Friday, July 31, 2009

Scott Wilder Update and Open Letter To Salem Communications

I wanted to give an update since I have received several emails from other listeners who also have left KWRD and are asking about the responses I have received from advertisers and/or the station. I also want to post the email that I just sent to Salem Communications CEO Edward Atsinger, III and cc'd to John Peroyea, and David Darling.

The response from listeners has been overwhelmingly in support of Scott and Lauren. I am amazed and gratified that there are new posts daily on many facebooks, twitter and blogs. This issue is not simmering down and going away. It is especially heartening to see the continual encouragement given to Scott and Lauren on his facebook and website. The responses I have received from advertisers have been as concerned as the listeners to the show and several that emailed me are no longer advertising or considering it. Another asked Salem: "Why would the station, in a down economy, eliminate the most popular and highest revenue producing personality for a station?" All of our calls and emails are most certainly being noticed and felt! You can read my last post as to the response I have received from station management.

Below is the email that I mentioned above:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Phillips, Sr.
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 12:19 PM
Subject: Scott Wilder Show

Dear Mr. Atsinger,

I have already emailed you, Mr. Peroyea, Mr. Darling, and several KWRD advertisers. I have received several responses from advertisers who have already canceled their relationship with KWRD, and/or are concerned about the effectiveness of advertising on KWRD. Some have told me that may cease to advertise on the station.

I do not understand why Salem Communications would cancel the most popular local Christian talk show in Dallas-Fort Worth (which is the 5th largest market according to your own Resource Guide) . His show even won the National Religious Broadcaster's award for Talk Show of the Year in 2004 according to your own Investor Relations site. As one advertiser put it: "Why would the station, in a down economy, eliminate the most popular and highest revenue producing personality for a station?" There clearly has been a mass exodus of listeners from KWRD since the Scott Wilder Show was canceled. Some listeners, including myself, have publicly posted that they will boycott all three Salem stations in the DFW area (KWRD, KLTY and KSKY). The postings on various facebooks, twitter feeds, and blogs continue to be strong and numerous. My own blog exploded in the number of hits and has been steady every day since with only the one post about the show. The analytics show that numbers of people are reaching my blog via Google search looking for Scott Wilder. Scott's own website and facebook continue to have new listeners post every day who are just becoming aware of the cancellation and they too are stating that they will no longer listen to KWRD. I expect when I post this open letter on my blog, that it again will explode with page views.

If I were a stockholder, I would be asking these questions at the next shareholder meeting:
  • Is Salem management being fiduciarily responsible to it's shareholders?How is eliminating a consistently reliable revenue generating program a sound financial decision?
  • The show may even be one of the most popular on all three stations owned by Salem in this market, and we are expected to believe it is for "budgetary" reasons?
  • What happens when the show is picked up by one of your competitors?
  • Has Salem management not just given away for free their most valuable local asset in the 5th largest market to their competition as well as the multiple thousands of listeners (and advertisers) to whomever picks the show up?
  • With the listening audience dramatically reduced, how will that have anything but a negative impact on advertising rates and revenue? Will they not demand lower rates and/or go to your competition to reach a wider audience?
  • With the listening audience dramatically reduced, how will that have anything but a negative impact on rates ministries pay to be on the air? Will they too not follow the listeners to your competition to reach a wider audience?
Please understand, that the listeners of the Scott Wilder Show are very loyal and we are going to be vigilant in this. We will not waiver. This is not going to blow over in a few weeks or even a few months. Our voices will be heard, and our absence from your listening audience will be a great financial drain upon your company. It will take several years for you to rebuild the trust of listeners in this market which I do not believe this station can survive.

The unnecessary mass exodus of listeners from KWRD, which will be followed by advertisers and then the ministries paying for airtime is entirely the responsibility of the person(s) who made the decision to fire Scott and Lauren and cancel the show. Sadly and most regrettably, the resulting financial losses to Salem need not have happened as this is a self inflicted wound.


Ron Phillips, Sr.
Fort Worth, TX

UPDATE: 11:15 PM, July 31, 2009

Here is the response I received from Mr. Peroyea to the email above:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Your e-mail
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 14:36:34 -0500
From: John Peroyea

Dear Ron,

Thank you for your comments. We appreciate hearing from you
about a change that obviously saddens you as it saddens us as well.

An estimated 35000 people have been laid off in our industry in
the last several years. No company is immune from the dismal economy
America is experiencing, and I know of no company that relishes having
to make these tough decisions and changes.

Our company is doing what we need to do in order to continue
furthering the Kingdom and providing our listeners with the absolute
best conservative talk platforms in radio today. We offer many people
ministry programming all day as well as conservative talk that they rely
on, and God willing, we will continue doing this forever.

I ask you to consider continuing to listen and support our
station during these rough economic times that America is totally faced
with. With one of three Christian Talk and Teach stations in Dallas-Ft.
Worth going out of business and selling to become a rock station, all
Christian radio stations need the support of our community. Other than
the few of hours of talk in afternoons on 100.7 KWRD, we have a great
number of hours each day delivering Christian teaching and ministry
programs that tens of thousands of our listeners rely on us for.

Janet Mefferd, our new host in afternoons is not Scott nor will
she attempt to be. Whenever a new air talent is introduced, the new
talent will always have their own styles and talents. To date, the
feedback we have been receiving on her show from the masses has been
extremely plentiful and very positive. I hope that you would consider
giving her some of your listening time to get acquainted. This company
decision along with many others were made totally out of necessity. This
situation with the Wilder show was not a firing, it was a necessary
financial layoff. I can assure you, our decisions have all been made
through an abundance of thought, discussion and prayer. Let me also
assure you that we will not be changing from our political positions or
core values as a station or a company.

We all wish Scott and Lauren well, as they are friends. They and
our company parted on good terms. We view any layoff of employees as an
extremely difficult task. This decision was made out of necessity and
was decided at the highest levels of our company. We do not take these
moves lightly, and I can assure you that our parting with Scott and
Lauren was done with dignity, compassion and professionalism.

God bless you Ron,


John L. Peroyea
Vice President of Operations
Salem Communications Corporation

94.9 KLTY, 100.7 KWRD, 660AM - 92.9 FM - 95.5 FM KSKY
Vice President - General Manager

6400 Beltline Road Suite 120
Irving, Texas 75063
Direct Phone line: 214.561.2142
Direct fax line: 214.561.2143

Listen online at:

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Scott Wilder Show Canceled

UPDATE: Scott Wilder is back on the air as of Monday, March 8th, 2010. See my post here for more information. I keep seeing a lot of hits to his page from Google, so I wanted to let those of you coming to this page know that Scott and Lauren are finally back on the air!

For those of you in the DFW Metroplex, a staple of Christian talk radio has been canceled. The WORD FM (100.7 - owned by Salem Communications) has canceled the Scott Wilder show. Scott and his producer and coworker for over 20 years (Lauren Lintner) were unceremoniously fired for "budgetary" reasons. However, his show has consistently has been the most popular show on the entire station as well as in the entire DFW market. Please keep Scott and Lauren in your prayers during this time!

