’s a really legitimate term. Do you understand that? Infidels die and go to hell. Anyone who denies the deity of Christ is not converted. If you’re not converted, you’re going to hell. Pastor, that sounds too harsh tonight, especially on a Labor Day weekend. Folks, that’s the world we’re living in! And it’s not going to change.

We have to recognize what the historic fundamentals are, and that you cannot compromise on these in any circumstance whatsoever. These are the ones over which you draw the line in the sand and the line’s not moving. These are the ones that say, “This is it. No further.” And I’m here to tell you, the preexistence of Jesus Christ is one of those lines! It is beyond a doubt. It is a firm, solid line. That’s not a flexible line. That’s not a line that we allow to be moved.

Let me give you some history.

Before the civil war, Darwin’s Origin of Species was published, but the war delayed its impact. However, after the war, scholars and scientists began to debate, and many Christians were open to theistic evolution, which denied the literalness of the Genesis account of creation.

And everybody thought it was cool to deny Genesis 1. And everybody thought it was cool to deny Genesis 2. But what they didn’t realize is that if you start denying Genesis 1 and 2, the next thing you know, you’re in Matthew 1, Mark 1, Luke 1, and John 1. And all of a sudden, it’s a disaster.

You say, “You’re fired up tonight, Pastor.” How can you preach about fighting fundamentalists and not be fired up? Have you ever heard about guys like R.A. Torrey? Those guys were fired up! They had something to be fired up about. They were denying them their Lord. You don’t talk about my Lord! And these were issues. So now, this denial of the literalness of Genesis combined with the German higher criticism of the Bible paved the way to deny Christ’s words in the gospels. Satan was so clever. I’m a German. My mother was born in Germany. My grandparents were born in Germany. I have no animosity to Germans. I’m just telling you the facts.

In the 20th Century, Liberal German theologians went after anything that required a belief in the supernatural and American seminary professors soon began to be influenced by German theories of how the gospels came to be:
• Apostolic authorship was denied
• The Holy Spirit’s ability to inspire and preserve truth was mocked as unintelligent and ridiculous
• Textual criticism crossed the ocean in waves

Pastor, I’m bored with the history lesson. Do you understand that you need this history lesson tonight? Every single Christian needs this history lesson tonight. You need to understand what happened. It started in Germany. Everything was done to attack the authorship of the first five books of the Bible by Moses. Once they got done with that, they moved to the New Testament and they started tearing it apart. And before you knew it, nobody even had a Bible in their hands anymore. “You’re exaggerating.” No, I’m not exaggerating. Study history for yourself. You’ll find it to be true. “You’re fired up over nothing.” I don’t think so.

The liberal theologian denies the accuracy and authenticity of Christ’s words; instead, he or she suggests that men made Jesus into someone he really wasn’t or didn’t claim to be? That’s what the liberal theologian does!

So when Jesus said, “I came forth from the Father”, that’s really not what He meant – that’s what the liberal scholar says. Well, then what did He mean?

The Fundamentalist Unite
At the turn of the 20th century Presbyterians, Baptists, Congregationalists, and others united on the fundamentals of the faith in order to defeat the infiltration of liberalism into mainstream Christianity.

Do you recognize that all the major institutions in New England all started off to train preachers? Do you understand that the reason they’re not training preachers today is that liberalism got a hold of those institutions and destroyed them from within? It is, in fact, the cancer that will destroy a church; it will destroy a denomination; it will destroy a seminary; it will destroy a family. And I’m here to tell you on a very personal level that I saw it destroy my father. My father went to a fundamental, four-year college and then went to a liberal seminary and it destroyed his faith. My father went into that seminary contending for the faith, and he left that seminary so spun around that he had no idea what he believed and why he believed what he believed. It was a disaster. And to this day, (listen to me very closely) I wonder if my dad was even saved. Do you know why? Because he didn’t finish strong. And when you don’t finish strong, you will leave in your child’s mind questions about their salvation for the rest of their life. That’s a fact. I remember a time when my father was converted. I remember a time when my father was on fire for the Word of God. I remember a time when my father was as firm on these types of fundamentals, and then I saw him enter that seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. It spun him around, up-side-down, and every which way. I’ve have written correspondence from him that I go back and look at to remind myself of what happened when he entered into a liberal seminary and destroyed his faith. Pastor, you’re making a big deal out of something. No, I’m not. You take away the supernatural, and you don’t have anything to hold onto. Can you prove that from the Bible? Yes, I can. Turn to Mark 2.

Mark 2
Folks, I had no idea I was going to get so fired up tonight. I really thought I was going to try to teach more, but I’m here to tell you that this is important stuff. Someone says to me, “Are you a fundamentalist?” I’m an historic fundamentalist in every way, shape, or form. “Are you a Baptist?” Yes, I am a Baptist. I understand what the Baptist distinctives are and I stand by those Baptist distinctives in every way, shape, or form.

