My Take on the “Baptist Battle of Calvinism”

Tim Brister —  June 17, 2013 — 21 Comments

In October 2006, Dr. Jerry Vines preached a series of sermons at First Baptist Church, Woodstock entitled “Baptist Battles.” The four main battles which comprised this series were the battle over Liberalism, Pentecostalism, “Libertinism” (alcohol), and Calvinism. To use the term “battle” might be edgy rhetoric for Southern Baptists since the Conservative Resurgence (post 1979 era), but for the sake of this blogpost, I will concede to that term for the purpose of argument.

Dr. Danny Akin shared in his convention address last week what was a fear of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, namely that those fighting the legitimate battle for the Bible would eventually go back to the barracks and turn on one another (with fighting in their hearts). Perhaps there has been no greater evidence of this reality than that of the “battle over Calvinism.”

I am one who grew up in the middle of this battle. My first four years of ministry witnessed a surge of Reformed theology in college (1997-2001), followed by four years in the revivalist/anti-Calvinist culture (2001-2004). The third set of four years was spent at Southern Seminary when the term “young, restless, and reformed” generation was coined (2004-2008). In fact, in many ways my journey biographically was a microcosm of the larger narrative such that Collin Hansen (who wrote the book) shared a portion of my life story in his book. The fourth set of four years has been as a pastor of a confessionally Reformed church (2008-2012), where I continue to serve today.

As I mentioned in my reflections on #SBC13, the tone and conversation regarding Calvinism is perhaps the best it has been since I’ve been involved in Southern Baptist life. I took some time to reflect on the past 15 years, and I thought I’d share my big picture take on the “Baptist Battle of Calvinism.

1995-2005: The Fortress Years

I consider the decade 1995-2005 the “fortress years” of the Calvinism battle. It was a time period when the CR leadership were enjoying the fruits of their labors, firmly entrenched as entity heads and senior pastors of flagship churches, and controlled authorized media outlets to control the narrative of the SBC. They essentially “fortified” a position of anti-Calvinism through three main pillars: (1) Communications, (2) Conferences, and (3) Control of the SBC Bureaucracy.

I began my “Chronicle Compilation of the Calvinism Controversy in the SBC” roughly around 1995. Looking at this research, you will find how communications in these fortress years came primarily through Baptist state papers and editorials. Examples include Frank Stagg in The Baptist Record (MS), Glenn Brown in The Baptist Messenger (OK), Presnall Wood in The Baptist Standard (TX), Fisher Humphreys in the Theological Educator, Mark Wingfield in The Western Recorder (KY), Lloyd Melton in The Baptist Courier (SC), and William Estep in The Baptist Standard. Baptist Press aggregates many of these editorials and republished articles for a much broader audience. As you can see, articles came out in a relatively short period of time from across the Southern Baptist Convention. In addition to these articles, several books came out against Calvinism at this time, including Chosen but Free by Norman Geisler, Trouble with TULIP by Frank Page, God So Loved the World by Fisher Humphreys, What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt and The Other Side of Calvinism by Laurence Vance.

Alongside the strong influence of communications came the centralizing force of revivalism conferences. These conferences served as a rallying point for leading advocates for anti-Calvinism and fortified the thinking of those who attended on what side to take when it came to the Calvinism battle. During the four years I was involved in the revivalism movement (2001-2004), I attended a number of these conferences, include FBC Jax Pastors Conference (2x), Bailey Smith Real Evangelism Conference at FBC Woodstock (3x), and state evangelism conferences. Many of the most outspoken anti-Calvinists headlined these conferences, including Ergun Caner, Jerry Vines, Jerry Falwell, Johnny Hunt, Bailey Smith, Bob PItman, et al. (note: the position and approach of some of these men have changed over the years). I remember attending some conferences when there wasn’t one sermon that did not have a dedicated rant against Calvinism.

