Paul's Passing Thoughts

Indicative of What Ails the SBC: Johnny Hunt Denies the New Birth at Ohio Men’s Summit

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on January 24, 2015

“Hunt’s confusion concerning the new birth was further exemplified when he stated, ‘Christ died for all of your past, present, and future sins.’ This also unwittingly denies the new birth. Christ did not die for sins we committed after we were born again. This makes sin in justification the same thing as family sin in sanctification. Christ did not die to save us from sin that does not condemn us; this denies that the old us actually died with Christ and was ‘under law,’ and where there is no law there is no sin.”

Not that I get paid for it, but I will inform any SBC pastor who cares to know why the SBC is a dying unregenerate cesspool. You can hide the fact by squeezing out the smaller churches and pointing to the emotional orgies at the megachurches, but the numbers do not lie. And listen, the praise and worship format that is presently redistributing the sheep will eventually get old—this ministry is already seeing sharp declines in megachurch attendance.

The present-day SBC Neo-Calvinist surge is the same movement that has come and gone exactly five times since the Protestant Reformation. My guess is that it will die again. Susan and I recently visited churches that were on the cutting edge of this movement back in the 80’s, and the deadness that we experienced was explained this way by our teenage son: “That place is just creepy.”  The energy once associated with the format is waning because there is no underlying substance and the novelty is passing. Yet, the format continues without the energy which projects an almost surreal creepiness experienced by those who visit. For the longtime members it’s a slow leak going unnoticed, for visitors it’s a blowout.

Aside: Was all of the recent Mark Driscoll drama just cover for the fact that the Mars Hill campuses were in decline? I wonder.

Another aside: The Catholic Church has bought the defunct Crystal Cathedral. It would seem that the Catholic Church is the only institution with the money to buy defunct Protestant campuses. Why does the Catholic Church have so much money? Answer: because it has always been upfront about its salvation by institution gospel. Will the Neo-Calvinist movement begin to be more out-of-the-closet about that approach in order to save the movement? It already is. People will pay big bucks to be saved by merely giving at the office (see, “Roman Catholic Church”).

Johnny Hunt would deny that he is a Neo-Calvinist and that is probably fair, but what I heard him say at last night’s Men’s Summit at Urbancrest Baptist church in Lebanon, OH is indicative of the problem. If there is confusion among Southern Baptists regarding the role of the Holy Spirt in Christian living, and there clearly is, that should explain everything, and it does.

Look, I don’t have the mp3 yet, but a slight paraphrase of a particular sentence spoken at the summit by Hunt goes like this: “The righteousness of Christ is the only thing that gets us into heaven.” Here we have a former president of the SBC, and a premier SBC pastor for something like thirty years, and that statement is just really bad theology if not an outright false gospel.

I keep saying it and will continue to do so: the Bible never states that the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to us. Though you can take a leap from one logical point to another on a few verses, why the steroidal emphasis on Christ’s righteousness when the Bible clearly states that it is the righteousness of God the Father that we possess? Is this emphasis important? It is if the Bible emphasizes the righteousness of the Father, and it does. Why not emphasize what the Scriptures emphasize?

But the concern goes way beyond semantics. In his Friday sessions, Hunt peppered that concept with the often heard idea that we don’t possess a righteousness of our own. Come now, would any of us still be working if we had a dollar for every time we heard that in SBC circles? But what is it saying?

First, if we ONLY possess the righteousness of Christ, fire insurance is the only gift and not righteousness. Follow? When you receive a gift, you take possession of it…no? Is the idea that we possess no righteousness of “our own” a backdoor way of saying we have not been made righteous and possess no personal holiness? Yes, I think it is. And by the way, forget all of the fuss about election—that idea is Calvinism in a nutshell.

Secondly, while one properly concurs that our sins were imputed to Christ because the Bible states that specifically, is it correct to say that righteousness has been “imputed” to us? I contend that this is NOT correct, and in fact is a denial of the new birth. Why? Because righteousness is not imputed to us, we are MADE righteous through the new birth. The whole “our own” business is a red herring deliciously favored at the table of demons. We don’t tell people we have no life of our own because we were born of parents. That’s just plain silly. “I have no life of my own; it was imputed to me by my parents.” No, you are alive just like your parents because they gave birth to you. In the same way, we ARE righteous because we were given life by a righteous Father through the Holy Spirit.

Hunt’s confusion concerning the new birth was further exemplified when he stated, “Christ died for all of your past, present, and future sins.” This also unwittingly denies the new birth. Christ did not die for sins we committed after we were born again. This makes sin in justification the same thing as family sin in sanctification. Christ did not die to save us from sin that does not condemn us; this denies that the old us actually died with Christ and was “under law,” and where there is no law there is no sin.

