Saturday, March 29

Davidson Phenom Stephen Curry Wears Testimony on His Shoes has the intriguing story:

"I can do all things."

If you write that in black ink on your red Nike sneakers and step out onto the floor at the NCAA tournament, you'd better be able to back up words like that.

And so far, Stephen Curry has done just that. Davidson's sophomore guard is the unquestioned star of March Madness 2008, leading the Cinderella Wildcats out of a No. 10 seed to within a win of the Final Four with a trip of stirring upset victories over Gonzaga, Georgetown and Wisconsin. And he's has put up gigantic numbers in the process, averaging a tournament-leading 34.3 ppg on 50.8 percent shooting. In the second half of Friday night's Sweet 16 contest against the Big Ten champions, he personally outscored Wisconsin 22-20....

But as for the writing on his shoes, it's certainly not the product of a me-first mentality or an overblown ego lurking beneath a shell of false modesty. There just wasn't enough room on the sole to finish the quote.

"Oh, that," Curry said. "It's Philippians 4:13. 'I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.' It's always been one of my favorite Bible verses. … I realize that what I do on the floor isn't a measure of my own strength. Having that there keeps me focused on the game, a constant reminder of who I'm playing for."

And as the modest star's accomplishments grow, so too does his status as a basketball-playing role model. If Friday night's enormous crowd at Ford Field was any indication, there are already young children out there who aspire to be the next Steph Curry, kids who already own his No. 30 jersey.

"Don't play for anybody other than your family, or God, or whatever you believe in," said Curry when asked if he had any advice to offer. "It's easy to get caught up in playing for the crowd, trying to play a game you're not capable of. I found myself doing that a little bit in high school and early in my college career. I try harder not to do things that are over my head, not do anything too special. I'm more of a blue-collar guy."
Read entire story HERE.

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Thursday, March 27

The Real Motivation to Not Sin

"We never see sin aright until we see it as against God....All sin is against God in this sense; that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is despised, His government that is set at naught....Pharoah and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, 'I have sinned'; but the returning prodigal said, 'I have sinned against heaven and before thee'; and David said, 'Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned."

-William S. Plumer, Psalms (1867; reprent edition, Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), p. 557

This should help us think about the approach we take towards sin both personally and corporately as a local church. Do we want to be victorious personally or to be victorious God-wardly? Once we fully understand that our sin is an offense against a holy and righteous God we will then abandon our "do's and dont's" mentality towards sin and embrace a love and worship for God that will have as our deepest motivation to be pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5:9).

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Wednesday, March 26

Calling All SharperIron Guys Attending the Together For the Gospel Conference

Let's storm the T4G platform with our KJV's drawn and call for a return to old-time, pew-jumpin', hell-fire-and-brimstone-preachin' fightin' fundamentalism.

OK, maybe that's a bit over the top.

But how about getting together for a photograph or two (unless a photograph of you at T4G would get you in trouble!), and having supper together?!

Since Wednesday night is the night most of us would be gathering with our church families back home, let's have a little SharperIron time around the table. Whatcha say?

If you are planning to attend, drop me an email at and I will reserve your place at the SharperIron table.

Please let me know by April 4 if you will be attending. I have reserved 25 places at Los Aztecas Mexican Restaurant [click HERE for website and HERE for menu] on Main St. in downtown Louisville. We will meet at the restaurant (1/4 mile from the Convention Center) at 5 PM on Wednesday evening.

C'mon ... let's get Together for the Gospel and for some good fundy food and fellowship!

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Some Serious Questions for Our Readers

While we will continue to address theological issues that Christians throughout the history of the church have debated I do believe that it is good and healthy from time to time to just take a "time out" and check up on some things in our own personal lives. Allow me to take a break from splitting theological and hermeneutical hairs and ask some very practical questions to those who read this blog:

How has your time in the Word been so far this week?

Are you growing as a result of your own personal devotions and prayer life?

Are you praying for unsaved people?

Are you praying for those who are sick?

Are you praying for the bereaved?

Are you praying for your church leadership?

How is your service and attendance in your local church?

Do you attend your local church or do you belong to your local church?

Are you currently witnessing to anyone or building a relationship with someone you know is lost in order to share the Good News of the gospel with them?

Are you interacting with your neighbors in your community?

Husbands - are you humbling serving your wives and loving them as Christ loved the Church?

Husbands - are you providing the spiritual leadership in your home that God has specifically commanded you to provide?

Wives - are you submissive to your husbands as to the Lord?

Wives - if you are married to an unbeliever are you trying to win them with your conduct (I Peter 3:1)?

Married (and or engaged) couples - do you pray together, read Scripture together, talk about God's work in your lives together, serve together, and encourage and edify others together?

Are you growing in the area of personal and sexual purity by holding yourself accountable and practicing personal holiness in your public and private life by God's grace?

Are you practicing generosity in your own life by liberally giving to others and supporting your local church with the increase that God provides?

Do you gossip more than you encourage?

Do you complain more than you praise?

Do you look forward to your time in the Word, prayer, worship, hearing the Word preached, fellowshipping with God's people and being convicted by the Holy Spirit?

Do you still believe that Scripture is totally sufficient to deal with all things pertaining to life and godliness?

Are you doing anything about the changes that you know God wants you to make in your life?

Are you looking for opportunities to minister to others?

How are your relationships with members of the opposite sex?

Do you still understand that sin offends a holy and righteous God?

Are you seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with those that you have hurt and offended?

Are you holding bitterness inside against someone and refusing to forgive someone who has wronged you and has sought forgiveness from you?

Are you a Calvinist....You DO NOT have to answer that one...just making sure you are still following along.

Parents - are you raising your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

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Monday, March 24

Calling All Young GARBC'ers ...

