February 26, 2020

Stop Me Before I Turn Into A.W. Pink

pink.jpgReaders interested in an objective view of the life of A.W. Pink should read Iain Murray’s Biography of Pink, which has the virtue of being complimentary of Pink the theologian and teacher, and honestly critical of Pink’s eventual inability to be part of a church fellowship.

The important thing to remember about this post is this: As of May 21st, I am churchless, and at present I am up to my ears in plans to start something in my home, because there is no church within reasonable driving distance that takes seriously very much of what our family believes is important in the life of the church. I’ll be at a local church on Sundays when I am not preaching, but it will not be because I am embracing the theology, worship or missional vision of the place. For myself and my family to find and keep practicing reformation theology, frequent communion, the Christian year, liturgical worship, the public reading of scripture, and much more, we will have to take care of ourselves.

I’ll be at a church that doesn’t particularly represent my own faith journey because I’m following Jesus and I don’t want to turn into A.W. Pink.

So I’m dead center of this post. If any Calvinist wants to write or comment to the tune that I am criticizing someone else inappropriately, know at the outset that is not the case. I’m going to try my best to not be A.W. Pink, because I know how hard it was for Pink to deal with what he found in churches in his time.

The short story is this: After years of speaking, teaching and preaching, A.W. Pink eventually gave up on trying to find a church where he could worship as a member. He came to believe that there were no churches where he could participate or minister in complete support and good conscience. So he stayed home, with his wife, and typed his magazine. He gave up on the church, and while his gift of teaching was magnificent (in the opinion of most Calvinists,) he couldn’t find a single pastor he could support or a single church he could even attend the last two decades of his life. He withdrew and stayed home, writing those books your reformed Baptist church is selling at the booktable.

Pink wasn’t the first or last Calvinist to have this problem. Many of my Calvinistic friends are Baptists, and they aren’t happy with what is available to them in the Baptist churches in their communities. They don’t want to drive two hours to church, and they don’t want to start a church. So they go to this church and that one, never settling in, and never happy wherever they are. They are critical and unhappy with what they hear and experience in whatever typical Baptist church they find themselves in. They listen to their favorite Calvinistic preachers on the radio, they order CDs and DVDs, and they go to conferences. But they aren’t really part of any church, and they could give up going anywhere without much trouble.

Don’t take away the impression that these Calvinists are happy about this situation. They aren’t. They wish that Bethlehem Baptist or Grace Community Church were nearby, or anything remotely trying to move in that general direction. Instead, they are surrounded by churches that sometimes seem to be so different, even so antithetical to their own faith and practice, that it’s difficult to feel they can worship as part of the same gathered people of God.

It doesn’t take a great deal of time to find that this problem is never far from those who take their theology seriously. A well known Calvinistic blogger is dedicated to the task of pointing out the errors of current church movements. Along the way, post after post accumulates more and more names that can’t be trusted to stay within the boundaries of the truth. Seminaries, churches, ministries, and whole denominations are continually proven to be untrustworthy for the discerning Christian. It’s no surprise to hear this blogger admit that he hasn’t had a solid church home for most of a decade, with whole years passing without a church of any kind for the family.

In fact, it is rather remarkable to think of how many Calvinists I know- laypersons and ministers- who relate to either no church, one church, a few media ministries or a handful of like minded churches. To say they tend toward isolation within the fellowship of believers is an understatement. But I’m not carping at them. I thoroughly understand that most of them, given the situation, prefer it this way if there are no churches they can trust, much as Pink prefered his isolation to the problems that come along with seeking out fellowship with those with whom one has serious differences.

I grew up among fundamentalists who had turned “separation” into one of the primary definitions of discipleship. Sitting at home with an open Bible, listening to a radio reverend and criticizing every church in the community for having sold out was considered a fine way to live the Christian life. A.W. Pink’s retreat to the house was entirely understandable. The joke for years was that church splits were the primary way that Baptists started new churches. It wasn’t entirely a mythology, either. Separation has been a specialty of congregational types, with reasons that run that gamut from Bible translation to leadership style to how many visits from the preacher grandma got when her last toenail was removed in an outpatient procedure.

