Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Drs. Mohler and Patterson to debate Calvinism



This is something you would never have dreamed about 20 years ago. Recently it was announced that Drs. Al Mohler and Paige Patterson will take a session at the 2006 Pastors' Conference prior to the annual Southern Baptist Convention in Greensboro, NC to debate Calvinism. While some will no doubt be very nervous to hear about these plans, such a debate holds promise of accomplishing much good in SBC life.

Why do I say that? It is not because I am persuaded that "our side" will "win" such a debate. Nor is it because I think this event will expose errors in the anti-Calvinism schemes. Rather, I think this holds great hope for being beneficial for two reasons. First, it will be helpful simply because it will be a theological debate. Southern Baptists will actually be sponsoring an event that intentionally and formally is examining theological issues. Many Southern Baptists--especially younger Southern Baptists--are weary of the constant pep rallies for denominational programs that take up so much of the agenda at the annual SBC meeting. There is a great desire for something more substantive, something that examines foundational issues which have long been neglected by denominational leadership. A debate about Calvinism could well provide an opportunity for that to happen.


Secondly, I am hopeful about this announced event because Drs. Mohler and Patterson are friends. I fully expect that their exchange--regardless of how formal or informal the format--will provide a model for theological dialogue. Our day has all but lost the art (and Christian responsibility) of disagreeing strongly about important matters without writing your opponent out of the kingdom. This is especially true when the subject is Calvinism and it is equally true of those on both sides of the issue. An example of Christian leaders talking pointedly, pressing biblical arguments determinedly and disagreeing strongly (assuming that this will be the case) can only be a helpful thing for modern Southern Baptists. It will be great to see 2 Southern Baptist seminary presidents leading the way in this kind of effort.

I will make a couple of predictions: 1. This debate will draw larger crowds than any other session at the Pastors' Conference or the SBC meeting. 2. Some denominational leader will lament that fact. In addition, I would suspect that the average age of those attending the debate will be much younger than the average age that attends the 2 days of SBC meetings.

I have no details about this event. Watch for the announcements of pre-convention meetings.

55 comments:

Chip said...

This is remarkable news! I can't tell you how excited I am to hear that SBC leaders will engage in a theological debate (and especially one on this topic).

Recently I posted here asking for help in teaching this topic to a men's group from my church (thank you so much to those of you who have provided resources to me: Gene in particular). In our first meeting I emphasized that this issue, while sometimes contentious, does not have to be divisive. It will be a joy to share with these men that two of our seminary presidents are not only on opposite sides of the issue and willing to engage in a dialogue, but are friends as well.

I would ask for your prayers as I lead 7 or 8 men from our church through Timothy George's "Amazing Grace: God's Initiative -- Our Response." They are all (for the moment) firmly in the Arminian camp but have expressed a willingness to be guided by Scripture and appear ready to take an honest look. I'm looking forward to it.

GeneMBridges said...

Yoo-Hoo! Correction to your article: Greensboro is in NC, not SC! Gosh, we don't get much attention around here, don't go cussing us by putting us in SC! ;)

I will certainly be in attendance, being that I live in Winston-Salem.

Tom said...

Gene:

Oops! I must be geographically challenged!

YnottonY said...

Another benefit might be that the recent caricatures of "Calvinism" may be corrected. If both men fight fair over the ideas, there should be a clarification as to what the actual positions are. Given the recent sermons you have posted on, many just need to understand what the biblical claims are to begin with.

Tony K. said...

IF my memory is correct these two are not the opposite sides of the issue, only a disagreement on the meaning of foreknowledge and the particular redemption of the elect. Should be thrilling either way if it lives up to the hype. (Being a 28y old I am one of those tired about the hype driven programs at denominational events.) Tomy, thanks for the blog.

YnottonY said...

By the way, when I attended Criswell College back in 1992, I recall hearing Daniel Akin in class say that Patterson once tried to call himself a 2 pointer. Akin said that he corrected Patterson by pointing out that he was really a 3 pointer. Irresistable Grace and Limited Atonement were, no doubt, the problematic ones.

