Casualties of Anti-Calvinism

Tim Brister —  December 8, 2008 — 44 Comments

Three years ago, I began writing about the anonymous attacks of a website called “BaptistFire.”  They were a website operating in the dark that advertised churches which either experienced conflict as a result of Calvinism or had fired their pastor as a result of it (assuming to warn other pastors of what might happen to them if they attempt to pastor SBC churches). Furthermore, I began receiving reports from friends in the trenches who said that state convention employees were directing church committees to this website to see how other churches dealt with Calvinism.

After hearing word that five pastors with Calvinist convictions were fired for no other reason than holding to the doctrines of grace, I began talking with a few other friends who were also addressing BaptistFire and websites like them who were fueling the anti-Calvinist agenda.  On May 1, 2006 we launched the website Strange BaptistFire with the expressed purpose of addressing all the content on BaptistFire and providing a Reformed response to the attacks that continued to escalate.  No less than 11 days after the website was launched, BaptistFire packed up their bags and left the internet, knowing they were about to be exposed.

Since then, the anti-Calvinism in the SBC, although decentralized, has not ceased but intensified.  We have seen everyone from the likes of Bill Harrell, chairman of the Executive Committee, say that dealing with Calvinism is a top priority.  Ergun Caner is unabashed in his declaration that Calvinists are “worse than Muslims.”  I could go on and on (not to mention the recent offerings of Steve Lemke and David Allen).

The decentralized anti-Calvinism, however, has reconvened as a new centralized movement under the leadership and direction of Jerry Vines and the John 3:16 Conference.  While the advocates of the John 3:16 Conference bemoan the label of “anti-Calvinism,” it is nonetheless warranted and accurate.

This morning, as I began to prepare for the day, I came across this comment which was submitted on my John 3:16 Compilation:

I’m a pastor’s wife in a small southern county. We’ve already seen one pastor fired and one in the process of being fired for Calvinism. In both cases, the lay people doing the firing referenced the John 3:16 conference as a motivation/source of information. It’s the saddest thing.

Indeed, this is the saddest thing, and a thing which, if BaptistFire was still around, would be celebrated as front page news on the anti-Calvinist front.  What’s even more tragic is that these pastors will not be the only ones whose ministry and calling are affected by this conference, and don’t expect to find Baptist Press to be reporting on these realities either.

Friends, this is why I confront the anti-Calvinism in the SBC.  I don’t care about debating Calvinism per say.  I don’t care to “Calvinize” the SBC.  What I do care about are the men of the cloth called by God and appointed to preach who are being forced out of their churches for the crime of being a Calvinist.  Imagine what this does to their families.  This is not a game.  It’s about biblically faithful, confessionally Baptist, theologically conservative God-honoring preachers getting put out on the streets because of an anti-Calvinist agenda.

Southern Baptists cannot and should not tolerate this happening in our own camp.  The non-Calvinist will tell us that we are dealing with “rubber dummies.”  Would they tell be willing to tell that to these pastors and their families?  They, like so many others, will bear the scars of the waging “Baptist battle” being fought by the anti-Calvinists.  Once these hill-takers are off the battle lines in a few years, they will have left a devastating impact on the already dying churches and declining denominational interest among the younger generation. One could argue that since the anti-Calvinists without succession, they are going to fight against any Southern Baptist progression.  Ironically, it’s those who are decrying a “militant, extreme, aggressive, disruptive” Calvinism who are acting most militant, aggressive, and disruptive.

I cannot help but wonder how many more casualties of anti-Calvinism will need to occur before Southern Baptists leaders will speak up and denounce this counter-productive agenda for the sake of the churches.  If not, perhaps the future of the SBC will indeed be one full of grinches, ghosts, and goblins.

Let’s hope and pray that is not the case.

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  • http://debbiekaufman.wordpress.com Debbie Kaufman

    Sometimes I think it is a game Timmy. Victory is fun. Losing isn’t.

    I’m sure these guys may be serious but it’s like the person who is denying claims at an insurance company. If you don’t see the victims and the destruction, it’s easier to deny the claims. All you have to do is write or stamp the word deny on the paper and go on to the next one. No emotion that way.

  • jonathonwoodyard

    Thanks for the post.