Pink’s separation was more serious. He felt, as do many Calvinists, that he was being asked by most churches to worship a different God; a God without sovereignty or a sovereign salvation. Today’s separationists often cite the flippant, shallow worshiptainment that dominates churches, Christless preaching and addiction to ridiculous trends as the reasons they can’t stay in the pew.

I’m not the one to judge anyone else’s situation. I just know that I don’t want to turn into my own version of A.W. Pink.

When my last Sunday as interim preacher for the Presbyterians ends, I’m going to get a back pew with the Baptists on Sunday morning. And I’ll deal with it. One Sunday in month, we may drive to the Anglican mission in the next county, but mostly I’m going to work on finding a way to preserve and practice the reformation faith that’s dear to me by inviting other folks to come to my home and worship with me. In other words, I’m going to paddle hard and go upstream. I don’t want to go over the falls to the rocks below.

One thing a good strong dose of catholicity has done for me: I believe that Jesus is way happier with his mongrel church than he is the isolation of a guy like Pink. Pink wasn’t in communist China. He was in Scotland. He had options. He just got too theologically picky. His temperament won out over some of the plainer truths of the Bible about Christian fellowship. He took his own theologizing more seriously than he did the Body of Christ, and that’s a mistake.

If you want to announce that all other Christians are apostate and you aren’t, then go that route. The similarity of such a desperate approach to the worldview of the cults is part of the price you pay. If you are sure that your ever increasing list of apostasy is the true path of following Jesus, then the Pink route may be the right one for you.

But if you need the visibility, the physicality, the humanity of the Body of Christ, you need to make some compromises. Perhaps you need to meditate upon this passage (and many others like it) and consider what it must have been like for Jesus to hang out with us for those years of the incarnation. How do you think he enjoyed church?

(Mar 9:19) And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.”

It’s becoming more and more common for Pink-style Calvinists to cut and run at every mention of Rick Warren or any sermon that fails to take the 5 Points seriously. But I want to present a closing argument for staying in there.

The other day we had “Teacher Appreciation” Day at OBI. One by one, our teachers were called up front to be applauded, cheered and given a Cracker Barrel gift card. Can you beat these benefits at your job? I think not.

One of the teachers is my neighbor, Steve Grant. Steve is a real math teacher. Old school. Hardcore. Tough. Brilliant. Demanding. He loves math. He wants his students to love math.

He’s at a school where more than half of the students probably will struggle to pass first year Algebra at best. He’s at a place where math excellence will be glimpsed only rarely. It has to be frustrating for Steve. He could teach so many other places, but he stays at OBI.

He stays. He is here. He isn’t one of the teachers that bad mouth our students and take off. He isn’t one of those people who have to have it his way or they hit the highway. He stays, battles, keeps at it, makes demands, fails the ones who don’t make it, takes the brilliant ones as far as he can- and there always are some brilliant ones. He is a math teacher, and he’s choosing to make a mark with his life by staying in the battle with us.

I love that about Steve and so many of our teachers. They may get discouraged with what they see and experience on many days, but they choose to stay here, to be part of the community, to nurture and create something that would never exist otherwise. The staying is what matters, because the staying is about the really important things in life and ministry.

This is the choice I’m going to make by going to church where I will probably never hear what is important to me. Ultimately, though, what matters is not my theology, but CHRIST’S LOVE for these people. They are still the people Jesus bought with his life and blood. He loves them. I can encourage, pray, share, teach, hope and stick with them as he does. And I can start something in my house that keeps the fire alive for me and others like me. I can keep paddling against the stream. I can not give up.

Pink was a very smart man, but he imagined that God resembled his theology. He was wrong on that. God isn’t the sum of my theology. We see God perfectly in the person of Jesus. Jesus and the unlovely, Jesus and the sinful, Jesus and the sinful, Jesus and the unfaithful, Jesus and the losers. Jesus with the last, the least, the lost and the dead. Jesus with those whose sins will crucify him. He’s the one who wants that messy, crying woman at his dinner. He’s the one who wants Zaccheus on his team. He’s the one who wants Peter to feed his sheep. It’s Jesus sticking with the Corinthians and the churches of Revelation. It’s Jesus who sticks with me. That’s what God is like. God is like Jesus. Not like A.W. Pink’s theology, as right as it might be.

