Jack Schaap, Jeffery Fugate, and the Ditch on Both Sides
Our theme for the month is on the issue of truth, in particular on the subject of ranking doctrines. And, one reason that this issue has achieved the rank of “controversy” is because of inconsistencies within our worldviews. If we believe that God is the truth, that truth exists because God truly exists, and that all truth proceeds from God as both flowing from His very nature and as absolutely known by Him, then we have no choice but to say that all truth is equally essential. We can know the truth because God has revealed it to us, and whatsoever God has revealed is essential to us. And never is this more true than in the realm of God’s Special Revelation, as found in the pages of Scripture.
A Biblical, Trinitarian worldview demands that we acknowledge the sufficiency of every word that proceeded out of the mouth of God. Mankind is morally obligated to accept every word as it is in truth, the very Word and Words of God. And furthermore, mankind is morally bound to seek a full understanding of every Word, and to seek to fully apply that meaning to every area of life. This obligation excludes any sort of “cafeteria approach” to Scripture, whereby a man determines for himself what is essential and what is non-essential, or perhaps more accurately, what is more to his liking and what is less to his liking. The reason should be plain enough: when I shop the pages of Scripture the way a housewife shops the Pop Tart section of the grocery store, choosing this flavor and that one, and none of the others, I make myself the master and judge of Scripture, of what is important to me, and what isn’t. I become the judge. And if I am the judge of Scripture, then I will not be judged by Scripture.
In all of this, we see the necessity of a Trinitarian Worldview as the basis and foundation for all thinking, including all thinking about God’s Word and God’s People. A right approach to Scripture is defined, not by what the current big-shots in Fundamentalism and/or Evangelicalism say it is. It is not defined by what the Blog-o-Maniacs say it is. A right approach to Scripture is defined by God, and we must receive that instruction, or we will be judged by that instruction.
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Scripture is very clear on this, that every word is essential. We get our doctrines, our standards, our convictions, and our practices from God’s Word, then. Scripture is sufficient. And while there will be controversies until the day when Christ sets all things right, we must strive to draw all our theological and doctrinal boundaries Scripturally. Will there be some fuzzy boundaries? The fuzziness is not because Scripture is not clear. Fog is the result of sin, and our fogginess about Scriptural boundaries is the effect of fallen men interpreting the infallible Word of God.
To Separate or Not to Separate
Nevertheless, while there certainly will be disagreement, we still find that in every case, the line where confusion becomes blatant disobedience is clearly marked. Our churches must labor to identify those lines, and then to apply them in the realm of fellowship. When a church is clearly disobeying Scripture, we must separate. The Bible teaches this plainly in Romans 16:17, in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11, in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and 14, in 1 Timothy 6:3-5, in 2 Timothy 3:5, and in Titus 3:10. This separation principle applies both personally and from church-to-church. It is the duty of every God-fearing New Testament church to clearly identify where those lines are, and to seek to apply the separation principle, found so frequently throughout Scripture, within their church and surrounding community.
But, that being said, this does not mean that churches have a Scriptural right to separate for “light and transient reasons.” Unfortunately, much of the separation practiced by churches in this day and age is over trivialities, personalities, and so forth. One glaring example of this comes from the Evangelical side of things, in particular from the kinds of churches represented by men like Frank Turk of Pyro-Maniacs, and Phil Johnson of the same. These men, who openly ridicule the kind of separation principles held by those in the more Fundamentalist-oriented circles, practice a kind of separation of their own choosing. They don’t separate on Scriptural grounds, that is for sure. But they do separate on personal grounds, as has been well-documented already by Kent, and has been punctuated by their public separation from Kent. Make no mistake about it — these men practice separation. They separate from every brother who does not follow their “big-tent” philosophy.
Similarly, we find this kind of separation, on a practical level, being practiced by those in the broader movement known as the Fundamentalist Movement. It is a separation that consists, not in convictions and standards set by Scripture, but by Camps and Circles. “I am of Bob Jones,” says one. “I am of the Sword of the Lord,” says another. “I am of Jack Hyles,” says still a third. “I am Unaffiliated,” says still another. And thus the lines are drawn.