To join the new GARBC Facebook group HERE.

The online edition of The Baptist Bulletin gives a few details regarding a recent meeting with several young Baptist leaders in our Association, and shares some exciting happenings among the younger generation within our Association:

SCHAUMBURG, Ill.Jim Vogel and John Greening recently hosted a think tank for a small group of young Baptist leaders who met together at the GARBC Ministry Resource Center. They worked on a strategic plan to minister to younger pastors and integrate them into active participation in the GARBC. The lively and candid discussion focused on assessing the current situation and need in the GARBC, identifying specific ideas for future ministry, prioritizing ideas, and establishing implementation plans. It was the consensus of the group that the day was enormously profitable. A rich time of prayer concluded the discussion, asking for God’s blessing on the efforts. Those who are interested in connecting to this group of pastors are encouraged to become a member of the new GARBC Facebook group. Young pastors are urged to attend the GARBC Annual Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 24-27.
The Facebook group offers opportunity for younger pastors and college and seminary students to offer some of their ideas and thoughts regarding our Association and ways we can assist in its success as a fellowship of churches championing biblical truth within balanced Fundamentalism.

Young GARBC'ers, let's get involved in shaping the future of our Association. And for those who are not a part of the GARBC, but would like to find out what we are all about, feel your way around our Association HERE and HERE. While we are not a perfect group of churches (and do not claim to be the only ecclesiastical group championing biblical truth), we are committed to the historic fundamentals of the faith and spreading the Gospel for the glory of God.

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Kirk Cameron ... The Calvinist?

I'll let you be the judge of that! Nevertheless, here is Kirk sharing his testimony of faith in Christ (and he does not disappoint when it comes to God's sovereignty in salvation). Oh, and there's another guy in the video, too. His name is John MacArthur! Enjoy!

For what it's worth, we are viewing The Way of the Master video series as a part of an evangelism Sunday School class. Our people have found the series to be a blessing and an encouragement in sharing the Gospel with others.

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Wanna Know the Kind of Fundamentalism I Embrace?

Read this insightful and thought-provoking article by Dr. Stephen Davis over at SharperIron.

Here is the article:

Fundamentalism is an idea with competing movements that arose in a particular North American context in the battle for truth and which God has blessed in spite of the shortcomings it shares with all movements. Many of the fundamentalists I know are godly people with a passion for truth and a commitment to the authority of the Word of God. Even many of Fundamentalism’s detractors would acknowledge that. Yet in my opinion and observation, Fundamentalism’s commitment to the authority of Scripture often attaches itself to interpretations and positions on issues to which scriptural authority cannot be legitimately attached. In no way would I suggest that Fundamentalism is monolithic. In fact, one finds great diversity due in part to the level of certainty that is accorded to the application of Scripture to issues that are far removed from the fundamentals of the faith. These applications on a host of issues—from standards to music to Bible versions to eschatological distinctives—have helped create a fractured Fundamentalism.

In this writer’s view, Fundamentalism was an appropriate and descriptive name for a movement and its subsequent movements created in response to early twentieth century attacks on biblical authority and other fundamentals of the faith. It remains to be seen which, if any, of its present forms are viable and effective in a multicultural, pluralistic society and in a globalized world. Fundamentalism is faced with serious challenges to its existence, and the viability of movements within Fundamentalism in the twenty-first century is in question. Some have suggested re-branding or repackaging Fundamentalism to make it gentler or more authentic. Others have proposed substantive change or a cosmetic makeover with a name change.
Continue reading HERE.

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Thursday, March 20

Is the Abrahamic Covenant Conditional?

Are the promises that God made to Abraham unconditional in nature and bound to be fulfilled? The three promises that we find being the personal promises where God promises to bless Abraham, the second being national promises concerning Israel where God promised to make a great nation of Abraham's physical descendants (Gen. 12:2) and the third being universal promises which would directly affect all the peoples of the world (Gen. 12:3; 22:18; 28:14).

Are covenants unconditional? Does this really matter? I contend that it does matter because it directly affects the way we look at the future of the nation of Israel and whether or not there is a literal future for Israel and its land and that the prophecies concerning its land and future program should be interpreted literally and NOT allegorically.

Also, if we read Galatians 3:15 literally....then how could we ever say that a covenant is conditional?

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Baptist Pastor Refutes Calvinism and Predestination

I've just recanted of my views...

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Wednesday, March 19

Being Reformed Does NOT Necessarily Mean...

Words have meaning. They carry weight. They can either build up or tear down. Words, for the most part, define who we are. They define our character, our goals, our selfishness, pride or humility. But they also define our theology. Scores of theological terms that we use today are not found in Scripture. Terms such as "systematic theology", "rapture", "trinity", "dispensationalism", "worldliness", or "worldview". These are good terms that help us articulate where we stand on theological persuasions yet are not words that are specifically in Scripture.

A word that is thrown around a lot today among young fundamentalists is the word "Reformed". Much of the discussion surrounding the connotations of this word has been somewhat skewed and biased. I'm looking forward to a workshop that is going to be done by a man that I have the utmost respect for - Dr. Myron Houghton at the GARBC Nat'l Conf. in Cedar Rapids Iowa this summer. The workshop is entitled "A Baptist Perspective on Reformed Theology". I trust that this workshop will be both informative and fair.

From my viewpoint, being Reformed does NOT mean:

That I have or ever will sprinkle or baptize infants! As much as I appreciate Calvin's Institutes I could not believe the loopholes and the mental gymnastics that he played with the Scriptures in defense of infant baptism. I am Reformed....yet I still cannot with any theological integrity justify the practice of baptizing infants. I've heard their argument, and I humbly and respectfully still say that this practice is unfounded in Scripture and unbiblical.

