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Pray for the Bennetts in Australia as they with God's help and for His glory are seeking to establish: Western Plains Baptist Fellowship, and Gilgandra Baptist Fellowship as New Testament Baptist churches.
 

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

Missionary David C. Bennett, D. Min.

Preface

Two young lads were standing on the footpath of the town’s main street when a huuge (that is bigger than just huge) crowd went running by. The one young lad said to his friend "should we join’ em?" The other lad looking at the crowd then at his friend said "Might as well everyone else has."

It doesn’t really matter where the crowd is going or what sort of people make up the crowd if it is big and looks like it is going "somewhere" we might as well join’ em because "everyone else has."

While many faithful pastors are earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, and are strong in their preaching and teaching of sound doctrine their church for whatever reason known by God is not "being blessed" (as others see it) and growing numerically (numbers means success you know). As this pastor looks outside his ministerial window he sees the huuge crowds running down the street to the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH with all the latest exciting programs and activities.

As with many pastors he has coffee on Monday morning (that is the pastor’s day off you know) with the other fundamental independent Baptist guys and the subject comes up concerning the newest programs and activities that are going on down at the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH. Some of those at coffee relate how people are getting "saved" and there is "life" down at the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH. Some of these independent Baptist guys say they are talking with the leaders in their own churches about developing and implementing some of the new programs and activities being used by the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH. They have heard it is not only working in the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH but in other places all over the world! If it is WORKING it must be right! Right? Why not join’ em?

In SHOULD FUNDAMENTALISTS & EVANGELICALS SEEK CLOSER TIES? Dr. Ernest Pickering critiques and answers Ed Dobson’s book IN SEARCH OF UNITY. Pickering says of Dobson’s book it is "cleverly crafted and designed to a wide spectrum of readers of various persuasions without alienating any of them from the author’s intended purpose – to bring them together."

I do not seek to "cleverly craft" what is on my heart but I too desire a wide reading of these pages. I also want to be upfront and honest with the reader having "renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" 2Corinthians 4:2.

The push that brought me to write this paper is what I observe to be the appalling state, in which many independent Baptist churches are found. By the "appalling state" I mean the acceptance of some methods of evangelism and church programs without seemingly any Scriptural forethought.

There is no doubt that that which is written on the following pages will not be entirely new to many of my readers who may be more elderly in the ministry than some others. But without preferring one before another I will seek to put both elder and younger in remembrance of the past heritage we fundamentalists have and the present situation in which fundamentalists find themselves. Ernest Pickering accurately states in the same book just quoted that "In many cases our separatist churches and schools have failed to give our youth a structured, Scriptural and historical defense of our position. We have failed to show how the principles for which we stood then are applicable today in A DIFFERENT CONTEXT AND WITH DIFFERENT ISSUES." (Emphasis added). It will be a couple of those different issues I will seek to handle here.

Again I emphasize it is the abysmal state in which many independent Baptist churches are found that compels me to write openly without enticing words of man's wisdom but with love from my heart for when all is said and done we will all stand "before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom." 2Timothy 4:1. "Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not." Galatians 1:20.

Sadly, in many of the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCHES and independent Baptist churches there is much emphasis on what I will call "cloud" programs. In 2002 and 2003 Australia went through what has been said to be the worse drought in a century. In country New South Wales we would see some marvelous dark clouds developing and heading our direction. There would be some wind and thunder. But it was all for nothing. Those clouds looked the part but they contained not a drop of that life giving substance called water. That is what these new programs developed and implemented in the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH and now independent Baptist churches are. They are "cloud" programs without the Living Water.

Multitudes, in fact all outside of faith in Christ Jesus are in the dry and thirsty land, where no thirst quenching water is to be found other than at the blood filled fount of Christ Jesus. Most independent Baptist churches running down the street with the crowd, I believe in good faith, are seeking to give forth the Living Water by first attracting the crowd with "clouds" without substance to get them to the Living Water. Is this pragmatism?

What are some of these dry clouds? This is where I might lose some of you but I urge you to follow through and give me a hearing, please! Some of these waterless "clouds" are "Christian" rock, praise bands, drama, movement, myths/fairy tale enactment, voice-work, movement-with-touch, creative movement choreographed to contemporary and traditional Christian music, and clown ministries. These are real programs churches are using in their worship services and evangelistic outreach. One church advertises for their children’s ministry grades 1st through 6th doing Drama and Dance Camp and Biking Day just to name two. Then for the older youth there is the Jammin' for Jesus!

It will be seen perhaps years down the road that these cloud programs feed the flesh but starve the spirit and in the end spiritual death. To make the above cloud activities and programs "acceptable" the tag "Christian" is tacked on but are they acceptable unto the Lord? It is somewhat understandable how all this took place within the liberal churches but how did this come about within the walls of independent Baptist churches? This condition did not just happen over night but has been a sore festering for years.

I see the acceptance of the "cloud" activities and programs as compromise on the part of independent Baptist preachers and churches. As I view it what is more surprising or perhaps sad in this compromise is many independent Baptist pastors (not involved in the compromise itself) are not concerned or at least are not vocalizing their concern about what is happening in sister churches. Are these pastors the "silent majority"? Are these independent Baptist preachers identified in Psalm 38:13? "But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth."

May the pages that follow find a reading by many in the "silent majority" and stir up their pure minds causing them to voice their objection to what compromise is taking place in the name of Christ and reaching the lost! Perhaps the "silent majority" will become the concerned vocal majority who will go to the Scriptures and from the Scriptures teach God’s people the right way. An entire fellowship of churches may be, I emphasize may be, salvaged if the "silent majority" speak with love and passion Scriptural truth.

Then also, perhaps, some in the movement which I call the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical- movement will read this paper and read it completely through before making a judgment. Let me explain why I have named this movement new-age-ecumenical-evangelical. Firstly, it is new age in that independent Baptist preachers and churches are accepting, allowing and inviting new ideas, activities and programs within the church that would have been rejected thirty or forty years ago. Have you researched why our forefathers rejected these "cloud" programs in their day? Are many independent Baptists like Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12: 13, 14a "And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men's counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men."?

When the "cloud" programs are questioned as to their Biblical legitimacy in Biblical evangelism and in the worship of the church the label of legalist is often pinned on the person asking the question. When in reality the one questioning may be a friend. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Proverbs 27:6.

Secondly this movement is Ecumenical. These unassuming and I am assuming they are unassuming, independent Baptist preachers and churches are often times associating with churches that are in fellowship and cooperation with the National Council and or World Council of Churches. This alignment between the godly and the ungodly definitely was taboo thirty and forty years ago and beyond that it is forbidden in the Scriptures.

Thirdly this movement is Evangelical in that these independent Baptist preachers and churches still on the whole are proclaiming what is commonly known as the fundamentals of the faith.

My fear is not only that these independent Baptist preachers and churches are disobedient brethren and either do not know it or do not care, but my fear is where is all this accommodation and compromise going to end? Will this running down the street with the crowd and sliding down Compromise Hill be fulfilled in 2 Peter 2:1, 2 where "there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of."? You say this cannot happen but don’t be so sure of that. When cloud entertainment takes front stage "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." 2Timothy 4:3.

Some can be heard saying emphatically "there is nothing wrong with the "cloud" programs presently being used" although they wouldn’t refer to them as "clouds".

Feeding the lost with only husks may for awhile make the consumer content and even full but "yet the appetite is not filled." The spiritual consumer will need more husks and all the while eating they are being starved. Yet worse the spiritual consumer’s last state is worse then the first! Sad, sad, sad.

My friend if you are involved in or just thinking of running down the street to the NEW COMMUNITY CHURCH FOLK and participating with their friends in the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical movement do not think me your enemy because I tell you the truth. Whether you agree with me or not as believers we should desire God’s blessing and our falling into good rather than evil. Friend, I seek to do thee no wrong in writing this paper but only write to stimulate you and me to do better for the Master. This cannot be a very bad thing. May this paper go forth and be accepted as it was written as the truth in Christ and "That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous." Proverbs 2:20.

Your friend and brother,

David C. Bennett

Chapter One

What is the Problem?

Many within the independent Baptist movement do not see a problem. The fundamental fighting over issues is over so let us get on with the job. To some the only problem is the one saying there is a problem. However, there is a problem and the problem is twofold. (1) Are the "cloud" programs Biblical? and (2) Where are all these "cloud" programs "Christian" rock, praise bands, drama, movement, myths/fairy tale enactment, voice-work, movement-with-touch, creative movement choreographed to contemporary and traditional Christian music, and clown ministries going to end?

In fact when I began this study it was going to centre mainly on ecclesiastical separation. However, the more research the more problems were seen. Therefore I have extended the study to include drama and dance. The first chapter will take a look at drama.

DRAMA:

There is a lot of information out there on the Internet and in books on the subject of drama both in and out of the church. The following is from the CD "Drama and Dramatic Arts," Microsoft(R) Encarta(R) 98 Encyclopedia. (c) 1993-1997. It is quite a lengthy section on drama so enough background information is given to work from.

"The first evidence of dramatic literature dates from Greece in the 6th century BC, and the first extant piece of critical writing on the origin of theater is Aristotle's Poetics (about 330 BC). Aristotle claimed that Greek tragedy developed from dithyrambs-choral hymns in honor of the god Dionysus-which not only praised the god but often told a story. According to legend, Thespis, a choral leader of the 6th century BC, created drama when he assumed the part of the leading character in a dithyrambic story: He spoke and the chorus responded. From this it was but a small step to the addition of other actors and characters and the evolution of drama as an independent form, according to Aristotle. But the seemingly spontaneous development of highly sophisticated tragic drama with virtually no precedents is difficult to explain.

Roman Theater

As the Roman Republic began to spread in the 4th century BC, it absorbed Greek territories and, naturally, Greek drama and theater architecture. Native Roman drama did not develop until the 3rd century BC. Although play production was originally associated with religious festivals, the spiritual nature of the events was soon lost; as the number of festivals increased, drama became primarily a secular entertainment. Not surprisingly, then, the most popular forms were comedy and the native Atellan farce. The great period of Roman playwriting began in the 2nd century BC and was dominated by the comedies of Plautus and Terence, which were adapted from Greek New Comedy. The plays generally involve domestic intrigue, although those of Terence have a moral value as well. Although the plays read much like contemporary comedies, in production one-third to two-thirds of the lines may have been sung.

By the 2nd century AD literary theater had declined in popularity and was replaced by spectacle and popular entertainment. Even the gladiatorial events were theatricalized with superficial plots, costumes, and settings. Partly because some Roman actors, especially the women, had licentious reputations, and partly because the mimes frequently satirized the Christians, among others, the emerging Christian church attacked the Roman theater, thereby contributing to its ultimate demise and to the lingering reputation of theater and actors as evil or immoral. With the fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476, classical theater came to an end in the West; mainstream theatrical activity did not reemerge for more than 500 years. Only the popular entertainers, known as jongleurs and minstrels in the medieval world, survived and provided a thread of continuity.

Medieval Theater

Ironically, theater in the form of liturgical drama was reborn in Europe in the Roman Catholic church. As the church sought to extend its influence, it often adopted pagan and folk festivals, many of which had theatrical elements. By the 10th century the various church services provided possibilities for dramatic presentation; indeed, the Mass itself is not unlike a drama. Certain holidays were celebrated with theatrical activities, such as the procession to the church on Palm Sunday. The antiphonal, or responsive, songs of the Mass and the canonical hours suggested a type of dialogue. In the 9th century antiphonal embellishments known as tropes were being added to the complex musical elements of the Mass. An anonymous three-line Easter trope-a dialogue between the three Marys and the angels at the tomb of Christ-from about 925 is considered the origin of liturgical drama. By 970 a record of directions for this playlet had appeared, complete with costume elements and physical gestures.