    I resonate with your comments entirely. I especially like that you pointed out that the agenda is not to Calvinze the SBC. I do not want to sacrifice time and energy that I need to be using in the context of ministry to try and convince all to embrace the doctrines of grace. That would not be “redeeming the time” in my opinion.

    However, I do not want the SBC to continue to move towards this “anti-Calvinism” attitude. Now, men from that side of the line are adamant about not being “anti-Calvinism” per se, but they stop at nothing short than holding a conference and refute every point of TULIP. Then, they talk as if holding to the five-points are “a move away from the gospel.” How is that not “anti-Calvinism?

    If all they are after is for the “militant, extreme, hyper” Calvinist to move on, then amen! But, as I have asked before….where are these men? I will be the first to confront them. The fact is, they are no where to be found. If you do find them, they are the exception and not the rule. They are in the severe minority of the reformed side of the aisle. And, if we are talking about extremes, let us be consistent and run out the Pelagians who disquise themselves as SB!

    Which side is antagonistic? To answer that question, answer this questioin: “Which is the only side of this theological argument to hold a whole conference to refute the other sides position and speak about it’s dangerous nature?”

  • http://www.saidatneworleansseminary.blogspot.com Joshua Stewart

    Well said, bother. I, much like yourself, have moved beyond having any real desire to debate Calvinism, or ‘convert’ people or churches to Calvinism. Yet, I am tremendously saddened by the desire of non-Calvinist to destroy those who hold to the doctrines of grace. I only wish those who seek to defame Calvinist would realize that we are actually both attempting to spread the Truths of the Gospel.
    Thanks for your comments.

  • http://supplypreach.spaces.live.com Michael

    Simply excellent brother. Well said…

  • J.D. Hawg

    Timmy,

    I have a co-worker whose church was split just this year by Calvinism. I’m glad to say that her church (the reformed part of the split) is growing mightily as their pastor is faithful to lead in the things of God. I realize that this is not often the case and there’s often a wake of destruction that results. But some good does come out of it.

    However, on this debate, I would submit a different idea, one that I’ve seen recently in the megachurch that my wife and I are in the process of leaving. I’m not so sure that the battle in many ways is not against “lordship salvation”. My former church is one of the best in the SBC in getting numbers, but they have little or no concern about the quality of those decisions. As an personal effort to counter this within the church, my wife and I made personal calls following up on those “making decisions” during a recent youth evangelistic event. Of the dozen or so kids that we visited or called, none of them were able to give a “faith” answer as the basis for their salvation and most could not explain what Christ did on the cross. That highlighted the fact that the altar call was only about salvation and not about repentance. This was little explanation of how to be saved, just that you better get saved because you might die in a car wreck on the way home. My wife spent an hour on the phone with a young man from another denomination that was weeping on the phone before it was over because of the Truth of the Gospel that he had heard from her for the first time.

    As long as our churches are focused on getting people to raise a hand and say a prayer, they’re not going to have any appetite for regenerate church membership or true conversion, both fundamental concepts in reformed theology. They’re going to keep measuring “success” by how many they parade down front, not by how obedient they are to serve our Savior….and Lord.

    As to our new church, I praise God that there is a body of believers that preaches the Gospel in a meaningful way, to feed the Sheep, not pacify the Goats. They understand that salvation is a miracle of God and not just a function of “Harvest Evangelism”.

    At some point, the Reformed need to shake the dust off and leave the Jerry Vines crowd to their own devices. Let them have the SBC to themselves and see how fast the cancer spreads as they become as irrelevant as the other denominations in this country.

  • http://shepherdtheflock.com Nathan White

    Timmy–
     
    Thank you for highlighting this critical aspect of the debate, and for re-focusing our attention on the serious ramifications involved. Clearly, this is so much more than a simple doctrinal dispute among ivory-tower theologians. As you pointed out, there are real families and real lives that are/will be affected by all of this. Let us not forget this in our zeal to fight for truth.
     
    But expounding on your thoughts, it does sort of seem as though the J316 folks have drawn a line in the sand, as evidenced by pastors being cast from their pulpits. The way I see it, if it continues like this, then it’s almost as if many SBC pastors will no longer be permitted to hold a neutral position in the debate –and that would be a terrible thing. For if a ‘root out and extinguish the Calvinist’ mission follows from this, in the attitude of J316, then any pastor who doesn’t come out and openly declare his *anti-Calvinism* will be considered as not in-line with the J316 conclusions, and will be cast out. So in this case, the criteria is no longer whether a particular pastor leans towards a Calvinist understanding of soteriology or not, but rather, whether he has come out and declared himself to be anti-Calvinistic. This militancy then, in the attitude of classic fundamentalism, becomes the real criteria for whether a pastor stays or goes, and the pastors are then faced with one of two options: strongly oppose Calvinism, like the guys at J316, or look for another job. Very sad indeed.
     

