Archive for the 'History' Category

What Is a Fellowship, Anyway?

The Ohio Bible Fellowship began in 1968. Now, that was a year before I was born, so I obviously have no firsthand knowledge of this organization! My knowledge of the OBF has come from reading the Visitor, attending its quarterly conferences, and talking with those who fellowship with it.

Over time, when new members join a fellowship, they are unaware of its history, character, and purposes. Sometimes they enter the fellowship because they know someone in it, they would like to participate in one of its ministries, or, sadly, to gain prestige and power through political maneuverings.

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Reconciling Scripture and the Problem of Racism

feature-article.gifOne of our world’s current “hot topics” is racism. Corporations posture themselves carefully to avoid any allegation of racism. Politicians, media personalities, and sports stars have ruined their careers with racist remarks. Billions of dollars each year are poured into improving race relations. Churches and religious groups are uniting for the all-important task of “racial reconciliation.”

What do we mean when we talk about “racism”? What race of people are we talking about? What does the Scripture have to say about this problem?

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“Only In the Lord”

Sound Words graphicThere was a time when many fundamentalist Christians argued against inter-racial marriage on presumably biblical grounds. It was believed that interracial marriage was an attempt to rebel against God’s division of the races at Babel and a foretaste of the sinful uniting of humanity against God that will characterize the rule of the antichrist.

Such arguments against interracial marriage are flawed on a number of levels, particularly because they arise from a mishandling of the Scriptures. They wrongly assume that there is more than one human race (an idea which Mark Perry effectively disproves in this month’s feature article). Further, they wrongly assert that the distinctions made by God in Genesis 11:9 were physical and final, when in fact they were linguistic, geographical, and reversible. No one would argue, for example, that a European whose native language is German is forbidden on the basis of Genesis 11 from marrying one whose native language is English, or whose native land is Australia. The distinctions made at Babel were neither physical nor absolute. Finally, the union of mankind under the antichrist and against God will be sinful, political, economic, and religious, not ethnic (Revelation 13 and 17).

Does Scripture teach that there is a factor which prohibits marriage between men and women with deep-rooted differences? Absolutely. But that factor is spiritual, not physical. When addressing the permissibility of a widow remarrying, Paul provides an inspired answer that must inform our understanding of marriage even today: “she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Cor 7:39). Paul, a Jew by birth writing to a church filled with Gentiles, placed only one prohibition on the marriage of two single people: both must be Christians. Marrying outside of the Christian faith rebels against a clear command of Scripture and has tragic results—marriages in which Christ is the source of division rather than unity and children who are torn between the irreconcilable values and worldviews of their parents. We must marry “only in the Lord.”

However, just as we would be wrong to omit this God-breathed requirement, we are also wrong to add to it. Given the perfect opportunity to forbid marriage between different ethnicities, Paul did not do so. Nor should we.

Lest it be argued that the Old Testament forbade inter-ethnic marriage, it is clear that even texts such as Exodus 34:16 and Deuteronomy 7:1–5 were concerned with the faith of would-be spouses, not ethnicity. Among other examples, God’s ordaining the marriage of Boaz to Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 4:10) and including her in the lineage of Christ (Matt 1:5) proves that spiritual rather than ethnic factors must be weighed in the selection of a spouse. Despite her ethnicity, Ruth was an eligible wife for Boaz because she had come to faith in Jehovah (Ruth 1:16).

Of course, our desire is not to be politically correct. We cannot merely capitulate to the opinions of our day. However, fundamentalists of all people should yearn to be biblically correct. The standard for marriage in Boaz’s day and Paul’s day was simply that a potential spouse be “in the Lord.” The same standard is sufficient in our day, as well.

March 2009

Steps to Apostasy

Many Bible believing Christians deeply respect the Christian heritage of early America. Many have also wondered how Christian colleges and churches from that heritage gave up the faith over the years. It is amazing that institutions that believed and practiced the Bible could become completely secular. What led to their demise? What was the process?

Some years ago, I came across a book that helps answer these questions. The book is entitled From Evangelicalism to Progressivism at Oberlin College, 1866–1917 by John Barnard (Ohio State University Press, 1969; all quotes and references in this article are taken from this book). This book chronicles the process that led Oberlin College into apostasy. The college was founded as a Christian institution of higher learning, yet today is completely secular.

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The OBF at Forty

The Ohio Bible Fellowship recently passed its fortieth anniversary. At our spring meeting, we recognized that milestone by looking back at where we came from and looking ahead toward the coming years.

As part of the “look back,” we were privileged to listen to four men who were among the thirteen founders of the OBF in January, 1968. These men— Graydon Cox, Roger Bixler, George Bailey, and John Ashbrook —shared memories of the OBF’s founding, testimonies of their appreciation of the fellowship, and challenges to those of us who follow them. Here are their testimonies as transcribed from audio recordings.

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Was the Protestant Reformation a Mistake?

On October 31, 1517, a young German monk named Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses (public statements for debate) on the Catholic church door in Wittenberg, Germany.

His action, prompted by biblical conviction, ignited the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century. The Reformation was a biblically-driven movement among God’s people. Realizing the Church of Rome had forsaken the essential truths of Christianity, the Reformers separated from this corrupt church and returned to the Bible alone as their sole authority for doctrine. This return to the Bible led to the glorious rediscovery of justification: sinners can gain a righteous standing before God by faith alone in Christ alone.

Yet 490 years later, many professing Christians—even many Lutherans—believe that Martin Luther’s insistence on doctrinal purity over visible unity was a significant mistake. But was it?

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Are Separatists Divisive?

feature-article.gifA charge often leveled at separatists is that they are divisive. They split groups, leave churches, separate from organizations, and go off and form their own “splinter groups.” Aren’t Christians supposed to love one another? Shouldn’t they all be united? Didn’t Jesus pray that all those who believed in him would be as one?

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OBF Visitor Website

The OBF Visitor is the official publication of the Ohio Bible Fellowship. Feature articles from past issues of the Visitor are made available here for your use. You may read, distribute, and use this material as long as you do so in its entirety and without modification. All articles © The Ohio Bible Fellowship.

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