Religious Drama-Miracle Plays

Over the next 200 years liturgical drama slowly evolved, with various stories from the Bible enacted by the clergy or by choirboys. At first, church vestments and existing architectural features of the church served as costume and setting, but soon more formal arrangements were devised. The bases of the physical staging were called the mansion and the platea. The mansion was a small scenic structure-a booth-that emblematically suggested a particular place such as the Garden of Eden, Jerusalem, or heaven, and the platea was a neutral area in front of the mansion used by the performers to enact the scene.

As liturgical drama evolved, many thematically related Bible stories were presented sequentially, usually depicting scenes from the creation through the crucifixion. These plays are variously called Passion, miracle, or saint plays. Appropriate mansions were erected around the nave of the church, with heaven usually at the altar end and a Hellmouth-an elaborate monster's head with a gaping maw representing the entrance to hell-at the opposite end of the nave. Thus, all the scenes of the play were represented simultaneously, with the performers and spectators moving from one area of the church to another as the scenes demanded.

The plays obviously were episodic, spanning literally thousands of years, including widely separated locales, with temporal, spiritual, and allegorical settings. Unlike Greek tragedy, which was tightly focused to build to a cathartic climax, medieval drama did not always display conflict and tension. Its purpose was to dramatize the salvation of humankind.

Although the church encouraged early liturgical drama because of its didactic qualities, entertainment and spectacle became increasingly prevalent, and the church once again voiced misgivings about drama. Unwilling to relinquish the beneficial effects of theater, the church compromised by removing presentation of drama from the church building itself. The same physical arrangement was re-created in town-market squares. While the drama retained its religious content and intent, it became increasingly secular in its presentation. See Also Miracle, Mystery, and Morality Plays.

Medieval Civic Drama

By the 14th century the production of plays was associated with the Feast of Corpus Christi and had evolved into cycles of as many as 40 plays; some scholars believe that the cycles, although similar to the liturgical dramas, are a separate development. They were produced by the community as a whole every four or five years. The productions might take from one or two days to a month to present. The production of each play was assigned to a trade guild, with an attempt to correlate the guild with the subject of the play-the boatwrights, for instance, might stage the play of Noah.

Because the performers were often illiterate amateurs, the plays tended to be written in an easily memorized doggerel type of verse; the playwrights are unknown. In keeping with the medieval world view, historical accuracy is often ignored, and logical cause and effect is not always present. Selective realism was employed in staging. The plays are filled with anachronisms and local and topical references; little thought was given to the realities of time and distance. Costumes and props were all contemporary. Whatever could be depicted realistically was-many instances were reported of actors nearly dying from too realistic crucifixions or hangings and of actors who portrayed devils being severely burned. On the other hand, the parting of the Red Sea might be indicated by the separation of a red cloth that would then be draped over the pursuing Egyptians to suggest the sea swallowing them. The free mixing of the real and the symbolic did not disturb medieval sensibilities. Spectacle and popular forms were employed wherever possible, and the Hellmouth was usually a tour de force of mechanical wizardry and pyrotechnics. Despite the religious content of the cycles, they seemed to be regarded in large part as entertainment.

The Protestant Reformation in northern Europe put an end to most religious drama by the mid-16th century, and a new, dynamic secular drama developed in its place." (Emphasis added to all the above)

ChristianityToday.com

"Drama had a hard road into the church. Greek and Roman theater were denounced by early Christians as decadent pagan entertainment. As Christianity spread through Europe, other folk festivities and theatrics were encountered and similarly denounced. But no matter how much the church tried to suppress these expressions, people liked pageants and dramas. So the church adopted a new strategy: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." (Emphasis added)

I think that last phrase from ChristianityToday.com pretty much sums up what is happening today. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Should we "join’ em"? Stanford E. Murrell writes in THE NEW COVENANT IN CHRIST A SURVEY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT page 17 that "Music and drama were designed to entertain the masses rather than to stimulate any serious creative thinking. The public performances were often to be obscene, repulsive and crude.’" Personally that is what I see much of what is taking place in churches today, entertainment.

In SHALL WE DANCE? Brian Edwards writes on page 31 "Those who were eager for reform came to the conclusion that more plays meant less preaching." "It is often claimed today that dance and drama in the church are reintroducing what the church has lost for half a millennium. That is true, but we must not forget that plays first came in as a response to the attraction of the world, for an illiterate congregation and at a time when the organized church was falling to its lowest spiritual ebb in history. As a matter of historical fact, the early evangelical reformers reintroduced preaching, not plays."

On page 53 Edwards quotes Spurgeon from the Sword and Trowel September 1879. "I see it publicly stated by men who call themselves Christians that it would be advisable for Christians to frequent the theatre, that the character of the drama might be raised. The suggestion is about as sensible as if we were bidden to pour a bottle of lavender water into the great sewer to improve its aroma. If the Church is to imitate the world in order to raise its tone, things have strangely altered since the day when our Lord said, ‘Come out from among them, and touch not the unclean thing.’"

Again on page 31 of SHALL WE DANCE? Edwards writes "Wycliffe’s Lollards or poor preachers were not minstrels. They did nothing other than preach, and this was at a time when the play was high in popularity."

During the Victorian age the Evangelical church never thought of drama and dance as having a part or even being closely associated with evangelism or worship. But that was in the Victorian age? So it was. There was drama and other entertainment in the world but God was working in a mighty way in bringing multitudes to himself not through the drama and theatre but through the preaching of His Word. There was a Heaven Sent revival for morality and godliness being worked by God among the churches and Spurgeon and the other evangelicals saw drama, dance and the theatre as a hindrance rather than a means.

From the Internet:

HISTORY OF DRAMA - ANCIENT DRAMA

"The origins of Western drama can be traced to the celebratory music of 6th-century BC Attica, the Greek region centered on Athens. Although accounts of this period are inadequate, it appears that the poet Thespis developed a new musical form in which he impersonated a single character and engaged a chorus of singer-dancers in dialogue. As the first composer and soloist in this new form, which came to be known as tragedy, Thespis can be considered both the first dramatist and the first actor. Of the hundreds of works produced by Greek tragic playwrights, only 32 plays by the three major innovators in this new art form survive. Aeschylus created the possibility of developing conflict between characters by introducing a second actor into the format. His seven surviving plays, three of which constitute the only extant trilogy are richly ambiguous inquiries into the paradoxical relationship between humans and the cosmos, in which people are made answerable for their acts, yet recognize that these acts are determined by the gods.

MEDIEVAL DRAMA

Medieval drama, when it emerged hundreds of years later, was a new creation rather than a rebirth, the drama of earlier times having had almost no influence on it. The reason for this creation came from a quarter that had traditionally opposed any form of theater: the Christian church. In the Easter service, and later in the Christmas service, bits of chanted dialogue, called tropes, were interpolated into the liturgy. Priests, impersonating biblical figures, acted out minuscule scenes from the holiday stories. Eventually, these playlets grew more elaborate and abandoned the inside of the church for the church steps and the adjacent marketplace. Secular elements crept in as the artisan guilds took responsibility for these performances; although the glorification of God and the redemption of humanity remained prime concerns, the celebration of local industry was not neglected."

The following article is located at:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/newsletter/christmas/play.html (I have sought to give enough of the article to make the point)

THE PLAY'S THE THING

"Drama had a hard road into the church. Greek and Roman theater were denounced by early Christians as decadent pagan entertainment. As Christianity spread through Europe, other folk festivities and theatrics were encountered and similarly denounced. But no matter how much the church tried to suppress these expressions, people liked pageants and dramas. So the church adopted a new strategy: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Is this what the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical is doing? Is it just a matter of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."?

ANOTHER WEB SITE:

Then on the web site of Tupelo Community Theatre, P. O. Box 1094, Tupelo, MS the following was obtained.

"Some have written that theatre died following the fall of the Roman Empire, and its memory was kept alive only in the performances of roving bands of jongleurs: itinerant street players, jugglers, acrobats and animal trainers. However, while such troupes did help to maintain certain aspects of theatrical art, particularly that involving stock characters, the Church itself contributed to the preservation of theatre.

It is ironic that the Church, which caused theatres to be outlawed as the Roman Empire declined and then fell, was one of the primary means of keeping theatre alive through the Middle Ages. This resulted from the Church's need to establish itself in the community -- a community still steeped in pagan ritual and superstition which manifested itself in seasonal festivals. The Church ultimately linked its own religious holidays with these seasonal festivals and began to use dramatic form to illustrate the stories underlying these holidays so as to reinforce their religious connotation and to better communicate the stories to an illiterate congregation.

At first the parts played in these simple religious re-enactments of the nativity and adoration of the Magi were played by priests in the sanctuary of the church. However, as the repertoire of the Church grew to include the passion and crucifixion of Christ, the Church was confronted with the dilemma of how a priest should portray Herod. While division of opinion in the Church continued as to the worth of dramatic interpretations, the members of the congregation clearly enjoyed and were moved by them. The dramas continued to grow, moving out of the sanctuary and into the open air in front of the Church. Ultimately, the members of town guilds began to contribute to these dramas, which continued to grow more elaborate with time. Known as passion plays, miracle plays and morality plays, they continued their close connection with the Church and church holidays, but began to introduce elements of stock characters that were more contemporary in nature. With the growth of towns and the introduction of stable governments in Europe, the stage was set for the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the secularization of theatre as it emerged from the influence of the Medieval Church." (Emphasis added)

Do you think you know what CHURCH is spoken of in this article? Drama from early times is associated firstly with pagans and then the pagan Roman Catholic Church! Drama began with the irreligious pagans, taken over by religious pagans, and then became the tool of the new-evangelical but now drama is used by "fundamentalists" not only in American churches but on the foreign field. Is there anything wrong with using drama?

Drama according to Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary is "a composition in verse or prose intended to portray life or character to tell a story through action and dialogue and designed for theatrical performance: PLAY."

Of course to perform a theatrical performance or play there must be actors. Concerning actors Strong’s Concordance says "upokrithv hupokrites, hoop-ok-ree-tace'; an actor under an assumed character (stage-player), i.e. (figuratively) a dissembler ("hypocrite":--hypocrite." Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says a hypocrite "primarily denotes one who answers; then, a stage actor." Jesus had much to say about hypocrites. One such place is Matthew 6:5 "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." Is this what we desire for our young people to grow up as, hypocrites?

Where in the New Testament do we find God using drama in His churches? Can God now do more through drama than through the preaching of His Word? I think not!

Rick Miesel; compiler and editor of the BIBLICAL DISCERNEMENT MINISTRIES 9/00 in his critique of Bob Jones University adapted the following from EXHORTATIONS, Issue 31. "Concerning so-called Christian actors, acting is a pagan art and it is impossible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and act at the same time. The Greek word hupokrites (an actor) and the Latin word hypocrite (a stage actor) is where we get the English word "hypocrite," and is translated so in the English Bible. Jesus used this word many times and always in a way that showed contempt for the sin of being a hypocrite. Instead, BJU would rationalize this concept and employ it to entertain nominal Christians. But true Christianity is not something that can be depicted as some form of entertainment. Drama and movies did not originate from the Holy Spirit, by whom Christians should be led, but rather from the spirit of this world, that is, the spirit of antichrist. And while BJU would defend so-called Christian movies or drama as a way to evangelize the lost, their rationale results from a lack of discernment. The Holy Spirit simply is not involved in this sort of thing. To pretend to pray or be converted before a camera or audience is a perverted form of insincerity that borders on blasphemy."

If it could be shown from the Scriptures that drama was used by God in the apostolic church in evangelism of the lost and edification of the saints then we should desire to study and use it as the early church did. But can it be shown? As Edwards says on page 69 of SHALL WE DANCE? "Generally speaking, the days in which we live are too fruitless for us to be able to afford the luxury of ignoring any method God has given us for effective communication." HEAR, HEAR! So they would say in the British Parliament. If it is legitimately Biblical then we should be using it by all means!

