Double Standards in Fundamentalism Today, #4: Sources

By “source”, I mean to signify influential people who are either used as a source of positive knowledge (commentaries, quotes, illustrations, influence, etc.) or people used as a representation of error. For instance, lionize Hyles, lambast Osteen. There’s so much to this double standard it is tragic. I want to provide just one example, mention another, and call it a blog entry.

Examine the following carefully (emphasis in bold, mine; emphasis in CAPS, author):

Jesus Christ has made a will, and he has left to his people large legacies by that will. Now, wills do not have to be sprinkled with blood, but wills do need that the testator should be dead, otherwise they are not of force. As it was not possible that Christ should die other than a violent death, seeing that he must die as a sacrifice, the term “blood” becomes in this case tantamount to “death”. . And so, first of all, the blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary is the blood of the testament, because it is A PROOF THAT HE IS DEAD, and therefore the testament is in force.

What is this “blood of sprinkling”? In a few words, “the blood of sprinkling” represents the pains, the sufferings, the humiliation, and the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, which he endured on the behalf of guilty man. When we speak of the blood, we wish not to be understood as referring solely or mainly to the literal material blood which flowed from the wounds of Jesus. We believe in the literal fact of his shedding his blood; but when we speak of his cross and blood we mean those sufferings and that death of our Lord Jesus Christ by which he magnified the law of God; we mean what Isaiah intended when he said, “He shall make his soul an offering for sin”; we mean all the griefs which Jesus vicariously endured on our behalf at Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha, and specially his yielding up his life upon the tree of scorn and doom. “The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission”; and the shedding of blood intended is the death of Jesus, the Son of God”.

But what does “the blood” mean in Scripture? It means not merely suffering, which might be well typified by blood, but it means suffering unto death, it means the taking of a life. To put it very briefly, a sin against God deserves death as its punishment, and what God said by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel still standeth true, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” The only way by which God could fulfill his threatening sentence, and yet forgive guilty men, was that Jesus Christ, his Son, came into the world, and offered his life instead of ours.

Ok, who said that? Who said that blood is tantamount to death and simply proves that Jesus died? Who said the blood of sprinkling is the death and suffering of Christ? Who dared to say that when we speak of the cross and blood we speak of death? Which author or preacher had the audacity to claim that by saying, “shedding of blood”, the scriptures mean the death of Jesus? Who is this guy who equates the word “blood” with “death?”

Before the answer is provided for those of you who don’t already know, let me bring you up to speed about the controversy. There has been for a while in fundamentalism a misunderstanding about the blood of Jesus. There’s even a view that teaches that Jesus is constantly showing His blood to the Father in Heaven, an interesting thought not found in scripture. Due to that teaching, and the misinterpreting of poems, songs, and hymns about the blood of Jesus, any view that seems to “deny the blood” is savagely attacked. Of course, anyone who denies that Jesus shed His literal blood is a heretic, but what do we make of the preceding quotes, in which some man says that when the Bible says “blood” it is really speaking of death? Is this man “denying” the blood?

Well, a contemporary author apparently holds the same view. His name is John MacArthur. If you know anything about fundamentalism’s position toward John MacArthur, you’re probably hiding under your bed right now as I mentioned his name. Utter his name in a typical fundamentalist church or Bible college and everyone turns their head toward you and says, “he denies the blood!” Most, of course, cannot give one reference proving that, but nonetheless the slander continues. The rumor comes from something MacArthur said in 1976 that was taken out of context by Bob Jones University in 1986. BJU quotes MacArthur saying, “it is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying.” In that transcript, MacArthur also said:

Peter calls His blood “precious” and I agree . . . but Peter’s reference there is to the sacrificial nature of His death. . . . The phrase “Christ died for our sin” (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3) expresses the truth that death was the penalty, not blood. . . I Peter 2:24 is not saying we are saved by his wounds. . . . If we say that it is the blood that saves . . . what are we saying? His actual blood, physically, saves us? Or perhaps we are stuck with the Roman Catholic Church “perpetual offering” view that some hold. This view says that Christ perpetually sacrifices Himself. He took His blood into heaven and keeps offering it. Hebrews 10:12-14 forbids such a view. Clearly it was His death . . . once for all. His shed blood was part of the violence of it, and speaks of it as sacrifice, but we are saved by His substitutionary death for us, not by the chemicals in His blood.

It seems as though what MacArthur says here is identical to the first set of quotes. So, if MacArthur’s views are heresy and we preach against him, we ought to preach against the first man, right? Anything less would be a double standard!

So who is the man behind the first set of statements about the blood? None other than CH Spurgeon, prince of preachers, and oft-quoted and lauded man of God in nearly every fundamentalist school and church! Those quotes come from the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volumes 26, 32, and 40, respectively. The source of the quotes and the history behind MacArthur and the blood come from a must-read article written years ago by Phil Johnson. I hope I didn’t plagiarize Phil’s article too much, but what he has written is so good it needs to be distributed on hundreds of more websites. I came across it last year, and it really helped me understand the issue more clearly. If you’re going to preach against John MacArthur because of your misunderstanding of what he said about the blood of Christ, you better do the same for Spurgeon, or reexamine your position.

Another helpful thing to consider about this double standard is fundamentalists’ constant reference to a real heretic, Charles Finney. I’ll let you read what Mr. Johnson has so ably wrote about this dangerous man, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.

We ought to be discerning as fundamentalists. We ought to refute error and compromise and name names when necessary. We are expected to warn people of dangerous men and ideas. But let’s do it with integrity, and apply the same treatment to everyone, that we may be fair and go about our duty with a Christ-like spirit.

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4 comments so far

  1. churchlayman on

    I ran across your blog and want to encourage you to continue in your biblical studies and efforts to objectively examine the current trends in conservative Christianity from a sound biblical perspective. You have identified a number of issues in your blog entries that deserve thoughful, objective thought and evaluation, and are challenging for all of us to ponder (and then of course to make application!).

    Keep up the good work and the direction of this online ministry and the other ministry related efforts you are involved in in serving the Lord.

    Take care,

    Churchlayman

  2. rcaldw on

    Nice post and I’m impressed by some other things you have written. Keep it coming.

  3. […] means: Misrepresent his position on the blood and spread the rumor to Bible college campuses everywhere. Then […]

  4. […] means: Misrepresent his position on the blood and spread the rumor to Bible college campuses everywhere. Then […]


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