DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT CRISWELL’S MOTHER?

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Did you know that Dr. Criswell’s mother even went to college with him when he was a freshman at Baylor?  Yes, she was a strong willed, doting, demanding mother, but it paid off in Criswell’s life.

To learn more about W. A. Criswell, order my new book, W. A. Criswell: His Life and Ministry, 1909-2002.  You can order it from many online book stores, on this website, ORDER A BOOK, or  directly from me for $14, postage paid by using the CONTACT ME page here.

W. A. CRISWELL: His Life and Ministry, 1909 – 2002

We are now offering our most recent book, W. A. CRISWELL: HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY, 1909-2002.  You can buy it on this site through PayPal or you can order it from Faithful Life Publisher’s website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion.com, and many other websites for $14.99 plus shipping and handling.  However, if you would like to purchase it directly from me, I will pay the shipping and handling, and it will cost you only $14.00.  You order it directly from me for $14.00 by using the CONTACT ME page on this site.  We look forward to hearing from you.

It is the author’s desire that Bible-believing preachers, especially young pastors, may be encouraged by this book to preach well-studied expository messages, to defend the faith delivered to us by the inerrant Word of God, and not be afraid to start new programs in order to grow their churches. It is also my prayer that lay church members will support and help pastors who are true to the Word and that they will be helpers and servants in the ministry.

OF INDIANS AND PIPELINES

By Lloyd Streeter

Some folks are really unrealistic and superstitious about the American Indians. It is believed by naïve and unthinking people that American Indians were always more noble and more peaceful than all other people.

Human nature is the same all across the human race. All people descended from a single pair of human parents. All colors of people are the same morally. No people group is more peaceful, more honest, more generous, or more noble than other groups. The Bible says that all humans are depraved, bent toward sinful behavior, and selfish. American Indians are no better and no worse than any other people. But these truths escape some people, especially the liberals. Liberals tend to equate some skin pigmentation with a sort of superiority, the more pigmentation, the more supreme the people. This line of thinking is a peculiar kind of racism. In all of the moral, political, fraternal, and legal issues of life, we should simply ignore skin pigmentation. People are just people, and they should be treated as individuals, not as members of a race.

The American Indians are immigrants to the Americas. They came here in three waves between 10,000 to 1,000 years before Christ’s advent. Strictly speaking, they are not “Native Americans,” at least not any more than any other persons who were born in America. They are also not Indians, a name they acquired because the Europeans, who arrived in America in 1492, thought that they had reached an island off the coast of India. I, for one, will call the Indians whatever they want to be called, Indians, Native Americans, or Aboriginal (Indigenous), but a term that seems most appropriate is “First Americans,” because they were first to arrive here.

The American Indians are actually descendants of Asians. This is easily seen in their facial features as well as in their DNA. Yes, the Indians’ ancestors came here from Northeast Asia. It is known that the Indians crossed the Bearing Straits to migrate to what is now Alaska. They then spread Southward through what is now Canada, then to all of North America, South America, and even to all the islands in the Caribbean.  There were only a few million Indians in the US when the Europeans arrived. There were many, many Indians tribes, very diverse in customs, languages and degrees of advancement.

What this means is that the Indians have not “always been here.” They are descendants of immigrants, like the rest of us. It also means that the Indians are not Jews, as the Mormons teach. DNA studies have scientifically traced the origin of the Indians to various peoples in the vast regions of Asiatic Russia.

The First Americans, the American Indians, crossed the Bearing Straits, and over a period of approximately ten to twelve thousand years, settled on lands that they had not purchased. The lands were then settled, very sparsely, with most of the land having no human residents at all.

There were vicious wars between the various and multitudinous tribes. The Indians were as peaceful as any other people on earth, but they were also as cruel and blood thirsty in war as any other people. The tribes fought each other over land, hunting and fishing rights, and other grievances. They took slaves from among those that they conquered. They killed, raped, enslaved, and robbed one another, just as other peoples have done in war all through history.

The land areas changed “ownership” many times. When the Europeans arrived, they found that there was less than one person per square mile of land. Most of the 3 to 5 million Indians (in what is now the United States) lived along the coasts and great waterways.

Often the Europeans did not treat the Indians fairly, especially after wars. Sometimes, the Indians were forced onto reservations. Sometimes, they were robbed of their dignity. This is sad and inexcusable because the land was big enough for all to live comfortably.

However, any thoughts about the First Americans being some kind of god-like people should be jettisoned. Such thoughts are totally misguided and false. It is a false idea that Indians are always harmless, in tune with nature, respectful of the environment, and fair to those who disagree with them. These ideas have been used by the organizers of the North Dakota protests to sell their opposition to the pipeline to the American people. The truth is that Indians are just like other people with the same attitudes, the same motivations, and the same responses. They are just people with the same strengths and weaknesses as all other people.

With this background in mind, we come to the problem of the pipeline. In the news lately, we have learned of the Standing Rock Indians protesting, and even fighting with police, over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

No one denies their right to protest as long as they do not break the law. However, 500 people have been arrested, mostly for fighting with the police. It should be kept in mind that many of the “protestors” are not Indians but organizers who have come from distant places to try to impede “big oil” from getting its product to market.

The organizers of the protests say the pipeline in North Dakota comes too close to the Indians’ reservation and that it endangers some of their ancestral sacred sites. They further claim to be worried about the pipeline crossing the Missouri River, which they say could pollute the drinking water.

It should be kept in mind that the planned route of the pipeline does not go through Indian lands. It only comes near the reservation. It should also be remembered that about 8 pipelines already cross the Missouri River. Even more importantly is the fact that if the pipeline is not built, many more oil trucks will have to pass over the bridges, crossing the river. Many more trains loaded with oil will have to cross the river on the trestles. Trucks and trains are far more likely to spill oil into the river than are the pipelines. These are somewhat inconvenient facts for those who oppose “big oil.”

To make matters worse for the tribe’s claims, the courts have ruled that the Indians failed to prove that any “sacred sites” are endangered by construction of the pipeline.

Any open minded person would have to question whether the protestors are exploiting the Indians in order to hinder the exploration, production, transportation, and use of oil. It is possible that some of the protestors care far more about opposing the burning of fossil fuels than they do about the Indians’ concerns.

It is unreasonable to promote the idea that the government would approve a pipeline that would not be safe. After all, the EPA, and indeed, all of the Federal government has been mostly unfriendly to oil.

The pipeline will be on private land. The land owners have a right to sell access to their own land. The protestors do not have the right to prevent the land owners from using their land for any legal purpose. The land owners’ rights and the rights of the owners of the pipeline are being trampled upon.

The larger issue, and the issue that underlies the protests, is the burning of oil and natural gas for our energy. The liberals think that we should use only wind and solar for our energy. But wind and solar are not ready for prime time. Windmills and solar panels leave their own footprint on the environment. Whether we like it or not, we will be dependent on coal, oil, and natural gas for many decades. So, we should learn to live with it. We should continue to develop ways to burn these fuels more cleanly. We should also continue to develop wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, and all other forms of energy. We should continue to find ways to use these energy sources safely and economically. And we should stop taxing and regulating our industries so much that we force them to move to China, India, and other countries (taking our jobs with them) where no serious effort is made to burn coal and oil cleanly.

It is essential for the well-being of future generations of Americans that we become energy independent. We will need more oil and natural gas, not less, in the decades ahead. If America becomes an industrialized nation again, as our New President-elect has promised, and if we start making things in the USA again, we will definitely need more energy from all sources. We need the jobs! God put all of these great deposits of fuels in the earth for our benefit. He wants us to subdue the earth and use it for our good, for the good of everybody, including our First Americans.

VOTING IN 2016

By Lloyd Streeter

I will be voting for a straight Republican ticket this year. Why? Because, the Republican platform is superior to the Democrat platform. I have read both platforms which are over 50 pages each.

