Intrepid Lutherans has existed for just over a year now, and in that time we have "rocked the boat" by publicly discussing public manifestations of "problems" such as the following:
- pulpit plagiarism from sectarian sources
- the growth of sectarian worship
- the willingness to invite pop-culture to dominate the church's practices
- laymen ministering without Divine Call
- the increasing use of Cell Groups (Ecclesiolae in ecclesia)
- the decline of sound Law & Gospel preaching
- dangerously sloppy expression of our central teaching, "Justification by Faith Alone" (and the thinking and practice which descends from such sloppy expression)
- the abuse of overly broad definitions of "love" and "adiaphora"
- decline in respect for pure doctrine and the significance of doctrinal differences between Christians (which impacts our understanding and practice of Fellowship)
- the need for periodic examination of pastors, and
- our choice of Bible translation and the principles we employ in making that choice
For this "boat rocking" we have been roundly criticized. Some even regard us as the greatest threat that WELS is currently facing (no kidding!). Some of those who have expressed concerns resonating with ours have been warned not to participate in our public discussion. Even outside of those who have received such expressed warnings, although there are many who enthusiastically agree with and support Intrepid Lutherans (despite our failings!), few feel free to do so publicly.
Why is this? Should we even concern ourselves with an answer to that question?
In answer to the latter question, we are re-posting our blog post from May 9, 'non rockaboatus' is an organizational disease: Lectures by Walter Martin, which features audio lectures, with some key transcriptions, telling the tale of American Christianity's demise in the last generation from the perspective of one who valiantly fought epic battles against error, and lost – and who is warning what's left of Christianity to be on guard. Error is separate from Truth, it divides people by gathering to itself adherents from among those easily beguiled and those dissatisfied with the Truth, and it divides organizations by populating established structures with its adherents and abusing their otherwise wholesome processes to serve its own ends. This is what happened to American Christianity. It did happen. It is what happens.
Are we on guard? Have we lost our will to think critically about the most important things? May we heed Dr. Martin's warnings.
Given that a number of our Lutheran readers may resonate more with non-Lutheran commentators than they do with confessional Lutheran authors and speakers, we thought it would be of interest for them to hear a little from a renowned Baptist of the previous generation, regarding the maintenance of doctrinal integrity in the face of liberalism: Dr. Walter R. Martin.
Dr. Martin was an expert on the occult, and from the 1960’s onward, disseminated countercultic and apologetic information through his organization, Christian Research Institute (CRI). After his death, he was succeeded as “The Bible Answer Man” and President of CRI by Hank Hanegraaff – a popular commentator who can be heard these days on many, though not all, “Evangelical” radio stations. At least one of Dr. Martin’s works, The Kingdom of the Cults, remains a very valuable resource, one which I consult with semi-regularity as need arises.
Over the past two years, several of Dr. Martin’s lectures have been featured by Chris Rosebrough on his internet radio show, Fighting for the Faith – a daily program in the lineup of Pirate Christian Radio (PCR). I remember these PCR features, since I am of about the same age as Mr. Rosebrough, and remember Dr. Martin’s voice and manner of teaching from my youth, in a way similar to Rosebrough’s reminiscences. Anyway, lest we Lutherans should fall under the mistaken impression that our struggles are unique to us, I supply links to the following lectures, along with selected quotes, in which Dr. Martin defines liberal theology as “cultic,” and makes it clear what the orthodox Christian’s response ought to be. Others have already gone through what we are approaching – it may be of some use to examine and appreciate their own assessments.
(lecture begins @~58min, 30sec)
1hr 12min, and following...
“Any person who does not know that today in the United States, and in denominational structures worldwide, we are in an accelerating apostasy, does not know, I repeat, does not know what is going on... There was a time when one could pick a Presbyterian church, a Methodist church, an Episcopal church walking down the street, send somebody into it, and be reasonably sure that he would hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today before you'd send people into most of these churches, you would need a psychiatrist if you opened the door and just said 'Go'... because you would know what you did!