Being Reformed does not mean that I embrace Covenant Theology! Though I respect many who adhere to a CT persuasion I by no means embrace their eschatology or in many cases their preterism. I still, while being Reformed, hold to a pre-tribulational rapture and a pre-millennial return of Christ.

Being Reformed does not mean that I believe in a state controlled Church! This is where most of us would differ strongly with the Reformers. I still strongly believe in the priesthood of the believer that call for an elder led/congregational form of church government.

These are three of the major theological assumptions that are made when you indicate that you are Reformed. I understand that this term, like the term "fundamentalist" means different things to different people. However, those of us who use the term Reformed consistently are usually indicating an adherence to the doctrines of grace (a.k.a. Calvinism).

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Monday, March 17

Rick Phillips on Church Visions and Strategies

Normally this would find itself under the News and Views You Can Use heading in the left sidebar. But not today; Rick Phillips provides some can't-miss thoughts on church visions and strategic plans.

His thoughts are sure to stir up a bit of controversy, while leading to some intriguing conversation. Here is what he has to say:

Our editor asks us to comment on the question of "crafting church visions." Is it necessary or even advisable for churches to make 5-year or 10 year plans? Or is such a practice a corruption of the spiritual calling of the church? My response consists of the following 7 points, which I will flesh out below:

1. The mandate for church "visions" comes not from the Scriptures but from the secular leadership industry and corporate consulting groups.

2. The emphasis on "visions" and "strategies" has the general effect of placing the church's confidence in methods rather than in our message.

3. Vision planning helps church leaders to conduct objective analysis so as to support better decision-making.

4. Strategic timelines (5- and 10 year plans) tend to focus the church on results it is able to produce, whereas the Scriptures focus the church on results that only God can produce.

5. Church visions emphasize what is distinctive about particular churches (their context, target audience, etc.) rather than what they hold in common with all other churches (God's Word, Christ, the call to personal holiness, etc.).

6. Church visioning has the positive effect of causing churches to think in fresh ways about their local context and the missional impact they might have.

7. Since every church has a strategy and methods (explicit or not), visioning causes explicit reflection on them.

Again, I'm going to work through these in some detail below. But let me give you my conclusion up front:

Church visioning is a powerful tool that can help make leaders much more effective. But since it necessarily focuses on things man can achieve, it has a dangerous tendency to secularize the church. Therefore, in my opinion, church visioning is probably a good idea only for churches that are strongly established with an ordinary means of grace emphasis, but who need to pay more attention to their missional context. Also, I would suggest that a visioning process should be conducted only periodically so as to set some longer term trajectories for ministry aspirations. The document should be kept ready so as to offer its analysis to future decision-making (hiring decisions, budget priorities, etc.), and then the church should continue to focus on its God-given mission of serving the Kingdom of Christ through the God-given strategy of Word, sacrament, and prayer, with biblically-defined elders and pastors serving a biblically-shaped church. (See 2 Cor. 10:3-4, and 1 Cor. 1:21-2:2).
Continue reading HERE.

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Questions to Ask a Church When Considering a Pastorate

Matt Schmucker of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in D. C., gives some great pastoral advice for potential pastoral candidates:

A close friend recently asked me what I’d ask about if I was considering a pastoral position at a church. Good question. Young pastors are too often focused on what they’ll be asked rather than on what they should ask. If this is the flock God is calling you to shepherd, ignorance is not your friend. The list below is not complete, nor should it be used exhaustively. It is simply a list of some things you may want to consider.

1. Statement of Faith. Is it available, used, and understood? Can I affirm each section? Does the congregation live this out? Is it an adequate statement about Scripture, God, and salvation? Does it require anything that the Bible does not require of being a Christian, i.e. abstinence?

2. Church Covenant. Is it available and practiced?

3. Constitution (bylaws). Does one exist? Is it updated and used? In it you’ll learn how they choose officers, accept new members and much more. Constitutions are generally invisible until there’s a problem and then they become incredibly important. Know what it says.

4. Budget. Does a budget exist (you’d be surprised!)? How is it formed? Does the congregation vote to accept the budget? A church’s budget will tell you a lot about the vision and priorities (i.e. heart) of a church.

5. Balance sheet. Don’t just look at the church budget; look at the balance sheet. It will tell you things about debt, designated funds and valuation of buildings. These things are not as important as a statement of faith, but there not unimportant, often dictating what a church can and cannot do financially.

6. Missions. A part of the budget should be international missions. You’ll learn a lot about a church through their missions giving. Do they give? Are they going to hard-to-reach places? How do they pick who to support? Do they support a few people very well or a lot of people poorly?

7. Order of service. Ask to see several weeks’ bulletins to get a feel for what the church does when it gathers.

There is much more good advice, so continue reading HERE.

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Thursday, March 13

Obama's Church Could Lose Tax Exempt Status Over Controversial Pastor's Comments


Barack Obama’s controversial pastor and the church he’s served for 36 years may be in hot water over statements he has made from the pulpit in support of the Illinois senator’s run for the White House.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. preaches that he follows the righteous path, but when it comes to the federal tax law, his Trinity United Church of Christ may have crossed the line.

Although Wright delivered what was billed as his final sermon last month on his path to retirement, prior to his departure he delivered commentary from the pulpit now being scrutinized in which he praised Obama.

“There is a man here who can take this country in a new direction,” Wright said during his Jan. 13 sermon, according to recordings obtained by FOX News.

It was not the first time Wright appeared to endorse Obama, who was baptized at Trinity United, has been an active member of the church for two decades and receives spiritual mentorship from Wright.

The title of Obama’s second book, “The Audacity of Hope,” was taken from a sermon by Wright.

During a Christmas sermon, Wright tried to compare Obama’s upbringing to Jesus at the hands of the Romans.