  • http://lesliepuryear.blogspot.com Les Puryear

    Good post, Timmy. You expressed my own thoughts about my reasons for confronting the anti-Calvinist extremists.

    Les

  • http://newreformation.ning.com Frank!

    Timmy,
    As a future member of an SBC church in Southern California, this just breaks my heart. I would hope that we could get along, but the enemy likes to keep us divided. Heaven forbid we could actually work together. I’m glad my new pastor is proudly Reformed and Baptist. He’s also very charitable. May we see more people respond graciously as they teach the doctrines of Grace.

  • http://undergodshands.blogspot.com Brian Mann

    Timmy, in my last church I was accused of being a Calvinist before I understood that I was one. An older lady in the church began hurling complaints against me and this was the biggest she could hurl. I can elaborate further via email if you wish, but I simply wanted to share my testimony that there is indeed a cost for being a Calvinist in today’s convention.

  • Calvinist Underground

    Timmy,

    There has to be a defensive position against these attacks. Those of us in the underground salute you. You have done well here documenting for all to see what we know to be happening. There is much more happening behind the scenes that can’t be documented but many of us have witnessed.

    I also appreciate David Miller’s open letter to Jerry Vines. It ought to be published on blogs in its entirety. It says a lot when a man who fought hard for reform in the SBC speaks against these travesties.

  • http://TheAmericanView.com John Lofton, Recovering Republican

    “Accursed is that peace of which revolt from God is the bond, and blessed are those contentions by which it is necessary to maintain the kingdom of Christ.” — John Calvin.

    John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com

    Recovering Republican

    JLof@aol.com

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

    Just a note in the annals of SBC blogdom, but it was this time last year when the new fundamentalism announced the defunding of dually affiliated Acts 29 and SBC churches in the state of Missouri. The preservation of the SBC in the future will not be against moderates or liberals but against fundamentalists. Conservative vs. conservative – who is more authoritative? More credentialed? More Baptististic? etc.

    An example of this is the recent argument about open and closed communion. The irony of those pushing closed communion as a litmus test of true Baptist Identity is that it is largely theoretical and furthermore irrelevant if the church does not hold to regenerate church membership. In other words, why hold to closed communion when the majority of those in the closed camp bear no marks of regeneration?

  • http://www.byfarthersteps.com/ Tim Etherington

    Oh, this is just too timely:

    http://sacredsandwich.com/archives/1382

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

    Yeah, the Pyromanics alerted me to that piece this morning. So true.

  • http://www.byfarthersteps.com/ Tim Etherington

    Aargh! I thought I was first. Oh well. Never miss with the Pyros, huh?

  • http://www.thomasclay.blogspot.com Thomas Clay

    Timmy,

    We’ve already heard of several who signed up at our ministry’s website to be in a “Pastor’s Network” that was birthed out of our True Church Conferences fired after it was found out by their church that they had done so. How tragic.

    We have to always remember that in the scriptures and especially in the epistles, that most of the persecution that Paul and the early church received was from PROFESSING believers. We should not be surprised that we, who are striving after the truth are also being persecuted.

  • http://sagordon.blogspot.com Scott Gordon

    Tim,

    You should read what Wes has written before you misrepresent what he has stated. The admonition/exhortation to quit shooting at rubber dummies was given to both sides! Sometimes I think that we who are Calvinists much prefer the fight to forging relationships…at least that is my perception from what I have read here.

    Sola Gratia!

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    “It’s about biblically faithful… preachers getting put out on the streets because of an anti-Calvinist agenda.”

    I think “biblically faithful” is what the debate is all about. Like it or not, these people believe that Calvinism (I’ll scream if I hear it called the “doctrines of grace” one more time) is an incorrect doctrine and one they don’t want taught in their churches. Go preach cessationism in a Pentecostal church and you’ll get fired too.

  • http://www.thomasclay.blogspot.com Thomas Clay

    Chris,

    What do you have against the term “doctrines of grace”?