Scott is the type of talk radio host that conservative Christians need to have on the air. He is an evangelical conservative biblical Christian, who is also a social and political conservative. In my personal opinion, Scott is the best conservative talk show host in all of radio. I do not say that lightly. But the fact that he actually understands the Biblical Gospel and the need to let Scripture be our guide in social and political views gives him a unique voice that is rare in conservative radio. His shows were fun yet serious when needed. He has come under a lot of fire from callers on the left on his show since the election for his stands against the agenda of the President. Scott's replacement is the wife of a senior executive of Salem Communications. How interesting.

Talk radio is loved by corporations because it is cheap to produce and gives a great return on advertising dollars. How can a corporation realistically expect it's listeners to believe that this was truly for budgetary concerns? There is no way that this show was not making the corporation money. I do not know this years Arbitron's ratings, but the show was listed as 5th in the market in 2008 (according to Salem's own 2008 Resource Guide). That is a very high number for afternoon drive time for the DFW secular market when he is even competing with Sean Hannity (whom I also like).

Twitter and Facebook are on fire with listeners who are upset. I hope it makes a difference. I have already emailed the VP and have gotten two responses from him. I will post my email with all the replies at the bottom of this post. I will not listen to the three Salem stations here in the metroplex. I will be contacting KWRD's advertisers and ministries that buy time on the air letting them know that they need not buy air time, as there has been a mass exodus of listeners from the station.

One listener has posted all the advertisers and their contact information. I have posted on another blog and on a facebook entry that we also need to contact the ministries that buy air time on this station. I wrote:

Contact the ministries that buy air time too!!! In addition to protesting this to the Management of Salem and the advertisers that Michael Sissom graciously posted for us, we also need to let the ministries know that we will not be able to enjoy their programming because we are not listening to the station anymore. If each ministry received thousands of emails, letters and calls, they would quickly be concerned about spending their ministry dollars on a station that had a mass exodus of listeners. Each program buys time to be on the air. This is air time that the station does not have to pay for content to produce nor do they have to try and sell advertising. It is free money to the station.

We can effect change if we unite in our boycott of KWRD, KLTY and KSKY and if we contact management, advertisers and ministries that buy air time.

Forgive the formatting, but I am running late to a meeting at church. Here is the entire email and replies that I sent to management and received back:

Mr. Peroyea,

Based on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs and comments, I realize you have probably received numerous emails about this, and I thank you for responding to mine twice now. I apologize for the length, but I am responding to issues you raised.

You are right, I am angry as are a great many former WORD listeners based on hundreds of comments. Several have also said that they too will not listen to the WORD or KLTY anymore because of this action. Our anger is justified, as a corporation has decided to remove one of the most popular shows in Christian Radio.

In my opinion, the Scott Wilder Show is the best conservative talk show in all radio. That includes Rush, Hannity, Mark Davis, and many others. Unlike some conservatives, he consistently held to Biblical positions on the show and his character and principles are unequaled. Frankly, there is no one as good as Scott Wilder in any radio market that I have had the privilege to listen to. I have never understood why Salem has not taken his show nationally in the Christian radio market.

Salem Communications apparently does not appreciate nor desire listener loyalty. If they did, Scott and Lauren would still be on the air. According to Salem's own Resource Guide (which I just looked up for my blog article on this), the Scott Wilder Show was 5th in it's time slot here in the Metroplex. That is amazing for a Christian talk show during the afternoon drive time slot in a very secular market! I find it unbelievable that this was truly a budgetary reason. Talk radio is very popular. Both with listeners and the corporations that air them. They are cheap to produce and have a very high return from advertising dollars. This makes no sense from a financial standpoint.

I and the hundreds of others that are talking this weekend, do not want to destroy any radio station. We want Scott and Lauren back on the air. It is as simple as that.The only voice we have in effecting that decision is to go to the advertisers. As a corporation, Salem will listen to it's advertisers, especially if they start pulling their ads.

You castigate me for my loyalty to Scott and Lauren and state that my actions "will do nothing to grow God's Kingdom, but actually attack it." How does removing Scott and Lauren from the airways grow God's Kingdom? It doesn't. Salem has removed a voice that was a consistent witness for Christ. Scott has raised millions for causes for the Kingdom of Christ and he no longer has the ability to bring his listeners along in support of several Kingdom ministries.

Thank you for your prayers. I too am praying for you and for Salem to right a monumental mistake. I hold no animosity towards you or Salem, but I will join with the hundreds of others, who in the last day have decided to fight this with the only weapons we have available: our pocket book and listening choice. We will be recruiting fellow listeners, our church members, and co-workers and friends to bring Scott and Lauren back.

Finally, it is very Biblical to be loyal to friends and partners in ministry. It is also a Biblical axiom that one reaps what one sows. Salem has brought this upon itself. Though I have never met either, I feel like both are a part of my family - more than any other personality on the air. Paul and Barnabas had a great argument and fight regarding John Mark and decided to to their separate ways. It is well within Salem's ability to stop the mass listener exodus by bringing Scott and Lauren back. Otherwise we will have to agree to disagree on this and a great many of your listeners and advertisers will part ways with Salem.

Respectfully yours,

Ron Phillips
Fort Worth, TX

John Peroyea wrote:
Dear Ron,

If your decision is to tune out to the other wonderful ministry
programs we offer tens of thousands of listeners each day, it is your decision. If you choose to not support companies that advertise and support one of two remaining Christian Talk and Teach stations in DFW,
it is again your choice. I point out to you that not everyone that listens to our station or even other Christian stations may share your particular listening choices or preferences. You choosing to not listen to the great ministry programs on KWRD that have brought tens of
thousands of people to the Lord from your own words appear to be the result of your own personal anger, and these decisions you have expressed really do nothing to grow God's kingdom, but actually attack it.

Our company is doing what we must do under these trying economic times to further the Kingdom. If you feel that boycotting advertisers or your attempts to destroy a Christian radio station will help you, again that is your choice. I see nothing in my Bible where it says anything like that.

I will indeed pray for you Ron.

John L. Peroyea
Vice President of Operations
Salem Communications Corporation

94.9 KLTY, 100.7 KWRD, 660AM - 92.9 FM - 95.5 FM KSKY
Dallas/Ft.Worth Vice President - General Manager

6400 Beltline Road Suite 120
Irving, Texas 75063
Direct Phone line: 214.561.2142
Direct fax line: 214.561.2143

Listen online at:

This electronic mail message contains information which is (a) LEGALLY PRIVILEGED, PROPRIETARY IN NATURE, OR OTHERWISE PROTECTED BY LAW FROM DISCLOSURE, and (b) intended only for the use of the Addressee's) names herein. If you are not the Addressee's), or the person responsible for delivering this to the Addressee's), you are hereby notified that reading, copying, or distributing this message is prohibited. If you have received this electronic mail message in error, please contact us immediately at (972) 870-9949 x152 and take the steps necessary to delete the message completely from your computer system. Thank you.

Dear Ronald,

Thank you for your comments. I am sad as well about losing Scott & Lauren, and know that they will both be fine wherever God places them next. Unfortunately we are not allowed to discuss personnel related matters outside our own company; I am sure you understand that.

