{Update} 9Mark’s Mark Dever and John Folmar Unusual *Biblical* Views on Baptism and Palm Sunday

“Flevit super illam” (He wept over it); by Enrique Simonet, 1892 link

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” ― The Dalai Lama


Update: Mark Dever attended Duke. Andy Davis attended MIT. I’m sorry for the mixup. The rest of my post stands. 

On Monday, I shared with you my journey through the postevangelical wilderness. During that time, I came to confess the beliefs of my current church. Prior to joining any church, I made sure that I could, in good conscience, subscribe to the major doctrinal views of that church denomination. In joining the Lutheran church, I had to carefully examine my viewpoints on two topics: infant baptism and communion. As time went on, I began to also enjoy the church calendar which gave a sense of framework to the Scriptures.

Here is a link to the 2020-2021 LCMS church calendar. Here is a partial calendar involving Easter.

The Time of Easter

Pre-Lent Season
(One-Year Series only)

Septuagesima
Sexagesima
Quinquagesima
Lenten Season
Ash Wednesday
First Sunday in Lent
Second Sunday in Lent
Third Sunday in Lent
Fourth Sunday in Lent
Fifth Sunday in Lent
Holy Week
Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday
Monday in Holy Week
Tuesday in Holy Week
Wednesday in Holy Week
Holy Thursday
Good Friday
Holy Saturday
Easter Season
The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Vigil
Easter Dawn
Easter Day
Easter Evening/Monday
Easter Tuesday
Second Sunday of Easter
Third Sunday of Easter
Fourth Sunday of Easter
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Sixth Sunday of Easter
The Ascension of Our Lord
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Pentecost
Pentecost Eve
Day of Pentecost
Pentecost Evening/Monday
Pentecost Tuesday

It’s all really cool. We get to remember what happened at different times. Yes, I know Jesus wasn’t really born on 12/25. The calendar is a way for us to reflect on the various stories such a the Transfiguration of Jesus.

John Folmar: Mark Dever’s BFF and the inventor of retroactive church discipline which was first documented here as having been practiced on my good friend, Todd Wilhelm.

For those of you who don’t know, I met Todd a number of years ago when he contacted me about his rather unfortunate end of membership at John Folmar’s UCCDubai. He decided to leave the church and stand in solidarity with the victims of Sovereign Grace. Mark Dever and John Folmar were best buddies with CJ Mahaney and haven’t, as far as I know, disavowed Mahaney in spite of the preponderance of the evidence of serious problems.

I wrote about this unfortunate set of circumstances in My, My Dubai: 9 Marks Played Hardball While Lifeway/ David Platt Stretched the Truth Little did I know that Todd and I would become friends and work together at TWW. Understand this. Todd left due to the fact that his conscience could no longer attend such a church. So many SGM victims were heartened by his actions.

I had a hard time understanding that Folmar and his well-trained elders could make such a decision. Why not just let him go? Todd spent time looking for a new church and Folmar used this as an excuse to retroactively add him to the *member care list.”(A nice name for a despicable action.) I have been told by a 9Marks leader that I don’t know the whole story. Todd then offered to notarize a document saying they could talk about what happened. No go. In fact, they got a bit peeved at me…

John Folmar”I don’t celebrate Palm Sunday.” He only celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus apparently unlike those Greek Orthodox, RCC, and traditional churches.

It did not come as a surprise to me that 9Marks holds other strange views. Retroactive church discipline is not found in the Scripture. Nor does the Bible discuss the punishment of a decent man who decides to leave his church over practicing freedom of conscience. No, it must all be punished.

Folmar is currently in the US function as an interim pastor in a non-9Marks church. I’ll let Todd take up why this is odd on Friday. In the meantime, let’s have a listen to the 9Marks *expert*  Listen carefully to the disdain he holds for those who don’t see the obvious as he so clearly does.

He forgot to mention Lutherans who celebrate this wonderful day.

He appears to say “If you must remember Palm Sunday, there may be some things to consider.” How I love to remember Palm Sunday. It helps me to understand why we attempt to make Jesus in our own image. The palms are reminiscent of the time of the Maccabees when the Jewish people won against their oppressors. They used the palms to celebrate their victory. They were looking for an earthly king, something that is quite relevant to us today. What is even more interesting is that in Revelation, we see the palm branches waving once again, to celebrate the coming of Jesus in victory.

It appears that John Folmar doesn’t see how celebrating Palm Sunday is historical and prophetic. It all revolves around Jesus who came first as the king of our hearts which was something the people didn’t really understand. And one day we will wave palm branches in celebration of His Second Coming. I contemplate this on Palm Sunday but, according to Folmar, this is not really biblical like he is biblical.

Yet, I see the palm branches throughout Scripture and Palm Sunday matters.  I don’t see the harsh church discipline in the Bible in which 9Marx seems to revel in.

Mark Dever has more rules, lots more rules, rigid rules based on…um, whatever. Why?

Here is what he believes:

  1. Infant baptism is sinful.
  2. Spontaneous baptism is really bad.
  3. Besides, we shouldn’t be baptizing people until they are adults and on their own, because they might “fall away” and hurt the cause of Christ.

I have been trying to figure out why Dever has so many inflexible rules that seem to have little basis in Scripture. Dever is a smart guy. He got into and graduated from Duke. However, smarts when it comes to engineering, medicine, and science are not necessarily smarts when it comes to people. We must control the engines on jets or people die. We should shoot for the very best engineering in our automobiles to cut down on accidents.

However, the faith is very different. There is a coffee mug that is sold in Lutheran stores. It has the word *saint* on one side and *sinner* on the other. We are inherently imperfect and no amount of rules and regulations are going to make us *good Christians.* Sadly, Dever actually believes that if he just waits until someone is an adult, he will be able to tell for sure who will be a Dever type of Christian.

Paedobaptism is a sin

Did you know, for example, that Mark Dever will never take or give communion with his good buddy Ligon Duncan. This was reported in 2010 (forgive the pagination) by a little-known blog, TWW. Todd also reported on this in Is 9Marks View of Baptism Biblical?

If you scroll down on the page, you can read Dever’s The Sin of Infant Baptism. Then, you can view a 10-minute video on infant baptism, spontaneous baptism, and not baptizing people until they are out of their parent’s home, living on their own.

Spontaneous baptism is wrong according to Dever.

Watch the video carefully. Dever practically pats the heads of those involved in the conversation when they agree with him. The engineer is getting his ducks into nice, neat rows. However, Todd proved that the Bible is not opposed to spontaneous baptism. In fact, he gave some examples of such in Acts. Here are two of the examples he gave.

  1. Acts 2:36-41: “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”
  2. Acts 8:34-39: Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.  And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”  And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.  And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”

I have been told that at the Summit, they used to (maybe they still do) practice spontaneous baptisms.

The baptism of children is probably wrong in most instances.

This treatise by Dever used to be posted at this link. https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/we-equip/children/baptism-of-children/ It is no longer there.

Again from Todd’s post:

Baptism of Children

The Baptism of Children at CHBC (2004)

We, the elders of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude that, while Scripture is quite clear that believers only are to be baptized, the age at which a believer is to be baptized is not directly addressed in Scripture. We do not understand the simple imperative command to be baptized to settle the issue, nor do we understand the imperative to be baptized to forbid raising questions about the appropriateness of a baptismal candidate’s maturity. We do understand that the consideration of an appropriate age for a believer to be baptized is a matter not of simple obedience on an issue clearly settled by Scripture, but rather is a matter of Christian wisdom and prudence on an issue not directly addressed by Scripture. Though the baptisms in the New Testament seem largely to have occurred soon after the initial conversion, all of the individuals we can read of are both adults and coming from a non-Christian context. Both of these factors would tend to lend credibility to a conversion. The credibility of the conversion is the prime consideration, with the effect upon the individual candidate and the church community being legitimate secondary concerns.

