Steve Lemke and Christian Scholarship

Tim Brister —  September 30, 2008 — 34 Comments

Sometimes the harder decision to make is not how to respond but whether to respond at all.  When NOBTS came out with the Fall edition of The Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry, I encountered such a dilemma.  Dr. Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, has the lead article entitled, “What Is a Baptist? Nine Marks That Separate Baptists from Presbyterians” which warrants a response not only from Calvinists but Christians in general, for I contend that Lemke fails not only in the arena of scholarship but also in the practice of a Christian. As followers of Christ, we are called to “speak the truth in love,” and having read his article several times, I fail to find a commitment both to Christian love and biblical truth.

In the days ahead, I plan on responding to Lemke’s article, not because I believe he will be convinced of his errors, but because as Christians first and Southern Baptists second, the standard we set for one another, whether it is on a blog or in a journal, should be higher than what we are seeing today.  I am persuaded that any fair-minded reader, Calvinist or not, will find Lemke’s treatment on this subject simply unacceptable, even if it is couched in a scholarly journal.

For those of you who have read my blog for any length of time know that I am not unfamiliar with the caricatures, careless rhetoric, and conspiratorial agendas of Baptist non-Calvinists (I use that term because non-Calvinist identify themselves by what they are not rather than what they are for).  I have documented articles, messages, and blogposts that span over a decade, and apparently those same caricatures, attacks, and divisive agendas continue today despite the dismal ecclesiological landscape across the SBC.  Unfortunately, the merits of Calvinism often fail to be addressed due to the demerits of unChristian approaches to the topic.

Johnny Hunt, current President of the Southern Baptist Convention, was one of the men who led several years ago but has since stopped the campaign (as far as I know) against Calvinism (or at least misrepresenting it), and in the spirit of his call for peace among brethren, unity in the mission, and a passion for the Gospel, I urge other Southern Baptist leaders to reject and denounce such tomfoolery at the expense of Christian charity and biblical clarity.  Incidentally enough, Lemke advertises in the same journal the upcoming John 3:16 Conference where non-Calvinists will be addressing “five-point Calvinism.”  Lemke himself will be speaking on “irresistible grace” – a doctrine which he misrepresents in his current article.  If Lemke’s approach, inaccuracy, and scholarship is any indication or foretaste of what the John 3:16 Conference will turn into, this will be one giant leap into the wrong direction for Southern Baptists.

Lemke has been corrected both in private and in public on his errors regarding Calvinism.  His first article, “The Future of Southern Baptist as Evangelicals“, attempts to make the case for “hyper-Calvinism” in the SBC.  Drs. Tom Ascol (here, here, and here) and Ray Van Neste (here) have responded to Lemke’s errors, but apparently Lemke continues to assert such errors.  Half of the current article, I should mention, is nothing but a word-for-word regurgitation of the older article, except that “hyper-Calvinism” has been removed.  So three years later, we get the same thing.  I know that if one of my professors saw that I had incorrectly cited sources, made assertions about people without footnoted verification, misrepresented the positions of others, or copy and pasted an old paper into a current one, it would have immediately been returned to me as unacceptable–and yet Lemke manages to do all of these in one article.  Whether it was questioning the journalistic integrity of Collin Hansen, the re-wording of Timothy George’s ROSES, the outright distortion of Bethlehem Baptist Church’s position on church membership and baptism, the smearing of Calvinists in attempt to “classify” them, misunderstanding of Presbyterian beliefs on infant baptism vs. infant salvation, or the poor treatment of Al Mohler’s theological triage, Lemke has shown an unwillingness to deal accurately with the facts and charitably with those whom he disagrees.  And because of that, I chosen to respond as a Christian, and yes, who happens to believe in the doctrines of grace.

In both his articles, Lemke writes the following:

“There would appear to be a strong possibility that the Southern Baptist Convention may become embroiled in what could be called the ‘Battle of Geneva.’  Calvinism could be the most explosive and divisive issue facing us in the near future.  This issue has already split literally dozens of churches, and it holds the potential to split the entire Convention.”