My vote is not exactly a vote for Donald Trump, although he, of course, will be in the mix. Mr. Trump has said some things and has done some things of which I do not approve at all. He was not my favorite candidate in the Republican primary. I cast my primary vote for Ted Cruz who fought for conservative principles before the Supreme Court, a man who is a true conservative, a highly intelligent lawyer, and a fine Christian.  But, according to many Republicans, Mr. Cruz apparently does not have a winsome personality, is somewhat of a nerd, and is hated by the political bosses of his own party.  I believe he would have made a fine President. But, of course, Trump won the nomination.

Donald Trump is brash, rude, and crude. He is not a conservative at all.  He has been a Democrat all of his life.  He voted for Obama. Until recently, he was in favor of a woman’s right to kill her unborn babies. He was a Democrat at the time that he made crude remarks to Billy Bush about how some celebrities are disrespectful in their behavior toward women.

But, as bad as Trump is, Hillary Clinton is worse. At least with Trump there are no dead bodies. The blood of the four Americans killed at Benghazi is upon Hillary’s hands. And that is not all!  Hillary is complicit in the deaths of many people who died in all of the countries where she promoted the overthrow of governments. Then there are the aborted babies.

So, my straight Republican vote is not exactly a vote for Trump. It is a vote for the Republican platform. I do want to send a message that I favor the principles in the Republican platform and oppose the policies of the Democrat platform. Here are five issues about which the Republican platform is superior, in my opinion.

  1. The Rights of the Unborn

The Democrat platform says a woman has the right to kill her unborn baby. The Democrats, in fact, are calling for even more killing of the unborn, the unlimited practice of “partial birth” abortion, and the repeal of the Hyde doctrine. Partial birth abortion is the procedure which allows the baby’s head to be born, and then the baby is knifed to death before the baby’s body can be born. The Hyde law, which Hillary wants to undo, is supposed to stop the use of our tax dollars for the grizzly business of abortion. The Democrat platform calls for continued public funding of Planned Parenthood, even though Planned Parenthood has been caught selling aborted baby body parts. Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have lent their influence to the killing of 60 million unborn babies since 1973.

The Republican platform recognizes the right to life for unborn babies. The Republicans call for protections for the unborn, a Human Life Amendment, parental consent, waiting periods, and informed participation. The unborn are human persons from the moment of conception, a unique substance made in God’s image (see Psalm 139:13-16). God knew us, and recognized us when we were uncompleted, without any members, without heart, eyes, arms, or legs.  God saw us as persons from the beginning of that new substance. It is sin against God to kill innocent people, and that includes unborn babies. It is time to stop the slaughter of the unborn.

  1. The Supreme Court

The Democrat platform has a litmus test for any appointments to the Supreme Court. The Democrats call for Supreme Court justices who favor abortion, favor same-sex marriage, favor more gun control, and favor citizenship for illegal aliens. Hillary and the Democrats want to pack the Court with justices who will make up laws where none exist. This is all very dangerous for our future and for our grandchildren.

The Republican platform calls for justices who will recognize the limits that the US Constitution puts upon their power. It stands for the 10th Amendment rights of the States to decide local questions that should be reserved for the States. The GOP platform takes steps to protect freedom of religion. It opposes amnesty and citizenship for illegal aliens who have entered our country with disrespect for our laws. It recognizes that the death penalty for capital murder is a matter of settled law. And the GOP platform says that Supreme Court decisions that allow same-sex marriage were wrongly decided and should be reversed. There is no question about the fact that the Republican platform is more in line with what the Bible teaches about justice, mercy, and truth.

  1. The Economy and Taxes

The Democrat platform contains many job killing and economy destroying ideas.  The Democrats want to raise taxes on all of those who have incomes large enough so that they can invest and create jobs. The Dems want to increase the death tax (estate tax), thus forcing many small businesses and family farms to be sold to pay the tax.  The Hillary supporters want to continue Obama Care and even increase the penalties and taxes to support it. The economy cannot grow beyond its 1% present rate until taxes are lowered, regulations are loosened, and Obama Care is repealed and replaced.

The Republican platform calls for lower taxes and fewer regulations on business and individuals. The Republicans want fairer trade with foreign countries, so that we stop giving our country away at the rate of $800B per year (trade deficit). The GOP wants to close our borders and regulate illegal immigration which is costing our citizens thousands of jobs. There are no jobs that Americans will not do if they are paid a fair wage. The Republicans want to repeal Obama Care which made it impossible for many employers to hire full-time workers. Most of the new jobs in the last 8 years have been part-time, low paying jobs. Americans have not had a raise in income for more than 15 years, and Republicans call for a correction of this situation. The Republicans also want the death tax to be repealed.

  1. Illegal Immigration

The Democrat platform says that illegal immigrants should have a path to citizenship.  The Democrats call for more and more admittance of Middle Eastern refugees even though it is impossible to properly vet them. Hillary and her supporters fudge on what proper vetting is. Obama and the Democrats have not kept America safe.  Attacks from Radical Islamic terrorists have multiplied under Obama’s years in the Presidency. Dozens of immigrants from the Middle East have killed Americans, have conducted Jihad against America, have plotted to explode bombs, and have committed other terrorist attacks against Americans. And yet, the Democrats oppose restrictions on un-vetted immigrants, and offer protection to illegal aliens through sanctuary cities and lack of enforcement of immigration law.

The Republican platform calls for the closing of our borders to keep out illegals, lawbreakers, criminals, and illegal drugs. Republicans are opposed to any form of amnesty for those who have entered our country illegally. The GOP wants to refuse entrance to any person who cannot be vetted. The Republican position on immigration is safer and wiser because it is designed to serve our own national interest instead of the interests of criminals, globalists, and a political party seeking more immigrant voters.

  1. Guns

The Democrat platform calls for more gun control. Hillary wants the right-to-carry decisions of the Supreme Court to be reversed. The Democrats want to incrementally chip away at our gun rights through law suits against gun manufactures, through restrictions on the purchase of ammunition, through the limitation of the number of guns one may buy, and through other restrictions.

The Republican platform defends the 2nd Amendment rights of Americans. The right of sane, non-criminal Americans to own and carry firearms is necessary for self-protection and for the protection of our families and other innocent people. If every law abiding American gave up all of his guns, the criminals, gangs, and terrorists would still have guns. It is not right for the Democrats to push for the destruction of our gun rights. There are enough gun laws on the books already if they were only being enforced.

These are the five main reasons that I will vote for the Republican platform this year. However, there are many other reasons that I will vote straight Republican.

The Democrats want to push Israel for a “Two-State Solution;” I do not.

The Democrats want to close Guantanamo Bay prison; I do not.

The Democrats want only sun and wind energy. I want all forms of energy, including coal, oil, and gas obtained through fracking.

The Democrats want a bigger Federal government controlling all water, all education, all farming, and all healthcare; I do not.

On November 8, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected as our next President. There are no other possibilities. There are objections to both of them.  Both of them have filthy mouths. Both of them are selfish. Maybe Donald Trump will complete the ruination of our country if he is elected; but Hillary will, without a doubt, complete the ruination of our country if she is elected. Hillary Clinton is an awful person!  She is a compulsive, congenital liar who cannot tell the truth. She is completely corrupt and moves from one scandal to another—cattle futures, money laundering, White House Travel Office Firings, Whitewater, and her mishandling of national secrets through her private email server. She sold her Secretary of State office so often that she and her husband became extremely wealthy. She abused, threatened, and ridiculed the women that her husband sexually assaulted. She does not know how normal people live because she never gets out of her bubble. She proved herself unworthy and unfit to be Commander-in-Chief at Benghazi when she failed to protect Americans and left them there to die.

My vote for a straight Republican ticket is not so much a vote for Trump as it is a vote against Hillary. It is a vote for the Republican platform. It is a vote for my grandchildren. What would I tell my grandchildren if I have the opportunity to vote against abortion, and I do not do it?  What would I tell my grandchildren if I do not vote for a safer, better America.

 

IS RACIAL COLOR-BLINDNESS IMMORAL?