Pink should have followed Jesus to a church of actual, real, messed up, screwed up, ignorant Christians, and not given up on what Jesus didn’t give up on.

Comments

  1. I applaud you for keeping this attitude in the midst of so much turmoil. It is easy for me as a non-Calvinist to want to cut and run at times because people don’t live up to the simple standards of love but I feel Christ calling me to a different way.

    Maybe some day that will mean I’ll meet in a home and make church much simpler. In fact I really desire that, but in the meantime I feel the need to bear with my brothers and sisters as they bear with me.

    An A.W. Pink aproach seems to be the antithesis of what Jesus taught and the message he sent in his death and resurrection. Jesus showed us the way of grace and we should follow it to the hilt… at least thats how I feel, even though I still fail.

  2. Wow, read your site daily as I can often relate, especially to this post. Lest you think your options are dim in KY, I live on the left coast, southern Cal to be exact. It is DisneyChristianity. Talk about Warren, count the BMWs, Lexus, and Hummers in that parking lot. Chrystal Cathedral, not an option. Mega church; starbucks at church and I mean the real starbucks cafe; pastors all dress in Tommy Bahama,NateNast etc; and the worship bands really rock. At Harvest, Greg Laurie, Sunday night might bring the likes of Delirious, yes, I heard them at Harvest, really enjoyed them too; and like Greg. But, the altar there looks like an mtv set on Sunday night, even have a fog machine, low lights, and it is so loud you can’t understand the words. David Moore, remember him, Moore on Life, he had to much hot tub before he got into trouble. Churches have names like night clubs to hide any theological or denominational identity. Well, we are postmodern, riding the third wave, emerging to no where, theologcially impaired for the most part, but the bands really rock and the coffee is great, and the river is really flowing. Southern California church.

  3. Excellent essay. I came to appreciate my flawed Southern Baptist Church with its flawed members when I fully realized how much more flawed I was than them and dependent on being “plunged beneath the flood flowed from Immanuel’s veins”. Reformed scholarship and theology can lead to a prideful, pseudo intellectualism that is isolative, especially when mixed in with a traditional Southern Baptist church. I am always convicted and humbled when I can silence the reformed “voices” in my head and listen to, fellowship and worship with people who humbly love and serve Christ, in spite of their “flawed” theology. If some of those saints are simple or ignorant, Lord grant me that kind of simplicity and ignorance. Keep up the good work.

  4. This is brilliant. I’m adding this to my del.icio.us tags so that I can read it and take its lesson to heart should I ever find myself in the position of not having a Lutheran congregation within a reasonable distance (far from impossible given that there are currently only around a dozen Lutheran congregations in the whole of the UK), and the choice becomes (i) attend an Anglican church, with all the frustrations and compromises that would involve, or (ii) spend my Sunday mornings reading Lutheran blogs.

    “this problem is never far from those who take their theology seriously”

    Very true, and not only for Calvinists. On one Lutheran discussion board I used to frequent, there was at least one contributor who did not attend any church because all the Lutheran churches near him were too “compromised” and the only synod he felt was still sufficiently pure to meet his exacting standards was over 100 miles away from his home.

    And true for me as well: I left my Anglican church over theological issues (and don’t regret doing so), and never really fitted in to the Baptist church we ended up in. I remember thinking that should I ever become a Roman Catholic, I’d probably end up as a sedevacantist. I have a logical mind, and (as Chesterton pointed out) it is always logical minds that go mad where religion is concerned.

  5. C.S. Lewis was, of course, criticizing a type of people who abandon fellowship for reasons different from Pink but his words on the subject are, in my opinion, worth listening to:

    Consequently, the one really adequate instrument for learning about God, is the whole Christian community, waiting for Him together. Christian brotherhood is, so to speak, the technical equipment for this science—the laboratory outfit.
    –C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  6. Michael, this was one of your best posts, and one of those that makes me glad I’ve got your site rssing.