  • http://razorskiss.net/wp/ RazorsKiss

    It’s a shame so many churches get so upset over the Scriptures being taught faithfully. Let’s not impinge on the sacred free will, though. That’s the golden calf of the SBC. Forget those commandments, fellas. We have to protect our congregants from cosmic rape!

  • http://ToddonGod.com Todd Burus

    Timmy,
    Thank you for this extremely important post. People on the non- or anti-Calvinist side keep trying to say that the reason SBC Calvinists are upset is because their system is being attacked and that they really do want unity among the brethren, Calvinist or not. But when their words produce these types of actions, even if it was not their stated intent, they should have enough integrity to speak out against it or to have watched how they spoke about it in the first place. Watching the reactions of these men to the criticism they have received, generally a further entrenching of their original statements (see David Allen in particular), is telling to me of people who are pushing a (personal) agenda and not brothers who are working together for unity and for the future good of the convention.

    Again thank you and keep up the good work.

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

    Timmy,

    May I make a sincere recommendation to every “Calvinistic” Southern Baptist Pastor/Church, that it become our practice, that upon hearing of a Calvinist Pastor that is turned out of his church that we immediately create a position in one of our churches for this brother until he finds, or starts, a new church. I know that every church might not be in a financial position to do this, however in that case two or three churches could band together.

    In my opinion this support network would be a great blessing for all involved… and I am confident that the Calvinistic Southern Baptist Churches would respond with great generosity to our brothers who are suffering at the hands of this persecution.

    Hey, sign my church up right now.

    Grace Always,

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

    Scott,

    Yes, I read the article, and I understand your point. It does not alleviate the fact that the barrage of shooting is coming from the new centralized camp (comprised of SWBTS, NOBTS, Liberty U, and Jerry Vines largely). The Calvinists, especially Founders guys I know, are intentionally working on forging relationships and tired of the continued attacks. In all the controversy about Calvinism, how many episodes were the result of Calvinists on the offense? I would dare say less than one in ten. Culpability should not be charged by those who are willing to speak out and address the charges, attacks, and caricatures that are perpetuated by the antagonism of the opposing side.

    Chris,

    To argue that Baptists have not been held to Reformed soteriology is gross ignorance of Baptist history; moreover, to argue that the doctrines of grace are not exegetically grounded and biblically supported is charge without any justification. You are free to disagree with what I have written, but I would ask you to do so with an attempt at a valid argument.

    Razorkiss,

    I am a loss to understand what you mean by “cosmic rape.” I encourage you to make your point, but avoid the rhetoric that is not helpful to the discussion.

    Todd,

    Thanks. I sincerely hope that cooperating Southern Baptists–Calvinists and non-Calvinist alike–will not resort to the politics of non-engagement. This has been going on far too long.

    Greg,

    I do think that is a good idea. I know of churches who have “refuge” houses for ministers who have fallen morally and help them and their families in the aftermath. If churches can do that, then why can’t churches help those who are fired through no fault of their own?

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Timmy,

    As I’ve said here before, I don’t argue that, in the past, Baptists were Calvinists. I do not argue that Calvinists see Calvinism in the Bible.

    I argue that Baptists today are not Calvinists, by and large, and that they don’t see Calvinism in the Bible and do not want preachers who do.

    I’m sorry it’s hard for Calvinists to get jobs in Baptist churches but the simple fact of the matter is lots of people don’t want Calvinist preachers.

    It doesn’t matter that you think you’re right. Everyone thinks they’re right. You’ve got to convince us you’re right (and you have to do it before you get in the pulpit or we won’t hire you) or find a more appropriate place to preach.

    Thomas,

    Non-Calvinists dislike the phrase “doctrines of grace” because it seems to imply that the rest of us don’t believe in grace. Calvinists are often viewed as smug; I wonder if that phrase isn’t part of the problem.

    A more accurate and less irritating name might be “doctrine of irresistable grace” or “doctrine of unconditional election.” Or “Calvinism.”

  • http://razorskiss.net/wp/ RazorsKiss

    Timmy:

    That is the oft-used charge of Arminians against the Doctrines of Grace. It is “cosmic rape”. Hank Hanegraff has used this, as have others – such as Dave Hunt. I’ve heard in my sunday school classes before, and I get that objection constantly during discussions on theology and apologetics. It’s a widely used phrase employed by anti-calvinists.