By Lloyd Streeter

Recently, a liberal college professor challenged my views about how I believe that police officers should be treated with respect. People of all races need to learn, how to respond when they are approached by the police. That is, they need to learn to obey all orders to not resist, and to be respectful. The conversation with the professor evolved into a more general discussion of my view about being color-blind about race. I believe that being color-blind, or race-blind, is the most moral way for all of us to behave. It is the way children in our family were taught to be by my mother. Color-blind is also the way Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught all Americans to be; that is, to judge people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. That, to Dr. King, was the “Promised Land,” the place that he prayed for his children to reach even though he did not expect to reach it during his life-time. But most modern liberals have rejected Dr. King’s color-blind vision. These liberals are not in favor of race-neutral behaviors and policies. They want race-based laws and race-conscious behaviors on the part of all Americans. Racial color-blindness once held a secure position in law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 codified the color-blind consensus of the American people. But the race industry and the race hustlers have been leading the American people away from this race-neutral consensus. This has been going on for about fifty years. The change came with a hyper-emphasis on the concept of affirmative action. Liberals have rejected Dr. King’s dream, a dream that is now an embarrassment and millstone to liberal race activists. They want special treatment. They want positive discrimination in favor of one race or another. All races have been oppressed at some time in history.  Ancestral discrimination and mistreatment cannot be the basis of special treatment in America today without discrimination against all other races. The only sensible answer, the only moral answer, is to treat individuals as individuals, not as members of a race. In other words, people should be treated as people, not as a race. People should be treated as individual persons created in God’s image, persons whose character should determine the amount of respect and dignity to which he, or she, is entitled. Here are some of the comments which I made to the college professor.

“There is some police brutality against all races in America. But no one approves of it, and there is far, far more brutality of law breakers of all races against innocent people. We need police to protect us from law breakers. Police are overwhelmingly not bad people. Police also need to be protected, and at a lower cost (it is becoming very expensive to protect our police), from brutal people of all races.

“You are right that dark skinned people are not overwhelmingly bad people compared to light skinned people. And neither are light skinned people overwhelmingly bad people compared to dark skinned people. We should be color-blind and judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. I believe more people are doing that today than ever before, even though Obama has made race relations much worse during the last 8 years. There is very little targeting of people because of the color of their skin, either by police departments where the personnel are mostly Black or in departments where most of the personnel are mostly White. The same is true in Hispanic departments. Most people who have to deal with the police do so because someone in their neighborhood called the police about a problem or a crime that was being committed. We have in Lake City, where I live, a Black woman police chief, and I am proud of her because she does an excellent job. Also, about half of our police department is Black. There is very, very little systemic or tolerated police brutality, organized or unorganized, in America. That was a problem of 60 years ago, in the days of my youth; but except for a few isolated incidents, it is not a problem today. There are those who want to manufacture it as a problem for political reasons, but not everything is about race, and nothing should be. There is a great need for people to just love others and pay no attention to their race. That is what Jesus would have us to do.

“I know that some people think that it is wrong to try to be color-blind to race. I respectfully disagree. For me it would not be right to try to give one person a benefit over another person on the basis of skin color, race, or ethnicity. For me that would be wrong, racist, and sinful. By color blind or race blind, I do not mean that I do not ‘see the race of others,’ as you put it. I see the race and ethnicity of other people and appreciate many aspects of their culture. By color blind I mean that I do not discriminate, either for or against people, on the basis of their race, skin color, or national origin.

“When liberals say that we should not be color blind, and that ‘it only makes things worse,’ they usually mean that we should discriminate in a positive way. In other words, that we should give a benefit of some kind on the basis of race, and that this should be done because of past negative discrimination. I see several things that are wrong in this scheme. First, it is almost impossible to discriminate positively in favor of one person on the basis of race without discriminating negatively against at least one other person. Without being overly extensive in my explanation, I offer this example: I have some rental property (incidentally, all of my renters are presently Black or Hispanic people), and when I am taking applications from prospective renters I may have an applicant who is Native American, one who is Black, one who is Asian, one who is Irish, and one who is a Jew. We could look at their family histories and see that in every case these races and nationalities were discriminated against. Native Americans had their land stolen and they were sent down a Trail of Tears, to a reservation. Blacks were often trapped and put in slavery, denied their civil rights, abused and mistreated by law. Asians were pushed to the margins of society, and had the atomic bomb dropped on them. Irish people were oppressed by the English, starved in the Potato Famine, and often captured by the English and sold into slavery. Jews have been dispossessed of their homeland, hated, hounded, driven into all the world, and slaughtered by the millions. Now, I am saying that I should not decide among them on the basis of color or race in selecting a renter for my house. Why? Because to do so is to discriminate against all of the others, and that is racist. So, I decide about renters on the basis of good business decisions, not race i.e., credit reports, police reports, rental history, etc.

“Second, the laws of our country require, for the most part, that all races be treated with equality. I think that those are good laws. If we give a person a benefit over others in housing, in education, or in job opportunities (taking into account possible mistreatment of his ancestors in race history, or any other excuse) we are not treating people equally before the law. That is wrong.

“Third, I must be color-blind as much as possible because I am convinced that that is how God wants me to be. Jesus is color blind. He died for the entire world, without exception. He saves any and all, irrespective of race or color, when they come to Him and trust in Him. He told us to love our neighbor. He went through Samaria and saved one of another race to show us that we should be color-blind, like He is. The song we learned in Sunday school is true: ‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and Yellow, Black, and White, They are precious in his sight. Jesus loves all the children of the world.’

“We agree that there is still a residue of racism in America. We agree that great progress has been made. We agree that racism is evil. But we disagree about how to combat the evil. I think that real genuine conversion to Christ which produces a change in the heart is the answer, and that does not take generations to accomplish.

“Too many people have not been color-blind in the last 50 years (sort of like soap, if it is not used it is not going to work). They want to make everything about race, either by saying that race should determine special treatment or that another race is the source of most of our problems. This is racist and poisonous to good race relations.

“When we focus on one race’s problems we tend to discriminate in a negative way against the other races. For example, you mention that ‘Blacks still have to work harder to acquire jobs, homes, and an education,’ (something that would not be true if society was more color-blind). But while you are focused on those problems you are not saying, ‘Native Americans still have to work harder…’ or ‘Jews still have to work harder…’ etc. So, you are accentuating the problems of one race while ignoring the problems of another race, or to be more precise, you are accentuating the problems of one INDIVIDUAL while ignoring the fact that other INDIVIDUALS also have problems, maybe even greater problems than the one you are trying to help. This is what happens when we treat people as members of a race instead of treating them as individual people. No, I believe we should treat all people equally, without any attention to race, with neither preferential treatment nor unfair treatment.

“As for how I would address any problems of racism, I have already told you that the answer is to know God personally through faith in His Son, Jesus. God changes hearts when people are converted to Christ through the miracle of God’s grace. The problem is within man, and his heart needs to be changed. That is why I have spent the last 50 years preaching the gospel, and I have seen many people changed, not about racism only, but about a lot of things. It is the key to seeing people begin to love others and to accept people as persons for whom Christ died, and that means to love people irrespective of race, and whether they are rich or poor, young or old, male or female, fat or skinny, smart or dumb.

“Finally, you asked if I would be opposed to putting more money into teaching police how to deescalate situations. I would not be opposed to spending more tax dollars to educate people about how to respond when they are approached by a cop. And I would not be opposed to increasing police training where it is needed to help police of all races to be more color-blind in dealing with the public.”

WE ARE SAVED BY THE SHEDDING OF CHRIST’S BLOOD AND DEATH: BUT JOHN MACARTHUR SAYS OTHERWISE

By Lloyd Streeter
From The Baptist Arrow, March, 1993

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Colossians 1:20-22

The passage above tells us of the problem that sinners have, the way of salvation, and the future of the righteous. The problem that sinners have is that they are alienated from God and enemies of God. The unsaved cannot approach unto God because of sin. The sinner does not want the way of God. His mind is set against God, and his works are wicked.