Let’s give credit where credit is due.  It is not the Calvinists but the non-Calvinists who continued to use the language Lemke describes above.  Whether it is Nelson Price calling evangelical Calvinism an oxymoron, Ergun Caner calling Calvinists “worse than Muslims,” the late Jerry Falwell calling limited atonement a “heresy,” or the typical sound referring to a nebulous group of Calvinists who are “extreme, hyper, and agressive,” this language befits those who consider Calvinism, as Jerry Vines does, a “Baptist Battle.”  At one moment, Lemke says that “Calvinism is a valid expression of the Christian faith and of the Baptist tradition,” but just a few pages later he says that “Southern Baptists have always tolerated five-point Calvinism.”  Is the attitude of tolerating “a valid expression of the Christian faith and of the Baptist tradition” commendable?  The fact is, they are wanting a Battle of Geneva. Calvinists are not.  Calvinists only want to stop the smears and hold fast the the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

There is a movement going on today in the SBC focusing on a “Great Commission Resurgence” focusing on the centrality of the gospel and the priority of the mission in our lives and in our churches.  This is perhaps the most encouraging development in my lifetime as a Baptist (I was born in 1979 at the beginning of the Conservative Resurgence).  On the other hand, there are the sad chronicles of failed attempts to excommunicate Calvinists from the Southern Baptist family.  I believe we should all be building bridges, not tearing them down.  And yes, it begins with being the bridge to other people who are not like you or don’t think the same way you do.  On this account, I wish that Lemke this time around would have heeded that call and sought for the unity Jesus prayed for among His people.  We can strongly disagree, but we cannot do so unlovingly or at the expense the truth.  We need good scholarship that holds fast to the truth, but we need more than that, we need Christian scholarship that does so in the spirit and humility of Christ.

Related Articles:

* The Resurgence of Steve Lemke’s Argument Against Calvinism
* Tom Ascol’s Response to Dr. Steve Lemke, Part 1
* Tom Ascol’s Response to Dr. Steve Lemke, Part 2
* Tom Ascol’s Response to Dr. Steve Lemke, Part 3
* Ray Van Neste’s Response to Dr. Steve Lemke
* Joe Thorn’s Response to Dr. Steve. Lemke
* John 3:16 for Everyone

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  • Scotty Karber

    Timmy,

    Did you appreciate the responses in the journal to the unscholarly and belligerent article?

  • james clardy

    For one who is about to go to NOBTS, the work done by Dr.Lemke is very disheartening. I enjoyed the work done by the next professor from Florida though.

  • http://minormutterings.blogspot.com Jerry

    Wow! Now we see that “age of accountability” is a Baptist distinctive. I guess that I am going to have to turn in my Baptist credentials.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Scotty,

    The most substantive of the three responses was from Dr. Mark Rathel of the Baptist College of Florida. He picked up on three areas where I also found problematic, though he primarily focused on Lemke’s understanding of George on ROSES and rightly noted the guilt-by-association fallacy Lemke used against Mohler on Together for the Gospel in relation to theological triage. I also appreciate Rathel bringing out the Presbyterian belief of infant baptism with respect to the church and not to salvation. There were a couple other points Rathel brought out that were good, but I can call them to my mind at the moment.

    However, Rathel argues that Mohler believes in the “age of accountability” based on his commentary on the Abstract of Principles. I find his argument there to be a little weak, although we would not know for sure where Mohler stands until we ask him specifically about that issue.

    The other two responses I found complimentary of Lemke although without the pejorative tone. Hatchett, however, lends credence to Humphries and Robertson on the whole “traditional Baptist” nomenclature, which is historically unsubstantiated. Gore takes issue with two things: original sin and the universal nature of God’s love. He seems to see that foreordained sin means that God *caused* them to sin–a belief he considers heretical. But the two are not the same. He says little about why he has issues with Calvinists understanding of God’s love, except perhaps in regards to limited atonement. Lastly, he speaks negatively about reformation, implying that it would produce a “post-Christian” kind of Switzerland.

