Truth Warrior

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Compositions of Covenant Theology Examined

There has been much accomplished in the field of theology because of those who hold to Covenant Theology. Great Universities have been founded, and good number of churches established. While it is true, to their credit, the church is indebted to many of them for their contributions for the cause of Christ and conservative scholarship; it is also evident that good and godly men can build large compositions of thought on paltry grounds. Covenant Theology is a system of thought that has done just that.

One declares with accuracy that there are components of truth in Covenant Theology; however, my concern here is the theological guesswork and scant evidence of sound biblical exegesis one finds in their schemes and systems. It is a bit befuddling that those who are currently crying for more “expositional preaching” (defined strictly as verse by verse study of the whole Bible) have composed such a grand system founded on speculative assumption. One can not claim to be true to expositional preaching while ignoring sound methods of extrapolating from the Bible what truly is there and inventing ideas from meager biblical premises; adding what is not there by supposition or speculation. I’m sorry, but it just can not be. Covenant Theologians admit in there own writings that some of their most important points are not clearly stated in Scripture. For example the covenant of works has no biblical foundation; it is a contrived philosophy of which there is no statement in the Word of God concerning it (cf. F.W. Dilliston, The Structure of the divine Society, p.134).

I am further amazed at the singularity of the purpose of God as expressed by Covenant Theology. For reasons that escape the realm of my comprehension, many if not most of insist that the purpose of God is largely soteriological (having to do with salvation). This affects their hermeneutics (how they interpret Scriptures) and narrows the activity of God. This is evident in their presentations of the covenant of redemption and covenant of grace. Accordingly, being consistent in their own thinking in every age the primary purpose of God is bringing individuals to saving faith. Yes, there are some who attempt to maintain that they are seeking the glory of God, but then they divulge that what brings Him glory is mainly the salvation of the lost. What does the Bible reveal? It seems to me, that the Bible reveals multiple works of God in bringing glory to Himself. He brings glory to Himself in the way He deals with heavenly hosts, Gentile nations as well as Israel as a nation, His plan and outworking of the church, including exalting Christ in worship, edifying the saints by following His methods of biblical discipleship and training, the way Christians are to encourage one another as a community of believers, and yes, of course evangelizing the lost as we go out from our meeting houses. God even glorifies Himself in how he deals with those who refuse to trust in Him alone for salvation. Personal salvation is only ONE of the many purposes of God described in the Bible.

Another concern one should have is that Covenant Theology leads one to accept the idea that all the major covenants* of Scripture are reduced to mainly one covenant. They are viewed as diverse features of one eternal covenant, the covenant of grace. Consequently, major covenants of the Bible and their unique distinctives are generally not recognized by Covenant Theologians. This is another result of not interpreting the Bible in its plain, normal, ordinary sense consistently. Instead, texts are “spiritualized” and the application to the “literal” nation of Israel is abandoned. This is a very grievous matter.

Not only does Covenant Theology skew the major covenants but the evident differences of God’s work in various dispensations are forsaken. Dispensations are mainly defined by Covenant Theologians as merely a variety of ways God administers the one covenant of grace. For example the dispensation of law is just one phase of God’s gracious dealings with man bringing him to salvation. This confounds the principles of law and grace, and leads to the legalism found in many Reformed groups.

I realize there are Dispensationalists as well as Covenantists who hold to the federal headship of Adam and I may be treading where angels dare not trod, but this is one of my peeves. It calls into question the justice of God! If Adam was “the” representative head of all mankind and if all mankind did not actually sin when Adam sinned, then in what way is God righteous to hold accountable those who have not actually sinned? Does it make sense that God would hold others responsible for Adam’s sin when they had no part in it? Also, Federal Theologians, who maintain that God, in view of Adam’s sin, immediately creates each soul in corruption, are wide open to the charge of making God the author of sin. Why not just agree with the Bible? “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…” (Rom. 5:12) We are sinners both by nature (because the sin nature was passed on to us through Adam) and consequently also by choice (we choose to sin because that is our nature) as such we are each responsible before God for our own sin. This is known as the Natural approach as opposed to the Federal approach and seems to integrate with the whole council of God.