The way of salvation is in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, because of the redemptive work He did for sinners. His redemptive work is summarized in the words “blood,” “cross,” and “death.” These words are not to be considered symbolically or euphemistically. Our only hope of eternal life lies in the fact that Christ paid our sin debt by suffering in our place.

The future of the righteous is that we will be presented holy, spotless, pure, white, unblameable, and unreproveable before the Lord Jesus. We will be eternally in His presence, delivered from sin and from all that is offensive to Him. But, all the praise will be to the glory of His grace. Our salvation is only because He suffered for us.

The shedding of Christ’s blood was one of the things He suffered for us in payment for our sins. His blood was “shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). And, “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). “Shed” and “shedding” does not mean death. These words mean to gush out, to pour forth. This gushing out of Christ’s blood was essential in and of itself, not as a mere euphemism for His death, and not simply as fulfillment of prophecy, but as an effective part of God’s redeeming work. As Dr. Earnest Pickering says, “The blood which Christ shed was a purchase price. It was a payment for others. It was a vicarious, substitutionary offering.”

There is no reason (scriptural, theological, or historical) to start downplaying, minimizing, and deemphasizing the blood of Christ. As Dr. Terry Rude says in the November, 1988, issue of Biblical Viewpoint, “The obvious emphasis would tell us that Christ’s blood was precious blood even if Peter had not said it plainly (I Peter 1:18-19). The multitude of New Testament statements on Christ’s blood, the efficacious reality, maintain the exact strong emphasis of the Old Testament on the anticipating symbol. The Scripture’s focus on the blood has naturally led the church to an affectionate appreciation and magnification of that precious blood. We shall do well to make much of it.” [emphasis mine]

Dr. John MacArthur does not think Christians should get preoccupied or “teary-eyed” about the blood of Christ. He is worried that Christians will get too emotional about the blood. He would not agree with Spurgeon’s emphasis on the blood. But, Spurgeon seemed to have exactly the right doctrine and emphasis as expressed in his sermon, “The Blood-Shedding.”

Yes, there was a shedding of most precious blood, to which I must forth-with refer you. I shall not tell you now of massacres and murders, nor of rivers of blood of goats and rams. There was a blood-shedding once, which did all other shedding of blood by far outvie; it was a man—a Godthat shed his blood at that memorable season. Come and see it. Here is a garden dark and gloomy; the ground is crisp with the cold frost of midnight; between those gloomy olive trees I see a man, I hear him groan out his life in prayer; hearken, angels; hearken, men, and wonder; it is the Saviour groaning out of his soul! Come and see him. Behold his brow! O Heaven! drops of blood are streaming down his face and from his body; every pore is open, and it sweats! but not the sweat of men that toil for bread: it is the sweat of one that toils for heaven—he “sweats great drops of blood!” That is the blood-shedding, without which there is no remission. Follow that man further; they have dragged him with sacrilegious hands from the place of his prayer and his agony, and they have taken him to the hall of Pilate; they seat him in a chair and mock him; a robe of purple is put on his shoulders in mockery; and mark his brow—they have put about it a crown of thorns, and the crimson drops of gore are rushing down his cheeks! But turn aside that purple robe for a moment. His back is bleeding. Tell me, demons, who did this? They lift up the thongs still dripping clots of gore; they scourge and tear his flesh, and make a river of blood to run down his shoulders! That is the shedding of blood, without which there is no remission. Not yet have I done; they hurry him through the streets; they fling him on the ground; they nail his hands and feet to the transverse wood, they hoist it in the air, they dash it into its socket, it is fixed, and there he hangs, the Christ of God. Blood from his head, blood from his hands, blood from his feet! In agony unknown, He bleeds away his life: in terrible throes he exhausts his soul. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani.” And then see! they pierce his side, and forthwith runneth out blood and water! This is the shedding of blood, sinners and saints, this is the awful shedding of blood, the terrible pouring out of blood, without which, for you, and for the whole human race. There is no remission.

Yes, our Lord Jesus paid the redemption price for our salvation. This is a truth reflected in the Lord’s Supper. The broken bread reminds us of His broken body. That broken bread reminds us of His sufferings in His physical body—His bruising, scourging, agonizingly painful experience before He died. The cup represents His precious blood shed for us. The Lord’s death is included in that of which the broken bread and the cup remind us (I Corinthians 11:26); however, His shed blood and His physical sufferings were a part of the price of our salvation. The Lord instructed us to memorialize His blood because it is efficacious.

Dr. John MacArthur, Jr., is the pastor (teaching elder) of Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California. He is president of the Masters College (a former GARBC “approved” college) in Newhall, California. His radio and tape ministry is called “Grace to You.” His leadership ability and his gifts as a writer and speaker have made him a popular conference minister. His charm and charisma have made him beguiling.

A wake of confusion, contention, and controversy have followed MacArthur for many years. In an apparent attempt to astound and bedazzle his audiences and to bring out “some new thing,” he continually tries to put a new twist on old doctrines. In so doing, he has resurrected some age-old heresies, and he has even invented some new ones. We are reminded of Dr. H. A. Ironside’s warning, “If it is true, it is not new, and if it is new, it is not true.”

Among the heresies espoused by MacArthur are Lordship Salvation (which is a doctrine of salvation by works); that Jesus is not the eternal Son of God, but only became God’s Son at the incarnation; and Lay Elder Rule. Perhaps causing the deepest concern among fundamental Christians has been MacArthur’s errors on the blood of Christ.

Nothing is more important to a true Bible-believer than the precious blood of Christ. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” [forgiveness] (Hebrews 9:22). It is the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us from all sin. So, when John MacArthur minimizes the blood, downplays the blood, denies the efficacy of the blood, and distorts the Bible’s teaching on the blood, that is an error which must be exposed. People must be warned, lest they unwittingly support MacArthur’s ministries, become beguiled by his personality, or be led astray on crucial Bible doctrine.

In this article, we will quote directly from MacArthur’s own tapes, books, and articles. We want our readers to see his position in his exact words. Then no one can say that he was “misquoted,” “taken out of context,” or “misunderstood.” His position on the blood of Christ is well documented and can be known by anyone who cares to find it.

In his tape, numbered GC 80-44, titled “The Blood of Christ—Selected Scriptures” (which is a series of sermon excerpts), from sermons preached by MacArthur, we find this statement:

There is no sense in getting teary-eyed and mystical about blood. We sing hymns about “There is power in the blood,” and so forth, and we don’t want to get preoccupied with blood. The only importance that the blood of Jesus has is that it shows he died. There is no saving in that blood itself. We cannot say that the very blood of Jesus—His physical blood—is what atones for sin. It is His death that atones for sin. His blood shed was an act of death. So, we do not want to become preoccupied about fantasizing about some mystical blood that is floating around somewhere. It is by the sacrificial offer of Himself—it is by His death—that we are redeemed. Blood shed is only the picture of His death. . . . So, when Jesus died and shed his blood this is no big thing. This is nothing for Israel to get all bent out of shape about.

Ladies and gentlemen, the statements you just read, spoken by John MacArthur, are considered heresy by many Christian leaders. His doctrine on the blood of Christ is false and unscriptural.

Notice how he ridicules singing hymns about, “There is power in the blood.” See how he downplays the importance of the blood when he says, “The only importance that the blood of Jesus has is that it shows He died.” Note the false doctrine when he says, “There is no saving in that blood itself. We cannot say that the very blood of Jesus . . . is what atones for sin.”

It is easily seen that MacArthur’s big error in the above quoted statement is that he separates Christ’s bleeding from His dying, and says that only Christ’s death was the redemption price. This is a fatal fallacy! This is the exact same doctrine taught by R. B. Thieme sixty-five years ago. Thieme’s doctrine on the blood of Christ was condemned as heresy by all the leaders of fundamental Christianity during the 1960’s.

MacArthur’s position is that the bleeding and suffering of Christ had no part in paying the price for our sins. He says Christ’s blood is “only a picture,” a symbol, a metaphor, a metonym for His death, therefore it “is no big thing . . . nothing to get bent out of shape about.”