Here's my prediction. R. L. Dabney sums up what will happen in the debate:

"If God makes proposals of mercy to men, who, he foresees, will certainly reject them and perish, and whom he immutably purposes to leave without effectual calling, how can his power and wisdom be cleared, save at the expense of his sincerity? or his sincerity at the expense of his wisdom or power? This is obviously the point in the Reformed or Augustinian theology most difficult of adjustment...It is against this point that the most persistent attacks of Arminians are still made. "It is at this point," says Dr. A. A. Hodge's Atonement, "very wisely, as we think, the Arminian erects his main citadel. We freely admit that just here the advocates of that system are able to present a greater number and variety of texts which appear to favor the distinguishing principles of their system than they are able to gather in vindication of any other of their main positions." . . . "Then gathering together their scriptural evidence for the general and indefinite design of the Atonement, they proceed with great appearance of force to argue inferentially against the outflanked Calvinistic positions of unconditional election and efficacious grace."

Dabney goes on to solve the problem with the greatest skill that I've seen, and hopefully Mohler will follow his example.

Eric M Schumacher said...

I know you said that you have no details...but where was it announced?

Nathan White said...

Your right Tony, Foreknowledge and Particular Redemption are the two issues that divide either side. But I think we all know that the whole system breaks down completely upon claiming foreknowledge. Let's pray that Mohler rightly calls a spade a spade.

Actually though, I've heard each of these men speak on this topic. By all accounts Mohler should destroy him in the Q&A session. I don't really think it'll be much of a debate if Mohler is even half-awake.

Even still, I honestly have my doubts as to whether men from either side will be swayed by this dialogue. Unfortunately, on this topic many stick to their guns no matter what gets lobbed over the fence. I mean, can we really expect men like Adrian Rodgers and Johnny Hunt to forsake 30+ years of their ministry? They would have to recognize their entire ministry as being erroneous in this area if they changed sides. Not very likely. The younger crowd however, might be a different story.

Nevertheless, praise God that there is going to be some dialogue!

SDG

Steve Weaver said...

Exciting news! Thanks for letting us know! I am prayerfully hopeful that this will help end the vitriolic language coming from the prominent pulpits of the SBC. I'm not sure how many minds can be changed in a debate format. Both sides will probably just become more entrenched in their positions. Undoubtedly however, there are some who are undecided on this issue and this debate could help propel them in one direction or the other.

Let us pray that at the very least open dialogue and humble respect of each others positions will be the result of this exchange. Since I know the graciousness of both Drs. Mohler and Patterson, I'm sure (fairly, hopefully) this will be the final result.

I hope Jack Graham, Adrian Rogers, Johnny Hunt, Steve Gaines and Jerry Vines are in attendance!

Michael Spencer said...

Tom and friends,

this is a great moment for the younger leaders and Founder's influenced pastors. First, it is simply significant that theology would be given a place at the annual meeting. In the tide of Baptize-a-million promotions, this will demonstrate that the hunger that exists out there for God to be given his place in our denomination.

Second, it is a special moment for Dr. Mohler, who has earned the opportunity to speak to all Southern Baptists at that meeting by his service in so many ways.

Thirdly, I agree with whoever said that the place will be full of a younger crowd. I saw this at a debate on Calvinism at Southland Christian (Lexington) several years ago, where over a thousand college and seminary aged students attended and stayed long afterward for questions.

It's just a great moment, and I believe it will be historic.

Brian Hamrick said...

Wow! Exciting news. I'll be thinking about attending the convention this year.

I grew a lot of respect for Patterson in listening to him interact with Mark Dever on some of the 9 Marks' media.

It will be so good for us to move the discussion off the web for a while and have it face to face among our leaders in a loving manner. I am confident both of these men will honor God with the attitude they bring to this debate.

Puritan Fan said...

Finally...actual theological dialogue instead of misdirected, emotional rhetoric. I had no interest in going to Nashville this year, but I may make the trip to NC just for this.

Joshua said...

Obviously, this is great news and we can all think of questions that come to mind about this. Tom, you may not have these answers yet, but, is this going to be a formal, traditional debate format with cross-examination or will it be more of a discussion? Will there be audience participation through Q&A? What sides will the two men be representing? Will they debate just 2 points or will Paige be defending 5 point Arminianism?
This obviously is great news, knowing this will be discussed. It's an answer to prayer for those of us praying and hoping for reformation. We should also commit this event to prayer that God would use it for His honor and for the edification and education of His people.