    In any case, the responses were okay, with Rathel’s giving the most direct address. I recognize that the responses are given limited space, so they had to pick and choose what to respond to which gives a little indication of what is important to the responder.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Jerry,

    I didn’t know that the “age of accountability” is a “key Baptist doctrine” (as Lemke describes it). I was startled to find that “soul competency” and “age of accountability” to be the first two marks of Baptist Identity according to Lemke. I don’t know if any conservative Baptist historian would agree with him on this. I will be writing on this issue in the future, so I will spare you my preliminary thoughts. :)

  • http://alindsey4.blogspot.com Andrew Lindsey

    I’m happy that you are taking the time to respond to this article, Timmy; I’m even more happy that I am not (reading through this once was enough to make my head hurt) :)

  • http://www.hereiblog.com johnMark

    A quote from Mohler touching on the age of accountability.

    Theologians have long debated an “age of accountability.” The Bible does not reveal an “age” at which moral accountability arrives, but we do know by observation and experience that maturing human beings do develop a capacity for moral reasoning at some point. Dismissing the idea of an “age” of accountability, John MacArthur refers to a “condition” of accountability. I most often speak of a point or capacity of moral accountability. At this point of moral development, the maturing child knows the difference between good and evil–and willingly chooses to sin.

    (Source)

    And to think…I may be enrolling at NOBTS soon.

    Mark

  • http://larrythompson.blogspot.com Larry Thompson

    Timmy, I understand the dilemma about whether to comment or not. I think this group has an attack agenda and the question is, do Calvinists want to fight back or ignore it and wait to see what happens. I am coming to believe that Vines and his gang want to rid the convention of Calvinists. They need a fight, they need an enemy, and the Calvinisits are it. Maybe all the others are already gone. I am not sure that the best thing to do is let them have it (the convention) and begin to think of what is next so that good doctrine can be taught. At some point, fighting, even if it starts as good theological debate, brings you down to the level of the other side which, in this case, is a very, very low level. Godspeed.

  • Steve Lemke

    Timmy,
    I am always open to discussion and dialogue, but before you critique me on “speaking the truth in love” I would suggest that you do so yourself. You not only question my scholarship, but my Christianity. I’m not sure who appointed you the Judge of my Christianity, but flowing from the pages of the New Testament, it wasn’t God.

    Let’s start with some integrity. You claim that “Half of the current article, I should mention, is nothing but a word-for-word regurgitation of the older article….” and that you were taught not to “copy and pasted (sic) an old paper into a current one,” Even apart from your grammar, this is a laughable claim. First of all, the comments about Calvinism in the “Future of Southern Baptists as Evangelicals” paper was only four and a half pages out of a 23 page paper. That paper was on an entirely different topic than the “What Is a Baptist?” paper. The former voiced concerns about the impact of hard Calvinism on SBC evangelism, which is synopsized and cited in footnote 3 of the latter paper. Other than overview material that had equal relevance to this paper, the “What Is a Baptist? paper, which discussed doctrines held in common and doctrines separating Baptists and Presbyterians, introduces entirely new material from the earlier paper. Any fair-minded reader can see that.

    I truly do hope that your “fair-minded readers” will read my “What Is a Baptist?” paper. They will truly be surprised, after your description of it as an attack and a caricature, to find that the first section of the paper lists nine doctrines held in common by Baptists and Presbyterians. They will be further surprised that the second section lists doctrines that some Baptists hold in common with Presbyterians, and included in those are the five points of traditional Calvinist soteriology. If fact, I said, “Although these beliefs may be topics of intense discussion and debate among Baptists, these beliefs have a long history within the Baptist tradition and at some times and places have been the majoritarian perspective within Baptist
    life.” I also noted that, “While these Calvinistic beliefs are not currently the majority
    perspective among Southern Baptists, they are clearly within the broad spectrum of Baptist theology. Some hold to some of these doctrines but not others, and some Baptists hold to all these beliefs.” I hope that your wounds will heal quickly from such a cutting and unChristian critique!