    As I stated, the free-will of man is the SBC’s golden calf. If you talk about removing it – “my God isn’t like that!”. We’ve all heard it :D

  • http://www.thomasclay.blogspot.com Thomas Clay

    Chris,

    Thanks for the clarification. I must admit that I’ve never heard that perspective on the term before. I guess it’s what we mean and what the scriptures by the term “grace” and all of its implications.

    I don’t think that the term is part of the problem, although I’m not coming at it from your point of view. I think either side of the debate sees the other as smug. So what would be the part of the problem that makes non-Calvinists viewed as smug? Could it be some of their (and I’m assuming your) terminology?

    What about Razorkiss’ term of “Cosmic rape”?

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

    ChrisB,

    It is true that most Baptists today are not Calvinists, but there was also a time when most Southern Baptists *were* Calvinists. Should Southern Baptists been as intolerant and controlling as they are now, we probably would not be here.

    Furthermore, when there is a larger percentage of Calvinist pastors graduating than churches that want them, churches that if Frank Page is correct will close their doors within half a generation, then what are we to do? I think many of these guys will become church planters either overseas or here in the states.

    Regarding the doctrines of grace, they emphasize the sovereign grace of God. I think the point can be made that non-Calvinists emphasize the deservedness of man or their free will. For instance, on total depravity, sinners are not spiritually dead but merely need prevenient grace to overcome the effects of the fall and make them morally neutral to choose God.
    Election is based on foreseen faith, a faith derivative of them and not a gift from God. The atonement is a general payment for no one in particular but is particularized by the self-determining choice of man. On calling, man is not regenerated by the Holy Spirit but choose to be born again without a change in nature. Their will is not compatible to God’s sovereign purposes but rather they have the power of contrary choice and can ultimately overcome the will of God. Finally, on perseverance, non-Calvinists typically hold to eternal security of a “once saved, always saved” rather than the perseverance of the saints which necessitates the ongoing gracious work of God both in conversion as well as sanctification. I hope you see the argument that the non-Calvinist diminishes rather than emphasizes the grace of God in salvation.

    The doctrines of grace, on every point, argue that salvation is the work of God and can never be accomplished by sinful, morally bankrupt man. Therefore it is all of grace (to use Spurgeon’s classic term). Now I do not equate the Calvinism with the gospel, but I do believe that the doctrines of grace provide a more comprehensive and in depth understanding of the gospel where God is the author and perfector of the salvation of sinners. I hope that makes sense.

  • http://razorskiss.net/wp/ RazorsKiss

    In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to {God’s} gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;…

  • http://hereiblog.com/ johnMark

    Chris,

    How educated do you think the average southern baptist congregant is when it comes to understanding Calvinism, Arminianism and even Pelagianism? How about the history of Calvinism and missions?

    As to the issue of the phrase ‘doctrines of grace’ I do understand how you might take offense. However, this is an historical phrase not one that modern day Calvinists just made up.

    Along the lines of grace. Let me tell you what I haven’t heard much if at all. When I hear a sermon against Calvinism concerning, say, irresistible grace and free-will I hardly ever, if ever, hear grace mentioned. The default mostly seems to go back to man and his will. God and His grace goes without mention. Can you tell me why this is?

    Mark

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Thomas,

    I think “cosmic rape” is inaccurate and unnecessarily offensive. I’ve never heard Calvinists refer to non-Calvinists as smug; usually they’re characterized as less intellectually honest, less committed to scripture, or less intelligent. I can believe they’re seen as smug, though, as that’s a common feature of human nature.

    johnMark,

    Most SBC members have no clue about the details of those three positions and are no doubt unaware that they’re a mishmash of all three.

    Still, they don’t want Calvinists (“whatever the heck they are”) to be their preachers.

    Timmy,

    Thanks for the primer on Calvinism. I’ll look forward to when you get this SBC issue out of your system and go back to blue collar theology.

  • http://www.thomasclay.blogspot.com Thomas Clay

    To follow up on why I prefer “Doctrines of Grace” rather than Calvinism, I don’t hold a theological position because of Calvin or his students who actually developed the TULIP acrostic in response to Armenius and his camp. It just so happened that Calvin was an accurate exegete of the scriptures. Just as many others are.

