The Old Man Fallacy as an Excuse for Abuse in Independent Fundamental Baptist Theology

The following lines are taken from the doctrinal statement that appears at the Sword of the Lord website.  Sword of the Lord is a publication that has been around for decades, promoting KJV only, separatist, soul-winning fundamentalism.  In the same statement, the Sword of the Lord insists that:

…the Bible, the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, preserved for us in the Masoretic text (Old Testament) Textus Receptus (New Testament) and in the King James Bible, is verbally and plenarily inspired of God. It is the inspired, inerrant, infallible, and altogether authentic, accurate and authoritative Word of God, therefore the supreme and final authority in all things (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Peter 1:21; Rev. 22:18-19).

Hmmm… I can’t find anywhere in those Scriptures they cite that make any mention of the KJV.  But on to our main point in this article. Listen to this statement:

The Believer’s Two Natures

WE BELIEVE every truly regenerated, born again Christian is saved by the grace of God through faith placed in Jesus Christ and is thereby awarded a new and spiritual nature which he did not previously possess.

WE BELIEVE the old nature which we possess from birth is not eradicated but lingers yet within us.

WE BELIEVE it is for this reason that true Christians are not perfect people and they can still sin.

WE BELIEVE the new nature, if nourished properly, should begin to dominate the Christian’s life, and the old nature should be less and less prominent.

If you have ever read David Needham’s book, Birthright, Christian do you Know Who You Really Are?*,  you will note that this idea that the Christian still has a very much alive “old man” is the very point that held Needham in bondage for so many years and which he wrote his book to refute.  It has its roots in the footnotes of the Scofield Bible, though it may have been taught by others before that.  I am not sure.

Here is my thesis:

This teaching that the Old Man is still alive in the Christian and only “positionally” dead (decreed dead but not really dead – go figure), is often used by those who teach it to promote legalism and to justify sin. When a prominent preacher “falls,” for example, his grievous sin is easily chalked up to “well, it is sad.  Brother Jones’ Old Man just rose up and got the best of him.  And well, we must not be too judgmental.  Any of us could do the same thing.  We are still evil and we have to be sure we don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cuss, don’t miss church… or else the New Man will get defeated by the Old Man.”

The New Testament knows nothing of this spiritual schizophrenia dual personality.  Listen to the Apostle Paul:

(Rom 6:1-7 ESV)  Romans 6:1 ¶ What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?  2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?  3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  5 ¶ For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.

The “Old Man is still alive” theology justifies sin, it confuses Christians, it permits unsaved people to parade as believers, and it holds Christ’s people in bondage.  Who are you, Christian?  Who are you?  Are you still that old man you were before Christ regenerated you, put you to death in Christ, buried you with Him, and raised you up as a brand new creation upon whose heart is written His Word?  When you are tempted to sin, what is it that YOU really want?  Yes, the New Testament says that our sarx (flesh) remains, but that is not the same as the Old Man.  We still live in fallen, corruptible bodies and that is why there is going to be a literal bodily resurrection once day.  These mortal bodies cannot inherit immortality.  But YOU, in Christ, are not your flesh.  You are a child of God, a saint, an heir, God’s beloved, new creations having died to sin.

1Co 6:9-11 ESV Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Such WERE some of you.  But not any more.  That old man is dead.  Really dead.  Crucified with Christ.

Once more, in contrast to this biblical truth, listen to this description of IFB theology from a brother who has seen it all personally from the “inside.”  He points us to another article in the Sword of the Lord doctrinal statement:

WE BELIEVE that the command to get the Gospel to the world is a clear and unmistakable mandate, that this command is therefore, the commission of God to all of us who are saved. (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Rom. 10:13-15).  [Sword of the Lord]

Our friend examines this for us:

Now read a few of the words alone; “clear and unmistakable mandate … to all of us who are saved.” This is the first psychological trap in the IFB movement, i.e. you’ll be told “You’re not saved if you’re not out soul winning for this church!” You think, “Oh crap, I want to be saved and it is a mandate! I better go!”

