Steve Lemke Compilation

Tim Brister —  November 3, 2008 — 17 Comments

I know most of you are totally uninterested in the upcoming John 3:16 Conference or addressing Dr. Steve Lemke’s egregious errors, but I felt that it was important to make the previous posts readily accessible to anyone who would like to read my interaction and responses to Lemke’s article, “What Is a Baptist? Nine Marks That Separate Baptists from Presbyterians” (in the Fall edition of The Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry). Therefore, I have listed the articles for you below with the dates which they were written.

1. Steve Lemke and Christian Scholarship (September 30, 2008)
2. Steve Lemke on Collin Hansen and Provocation (October 2, 2008)
3. Steve Lemke on “Four Streams” of Calvinism, Part 1 (October 3, 2008)
4. Steve Lemke on “Four Streams” of Calvinism, Part 2 (October 6, 2008)
5. Steve Lemke on Total Depravity (October 7, 2008)
6. Steve Lemke on TULIP (October 10, 2008)
7. Steve Lemke on Timothy George and ROSES (October 13, 2008)
8. Steve Lemke on Bethlehem Baptist Church, Baptism, and Church Membership (October 14, 2008)
9. Lemke’s Remarks and My Response Regarding Bethlehem Baptist Church (October 16, 2008)

There are still several points yet to address (such as his take on libertarian free will, decisional regeneration, and failure to understand the difference between infant salvation and infant baptism in Presbyterianism), but I felt that I have sufficiently shown in the nine previous articles the failure of Lemke to deal honestly and accurately with the subject matter at hand (Calvinism). I will likely create a button on the side bar linking to this page for future retrieval. If you would like to have all my responses in one downloadable document (27-page PDF), click here.

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  • “The five points are conveniently memorized through the acronym TULIP, which, since the late nineteenth century, has been a common way of summarizing and teaching Reformed soteriology. But the acronym has week points: it rearranges the order of the Canons of Dort and simplifies them. The canons say a great deal more than is represented by TULIP, and they say it with more vitality and in a better order.” Joel R. Beeke, Living for God’s Glory, pp. 50-51

  • Timmy,

    This John 3:16/Building Walls Conference is (irregardless of the disclaimer issued to the contrary) nothing less than an Anti-Calvinism conference. The fact that they even issued a disclaimer is telling… can anyone even remember a single conference in the past where the leadership felt compelled to give a disclaimer?

    The Calvinist is defined by what they believe, the Anti-Calvinist (in this case the Hyper-Anti-Calvinist) are defined by what they do not believe. The Calvinist hold conferences and go to great lengths to explain exactly what they believe. The Anti-Calvinist hold conferences and go to great lengths, not to explain what they believe, but to tell everyone what those Calvinist believe and why those Calvinist are wrong and not to be trusted.

    If the Calvinist did this, hold conferences to tell everyone what those Anti-Calvinist believe and why those Anti-Calvinist are wrong and not to be trusted, the Convention would be in an uproar… no, uproar is not quite strong enough a word… the Convention would just explode! Yea, EXPLODE!

    I think it would be good to hold a conference in response to the John 3:16… How about the BFM Conference? The speakers (all Calvinist of course) could explain what the BFM actually teaches and the fact that these Anti-Calvinist don’t even believe what is expressed in their own statement of faith.

    Timmy, I hope you will be bloging on this John 3:16/Building Walls Conference?

    Grace Always,

  • Jerad

    Timothy, if you haven’t seen this yet, you may be interested in a review of the “Building Bridges” conference done by a SWBTS professor. It is found at:

  • Jerad,

    I have seen it, but I am not sure if “interesting” is the best word to describe it. 🙂 David Allen is scheduled to speak against Limited Atonement at the John 3:16 Conference, presumably something similar to what he did at the 2008 FBC JAX Pastor’s Conference earlier this year. Par for the course for SWBTS.

    NOBTS and SWBTS have built their own agenda and are sticking to it, even when the rest of the SBC is going a different direction. I hope that Johnny Hunt as president will not follows the path of his friend Jerry Vines or tolerate the shenanigans of these Baptist isolationists.