The third pillar of the Fortress Years was bureaucratic control. Conferences and communications helped with this. Communications helped shaped the narrative and influence the thinking of mainstream Southern Baptists, while conferences provided the platform to introduce any new candidates who would be securely appointed to serve at a high level position. These men were called “king makers” and it was typically introduced at the FBC Jax Pastors Conference (February) who would be their pick to be the next SBC President. The annual meeting pastor’s conference (day before the business meeting) would conclude with their nominee giving a resounding sermon almost serving as an acceptance speech.

There is one other important part of the Fortress Years, though I don’t consider it a pillar. It was more like an online hub. BaptistFire was a website dedicated to hosting all the anti-Calvinism articles and sermons in an accessible centralized location. It also highlighted churches who split over Calvinism and gave prominent placement on their website to show how deadly Calvinism is to splitting churches.

As you can see, this was a very significant decade of sowing and harvesting anti-Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention. From denominational entities to state conventions to local associations, the convention was fortified. From books to journal articles to state editorials, the message was clear: Calvinism was bad for the SBC. From evangelism conferences to pastors conferences to annual meeting addresses, the message was uniform: Calvinism is unbiblical, anti-evangelistic, and a man-made system. This Baptist battle strategy and system was a fortress indeed.

2005-2010: The Guerrilla Years

By referring to 2005-2010 as “The Guerrilla Years” I am specifically referring to the unconventional approach and irregular strategy taken to counter the fortress system in the SBC. 2005-2008 was the time when the tension was highest and the clashes seemed most regular. I argue that during this time all three pillars and the online hub of BaptistFire where unconventionally challenged by the Reformed resurgence.

The first pillar of communication has challenged by the advent of blogging in 2005. For a decade or longer, rarely if ever were the caricatures or misrepresentations of Calvinism held accountable to Scripture. Calvinists in the SBC did not have access to “authorized” channels of communication, so they went to the “unauthorized” and unconventional channel of blogging.

The day I think it all began was the pastor’s conference at the annual meeting in Nashville (2005) where Johnny Hunt spoke on election (June 20, 2005). By that time, Tom Ascol, James White, Joe Thorn, Gene Bridges, myself (and several others) had begun blogging. What would transpire over the next several years is a concerted effort to engage every attempt to marginalize or misrepresent Calvinism from Southern Baptist leaders through the open forum of the blogosphere, including sermons by Jack Graham, Bobby Welch, Steve Lemke, Steve Gaines, Jerry Vines, Ergun Caner, Roy Fish, Malcolm Yarnell, Bill Harrell, Nelson Price, Jerry Falwell, Morris Chapman, and several others (see compilation for links). For the first time, Calvinists were given the opportunity to challenge what was being said, providing a counter-argument from Scripture that would gain the hearing of Southern Baptists through unconventional methods such as SEO (search engine optimization) and social media (Twitter/Facebook).  Bottom line: the unauthorized communication strategy provide rapid fire responses, sustained engagement, and a flattened platform for Calvinists to speak to the issues and actually bring some “ammunition” to the “battle.”

One of the biggest weapons during the Fortress Years was how BaptistFire was used to educate pastors and DOM’s on the evils of Calvinism. In one state convention alone in 2005, 5 Calvinist pastors were removed from their churches with the aid of this website. Together with three other men, I helped form the group blog, Strange BaptistFire dedicated solely to correcting the errors and caricatures propagated through this website. SBF was launched May 1, 2006, and 10 days later (May 11, 2006), BaptistFire disappeared from the Internet never to be seen again. While this may sound like a small matter in the battle, the disappearance of BaptistFire from the Internet removed the online hub for anti-Calvinism on the Internet and removed one of the primary weapons used in the trenches of local church life.

