Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Don't Go There!

Isaiah 31:1-3 (KJV)
Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD!
Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words: but will arise against the house of the evildoers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.

Nobody in Israel thought Egypt was perfect. Their own history with Egypt attested to that. They knew only too well Egypt's fierce anger.

But at this moment in their history Egypt looked like their best option. On the other side stood Assyria and after her, Babylon. If Egypt was worldliness, Babylon was the devil. They were prone to lean more toward worldliness that Satan.

God said that they should have leaned upon Him.

I find in this a picture of the current state of believers in America. This election appears to be between "the devil" and "the world." 
On the one side we have a candidate who is opposed to almost everything we hold sacred. I have heard that she flatly pronounced that "Christians are just going to have to change."
On the other side we have a man who appears to hold a few more of our more valued principles. He is uplifted by some as the only candidate strong enough to possibly defeat our archenemy. But he is brash, proud, outlandish and unabashedly self promoting.

He is not our preference but many believe he is our only hope.
Not so!
Our only hope is the Lord.
He has always been our only hope.

Woe to them who go down to worldliness for help!

Now, I am not of the opinion that good men cannot vote for the man. Jeremiah objected at first, (I voted my conscience in objection to the current candidate in the primaries) but went down to Egypt and did not compromise in doing so. I, however, do believe that we must be warned not to trust in this man.

Our hope must be in seeking the Lord.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Different Streams of Baptist are Different Kinds of Baptists

I style myself as one of those Baptists with a capital “B” Baptists. Typically what we mean by that is that we hold Baptist baptism as the only form of scriptural baptism since we believe that baptism must be under the authority of a scriptural church and neither any of the Protestants nor the Catholic Church qualify, and that the Lord’s Supper is a memorial to be observed by the members of a particular local church.

Sometimes those of us, who think of ourselves as capital “B” Baptists, think that we are the only Baptists who have any historical claim to the title. I don’t see it as being that simple. It is relatively popular right now to identify four historical “ideas” for the existence of Baptists:
That Baptist churches have existed and reproduced themselves since the first century.
Those who hold to this idea of Baptist origin identify with the Anabaptists.

That the doctrines of modern Baptists are traceable through the centuries and back to Christ.
Those in this camp deny that churches have established churches for these two thousand years, but that various Bible students through the centuries independently came to hold doctrines similar to modern Baptists.

That modern Baptist churches spring from Protestant churches that were influenced by the Anabaptists. 
In this way Baptists claim some link to historical churches but disassociate with some of what they consider to be the less desirable aspects of Anabaptist history.

That Baptists are merely one of the many sub-church groups that protested away from the Protestant Church of England.
This group denies any connection with the Anabaptists and see the Baptist denomination as a brand new church founded by John Smith and his contemporaries.

I am of the first bunch. I see the Baptist church origins as being outside of Protestantism and outside of Catholicism running parallel in time to them all the way back to John the Baptist. I see two possible means to link Baptist churches all the way back to Christ:
First, through the Anabaptists of mainland Europe. There is no question that these believers existed and that they were a growing, vital Christian community all the while Catholicism and later Protestantism existed. They were heavily persecuted by the Catholics and Protestants so most of what we know about them we know from the things their detractors wrote about them, but we do know they existed. We would not agree with everything every Anabaptist held to and we admit that they held to varied positions. But that their basic doctrinal premises were that of Baptists, is not difficult to argue.
Second, through the ancient churches of the British Isles. It is similarly uncomplicated to demonstrate that a Christian presence has existed in the British Isles long before the Catholics arrived there. Many of these churches compromised with Roman Catholicism over the centuries, but some did not. Believers in Wales especially claim a Christian heritage that is more ancient than Catholicism. I contend that Baptists have a right to claim that heritage as our own.

The point I want to make in this writing is that those who hold to these differing ideas of Baptist origins are more than Baptists with differing views; we are different kinds of Baptists. We may identify within the same camps, but we are not the same. Most would agree that Southern Baptists and American Baptists are not the same and that Independent Baptists are not the same as either of them. None of us would want to be thought of as the same as, say, Westboro Baptist. I mean to say that these differences run more personally than this and that we very frequently ignore them. These differing ideas of Baptist origins exist among churches that identify themselves, as I do, as Independent, Fundamental Baptist.