  • Carl

    One question for Dr. Allen with regards to his review of the Building Bridges: Where in Scripture (specifically in the New Testament) where in preaching the gospel to a nonchristian he was told “Christ died for you…” ? As far as I know no one used this language- but I’m ready to be corrected.

  • Carl,

    That’s an excellent question. As a follow up, I would be interested in knowing how the universal love of God in general atonement fits with the apostolic preaching of the gospel as seen in the early church. Where is that found in Acts, for example?

  • Lemke and a lot of NOBTS professors are unable to come to a reasonable definition of terms used. Specifically, most NOBTS guys (but not all) have tremendous trouble differentiating between someone who is a “full 5-point Calvinist” and a “hyper-calvinist”, so that Calvinists like Spurgeon are called “moderate Calvinists”. The thought is that if he were a “full Calvinist” he wouldn’t evangelize.

    In a message board for the NOBTS class dealing with the John 3:16 conference, Lemke’s ridiculous assertion that Founders churches are less evangelistic came up. One student responded that the “Calvinists don’t evangelize” argument was undermined by William Carey, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and a host of others. As part of Lemke’s response, he said that Carey was persuaded not to go to the mission field by Calvinists. Again, a failure to distinguish between hyper-Calvinists and others.

    At the end of the day, the effort to not distinguish between hyper-Calvinism and full Calvinisim lacks integrity. As Christians debating issues, we ought to have higher integrity than to grossly misrepresent the other side in order to make our side look better.

    Needless to say, after I finish my undergraduate work at Leavell College (NOBTS), I will be looking elsewhere for my Master’s.

  • Tyler,

    Four brief things in response:

    1. You are not the first who has communicated to me via the blog and email that they will be looking elsewhere for theological education, largely in part to Lemke’s example.

    2. My stats tell me that several from that NOBTS message board have visited in recent weeks. I hope they receive a balanced perspective on Lemke’s lopsided caricatures.

    3. The terminology has always been used as a power play in the SBC. If you can define (or redefine) the terms, you are halfway to winning an argument. If it isn’t hyper, then it is extreme, or aggressive, or “five point,” or something else. I have become convinced that the anti-Calvinists are far less concerned in seeking understanding as much as they are playing the label game for their own purposes.

    4. If you look at the demographics of the John316 conference and the trends of NOBTS and SWBTS verses SBTS and SEBTS, you will find where the future of the SBC can be found.

  • John Doe


    I’m writing anonymously because I am an NOBTS student and I don’t care to make my name known. I don’t plan on disparaging anyone so I don’t think my name is important, but let it suffice to say that I’ve spent quite a bit of time at NOBTS, certainly far more than Tyler. What many, including you Timmy, may not realize was the impact that Hurricane Katrina had on the faculty of NOBTS. Not only did it wipe out most of the housing on campus, it also robbed the school of at least four theology and/or biblical studies faculty members who were Calvinists. They have either not been replace, or replaced with non-Calvinists. I don’t think that makes Lemke or Kelley bad administrators. No one said SBC seminary faculties needed to be balanced like the Supreme Court. However, I would find it quite probable (as I knew very well 3 of the 4 faculty members who left) that these faculty members would have personally confronted Lemke over his article. In addition, another theology faculty member (although not a Calvinist) who left not long after Katrina (though not because of the storm) who happens to be speaking at John 3.16 as well would have at least challenged Lemke on his errors. While they mostly agree theologically, they are miles apart as it pertains to treating issues fairly. I have had multiple classes with Lemke and, as it pertains to Calvinism, he has absolutely no objectivity. He is unfair towards Calvinists and I actually saw him railroad a student’s presentation on the issue of free will and compatiblism. NOBTS, pre-Katrina, was the largest of the 6 SBC seminaries and, in my opinion, was the best place to study because the theology and biblical studies faculty was evenly balanced on the issue of Calvinism and because the city was a great place for ministry. Since there has been such an exodus of good faculty members (though I think some fine men and women are still there), I no longer recommend the school to students looking for an education (which saddens me, by the way).

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