The second pillar challenged was the centralizing force of conference culture. In 2006, Together For the Gospel held its first conference with 3,000+ Reformed pastors attending. Over the next six years, this conference would grow to 8,000+ pastors, with more than half being from the SBC and under 40. Other conferences become a popular centralizing force for the Reformed community in the SBC, including the Desiring God National Conference, The Gospel Coalition National Conference, and Acts 29 Bootcamps. Another unconventional method of centralizing and “arming” the Reformed community was through the seminaries of the SBC. I happened to be attending one during this time, and it goes without saying that the student bodies of several of our seminaries were well-informed Biblically and equipped to engage the doctrinal and theological issues from and exegetical and historical vantage point. Revivalism conferences had given way to Reformed conferences, though they did not come with the authorized badge of the SBC.

The third pillar challenged was the control of the SBC bureaucracy. This aspect of the “battle” has lasted much longer than the other two pillars, but the biggest breakthrough came early in the 2006 Greensboro Convention when Frank Page (the dark horse candidate) won the presidential election on first ballot. The king-maker’s nomination lost, and Frank Page credited a significant role to the SBC blogosphere for helping him win the nomination. Although an outspoken non-Calvinist, Dr. Frank Page pledged to be a unifier, not a divider. He proved to listen to both sides, including Calvinists, though he did not agree with their soteriology. In doing so, Dr. Page won the respect of many Calvinists with his cooperative spirit and commitment to lead the convention in a healthy direction in the midst of such heightened “battles.” By the end of 2010, most of the anti-Calvinists had resigned, retired, or been replaced in the bureaucracy from a national level, including Morris Chapman who had served 18 years as President and CEO of the Executive Committee (and controlled Baptist Press).

In summary, from 2005-2007, the SBC blogosphere became the unconventional method of countering the fortified SBC. From 2008-2010, the SBC twitterverse became the new unconventional method for communicating and changing the narrative of the convention. Where the revivalism conferences were attracting the over 40 generation of seasoned pastors, the reformed conferences were attracted the under 40 generation of church planters. While the fortress culture attended the authorized pastors conferences, the reformed community was attending the unauthorized auxiliary conferences of IX Marks at 9, B21 Luncheons, and Founders Breakfasts. While the fortress culture had the authorized “SBC Tapes”, the guerrilla years of bloggers and conference planners promoted free mp3′s and podcasts, created video channels on YouTube and Vimeo and did it all for free. In just about every way, the Fortress years had become dismantled.

2011-2013: The Diplomacy Years

By the end of 2010, the battle over Calvinism started to wane. Resolutions and motions could still be heard from the convention floor. Books and blogposts were still being written. Conferences still were being attended. But there was a weariness and a ripe moment for a new narrative to garner the interest of Southern Baptists, and that new narrative was the call for a Great Commission Resurgence (GCR). Leading up to this moment (2008-2010), there were two competing visions for the SBC: the Baptist Identity (BI) movement, and the GCR movement. In 2008, each side had a candidate for the presidency of the SBC (Frank Cox for BI, and Johnny Hunt for GCR). Calvinists in the SBC largely supported Johnny Hunt, even though, like Frank Page, he was a non-Calvinist. But also like Frank Page, Johnny Hunt wanted to be a uniter, not a divider. His rhetoric had long changed since 2005, and he had begun befriending Calvinists in the SBC like Mark Dever and Tom Ascol. After Johnny Hunt won the 2008 election, the GCR narrative was in full swing, and its focus became a unifying point for Calvinist and non-Calvinist to rally around the Great Commission. This was the first diplomatic effort by both sides to work together for the good of the SBC (note: there was previously a “Building Bridges” conference hosted by Founders Ministries, SEBTS, and LifeWay in 2006 which was quite constructive, but the focus was theological whereas the GCR was missiological).