We believe that the normal age of baptism should be when the credibility of one’s conversion becomes naturally evident to the church community. This would normally be when the child has matured, and is beginning to live more self-consciously as an individual, making their own choices, having left the God-given, intended child-like dependence on their parents for the God-given, intended mature wisdom which marks one who has felt the tug of the world, the flesh and the devil, but has decided, despite these allurements, to follow Christ. While it is difficult to set a certain number of years which are required for baptism, it is appropriate to consider the candidate’s maturity. The kind of maturity that we feel it is wise to expect is the maturity which would allow that son or daughter to deal directly with the church as a whole, and not, fundamentally, to be under their parents’ authority. As they assume adult responsibilities (sometime in late high school with driving, employment, non-Christian friends, voting, legality of marriage), then part of this, we would think, would be to declare publicly their allegiance to Christ by baptism.

With the consent and encouragement of Christian parents who are members, we will carefully consider requests for baptism before a child has left the home, but would urge the parents to caution at this point.

I found this argument interesting. In my paedobaptist church, we invite children 5th-6th grade to participate in 2 years of confirmation classes prior to them receiving communion. I have been a confirmation guide for several years. I have been impressed at the depth of the teaching for the students. They write papers based on sermons. They memorize portions of Luther’s Small Catechism. By the time the two years have finished, the children exhibit an understanding of the Gospel and how to express it. I feel more than comfortable when they receive their first communion.

Mark Dever’s Anthony Moore problem:

Anthony Moore was an intern at Mark Dever’s church. Dever is always surrounded by a cadre of young men he is training at any one time. We must assume he has used his *spidey sense* to ascertain the Christian walks of these guys. Dever sent Moore on to Matt Chandler’s Village Church where he was fired in 2017 for sexual misconduct. Todd wrote a post; Cedarville University Professor Reportedly Fired From The Village Church For Sexually Abusing a Male Subordinate

Dever spent several months in close, daily contact with Anthony Moore while Moore was an intern at his church, yet Dever apparently was totally deceived into thinking Moore was a solid Christian! As you can see from Dever’s Tweet below, he promoted Moore. Five months after this tweet Anthony Moore was fired from The Village Church for feeding on Christ’s sheep! Wolf alert! One year after this tweet Moore had garnered a job with his old cronies from SWBTS at Cedarville University, but more on that later.

Moore’s name was listed on the CHBC website as a successful intern until 2020, long after Moore had been outed as a sexual molester. It appears that Dever was unable to accept the fact that he was not able to judge the Christian character of one of his interns with whom he had close daily contact. Yet he claims to need to wait until someone is in their 20s, maybe 30s so the church can best judge their character.

He claims this rule is necessary to prevent the church from having a bad witness to the world. I am not smart enough to get into MIT but I am smart enough to know that all churches at one time or another can present a bad witness to the world unless they are willing to be humble about who they are. 9Marks stands as a group of churches that I warn people to avoid. They are churches that actually believe that if they try just a little harder, they can present an awesome witness to the world. Well, they are abject failures. I know. I receive calls from decent folks who are *disciplined* for minor disagreements.

It is my opinion that people should avoid 9 Marks churches at all costs. And whatever you do, never, ever, ever sign one of their confounded membership contracts. You will regret it. And, if we can help you to get out of your covenant/contract, please email us. It will cost you nothing.


Comments

{Update} 9Mark’s Mark Dever and John Folmar Unusual *Biblical* Views on Baptism and Palm Sunday — 153 Comments

  1. A good friend is a Presbyterian minister. She actually did a internship at our American Baptist church. Culture shock, I know! She and I completely disagree over infant baptism. But we remain friends and agree to disagree. We value the insights each tradition brings to Christianity. It keeps the faith alive and vital.

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  2. I was baptized as an infant. The purpose of this is not premature declaration of faith. In traditions that baptize babies, confirmation is the time when people declare their faith.

    Infant baptism represents the commitment of the baby’s parents and family, godparents, and congregation to support the child in faith as he or she grows up. My sainted grandmother told me the story of my baptism countless times. That was part of her commitment, and it made the sacrament special to me even though I did not remember it.

    The beautiful ritual makes a very strong impression on children who witness it, building their faith as well.

    I will give you an example of this from our own home. For years, when I tiptoed around the house giving goodnight kisses, our little one would reach up and trace the sign of the cross on my forehead.

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  3. During my Calvary years I attended a workshop put on by Chuck Smith Sr (no charge) for local pastors and lay teachers. I remember him saying whenever he got a question about non essential doctrines like infant baptism he offered his opinion but then stated “I will write that question down and put it in the file cabinet of things I will ask God when I get to heaven.” The problem is when those things become part of the “Gospel TM.” I wonder how many things we disagree on today will be irrelevant when we meet Jesus?

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  4. Friend: I was baptized as an infant. The purpose of this is not premature declaration of faith. In traditions that baptize babies, confirmation is the time when people declare their faith.

    Baptism acts as a formal announcement of birth and acceptance into the community, and Confirmation acts as the coming-of-age rite of adulthood.

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  5. David: I wonder how many things we disagree on today will be irrelevant when we meet Jesus?

    In his Divine Comedy, Dante Aligheri wrote of a theologian in Heaven. Said theologian had been an expert on angelology and upon entering Heaven found that EVERYTHING he had written about Angels was wrong. But this being Paradiso instead of Inferno, said theologian was having a laugh about it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyRaCwgRKXk

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  6. Muff Potter,

    As far as I’m concerned, cuarenta y tres (a tipple a family member brought back from trips, lifetimes ago).

    I’ve been “done” plenty: at a week old in the then family denomination, upon my taking up personal residence (after a week on the other side of a bridge), then at age 18 in a hired public bath by a “house fellowship” that had things wrong with it. Talk about causing a splash!

    The types in the above material are trolls, making trouble out of nothing on purpose. I’ve met those.

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  7. Some movements say that some of us could do with catechesis after our baptism, if we haven’t had much (or any).

    But they don’t give two years’ like Dee appreciated. I was in one for 28 years, waiting for it to get on the rails (and it apparently hasn’t in the 7 years since I dropped out).

    BTW the first church was big on annual Passover, and Pentecost (gasp) was already big for them too.

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  8. Spiritual Life Beyond Religion?

    hmmm…

    Nice, nice, very nice, so many people tangled in the same device?

    Might wanna Step softly,

    bump.

    RU running with pack?

    Careful.

    I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. – Jesus

    ATB

    Sòpy

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  9. Regarding Palm Sunday, this is what Luther says
    “ Lent, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week shall be retained, not to force anyone to fast, but to preserve the Passion history and the Gospels appointed for that season. This, however, does not include the Lenten veil, throwing of palms, veiling of pictures, and whatever else there is of such tomfoolery”
    (Luther’s Works, Volume 53 p90 – Liturgical Writings)

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  10. Slightly off topic maybe, but not when it comes to rules.

    The same people who bring you membership contracts and retroactive discipline (the latter especially contradicts Scripture) are the same ones saying everyone or most everyone must be married and have kids. Yet they ignore that The Lord Himself never even married and yet followed the law to the very letter. They also like to site “be fruitful and multiply” as an argument, yet no such command is made to all and never in the New Testament. And, since when is having only one or two kids being fruitful and multiplying? That’s not even replacement rate.

    The evangelical industrial complex looks more and more only about conformity and control.

    Maybe if they’d put God’s doctrine into the church and take man’s out, the evangelical church would be growing instead of shrinking.

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  11. I recently left an SBC / 9 Marks church where I once served as an elder and was a member for over 15 years. We (leadership) drank Dever’s kool-aid completely: we read the book, attended T4G, and hosted Dever and others from 9M in our pulpit. We sent some of our elders to CHBC to observe, and our Senior Pastor even wrote articles for the 9M website.

    Looking back, I am struck by the level of arrogance that staff and the elder board displayed. (As a new elder, I feel like I was unconsciously trained in this arrogance and I went right along with it.) The arrogance and pride and power of leadership that is Always-right-no-exceptions (not to mention having no accountability to any higher authority like a presbytery or denomination) has done real damage in my family and to many other families. If by chance the elder board was leaning the wrong direction, the senior pastor was always managed to guide our decision-making in the “right” (9M approved) direction.