Jim from OldTruth.com said...

That's excellent. And Dr. Mohler has an ideal personality for this. He's not going to go over and start strangling the opponent - as I would be tempted to do, while shouting "why cant you see this!!!" :-)

Scripture Searcher said...

YES, the proposed debate on this important subject will be one of the highlights of the 2006 conference.

I agree with Tom's two predictions and further predict that the tape/video of this major historical debate will be one of the most "sought after" recordings by those unable to attend and hear it in person.

Let us pray that the proposed debate becomes a reality. Satan does not want it to occur.

Scott said...

Nathan,

Were you a member at First Baptist Woodstock? I was on the pastoral staff there from 2000-2003. Johnny asked me to leave because I'm a calvinist. I rejoice that theology will be discussed. Also, I heard this was going to take place three weeks ago. At first I was very leary. I will not say why however if Mohler represents the truth which I'm sure he will then only good can come about( God's glory). I'm in the Buford area pastoring a calvinistic SBC church. Let's talk!

Nathan White said...

Hey Scott,

Yes I am a former member of FBCW, gone because of several reasons, but the root issue being because I am a calvinist. I recently had some dialogue with Johnny Hunt over these issues (which led to discussions with other members as well). I'd be glad to chat. Check out my blog and send me an email.

SDG

Phillip M. Way said...

This is going to be a great debate. Both men love the Lord and have a high view of His Word and of evangelism and missions!

It would be good to be there to watch and listen, but as a former SBCer who has no reason to go to a convention, I just can't see making it all the way put there just for this debate. :) However, I will look very much forward to listening after the fact - so you guys who are going, BE SURE IT IS RECORDED!

This really should give us all some material to use to put a match to these straw men that keep popping up in influential pulpits.

~pastorway

Agent Tim said...

That is the best news I've heard about the SBC since I left Nashville for the executive commitee. After being on Dr. Mohler's radio show, I know he's a great guy. Perhaps by the time of this debate, I could somehow live-blog it while I visit Greensboro for the convention (I think I'll be the only 15...no 16-year-old there who likes to debate for Calvinism.)

Tim
www.agenttimonline.com

johnMark said...

Scott,

Where are you located? I tried going to your blog, but it doesn't exist. :) I attended FBW and it's too bad Hunt uses all that energy to misrepresent folks. I have met some formers members of FBW who were at Faith in Woodstock.

I certainly hope this is a good debate!

Mark

Scott said...

Mark,

I pastor Fellowship Community Church( SBC) in Buford, Ga. The north Gwinnett area located by Lake Lanier.We are a new church start of 40-50 people who are committed to the doctrines of grace and getting out to preach the gospel.Do you want to talk?

Bill Brown said...

The SBC is to be commended. Many on both sides of the debate have had their fingers stuck in their ears when it comes theological discussion. If the debate can be centered on God's word alone, perhaps some good can come of it.

Calvinists (SBC or not) should be praying that the Lord allows this occasion to rekindle a biblical faith within the SBC, that will echo far outside SBC churches.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Stephen A Morse said...

I expect this to be a fantastic display of theological depth, biblical dialogue, and wit. I heard these gentlemen discuss (along with a couple of other theologians) Israel and the end times. Dr. Patterson and Dr. Mohler, to me, stole the show. They are both brilliant men with careful minds.
I hope that the issues are fully exposed and I am confident they will be.
Michael I was in Lexington to hear that debate and you're right... it was full of young people! This is the way to reach them...
forthright presentation of God's Word!

DataLore said...

In a word Awesome!!I wish I could be there to see this.

Kelly Randolph said...

At last an honest discussion of important theological issues! This will be good for our convention to see two respected theologians in a civil debate rather than irresponsible sermonizing and name calling.

As a graduate of Criswell College, I have always had great respect for Dr. Patterson. As a pastor who holds to the doctrines of grace, I have always had great respect for Dr. Mohler.

I look forward to this exchange.

joethorn.net said...

I can't believe I am planning on going to the Pastor's Conference. This is great news Tom.