Why can’t we all just get along in the church? The question has been raised on a number of occasions about qualifications of church membership. Is believer’s baptism necessary? What about infants? Once again there is no Biblical evidence that Christ’s commission included infant baptism. This is a Roman Catholic rite invented for convenience which is another assumption that has not been shed by most “reformers”. Thus, stemming from Covenant Theology is the idea that the church is made up of both believers and their children. This ignores the fact that New Testament churches are assemblies of the redeemed. For this reason Reformed churches have opposed the doctrine of saved church membership. Could this be one reason why they have not historically been centers of evangelism? It really steams me that untold thousands have gone to their grave believing that they were OK with God because they were baptized as a baby and have a certificate that tells them they were grafted into the covenant community as children of God when regeneration has not taken place!

Since Covenant Theology of course does not see the church as having a distinct purpose for this age, why then should we be surprised that legalism on one hand and liberalism on the other are both rampant within this system and both seem very comfortable with each other. Not being satisfied, some come out from among them to be what God has called us to be, separate from apostasy, and those who compromise with it. Others just accept anything within the “covenant” structure, holding hands with Christ deniers, Bible rejecters, sin celebrants, and creation scoffers; such as the World Counsel of Churches of Christ and the National Counsel of Churches of Christ. Why would a local body of believers be so gullible in allowing any of this to go on within their fellowship of saints? My bible says “come out from among them and be ye separate…”

To conclude this tirade, I must point out that when infants are baptized and told they are in a community of believers (as some, and I dare say most, in the mainline Covenant churches teach) this does violence to the parents, to the child and to the Word of God. The proud parents become frustrated with the church, the child and/or God when a child who was “received in Jesus’ name” begins to be rejected for one reason or another by those who made a promise to train him up. Parents can become incensed at God and the child (because God was the One who presumably pre-regenerated the child) and the child seems to rebel and shows no signs of the being a good Christian boy or girl.

A child being laughed at for believing the Bible literally, including the creation account and the record of Noah’s arc, feels rejection and confusion in the worst way. This is becomes worse when further pastoral counseling complete with a follow-up book on Understanding Evolution by Time/Life Books is presented as “…the way God created everything”. All the while prissy little church girls are viewed as those who can do no wrong and are embraced by the “church”.

Within the Covenant structure the Bible can lifted to the level of being a super spiritual book which only the super spiritual can correctly interpret and it must be viewed on a human historical level, a human moral level, and the deeper spiritual level. Within the same structure the Bible can also be reduced to a purely human book that only the wisdom of “the Jesus seminar” can determine what parts of it are true. Here we find such views as: Jesus was a great person but not God… Christ was raised from the dead metaphysically only (NOT bodily) and lives on in our hearts… we will best atone for our sins (if we are sinners at all) as we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps… salvation is to those who feed the hungry, save a wale, abort a baby for the sake of a mother who would be better off without the responsibility… and joining hands with any group or individuals that claim to be Christian.

*This is a list of the major biblical covenants:
1. The Edenic Covenant (Gen. 2:16)
2. The Adamic Covenant (Gen. 3:15)
3. The Noahic Covenant (Gen. 8:20-22).
4. The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:1-3).
5. The Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 19:3-40:38).

6. The Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30).
7. The Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:5-17).
8. The New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Matt. 26:28).

46 Comments:

  • I am not saying that those who hold to Covenant Theology are not saved, nor would I withhold or refuse personal fellowship with them. I have a problem with the teaching not people.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 1/11/06 2:12 PM  

  • Although I have some major concerns with my denomination (PCA) emphasis on covenant theology, and especially the use of the term 'covenant family', infant baptism, etc., I also have major concerns with dispensationalism.

    Where should I go? Please, I don't want to go where the UOGrace bloggers might suggest since I have given them so much grief.

    You seemed to have researched this really well and while the shoe does not fit the PCA tightly as Earl pointed out, I have some of the same concerns you have.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 1/11/06 10:59 PM  

  • Well said

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 1/11/06 11:24 PM  

  • Hi Jazzy Cat,
    Brother, I feel your pain in a very real way. Separation is not an easy road. Don’t worry about the UOG bloggers (they are a forgiving group of folk) iron does sharpen iron. The friction and heat are not pleasant but the result is a sharper edge. See… even this dispy can use a biblical metaphor.

    If you send me an email, letting me know the general area you would like to worship with other like-minded bible believers, perhaps we (Gk. for you and I) can figure out a church with a good fit for you.

