Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Is Doctrine?

We often hear preachers and teachers talk about doctrine - that they teach it; that  it divides; that is harmful to building a "good, soul-winning church", and sundry other cliches.  But, just what is doctrine, exactly?  I don't mean what did your favorite guru tell you it was; I mean what saith the scripture concerning this matter of doctrine?  Let us look:

Deuteronomy 32:2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:

Heeding the law of first mention, we see that doctrine is first and foremost God's speech; or words.

Job 11:1-4 Then answered Zophar the Naamathite, and said, Should not the multitude of words be answered? and should a man full of talk be justified? Should thy lies make men hold their peace? and when thou mockest, shall no man make thee ashamed? For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. 

Again, we see in this passage that the doctrine is again equated with words and speech.  One more for witness' sake:

Proverbs 4:1-2 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.

Goes without saying here as well: doctrine is heard and it is law.  Laws are written in words.

In general we can say then that any person accurately teaching the words (that's individual words, not a general message) of holy scripture is teaching and or preaching doctrine.  However...

Isaiah 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

This verse says God will teach doctrine to those that are weaned from the milk.  Strange...  Now let's add these verses to the mix:

1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

There then must be a division in scripture between milk and meat.  And therefore, there are some things God will not reveal to the Christian who has not been weaned from the milk of the word.  So just what is the milk of the word?  What are these "easy" doctrines that God expects you to know before he will give you the "deep things?"

Hebrews 5:12-14 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Using this passage in Hebrews we see that meat is prepared for those that have used and had made themselves ready by reason of use in the scripture.  Moving on in Hebrews we read:

Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.

We see here that the Paul calls this list of topics principles and foundational; and they need to move on past these things.  Make no mistake, there is a doctrinal application to Hebrews (hence the name of the book) concerning these specific doctrines as applied to OT Judaism.  However, there is also a NT application for all of these doctrines in this dispensation.  Therefore we can make application and say the milk you need to be weaned from could be said to be: 1. Repentance  2. Faith  3. Baptisms (there is more than 1)  4. Laying on of hands or gifts  5. Resurrections (there is more than 1)  6. Judgment (there is more than 1).

Are you aware of the different baptisms, judgments, and resurrections (quick, grab your Scofield and read the notes!)?  How many deacons in independent baptist churches can biblically define "repentance?"

Knowing Paul fed the Corinthians milk, and so taking a cursory overview of those topics written therein we see: judgment seat of Christ, leaven in the body, not fornicating, lawsuits, marriage & divorce, idolatrous knowledge, providing for ministers, spiritual gifts, charity, the gospel of the grace of God, resurrections, and collections to name a few.  With a few additions, this list has lots of parallel from Hebrews.

We can safely conclude that if you are not settled in these basic, milky doctrines, God will not reveal the deep things or the meat to you.  You will be stuck in the land of the Corinthian's and the Galatian's: carnality (what Bible college did you go to?), heresy (only the local baptist church is the bride of Christ), man worship (Dr. So and So's campus is so big), the covering of sin (You're hurting the cause of Christ my publicizing this small misstep at an otherwise such a fine church), and legalism (we have standards, you know!).

The problem with the average independent baptist church, is most of their people will never learn most of these foundational doctrines and will never progress past these, and so, will forever be stuck in a church that is a mile wide and an inch deep.  Or as Dr. Sam Gipp put it in his book For His Pleasure, "babies birthing babies."

Don't you want your children to grow up?  Why don't you think God wants you to do the same?


Monday, August 20, 2012

A Dispensational Nugget

While most of professing Christianity is steeped in heresy due to their inability to rightly divide the word of truth (having a large impact on this is the fact that most of professing Christianity doesn't use the Authorized Version, therefore the command to rightly divide is omitted - 2 Tim. 2:15).  This is even true of professing dispensationalists.  And while 2 Tim 2:15 is the most common verse when teaching the authority of right division, there is another less popular and sometimes overlooked verse to consider.

2 Peter 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

"Pope" (tongue-in-cheek) Peter mentions something called "present truth."  Well, if you can read (and if you were educated in America in the last 40 years, you may not be able to), and if there is such a thing called present truth, there at the very least must be something we can call "past truth."  And there is likely something that we will refer to as "future truth."  This trinity falls in line with the way God uses '3' throughout the scripture: Father, Word, Holy Ghost; Three Days & Three Nights; Jew, Gentile, Church; Past Earth, present Earth, new heavens and earth; etc.