The next excerpt, from tape number GC 80-44, is from a sermon preached by MacArthur in February, 1975. MacArthur states:

It is not that the blood itself had some quality. It is that the giving of His life paid the penalty for sin. The giving of His life was symbolized by the shedding of His blood.

Note that MacArthur’s doctrine is that the only importance of Christ’s blood is that it is a symbol of His death. The blood itself does not help to save. The bleeding and suffering of Christ do not have any actual part in paying our sin debt, because only the death of Christ does that.

These are statements MacArthur repeats time and time again. These are not isolated mistakes or misstatements.

On the same tape, in a 1988 statement, MacArthur says,

His sacrifice for sin was one act that involved both His dying and the pouring out of His blood. Sacrificial death was the essential element. References to His blood are symbolic references to the death He died.

Notice that it is implied that the shedding of blood was not “essential” to our salvation and that Christ’s blood is only a symbol.

Of course, all true Bible-believing Christians believe that the death of Christ was essential for our salvation. The Bible says “Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:3), and “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). But, true Bible-believing Christians also believe that the bleeding and suffering of Christ, and the presentation of His blood on the altar (Hebrews 9:12-24) are also essential for our salvation. In fact, in speaking of the saving work of Christ on our behalf, forty-one times the Bible speaks of the blood, fourteen times it speaks of the cross, and eight times it speaks of the death of Christ. All of the redemptive work of Christ was essential for our salvation. It is a serious heresy to separate (tear asunder!) one part of God’s redemptive work while downgrading the rest as nonessential.

According to MacArthur’s tape, number GC 80-44, in April of 1976, he preached a sermon titled “The Outrage of Idolatry.” He made the following unscriptural, very dangerous statement:

Let me say something that might shake some of you up, but I will try to qualify it. There is nothing in the actual blood that is efficacious for sin! Did you get that? The Bible does not teach that the blood of Christ itself has any efficacy for taking away sin! Not at all! The actual blood of Christ is not the issue. The issue is that His poured-out blood was symbolic of His violent death. The death was the thing that paid the price. It is His death that is the issue . . . . So, the pouring out of blood was the significance of death. So, we “commune” with the blood of Christ. It does not mean that the literal blood of Christ is involved. It means we enter into a genuine vital participation in His death. But, it is not the blood. The blood is only the symbol of the poured-out life.

The above statement by John MacArthur is as poisonous and as void of scriptural doctrine as any I’ve ever read by any modernist or reprobate! When MacArthur says, “The Bible does not teach that the blood of Christ itself has any efficacy for taking away sin,” it is no better than the modernistic statement of the Interpreter’s Bible which says, “From the earliest records of primitive sacrifice man has been obsessed by the efficacy of innocent blood to save from disaster. Both Roman Catholic and the Protestant churches have perpetuated this primitive tradition in all their ritual, in their hymns, and sacred books.”

How are MacArthur’s statements on the blood any better than the American Baptist modernist preacher Myron J. Hertel who was asked what he believed about the blood of Jesus Christ, and replied, “The blood of Jesus Christ is of no more value in the salvation of a soul than the water in which Pilate washed his hands”?

How is MacArthur’s doctrine of the blood of Christ any better than Mary Baker Eddy’s? She wrote, “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed . . . than when it was flowing in his veins . . . .”?

How is MacArthur’s teaching on the blood of Christ any better than that of Colonel Robert B. Thieme who wrote, “It was His substitutionary spiritual death that was efficacious for our salvation. . . . The red liquid that ran through the veins and arteries of Jesus’ mortal body is not related to our salvation”?

Mind you, we are not saying that MacArthur holds any other doctrines in common with the modernists, with infidels, or with Christian Science; but we are saying that his doctrine of the blood of Christ is in gross error and no better than that of other false teachers.

In years gone by, fundamentalist Bible teachers and preachers, without exception, condemned false doctrine on the blood of Christ such as the statements of the Interpreter’s Bible, Myron Hertel, Mary Baker Eddy, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Nels Ferre, and Bishop Oxnam. It is now discouraging to see conservative Christians equivocating alibiing, and making excuses for John MacArthur.

On the blood of Christ, MacArthur is “speaking perverse things” (Acts 20:30). He is a false teacher (Matthew 7:15), “speaking evil of things he does not know” (Jude 10). He has brought in “damnable heresy” (II Peter 2:1). He has “perverted the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7).

We quote another excerpt from MacArthur’s tape, (#GC80-44) a sermon titled “Reconciled to God,” which he preached in April, 1976.

Blood is the metaphor for sacrifice. It is His death for sin that saves us . . . . Not that the shed blood is the literal saving thing, but that it connects His death with the Old Testament sacrifices. The blood was still in His body long after He was dead. He did not bleed to death . . . . His blood saves us only in the sense that His death was the sacrificial death of the final lamb. And you want to know something, He never lost His blood—the majority of it. Apparently, only some of it came out of those wounds—and those would have sealed up pretty fast with nails there. The majority of His blood remained in His body at least a half hour—maybe longer—after His death. It was His death as a man—His death incarnate in human flesh is the thing that reconciles us to God.

This MacArthur says in order to degrade and downplay the blood of Christ. He implies that ordinary Bible-believing Christians who disagree with his views must think that Christ bled to death. I have never heard of such a preposterous thing! I do not know of a single Christian who believes that Christ bled to death. He gave up His life voluntarily (John 10:10). But, His bleeding was one of the things He suffered in paying the penalty for our sins.

If Jesus had died without bleeding, His death would have saved no one. He had to die “according to the scriptures” just like the Bible says in I Corinthians 15:1-4 where the gospel is defined. Jesus died according to the Old Testament prophecies, fulfilling the types of the Old Testament sacrificial lambs. The Old Testament sin offerings had to have their blood shed and presented to God on the altar. The shedding of Jesus’ blood was essential not only to fulfill Old Testament prophecies but as a necessary part of the gospel which we must believe in order to be saved, “lest we have believed in vain” (I Corinthians 15:2).

MacArthur speculates about things he could not possibly know; about how much blood Jesus lost, about how fast the wounds sealed up, and about how much blood was still in Christ’s body. All of that is foolish and blasphemous speculation, attempting to minimize the importance of the bleeding of Christ. Again, MacArthur separates the bleeding from the dying as if the bleeding was not very important because it is only a symbol, a metaphor; but the death, he says, is the really important thing. He says it is only the death of Christ, not His shed blood, that reconciles us to God.

MacArthur goes on to say, on tape number GC 80-44: “Blood is a metonym . . . . He could not cut himself, bleed on someone and save them.” A metonym is a metaphor. So MacArthur believes that the blood of Christ has no saving power in its own right, rather the blood is only symbolical.

The historic, orthodox position is much different from MacArthur’s doctrine. None of the great Bible teachers of bygone days believed what MacArthur teaches. You will not find MacArthur’s doctrine in the writings of Chapman, Spurgeon, Torrey, Truett, MacClaren, Boettner, Ryle, Henry, Gray, Alford, Bancroft, Strombeck, Ironside, Morgan, Pettingill, Scofield, or Gaebelein.

No one, to my knowledge, ever said that Christ could have cut himself, bled on someone, and thus have saved them. This is a strawman argument, and in an oblique sense, it is a way of ridiculing the blood atonement.

MacArthur has spelled out his position in other places. For example, in his commentary on Hebrews, pages 236-237, he says basically the same thing which he says in the statements we have already cited:

Blood is a symbol of death. . . . It is possible to become morbid about Christ’s sacrificial death and preoccupied with His sufferings and shedding of blood. It is especially possible to become unbiblically preoccupied with the physical aspects of His death. It was not Jesus’ physical blood that saves us but His dying on our behalf which is symbolized by the shedding of His physical blood. If we could have been saved by blood without death the animals would have been bled not killed, and it would have been the same with Jesus. . . . The purpose of the blood was to symbolize sacrifice for sin. . . . Therefore, without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Again, however, we need to keep in mind that the blood was a symbol.

