Friday, May 30, 2008

MORE Straw Men of Dispensationalism's Critics

Another wave of protestations arose after my last post regarding Dispensationalism as a viable, biblical understanding of God's unfolding plan. Allow me to relate them to you, then , if you like. choose sides! This could be fun! :-D

The words of the Critic:
According to dispensationalism, the way to salvation is unique according to each specific dispensation.
For example, dispensationalism claims that salvation
in Adam's time was by works only;
from Adam to Moses it was by faith plus works;
from Moses to Christ it was by faith plus Law;
from Christ till the rapture it is by faith;
(“The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ...” Schofield Reference Bible, 1115, note 2.)
and in the millennium it will be by works, not by faith.
(This is one of the major doctrines of dispensationalism; dispensations are what give dispensationalism its name.)

Below are some false teachings of dispensationalism:

Dispensationalism has a pre-determined hermeneutic. (Dispensationalism maintains that only the writings of Paul are specifically for the church.)

“The epistles of Paul ... are totally adequate for the growth and glory of the heavenly Body of Christ.” Dispensationalist, Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“The only way to keep the Church totally free of Israel is to center in Paul, because Paul’s source and center is the glorified Lord Jesus Christ, at the right hand of the Father.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“it is our solemn responsibility to pay particular attention to the Word of God through Paul, in order that we may understand it thoroughly and obey it fully.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“Our “private mail” is to be found in the Epistles of Paul.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

In "Judaism or Christianity," William Kelly taught that ‘rightly dividing’ means the Church is heavenly and Israel is earthly.

Dispensationalism believes that Paul had a different message than did the other apostles and Jesus.

Some “have considered Paul merely as one of the Apostles, entrusted with the same message the Twelve were sent to proclaim, the Scriptures clearly that this is not so. Paul's message and ministry were distinct and separate from theirs; to him was committed the doctrine and the program for a new dispensation, a new creation, the Church, never before even contemplated, except in the mind and heart of God.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

The commission of “going into “all the world” with “the Gospel” is a “failure to see that this commission has been superseded by that later given to Paul . . .” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"
“God had since brought in the dispensation of grace through Paul.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“And what of Israel’s Sermon on the Mount in relation to the Church? Why should the heavenly Church be subjected to Jesus pre-Cross message of the kingdom to Israel? What He gave to Israel in His humiliation does not compare with what He gave to His body in His glorification, from His heavenly position via Paul in the Church Epistles.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“There is nothing in all of Scripture to compare with what the Church’s glorified Head has given to her through Paul, so why wander into the far country for sustenance? The Sermon on the Mount is directed to earthly, not heavenly people.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

Blessings in the Sermon on the Mount “are won through personal merit.” Miles J. Standford quoting Lewis Sperry Chafer's comments on the Beatitudes in Systematic Theology, IV, 216-218.

Dispensationalism says that believers in the church and Jewish believers are separated by different futures, different kingdoms, different covenants, and different ways to salvation.

“Pauline Dispensationalism disassociates the Church from Israel, including her New Covenant, her Sermon, and her Kingdom.” Miles J. Standford, in "Pauline Dispensationalism"

“Israel’s New Covenant will neither be inaugurated nor fulfilled until after the Great Tribulation (Jacob’s trouble), nor until the Deliverer returns to earth, nor until Israel’s sins are forgiven.” Miles J. Standford in “The Two New Covenants”

“Israelites are appointed to be subjects of the King in His earthly Kingdom. Members of the Body of Christ are to reign with the King as His Consort in that Kingdom.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Systematic Theology," IV, 47-53

“The very tense of the verb used is important. Under grace, the fruit of the Spirit is, which indicates the present possession of the blessing through pure grace; whereas under the kingdom, the blessing shall be to such as merit it by their works.” Miles J. Standford quoting Lewis Sperry Chafer's comments on the Beatitudes in Systematic Theology, IV, 216-218.

“The essential elements of a grace administration - faith as the sole basis of acceptance with God, unmerited through a perfect standing in Christ, the present possession of eternal life, an absolute security from all condemnation, and enabling power of the indwelling Spirit are not found in the kingdom administration. On the OTHER hand, it is declared to be the fulfilling of “the law and the prophets” (Matt 5:17, 18; 7:12), and is seen to be an extension of the Mosaic Law into realms of meritorious obligation.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Dispensationalism," 416.

After the law of Moses and grace and truth by Jesus Christ “there will be a return to the legal kingdom grounds and the exaltation of that nation to whom pertains the covenants and promises.” Lewis Sperry Chafer, "The Kingdom in History and Prophecy," 70.

My Response:

First, the main source of your statements is "Miles J. Stanford." I have been a Dispensationalist for 25 years -- and I've never heard of this fellow in all that time. I do not recall ANY of his works, or references to his works. Oh, and WHO is "William Kelly," whom you also cite?

Second, the statements that you DO quote from Stanford typifies HYPER-DISPENSATIONALISM, which is a heretical departure from Biblical Dispensationalism. That I DO NOT agree with these statements is witness in itself that it is NOT typical of Dispensationalists. Neither would Ryrie, Pentecost, Holbert, and a host of others who have been and are now representatives of normative Dispensationalism.

Third, whoever said Scofield's notes were infallible? I know some hyper-fundamentalists who might try to push that -- along with KJV only, etc. -- but not one Dispensationalist I know accepts Scofield's notes as authoritative, much less infallible.