The application of past, present and future truth is vitally important to proper understanding of the Bible.  Here are a few examples:

Do you believe in Eternal Security?

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Do you need to keep yourself in God's love; or, is God's love inseparable?  What about this one:

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Psalms 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Didn't David know he couldn't lose the Spirit?  Why would a man after God's own heart not know such a simple and fundamental doctrine as eternal security (or as my Calvinist friends may say 'Perseverance of the Saints')?


Matthew 19:16-17 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Acts 16:30-31 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

So, does eternal life come by keeping the commandments or by believing on the Lord?


1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel...how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Revelation 14:6-7 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

Why doesn't that angel mention the cross of Christ?  Didn't Paul say even if an angel from heaven preach another gospel that he is accursed?

These are just a the tip of the iceberg of the potential list of "contradictions" in the scripture that have no legitimate answer unless you can rightly divide the word of truth (notice I didn't say "understand dispensations."  Simply understanding where the law ends and the Church begins will not answer these questions).  The sad part is there are plenty of professing dispensational baptists that can't answer these questions.  Oh; but you thought your preacher was teaching you doctrine, did you?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Bread, Coffee, & the Pope

Folgers coffee company manages to arrange a meeting with the Pope at the Vatican.
After receiving the Papal blessing, the Folgers official whispers 'Your Eminence, we have an offer for you. Folgers is prepared to donate $100 million to the church if you
change the Lord's Prayer from 'give us this day our daily bread' to 'give us this day our daily coffee.'

The Pope responds, 'That is impossible. The prayer is the word of the Lord. It must not be changed.'

'Well,' said the Folgers man, 'we anticipated your reluctance. For this reason we will increase our offer to $300 million.'

'My son, it is impossible. For the prayer is the word of the Lord and it must not be changed.'

The Folgers guy says, 'Your Holiness, we at Folgers respect your adherence to the faith, but we do have one final offer…. We will
donate $500 million - that's half a billion dollars - to the great Catholic Church if you would only change the Lord's Prayer from 'give us this day our daily bread' to 'give us this day our daily coffee.' Please consider it.'

And he leaves.

The next day the Pope convenes the College of Cardinals.
'There is some good news,' he announces, 'and some bad news. The good news is that the Church will come into $500 million.'

'And the bad news your Holiness?' asks a Cardinal.

'We're losing the Wonder Bread account.'


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Heartland Baptist "Bible" College

Next in our installment of Bible colleges is Heartland Baptist Bible College (formerly known as Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where Sam Davison is in the president.

As we said before, we based the results on the 4-year prescribed plan for those thinking they are called to be pastors.

As with Crown, you can get a feel for the direction of the school by certain introductory statements that are made on their website such as thew following:

"We realize there are good, fundamental Bible colleges across America that emphasize Baptist distinctives, separation, soul-winning, and world missions."

  • Since no Christian in the Bible ever called themselves a baptist, emphasizing "Baptist" distinctives is called philosophy, not Bible.  The emphasis should be Bible doctrine.  I know everyone that loves the Baptist distinctives more than the Bible itself would say that all the distinctives are biblical, but we know better.

"These three majors are designed to promote the development of character, spiritual maturity, and commitment to the local New Testament Baptist church."
  •  You can develop your character, become more spiritually mature, and learn commitment to a temporal church organization without spending thousands at a Bible college: so why go? 
So for Heartland, here is your Bible education:

FRESHMAN: 3 Bible Courses - Gospels, Genesis, Acts/Life of Paul
SOPHOMORE: 4 Bible Courses - Bibliology, Pneumatology/Angelology, 2 Bible electives
JUNIOR: 5 Bible Courses - Ecclesiology, Christology/Soteriology, Eschatology, Anthropology/Hamartiology, 1 Bible elective
SENIOR: 5 Bible Courses - Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, Dispensationalism, 2 Bible electives

This yields a result of 17 Bible courses in a 4-year program of study.  However, in addition to the aforementioned Bible electives, the student will also have the opportunity to take up to 6 more Bible electives.  We did not include these in the count since they student can choose between taking a Bible course, course on youth work, a missions course, or Greek.  We also felt it was unlikely that a student would use all 6 opportunities to take a Bible course.  The total number of classes required is 56: which leads to a result of 30% using just the required classes.  If we are gracious and assume some Bible loving student would use all 6 electives to take a Bible course, that percentage jumps up to 41%.  