In all this we must ask the question as to whether we desire to do something because "it is Biblical" or "does it satisfy the flesh?" What attracts us to drama? Is drama performed in the Spirit or the flesh? Romans 8:8 "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."

However, the Scriptures, particularly those written to the local New Testament churches, do not give any hint at all for the use of drama in local New Testament worship services. To prove drama was used in the churches of Christ (apostolic and Ana-Baptists) from church history or the Scriptures (and by early church we do not mean the Roman Catholic Church) is to rewrite church history and ignore the Scriptures.

Galatians 1:10 "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

CHAPTER TWO

DANCE

It is beyond me how we have come this far. Dance is something that a preacher once preached against but now I am writing to persuade the rightness or wrongness of the dance in the worship and outreach of a local church! Incomprehensible! If the Lord tarries His coming what will the next ten years bring?

From the Internet one church advertises:

"Dance Ministry

The dance Ministry is dedicated to worship of the Lord

through movement to Christian Music.

"Praise this name with dancing;

play drums and harps in praise to Him."

Psalm 149:3

Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop, All Styles"

Note they did not quote from the King James Bible which reads Psalm 149:3 as "Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp." Matthew Henry gives his remarks on singing and dancing "Those whom from this urge the use of music in religious worship must by the same rule introduce dancing, for they went together, as in David's dancing before the ark, and Jg 21:21. But, whereas many scriptures in the New Testament keep up singing as a gospel-ordinance, none provide for the keeping up of music and dancing; the gospel-cannon for psalmody is to sing with the spirit and with the understanding." But no one would come if we did not have a good musical program! Whatever!

The word the other version translated "drums" is translated "timbrel" in the King James Bible. The Treasury of David says this of the timbrel. "The toph was employed by David in all the festivities of religion (2Sa 6:5). The occasions on which it was used were mostly joyful, and those who played upon it were generally females (Ps 68:25), as was the case among most ancient nations, and is so at the present day in the East. The usages of the modern East might adequately illustrate all the scriptural allusions to this instrument, but happily we have more ancient and very valuable illustration from the monuments of Egypt. In these we find that the tambourine was a favourite instrument, both on sacred and festive occasions. There were three kinds, differing, no doubt, in sound as well as in form; one was circular, another square or oblong, and the third consisted of two squares separated by a bar. They were all beaten by the land, and often used as an accompaniment to the harp and other instruments. The tambourine was usually played by females, who are represented as dancing to its sound without the accompaniment of any other instrument. --John Kitto."

Again from The Treasury of David we read this concerning Psalm 149:3 and the dance. "The dance was in early times one of the modes of expressing religious joy (Ex 15:20; 2Sa 6:16). When from any cause men's ideas shall undergo such a revolution as to lead them to do the same thing for the same purpose, it will be time enough to discuss that matter. In our time, dancing has no such use, and cannot, therefore, in any wise be justified by pleading the practice of pious Jews of old. --William Swan Plumer."

Another church Internet site advertises its dance programs this way.

"The purpose of the Dance Ministry (A Time To Dance) is to glorify God and to do outreach to the Church and our community.

We have 3 goals in our ministry.

1. To glorify God through dance. We want to restore dance and use it as it was originally intended: to praise God.

2. To give people the opportunity to use their talents for God. This ministry enables Christians who love the Lord and who love to dance to use their talent to serve Him and to fellowship with others who love to do the same.

3. To outreach through music and dance. We bring God to people in a language that they can understand and relate to."

Brian Edwards in SHALL WE DANCE? Defines the dance on page 79 as "the art of moving the body in a rhythmical way, to express an emotion or idea, to narrate a story, or simply to take delight in the movement itself."

In the 1979 Compton’s Encyclopedia it says concerning dance;

"In the Early Christian Church

The Roman Christian church helped to keep dancing alive by using it as a part of the ritual of worship. The theory is that the Church Fathers sensed the peoples need for dancing, which had been an essential element in pagan religious services and made it a part of Christian ceremonials. It was very reserved and serious, but still it was dancing. The mass took on a kind of rhythmic pattern accompanied by music and song, and mystical dances were performed.

In the 7th century church dances were forbidden, but they lingered in places for a long time. In the cathedral of Seville, Spain, religious dances are still performed on special occasions."

Still from Compton’s 1979 Encyclopedia:

"DANCE IN THE MIDDLE AGES

The ‘dance of death’ appeared during the Middle Ages. A skeleton represented death. The dance was performed in church plays, as a feature in public entertainment, and at folk festivals." You have two guesses as to the church referred to in the above statement.

Dance Madness

"Strange kinds of dance hysteria were reported to have flourished in the middle Ages. In the 11th and 12th centuries there were occasions after a death or at a Christian festival when people danced insanely in the churchyard, despite pleas by the priests that they stop. This was the danse macabre (from the Arabic word makabr, meaning ‘churchyards’). It is thought to have been a frenzied effort to communicate with the dead."

The INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPEDIA says; "Dancing, that is, the expression of joy by rhythmical movements of the limbs to musical accompaniment, is scarcely ever mentioned in the bible as a social amusement, except in a general way (Jgs 16 25.27(?); Job 21:11; Ps 30:11; Ecc 3:4; Jer 31:4,13; Lam 5:15; Mt.11:17; Lk 15:250."

In the English Scriptures (King James Bible) the English word "dance" "dances" dancing" and "danced" is found a total of twenty seven times. Of those twenty seven five are in the New Testament. Danced is found four times in the synoptic gospels. Dancing is found once in the book of Luke and that is in the story of the prodigal son’s return to the Father and home. Not once are any of these four words found in the letters to the churches. An internet site promoting dance in the church had the following Hebrew words.

"All the words have reference numbers from Strong’s Concordance in brackets

WORDS FOR DANCE

CHIYL (2342) - to twist or whirl in a circular manner. Judges 21v21

MACHOWL (4234) - a round dance. Psalm 30v11 Jeremiah 31v4

MECHOWLAH (4246) - a dance / company of dancers. Judges 11v34 Exodus 15v20

DALAG (1801) - to leap or spring. Song of Solomon 2v8 Isaiah 35v6

CHAGAG (2287) - to move in a circle / march in a sacred procession / celebrate a festival / dance. Psalm 42v4 Zechariah 14v18

KARAR (3769) - to dance or whirl. 2 Samuel 6v14

RAQAD (7540) - to stamp / spring about / dance / jump / leap / skip.

1 Chronicles 15v29 Ecclesiastes 3v4

PAZAZ (6339) - to spring or leap. 2 Samuel 6v16

PACACH (6452) - to hop / skip over / to dance. 1 Kings 18v26

GIYL/GUWL (1523) - to spin round under the influence of emotion (usually rejoice)

1 Chronicles 16v31 Psalm 9v14

ALATS (5970) - to jump for joy / be joyful / rejoice / triumph. Proverbs 28v12

Psalm 68v3"

The following is a list of all those Scripture references.

CHIYL (2342) – Strong’s gives this long explanation of the word "or chiyl {kheel}; a primitive root; properly, to twist or whirl (in a circular or spiral manner), i.e. (specifically) to dance, to writhe in pain (especially of parturition) or fear; figuratively, to wait, to pervert:--bear, (make to) bring forth, (make to) calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form, great, grieve, (be) grievous, hope, look, make, be in pain, be much (sore) pained, rest, shake, shapen, (be) sorrow(-ful), stay, tarry, travail (with pain), tremble, trust, wait carefully (patiently), be wounded."

CHIYL is found in fifty eight verses and the majority of times refer to pain or sorrow. The two verses that do translate the word dance or danced are:

Judges 21:21 "And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance <chuwl> in dances <m@chowlah>, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife¼ "

Judges 21:23 ""And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced <chuwl>¼ "

MACHOWL- Strong’s "from 2342; a (round) dance:--dance(-cing).."

Ps 30:11 "Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing <machowl>¼ ."

Ps 149:3 "Let them praise his name in the dance <machowl>¼ "

Ps 150:4 "Praise him with the timbrel <toph> and dance <machowl>¼ ."

Jer 31:4 "Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets <toph>, and shalt go forth in the dances <machowl>¼ "

Jer 31:13 "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance <machowl>, both young men and old together¼ "

La 5:15 "The joy of our heart is ceased; our dance <machowl> is turned into mourning."

MECHOWLAH- Strong’s "feminine of 4284; a dance:--company, dances(-cing)."

Ex 15:20 "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel <toph> in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels <toph> and with dances <m@chowlah>."

Ex 32:19 "And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing <m@chowlah>: and Moses anger waxed hot¼ "

Jg 11:34 "And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels <toph> and with dances <m@chowlah>¼ "

Jg 21:21 "And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance <chuwl> in dances <m@chowlah>¼ "

1Sa 18:6 "And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing <m@chowlah>¼ "

1Sa 21:11 "And the servants of Achish said unto him, Is not this David the king <melek> of the land? did they not sing one to another of him in dances <m@chowlah>¼ "

1Sa 29:5 "Is not this David, of whom they sang one to another in dances <m@chowlah>¼ "

Song 6:13 "Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company <m@chowlah> of two armies."

DALAG – Strong’s "a primitive root; to spring:--leap."

2Sa 22:30 "For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over <dalag> a wall."

Ps 18:29 "For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over <dalag> a wall."

Song 2:8 "The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping <dalag> upon the mountains¼ "

Isa 35:6 "Then shall the lame man leap <dalag> as an hart¼ "

Zep 1:9 "In the same day also will I punish all those that leap <dalag> as an hart¼ "

CHAGAG- Strong’s "a primitive root (compare 2283, 2328); properly, to move in a circle, i.e. (specifically) to march in a sacred procession, to observe a festival; by implication, to be giddy:--celebrate, dance, (keep, hold) a (solemn) feast (holiday), reel to and fro."

Ex 5:1 "¼ that they may hold a feast <chagag> unto me¼ "

Ex 12:14 "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep <chagag>¼ ye shall keep it a feast <chagag>¼ "

Ex 23:14 "Three times thou shalt keep a feast <chagag>¼ "

Le 23:39 "¼ ye shall keep <chagag> a feast <chag>¼ "

Le 23:41 "And ye shall keep <chagag> it a feast <chag>¼ ye shall celebrate <chagag> it in the seventh month."

Nu 29:12 "¼ and ye shall keep <chagag> a feast <chag>¼ "

De 16:15 "Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast <chagag>¼ "

1Sa 30:16 "¼ and drinking, and dancing <chagag>¼ "

Ps 42:4 "¼ and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday <chagag>."

Ps 107:27 "They reel to and fro <chagag>, and stagger like a drunken man¼ "

Na 1:15 "¼ keep <chagag> thy solemn feasts <chag>¼ "

Zec 14:16 "¼ and to keep <chagag> the feast <chag> of tabernacles."

Zec 14:18 "¼ to keep <chagag> the feast <chag> of tabernacles."

Zec 14:19 "¼ that come not up to keep <chagag> the feast <chag> of tabernacles."

KARAR- Strong’s "a primitive root; to dance (i.e. whirl): -dance(-ing)."

2Sa 6:14 "And David danced <karar> before the LORD¼ "

2Sa 6:16 "¼ and saw king David leaping and dancing <karar> before the LORD¼ "

RAQAD- Strong’s "a primitive root; properly, to stamp, i.e. to spring about (wildly or for joy):--dance, jump, leap, skip."

1Ch 15:29 "¼ David dancing <raqad> and playing¼ "

Job 21:11 "They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance <raqad>."

Ps 29:6 "He maketh them also to skip <raqad> like a calf¼ "

Ps 114:4 "The mountains skipped <raqad> like rams¼ "

Ps 114:6 "Ye mountains, that ye skipped <raqad> like rams¼ "

Ec 3:4 "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance <raqad>."

Isa 13:21 "¼ and satyrs shall dance <raqad> there."

Joe 2:5 "Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap <raqad>¼ "

Na 3:2 "The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping <raqad> chariots."