Here’s how the ‘standards’ get into the congregation. You can’t go soul winning if you’re providing a bad public witness. So, no soul winning for you if you’re going to movies or into bars, smoking, gambling, or even watching television. But, “Wait a minute!,” the sheep declare “I can’t be saved if I’m not soul winning!,” and consequently “I better not do those bad things in public,” the sheep continues “that will make me feel better – whew!”

What’s the problem with this, you might ask? It all started with no sincere personal repentance of answer in faith to the Gospel call, so the unregenerate man simply remained unregenerate. They declare the old man lives right beside the new man, and all sorts of insidious sin dwells privately in the congregation. As long as it doesn’t interfere with public witness or soul winning, then we just whisper about it together. People just quietly mourn the loss of another church member to “the old man.”

The theology of the Independent Fundamental Baptists is cultivating and protecting abusers with this Old Man/New Man doctrine.  It is part of a false gospel that cannot save. All an abusive, wicked man need do is credit his very much alive Old Man with his abusive deeds.  And he still gets to remain a Christian!  According to this doctrine, professing Christians can virtually walk in sin, yet be confident that they are saved.  After all, it is just the Old Man rising up when we get careless and fail to apply the prescribed remedies to keep him weak.  And those prescribed remedies are often nothing more than legalistic, man-created rules and traditions that, in fact, only feed the sinful flesh.  The law, after all, is the power of sin.

Now, add into this whole mix other doctrines which are claimed to be biblical (but which are merely the traditions of men) and you have an environment which cruelly oppresses the weak and oppressed.  For example, think carefully about the following typical doctrinal points which we have taken from the doctrinal statement of a large IFB church.  How do these teachings enslave people?  Let us know in your comments (boldfacing is mine) —

Lawsuits Between Believers: We believe that Christians are prohibited from bringing civil lawsuits against other Christians or the church to resolve personal disputes. We believe the church possesses all the resources necessary to resolve personal disputes between members. We do believe, however, that a Christian may seek compensation for injuries from another Christian’s insurance company as long as the claim is pursued without malice or slander. (I Corinthians 6:1-8; Ephesians 4:31-32)

Giving: We believe that every Christian, as a steward of that portion of God’s wealth entrusted to him, is obligated to support his local church financially. We believe that God has established the tithe as a basis for giving, but that every Christian should also give other offerings sacrificially and cheerfully to the support of the church, the relief of those in need, and the spread of the Gospel. We believe that a Christian relinquishes all rights to direct the use of the tithe or offering once the gift has been made. (Genesis 14:20; Proverbs 3:9-10; Acts 4:34-37; I Corinthians 16:2; II Corinthians 9:6-7; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 4:28; I Timothy 5:17-18; I John 3:17)

Divorce and Remarriage: We believe that God hates divorce and intends marriage to last until one of the spouses dies. Although divorced and remarried persons or divorced persons may hold positions of service in a church and be greatly used of God for Christian service, they may not be considered for the offices of pastor or deacon of a church. (Malachi 2:14-17; Matthew 19:3-12; Romans 7:1-3; I Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6)

To protest against these kinds of things in a “church” where such doctrines abound and you had better be ready to duck and run.  But the fact is, these are the things that are believed.  And if pressed closely enough, one will find once again an example of how the IFB doctrine moves quite close to that of Rome.

“One man to rule them all, and in the darkness, bind them.”

 

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Abuse Counseling: How Long is “Forbearing”?

Ephesians 4:2 ESV  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

As I read the stories told by Christians, most often women, who have been the victims of abuse, I am dismayed to hear over and over again how their pastors and churches told them that they must give their abuser opportunity to repent, to go to counseling, to try to reform himself, etc.  Many victims are even condemned by their fellow Christians if they want to initiate divorce proceedings.  They are told that they must be patient and forbearing, and verses such as that quoted above are recited to them.


In abuse cases this is nonsense, and it is dangerous.  Furthermore, such counsel most often totally ignores the context of the victim’s relationship with the abuser.  Simply put, typically the victim has been enduring the abuse for years – 20, 30 or more years!  And now she is told that she must “try” being patient, such patience being a mark of real faith and pleasing to God.  I really hope that our readers can quickly see that this is ignorant lunacy.