Fourth, Chafer's comments you quote on the "Sermon on the Mount" are taken out of context. I cited Chafer in my previous post giving a definitive answer to those critics who would charge him with teaching "multiple ways of salvation." It is disingenuous to charge Chafer with that in light of his clear and direct refutation of such allegations.

Fifth, No Dispensationalist I know teaches that the essential tenants of the message of Jesus and Paul were "different." The "Gospel" was THE SAME. Certainly, the audiences and timing made the APPLICATION of the Gospel different -- but the message and the principles were THE SAME. Paul in many cases simply amplified or detailed how these principles were to be applied in terms the predominantly Gentile Christian culture he ministered to. As you may recall, Jesus' ministry while He was on earth was predominantly to a Jewish audience.

Sixth, the only "pre-determined hermeneutic" I am familiar with is the Historical-Grammatical hermeneutic. It essentially looks to the passage and considers the grammar and word-usage, as well as seeking to understand the audience it was written to, the political, cultural, geographical and historic setting of the writer and the readers, in order to determine the original intent of the author. To me, this is THE PROPER method of exegeting the Scriptures. The plain, literal [unless otherwise indicated by the text], and contextual interpretation is the most logical and Biblical "hermeneutic." How does one disagree with that and remain true to the text?

Seventh, hyper-Dispensationalists are extremists in their understanding of the "discontinuity" between Israel and the Church. While Israel and the Church [as I explained clearly in my earlier post] have different roles in God's unfolding redemptive plan, they share the same ultimate destiny -- that is eternity with God. They may be redeemed at different points in His plan -- and in human history -- but they will ALL be redeemed by the same means -- Jews and Gentiles ALIKE. Most normative Dispensationalists are not that extreme in their conceptualization of discontinuity between the peoples of God.

I would suggest that you go back and read my previous post. I'm not convinced that you even read it. It seems you have chosen primarily obscure examples of hyper-Dispensationalism and attributed to ALL dispensationalists their radical and in some cases heretical views.

After I have clearly told you that I as a Dispensationalist do not hold to these rather far-fetched teachings of hyper-Dispensationalists, are you prepared to continue to attribute them to me, and to conclude that I am a heretic as well? If so, that would be a bit intellectually dishonest, since I have rejected all their teachings just as you have.

I hope we can continue to discuss these issues, because it is clear from your post and others that there are a whole lot of misunderstandings and false portrayals about what normative, Biblical Dispensationalists really believe.


J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

Do Apostles & Prophets Exist Today? A Biblical and Evangelical Answer

"And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:That we [henceforth] be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Ephesians 4:11-16 absolutely rules out the idea that the gifts of apostle and prophet have "ceased." Or do you believe that we've "all come in the unity of faith?" Or "in the knowledge of the Son of God?" Or "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ?"

In light of this passage, then, how do we properly understand these gifts in the Body of Christ?

First, these are functions, not "offices" or titles. These gifts are not capital "A" apostles, ot capital "P" Prophets. These are men given to the Body of Christ for its maturing, its edification, its education. In fact, even Paul never referred to himself with the title "Apostle." He begins all his epistles simply, "Paul, an apostle..." So the folks running around saying I'm "Apostle so and so," or "I'm Prophet this and that," is, to say the least, in error.

Second, The "apostles" of the Lord were obviously unique in that they were "with Jesus" during His Earthly ministry -- although Paul was an exception, sort of...He was, however, given the message he preached directly by Jesus - "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ...To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother" (Galatians 1:11-12, 16-19). When Paul went to Seminary for three years, it was in the Arabian Desert, and his instructor was Jesus Christ Himself!

In this sense, the first apostles were exceptional, unique, and different, in that they became the foundation on which the whole Church was to be built. Certainly they operated with a special anointing under direct inspiration to acheive such a task. At the same time, others are called "apostles" in that they are the "sent ones" of the Church. They are charged with a specific message or mission, and are sent out to complete it. The "apostles of the church" serve the same role in preaching the Gospel in mew fields, and establishing the church on the frontiers. In other words, today's "missionaries" function in the role of "apostles" in the biblical sense.

Prophets were charged primarily with the task of forthtelling the message of God, more so than "foretelling" future events. Prophets are confrontational in pointing out the sin of God's people, and of the surrounding culture of which they are a part. They exhort and reprove. And usually, they are not well liked. Speaking truth to power can be...problematic for them -- and the people they confront. I know some preachers who try to "pastor" churches though they really have a prophetic anointing -- which explains why they can't stay at a church for more than 2 years without being fired or finding a way to leave.

Obviously, Evangelists are still a functional gifting in the Church today -- though often we confuse the "Revivalist" with an evangelist. The evangelist wins souls. His primary task is to "recruit," to reach out, to bring the lost to Christ and saving faith. While we all are to "do the work of the evangelist," these folks are particularly gifted, equipped and anointed for such a task.

Pastors/Shepherds lead, feed and protect the flock. That's their calling, and their task. Often, prophets or evangelists try to be pastors -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing if they've got supportive staffs who compliment his gifts. But if he is the single pastor of a small church, it won't take long for him, or the congregation, to see it isn't what he's suited for in ministry.

Teachers are always needed in the church to educate the people. There are those within the ministry who are called to this task specifically -- whether in the local church setting, or in parachurch ministries, or in colleges an seminaries.