    I think John Frame’s article “May we ever leave a church?”
    http://tinyurl.com/hv5ot
    is also worth reading on this issue.

    Hey, how do I do a fancy hyperlink, please?

  7. Philologus says

    Michael,

    I like you have been discouraged quite often with the state of things in the public testimony but God does have his “hidden ones”. Many of them are doing exactly what you are doing by meeting in a more simplistic way in the home and yet being available to the body. It’s not at all easy but it can be done and I think much more profitable in the long run.

    I have been in and out of most denominational settings for 30 years now but have found meeting in the home a well of refreshing. Many of the same problems arise in a home setting because we meet with real people who have real flaws, myself included. Yet God gives grace to bear with one another in love and we are able to allow the spirit to use each one for the benefit of the body.

    If you do start meeting in your home I pray that you will not just pattern it after the systems of men that are in the public testimony but that it will be real, living, vital and organic.

    Kevin

  8. ed lebert says

    These are truly excellent biblical words.

  9. mort_chien says

    Michael,
    Like many others, I know the feeling, and have wondered if the problem was me. I do not want to give up on church – for the reasons you have written. I got a wry smile from Fred Malone’s book on baptism where he remarks that “there are a lot of folks in Presbyterian pews who are frustrated with their local Baptist Church.” Fit us perfectly. The choices here in Fort Wayne seem to be: 1, stay at the PCA where we are presently; 2, meet in our home with other like souled people; or 3, look at forming a Reformed baptist church. #3 is more than I can undertake, and it might run the risk of damaging our little PCA church. We’ve less than 40 adults on any Sunday and about 1/3rd are present or former frustrated Baptists. We cannot risk harming this little church.

    #2 requires some kind of accountability or we’ll just be one more “independent” church dotting the religious landscape – answering to no one but ourselves. An honest question, Michael: How will you deal with this issue? It sounds as though you are thinking about it. Would you please give me some pointers?

    #1 is where we are. Simple unadorned worship. But we sing all the verses of the hymns. Rented chapel at a Lutheran High School. A pastor who takes the time in the sermon to explain difficult words to the children. Learning to love and honor those with whom we have a few theological differences. Someone (J. C. Ryle?) remarked that how we treat folks we differ with theologically is one measure of holiness. I have grown in respect for the PCA view on paedobaptism, though I cannot accept it. So I cannot lead in a PCA church, but that is okay. Perhaps some growth in humility might occur if I am off to the side instead of being tempted to “strut my stuff”.

    In grace,
    Mort Chien

  10. Beautiful, wise words–and very timely for me. Thank you.

  11. Brian Pendell says

    Pursuing C.S. Lewis a little further …

    readers of “Grand Miracle” and “Screwtape Letters” know he wasn’t always fond of the church he was attending. One of the essays in Grand Miracle is a multi-page diatribe about something the Vicar said when he clearly wasn’t living out what he was preaching. And “Screwtape” seems to be a collection of all the bad experiences Lewis — or those like him — had. Whether it’s the preacher who shocks the congregation by his unbelief, or the preacher whose only consistency is his desire to outrage his audience, or the preacher who steadily goes on a continuing treadmill of his fifteen favorite psalms every year for decades, or the worshippers who can’t sing, or the fifth-rate music, all of it comes for sometimes scathing criticism in the book.

    And yet through all of it, according to “Surprised by Joy”, Lewis’ autobiography, Lewis continued to show up at the church doors and be at his pew every Sunday. He felt he had to do it to show the flag. It wasn’t that he found the sermons useful (find me a mention of any sermon he ever heard in any of his books that’s not derogatory), it wasn’t the music (which he detested), and it wasn’t the people (who sometimes drove him crazy).

    But through it all he still stuck with it because, like it or not, this is The Body. These weird, bizarre, anti-intellectual nutcases are the people Jesus died for.