A second significant diplomatic move was the formation of the Calvinism Advisory Council by Dr. Frank Page. The CAC was to meet several times between the 2012-2013 annual meetings and draft a consensus statement that could be signed and supported by all members of the committee. Members of this committee included Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Tom Ascol, and Timothy George from the Calvinist side, and Paige Patterson, David Allen, Eric Hankins, Johnny Hunt, and Steve Lemke from the non-Calvinist/Traditionalist side. Together on stage, these men (and woman) stood shoulder-to-shoulder in public affirmation of this statement, spearheaded by Dr. David Dockery (self-described as a “Calminian”). What this statement does not do is water down or appease each side by eliminating the convictions or failing to recognizing the tensions that have existed on both sides of the “battle.” What this statement does do is say that we can address the issue of Calvinism in a manner that humbly and respectfully honors the brothers and sisters on the other side by representing their views accurately and recognizing there is much for which we can actually agree as cooperating, confessional, Southern Baptists.

2013-Onward: What Lies Ahead

I believe the SBC is in the best place regarding its tone and attitude toward Calvinism in my lifetime (ironically, I was born in 1979, the year of the birth of the Conservative Resurgence). In many ways, and with many people, things have changed. I know I have. There is a sense in which my blog is biographical and historical at the same time. It tells some of my story as well as some of the larger history of the SBC. I think others have changed as well. I think if you would ask men like Frank Page and Johnny Hunt if they are addressing Calvinism differently now than they did 5-10 years ago, I think they would say yes. I don’t think any of us have handled our beliefs and convictions perfectly, and where I’ve fallen short of virtue and honorable discourse, I want to repent and change course. That does not mean I hold my beliefs and convictions any less strongly or passionately than before. Rather, it has to deal with how I hold my beliefs and am learning ways to engage more constructively for the edification of all who take part.

There are pockets in the SBC where the Baptist battle still rages on. In several state conventions, Calvinist churches planters are not considered for funding through the Cooperative Program because of their beliefs. In local associations, I have heard first-hand accounts where the Director of Missions (DOM) acts as a local bishop, presiding over local church search committees and pre-filtering any resume from Southern Seminary or hints of Calvinistic influences. There are Baptist state colleges removing Calvinist faculty without warrant or justification. The battle is not over, and I think we would be naive and historically ignorant to think it would be over, even in our lifetime.

But what we can do is chart a course where we can robustly discuss theology face to face and then join hand in hand to take the gospel to the world. We should not shrink back because of the bruises and wounds from the battle line and think the best approach is to avoid theology altogether. Rather, we should have charitable pre-commitments that afford us opportunity to engage the Scriptures and one another without pretense, personal agenda or even having to win the argument. What I have come to find is that both sides have their own version of rigid fundamentalism, and I would rebuke a rigid fundamentalist Calvinist as I would a rigid fundamentalist Traditionalist (e.g., the majority of people I’ve blocked on Twitter are angry Calvinists with strong fundamentalism).

I believe we are at a unique moment in contemporary history of the SBC. I guess you could say this is a “kairos” moment that we should all seek to steward well. I am personally not interested in reliving the past. While it is not something I will forget, that does mean that is something I would like to repeat. And we don’t have to. So my appeal to Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike is to lean into what lies ahead with faith in what God is going to do through us together, hope in how God is going to grow us together, and love one another in a way that is genuine and sincere. After all, Jesus said the world will know that we belong to Him when they see that love in action. There is a world that needs to know that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Our message of reconciliation is their only hope, and our ministry of reconciliation is our chief responsibility to discharge. May God lead us to spend and be spent on the battle for the souls of men and women, as C.T. Studd would exhort us: “Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell, but I want to set up my rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

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21 responses to My Take on the “Baptist Battle of Calvinism”

  1. This was a fun and informative read. Thanks for it. All kinds of nostalgia washing over me as I lived much of this during the mid-90s before I jumped ship from the SBC.

    My older brother, who attended Florida Baptist Theological College (now Baptist Bible College of Florida) and then Spurgeon Baptist Bible College, was himself in the center of all of this much like you, Tim. (Though he does recall that the former simply ignored his merry band of Calvinists, save for Bill Cook, who encouraged him in his pursuit.) There was such a small, huddled outcast feel to the whole thing that was somewhat empowering, not least which included the feeling that we had locked on to the truth of the matter.