You should remember the above statement by MacArthur when you read anything he has to say about the blood. The core of his doctrine is that the blood of Jesus is only a symbol of Christ’s death. Sometimes he tries to obfuscate his true beliefs, or make people think he believes the historic Christian position on the blood of Christ. But when he says “I believe in the precious blood of Christ” he means it in the sense that the blood symbolizes death. When he says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness,” he means it in the symbolic sense that blood means death.

It is heresy to teach, as MacArthur does, that Christ’s blood is only a symbol of Christ’s death, that blood itself is not part of the redemption price, that only Christ’s death is the atonement for sin.

MacArthur does not believe in a blood atonement at all. He believes in a death atonement.

Incidentally, we do not know of a single person who has ever said that we could have been “saved by blood without death.” MacArthur loves to put up strawmen. He has sometimes accused his opponents of believing that the blood of Christ is in a little bowl in Heaven and that a little of it is literally applied to the soul of each person at the moment that he gets saved. Again, we know of absolutely no one who believes this.

In an article titled “Not His Bleeding but His Dying,” published in his newsletter, MacArthur makes these statements:

It was His death that was efficacious . . . not His blood. . . . The shedding of blood has nothing to do with bleeding . . . it simply means death. . . . Nothing in His human blood saves. His shed blood represents His sacrificial physical and spiritual death for us. . . . It is not His blood that I love, it is Him. It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying.

Those are the words of a heretic on the blood of Christ! The Bible teaches that all of the sufferings of Christ, including His bleeding, helped to pay the penalty for our sins along with Christ’s death. Christ’s death was the final capstone and consummation of Christ’s atoning work. To downplay or minimize any part of Christ’s atoning work is heretical and must be rejected.

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An Addendum
August, 2016

The above article was written several years ago. Since that time, some good men have come to believe that Dr. MacArthur has changed his position on the blood of Christ and now he teaches that the blood of Christ is as efficacious as Christ’s death. I do not know what evidence might exist that MacArthur has changed his position, but I hope that it is true. I hope that he no longer makes the kind of statements that we have cited. If and when we see or hear a clear statement from MacArthur that he has cured his heresy on the blood, we will gladly take down any reference to it on our website.

One further thing—we believe that there are several places in the Bible where the word “blood” includes the idea of “death.” We also believe that the word “death” sometimes includes the idea of Christ’s bleeding. The word “cross” can include the idea of Christ’s bleeding and Christ’s death. But that is a far different thing than saying that when the Bible says “blood” it means “death.” It is the difference between a metaphor and a synecdoche. A metaphor (or metonym) is used to say that one thing is a symbol for another; whereas, a synecdoche names one part of the whole as representative of the whole. A metaphor eliminates the reality of the bleeding of Christ as a necessary part of the redemption price. A synecdoche, on the other hand, includes all of the sufferings of Christ, His bleeding, and His death as the price of our salvation.

BIRTHDAYS

By Lloyd Streeter

July 18 should be a national holiday. Maybe it is for some nation, though I don’t know which nation it would be. It was a very important day in the history of the world; at least it was that important to me. It was the day I was born. If I had not been born, the world would have been much different! Think of it. Karen would never have had a husband. Well, not one as good as me, though I am sure she would have married someone. After all, she has always been beautiful, smart, and resourceful. And there were three babies that would never have been born. Oh, Karen would still have had children, maybe eight or ten of them, instead of the perfect number of three, but none of them would have been the three that now exist. They could not exist without my DNA which, of course, would not have existed if I had not been born. So, imagine a world with no Bill, the film and documentary maker; without Sandi, the pastor’s wife and school teacher; and without Rich, the lighting producer and deacon. And, equally astounding, think of a world without my children’s children. The world would have been much poorer without Tori, Tina, Ainslie, Brady, Sam, Anna, Jake, TravE (Travis Everett), and Arden. They came, all nine of them, with no effort on my part. They came, like blooms on my hibiscus plant, with regularity and beauty, they came to our world and caused Karen and me to exclaim, “Oh, here is another one, and it is so pretty!”

It was a sad time for many people back there during WW II. It was a bad time for a raven haired young girl in the Kentucky hills. Her drunken father had been shot and killed when he was 46, and her mother would contract TB and would die at age 44. That young girl had given up on her education when she was thirteen and had gone to work for well-to-do people—gone to work washing and ironing other people’s clothes and cleaning other people’s houses. She would have a baby girl and she would be expecting a baby boy (me). She was always ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it for it was not like today when children are born to single mothers and there is no embarrassment at all. She was embarrassed, and I would never have written about it while she yet lived, because I would not have hurt her for the world. But she is in heaven now where she can never be hurt by anyone and where she will never again be embarrassed. She survived her miserable childhood, survived the poverty and the pain that a brutal father delivered in his drunken rages. She survived and she escaped, escaped to northeastern Michigan, escaped to Mikado, and married a man who was nearly twenty years older than she. The circumstances to which she escaped were as dreadful as the place from which she had come. She was not accustomed to the unforgiving Michigan winters when the snow would pile up in six foot drifts and the icicles would hang from the eaves of the house, sometimes for a week before they would melt and fall. At least, in Alcona County, Michigan, she had a husband who loved her and wanted to protect her. It was a sad and difficult time for most people, and especially for that young Kentucky woman. She would receive news of her brother’s death, a casualty of the war, killed at age 19, in Belgium. She would receive news of her mother’s death, the TB winning another pitiful battle. And, because there was a war, times were hard for most people. Canned food, shoes, tires, and sugar were all rationed. There was a long wait for anything made of steel. And the winters in Michigan were hard. But, I was not born during winter. I was born on July 18. They tell me that the average income in 1943 was $2,041. But, the Streeter family income was well below that, probably only a few hundred dollars. A new car would have cost $900, but, because steel was rationed, very few people could get a new car. Because tires were rationed, some people had an old car up on blocks in the backyard or in a barn as they waited for the war to end so that they would be able to get tires and drive again. A loaf of bread could be purchased for ten cents, but Mama made her own bread. A gallon of gas cost 15 cents, but the Streeters did not use much gas during the war and went to town only occasionally by steel-wheeled farm wagon drawn by big Percheron draft horses. Now and then, we went by horse and wagon up the Klondike Road to visit my Uncle Jim. A gallon of milk would set a person back 62 cents, but we got ours fresh from the cow!

The years dragged on through my childhood. We had to make our own entertainment. I ran a thousand miles through the snow playing Sargent Preston of the Yukon– “On, King!” For my birthday, and for the birthdays of my brother and sisters, Mama would sometimes make a cake. It was always a simple white cake, not from a box, homemade from scratch (strange phrase). She would make her own frosting to put on the cake, make it from powdered sugar and a little margarine and water. It was wonderful cake. I would like to have one again.

I struggled on through my school years. I was sick a lot, strep throat, ear aches, mumps, tonsillitis, hydroceles, and lice infestations. I missed a lot of school and could never catch up. I was “held back” a couple of grades and I hated school. I planned on quitting school when I reached age sixteen and when it would be legal to do so. But I was surprised and overtaken by God’s grace before I could become a dropout. I was born again, saved by God’s free grace. It changed me. It changed the course of my life. God called me to preach, and I knew that I had to get through high school. God helped me to get through good ole Oscoda Area High School. I went on to a great university where I earned a BA degree. Since that time, I have earned several post- graduate degrees. God may make a learner of me, yet!

Pastoring three Baptist churches (only one at a time, thankfully!) occupied my time during the next forty years. Birthdays went by faster than mile posts on the expressway when you are going the speed limit. Birthdays have been tolerated as a necessary evil, something like the way April 15 is tolerated every year as we fill in our tax return. They were another milestone, but there was no joy in them. I guess I should not look at my birthday that way. After all, God has given me another year of life, and that is something to celebrate. I never expected to get this far. To reach the biblical three score and ten is indeed a blessing, and I have now gone three years beyond that. It seems like an even greater blessing when I realize that life expectancy was only 63 when I was born in 1943. So, God is good. I enjoy life. We just spent two days at Daytona Beach. We enjoy our home in Florida. And Karen tells me that we are having lunch at Ruby Tuesdays today to celebrate my birthday!

