Reformed world

Here I sashay, I cannot do otherwise...

…no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon the same level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man's opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty.  (Preliminary Principle Number Four, 1788 Synod of New York and Philadelphia, 1789 General Assembly)

When the Reformed men who founded the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE) decided to include Lutherans in their parachurch organization, their compromise was a harbinger of things to come. So, for a couple decades now, Reformed academics looking for a place to make their name, not content to rehearse the history of the Westminster divines forever, have turned toward the importation of Lutheran doctrine and practice to the Reformed church.

The popularity of Federal Vision and Lutheran emphases concerning the sacraments, liturgy, sacerdotal (priestly) accoutrements, the repudiation of the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, and so on, all viewed alongside other contributing factors such as the kissing-cousin relationship of the PCA's Covenant Theological Seminary and the LCMS's Concordia Seminary—both in St. Louis—have produced a growing number of bright young pastors enamored with the neo-Lutheran project. But sadly, because their credentials reside in churches and denominations confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian, they haven't been willing to raise the "Lutheran" flag or adopt a name as forthright as "Neo-Lutherans."

When asked about their Lutheranism they're quick to list several things that cause them to prefer Presbyterian credentials. They defend their doctrinal, sacramental, and liturgical innovations within Reformed churches as being merely "Biblical." But this is rather disingenuous. It's as if a Marine corporal were to watch as, patrol after patrol, his squad were being wounded and killed by enemies wearing the uniform of the United States Marine Corps; and complaining to his Platoon Commander, he were to get the response, "Look, uniforms are out...


Accountability in the CREC...

The following comment was left under this post and I wanted to respond to it here on the main page. So here's the comment, followed by a response:

COMMENT: You're missing the irony. Aren't the feminists critics doing exactly what Wilson has done for years - - demonizing people in their blogs while making themselves unaccountable to anyone? Both groups are rebels.

RESPONSE...


I have had enough of your liturgies, homilies, and sacraments...

[NOTE FROM TB: Please note the apology and change to my comment below. I took an uncalled-for jab at attorneys, and therefore at my dear brother, Dan, below. Fact is, Dan and several other attorneys I know and love are precisely what I was calling for—faithful Christians who live out that precise righteousness spoken of by Isaiah. I praise God for them and their faithful service to many needy and oppressed!]

It's all well and good to say the Christian should not look for the civil magistrate to supplant the preacher of the Gospel in calling men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. We don't need huge books to make that point. It's obvious. And yet I suppose it is precisely those obvious places where scholastics like to sit and ruminate. And if they pull off the supercilious thing well enough, they may be successful in enticing callow young men to listen to their ruminations; or better yet, buy them.

Meanwhile, the real action continues unimpeded. Brothers and sisters in Christ are being forced out of their calling, their work and profession, by civil magistrates, professional societies, professors, teachers, school boards, trade organizations, public monopolies like the AMA and Apple and Google, and state bar associations—all united in their attack upon God's Created Order and Law. It's impossible to miss. Everyone sees it every single day and its fruit of blood and damnation is piled up three feet high and rotting in our nation's public square...


Church fathers: only God is good...

Happy Father's Day, home fathers and church fathers!

When I graduated from high school, the Wheaton area was the center of Evangelicalism and Evangelicalism was riding high. Our father, Joe Bayly, was out on the road speaking at conferences so often he was a member of United's million mile club and my girlfriend's father had just started Tyndale House Publishers. At the time, Ken Taylor had two best-sellers making Tyndale lots and lots of money—a long-shot manuscript rejected by all the legacy Christian publishers that he issued under the title Dare To Discipline,


Tully Tchividjian removed from Gospel Coalition...

Craig French sent me a link to a post by Billy Graham's grandson announcing he'd been booted from the Gospel Coalition franchise. Two things.

First, note that Mr. Tchividjian reports he was purged without the honor of itemized charges and a trial. He wasn't allowed to face his accusers. Some guy did their dirty work for them. They stayed behind the scenes and had some guy contact Mr. Tchividjian and tell him he was to be gone by this Thursday. That was it.

If Gospel Coalition's product is doctrine, why miss an opportunity to expose error? Isn't that the reason they purged Tully—that he is preaching and teaching false doctrine? Surely they're not purging him because of his sartorial ambitions, right?


Superstitious sacramentalism is a danger within the Reformed church...

Under this post, a dear brother writes to say he believes my concern about superstitious sacramentalism within parts of the conservative Reformed church is unwarranted. He writes, "I haven't seen anything resembling contending for superstitious sacrementalism..."

To which I respond...


Lutheran and Roman Catholic evangelism: we have sacraments that actually do something...

[If you're interested in the magazines-for-Christian-intellectuals scene, read on. If the scene makes you yawn, skip the next four paragraphs and start with the paragraph, "Let me call..."]