Mark 2.1 1And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

We’re talking about Jesus, now.

2And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them. 3And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. 4And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, (or the crowd, it was full) they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
We’re talking about forgiveness of sins right now. Can Jesus forgive sins? Can my sins be forgiven by Jesus Christ? How do I know if my sins can be forgiven by Jesus Christ? That’s the issue. Look at verse six.
6But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,
Can I put that into a 21st century translation? There were German liberal scholars! And they were questioning, “Can Jesus forgive sins?” That is exactly what’s happening here. “Who is this guy? How can He forgive sins? Only God can forgive sins,” is what they said.
7Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? 8And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Let me ask you this question, this is what He says,
9Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?
Now verse 10, please look at it very closely,
10But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, 11I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.
Now what happened, church? That guy got up, and he walked away. Now, here’s the issue, and I want you to follow me very closely here. If there is no supernatural, and Jesus has no ability to do supernatural things like a virgin birth, like a bodily resurrection; if those things aren’t possible, then why in the world would I think that there is any forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ? Do you understand what Jesus did for us? Jesus tied the supernatural and the forgiveness of sins just like this. And he said, “I want you to understand not only do I have the ability to forgive sins, but I’m going to prove it to you.” Every supernatural thing that Jesus ever did, from His virgin birth to His bodily resurrection, and everything in between, when He walked on water, when He calmed the storm, when He fed the multitude, when He said to Lazareth, “come forth”, and when He turned water into wine, changing the molecular composition of a liquid beverage. When He did all of those kinds of things, when He was out fishing with the disciples and He gathered all of the fish together, every single time He did that, it was for one reason. It was to show He can forgive sins. That’s why He did it. He wasn’t an actor. It wasn’t a show. It was all designed to authenticate His ministry. It was all designed so that you and I could have the greatest confidence that Jesus Christ can forgive sins.
So, when the liberal scholar takes your Bible and he starts cutting things out of that Bible, he might as well cut out the forgiveness of sins because you don’t have anything to trust in. And that’s why I would call myself a fighting fundamentalist in the same tradition as John R. Rice and R.A. Torrey and every one of the other ones that were willing to fight to the very end over the historical things.
Let me show you the heart of the issue. Is John 16.28 an accurate representation of what Christ said? That’s the issue. In the recorded Word of John 16.28, did Jesus really say that? That’s the issue. And the liberal scholar will go after the Bible. He’s going to attack the Bible. He’s going to tell you that you can’t trust it. If he tries to protect the integrity of the person of Jesus Christ he will have to question the integrity of the author of the gospel. So this is what they say, (please follow this) “It wasn’t Jesus. Jesus wasn’t a liar. Jesus wasn’t a bad person. Jesus was a good person. It was His followers that twisted His words and it was His followers that modified what He had to say. It was His followers – it wasn’t Jesus.” And so what they are trying to do is preserve the integrity of Jesus, and they are going to go after the integrity of the Bible with a passion. And so what they say is that you cannot rely on the preservation and the inspiration of the Word of God.
Fundamentalists understood the significance and ramifications of these attacks.

So this is what it comes down to for us. If they tell me I can’t trust John 16. If you don’t know whether those are real words or not, then take your Bible please and go back two chapters. Go to John 14. So now, the liberal scholar says, “You can’t trust John 16. John 16 is not an accurate representation. Jesus never said that.” The liberal scholar says that His disciples, second generation followers, twisted the Word of God. Well then, if I cannot count on John 16, then what do we do with words like,
1Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
If we’re going to take John 16.28 out of the Bible, then why don’t you take John 14.1 out of the Bible! Well, if you start with John 14.1, what about John 14.2?
2In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
What do you do with John 14.6?

6Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

So where does it stop? Liberal scholar, where does it stop? If you are going to start cutting with your scissors in the Bible, where does it stop?

What happens if Christ’s legitimacy in forgiving sins is questioned or denied?

And this is where I’m left. If I don’t have John 16 and I don’t have John 14, I’m a most miserable man! Because where’s my hope? Where’s my hope for eternity? Where’s my hope for forgiveness of sins? I’ve got no hope. What am I going to rely on? I’m trusting in the Word of God, aren’t I? I’m trusting in God’s fulfilled promises. You take this away from me, where’s my hope? I have no hope. You’re leaving me, liberal scholar, denier of absolute truths, you’re leaving me with nothing. I have no idea what to believe from this point on. You told me I can’t believe John 16.28, what about 27? What about 29? What about 17? Okay, now let’s go to Romans. What about Romans 10? No, that doesn’t work? What about John 3:16? Is that a good verse? And let me tell you something, folks, there’s no end to this. And you leave us, liberal scholar, denier of absolute truths, modernists, you leave us with no hope. Nothing. I have nothing on which to cling. I can’t preach a funeral, Adrian, because I wouldn’t know what to say at a funeral. Right, brother Don? What do you have?