“The Episcopal church which I came from, has a rigid orthodox background. Thirty-nine articles of the church, Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed... good solid theology. Yet, the Episcopal church fell so far from its position that it let James Pike continue as one of its representatives. They didn't dare bring him before the House of Bishops – want me to tell you publicly why? Pike said so, I might as well quote him. He said, 'You will never take me to trial before the House of Bishops for my theology, which you say is heretical, because I am an attorney, and I will defend myself, and I will prove that you, in the House of Bishops, are as heretical as I am.' Do you think they listened to him? You bet they listened to him. Because Pike would have proven it. Do you realize that James Pike was an Episcopal Bishop in the United States, denying the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, the Virgin Birth, Salvation by Grace, the Vicarious Atonement, and the Bodily Resurrection of the Lord, the Nicene Creed, the Apostles Creed, all the creeds of Christendom, and the Episcopal Church never touched him?! Know why? Because they are as corrupt as he is! They don't dare touch him... The Presbyterian denomination has suffered the same inroads. Today you can be ordained in the Presbyterian Church and deny the Deity of Jesus Christ. The Baptists have had their fare share – we’re up to our eyeballs with it! The Missouri Synod fought them to the death, and won. They said, 'We don't know how we're going to get along without you, but we're going to.' And they threw them out... The Southern Baptists are fighting the same war right now – I know, I'm in the Convention. We don't know how we're going to get along without them, but we are going to. Because if we don't, there is no such thing as a little bit pregnant... you are or you're not! Well, there's no such thing as a mild form of cancer. It's cancer. If you don't get rid of it, you don't deal with it, it get's you! We have to deal with these things today. If we don't, they'll end up getting what's left of the Church... What did the Apostle Paul say? 'They will gather to themselves teachers who will tickle their ears, and the Truth of God will be turned into mythology.' It's here!”
1hr 20min, and following
“Every major theological seminary that has turned from orthodox Christianity began with disbelief of biblical doctrine... Corrupt Bibliology led them to the next step. Theology began to be touched by it. Their view of the Cross and the Virgin Birth immediately was questioned. Then came the miracles of Christ. And finally they had emptied the Gospel of all its content, and simply were using the outward shell so that they could go on collecting money from the people and the churches, because they knew that if the people in the pews knew that they were apostate they'd throw them out. So the strategy was: hang on to the trust funds, hang on to the money that we've got, hang on to the properties we control, we will gradually educate the laymen into this new approach to theology. And then, finally, we will take control of everything. This is the gradual process of feeding you theological poison, until you become immunized enough so that you don't know what is happening to you. And when you wake up to what is happening to you, it's too late. They've got everything.”
1hr 28min, and following
“Look what happened... Look at the votes. We were very subtly, systematically, squeezed out. All of the positions of leadership were given to people who denied the foundations of the faith...”
1hr 34min, and following
“The Jehovah's Witness is easily detected. The Mormon has his bicycle. The Christian Scientist has the Monitor to get you to subscribe to. The religious science people are telling you that you can have health and prosperity and you can rise above all these torrents of life, floating over them as the ping-pong ball soars over Niagra Falls... You can see these people in the cults and the occult if you have any degree of discernment at all, because they are outside the church. But how do you see the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian professor of theology? How do you get him in a place where you can find out what his theology really is? The moment you question him, he reverts to orthodox terminology, and then if you press him for the definitions of his terminology, he claims that you're being suspicious, bigoted and unloving. The average layman is defenseless! He's got to take what comes from behind the pulpit and recommended by his church authority because the moment he opens his mouth, he's accused of being divisive in the church, unloving, and disturbing the fellowship of the faith! When it is the devil behind the pulpit, not the victim in the pew, that's responsible for it! I've used the term ‘devil’ a couple times. That's mild. God uses much stronger language. He describes those who pervert the Scriptures as enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetites, and whose glory is in their earthly shame...”
1hr 37min, and following
“That is why I am concerned about the cult of liberalism. We can identify the other cults, but how do you identify somebody that looks like you, acts like you, sounds like you...? Do you want the answer? ...1 Thessalonians 5:21ff ...put everything to the test, cling tenaciously to what is good.”