Before founding First Things, Richard John Neuhaus edited the Rockford Institute's Religion and Society Report and I was a subscriber. Then came the May 1989 nastiness when the Rockford bumpkins booted Neuhaus from his editorial digs in New York City. What became known as the "Rockford Raid" left Neuhaus shaking the dust off his captoes and moving on to found First Things. My favorite quote of the fracas comes from the Rockford side: "A lot of folks in New York aren't used to being judged by the Midwest." Rockford saying "no" to Manhattan was just chutzpah...


J. Gresham Machen and Reformed ministry today...

After posting on Tim Keller and Redeemer, it seemed good also to post this excerpt from J. Gresham Machen's classic critique of early twentieth century liberalism, Christianity and Liberalism. If you have not read it, you simply must. This past Tuesday in our noon meeting with our church pastors and the students in our Clearnote Pastors College, I read the following excerpt out loud, making the point that this description of the liberalism of the early twentieth century is a very good placeholder for the culture of liberalism within PCA and other Reformed churches today. I say "culture" because the vocabulary of presentation has changed, but the substance is the same. There is no preaching of repentance in the PCA. Only grace everywhere and always. But grace without repentance is no grace at all. Instead, we preach to good people who just need to be a little less...


Tim Keller: hundreds of sermons, but no repentance...

A longtime pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent me an e-mail with an excerpt from a Yelp review of Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Going over there, I read all the reviews and here are some interesting excerpts...


Stalin's daughter has this to say about George Kennan...

During the twentieth century, close to half the world's population suffered behind Communism's Iron Curtains. And behind those curtains, murder was systematically practiced on a scale the world had never before known. Obscene bloodlust against their own subjects was the common denominator of Communism's leaders including Cambodia's Pol Pot, China's Mao Zedong, and the Soviet Union's Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin—better known as "Papa" Joe Stalin. Stalin himself slaughtered at least fifty million of his fellow citizens.

The March 31, 2014 issue of The New Yorker has a short profile1 of Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, who spent much of the second half of her life here in these United States of America. Until he died a few years ago, Svetlana's closest friend was the American diplomat of the Cold War, George Kennan. Their relationship was up and down...


Tetzel, eat your heart out...

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs." - Johann Tetzel's pitch as he sold the indulgences that funded the Sistine Chapel.

Amazon has started a Christian book imprint called Waterfall. Publisher Mark Pereira explains Waterfall's mission to the Library Journal:

Our main focus [at Waterfall] is to publish books that entertain and inform readers with a transforming message (that includes) Christian Living through spiritual refreshment and personal growth (as well as) stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Books with a transforming message that entertains readers. Christian Living and spiritual refreshment through mystery, suspense, and romance. 

The recent merger of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing is now called HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the same Library Journal article reports this explanation by HC Christian Publishing executive Tracy Danz of their market for Christian fiction...


Menlo Park Presbyterian Church leaves the PC(USA)...

The cost John Ortberg and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church have agreed to pay in order to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) is around $11,000,000.

Back in 1991 when our church in Wisconsin left the PC(USA), our presbytery simply confiscated everything. They recognized our congregational vote for transfer into the PCA as legitimate, they dismissed Rosedale Presbyterian Church as a church, and then they confiscated the church building, the baptismal font made by our elder's grandfather, the cemetery, the manse, the banners our children had made for Easter... They changed the locks on the doors immediately.

We made no protest.

My final sermon was on September 15, 1991. Our  text was Hebrews 10:32-34 and the sermon title was "You ...Joyfully Accepted the Confiscation of Your Property." During the sermon...


Post on John MacArthur's money: answering objections...

Back on January 30th, we ran a post updating readers on the latest IRS Forms 990 filed by John MacArthur's non-profit companies and what they show about his annual income. Since the post, several commenters have questioned whether MacArthur really had any say over his study notes being packaged with the neutered New International Version, whether we're saying MacArthur's income is sinful; and if so, what specific sin we're accusing him of? Here are some responses to those questions and challenges:

Brothers,

I've been out of the loop for a while. I appreciate others who have responded to some of the more recent objections to this post. Now, a couple responses of my own.

First, John MacArthur himself had absolute control over whether or not to package and sell his MacArthur Study Bible notes with the neutered Bible now sold under the name New International Version. It was his decision and he alone is the man who could have stopped it. His elders board did not make the decision.  Zondervan doesn't control MacArthur's study notes. John MacArthur controls John MacArthur's study notes. This is how publishing works.

John decided he didn't want to lose out on one of the largest Bible markets in the English-speaking world, so after negotiating royalties (which unlike John Piper's royalties, remain a secret), he signed an agreement with Zondervan to sell his own study notes in the text of a Bible that everyone knows has gagged God's words for the sake of pacifying the feminists.

There's no debating these simple facts. Readers may differ concerning the reason MacArthur did this, but it's certain he made the decision to sell the neutered Bible he had previously opposed because of its unfaithfulness to the text of Scripture.

Second, the Bible commands us to exclude men from ministry who are greedy:


John MacArthur revisited...

[NOTE: This post has been edited to correct a mistake concerning chronology.]