Derick Dickens said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Derick Dickens said...

I got this today from Dr. Paige Patterson. I thought it needed to be sent here.

There is no debate! I do not debate “Calvinism” and neither does Dr. Mohler. There will be a forthright discussion by both of the biblical issues and how exactly it happens that the two of us, differing somewhat, manage to work together so harmoniously, thus demonstrating the genius of the Southern Baptists’ handling of this through the years.



Until He Comes,



Paige Patterson

Scott said...

Derick,

Thanks for sharing the info! How Paige can say that He and Al work well together makes me wonder about Al. I'm not saying that Al needs to be treating Paige like a nobody but this is an issue of the gospel and good church order. When I read Galatians and see how Paul handeled Peter I just don't see how both of them have a great " working" relationship. Again I'm not saying Al needs to treat Paige like dirt. If Al embraces the theology of the Bible( Calvinism) then how do he and Paige have a great realtionship. I have paige on tape and writing blasting unconditional election while he was president of Southeastern. How could he sign the abstract of principles if he blasts election as the abstract teaches. Paige says how he and Al work together shows the "genius" of Southern Baptist. Patterson and others don't get it by making that statement. This meeting will be nothing but a meeting to try to get calvinist and the others to work together. We can't! Just look who fills majority of our pulpits in the SBC and look at the health of our churches. Calvinist brothers keep working to the glory of God. Keep preaching truth and stand against error in the SBC. Don't be fooled in believing that this meeting is to really debate the real issues. It will probably be " Just can't we just work together so souls can be saved"! Yes we can if the true gospel will be recovered but not until then. Thanks again Derick for the update. Oh by the way it's interesting how Paige says that Al does not debate calvinism. These men don't see Al has really being different. Don't put your eggs in the Mohler basket. To those that don't like that comment: Yes, good things have happened at Southern under Al's leadership but look to the Founders guys to really carry these issues further.

Steve said...

If Derick is right and this is not a debate but a show of unity, that is a severe blow to any excitement I had about this. I know that showing we can work together is a good thing, but I don't think it's what we need unless we want more of the same in the SBC. And I don't want more of the same.

wisdomofthepages.com said...

When you wonder how Al can work with Paige, is it that Paige is not a Calvinist, or is it that Paige is an SBC-leader who is not a Calvinist? Is it b/c he shares membership in our denomination, or should we avoid any and all Arminians?

Have you guys come to the point where you identify EVERY synergist as a "false gospelier" (i.e. by your reference to Paul and Peter in Galatians)?

Are you aware of the deep personal sacrifices that Paige made in his life to return biblical authority to our denomination?

Are you aware that, humanly speaking, if it were not for Paige Patterson, you would not have ANYTHING to embrace in the SBC? Just look at ANYTHING coming out of the CBF, and ask yourself what the SBC would look like if that group still maintained leadership of national and state SBC conventions.

Anybody want to go to Kansas City to sit under President Molly Marshall while she teaches universalism in her theology courses?

You know, Al stood down nearly an entire faculty (with earned Ph.D.'s and YEARS of tenure)who scorned and ridiculed him. He had death threats against both him and his family?

What do Mohler and Patterson have in common? Death threats and scorn, that's what.

Is further reformation needed beyond inerrancy. Without a doubt. However, rancor, impatience, and disrespect will not bring about the glory of God.

You say: "If Al embraces the theology of the Bible( Calvinism) then how do he and Paige have a great realtionship."

So, you don't have any good relationships with Arminian pastors? I certainly hope that is not true. If it is true of many of us Founders, than I am afraid our group is going to be short on influence.

Yippeee!!! Let's just maintain Calvinist-only friendships.

Are my eggs in the Mohler basket? If they are, at least they aren't being thrown at godly men who have served our convention with nobility.

p.s. When did Paige ever sign the Abstract. This is an SBTS document. How could he sign the abstract of principles if he blasts election as the abstract teaches. Does SEBTS or SWBTS use the same Abstract?

Scott said...