Secondary Effects
And let me show you the secondary effects. Satan used the liberal theologians to set the conditions for the growth of two major cults. Both the Mormons and the Jehovah Witnesses deny or modify the fundamentals of the faith once delivered. Look at how slick this is -- If the Christians are denying the fundamentals, now look at how easy it is for us to deny the fundamentals. The Christians don’t even believe in the fundamentals. Christian seminary professors deny the fundamentals. Pastors in the pulpit are denying the fundamentals. Only the fighting fundamentalists are contending for them. So, if they deny them within their own churches, it’s no wonder that the people in those same churches are ripe to believe any nonsense, like Jesus has a half-brother. Where did it come from? It came from the liberal scholars. Satan used their liberalism to set the conditions to confuse God’s people and to remove them from a fundamental church to a liberal church and then from a liberal church to a cult. “That’s your opinion, Pastor.” No, stop. No. Historically, I can show that to you. It’s not my opinion. I can show you that in the life of Joseph Smith. I can show you that these founders were involved in these types of churches with compromising. And they were not well-grounded in the fundamentals of the faith. They could not recognize this heresy just like that.

Attack the Person
Alright, so you leave the Word of God alone. Plan 2 – you attack the person of Jesus Christ. What happens to the person and work of Jesus Christ when one denies any of Christ’s claims to divinity in the gospels?

Option 1: Was he deluded? Did he have a split-personality? Or visions of being someone he really wasn’t?
Option 2: Was he a liar? So is he a lunatic? Is He a sinner? If He is a sinner, then He cannot atone for sin, can He? Then we are now most miserable creatures.

Listen folks, if this did not have such direct results, such a direct impact on everything about Christianity, it would not be a big deal. But if Christ can’t atone for sins, His death is no different than any other person’s death in the history of mankind. It’s no big deal. Okay, another man just got crucified – thousands were crucified, tens of thousands were crucified – big deal! If you can find one single sin in the life of Christ, it’s all ruined. All of it. Oh, folks! I’m talking about the smallest white lie. I’m talking about rolling your eyes at your parents. Anything!

It is amazing the number of Christians that will deny the sinless life of Christ. Christians will deny that Christ was sinless and don’t even understand that if Christ is not sinless, if He is not without sin, they have no hope. As they are denying that Christ is without sin, they are saying, “Yes, I’m going to Heaven.” Hey folks, it doesn’t work that way! If you’re going to pick that answer on a multiple-choice test, you have to pick the next one that goes with it which means that He can no longer atone for sin. And that’s why these are fundamentals of the faith. That’s why these are the essential elements of the faith. That’s why I have no problem saying that I’m a fundamentalist in the sense that we’re talking about here.

The fundamentalist understands that when you take away the fundamentals of the faith, the entire faith once delivered breaks apart into nothing more than a social club or support group.

Let me show you what I mean. (Show slide of uncooked macaroni) That’s a bowl of noodles. That’s not macaroni and cheese. That’s a bowl of noodles. You start pulling apart one of the fundamentals, I’m not going to eat that. That’s crunchy. That doesn’t taste good. It’s hard. It’s not cooked. It’s not flavored. It doesn’t have that quarter stick of butter in it. It doesn’t taste good. Why? You took away one of the fundamentals. What was the fundamental? Well, you have to have some cheese. The noodles need to be cooked. These are critical things.

Listen, if Jesus didn’t come from the Father, how do I know He’s going to the Father? Do you understand that? Okay, He didn’t come from the Father. Well then, how do I know He’s going to the Father? Look, you tell me He came from the Father, but you can’t prove that. I don’t believe in that, why in the world would I think He’s going to the Father? And that’s what happens. You take one apart and you’re left with nothing. And this is what we’re left with right here, folks. This is the reality. This is it.

If Christ has no eternality
If Christ has no eternality with the Father and if Christ has no pre-existence, then what Paul said is so accurate.

1 Corinthians 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

And this is what he was saying, (and I’ll be done) if all I can do is look to Jesus as a role model, if all I can do is look to Jesus as a good teacher, if all I can do is look to Jesus as an example, if all I can do is look to Jesus as an ethical role model or as a good religious leader, if that’s all there is in Jesus Christ, then what do I have? Absolutely, I’m left with nothing. Put me in a pine box and there’s no hope for anything. And I’m literally left on this planet for X number of years going, “that’s it”. 39, 38, 37, 36 … there’s no more. I’ll never see my friends again. I’ll never see my loved ones. I’ve got no hope. And you’re literally walking through life most miserable. And where we are in the 21st century is that we’ve lost our focus on this, and we don’t understand that when you start pulling this away, and you start grabbing this out, you are left with nothing but a bowl of noodles. It’s not cooked. It doesn’t taste good. No one is interested in eating it. It doesn’t have very much nutritional value to it. It’s empty, folks. The macaroni and cheese … the noodles = the Bread of Life; the cheese = the Word of God.… maybe a simple way to help you remember the importance of those two key things.