    In the mean time I must say that I have enjoyed the fellowship of the Regular Baptist Churches for many years. In the church I attend, I am for the most part very satisfied. There are no perfect churches (did I hear brother Matthew say, “AMEN!”?) We have brothers and sisters who love the Lord some who are more Calvinistic than others. We are all growing up in our faith, learning, loving, laughing and crying together as we seek to know our Lord better, and better. I can think of no healthier expression of biblical fellowship than that which is experienced in a local church.

    May God bless you,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 2/11/06 5:02 AM  

  • Hi Brother Brian,
    I want to say a hearty “Amen.” to your last comment in the last thread of comments. That was beautiful. I hope all is going better for you and your family. Be encouraged, be strengthened, and be blessed as you continue to follow our Lord Jesus with a conscience clear.

    In His fellowship with you,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 2/11/06 5:03 AM  

  • John,

    The picture yo paint of Covenant Theology is unrecognizable to me. Your brush strokes paint too wide where I don't recognize the features you talk about. If you're talking about mainline churches, their theology has as much similarity to my theology as the name only. I have much more in common with any theological conservative Christian of any stripe than with a heretical mainline Presbyterian. Covenant Theology in the hands of a mainline anybody is mush, as the rest of their worthless theology. Their are many liberal Baptists out there, I know a few. You want Baptist theology to be lumped together with their worthless theology too?

    Your description of the thoughts of infant baptism is not held by PCA, OPC and other conservative Presbyterian churches. You say, "For this reason Reformed churches have opposed the doctrine of saved church membership. Could this be one reason why they have not historically been centers of evangelism?" neglects the great awakening where Jonathan Edwards was involved, ignores the work of D. James Kennedy (PCA) in Evangelism Explosion, among many other examples.

    Your description of the Federal Headship leaves out much. Again, the way you describe it is a version that ignores the descriptions in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). While the WCF is not the Bible, it does reflect what conservative Presbyterians believe the Bible teaches (and which the mainline Presbyterians have abandoned). Included in the WCF is "...and the same death in sin, and corrupted nature, conveyed to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation." in other words, those who hold to the WCF also hold that the sin nature was also passed on to us through Adam. You are artificially pitting the so called Natural approach with a strawman Federal Approach.

    The picture you paint of Covenant Theology is unrecognizable to me, and the session of my Presbyterian church would censure anyone who taught this and wold depose any elder who would persistently hold to much of what you say.

    By Blogger Earl, at 2/11/06 6:41 AM  

  • Amen Earl!
    Once again, I am glad that your church is not in the mainline ecumenical movement. The church I came from was, at one time, a conservative, Westminster Presbyterian church from the Scottish Reformed tradition. During the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversies of the late 1800s and early 1900s, liberalism moved in and eventually took over. That is the brush that I am painting with.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 2/11/06 9:52 AM  

  • John,
    Thanks for your concern and encoragement. The 'where should I go statement' I made was concerning a theological system and not a new church. As Earl pointed out the PCA is different than you described but I still have problems with some 'covenant' things that he doesn't have a probelem with. I am still very reformed in my soteriology so there are not a lot of choices for me. I think reformed Baptist would fit me very good, but they are not any close to me.

    Theologically speaking perhaps New Covenant would be a fit. Anyway thanks again for encouragement and your obvious interest in discussing these matters. BTW are regular Baptist churches not a part of the Southern Baptist Convention?

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 2/11/06 10:05 AM  

  • I ould like to say that the covenant theology that I am familiar with is much differnt that what I read here. I too have a lot in common with conservative evangelical Christianity.

    By Blogger DataLore, at 2/11/06 2:01 PM  

  • Hey Jazzy...Love you guy.

    Regular Baptists are Independent Baptist. They have no heirarchal design. About PCA...well Sproul himself has some troubling statements.

    The Independent bible believing Church was the only place I could go to get a clear conscience and know that my money had no support of any liberalism or skewed theology.

    The Church I am in now just supports itself and the Independent missionaries it sends. It is actually a relief not having to worry about trying to clean up everybody elses Churches around the nation and worry about their backyards and instead to just be concerned with my local community and the missionaries we send out. Seems to me that if we all got back to examining the motes in our own eyes in our local Churches we would all have so much less to have to worry about and then perhaps true biblical growth would begin to spurt from the grassroots level and spread automatically.

    The SBC was just concerned with building an Empire and boasting in its numbers and its good deeds along with the Liberals that they put their arms around and work together with still.

    Thanks for your encouragement John and God bless you. May we all endeavor to live by 3 John 7-8

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 2/11/06 3:32 PM  

  • I love Dispensationalism. But dont forget that the originator of Dispensationalism, J.N. Darby believed firmly in the baptism of infants.