“Barack knows what it means living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people,” Wright said. “Hillary would never know that.

“Hillary ain’t never been called a nigger. Hillary has never had a people defined as a non-person.”

In his Jan. 13 sermon, Wright said:

“Hillary is married to Bill, and Bill has been good to us. No he ain’t! Bill did us, just like he did Monica Lewinsky. He was riding dirty.”
Continue reading HERE.

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Wednesday, March 12

Worship Blooper

If you participate in leading worship at your church you will want to see THIS VIDEO. Please don't be drinking anything as you watch this video.

[HT: Worship Matters]

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Tuesday, March 11

Things You May Not Know About Southern Seminary

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary - the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention has been the Cinderella story of a school that most counted as a lost cause to theological liberalism that has now become a thriving, evangelical and doctrinally solid seminary turning out pastors and thinkers that are impacting Christendom. It is also associated with the doctrines of grace. Much of that is due to Dr. Al Mohler's adherence to the doctrines of grace and many of the bloggers that have come out of Southern who are ardent Calvinists. That is why we here on this blog have such a favorable impression of this school. Ken and I visited and toured Southern two years ago at the last T4G meeting.

Trevin Wax who is a student at Southern posted some interesting insights from someone who is not speculating but actually providing factual information about a seminary that many on the Arminian side of things tend to paint with a broad brush. Take a look at an excerpt from his post today:

Currently, not one of the deans at Southern Seminary is a five-point Calvinist.

Calvinism is not a litmus test for teaching at the seminary; the Abstract of Principles is, and the Abstract leaves room for disagreement on the extent of the atonement and irresistible grace.

Calvinism is not the main subject of interest among faculty members or students.

You can read the rest of the post HERE.

This is an excellent observation that clearly points out that disagreements concerning Calvinism does not measure up to a need to separate from or a negative to cooperate with someone. Yes, we do believe that Calvinists and non-Calvinists can work together on things for the Kingdom while still holding some minor disagreements. And Southern Seminary provides a shining example for us to see that at work!

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Different? In What Way?: Part #3


What are the biblical distinctions that are to set us apart from the world? In what specific ways are we to be different from the world? Here are some Bible lists.

Exodus 20:1-17
Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Proverbs 6:17-19
Matthew 22:37-40
Romans 1:21-31
Ephesians 5:3-5

Now there are a few other lists that I would like to hone in on as they appear to be clearly pointing out the distinctions between those who are of God and those who are of the world. [Please read through these passages before going in further. I was going to print them in full, but it would make this post unnecessarily long.]

Galatians 5:16-26
Ephesians 4:17-32
Colossians 3:5-17

Please notice the specific sins mentioned. These are defined as "the works of the flesh," the actions of the "Gentiles" (those without Christ). Then notice the specific works of righteousness that are set in contrast. These are defined as the "fruit of the Spirit", the evidences of being a "new man" created in Christ Jesus. These are God's list of worldliness and righteousness. When the Apostle Paul set about contrasting the people of God with the people of the world these are the lists he gave.

Of course there are many other specific sins and works of righteousness that are mentioned in the Scripture, but one list you will never find is the list of "worldly music, people, entertainment, fashions, customs, places, etc." In fact when dealing with the premier passages that are used to support such lists you will find no specific mention of any of these things only a general exhortation to not "conform" or "love" the world. When seeking specifics you will find the lists referenced above.

According to the Bible, how are we to be different? What are the philosophies of this present age that we are to oppose?

  • In a postmodern world we are committed to the absolute standard of God's world.
  • In a pluralistic world we proclaim salvation through Christ alone.
  • In a psychologized world we hold to the sufficiency of Scripture.
  • In an idolatrous world we love and worship Yahweh alone.
  • In a sex-ridden world we are pure in thought and in deed.
  • In a materialistic world we are generous stewards of God's resources.
  • In a selfish world of abortion, divorce and abandonment we cherish life and are faithful to our families.
  • In a self-centered world we put others and their needs first.
  • In a man-pleasing world we glorify God in everything.
  • In a lazy world we give God our best in every endeavor.
  • In a hate-filled world we love our neighbor and our enemy.
  • In a world of deceit we are honest.
  • In a lonely world we model true community.
And the list could go on and on. What more do we need? Why do we need to invent man-made lists of man-made sins? That was one of the mistakes the Pharisees made. In a desire to qualify and quantify outward righteousness the Pharisees made extra-biblical rules and regulations that needed to be followed. In doing so, God's Word was supplanted by human wisdom.
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men...thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do. Luke 7:8, 13
In a desire to raise the bar of righteousness we actually lower the bar to a man-made righteousness. The emphasis of Scripture is obscured. And while external rules might be adhered to, holiness is lost. We are worldly, not because we look like the world, but because we sin like the world. Satan loves to distract us with feint of externals. And while we prepare to fight on that false front he moves in for the kill. And even if we win that battle, the real battle, the battle of sin, is lost.

May we respond to God's call of holiness. May we, the people of God, become a city on a hill. May we be salt and light in this present age. May we be different from the world because we are separating from what the Bible calls sin, and not our own manufactured list external distinctions. God's list is as radical as it gets. We are foolish if we think we can help God raise the bar of holiness. Let us allow God and His Word to define sin and may we be very slow to call anything unclean that God hasn't deemed so.

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Monday, March 10

A Plea For Help From A Fallen Pastor

So the other day I was thinking about shutting down the blog all together. Time is at a premium in my life right now, and frankly this blog has often been the casualty of the time crunch. But that's OK. I am a husband first; a father second; a pastor third. Blogging comes somewhere after feeding the dog.

Each time I am tempted to put the kibosh on The World From Our Window, something happens to change my mind. Yesterday it happened again.

