Saturday, March 18, 2006

Birds of a Feather | Dr. Clay Nuttall

While here in Egypt, I have made some observations about the people, aside from their approach to worship. Denominations here exist along similar lines to those of my country. The truth is that, aside from the separate traditions and history of the two groups, they both have the same basic approach to the Bible. That could be good, or it could be tragic.

In our movement, an inherent weakness is apparent in our mental and spiritual approach to subjects. When a denomination is mentioned, our collection of intellectual data and considerations often causes us to view that denomination negatively; for that reason, I will not name any particular one. As soon as we hear a denominational name, we naturally think of our differences. We ought instead to consider our similarities so that, when a denomination is identified, we will ask questions rather than just making assumptions.

Obviously, there are wide varieties of theological views represented within any religious group. There are always those on the left or right, conservative or liberal, orthodox or heterodox. The problem is that people tend to take it for granted that any conservative person in such a movement is associated with the birds on the liberal side.


Why should we complain about such identification? If we associate with any group that has apostates in it, we are going to be viewed as at least giving credence to their beliefs. The answer, of course, is to put some distance between you and those who hold heretical views and also those who feel comfortable having any official tie with them. This is reality, where life is really lived. In fundamentalism, those who wanted to cuddle up to the liberal theological agenda have found a thousand reasons why it is okay to give aid and comfort to the bridge builders who take pride in constructing six-lane highways to apostates through folks who are theologically broad in their tolerance.

Some fundamentalists want to have their cake and eat it too. They sign up with every group that comes along, despite the apostates’ reputation in that association. It is not for me to judge their motive, but could it be numbers, or money, or prestige, or possibly a desire to be named with the intellectual elite?


If you associate with those who tolerate full-blown liberalism, then don’t whine when you are suspect. If you lie down with people who believe that Adam and Eve were not real persons, but only ideas, what do you expect will happen? If you go around applauding those who are preterists, or who believe that God changes and does not really know everything, then how can you be surprised when you are tagged as believing such theological error yourself?

The tolerance now being lauded by some fundamentalists is the very reason that fundamentalist organizations, agencies, and institutions are now giving approval to liberal doctrines. This once great movement has become the playground of trends and fads based on human reasoning and relativism.


What is really behind all this corruption and confusion? In Egypt, as well as in my country, the real source is an allegorical-based approach to Scripture. This false standard lets man create any theological position he chooses. Using this system, one can generate anything from an adjusted conservatism to blatant apostasy.

In eschatology, the allegorical base may be used to “prove” anything from an imminent rapture to amillennialism. This is the problem in both countries to which I am referring. It is also the problem in fundamentalism, which is why the theological landscape has become so broad for people who still want to be identified with it.

On the other hand, when one holds a literal interpretation that rises from the text, rather than from some dogma, the results are very narrow. Using the hermeneutical system that comes directly from the Bible, one is limited to a very fine line. A Biblical system of interpretation allows one interpretation - an imminent rapture, period, and nothing else. It views Israel separate from the church, period, and nothing else. Any mixing of the two is a clear indication that the interpreter has left the system that rises from the Bible. A literal interpretation grounded firmly in the Word cannot possibly produce a post-tribulation rapture, let alone an amillennial theory.

We would be wise to stop making excuses for people who hold doctrinal error. It is not just that they have another view, or believe something else, or think another way. God does not care what they think; He cares about what He has said. Each text has one right interpretation, and all others are wrong. They are error, if not downright heresy. If something is not orthodox, it is heterodox; so stop changing the definition of orthodox to include liberal theology.


The fact that all denominations in this country have the same base should be something we can learn from. The fact that most denominations in my country have the same base is something we should flee from. With the help of sly communicators in evangelicalism, ecumenism is winning the day; and the average Christian doesn’t have a clue. Neither do pastors who advertise to their people the twisted humanism found in most of today’s popular religious books.