    And good old L.S. Chafer was (horror of horrors) a Presbyterian. Can you believe it?

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/11/06 3:33 PM  

  • BTW the SBC will argue that they have no heirarchy but the State Colleges and still existant liberal churches support and are strong pillars that the Conservatives stand on...So perhaps they don't answer to a heirarchy and argue that they don't but they stand on the foundation of their mammon melting pot. We cannot serve God and Mammon. In reality Mammon is the heirarchy at the end of the day and conservatism is allowed to a certain degree as the ocean can only go so far and the sand stops it so too the conservatives stand like that sand and stop the ocean of liberalism and compromise and say go no further...but they still draw their life from the sea.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 2/11/06 3:36 PM  

  • Here is what the PCA generated Reformed Bible says(New Geneva Study Bible) They speak much like Earl in the front in the Infant Baptism section and then say this when speaking of the New Birth:

    "Regeneration is the gift of God's grace. It is the immediate, supernatural work of the Holy Spirit wrought in us. Its effect is to quicken us to spiritual life from spiritual death. It changes the disposition of our souls, inclining our hearts to God. The fruit of regeneration is faith. Regeneration precedes faith. INFANTS CAN BE BORN AGAIN, although the faith that they exercise cannot be as visible as that of adults. For many Christians the moment that they were born again is clearly known; but for others, it may not be,especially if they have received new life in childhood. We are responsible to know whether we are spiritually alive, not the time and place we were born again."
    NEW GENEVA STUDY BIBLE pg 1664

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 2/11/06 3:45 PM  

  • Matthew you said:

    "I love Dispensationalism. But dont forget that the originator of Dispensationalism, J.N. Darby believed firmly in the baptism of infants.

    And good old L.S. Chafer was (horror of horrors) a Presbyterian. Can you believe it?"

    Yes I believe it, but just because these good students of scripture in some areas received error in other areas does not make it the plumbline for me to guide my life by.

    I once followed another trucker into a toll booth up in Maryland. The State Trooper pulled me over and threatened me with a thousand dollar fine...thankfully he let me go. The other trucker was not interested in paying my fine.

    Stop encouraging men to violate truth according to your own conscience. You do not have to give an account for them at the judgment seat of Christ. They do...not you. I am trying to help them...you are leading them in error. You will have to give an account for that as well. Don't confuse what you are doing with love and acceptance.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 2/11/06 3:52 PM  

  • BTW trucks have to line up in the right two tolls. I wasn't paying attention to the sign and instead to my trucker friend who wasn't observing the sign. Why was this so important? The tolls had Heighth and width sensors that only allowed certain trucks through. I had followed my friend into the 3rd toll. It was a major problem that I thought was trivial. The trooper was livid and then he saw how ignorant and green I was and warned me and let me go. Next time I would not be so lucky. But when once coming out of ignorance there should not be a next time if we wish to be faithful to God's word.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 2/11/06 3:56 PM  

  • Hi Jazzy Cat,

    Regular Baptists are not at all part or party with the SBC or NBC (now American Baptist). I did a few short posts on this a while back. For your convenience I will leave the most appropriate links for you and any others that may have an interest.

    Baptist History

    Baptists Before the Reformation

    Baptists and the Reformation

    Baptists Since the Reformatio

    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 2/11/06 3:58 PM  

  • BTW Matthew I apologize if you were just being nice to Jazzy...but if you were trying to be clever and look for another debate then I don't:-)

    and get a haircut while you are at it.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 2/11/06 4:00 PM  

  • Hi Jared,

    May I suggest you spend some time visiting Biblical Research Group. I specifically avoid the term "literalist" for that reason.

    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 2/11/06 4:16 PM  

  • j. wendell,

    Are you saying that the Biblical Research Group's hermeneutical method is not in agreement with your own? If not, what type of hermeneutic do you use and do you have any links detailing the methodology? An extremely brief sketch of the route that I usually take can be found here. Do you have something similar for your approach?

    By Blogger jared, at 2/11/06 9:44 PM  

  • A haircut? I had one on Monday. My hair is not quite within British military regulations, but it is shorter than my mother would like it to be.