And here we have made a huge mistake, especially in the last fifty to seventy-five years. We have assumed that anyone who was an Independent, Fundamental Baptist was in the same camp as we. Oh, sure, we understood that there were minor differences, mostly we attributed those to personalities, but we viewed all Independent Baptists as “one of us.” The fact is, that is not the case.
  • ·       I remember back in the 80’s hearing the head of one Independent Baptist missions agency claim to be the first Independent Baptist back into Ethiopia[1], ignoring that there had been a missionary associated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship there for previous to him.
  • ·      I heard an Independent Baptist preacher claim to be the only Gospel preaching Baptist church in his town, but I knew for a fact that there was a church in fellowship with the Baptist Bible Fellowship in the same town[2].

The differences between the various “camps” of Independent Baptists is real. It is more than one of simple personalities. It is a difference
  • ·       of philosophy,
  • ·       of doctrine,
  • ·       of ethics and
  • ·       of heritage[3]

It is, in fact, a difference of “kind.” Mixing the “kinds” has been a mistake. It has left the members of Baptist churches confused and doctrinally compromised because of it. The leaders, the guys who wish to assemble a multitude of pastors as their followers[4] would like us to ignore the differences, in fact they wish we would stop having our distinctives and just follow them. But the differences are real. I contend that they are vital and important to preserve. 

Now, I am not suggesting that these others are not Baptists or that they have to agree with my view of heritage, origin and doctrine to be capital “B” Baptists. History will bear out that Baptists, if they are anything, are varied. What I am suggesting is that we become upfront with the differences and that we unite as Baptists with Baptists who are doctrinally, historically and ethically the same as we are and not merely with those who seem to be the most successful and camp under the very broad flag of Independent, Fundamental Baptist. The differences are important.
  • ·       They are important to the health of local Baptist churches
  • ·       They are important to the vitality of individual believers and
  • ·       They are important to the preservation of “faith which was once delivered”  

[1] Or was it Kenya? I don't remember.
[2] Though I am not aware of any specific instances, I am sure that there were BBF preachers who ignored the presence of the others too.
[3] Unless we wish to claim that heritage only goes back to the 1940’s-1950’s.
[4] And thus have the influence over their congregations.

Monday, October 10, 2016

I Am A Baptist, I Must Be Responsible

I am a Baptist.
I do not belong to any religious denomination.
I have no historical ties to any protestant system of doctrine

I am a Baptist
The historical make-ip of my forefathers is varied. It traces all the way back to John the Baptist, outside of Protestantism and outside of Catholicism. My predecessors have been prosecuted, maligned, mistreated and in many cases exterminated.

I am a Baptist
Though history clearly demonstrates the existence of Baptist believers through the centuries to the first century, their opponents have succeeded in destroying most of the historical documentation and other materials those Baptist believers produced. We are forced to extrapolate what we know about those Baptist believers from the accounts of those who hated them, persecuted them and would have eradicated the world of them.

I am a Baptist
I hold no illusion that the forebears of my faith were perfect men. I do not ask that of them. I hold that their greatest testimony was their conviction to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience as led by their study of the Word of God. 

I am a Baptist
My convictions require that I hold myself responsible to study the Word of God for myself. As a Baptist I am accountable not to a denomination, not to a Bible College, not to a famous preacher or spiritual leader. I am accountable to Jesus Christ, to the particular local church body to which I have been attached and to the doctrines my personal studies have led me to hold.

I am a Baptist.
Therefore I must be responsible for my own convictions.

Marvin McKenzie
In the fields

Monday, September 26, 2016

What About Deuteronomy 14:26?

In a response to a Daily Visit with God I wrote based out of Proverbs 20:1 and the subject of wine, a man commented back to me, “But what about Deuteronomy 14:26?” The verse reads, Deuteronomy 14:26 (KJV)
And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

My first thought would be, “What about the preponderance of passages that tell us of the evils of drinking?”
What about, Genesis 9:20-21 (KJV)?
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

What about Numbers 6:3 (KJV)?
He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.