2hr 19min, and following
“[Liberalism] is a cult because it follows every outlining structure of cultism. It has its own revelation, its own guru's, and its denial, systematically, of all sound systematic Christian theology. It is a cult, because it passes it's leadership on to the next group, that takes over either modifying, expanding or contracting the same heresies, dressing them up in different language, and passing them on. It is theologically corrupt, because it is bibliologically corrupt; it denies the authority of Scripture and ruins its own theology. And, it ends in immorality.
“Because the only way you could have gotten to this 'homosexual,' morally relativistic garbage, which is today in our denominational structures, is if the leadership of those denominations divide the authority of the Scriptures, and Jesus Christ as Lord. That is the only way we've gotten there. And there is a remedy for this, brothers and sisters. The remedy? Is to start asking questions! Start demanding definitions of terminology. Start insisting that people tell you what they're giving your money to before you give them a dime. Examine the people that occupy the chairs of theology in the seminaries, and if they are not given to the historic Christian faith, out with the rascals! Examine your churches, your sessions, your boards... and find out who is in the faith! You're told to do this in First Corinthians. You're told to do this in Galatians. You're told to do it everywhere in Scripture: Examine to see whether they are in the faith; test all things; make sure of what is true! I'm not being harsh. I'm not being judgmental. I am being thoroughly consistently Christian, in the light of historic theology and the Holy Bible. And I think we have a right to demand that the men who occupy the seats of learning and who preach from the pulpits either preach Jesus Christ or we cut off their pensions, their salaries, their golf club memberships, and let them go on living as social workers, because it is obvious they don't have any theology that is going to save anybody. With Luther, Here I Stand.”
(lecture begins @~18min)
18min, and following
“Tonight we are dealing with an extremely complex subject, we are dealing with 'positive confession' and the health and welfare groups, some of which have crossed over from merely Christian forms in their expression of theology, into the area of the Kingdom of the Cults. Ten years ago... I did a paper on the 'Errors of Positive Confession.' I was vilified, rather openly, by a large number of charismatics on the ground that I was being divisive and unloving, and because I was being 'critical of brothers'. The fact is, you can be a brother and be in very serious doctrinal error, and if you have a large ministry and a lot of people watching you on television or listening to you on radio, and if you are not responsive to your peers it is possible for you to lead literally millions of people into false doctrines – not meaning to do so, but being in ignorance yourself. And we are dealing today with doctrines which have progressed from simply ignorance to outright heresy, and finally, to blasphemy.
“If the Christian church does not address these subjects, if Christian leaders... pastors and teachers do not stand up and say 'Enough! this is what the Scripture says, and you are answerable to Scripture!,' then we are going to have false doctrine running rampant all over the Christian world, and nobody will be able to police it or stop it... [To whom is anyone accountable, theologically??]
“...So the gospel of the checkbook has replaced the Biblical Gospel of authority in the church. Now, so long as nobody insists on accountability, then it will go on; but, the church has awakened, and people are demanding accountability, and that is as it should be. No minister should be afraid to account for his theology, privately or publicly. And if he has questions about it, and he won't answer them, then we have every right to suspect him. That is not unloving, it is not heresy hunting, it is not divisive, it is not unloving, it is thoroughly Biblical. Often, when I cite people's names publicly, they say, 'But, why can't you just name the thing? Why do you have to name the person?' Because, in Scripture, Paul gave us our example; when he confronted evil in the church, he said 'Hymenaeus and Philetus have erred concerning the Truth, they are teaching that the Resurrection has passed, and they are overturning the faith of some.' He named them. And then Hymenaeus and Alexander... So, consistently through church history it has been necessary to confront evil. It doesn't make you popular, alot of people don't love you, but the people that will end up loving you are the one’s delivered because of the confrontation.”
If our Lutheran leaders and laymen won’t listen to fellow Lutherans who quote Scripture and the Confessions, maybe they prefer the testimony of the Baptists?