    I like his attitude. While not denying the pig-headed stubbornness and stupidity of his fellow believers, he nonetheless remained committed to them because , like it or not, these maniacs are the people Jesus came to save. He seems to have understood that a perfect church (doctrinally, spiritually, any other way) wasn’t going to happen on earth, so he set out to make do with what he had, not spend his days pining for what he hadn’t.

    Now, how do I wrap this up? Just re-state my point, I guess: Christians — especially intelligent ones — not being able to stand church is nothing new. Yet they still stuck it out because their love was greater than their distaste. That’s the model I’ll try to follow, anyway.

    Respectfully,

    Brian P.

  12. bookdragon01 says

    My reading is pretty varied, from fairly traditional Christian sources to the AWJS Torah commentary. Today there was a strange coincidence. iMonk and AWJS were discussing the same thing (and just when I was starting to feel discouraged about some things in my church – guess God is telling me to hang in?). Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this excerpt from this week’s Torah commentary:

    “In Parshat Kedoshim,1 the Holy One instructs Moses to say to the entire Israelite community: “You shall be holy for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” The instruction is addressed in the plural, not to Moses and not to the elite, but to the entire community.

    Taken as a whole, these instructions say very clearly: “Be in community!” More than any given dictate, the core of Parshat Kedoshim, and perhaps the entire Torah, is the idea that the Jewish people are to form a holy society and recognize the obligations each one has to the other. Although it is very important, the community’s role is not simply to provide for the material needs of the indigent, but to build a social structure which includes everyone.

    This holy society is not a federation of individuals who have come together because it’s an efficient way to work for their various goals; rather, being part of a community, whether rich or poor, is part of what it is to be holy.

    Parshat Kedoshim tells us that holiness is not, and cannot be an individual activity. None of us can operate without regard for the weakest members of our community and think we are doing right and good in the eyes of God. A religious community that is not concerned with the widow, the orphan and the stranger is neither religious nor a community. It is a group of loners playacting as Jews.”

    http://www.ajws.org/uploaded_documents/Acharai%20Mot-Kedoshim%205766%20FINAL.pdf

    I think one could easily substitute ‘Christians’ for ‘Jews’ in the above and still be right on target.

  13. I am so thankful that you really do value mirroring God’s character over just finding someone that agrees with your every conculsion on theology. I love theology when it leads us to better demonstrate Godly character and what He is like. I hate it when it is used to beat the stuffin’ out of one another. Thanks!

  14. He took his own theologizing more seriously than he did the Body of Christ, and that’s a mistake.

    This is a great post, Michael.

    In the past, I have both left churches that were not Calvinistic enough and those that were too Calvinistic. Nowadays, I’m happy to go to a crap church were people love like crazy and struggle to worship Jesus together.

  15. I pray that you will find what you are looking for, Michael. I’m kind of in the same place, and haven’t had much luck finding a church with anything close to reformation theology.

  16. As for many others, this post hits home for me. Many Christians in diverse theological streams seem to be experiencing this same dilemma. After 30+ odd years of following Christ, many as worship leader & pastoral staff, I find myself frustrated with the present state of the church. Although I cannot bend my mind around the eastern-ness of the Orthodox Church, I love that they are so willing to recognize mystery in their theology rather than having a pat answer for everything. I am so tired of hearing Pastors say, “now let me explain what this verse REALLY means.” If everyone who claimed that God told them “thus & such” were correct, by definition God would have to be schizophrenic! None of us has everything right & it should be our willingness to be in community fellowship at the expense of our own opinions that sets us apart as followers of Christ. Remember Jesus’ tag onto the “Greatest Commandment” … love your neighbor (not “love your theology”). Let’s get to it!

    Tim

  17. LaNeisa Jackson says

    Dear Michael,
    I heard mention about AW Pink and Tozer not fellowshipping from an Allistair Begg sermon. Because I could relate and thought I was alone, I began to search for more detail and found your blog. May the Lord bless you and continue to keep you. I do not want to be a Pink, either. You nailed it. …and the greatest of these is love.

    Thank you.

