Monday, May 25, 2009

"Tom come lately"?

Ascol's Critique of SBC's
Cooperative Program Not New

Tom Ascol, director of the "Founders Ministries," has of late been reversing his scope of focus by at least writing favorably about "church planting" and the "Great Commission Resurgence" proposed by Dr. Daniel Akin of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and more recently puffed by Dr. Johnny Hunt, President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Up till more recent times, Ascol's and the Founders' "purpose" has been theological "reform," seeking to make Hybrid Calvinists out of alleged Arminian Southern Baptist pastors and churches.

In Ascol's latest post, the successor of Ernest Reisinger, Founder of the Founders, says the following about the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention:

The IMB announcement that financial shortfalls are forcing a reduction in the number of missionaries that we will send to hard places this year highlights the timeliness of the GCR call. I first wrote about this in December 2008, noting that it is time for Southern Baptists to get serious about the allocation of Cooperative Program dollars. Three years prior to that, I showed how money given through state conventions to the Cooperative Program (CP) actually is allocated. The little-known fact is that most CP dollars are used by the state conventions through which they are given. Less that 40% actually reaches Nashville and less than 20% gets to the IMB.
Now the trustees of the IMB are forced to announce (through tears, according to the BP report) that there is not enough money to appoint all of those who are willing, equipped and ready to be sent by their churches. Can we sit back and let this happen? Isn't it past time for Southern Baptists to reevaluate the structures of our convention organization and see how we can improve our financial stewardship?

Yes, Tom, it is "past time." But this is nothing new. You have not made a major discovery of some sort. It has been "time" for years now.

Ascol -- and any others -- who have begun recently to critically evaluate the SBC program are "Johnny-come-latelies," so far as some are concerned. At least a few of us are still around from the 1950s and 1960s who complained about the deficiencies of the Cooperative Program long before the Founders Ministries was born.

For instance, back in the early 1960s, I put together and published a collection of SBC news items and other materials entitled, The Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Program, which documented numerous deficiencies in "The Program." To do this, one merits being branded, "An uncooperating Baptist."

Among other things, there was a photographically-reproduced letter from the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC, headed by Baker J. Cauthen. This letter, dated September 14, 1959, revealed that the "active" or "locatable" SBC membership at that time (9,206,756) gave an average of less than $1.00 per Sunday to "all causes" of which only 15.5 cents per Sunday was for "all missionary causes" -- thru the Cooperative Program.

But more startling was the fact that barely over 3 cents per Sunday ($1.67 average per member, yearly) went to "foreign missions," according to the letter, signed by Eugene Hill.

And what was the prevailing attitude of Southern Baptist leaders and pastors at that time to such depressing stats? They persisted in declaring that the "The Program" was both "scriptural and reasonable" (E. S. James, The Baptist Standard, Sept. 26, 1952). The Alabama Baptist state paper alleged, "Any criticism of the Cooperative Program must stem from jealousy or a spirit of individualism" (Nov. 1, 1962). A tract written by Albert McClellan and published by the SBC pronounced the Cooperative Program to be "the Holy Spirit's way of doing missions."

Chances are, SBC ministers such as Ascol, Johnny Hunt, and Wade Burleson will never really get around to making any serious changes to the Cooperative Program. They will probably "line up" with what the Baptist Standard once said: "The Cooperative Program has made us what we are, and the Cooperative Program will carry us onward, if we stay with it," and with what the Mississippi Baptist Record said, "Were it not for our Cooperative Program our whole misson program would collapse."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

An inerrant gospel?

No Inerrant Scriptures,
No Inerrant Gospel

"The world is on fire and we are putting it out with the gasoline of inerrancy. It's time we focused on dousing the fire with the water of the gospel," according to Pastor Wade Burleson in his May 20, 2009 blog.

Brother Wade seems to be smitten with finding fault with those in the Southern Baptist Convention with whom he disagrees. Now he is harping against those who apparently are viewed by Wade as allegedly being close to "making an idol of the Bible" like unto the Muslims' attitude toward their Koran. Be that as it may [whoever these strange "inerrantists" are], Wade's nit-picking leaves us with a very serious dilemma.

While Wade says we need to be "focused on dousing the fire with the water of the gospel," the fact is, the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation and is capable of dousing the fire is derived from the Bible -- not from sources who downgrade the inerrancy of the Scriptures. Modernists, Liberals, Neo-orthodoxists, and their kind never contributed very much -- if anything -- to the Gospel and its accomplishments such as we find in the case of the inerrantists -- men such as Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, George Whitefield, and other notable men of Christian history.

The question is, if the SOURCE of the Gospel is not inerrant, on what basis may we accept what is affirmed about the Gospel in that source?

Wade's idea reminds me of those who claim they accept Jesus, but they do not accept the views which maintain His virgin birth, deity, substitutionary death, and resurrection.

The Gospel is rooted in the Scriptures, and if the Scriptures are not inerrant, on what basis can we have confidence that the Gospel is everything the Scriptures affirm of the Gospel?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Wade's World

Did Wade Have "One Too Many"
When He wrote "Hardball Religion?"

Pastor Wade Burleson has a blog item which is critical of Peter Lumpkins' book on the matter of "total abstinence." Peter is for it, and Wade does not approve of Peter's view.

I'm not focusing on this difference between Wade and Peter, but what I found in Wade's article which aroused my curiosity was his statement, "I would much rather be personally led by the Spirit than by a man who claims his view is law for me."

I assume this means that Wade is "led by the Spirit," but Peter is a legalist -- at least, on this particular issue.

After reading Wade's "Hardball" book, I wonder if Wade may have had "one too many" when he put that book together. Surely, Wade does not appear to have been "led by the Spirit" when he tried to manipulate my book on Landmarkism so as to imply that the book supported his twisted presentation. If not dizzy on liquor, Wade was certainly inebriated on something when he tried to pull-off that sleight-of-hand act.

Was Wade "led by the Spirit" when he used a familiar Campbellite device, subterfuge, in his misuse of my book on Landmarkism?

Was Wade "led by the Spirit" when he falsely accused the Campbellite "Church of Christ" in regard to the administrator of baptism? See here.

Was Wade "led by the Spirit" when he said I was "not a Southern Baptist" and then later said that I was a Southern Baptist? Which time was he led by the Spirit?

Was he "led by the Spirit" when he adopted the "born again before faith" Hybrid Calvinist heresy of the Reformed Pedobaptists (baby baptizers)?

Was he "led by the Spirit" when he adopted a One Man Landmaker position by aligning himself with a certain view on the administrator of baptism?

Was he "led by the Spirit" when he wrote a book concerning which the Publisher, Smyth & Helwys, deemed it necessary to attach a "Disclaimer" to what Wade wrote?

Was he "led by the Spirit" when he endorsed the IMB policy on "public" tongues, but rejected the IMB policy on "private" tongues? How can Wade consistently endorse the policy of forbidding "publicly speaking in tongues" but defend "tongues in private"? If Paul's "command" -- forbid not to speak with tongues in 1 Cor. 14:39 - relates to "private" tongues, why not to "public" tongues, also? See here.

Was Wade "led by the Spirit" when he presented an erroneous version of Baptist history? See here.

Perhaps Wade did have one -- or maybe, two -- too many when he was compiling his book, for surely he can't blame the Spirit for these blunders.