Continue reading “Abuse Counseling: How Long is “Forbearing”?”

The Faith of Devils

James 2:15-19, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? (17) So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (18) But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (19) You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!”

As we have said before, Satan is an excellent theologian.  He knows the Bible well – he was able to quote it from memory when he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4).  Satan believes in God, and so do his emissaries.  And the God in which he believes is no false god.  Satan believes in the living and true God.  He believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.  He knows all about Christ’s incarnation, atonement, and resurrection.  He knows them to be true.  He even knows that Christ is coming again to judge all men and himself –

Revelation 12:12, “Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

Matthew 8:29, “And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?””

So let’s talk for a bit here about the faith of the devil and his demons.  First of all, it just needs to be said – the devil and his demons have a stronger and more accurate faith than many professing Christians.  The devil lives and acts in light of his faith.  He knows his time is short, so he rages.  The demons fear Christ because they know their time is coming.  Do you see it?  How many people who profess the name of Christ truly live out what they believe?  That was James’ whole point when he said that a faith that does not yield works is no real faith at all.  If I see a brother or sister in need or being oppressed by an evil person, and I only give them pious sounding words but do nothing to help them, my faith is not genuine faith.  It doesn’t save that victim, nor can it save my soul.  The demons are very sound and accurate in their theology proper – they confess full well that God is one.  They adhere to the doctrine of the trinity.   In fact, their faith is so accurate that it leads them to shudder!

Are we telling our congregations, as pastors and as church members, that man needs to fear God?  That apart from genuine repentance – a real, heartfelt turning from sin to Christ – the only thing that awaits a person when they depart out of this world is, hell?  Are we calling, as Scripture commands us to, all people to turn from their love for the world and love Christ above all else? Does anyone ever leave our worship services shuddering and trembling out of the fear of the Lord?  Unfortunately, we know the answer to these questions, at least in the vast majority of cases.  People leave our worship services thinking about what the special is at The Sizzler, or any number of other things.

And it gets worse than that, because there ARE people who leave our services shuddering and trembling.   The victims of abuse.  The oppressed and down-trodden, the humble of soul, find no relief.  They often leave condemned, thinking that it is they who have been too judgmental and unkind or unforgiving toward their oppressor.  The wicked man leaves justified in his own mind.

The professing, Bible-believing Christian church is fostering a devilish faith.  The faith of demons is a faith that knows all about various facts and details of Scripture, but is devoid of fruit.  It confesses God is one, then it goes out and oppresses the innocent and weak.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Charles Finney, an evangelist in the Northeastern United States (New York area?) back in the 1800’s.  Finney is the one who is “credited” with inventing the altar call approach to evangelism.  He had some kind of bench that he would put up front for sinners to come to a be saved.  He believed that the preacher can actually, by following certain guidelines, effect a real revival.  If you have any doubts, pick up a copy of Finney’s writings and you can see for yourself. What has this to do with the present state of the church and with abuse and domestic violence?  I believe, and I am not alone, that Finney’s methodology so infected the church that it is still with us today.   Instead of telling people who are under conviction of sin to go home and plead with God to show them mercy, as the humble tax-collector did –

Luke 18:13, “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’”

… we tell them they can say a simple prayer and then be absolutely confident that the Lord has saved them. This is what we call easy-believism, and it is probably exactly what the Apostle James was opposing in James 2.  All of us who are deeply concerned about abuse and abusers and the church’s unjust handling of abuse victims, need to understand that it is this very kind of unbiblical theology that is responsible for creating an environment in our churches where evil can hide.  As we fill our pews with people we have pronounced to be saved, but who do not know the Lord, we endanger the flock and act as allies of the enemy.

Where there is genuine, saving faith, there will be fruits and evidences of that faith.  The love of Christ will be evident – a real love that is so foreign to this world that when the world sees it, they know we are followers of Christ.  But sadly, Christ’s name is being blasphemed among the world today because even an unsaved man knows hypocrisy when he sees it.  We are not calling our people to genuine repentance and faith as Christ demands, and we are reaping the whirlwind as a result.  No one knows this better than the battered victim of the “Christian” abuser.