  18. I want to stay in fellowship but can only attend Bible studies because I can no longer deal with the man-made laws (preached from the “bully” pulpit) that are a perversion of the Gospel. I attend Bible studies so I can at least raise questions about the legalism and Scripture-twisting they use to support the false teachings. That takes some mental and verbal gymnastics as well, because I don’t want to divide the Body.
    At what point should Truth be more important than fellowship? Shouldn’t there be allowance for discussion based on Biblical meaning? Is it truly fellowship if they hold to “another gospel which is not the gospel”?

  19. I’ve never read your blog before, and maybe that’s why I’m a bit confused, but why are you picking on Pink?

    My grandfather once said, “Never try to prove yourself right by proving someone else wrong,” and it looks as though that’s what you’re trying to do with your criticism of Pink.

    It isn’t our outward relation to churches that defines us, it’s our inward relation to Christ — and only Christ and Pink how it was between them. I have a feeling it was quite all right, regardless of those who judge from what they see on the outside.

    God bless.

  20. travis williams says

    No manner of double talk can hide, or mask the truth about your feelings towards A.W.pink. often a self righteous persons’ best argument is to point out how much better he handles the faults and flaws he perceives to be the downfall of others…. If A.W.Pink is wrong or in error for what you accuse him then how are you better being nonetheless disengaged even while you are present?

  21. IM this was a great article…I plan to keep a link close by for my own nourishment but also for something I can forward to people I know who time to time are also in danger of developing (A.W.) Pink eye.

  22. Alvin Gallegos says

    Hi Mike,

    Theology is from God with respect to what His precious Word dictates. “Come out from among them them and be ye seperate” are Christ’s words and “what has light have to do with darkness?” The list goes on. Did you see the local church stay fellowshipping with the cults or the Jews? If you want fellowship that bad then just go to a bar and pretend you are sipping wine with Baal? You know the folks whom Christ chose were whom the Father had given Him (nothing more or less)but the Bible also says to “mark” those who cause division among you”! Christ warned the church about a lack of sound doctrine but never said to embrace untruthful fellowship without exposing it. If the false doctrine continues then we are to do an “about face”. Where two or more are gathered there He is in the midst! Two or more of His elect that is!

  23. Black Angus says

    Alvin,
    For a moment there I thought you were proving iMonk’s point, giving us an example of someone who is so angry at other Christians for their lack of correct theology you write them off.
    But of course you’re being ironic.
    Aren’t you?

    If not, I can spot the elect just like you can. They are the ones who have taken to heart ‘what His precious Word dictates’: ‘If anyone says, ‘I love God’, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.’ (1 John 4:20).
    If you cannot love your brother even if you disagree with him a question mark hangs over your election. Don’t worry about anyone else’s.

    Mate, the kind of talk in your post sounds like you are the one causing division so please be careful lest Matthew 23 applies to you.

  24. Alvin Gallegos says

    Hi Black Angus,

    My post was in regard to this blog with respect to a man who gives no defense for himself. (Mr. Pink)
    Mr. Pink dealt with false gospel in about every church he pastored namely dealing with Arminians. If you want to fellowship with those who share another gospel then you well put up with them. Mormons say they “love God” so do you fall under Matthew 23 yourself m8? (unless you count Mormons as His elect? Are you in turn falling under Galations 1:6-9? If you regard me as one who sits in a high place or Pink for that matter then you assume wrongly since Pink rented a house and had no audience that loved the true gospel and for myself I seek no praise from men since Christ had no place to lay His head either. In truth the Gospel that Pink proclaimed was hated and in todays “churches” his gospel would be trampled on.
    Just maybe the high place is taking fellowship with those who believe in a false gospel. Who knows Spurgeon himself might have agreed with Pink later on and if I remember correctly Spurgeon dealt with the Downgrade Controversy in his day which caused division amongst Baptists.
    PRO 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. PRO 14:15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

