By Donald S. Fortner
CULTS, SECTS, AND DOGMATISM
When men cannot refute our doctrine, or choose not to pay the price of being decidedly committed to the message of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, their only weapon is slander. One of the surest ways to raise suspicions about a preacher, a church, or a religious group is to refer to it as a “sect,” or a “cult.” That immediately congers up images of horror. This has been one of Satan’s ploys since the beginning. When the Jews came to visit Paul in prison, they said, “Concerning this sect, we know that it is every where spoken against.” Do not allow such slanders to scare you or make you feel uneasy in standing firm against the tide of human opinion. Let men call me sectarian, cultic, and dogmatic, or scandalize my name if they must. I rejoice to walk in the company of a great multitude, though scandalized and always in the minority in their day. Yet, I am not, in the least, daunted by the fear of standing alone against all the opinions of men. Here are three things I affirm with every fiber of my being. They are not rash, youthful, novice opinions, but the deliberate statements of thoughtful judgment and consideration.
First, THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS THE MESSAGE OF SALVATION PURPOSED BY GOD THE FATHER, PURCHASED BY GOD THE SON, AND PERFORMED IN CHOSEN, REDEEMED SINNERS BY GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT (Eph. 1:3-14). I do not care for the nickname, but that which men call “Calvinism” is neither more nor less than the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The biblical doctrines of Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints are not merely logical points of theology, but vital gospel doctrines, clearly revealed in Holy Scripture (Rom. 3:9-19; 5:12; Eph. 1:4-6; Heb. 9:12; Psa. 65:4; John 10:28). To deny these blessed, gospel doctrines is to deny the faith of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, ARMINIAN, FREEWILL, WORKS RELIGION IS NOT CHRISTIAN, BUT ANTICHRIST RELIGION. This is not my opinion, but that which the Holy Spirit has clearly revealed in Holy Scripture (Gal. 1:6-9; 5:2, 4; Col. 2:23). Those who deny the accomplishment of redemption and the certain salvation of the redeemed deny that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. “This is a deceiver or and an antichrist” (II John 7). If Arminianism is embraced as Christianity, then Mormonism, Campbellism, Russellism, and Romanism must also be embraced. In that case, the reformation was a horrendous mistake, our forefathers died for nothing, and the sooner we all unite with Rome the better!
Third, IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF ALL WHO BELIEVE THE GOSPEL TO DO WHAT WE CAN IN THESE DARK DAYS TO MAKE IT KNOWN TO ALL MEN. Confess the faith of Christ before men. Let those who preach, preach it with boldness, clarity, and distinctiveness. The souls of men, the glory of God, and the truth of God are at stake. Let us be found faithful! God requires no more and we can give no less than faithfulness.
GRACE BAPTIST CHURCH of DANVILLE – Grace For Today Radio Message #621
2734 Old Stanford Road – Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438
Donald S. Fortner, Pastor
HL – http://www.donfortner.com/radio_notes/0621%20Cultic%20or%20Dogmatic.htm
Lumping Campbell – a Presbyterian Christian man with non-Christian religions- Mormons and Russellites – a little extreme don’t you think? Comparing reformed Campbell with Arminian belief on what basis? An then we end up somehow with the pope in Rome which has also no connection with the other….Is this sounding confusing? Acts 28:22 somehow links all of this together in a way which is not crystal clear. Exactly what I felt on reading the article. A lot of unrelated truth mixed in a salad. After reading it twice I kept asking myself – and?
Warnings must be given of all false religions ! The Word reads :
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
(Jude 1:3-8 KJV)
Reading your comment a second time I cannot but help SMH.
You may want to read this on the errors of Campbellism
Enemies within the church
In the preceding verse, believers are exhorted earnestly, boldly and faithfully to hold to, stand by and contend for all that pertains to the faith. This will not be easy, for there are enemies without and within the church who, motivated Satan, will seek to pervert, compromise and destroy the true gospel of redeeming grace as it is purchased by and revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud_1:4. The most treacherous and subtle enemy is the one inside the church (2Pe_2:1; 1Ti_4:1-3). Satan sows his tares among the wheat. He does this in the night while men sleep, in order that he might corrupt the church. They creep in unsuspected and under false profession (Mat_7:15; 2Co_11:13-15).
‘They were long ago ordained to this judgment.’ The church is not tried, nor the Lord Jesus betrayed, nor the gospel challenged except according to the counsel and will of God (Joh_19:11; Joh_17:12; Psa_109:7-8). Those who creep in, infiltrate the church and corrupt the truth are foretold and their judgment is foretold. They, too, serve the purpose of God (Rom_9:17; Pro_16:4).