    Today, my eyes are open and I’m no longer a member of that toxic church. Where possible, I have apologized to those I’ve hurt by my decisions or actions on the board. I’m grieved when I look back at all the time I spent there blindly following that leadership and philosophy. I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to see the problem and get out.

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  12. When we returned to a Lutheran church our granddaughter was small, and the local SBC asked me how I could take her back to a “no Bible” church. Yeah, right. Before she could read she was expected to participate in the liturgy, listen to the readings and sermon, and draw the pastor a picture depicting what she had heard that morning. She was to draw it during the sermon and while waiting for the rather long communion lines to make it to the altar and back. She called it “journaling” and still does it in church to this day when she attends, almost an adult.

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  13. The word “Biblical” has become a substitute for the Charismatic phrase “Thus saith the Lord”. It’s used to give authority to someone’s interpretation. Authoritarian leaders who concentrate power in themselves like to use words and phrases like this in order to make it appear as if they are speaking for God, even in matters (such as baptism) that more reasonable people recognize as having a variety of interpretations that fall within orthodoxy.

    I have begun to avoid people who use words and phrases like “Biblical” and “the clear teaching of scripture” when referring to second-, third-, and fourth-rank doctrines.

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  14. Phoenix: The evangelical industrial complex looks more and more only about conformity and control.

    Maybe if they’d put God’s doctrine into the church and take man’s out, the evangelical church would be growing instead of shrinking.

    You provide an accurate assessment, IMHO.

    Jesus Himself said “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, their worship is meaningless and worthless, a pretense. Teaching the precepts of men as doctrines, giving their traditions equal weight with the Scriptures. You disregard and neglect the commandment of God, and cling faithfully to the teachings of men.” (Mark 7)

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  15. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),

    Praise God you escaped the snare, Roy! When the New Calvinism bubble breaks (it will), a great multitude will be left confused and disillusioned … they may never try church again. This will be the sad legacy of the new reformation which was more about control and power than the Great Commission and love for one another.

    Your old church may tell you that you went out from them because you were not of them. They got that right! Congratulations!

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  16. Adolescents of manifest good character have to wait longer to be baptized than seminary grads of unknown character are obliged to wait before being ordained to church office.

    Something seems a bit off.

    ———-

    The thought occurs that the aversion to the liturgical calendar approach to “what to think about from week to week” that one sees in some of the non-confessional churches might be connected to the fact that the liturgical calender is focused on events reported in the Gospels and in the earliest parts of Acts, and such churches often prefer to focus on the writings of Paul.

    Friends at a local IFB congregation once remarked that “we never hear preaching from the Gospels”. Other friends at the same congregation were delighted and fascinated by some messages brought by guest speakers that were drawn from the OT, which was otherwise alien territory in that congregation’s teaching agenda.

    Engineers and lawyers make effective systematicians, but I think that it helps to think like an historian when attempting to interpret ancient documents. I hope that the influence of people like NT Wright continues to grow.

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  17. Max,

    Yup
    While Max has a few years on me, we have both experienced allot of “human teachings” over the years, and/or specific “preacher boys” telling us the “true way”…. As I mentioned before, it would be fun to lock them in a room together and watch them argue it out….. but then it would also be depressing, given how many genuine people they have lead astray..

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  18. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy): I recently left an SBC / 9 Marks church where I once served as an elder … Looking back, I am struck by the level of arrogance that staff and the elder board displayed. (As a new elder, I feel like I was unconsciously trained in this arrogance and I went right along with it.) … I’m grieved when I look back at all the time I spent there blindly following that leadership and philosophy.

    “The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.” (C.S. Lewis) https://www.lewissociety.org/innerring/

    You broke the spell, Roy.

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  19. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy): I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to see the problem and get out.

    Go easy on yourself.

    I don’t mean to ignore the ways in which you believe you hurt people, or to minimize your own involvement and choices, but understand it is very difficult to recognize unhealthy or undue influence.

    Steven Hassan has a great website, freedomofmind.com, in which you can explore his BITE model of authoritarian groups. It may be a helpful resource to unpack what happened to you in this church.

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  20. here is your quote: “Dever is a smart guy. He got into and graduated from MIT. However, smarts when it comes to engineering and science are not necessarily smarts when it comes to people.” He is a smart guy and he has done his homework, but apparently you haven’t, at least in regards to his credentials. I do not listen to Dever, but have heard him preach on one occasion many years ago. I am not Baptist, and I do not agree with his views on baptism, and I do believe people should be able to leave a Church without disciplinary action. Because first off we live in America not Europe of the 16th century, and second the cults do similar kinds of things here in America, and that kind of action by a Church is scary to me. Is there not freedom of conscience? There is to much control, manipulation and intimidation done by evangelical Churches nowadays. So much, that one can understand why evangelicals are returning to the Roman Catholic Church. I certainly don’t think Rome is right, but I never experienced control, manipulation or intimidation in the 19 years I attended.

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  21. That’s a bunch to cover so I will break this up into smaller posts.

    I’ll start with the Palm Sunday one. I know of people who believe Easter is actually taken from the pagan ceremony Ishtar, but they avoid the link by not using the term Easter and call it Resurrection Sunday instead. But (outside of possibly the Churches of Christ, who avoid anything not specifically outlined in the New Testament) I’ve never heard of a church (whether mainline, fundamentalist, evangelical, or charismatic) NOT celebrate Palm Sunday in some form or fashion.

    The Apostle Paul would classify that under an area where Christians have the freedom to celebrate it, or not. But of course in 9Marks, “personal freedom” = “free will”, and that simply CAN’T exist. Their Lord and Savior John Calvin said so!

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  22. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy): Today, my eyes are open and I’m no longer a member of that toxic church. Where possible, I have apologized to those I’ve hurt by my decisions or actions on the board. I’m grieved when I look back at all the time I spent there blindly following that leadership and philosophy. I wish it hadn’t taken me so many years to see the problem and get out

    Thanks for the comment, Roy. It resonates with me.

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  23. Bill:
    FYI, Mark Dever never got a degree from MIT, he got degrees from Duke University magna cum laude, Masters from Gordon-Conwell summa cum laude, Masters from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Philosophy in ecclesiastical history from Cambridge University.

    Thank you for your correction., I confused him with Andy Davis. I am so sorry. Normally I triple check my info. yesterday I had to have a treatment which left me feeling quite poorly. I skipped my checks. I should have waited to post until this morning.

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  24. The discipline one I will cover next.

    The First Amendment guarantees the right of free exercise of religion (which includes the right to not hold to any religious view). But it also guarantees the right of a church congregation to set its requirements for membership and how to deal with persons who refuse to follow them.

    I personally have a pet peeve with churches that claim membership in the multiple thousands, yet they can barely count on 10-15% of the members taking their membership seriously. My personal view is as follows: barring a legitimate reason for absence (such as attendance at university, serving in the Armed Forces, occasional absences for business or vacation, and absence for health reasons or old age), if you cannot actively serve (to the extent health allows) the church where you are a member, you should voluntarily relinquish your membership in said church, and if not then that church should have the right to end your membership for non-support. And the church should have the right to exercise discipline for serious conduct matters (such as open adultery or teaching heresy); Paul directed the Corinth church to toss someone for adultery which was so notorious that even the nonbelievers weren’t that gross.

    But that’s where it ends. Once a person notifies a church that they no longer wish to be a member, the church should have no right to bring “retroactive discipline”. At that point, I would agree that the church can require a former member, should s/he seek to once again become a member, to appear before the church (or a subset of it, such as an elder board) and state why they should be readmitted; Paul later told the Corinth church to readmit the formerly disciplined member as he showed signs of repentance and changed behavior. I also agree that there may be extremely serious offenses whereby the offender should NEVER be readmitted (such as being a sexual predator).

    9Marks has a point about taking church membership seriously. However, their actions frequently conflict with their words, as has been pointed out in this post and in many prior actions (such as TVC and Karen Hinckley).

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  25. Bill: I am not Baptist, and I do not agree with his views on baptism, and I do believe people should be able to leave a Church without disciplinary action. Because first off we live in America not Europe of the 16th century, and second the cults do similar kinds of things here in America, and that kind of action by a Church is scary to me. Is there not freedom of conscience?