These ministry gifts not only DO, but MUST, exist if the church is to carry out its great commission. Often, the reason the church fails to carry out its primary task is due at least in part to ignorance of misunderstanding of these essential functional ministries in the Body of Christ.

A simple (though not entirely perfect) understanding of these functions is:

Apostles govern the Body (particularly new works, church plants, etc.)
Prophets guide the Body
Evangelists gather the Body (from among the lost)
Pastors gaurd the Body
Teachers grow the Body

Just my take.



Thursday, May 29, 2008

For Robyn...

She was 14, I was 16. We had known each other for years, both kids at the Parkwood Baptist Church in Durham, NC, where our families attended. We dated for a few months during my Sophomore year in High School. Robyn was always sweet, beautiful, and had a great sense of humor. For the life of me now, I don't remember why we broke up.

But we were only teenagers. After we broke up, we remained close. We still attended the same youth meetings, we went to the same High School, we went to the same summer camp -- Fort Caswell Baptist Assembly near Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina. She was among the group of friends that hung out at "the wall" at Jordan High School during my senior year, 1982-83. She also dated a good friend of mine that year.

Bill was Roman Catholic. When he invited her to go to the beach with his youth group, she pulled me aside and said, "Dale, you have to go! I don't want to be the only Baptist there!" Bill invited me along too, and it was a very interesting experience. I learned alot about Catholics. I learned that Bill was passive/agressive. And I learned that Robyn was even easier to talk to than when we had dated.

After I entered Wingate College in 1983, we saw each other only a few times. At Homecoming in the fall of that year, and a few times over the next three years or so. She graduated from Jordan in 1985, and went on to College and then Pharmacy school at Campbell University in Benson, NC. She became a Doctor of Pharmacy -- the last time I remember seeing her was almost 20 years ago, and that's what she said she was going to do. She was working at the Kerr Drugs there near Lowes Grove in Durham. I think it was the summer of 1988 -- though it could have been 1987. She was at that time also dating the man that she would eventually marry. That was the last time I saw Robyn. I thought about her once in a while, and thought about trying to reconnect with her, and others, with whom I grew up, or went to school or church with. I thought about it....

This morning, my Mom sent an email, with an attachment. Robyn died Tuesday. She was just 41. She had battled breast cancer for eight years. I didn't know.

Strange as it may seem, when I read the obituary, it threw me for a loop. It had been 20 years, but for some reason, it was like I'd seen her just last week. She wasn't "supposed to go" that early. She was younger than me. She had two boys. I remember calling her a "force of nature" one time in school. She was. Nature won't be quite the same.

I know that hindsight is always 20/20. Still, I wish I had tried to find Robyn. I know now I'm going to look up some old friends. I'm also going to pray for Robyn's husband, Tim Tilley, and her two boys, Jake and Triston. I'm also going to pray for her Mom Wanda and her Brother David, both of whom I knew. I can't imagine how they feel. I hope you'll pray for them with me.

Robyn, you were a gem. You will fit right in there in Heaven. I'll see you again. Enjoy your rest, my sister....


Monday, May 26, 2008

The Churches of Podunk Township -- A Parable for our Time

I'm sure you've heard the old story about the churches in Podunk township....The first Church was "The First Church." But, they split and the new Church went down the road and became "The Second Church." But then that Church split and that little group formed a new Church and called it "Peace Church." Meanwhile, the First Church after years of relative peace (as in "rest in...") had another big fuss and they split again, and the little dissedent group went out to the edge of town and they started "Harmony Church." After a couple of years several families from each of the churches -- First, Second, Peace and Harmony -- found that their current churches were no better, and much smaller than was First Church. Not only that, but they weren't growing because the members were all fussing with each other. So this little group started a few "fellowship groups" and before long, they left their respective churches and planted "Unity Church."

Now, consider for a moment "church math." Back when the First Church was the "only" church, it ran 500 on Sunday mornings -- quite respectable for a town of 1800 people! But when they split, 100 folks formed the Second Church, and that left ony 300 at First Church....? Then, when Second Church split, 35 people founded Peace Church, and that left 50 at Second Church....? And when First Church divided again, 75 went out to start Harmony Church, and that left 150 in First Church...? And finally, when those noble folks saw all the carnage of the years of division and strife, 50 of them went out and started the Unity Church, leaving 110 in First Church, 45 in Second Church, 25 in Peace Church, 50 in Harmony Church, and 50 in Harmony Church. So now, 280 in Podunk attend church on Sundays -- 220 less than attended 20 years ago. During the same 20 years, the population has grown to 2000. There are literally 5 times more churches than there were 20 years ago, yet 44% less people in church....?

The Pastor of First Church says people don't come to church anymore because they are no longer loyal. The Pastor at Second Church preaches that people don't come to church anymore because they don't like it when the church preaches truth and takes a stand. The Preacher at Peace Church says that people don't come to church anymore because the world has got too much to offer and they indulge in the pleasures of the world rather than seeking peace with God. The Pastor at Harmony Church says people don't come to church anymore because the church isn't doing enough to make them comfortable and at home in the church. The Pastor of Unity Church (and his board of Elders) agree that there is just too much divisiveness and bitterness in the Body to attract people to the Churches.

