This response to a confused evangelical is very revealing to what is going on in many churches and I decided to publish it on my blog and Facebook. I answer a sincere but wrong preacher about church music, alcohol, long hair on males, errors of Calvin, worldly living, the Eucharist, baby baptism, babies in Hell, the errors of Schuller, Graham, Willard, etc., can people be saved apart from the Gospel, mystics, and other controversial subjects. This article is long but necessary:
You used “Eucharist” in your article and I think that is an unscriptural, unnecessary and unwise capitulation to the Roman Catholic Church that teaches that rite is necessary for salvation. I am sure you don’t believe that but it is a matter of importance.
You declared that infant baptism “holds in its favor historical and traditional longevity.” Note that you did not mention any Scriptural support! And the fact that Augustine, Francis of Assisi, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc., believed in infant baptism means little. I won’t take time to enumerate a list of their other theological errors.
A Child is not saved “through the faith of his/her parents” and the fact that Christ told His disciples not to keep children from coming to Him has nothing to do with them getting saved. While you are correct in that He said that the kingdom was as children, but that has no reference to them being members of a church. Matt. 19:14 records Jesus saying, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Children are not members of a Bible-preaching church until they are saved and baptized.
You are not correct in your statement regarding baptism. You wrote, “In ‘believer’s baptist’ circles, baptism is a declaration before God and his people of the individual’s commitment to live for Jesus Christ.” Not really. Your arrow hit the target but missed the bull’s eye. Baptism is a public confession of faith in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection “according to the scriptures” and a desire to serve Him in a Bible preaching church.
You declared concerning child dedication, “In many covenantal pedo-baptist circles, baptism fulfills a similar role. Infant dedication would then be like infant baptism: without the water yet with the commitment.” No, those groups that baptize infants do so to protect them from hell. Calvin wrote, “By baptism we are ingrafted into the body of Christ … infants are to be baptized … children of Christians, as they are immediately on their birth received by God as heirs of the covenant, are also to be admitted to baptism” (Institutes, IV). One of the two reasons Calvin had Servetus killed was his rejection of infant baptism for salvation.
Calvin declared in chapter 15 of his Institutes that, “Children dying before baptism [are] not excluded from heaven, provided the want of it was not caused by negligence or contempt”; and later wrote, “Children who happen to depart this life before an opportunity of immersing them in water, are not exclude from the kingdom of heaven.” It seems that Calvin, like all fallible men was inconsistent and contradictory at times. And almost all theologians disagree with Calvin’s teaching that Christ suffered in Hell! (Book II, Chapter 16 of Institutes.)
Augustine taught that babies who had never been “baptized” would be damned although they would receive a lesser punishment than unbaptized adults. (See my lengthy article on Calvinism at my website, www.cstnews.com.)
Calvin also wrote, “Whether the person baptized is to be wholly immersed, and that whether once or thrice, or whether he is only to be sprinkled with water, is not of the least consequence; churches should be at liberty to adopt either, according to the diversity of climates, although it is evident that the term baptize means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church.” Please note that Calvin admitted that “baptize” means to immerse but “is not of the least consequence.” So men have a right to practice whatever they choose?
Calvin added, “…at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole life…we must…recall our baptism…so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins…it wipes and washes away all our defilements” (IV: xv, 3). Calvin contradicted himself in his Institutes. A theologian told me that Calvin changed his mind and his Institutes were a long time in production, finished when he was not yet 30 years old. His book was constantly revised by Calvin until the fifth edition before his death was five times larger than the first edition.
Furthermore, you are not correct in stating that the evangelization of children is a “divine mystery on which Scripture remains silent.” Children become Christians like anyone else as they hear and believe the old, old story of Christ.
Augustine was wrong about many things but he corrected at least one error—that the Church of Christ was built upon Peter. As he got older, he retracted what he at first believed about the foundation of the Roman Church. He wrote, “I have said somewhere of St. Peter that the Church is built on him as the ‘Rock’; but I have since said that the Word of the Lord ‘Thou are Peter, and upon this Petra I will build my church,’ must be understood of Him [Jesus] whom Peter confesses to be ‘the Son of the Living God.’ Peter so named after this ‘Rock’ represents the person of the Church, and has received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. It was not said of him, ‘thou art Petra,’ but ‘thou art Petros,’ and the Rock was Christ; through confession of whom Simon received the name Peter.” Augustine 151.