    The third section of the paper, and the focus of it, was to delineate the doctrines that separate Baptists from Presbyterians, hearkening back to the Baptist distincties literature such as Baptist Why and Why Not? The major methodology for this study was to compare Particular Baptist confessions with earlier Calvinist confessions. When the Calvinistic Particular Baptists (Note: not other less Calvinistic Baptists like General Baptists) changed the wording from the earlier Reformed confessions which they quoted word for word throughout most of the confession (I suppose you have problems with their scholarship on this account), that became an obvious point of difference between even strongly Calvinistic Baptists and Presbyterians. Again, that seems to me to be a pretty fair-minded approach to the subject. I believe your readers will find it so as well, if they will move from your caricature to read the actual article.

    Clearly, our intuitions, opinions, and perspectives vary on some of these issues. Christians can disagree, hear each other out, and move toward the truth. However, just because someone has a different perspective from some forms of Calvinism, and voices strong convictions or opinions on those issues, does not make one unChristian. I hope you can move beyond nit picking and emotional overstatements to deal with these issues in a more charitable way.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Dr. Lemke,

    You have articulated your opinions on the matter, and I look forward to interacting with them. I do not question your salvation, but I do believe your article does not represent either scholarship or Christian virtue, not the least of which is being truthful. I am not being uncharitable when your assertions are being challenged in light of facts, and those facts, I believe, will speak for themselves. Sir, I have no wounds (though you may believe you know me better than myself) nor do I write with any emotive rhetorical flourishes.

    The passive-aggressive nature of perpetual attacks against Baptist Calvinists is befuddling to me (and others I might add). You falsely represent our position and criticize us for wanting to set the record straight while playing the victim card. Let it be known both in historical reference and in contemporary expression the party in the SBC with the sword in their hands and the battle in their hearts.

    You are welcome to interact with my responses to your article, as well as anyone else who will deal with the substance of my writing rather than attempting to assign motivation.

  • Steve Lemke

    Timmy,
    I am fully aware of the pointlessness and fruitlessness of engaging a blogger on his own site. It’s like playing a seven games series at the home court of the opponent, before the adoring fans of the opponent, with referees chosen by the opponent, The sad thing is tha having won your “victory,” you’ll think you’ve really accomplished something. In fact, the great danger of the Calvinistic blogosphere is that in immersing yourselves in voicing your own views and being affirmed by likeminded persons who share your opinions, you’re totally blind to problems that are apparent to everyone else. In the panel discussion that followed “What Is a Baptist?,” I intentionally invited Dr. Mark Rathel to be a representative of Calvinism to provide a balanced perspective, and included his criticisms of me with the printed Journal article (I didn’t have to do either). I have discovered since then that Dr. Rathel doesn’t claim to be a five-point Calvinist, but his criticisms of me were sharp and I provided no refutation (although as editor of the Jouranl, I could have easily done so).

    By the way, just one more word. One of the befuddlements of interacting with Calvinists is the claim such as yours that we “falsely represent” your opinion. We respond to a variety of Calvinists — more often than not, those who are most outspoken and quotable. I’ve noticed that you do the same thing with us mainline Baptists (I know you’ll go to town on that nomenclature, but you criticized the use of the term “nonCalvinists). But the frustration is that there are many Calvinisms (even in quoting Calvin himself you have to give attention to which version of the Institutes you’re using, and whether he changed his mind about that or not). And so criticizing Calvinists is like trying to hit five identical quintuplets hiding in the woods with a paintball gun. You think you’ve hit one, and then another one jumps up and says, “No, no, you missed. I’m a Calvinist and I don’t believe that at all….” There are certainly SOME Calvinists who believe these things, and these are the (often extreme) positions to which we are responding.