    The church at which we grew up, Bell Shoals Baptist in Brandon, Fla., itself came to reflect this battle on a microcosmic scale—not so much with the senior pastor and others but between established teachers and young, upstart Calvinists who started to lead Bible studies, etc.

  2. Exceptional write up Tim!

  3. Thanks for this, Tim. I enjoyed reading the backstory, and it helps me see how this particular “debate” has progressed. Like you, I was born in 1979. However, Christ did not save me until the age of 27. Now at the age of 33 I am attending Boyce online while continuing to work at my job. It will be a long time until I attain an MDIV, but the calling of God comes when He wills, and not when I do.

    This helps me better understand some of the folks in my church, which is decidedly non-calvinist. I am a bit of an island there, and yet we love each other and work together. It’s good to know where some of them have been in these debates, and where the convention has been. I’m glad to see many of us working together for the Gospel, rather than separating over side-bar discussions on the nature of saving grace.

  4. To be fair about the plug to the DOM and the Co-op, as a recent Calvinist but a believer for six years (I’m 24), I know of SBC Calvinist missionaries who have blocked out non-Calvinists from working with them because they don’t believe they would hold Scripture as reverently as they do. It actually hurt my husband and me deeply, especially because they didn’t know we weren’t Calvinists when they told us this. We also know of SBC Calvinist churches that would never consider non-Calvinist pastors or other ministers for their church. Would your church consider a non-Calvinist pastor to shepherd them? I’m assuming not, but I am curious about the answer.

    • Vanessa,

      I’m sorry to hear that you were hurt by being blocked from the mission field. One thing that is confusing to me is that you argue Calvinists on the mission field blocked non-Calvinists (assuming you and your husband) from being missionaries while in the next sentence you said that they didn’t know you weren’t Calvinists. If you are referring to yourself in the first sentence, then your following sentence seems to exonerate them of the charges you make.

      Regarding local churches, they are autonomous and can be governed however they seem fit. Our church has a confession of faith for members (1833 NHC) and elders (1689 LBC). These are confessions voted and approved by the congregation, and any prospective minister would be required to believe and teaching according to our confessions of faith.

      • Let me clarify. We go to a reformed church and at one time we weren’t reformed ourselves. We went to serve missionaries from our church during our “pre-reformation” and they said “we would never work with anyone who was not reformed.” They had “blocked” others who were not reformed from working with them, (it’s possible to do in the IMB). This was a comment in response to “In local associations, I have heard first-hand accounts where the
        Director of Missions (DOM) acts as a local bishop, presiding over local
        church search committees and pre-filtering any resume from Southern
        Seminary or hints of Calvinistic influences.” – after re-reading this I realize that you meant a local association filtering for funding, but the mention of “resume” made it seem as though this was a DOM for a specific church looking at specific resumes from prospective pastors for the DOM’s specific church. The wording was a tad confusing. I think that’s cleared up though. My point was that Calvinists do it to, but it’s not really comparing apples to apples at this point.

        • Vanessa:

          Thanks for the clarification. I think I understand where you are coming from. Before I was a Calvinist, I had a college student and friend happened to be a Calvinist who said to me one day in a hotel lobby, “Tim, God will not use you to the degree He could because you are not a five-point Calvinist.” I was really taken back by that. I thought it was wrong-headed then and now. He basically was trying to say that my understanding (or lack thereof) of the gospel necessarily kept me from being useful in the kingdom. Such a conversation, as bothersome as it was then, has proved helpful to me now that I am a Calvinist for friends who are not.

          • Agreed – it does help. It undermines the idea of the doctrines of grace (especially when you’re sharing with someone else!) if you have the mindset that you are “privileged” or something special because you have a “right theology.” Thanks for the great post. I’m kinda curious about what was going on with the IMB during this – but that’s a whole different animal.