    Great quote. This is something I couldn’t understand when I first heard about Todd’s problem at UCCD-John Folmar. Todd stood up for what he believed was right and left the church. I should think the church would have been glad to have him go since he didn’t approve of their adoration of CJ Mahaney.

    There is something wrong in this group and I think it has everything to do with control and a belief that everything they do is correct-no questions asked or desired.

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  26. Mark R,

    Really good comment.I have always taken my church membership seriously-jumping in to teach Sunday school, etc.I think9Marks takes their membership commitment too seriously, if that is possible. If someone wants to leave, let them go.

    Can you imagine them disciplining Todd who had left the church due to a freedom of conscience issue and decided to look around at churches before joining one. 9Marks’ rule: Join another church immediately. As Todd once said to me: “I made two mistakes in joining churches. I joined a Sovereign Grace church then I joined a 9Marks church. I decided I needed to be a bit more thoughtful in my next church choice.”

    This was not good enough for the controllers of the church. He was not following their edicts. So, they had to discipline him to make an example to the rest of the congregation. “See what we’ll do to you if you don’t follow us?”

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  27. Friend: I will give you an example of this from our own home. For years, when I tiptoed around the house giving goodnight kisses, our little one would reach up and trace the sign of the cross on my forehead.

    Why is it that some human hearts are so constricted (Dever, Folmer, Piper, MacArthur, the list is long) that they cannot see and celebrate the beautiful gestures of little kids?

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  28. Phoenix,

    “The evangelical industrial complex looks more and more only about conformity and control.

    Maybe if they’d put God’s doctrine into the church and take man’s out, the evangelical church would be growing instead of shrinking.”
    +++++++++++

    every ‘christian’ thinks their perspective is “God’s doctrine”.

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  29. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),

    “The arrogance and pride and power of leadership that is Always-right-no-exceptions (not to mention having no accountability to any higher authority like a presbytery or denomination) has done real damage in my family and to many other families.”
    ++++++++++++

    thank you for your very honest comment.

    can you describe how this did damage to your family and many other families?

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  30. Since much of the post is on various baptism topics, next one will be on paedobaptism (or infant baptism).

    Growing up (and still being) Southern Baptist, we do not practice infant baptism, for these reasons:
    1. There are no accounts in Scripture of a baby being baptized. Every account is of an adult (or at least a child with understanding).
    2. Infant baptism is by sprinkling, which we also do not find in Scripture. We believe that baptism by immersion is to symbolize the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (that is why we will say, during the baptism — or if we are doing a bunch, the last person being baptized — “buried with Him in death, raised to walk in newness of life”).
    3. We also do not believe that baptism is required for entrance into Heaven (the thief on the cross was not baptized, yet Jesus said that today he would be with Him in Paradise), whereas infant baptism has its roots in Catholic teaching which says that it IS required.
    4. We believe that Scripture teaches that a person first trusts in Christ, then is baptized as a symbol (see #2 above).

    BUT, I have never heard it taught that if you were christened as an infant, that your parents committed sin. And (as mentioned in earlier posts) it is a sign that the parents (and extended family) pledge to teach the infant (as s/he grows up) to trust in Christ (yes, according to the teachings of that church) and to serve humankind. So to me it’s a fancier version of a baby dedication service (which many Baptist and non-denominational churches hold), where the baby wears a cute outfit.

    So, if you plan to christen your infant, enjoy their cuteness now, because once s/he becomes a teenager you may want to have them go through baptism by immersion. (The immersion part, not the coming up out of the water part, that is.)

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  31. Next, spontaneous baptism.

    I somewhat understand where this can be a concern. Jack Hyles was notorious for these (which were preceded by his “1-2-3, repeat after me” quick prayers) and they can be used to inflate numbers.

    But it isn’t a reason to throw them out altogether. And (outside of the Churches of Christ) it isn’t routinely done. I’ve only seen it done two times: once where a young man came down front, but that was because his twin brother came to Christ a couple of weeks earlier and the church wanted both of them to be baptized together, and another time where a person trusted in Christ at our 9:30 AM service and wanted to do it immediately so she was baptized at our 11 AM service.

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  32. Mark R:
    dee,

    They take the commitment to a level which would make the Pharisees jealous.Then again, this is what their Lord and Savior John Calvin did in Geneva.

    And it seems that in Evangelicalism today, their Real LORD and Savior is either the one in Mar-a-Lago or the one in Geneva. And both throw the Rabbi from Nazareth under the bus in the Name of God.

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  33. Finally, children being baptized.

    Again I understand the concern. Baptism numbers can be artificially inflated, especially with quick prayerism such as what Hyles would do.

    And I agree that a baptismal candidate should understand why s/he is being baptized, but this is as much an issue with adults as with children.

    Also I wonder why he would be OK with a child, whose parents aren’t believers, being baptized (possibly against their wishes)? Isn’t “honor your father and mother” one of the Ten Commandments? And wouldn’t that also be a hindrance to them possibly coming to Christ themselves? (Now I was baptized as a child, though my parents were not believers, BUT they were OK with me doing that. Later, Mom and then Dad would become believers themselves, so clearly we didn’t become a stumbling block.) Oh wait … the parents probably aren’t part of “the elect”, Lord Calvin said so.

    I remember Jesus telling the Apostles NOT to hinder children from coming to Him. Dever’s comments come dangerously close to angering Jesus.

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  34. dee: It is about control.It appeals to people who are seeking to have a list of things to do which means they are *good Christians.*

    A list which can only grow longer and more intricate over time.
    One-Upmanship by ever-increasing Ideological Purity and Virtue Signalling.
    More Strict Than Thou, More Observant Than Thou, More Devout Than Thou, without end, Amen.

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  35. dee:
    Lowlandseer,

    I’m still trying to figure out why Folmar is so insistent on this matter.

    I think the point he is trying to make is that it wasn’t part of early church practice. The earliest mention of celebrating Palm Sunday in the Western Church is sometime after 6/7th century. In the Greek/Eastern Church it’s reckoned to be about 4th century, so there’s a bit of a gap.

    As currently practiced, it seems to me to border on what the RCC in their Catechism call “a sacramental” – not a sacrament as such but an aid to appreciating the sacrament – other examples being the Stations of the cross, Marian prayers , for example.

    And for Muff’s benefit, Luther recognised the importance and significance of the Scriptural narrative of the entry into Jerusalem, but dismissed as nonsense the throwing of palms. There’s nothing to question although human nature from Adam onward has always been attracted to asking “Has God said?” to give them a sense that they are the masters of the universe.

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  36. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    The Mar-A-Lago one isn’t considered a Lord and Savior (I attend a church where there was strong support for him as a candidate); the concern is the Democrats’ insistence on abortion for any or no reason, and even if the baby survives the abortion attempt, kill it. It was more “the lesser of two evils”. If it ever came down to evangelicals having to decide between supporting gay marriage and supporting abortion on demand, the latter is a line they simply will not (and cannot) cross.

    The Geneva one, his teachings are elevated above the Bible itself.

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  37. Lowlandseer:
    Regarding Palm Sunday, this is what Luther says
    “ Lent, Palm Sunday, and Holy Week shall be retained, not to force anyone to fast, but to preserve the Passion history and the Gospels appointed for that season. This, however, does not include the Lenten veil, throwing of palms, veiling of pictures, and whatever else there is of such tomfoolery”
    (Luther’s Works, Volume 53 p90 – Liturgical Writings)

    “Tomfoolery” that is profoundly Scriptural, deeply meaningful, historically venerable, and cherished by more than a billion Christians all over the globe.

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  38. Paul K,

    “…used to give authority to someone’s interpretation.

    …words and phrases like “Biblical” and “the clear teaching of scripture” …”
    ++++++++

    church culture reminds me of kids in school.

    in first grade, they all had faith in the leprechaun.

    the teacher had them devise leprechaun traps, and they were all convinced the leprechaun was running around and they were going to catch it.

    “I think i saw him!” whispered my son’s friend. “There he is!” shouted someone else, and they all start running in pursuit.

