Letter to Michael Bunker:
Hello. I'm the person about whom you are writing. More slander, I see. I would like to address some of the slander that you have put forth in your post.
First of all, there's the term "Carpenterism." This implies that I am the "leader" of some sort of "movement" and that I have "followers."
This is absolutely false. I do not have followers and do not want to have followers. Since you can't refute the doctrine, you use my last name in your term in order to marginalize what we believe and teach as the doctrines of a man. Let the reader of Outside the Camp judge whether or not these are man-made doctrines. The views on this site are no more "Carpenterism" than the views on your site are "Bunkerism."
You cite a definition of "Carpenterism" that says it "is the post-Calvinist theology of Internet heretic Marc Carpenter's cult Outside the Camp (OTC)."
We are as far from a cult as you can get. A cult is one that claims that it is the only group that has the truth. We do not claim that we are the only group that has the truth. There are true assemblies and true believers all over the world that are not part of our assembly.
A cult is one that recruits members and brainwashes them into staying.
We do not recruit members; in fact, we are more likely to tell people that they cannot be members! We do not brainwash anyone into staying or threaten anyone who wants to leave; we teach the Word of God, and the gospel unites us. Through our web site, we find people who are like-minded believers who wish to be in contact with us. A cult is one that is dominated by a central charismatic cult-figure to whom all other members bow. I know you want to say that this is me, but anyone who knows me knows that this is as far from a description of me as you can get. I'm just an average family man, hardly charismatic, hardly a dominator. I am a sinner just like everyone else, and I need to grow just like everyone else. I don't have all the answers; I rely on my brothers in Christ for encouragement and admonition and yes, even rebuke.
The definition goes on to say, "They teach regeneration concurrent with conversion, and that regeneration imparts doctrinal knowledge."
We teach that conversion is the immediate fruit of regeneration, although they are distinct. We do not teach that regeneration imparts doctrinal knowledge; we teach that GOD imparts doctrinal knowledge upon conversion - the doctrinal knowledge of Christ's person and Christ's work. We teach that there is no such monstrosity as a regenerate person who does not know who Christ is and what He did.
More of the definition: "More so than just doctrinal erudition, the true convert / regenerate person has complete doctrinal orthodoxy on every essential point of Christian belief. [ And, they don't see much -if anything- as 'non-essential' doctrine ! ]"
On the contrary, we see that many things are non-essential doctrine.
We do not separate over non-essential doctrine. But do we believe that upon regeneration and conversion, God gives His people a knowledge of the true gospel? Yes we do. Is the true gospel "essential Christian belief?" It sure is. And will any regenerate person hold to an unorthodox gospel? Of course he won't, because an unorthodox gospel is a false gospel, and God's Word makes it clear that all who believe a false gospel are unregenerate.
More of the definition: "They deny that a person can be regenerated by the Lord while in a church other than, well, in a Carpenterist church. [ Apparently the Supreme Being isn't powerful enough to cause people in false churches to be Born Again. ]"
This is just a complete lie. We do not deny that a person can be regenerated while in a church other than a church that agrees with us.
Obviously, the author of this definition has not read our web site.
And the final part of the definition is this: "Andrew Bain in Australia is Marc Carpenter's chief propagandist."
Really? That's news to me. Andrew Bain is not even in fellowship with us. The author of this definition obviously does not know what we believe.
You wrote, "That is a pretty succinct and accurate portrayal of Carpenterism."
So you believe and thus promote the slander of the author of this definition.
You wrote, "Now, you must understand that any attempt to define Carpenterism will fail (to Carpenterites), because Marc Carpenter and his 20 or so adherents ARE Carpenterism, and they refuse to be defined. Talking to them is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. No matter what you accuse them of, they will deny it unless you are using their exact words, definitions, and phraseology."
It's funny in an ironic sense that you say that "talking to [us] is like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall." This is exactly how I portray many of those who oppose us. They cannot be pinned down.
They don't want to be pinned down. They hate answering questions.
Yet this is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what we are. We are very straightforward. We tell you what we believe without beating around the bush. Why do you think we're so vilified? Is it because we don't come out and say what we believe? Your accusation is laughable. We do not mind answering questions, and we try to be as clear as possible.