What about Judges 13:4 (KJV)?
Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:

What about Proverbs 20:1 (KJV)?
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

What about Proverbs 23:31-32 (KJV)?
Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

What about Isaiah 5:11 (KJV)?
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!

What about Isaiah 28:7 (KJV)?
But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.

What about Habakkuk 2:15 (KJV)?
Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

There are so many passages that give a clear and compelling argument against the drinking of alcohol that reason says every passage that seems to approve of it should be reconsidered. Even if we are not able to give a definitive understanding of those passages, good sense says they are not condoning and approving of drinking any sort of alcoholic drink.

I am reminded of the question the Pharisees asked the Lord, Matthew 19:7 (KJV)
They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

The Pharisees were looking for a (Biblical) way to approve of divorce. Jesus gave them no such leave. His answer to them was that, though Moses recognized divorce as a reality in his world, God did not approve it and it was still sin. Though the souls of men may “lust” after wine and strong drink along with their meals, it is not approved and it is still sin.

  • ·       Given that the Bible speaks clearly of the evil of drunkenness
  • ·       Given that the habit of drinking alcohol so easily slips into drunkenness and
  • ·       Given that the Bible tells us to be filled with the Holy Ghost instead of being drunk with wine

It is foolish to argue in favor of any view of the Bible that approves of the use of alcoholic drink, including wine.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Drinking A Little or A Lot

I recently read of the removal of Pastor Perry Noble from the pastorate of South Carolina mega church known as NewSpring Church. Right off the bat I want to say that I have no reason to attack Noble. He is not in my circles, his church, in my estimation has never been Biblical and other than seeing his name appear from time to time in articles I only glance at, he has been a non-issue to me. What is an issue is the lesson that is learned from his fall.
In an article I found in Christianity Today[1], Noble declares that he believes it is perfectly acceptable for Christians to consume alcohol so long as they do not abuse alcohol. His problem, by his own admission, is that he "slipped" from socially consuming to personally abusing alcohol.

I am reminded of a podcast[2] I recently heard where James White and Jeff Durbin defended themselves from certain attacks made by fellow Calvinist, JD Hall[3]. Hall had gotten wind of two separate but actual events that had taken place in connection with some fundraising for a new church Durbin's church is planting in Hawaii. Whether Hall's accusations are accurate or not is not the point of this piece. What is the point is the defense White and Durbin make against those accusations.
Apparently Durbin's congregation is primarily composed of alcohol and drug abusers who have been rescued through this ministry. Durbin, Who works to help addicts recover, preaches a message very similar Perry Noble's, "social drinking is acceptable but abusive drinking is sin" line.
Durbin cited Scripture after Scripture that he believes speak of drinking wine in a positive, even exalted light. One reference was Jesus' turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. On more than one occasion Durbin used the word, conviction, claiming that it was his conviction that the Bible did not condemn wine.

Here's my take. First, wine, in the Bible, is not always alcoholic. Men like White, who boast of their skills in accurately interpreting the Bible, should see this. Too many people they know and claim to respect have published by too much information on the subject for them to not be aware of this. I would expect that this is a conscious choice to deny a valid understanding of the word, wine. For Durbin to insist on serving strong drink, i.e. alcoholic wine, at his communion services is, in my estimation, just plain irresponsible.

Secondly I want to challenge Durbin’s use of the word, conviction. When Durbin says it is his "conviction" that it is biblical to drink alcoholic wine, does this mean that the social drinking of alcoholic beverages is actually a Christian practice Durbin would suffer persecution to defend? I expect it is more of a preference.

I end with this since a man, such as Noble, could slide into the abusive use of this substance that is so well known to be addictive, since it is not a matter critical to the Christian faith, and since abstinence from alcohol is a certain means of preventing such abuse, wouldn't it be wiser to entertain more thoroughly those interpretations of the Bible that teach complete abstinence?