TOTAL DEPRAVITY VS TOTAL INABILITY

By:  Lloyd L. Streeter

This past Sunday I helped teach an adult Sunday school class.  The lesson was about how every Christian should be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is within the believer (I Peter 3:15).  In the lesson, I was making the point that we can give an answer or make the biblical case for what we believe but we cannot argue anyone into becoming a Christian.  Only the Holy Spirit can convince a sinner to become a Christian.  No one gets saved apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  A sinner will never turn to Christ on his own because every sinner is totally depraved.  The sinner is too sinful to turn to Christ for salvation without the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit.

After the class, I was approached by a person who asked me, “Do you believe all five points of Calvinism?”

My answer, of course, was “No.”

I am not sure that I believe any of the five points of Calvinism, the so-called TULIP.  The five points have been defined in different ways by various people.  There are several versions of the five points.

I am not a Calvinist, and have never been a Calvinist.  Why should I call myself by Calvin’s name?  Calvin baptized babies; I do not.  Calvin believed that the church was going to bring in the kingdom of God on earth before Jesus comes back.  I do not believe the kingdom can come until the King first returns.  Calvinism believes in local church government by lay elders.  I, like all good Baptists, believe in congregational government.  These are just a few of the doctrines wherein I disagree with Calvinism.  So, I have never been a Calvinist and I am not now a Calvinist.  This does not mean that I consider Calvinists to be bad people.  I have great respect for many Calvinistic Christians.  But I simply do not agree with some of their doctrines; so I am not a Calvinist.

The second question that I was asked was, “Do you believe in total depravity?”

My answer, of course, is “yes.”

Total depravity is the doctrine of original sin that says that the sinner has been blighted by sin in all of his parts.  Every person in the human race is corrupted, perverted in his soul, spirit, body, intellect, emotions, will, mind, and understanding.  Total depravity does not mean that all of the sinner’s behavior is as bad as it could possibly be.  It does not mean that all sinners are equally outrageous in their sinful acts.  It does not mean that the sinner cannot make some good decisions or choices by God’s grace.  Man is a free moral agent and able, by God’s grace, to make choices within the parameters of his nature.

It does mean, however, that humans are so damaged by sin that they will never turn to Christ to be saved unless God, by His grace, convicts them by His Holy Spirit.

Total depravity is not a doctrine owned by Calvinists.  The T in Calvin’s TULIP stood for total inability, not total depravity.  Almost all evangelical theologians, both Arminian and Calvinistic, believe in total depravity.  Anyone who wants to read the arminiantheologyblog can find it on the net.  Under the headline “Do Arminians Believe in Total Depravity?” the Arminian writer takes issue with John Mac Arthur, Loraine Boettner, and other Calvinists who have accused Arminians of not believing in total depravity.  The article quotes, at length, James Arminius, who wrote, “[I]n his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good.”

The Arminian writer then quotes the president and vice-president of the Society of Evangelical Arminians saying that Arminians do believe in total depravity and, that without God’s help, man cannot think or do anything good “or even believe the gospel.”

Several other notable Arminians are also quoted to prove that Arminians and Calvinists alike believe in total depravity because of the Fall.

So, total depravity is not exclusively a Calvinist doctrine, nor does believing in man’s total depravity make one a Calvinist.

Total depravity is often confused for total inability.  They are not the same thing.  Calvin’s doctrine of total inability means that the sinner does not have to co-operate with God in order to be saved.  Strong Calvinists go well beyond total depravity.  They embrace total inability because they do not believe that a sinner can co-operate with God by believing until after he is regenerated.  This doctrine is known as “monergism.”  Strong Calvinists believe this “monergism,” this doctrine of total inability, because they believe that regeneration must come before believing, that the sinner must be regenerated before he is saved, and therefore, the sinner cannot co-operate with God.  I reject this doctrine.

The doctrine of total depravity holds that the sinner does co-operate with God in order to be saved.  The sinner must believe.  No one has ever been saved without believing.  This co-operation of the sinner, empowered by God’s grace, is known as “synergism.”

I believe in total depravity, not in total inability.  Total depravity was not one of Calvin’s five points; total inability was.  I believe that God makes the sinner willing, frees his will, and gives to the sinner the ability to co-operate, to believe, to trust in Christ.

The best theologians have believed in total depravity.  Based on Romans, chapter 3, man has “no good” in him.  Apart from God’s grace, the sinner can do no good and he has no good in him.

All goodness comes from God.  He is the fountain and the source of all that is good.  Jesus said to the rich young man, “There is none good but God” (Mark 10:18).

Herbert Lockyer, in his All the Doctrines of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964, p. 145] wrote, “The Fall resulted in the total depravity of man . . . every part of his nature became tainted by sin.”

Emery H. Bancroft, a Baptist theologian, wrote in his Christian Theology: Systematic and Biblical [Hayward, CA: J. F. May Press, 1949, p. 176], “In every individual, in every department and faculty of his nature, from the circumference to the center, or from the center to the circumference of his being,” he is intensively sinful.

Augustus Hopkins Strong, another Baptist theologian, remarked in his Systematic Theology [Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1944, p. 637], under the heading, “Depravity, Partial or Total?” “The Scriptures represent human nature as totally depraved.”  He then quotes H. B. Smith, on page 637, “By total depravity is never meant that men are as bad as they can be. . . .” etc.

The common grace of God helps even the unregenerate person to do some good things.  The good that a person does, while admired by his fellow humans, does not commend him to God because the good is done for selfish and wrong motives.  The sinner is totally depraved, not half depraved, nor 90% depraved.  He does not have a “spark of divinity.”  The Bible says there is no good in him.  Jesus said, “There is none good but God.”  God is the source of all good in the universe.

Norman L. Geisler discusses the extent of depravity in his Systematic Theology [Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2011, pp. 784-787].  He explains that the view that humans are born with no sin nature is called Pelagianism; the view that mankind is partially depraved is called “semi-Pelagianism.  He says, on page 787, “Sin does penetrate and permeate our whole being.  Humans are born wholly, not partially, depraved, that is every aspect of our being is affected by sin.”

Wayne Grudem, comments on the doctrine of inherited sin, in his Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000, pp. 494-498].  He remarks, “a.  In our natures, we totally lack spiritual good before God.  b.  In our actions, we are totally unable to do spiritual good before God.”

L. Berkhof, a strong Calvinist, in his Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1941, pp. 246-247] discusses both total depravity and total inability.  He discusses them separately because they are two different things.  The terms are not synonymous and should not be used interchangeably.  Lots of people believe in total depravity who do not believe in what Calvinists call total inability.  Berkhof says, “[I]nherited pollution is called total depravity. . . .  The inherent corruption extends to every part of man’s nature, to all the faculties and powers of both soul and body.”  This total depravity is denied by Pelagians, Socinians . . . but is clearly taught in Scripture.”

Charles Hodge discusses the doctrine of original sin in his Systematic Theology, Vol. II, [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, printed in 2016, pp. 227-256].  Like Berkhof and other strong Calvinists, Hodge goes beyond total depravity and embraces total inability.  However, what he says about total depravity is instructive.  “The Scriptures not only indirectly teach the doctrine of original sin, or of the hereditary, sinful corruption of our nature as derived from Adam, by teaching as we have seen, the universal and total depravity of our race, but they directly assert the doctrine” [p. 240].

Henry Clarence Thiessen was a fine Baptist theologian.  In his Lectures in Systematic Theology [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006], he discusses “The Extent of Depravity” on page 191.  “The Scriptures speak of human nature as wholly depraved.  However, the doctrine of ‘total depravity’ is easily misunderstood and misinterpreted.  It is important to know both what it does not mean and what it does mean.”

What total depravity means is that every part of man is corrupted and that there is no good in man to commend him to God.  What it does not mean is total inability as it is defined by strong Calvinists.  It does not mean that a sinner cannot believe upon Christ when that sinner is sufficiently convicted by the Holy Spirit.  Strong Calvinists who believe in total inability hold that sinners must be regenerated before they can believe.