For some, a theology that is Biblical has fallen on hard times. There is, however, a new day dawning in Egypt now that the literal interpretation, lost in the second century, has returned with power to Alexandria some 1,800 years later. Is it possible that what has been lost in America can also return? Let us pray that it will!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Come Out, Come Out Whoever You Are! | Dr. Bob Payne

I recently heard an interview with a radio talk show host who asserted that political liberals love to hide behind conservative principles. His viewpoint was that if the liberals were to come out and demonstrate to this country who they really were, that they would be rejected by the majority of voters in a heartbeat. The parallels between modern political liberals and some institutions that claim to be fundamental, dispensational, separatist, and Baptist are uncanny!

There are times when I read what some of these institutions are writing, what they are doing, and what their representatives are saying, and I say to myself, “Stop playing games and just come out and tell people who you really are!” The problem is that if they were to come out and admit who they really were, they, in a similar way to the political liberals, would lose support.

I have observed some fundamentalist institutions hiding behind the word “dispensationalist,” when, at the same time, they hold to Reformed positions on doctrines such as soteriology and pneumatology, thereby blurring the distinction between Israel and the church. Behind these Reformed positions is a Reformed hermeneutic which encourages a “cerebral” approach to Theology, placing man’s logic at the forefront of biblical interpretation. In order to prove their Reformed doctrine, teachers and representatives of these institutions skillfully and cleverly utilize a contrived exegesis of certain passages. This shrewd exegesis takes the place of the entire hermeneutical process.

Moreover, in their logic-centered approach to the Bible, historical theology becomes eminently important. Suddenly, it becomes far more important what some Reformer or theologian of the past taught than what a consistently literal hermeneutic uncovers. Furthermore, this elevation of human reasoning seems to render these men unable to comfortably admit that there are unfathomable mysteries in the Word of God that cannot be sufficiently explained by linguistics and logic. Those who disagree with these theologians are not as “mentally gifted” as they; and certainly, they must have had a woefully inadequate education from an “unapproved” institution.

There are other institutions that hide behind the word “separatist,” when their practice tells another story. Like the proverbial chameleon they change their theological colors to resemble whatever group in which they find themselves.

When the representatives or teachers from these institutions find themselves in a group of separatists, they will boast how earnestly they are “contending for the faith.” I have observed through the years that these “pseudoseparatists” always seem to feel the need to promote in a loud voice “how separated they are.” It is rather like a married man loudly proclaiming everywhere he goes how separated he is from other women, and how dedicated he is to his own wife. Neither moral men nor genuine separatists have a need to convince others of a fact that should be patently obvious by their demeanor and practice. Some time ago I attended a fundamental Baptist conference, and asked a representative from one of these institutions if the organization that he represented believed in ecclesiastical separation. He paused and thought a few seconds before reluctantly answering “yes.” My observation of this organization since this incident has led me to a different conclusion.

At other times the representatives or teachers from these institutions find themselves in a group of compromising individuals where they feel comfortably “at home.” How easy it is at those times for them to exuberantly express with great freedom a “sloppy agape” of “love and toleration.” Genuine biblical love is never tolerant of sin and compromise.

Would to God we had more separatists like Spurgeon who preached in a sermon, Sunday, October 7, 1888 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle: “I have preached God’s truth, so far as I know it, and I have not been ashamed of its peculiarities. That I might not stultify my testimony I have cut myself clear of those who err from the faith, and even from those who associate with them.”

As a Baptist who believes in soul liberty I strongly believe that it is the right of any and all institutions to adhere to whatever doctrine and practice that they may choose. I only wish that some of the institutions would be honest enough to cease mislabeling themselves, and be willing to clearly identify themselves with the crowd to whom they belong. If your institution holds to a Reformed position then be honest enough to tell me. Stop trying to deceive me and others that your college, seminary, or missions agency is dispensational. If the institution that you represent believes that ecclesiastical separation is a doctrine that is too harsh and unpalatable for your sensitive theological taste, then be forthright and tell me. The confusing game of theological hide-and-go-seek needs to stop.