          • Tim,

            “Tim, God will not use you to the degree He could because you are not a five-point Calvinist.” That statement makes absolutely NO SENSE and is really contrary to your own theological position. For the consistent calvinist, God uses people according to His purpose not your predisposition.

            So, your next statement is equally inconsistent: “Such a conversation, as bothersome as it was then, has proved helpful to me now that I am a Calvinist for friends who are not.”

            Come on; one minute God is completely sovereign and the next He is limited by your mindset? I do not think so. We are all responsible for our choices.

            Period. I do agree with Vanessa as she says, Agreed – it does help. It undermines the idea of the doctrines of grace (especially when you’re sharing with someone else!) if you have the mindset that you are “privileged” or something special because you have a “right theology.”

            There is definitively this idea among you guys that you are indeed “privileged or something special” because you have a “right theology.” So sad but so true.

          • Bob,

            Seriously? Did you actually read my comment? I was referring to what *someone else* was saying to me at a time when I was a non-Calvinist. I became a Calvinist in spite of such comments, which further proves God’s absolute sovereignty. Unless you can interact with my comments with any more carefulness than this, I honestly do not know how engaging you to any degree would profitable for the discussion and to all listening in.

            The comment was helpful because I knew how unhelpful such statements are/were since I was on the receiving end of them as a non-Calvinist. As I have attempted to explain here with Vanessa and others, I want to engage non-Calvinist more charitably and with an appeal to Scripture/exegesis.

            As for the charges about “you guys” ( I assume me and other Calvinists in the SBC), I am happy to let my life and engagements with other non-Calvinists speak for itself. My hope is that 1 Pet 3:16 will be applicable here: “having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”

            You have questioned and challenged me on Twitter, and I have been willing to sincerely respond and engage you on the merits of your questions. However, I am second-guessing the wisdom of doing such if this is the kind of response I receive from you.

          • Tim,

            I did read your comment and in reading your explanation, I see my error and apologize. The comment that I was referring too could be taken two ways and I took it the WRONG way. This does point to the inadequacies of blogging… it is easy to read into one comment the context of many others and not only between individuals, but groups as well.

            Please accept my apology; I do find most of our jabbing back and forth, which sometimes is more tongue and cheek at times especially on twitter, good and appreciate your responses. We do disagree on what I believe to be serious aspects of what the Scriptures teach, but that does not need to serve as a reason to be uncivil to one another.

            Please accept my apology.

          • Bob,

            Thank you for responding and apologizing. Know that I receive it and will not be dwelling on this. I am hopeful that these issues can be discussed meaningfully and charitably in the future. Thanks again.

      • And – I knew that about autonomy of churches in the SBC.

  5. Tim, thanks for the thoughtful approach to these issues.

    The conservative resurgence is responsible for all of this! So, let’s back your timeline up a bit.

    In the 80′s it once again became fashionable as a Baptist to believe the Bible. The seminaries began to be staffed and led by men who believed in inerrancy. Respect for God’s words was renewed.

    So, as a result, in the 90′s there was a revival of expository preaching led by men like; Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, John Macarthur, Haddon Robinson, Stephen Olford, Harold Bryson, Bryan Chapell and others. Since it was now ok to believe the Bible it was now ok to teach the Bible, the whole Bible.

    The resurgence of what is currently referred to as Calvinism is a direct result of expository preaching. So many young preachers (I bet I’m telling your story, Tim) got out of seminary with a passion to teach clear Bible truth. They get to their first assignment and try to figure out where to start. Many start in Romans because it presents the Gospel of grace so clearly. They dive right in, preaching all the doctrines they had been taught all the way up to chapter eight. Then they get to Romans 9. Whoah. Wait a minute. They didn’t cover this very well in seminary. Now what? Hmmm. They dig deeper and find the doctrine of election and the Sovereignty of God run parallel to the doctrine of choice and the free will of man. They are forever changed.