    If you don’t believe the views I am criticizing, great!! We agree! I’m glad you’ll be joining me in criticizing those extreme positions. I hope you’ll be more intentional on your blog about calling out your more extreme Calvinist brethren and critiquing their position with at least as much zeal as you provoke and pant about people on the other side.

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Dr. Lemke,

    You said,

    “I am fully aware of the pointlessness and fruitlessness of engaging a blogger on his own site.”

    Ask anyone for the past three and a half years who has commented on my blog, including scholars and professors, whether this is true. I can give you names and contact information of profs both in the SBC and in evangelical world who comment here and find it a profitable and fruitful time of discussion.

    “It’s like playing a seven games series at the home court of the opponent, before the adoring fans of the opponent, with referees chosen by the opponent . . .”

    While I have no problem with your pejoratives towards me, I personally do not appreciate you calling those who read my blog as “fans” as though they do not provide critical and often differing viewpoints that I present. Apparently you have spent little time on this blog to know what thou speakest of.

    “The sad thing is tha having won your “victory,” you’ll think you’ve really accomplished something. In fact, the great danger of the Calvinistic blogosphere is that in immersing yourselves in voicing your own views and being affirmed by likeminded persons who share your opinions, you’re totally blind to problems that are apparent to everyone else.”

    Sir, this is not a game, nor am I seeking to win a “victory.” Had you not written what you wrote, there would be no need on my part to offer an alternative viewpoint. I have several friends, readers, and bloggers (some who I do not know personally) but often comment who are not Calvinists, at least not five-point Calvinists. I welcome your comments, but up to this point, all you have done is gone after me as a person and the competence and discernment of my readers. That is not going to “score” you any “points” in the arena of rank-and-file Southern Baptists or evangelicals.

    Regarding nomenclature and many “Calvinisms,” should you agree to discuss this, let’s agree with some terms then. How about Baptist Calvinists are those who believe in the doctrines of grace–all of them. Or at least use the common term as “consistent Calvinists”. You say that you are responding to “extreme” positions. Could you qualify what you mean by “extreme position” (perhaps in a paragraph summary)?

    For the record, I have challenged and critiqued fellow Calvinists on different areas, including a condescending and harsh attitude, cult of personality, and the need for applying the doctrines of grace to our lives and missional practice. I am equal opportunity critic, and while I am confessionally a “five-point Calvinist,” I am make it my ambition to the dictates of the Word of God be my principle guide, not traditions, systems, or personalities. If you would like to critique my position in light of Scripture, I welcome it, not for the sake of argumentation or playing a game, but because the truths of Scripture matter (1 Tim. 4:16).

  • james clardy

    “I am fully aware of the pointlessness and fruitlessness of engaging a blogger on his own site. It’s like playing a seven games series at the home court of the opponent, before the adoring fans of the opponent, with referees chosen by the opponent, The sad thing is tha having won your “victory,” you’ll think you’ve really accomplished something.”

    Then why engage? Then why waste your time in pointless and fruitless dialogue? Just let us enjoy our Calvinist Bubble.

  • John

    Having not read the article, I cannot speak to specific issues. But I can speak to your response and the reality that in the mind of most people, a Calvinist is a Calvinist is a Calvinist. I rarely hear anyone makes distinctions, especially outside of the academic world. For example, speaking with Liberty graduates, it’s clear that anyone who believes the Scriptures teach the five points are labeled ‘hyper-Calvinistic’ there. Having heard messages from the SBC pastor’s conference pulpit, 5-pointers are considered hyper-Calvinists.