The idea that Christ died for our sin post salvation, at the very least denies the death part of the Spirit’s baptism and keeps the “believer” under law (see Romans 7:1ff). In not sparing any confusion in his lame presentation of the gospel, Hunt concurred that God chastises us for sins we commit as Christians which means God chastises us for sins Christ already died for. Hence, why wouldn’t God also chastise us for sins committed before we were Christians?

Therefore, Hunt, like most SBC pastors, flirts with John Calvin’s double imputation. This is the idea that Christ died for our justification, and lived a perfect life to fulfil the law so that His perfect righteousness can also be imputed to our sanctification. This is exactly why the “righteousness of Christ” is so strongly emphasized. The Bible is clear: this is a justification by the law that leads to antinomian living (see “a typical life in the SBC”). Why? Because we only have the righteousness of Christ and no righteousness of our own which is nearly a verbatim quote by Calvin from his Institutes of the Christian Religion (3.14.11).

This is an outright denial of the new birth and keeps the “Christian” under law. It doesn’t matter who keeps the law, even if the law was kept by Christ in our stead, it is not another seed that can give life (Galatians 3:15-21). We are like Christ because He is our brother by birth, righteousness was not imputed to us—we are MADE righteous by the new birth. We are literally new creatures, and ALL things are new.

But, if we have no ownership of righteousness through the new birth, if only our standing is exchanged and not our lives, Christ’s righteousness must be perpetually imputed to our “Christian” lives because we are still under law and not under grace. This would require a return to the same gospel that saved us in order to receive perpetual forgiveness for sins committed under the law, and this is exactly what is behind the viral mantra of “We must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” running amuck in the SBC. Forbid that we would lose our gratitude for salvation and only limit its remembrance to the Lord’s Table for we still supposedly need that forgiveness.

And this is exactly what John Calvin believed; that new sins committed as saints removes us from grace and perpetual forgiveness must be sought which can only be found in the institutional church where we continually “revisit the gospel afresh.”  Yet, the who’s who of the SBC continually affirms that the issue with Calvinism in the SBC is a secondary issue unworthy of parting fellowship. It’s cluelessness on steroids. Calvin advocated the belief that necessarily goes hand in glove with progressive justification; and,  sanctification is the Old Testament Sabbath rest. If we do any works on our sanctification Sabbath, it’s the eternal death penalty. As a result, Christ’s perfect obedience to the law must be imputed to us. This is where antinomianism and justification by law are the same thing; a perfect keeping of the law, which we of course can’t obtain so we must let Jesus obey for us lest we have a “righteousness of our own” becomes another seed other than Christ.

At the end of one session Hunt suggested that those who made a profession of faith follow up with the elders at Urbancrest concerning their “new relationship” with Christ. New relationship? Really? It’s not just a new relationship—it’s literal death and rebirth. We don’t just add Jesus to our still under the law lives for fire insurance or as Hunt put it, in essence, daily rescue. It’s not a daily rescue because we long for the one future rescue by Christ from this mortal body where sin still resides, but our inward man has been literally raised with Christ and free to love God and others through obedience to the same law that once condemned us.

It has been suggested to me that institutional religion and the new birth mix like oil and water: “Paul, if believers are truly born again and endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit, why would they need an evangelical industrial complex?” Indeed, that may well be the money question. I have been at two institutional church gatherings this week, and in both cases pastors were held up as upper strata of spiritual caste. At Urbancrest, the emphasis was totally over the top and downright shameful. Other than handing out freebies to the pastors who attended, the senior pastor at Urbancrest talked of a program of sorts through which parishioners could show their pastor that, “I have your back.”

So, is the new birth a threat to religious institutions? Can Holy Spirit empowered ministries thrive in an institutional setting? We will not know until pastors stop denying the new birth. But nevertheless, this is a gut check for every SBC pastor and Hunt in particular. What would be the result of a poll in most churches where the following question is asked?

“Are you only positionally holy in Christ, or are you a holy person?” I fear most would answer, “I am only positionally holy because I still sin.” Yet, pastors who continually wax eloquent about Christians not having any righteousness of their own somehow expect decent behavior from their parishioners.

To his credit, Hunt did advocate obedience, but anyone who was listening closely would have found that confusing. Hunt also emphasized “finishing strong.” He even said that all of his accomplishments in ministry would be worthless if he didn’t finish well. Here is what pastors need to understand: finishing well may mean you end up pastoring a church of 25 people because you stood for the truth. It is high time that pastors draw a line in the sand and definitively define the new birth in no uncertain terms. Please tell your parishioners who they are—are they positionally holy, or are they personally holy?

Did they exchange one “standing before God” for another one, or did they exchange their old life for a new one through the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

paul

Related: https://paulspassingthoughts.com/2014/12/16/the-problem-with-church-your-pastor-doesnt-think-youre-righteous/

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