PAZAZ –Strong’s "a primitive root (identical with 6338); to solidify (as if by refining); also to spring (as if separating the limbs):--leap, be made strong."

Ge 49:24 "But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong <pazaz>¼ "

2Sa 6:16 "¼ and saw king David leaping <pazaz> and dancing <karar>¼ "

PACACH – Strong’s "a primitive root; to hop, i.e. (figuratively) skip over (or spare); by implication, to hesitate; also (literally) to limp, to dance:--halt, become lame, leap, pass over."

Ex 12:13 "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass <pacach> over you¼ "

Ex 12:23 "¼ the LORD will pass over <pacach>¼ "

Ex 12:27 "the LORD'S passover <pecach>, who passed <pacach> over the houses¼ "

2Sa 4:4 "¼ that he fell, and became lame <pacach>."

1Ki 18:21 "And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt <pacach> ye between two opinions¼ "

1Ki 18:26 "And they leaped <pacach> upon the altar¼ "

Isa 31:5 "As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over <pacach> he will preserve it."

GIYL/GUWL – Strong’s "or (by permutation) guwl {gool}; a primitive root; properly, to spin round (under the influence of any violent emotion), i.e. usually rejoice, or (as cringing) fear:--be glad, joy, be joyful, rejoice."

This word is found in forty four verses. It is translated "rejoice", "glad", "joyful" and "delight".

The two verses mentioned on the Internet site were:

1 Chronicles 16:31 "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice <giyl>¼ "

Psalm 9:14 "¼ I will rejoice <giyl> in thy salvation."

ALATS- Strong’s "a primitive root; to jump for joy, i.e. exult:--be joyful, rejoice, triumph."

1Sa 2:1 "¼ My heart rejoiceth <`alats> in the LORD¼ "

1Ch 16:32 "Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields rejoice <`alats>, and all that is therein."

Ps 5:11 "¼ let them also that love thy name be joyful <`alats> in thee."

Ps 9:2 "I will be glad and rejoice <`alats> in thee."

Ps 25:2 "¼ let not mine enemies triumph <`alats> over me."

Ps 68:3 "But let the righteous > be glad; let them rejoice <`alats> before God¼ "

Pr 11:10 "When it goeth well with the righteous, the city rejoiceth <`alats>: and when the wicked perish, there is shouting."

Pr 28:12 "When righteous men do rejoice <`alats>, there is great glory."

There is not any Scriptural evidence from these verses to promote dance in the worship services of a local New Testament Church. On the same Internet web site they already foresaw my conclusion and wrote "Some claim it is not scriptural - some Christians may not know about the scriptural references to dance. Few people know of the original physical meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words translated ‘rejoice’. Some know about the ‘dance references but dismiss them as ‘not for today’, particularly the Old Testament verses. They believe that dance was OK as a form of worship in ancient Israel, but not today." (Emphasis added). I could not say it better.

On the same Internet site are given the Greek words they say promote dance in the church. They are as follows.

"All the words have reference numbers from Strong’s Concordance in brackets

WORDS FOR DANCE

ORCHEOMAI (3738) –to dance Matthew 11:17

CHOROS (5525) - a round dance. Luke 15v25

AGALLIAO (21) - jump for joy / rejoice greatly. Matthew 5v12 and

Revelation 19v7

SKIRTAO (4640) - jump for joy. Luke 1v41 and Luke 6v23"

Now without being simplistic none of the above words are in any of the epistles to the churches. Below I have given the references where each word is found in the New Testament.

ORCHEOMAI

Matthew 11:17 "And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced orcheomai>."

Mt 14:6 But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced <orcheomai>

Mr 6:22 And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced <orcheomai>

Lu 7:32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced <orcheomai>

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says of ORCHEOMAI "Eng., orchestra, probably originally signified to lift up, as of the feet; hence, to leap with regularity of motion." "The performance by the daughter of Herodias is the only clear instance of artistic dancing, a form introduced from Greek customs."

CHOROS – Strong’s Concordance says "of uncertain derivation; a ring, i.e. round dance ("choir":--dancing." It is found only in

Luke 15:25 "Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing <choros>."

Vine says of CHROS "Eng., chorus, primarily denoted an enclosure for dancing; hence, a company of dancers and singers. The supposition that the word is connected with orcheo by metathesis (i.e., change of place, of the letters ch and o) seems to be without foundation.

AGALLIAO- Strong’s "to jump for joy, i.e. exult:--be (exceeding) glad, with exceeding joy, rejoice (greatly)."

Mt 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad <agalliao>: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Lu 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced <agalliao> in God my Saviour.

Lu 10:21 "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in <agalliao> spirit, and said¼ ."

Joh 5:35 He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice <agalliao> in his light.

Joh 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced <agalliao> to see my day¼ ..

Ac 2:26 "Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad <agalliao>¼ "

Ac 16:34 "And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced <agalliao>, believing in God¼ ."

1Pe 1:6 "Wherein ye greatly rejoice <agalliao>, though now for a season¼ ."

1Pe 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice <agalliao> with joy¼ "

1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory <shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy <agalliao>.

Re 19:7 "Let us be glad and rejoice <agalliao>, and give honour to him¼ "

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words AGALLIAO "It conveys the idea of jubilant exultation, spiritual gladness."

SKIRTAO- Strong’s "akin to skairo (to skip); to jump, i.e. sympathetically move (as the quickening of a fetus):--leap (for joy)."

Luke 1:41 "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped <skirtao> in her womb¼ "

Lu 1:44 "For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped <skirtao>¼ "

Lu 6:23 "Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy <skirtao>¼ ."

Out of all those words do you get anything which would honestly promote dance in the local church? I don’t. Now the same Internet site which gave the Hebrew and Greek words to promote dance in the church also has the following.

"There are many references to show that dance was part of Israel's culture. It still is today! (Emphasis added)

Jephtah's daughter - Judges 11v34

Ladies dancing in the vineyard - Judges 21v21-23

Children playing games - Matthew 11v17

The return of the prodigal son - Luke 15v25

Celebrating victory - 1 Samuel 18v6-7

Dance is associated with joy and contrasted with mourning

Lamentations 5v15

Psalm 30v11

Ecclesiastes 3v4

There is to be dancing (and joy) when Israel is restored - Jeremiah 31v4&13

Miriam led dancing, singing and praise - Exodus 15v20-21

David danced before the Ark of the Lord - 2 Samuel 6v14-23

1 Chronicles 15 and 16

We are to praise God with dancing - Psalm 150v4

Psalm 149v3

Other references in the Bible to lively worship included dance. Hebrew words that have meanings related to physical movement were translated into English as ‘rejoice’."

You can make your own judgement as to whether the above defends dance sufficiently enough to invite it into the church but David Cloud writes in the WAY OF LIFE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE BIBLE & CHRISTIANITY "DANCING. There are two types of dancing mentioned in the Bible: worldly dancing and spiritual dancing. Worldly dancing is practiced by men and women together and is associated with sin and immorality (Ex. 32:19; Job 21:7,11-12; 1 Sa. 30:16; Mt. 14:6). Spiritual dancing is practiced privately or with members of the same sex before the Lord (Ex. 15:20-21; Ju. 11:34; 21:21; 1 Sa. 18:6; 2 Sa. 6:14). It is associated with God's kingdom (Ps. 149:3; 150:4; Je. 31:4, 13). The reason no dancing is mentioned in the N.T. is probably because this is the period of Christ's rejection and exile. The Bridegroom is away in a far country (Mt. 9:14-15). Contrast this with Re. 19:7, the marriage of the Lamb. Then will come the time to "be glad and rejoice," and the joyful dancing referred to in Psalm 149 and 150 and Jeremiah 31 will begin!"

Edwards give on pages 81- 93 in SHALL WE DANCE? seven reasons "that have generally held back evangelicals throughout Christian history" from using drama and dance in their worship and evangelistic meetings. They are:

1. Dance and drama reflect the worst of society’s standards.

2. Dance and drama are always in danger of trivializing the serious.

3. Dance and drama avoid direct and personal confrontation.

4. Dance and drama have generally to be interpreted.

5. Dance and drama are neither natural nor the most effective methods of communication.

6. Dance and drama are frequently no more than escape from reality.

7. Dance and drama are particularly open to sensual responses.

Edwards concludes on page 143 that there are two things churches need and they are: (1) a praying congregation and (2) a preacher. May I further expand on this by saying if a church needs more than that then there is something wrong with the congregation and there is definitely something wrong with the preacher?

Do we meet together to be entertained or meet with God and with each other to then go out and do His business?

Brethren, We Have Met to Worship

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;

Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?

All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;

Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Brethren, see poor sinners round you slumbering on the brink of woe;

Death is coming, hell is moving, can you bear to let them go?

See our fathers and our mothers, and our children sinking down;

Brethren, pray and holy manna will be showered all around.

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses’ sister aided him;

Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?

Tell them all about the Saviour, tell them that He will be found;

Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Is there a trembling jailer, seeking grace, and filled with tears?

Is there here a weeping Mary, pouring forth a flood of tears?

Brethren, join your cries to help them; sisters, let your prayers abound;

Pray, Oh pray that holy manna may be scattered all around.

Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other, too;

Let us love and pray for sinners, till our God makes all things new.

Then He’ll call us home to heaven, at His table we’ll sit down;

Christ will gird Himself and serve us with sweet manna all around.

CHAPTER 3

Voices & Lessons From the Past Speak to the Situation Today!

We can learn from the past. Therefore we need to listen to those men who ministered in that past. Octavius Winslow (1808-1878) was a descendant of one of the Pilgrim Fathers. Mr. Winslow ministered in Leamington Spa. Bath and Brighton in England and in 1861 he spoke at the opening of Spurgeon's Tabernacle in London. The following is from his sermon "Christ’s Sympathy with Christian Perseverance".

"The world is great cause of apostasy from a religious profession. It is a deadly snare, a fatal rock to many a towering professor. Its seductions are so powerful, its disguise so successful, its pleas so plausible, its eddies so numerous, its vortex so powerful and absorbing, few who profess to have come out of and to have renounced it forever, escape from its entire enthrallment, and hold on their Christian course of daily dying to its fascination and power.

Oh, what a snare to the Christian profession is the ungodly world! And is there not, at the present moment, cause for alarm at the growing encroachment of the world upon the professing Church of Christ? We verily think so. What means this.... eager pursuit of wealth, this love of display, this extravagance of living, this conformity to the world in a hundred different ways, so conspicuous and so increasing among Christian professors?

Wherein, but in an outward profession, do these avowed disciples of the Crucified differ from the unregenerate, ungodly, world around them?

If these are true disciples of Christ, where are we to look for the worldlings? If these are worldlings, where are we to look for the true followers of Christ?

The Church in its worldly conformity, looks so like the world, and the world in its religious forms, looks so like the Church, we are at times embarrassed where to look for the one or for the other. But this amalgamation must not be!" (Emphasis added)

If one had not read the dates (1808-1878) in which Winslow lived you would have thought he was speaking of the churches today. With utter contempt most preachers and churches today would not desire to be labeled as "non-conformist" with Spurgeon and Winslow. I believe one would have been in good company. However, Romans 12: 1, 2 is still in the Book. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed (soos-khay-mat-id'-zo) to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." This Greek word is used again in 1 Peter 1: 14 "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to (soos-khay-mat-id'-zo) the former lusts in your ignorance"

Preachers and churches are shamelessly "conforming" to the world for the sake of winning the world to Christ. As a dear pastor friend often says "You keep them with what you win them with." This conforming to the world within the "fundamentalist" independent Baptist churches did not happen overnight. As Pickering said "our separatist churches and schools have failed." There has been a progressive moving toward new-age-ecumenical-evangelicalism until some are in the camp!