Most radio companies today have been faced with financial challenges like never in the history of radio broadcasting. Some of the largest companies have laid off as many as 7,000+ employees, and with some recent announcements, more are certain to follow. One of the three Christian Talk and Teach stations right here in DFW is now going out of business, selling to a company that is going to program rock music on
it. Two separate national radio companies yesterday were taken over by their lenders. We also are doing changes that we do not like doing, but we will survive. I would appreciate you listening to Christian Talk with Janet Mefferd who is currently on afternoons on 100.7 KWRD. I believe you will find her program to be very relevant and interesting. As with any change of personality in a timeslot, there will be differences. Every air talent has their own styles. I am sensitive to your concerns,
and simply ask you to consider giving this new host a fair chance to gain your listening. The feedback on her first show yesterday was plentiful and extremely positive.

We have already cut the KWRD "infomercial" Consumer Magazine in half, and soon, it will be moved to night time. Over the last 6 months KWRD's infomertial content has reduced from 27+% to less than 6% in total. Our mission is to reduce it to zero.

Soon, we will be adding some additional, very well known and highly respected Ministry programs at various times. A few programs will move slightly, however the Christian teaching lineup will be the strongest in KWRD's history. We are committed to making 100.7 KWRD a pure, relevant Christian Talk and Teach station, and are making progress in doing so rather quickly.

If you wish to speak with me directly, my personal direct number is listed below, and I would be happy to talk with you anytime.



John L. Peroyea
Vice President of Operations
Salem Communications Corporation

94.9 KLTY, 100.7 KWRD, 660AM - 92.9 FM - 95.5 FM KSKY
Vice President - General Manager

6400 Beltline Road Suite 120
Irving, Texas 75063
Direct Phone line: 214.561.2142
Direct fax line: 214.561.2143

Listen online at:

This electronic mail message contains information which is (a) LEGALLY PRIVILEGED, PROPRIETARY IN NATURE, OR OTHERWISE PROTECTED BY LAW FROM DISCLOSURE, and (b) intended only for the use of the Addressee's) names herein. If you are not the Addressee's), or the person responsible for delivering this to the Addressee's), you are hereby notified that reading, copying, or distributing this message is prohibited. If you have received this electronic mail message in error, please contact us immediately at (972) 870-9949 x152 and take the steps necessary to
delete the message completely from your computer system.

Thank you.

-----Original Message-----
From: Ronald J. Phillips, Sr.
Sent: Saturday, July 18, 2009 11:19 PM
Subject: Scott Wilder Show

Dear Mr. Peroyea,

I have been a WORD listener since it came on the air here in the Metroplex. I am very upset that Scott Wilder and Lauren Lintner have been fired and the Scott Wilder Show canceled. This show is the main reason that I listen to 100.7. Though I enjoy some of the other
programming (Dr. Jack Graham, Alistair Begg, Adrian Rogers and others), Scott's show was the principal basis for my listening to this station.

I and my family will no longer listen to this station, KLTY, nor KSKY in protest of this decision. Instead, for Christian music and preaching, I will listen solely to KCBI henceforth. For conservative talk, I will listen to WBAP. I will no longer support any advertisers of the WORD FM either. I plan to join with others who are preparing to begin a writing
campaign to the WORD advertisers.

When I got in my car Friday and heard Janet Mefferd, I thought Scott and Lauren were just out for the day. I was not at all impressed with her and did not even listen to a full segment before the next commercial came on. I was actually going to write the show an email next week stating that I did not like her as a fill in host.

I believe that this decision will result in a great many listeners to abandon this station and her advertisers. Twitter and Facebook are just now starting to become ablaze with irate listeners who are upset with this decision.


Ron Phillips
Fort Worth, TX

NOTE: This post has been changed to try and clean up some text and html above the posted emails. No content has been changed.


Ron P.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Elephant In The Room of SBC Declining Numbers

There is an "elephant in the room" of the Southern Baptist Convention when the issue of declining numbers is brought up. I must admit up front that I have a lot of questions and few answers. I keep hearing about the latest programs and strategies that experts tell us will grow the Kingdom of God. I also keep hearing about the problems that plague us and are the cause of decline such as legalism. We then have those that argue we need to enlarge the Baptist tent by setting aside theological differences to only the most primary doctrines (i.e. salvation). There is no end to the criticism within the SBC. But what is not being talked about is a sad reality that I wish was not ture and pray that it is not. But the evidence is to the contrary, and we need to admit to its possibility as the real reason our number of baptisms are declining in the SBC, and why every evangelical denomination is seeing a decline in numbers.

So what is the "elephant in the room"? Could it be apostasy? Has the United States turned her back on God? We once humbly, publicly and officially proclaimed God as Sovereign and Lord and we as a nation repeatedly asked for His blessings and guidance upon our land and our leaders. But no more. As a nation, we have forsaken the Lord God. Has not our country become so secular, pluralistic, materialistic and humanistic that we are becoming more like Europe, where the hearts of the people are outright rejecting any semblance of anything to do with God? Is God turning our country over to the evil desires of her heart?

What is some of the evidence of a national apostasy of the United States of America?
  • Pluralism - America has rejected the One True God.
  • Antagonism towards God - working hard to push God completely out of the public square.
  • Abortion - we as a nation have murdered nearly 51 million babies since 1973.
  • Gross sexual immorality - America is fast becoming one of the most sexually hedonistic cultures in history.
There is a plethora of evidence that one could use, but might not our declining numbers be indicative of a nation that is apostate and thus we are reaping what we as a nation has sown? We can not ignore the possibility that the decline in numbers is due to sin, and like in the days of Noah, most will not repent. Scripture and history are both replete with examples of the faithful proclamation of the Gospel yet with limited or no conversions. Though there is nothing inherently wrong with looking at our numbers, I would say that it is more important to be faithfully about the business of God no matter what our numbers are.

Simply put, might our declining numbers be (at least in part) due to an apostate unrepentant nation? My final question is this: How do we contend with apostasy?

Again, it is by being faithful to all of the Word of God. It is in working to fulfill ALL of the Great Commission:
  • Going.
  • Making disciples of all nations.
  • Immersing (baptizing) those disciples in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  • Teaching them to observe ALL that Christ commanded.
Doing this does ot necessarily mean our numbers will not decline. It does not even mean that we will see apostasy abated in our nation. But not doing this (ALL of the Great Commission) relegates anything else we do to be for naught.


Ron P.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Alcohol Today - Book Review

I ordered my copy of Peter Lumpkins' book Alcohol Today: Abstinence In An Age Of Indulgence almost two weeks ago. When it arrived, I started reading it right away. I had been anticipating this book for some time and I was not disappointed. I finished it quickly and without equivocation highly recommend this book. It is well worth the $14.95 I paid for it. This is a great example of stellar research by an author. I was impressed with several aspects of the book which I will share with you below. For a relatively short book, it will become a definitive modern treatise advocating the Biblical and historical position of alcoholic abstinence for the believer. With an impressive thirteen endorsements inside the cover, plus the forward by Dr. Jerry Vines, one cannot escape the intellectual clout and the logical and Biblical persuasiveness that this book has garnered.

However, I also want to do something different with this article. This is a very important issue for Christians in general and Southern Baptists in particular (more on this later). I will highlight pertinent aspects of the book for the purposes of this review. I will then advance what I believe will be the the anemic criticisms and unfortunately, some of the forthcoming calumny attacks of this book and it's author.