So, the Churches of Podunk Township continue to hold "revivals" at which no one is really "revived." They hold "Evangelism Rallies" at which no one is saved. They have "Church Growth Conferences" after which no churches grow. They even have Christmas cantatas, and Easter Sunrise Services, and Homecomings, which pack out the Churches -- for one Sunday. And they still have Wednesday potluck suppers followed by prayer meeting -- and they gain weight, but not many people come to pray, and not very much happenswhen they do.

Is your town "Podunk?" Are you a member of one of these churches?


copyright 2008, J. Dale Weaver, M. Div. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Straw Men of Dispensationalism's Critics

As some know, I am Dispensationalist in my view of theology, history and eschatology. There exists today both misunderstandings and misrepresentations of the theology of Dispensationalism. In a forum I frequent earlier today, I ran across a poster who is just such a critic. Whether he is truly ignorant of the bedrock principles of Dispensationalism, or he purposefully misrepresents the view to bolster his own viewpoint, I do not know. Of course, there is always the possibility that he has read someone who claims to be "dispensational," but who in actuality is hyper-dispensational, or just a complete nut. In any case, the critic shall remain anonymous, but I will use his "straw men" to answer some of these common mischaracterizations of the theological system known as Dispensationalism:


Actually, theological dispensationalism teaches a way of salvation for each so-called dispensation.

For instance, Chafer taught that salvation in the kingdom dispensation (era) will be by obedience to the Law of Moses. (Dispensationalism, 416; The Kingdom in History and Prophecy, 70.) He also taught that the future of believing Jews is different than the future of believing Gentiles. (Systematic Theology IV, 12, 47-53, 248)

I am glad if Ryrie denies some distinct and main doctrines of dispensationalism. However, if he does, then what he believes is not the same as historic dispensationalism.

A second shot from the Critic:

Following are some major perils of dispensationalism:

a different gospel - In contrast to the Biblical truth that salvation has always been completely by grace, historic/classic dispensationalism teaches that there have been different ways to salvation.

racial disunity - In contrast to Scripture (such as Ephesians), dispensationalism teaches that Jewish believers and Gentile believers will be separated for eternity.

hermeneutics - Dispensationalism is based on isegesis; it determines in advance how Scriptures are to be understood. The dispensational hermeneutic taints how the reader is to view all parts of the Bible.

origin - The origin of dispensationalism is not the Bible, its origin is a dream of a woman.

novelty - Dispensationalism does not have historical support; it is a relatively new theological system.

My Response to the Critic:

As is common with critics of Dispensationalism, [this critic] has thrown out five straw men that are simply not true of Biblical Dispensationalism.

First, as to the charge that Dispensationalists teach "that there are different ways to salvation":


(1) "Let it be said up-front that normative dispensationalism has never taught anything other than a single way of salvation" (Anthony C. Garland, "Does Dispensationalism Teach Two Ways of Salvation?" March 2003, 1)

(2) "Are there two ways by which one may be saved? In reply to this question it may be stated that salvation of whatever specific character is always the work of God in behalf of man and never a work of man in behalf of God. This is to assert that God never saved any one person or group of persons on any other ground than that righteous freedom to do so which the Cross of Christ secured. There is, therefore, but one way to be saved and that is by the power of God made possible through the sacrifice of Christ" (Lewis Sperry Chafer, "Editorial," Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 102, No. 405 (1945); 1).

THe Gospel of the Dispensationalist is the Gospel of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To charge ALL dispensationalists with preaching a "false gospel" is to cause unnecessary dissention in the Body of Christ.

Second, you charge that Dispensationalists teach "that Jewish Believers and Gentile Believers will be separated for eternity."


(1) "Dispensationalism recognizes differences within the company of the redeemed...Among the redeemed there are different roles which are played out in God's program leading to His Kingdom. These role distinctions [e.g. Israel and the Church] are akin to the role distinctions between male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free among the elect. They do not reflect different standing or value, but rather differences in purpose according to God's unfolding plan" (Garland, 7).

(2) "One might expect that since Israel is in unbelief, and that so stubbornly, this branch [Romans 11:17ff] will remain cut off forever...Or ...that since this is the apostle to the Gentiles who is writing, and since he stresses so the unity of the Body of Christ, we are about to read of [a] hybrid tree developing. But this is precisely what we do not read. God's purpose is defined otherwise. There is distinction within unity" (Fred G. Zaspel, "Jews, Gentiles, & the Goal of Redemptive History," Interdisciplinary Bible Research Institute, 1995, 19).

There is no "racial disunity." Within the Body of the Redeemed, God has a distinct purpose for Israel and for the Church. They are no less redeemed, and they are not redeemed in a different way -- only through Jesus. But their roles, and the timing in God's unfolding plan is different.

Third, you state that "Dispensationalism is based on isegesis [sic]; it determines in advance how Scriptures are to be understood. The Dispensational hermeneutic taints how the reader is to view all parts of the Bible."


(1) "Consistently literal or plain interpretation is indicative of a dispensational approach to the interpretation of Scriptures....[Literalism] does not preclude or exclude correct understanding of types, illustrations, apocalypses, and other genres within the basic framework of literal interpretation" (Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 1965, 86).

(2) "The historical-grammatical method, also referred to as grammatico-historical or grammatical-critical, is a component of Biblical Hermeneutics that strives to find the intended original meaning in the text" (Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984).