Historically: The Big Five Fundamentals
So, these were the big five in the 1900’s, and I’ll close with these five. This is what they were fighting for in the 1900’s.

• Verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible
• Deity of Christ
• Virgin birth
• Substitutionary atonement
• Bodily return of Christ, the second coming

Those were the big five, folks. Those were the fundamentals over which they were willing to fight and unite.

GA Days @ Anchorage

I, like you, have been exceptionally busy and thus the lack of time for blogging. One reason for the lack of time was my time at Camp Anchorage with our high school students. This year for a historical first BBA took all the 9th thru 12th graders to camp for the GA (Get Acquainted) Days. Monday morning we left and returned Wednesday afternoon ‘dead’ tired. It is truly amazing how much you can jam into 50+ hours especially when you minimize that luxury called sleep.

For five preaching/teaching opportunities I focused on both the simplicity and complexity of God’s plan of salvation (yes I know that is a paradox). And the students were awesome as they interacted and let their minds be challenged with the awesomeness of God’s plan of redemption and just how much we don’t completely understand about how God’s knows everything and has a will for everything (past, present and future) and yet he encourages us to pray and our prayers and actions impact life. I could go on and on and re-preach the messages but that isn’t my point in writing.

My point is to praise God because two students professed a need to and a decision to repent and believe the gospel at camp on Tuesday night. A freshman boy and a sophomore girl both new to the Academy, this year, and both by their profession of faith are new members of the body of Christ—PTL!

Furthermore, the students have been exceptionally gracious in sending notes of appreciation and gratitude for the decision to take GA Days to Camp Anchorage. And I had a great time being with them. Some thought they could drown the pastor and I am still here and others thought they could run the pastor to the ground and by God’s grace they didn't. And others didn’t know the Pastor could hide so well. Well I could go on but words struggle at communicating how much I enjoyed being with tomorrow’s adult church. Many of our teenagers have a better grasp of the Word of God than the adults I preach to each Sunday--keep it up.

Next year, we are already locked in for Wednesday thru Friday and I wouldn’t miss the event, unless it was the Lord’s will, for anything. Moreover, I am praying what God would have us to examine from His Word for our days together.

P.S. Once again the Camp Staff was awesome and I am growing to love this ministry at the lake so very much.

A Huge Difference

The Friday FAITH section of the local paper highlighted a very important point of difference between the Islamic religion and Christianity with regard to its sacred writings. Earl Vaughan Jr., staff writer, describes the Islamic religious festival of Ramadan as the “month of fasting…to honor the time when the Muslim holy Book, the Quran, was sent down to the prophet Muhammad as a guide to mankind” (Fayetteville-Observer, Section E; September, 5, 2008).

Did you notice exactly what he said, “sent down?” Therein lies the difference—a Christian would never describe his Bible as a sacred book sent down. God didn’t send a book to Christians; instead, the way in which Christians received the Word of God from God was far different and radically superior.

God Almighty, Creator of the Universe, and Sovereign God of all used at least forty different authors to pen sacred texts, manuscripts, under the verbal inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These men had to live it, experience it, and use their own language and method of communicate based on their society, culture and other influences; yet what they wrote was exactly what God wanted written each and every time.

Then this same Sovereign God watched over and preserved the manuscripts as they were copied and copied and copied and distributed to God’s people centuries before the printing press or FedEx or any other method of sending packages and such.

Then God used others to confirm what was clearly inspired because of its authenticity, wide acceptance and use, authorship and orthodoxy in a process that the church typically describes as canonization.

I really don’t know what Vaughan means when he says sent down. The Bible says Holy men spoke as they were moved by God, but that is much different than “sent down.” For some reason I envision Scottie beaming stuff up and down from the Starship Enterprise when I read “sent down.”

In Exodus 24, Moses receives from God stone tablets that contain instructions concerning the law and commandments, so I certainly don’t deny God’s ability to use any means He sees fit to communicate with people, but it makes more sense to me that He would use something already on this planet like stone and etch on it a message rather than sending something down.

Maybe Vaughan wasn’t as careful with his words as he should have been, but then again he wasn’t inspired and so we can’t expect his words to be perfect. But the inspired words of the Bible are pure of any error because of God’s Sovereign care in inspiring and preserving His Word.

I guess I just don’t buy it, and that is why I am a follower of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.