You wrote, "Marc Carpenter and his clique of heretics believe that you are not regenerated until you believe the entire Gospel doctrine perfectly and exactly as they believe it according to their own lexicon and definitions."
Wrong. First of all, we believe that belief of the gospel is a RESULT of regeneration, not a PREREQUISITE of regeneration. Secondly, we do not require people to have the exact same terminology in their confession of the gospel. The gospel can be defined using many different terms. What we DO believe is that every single regenerate person without exception will believe in the gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Jesus Christ alone. Wow - how radical and cultic is that?
You wrote, "In Carpenterism, Regeneration and Conversion is the same thing."
Absolutely false. Regeneration and conversion are two different things. Take a look at the Christian Confession of Faith
(www.outsidethecamp.org/ccf.htm) for the definitions of regeneration and conversion.
You wrote, "and they happen instantly and concurrently upon being 'saved' - along with a full and complete understanding of Carpenterite Calvinism (which is not Calvinism at all)."
Conversion does happen as an instantaneous result of regeneration.
But "a full and complete understanding of Carpenterite Calvinism" isn't part of the equation at all. First of all, we do not claim to be Calvinists. We are Christians. So you are correct when you say that it is not Calvinism at all. Right on - it's Christianity, not Calvinism. Secondly, the "full and complete understanding" is just a diversionary tactic. Every true Christian believes the TRUE gospel.
Is this not basic? And all who do not believe the TRUE gospel is unregenerate. Is this not basic? If I said, "All Jehovah's Witnesses are unregenerate," will you come back to me and say, "You're requiring a full and complete understanding in order to be saved"? The hypocrisy shows very brightly.
You wrote, "Also, they believe that regeneration (conversion) entails instantly rejecting all who do not fully and completely agree with Marc Carpenter."
Absolutely false. This is just blatant slander.
You wrote, "Now, let's say that I agree with Carpenter, and I also separate from all who even mistakenly and temporarily are confused by Limited Atonement - but I tolerate a brother who agrees with me on everything, but who himself believes that someone can be in error on Limited Atonement… what then? You guessed it… I am unregenerate for tolerating a tolerant 'christian'."
Ah, now the true colors come out. It really doesn't have to do with this supposed "cult leader" or his supposed "heresies" - it has to do with speaking peace to those who, in your words, are "mistakenly and temporarily are confused by Limited Atonement" or someone who "believes that someone can be in error on Limited Atonement." Ah, here's where the rubber meets the road. You're saying that a true believer can believe in an INEFFECTUAL atonement. (The term "Limited Atonement" does not get at the heart of the doctrine.) You're saying that a true believer can believe in an atonement that doesn't atone.
I am clearly and unequivocally stating to you (note, no nailing Jell-O to the wall) that EVERY true believer believes in the EFFECTUAL ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ. Every true believer believes that it is the WORK OF JESUS CHRIST ALONE that makes the difference between salvation and damnation. There is NOT A SINGLE believer who believes that his own works or efforts form EVEN THE LEAST PART of the difference between salvation or damnation. Does that make me a cultist? If so, then let me be a cultist. Here I stand. The atonement is the VERY HEART of the gospel. Anyone who says that a true Christian can believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception is saying that the EFFICACIOUS ATONEMENT of Jesus Christ is not an essential part of the gospel. Does that make me a cultist? If so, then let me be a cultist. Here I stand. For an article on this life-and-death issue, see www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm .
You wrote, "They refuse to be defined, which is very clever and allows them to avoid discussing or debating any of the results of their positions (since those positions are also impossible to define outside of using their own confusing lexicon and re-definition of words). In this, they are like the Mormons or the JW's who will claim to agree when they do not, and disagree when they are utilizing their own special understanding of key words."
Really? We "refuse to be defined"? Do you even know of what you speak? This is so laughable. We even have a Confession of Faith to which we adhere! Is this not a DEFINITION of what we believe? Man, are you dense, or what? We define what we believe over and over again! And we do not shrink back from defining what we believe! Give me a break, man!
You then go to a hypothetical "conversation with a Carpenterite":
"Carpenterite: Do you believe an Arminian can be saved?"
Obviously, you don't know us like you think you know us. We would never ask this question, because it is an ambiguous question. What does "can be saved" mean? Does it mean "can be saved some time in the future," or does it mean "is currently saved"?