The Review

The book is organized in a well thought out manner in that Lumpkins has divided the book's twelve chapters into three sections. The first section concerns the obvious discussion on why this book is needed today. There has been a decided shift of attitude on intoxicating alcohol within Christendom. Lumpins notes that “Even though a century ago the church was certain imbibing was a carnal evil, it remains certain no longer.” p.19. The need for this book is clear as proponents of abstinence of intoxicating alcoholic drink are routinely dismissed with accusations of following tradition or advancing personal opinion as Biblical truth. But one can clearly see that rather than church influencing culture, culture has now influenced the church in the debate today. For history junkies like me, his chapter on Prohibition is fascinating as he closes section one. In the second section, Lumpkins moves from history to disseminating the five distinct positions, attitudes, and arguments regarding the pleasurable use of intoxicating drink. The reader will be presented with logical argument and reasoning as well as fallacies or shortcomings of any position but abstinence. This is an intellectual exercise that many fail to make when asserting opinions about any issue. The author has not failed here in using sound logic and reason when discussing these five positions on this subject. When addressing the usual chorus defending intoxicating drink, he rightly notes that "Such simplistic, inadequate, and unstudied conclusions boldly pronounced by preachers of the Book without one shred of argument pertaining to imbibing intoxicating substances for pleasurable use remains frightening for the church, not to mention culture." p. 52. Finally, the author then goes to the authoritative source in section three: Scripture. This is not the first usage of the Word that Lumpkins uses, quite the contrary. But this is where he deals exclusively with what the Bible says about the subject. He does not disappoint the reader in that he addresses the “difficult” passages and words that opponents of abstinence like to use as proof texts. His research into the etymological linguistics of various words for wine in Scripture and their contemporary sources in antiquity is impressive and will be difficult for the moderationist to answer, if not impossible. Lumpkins does his research in that he even demonstrates that the English word for wine has changed. The etymological arguments are very compelling. He rightly asserts that “Given the impressive evidence to the contrary, how we manage to possibly assume wine in Scripture necessarily and always refers to intoxicating beverages remains inexplicable. Indeed this may be the grandest hermeneutical hoax of the ages.” p.120.

I have to be upfront with you, I like footnotes. The reader will not be disappointed in the fact that the author has three appendices that total fourteen pages plus an additional six pages of a bibliography of cited works. My only disappointment is that I prefer numbered footnotes in the text to follow along with the bibliography (I know, I am a geek). However, this is not a problem per se, in that all the works cited are there for the reader to further research if one desires.

Alcohol Today: Abstinence In An Age Of Indulgence is a must read for anyone who wants to seriously examine the issue of a Biblical view regarding intoxicating alcoholic drink. You can order directly from the publisher at Hannibal Books or from Amazon as well as other online book sites.

The Coming Denunciations

As promised earlier, I now turn to the opponents of a Biblical view of abstinence. In this age of indulgence, how will this book be received? Moderationists will lament this work. Actually, I think they will try to ignore it and denigrate it and/or the author, because they will not be able to answer many of the arguments that Lumpkins raises. These attacks will especially occur within the SBC. Hence the importance of this within our own Convention. I believe that you will see a number of strategies used by opponents of Biblical abstinence to try and justify their position. Most, though not all, will involve sophistry and other types of fallacious reasoning. In fact, throughout the Baptist blog world, there have already been preemptive strikes made. My tease at the end of my last post was made precisely to highlight this point. So what are the slings and arrows that will be launched?

  • Argumentum ad hominem
There will be blistering personal attacks upon the author. We have seen this all too often in the blog world. Argumentum ad hominem will most likely be the favorite weapon of some (and two or three in particular). This will involve (as has been the case very recently) mis-truth and nefarious claims about one thing or another about the author. There will be other fallacies as well, but making the messenger the issue has always been an effective means to distract and move the debate away from the issues. Red Herrings, like the author's personal and familial experiences with alcohol will be exploited to “prove” his bias. It will be important in the blog discussions of this, to keep moving the target back to the issues and arguments that Lumpkins has postulated, as they are not the basis of his factual assertions and reasonings. Every personal attack will be nothing less than confirmation that they do not have an answer for his arguments.

  • Argumenum ad nauseam
I think that we will also see repetitious ideas put forth until it is proclaimed fact. This is the major weapon of the moderationist. They have incessantly expressed the idea that intoxicating drink is the only (or main) wine in both the Old and New Testaments for quite some time. It will continue. I do not expect the moderationists to carry out as thorough an etymological study of yayin (Hebrew) and oinos (Greek) as well as the other words in the Bible that are translated into English as wine as was done by the author. Looking to the LXX, other writings of antiquity, exegetical contexts of these words, and other scholarly works was well researched by the author. Answering these will be most difficult. They may cite modern works and cherry pick others, but in light of historical usages of these words that have been presented, I think we may mostly hear silence on this. Well, except for the loud and frequent proclamations that do not actually address the etymological evidence in a credible manner.

  • Anecdotal Evidence
This type of argument will be offered to counter points made by the author. But this is yet another fallacy in that just because God uses something untoward, it may not have been how He would have preferred it. Ask Sampson when we get to Heaven about that. God did deliver Israel from the Philistines by the hand of Sampson as He promised. But I can assure you it was not as God had intended Sampson to accomplish this task. Anecdotal evidence on this issue is no different. God may use an imbiber to lead a person to Christ, even while drinking. But that is not evidence of a Biblical permissiveness with regards to partaking of intoxicating drink for pleasure.

  • Strawman and Specious Arguments
One must expect that the forthcoming rhetoric will also include several age old Strawmen. Charges of legalism, Pharisaicalism, fundamentalism, traditionalism, cultural influence, arrogance, self righteousness, and other similar allegations will be numerous. While some of these will be part of the ad hominem attacks, some will just be stated to try and incite FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) in the abstinence position itself. You will also see “arguments” made that the belief in Biblical abstinence is an infringement upon Christian liberty and our individual ability to be led by the Holy Spirit in this matter. Being led by the Spirit is important and not a strawman . But when they fail to address the points the author brings up and use that as their “Maginot Line”, it then becomes a Strawman. These are tactically similar to the ad hominem assaults in that the point is solely to distract from the subject and topic of a technical discussion. This will of course be tied to Baptist Identity (and derisively called Baptist Identity Fundamentalism) with the implication that adherents to Biblical abstinence want to decide what Christians are to believe and how they are to live. Included in this will be guilt by association, especially if some unseemly statement or person can be lumped into the abstinence camp. For example, one Baptist blogger has already done this and in another post, noted the endorsements and proponents of this book and derisively attempted to pigeonhole them into a group he frequently bashes. But these are strawmen set up solely for the purpose of not engaging in the carefully reasoned arguments that have been brought before us by the author. Such specious arguments clearly demonstrates a lack of intellectual acumen and integrity.