‘They are ungodly men who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.’ They abuse salvation by grace by living a life of sin and encouraging others to take an impure and profane attitude toward sin (Rom_6:1-4; Rom_6:15; Tit_1:16; Tit_2:11-14).
The true gospel is denied, the true grace of the Lord God is denied and the true redemptive work of Christ is denied by these men, if not in words, yet in works. Election is unto holiness (Eph_1:4). Our calling is a holy calling (2Ti_1:9). Righteousness is not only imputed but also imparted to us by his grace and spirit (1Jn_3:10). Those who use the grace of God as an excuse to sin or a cloak for their evil deny Christ and his gospel.
Jud_1:5-7. ‘I remind you of what you already know – that if any trifle thus with the grace of God, this contempt for his grace and glory of his Son will not go unpunished.’ This he proves by three examples.
The people of Israel were the chosen nation, a special people; yet, notwithstanding their wonderful deliverance out of Egypt, because of their unbelief, rebellion and evil, God destroyed them in the wilderness! No outward privilege and profession will screen a rebel from the wrath of God. God will make severe examples of those who despise his grace. The fountain of all their evil and sin was unbelief.
The angels enjoyed a higher state than Israel. They were free spirits who enjoyed the light and presence of God. They were high, honourable and happy; yet by deserting their posts of honour, being unwilling to be subject to God, they were turned out of heaven and reserved without hope unto eternal condemnation. Wherever they go, they drag their chains of bondage. To depart from the grace of God is to be for ever damned (Heb_6:4-6).
Sodom and Gomorrah is a more general example, testifying that God will judge and punish all the ungodly without difference! To pervert the gospel of God, the grace of God, or the laws and designs of God will bring eternal condemnation. These men were given up to homosexuality and strange flesh (Rom_1:26-28; Lev_20:13).
In these examples, unbelief, pride and fleshly corruption are found in creatures who had at one time or another enjoyed a revelation from God and special privileges of common grace, and were exposed to his truth. Take heed, brethren, lest these be found in us (Heb_3:12; Heb_10:38-39).
Jud_1:8. ‘Likewise,’ or in the same way as in the above examples, ‘these filthy dreamers’ (false teachers), who creep into the church, are guilty of three great errors: they ‘defile the flesh, despise authority and slander dignities’!
They are called ‘filthy dreamers’; for what they taught was not the word of God, but their own thoughts, imaginations and dreams, which came to them in their sleep of death and darkness (Jer_23:25-28). They defiled the flesh by unclean practices and behaviour.
They despised the commandment of Christ, the rule of Christ and his word. They chose to do as they pleased, unrestrained.
They spoke evil of the apostles, pastors and church officers, refusing their leadership and dishonoring them (Heb_13:17).
I don’t think the author was comparing Campbellism with Arminianism, or indicating any detailed similarities between the two. I believe also, that the author is well enough informed to recognize the extensive doctrinal and practical differences between all the religious examples he has listed.
The point he is making is far less complicated and should not cause confusion. In another set of words, what he is stating is that, irrespective of the diversity of errors represented by all the examples he gives, nevertheless they are all heretical. Comparison is thus made, not by means of what comprises the different religions, but by the fact that for differing reasons, they are all heretical and not Biblical.
Gerhard, I feel that, rather than us getting embroiled in a long-winded, hurtful and possibly fruitless analysis of what this article says, it would be advantageous for all if you would make clear what your position is regarding that which Campbellism represents today, the Church of Christ in its variations, and the particular form of the Restoration Movement which you seem to advocate.
If some of those points were to be made known, then we could all address particular concerns constructively.
I am curious to know why my last post on this subject did not get posted? Thanks
Your previous comment was not posted due the unreasonably contentious nature of certain points you made. We have always attempted to keep this blog as free as possible from unnecessary controversial mudslinging, which is simply counterproductive and a waste of precious time and energy. Of course, it is not possible to always succeed in avoiding controversy and quarrels, but it is our intention to do so.
Some other points you made were not unreasonable, but we could not simply assume the right to edit your words, and decided to not place your comment. It is not our intention to offend you. You have every right to your opinion, and I thank you for voicing it. However, we also have the right to disagree, which we do in this instance. We try to maintain a certain direction on our blog.
1) Your comment and opinion about a very caring, solid preacher was unnecessary and untrue.