You seem to commend Bach when he submitted to the king’s command to change from writing “Protestant” hymns to Roman Catholic masses because he was submissive to authority. Submitting to authority is scriptural; however, it is not scriptural to submit if such submission is compromise of truth. Bach compromised to save his skin, or his status or his salary—most likely all three. It was a cowardly yet human thing to do. If Bach was right then you must think the 2,000 preachers in England were wrong when they went to jail or lost their pulpits for refusing to obey the law requiring them to use the Common Book of Prayer.
In the 1600s, the government of England started losing control in Wales when hundreds of independent churches and chapels were established by Nonconformist Independents, Baptists, Quakers, and others. The Nonconformists were gaining too much influence in England and Wales so the King and Parliament decided to bring them under control. The Act of Uniformity of 1662 required all ministers to assent to the rites and liturgy of the Established Church. In fact, all clergy, college professors, and schoolmasters had to agree with everything in the Book of Common Prayer! All who refused to follow the common prayer book were ejected from the Church. Out of approximately 10,000 preachers throughout the country, about 2,000 were ejected (and some went to jail) but 20% to 25% of the country continued to worship illegally, holding secret services in barns and other unapproved locations. If you think those principled preachers were right then how can you believe Bach was right in his decision? Aren’t laymen, even famous and talented laymen, expected to be as principled and godly as preachers?
You asked if we are being loving by “Arguing over music styles, versions of the Bible,…orders of worship and liturgies?” What is wrong with discussing, even debating such issues? Is that not healthy? Why not discuss, debate, and disagree (if necessary) over such issues? Are we that fragile? Such discussions can help wavering or uncertain preachers come to a firm decision and that would be very beneficial.
You are totally wrong about Dallas Willard. You wrote, “Nowhere will we find Dallas Willard stating that he believes that one may be saved without Christ, but in his article, he is open to the idea that God’s grace might extend to those who have never heard of Christ—but God has somehow revealed himself in some other way.” No, Dallas was not “open to the idea” since he made it clear what he believed: men can be saved without hearing about Christ! Your above statement defending Willard even smacks of heresy. Your graciousness seems to make a mockery of English and common sense.
The reason we left Highland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga was because Tennessee Temple University had Willard as a guest lecturer even after I thoroughly documented his heretical teachings. In fact, Pastor Bouler refused to discuss the issue with me. We are now very contented members of a small Independent Baptist Church in LaFayette, GA.
There is no “other way.” Either Christ is the only way to Heaven or not. (See Acts 4:12.) And to say that “God’s grace might extend to those who have never heard of Christ” is humanist speculation and totally without biblical foundation.
Willard clearly stated his position when he wrote in Cutting Edge, “God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life.” He added, “It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.” The first two are clear statements of salvation by works and the last is totally opposed by orthodox teaching of the last 2,000 years. It is an incredible statement without scriptural support. If he is not wading into the high weeds of heresy then where is he?
You stated, “Nobody is damned without choosing to reject the Jesus of the Scriptures.” Are you sure you believe that? The fact, supported by Scripture, is that all men are condemned already (John 3:18) and must place faith in the finished work of Christ. It is not necessary that they choose “to reject the Jesus of the Scriptures.”
Then you added, “Who knows how deep and wide God’s grace and salvation reaches? Perhaps God might save those who have not heard Christ simply through general revelation.” That is what Willard, Schuller, Graham, and Company believe and the Apostles would have rebuked such preachers then fled from them like their hair was on fire. General revelation will not save anyone from Hell.
Each man has the ability to know the difference in right and wrong and experience guilt when he chooses wrong over right. John 1:9 informs us, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” So all men have reason and conscience along with the ability to make judgments about their responsibility toward a just and powerful God to whom they will give an account. If men reject that light (that every person has), then God will not send them additional light or special revelation whereby they may be saved.
There is no doubt that Greek and Roman philosophers were aware of the one true God; however, it was not usually taught to common people. After all, they were committed to the numerous “gods” as proclaimed by their priests. Cicero (died 43 B.C.) wrote, “You do not see God, and yet you acknowledge him as God by his works.” That is general revelation. However, acknowledging Him as God is not sufficient. If it were, why would Christ have died?