  • Presumption and Haughtiness
There will be some people whose mind is made up and will not seriously nor prayerfully examine the evidence at all. They may even actually read the book, but they want to drink and they are going to. For them, the matter is settled because the Bible does not explicitly state “Thou shall not drink” as the 11th Commandment. I am concerned for such people, as it demonstrates a shallow understanding of Scripture and the life of holiness expected of the Spirit indwelled believer. In several discussions that I have had with opponents and proponents of abstinence, my experience has been that arrogance and presumption is actually more prevalent in the moderationist camp. I do not want to over generalize, but my experience has been that a a great number of moderationists tend to get very angry when discussing this issue. Why? Another person I spoke with stated that he could refute everything in the book. This is without having been aware of its existence (and obviously it's content) prior to our discussion. Dogmatic statements that condemn an abstinence view are nothing more than presumptuous assertions of "I am right you are wrong". Is this not doing the very same thing that they accuse those of us who do not agree with them? Actually, it would be akin to post modernism, in that the moderationists assert "what's wrong for you is not necessarily wrong for me".

I would encourage the moderationist reading this to carefully consider the compelling evidence that Peter Lumpkins has proffered. Are you truly seeking to glorify God or are you seeking after your personal liberty and right to indulge for personal pleasure? If you want to continue holding to a moderationist position, at least do it without casting aspersions or using fallacious and specious arguments that are attempts to poison the well of this debate. But most importantly, form an intellectually honest opinion based on the evidence of Scripture asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word of God. If you try to see this issue through the lens of modernity and not seek to understand the Biblical record and the linguistic and etymological evidence of antiquity, you may be guilty of deceiving yourself. Worse, you may end up deceiving others.


Ron P.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Assorted: GCR, BI and Captain Ahab

I realize that when I started this blog I stated that I would probably not blog often. But I sincerely expected to blog much more than I have. I feel that I have missed out on some of the important issues within SBC blogtown the last couple of months. However, life's been busy as a lot has been happening, especially related to our effort to adopt a sweet young boy that we have had in our home for the past 15 months. It has been a struggle with the length of time and expense of the legal side of it. To be precise, it has been a test of patience. God is good, and things are progressing, but at a much slower pace than what we had anticipated. We fully expected to have completed the adoption process quite some time ago. I can not share details at this time, but ask for prayer for all involved, especially for this little guy who had such a rough start in life and may have a difficult journey ahead because of it.

As stated above, I feel like I have missed much in SBC life. I have tried to regularly browse the blogs that I normally read, but I have had little time to comment. In some instances, I deeply regret not joining in the fray. So pardon me as I take a shotgun approach (or as the great sports columnist Blackie Sherrod of the Dallas Times Herald and later the Dallas Morning News would say), “scattershooting” a wide range of topics that I tried to follow to some degree, but was unable to find the time to participate. However, I will limit the number to just a few.

First: The GCR. I have yet to fully read the document. In part, I wanted to wait and see the final draft since I have not be able to engage in discussions about the changes being made to it. I have read Bart's blog on his reservations (here) and must admit that he gives me pause to want to know more.
Today, I finally got to read the editorial in the Southern Baptist Texan (here). I like what I saw there. Since, I am woefully uninformed on this document, I will leave it at that for the moment. But I wholeheartedly agree that we need a GCR. We need to obey the entirety of Christ's command to go and make disciples and immerse those disciples teaching them to observe all things Christ commanded. I hope that we see a renewed commitment to ALL of the Great Commission of Christ.

I deeply regret not joining in two particular conversations. The first was Dr. Bart Barber's report of what IMB personnel openly reported to Trustee's about Lottie Moon funds being held in escrow (see here and here for more details). The second is related, in that Peter Lumpkins was attacked for what he wrote about it (see all here, here, and here). More on that later. At the outset, I want to apologize to both men for not coming to their public defense. Not that either ever need me to defend them, as both are imminently more astute and scholarly than I will ever be. But since I believe both were inappropriately attacked by some drive by comments, I should not have left them there without taking a stand with them. I believe the lengthy record of integrity in the blogging of both men stand above any who were casting aspersions and acerbic attacks. One of the problems that Bart especially faced, was being unplugged where he had no access to the outside world to come back to explain his post and make a needed correction. His intentions, integrity, honesty and everything else in his character were called into question, especially by those seeking to get a “leg up” on the issues within the SBC. I must point out that several who have disagreed with Bart in the past, did give him the benefit of the doubt, but some were especially cruel beyond any respect. As is usually the case from some of these types of unprincipled diatribes, they attack the character of the person with whom they disagree, because that is the only way they can win an argument.

Now let us turn our attention to the personal attacks that Wade Burleson has repeatedly launched against Peter Lumpkins. It is interesting to say the least. Despite Wade's incessant protestations, he does not stand by everything he writes. And yes Virginia, Wade has on multiple occasions changed his posts (thus altering facts and/or important facets of his post) without notifying readers of said changes, as has been observed by many others elsewhere. Thus one can safely conclude he does not really stand by what he writes. For example a recent post tried to marry comments by Wiley Drake to Peter and thus to Baptist Identity. This is his modis operandi: attach something unseemly to those he opposes so as to discredit them. The last time I checked my BI membership Rules, Creeds, and Doctrines, “imprecatory prayers” were not on our list of doctrines that we must adhere to. Yet, Wade had a link in his original post to Peter's blog in an attempt to bind the two (and thus join BI) to these comments in some sort of “unholy matrimony”. I noticed that some called Wade out for his lack of integrity for doing so. Since the original post was published he has removed the link to Peter's blog. But if you did not read it when it was first published, you would be unaware of the clear personal attack on Peter, which at the time of this writing, no public apology has been proffered. Prior to this as linked to in the paragraph above, Wade published untruths on Baptist Life that Peter clearly refuted. I will not rehash the episode, you can read the links above on Peter's site.

Before anyone accuses me of what I accuse Burleson of: personal vitriolic ad hominem attacks, let me state clearly that I hold no personal animosity towards him. I loathe having to point out these things. But, it is necessary to not concede these attacks. It must be pointed out that his issues are not really issues, but misdirection and character assassination in the hope to destroy confidence or support of those with whom he disagrees. It is an effective tactic (ask Barry Goldwater about Lyndon Johnson's 1964 Daisy Girl Ad). I truly wish Wade would actually engage in the great issues of our Convention without always having to build his arguments first upon the ash heap of personal denigration. However, it is he that has his arms buried up to his shoulder blades in mud that he continually slings at anyone with whom he disagrees. Calling him out for his repeated character assassinations is not a personal attack. It is merely stating clearly observable behavior. It is he that has called the movement which he leads irenic but it has been anything but. As I have also stated elsewhere, the blog world is "littered with the bodies" of those who have been on the receiving end of his movement's acerbic ad hominem attacks. It is he that has been caught repeatedly embellishing facts or apparently withholding pertinent information to enhance his attempt to get his readers to reach a conclusion that he wishes to bring them to. For example, witnesses to “facts” he claims in his book, do not recall events happening as he stated them. These are witnesses that he cites to corroborate his tale that were at these events and witnesses named as participants whom he attacked. It is illuminating that their combined recollections are a striking contrast to that of Burleson's who clearly writes with what seems intentional obfuscation. One must logically assume that A) he remembered these events incorrectly; B) embellished said events; or C) was completely untruthful about said events. I will leave you to draw your own conclusion as to which, though none are flattering to Burleson or his credibility.