    The vast majority of my comments are attempts at being nice.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/11/06 4:54 AM  

  • Brother Brian,
    Thanks for coming along side in defense of the faith. At a time when John MacArthur and Steve Camp (dispensationalist) seems to be ridiculing dispensationalist left and right while exonerating the teaching of R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer, and J.M. Boyce to name some contemporary Covenant Theologians)it is refreshing to have someone who seems to understand the point of these posts.

    Thanks,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 3/11/06 7:43 AM  

  • Data Lore,

    PTL

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 3/11/06 7:45 AM  

  • Amen brother! I am happy to stand here with you although at one time I shared some of these sentiments of others and understand why thy do, but I now realize why it is wrong. This too is probably why MacArthurs camp seems inconsistent here as well.

    I encourage you to continue in this. I am still observing and reading your dispenstational arguements. I am still trying to figure if I am a progressive dispy or New Covanent...but I conclude that there is much that I need to continue to study and so I will continue to read your posts on this where I may need to correct myself or search the scriptures to see if these things be so.

    In this area of Covanent Theology and circumsision and extension of this community into the New Testement I strongly agree with you. These are weeds invented by Rome that have crept into our thinking and I am seeing that we are trying to pasturize it and make it potable for our families. But this does not make it so.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 3/11/06 12:39 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 3/11/06 12:49 PM  

  • Again Shawn we are not trying to change your church in any way and may the Lord bless you in your service for him.

    I hope that you can extend the liberty to us to observe as well as endeavor to keep the commands of Christ in our local body. Each body will give an account for themselves. We certainely don't wish to think ourselves better than anyone else. We do understand that there is reward for faithfulness to the intrests of Christ as is illustrated to the Philadelphia church. May we all endeavor to become like here.

    Praise the Lord that we are saved by grace and that in spite of disobediance in many of these areas we are still saved...yet through grace God desires that we stop taking advantage of his patience and learn to obey his call in areas.

    Remember that Daniel did not abstain from the kings meat over the gospel. It had to do with faithful and loyal issues. Shadrach Meshach and Abendigo went to the firey furnace while many of there other brethren went ahead and bowed and compromised. It was not over the gospel...it was over loyalty issues. There are many other instances where God is testing our hearts.

    Thank God we are saved by grace though and that he is patient with all of us. I certainley havent arrived, but do desire to walk by grace and to wean ourselves away from all that inhibits this and seems right to us.

    It all right also because in a great sense Billy Graham has done a great deal of damage and has caused us to stop thinking like Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego. I do think God is patient but he is also desirous that we come out of Billys way of thinking.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 3/11/06 2:49 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 3/11/06 3:02 PM  

  • j. wendell,

    It seems to me that the historical-grammatical method of interpretation and the Biblical Research Group's method are at odds with each other on a number of points. My points correspond with the respective parts on the BRG link you posted:

    1. The Bible is not merely, simply or only a spiritual book. It is a book about battles and floods, love and lust, kings and queens along with salvation and damnation. It is a collection of books which were written in particular social, political and historical contexts and should be first understood within those contexts.

    2. Language is not governed by an absolute set of laws like the physical world so arriving at the original meaning of the authors is not simply a matter of understanding the definition of the words they were using. You will also be hard pressed to find many scholars who advocate that every individual word used by the authors of Scripture was directly inspired. If this were the case I don't think the books would be as dynamic as they are in reflecting the personality and writing style of their respective authors; it would read like a book written by one person instead of 50.

    3. Here we have a good first rule and then pretty much nothing that follows as a correct application of that rule to the text. For example, the Old Testament was primarily written to Israel but it was about Jesus (Luke 24:25-27) and for the Church (1 Cor. 10:1-13) as well. So what Moses said and wrote cannot only be applied to Israel. Also section B number 1 letter "f" seems arbitrary and conflicts with part two's section II. Section B. number 2 has no Scriptural warrant; if God is omnipresent then everyone is always standing before Him when He makes promises. Also, the author of Hebrews says that the OT patriarchs died without receiving the promise in order that they might receive something better along with us (Heb. 11). Lastly, we celebrate Easter because Jesus is the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7).

    The second (II) rules doesn't really fit within the scheme of a historical-grammatical methodology if only because the original languages (a) don't translate precisely into English and (b) are dead languages in which an exact wording of the text can't be known. The analysis of Genesis 1:1-2 is rife with presuppositions that cannot be drawn from the text or other passages of Scripture.