(3) "The text is drawn out through examination of the passage in light of the grammatical and syntactical aspects, the historical background, the literary genre as well as theological (canonical) considerations" (Elliot Johnson, Expository hermeneutics: an Introduction, Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1990)

Finally, you charge that “Dispensationalism does not have historic support; it is a relatively new theological system,” and another charge that goes hand-in-hand with it: “Dispensationalism does not have historical support; it is a relatively new theological system.”


“The ancient and popular doctrine of the Millennium was intimately connected with the second coming of Christ….The Assurance of such a Millennium was carefully inculcated by a succession of the [Early Church] fathers from Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, who conversed with the immediate disciples of the apostle, down to Lactantius, who was the preceptor of the son of Constantine” (Edward Gibbon [1737-1794] noted English historian, in History of Christianity, New York: Peter Eckler Publishing Co., 1916, 141-142).

"Chiliasm [the name initially given to Premillennialism] was entertained in the second century not only by the Ebionites, and by writers who, like Cerinthus, mixed with their Gnosticism a large element of Judaism, but by many (very likely the majority) of the Catholic [meaning universal] Church” (Henry C. Sheldon, History of Christian Doctrine, New York: Harper & Brothers, 1886, 145).

“The most striking point in eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millenarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment. It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius” (Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. II, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973, 614)

The ideas that form the basis of Dispensationalism were present in the earliest times of the Church, among many if not most of the Early Church Fathers. That dispensationalism did not appear throughout Church History, and in its fullest and developed form, is not an argument that it never existed, or that it is “a relatively new theological system.” I would point to the fact that the concept of Salvation by Grace through Faith was practically lost to a millennium of Church history in the medieval age, yet was rediscovered and more fully developed by Martin Luther and the Reformation saints who followed in his wake!

These charges made by critics of Dispensationalism are straw men that they knock down, often to justify their own views and/or demonstrate contempt for those who do not agree with them. Such ought not to be the case on the part of true followers of Jesus – even when they honestly disagree.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Brief Foray into Southern Baptist Convention Politics

Anyone who knows me, knows that I deplore "denominational politics." In fact, I deplore "church politics" of any kind. It all looks like the process of sausage making behind the scenes. After my long experiences with the SBC back in my College days during the heat of the "Conservative Resurgence," and then for 17 years among two different Free Will Baptist denominations, I've had my fill of any kind of politics in the name of religion. Believe me, if Free Will Baptists can't break you of the lust for popularity and position, nothing will -- and you might even fit in perfectly there.

But enough about that. This isn't about Free Will Baptists, it's about the Southern Baptist Convention. Specifically, it's about this year's SBC Presidential election. As a member of an SBC Church, I suppose I have an interest in who becomes the Convention President. Normally, it wouldn't make that much of a difference to me. After all, Southern Baptists affirm local church autonomy (thank God), and nobody can tell a local church what to do -- at least theoretically.

This year, however, I have a keen interest in the outcome of the SBC Presidential election. Not for "political reasons," but for personal. Among the candidates will be a man I have been acqauinted with since 1985, when I was a College newspaper columnist covering the North Carolina Baptist State Convention in Charlotte. It was then that I first heard Dr. Johnny Hunt speak, and briefly met him. You might remember some had considered nominating Dr. Hunt for SBC President before. Lat year, he withdrew his name. This year, however, I understand he has consented to run.

I include the following article from Baptist Press announcing Hunt's candidacy. Following that, I'd like to share a little about what I know personally about the man and ministry of Dr. Johnny Hunt.

Johnny Hunt to be SBC president nominee

Posted on May 6, 2008 by J. Gerald Harris

WOODSTOCK, Ga. (BP)--Johnny M. Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention during the SBC's June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., announced May 6.

Hunt is among four announced nominees for the post, joining Frank Cox, pastor of North Metro Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, Ga.; William L. (Bill) Wagner, a former Southern Baptist missionary and seminary professor and current president of Olivet University International in San Francisco; and former International Mission Board missionary Avery Willis.

A native of North Carolina, Hunt has been pastor of the Woodstock church since December 1986. During his first year as pastor, the church baptized 318 people and had 268 additions by statement and letter. Since he arrived, the church has seen average Sunday school attendance grow from 275 to 4,705, according to the 2007 Annual Church Profile.

In the 21 years of Hunt's pastorate, church membership has increased from 1,027 to 16,495. Current average church worship attendance is 6,180.

In 1980, while attending Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Hunt served as pastor of Falls (N.C.) Baptist Church, which led North Carolina Baptists in Sunday school growth. During his pastorate, Longleaf Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C., also led the Baptist state convention in baptisms for three consecutive years beginning in 1983.

FBC Woodstock relocated to an 82-acre site in the fall of 2004. The $54 million sanctuary, which seats 7,500, hosts two morning worship services.

Since 1987, the congregation has sent out more than 135 missionaries and started more than 78 churches. The congregation has developed ministries such as the "City of Refuge," which provides an environment that enables hurting pastors and their families to find hope and healing.

Traylor said his "deep concern about the future of the Southern Baptist Convention" led him to want to nominate Hunt.

"I just believe the Lord's raised him up to do it," Traylor told Baptist Press. "I believe he's a man to do it for our future. I don't know of a greater Acts 1:8 church in all of our convention than First Woodstock."