Gibbon remarked that “the [Greek] philosophers regarded all the popular superstitions [religions] as equally false; the common people as equally true; and the politicians as equally useful.” The Greek and Roman leaders used religion to control the people who trusted in a Pantheon of gods. The officials were smart enough to know that religion was the glue that held nations together regardless of the kind of government. The Greeks and Romans should have known that their helpless pagan idols could not create the world, and only a great, sovereign, powerful God could have done so. They could have inferred that from general revelation.
Paul deals with this principle in Acts 17:23 where he started with general revelation and ended up preaching Christ or special revelation when he told the Athenians that their “unknown god” was Jesus Christ. He is the God that made the world and all things therein, the Creator of heaven and earth. The idea of an unknown creator/god was admitted by many Greek philosophers; but those of Aristotle’s school denied it, and maintained “that the world was from eternity, and every thing always was what now it is.” Plato, Cicero, and other philosophers were aware of a sovereign God but did not deal with it in their discourses with common people.
Through general revelation, the Athenians knew there was a God over all gods who was responsible for everything and Paul said, “That is the One I want you to know.” This was dangerous for Paul because it was a capital offense to introduce any new god or new religion into the state (the very thing that he was accused of doing). However, Paul was saying, “The unknown god that you have been worshipping, I declare him to you now. I am only explaining what you have already recognized.”
General revelation is necessary as a prelude to special revelation, for if a person is not convinced that there is a sovereign God responsible for “all this” then they are not ready to hear about Christ. Most Biblicist theologians would say that general revelation is not salvific or redemptive but is preparatory to special revelation. General revelation may reveal to the sin-admitting heathen some of God’s attributes such as His divinity, His omnipotence, His omniscience, maybe His omnipresence, His wisdom, His goodness, His philanthropy, etc., but could never reveal Christ’s vicarious death as the propitiation for man’s sins.
There is no possibility of salvation through general revelation alone. Being sincere, honest, wanting wisdom, recognizing a creator–God are good but requires more—faith in Christ. Willard, Schuller, Graham and Company are wrong and are wading knee-deep into heretical waters.
Paul in Rom 1:19 tells us that God’s judgment upon man is justified because man can know about God from natural revelation. What can be known of God by man is obvious but man has chosen to reject that information “for God hath shewed it unto them.”
Rom. 1:20 is often used to support the teaching that men can be saved by general revelation, i.e., without knowledge of Christ. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Paul said that the creation permits men to clearly see; however, it does not say they are saved. Therefore, they are without excuse.
Rom. 1:21 says, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” So men, even pagan non-Jews, knew God but refused to recognize Him as God. The Roman Cicero wrote, “What can be so plain and manifest, when we look at heaven, and contemplate heavenly things, as that there is some Divinity of most excellent mind, by which these things are governed?”
Since men chose to refuse His information and recognize His presence, they were doomed to idolatry. When they refused to willingly accept His benefices they became hard of heart and did not revel in His mercy in sending rain, warm weather, food, rest, children, etc. In other words, they were ungrateful and rather than fix their gaze upon a Supreme omnipotent God, they fixed their affections on the sun, stars, moon, etc. They began to worship the creation instead of the Creator. Consequently, God gave them up to a vile lifestyle. And since they turned from what revelation they had, they are without excuse. After reasoning that a powerful God must have put the universe in place, there is no excuse to bow before graven idols that have eyes to see yet see not and ears to hear yet hear not. Consequently, men continued to walk in darkness.
Acts 14:17 informs us that “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” However, the heathen rejected that good God and chose paganism. (To be continued.)
Fact, Fraud or Faith?
by Don Boys, Ph.D.
Only an uninformed fanatic says that evolution or creation can be proved scientifically. Christians believe in creationism because we believe in the veracity of the Bible but we also have scientific evidence to support our position. In every debate I’ve had with evolutionary scientists, the arrogant, asinine accusation is made, “Well, evolution is scientific while creationism is religion.” Evolution is about as scientific as a voodoo rooster plucking ceremony in Haiti. Almost.