    There may be hypers in the SBC, but they are surely so small that it’s probably disingenuous to attack them on the popular level along with the rest of Calvinism and expect people to make the distinction. It’s been my experience that most people attacking Calvinism in the SBC take anything other than point 5 to be horrible, unbiblical theology that produces cold, heartless Christians. On the whole, that is far from the truth and it is no edifying to the church to continue propagating that myth.

    On another level I found your tone surprisingly condescending for a seminary professor. I enjoy discussing practical and theological issues in church life, but think such behavior isn’t helpful. Even if you felt that Timmy was inappropriate, shouldn’t we return good for evil?

    Working for a Whitefield-Wesley understanding in the SBC,
    John Botkin

  • Steve Lemke

    By the way, Timmy, in response to your challenge to my scholarship by the allegation that I was guilty in the paper of “re-wording of Timothy George’s ROSES,” I always take such comments seriously because I am fallible. I went to the library, and sure enough, the ROSES acronym was precisely what I said it was (radical depravity, overfcoming grace, sovereign election, eternal life, and singular redemption) and where I said it was (Timothy George, Amazing Grace: God’s Initiative – Our Response (Nashville: LifeWay, 2000), 71-83). For those of your readers who don’t have immediate access to this book, they can check this out online at http://www.theopedia.com/TULIP.

    I’m sure that in the interest of integrity, in the interest of being accurate “not only in the arena of scholarship but also in the practice of a Christian,” in the interest that as Christians we “speak the truth in love,” and in the interest of “commitment both to Christian love and biblical truth,” I’m sure you’ll write a retraction. However, since this is already the second claim you’ve made that was unsubstantiated and without merit, I’ll not waste my time responding to the rest of your allegations.

  • http://freegracepreacjer@blogsot.com PAUL WAYNE FOLTZ DD

    True Calvinists are not offensive, because they know the truth. Non-Calvinists are argumentitive, hostile and critical of those who know the truth. The substitution of higher criticism in place of Bible knowledge has opened wide the floodgates of THEIR CRITICAL ATTACKS.

  • http://chadwickivester.wordpress.com/ chadwick

    Timmy,

    Dr. Lemke stated in his article:
    “This issue has already split literally dozens of churches, and it holds the potential to split the entire Convention.” (p.14)

    Out of the 40,000+ SBC churches, 12 church splits because of Calvinism is low in the statistics.

    I know Dr. Lemke will think my following statement is “nostalgic,” but I am going to state it anyway:

    I know that Boyce would roll over in his grave by thinking that the Doctrines of Grace (the great doctrines that our forefathers founded the SBC on) would ever be devisive to the SBC.

    Arminianism has damned the SBC far more than the Doctrines of Grace. 8)

    chadwick

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Dr. Lemke,

    I will provide point-by-point proof that you have misrepresented George’s articulation of ROSES. The fact that you rightly got the wording right on the acronym does not mean you represented the substance of what that acronym means. I do not know what you are talking about in saying this is “my second claim” that is unsubstantiated and “without merit.” Again, you are welcome to interact and disagree with the substance of my posts, but to this point, you have written 1200+ words in your comments without doing just that. Instead, you have taken shots at me as well as those who read my blog.

    You accuse me of questioning your salvation. I never did such a thing. I simply stated your writing did not reflect Christian scholarship. You say I have may unsubstantiated claims; I have only given my rationale for responding to your inaccurate statements. The things I have mentioned in my post will be elaborated in due time. Instead of spending time writing assigning motivations or attempting to addressing what I have not said, I hope that in the future we can discuss what is on the table.

  • http://stephennewell.wordpress.com Stephen Newell

    You mean anti-Calvinists, Paul, not non-Calvinists. Many of us are sympathetic.

    Prof. Lemke is a great example of the silliness going around passing itself off as non-Calvinism. His comments here only make himself look bad and unworthy of respect as a seminary professor.

    We ought to be able to hold our seminary profs, preachers, and personalities in high esteem, but when one says or writes something, gets called on it, and then goes off on an ad hominem rant against the critic instead of speaking the truth in love, it’s very difficult to take such people seriously.

