Don Fortner's Judgment
Don Fortner cannot distinguish between believers and unbelievers.
He said this in the October 1998 Grace Bulletin:
"Anyone who assumes that he knows who is and who is not saved, among those who profess the faith of the gospel, assumes the impossible. Our Lord tells us plainly that we cannot distinguish between sheep and goats, wheat and tares, believers and unbelievers. Such an assumption betrays a horrible self-righteousness and terrible self-adulation."
He said this in the article "Examine Yourselves":
We are not to examine one another. And we are not to subject ourselves to the examination of others. If you examine others, you will become hardened in self-righteousness, harsh and judgmental, arrogantly making yourself the standard by which you judge others. ... It does not matter when, where, or how you came to be in the faith, or even who was preaching when you believed. It only matters that 'ye be in the faith.' For most of God's people, conversion is not a climatic (sic) experience, but a gradual process."
Jesus said, "Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (v. 6), and "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. ... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (vv. 15-20). Don Fortner cannot obey these commands, because he has no idea who the swine, dogs, and false prophets are. According to Don Fortner, a believer might be in the "gradual process" of conversion and thus might be "gradually" turning from being a swine, a dog, and a false prophet.
God said, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14). Don Fortner cannot obey this command, because he has no idea who the unbelievers are. He cannot obey the command to "come out from among them, and be ye separate" and "touch not the unclean [thing]" (v. 17), because he does not know who the "them" are who are unclean. According to Don Fortner, a believer might be in the "gradual process" of conversion and thus might be "gradually" turning from being unclean, from being an unbeliever.
God said, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Not only can Don Fortner not obey this command, he OPPOSES this command. He says that "We are not to examine one another" and are not to "examine others." But GOD, in opposition to what Don Fortner's non-judgmentalism, says that Christians are to TEST THE SPIRITS. We are to EXAMINE them. We are to JUDGE them. We are to TEST them.
When Christians examine others, they do not do so self-righteously and do not make themselves the standard by which they judge others, as Don Fortner claims. They judge others based on whether others believe the GOSPEL of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. How does a Christian know whether a person believes the gospel? It is based on what he confesses. After stating that "every tree is known by his own fruit" (Luke 6:44), Jesus states what that fruit is: "for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh" (v. 45). See the article "Righteous Judgment" at www.outsidethecamp.org/rightjudg.htm .
Don Fortner opposes 2 Corinthians 5:17: "So that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new!" He claims that conversion is a "gradual process"; thus, a believer "gradually" goes from being an old creation to a new creation, the old things "gradually" pass away, and all things "gradually" become new. He "gradually" stops believing a false gospel and "gradually" starts believing the true gospel. He "gradually" stops bringing forth dead works and fruit unto death and evil deeds and "gradually" repents of believing a false gospel. He "gradually" begins to count all of his former life and deeds in his false religion as wicked and evil.
Don Fortner refuses to subject himself to the examination of others, but he has already said enough for us to examine him.
Don Fortner cannot distinguish between believers and unbelievers. True Christians can.