    (just replace leprechaun with liberal and this is the picture of full-fledged christian adults)
    .
    .
    in middle school the culture gets more organized. they develop their own language, intonation, customs, and social hierarchy.

    the superior in-group, wearing the red hats, have an arsenal of offensive and defensive weapons (facial expressions, sounds, gestures, words) to lob at the out-groups wearing blue hats, green hats, orange hats, purple hats so they can remain in power.

    those wearing no hats ignore them completely and couldn’t care less, which totally confounds the red hats.

    (just replace red-hatted in-group with each different denomination, parachurch org, and individual churches lobbing their passive aggression, gaslighting, and word weapons of “biblical”, “clear teaching of scripture”, “unbiblical”, and “liberal” and this is the picture of full-fledged christian adults)

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  39. There is *some* indication that Jesus actually was born Dec. 25th, although of course it isn’t positive. It is based on when John the Baptist was conceived, based on when his father was working in the temple, based on what group he was in. Then you know how many months his mother was pregnant when Mary visited. Very complicated, but the calculations come out that he would have been born around Dec 25th.
    Not important, but kind of fun.

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  40. Mark R: They take the commitment to a level which would make the Pharisees jealous.

    The New Calvinist elite remind me of Paul’s visit to Athens:

    “The Athenians had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new … they worshiped the unknown God” (Acts 17)

    The Neo-Cal big-boys are always trying to out-do each other with some new twist of Scripture. From subordinating Jesus and women to tossing out Palm Sunday, these guys just don’t get it … they truly worship the unknown God.

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  41. Bill: Mark Dever never got a degree from MIT, he got degrees from Duke University magna cum laude, Masters from Gordon-Conwell summa cum laude, Masters from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Philosophy in ecclesiastical history from Cambridge University

    Sad. With all that getting of education, he never got understanding. Education does not equal revelation. Intellect does not equal wisdom.

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  42. dee,

    “I’m still trying to figure out why Folmar is so insistent on this matter.”
    ++++++++++

    his secret sauce…. to make a name for himself. something to make him/his brand distinctive and superior.

    i imagine he noticed none of his peers were making a stink about palm sunday, etc. (“hey, I can be the first!”)

    he finally found a castle kit so he can build his own castle from which he can look down on all his 9marx peers who never thought to make a fuss about it, and down on all the ignorant little people still waving their palms, bless their hearts.

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  43. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),

    Dear RapidRoy, many years ago, I experienced a takeover of our church by a Calvinista pastor. That wasn’t as distressing as the active acquiescence of the group of elders who I had known, loved and followed for years. It made leaving that church very painful. Several years after, all of those who had left received a letter from one of those elders. He apologized for the pain and suffering he felt he had caused and asked for forgiveness. It became a shining moment for me. A fallible, loving man publicly confessing his mistakes and the pain they caused. A true Christian witness.

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  44. baptism…. infant baptism, spontaneous baptism, adult baptism….. baptismbaptismbaptism
    +++++++++++++++

    so, what happens if someone is not baptized? (on the spiritual, God-plane)

    what would mark dever say?

    what would you say?

    (*EXCITING PREMIUM INSTANT BONUS*: baptism is a religious cultural idea that is not unique to christianity and which didn’t originate with christianity)

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  45. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    It is neither Scriptural nor deeply meaningful, except insofar as it illustrates what Kuyper says in his introduction to “The Antithesis between Symbolism and Revelation”,namely –
    “And to resume it in one word, their constant endeavor is not to fear, to serve and to love the living God, their Creator and the Disposer of their destinies, but to enjoy fully the mystical titillations of a delightful religious feeling”.

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  46. Bill,

    Bill.
    I think Dee corrected the MIT/Duke curriculum vitea.

    Next-
    When one holds oneself up as an authority, and a pronouncer of truth, it is an invitation for others to examine said truth. Our man Dever, an ecclesiastical history expert, apparently only celebrates the Resurrection. He cites precedent of his rightness.

    But if he where to recall his history, Easter does not exist prior to 325 C.E. You know doubt recall the Constitine’s Council of Nicea. It was not possible for the first Christians to celebrate Easter, since it is solar, nor as Jews, would they have wanted to.

    An authority should presume his assumptions will be tested.

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  47. Lowlandseer: And for Muff’s benefit, Luther recognised the importance and significance of the Scriptural narrative of the entry into Jerusalem, but dismissed as nonsense the throwing of palms. There’s nothing to question although human nature from Adam onward has always been attracted to asking “Has God said?” to give them a sense that they are the masters of the universe.

    — “Hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1) —
    Is another one of the most used and abused verses in all of Scripture (my opinion).
    In some circles, it’s sole use is like that of the Roman Gladius (short sword), to shut down dissent and even honest inquiry itself.

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  48. My pastor might want me back for a catechism refresher course for saying this, but there are in my never humble opinion no unbaptized Christians. Water is good and the normal course of things, but I do believe at the moment anyone trusts in Christ alone for salvation they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and in light of eternity that will be the one that counts.

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  49. Lowlandseer:
    Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    It is neither Scriptural nor deeply meaningful, except insofar as it illustrates what Kuyper says in his introduction to “The Antithesis between Symbolism and Revelation”,namely –“And to resume it in one word, their constant endeavor is not to fear, to serve and to love the living God, their Creator and the Disposer of their destinies, but to enjoy fully the mystical titillations of a delightful religious feeling”.

    LOL, what a bunch of hogwash.

    And, with all due respect, who are you to tell other people what is meaningful to *them*?

    Good grief. Palm fronds are titillating? Veiling an icon or crucifix is titillating?

    Now I’ve heard everything.

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  50. elastigirl:
    Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),

    “The arrogance and pride and power of leadership that is Always-right-no-exceptions (not to mention having no accountability to any higher authority like a presbytery or denomination) has done real damage in my family and to many other families.”
    ++++++++++++

    thank you for your very honest comment.

    can you describe how this did damage to your family and many other families?

    Primarily the damage was through the counseling ‘ministry’ of the church. We went to various pastors for help only to be criticized and marginalized. This is a representative example of our experience: My wife was attending a class on the topic of parenting. Another lady there shared a heartfelt prayer request with the class about her rebellious teenager. Several in the class, including the teacher, began to critique this woman’s parenting and went so far as to say that the woman was sinning in her parenting (struggling rebellious kid = bad/sinful parent). I’ve seen this kind of heavy-handed, graceless and unbiblical ‘counsel’ for marriage problems as well.

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  51. Mark R: So to me it’s a fancier version of a baby dedication service (which many Baptist and non-denominational churches hold), where the baby wears a cute outfit.

    So, if you plan to christen your infant, enjoy their cuteness now, because once s/he becomes a teenager you may want to have them go through baptism by immersion.

    If you think baptism is a baby cuteness show, you are disparaging countless people.

    I do not believe that any form of baptism wears off or overrides another. Likewise the amount of water… what about an emergency baptism in a place without enough for full immersion?

    Regarding baptism or rebaptism of teens, should that not be their choice rather than the parent’s decision, if it’s a statement of faith?

    I’m not LCMS, but you might be interested in this position from lcms.org. It hints at the lack of age limits in the Great Commission.

    Infants are included in “all nations” who are to be baptized (Matt. 28:19). Certainly they were included in Peter’s Pentecost exhortation in Acts 2:38, 39: “Repent and be baptized everyone one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. … The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

    Whole households, everyone in the family, were baptized in the beginning of New Testament times, which in all probability included infants (Acts 16:15 and 33). [The “household” formula used here by Luke has Old Testament precedent, with special reference also to small children, as for example in 1 Sam. 22:16, 19; see Joachim Jeremias, Infant Baptism in the First Four Centuries, 22-23.]

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  52. dee:
    Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy),

    Everyone should read your comment. Thank you for trying to make amends. What was it about the *goings on* that finally caused you to reject it?