Steve,

I agree with 100%. This is probably a planned effort to quite both sides down. Personally I would like to see Tom Ascol ask Paige Patterson to debate publicaly on the doctines of grace. If that happens then I would feel very confident that a real debate would take place. When a man finally will stand for truth is he willing to loose friends over it. If Al Mohler really debated Patterson like we know what Paul did to Peter in Galatians it would be something. The question SBC calvinist need to ask is " Do you think Mohler is ready to really do this like Paul did to Peter"? If Mohler had been firm on things in the past with guys like Patterson, Jack Graham, Johnny Hunt, and others they would not be responding like Patterson did to Derick's email. From day one I was saying if a real debate was to happen why would you not have the Founders board to represent calvinism ? Since they make the most noise about calvinism in the SBC why would you not have them ? Also, if this debate was real it would be easy if your a calvinist seminary president to ask someone else to debate calvinism. Let someone else be the bad guy. Keep your job safe and let Founders Board debate calvinism. Paige patterson can't fire Tom Ascol from his church or Founders ministry.

wisdomofthepages.com said...

Scott,
In your understanding, who is the one doing the compromising?

Mohler b/c he won't get ugly with Patterson (and lose his friendship which "proves" that he is standing up for truth).

OR

Patterson b/c he won't get ugly with Mohler (and lose his friendship which "proves" that he is standing up for truth).

Exactly who is the supposed coward when it comes to their convictions?

Scott said...

Wisdomofthepages,

Yes, Southeastern signs the abstracts ! Go to the website and look for yourself. No I'm not at all saying that we should not have relationships with pastors who are not calvinist. Everything you said about Mohler I would agree with. He paid a price and along with Paige. I'd be a fool to disagree. All I'm saying is that I believe Mohler is not going to take a big step toward really confronting these guys. It must come by you and I and others. I have served on staff at three mega churches in the SBC and have seen Mohler upclose with these guys. Mohler has told me personally a couple of times and friends that his agenda is not the calvinist debate in the SBC. He is going to avoid it. Fine, he has the right to do so. Looking at the SBC what are some major problems that we see:

1. The need to a recovery of the gospel.

2. The unregenerate church membership problem.

3.Major lack of expository preaching

4.Faulty evangelism methods.

It's confusing to many along with a seminary when you bring men in whose churches represent these problems.Also, who openly teach against the very abstracts that the seminary embraces. Every church in the SBC needs to grow closer to Christ. I'm not asking Mohler to bring in perfect pastors or churches. Just be consistent with what your seminary stands for and fight for it!

wisdomofthepages.com said...

Scott,
You say, "Just be consistent with what your seminary stands for and fight for it!"

Um, I think that Mohler has, is, and will stand for what he sees the seminary should be.

It may not be what you yourself want it to be... and I think that is the real issue here.

p.s. when I asked about the abstract at SEBTS I was sincere... I didn't know they used Boyce's Abstract.

Scott said...

Wisdomofthepages,

Enjoyed the chat! I have missed my Fox news program and I want to finish Nettles new book so I must back out of the chat. Please know I love Mohler as a brother and am grateful for what he has done at Southern. I just don't think he is willing to really challenge the big boys on the calvinism issue. However I'm grateful he has hired awesome professors at Southern who openly are aloud to teach the doctrines of grace and our history of Southern Baptists. So, Mohler has done more than I will probably do for the Kingdom in my ministry. Thanks for the things you shared for me to consider.

wisdomofthepages.com said...

Grace and Peace to you.

Scott said...

wisdomofthepages,

I apologize for my bad spelling and grammer. It's late1 The word should be allowed not aloud.

wisdomofthepages.com said...

And thanks for checking out my blog. Leave an email next time for me so we can chat directly.

David B. Hewitt said...

Anyone think that if we asked REALLY nicely that Dr. Mohler would pay this blog a visit and clear some things up?

Any volunteers, like current or prior SBTS students perhaps?

Just a thought.

jmattingly said...

The issues of Calvinism are central to an understanding of the gospel. I will cling to them with all of my fiber because I believe them to be the truth of Scripture and therefore the instrument to return scores of churches to a God-honoring status. For this reason, I hope to not cower in discussing these issues with others. They need to know the truth. I will also refuse to cooperate in programs or services that are not honoring to Christ and his kingdom.