Either way you slice it, less than 2 full years of education time is spent educating future pastors to perform their primary duty: "FEED MY SHEEP."

While we do commend HBBC for having a course specifically on dispensationalism, they too spend too much time acting like a worldly university.  They waste time with subjects such as grammer, composition, American Lit., and Speech & Debate to name a few.  Again, not all of these classes is a complete waste of time; but as a substitution for teaching through Paul's epistles verse-by-verse?  We think not.

Nevertheless, this is what happens when Christianity takes on worldly institutions and tries to "christianize" it: it didn't work for the papists, it work for the Baptist's either. 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Crown College of the "Bible"

First up in this study on Bible college is the infamous Crown College of the Bible located in Powell, Tenn. and run by "Dr." Clarence Sexton.  Despite the serious Shibboleth problem that was exposed down there, this is still one of the leading independent baptist colleges in America; as well as one of the most influential.  Therefore we chose to deal with it out of the gate.

We based the results of the survey on the 4-year prescribed plan of study as listed on the college's website.  While we understand that this may not be the exact way every pastoral ministry major at Crown goes through the system, it is the recommendation of the school, and therefore, is the ideal.  Keep in mind we also defined a Bible course as:

  • An individual book of the Bible taught
  • Specific Bible doctrines such as: Soteriology, Angelology, etc.
  • Dispensational courses
  • A required "Bible" elective
  • Book groupings taught such as: Pastoral Epistles
You can start to get a feel that this college, like the others, is more interested in teaching their students THEIR PHILOSOPHY rather than the words of holy writ as they list the key courses of the pastoral major as Living the Christian Life, Homiletics, and Baptist History and Distinctives.   One would think they would at least include the Pastoral Epistles as a key class for future pastors, but no.

With this in mind, here is what future pastors and graduates of Crown must undertake to be deemed "prepared" for the ministry:

FRESHMAN: 0 Bible Courses
SOPHOMORE: 6 Bible Courses - Bible Doctrine I & II, Pentateuch, Gospel Records, Historical Books, Christian Church Epistles
JUNIOR: 3 Bible Courses - Pastoral Epistles, Poetic Books, Hebrew Christian Church Epistles
SENIOR: 4 Bible Courses - Major Prophets, Minor Prophets, 2 Bible Electives

This yields a result of 13 Bible Courses in a 4-year program of study.  The total number of courses required to obtain a Bachelor of Biblical Studies in Pastoral Ministry from Crown is 54.  Therefore, doing the math (13/54) we find that 24% of the classes taken by a pastoral major are actually Bible courses.  While this is pathetic, Crown actually fares better than other "Bible" colleges; if you can believe that.  They, at least, do cover the entirety of the canon of holy scripture; albeit in an elementary way.  But this is more than you will see at some IB/IFB colleges in this survey.

Is this what you expected?  If we combined all the Bible courses, they could be taken in one academic year.  That means a Crown pastoral major will spend 3 of 4 years learning everything except the Bible.  WOW!

So what other subjects are taken by pastoral majors?  Greek (how come no Hebrew and Aramaic?), missions, Christian Home, Christian Music, Church Finance, Baptist History, and Counseling to name a few.  And we would not condemn the taking of these courses as many of them are helpful, and maybe even needful.  However, it is never wise to substitute teaching of holy scripture for an auxiliary course.  Church finance, church history, the home, music, and most other side subjects are covered in scripture.  Therefore you could teach the Bible in-depth; verse-by-verse, book-by-book, and cover all of these in some detail; kind of like expository preaching, which most fundamentalists think is a death sentence for a church per Jack Hyles' commendation (but that's another subject for another day).

Well...one down and several more to go.  Remember, we said Crown was one of the better ones.  Up next: Pacific Coast...errr...Heartland Baptist Bible College.


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