"Some of us have been thinking about this [nominating Hunt] for 12 to 15 years," Traylor told Georgia's Christian Index newspaper. "I don't think he has given any thought to this until recently, but the last time I discussed it with him, I saw a flicker in his eyes, and I believe God sparked a flame in his soul for this."

Traylor listed three reasons that prompted him to announce his intention to nominate Hunt:

1) "Hunt has led First Baptist Woodstock to become a great, exemplary Acts 1:8 church in terms of missions giving and missions going.

2) "He has given evidence of a great interest and concern for the next generation of young pastors and for the millennial generation in general. No one has a better pastoral link to young ministers than Johnny Hunt, as evidenced through Woodstock's Barnabas-Timothy Conferences.

3) "I believe Southern Baptists are looking for a future that is marked by unity, not division. Johnny Hunt has one fight in him and that is the good fight of faith. He is a leader who can forge a hopeful future that is centered around the Gospel and connected to the local church."

Hunt is a graduate of Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs, N.C., where he was voted ministerial student of the year in 1979. He earned a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Seminary in 1981. The Chair of Church Growth at Southeastern was named for Hunt in 1997.

Hunt is married to the former Janet Allen of Wilmington, N.C. The couple has two daughters and four grandchildren.

Information from the 2007 Annual Church Profile for First Baptist Woodstock lists 462 baptisms and primary worship service attendance of 6,180. The congregation gave $393,798, or 2.2 percent, through the Cooperative Program from total undesignated receipts of $17,807,317. According to the ACP, the church's total mission expenditures were $3,304,608, with $175,000 given for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions. The ACP did not record the amount the church gave for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

My View:

I first met Dr. Johnny Hunt when he was Pastor of Long Leaf Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC, in 1985. They had led the state in baptism’s two straight years, and he spoke for only five minutes from the convention platform. I was a journalism student at Wingate College (now University) at the time, and I knew I had to meet this man! He was indeed on fire!

I followed his ministry as he moved to Woodstock in 1986, and as his church has exploded over the past two decades. I’ve visited his church on several ocassions, attended several conferences there, and I’ve benefitted greatly from the Timothy-Barnabas Pastor’s school I attended in 2001.

I often listen to his messages. They are always exegetically sound, never boring, and with the ultimate priority of winning souls and equipping the saints for the work of ministry. The most impressive thing about Johnny Hunt, however, is that he’s never gotten over being saved.

I once heard him say, “I’m glad I’m saved, and I never got over it!” That characteristic is sorely lacking in so many Christian lives today, replaced by cynicism and doubt — even, and perhaps especially, in our pulpits.

I’ve no doubt that God’s hand is on Dr. Johnny Hunt. I’m glad he has been my friend — as he has been to so many others in ministry throughout the years. I can say without reservation that Johnny will be an anointed and humble leader of the SBC, should he be chosen for the task.

I respect the other candidates for President. I don't know them so I will refrain from speaking about their various views, theological or methodological. I DO know Johnny Hunt. And I whole heartedly endorse his candidacy for President of the SBC. that and a $5 bill will get you a coffee at Starbucks, but for what it's worth... :-)


J. Dale Weaver, M. Div.

On Ahmadinejad, Israel, and Getting a Clue

So, is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engaging in macho hyperbole, or is he telling us exactly what he plans?

2005 "World Without Zionism" Conference (October 26, 2005:

"Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world" (Week in Review - The New York Times, 10/30/2005).

"Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps... Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, if the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it" (BBC, Reuters, Forbes, 12/08/2005).

"They [Israel] have invented a myth that Jews were massacred [The Holocaust] and place this above God, religions and the prophets. The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets, (it) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet. If you have burned the Jews, why don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel? Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?" (, 12/14/2005).

"Now, in the West, insulting the prophet is allowed, but questioning the Holocaust is considered a crime. We ask, why do you insult the prophet? The response is that it is a matter of freedom, while in fact, they are hostages of the Zionists" (, 02/06/2006).

"Israel can ultimately not continue its existence...Anti-Semitism in Europe has forced Jews to leave their countries of origin, but what they did instead was occupy a country which is not theirs but that of Palestinians...We are sorry for any human being killed in the two world wars. We respect Moses as we respect Jesus, but it is just unacceptable that the Palestinians should suffer from the aftermath" (Expactica, 04/24/2006).

"Israel must be wiped off the map" (oft repeated - WPRI/Fox Providence; NY Times 06/04/2006; Reuters 05/21/2006).
"Hitler sought pretexts to attack other nations...The Zionist regime is seeking baseless pretexts to invade Islamic countries and right now it is justifying its attacks with groundless excuses" (, 07/15/2006).
"Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented...The Zionist regime is used to reach this objective [as a US proxy]. The sole existence of this regime is for invasion and attack."" (Counterpunch, 08/28/2006).

"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken. Today the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation... [Israel] "has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese" (Yahoo, Times Online, 05/08/2008).

"The Zionist regime is dying...The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations ... they can save the Zionist regime from death....They should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy [it]" (Yahoo, 05/14/2008).