"In 1948 when Graham was editor-in-chief of The Pilot (Northwestern’s magazine), it declared on its masthead that it took a ‘militant stand against Modernism in every form.’ At this same time Graham was a member of the Cooperating Board of the Sword of the Lord, a fundamentalist paper edited by John R. Rice. He was honored by a degree from Bob Jones University." "Clearly in his early ministry Graham was both fundamental and separated from apostasy." "Gradually over the years he has moved farther from his original position as a fundamentalist." Page 142 BIBLICAL SEPARATION THE STRUGGLE FOR A PURE CHURCH by Ernest Pickering.

By 1957, not even ten years from when he was considered a fundamentalist, Billy Graham in his New York Crusade had liberal Henry Van Dusen, president of Union Theological Seminary, on the crusade committee. In 1966 Graham addressed the apostate National Council of Churches in Miami, Florida. Rather than rebuking the National Council of Churches for their apostasy he praised it.

What took place in Billy Graham’s ministry between 1948 and 1957? It is the same thing that is taking place in independent Baptist churches across America and in foreign countries. Pragmatism and Compromise! To be "successful" Billy Graham became a pragmatist and began to compromise with those he once separated from. However, it should be noted that "out of the heart proceed" those thoughts which are then produced in action.

Every independent Baptist preacher should desire to see people come to know the One Who gives freely eternal life! But do we use drama and dance? There are some pragmatic independent Baptist preachers, who like Billy Graham, seek to be "successful" in "winning" people to Christ by whatever means he can. In doing this these preachers are guilty of leading their people down that slippery slope of compromise. There is a lot of truth in the statement that "compromise always takes a man further than he intends to go." Page 34 NEW NEUTRALISM II by John E. Ashbrook. When the preacher does wake up to what is happening it may be too late.

A doctor’s mistake is buried.

A lawyer’s mistake is imprisoned.

An accountant’s mistake is jailed.

A dentist’s mistake is pulled.

A pharmacist’s mistake is dead.

An electrician’s mistake is shocked.

A carpenter’s mistake is sawdust.

A teacher’s mistake is failed.

A printer’s mistake is redone.

We might add here that a preacher’s mistake has eternal consequences. It behoves us as preachers to "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise." Ephesians 5:15.

God has not asked the preacher to be "successful" but to be "faithful". 1 Corinthians 4:2 "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." This means the preacher is faithful to the will and Word of God in evangelizing the lost and edifying God’s people in the Word. This two-fold ministry is outlined in Acts 16:5 "And so were the churches established in the faith (edification), and increased in number daily. (evangelism)" There are at least two areas in which independent Baptist pastors are compromising and they are: (1) participation with new evangelical groups and (2) allowing cloud programs such as drama, dance and contemporary music to take priority over the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

During the apostolic period we read in Acts 8:4 "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." Those persecuted believers didn’t go out and begin an Awana program or invite the unsaved to a seeker sensitive service, or rent the local coliseum for a "Christian" rock concert but those persecuted believers went out preaching the Word of God! Then in Acts 8:12 we read "when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." When Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch we do not read of the programs they developed but we read in Acts 15:35 they were "...teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also." When Paul was in Troas Acts 20:9 says he was "...long preaching." Paul wouldn’t make it today where "Christians" have so much comfort and conveniences but yet cannot spend Sunday morning and Sunday evening in God’s house listening to the Word proclaimed. I recall a meeting at a once supporting church. The pastor preached the morning message because everyone knows the missionary cannot preach. There were probably four hundred in the morning service. That evening when I spoke there were at best one hundred in attendance. After I finished my message the pastor announced for the men to put more chairs up for the Friday night’s music concert. In other words they were expecting more Friday night for the concert than was there Sunday morning! According to Paul in 1Corinthians 1:18 and 21 "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." and that "...it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." The Lord Jesus said "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15.

On page 223 of FROM THE USHER’S DESK TO THE TABERNACLE PULPIT Pastor Archibald G. Brown a graduate of the Pastor’s College was asked to speak on Spurgeon’s fiftieth jubilee in life. Mr. Brown said "It is now some seven-and-twenty years since, as a lad, I used to look forward to my holidays as an opportunity of running up to hear Mr. Spurgeon preach at the Surrey Music Hall. I remember, as if it were only yesterday, the sermon that first made me feel I was a sinner. The text was, ‘Compel them to come in.’ Twenty-three years ago to-morrow, I was baptized by Mr. Spurgeon on this lower platform. I had often heard him preach at the Surrey Music Hall, and I remember that it was with awe and wonderment that I looked at him." Then on page 224 we read Mr. Brown’s words "Last week I was in the infirmary of the work-house, sitting by the side of a poor dying woman, who had been brought to Christ through our mission work. Death was written on her brow, and she said "I wish you would give us a good look in on Sunday sometimes.’ I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Because I should like you to give us a jolly good sermon.’ I said, ‘That is a queer expression; what do you mean by it?’ She replied, ‘A jolly good sermon is one that is all about Jesus Christ-one that is full of Him.’ Sermons that have the most of Jesus Christ in them are the best; and, under God, you, dear Mr. Spurgeon, have done more than any other man to make us to come to that conclusion." Spurgeon preached Christ and he taught his students to PREACH CHRIST! 1Corinthians 1:23 "But we preach Christ crucified¼ " 2Corithians 2:12 "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel¼ " It is Christ preached that the dying needs! It is Christ preached that the living need!

It is interesting there are twenty eight verses in the New Testament with "preaching" and forty five with the word "preach." Surprisingly or not surprisingly there is not one single verse with the word "program" or "programs" whether spelled the American way or British. No where in the New Testament do we read of children’s programs or adult ministries.

Rather than a fleshly feel good, emotionally, fleshly hyped up Christianity the Bible presents a believer’s walk centered around the old rugged cross, Galatians 6:14 "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

The Old Rugged Cross

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,

the emblem of suffering and shame;

and I love that old cross where the dearest and best

for a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,

till my trophies at last I lay down;

I will cling to the old rugged cross,

and exchange it some day for a crown.

O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,

has a wondrous attraction for me;

for the dear Lamb of God left his glory above

to bear it to dark Calvary.

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,

a wondrous beauty I see,

for ‘twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,

to pardon and sanctify me.

The old rugged cross is foreign to many including believers today but for those living in Roman times the cross was a place of suffering, death, humiliation and shame, Hebrews 12:2. However, the only cross most "Christians" want anything to do with today is a small gold one on a chain hung around the neck. Yet Jesus said "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:38. Those words in Galatians and Matthew are foreign to many modern church goers who desire to be as close to the world as possible in dress, music, talk, amusements, etc. and by this, show they are rather "the enemies of the cross of Christ" than a friend. John the apostle of love said "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."1 John 2:15. What is "the world"? It is all that which is at enmity against Christ. James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." For instance taking the sounds and beat of the world and putting God or Jesus in it doesn’t make it Christian and acceptable.

The apostolic church through to perhaps the 19th century saw the primary focus of Bible believing churches as preaching the Word and not programming or entertaining the people. The Prince of preachers, C. H. Spurgeon, in the twenty eight chapters of LECTURES TO MY STUDENTS concentrates on the minister and the message and not on programmes! Spurgeon knew and believed it is God the Holy Spirit using God’s Holy Word that saves the lost and not new and better programmes! Let me quote just a little of Spurgeon (who went to glory in 1892) for his words are very applicable to our situation today. "There has been a growing pandering to sensationalism; and, as this wretched appetite increases in fury the more it is gratified, it is at last found to be impossible to meet its demands." "We shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God's grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible." "The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses! My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.' No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they confronted them? The 'concert' has no martyr roll. Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? ‘You are the salt of the world’, not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out, not swallow." (Emphasis added)

Spurgeon knew wherewith people were brought to a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus. John 3: 5 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." 1Peter 1:23 "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever." What Spurgeon said about his day is taking place to a much greater degree in our day. Churches and preachers which claim to believe God’s Word have abandoned His Word for "sugar candy" cloud programs! Oh, the Word is often tacked on someplace but the primary focus is not preaching the Word but entertaining the people in a so called non-threatening manner. It is not a Christianity of persecution or suffering, Philippians 1:29 "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" but of comfort, ease, and fleshly enjoyment.

The year 2003 isn’t like the days (1940- 1990) when independent fundamental Baptist pastors often stayed in the one church for forty years or longer. It is said of one such preacher that he was not afraid of innovation and was industrious in the pursuit of church growth but never at the expense of God’s Word or compromising of his convictions or a lessening of expositional preaching. Holding to his convictions he saw his church flourish numerically from ninety to fifteen hundred. Many preachers in the fundamental Baptist movement desired church growth but not at the expense of holiness and the preaching of God’s Word. These two were non-negotiable. The preaching of the Word of God was PRIORITY!

Unfortunately, the same is not true today, as most fundamental independent Baptist churches are not growing numerically as they did in the 1950’s – 1980’s with a growing Sunday School, three weekly services drawing people to (simply) sit under the preaching of God’s Word. Since the mid 1990’s and even before that the decline in church attendance among fundamental Baptists was a cause for concern. Since there is a concern for numbers perhaps those things the past fundamentalists held dear (holiness and preaching of God’s Word) are now negotiable?

While the fundamental Baptist churches struggled the new evangelical adopted two very prevalent philosophies. They are the market driven church and the church growth movement. Both of these sleek Madison Avenue philosophies seek to satisfy the "present" felt needs and desires of the person to whom the church is ministering.

It is in this environment today’s independent Baptist preacher finds himself. His church is not growing, people are not being saved or if they are getting saved it is not often enough of them to make up for those people who are moving their membership to other churches where they can "grow" or where there is an exciting "program" for our teens. The pastor sees a dim future and if something is not done and done soon the church will dwindle down until there is only a handful meeting together. The preacher thinks in his mind, he would never say it out loud, how will I get paid if this decline continues and what will others think of me?

The web site of the Melbourne City Churches in Action (MCCIA) had an article by Rowland Croucher; WHAT DOES A HEALTHY CHURCH LOOK LIKE? Croucher is not a fundamentalist but what he said is worth noting. In this article Croucher says "Liberal and mainstream churches are declining, all over the world: there's a general pattern of resilience as we move from 'left' to 'right' across the Protestant spectrum. But why are evangelical/conservative or charismatic/Pentecostal churches - particularly 'mega churches' - holding their own or growing? Simple: musical chairs - 'church hopping growth'. One survey in the U.S.: 'more than 80%' is transfer growth; another in Canada: only 5.5% of church attenders come from an unchurched background."

If this is true and I do not doubt that it is, what does the independent fundamental Baptist pastor do?

CHAPTER 4

Independent Baptist Churches and Willow Creek Association

Some pastors who find their churches stagnate in physical numerical growth turn to those who are having numerical outward "success". One such "successful" minister is Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church, Chicago, Illinois. Hybels began with one hundred and twenty five in 1975. I think that may be the average size of an independent Baptist Church. By 1978 Hybels had THREE THOUSAND! Today Willow Creek Community Church has several services each week end with thousands attending each service.

The following is from David W. Clouds, Fundamental Baptist News Service for February 7, 1998, 1701 Harns Rd., Oak Harbor, WA 98277 and relates the ecumenical leaning Hybels has. "Bill Hybels of the Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago credits Schuller as an inspiration for his work, has promoted Schuller in various ads in Christianity Today, and is a frequent speaker at meetings organized by Schuller. For example, in 1996 Hybels was on the staff of Schuller's annual Institute for Successful Church Leadership. Hybels is one of the chief promoters of churches which cater to the desires of the people. He started his church by taking a survey of the community and building a ‘church’ which would satisfy what the people wanted. A Chicago sociologist said Hybels preaches a very upbeat message—‘a salvationist message, but the idea is not so much being saved from the fires of hell. Rather, it's being saved from meaninglessness and aimlessness in this life. It's more of a soft-sell.’ Hybels' church does not have conventional worship. It has no altar, no choir, organ, hymnals, or song books. Its music ranges from rock to jazz to country to classical. It is no wonder that Hybels would love Robert Schuller and his self-esteem message. The stranger fact is that Hybels is frequently recommended by and speaks with those who claim to be Bible based. He spoke at Dallas Seminary's 1989 Pastors Conference, for example. Hybels has also spoken at Moody Bible Institute's Founder's Week and has taught his philosophy of church growth as a faculty member of MBI's graduate school."

