Thursday, November 29, 2007

To Change or Not To Change?

Sorry we have been so irregular in our posting lately--things have been extremely busy for us the past few months. With children in baseball practice, baseball games, football practice, and football games time is still very limited to invest in our blog.

All that being said, I wanted to revisit a comment from one of our previous posts concerning "change" and make sure that it did not get lost in the comments section. I meant to post this back in August, but things got very busy at work and home so I never got around to it. I want to clarify what I have observed at FBCH/HAC concerning their view of "change".

A young man who calls himself Jeremy has some venting to do over our criticisms of HAC/FBCH. You can find his comments under the "Old-Timer Religion" thread. He begins by quoting a portion of my last post taken from the Reformers by way of Mark Dever in his book, The Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. Here is the comment in its entirety and I will respond to it at the end.

**Disclaimer: I am not attacking Jeremy nor do I wish to lash out at him in any way, shape, or form. I just could not allow his comments to go unchallenged as I see them flawed on many levels. If you feel compelled to comment here please be sure to do so in a Christ-like spirit. I believe that Jeremy is probably a sincere follower of Christ just like I am--I simply wanted to set the record straight concerning his accusation that we are "making things up".

“We need God’s Word to be saved, but we also need it to continually challenge and shape us. His Word not only gives us life; it also gives us direction as it keeps molding and shaping us in the image of the God who is speaking to us." "For someone that sat under the ministry of FBCH for multiple decades (and apparently can't get through one blog about anything other than FBCH)you'd think that you'd understand the difference between Mark Dever's explanation of "changing" and Jack Hyles/Jack Schaap's explantion. The former is a continual shaping by God to be in his image. The latter is the determination to never change from the "doctrines" that DO NOT change. Of course, a perpetual desire to degrade, attack, and diminish the work of FBCH needs more fuel. Sometimes, you just make it up if it's not there, right? In your epic quest to portray IFB as man-centered and far from the humility and meekness of Christ, not once do I read a humble experience of learning that you've received from God. Nor do you admit your short comings. Your persistent criticism makes clear the mental "ivory tower" upon which you've placed your philosophies and doctrines over those of people with whom you disagree. Jack Schaap's actions may translate as pride and gaudy number exaltation to you, but what do your constant criticisms translate about you to others? I can't wait until FBCH falls, or changes to your thinking ... whichever you desire. Apparently, thanks to the learning I received on this site, it's the whole point of Christianity. Godspeed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Please understand that my comment is in no way an attempt to sway you, change you, or get back at you. I'm no better than you are. Consider it a friendly "venting". The best to you."

First of all I would like to address the assertion that the Reformers were talking about something entirely different than Schaap concerning "change". In all of my years at FBCH/HAC the great majority of the time that "change" was brought up it was in the context of changing from the "old paths". We heard places like Bob Jones University railed upon because of their "liberal" ways--can you imagine anyone thinking that a place like BJU is liberal? A casual survey of their website will prove otherwise to any reasonable investigator.

Nevertheless, to this day Pastor Schaap is throwing tantrums about Tennessee Temple University and how liberal they have gone--i.e. contemporary worship music, different Bible versions, and abandonment of certain dress standards. What many of the culturalists cannot grasp is that it is entirely possible for someone to be a sold out Christ-follower and not agree with them on music, Bible versions, the "old sawdust trail", dress standards, or a personality within larger Fundamentalism. Standards, associations, and preferences are NOT fundamentals of the faith--the fact that you don't change on silly cultural issues is not the same as not changing on the cardinal doctrines of our faith.

When FBCH puts up a billboard trumpeting themselves as an "unchanging church" they are referring to differences in worship style mostly and not to anything about doctrines that DO NOT change. If you think that this is not accurate you need only to listen to a few Sunday night sermons where Jack Schaap screeches about other colleges or ministries that are not still stuck in the 1950's like FBCH/HAC.

Pastors Hyles and Schaap usually reference "change" as a negative thing--rarely if ever are they talking about the core doctrines of our faith--usually they are referring to gray issues that although they may illicit bronx cheers from the rowdy Sunday evening college crowd they do not threaten the faith or Gospel that has been handed down to us.

