Turning Doctrinal Issues Into Personality Issues
Enlarged September 25, 2014 (first published August 15, 2011)
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
One sign of carnality is to turn doctrinal issues into personality issues. The Bible says that carnal believers are man-centered rather than Christ- and truth-centered.

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4).

This is evident widely in the Independent Baptist movement. I have witnessed it repeatedly since I was saved and joined an IBaptist church in 1973. I have seen men try to warn about sin and error in the camp only to have the warnings turned into personality issues.

Consider my warnings about Lancaster Baptist Church’s use of Contemporary Christian Music (http://www.wayoflife.org/adaptingccm/index.html), the Sword of the Lord’s error about repentance and Quick Prayerism, and the downfall of the “old” Highland Park Baptist Church. I dealt with these issues on a doctrinal basis. I stated that I appreciate those ministries in many ways. I spoke respectfully of Paul Chappell and Shelton Smith and Lee Roberson.

But a vast number of men have turned these warnings into a purely human thing. Many have made me the issue and have attacked me personally.

My Christian character has been maligned. My motives have been questioned. My family has been attacked. Young people have mocked and berated me, a grandfather preacher. I have been made the object of ridicule. My doctrinal stance has been misrepresented. Lies have been told about me. Preachers have taken cheap shots at me in their blogs.

This is an evidence of widespread carnality.

My reproofs are issued on a scriptural basis. Anyone who has taken the time to view my nine-part video series “Music for Good of Evil” or my 200-page book “Repentance and Soul Winning” can testify of this. And those who haven’t taken the time to review these, aren’t equipped to criticize my position.

When I warned about West Coast Baptist College’s longstanding compromise with Contemporary Christian Music, an error that many men of God believe to be very serious, I did so graciously and with respect toward Pastor Paul Chappell and the church and school. I stated the following, for example:

“I pray that the best years for Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College and for Paul Chappell’s ministry are ahead of them and that nothing will hinder the growth and usefulness of that ministry which has helped many of God’s people in so many ways. That is my heart's desire and fervent prayer. Through this ‘battle’ I have prayed for Pastor Chappell as fervently as any preacher I have ever prayed for. I realize that he probably considers me an enemy, and that is certainly understandable, but I have shed many bitter tears over this matter in general and over him in particular over the past two weeks. I hope he won’t consider me an enemy, and if he believes that I handled my warning wrong, that he will forgive me anyway and love me in Christ and seek to hear my heart and my passion and the essence of my warning. I am not infallible; I’m just a weak man trying to do right. I am well aware that I will give account to the Lord for the use of my pen, and it often frightens me, as it should” (“From Brother Cloud’s Heart,” March 7, 2011).

Those are not the words of a man with a carnal agenda.

When I warned about the errors that led to the downfall of Highland Park Baptist Church and Tennessee Temple, I said:

“Dr. Roberson was a visionary and a real leader but he had an air of quiet humility and was not a self-promoter. He didn’t like to have things named after him. He was courageous and seemed to fear God more than man. He was a come-outer and a warrior, and I greatly respect that. His message was simplistic but effective at a certain level: Get saved, surrender to Christ, and go right down the line serving and obeying Him. You won’t go far wrong following that counsel, though we will deal with the lack of biblical depth later in this report. He was a man of real Christian character. J.R. Faulkner, who knew him as well as any man, said: ‘He was a man of his word--great character, great integrity. He lived what he preached’ (James Wigton,
Lee Roberson: Always about His Father’s Business, 2010, p. 117). He believed in dying to self, in being filled with the Spirit. He had a love for God and an unquenchable burden for souls. He was a man of prayer, a man who depended upon the Lord rather than on the arm of flesh. He lived frugally and didn’t take a large salary and refused to take his pay check until the missionary support was all paid. There was never a hint of moral or financial scandal in his life and ministry. He was exceedingly careful about his relationship with women. There was a large mirror between his office and his secretary’s office, and he refused ever to be alone with a woman other than his wife. He didn’t give personal gifts to his female secretaries. He said that even if he saw his secretary walking in a driving rainstorm he would not have stopped to pick her up lest someone see it and get the wrong idea. And I am convinced that this is the reason why Tennessee Temple graduates from his era have not been known for moral scandals as the graduates of some other IBaptist schools have. It has happened, but it has been rare” (“The Old Highland Park Baptist Church: Death in the Pot,” April 12, 2011).

And I went on for many paragraphs in this vein, praising what I consider to be the good that existed at Highland Park Baptist Church and Tennessee Temple in the “old” days.”

When I warned about the
Sword of the Lord and the issue of repentance, I said:

“I am thankful for many things the
Sword has stood for through the years. I am thankful for the helpful things that I learned from Sword publications as a young Christian in the early 1970s that helped me personally, particularly the first year I was saved. But repentance and soul winning methodology is not a minor issue that can be treated as a ‘non-essential’” (“The Sword of the Lord and the Carl Hatch Squeeze,” July 11, 2011).

I have not treated these men as heretics and unbelievers. I have not labeled them as evil or maligned them as fools or called them apostate.

I name names, because certain men are influential and are at the forefront of pressing certain errors, but I do not attack men: I deal with doctrine.

Yet the response to these reproofs have largely been attacks on me personally. The issues have deteriorated into personality conflicts, but that is not because of what I have written; it is because of the way the reproofs have been received and handled by those who should have acted with more Christian character.

Turning a doctrinal issue into a personality issue is an effective technique if you don’t want to interact with a position Scripturally and if your objective is simply to silence the reprover and sideline him so that people won’t listen to what he is saying.

It’s an effective technique and many Independent Baptists will applaud you when you use this technique, but it won’t stand up at the judgment seat of Christ.

What we need more than anything is deep spiritual revival.

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