2) We respect and are grateful for much of John MacArthur’s work, but he is not the ultimate authority on Scriptural issues. He is equally as fallible as any man. We disagree with his teaching on certain points. He would do well to preach as firmly and unambiguously on matters of salvation and the Gospel, as Don Fortner does.
3) Christians cannot “agree to disagree” on essential doctrine, and this matter concerns essential doctrine. To agree to disagree on these matters would entail that we accept false teachings and heresies. We will not portray a tolerance of teachings and doctrines which are opposed to the Word of God, simply because we want to remain popular or illicit increased readership. We realize that the Gospel truth is not what most want to hear. People love to maintain a feeling of control.
When compared to God’s Word, so much of what is widely regarded as acceptable, represents a tolerance of sin, will-worship, legalism, unscriptural practice and man centered traditions. Those, who so often use the phrase ‘no church is perfect’, without much thought to what it entails, are in fact admitting that they are willing to accept unbiblical short-comings. It is a tolerance of imperfection for man’s sake.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for your reply, but this is the point I was trying to make especially to your reply on point 3). Which is do all Christians agree on everything? You said yourself you dont agree with everything Macathur says. I stated in my comment that you did not post that if Christians agree upon the essentials: Deity of Christ, Salvation by grace through Christ, Resurrection and monotheism/Godhead. After this we can agree to disagree, but it seems and correct me if I am wrong you and Mr. Fortner are makeing Calvinism a matter of salvation. I go back to my point that you did not post which is: If a sinner hears the gosple Jn 3:16-17,Rom 10:17, in a non Calvinst setting he does not know the five points of Calvinism, all he knows is he is a sinner who needs a Savior. Thank you, I hope you are fair and post this.
There is a marked difference between agreeing to disagree, and totally disagreeing, wouldn’t you say? On those points which we disagree with John MacArthur, we do not agree to disagree with him, we reject those teachings outright, we disagree entirely.
Calvinism is a nickname, and as I have stated, it is not a doctrine. Do you not see that it would be absurd to believe in a nickname. Here is an excerpt from our “Beliefs and convictions” pages regarding your other points. Surely, it cannot be clearer than this:
We believe that Calvinism is no better than Arminianism or Romanism, if that Calvinism is without Christ. Calvinism has no more to do with salvation than Arminianism or Romanism does. Christians are not those who have been converted to Calvinism. Christians are not concerned with converting unbelievers to Calvinism. Christians want to see sinners saved by the grace of God, converted by the power of God to Jesus Christ the Lord. What matters is how the Bible defines the Gospel, not the definition thereof according to Arminius, Calvin, Roman Catholicism, the Baptist church, Mormonism or any other source other than Scripture.
We hold firmly to the glorious doctrines of grace as laid out clearly in Scripture. It is in this way that God saves sinners by His sovereign grace which results in God receiving all the glory for their being saved. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9.)
Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ and His finished work of redemption alone. It is not by the free will or good works or religion of man. We are directly opposed to all will-worship, works based, self righteous and legalistic religious church practices.
We believe in the total depravity of all men by sin; the personal, eternal election of God unto salvation; the particular redemption of the elect by Christ’s blood; the irresistible grace of the Holy Spirit in effectual calling; and the final perseverance of the saints in faith and holiness.
God in His Sovereignty chose some of Adam’s fallen race to eternal life in Christ before the world began (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14).
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for and redeemed those elect sinners chosen to salvation in eternity and called to life and faith in Him in time (Heb. 9:12; Rev. 5:9).
God the Holy Spirit regenerates and calls every chosen, redeemed sinner to life and faith in Christ by the irresistible power of his grace through the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:13-17; 1 Cor. 1:21-23; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 23-25).
Every sinner born again by God’s free, sovereign, irresistible grace is kept in life and faith in Christ by that same grace unto eternal glory, being sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14).
All who are born of God, being redeemed by Christ, are forever and entirely free from the law (Rom. 6:14-15; 7:4; 10:4).
Our doctrine is the gospel of salvation by God’s free and sovereign grace through the merits of Christ, our crucified, risen, exalted Lord and King, who gives eternal life to whom he will. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). “So then, it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (Rom. 9:16).
We reject human devices such as ‘altar calls’ or any other suggestion that we may ‘choose’ God, ‘choose’ to be saved or make a decision ‘for’ Christ.
You can read more about this on Our Beliefs and About Us pages.