However, I have two serious concerns:

1) It is quite easy to castigate a prominent leader whose every move is in the limelight. I think we would all be shamed by our own deficiencies if our efforts were made as public as Dr. Mohler’s are. Though there is a proper place to question decisions of our leaders, we must be extremely cautious in doing so. Love hopes all things.

Scott, have you voiced your concerns regarding these things to Dr. Mohler? If you truly believe he is compromising the truth of the gospel, then you have an obligation to humbly approach him ABOUT SPECIFIC ISSUES in the hopes that there is a misunderstanding. Until and unless that happens, I believe it is inappropriate to expose him to public criticism here on this blog.

2) If we come to the point that we cannot fellowship (build meaningful relationships) with non-Calvinistic pastors, then I’m afraid any efforts to bring about a true change in the convention will result in failure. In fact, is there any real hope of reformation if we are not willing to invest ourselves in the lives of believers (and specifically pastors) who are genuinely seeking Christ, yet have not come to see yet the truths that we see? Is this not a denial of God’s grace? Did Christ not refine OUR thinking when we were groveling in the filth of Arminianism?

I want no part of such elitism. And I am confident that the Founders movement will continue to seek to magnify the great doctrines of God’s grace in a spirit of large-hearted love and Christ-like humility. God give us wisdom to live a life that is uncompromising and yet be willing to maintain love and fellowship with those who disagree whenever possible.

In Christ Jesus,
Jeremiah

Scott said...

Jeremiah,

Thanks for your concern in making sure we go to our brothers in Christ first on issues concerning doctrine and practice. To answer your question: Yes, I have spoken in person with Mohler twice about these concerns a few years ago.The answers I got were disappointing. However, I believe Mohler loves Christ and His church and wants to see reformation. The way he wants to go about it is what I disagree with . Thanks again for your attention that we are still to love our brothers even when we disagree.

David B. Hewitt said...

Jeremiah,

That I think was a very well put post. Thank you for bringing out critical issues and also for helping reign in our emotions, as they do tend to run high in these crucial matters.

God bless you, brother.

GeneMBridges said...

Jeremiah,

You wisely noted: If we come to the point that we cannot fellowship (build meaningful relationships) with non-Calvinistic pastors, then I’m afraid any efforts to bring about a true change in the convention will result in failure. In fact, is there any real hope of reformation if we are not willing to invest ourselves in the lives of believers (and specifically pastors) who are genuinely seeking Christ, yet have not come to see yet the truths that we see? Is this not a denial of God’s grace? Did Christ not refine OUR thinking when we were groveling in the filth of Arminianism?


I would add, however, that this cuts both ways. Many of us can name laundry lists of men who have been asked to leave their pulpits by their churches when they decided to deal with these issues within their own churches. We can name laypersons who were ostracized from their own churches when they spoke openly about these issues.

I've been told that many of these anti-Calvinist leaders have been "attacked" by students and professors for what they have been saying when they have visited the seminaries. However, their defenders seldom note that the reason they are "attacked" is because they refuse to interact with any of us in response to some of their sermons. I know men and women who have, within their own congregations, confronted them after these anti-Calvinist sermons only to be asked to leave the congregation themselves. I've been told that we need to interact with them under Matthew 18 (exegetically an unsustainable application of that text but nevertheless told), and then, in the same emails been told that that person will never see or hear about our criticisms because his emails are being intercepted by his staff and kept from him.

It's these kinds of double standards and purposeful acts of, yes, I don't mind saying it, duplicity that have provoked many of us to leave the Convention. We've been told that we should stand up and confront error, but, when it turns out the men who've taught us this are on the receiving end of it, they want no part of it, and they compound that with asking us to leave their own congregations. This past weekend, I met a man near retirement age who had encountered this, and he was angry with the people he said he thought he could trust...angry for having deceived him about biblical truth and angry for inviting interaction only to turn it down when it arrived...and this was no polemic man, he is a very gentle-spirited man.

This is all to say that frustration runs high on both sides, and your words cut both ways. So far, I've only seen one side in this debate express any willingness to discuss these issues without presenting every straw man under the sun in the process. We need to have real debates about these issues. If this had to do with the Trinity or baptism or other issues, we would very likely not be so cavalier in our attitude within the Convention.

jmattingly said...

