Randy White, CEO
My own personal mantra has become “Question the Assumptions.” In my journey from seminary into the pastorate and then (finally) into Bible study, I began to realize that so much of what I had been taught was simply wrong. For years I thought it was right, that I was preaching Scripture, that my denomination was one of the most conservative, Bible-believing denominations on the planet, and that the “Baptist Faith and Message” was the end of all theological discussions.
I was wrong. I began to study prophecy and moved from being a post-tribulation premillennialist to a pre-trib premillennialist. I began to study the Law of the Hebrew Scriptures and began to realize that a dispensational approach to Biblical interpretation was the only approach that had any integrity whatsoever. I quit preaching tithing, I began teaching freedom from the Law, and eventually discovered that a very distinct, previously hidden age of mystery we call GRACE is now the “house rule” for our day.
As we enter 2019 (I write this on a snowy New Year’s Day), here is a list of assumptions that I wish EVERY Christian, every church, and every pastor would question. I could write a book on each, and I could add to this list, but for now, I’ll just make a few comments.
The Gospel is Found Throughout the Bible
This sure sounds good. I was always taught, “Every sermon should contain the gospel.” In order to get the gospel into every sermon, I skipped passages about killing Amelikites and I allegorized passages about giant killing. Even in the Gospels I would “force-fit” the saving gospel into an age in which the audience was under the Law and no propitiation for sin had been made.
When I realized that the gospel doesn’t come before the gospel comes, it revolutionized my understanding of the Bible. Now I realize that the Bible is an unfolding story, that His unfolding revelation of Himself to mankind came with a few pieces of information that so fundamentally changed the way man must connect with God that one couldn’t rightly mix the two periods without creating a theological mess. That is, I became a dispensationalist.
The Church Does Kingdom Work
This was so ingrained in my thinking that it took me several years to get my mouth to stop using Kingdom terminology where such terminology wasn’t applicable. I took (parroting my denominational education), a mystical, church-based kingdom theology. My view was that when we evangelize and disciple the world, we were “advancing the Kingdom.” The truth is, we were evangelizing and discipling the world, and the Kingdom talk was just leftover Catholic jargon that has no Biblical support nor place in any evangelical or fundamental church.
Now I believe that there is no Kingdom. The coming Kingdom is, as I’ve said many times, future, fraternal (related to Israel), and physical. I cannot advance it. My church cannot advance it, build it, enhance it, redecorate it, speed it up, nor slow it down.
I am more and more convinced that bad Kingdom theology is the source of nearly every bad theological idea in the church today. Charismatic theology, the New Apostolic Reformation, replacement theology, and social-gospel theology all have their roots in a “kingdom now” concept.
Every Event in the Middle East is Prophetic
I love the study of prophecy. My first book was written in 2005 about prophecy. I’ve taught prophecy for years, and learned so much about the future. I’ve also noticed extremism in prophetic teaching. Some (mostly in Covenant theology) wouldn’t touch prophecy with a 39 and a half-foot pole. Others (mostly in dispensationalism) view every event in the Middle East (or in New York, Washington, or Moscow, or even the moon) as having prophetic significance. Sometimes I want to shout from the mountaintop that the planting of cedar tree isn’t a harbinger of anything, a blood moon is normal, and that the latest fiasco in Damascus is nothing more than a sign of an evil Islamic worldview mixed with the circus politics of the United Nations.
We live in an age which is not prophetic. The prophetic age will pick up after the rapture, and there are no signs of the rapture (thus we call it immenent). With this view, I read the newspaper for an understanding of geopolitics, not looking for signs that I should buy more green beans and spam, nor that I should prepare to be snatched away by Thursday.
Seminary is the Best Path to Pastoring
I will likely write more about this in 2019, but I am very close to the view that traditional seminary is the biggest waste of time and money that a young man entering ministry could endure. I give seminary education a failing grade all around. A layman who has been diligent in personal Bible study for three years will be better equipped for the pastorate than the average seminary grad.
Seminaries don’t teach hermeneutics, they don’t teach Biblical languages (at least very well), they don’t teach theology, they don’t teach preaching, and they don’t teach ministry. Why bother?
If a seminary isn’t working very hard to become closely connected to the local church, ditch it. I would rather see a young man live in a church basement and serve as an apprentice to a qualified Pastor than I would see him waste his time and money on seminary.
Big Churches do Better Ministry
Big churches put on big shows. I don’t know of many exceptions. The preaching is lame (but entertaining). The music is well-done (but theologically lame). The kids programs are a circus. In a small (even tiny) church, a preacher can preach the book of Job, verse-by-verse, for months…and the people will still come. Try that in a large church and attendance would drop by half. This means that in a small/tiny church, the people are more likely to have an environment (and hopefully a preacher) which fosters growth in Biblical knowledge.
How big should a church be? Probably big enough to pay a pastor a livable wage. He may do a few side-jobs to bless his family, but I like to see a pastor able to devote full-time to the study of the Word. In most cases, 20-50 people can provide this kind of support, especially when the church isn’t burdened with other expenses that go with church growth (buildings, debt, utilities, staff, support staff, custodians, etc.)
Small/tiny churches can be awkward. They can be boring. They are almost definitely not able to provide “cool” programs for every member of the family. But those same churches raise men, women, boys and girls who know the Bible and stand firm in their theology for decades.
I could add to this list another dozen things, no doubt. But let’s start here, and I think your 2019 will be a spectacular time of questioning the assumptions.