I will not tire, any time soon at least, of pointing out that we are not following Scripture in all of this. What is the standard? What determines right and wrong? Who gets to draw the lines of separation? If not God, then who? We are not a law unto ourselves, drawing our own lines and marking who we will be avoiding and who we won’t. Unity is a church doctrine, but 1 John also requires God’s people to love all those whom God has saved. If God loved them enough to forgive their sins, we are to love them. But, if they walk in a way that is disobedient to the plain teaching of Scripture, we are to mark them and avoid them, to have no fellowship with them.
Get Your Own Ditch
The recent controversy between Jack Schaap and Jeffery Fugate illustrates this point very nicely. In the January/February, 2009 edition of the Church Bus News, Jeffery Fugate very publicly announced that he is separating from Jack Schaap. Or at least, that he will not be speaking at Pastor’s School 2009. Now, I will not be speaking at Pastor’s School 2009 either — just in case any of you were wondering. I won’t be speaking at Pastor’s School 2010 either. But I don’t feel a need to take out an ad in the Sword of the Lord, or publish my own magazine for the sake of announcing that little tidbit of information to an anxiously awaiting world. But Fugate needs to inform all of us who are fortunate enough to be on his mailing list that he will not be speaking at Pastor’s School — that, in essence, he is separating from Schaap. Fugate says,
Until Dr. Schaap makes plain the fact that he believes that the King James Bible is the Inspired Preserved Word of God and stops sowing doubts about it I will not speak at Pastor’s School or in any ministry of First Baptist Church. I will not send my preacher boys nor recommend any others to HAC. The Church Bus News will no longer give bus scholarships to HAC.
So, he is separating from Schaap, and doing so in a very public way.
Now, this blog has been fairly vocal on the issue of Jack Schaap and Jack Hyles. And, I for one am not at all surprised by any of this on the Schaap end of things. In case you don’t recall the earlier series we did on the Hyles issue, I would remind you of something we said in our post, “What You’ll Find Beneath Peach Trees:”
Schaap, in my not so humble opinion, preaches heresy for the same reason Hyles did. Sure, he twists a different set of texts than Hyles did. But he does not bend texts for the sake of bending texts. Rather, he does this to force us to make a choice about him. Are we with him, or are we against him. Which one? Make your choice. Take your stand. Fall to the right of him, fall to the left of him, or stand with him. Those are your choices.
I still say that Jack Schaap is all about having a following. He wants to be the Rick Warren of IFBXdom… The Church Growth Guru of Fundamentalism. And, I have long predicted that he would lead the First Baptist Church of Hammond into a more neo position. In fact, I believe that, considering how enamored Schaap is with the Charismatic movement, and the historical position that FBC Hammond has taken on the Holy Spirit, Schaap will likely lead that church into some kind of hybrid “Fundamentalist/Charismatic” movement. I won’t be surprised.
But is Jeffery Fugate separating from Schaap because he has violated Scripture? One has to wonder, on the basis of the published material in the January/February 2009 issue of the Church Bus News. For one thing, the magazine features a prominent article on what Jack Hyles taught about the King James Bible — and have no doubt, that is as close to being inspired material in the minds of Hyles’ followers as Scripture itself. The magazine also features an article by Gail Riplinger, “7 Infallible Proofs,” and then an article by Fugate, “The Inspired, Preserved Word.”
Having read through each of these articles, it is very apparent that Fugate, like Riplinger, is an English Preservationist. The Riplinger article is abridged from her upcoming book, Greek and Hebrew Study Dangers: The Voice of Strangers, The Men Behind the Smokescreen, Burning Bibles Word by Word. Riplinger offers a somewhat disjointed proof that the English Bible is equally inspired with the originals — for example, since the Ethiopian eunuch was reading a translation of Isaiah, and since the book of Acts calls this translation Scripture, and since 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, therefore “vernacular editions are given ‘by inspiration’.” She further argues that John Wycliffe and Miles Coverdale say that God, not them, was the author.