A fallen Baptist pastor read two November 2006 posts [click HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2] regarding my thoughts on the local church and fallen pastors, and left the following comment:

I am a fallen pastor from a Baptist Church. For 30 years I ministered, preached, restored and tried to help others. It has now been two years since I left the ministry. In those two years I have had "no one" even make an attempt to restore me. I have tried going to church, sitting in the back row, and even reaching out for help but there have been no helping hands. I feel like the lepors [sic] of old who walked the roads with a veil over their face crying out unclean, unclean. I guess modern Christianity is more interested in building buildings rather than restoration of the fallen.
I do not know this individual. I do not know what disqualified him from ministry. But frankly, I don't care to know ... and I don't have to know. What I do know is that this sinner longs for restoration. He yearns for hope. Deep inside he wants to be forgiven by the people he sinned against.

Perhaps this man sat in the back row of our church service yesterday ... or perhaps he was present in your church. Did you notice him?

Here's an excerpt from Part 1 of what I wrote back in November 2006 concerning this ever-growing phenomenon of pastors falling from ministry:
We have all heard it said that the (Fundamental) Christian church is the only entity that shoots its wounded. I'm not sure I agree -- but I am convinced of this: when we don't know what to do or say in a "touchy" situation, we often do or say the worst thing possible -- NOTHING. We become the victims of our own fear of doing or saying the wrong thing, and so we do and say nothing at all.

Friends, fallen pastors who repent and seek restoration are some of the loneliest people on the face of the earth. Wives and children struggle with the public humiliation and shame of it all, and churches tend to displace their fallen pastors during the restoration process, asking them to uproot their families and go somewhere else for counseling.

These men are often overwhelmed by their own feelings of guilt and disgrace, and find themselves easy targets of "holier-than-thou" church members and fellow pastors. Trips to Wal-Mart and the post office, which previously led to friendly greetings and chats, have become terribly lonely experiences of behind-the-back whispers and unfriendly glances.

Fallen pastors, like pieces of busted-up cargo, have been boxed up and shipped off to Never-Never-Pastor-Again Land. And the big red label tells their sad story: DAMAGED GOODS.

And then, when no one is looking, the faithful on that Gospel Ship toss that crate of DAMAGED GOODS overboard -- never to be seen or heard from again.
Just maybe next week we'll pay extra special attention to that lonely man sitting in the back row.

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Friday, March 7

Read This Before Requesting Permission To Court Any of My Daughters

So, you think you want to court one of my three daughters?

Think again!

Just because the following did not originate with me doesn't mean I'm any less willing to carry out the decisive actions prescribed below:

Application for Permission to Court My Daughter

NOTE: This application will be incomplete and rejected unless
accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history, lineage,
and current medical report from your doctor.
NAME_____________________________________  DATE OF BIRTH_____________
HEIGHT___________  WEIGHT____________  IQ__________  GPA_____________
SOCIAL SECURITY #_________________  DRIVERS LICENSE #________________
BOY SCOUT RANK AND BADGES____________________________________________
HOME ADDRESS_______________________  CITY/STATE___________  ZIP______
Do you have parents?               ___Yes  ___No
Is one male and the other female?  ___Yes  ___No
If No, explain:
Number of years they have been married ______________________________
If less than your age, explain
A. Do you own or have access to a van?              __Yes  __No
B. A truck with oversized tires?                    __Yes  __No
C. A waterbed?                                      __Yes  __No
D. A pickup with a mattress in the back?            __Yes  __No
E. A tattoo?                                        __Yes  __No
F. Do you have an earring, nose ring,               __Yes  __No
   pierced tongue, pierced cheek or a belly button ring? 
In 50 words or less, what does "LATE" mean to you?
In 50 words or less, what does "DON'T TOUCH MY DAUGHTER" mean to you?
In 50 words or less, what does "ABSTINENCE" mean to you?
Church you attend ___________________________________________________
How often you attend ________________________________________________
When would be the best time to interview your:
       father? _____________
       mother? _____________
       pastor? _____________
Answer by filling in the blank.  Please answer freely, all answers
are confidential.
A: If I were shot, the last place I would want shot would be:
B: If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken is my:
C: A woman's place is in the:
D: The one thing I hope this application does not ask me about is:
E. What do you want to do IF you grow up? ___________________________
F. When I meet a girl, the thing I always notice about her first is:
F. What is the current going rate of a hotel room? __________________
Applicant's Signature (that means sign your name, moron!)
_______________________________      ________________________________
Mother's Signature                   Father's Signature
_______________________________      ________________________________
Pastor (must be ordained)            State Representative/Congressman
Thank you for your interest, and it had better be genuine and
non-sexual. Please allow four to six years for processing.
You will be contacted in writing if you are approved.  Please do
not try to call or write (since you probably can't, and it would
cause you injury). If your application is rejected, you will be
notified by two gentleman wearing white ties carrying violin cases. 

Daddy's Rules for Courting

Your dad's rules for your boyfriend (or for you if you're a guy):

Rule One:

If you pull into my driveway and honk you'd better be delivering a package, because you're sure not picking anything up.

Rule Two:

You do not touch my daughter in front of me (or any other time). You may glance at her, so long as you do not peer at anything below her neck. If you cannot keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter's body, I will remove them.

Rule Three:

I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don't take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your pants ten sizes too big, and I will not object. However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact come off during the course of your time with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.

Rule Four:

It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is: "early."

Rule Five:

I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to court other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to court no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.

Rule Six:

As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process than can take longer than painting the Golden Gate Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don't you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?

Rule Seven:

The following places are not appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where there is darkness. Places where there is dancing, holding hands, or happiness. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka - zipped up to her throat. Movies with a strong romantic themes are to be avoided; movies which features chain saws are okay. Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are best.