Grant thank you for your reply, yes there is a “difference between agreeing to disagree, and totaly disagreeing” as you stated which I am implying by this statment. Every Christian will be accountable on what they teach and believe about the Scriptures 1Ti 4:16,Jas 3:1. My main point is not all Christians will always see eye to eye 1 Co 13:11,Acts 15:2-5,36-39, but we need to stick to the essentials when this happens, and you did not state if you believed thease were the essentials. I used J MacArthur as an excample of comparison to Fortner which your Blog endorses both, and yes I know that all men are sinners and “no man is the ultimate authority on Scriptural issues” as you stated. What I see in this excample is one man MacArthur who has a spiritual healthy approach to Scripture compared to someone who has a dogmatic approach to Scripture in my opinion and I think its a little pious of you to say, referring to MacArthur “He would do well to preach as fimly and unambiguously on matters of salvation and the gosple as Don Fortner” so Grant what is the Gosple accordind to your comment here and what does it look like in a everyday setting like we see in the book of Acts? Cannot our Great God use alter calls or any other means He wants to use to call someone to Him?But you reject this becouse it does not fit into your interruption of Scripture, Is it you must believe in the “Doctrines of Grace” stated in your blog for someone to be saved? Again I make the point of a sinner becoming a saint through Gods grace Eph 2:8-9 what does he know other than he is a sinner who needs a Savior at that point in his life Acts 8:26-39? Thats one of my concerns and frustrations you wont answer all my questions, but you seem to skirt the hard questions.But we know this has nothing to do with my opinion or thease men MacArther/Fortner, but its all about Christ and the truth of his Word 2Ti 3:16-17, Mt 22:37-38. I used Calvinism in a general since to discribe a philosophy of beliefs towards interruption of the Scriptures. I first came to this blog when I was studying about the dangers of the Hebrews roots movment which is a cult, but they like many other cults have a exclusiveness attitude of “we are the only ones who will make it, and truly know the whole truth”. Sadly some Christians have this type of attitude I hope this is not the attitude of this blog. Thank you, and again I hope you post this and take the time to address thease important issues.
We do not place the work of these, or any other men, on this blog for comparative purposes, or to illicit extended discussion and debate. There are many forums on which one can partake in debate and never-ending conversation on any array of topics. If an article, sermon or commentary is biblically solid, and it addresses a certain subject or part of Scripture accurately and clearly, we will place it on this blog, irrespective of who the author is.
According to your opinion then, holding to the unambiguous truth in Scripture is not what you want to hear. I’m sure even Dr MacArthur himself would admit to his own fallibility. You regard John MacArthur as a spiritual giant and accept all of his teaching as the epitomy of healthy theology. That in itself, is a dogmatic attitude. Was Jesus not absolutely dogmatic? Were the Apostles not dogmatic in their teachings? But, why should I try to convince you otherwise? You are free to believe whatever you like.
You can find my answers here:
My interpretation of Scripture is irrelevant. All that matters is what Scripture says. As I said, if your conscience leads you to reject biblical doctrine, it remains your prerogative to believe whatever you fancy. If you were a follower of John MacArthur, you would know that he is one the strongest protagonists and most steadfast teachers of the Doctrines of Grace, and he is a far more outspoken “Calvinist” than Don Fortner or I am, if you would like to make further comparisons with what you believe. You say that John MacArthur has a healthy spiritual approach to Scripture, yet you disagree with most of his teaching? How do you explain that?
I have more than provided answers to these questions, I certainly have no reason to skirt something as basic as this. I have written at length on these subjects for a long time. Most of them are on this blog and in comments such as this. I have answered this question on more occasions than I can remember. None of these are “hard” questions, or difficult to answer. The Gospel is simple, even a child can receive saving faith from God. Scripture provides all the easy answers.
You do not need to have any concerns over these matters, whatsoever. The only reason you get frustrated is because you do not get the answers you want to hear, you want to hear that you are right, and that your opinion is valuable. While I appreciate hearing your opinion, fortunately, man’s opinion is completely worthless in matters of salvation, both yours and mine.
This point has also been addressed by us on many occasions. Once again I quote from our “Beliefs and convictions” page, which you continue to ignore:
“It is our desire to provide a platform to prayerfully assist others in their understanding of God, Scripture, salvation, Biblical doctrine and other topics, while we continue to grow in our own understanding through interacting with other true Christians. It is not our intention to force the reader to agree with us on the issues discussed on the blog, but rather to point the reader to what the Bible teaches and how the Word of God is relevant to all issues. Neither is it our intention that this blog be a place to hold extended discussions or debates on these topics. We are accountable to every saved Christian who reads our material. We undertake to withdraw or amend anything we say, if it can be unequivocally shown from Scripture that we are wrong.”