I am saddened that this young man feels that we desire to see FBCH/HAC fall--I truly do not want them to fall but to reform. I desire to see them cease from their man-centered ways. I desire that Pastor Schaap begins to feed his flock by the expository preaching/teaching of the Word. I desire that those who attend FBCH would not need to get fed by radio preachers because of the spiritual malnutrition they experience from the pulpit ministry of FBCH. I desire that FBCH forsake the heresy of King James Onlyism in all of its forms and that they would go back to an orthodox position on the inspiration of Scripture that the original fundamentalists espoused. I do not have time to go on here--that is another post for another day.

The object of Christianity is not to see FBCH fall or change to my desires--the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Our lives are about so much more than this blog--if you haven't noticed we can go months without posting anything new. This blog was established for those who are "on the fence" in Hammond--it is certainly not for everyone and we have attempted to make that point clear.

It is simply smoke and mirrors to pretend that since we operate a blog that takes issue with the hysteric portion of fundamentalism it must be all that we do in our spare time. It is more of the same IFBx defense mechanism that rears its ugly head when one encounters this blog and others like it. What so often happens is the offended reader then jumps to a non sequitur, e.g., since the blog is primarily dealing with the constructive criticism of IFBx it must be all that the blog operators invest their time in...? We are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination--just ask our wives and friends who know us well. I do not take lightly when someone accuses us of "making things up".

We do hope that those who object to this blog will continue to visit and comment as they feel led. We know that they have few places where they can voice their dissent--we want this to be a place where people are free to disagree with a gracious spirit. I hope that "Jeremy" will come back again and vent here at Bread and Circuses in the near future.

To the praise of His glorious grace,

PT Barnum

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Veto Power--Not Just For the POTUS

I was reminded recently of a teaching I encountered as a young lad smack in the middle of IFBxdom. This teaching is what some have come to call "veto power". I know, I know--you thought that only the President of the United States had this power--you were dead wrong. Some within IFBx believe that the pastor or some other Christian leader ought to hold "veto power" over the decisions in your life. I know this is a foreign concept to most of you who are reading this, but let me assure you that it is taught among the cultural fundamentalists.

I want to begin by saying that I believe in wise Christian counsel--I believe in the Scriptural principle of seeking guidance or counsel when an important decision lays in the balance.

Proverbs 11:14 tells us: "Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in abundance of counselors there is safety." Proverbs 15:22 explains: "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." Lastly, Proverbs 24:6 says: "For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory." I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that it is our first priority to seek the LORD's guidance on everything. In those instances when we encounter a situation where God remains silent and we are struggling for peace, a group of wise Christian counselors is both a wise and scriptural principle.

All that being said, I recently picked up a copy of Christian Womanhood (a monthly magazine published by the ministries of the First Baptist Church of Hammond) and found an article that gave me pause. I believe that the lady who wrote this article is a fine Christian woman--I actually had the opportunity while in college of working with her and her family on an East Chicago bus route. My issue with this teaching is not directed at her personally and so I will withhold her name from this discussion.

Here is the paraphrased version of her story. She was a Hyles Anderson College student and away from home. She had been dating a man who I believe proposed to her and so she went in to see Pastor Hyles about it. She had already decided to adopt Pastor Hyles' teaching of "veto power" being held by ones pastor. Pastor Hyles listened as she explained the good news of her proposal--Pastor Hyles exercised his power of veto in this young lady's life and forbade her from accepting this marriage proposal. Later this same young lady met her husband and Pastor Hyles approved and they are still living happily ever after and working in the ministries of FBCH.

I love to hear stories about couples who have been married for 25, 30, 40, 50, and 60 years--we need more marriages like this in our culture today for sure! The only part of this story that I am taking issue with is the fact that this individual had given Pastor Hyles veto power in her life. I think everything worked out great for this particular lady, but I wonder how many other similar stories could be told with the exact opposite result?

I do not believe that FBC Hammond is a cult--I do believe that teachings like this about a pastor's "veto power" are unfortunately both cultic and unscriptural. I do not believe that every college student or member of FBCH has adopted this philosophy--I praise God for that. If you ever encounter someone trying to teach you this little-known doctrine run as fast as you can in the opposite direction!

PT Barnum

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We Are Still Alive

It has been over 6 months since we have posted anything new--we never intended to be gone so long. We used to have over 100 visits to the big top on an average day--much of that traffic is now gone since we have neglected to keep things current.

We don't have anything ready just yet for a real post, but I wanted to check in and let anyone who cares know that although we may be sleeping--we are still alive! We will soon wake up and have some fresh takes in regards to hysteric fundyism.

To the praise of His glorious grace,

PT Barnum