    Just because Sir Isaac Newton developed a proper analysis of gravity (an analysis that is beginning to have new revelations that may contradict some of his laws) doesn’t make anyone who teaches on gravity or who experiences gravity a Newtonian. Having a Sovereignty-of-God-centered view of the scriptures doesn’t make one a Calvinist. It just so happens that one with that view and Calvin agree on the scriptures. One did not cause the other.

    That’s why I prefer to use “DOG” and not Calvinist. I’m not a follower of Calvin. I’m a follower of Christ (by His sovereign grace and election). That makes me a Christian.

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

    ChrisB,

    I’m curious. What do you mean “get this SBC issue out of your system”? Oh, and thanks for the encouragement on blue collar theology. I need to revive that series.

    I’d be interested in knowing, given my response, that the Calvinist and non-Calvinist view the doctrine of saving grace the same way. If they don’t, then which one glorifies the God of all grace?

  • http://www.thomasclay.blogspot.com Thomas Clay

    ChrisB,

    We definitely agree on the term “Cosmic Rape”. My point is that the smugness and arrogance are on both sides. To say that only one theological view is guilty of sin is categorically wrong.

    BTW, are you a Newtonist? :-)

  • strangebaptistfire

    Timmy.
    I am greatly indebted to you and the other brothers who began SBF. I have found much useful info there, and am glad the archives are still available back to 2006. I can only hope to be helpful in supporting Andrew and Dustin there as God gives grace.
    -Darrin

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  • http://thomastwitchell.wordpress.com/ Thomas Twitchell

    “I’ll look forward to when you get this SBC issue out of your system and go back to blue collar theology.”

    One of the things that plagues the SBC is a fundametalist ethic that is anti-intellectual, the fear that competing knowledge will not be able to be defended against. Consequently, the deeper doctrines tend to be left behind and the children remain children, weak and vulnerable.

    There is an academic level, inquiry that is that is elite. That is, God has gifted the body with men (women too) who have highly motivated intellect. The level of discourse in that is “ivory tower” by necessity of the fact that the world is. God has not left us without witness nor those who are equipped to defend the faith at those levels. We cannot, as was the attitude of the Fundies, separate and not persue academia.

    The problem is really, how then is what is given by God in those circles of academia, translated into “blue-collar” theology. We cannot simply dumb down, not expecting that the pewster will not comprehend. Instead what we want, what we are commanded, is to encourage maturity. The technical knowledge or the intellectual acuity does not need to be ubiquitous. Yet, we must teach with the goal being that all come into the unity of the faith, no longer being children, to the stature of the fulnss of the knowledge of the Son of God. There is no putting on the armor with it. It is, in fact, the mark of true salvation that the disciple matures in the knowledge of the Son. Both Hebrews, the end of 5 and the beginning of 6, and Ephesians, instructs us as to this matter. The lesser doctrines (not dispensable), are to be learned. But, there is more. That is where many have failed.

    For instance, what is grace? What is meant by predestination, election, monergism, synergism, what is theology proper, soteriology, etc, and how do we then defend the reality of these theologies from Scripture. There is elite knowledge in each category, but it is not inaccessable to the blue-collar believer. The only thing that is necessary is for the gifted to translate to the disciples what the meaning is in terms that can be comprehended.

    Why is there controversy? Is it not because the information that should have been part of the SBC missiology of education has been withheld from the very people which were meant to be served by it. In other words, the questions about the DoG, or Calvinism versus Arminian tendency, should not come as a surprise. Proper education would have prevented much of the disruption. It is as if something new or foreign has been introduced into the SBC. When in fact, as was mentioned, Calvinisim isn’t new, it is the foundation of the SBC. The real crime is that the man in the pew has had that information delivered to him, and meaning has been withheld.

    The issues aside for a second of whether one system is true the other false or whatever critical analysis is made, the more basic issue, and one that is being played out by the expulsion of individuals for beliefs actually allowed in the BFM but which differ from the Arminian faction, is why the laity has be cheated out of a full growth ministry. I mean by that, this controversy should not be so divisive, and wouldn’t have been, had the leaders of the SBC done their job of education. Ignorance more than anything is destroying the flock, as it is written, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.”