    Case in point being the Caners. After that bewildering, unChristlike screed of theirs a couple of years ago, in which they were shown to be glaringly ignorant and unable to do even basic fact-checking, how is it possible to take anything they say or write seriously ever again? And I used to really like these guys. Nowadays I have to take it with a grain of salt, checking everything referenced.

    I pray that doesn’t happen to godly men like Prof. Lemke. More so, I pray it doesn’t happen to me.

  • http://chadwickivester.wordpress.com/ chadwick

    Dr. Lemke, in his scathing “report” on the Founders’ Friendly churches, stated:

    “the Founder’s Fellowship churches had considerably fewer baptisms, smaller congregations, and more declining membership than the average Southern Baptist Church.”

    A one-eyed monkey with half a brain can see that Dr. Lemke’s gauge of “evangelistic success” stems from “pragmatic numbers” drafted from the ‘infallible & inerrant’ ACP stats!

    Lemke also stated, “In 2004, not a single one of the 233 self-identified
    Founder’s Fellowship Southern Baptist Churches had 40 or more baptisms.”

    A “soul-winning” pastor in SC has been at his (very rural) SBC church (200 members) for 7 years; in that seven year span, he has baptized close to 300 persons!!! However, the church’s worship & SS attendence has stayed the same! . . . Nonetheless, Lemke can point at this “soul-winning” church and call it “evangelistic” for the 40+ annual baptisms!

    In South Carolina lingo, “That dog don’t hunt!”

    If Lemke’s article is a foretaste of next month’s J316 Conference, then all I can say is . . . “Houston, we have a problem!!!” ;)

    chadwick

  • Zach

    Timmy,

    I really appreciate the way that you’ve composed yourself in such a hostile environment. I just read all of this today and it’s sad to see the way that you’ve been forced to defend what seem to be more personal attacks instead of discussing all the issues. I didn’t read Dr. Lemke’s article, but the tone of the conversation seems to be more middle-schooler cut downs than anything else. Is there a way I can read his article online? If not, no big deal.

    Also, I wanted you to know that I was putting on a wetsuit yesterday and I was reminded of you at the Gauley… how funny. I hope you’re doing well.

    Under His Mercy,

    Zach

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Zach,

    Good to hear from you my friend. Please send my warmest regards to the Snowbird family. Here’s the PDF where you can read Lemke’s article and the other responses:

    http://www.baptistcenter.com/JBTM_5-2_Baptists_in_Dialogue_Fall_08.pdf

    Missing the wetsuit,

    Timmy

  • http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/ Timmy Brister

    Dr. Lemke,

    I noticed on your NOBTS page that you have interacted with Terrance Tiessen’s works. He is one the professors whom I have dialogued with and come to know via this blog. If you would like to see a 40+ page exchange that I believe to be respectful and on topic, please check out the comments of this post:

    http://timmybrister.com/2007/01/11/inclusivism-the-answer-to-the-emerging-question/

    He and I strongly disagree on the issue of inclusivism, but we have enjoyed getting to know one another in the process (both on the blog and via email). The same is true for other professors and scholars alike. My hope that is that I can have similar “fruitful” discussions with you as well. Thanks.

  • Pingback: Timmy Brister dialogue with Dr. Steve Lemke « Strange BaptistFire()

  • http://drjamesgalyon.wordpres.com Rev.

    While I contend with assertions made by Dr. Lemke, I do not believe it is helpful to call into question either his scholarship or his Christian character. I encourage you to point out disagreements with his assertions, refuting them with historical facts and passages of Scripture, but to always treat him with the respect of one who was made in God’s image and of one for whom our Lord Jesus died. Press on, brother!