For me personally, much of Burleson's writings remind me of an episode of M*A*S*H (“The Novocaine Mutiny”) where Major Frank Burns has filed charges against Hawkeye for mutiny. During Burns' testimony, his recollection of the events that led up to the breakdown of command were, shall we say, a greatly embellished fantasy. Hawkeye is then asked to take the stand and testify. Hawkeye states: “The Major’s version of what happened was to say the least fascinating. It was to say the most perjury! No, to be fair I have no doubt that he remembers it that way. More’s the pity. And there was some truth to the story. It was October 11 and we were in Korea. Other than that…”. (emphasis mine). Hawkeye's statement sums up the conclusion that Burleson has led me to draw about himself. More's the pity!

I think that I may be guilty of being the first to label the personal attacks of Cole/Burleson as a remarkable resemblance to Captain Ahab's hunt for Moby Dick. It is the most compelling illustration that one could ascribe to this movement. However, it seems to me that Peter has now become the white whale that Burleson is chasing 'round the world. Why? Think on that for just a few minutes. Take your time. Actually, sit back, relax and take a nice long sip of a non-intoxicating drink and ask yourself this question: Why is Wade so juiced about Peter Lumpkins?


Ron P.
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Friday, April 10, 2009

Jesus Christ: Our Propitiation

Good Friday is over. At the time of this writing, it is 7:00 AM in Jerusalem, which would have been 13 hours after the end of Good Friday nearly 2000 years ago. If we were there at that time, Christ would already be buried in the borrowed tomb for the second day.

These days leading up to Easter are very sobering for us as believers. It is unfathomable to me that the Lord of Glory would descend to this earth; and take on the form of man to become the God-Man in order to become our propitiation to a Righteous, Just, and Holy God. He satisfied the Wrath of God as our penal substitute. The love that He has shown us is truly amazing! Whenever I partake of the Lord's Supper or when I remember the events of this week, it always brings to mind the horrible price that Christ paid to redeem me from my sin. As much as Christ suffered physically, and it was exceedingly great suffering, to willingly accept the Wrath of His Father as it was poured out upon Him, is what I can not fully comprehend.

Christ was tortured and beaten because of our sin. He suffered the Wrath of God because of our sin. He willingly laid His life down and shed His precious blood to atone for our sin. He who knew no sin, became our sin offering. Easter is a great and wonderful day that I look forward to every year. To celebrate Christ's victory over death and the victory He won over the penalty of our sin can not be over emphasized. But these days just before it are an important time for Christians to remember how horrible our sin is before a Holy God. It is a time to reflect on the fact that it was our sin that required the Perfect and Holy sacrificial Lamb of God to die so that our sin could be forgiven. We are free from the bondage of our sin and we need to live in His righteousness because we who have died to sin, should no longer walk in it.

Celebrate Easter and Christ's resurrection! But remember! Remember why Christ suffered so much:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. I John 4:10

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Purpose Driven Advice

I wish I could say that I was surprised that Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Community Church, has apologized to his homosexual friends for comments he made in October to his church in support of Proposition 8 in California. What actually surprised me was his backing of Prop 8 (although belatedly) at all. There are several excellent reads on his inconsistent statements: here, here, here, and here. Both believers and unbelievers have already called him out on his duplicity.

Therefore, I do not need to point out Warren's parsing of words and phrases in his attempt to walk a tightrope between Scripture and his homosexual friends. Instead, I would like to call your attention to some Purpose Driven Advice. It was given to me several years ago (and several times since). It originally was advice that was first given to a young pastor by his mentor and I think it quite appropriate for today. I wish all pastors would heed this advice.

There was a young pastor who was having a difficult time in his ministry. His mentor, who knew that he did not have much longer to live, wrote his son in the ministry. I am of course speaking of Paul in his writing to Timothy in the second epistle to Timothy. He especially gives Timothy counsel on the culture of his day (and ours) and his responsibility as a Pastor in the third and fourth chapters:

1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. II Timothy 3:1 - 4:8 NKJV (emphasis mine).

Paul's words to Timothy are pretty plain. He firsts outlines the perilous times. He then stakes out claims about the culture being in great sin. But Paul reminds Timothy that he knows the Word and the Truth. He then gives an emphatic command to this young pastor: Preach the Word! To be counter-cultural and stand against sin and the false teachings of this world. He explicitly commanded Timothy to convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. Paul clearly commands him to be anything but compromising. Truth matters. You can not speak love apart from the truth - for that is not love. However, we should not speak truth apart from love and longsuffering. But we can not tickle the ears of hearers. We must follow the advice and instruction of the Apostle Paul here, so that we too may receive the crown of righteousness. This is where I think Rick Warren has failed. He is not Preaching the Word as Paul commands here.

This is yet another example on why compromising the Word of God is dangerous and leads down a slippery slope. Where do the compromises end? They don't! Once you start, it beomes exceedingly difficult to stop. Warren is attempting to walk a tightrope between Scripture and culture that can not be walked. They are diametrically opposed. Compromise eventually leads to error and false teaching. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." We must not lose our flavor! We must stand firm and be faithful and care what God's Word says, and not what our culture wants to hear.

Preach the Word!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gotcha Day 2009

Stealing from Bart Barber... Today is "Gotcha Day" for Josh. We too celebrate his birthday and the day that we got him. One year ago today, we picked Josh up for placement in our home for emergency foster care. Of course we fell in love with him, and he has become a big part of our family.

We are going to celebrate "Gotcha Day" with our church family and his friends in his class tonight. We are so grateful to God for brining him into our family. Please pray as we seek to make it permanent and adopt him into our family. We have a way to go in the legal realm to get there.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Believers Baptism: Dying for Naught

...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain... Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863. (emphasis mine).

Just as we should remember the sacrifice of the soldiers who have bled and died to give us our freedom, we as Southern Baptists need to remember those who went before us and gave their lives for Our Lord and for their faithfulness to the Scriptures. I believe that there are those within our Convention that have in all practicality, relegated our forerunners to have died in vain.

Last month was the 482nd anniversary of the death of Felix Manz, one of the first Anabaptist Martyrs. It was on a cold January 5th, 1527, that Manz's hands were bound to his knees, with the stick thrust between arms and legs and then thrown into the icy waters of the Limmat River in Zurich. Manz's death, as well as other Anabaptist martyrs, are in essence being rendered as needless and for naught, by our ecumenical loving and/or Presbyterian leaning brethren within the Southern Baptist Convention. I do not believe that these two groups have the same goals and agenda. But some in both camps seem to share a limited acceptance of paedobaptism, though stating that they personally hold to believers baptism.

I think the martyr's deaths are diminished by those willing to affirm that which the martyrs denied: paedobaptism. Let me put it another way: Would today's Baptist be willing to suffer horrendous torture and die a martyrs death to faithfully uphold believers baptism and it alone? I think most would not. Would today's Baptist be willing to accept some into their church as a member, who sincerely believed their infant baptism to be biblically justified? Would they invite them to share in the Lord's table? It is happening within our Convention today, though historically and categorically rejected by Baptists as un-biblical. There are some who seem so willing to abandon one of the primary reasons such a great price was paid by our Anabaptist forerunners: Faithfulness to The Great Commission and Obedience to the Command of Christ to only baptize disciples (i.e. believers baptism). If they can so easily lay aside the importance of obeying Christ's command, then by their actions they are declaring these deaths to have been hollow and pointless. Either Manz (and all who gave their lives for this essential doctrine) were right, and died for the truth of Scripture or they should have capitulated. The ecumenical Baptists of today (which is an oxymoron) can not proclaim that Manz and others died for Christ in a just cause and yet accept false “baptisms” for which the martyrs rejected and willingly died for.