Thanks Grant for your reply, this will be my last reply to these matters.
You said, “We did not place the work of these, or any other men, on this blog for comparative purposes, or to illicit extended discussion and debate”,
I agree, I am not a good writer as you can see, I was simply making a point of two men who both hold to the “Doctrine of Grace” as you call it, but one man does not continue to use his platform to preach the “Doctrine of Grace”and if anyone does not believe it to the letter he is labeled heretic. Is this productive? Is this a “healthy approach to Scripture” to continue to harp on it’s my way(how I see the interruption of Scripture)or the hwy( if you don’t believe just as I see it your a hieratic) . You said to me “yet you disagree with most of his teaching? How do you explain that?”referring to MacArther. How do you know what I believe? I am not a MacArther groupie and I most certainly do not believe in all of his teachings,.I think he is a gifted teacher and I enjoy listening to him, but like all teachings we have to study and come to our conclusions. About the matter of dogmatic, of course Jesus was dogmatic that’s because he was absolutely always correct Jn 14:6 and the Apostles were dogmatic because they were inspired by God 2 Pe1:21. We as sinful men are not inspired, but we do have the inspired Word of God that we are trying to exegetic properly 2 Tim2:15 with the Holy Spirit to guide us, just like you said “All that matters is what Scripture says”. The reason I said I was frustrated was not because I wanted to hear that I was right and my opinion was valuable as you said. I guess I am old school and was taught that when someone ask you a specific question it is just polite to specifically answer them. You are right when you said “None of these are” hard”questions, or” difficult to answer”,but you have yet to specify answer my easy questions so I will ask them in points. I appreciate your scholarly discourse’s of previous articles, but I would appreciate if you could simply answer these questions.
1) Do you believe these are the Christian essentials?:The deity of Christ,the resurrection of Christ,salvation by grace through faith in Christ,there is only one God and the Godhead. Would you say these are the essentials of the faith we can agree upon within Christianity?
2) Can God use alter calls or any other means He chooses to call someone to Himself Rev 3:20? The early believers prayed and cast lots to determine the next apostle Acts 1:21-26, is not casting lots man made, but yet God used it?
3) Does a sinner who becomes a child of God by grace through faith in Christ Eph 2:8-9, have to know anything about the “Doctrines of Grace” other than he is a sinner who needs a Savior who accepts the message? See Jn 1:12, Acts 2:17-41, v41 “Those who accepted his message were baptized”,Acts 8:26-39, 10:34-48 and there are many more examples.
4) I do not understand what you meant when referring to MacArther “He would do well to preach as firmly and unambiguously on matters of salvation and the gospel as Don Fortner.”
You said “My interpretation of Scripture is irrelevant. All that matters is what Scripture says” I totally agree Isa 40:8, all Christians are to seek after the truth of the Word: AIM A-uthors,I-ntended, M-eaning. Just because all Christians do not hold to a pure “Doctrine of Grace” philosophy does not make them a heretic that is when we need to come back to the essentials 1 Jn 4:1-3. I want to end with 2 Peter 3:9 ” The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” To Him be all the glory! Thank you.
My apologies for not having responded to your last comment as yet. Please bear with me as I have to attend to numerous unrelated pressing issues at the present time, and I feel your comment deserves some consideration. There are quite a few other comments and other correspondence which I have had to place on hold for the same reasons.
No problem take your time.
Hi Grant, just checking to see if you are caught up. Thanks
Now I had to smile, “caught up”. Hubby Grant has been offline for a while, his laptop was almost “caught up” by some thieves almost but not yet. I am sure Grant will catch up soon as the laptop is sent back down lol lol
On a more serious note Hubby Grant’s laptop was almost stolen and we just received it back today !!
I did say that I would respond to your last comment; thank you for your patience and my apologies for the extended delay. Not least of the contributing factors to the delay was due to the fact that my laptop computer went missing from my hotel room along with my response to your comment on board. Missing? How exactly does that happen? You’d be justified in asking. Well, stranger things have happened in Africa. I’m just thankful that it was recovered in working condition and I will be re-united with the aging machine in the next few days.
As you have stated that it would be your last reply to these matters, I wanted to respond in fair detail to your comment. I do not have access to all my notes on my computer, and I am writing this response from a borrowed laptop. Nevertheless…
Not all of us are soccer stars, philosophers, athletes, artists, soldiers or writers. I am not a reknowned author, either. All of us are, however, sinners and reliant in totality on the grace and providence of God. I understand what you have written without any problems.