    "In the beginning" implies nothing about the relationship between God and time. "Heavens and earth" are not the thing(s) acted upon, rather they are the thing(s) created. What is acted upon is nothing; God creates the heavens and the earth out of nothing, that is, He acts upon nothing and creates something. "And the earth was formless and void" certainly cannot be read as "But the earth became a desolation and a waste." Those two sentences do not convey the same meaning/idea and if the rule of interpretation is that we're to get at the meaning of the original text, then we aren't following it by changing that text so that it means something completely different. The verse in Isaiah affirms that God did not create the earth to be a waste and has nothing to do with the fact that it started off as a waste. A word study of the Hebrew word "tohuw" (strong's number 8414, if you want a speedy study) will show that it can be translated as "formless" with the intent of becoming formed, as in Genesis, and it can be translated as "vain", like in Isaiah, with the meaning that it is purposeless or wasteful (and, like Isaiah says, God didn't create the earth to be that way).

    I could go on with the other rules, but it would be an even longer post and this one is long enough already...

    By Blogger jared, at 3/11/06 6:04 PM  

  • Brian,
    Amen!

    Brother Shawn,
    “Bloviating”, I like that word I should have used it to describe CT in this tirade, still there is no need to get all pedantic. May I say this kindly, brother “Others, just accept anything within the “covenant” structure, [are] holding hands with Christ deniers, Bible rejecters, sin celebrants, and creation scoffers; such as the World Counsel of Churches of Christ and the National Counsel of Churches of Christ. Why would a local body of believers be so gullible in allowing any of this to go on within their fellowship of saints? My bible says “come out from among them and be ye separate…”

    If any one is involved in this the WCCC or the NCCC they should leave the church that supports it immediately! They have been over run with godlessness, putrid practices, and false teaching! It is a stench in the nostrils of the holy God, and an affront to the true church of the living God!

    You said,
    “Give Dispensationalism some more time for liberal theology to come out of it. It's not the same thing, liberal theology and unbelievers and Covenant Theology. These arguments are overly ridiculous as are [Calvinists] referring to all people as "[Arminians]" but worse because it ties rank unbelief with belief.”

    That is interesting that you have failed to see where I am not lumping them all together. However, there is a connection, this is admitted by those who have left the PCUSA and began Bible believing Presbyterian churches.

    God bless,
    Brother John

    OK! Jared, I too could elaborate but I will have to circle back to it in the future.

    In Him,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 4/11/06 9:01 AM  

  • John,'

    Another thing that grieves me and may be on a lesser scale but still it is important to note that Chuch Swindoll and many of the Independents that he is involved with, the SBC that Jeremiah is now involved with as well as Calvary Chapel and even the EV free strongly support ministries like the Cove in Ashville and even go there often along with many from the World Council of Churches and NCC. This tie is becoming even more binding. Some from MacArthurs group strongly support Billy Grahams crusades and Franklins. I love these men but everyone is yoking together and pulling their money with liberals to reach others with the Gospel. It does have its problems because people in other countries as well as churches have been encouraged by them to remain in these apostate organizations while claiming to defend the faith at the same time.

    We have got to pull ourselves away from this way of thinking.

    I used to be in the SBC and one of my pastors thought I was going overboard when I suggested seperation from some of the professing Christians that did not believe in the Virgin Birth.

    He told me, "Hey we are still working with people who love the Lord here and they still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, they just came out of teaching where they believe that Jesus became the Son of God when he was baptised."

    This coming from the most conservative Church in North Carolina and proclaimed as such at the National Convention. In fact Tennessee nearly gave us the Charles Spurgeon award, but we barely lost it to a larger church in Rocky Mount.

    We may be patting ourselves on the back...but God weeps that we think so little of His Son.

    I can be no part of it anymore.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 4/11/06 9:51 AM  

  • The reformed theologians favorite teacher John Piper is in a liberal denomination as well and he is friends with men who deny what we hold precious.

    When I read my Bible I see Paul strongly rebuking such action as well as getting miles away from this nilly willy way of double minded thinking. We need to all wake up and value the Son of God with our actions not our lips.

    America is in an Ecumenical smorgasborg and they don't know it.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 4/11/06 9:56 AM  

  • Paul said to go to dinner with the lost but to get miles away from those who verify false doctrine and that they are not ashamed and do it in broad daylight. We have become to desensitised. All of us. Wake up o people of God and do the firstfruits that God ordained us for.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 4/11/06 9:58 AM  

  • Amen Brian!

    The NAE is an ecumenical hodgepodge as well. I think even J. Vernon McGee would be railing against this movement now if he were still among us.