    I have found that it predictable that a calvinist leaning preacher is usually expositional and an armeninan leaning preacher is usually topical.

    I appreciate that there are men engaged in this “battle” that are more committed to honesty with the scriptures than to our own ideas.

  6. ManfredtheWonderDog June 26, 2013 at 8:17 am

    As I posted on The Founders blog, I was glad to see the lack of vitriol that has characterized this discussion but I am at a loss to explain how Al Mohler and Tom Ascol could approve a document that states agreement on the false statement that God loves everyone and wants to save everyone. That’s a compromise too far.

  7. dr. james willingham July 2, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    I would call attention to what Dr. Paige Patterson wrote on Election on SBC Today in the Fall of 2012 and my response to it in May of 2013 on the same blog, indicating that Patterson had written an article that even a Calvinist would like and that he actually pointed the way for the two groups, Calvinists and Traditionalists, to come together on in unity and amity. After all, if the aim of the biblical teaching of election is to promote humility, then there is nothing there for any one to be in dismay. I was really surprised by Patterson’s article, brief as it was, and by Norm Miller’s fair-handed and excellent editing of what I had written. I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening every since the Fall of 1973, when I addressed the Pastors Prayer Meeting of the Sandy Creek Baptist Church on the subject, A Great Awakening. I also addressed them on the 5th and 10 anniversaries of that prayer meeting on the subject, A Third Great Awakening. Since I began praying, I have seen the raising up of so many Sovereign Grace/Calvinistic ministers and ministers, both in and out of the SBC, and some of them seem to bespeak the power of Spurgeon. I have also been praying for the cessation of hostilities between the Calvinists and Traditionalists, based upon the Union of Separate and Regular Baptists, circa 1787-1800, who set the tone for the whole SBC, when it began. When I began praying for a Third Great Awakening, I never really thought about the theology although I knew that Sovereign Grace was the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions (read Luther Rice’s Memoirs by Taylor of Va.). While it is natural rather for differing perspectives to clash, the influence of Jonathan Edwards in getting Whitefield to cease his attack on the unconverted ministry and the efforts of Whitefield to resolve the differences between him and Wesley are reasons enough for the SBC to consider working together in peace, providing that they give each other the freedom to preach as God leads them. What we want is the freedom to thinking through our takes on the teachings of God’s word, to be able to change our minds, and, except for a total departure from the word of God, we want to continue to be accepted. This really accords with our doctrine of religious liberty, and it was exemplified in J. P. Boyce’s answer to a more Arminian student who objected to his Calvinism to the effect that he wished he could persuade the young man. Note the idea of persuade.
    As matters continue and as the time of the visitation grows near, like Spurgeon (cf,. Evening by Evening for Aug. 6 & Dec. 24) I have begun to pray for the conversion of the whole earth and every soul on it and that for a thousand generations plus perhaps millions and billions of planets as mankind spreads to the stars (cf. Dr. John Owen’s The Death of Death in The Death of Christ). I should also note that not only has the original theology began to come back, it is now taking on a more peaceful and conciliatory tones along with the increasing concern for the intellectual, something that I had not expected and yet a necessity if we are to answer the critics of today.

  8. Tim,
    You might mention the unhelpful, expensive, and divisive “John 3:16″ conference, launched in response to the Founders Ministries’ “Building Bridges.”
    http://timmybrister.wordpress.com/tag/john-316-conference/
    Thank you,
    Hugh McCann

  9. [Howdy, Tim. Spied this little piece on Google & would love reactions to it.]

    Just wondering if Dr. Patterson and other dispy SBC leaders have ever
    Googled “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” and
    “Pretrib Rapture Stealth.” The last item has enough passages from Acts
    etc. to blow the pretrib rapture all the way back to 1830 and to the
    doorstep in Scotland of Margaret Macdonald!

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