The following is an email letter between me and a dear friend named David Jacobs who was a Prebyterian when I met him back in our college days. David and I first met during a chess tournament in junior college in Stockton, Ca. We became good friends and I shared a few theological books from a Reformed perspective which challenged his thinking and got him moving in the right direction from his liberal to moderate theology. After I moved to Hollywood in 1996 we communicated frequently by email.
Here's an interesting letter explaining some of my concerns and his frustrations with the local church.
From: Carlton Pruitt
To: D A Jacobs
Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2002 4:54 PM
I appreciate the update David. Sounds like things are going better at Immanuel.
David-[IN SOME WAYS, POSSIBLY]
I'd like to see you attending there again when things get settled
David-[YOU WOULD BE MOST WELCOME TO SETTLE IN THERE IF/WHEN YOU RETURN TO CIVILIZATION. AS FOR ME, I CAN NOT SEE EVER GOING BACK. I WENT BACK AND VISITED AFTER RICK RESIGNED AND THE PERVERT WENT TO SOUTH CAROLINA FOR A PERIOD OF SEVERAL MONTHS. THERE ARE MAJOR DIFFICULTIES TO MY EVEN CONSIDERING GOING BACK, NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH I DONíT SUBSCRIBE TO THE DOCTRINAL STANDARDS OF THE CHURCH, AND I THINK IT IS NOT IN KEEPING WITH TEACHING OF SCRIPTURE TO SIMPLY ATTEND WHEN YOU CAN NOT JOIN. I CHAFED UNDER A LOT OF THE FOOLISH WORLDVIEW PREACHED FROM THE PULPIT WHEN I WAS THERE AS A MEMBER, AND THERE IS A GREATER DIVERGENCE NOW. AND TO BOOT, I BELIEVE THAT, AT THE RISK OF SOUNDING LIKE A MYSTIC, GOD TOLD ME MY TIME THERE IS DONE, AND NOW THE CHAPTER HAS BEEN CLOSED, AND I CAN GO ON].
Can't imagine your soul not prospering in that environment.
David- [IT DOESNíT TAKE A BIG IMAGINATION FOR ME TO IMAGINE NOT PROSPERING THERE. TOO MANY THINGS HAVE NOT CHANGED, AND ARE UNLIKELY TO FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, FOR ME TO EVEN THINK I WOULD DO WELL.]
It just seems that the folk at IBC are serious minded brethren for the most part,
David- [PROBABLY TRUE ENOUGH]
although I think the most important element/elements in any church besides sound and Biblical preaching is an assembly that is filled with God's love and a desire for practical holiness
David-[PROBABLY IS MORE IMPORTANT. DOCTRINALLY SOUND AND DEAD IS THE WORST OF ALL WORLDS, I WOULD THINK.].
This love will be manifested by a dynamic evangelism program and how the members treat visitors and one another within the assembly
David-[IN SINCERITY, NOT JUST IN APPEARANCES, WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT HAS FOR THE MOST PART LACKED AT IBC. LEGALISM; "CONCERN" THAT NEVER INQUIRES; SUSPICION OF ANYONE THAT IS NOT A PART OF "US", ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE A SCRUFFY LOCAL - THESE ALL MARKED IBC FOR AS LONG AS I WAS THERE].
I don't think IBC has ever went out as a group or two by two to the neighborhood homes with the gospel/tracts. At least not when I attended
David-[IT MAY HAVE BEEN DONE ONCE BY TIM AND ERNIE, BUT I AM NOT SURE WHETHER THAT EVEN MATERIALIZED].
I have heard criticism before of this church because it wasn't focused on getting the gospel out to non believers in the area. It's one thing and a much easier thing to preach salvation to the choir i. e. the current members and regular visitors
David-[TRUE, AND TO "CONVERT" OTHER, "LESS FORTUNATE" OR "LESS KNOWLEDGEABLE" FROM THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS].
This is well and good but what about those who are just around the corner from the church who are mislead by false teachings they hear on "Christian radio"
David-[SUCH AS FAMILY RADIO !! ]
"Tele-evangelists" religious periodicals etc.??? This is the mission and responsibility of the church not any one person like the pastor. He can't do everything by himself. He's just a leader that helps motivate and organize the teams and ministers the word of God, not just in theory but shows the practical application.
David-[ACTUALLY, JUST BECAUSE YOU GO DOOR TO DOOR DOES NOT NECESSARILY MAKE YOU MORE "EVANGELISTIC". I THINK THAT IS A HANGOVER FROM FUNDAMENTALISTIC THINKING. I AM NOT SAYING DONíT GO DOOR TO DOOR, SO DO NOT ACCUSE ME OF SUCH!]
Teams need to be organized and men need to be sent out fully trained and prepared to share/proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. There are jail ministries, hospitals, rest homes, children's homes, and much more
David-[PEOPLE FROM COVENANT ARE INVOLVED IN NURSING HOME MINISTRIES IN BOTH SACRAMENTO AND LODI. THE RCUS WORK IN GRASS VALLEY IS TAKING OVER THE MINISTRY AT THE NEVADA COUNTY JAIL THAT TIM AND PHIL HAVE DONE. AND THE SAN DIEGO WORK ... ].