The following is an abbreviated article from the Internet by a Roman Catholic’s observations from her visit to Willow Creek Community Church.

"The church draws about 17,000 people to its weekend services, with 8,000 of them returning for mid-week worship. Many members travel substantial distances to attend services, some even relocating their family in order to be close. For committed members, the church is the center of their lives."

"The worship service for believers, to which the Sunday experience is expected to lead people, is on Wednesday and Thursday evenings (they are identical services). Wanting to observe their form of worship rather than their method of evangelism, I attended the Wednesday service."

"Being grounded in God's word is central to my faith, and I felt a huge void in the lack of its prominence. Although it may be different in their Bible studies, scripture in the worship service is not presented as a story in context, but as a series of individual sayings pulled out as proof-texts and used however the preacher sees fit."

"Despite what I missed, the service is engaging and entertaining, a feel-good spirituality aimed at the rock concert crowd. It felt to me very much like a pep rally, a charismatic conference, or a camp meeting. Although it could not suffice as the primary worship experience of my faith life, it has its place. It was uplifting and fun, a great shot-in-the-arm evening that obviously has vast appeal, drawing people to offer praise to God as they learn about their relationship with Jesus."

"The NBC program "Today" calls Willow Creek the ultimate in the user-friendly church, offering everything from games for children to drama for teens and pop rock for baby boomers. A teaching pastor said Willow Creek strives to speak to people in their own language. They offer comfortable religion, cushy seats instead of pews, video screens instead of hymnals, and a band instead of an organ. Yet, founder and Senior Pastor Bill Hybels asserts that members have a greater spiritual awareness and a higher level of committed involvement than most churches, and indeed that seems to be the case. Willow Creek has flourished, drawing thousands of people into a relationship with Jesus. I dare say I have never seen their level of worship participation in a Catholic parish."

"At Willow Creek, music is so important as to be defined as their form of worship. They emphasize polished professionalism, believing that excellence pleases God."

"Hunger for God and desire for spirituality permeates our culture, but it co-exists with a "me-centered" foundation. The outgrowth of that combination is an attraction to feel-good spirituality, to prayer services that leave us feeling better as we leave than we did as we entered."

"In these forums, the order of the Willow Creek service is quite useful. "Sandwiching" a well-delivered and relevant homily between times of enriching and prayerful music renews the spirit and boosts the spirituality of many participants. With the depth of our ritual tradition, we can also include in the evening an appropriate ritual action to further the connection with God and each other. Such experiences can provide a balanced prayer life, complementing the ritual of the Sunday Eucharist with uplifting prayer services."

"Willow Creek's team of preaching pastors was chosen for their ability to communicate, a fact reflected in comments of congregation members. Everyone with whom I spoke remarked on the wonderful messages delivered at services, saying they were never bored and always departed with new insight."

"Willow Creek sensed from the beginning that people will not consent to a church that offers something for everyone at the expense of intimacy. They have developed an extensive network of small groups in which members are personally cared for and connected. Many recent books on the future of the Church suggest that Catholic parishes will not long survive without building small groups into their organizational structure. Rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into unfamiliar territory, we need to take churches like Willow Creek seriously, studying them and learning from them as we build the future of the Catholic Church."

"The Willow Creek worship service is a culturally relevant, uplifting service comprised of repetitive emotional music and an inspiring message. It draws thousands of people each week, hopefully prompting them to deepen their relationship with Jesus. It contains none of the ritual, symbols, and prayers of the Catholic Church, nor is it imbedded in salvation history or a community larger than itself."

"Despite the differences between this obviously evangelical worship service and a Catholic Eucharist, however, Willow Creek offers many challenges and lessons for those willing to open their eyes and hearts. This is especially true in the areas of adapting to the culture, examining both sung and spoken word, developing intimate connections in a mega-church environment, and meeting the need for uplifting spiritual experiences. I believe openness to these lessons is not only called for but vital as we continue toward the new millennium."

There we have a Roman Catholic’s impression of Willow Creek Community Church. It would almost seem as though this Catholic is looking at Willow Creek in much the same way an independent Baptist would when contemplating "what can I do to get some numbers?"

Out of Willow Creek Community Church has grown Willow Creek Association with churches all over the world and from all denominations as members. The denominations range from Southern Baptist, General Association of Regular Baptists, Freewill Baptists, Evangelical Free, United Methodists, Assembly of God, Nazarene to mention just a few. To see the entire wide range of churches within the Willow Creek Association go to www.willowcreek.com/wca.

http://www.willowcreek.com/wca_info/find_a_church/ProfileSearch.asp.

INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCHES AND LIBERAL CONNECTIONS:

In the Willow Creek Association BAPTISTS will find themselves associated with a multitude of denominations of which some are members of the National Council and World Council of Churches! Not only is this in itself an ungodly alliance but there is the consideration of what makes one a Baptist? One simple answer to this question is the mode of baptism. For a true Baptist baptism is by total immersion. Where does Willow Creek Community Church stand on the doctrine of baptism?

The Willow Creek Community Church Internet web site says "While the immersion mode of Baptism best illustrates the work of Christ, this passage does not mandate how much water should be used. The value of the sacrament of Baptism is in the life and heart of the believer, not in the amount of water used. Because, of this we will sprinkle with water during our regular Baptism services and offer special immersion services in the lake." Then concerning infant "baptism" Willow Creek Community Church web site had "If the purpose of Baptism is to publicly identify a believer in Jesus Christ, you may well be asking yourself, ‘What was the significance of my Baptism as a baby?’ In the Bible, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told us to welcome them. But He did not baptize them. Baptism is for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation.

If you were baptized as a child, it was the intent of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your Baptism as an adult can be viewed as the fulfillment of your parent’s wishes. It in now way repudiates the Baptism you received as a child." Can you believe ANY Baptist preacher aligning his church with a church and a group of churches that would make such a statement?

Now the church that will be the focus of this chapter is in fellowship with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) and listed as a member of Willow Creek Association! This GARBC church is located in New Jersey where there are listed fifty seven Willow Creek Associated churches.

The connection between this New Jersey GARBC church and the Willow Creek Association was of interest to me since I was saved in a GARBC church, graduated from a GARBC school, ordained in a GARBC church, and served several years with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) which is an approved (now called partnering) mission agency with the GARBC.

Here is a church aligned with the GARBC and a member of the Willow Creek Association. The Willow Creek Association includes Assembly of God (Pentecostal) and United Methodist (member of the NCC and WCC) to name just two! A church in fellowship with the GARBC and also a member in the Willow Creek Association seem to me at least to be in opposition to the constitution of the GARBC.

I do not know when this GARBC church joined the Willow Creek Association but new evangelical inroads were begun into the GARBC some years before 1995. If these roads were not already there what Richard Christen said as the newly elected National Representative of the GARBC in 1995 would have seen an outcry along with an exodus of churches. The following is from O Timothy magazine, Volume 12, Issue 9, 1995. "Calvary Contender Editor Jerry Huffman noted: ‘In a recent `Vision Statement,' Christen said, ‘We must allow for differences in drawing the lines of secondary separation. ... We must shape a positive outlook and image...' Prior to his election, he told the gathering: `Instead of a two- foot thick wall around our GARBC, let's build a sturdy picket fence around us.' This is amazing, but sad! Just how much protection and safety does a picket fence provide? Nehemiah built a WALL! Sadly, we see no signs that the GARBC will reverse its present downward course.’

Earlier this year Christen published an article entitled ‘A Reaffirmation and Clarification of Belief.’ It was a very clever repudiation of biblical separation. Consider some excerpts: ‘Regular Baptists insist that the lines separating true believers and apostates be solid lines, not dotted. We must, however, clearly define just who is an apostate. ... Believers to the left of Regular Baptists are not apostates. And while at times we must train the guns of gospel militancy upon unbelievers in the pale of Christendom, we are not to treat those we deem compromising brothers with similar militant tact. Distinctions do exist between evangelicals and fundamentalists. BUT LINES OF DEMARCATION ARE DOTTED, NOT SOLID. ... there may well be legitimate individual back-and-forth fellowship through the dotted lines, carefully orchestrated for the sake of mutual benefit and oneness in Christ's true body. ... there are times when fundamentalists may venture into the evangelical camp and evangelicals into the fundamentalist camp. ...

‘To be a voice repudiating does not mean we have to be a people alienating. ... There are legitimate inter-cooperative efforts among evangelicals.’"

Since 1995 there has been a change in the GARBC National Representative. I emailed the present GARBC National Representative and asked

"Brother,

May a church hold fellowship in the GARBC and also be a member of the Willow Creek Association?

Thank you and God's best.

Your friend and brother,

Missionary David C. Bennett

A few days later I received the following email.

"David, I would need to know more about the details of your question. The Willow Creek Association is far more denominationally and doctrinally broad and diverse than the GARBC. We would not be in a cooperative relationship with many in that group. The Willow Creek Association is not structured to be a fellowship of churches in the same way as the GARBC. Some see it simply as a means to get a discount on materials and conference fees and not a cooperative partnership. I guess you would have to decide whether trying to save a few dollars is worth it. Keep in mind that the participation fees are significant and are generating considerable income for Willow Creek.

Your friend,

Soon after this reply was emailed:

Brother ¼ ¼ .,

Thank you for getting back to me. I am writing a paper on new evangelicalism and came across a GARBC church listed as a Willow Creek Association member. I am not out to blackball anyone but it seemed contradictory for a church to be in fellowship with the GARBC (with the stand the GARBC fellowship takes on separation) and also hold membership with Willow Creek Association.

I guess what I am asking is, may a church be listed with the Willow Creek Association and continue to be in fellowship with the GARBC if their Willow Creek Association membership is known?

Thank you again for your time and God's best.

Your friend and brother,

David C. Bennett

Titus 2:13

I am still waiting for an answer.

Below are the two sections of the GARBC Constitution that would seemingly nullify a church from continuing in fellowship with the GARBC and as a member of the Willow Creek Association simultaneously.

"General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.

Article II. Purpose

Section 1. To maintain an association of sovereign Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Baptist churches; to promote the spirit of evangelism; to spread the gospel; to advance Regular Baptist educational and missionary enterprises at home and abroad; to raise and maintain a testimony to the truth of the gospel and to the purity of the Church; to raise a standard of Biblical separation from worldliness, modernism and apostasy; to emphasize the Biblical teaching that a breakdown of divinely established lines between Bible believers and apostates is unscriptural and to be a voice repudiating cooperation with movements which attempt to unite true Bible believers and apostates in evangelistic and other cooperative spiritual efforts.

Article IV. Fellowship and Voting Privileges

Section 1. Procedures for approval of churches desiring to fellowship with the GARBC. Any Baptist church on the North American continent, the United States and her territorial possessions which is not in fellowship or cooperation with any local, state or national convention, association or group which permits the presence of liberals, liberalism (modernists or apostates), and which church subscribes to the Constitution and Articles of Faith of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches contained in the current Church Directory¼ "

As stated before the Willow Creek Association has member churches that align themselves with the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. The following article was obtained at www.nccccusa.org. A small segment of the article is printed here:

Message to the Churches

The Holy Spirit, the Church and Christian Unity

"Theologians from Europe, Africa and North America, from Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Mennonite, Quaker, Methodist and Pentecostal traditions, we met at the ecumenical monastery of Bose, Italy for the Second International Conference on the Holy Spirit and Ecumenism, October 14-20, 2002. The conference was sponsored by the Cardinal Suenens Center, John Carroll University, USA. We gathered together to consider the significance of the person and work of the Holy Spirit for the Church and its unity." (Emphasis added)

Note this meeting was held at a monastery in Italy. What church do you think of when you hear Italy? Some of the attendees were Roman Catholic, Pentecostals, Mennonite, and Quaker! Would or should an independent fundamental Baptist feel comfortable in a meeting such as this? I would hope not.

Whether the New Jersey Baptist church believes it or not, it is holding hands with the Roman Catholics through the Willow Creek Association! This church and other "fundamental" churches need to remember it was the mixed multitude from Egypt that brought a lot of heartache and headache to Moses and Israel after their leaving Egypt.

The Willow Creek Association web site includes the church web sites if the church has one. This church did and so one click and I was there. The visit to this church’s web site took place on 3 February 2003 and the following is from the church bulletin for January 26, 2003.

CLOUD ACTIVITIES:

Here is what I found on February 3, 2003. Typical Willow Creek cloud activities, methods, and programmes. One such activity was "Teen Super Bowl Sunday Party!" This was a junior and senior high youth party. They were to bring their favourite drink or snack, and pizza would be provided. They were to wear their favourite team attire and paint their faces. The most "decked out" and devoted fans would win prizes. This activity was on a Sunday evening when in the same bulletin we read the announcement "There is no evening service tonight."! From this one might detect Football is more important than one’s Faith.

Concerning the youth activity you make your own judgment but when making your decision read 2Timothy 3:15 "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

As a young person growing up in a GARBC church in the 1950’s no one would have thought of closing down the evening preaching service for a football game party! Honestly, with youth activities such as this on Sunday evenings do we wonder why many young people are not serious about the things of the Lord when they grow into adulthood? Will these types of activities give a young person a better understanding of a holy righteous pure God and His Word? James 4:4 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."? I think not!

Now, I don’t know about you but if I desired to watch a football game more than hear the preaching of God’s Word, God the Holy Spirit, would have convicted me so much, that sleep would have passed my pillow that night. Where are our priorities? Have we forgotten 1John 2:15 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

We who are in spiritual leadership should be setting the tone for our people to gain and grow in an understanding and appreciation of the fact that God’s church "is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

INDEPENDENT BAPTISTS AND SUNDAY EVENING SERVICE:

This church bulletin of January 26 also communicated that there was a restructuring of the Sunday evening program in an effort to better meet the needs of the church family. This restructuring was necessary due to the fact that "86% of our ....... families do not attend the Edification Service on Sunday nights." Eighty six percent were not attending the evening service! This is sad. Not only is it sad but it is a reflection of the spiritual depth of the people. The bulletin proceeds to say therefore "it seems appropriate to redesign the use of the Sunday evening time frame to broaden our focus" and in this broadening there will eventually be ministry opportunities "for Care Groups, Support Groups, Bible Studies, training sessions, youth ministries, and children’s programming." The research by the staff concluded that "the best option for many is to continue to use Sunday night as a "family time" or as a time for resting and preparing for the coming week. (Emphasis added) Eighty six per cent of this church family does not attend the Sunday evening service! That is a very large percentage not to return Sunday evening! This percentage would be a cause of concern for any pastor! But does this concern mean "redesigning" the evening service as the answer? Now I know some will accuse me of living in the past and that times have changed so get with it but the Sunday night service should be the time when God’s people came to hear God’s man open God’s Word and that will PREPARE THEM "FOR THE COMING WEEK."

The following is a poem I acquired somewhere in my travels but the author is unknown.

NOT ON SUNDAY NIGHT

I love the church that Jesus bought

She is the dark world's light

I always go on Sunday morn

But not on Sunday night.

I love to sing the Gospel songs

And worship in daylight

That's why I come on Sunday morn

But not on Sunday night.

I'd go thru storm and rain or snow

Do anything that's right

To be in church on Sunday morn

But not on Sunday night.

I hope that faithful few keep on

Engaging in the fight

I'll do my part on Sunday morn

But not on Sunday night.

Too bad some day we all must die

I hope that morn is bright

For I want to die on Sunday morn

But not on Sunday night.

I know that Christ is coming soon

and He will find me right

If He appears on Sunday morn,

But not on Sunday night.

The Holy Spirit brought this poem

It set my heart aright

You'll see me there next Sunday morn

And also- Sunday night.

Oh, may God the Holy Spirit get the attention of preachers and people that have sought the new ways. May their eyes be opened to see the new ways may not be the right way? May these new-age-ecumenical-evangelicals turn and "ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein." Jeremiah 6:16 "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." Prayerfully this answer is not theirs.

DIVISIONS IN THE CHURCH BODY:

Then there is the question, is dividing the church into more groups the answer? There is the saying "multiply and divide". I understand the saying but I do not understand this practice which is so prevalent in churches today. This Baptist church and churches like it have a problem, there is no doubt. However, one of the problems being created is self inflicted. This local church problem is identified in 1Corinthians 11:18 "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions (toddlers, middle school age, high school, singles, young married, seniors, etc.) among you; and I partly believe it." Local churches are so dividing themselves into this age group and this gender group that it is nigh impossible to see the local church as the "body" God intended it to be. 1Corinthians 12:27 "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

INDEPENDENT BAPTISTS AND DRAMA:

Another area of concern for the future of independent Baptist churches is that of drama. In the same 26 January bulletin of this church we read of the upcoming "Spring Drama – ‘The Promise.’" Now drama is wide spread among churches in all denominations but is drama, an activity for fundamental Baptist churches to be involved in? Stanford E. Murrell writes in THE NEW COVENANT IN CHRIST A SURVEY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT page 17 that "Music and drama were designed to entertain the masses rather than to stimulate any serious creative thinking. The public performances were often to be obscene, repulsive and crude.’" (Emphasis added).

Drama was once the tool of the liberal and then the tool of the new-evangelical and now drama is used by "fundamentalists"! Much space was given in Chapter One concerning drama but again we ask "Is there anything wrong with using drama?" According to Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary drama is "a composition in verse or prose intended to portray life or character to tell a story through action and dialogue and designed for theatrical performance: PLAY."

Of course to perform a theatrical performance or play there must be actors. Concerning actors Strong’s Concordance says "upokrithv hupokrites, hoop-ok-ree-tace'; an actor under an assumed character (stage-player), i.e. (figuratively) a dissembler ("hypocrite":--hypocrite." Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says a hypocrite "primarily denotes one who answers; then, a stage actor." Jesus had much to say about hypocrites. One such place is Matthew 6:5 "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." Is this what we desire for our young people to grow up as, hypocrites?

Where in the New Testament do we find God using drama in His churches? Can God now do more through drama than through the preaching of His Word? I think not!

INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCHES AND FUNDAMENTAL UNIVERSITIES:

Rick Miesel; compiler and editor of the BIBLICAL DISCERNEMENT MINISTRIES 9/00 in his critique of Bob Jones University adapted the following from EXHORTATIONS, Issue 31. "Concerning so-called Christian actors, acting is a pagan art and it is impossible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and act at the same time. The Greek word hupokrites (an actor) and the Latin word hypocrite (a stage actor) is where we get the English word "hypocrite," and is translated so in the English Bible. Jesus used this word many times and always in a way that showed contempt for the sin of being a hypocrite. Instead, BJU would rationalize this concept and employ it to entertain nominal Christians. But true Christianity is not something that can be depicted as some form of entertainment. Drama and movies did not originate from the Holy Spirit, by whom Christians should be led, but rather from the spirit of this world, that is, the spirit of antichrist. And while BJU would defend so-called Christian movies or drama as a way to evangelize the lost, their rationale results from a lack of discernment. The Holy Spirit simply is not involved in this sort of thing. To pretend to pray or be converted before a camera or audience is a perverted form of insincerity that borders no blasphemy."

Now BJU is still considered by most as fundamental but the one about to be mentioned is often labelled as new-evangelical by many fundamentalists today. This was taken from a link on the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA’s Internet web site. "Beginning in May, I will be leading worship forty Sundays a year at TRBC. I have also been asked to facilitate a new and exciting degree at Liberty University. The first undergraduate and graduate degree of its kind in Praise & Worship will be offered in the coming year." (Emphasis added).

INDEPENDENT BAPTISTS AND MUSIC:

New degree in PRAISE AND WORSHIP! The term praise and worship are terms of the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical. Worship leaders! Music has taken centre stage in many churches. Many honestly believe they cannot worship God without the Praise band and worship leader! The music program must be "exciting" and "contemporary" if we want to attract and keep people. It is an interesting fact that there is not enough Scripture in the New Testament on music to fill a 3x5 card on both sides. Therefore most arguments for music centre on passages from the Old Testament.

The following is taken from the Fundamental Baptist Library.

"Seven principles of spiritual music

(1) It must be understandable (1 Co. 14:15). (2) It must be under the control of the Holy Spirit (Ep. 5:18, 19). (3) It must be "to the Lord" (Ep. 5:19). (4) It must be thankful (Ep. 5:20). (5) It must be in the name of Jesus Christ (Ep. 5:20). (6) It must be based on the Word of Christ (Col. 3:16). (7) It must be sung with grace in the heart to the Lord (Col. 3:16)."

Much of what is called "music" in the churches today does not fulfil the seven principles. Spurgeon in LECTURES TO MY STUDENTS has two chapters on the preacher’s POSTURE, ACTION, GESTURE, ETC. but nothing on developing exciting programs or the drama program or the music ministry. To Spurgeon the preacher, the pulpit, and the preaching of God’s Word was the centre of the church service. As it was in the New Testament churches and in Spurgeon’s day so it should be today. Easy believism has been preached for so many years that now those who claim to be God’s people do not desire to attend the evening church service. Is the fault of this apathy lie at the feet of the preacher or the people? Perhaps there needs to be more looking at and meditating on 2 Corinthians 13:5 "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" James 2:18 "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."

In the same church bulletin, 26 January 2003, we read that this church has a Christian School and will have the Donut Man in concert in February, 2003. Now I do not know much about Donut Man except what I viewed on his web site. The song I listened to and watched via video on the web site was the usual type you would hear in these types of churches. Donut Man was accompanied in song by some young children performing what I would call "dancing".

INDEPENDENT BAPTIST CHURCHES & LOCAL CHURCH MEMBERSHIP:

Also in the same bulletin is asked the question "Interested in joining -----Baptist Church?" The membership class for ------ is provided on video for "your convenience." That is I believe one of the keys to this new age Christianity, convenience! With both parents usually working and many things occupying their time a membership class video is much more convenient. However, there is a next step for which I was pleased to read and it was "If you have reviewed the video and would like to take the next step, Question & Answer Sessions and Interviews are held the first Sunday evening of each month at 5:30 PM in the Worship Center Library."

No one minds convenience. I do not. In fact the older I get the more I like to make things convenient! But how far do we go in this matter of convenience and accommodation when it comes to the lord’s house and work? Acts 24:25 "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."

FROM THE USHER’S DESK TO THE TABERNACLE PULPIT Pages 130,131 we get a little insight into one of Spurgeon’s membership classes. The following is the last of several letters from Spurgeon in response to a young man who attended the Tabernacle and wrote to Spurgeon not being sure of his salvation. Spurgeon wrote; "Your letters have given me great joy. I trust I see in you the marks of a son of God, and I earnestly pray that you may have the evidence within that you are born of God.

There is not reason why you should not be baptized. "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest." Think very seriously of it, for it is a solemn matter. Count the cost. You are now about to be buried to the world, and you may well say, "What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness!" The friends who were with you in the days of your carnal pleasure will strive to entice you from Christ. I pray that the grace of God may be mightily manifest in you, keeping you steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord."