Rule Eight:

Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a potbellied, balding, middle-aged, dimwitted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.

Rule Nine:

Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over a rice paddy near Hanoi. When my Agent Orange starts acting up, the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit the car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early, then return to your car - there is no need for you to come inside. The camouflaged face at the window is mine.

If you still intend to court my daughter, you must memorize and recite the preceding nine rules word for word. You will recite them whenever and wherever I ask. Failure to do so will immediately disqualify you from seeing my daughter, speaking to my daughter, or thinking about my daughter.

Any questions?

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Wednesday, March 5

Different? In What Way?: Part #2


Does the Bible define worldliness? If the Bible doesn't define worldliness, than it is left up to us to define. But if it does define it, than we must stick to its definition.

It is interesting that the word "worldliness" is not found in any of the major translations (KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV). That in itself doesn't rule it out as a concept since the words "trinity" and "rapture" aren't in the Bible either, yet the teaching of those concepts is. But it does make defining "worldliness" more difficult because we have to find the biblical truths that this concept is built upon.

If you have been around here for our discussions on limited atonement you are already aware that the word "world" is used in hundreds (slight exaggeration) of different ways. It would appear that the concept of "worldliness" is built upon the use of the word "world" in its reference to "this present sinful age, the world system now dominated by Satan. It represents the sum of the demonic-human philosophy of life." [MacArthur, Romans 9-16, pg. 150] We are not to allow ourselves to be "conformed to this world." (Romans 12:2) We are also not to be a "friend of the world." (James 4:4) The "man-centered, Satan-directed system of this present age...the self-centered, godless value system and mores of fallen mankind [whose goal] is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction, and every other form of self-serving, all of which amounts to hostility toward God." [MacArthur, James, pg. 193] Although we live in the world - this physical earth - we are not "of the world" - this world's system. (John 15:19; 17:14, 16) We are not to "love the world or the things in the world." (1 John 2:15)

Although MacArthur gives an accepted explanation of the use of the term "world" it isn't a direct quote from any Bible verse. To find a simple, biblical definition of "worldliness" as outlined in these passages, all we have to do is go to the immediate context of 1 John 2:15.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 [emphasis mine]
MacArthur expands on these three foundational concepts for his definition, but here it is in seed form. Worldliness is defined by:
  • Desires driven by personal pleasure and profit, not God and His glory.
  • The belief that I, not the triune God of the Bible, am the center of the universe.
This is exemplified in Satan, the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and was his three-fold strategy in his temptation of Eve, leading to the fall of mankind (Genesis 3:1-7). It is a clash of worldviews, of ideology. It is a spiritual battle with God and the biblical worldview on one side, and Satan and his worldview on the other.

Therefore, there are only two kinds of people on this earth, those who are of the world and those who are of God. Jesus Christ was not "of this world" because of His nature - He is God. Christians are also not "of this world" because Christ "chose us out of the world." (John 17: 14; John 15:19) "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." (Colossians 1:13) "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) We have been born again with a new nature. And since we have been spiritually crucified and raised again with Christ we now seek heavenly things. Our minds are no longer set on earthly, worldly things, but on the things of God. (Colossians 3:1-2)

This is why love of the world and friendship with the world is so terrible, it is evidence that you do not posses new life! You are not in Christ! "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Don't you know that anyone who is a friend (lover) of the world is the enemy of God? (James 4:4-5) So instead of viewing worldliness (as biblically defined) as a sign of backsliding it is actually a sign of spiritual deadness. The professing Christian who loves the world is actually not a Christian at all.

I realize that present sanctification is a process and that the true Christian will continually battle loving this world. That is why believers are commanded not to love the world. We cannot think as the world does. We can't be motivated by what motivates the world. We can't be driven by what drives the world. That is why we must have our hearts and minds transformed by the Holy Spirit in concert with the Word of God.

That is also why Paul urges Christians to not allow themselves to be pressed into the mold of this present age, but allow themselves to be transformed by God. Lack of conformity to the world is proof that you are abiding in God's will - that you are actually a Christian. How are we transformed? By the transformation of our minds! We are not biblically defined as worldly by the exterior, but the interior. What we think! We are not transformed by changing our exterior and or by a wholesale separation from present day cultural. Contemporary culture is not the enemy. There will be outward changes resulting from a transformed mind, but those changes are the fruit and not the root of the transformation.

Therefore, to use any of these passages as a springboard to preach against worldly music, worldly entertainment, worldly fashions, worldly customs, and worldly places (however those would be defined), is not emphasizing the point of the text. It is majoring on the minors. And when we major on the minors the minors become major and the majors become minor. Resulting many times in a people who are culturally distinct, but still lovers of the world. They are out of step with current cultural norms (usually holding to a 1950's culture) but infected with the world's mindset. Isn't it easier to quit listening to rock music than it is to give up pride and selfishness? Haven't we set the bar to low by giving man-made rules and regulations that can be kept in our own strength, instead of calling Christians to the impossible goal (made possible only by God's strength) of loving God with all of our being?

In Part #3 I will give my thoughts on what the biblical distinctions are that set us apart from the world.

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Tuesday, March 4

Sproul Explains & Defends Infant Baptism

You can listen to his explanation HERE.

For the record, I remain unconvinced ... even after hearing his arguments for paedo-baptism.

He even acknowledges that there is no New Testament precedent or example of infant baptism! Regardless of where you fall on the issue, understanding the rationale used to defend this practice will help promote God-honoring, stimulating discussion between Baptists and Presbyterians!

So go listen!

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A Real-Life Prodigal Son's Story of God's Amazing Grace

Dennis Rainey of Family Life Today, has conducted an intriguing and informative interview with Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham's grandson.