    This was a slow process. I was trying so very hard to be the kind of Christian that my pastor preached about. The ideal christian life was one of constant ‘onward and upward’ growth toward holiness. Good Christians didn’t struggle with sin or ever question the teaching. I felt for a long time that I just didn’t fit in – maybe I wasn’t even saved? I would come to church each week desperately needing Jesus and the Word to comfort and encourage me, and I all I received was more condemnation because I could never do enough to live up to the impossible (and unbiblical!) standard presented.
    The thing that broke it all open for me was that I went to another church and the sermon there simply reminded me of God’s great love for me. No condemnation, no “work harder to be a good christian”, no legalism, just a clear sermon from Ephesians that literally wrecked me – I shed real tears of joy on the ride home that day because I was reminded that God loves me even when I don’t measure up. Its a simple message but one that I hadn’t heard in many, many years.

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  53. linda: at the moment anyone trusts in Christ alone for salvation they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and in light of eternity that will be the one that counts

    “I baptise you with water as a sign of your repentance, but the one who follows me is far stronger than I am … He will baptise you with the fire of the Holy Spirit” (John the Baptist, Matthew 3)

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  54. Grain of salt?

    hmmm…

    Mark Dever holds a Calvinistic view of scripture, John Calvin got his view of scripture from Augustine. Their theology corrupts scripture to the point that a false gospel is presented to the masses, and has been that way for the for past five hundred years. One must show caution also with Martin Luther as well, because he also got his view of scripture from Augustine. The difference is that Luther managed to stay closer to scripture. It was William Tyndale initially, and later John Wesley that broke the false theological cycle. Remember, Luther used Tyndales English translation, and Erasmus Greek work to translate the scriptures into German. Tyndale was burned, Erasmus sarcastically minded his own business, and both Luther and Calvin ultimately failed in their efforts to reform the Catholics Church. Luther simply built a workaround, and Calvin penned a intricate elaborate replacement system of theology.

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  55. Godith,

    “Sorry if I missed it, but would someone in the know explain why there is a Reformed Baptist Church in Dubai? (If it is still there). Did a bunch of believers there call for ministry help? It just seems like an odd location.”
    ++++++++++++

    so this ‘tribe’ can have an easy & comfortable place to go in a region which they can call “an undisclosed location” for courage-&-bravery smoke-&-mirrors?

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  56. Godith:
    Sorry if I missed it, but would someone in the know explain why there is a Reformed Baptist Church in Dubai? (If it is still there). Did a bunch of believers there call for ministry help? It just seems like an odd location.

    Almost certainly for expatriates living in the country. Dubai has a large foreign population of whom maybe 40,000 are Americans (and even more British or other English speakers).

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  57. dee: I sometimes joke that there will be a separate room in heaven for those who cannot accept differences.

    LOL … the my-way-or-the-highway-ers, but each in separate rooms, since they each carry their own I’m-right nuance.

    Interesting that the NT church began with Jesus telling His followers to stick together while anticipating the Holy Spirit, their oneness emphasized.

    Fast forward, in the final NT epistle, Jude warns of those who have infiltrated, are up to no good, and clearly don’t belong.

    Oneness with tolerance of differences vs ethical separation from downright evil. IMHO, civil society requires both.

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  58. Friend: I do not believe that any form of baptism wears off or overrides another. Likewise the amount of water… what about an emergency baptism in a place without enough for full immersion?

    That’s how Baptism by Pouring and Sprinkling began – Logistics when there wasn’t enough water or facilities for the number of baptisms at a time.

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  59. Why does none of this insanity re Palm Sunday and infant baptism surprise me!! We’ve followed their subordinationism in the Trinity and all kinds of other silliness for a long time—though it’s anything but silly. At least these guys have not taken things to an extreme as my Reformed fore-bearers did in Zwingli’s day when they drowned Anabaptists in the Limmat River in Zurich. They are mild in comparison: If you’re not our precise kind of Christian—following all our self-proclaimed rules, then you’re no Christian at all. Too bad so many people get caught up in their cult.

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  60. Ruth Tucker: At least these guys have not taken things to an extreme as my Reformed fore-bearers did in Zwingli’s day when they drowned Anabaptists in the Limmat River in Zurich.

    …or Calvin when he persecuted (with the help of the Magistrate) those who opposed his teachings in Geneva: exile, excommunication, torture, imprisonment, execution. Fortunately, the New Calvinists only drown Baptists now in their aberrant teachings. Before you know it, they will cancel Palm Sunday from their calendars (oh, wait a minute …).

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  61. Ruth Tucker: At least these guys have not taken things to an extreme as my Reformed fore-bearers did in Zwingli’s day when they drowned Anabaptists in the Limmat River in Zurich.

    As Providence would have it, our Founders made sure that this type of thing was restrained by not letting religion set State policy. Believe me Ruth, they (biblicists and religionists) would if they could. Nothing has changed in the ‘Crusader’ mindset since they first slaughtered Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem.

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  62. Headless Unicorn Guy,

    ROFL at this picture.

    (Knowing that it’s not really funny.)

    Our son dated a future (certain profession person) while they were in college. Afterwards he commented about how could these future professionals all attend their conventions when they are such control freaks. Like, what happens when you get them all in one room? He had a point.

    Humans seem to be good at creating dynasties. God forbid the Evangeos criticize the traditional “dynasties” set up centuries ago. Evangeos have their own shticks going on peppered all over America, maybe even across the planet, or into Outer Space (God help Star Trek).

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  63. As far as I can tell, there is no record of the Apostles themselves being baptized. (Jesus baptized no one according to scripture.) A funny omission for something that has such a supreme importance to folk. I remember hearing a sermon many years ago where the speaker said “I don’t care if you were sprinkled, dunked or dry cleaned.”

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  64. Friend,

    Such a good point. Glad we are having this discourse; excellent post.

    The thing is, the church calendar & liturgies can be wonderful, bringing us closer to God & closer to each other as Christians. Not many hills to die on though, and in the same vein, should never be an opportunity to establish a mirage of unnecessary do/don’ts for faithful followers of Jesus. The brief but complete salvation of the thief on the cross event anecdotally makes this point.

    Religious folks challenged Jesus, the Son of God, with their dos & don’ts.

    Those creating authoritarian theologies about these non-issues perhaps could better spend their time & resources with attention to orphans and widows. Or, perhaps get the predators out of the pulpit & out of using the church as safe haven. There’s enough to do. Melinda Gates writes in “The Moment of Lift” : How Empowering Women Changes the World [for the better].

    Dee is enjoying liturgy and the church calendar. She is also fighting a good fight against CSA & DV in the church. Seems about perfect. Very inspiring. Good role modeling for the rest of us.

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  65. I was told my infant baptism was not valid & I was not baptized. I disagreed. The next tact was to just get baptized as an adult. No harm since you are already Christian.

    Like heck. That pretty much guaranteed I will never ever be rebaptized as an adult.

    And if folks want wave palm leaves and wear veils on palm Sunday, have at it.

    My Hindu co-worker once asked me what the bunnies, eggs and chicks had to do with Easter. I told him it’s a holdover from other spring traditions like the Yule log and Christmas tree.

    Everyone celebrates in their own way.

    Do no harm.

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  66. Jesus did indeed command baptism. However, I toss this out for your consideration:

    He did not command water baptism but rather baptism in or into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Many years ago we lived in the 4 corners region of northern NM and attended church with people who had translated or worked on the translation of the NT into Navajo. When they took that verse apart in the original language it worked out more to immerse or cleanse people into the character of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    Translated into Navajo heart language and back into ours, it might read something along the lines of “Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations, seeing to it their hearts are so washed by the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that they have the character deep in their souls of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

    In other words, it wasn’t about water hitting the body but about such a thorough conversion that people were changed from the inside out to be Christlike. Some groups claimed high numbers of Navajo converts but no diminishing of the alcohol, the fights, the thefts, or the family abuse. Others would not accept that you had been baptized by the Lord if that was still your character, or at least if you had no desire to see that character changed.

    Another way of putting it was that if you were truly born again, it was “not by water but by the washing of the Word” and you got a new character with rebirth.

    Whatever our sin, all of us are “born that way”. We do not get to define sin for ourselves, God does that. And we do not get to take them into heaven with us. That would make it hell. The truly born again were taught to be those so thoroughly “new” that their desire (not necessarily their ability) was to walk in peace and holiness.