Gene,

Your point is well taken.

I do understand what it is to be frustrated in these issues. In the church where I grew up, after having been exposed to the doctrines of grace, I set up a meeting with my pastor to discuss these truths. I was greeted by (to put it lightly) an aggressive attack on those truths and an unwillingness to even have a mildly mature conversation about the Biblical issues. The following Sunday, he “preached” on this topic, slamming the doctrines of grace from the pulpit, mocking them as some kind of crazy heretical invention. I was very hurt. This was a man I had respected for some time, and now he was not even willing to look at Scriptures together. Sadly, we were never able to have a meaningful relationship after this, as he and others seemed to view me with suspicion and that I was not “on board” with what he was trying to do (accumulate decisions and baptisms).

My wife & I eventually felt the need to leave this church that we had grown up in. We still have several family members there. It is sad to see the church struggle and the people not come to maturity because they are not being taught the Scriptures accurately. An Arminian view of the Scriptures is a faulty one at best and will seriously stunt one’s growth in the faith. We should not stand by idly while this happens all around us. This is part of what creates the boldness in me to be forthright with the doctrines of grace.

However, in seeking to steer the ship back to the center, I am trying to make sure that in my own life I do not turn into Mr. Valiant for Truth who seemed to have little time to exert patience in his dealings with those who disagreed. But, maybe I am simply not being bold enough at times?

I do agree- generally those on the Arminian side do not welcome discussion (and seem to almost without exception not understand the Calvinist position). I am sure that I have not had to face the opposition that many others have had to face over these issues, so I will try not to judge anyone’s response without understanding the situation. I pray that my words are simply one of caution for us all.

PS- I would be interested to hear your understanding of Matthew 18 as far as its proper application (it’s not fair to just leave a little teaser like that in your post!).

I appreciate your comments Brother,
Jeremiah

Scott said...

Jeremiah,

You seem to have passion and gentleness at the same time. My wife just told me to be nice and gentle in my responses and she said I got a little rough on Mohler.We all need to really pray for him on a regular basis and each other. It's so frustrating when you think your way of handling things is the right way with SBC issues. It's easy playing Monday morning quarterback about Mohler. I think alot of us calvinist just feel since many of us have been either fired from these type of churches because of our doctrinal views and practice of these doctrines that we are so ready to confront as long as it is for the glory of God and not for revenge. I really believe for reformation in the SBC to happen it will mean for more of us pastors and yes seminary presidents may have to loose our ministries. I have been on that end at Johhny Hunt's staff. Though I'm a senior pastor now it is so frustrating when we are accused of not being Baptist when we are close to the delegates in 1845 in Augusta, Ga at the beginning of the SBC. The more I look at the Founders ministiry and board the more I see that these men and churches are so important to bringing about reformation.There is freedom when a man has a church and board that is behind him(Tom Ascol). When a man has died to popularity then watch out because HE FEARS NOTHING BUT GOD. I see this with the Founders board and pastors who are like minded.

Joshua said...

David, (and any others who care to listen)

As to your idea about inviting Dr. Mohler to view the blog: I can’t speak for him nor would I. I do not know him all that well (If we saw one another at Wal-Mart it would be a “Hi, how ya doin? Boy, these lines are long aren’t they?” ) However, I would say that it’s highly likely that he or someone under him reads Tom Ascol’s observations. He reads everything!! (almost everything) I can assure you that he respects and appreciates the faithful work of the late Ernest Reisinger, Tom Ascol, of course Dr. Nettles, and Founders Ministries in general. Although, I think he must find some of the additional comments rather obnoxious. You’re right in saying that there are some things that need to be cleared up, but not so much on his end. It would be very wise of us all to gather all the facts first before we speak; And for us to listen and seek to understand more than speaking out too quickly. I would venture to say most of us have been burned at some point (some more than others) for standing for truth, more particularly, the doctrines of grace. But, it becomes very obvious, very quickly when those who speak are speaking out of the bitterness, anger, and frustration that has harbored in the heart from such bad experiences. Brothers, remember that at one time “such were some of us”. I think we all had our Arminian days. But we were saved by grace, and by grace we were brought to understand the great truths of the word of God (some call it Calvinism). The editors at Banner of Truth remind us,
“while this is a truth which every minister of the gospel is called to proclaim (the sovereignty of God), it is not a subject which should be made a matter of argument amongst Christians. Indeed, the Christian who professes to believe this truth and yet talks as if others can be persuaded to accept it by the power of words and discussion is, in reality, denying his very profession. The one who truly believes that grace and light and spiritual understanding are gifts of God will not attempt to argue such matters. Rather he will seek to adorn the doctrine by a quiet and patient spirit and to ‘put on…as the elect of God…kindness, humbleness of mind…(Col. 3.12,13)” (in publishers’ preface in A.W. Pink’s, “Sovereignty of God”, p. 3)