Tullian left his family and faith at age 16, only to be irresistibly drawn by the grace of God several years later. Tullian's mother has written the following about the experience:

I stood in the doorway, watching my son walk slowly down the driveway and out into the street. Then, with a heart that felt heavy as lead, I reluctantly turned away.

I forced myself to go through the motions of fixing dinner and doing the evening chores. When I finally crawled into bed, I lay awake, crying and wondering. Where was he? Had he eaten supper? Did he have a place to sleep? Could we have done things differently? Would he ever come home again?

I thought back over the past months. The ups and downs, the emotions, the harsh words, the frustrations, the disobedience, the dishonesty, the questions, the long nights ... sitting and waiting, wondering, worrying, asking why.

Why was this son choosing to rebel against all we’d offered him? A warm, loving home, physical comfort, an education, a godly heritage. We had wanted him, prayed for him, and had been overjoyed at his arrival. He had been such a fun-loving, happy child. We called him our "sunshine."

I never expected unsavory friends, drugs, theft, wild dress to go with even wilder behavior, or calls from detention centers. Why? Our other children, although not perfect, had never caused us any serious problems.

Unable to control the tears, I thought about all the chances we had given our son. He had run away from home at sixteen. We'd taken him back again and again only to have him abuse our trust and disrupt our family life. We had done all we knew to do until finally, tonight, my husband had to demand that he leave our home.
Continue reading HERE.

Following his conversion at age 21, Tullian attended Reformed Theological Seminary, and is currently pastoring a Presbyterian Church in Florida. To access Dennis Rainey's inspiring interviews with Tullian, click HERE for Part 1, and HERE for Part 2.

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Two Questions for Young Fundamentalists

Without question, the prevailing influences on those who grew up in what we would refer to as "fundamentalism" have been what is called the "Emerging" movement and the "Reformed" movement. It comes as no surprise that myself and my partners on this blog lean heavily towards the reformed side. But I want to ask those of you out there who consider yourselves to be "young" (and I am in no way going to put an age reference on that one) to chime in as to why so many young fundamentalists are attracted and drawn to these two movements.

My Answer: With the Emerging movement there is an allure to the relevancy that they appeal to. The more relevant church becomes (so they say) then the more attractive it will be to the world. Where this misses the point I believe is a failure to realize that the church does NOT exist for the world....rather it exists for the saints (Ephesians 4:7-16). That does not exclude the responsibility of evangelism. But the clear Scriptural mandate for the church is that it builds up the Body of Christ through the gifts of her members. Relevancy does not exist in a cultural vacuum. Relevancy exists in the timeless truths of God's Word.

Regarding the Reformed movement I would submit that many of us who lean in this direction appreciate the substance that we get from this movement that frankly, for the most part we did not get in fundamentalism. Reformed writers have ignited a passion for God and His glory in young fundamentalists. Not that we did not have that before, but the emphasis was different. Instead of having a God who will judge us or condemn us for not meeting our traditional precedents, we now have a God who we can find ultimate satisfaction and pleasure in alone.

So a couple of a questions and a couple of answers from me. Now it is time to hear from you!

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Different? In What Way?

I have been involved in more discussions/arguments than I can count about what is "appropriate" church music, expressions of worship, liturgy, instrumentation and attire. I have also participated in numerous conversations/debates concerning what some regard as Christian liberty issues, and what others would call worldliness (i.e. sin). [You can make up your own list. I don't want to sidetrack this topic by dealing with any one of these in particular.]

When discussing these issues I have come to expect the inevitable argument of distinctiveness. A Christian with a more restrictive perspective when lacking for biblical support will usually resort to saying something like, "But aren't we supposed to be different from the world?". Implying that if we were to allow and/or participate in the behavior in question we would lose our distinctiveness as Christians. This is also closely linked to the "loss of testimony" argument, which states that if we were to allow and/or participate in the behavior in question our witness to the unsaved world would be hindered or rendered ineffective. "Why should I want what you have [Christianity] when you are just like me [in behavior]?"

This concern for distinctiveness has led some pastors (and not just Fundamentalist pastors) to preach against the evils of worldliness. "Worldly people, worldly entertainment, worldly fashions, worldly customs, worldly places", etc., become the enemy of the Body of Christ and its members. Partaking or participating in any of the aforementioned becomes "the first outward and visible sign" of backsliding. The concern for godliness/holiness which is opposed by worldliness seems to be founded and grounded in a few key passages.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
Here are a couple of other verses that aren't as familiar, but seem to make the same point.
But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Exodus 11:7

For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:16

to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten. Leviticus 11:47

Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples; Hosea 7:8a
[If you have any other verses to add to the list, please let me know. I don't want to misrepresent anyone's position.]

All of my discussions have led me to truly seek to think through this issue. Are the people of God to be distinct from those who aren't God's people (i.e. the world)? I believe the clear evidence of Scripture is YES! But the second question is more difficult, in what way?

I have been wrestling with that question for some time now and I believe that the wrestling is a good thing, a very good thing. We must bring the full weight of Scripture to bear on this subject (any subject for that matter) and pat answers from either side are equally fruitless. While the more restrictive Christian seeks to end the discussion with the "distinctive" and "loss of testimony" arguments, the more unrestrictive Christian will usually resort to the "Christian liberty" and the "freedom in Christ" arguments. Only to be trumped by the "lawful but not expedient" and the "stumbling block" arguments. And on and on and on and on...the discussion goes.

I believe (probably naively) that the conversation can be most helped by going to Scripture to determine the specific differences that God requires from His people. Does the Bible define worldliness or is it left up to us to define? Does Scripture only speak in generalities or does it give specifics? This is what I will seek to answer in my next installment.