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  • http://keithwalters.org Keith Walters

    Timmy,
    I have read the article and I do find it very helpful at points. For instance Lemke says, “it is simply not the case that Calvinism does not have a long history in Southern Baptist life, as some have suggested.7 Southern Baptist roots draw directly from the Particular Baptists and Regular Baptists, who were Calvinist in orientation.” At other points, such as those mentioned by yourself and many others in the comments, he has missed the mark. I find his introduction to be particularly misleading as he addresses the Reformation and the Radical Reformation in terms of the persecuting “Calvinist authorities” as if the radical reformers broke off from the Reformation due to soteriological differences, rather than the issue of church and state relations. While he does exclaim “[Calvinism] holds the potential to split the entire Convention” I would argue that your assessment of his tone to be a bit harsh. I agree that his statement is incorrect and part of a larger propaganda machine designed to misrepresent Calvinists as divisive and militant; at the same time I think his article is about far more than Calvinism splitting the SBC. Despite this I think your assessment of the scholarship of this article to be spot on. There are areas where I appreciate his scholarship, namely his explanation of the commonalities between the BF&M, Westminster Confession, and the T4G Statement; however, much of the time I am left wondering why the editors missed so many mistakes.

  • Pingback: Steve Lemke on Total Depravity « Provocations & Pantings()

  • http://gritsgrace.blogspot.com/ Greg Alford

    Keith,

    “I agree that his (Lemke’s) statement is incorrect and part of a larger propaganda machine designed to misrepresent Calvinists as divisive and militant

    There is a large propaganda machine operating inside the SBC designed to misrepresent Calvinist as divisive and militant… Really?

    Would you be willing to share with us a few names of those involved in this conspiracy and few examples of this propaganda machine in action?

    Grace Always,

  • http://keithwalters.org Keith Walters

    Greg,

    I think a prime example is the upcoming “John 3:16 Conference” whose purpose is to “biblically assess and respond to 5-point Calvinism.” Their website adds the following caveat, “there will be no live or archived streaming audio or video of this conference via the Internet.” That sounds like several prominent SBC pastors who are avoiding accountability and failing to live above reproach. Or you can look at the numerous comments that Frank Page, then SBC president, had made about Calvinism splitting the SBC. I do not see Calvinists holding conferences to “biblically assess and respond to Arminianism.” Furthermore, every conference that I am aware of by prominent Calvinistic Baptists is available for download on the internet and the content of the sermons delivered there have been well documented. When the T4G group has their conference calls I think it would be safe to say that their central concern is the gospel and how they can make it known and state it clearer. While the “John 3:16 Crowd” seems primarily concerned with the growth of Calvinism in the SBC and how to stop it. If Frank Page as president of the SBC speaking of his fear that Calvinism will split the SBC in an interview is not propaganda then I do not know what is. I highly doubt that you would ever find that Mark Dever or Al Mohler have even considering making such a comment much less holding a conference to propagate such a false fear.

    Look up propaganda in a dictionary and I think you will find that the actions of Frank Page, Jerry Vines, and Johnny Hunt fit the definition.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03569660529270085289 Darrin

    Thanks for pointing out this article, Timmy.

    I wonder if Mr. Lemke is aware of any marks that separate Baptists from Methodists. Apologies if that misrepresents his article – I really will try to read through it this week. I hope it’s not as painful as Luther trying to get through Erasmus’ treatise.

    Keith, Greg, along with statements by these men mentioned, there are of course also written misrepresentations such as Mr. Page’s “Trouble with the Tulip” wherein he mangles the doctrines of grace and distorts church history. No telling what negative effects works such as this have had on the SBC.

    If Calvinism will split the SBC, maybe it needs to be split.

    Sola gratia.

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  • Fire 239

    Well, I attend NOBTS, and I will say that it is not easy being of reformed doctrine and go to school there. Myself and a few Calvinist friends find ourselves defending our position constantly. It is a good thing though, we are constantly in dialogue with others about it and as of yet, found few people that are rude and unChristian about it…please pray for us that we might be strong in our beliefs and not lose what God has allowed us to see.