Fugate adds these thoughts:
Let me go a step further. Breath is tangible, which means you can feel it, smell it, etc. Spirit is non-tangible. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance – all are non-tangibles. Do you see the difference between breath and spirit? It’s important to understand because some conclude that the Bible was God-breathed, or the words were spoken and only when they were spoken were they inspired. However, the Bible says inspiration means His words are given by His spirit. I had someone tell me recently that there is no way the English version could be inspired because God doesn’t speak English. He spoke Hebrew and Greek. I wanted to tell the young man, “Maybe when you get to Heaven you can teach Him English, and He’ll appreciate that.” God is not limited by language!
He says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” I want you to understand something that is very important. It is not just the Originals that are inspired. Deuteronomy 17:18 says, “…he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites.” Joshua 8:32 speaks of writing a copy. Proverbs 25:1 says, “These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.” If only the Originals are inspired then what happened to the copies. Don’t believe the statement that says, “Only the Originals are inspired.” If I didn’t believe that I had a copy of the inspired, living, preserved Word of God I would quit. God promised He would preserve His inspired words. I believe if God can create and sustain the world, He can give and preserve His Bible.
The word “scripture” or the usage of the word “scripture” in the New Testament never refers to an Original. The word “scripture” simply refers to copies of the Word of God. Acts 17:11 says the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily. Did they have the originals? No, they didn’t have them. They were reading copies of the Word of God. Acts 18:28 says Apollos was showing the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Matthew 21:42 has Jesus asking the question, “Did ye never read in the scriptures?” In Matthew 22:29 Jesus rebuked, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures.” If the scriptures were only accessible in the Originals then why would he chide them for not know(sic) something that wasn’t available. Do a study of the word “scripture” in the New Testament and see how many times it appears.
And here is the point of quoting all this. Fugate takes a wrong position on preservation. There is no Scriptural warrant for placing a translation on the same level as what was inspired by God. Nor does Fugate give any. Nor does Riplinger. Instead, they both play Gumby with texts and words in order to force their position on the Scriptural doctrine of preservation. I feel very sure (having had this discussion with more than one English Preservationist) that Fugate would deny that we have the very words that God spoke in the very language (Hebrew and Greek) in which they were spoken. The promise of preservation only works after 1611.
Fugate exemplifies the modern-day practice of taking a position because it “makes sense” and then separating from all those who disagree. Schaap has, apparently, joined the ranks of those who deny that we have a preserved Word today because we don’t have the originals. But then again, the Hyles camp has never attempted to take a Scriptural position on this. I found it ironic that Fugate made the statement that
“Admittedly, there are some that have had a wrong disposition in their defense of the King James Bible. There are also those that have taken a stand that goes to the right – such as saying that you must be saved by the King James Bible or you are a two-fold child of Hell.”
Actually, didn’t Jack Hyles say that?
But I digress. My point in all of this is two-fold. First, what we have here is an example of two men who have yet to identify a Scriptural position on the issue of preservation, and as a result, both stumble into the ditch. But Fugate has now determined not to be in the same ditch as Schaap, has announced to the world that he is leaving the Schaap ditch and going to the ditch on his own side.
And secondly, we have two men who have never made an effort to identify what the grounds would be for separation. At what point should we separate on the issue of Preservation? No Scriptural warrant is given for why this should be a separating issue between Fugate and Schaap. Although indeed, among the English Preservationists, there is no sin like the sin of not being an English Preservationist.
The doctrine of perfect preservation is an important issue. But one of the reasons that we can’t even have a rational debate about it is because the English Preservationists have never attempted to get their position from Scripture. As a result, our opponents on the Critical Text side of the issue have gone the same route. On the English Preservationist side, we have fideism — they believe what God says, and they could care less what history shows. But on the other side, we have evidentialism. James White might be a presuppositionalist in other matters. But when it comes to the textual issue, he is most certainly an evidentialist. He and his side looks at the history as more weighty than the promises. So, on the one side we have those who hold to the promises, and ignore the evidence. On the other hand, we have those who hold to the evidence and ignore the promises.
And this is why we can’t even conduct a rational debate on the issue. When we get back to taking a stand on Biblical grounds on this issue, we might once again see the pure Words of God preached with power and effect. We pray for such a day to come again.