The last time a world "leader" spelled out his plans so clearly was in in a book entitled Mein Kampf. There are many in the West with the same Neville Chamberlain mentality. They believe we can go back to the "September 10th" mindset. They believe we can "talk" to people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And I'm quite sure ole' Mahmoud will do nothing to dissuade their folly -- right up until the moment our cities start to vaporize.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wise Saying.... Kierkegaard on Self Revelation and Love

I have seen men in real life who so long deceived others that at last their true nature could not reveal itself . . . . He who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all. Søren Kierkegaard

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Growing Accustomed to Silence


by Thomas Merton

When I speak, it is a demand that others remain silent so I alone may be heard. When I am silent, I hear my true self and reach my soul. When I am silent, I hear with a caring heart. Silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it. If our life is poured out in useless words, we will never hear anything because we have said everything before we had anything to say. . . . .

The older I grow, the more at home I am with silence. Some would say it's because I'm running out of my youthful energy. that's fair -- I realize at 42 that I'm not quite the same as I was at 24! Others might say that as I have grown older, I've grown wiser. Not many would say that, mind you, but some would. No, I don't believe that either. Still others might say I've run out of things to say. May it never be!

I think I've become more enamored of silence in recent years because, as Merton's quote indicates above, "Silence teaches us to know reality by respecting it where words have defiled it." Indeed, in moments of stillness, I call to mind the words of the Prophet Habakkuk, "But the LORD [is] in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him" (2:20). In silence, we "know reality," in that we know God. He is the essence of all reality.

I know -- that sounds too "mystical." I don't have an aversion to the "mystical" because Scripture discusses numerous "mysteries" about the Person, power and presence of God. How can He - in His glory, The Almighty - be anything other than mysterious to us who are the limited, the finite, the depraved? Were it not for the favor of His revelation in Holy Writ, we would not "know" Him -- or at least the basic facts about Him.

Silence, however, makes real to us His Revelation. Not that His Revelation is incomplete -- not at all! His Word reveals ALL we need -- but that's the point -- WE NEED. His revelation is perfect -- our apprehension of His Revelation, and of His very Being, is lacking. It is possible for a believer to walk throughout life, knowing the facts, embracing the Gospel, finding freedom, yet never internalizing the reality and relationship possible with God.

This "Knowledge" is not found in their "many words" of prayer. Too often disciples believe prayer is all about US talking, asking, seeking, knocking, begging, pleading, petitioning, supplicating... No question, those are all elements of Prayer that believers should and must employ at times. But the "many words" often employed in prayer often preclude something deeper, which is the Divine desire of God Himself to be REAL to us. Our words defile that holy moment when God wants nothing more than to be real to us -- to "come in and sup" with us.

Prayer has come to encompass far more to me than "talking to God." As imperative as that is, Prayer is sometimes Silence. Silence before His throne, Silence within His Temple, in my secret place, hidden in Him. Silence there is comfortable, and rest is easy. And there, God doesn't mind if you fall asleep. He even watches over you with a joy eternal, and grants a heavenly peace.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Iraq's WMD, Syria, and the Al Qaeda Connection

Liberals who don't want to face reality and enjoy living in a fantasy world of peace, love, and government funded utopianism, constantly ask the same question: "Did Bush Lie about Iraq's WMD?" And the inevitable follow-up question: "So, if there were WMD, where are thy? Huh? HUH?!?" I will, against my better judgment try to answer this question -- even though the questioners really have no desire to hear....


No one knows where the WMD are with certainty -- at least no one that will admit it publically. We DO know they were there. Tens of thousands of dead Kurds and Shi'ites -- gassed to death without mercy -- are ample evidence of that. One also has to ask -- why, in the weeks before our invasion in 2003, there were multiple convoys hauling massive amounts of apparent military hardware (and cash) into Syria? [b]Answer[/b]:

06 January, 2004 - "Nizar Nayuf (Nayyouf-Nayyuf), a Syrian journalist who recently defected from Syria to Western Europe and is known for bravely challenging the Syrian regime, said in a letter Monday, January 5, to Dutch newspaper “De Telegraaf,” that he knows the three sites where Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are kept.... Nayouf writes that the transfer of Iraqi WMD to Syria was organized by the commanders of Saddam Hussein's Special Republican Guard, including General Shalish, with the help of Assif Shoakat , Bashar Assad's cousin. Shoakat is the CEO of Bhaha, an import/export company owned by the Assad family. In February 2003, a month before America's invasion in Iraq, very few are aware about the efforts to bring the Weapons of Mass Destruction from Iraq to Syria, and the personal involvement of Bashar Assad and his family in the operation. Nayouf, who has won prizes for journalistic integrity, says he wrote his letter because he has terminal cancer" (Sources: Reuters, Washington Post, FoxNews) NOTE: The articles were inexplicably removed from Reuters and the Washington Post websites, but it remains at FoxNews... Huh, who'da thunk that!?

And, another question -- How is it that no one has paid attention to THIS story about WMD's, al Qaeda, and Syria? [b]Answer[/b]:

Jordan says major al Qaeda plot disrupted

Authorities: Chemical cloud would have been released in Amman

Monday, April 26, 2004 Posted: 3:54 PM EDT (1954 GMT)

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Jordanian authorities said Monday they have broken up an alleged al Qaeda plot that would have unleashed a deadly cloud of chemicals in the heart of Jordan's capital, Amman.

The plot would have been more deadly than anything al Qaeda has done before, including the September 11 attacks, according to the Jordanian government.

Among the alleged targets were the U.S. Embassy, the Jordanian prime minister's office and the headquarters of Jordanian intelligence.