This is one of the issues I had with Covenant Reformed that you asked me about. It's not missionary minded enough as far as I can tell. Presbyterians tend to be too intellectual and concerned with preciseness of doctrine
David-[TOO OFTEN TRUE. I NOTICED THAT AS A BAPTIST AND HAD AN OPC PASTOR EMPHATICALLY AGREE WITH ME. TOO OFTEN SANCTIFICATION IS EQUATED WITH AGREEMENT WITH THE CONFESSION AND BECOMING A COMMUNICATE MEMBER. THE SO-CALLED REFORMED BAPTISTS HAVE THEIR SHARE OF INTELLECTUAL PRIDE - I HAVE SEEN THAT CLOSE UP, IN MANY CASES. IT IS NOT THE FAULT OF CALVINISM, WHICH IS ACTUALLY BIBLICAL, BUT IN MANY OF THE PEOPLE WHO EMBRACE IT WHO GET LAZY OR SLOPPY BECAUSE THEY HAVE "THE TRUTH". STILL THINK YOU OUGHT TO TAKE THE EXTRA TIME AND GO OUT TO PALMDALE, IF YOU ARE GOING TO BE A BAPTIST. I WAS MORE IMPRESSED WITH THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE THAN I HAVE BEEN ANYWHERE ELSE - AN EXCELLENT BLEND OF DOCTRINE AND PRACTICE.]
and they love the luxury of quibbling over fine points of doctrine which won't bring another sinner an inch closer to the Kingdom but may very well push many sinners away from the church when they see all the fighting and contentions
David-[YOU LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED AT IBC OVER THE YEARS, AND THE RIFT BETWEEN CHANTRY AND MARTIN CAMPS AND THE SCANDALS AT GRAND RAPIDS. DO NOT BE SO NAIVE TO BELIEVE THAT IT IS JUST PRESBYTERIANS OR REFORMED WHO ARE GUILTY - BESIDES, OTHER THAN THE DUTCH, THE BAPTISTS ARE THE BEST KNOWN FOR CONTROVERSY AND IN-FIGHTING] taking place.
BACK TO MISSIONS
Again I'm not talking about sending money to support some over sea missionary. That is easy to do and any congregation that has the means can perform that task but rather getting out into the local neighborhood or any targeted area for that matter and compelling men and women to seek the Lord. Then there needs to be FOLLOW-UP. It's not just a one time task. People don't always respond the first time or the second time or even the third time. But through persistent and consistent effort there needs to be shown a love and concern for men's souls and when these individuals see that love IN ACTION they often will respond to check out the teachings and ministry of that group of Christians
David-[AGREED! - EMPTY WORDS WITHOUT ACTIONS .... WHAT IS THAT THE APOSTLE JAMES SAYS ABOUT THAT?].
I'm afraid there are very few people who are really saved in this country David
David-[THERE ARE NONE SO BLIND AS THOSE WHO WILL NOT SEE].
Yes, there are a lot of professing Christians who have a head knowledge but this knowledge hasn't really led to a permanent change of life. The gospel has been preached all over the world and in America and most countries that were once Christian like Germany, England etc are now APOSTATE
David-[SAD TO SAY, IT SEEMS TO BE LARGELY TRUE - BUT THE FUTURE HAS LIGHT AND HOPE, NOT DARKNESS AND MISERY, UNLESS YOU ARE UNCONVERTED].
You know the parable of the sower. I remember hearing the late Rolfe Barnard rebuking those in the church who thought that being a missionary was for only certain Christians
David-[I REMEMBER AT LEAST ONE MESSAGE WHERE HE TOOK PEOPLE TO TASK FOR THAT. WE NEED MORE PREACHERS LIKE HIM TODAY, OR ANY DAY, FOR THAT MATTER].
He said in effect that you can't be a Christian or saved and NOT be a missionary. Christians are called to be missionaries where ever they are. It was true of the early apostles and disciples and it is still true of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ. One thing about Family Radio that nobody can deny is that they are very missionary minded
David-["ZEAL WITHOUT KNOWLEDGE"]
and make a very conscious effort of getting the gospel
David-[THEIR DISTORTED, TWISTED AND TRUNCATED VERSION AS PONTIFICATED BY SAINT HAROLD, YOU MEAN]
out because that is the task of the church. Not cultural transformation first and foremost
David-[AN OBVIOUS JAB AT THE STRAW MAN YOU THINK IS RECONSTRUCTIONISM, BUT IT REFLECTS YOUR SEEMINGLY WILLING IGNORANCE OF REALITY, FOR NO RECONSTRUCTIONIST THAT I HAVE EVER KNOWN BELIEVES IN TRANSFORMING CULTURE APART FROM THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL. YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD THIS, BUT IT DOES NOT REFLECT WHAT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE SO YOU IGNORE IT.].
This is only a by product of regeneration
The Reformed Baptists perhaps more than any other group tend to be evangelistic and concerned with "heart religion" without brushing aside the importance of truth and sound Biblical doctrine
David-[AS SOMEONE WHO NEVER HAS BEEN ONE, YOU SPEAK IN IGNORANCE, AGAIN. THERE IS A GREATER EMPHASIS ON CHURCH PLANTING, THEN PRAYING PEOPLE WILL COME IN THE DOORS THAN ANYTHING ELSE, GENERALLY SPEAKING].
I believe the Spirit of God is working in this group more than just about any other denomination I can think of. Even at Grace Community Church there is a lot of small group Bible studies but not many are interested in sharing the gospel. Social clubs and activities have their place but this can be a selfish motive for attending church. Instead we need to be about our Master's business
That was the burden of the apostle Paul. Is it our burden as well? If not, then I speak this to all of our shame.
In God's abounding grace,
Carlton Pruitt ministers the gospel to the Los Angeles area. Formerly a Hollywood actor (SAG member)and junk removal expert he now spends most of his time studying the scriptures, writing articles, hymns and poems and doing street preaching.
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