    Our mission purpose has in this effect been largely abandoned. The reactionary stance of the common man in the pew is then to be expected. And, not only has the vital information been withheld, but as we are seeing, the truth is being supplanted by misinformation campaigns, whether intended or not. From reading the transcripts and listening to the tapes, one wonders if those who are paid to be faithful to educate have been educated themselves. That aside, the real answer, the only answer, to the division and disruption is open examination of the facts. If we could get past the defensive posturing (mostly from the majoritarians) and reengage what distinguished the Reformation from the Roman system, getting the truth to the people in their common language and understanding, and really explore the meaning of soul competency and of liberty, we could then move mountains or build bridges over them.

  • http://ToddonGod.com Todd Burus

    “I’d be interested in knowing, given my response, that the Calvinist and non-Calvinist view the doctrine of saving grace the same way. If they don’t, then which one glorifies the God of all grace?”

    Timmy,
    I don’t know if this is what you are looking for, but I found it interesting the way in which Jerry Vines described how saving faith works at J316C. He says, “It seems to me that God has given to every man a measure of faith . . . We use that faculty of faith every day. . . . Could it be that saving faith is a faith that is lifted to a higher level?”

    Similarly Paige Patterson articulated what could only be termed as prevenient grace in describing a situation with a blind, disoriented pilot that was drowning out to sea after a crash who still had senses enough left to simply reach out and hold onto the rescuers that had come to save him.

    This is, as far as I can tell, basic Wesleyan theology and a step short of pure synergism (in my opinion it is just masked synergism), which means it is for all intents and purposes semi-Pelagianism (right?). If this is the case, I think the question of which one is more glorifying to the God of all grace is a no brainer. (I am open to revision of this claim if people want to disgaree, but working on my own it seems like the most natural conclusion).

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    Perhaps, “doctrines of sovreign grace?”

    Newton’s Laws have been shown to be inaccurate at high velocity, high gravity, and subatomic levels, so, no, I’m not a Newtonist, but I have studied Newtonian physics.

    Timmy, I think complaining that some in the SBC are mean to Calvinists (gross oversimplification for space and time) is counterproductive and could end up only making things worse. Looking at your latest post, if the non-cooperative non-Calvinists over power the others, they could conceivably come to the conclusion that the only way to fix this division is to clean house at SBTS. That won’t help anyone.

    The theory that glorifies God most is the one that is correct. If Calvinist doctrines tell a nice story that isn’t true, God isn’t glorified. You may be right, you may be wrong, but simply painting a bigger picture of God’s sovreignty does not make you correct.

  • http://thirstytheologian.com David Kjos

    I wish someone would give an example of “militant, extreme, aggressive, disruptive Calvinism.” I hear the charge, but it’s never specified who is being accused. If this is not a straw man designed to incite fear, I’d like to know. I’m not SBC, so I don’t see these things first-hand, but from all public reports, I haven’t heard any actual descriptions of “militant, extreme, aggressive, disruptive” behavior of Calvinists. Who are these people?

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

    Chris, I’m coming in late on this conversation, but you wrote:
    “The theory that glorifies God most is the one that is correct.”
    Absolutely true – and I think everyone here would agree with that.
    “If Calvinist doctrines tell a nice story that isn’t true, God isn’t glorified.”
    True again. However, I think it is the Arminians that have the “nice story” from a humanistic perspective. Our observations are generally stereotyped as mean and ugly and making God a monster; certainly not as a nice story.
    “You may be right, you may be wrong”
    Well is he or isn’t he? That’s the crux, isn’t it, as you just indicated. He does have the weight of scripture in his favor.
    “but simply painting a bigger picture of God’s sovreignty does not make you correct.”
    True. However, painting a biblical picture of God’s sovereignty does make him correct.

  • davidtjordan

    I have a pastor friend who is now looking for work as a result of this very thing. Of course, the church gave other (and more lame) reasons, but nothing was awry until he began teaching a Piper study on Sun. nights. God forbid, right? Wow! Guess I didn’t know how widespread this was. It’s sad that a denomination that once held these doctrines in such high esteem has fallen to Arminian thought. Hello? Spurgeon?

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

    David,

    I am sorry to hear about your pastor friend. Yes, it is widespread and very disheartening, but God is faithful and will work out all things for the good of His people.

  • http://bororean.blogspot.com John

    David Miller’s entire letter to Jerry Vines has been published, I first found it at Peter Lumpkin’s blog and have seen it at other blogs as well and I put it on my blog as well.
    http://bororean.blogspot.com/2008/12/chameleon-theology.html