CAN an Arminian be saved? Most certainly, if he is one of God's elect. But when God saves this Arminian, he is no longer an Arminian!
This is just like asking, "CAN a Muslim be saved?" Of course he CAN, but when God saves him, he is no longer a Muslim!
A more accurate question would be, "Is there any regenerate person who believes that Jesus Christ died for everyone without exception?" As you can see, we don't even include the word "Arminian," because that diverts attention from the real issue, which is the ATONEMENT. And we use "regenerate" to talk about the person's state. The answer to that question, by the way, is an absolute, unequivocal NO.
You wrote, "A Carpenterite will define salvation as a result of 'believing the Gospel'."
Absolutely not. If we believed that salvation were a result of believing the gospel, we would be just as unregenerate as you are.
Salvation is NOT a result of believing the gospel. It is JUST THE OPPOSITE. Believing the gospel is a result of salvation! More specifically, believing the gospel is a result of regeneration! How can you claim to know what we believe (and thus refute it) if you get this fundamental thing wrong about what we believe? Belief is a RESULT of, a FRUIT of regeneration, not the other way around!
You wrote, "But the Carpenterite MEANS 'believing the Gospel as Marc Carpenter defines it', which is roughly a Post-Calvinistic (actually a weird hybrid of Hyper-Calvinism and works-based salvation) gospel."
Okay, let's see if the gospel as I define it is a Post-Calvinistic hybrid of Hyper-Calvinism and works-based salvation. The gospel as I define it is this: God's promise to save His people conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. Okay, now show us where the "Post-Calvinistic hybrid of Hyper-Calvinism and works-based salvation" is in this definition. Of course, you can't, and you won't, because all you do is slander; you have no answer. And you know what? If someone defines the gospel using different terms than I just used but still encompasses the good news of the person and work of Christ, I do not judge them to be lost because they have a different definition! WHAT A SHOCK to all the slanderers out there!
What are you guys going to do? You're going to have to come up with a different slander!
And let's talk about the big slander that we teach works-based salvation. This is an absolutely disgusting and offensive accusation.
If we taught works-based salvation, we would be as unregenerate as you are. But we teach THE VERY ANTITHESIS to works-based salvation.
Here's what we believe and teach: Salvation is conditioned EXCLUSIVELY on the work of Jesus Christ. Our works are TOTALLY EXCLUDED from the ground of salvation, from the basis of our favor with God, and from our entitlement to heaven. Our works form ABSOLUTELY NO PART of ANY of the ground of our salvation, from regeneration to final glory.
This includes our belief in the gospel. Our belief in the gospel FORMS ABSOLUTELY NO PART of the ground of our regeneration, conversion, acceptance before God, or entitlement to heaven. Belief in the gospel is NOT a condition of regeneration. Belief in the gospel is NOT a prerequisite to regeneration. Knowledge of any doctrine, whether essential or non-essential doctrine, forms NO PART - not even a SINGLE FRACTION OF A PART of our acceptance before God.
Can I get any clearer? Can you pin me down about this one? Salvation is not conditioned on ANY works, including ANY belief of ANY doctrine, to ANY degree. Am I making myself clear? Your accusation that we hold to a works-based salvation shows that you either have NO CLUE as to what we believe and teach or that you have NO CLUE as to what works-based salvation is, or both. We are ABSOLUTELY REPULSED at this accusation. Works-based salvation is DAMNABLE, and we resent such an accusation. Please read the article "Doctrinal Regeneration" at www.outsidethecamp.org/doctregen.htm as well as the following web pages: "You are guilty of the same error you condemn in others" (www.outsidethecamp.org/efl275.htm), "Letter to Credenda/Agenda (www.outsidethecamp.org/credenda.htm), and "James White: Slanderer, Spiritual Harlot, Hypocrite" (www.outsidethecamp.org/jameswhite.htm). I also encourage all who read this to read the "E-mails, forums, and letters" section of our web site (www.outsidethecamp.org/efl.htm) that goes over many of the accusations that have been hurled at us over the years.
Contrary to what our enemies say, we stand clearly and boldly and firmly for the faith that was delivered once to the saints.
To God ALONE be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter