Reply to a Pastor about Recent Lancaster Bible Conference
May 17, 2011
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
A pastor friend recently sent me a brief report of his experience at this year’s Bible Conference at Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, California (home of West Coast Baptist College). His objective seemed to be to prove that I have been wrong about my warnings. He wrote:

“As promised, I am sending you a report of our recent visit to Lancaster and WCBC.
“First, Jerry Falwell is NOT in their Baptist Heritage Hall of Fame. I made a point to check that out.
“The music for the most part was excellent: traditional hymns in all services, traditional prelude/postludes, traditional choir music. Their special music is of a flavor that is not to my taste, but it was NOT CCM or as best as I could tell not adapted CCM. My wife is even more critical on music than I am, and she was pleased. Additionally, they have recently published their own hymnal which is all traditional hymns etc and it was edited by Al Smith. The latter name should say it all.”


Thank you for writing.

As for Jerry Falwell, I’m glad he is not in Lancaster’s Baptist Heritage Hall of Fame, but he has most definitely been exalted at Lancaster. Two friends were in the crowd in 2007 when Paul Chappell spoke highly of Falwell. One wrote a testimony of this as follows:

“Concerning Falwell, I do recall that he was mentioned by Paul Chappell (along with a picture on the big screens) and men who are mentioned are always for the purpose of being honoured and praised, never criticized. If it wasn't their hall of faith, then it was for some special achievement award which they tend to give out on such occasions.”
This is not the only time that this has happened. Chappell has spoken highly of Falwell in at least two of his books that are in my library.

A non-critical association with Falwell was one of the things that led to the downfall of Highland Park Baptist Church. They refused to criticize him and expose his compromise, and at the end of the day it was men from Falwell’s Liberty University who took Highland Park back into the Southern Baptist Convention and turned it into a rock & roll entertainment center.

Separation is maintained not only by disassociating from error and compromise but also by plainly reproving it.

As for the music, if it is now all so traditional and sacred, why not a public repentance for spreading the adaptation of CCM/soft rock across the land and beyond the seas, because regardless of whatever face they might have presented at the recent conference, they have been using and spreading CCM for years.

Why shouldn’t they be courageous and gracious enough to thank me for my needed warning, regardless of what they think about the way I did it?

The West Coast music that I exposed was pure CCM and it was right out there on YouTube to influence multitudes.

See our analysis of three of the West Coast songs at
Analyzing Adapted CCM Songs - Lancaster

I have been treated like a fool for warning about this.

Consider the libelous blog attack by Clayton Reed, calling me a pig and a self-serving bully, among other choice things. There have even been maligning attacks upon my family by some of the people associated with West Coast. 

Paul Chappell could easily put a stop to all of this by calling off the dogs and admitting some responsibility and guilt in this matter. He could thank me for my spiritual courage and conviction if nothing else. Yes, he’s been sick or had a break down of some sort, but he’s not dead or institutionalized. He was out on his ranch in Colorado for awhile and out of the pulpit, but he has been writing articles and blogs. He could have responded to this.

I have irrefutable evidence by many witnesses that West Coast has been responsible for lowering the music standards of churches in several countries. 

The issue I warned about is serious and will not be swept under the rug like they are attempting to do. 

And the problem is deeper than the music.

The Chappell/Reed book "CHURCH STILL WORKS," which I have before me as I write, presents the same dangerous philosophy that Clarence Sexton and Jack Schaap are promoting -- an IB unity that does not allow "criticism" of anything IB preachers are doing (except in private).
Church Still Works is a pragmatic church growth approach based on a survey that was commissioned from the Southern Baptist LifeWay organization. It is a "focus on the essentials" philosophy (p. 214). Someone like me is identified as a "bad attitude Baptist" (p. 213), not because I really have a bad attitude but because I issue public warnings that I am not allowed to issue. Probably a half dozen times the book takes cheap shots toward warning ministries. They say we should have "no griping, no axes to grind." (What if the gripe is error and the axe is the truth!) In his introduction Chappell says, “We thank God for missions-supporting, faith-believing, soulwinning Baptists who would rather make a difference than spend idle time biting and devouring others...” (p. xii). I am deeply opposed to biting and devouring, but biting and devouring is exactly how Chappell and his supporters have characterized my warning about Lancaster’s adaptation of CCM. I am a gossip, they say. But speaking the truth in love is not gossip and it is not wrong. It is not biting and devouring. In fact, it is very Scriptural and necessary to the cause of Christ, and it should be received in a godly manner.

Ed Stetzer, an emerging guy with close ties to Mark Driscoll of Mars Hills Church in Seattle, heads up LifeWay’s research division that did the Chappell/Reed survey. He used the material from “Church Still Works” in his video message to the 2010 Church Life Conference at Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. Stetzer was one of at least two rock & roll, Billy Graham-loving Southern Baptists to speak at this conference, and others were invited who didn’t participate. Trinity is pastored by Tom Messer, who in turn speaks at Clarence Sexton’s Independent Baptist Friends conferences. (Messer is another one of the men that Clayton Reed said that I have no right to speak publicly about.)

Stetzer is a bridge between Independent Baptists and Southern Baptists and beyond to Mark Driscoll’s extremely dangerous “cultural liberalism” philosophy. All of these people despise the doctrine of separation, and it was separation that distinguished Independent Baptists from Southern Baptists when I was saved in 1973. Now that so many Independent Baptists are getting soft on separation and speaking more about unity than separation, the lines are being blurred dramatically.

Chappell’s friend and co-author Clayton Reed (who uses Christian rock in his church and frequently quotes emerging pastors on his blog) published a series of articles on "Ecclesiastical Separation" last year representing an unabashed New Evangelical philosophy. He said, “We ought to join every willing, warm-hearted Christian in advancing our Lord’s kingdom while it is day.” He says we should not separate over “non-fundamentals” and quotes John Rice saying we should work with those who disagree with us on baptism, tongues, prophecy, election, and association with the SBC. John Rice was wrong about that, and such a philosophy is probably the reason why all of his children and many of the churches and institutions that followed his philosophy (e.g., Highland Park and Tennessee Temple) are New Evangelical today. I thank the Lord for many biblical, godly things that John Rice stood for and the help I received from his writings when I was a young Christian, but John Rice was not a god that we should blindly follow him. Neither was Lee Roberson or Jack Hyles or Curtis Hutson.........

While we need to honor men in a godly fashion, Independent Baptists need to tear down the idols they have reared of mere fallen, error-prone men (which is all any of us are). And if we don’t tear down the idols, God will! “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).

The Independent Baptist movement is very broad and it encompasses a multitude of errors today. It is a time to draw some clear lines and make some clear divisions for the truth’s sake.

I care deeply about evangelism and world missions and church planting, and with decades on one of the darkest mission fields under my belt I have put my money where my mouth is; but we don’t need a movement to fulfill this divine calling. This is church business, not movement business.

The motive for adopting the “in essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty” doctrine is to build an empire or an association or a denomination or a movement. I’m not interested in building any of those. We build Bible-believing churches, and they don’t have to be big--big or small is in God’s hands--our part is to see that the churches we build in Christ’s name are faithful to
all of God’s truth all of the time.

As for fellowship and association, I want a crowd that is willing to raise the flag against compromise and apostasy high without hesitation -- publicly, clearly, being willing to name the names of those who are leading in the compromise --without speaking out of both sides of the mouth, without facing two ways. I want a crowd that doesn’t just give lip service to the fact of growing compromise among IB churches but that warns plainly of such compromise and distances themselves from it in real, practical ways. I want a crowd that not only preaches against Christian rock but also doesn’t hold hands with those who use it. I want a crowd that really hates the quick prayerism that has given multitudes of unconverted hell-bound sinners “assurance of salvation” and that wants to distance themselves from those who practice it, not making excuses for it and not giving mere lip service to the importance of repentance. I want a crowd that knows that Jack Hyles built a man-centered cult and not a New Testament church, a crowd that plainly, unhesitatingly, publicly exposes Jerry Falwell for the dangerous compromiser that he was instead of speaking sympathetically of him and only haltingly, vaguely mentioning his errors. I want a crowd that wouldn't dream of sending staff members to Saddleback conferences or youth groups to Dollywood. I want a crowd that understands that the very essence of New Evangelicalism is trimming one’s message down to the “essentials” for the sake of any sort of broader unity or fellowship. I want a crowd where a serious teaching-warning ministry like Way of Life is welcome and appreciated. Yes, I want a crowd that doesn't take cheap shots at warning ministries.

This is the crowd we need because it is Scriptural, and this is the crowd that we need for spiritual protection. This is the crowd that will not be enticed down the emerging path, whereas the soft separation crowd will be emerging within 10 to 15 years.

I thank the Lord that there is still a “crowd” like this among IBaptists, though it is in the minority. 

I am not afraid of being in the minority. In light of the Bible’s prophecies of end-times compromise and apostasy I would not expect the truth to be found among a majority anywhere today.

I will not fear what man can do to me as I try to stand faithfully for God’s Word. Preaching the whole counsel of God and warning against error shuts doors but it also opens doors, and the God who has taken care of me so wonderfully in the past will not fail to do so in my old age. “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25).

Your relationship with West Coast is your business before the Lord, and I trust the Lord will use your relationship to be a source of strengthening. There is plenty of good there.

But the seeds of compromise have been sown deeply, and I can see the end of Lancaster/West Coast from where I stand unless they make some deep changes (Proverbs 22:3; 27:12). A soft fundamentalism and a pragmatic Independent Baptistism is only a step away from out-and-out New Evangelicalism, and New Evangelicalism can lead anywhere -- kingdom now theology, Charismaticism, modern Textual Criticism, theistic evolution, fallible inspiration of Scripture, Rick Warrenism, Catholic mysticism, Cultural Liberalism, Rob Bell near-universalism, the non-judgmental “Shack” god, Christian homosexuality. All of this and more is represented prominently today in the evangelical “broader church.”

All of that and more exists in the broad world of evangelicalism today, and only the wall of biblical separation protects us from it. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33). It is far better to err today on the side of being too strict than too tolerant.

I witnessed all of these heresies when I attended with press credentials the National Pastor’s Conference in 2009 sponsored by Zondervan and InterVarsity. (See the report “The Emerging Church Is Coming” at the Way of Life web site.) Speakers included Andy Crouch of
Christianity Today, Bill Hybels, William Paul Young (author of The Shack), Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Leighton Ford, Gordon Fee, Shane Claiborne, J.P. Moreland, John Ortberg, David Kinnaman, Scot McKnight, Alex McManus, and Christopher Wright.

I interviewed Leighton Ford, Billy Graham’s brother-in-law.

I said:

“Dr. Ford, you joined Billy Graham, Harold Ockenga, and others in launching today’s evangelicalism a half century ago. This conference represents the fruit of that movement. There are men here who question such things as the very definition of the gospel as salvation from sin, substitutionary atonement, and an eternal fiery hell. Are you satisfied with where evangelicalism has come?”

Leighton Ford replied, “I will not criticize others” and then brusquely cut us off when we tried to follow-up on that.

That is precisely the reply I would receive from many big name Independent Baptist leaders today when it comes to compromise and error within the IB movement if the question were asked in a public interview context. That is not speculation. That is based on statements they have made in their own preaching and writings. Criticism is not welcome and if allowed at all it is only allowed in “private” and only in regard to the “essentials.”

Yes, I can see the end of such ministries from where I stand, and I intend by God’s grace to hide myself from it.

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

May the Lord richly bless you, my friend, and may He give us all much wisdom in these trying times.

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