This ecumenical Baptist movement is troubling and most of all surprising. The “presbyterian” movement is not as surprising, as we do share much in common theologically. Believers only baptism is not one of them, and thus a point of division. I hold them as dear brothers and sisters in Christ, but who are in serious theological error and agree with the need to divide in order for us to be faithful to Scripture. Our history as part of a greater Baptist community has stood against theological appeasement since the earliest days of the Reformation as well as by our English Baptist forefathers. In recent years the Conservative Resurgence turned back a movement that was leading us to theological liberalism. Yet, here we are again, having to defend within our own Convention, Baptist Distinctives that Scripture clearly teaches. Believers Baptism is not the only cherished doctrine that is currently under attack from within our own ranks. It is not even the most prominent attack. It is however the most illogical one, because WE ARE BAPTISTS. Our very name identifies us as being a people like Manz and others, who believe that the only valid biblical baptism is believers baptism!

At this point, I must make clear that I do understand the difference between the Anabaptists (whom I call our forerunners) and our English Baptist forefathers. I agree with Dr. Malcolm Yarnell in “The Heart of a Baptist” when he states: Of the four Reformation era traditions just mentioned, Baptists come closest to the Anabaptists, for we are their theological heirs, even if we may or may not claim to be their direct historical heirs. I am a Christ-follower first, and unashamedly a Baptist by conviction. I agree with those who have gone before us, both Baptist and Anabaptist, who were convinced that Believers Baptism is a doctrine not only worth fighting for, it is worth dividing over, and yes, worth dying for. There is something about their conviction to the fundamental truth of Scripture that appeals to me.

Several men and women were martyred for their faith in Christ during the 16th Century, many for following Christ's command regarding baptism. Our non-protestant radical reformation forerunners died for a just cause: Fulfilling The Great Commission of Christ and obeying all that He commanded. Any “baptism” that is not immersion of a believer has failed to obey Christ and has failed to obey The Great Commission.

I wish I could ask Manz and Sattler and others what they think of Baptists who have in all practicality declared their deaths meaningless and pointless. I do not believe that these men and women died for naught. But it will be for naught for Southern Baptists if we do not turn back those that seek to take us away from obeying Christ. It will be for naught if we do not follow their example of faithfully holding to the Scriptures no matter the cost.

Below are some short accounts of a few of those that paid the ultimate price for a doctrine that Baptists have always held near and dear. Remember what they did for Christ and for those of us that came after them.

Huldrych Zwingli's successor Heinrich Bullinger wrote of Felix Manz:

As he came down from the Wellenberg to the fish market, and was led through the shambles to the boat, he praised God that he was about to die for His truth. For Anabaptism was right, and founded on the Word of God, and Christ had foretold that His followers would suffer for the truth’s sake. And the like discourse he urged much, contradicting the preacher who attended him. On the way his mother and brother came to him, and exhorted him to be stedfast; and he persevered in his folly, even to the end. When he was bound upon the hurdle, and was about to be thrown into the stream by the executioner, he sang with a loud voice: ‘In manus Tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.’ (‘Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.’) And herewith was he drawn into the water by the executioner, and drowned.

From Wikipedia

Please read what Martyrs Mirror has to say about a few of those who were martyred for believers baptism:

George Blaurock: On the day Manz was martyred, Blaurock was severely beaten and permanently expelled from Zürich. He kept moving, laboring at Bern, Biel, the Grisons, and Appenzell. After his arrest and 4th banishment in April of 1527, Blaurock left Switzerland never to return. From here he turned to the Tyrol. In 1529 he became the pastor of the church in Adige Valley, after their former pastor, Michael Kürschner, was burned at the stake. Blaurock conducted a very successful ministry in Tyrol. Many believers were baptized and churches founded. In August he and Hans Langegger were arrested by Innsbruck authorities. While in captivity they were tortured for information. On September 6, 1529, Blaurock and Langegger were burned at the stake near Klausen.

Dirk Willems: Dirk was imprisoned in Netherlands; escaped through window by rope. Prison guard chased Dirk across frozen river. Dirk crosses safely; guard fell through ice. Dirk rescued guard, who captured him. Dirk was burned at stake. Remembered as compassionate Christian who risked recapture to save pursuer.

Hans Bret: Anabaptist baker in Netherlands; imprisoned & tortured for teaching Anabaptist faith. His letters to his mother detail torture. Before being burned at stake, tongue screw was used to silence him. Pastor retrieved screw; married Hans’ mother: screw became family heirloom.

Michael Sattler: Arrested; charged with violations of Catholic doctrine & practice. Asked for debate; prosecutor replied: “You rascal of a monk, should we dispute with you? The hangman shall dispute with you” 20 May 1527, martyred. Tongue cut out; Chained to wagon; Flesh torn with hot tongs; Bound to ladder; bag of gunpowder around his neck; pushed into fire; Prayed for persecutors. Wife Margaretha was drowned 8 days later.

Balthasar Hubmaier: 10 March 1528, in Vienna, burned at stake with sulphur & gunpowder rubbed into his beard. “O dear brothers, pray God that he will give me patience in this my suffering. I will die in the Christian faith.” Wife Elizabeth drowned in Danube 3 days later.

In the booklet Who Were the Anabaptists, we see that not only were these faithful believers tortured and killed by Roman Catholics, but by “evangelical” Protestants as well.

One of the very few things on which most Protestants and Catholics agreed at this time was the persecution of Anabaptists! As a rule, Catholics burned them, but Protestants drowned or beheaded them.

The Anabaptists criticised Luther, Zwingli and the other Reformers for being ‘halfway men’, afraid to follow through what they knew from Scripture to be right. They were convinced that the Bible was authoritative for ethics and the shape of the church as well as for doctrine, which many Reformers seemed unwilling to admit.

The Anabaptist movement was drowned in blood in many parts of Europe, but their courageous martrydoms attracted many people to their teachings – so much so that the authorities sometimes resorted to tongue-screws to silence Anabaptist on route to their execution. ...15-year old Adriaen searches through the ashes to find the tongue-screw used on his mother, Maeyken Wens. Hubmaier spoke for all Anabaptists when he said: “Truth is immortal. You may burn a man to death for heresy, but if he believes the truth, you have not destroyed it.”

I invite you to read more on Michael Sattler:

Michael Sattler was captured by the Roman Catholic authorities in Horb, tried on May 17, 1527 at Rottenburg, and was martyred on May 21, 1527. "On the morning of that day this noble man of God, in sight of horrible torture, prayed for his judges and persecutors and admonished the people to repentance. He endured the inhuman torture stipulated in the sentence. Then his mangled body was tied to a ladder. He prayed again for his persecutors while the ladder was placed upon the stake. He had promised his friends to give them a sign from the burning stake, to show that he remained steadfast to the end, enduring it all willingly for Christ. The fire having severed the cords wherewith he was bound, he lifted up his hand for a sign to them. Soon it was noticed that his spirit had taken its flight to be with Him whom he had steadfastly confessed under the most excruciating torture, a true hero of the faith.

Mennonites In Europe, John Horsch, Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc., 1942, 1995, pp.70-78.