U.S. intelligence officials expressed caution about whether the chemicals captured by Jordanian authorities were intended to create a "toxic cloud" chemical weapon, but they said the large quantities involved were at a minimum intended to create "massive explosions."

Officials said there is debate within the CIA and other U.S. agencies over whether the plotters were planning to kill innocent people using toxic chemicals.

At issue is the presence of a large quantity of sulfuric acid among the tons of chemicals seized by Jordanian authorities. Sulfuric acid can be used as a blister agent, but it more commonly can increase the size of conventional explosions, according to U.S. officials.

Nevertheless, U.S. intelligence officials called the capture of tons of chemicals that together could create several large conventional explosions "a big deal."

The plot was within days of being carried out, Jordanian officials said, when security forces broke it up April 20.

In a nighttime raid in Amman, Jordanian security forces moved in on the terrorist cell. After the shooting stopped, four men were dead. Jordanian authorities said. They said at least three others were arrested, including Azmi Jayyousi, the cell's suspected ringleader, whom Jordanian intelligence alleges was responsible for planning and recruiting.

On a confession shown on state-run Jordanian television, Jayyousi said he took orders from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a suspected terrorist leader who has been linked to al Qaeda and whom U.S. officials have said is behind some attacks in Iraq.

"I took explosives courses, poisons high level, then I pledged allegiance to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to obey him without any questioning," Jayyousi said.

Jordanian intelligence suspects Jayyousi returned from Iraq in January after a meeting with al-Zarqawi in which they allegedly plotted to hit the three targets in Amman.

In a series of raids, the Jordanians said, they seized 20 tons of chemicals and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades.

The first alleged target was the Jordanian intelligence headquarters. The alleged blast was intended to be a big one.

"According to my experience as an explosives expert, the whole of the Intelligence Department will be destroyed, and nothing of it will remain, nor anything surrounding it," Jayyousi said.

Details of the alleged plot were shown Monday on Jordanian television, including graphics of how the cell apparently intended to carry out the attack.

In an videotape shown on Jordanian TV, Hussein Sharif said Jayyousi recruited him as a suicide bomber.

"The aim, Azmi told me, was to execute an operation to strike Jordan and the Hashemite Royal family, a war against the crusaders and infidels," Sharif said. "Azmi told me that this will be the first chemical attack that al Qaeda will execute."

Jordanian authorities said the attack would have mixed a combination of 71 lethal chemicals, which they said has never been done before, including blistering agents to cause third-degree burns, nerve gas and choking agents.

A Jordanian government scientist said the plot had been carefully worked out, with just the right amount of explosives to spread the deadly cloud without diminishing the effects of the chemicals. The blast would not burn up the poisonous chemicals but instead produce a toxic cloud, the scientist said, possibly spreading for a mile, maybe more.

The Jordanian intelligence buildings are within a mile of a large medical center, a shopping mall and a residential area.

"And there is no one combination of antidote to treat nerve agent, choking agent and blistering agent," the scientist said.

Al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, has been accused of plotting chemical attacks before, and authorities said it would not be his first attempt to strike Jordan.

In 2000, a Jordanian court charged him in absentia with planning to blow up a hotel and attack tourist destinations.

U.S. officials have said he was behind the 2002 assassination of American diplomat Lawrence Foley, who was gunned down outside his home in Amman.

According to the televised confessions, $170,000 came from Zarqawi via messengers from Syria.

In last week's raid, Jordanian forces seized cash, bomb-making equipment and weapons, investigators said.

CNN was not allowed access to any of those arrested. But the videotaped confessions offer a rare glimpse inside an alleged terrorist operation.

The Jordanian government said the videotapes were made with the full cooperation of the suspects and their attorneys.

Source: [size=200][b]CNN[/b][/size]'s John Vause, Henry Schuster and David Ensor contributed to this report.

Additionally: "Have some of [b]Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction[/b] (wmd) been [b]found in Jordan[/b]?

Around the first of April this year, the Jordanian authorities captured an al-Qaeda terrorist cell that worked out of Jordan. The terrorists had about 20 tons of chemicals, including poison gas! That’s right, 20 tons of chemicals—or weapons of mass destruction.

The al-Qaeda leader in Jordan has confessed that they planned to kill 80,000 Jordanians with those chemicals.

King Abdullah ii of Jordan told the San Francisco Chronicle that “It was a major, major operation. … It would have decapitated the government” (April 17). Yes indeed—“a major, major operation.” This is chemical warfare of the worst kind! But it is getting hardly any attention from the media and politicians.

Do many of these institutions truly understand what the war against terrorism is and what the United States must do to win?

[b]Where did these terrorists get the poison gas[/b]? [b]The Jordanians know it came from [i]Syria[/i][/b]—which in itself is a dangerous act of war by that terrorist-sponsoring nation. But do America and Britain have the will to stop Syria’s terrorist activity? (Source:

With a little effort, one can find any number of these stories that generally end up on page A-28 in the liberal media, get barely a mention just once just before the feature story on the marshmellow industry on Cable TV news channels, and are quickly removed from public view so as to hide clear indications if not OBVIOUS answers to the questions left-wingers continue to ask but refuse to hear answers to.

I don't often answer these kinds of questions because those who ask them, after all this time, do not WANT answers. They prefer to be willfully ignorant so that they may believe what they want to believe without personal consequence or responsibility.

I think that's why the Lord once said something about pearls and swine....