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Saturday, March 1

What can we learn from the Christian Fundamentalists?

Thanks to Bob Hayton for pointing out the newest 9Marks eJournal that deals with "striking the balance between the gospel’s call to unity and its call to separation", which is a topic of particular interest to most of the readers of this blog. Bob has written some particularly interesting articles on "essential doctrines for unity" [PART #1, PART #2, PART #3 and PART #4] that would be helpful to this discussion.

There are many helpful articles in eJournal, but one in particular gave me some food for thought. It is entitled "A Pastors' and Theologians' Forum on Fundamentalism." A number of pastors and theologians from different backgrounds were asked this question:

What can we learn from the Christian Fundamentalists?

The responses were balanced each giving a positive and a negative. I wanted to give some excerpts that stuck out in my mind. After I each quote I will give some commentary as to why this quote resonated so much with me. [I will be focusing on the negatives of fundamentalism and you should read the article to get the full balance. I want it to be known at the outset that I agree wholeheartedly with the positives of fundamentalism that are mentioned, but for the sake of this post I just wanted to deal with the negatives.]
"On the other hand, we can learn that a failure to distinguish primary doctrines from secondary ones brings about confusion. Carl Henry once said that Fundamentalists cannot distinguish between the important truth regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ and questionable matters like attending movies. In their attempt to defend the Bible and the gospel, Fundamentalists have often presented the truths of Christianity in a negative light. Their concerns with worldliness have resulted in a separatism that has no impact on the culture or society. The emphasis on holiness often results in an unhealthy legalism." David S. Dockery
Do we teach with equal conviction the truth of the bodily resurrection of Christ and the sin of attending the theater? Is worldliness our primary concern?

There is a real danger of holding up personal convictions to the same level as biblical doctrine. When we preach and teach with equal authority and conviction substitutionary atonement and total abstinence we set ourselves up for confusion and disbelief. Young adults (and older adults as well) who have been taught in such a manner and raised in that environment typically test the truthfulness of the personal separation issues first. When they study the Scripture for themselves and find the teaching of their childhood to be lacking or absent they are tempted to toss out all they have been taught as a whole. Many don't take the time to separate the wheat from the chaff. When we major on the minors the minors actually become the majors. Do we really want our teens to be more educated about the evils of rock music (Christian or otherwise) than about the virgin birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Are we more concerned with dancing than the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible?

The other danger, at its worst, is that we will raise generations of fundamentalists who are separated from the world, but lost in their sin. Or, at its best, believe that separation from the world is the primary evidence of Christlikeness/holiness. This leads quite well to the next two quotes, which shows that there are others who share my fears.
"We can also learn that your strength taken to an unbiblical position will be your weakness. The emphasis upon preaching has often turned into an emphasis upon the preacher. The priority of evangelism has led to much man-centered gospel presentations, manipulation, and forced conversions. Some local churches function with cult-like symptoms, where the fear of man reigns over the fear of God. Personal purity can turn into following a list of external standards which do not always address the heart nor reflect the Scriptures. Concern for separation from the world has often resulted in a tolerance for arrogance and aberrant theology by others who are also separated (e.g. KJV only, blatant Arminianism). Some who grew up in the Fundamentalist camp (no Fun, all Damn and no Mental) have reacted to the abuses by abandoning that which is biblical and truly fundamental." Bob Johnson

"I was raised in a Fundamentalistic Baptist church and attended a Fundamentalistic Bible college. In the negative I believe Christian Fundamentalism in North America during the last century became too focused on an extra biblical code of conduct as a measurement of orthodoxy. Many good people, who agreed with the doctrinal positions of Fundamentalism, left because they knew that "mixed bathing," music/movie choices, and length of hair or dresses were not accurate assessments of an individual’s commitment to biblical holiness." James MacDonald
Changing gears to the topic of separation - a hallmark of any Fundamentalist.
"Later, in the midst of the conflict between the Fundamentalists and new Evangelicals, in some ways the focus shifted off of the gospel to secondary matters. Separation, rather than serving the goal of gospel purity, sometimes came to be viewed as end in itself—separation for the sake of separation. That’s a path to constant schism." David M. Doran
For many Fundamentalists the doctrine of separation (and its cousin, secondary separation) has become the primary doctrine that needs to be defended and practiced. To the point that if you don't hold the doctrine of separation to the degree that the fundamentalist does than they must separate from you. What is interesting is that the doctrine of separation is not one of the original five fundamentals of the faith (the verbal inerrancy of Scripture; the divinity of Christ; the virgin birth; the substitutionary theory of atonement; and the bodily return of Christ). Therefore those who hold up the doctrine of separation as the cardinal doctrine are not following the model or the spirit of the original fundamentalists. Timothy George references the "ecumenical" roots of the original Fundamentalists when he writes, "Another lesson: how to work together across denominational lines for the historic orthodox faith. Fundamentalism is the mother of Evangelical ecumenism at its best." Fundamentalism originally stretched across denominational lines. But due to "hyper-separationalism" most Fundamentalists today would separate from the original Fundamentalists because of their lack of separation. How ironic is that?

The net result of that kind of Fundamentalism is ever-shrinking circle of fellowship and cooperation. Biblical unity among believers/churches/denominations is devalued and a martyr's complex sets in. "We are the only group/church/denomination/fellowship that is defending the truth. We must fight for it at all costs." This leads to a fortress mentality where a defense of Fundamentalism trumps all other concerns, especially a concern to reach a lost and dying world.

I would hope that we can get back to the original intent of the Fundamentalists where we were willing to do battle for the sake of the fundamentals. A Fundamentalism that held with equal tenacity the call to unity in the essentials and the call to separate from heresy and apostasy.

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