Today, I decided to check to see what happened to John MacArthur's compensation by Grace to You and Masters College and Seminary as reported in the 2012 IRS 990s? The 2012 990s (reporting on 2011) are the next year of figures that have been made available since the last time we wrote here on Baylyblog. Again, the IRS requires MacArthur to reveal these numbers. Thus the numbers here that are not estimates are public records.

Here then are the more recent 2011 figures compared to our previous 2010 figures...


Planetary conviviality, human flourishing...

You may casually dismiss this stuff, but this is the future of Evangelical religion. It will be toned down, somewhat, when it's taken out there to the hinterlands, and localized, but this sort of pantheistic, radically subjective, mystical ad copy is not transparently evil to people acclimated to Christian religion by men like Tim Keller. They're good prep for emotive blather such as "planetary conviviality."

Again, from Union Theological Seminary's e-mail update:

FORREST CHURCH MEMORIAL LECTURE: Dr. Keller [not Tim] develops the relational potential of a theology of becoming. Her books reconfigure ancient symbols of divinity for the sake of a planetary conviviality—a life together, across vast webs of difference...


Church...


Where there are many words...

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise. - Proverbs 10:19

Dad was fond of saying criticism is the manure Christians grow best in. As you can imagine, I get a fair bit of it and do my best not simply to pass it off. I meet with the Clearnote Pastors College men each Tuesday for two hours of discussion surrounding a text of Scripture. From time to time, criticism comes up and one thing I try to remember to say is that, while we should not treat them with much respect, we should always read anonymous letters. Often they're anonymous because of a deep root of bitterness in the author, but not always. And usually such letters say things I need to hear and take to heart. (On the other hand, anonymous letters of thanks and praise are always, always perfectly true. These are to be sincerely believed, meditated on, and placed under our pillow at night where we might nuzzle them with our cheek during the wee hours of the morning.)

You won't be surprised that my initial response to criticism is often to be defensive and argue with my critic. Over the years this has declined, as I trust my dear Mary Lee would testify. She's always been my first and best critic, particularly since my dear Mother died. And when the defensiveness is there at first, usually it doesn't take very long for me to see whatever truth is in the criticism, at which time I go back and thank the critic telling him his words were true and helpful. And if my defensiveness was sinful, I ask his forgiveness.

In the past three weeks, I've received three criticisms of the blog and those criticisms highlight another aspect to responding to critics that's quite important...


Inoffensive "Bibles" bear toxic fruit...

London's Mail Online reports: "Parents and godparents no longer have to ‘repent sins’ and ‘reject the devil’ during christenings after the Church of England rewrote the solemn ceremony. The new wording is designed to be easier to understand... In the original version, the vicar asks: ‘Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?’ Prompting the reply: ‘I reject them.’ They then ask: ‘Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?’, with the answer: ‘I repent of them.’ 

But under the divisive reforms, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and already being practised in 1,000 parishes, parents and godparents are asked to ‘reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises’ – with no mention of the devil or sin. The new text ...also drops the word ‘submit’ in the phrase ‘Do you submit to Christ as Lord?’ because it is thought to have become ‘problematical’, especially among women who object to the idea of submission."

Yes, yes; "the new wording is designed to be easier to understand." Reading this news piece reminded me of the corruption of the text of Scripture in our new Bible versions. Reformed Evangelicals justified it too with the claim they were making Scripture "easier to understand." But it's all bunk. The problem our new Bibles are designed to address is not readers' lack of understanding, but the text's offensiveness. And if we're honest, we'll admit we've only begun our quest to render God's word innocuous.

Why stop with the removal of words like "Jews," "old wives tales," "man," "brothers," and "effeminate" when words like "devil," "rebellion," "sin," "submit," and "repent" remain in the text? And why do we have such little faith in the understanding of simple Christians. It was not always that way.

Starting in the seventeenth century, the Protestant, Reformed Christians of New England had one of the highest...


Establish the work of our hands...

For whatever reason, I just spent five minutes reading a bunch of Reformed superstars' tweets being exchanged among Reformed groupies. Glorious truths of God are reduced to sound bites recirculated by fan-boys who come away thinking they have struck a blow for the Gospel by tweeting twenty words and attaching some super-apostle's name.

The Bible tells us "solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). But we're fat Americans, so instead of "practice" and "training," we have become facile, glib, feebleminded, giddy, and frothy in our repetition of the banal, phylacteried, hackneyed, and bromidic.

If you don't know those words, there's a reason.

Typical of the stuff we cycle through is, "Jesus didn't die so he could say he did his part. No, he died to save his elect in full." Then we attach a name to these twenty words, as if anyone could own copyright on such an obvious truth repeated by every pastor since the Apostle Paul.

Poor Mark Driscoll was caught...


A call to transform neither individuals nor society...

After having this post up for several hours, I've decided to take it back private. Sorry for the on-again off-again disruption. Also, I ask the forgiveness of my friend Bob Patterson, his friend Darryl Hart, and Baylyblog readers for posting this in the first place. In writing this post, I sinned against Christian humility and charity.