    Once you “got it” that truly only God can really baptize, we can only do it symbolically, but that when God does it there is a true new birth with a clean heart, the verse where Jesus commands us to baptize becomes so much more than mere water.

    Now, I am Lutheran and these teachings are definitely at odds with the Lutheran church I currently am part of. It was taught and accepted at the last one I was a member of. Not every synod is the same. And where any church departs from what I believe the scripture teachers I feel free to partake of the good and ignore the bad.

    I can see me doing catechism detention for a llloooonnnngggg time over baptism, lol.

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  67. Ava Aaronson: Our son dated a future (certain profession person) while they were in college. Afterwards he commented about how could these future professionals all attend their conventions when they are such control freaks. Like, what happens when you get them all in one room?

    You find out why The Universe Cannot Have Two Centers. Let alone a hundred.

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  68. Baptism has been downplayed, even ignored in Evangelical Free Churches, which broke away from Lutheranism in the late 1800s. The Gospel Coalition has a number of EFCA men on its Council.

    TGC Council Member Bill Kynes (EFCA):

    “When it comes to baptism, I consider myself fairly typical in the Evangelical Free Church of America. By that I mean that baptism has not played a prominent part in my pastoral ministry.”

    “Commonly in our churches, one’s baptismal status has no connection to church membership or to participation in the Lord’s Supper.”

    https://go.efca.org/sites/default/files/resources/docs/2013/03/ministerial_forum_summer_2005.pdf

    EFC president (1997-2015) Bill Hamel:

    “I had the privilege of being raised in the distinctive ethos of the EFCA by godly parents…In the three Free Churches I attended as a child and young man, baptism was ignored”

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  69. Bridget: There are unclear references about the disciples’ baptisms in scripture. There is much opinion and speculation about it.

    Are Acts and 1 Corinthians early enough? I would guess that Peter and Paul were baptized, if they baptized others.

    While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days.
    —Acts 10:44-48

    A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’ And she prevailed upon us.
    —Acts 16:14-15

    Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you should be in agreement and that there should be no divisions among you, but that you should be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’, or ‘I belong to Apollos’, or ‘I belong to Cephas’, or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.
    —1 Cor. 1:10-17

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  70. Muff Potter,

    The main point I get is that the actual THROWING of the palms, and fuss about veiling statues, was considered to detract from the dignity and memorability of Holy Scriptures, an especially big chunk of which get recited at that time; most Germans not having Bibles to read.

    Roman church authority was known to have bled especially Germany dry of money for several centuries. Furthermore, consubstantiation makes better sense as Real Presence than transubstantiation does (though Jesus is bigger than bread when He goes alongside it, He would certainly respect its unique identity and not obliterate that – He is not panentheist).

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  71. “Unless you are born again of *water* and the Spirit….”

    I know many people believe that “water” here refers to the amniotic fluid in one’s mother’s womb, but that is sheer eisegesis. Where is there even the slightest hint *in the text* that Jesus is talking about amniotic fluid?

    It also turns Our Lord’s words into a syntactical pretzel. It makes no sense — syntactically the entire phrase refers to *rebirth,* not to our initial birth. Jesus doesn’t say “Unless you are first born of amniotic fluid and then born again of the Spirit….” He doesn’t *say* that, and the text simply cannot be twisted to *mean* that.

    I doubt that any of the Reformers would have regarded baptism as either optional or dispensable. Do we have any quotes from them to that effect?

    Of course God is not bound by His own prescriptions. He may have ordained Trinitarian baptism as the *ordinary* means of incorporation into His Body, but that doesn’t mean He Himself is bound by this. The Vatican II “Decree on Ecumenism” addresses this whole question. Even non-Christians can conceivably be saved, let alone the non-baptized. We are judged according to our lights.

    My two cents’ worth, FWIW. 😀

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  72. The Gospel Coalition’s founders were Don Carson and Tim Keller

    Carson = professor at the Evangelical Free Church of America’s seminary: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

    Evangelical Free ministers Colin Smith, Bill Kynes, Mike Andrus, and Tom Nelson are on the Council of The Gospel Coalition. All four have been with the outfit since its inception (originally, TGC’s leaders were called “Stakeholders”).

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  73. Friend,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “early enough.”

    I was speaking about the actual apostles. What I was saying was that there is no clear scripture that states when/if the disciples (apostles) were baptized. There is speculation, guess, and assumption now about their baptisms but no definitive scripture. Does that make sense?

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  74. Carson got PhD at Cambridge University in UK and was back there circa 1989 serving under Roy Clements at Eden Baptist Church. Mark Dever was “the intern”:

    https://www.stevemaughan.com/sermons/roy-clements/

    When Dever took pastorate of DC’s CHBC in 1994, he held a sort of proto 9Marks/TGC panel discussion.

    advertised in the Washington Post, Sept. 24, 1994 (scroll down):

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/local/1994/09/24/upcoming-events/bf38e688-c885-499e-89ed-2decd726faa7/?utm_term=.fe36cbeb37bf

    “The Rev. Mark E. Dever will pose the question ‘What’s Wrong With the Local Church’ to a seven-member panel at 7 p.m. today at Capitol Hill Metropolitan Baptist Church, 525 A St. NE.”

    Forum panelists included:
    Don Carson (see post above)
    Fred Catherwood, (also from Eden Baptist, Cambridge; Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ son-in-law)
    Carl F.H. Henry
    Bill Kynes, (EFCA pastor in Va., also fresh from Cambridge, see above)
    Albert Mohler, newly installed president of SBTS

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  75. Bridget: I’m not sure what you mean by “early enough.”

    I was speaking about the actual apostles. What I was saying was that there is no clear scripture that states when/if the disciples (apostles) were baptized.

    Peter was a disciple and apostle. Paul was an apostle. Acts and 1 Corinthians are in the Bible, and they mention baptism as a practice. This suggests that baptism wasn’t added to church practice in some later century based on the story of John the Baptizer, or for some other reason.

    In addition, the earliest known creeds of the church were used in baptismal rites. The Rule of Faith was around by the second century.

    Jesus himself was baptized. Do you think an unbaptized apostle would baptize people? I can’t quite imagine that, but maybe that’s just me. 🙂

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  76. Friend: Peter was a disciple and apostle. Paul was an apostle. Acts and 1 Corinthians are in the Bible, and they mention baptism as a practice. This suggests that baptism wasn’t added to church practice in some later century based on the story of John the Baptizer, or for some other reason.

    In addition, the earliest known creeds of the church were used in baptismal rites. The Rule of Faith was around by the second century.

    Jesus himself was baptized. Do you think an unbaptized apostle would baptize people? I can’t quite imagine that, but maybe that’s just me.

    Agree 100%.

    But then, I would, wouldn’t I? 😉

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  77. St Peter said, “Baptism now saves you.” That’s in the Bible. Those very words. I’ve seen people engage in all sorts of complicated contortions to explain those words away, but I’ve never seen anyone do so satisfactorily.

    Like Friend, I can’t imagine Peter saying “Baptism now saves you” — much less “Repent and be baptized” — if he wasn’t baptized himself.

    But that’s just me. \_.._/

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  78. Ava Aaronson:
    Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Always appreciate your comments.

    OT: Today, I mentioned to a Catholic coworker what you wrote about a large Catholic parish served by only three priests, while the Evangeos are top-heavy with numerous and (sometimes highly paid) pastors. She said there is a serious shortage of priests.

    Thanks! I love your comments as well.

    Yes, your coworker is correct, alas.

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  79. Harmonica in hand, On Da Road Again?

    hmmm…

    Dipped, dunked, freeze dried, or shrink wrapped, the Father asked me to follow His Son, Jesus, and I have attempted with His gracious help to do so ever since.__

    What an amazing ride… Yeahooooo

    I’ve never looked back…

    ATB

    Sòpy

    Inter Mission,

    The Wanton Bishops & Oak – On the road again (cover) | Beirut Jam Sessions
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0WjLLUu1M8

    .

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  80. Catholic Gate-Crasher: St Peter said, “Baptism now saves you.” That’s in the Bible. Those very words. I’ve seen people engage in all sorts of complicated contortions to explain those words away, but I’ve never seen anyone do so satisfactorily.