I should like to see you on Thursday evening after six o’clock in the vestry." The letter was signed by C. H. Spurgeon. The story goes on to say "The personal interview was satisfactory to Mr. Spurgeon; he believed in the genuineness of the work of grace in the heart of his young friend, though it was evident that his mind needed information and cultivation. The young man was baptized and admitted into the church, and at once commenced Christian work; visiting the sick, distributing tracts, teaching in the Sunday-School, and, after a time, he became engaged in outdoor preaching."

INDEPENDENT BAPTISTS AND FUNDAMENTALISM:

The following is by Dr. Allen Dickerson, Maranatha Baptist Watchman, Elkton, MD and is called PASSIVE FUNDAMENTALISM.

"Then in the 1970s another movement surfaced and the dominant personality was, and still is, Dr. Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church and chancellor of Liberty University of Lynchburg, Virginia. This brand of Fundamentalism dubbed by the media as ‘Falwellian Fundamentalism,’ likes to hold to the name ‘Fundamentalist,’ while at the same time comfortably working with Charismatics, Southern Baptists, and just about every other religious stripe you can imagine. Biblical Fundamentalists named it ‘Pseudo-Fundamentalism,’ meaning ‘false-fundamentalism."

"Now another philosophy has arisen. It was voiced recently by an independent, fundamental Baptist mission leader. The statement was made, ‘I am a fundamentalist but I am tired of fighting.’ Which really is to say, ‘I want to be a passive Fundamentalist.’"

An Independent Baptist Church aligning itself with Willow Creek Association doesn’t mean automatic "numerical" success. But even if it did, does the end, numerical growth, justify the means to get there?

It might not be too far from being accurate to say that many of these once "fundamental" independent Baptist churches and preachers do not want to be known as "fundamentalist" anymore. There may be some within "fundamentalism" these new-evangelical "fundamentalists" do not appreciate. They may be correct in their opinion of a certain "fundamentalist" but you do not reject obedience to the doctrine of Biblical separation due to a personality.

However, if they have rejected "fundamentalism" and Bible separation because they are no longer a "fundamentalist" and no longer hold to Bible ecclesiastical separation it would be proper for them to just come out and say it. Then we would all know.

Lenin said "We will find our most fertile ground for infiltration of Marxism within the field of religion, because religious people are the most gullible and will accept almost anything if it is couched in religious terminology." That is exactly what is happening with those involved in running down the street with the new age-ecumenical-evangelical crowd. If the program works for them and has the tag "Christian" on it I will try it.

New Testament churches do not need new methods and programs but they need to be "established in the faith" and then they will be "increased in number." Acts 16:5.

CHAPTER FIVE

Independent Baptist Missions

Sadly missions is an avenue in which ecumenism has found fertile soil in the past. Now through the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical movement new inroads have been made into independent Baptist missions.

The World Council of Churches web site had for its "ARTICLE OF THE MONTH" SERIES January 2003: "Dialogue, interfaith ". The article said "The world missionary conference at Edinburgh in 1910 is commonly accepted as marking the beginning of the modern ecumenical movement."

On pages 272-273 of FROM JERUSALEM TO IRIAN JAYA we read of the individual behind the "modern ecumenical movement" involving missions. That man was John R. Mott. "The highlight of Mott’s career as a missionary statesman was the Edinburgh Missionary Conference of 1910, which he organized and chaired." The Edinburgh conference was "the first interdenominational missionary conference of its kind and became the impetus for the ecumenical movement that took shape in the decades that followed." Mott was too narrow for some and too ecumenical for others. Those who saw him as too ecumenical did so due to his association "with the Laymen’s Foreign Missions Inquiry and its report, Rethinking Missions." That report sought "to see the best in all religions, to help the adherents of those religions to discover, or to rediscover, all the best in their own traditions, to cooperate with the most active and vigorous elements in the other traditions in social reform and in the purification of religious expression. The aim should not be conversion."

Mott also played a major part had "in the formation of the World Council of Churches." No wonder he "became a target for criticism among the fundamentalists." It is time local independent fundamental Baptist churches were asking questions of their missionaries! Mission boards move with the times and missionaries move with it.

INTEGRITY of Heart from Northland Baptist Bible College on page 13 says "Postmodernism has made an impact on the expression of practical Christianity." There are "Three key areas affected which will be evangelism/missions, contemporary worship, and hermeneutics/homiletics." Then on page 14 "Accommodation and syncretism will be increasingly greater dangers for evangelical missions."

Last year I read an independent Baptist missionaries prayer letter stating he was going to go with Youth With a Mission, YWAM. The missionary wrote he believed it was indeed God’s will and plan for him and his family to associate with YWAM. He went on to tell his churches if they could not support him with YWAM he understood. This is new-age-ecumenical-evangelicalism missions in action!

DRAMA AND MISSIONIARIES:

The Internet web site of an independent Baptist mission agency partnering with the GARBC has on its web site what it calls "Family News". As I surveyed the "Family News" one prayer request attracted my attention. It was a prayer request from a couple serving in South Africa. The missionary couple "...relate that they have started a new program at Grace Baptist for young people and a ministry training program on Wednesday nights. They are very excited to offer drama, movement, music, puppets, creative writing, guitar, and keyboard lessons. They desire to bring the arts back into the church where they originated and center them on God." (Emphasis added)

These are the "cloud" programs! Drama, movement and music are being used by the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical churches and missionaries. Is the statement made by this missionary couple that "drama originated in the church" true? From the previous chapters we can safely say it didn’t begin with Bible believing churches but was used in the Roman Church. Where do missionaries get the idea that they need to "bring the arts back into the church"? Where did these missionaries get this belief from? Did they obtain it from churches such as the GARBC Baptist Church in Chapter Four or the Willow Creek Community Church? Perhaps this South African missionary couple are graduates of Bob Jones University where there is a department of dramatic productions. It doesn’t really matter where the missionaries picked up the belief but they are now spreading it in South Africa.

I emailed this missionary couple 11 February saying:

Ps 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Brother _________,

Greetings in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus. I am doing research for a paper and in my research I visited _____'s web site. There I read the Family News section and noted you are in South Africa and offering drama, movement and music along with other things. I would appreciate your explaining exactly what is meant by "movement"?

Also the statement is made in the Family News that your desire was to "bring the arts back into the church where they originated." By the arts are you speaking of drama, movement, and music? My understanding is that drama did not originally begin in the church but if it did please inform me as to when and what church? If you mean more than drama please explain that as well.

I know ministry and life is busy and questions by those you have never met can sometimes be an inconvenience to say the least. However, I do appreciate your taking time to answer these questions and I look forward to hearing from you.

God's best.

Your friend and brother,

David C. Bennett, D. Min.

Isa 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

I have not yet received an answer from the missionary.

SUMMATION & CONCLUSION

All of the attractions and activities the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical has devised such as dramas, dance, cancelling and restructuring Sunday evening service, Donut Man, Teen Super Bowl Sunday Party, and membership class video are nothing more than an accommodation to a new-age-ecumenical-evangelicalism produced carnality.

I am the first to admit that, this side of heaven; I am not spiritually where I desire to be or ought to be but feeding and pampering the flesh will not make you or me "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Ephesians 6:10.

John E. Ashbrook appropriately wrote in NEW NEUTRALISM II page 33 "We have seen accommodation of the gospel to the views of the unsaved man, accommodation to the Christ-rejecting Jewish community, accommodation to Roman Catholicism, accommodation to intellectualism at Harvard, accommodation on inerrancy, accommodation to the wild extremes of charismaticism, accommodation to worldliness, accommodation to the cesspool of Hollywood, accommodation to the primary organizations of apostasy." Ashbrook continues on the same page "Any young pastor faces a decision early in his ministry. Is he to fix his eye on the Christ for whom he ministers, or the crowd to whom he ministers? A faithful pastor will come to the conclusion that he must fix his eye on Christ, not the crowd." Hebrews 12:2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

Where is all this compromising accommodation going to end? The more walls of ecclesiastical and personal separation that are broken down the less discernment the new believer will have between the clean and unclean, the holy and unholy. How much more entertainment can preachers mastermind to draw a crowd? Not only must he draw them he must then keep them coming back. What is after drama? How much closer to the world’s music will the church get? Have preachers forgotten Ephesians 2:1 which says people outside of Christ are "dead in trespasses and sins." Have preachers who have gone to "fundamental" schools forgotten that those outside of Christ are walking "according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." Where is the Noah who will be a preacher of righteousness? Where is the Paul who will stand before men of authority and reason of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come?

Matthew 7:13,14 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Is letting down the standards, directing more people toward the narrow way? How many Moses’ are there being developed in today’s new-age-ecumenical-evangelical pragmatic Christianity that will choose "...to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season."? Hebrews 11:25. As one reads further in Hebrews 11 there are other believers who may not be comfortable within the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical movement. Of these dear people God says "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise." Hebrews 11: 37-39.

If persecution ever comes (which it will) will the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical Christian have the God given strength to endure? Mark 13:13 "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."

Will drama, dance, music, movement, and all the other programmes and activities created give the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical Christian the ability and strength to say at the closure of life that "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."? 2 Timothy 4:7.

Statistics have shown that divorce is higher among Christians than non-Christians. Is the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical Christianity along with many other factors creating this high divorce rate among Christians? This is a sad state in which we find ourselves.

Where is the self denial of anything in the new-age-ecumenical evangelical Christianity? Matthew 16:24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." To deny is to disown and to "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1Thessalonians 5:22. The new-age-ecumenical-evangelical can be heard crying "Legalism, legalism"! The reply to that is that man did not say "abstain from all appearance of evil" but it was God Himself! Is 1Corinthians 9:27 "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." not in the Bible of the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical Christian?

It is a fact that of all the voices there are in this world seeking the attention of the Christian, God’s sheep hear His voice! John 10:27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." God’s sheep are discerning of His voice and the voice of another! The sheep know the difference between the voice of the Good Shepherd and the voice of the hireling.

God’s sheep not only hear His voice but they follow Him! Matthew 4:19 "And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 16:24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

Now we are going to get personal. If the former statements are true, and they are for they are Bible, are these people who are being led down the slippery slope of compromise and accommodation, God’s sheep? Are these preachers who are leading these people down the slippery slope of compromise and accommodation, God’s under shepherds? Jeremiah 23:1 "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD."

Consider the direction of all this new-age-ecumenical-evangelical compromise. Is this the direction in which the Lord is directing? Proverbs 3:6 "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." 2Thessalonians 3:5 "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ."

Is Acts 20: 28, 29 relevant to the above three questions? "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock."

A church in our area holds what they call an Open Week during the summer. This church fits into this new-age-ecumenical-evangelical movement. This is a write up out of the local paper.

"We're having quite a few events through the week so combined with Church in the Park we're hoping to introduce people to Jesus in a relaxed, non-threatening way.

With singing, dancing and drama people were definitely entertained while hearing the message that ‘no matter who you are or what your situation you can have a relationship with Jesus’.

But 'Mozza' the big purple monster and his friends were there to help get the message across to the many children present in a song urging them to ‘hang with God and talk to God’.

‘I had lots of fun,’ Stewart Smith said. ‘I liked the songs and dancing, and the purple monster was very funny.’"

This pretty much sums up the new-age-ecumenical-evangelical crowd, fun, songs, dancing, drama, introducing people to Jesus in a relaxed non-threatening way, being entertained, and hanging with God and talking to God.

We know that what has been written on these pages will make some angry and they will harden themselves to the truth. If this is the case we sorrow. Yet if some in the "silent majority" have been stirred to voice the truth from Scripture to their people we will rejoice. Then if some involved or thinking of becoming involved in the run down the street for "cloud" programmes in reading these pages have been forced to rethink their position in this we also rejoice.

Galatians 1:10 "...do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
 

 
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Missionaries David and Pamela Bennett

The Bennetts Serving the Lord in Australia Since 1979.

Phone/Fax: 011-61-2-6884-2846

E-Mail: revdocbennett@gmail.com or aussiedubbo@yahoo.com

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