  25. Just a general comment or two having read the comments so far.
    First my religious background. For many years I just ignored religion altogether seeking the American dream. Then I spent about 8 years of my life in which I embraced Yoga, Eastern religions, and the New Age Movement. Then I was radically born again into a believer. I say radically because by the standards of the average protestant church today it would seem a new convert shows no evidence of a new creature (2 Cor 5:17) or the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9). Where what was normal evidence of being converted in Acts is now refered to as being baptized in the Holy Spirit intended only for religious zealots. Initially I attended a Charasmatic church which I was quite comfortable with until I began reading the Bible and noticing that what was being preached or taught didn’t agree with scripture. I was especially concerned about how one is truly saved. So believing that salvation was not something to be taken lightly I began studying scripture for assurance of salvation. Finally I left the Charasmatic church for First Assembly of God. Through all this I was basically Armenian, but now I have become a Calvanist because for me the scriptures only make sense from a Calvanistic standpoint. Needless to say I am not very thrilled by the theology of First Assembly.
    There is much talk here on this blog about fellowshiping with the “brothers and sisters”. In Jesus’ day the church was the Synagogue and the denominations were Saducees and Pharisees. I don’t see him being very kind to their theology, loving them, or encouraging his disciples to fellowship with them. Beware of the leaven of the Pharasees. Woe unto you, ye blind guides.
    I have learned a lot from listening to Paul Washer sermons. I believe the real question that needs to be asked here is who are our “brothers and sisters”? Of course only God truly knows, but we are given many scriptural references on how to identify them. The key is are they truly born again (regenerated or converted) and as a result the Holy Spirit resides in them. The modern churches have taken the doctrine of salvation and changed it from a sovereign act of God’s will which is a true miracle on par with the creation of the world (where God takes a totally depraved man and creates a new creature that is restored in relationship to God even filled with the Holy Spirit) into an act of easy believism by preaching a seeker friendly (no preaching on the total depravity of man, wrath, hell, repentance, etc.) gospel. People are saved by walking the ailse and saying the sinner’s prayer. It is all an intellectual process. They know God intellectually, but do they truly “know” him as in Mat. 7:21-23? Another problem, is the God they know the product of their minds or the one described in the Bible? Through this false seeker friendly gospel, the churches have become filled with false converts who now seem to be the majority in these churches even including pastors, deacons, sunday school teachers, and so on? So are we to fellowship with these “carnal” Christians or not? I don’t think so. Could it be that not many are saved? Luk 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Luk 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. The real issue is not Calvinism, it is regeneration. Are these churches really filled with believers? The Bible says you will know a believer by his fruit. So what kind of fruit are they displaying? The church is not the occupants of the First Assembly building on Sunday morning at 11AM, but God’s elect those who are the true believers.
    I believe that as it has been about 500 years since the reformation that the protestant chuch has gone the way of the early church. Just like the religious organization in Israel in Jesus’ days (Jewish synagogues) and the early church which became the Catholic (universal) church, the modern churches theology has taken on the doctrine, traditions and rituals of man (humanism). God’s Sovereignty has given way to man’s free will and humanism. Pragmatism has taken over. Keeping the flock happy. If they are not truly converted they don’t want to pray or read the Bible. So keep them busy doing social works, plays, professional quality praise and worship music and programs, preach and teach the purpose driven church, and creating new false converts. I believe I could find more references to the content of the average sermon of my church in one of Rick Warren’s books than in the Bible. The church I am speaking of is the Laodicean church of Rev. 3:14. The church of the 1600-1900 era is the Philedelphia church. In the 1800-1900s as Arminainism and humanism and pragmatism crept into the church we now have the Laodicean church of today which God says he will spue (throw up) out of his mouth. The occasional good church would be Philedelphian remnants.
    If you are a true believer don’t think you are going to change these people. They will wear you down. Their primary agenda will be to compromise your faith and especially your beliefs (doctrine). When a false convert is created by the new church growth and easy believism evangelical techniques it becomes almost impossible to get them truly saved. Fortunately with God all things are possible. And there is nothing a false converts hates worse than God’s sovereignty except possibly the presence of a holy, righteous, humble, meek, longsuffering born again believer speaking forth scripture on God’s sovereignty at the expense of man’s free will. They will respond in similar fashon as the Jews to Stephen in Acts 7.