Lewis Sperry Chafer, in his Systematic Theology, Vol. II [Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1947, pp. 218-219] discusses total depravity.  He remarks, “The claim that the unregenerate are totally depraved is resented by many for want of a right understanding of its meaning.”  This remark is true.  Chafer then quotes Shedd, another reliable teacher.  In Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology, he says, “The depravity or corruption of nature is total.  Man is ‘wholly inclined to evil, and that continually.’”  Shedd also says, “Total depravity means the entire absence of holiness, not the highest intensity of sin.  A totally depraved man is not as bad as he can be, but he has no holiness, that is, no supreme love of God.  He worships and loves the creature rather than the creator, Romans 1:25.”

So it would appear that while believing in total depravity, I am in good company.  I agree with Lockyer, Bancroft, Strong, Geisler, Grudem, Berkhof, Hodge, Theissen, Chafer, and many, many others that man is totally depraved.  As a matter of fact, all good, credible and faithful teachers and theologians believe[d] that man is totally depraved.

What does the Bible say?  “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).  “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” [Isaiah 1:5-6].  “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:9-18).

The Bible does not teach the doctrine of Pelagianism, that is, that man did not inherit a corrupt, sinful nature.  Nor does the Bible teach semi-Pelagianism, that is, that man is only partially corrupted by sin and has a “spark of divinity” or “an island of righteousness.”  Both Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism are serious heresies.  Those who believe such things do not take sin seriously enough.  They do not understand the seriousness of man’s desperate condition.

To summarize, I have made these points:

  1. I am not a Calvinist.
  2. I believe in total depravity, but not in total inability.
  3. Man is so wicked that he will not accept Christ as Savior except by Holy Spirit conviction and the grace of God.
  4. Total depravity is not an exclusively Calvinistic doctrine; even Arminians believe in total depravity.
  5. All good Bible teachers in evangelical Christianity believe in total depravity.
  6. The Bible says, in no uncertain terms, that all humans are totally depraved.

MORE SOURCES

Many other witnesses have shown that believing in total depravity does not make one a Calvinist.  They have shown that there is a difference between total depravity and total inability; the difference being that adherents to total inability do not believe that a person can co-operate with God by believing until after he has been regenerated (mongerism).  Most people who believe in total depravity, but reject total inability, believe that God initiates salvation, frees the future believer’s will, and makes it possible for him to co-operate with God by believing (synergism).

George Zeller had it right when he wrote in the Biblical Evangelist , under the title “Does Regeneration Precede Faith?” [Biblical Evangelist, November-December, 2002].  He wrote,

            Today there are those of a reformed persuasion who teach that regeneration precedes faith.  They would say that a person must be born again before he believes.  They would say that a person must have God’s LIFE before he can believe on Christ.  C. D. Cole states it this way: “The Calvinist says that life must precede faith, and is logically the cause of faith.  Faith did not cause the new birth, the new birth caused faith.”

            Why do such men teach this?  The doctrine of man’s total depravity has been carried to the extreme by some Calvinists resulting in a wrong understanding of man’s inability.  They believe that the sinner is dead in sin and totally unable to respond to the gospel.  They believe he first must be regenerated and only then will he be able to believe the gospel. . . .

            We agree that no one can believe on Christ apart from God’s great and gracious working in the heart which involves both enabling and enlightenment (John 6:44, 65; Matthew 11:27; 16:16-17; Acts 16:14).  It is interesting that God sometimes commands a person to do what, in himself, he is totally unable to do. One example involves the man with the withered hand (Mark 3:1-5).  Christ gave him the command, “Stretch forth thine hand!”  How could he do this if he suffered from paralysis?  Christ commanded, the man obeyed, and God enabled!  Christ enabled him to do the impossible!

Zeller gives his position on the matter when he writes:

            If regeneration precedes faith, then this would make faith unnecessary since the person would already be saved.  If a person is regenerated, then he is born of God and a member of God’s family.  If you are a member of God’s family then you are already saved so what need is there for faith.

Zeller then quotes the great C. H. Spurgeon.  Spurgeon rejected the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith.  Wrote Zeller:

            Charles Spurgeon, a strong Calvinist himself, recognized the folly of saying that the sinner must be regenerated before he can believe: “If I am to preach the in faith Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners.”

Another source rejecting the mongerism doctrine is evangelist and Bible teacher, Paul L. Freemen.  In a pamphlet titled, “What’s Wrong With Five-Point Calvinism?”  Freeman deals with the strong Calvinist’s doctrine of “total inability.”

            Concerning the statement that man cannot believe the gospel and that man cannot believe until he is born again, let the following Scriptures be studied—John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 36; 5:24; 6:40; 7:39; 12:36; and 20:31.  These Scriptures all show that spiritual life follows upon the sinner’s believing in Jesus Christ.  The apostle John gave as his reason for writing his gospel, “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” It is very clear that believing comes first and the new birth follows. The verses I have cited from the Gospel of John by no means exhaust  the Scriptures which prove life through believing. If you will take Strong’s Concordance and study the words believe, believed, and believeth, you will find much more. A notable example is Acts 16:31 where Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The Calvinist would twist it to read, “When thou are saved by the Lord Jesus Christ, thou shalt believe.” What utter disregard for the plain teaching of the Word of God!

Still another witness who holds that we can believe in total depravity without being a Calvinist and without believing in total inability is evangelist Robert L. Sumner.  As editor of the Biblical Evangelist, Sumner has probably done as much to combat the doctrine of total inability as anyone in Bible-believing Christianity.  While I do not agree with everything he says about election, I do heartily agree with all that Sumner says about total inability.  Writing in his pamphlet, “An Examination of TULIP—The Five Points of Calvinism,” Dr. Sumner says,

            The “T” stands for total depravity, which the more extreme Calvinists call “total inability.” By this is meant that man cannot do anything at all to bring about his salvation—not even believe! To the fact of man’s total and complete depravity, as stated in Sacred Scripture, we heartily concur. Man is completely corrupt from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. He does have a heart that is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). His total pollution is such that even Paul was compelled to confess, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). Man is born in sin (Psalm 51:5); he goes astray as soon as he is born (Psalm 58:3); and the completeness of his impurity is such that it takes a passage like Romans 3:9-20, with its fourteen-fold indictment, to sum up his true condition.

            Furthermore, we readily acknowledge also that man’s depravity is such that he cannot and does not initiate any move toward God and redemption on his own. As David and Paul agreed, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. . . .  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Psalm 14:2, 3; Romans 3:10, 11). Our Lord Himself said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw. . . .” (John 6:44). We most certainly do not deny these truths; we emphasize and preach them.

            However, it is the false conclusions which five-point Calvinism draws from these basic, biblical facts to which we strongly object.

So we can add Zeller, Spurgeon, Freeman, and Sumner to the list of those who believed in total depravity but rejected total inability.  Even Curtis Hutson, who certainly was no Calvinist, believed in total depravity while rejecting total inability.  [Sword of the Lord, “Why I Disagree With All 5 Points of Calvinism,” July 21, 1989].

These sources could be multiplied.  In my vertical files, which I kept up for decades, I collected hundreds of articles, books, and pamphlets which testify to the truth that I am teaching in this paper.

Incidentally, I have an article by a well-known adherent to the doctrine of total inability in which he makes this statement: “[I]t takes much more than the Spirit’s assistance to bring a sinner to Christ; it takes regeneration by which the Spirit makes the sinner alive and gives him a new nature.”

Not only is that statement wrong about the matter of what comes first, believing or regeneration, it is blasphemous about the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is able to enlighten and convict the sinner enough to bring him to Christ and salvation.  Nothing more is needed, and it is shameful to denigrate the work of the Holy Spirit by teaching that it takes “much more” to bring the sinner to Christ.

GOD IS TRUTH

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Here is another of Pastor Streeter’s sermons on the attributes of God.  Here he teaches that God is Truth using the text, Isaiah 65:16.  He also reviews some of the other attributes of God which he has already covered.  (151018)