So, if there is a debate; if there is no debate, it makes no difference. God is doing His work and there is great reason to be encouraged!! He doesn’t need any of us; but, of course, we must be found faithful!

Brothers, at least once a day, take a step back and look at the big picture. Dr. Mohler is on our team! And we should be glad to be on his also… We’re together in this. He is a very wise man of much discernment who is doing a very strategic, underground work by preparing young men at the seminary…
Also, my only other encouragement to you brothers is that we think before we speak. Do not say anything about anyone (that’s Mohler, Graham, Hunt, Rogers, Patterson, etc…) that you wouldn’t be willing to send to a publisher, or be willing to, in good Christian character, say face to face, eye to eye. It’s very easy to take on an “Instant Messaging” mentality and say things you wouldn’t normally say and be a little more bold than you would be in person. But how silly it is when grown men do such things!!!

I hope you all find these words insightful and encouraging. Let us press on in our pursuit of truth and our pursuit of holiness.
By His grace,
Joshua

David B. Hewitt said...

Joshua, Jeremiah, and Gene:

Thank you all. Your comments are appreciated and taken to heart. Thank you for expressing your discernment and desire to be gentle. May we all understand well the critical nature of this fruit of the Spirit!

ajlin said...

I just wanted to comment that I have been edified by the content and demeanor of the debates taking place on the comment section of this post. It is obvious that the commenters here desire to participate with true fellowship with God and other believers in Truth and in Love. If the debate or conversation or whatever between Patterson and Mohler is anything like the conversation here, then I think some good will definitely come of it.

SDG

Galb said...

I've listened to John Piper for years now and I think he does the best job in explaining the Doctrines of Grace. Wish John would be there.

Brenda

Galb said...

Been listening to John Piper and
reading a few of his books. Wish he could be there to discuss or debate. He's great at "being ready to give an anwer to anyone who asks a reason for the hope that lies within him". He explains
the Doctrines of Grace so well.

Butch said...

The five points that many disbelieve still remain just as true today as then. They are it is sad that many of our Baptists Churches have left these truths. I did not know that there are still some SBC churches teaching them. May the Lord bless you are you teach and preach these dear truths

David Keuss said...

This should be a good debate. I am curious about its effects though, in the years immediately following the debate. I noted some anticipation of results of the debate in comments, but what will a majority non-Calvinist SBC think of it? Interesting possibilities.

Deeply Concerned said...

Understanding sin and it's wages.

Repenting of those sins sincerely.

Trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and receiving Him into your heart as Savior by faith... and trusting ONLY in His work for our hope of Heaven.

Are these accurate steps to salvation?

clayton said...

Clayton said, I believe this debate will be somewhat informative, but also not a real debate based on merit. I pray to be wrong. There seems to be an unhealthy undercurrent within the convention to exterminate those of a Calvinistic persuasion that will potentially rip the convention. This tension has been evident lately in speeches (not sermons) in many state and local conventions by those in key leadership positions, and it could have been no more evident than in the last years SBC. I plan to make this meeting, but I believe it will focus more upon, “your ok I’m ok—let’s agree to disagree.” Albeit that is a real positive and beneficial message to communicate, but if this is the intention of the meeting, then it should be forthright in the announcement. I liked Dr. Akins recent article posted in the Western Recorder, when he was very eloquent in communicating that those who stand opposite of our theological convections are not our enemies. It pains me to see political damage control (my opinion) on a topic that should not make a rift among brethren when there are well respected theologians on both sides of the isle.