    Some one must have forgotten how to treat the Book of Joel appositionally.

    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 4/11/06 11:03 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 4/11/06 11:21 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Shawn L, at 4/11/06 11:32 AM  

  • Brother Shawn,

    I came out of the PCUSA, they misuse the Westminster confession of Faith and were at one time very strong in covenant camp.

    I will try to post on this in the future.

    God bless,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 4/11/06 12:12 PM  

  • John

    This is my last comment about this series. You’re barking up the wrong tree with Covenant Theology. Brian, you seem to be lumping Covenant Theology with John Piper and John MacArthur, both these guys are against Covenant Theology. What happened to mainline Presbyterianism? It wasn’t the leaven of Covenant Theology that slowly lulled them away; it was the disregard for truth, especially the source of truth in God and God’s Word. This very same thing is happening in so-called conservative Evangelical churches today. You can focus your attention on the red herring of Covenant Theology (a version that is a great distortion of Covenant Theology), you can get others to join the crusade, and in the process you’re pushing away friends who have the same high regard for Scripture as you do, and you’re missing what is really going on.

    A more accurate assessment of what is happening across the North American Evangelical church is found in David Well’s very readable book, No place for Truth.

    I can understand your disagreement with Covenant Theology versus Dispensational Theology. Personally, I think Dispensational Theology misses some of the major points that are clear when reading a literal sense of the Bible. But do I think that Dispensational Theology is the underlying cause of errors in supporters of Dispensationalism, such as John MacArthur? Is that the cause of John Piper’s errors because he’s against Covenant Theology? Of course not. If I were to seriously propose that, you’d write me off because I’d show I didn’t know what I was talking about. John, this is your blog, you can take it any direction you want, but I want to caution you to think a little more carefully about this.

    By Blogger Earl, at 4/11/06 12:12 PM  

  • ...and John, please feel free to remove any comments of mine. I don't want to sound so critical, I've tried to tone it down, but I'm afraid my responses might not be helpful to the discussion. This is a difficult topic you're taking on. Thanks for your patience with me.

    By Blogger Earl, at 4/11/06 12:26 PM  

  • John,

    Could you please explain your paragraph that begins, "A child being laughed at for believing the Bible literally..." I don't see how this fits into your essay. I don't think that Covenant Theologians, as you have portrayed them, are the only ones who teach their children that the Bible is true literally. How do you explain the Bible's version of these events against the humanistic, evolutionary version of these events to your children?

    By Anonymous mas, at 4/11/06 2:26 PM  

  • Earl,
    I do agree with much of what you are saying, thanks for saying it, too. When churches bought into the so called age of enlightenment of German Humanism, French Rationalism, and began to crusade against biblical teaching most of them were in the reformed camp. You are so right that Liberalism is not a result of Covenant Theology! It is because of the sinful nature of the heart, UNBELIEF!

    I would not remove your comments and I would not encourage anyone to remove comments here. You are welcome to express your opinions especially when you have such passion for the truth!

    MAS,
    This is not my favorite way of communicating! I am generally not given to demagoguery. This was no essay. It was in truth a “tirade”.

    The paragraph that begins with "A child being laughed at for believing the Bible literally, including the creation account and the record of Noah’s arc, feels rejection and confusion in the worst way." This is a true account, it actually happened in a PCUSA church, I was there. I was and still am close to the person to whom this all unfolded. I did not participate in the laughter at the time; I truly became very upset over it, to the degree of trying to find other answers. You are right, as I reread this rant it does not seem to fit.

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 5/11/06 6:23 AM  

  • You were speaking of the child being laughed at in CHURCH for believing the Bible? If so your paragraph makes so much more sense to me.

    By Anonymous mas, at 5/11/06 4:04 PM  

  • John,

    You're right about so many churches that went apostate were in the Reformed camp. The reason is that up until the 1850's, most churches in America were Reformed. Reformed churches dominated the Northeast. Most Reformed churches started well. Over time, there is a tendency (perhaps tendency is not the word, but "pressure") of churches, as they get very well established in communities, to move away from the gospel and apostatize. It usually takes a while. Since a majority of older churches are Reformed churches, in comparison to other churches, you see the majority of the apostate churches are (or I should say were) Reformed. But this has also happened with the Methodists, General Baptists, and others who aren't Reformed in their orientation.

