After recently leaving my position at an SBC church for a position in non-denominational Bible church, I told my wife that I was going to write my 95 theses against the SBC, and even if I never showed them to anyone else, I would at least have them as a reminder to myself. So many things were wrong. It had gotten so bad that I had moved from being the change agent that I initially thought I could be, to becoming a part of the problem. I was perpetuating it by my own contributions and lack of resistance. I had once stood up for the doctrines of grace, and had argued against the invitationalism. I had pleaded for a biblical church government with elders, and argued against the focus on quantitative growth. I had taught expositionally and pleaded that the senior pastor do likewise. But I left frustrated and hurt. In doing so, I hurt others because so many could not understand why I would leave … including the senior pastor. I did not want to spread dissension among the ranks.
Upon arriving at my new church, the senior pastor laid a stack of books on my desk. You see, he's mentoring me as a young pastor; something I've longed for, but never received. Along with a John Piper book was his encouragement to find a conference that he was speaking at this summer and go hear him.
I discovered the Founder's engagement, but was hesitant because it was affiliated with the SBC, and I was still feeling a bit resistant. I decided to attend along with my wife, and I am so thankful today. Here I was ready to tack up my own 95 theses to the door of the SBC, and I come and discover that the Founders have already done so. How refreshed I was to meet men who were grounded in the Word. These guys were not just standing up for its inerrancy, but were actually studying it and applying the doctrines to their personal lives and ministries. I heard nothing of church growth tactics or number comparison. You see, every gathering that I had attended with other pastors when I was in the SBC was saturated with comparisons and questions of numbers and size. I heard men with passion and men who actually think. I met men who lived out their convictions. There is so much more I could say, but I will leave it at this.
Thank you for your work and time. May you stay ever faithful to the doctrines of Scripture and may you never be pulled under by the mainstream movements within "pop evangelicalism." You are in my prayers.
Your fellow servant,
J. S. W., via e-mail
I am a student. I am a Christian, a Baptist, and a 5-point Calvinist. Where I attend school I am in the definite minority, but I must say that some of my teachers, while not in agreement with me, are most kind.... I thought you might want to know that, while some are very obnoxious, some recognize that we are brothers in Christ.
I also wanted to thank you for your publications, and that you have really given me a solid, Baptist look at Calvinism.
Thank you so much,
J. W., via. e-mail
Dear Founders Journal,
I am deeply interested in subscribing to Founders Journal. It has been about 3 years since I have come to "Reformed Faith" (about 6 years since coming to Christ) and I am finding it very difficult to find someone who is a Calvinist in my immediate circle of friends and family. I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church, and I am starving for discipleship from a Calvinistic perspective. Every Sunday I have to sit through church listening to my pastor . . . tell the congregation that we have a "free will" to come to Christ. He says that the decision is all ours. He has told me in a respectful way that the doctrines I hold to are "dead wrong." Founders Journal is exactly what I have been looking for to give me practical advice from a true biblical perspective. I have a heavy burden on my heart for the way that the church has lost its grip on the true doctrines of the faith. May God have mercy on the church for preaching such watered-down truth.
Please send me subscription information ASAP. I would prefer to do this transaction via the internet, but if this is not possible, I understand. Thank you for your help in this matter.
M. G., via e-mail
Dear Dr. Ascol,
I enjoyed reading your article, "The Pope, Indulgences, and Jesus Christ" which appeared in the spring issue [#36] of the Founders Journal. I am a convert to Protestant Christianity from the Roman Catholic Church. I made the change about 24 years ago after being born again. I have been a member of the Southern Baptist Convention for 22 years. My early education included ten years of Catholic primary and secondary schools.
You are among a very small number of Protestant writers who accurately describe how indulgences work in the Roman Catholic Church. Most Protestant writers turn what is already an un-Biblical doctrine into something much worse, which opens them to counterclaims that they have distorted Catholic doctrine. However, you demonstrate an understanding of this doctrine which is most likely better than the average American Roman Catholic today.
In my experience, there has been a subtle change lately in teaching on this doctrine by the Roman Catholic Church, at least here in the US. Indulgences and Purgatory are described as breaking the attachments to worldly things which sin brings on. This is described in #1472 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This doctrine is strongly emphasized by the former Reformed Presbyterian, Dr. Scott Hahn. Dr. Hahn fails to even mention the traditional doctrine which is familiar to all Catholics who received their training prior the Vatican II changes and is described in your article. Ironically, traces of this same new teaching can be found in C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce and Letters to Malcolm.
Keep up the good work with the Founders Journal. Reformed doctrine is gradually making a comeback within the Southern Baptist Convention although I am still in the minority in my own church.
T. K., Richmond, VA
You are trying to argue [FJ 36]Justification by faith alone by attacking church doctrine and misinterpretation to suit your own argument. While you compliment the Pope you abuse him and his followers in the same breath. Do not call Christians naïve followers. Study your Bible and historical documents more thoroughly before you state your assumptions to support your viewpoints. More particularly the Council of Trent. The Pope is the head of the earthly church, a leader no more no less a man who has been called by God and instructed directly by Jesus through his lineage which is from Peter. Check it out with an open heart and you will be blessed.
S. via e-mail