...Michael Sattler, [an Anabaptist]...was 'committed to the executioner...[and taken] to the square and they first cut out his tongue, and then forged him fast to a wagon and there with glowing iron tongues twice tear pieces from his body, then on the way to the site of execution five times more as above and then burn his body to powder as an arch-heretic' [?]...Sattler, who had given a true and skillful testimony at the trial, was thus handled. Even after the pieces were torn from his body and a part of his tongue cut out, Sattler still prayed for his persecutors and admonished the officials to repent and be converted. As he was dying, Sattler raised the two fore-fingers of his hands giving the signal to the brethren, as he had arranged, that a martyr's death was bearable. From his seared lips, the crowd heard him say, 'Father, I commend my spirit into Thy hands.' Then he fell asleep.

The Noble Army of "Heretics", Bill Jackson, Colonial Baptist Press and on the web, pp. 27-28.

Then there was George Wagner:

When he was delivered over to the executioner and led into the middle of the city, this excellent man said, “This day will I confess my God to the glory of Christ Jesus, that such happiness is afforded me in the sight of all the world.” His face was not pale nor were his eyes distorted. With a smile playing on his lips he went to the fire, where the executioner bound him to the ladder and hung a bag of gunpowder around his neck. And when he had taken leave of a Christian brother, he was thrust into the fire, and calmly yielded up his spirit to Christ, February 8, 1527.

J. Newton Brown's book, Memorials of Baptist Martyrs

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr. Bob Pearle Interview

The blog for Hannibal Books has posted an interview of Bob Pearle discussing his recent book The Vanishing Church: Searching For Significance in the 21st Century and declining church membership. It originally aired two days ago on KCBI 90.9, flagship radio station of Criswell Collge. You can listen to the interview by going here. The interview also aired on Family Net Radio.

The interview is just under four minutes. I invite you to listen to Dr. Pearle as he discusses this important issue for Southern Baptists in the 21st Century.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

The Vanishing Church: Book Review

Today I finished reading Dr. Bob Pearle's book The Vanishing Church: Searching For Significance in the 21st Century (Hannibal Books, 2009, 143 pages, ISBN: 978-1934749395, $14.95 paperback). Pearle has served as the pastor of Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas for the last eleven years. He is also President of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention. I have had the privilege and honor of having Brother Bob as my pastor for nearly six years.

In his book, Dr. Pearle argues for a reclamation of a biblical church by using Scripture as the foundation of his argument that is buttressed with pertinent examples (good and bad) from church history to the present day. He does so to show that churches that have lost their doctrinal core are struggling with an identity crisis. p. 7. He describes how This book began with a sermon series I preached to the congregation of which I pastor... p. 8. Having heard the sermon series and having now read the book, I am pleased to enthusiastically recommend this book to pastors, theologians, church leaders and layman alike. Every committed follower of Christ that seeks to be part of a biblically based church should read this book.

I found the book to be a straightforward, readable apologetic which a layman can easily understand and grasp. It will also hold the interest of any biblically concerned theologian. I believe that you will agree that Pearle says more with less words than most who endeavor to embark on such a work. The author clearly states that the book is not a formal thesis and not "... an academic treatment on the subject..." p. 8. However, one cannot escape the thorough research of Scripture as he does not shy away from the exposition of texts and words of the koine New Testament Greek and even the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament). In this short volume, the reader will find an extraordinary two hundred and seventy-five endnotes of references and Scriptures. He does this in a manner in which a layman unfamiliar with biblical languages would not be overwhelmed or feel that the subject matter is over his head. For example, when defining the word church, Pearle explains the origin of the word in Greek (ekklesia) as well as it's use within Scripture. In fact the entirety of Chapter Four: The Church of the Living God is exemplary of how an expositor of the Word of God can and should use Scripture. Specifically he aptly utilizes the original language in order to allow the text to define itself and make salient points. He then ably uses history and present day illustrations to supplement the text of Scripture.

The book is distinctively divided into three sections that encourage the church to take an honest hard look inward, backward and forward. Throughout the book Dr. Pearle appeals to Scripture as the basis of his assertions. He is an intrepid author contending that many of today's churches are in danger.

Once again the Apostle Paul sounded the alarm. This time the alarm was not sounded to the outside culture but to the church in Colossi. He warned them of certain errors in teaching that threatened the faith of the believers in the church. In Paul's day this error was known as the "Colossian heresy". Today the same kind of error disguises itself in differing ways in the contemporary church. What happens today is just as dangerous and harmful. p. 19.

We see parallels today. In contemporary society and the emergent-church culture truth is viewed as fuzzy, uncertain, vague, and even unknowable. Emergent-church leaders are uncomfortable about declaring any hint of certainty about what the Bible means. p. 33.

Dr. Pearle addresses the issue of regenerate church membership throughout most of section two. Chapter 5 discusses Church Membership; Chapter 6, Christian Baptism; and Chapter 7, The Purpose of the Church. He succinctly and emphatically advocates that a New Testament Biblical Church is one that is only composed of believers that are biblically Baptized (immersed), who follow the command of the Lord to make disciples.

For this Baptist, I am delighted that my pastor deals with an issue most dear to me: ecumenism within our Southern Baptist Convention and the need to recover our Baptist distinctives. After quoting J.M. Frost, founder of the Baptist Sunday School Board, Pearle elaborates:

The need Frost saw last century was to advance Baptist distinctives and denominational identity. This is the same need today. The trend toward ecumenism is diminishing doctrinal differences. Baptists need to get more serious about their doctrinal distinctives and quit trying to be an ecclesial supermarket serving the whims of religious consumers. p.113

Pearle rightly points out that The antidote for Baptists to not travel the same path of Evangelicalism is to remain true to their doctrinal distinctives. Celebrate them and adhere to them, or the same fate of Evangelicalism will be ours. p. 115. He further gives insight to the failure of modern preaching that is void of biblical truth and thus ineffective.

In the modern church this kind of preaching is in short supply. Repentance from sin is seldom declared from church pulpits, if they have one. The therapist's couch has replaced the pulpit in some churches. Felt-needs such as obtaining happiness, overcoming loneliness, dealing with depression, and gaining material wealth are typical of the messages of the day. Felt-needs have trumped biblical doctrine in the preaching ministry. In this therapeutic culture, sin is treated as a disease and not as wickedness and rebellion against God. p. 117.

We are currently living in an age where we are witnessing a movement by Baptist theologians and pastors who want to forget the many sacrifices of our Baptist forefathers and relegate them to a martyrdom that was for naught. They desire to abandon biblical fidelity by widening the definition of what it means to be Baptist. Dr. Pearle argues that churches today are choosing pragmatism over truth. The majority of Christians in the pew (and many unaware pastors) would be shocked to learn that we Baptists are having to defend biblical baptism within our own convention! Pearle articulates a sound biblical vindication of our historic Baptist principles and the need to adhere to biblical doctrine and truth in all matters. Today many preachers and churches are seeking to be culturally relevant rather than biblically sound. This is what is most refreshing about this book; it is a call back to the Scriptures and a reminder that our forefathers died at the hands of other denominations because they would not compromise the Word of God. Dr. Pearle's book is a clarion call for the church to be faithful and vigilant to obey the commands of Christ rather than the latest culturally driven trendy church growth fad.
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