    What this tells me is no matter how well a church starts off, Biblically speaking, or a denomination, it is not immune as an earthly body from apostatizing. I am a member of a good denomination, the PCA, which is perhaps 30 years old. It came from the ashes of the old Southern Presbyterian church, which was in various stages of apostatizing in the 1960's and 1970's, when the Southern finally merged with the apostate Northern Presbyterian church to form the PCUSA in the 1970s.

    Given the unfortunate history of denominations, and individual churches, the PCA will likely aposticize in the future too. That is why I've told my children to not pin their identity with a church or denomination, and told them how to look for signs for apostasy and either fight it (if God directs them to do that) or move on to another church (and possibily denomination) that is blessed by God in its faithfulness to the gospel. I moved on from another denomination when our children were young because I saw it aposticizing -- not that it had reached full bloom, but it was well on its way and I did not want my children caught up in it.

    We are seeing today, in many "conservative" Evangelical churches, the same kind of things that happened in the mainline and old churches. Today it is a little different in the details. Many of these churches are conservative, politically and morally, but the heart of the gospel has left them or is leaving them. Some of the major names in the conservative Christian movement in the US don't believe anymore that Jesus is the only way to God, that if you're faithful in other religions (such as Judaism), you also are saved. Today, this apostasy is happening all around, and the majority it is happening is not Reformed churches, only because the majority of churches today are not Reformed. It is a problem all of us share, no matter what the background.

    God is gracious, there are awakenings happening throughout the Church. A couple of months ago I witnessed it happening to Episcopalians. Dozens of Episcopalian priests came to a funeral my son played at, of a layperson in the Episcopal Church in the US, had led a whole group of priests to Christ. At the funeral, I heard one of the clearest proclamations of the gospel – from priests in the Episcopal renewal movement. Imagine that!

    By Blogger Earl, at 5/11/06 5:28 PM  

  • HI MAS,
    Yes, at church! The SS teacher who lead the "teasing" claimed to believe the Bible, but he claimed that the account of the flood was a description of a small pond in the Middle East NOT a global deluge. The 5th grade boy was then counseled by the pastor and given a book by Time/Life on understanding Evolution with a personal word inside about how it is hoped that the boy could understand how God used evolution to create the universe and the fullness of the earth blesses the Lord.

    The Minister of the church regularly explained away the miracles in the Bible.

    A few weeks ago my family was invited to come to the 40th anniversary of that congregation, the two speakers explained how Jesus going up to the mount of transfiguration is a story of how Jesus needed John, James, and Peter to go with him [Him] for moral support and get some ideas of what to do next since Jesus was insecure and unsure what to do with himself [Himself].

    Another passage of Scripture that they diminished Isaiah 2:4 claiming that it is best understood as the communion cup of world peace, love and forgiveness for our enemies like the terrorists who attacked the Twin Towers. It was the strangest way I have ever heard it explained. This is when I began to weep and Rosie LOL. It was the strangest thing to want to laugh at how ridicules it sounded, and cry for the apathetic crowd going right along with it.

    The third was Jesus with a child in their midst saying such is the kingdom of God and whoever receives one of these in my [My] name receives me [Me], means that we need to come to the defense of those who have no authority to make decisions (not the unborn).

    The point was that this congregation was On the Way to making things better for all.

    Thanks for the visit,
    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 6/11/06 6:29 AM  

  • Welcome back Earl,

    You said, “The reason is that up until the 1850's, most churches in America were Reformed [churches]. Reformed churches dominated the Northeast. Most Reformed churches started well.”

    Yes that’s right (!), and I concur that there can be and is a drifting away in any variety of theological frame work. CT has nothing to do with that.

    I have tried to get this point across. I also have forgotten to use ;~) and :~) in my comments.

    BTW I am opened to the understanding of the federal headship of Adam if understood along with the natural headship. I think I hold to both to certain degrees, but not the way described in this post. I am still learning too.

    Brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 6/11/06 6:47 AM  

  • John,
    This has been interesting to read. I know where you are coming from on this. I hope people don't ultimately take you the wrong way.

    I love your blog.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 6/11/06 9:57 AM  

  • Yes we gotta always remember that blogging is one dimensional and that we don't see expressions on faces nor do we hear the voice. Only the words that are written. It is too subjective sometimes.

    May the Lord help us all to remember this and not take anyone the wrong way.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at 6/11/06 3:57 PM  

  • Thanks Rose!

    Thanks Brian!

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at 7/11/06 7:48 AM  

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