    Lovely insight, thanks. Here’s a little more of the passage, 1 Peter 21-22:

    And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

    I don’t take this necessarily to mean that the act of baptism alone confers salvation, or even that it is mandatory. Rather, it suggests that baptism helps to activate the conscience, perhaps because it is a memorable activity for the person baptized and/or their household and congregation.

    Baptism in this view is like a marriage ceremony, a memorable time that marks a crucial transition. People can be good Christians or faithful spouses without rituals. Ceremonies, though, offer meaning as well as public witness and a shared call to new responsibility.

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  81. Jeffrey and others who may have found the ideas put forth by that particular set of translators interesting might find the translation regarding baptism put forth by one ELCA pastor I knew, who was raised on the foreign mission field and who learned the ideas of the great commission from an Asian slant.

    Baptism=being like a sponge that has totally absorbed all the water it can absorb. We are to be like that sponge, totally absorbing the character of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This is based on the Eastern and near Eastern (like the Jews) idea that the name of a person is a way of denoting their character. Jewish ritual baptism was not so much someone else baptized you as it was that you put yourself in the water. John was more overseeing the baptism of Jesus than he was administering it in the way we think of it today. Jesus identified with our sinfulness, not went into the water to be made clean. So even though that pastor was thoroughly Lutheran we were taught the rite with water, while valuable, was not where Christians were formed or birthed.

    But then again that pastor was always encouraging us to think in terms of the original and the shadow. Our sanctuary was but a shadow of the heavenly one. Our rites, while meaningful and important, shadowed the real works done by God alone. In the same way, our baptisms and our Eucharistic meals while very important and very meaningful were never to take the place of the real. In a sense they were shadows, since certainly the important baptism is with the Holy Spirit and the real Body and Blood can be had by feasting on Christ. So we were liturgical and practiced the rites and believed in their efficacy but always to remember they were shadows of the deeper work Christ does in the heart, and no one would be “left behind” simply because they had not been baptized or taken communion in a church.

    If they had come in trust and repentance to Jesus and been baptized by the Holy Spirit and feasted on Christ in that manner, they would be accepted at the judgment.

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  82. Ava Aaronson: She said there is a serious shortage of priests.

    It’s true. On the other hand, a very large parish such as St. Matthew’s/Charlotte has a variety of paid lay staff, including a full elementary school faculty. One difference between most Catholic churches and some of the Protestant ones we read about is that staff are lay people.

    For example, we don’t have a “Worship Pastor”: we have a music director or liturgy director, a lay man or women usually with a degree in music.
    We don’t have an “Education Pastor”: we have a Director of Religious Education, a lay man or woman (occasionally a Religious Sister), with a degree in education, theology, or both. My parish has just hired a new DRE who is leaving a position as a Catholic school principal.
    We don’t have “Ruling Elders”: we have a parish council of lay men and women. In some parishes, they are elected by the congregation. In mine, anyone can go to through the application/interview process; those who are not selected in one year are likely to be called in the next year or two, as 3-year terms expire. At least 1/4 of the council members are from the Spanish congregation.
    We don’t have a “Youth Pastor” or “Children’s Pastor,” etc.

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  83. Friend,

    I think we are talking past each other. I am not against baptism, I also don’t believe that baptism is necessary to eternity with God. I, myself, am probably covered in the baptism camp. I was raised Catholic, baptized, confirmed, first communion, and was later submerged as an Evangelical Christian 😉

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  84. Cynthia W.,

    “For example, we don’t have a “Worship Pastor”: we have a music director or liturgy director, a lay man or women usually with a degree in music.”
    ++++++++++

    perhaps calling someone a “worship pastor” is just semantics for a desirable professional title, career-building and tax exemptions purposes (have the surrounding community subsidize so the church pays less). and perhaps no music degree required.

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  85. elastigirl,

    I’m not sure, but I get the impression that once someone is called a “Pastor,” he becomes part of the authoritative superstructure to which the regular congregation are called to “submit.” “Music director,” whether or not a person has a degree, gives the impression of an employee whose role (and authority) is limited.

    My church’s music director, a nice man with a cute wife and kids, officially has the authority to tell everyone in the music program exactly what to do regarding church music, but in real life, if he didn’t collaborate with the 50 or so volunteers, they would all quit … er, have schedule conflicts, so sorry we can’t, etc. … and he would be up the creek.

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  86. Jerome,

    I forgot my history a bit, I am little slushy now in my thinking.
    C.F.H Henry was a professor at Trinity by the early 70’s. Makes me wonder what the timeline of his involvement was.

    I sorta view Henry as subversive. I listened to a speech he gave circa 2003, at Trinity. The topic was the founding of Neo-Evangelicalism. He made a comment that raised my eyebrows a bit.

    He mentioned he was party to talks that led to Fuller’s founding, while he was then at Wheaton. I got the impression of a subversive network of participants. That fits my overall view of Neo-Evangelicalism. Pragmatic, under the table and have non-disclosed agendas.

    I should’ve made a career as a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

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  87. NATHAN PRIDDIS,

    I should say, TGC, the founding of Fuller, found of Neo-Evangelicalism, Machin’s Warriors / Westminster and Kuyper’s Stone Hall Lectures all have some common traits. I view them as one continuous flow of history.

    Maybe I should have read deeper into Henry’s works and would have understood where EFCA homes into the picture.

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  88. Bridget: I think we are talking past each other. I am not against baptism, I also don’t believe that baptism is necessary to eternity with God.

    Same here. To me it’s a beautiful and just symbology, and it’s really sweet to see Lutheran pastors baptize babies at the font, but not an absolute requirement.
    I was baptized as a baby by a Jesuit and later adopted by Lutherans.
    I even got dunked in the Pacific by Papa Chuck (founder of Calvary Chapel) himself as a young Army vet back during the wind-down of Vietnam.

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  89. Michael in UK:
    Muff Potter,

    The main point I get is that the actual THROWING of the palms, and fuss about veiling statues, was considered to detract from the dignity and memorability of Holy Scriptures, an especially big chunk of which get recited at that time; most Germans not having Bibles to read.

    Roman church authority was known to have bled especially Germany dry of money for several centuries.Furthermore, consubstantiation makes better sense as Real Presence than transubstantiation does (though Jesus is bigger than bread when He goes alongside it, He would certainly respect its unique identity and not obliterate that – He is not panentheist).

    What “makes more sense” to you does not necessarily make more sense to Jesus…or to His followers for the first 1500 years of Christianity.

    Moreover, I don’t know about bleeding people dry. The Reformation in Germany quickly became territorial: Certain princes became Protestant and took their provinces with them. I’m not sure their subjects’ lives improved noticeably as a result. Moreover, I seem to recall that the ensuing Peasants’ Revolt was brutally crushed by the Lutheran princes, with Luther’s hearty approval.

    History is messy.

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  90. Catholic Gate-Crasher,

    Also, I’m not sure there’s too much fuss involved in veiling statues. LOL!

    So, when you decorate your church for Easter — with flowers and banners and such — are you engaging in excessive fuss that detracts from the Holy Scriptures?

    How about church weddings? Do all those fancy decorations and elaborate customs detract from the Holy Scriptures? Flowers, wedding parties, white gowns, bridesmaids, Mendelssohn and Wagner, formal processions, bridal bouquets, wedding rings, unity candles, etc. — all of that traditional ceremonial and paraphernalia, *none* of which is mentioned in the Bible — does all that detract from the simplicity of the Scriptures?

    Just wondering. 😉

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  91. Muff Potter:
    Jay Smith,

    Yessiree Bob that was the place.We never did get raptured outta’ here though, even though Papa Chuck was so certain…

    “END TIME PROPHECIES ARE BEING FULFILLED EVEN AS WE SPEAK!!! WE MIGHT NOT HAVE A 1978!!! OR EVEN A 1977!!!”
    Any minute now… Any minute now… Any minute now…

    (Yes, I am a casualty of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay. I lost 3-5 years of my life; my writing partner lost 10-15. Who will restore those years the End Times Locusts have eaten?)

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