Friday, January 27, 2006

2006 Southern Baptists Pastors' Conference Line-up

Here is the schedule for the 2006 Southern Baptist Pastors' Conference, as announced by the President of the Pastors' Conference, Bryant Wright. You will note the peculiar way that the breakout session featuring Drs. Mohler and Patterson is titled: "Reaching Today's World Through Differing Views of Election." I think I can figure out the intent, but it sure seems like a convoluted way to promote this session.

Here's what I think it means: How can someone with a view of unconditional election be serious about or involved in reaching people for Jesus Christ, and how can someone who believes conditional election (or maybe universal election--I am not sure what Dr. Patterson's views are) be serious about or involved in reaching people for Jesus Christ? Maybe even more importantly, how can brothers who disagree on the doctrine of election cooperate in reaching people for Jesus Christ?

This latter question is worth discussing publicly. I say that not because I think that "unconditional electionists" and "conditional or universal electionists" (to avoid the "C" word) cannot or should not cooperate in the work of evangelism. I think that they most certainly can and should. I think it will be valuable if two respected leaders can graciously disagree with each other doctrinally about election in a public forum and then go on and explain how their disagreement does not necessarily mean that they cannot cooperate in the work of evangelism.

George Whitefield and John Wesley did it--until Wesley began to attack unconditional election publicly and in print as unbiblical and caricature it. That misrepresentation of God's truth, as Whitefield saw it, caused Whitefield to rise to the defense of Scripture's teaching. His famous letter to Wesley on the this issue is a wonderful example of how we should disagree with brothers over such matters.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and G. Campbell Morgan did it for the first few years of the former's and the last few years of the latter's ministries at Westiminster Chapel. Neither attacked the other's views or misrepresented what his colleague believed. And, despite their differences theologically, they were in perfect agreement on the evangelical essentials and both stood against perversions of the Gospel.

I would love to see this kind of spirit permeate the 21st century SBC. Perhaps this breakout session by Mohler and Patterson will point the way forward.

1. Sunday Evening, June 11- Blended worship service in the Greensboro Coliseum

2. Monday Morning, June 12 - Breakout sessions at the convention hotel (Sheraton Four Seasons). We will have three one-hour blocks of breakout sessions, with several options offered during each block:

Reaching Today's World Through Differing Views of Election: Al Mohler, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Paige Patterson, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Reaching Today's World Through Multi-Campus Churches: Ronnie Floyd, First Baptist Church, Springdale, AR
Reaching Today's World Through Global Outreach: Steve Stroope, Lake Pointe Church, Rockwall, TX; Paul Jimenez, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
Reaching Today's World Through Breakout Churches: Thom Rainer, LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, TN
Reaching Today's World Through Church Discipline - Are You Kidding?: Mark Dever, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; Art Wilder, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
Reaching Today's World Through Men's Ministries: Robert Lewis, Fellowship Bible Church, Little Rock, AR
Reaching Today's World Through Women's Ministries: Marsha Crowe, Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
Reaching Today's World In and Around Small Towns: Darrell Henry, Oakwood Baptist Church, Chickamauga, GA
Reaching Today's World Through Apologetics: Phillip Roberts, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO; William Lane Craig, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, CA
Reaching Today's World By Confronting the DaVinci Code: Ben Witherington, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY
3. Monday Afternoon, June 12 - Completely contemporary worship service in the Guilford Ballroom of the convention hotel (Sheraton Four Seasons)

4. Monday Evening, June 12 - Traditional worship service in the Greensboro Coliseum

Although the list of speakers is not complete nor the schedule finalized, we are happy to announce that the following will be preaching in the worship services on Sunday or Monday:

Tony Evans, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Dallas, TX
Johnny Hunt, First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA
Dick Lincoln, Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, SC
Erwin McManus, Mosaic, Los Angeles, CA
Nelson Searcy, The Journey, New York, New York
Ed Young (Sr.), Second Baptist Church, Houston, TX


Larry said...

If Dr. P is to lead the way, he will have to refrain from making negative comments, as he is already doing.

chad said...

Is he making negative comments now, or is he refraining now? said...

I will be there for the break out sessions, and maybe more. I too thought the way the sessions were titled felt a bit contrived, but it could turn out to be something special. I've been praying for the Convention, and need to pray for the pastors conference as well.

hashbrown said...

I can't believe they are actually giving a forum for church discipline. Does the president get to pick the topic? Kudos to him.

I hope they put the mohler patterson session in an arena, cause that is where the majority will be.

Where can I buy my ticket?

I'd give my eye teeth if Mohler would share a couple of Patterson's charicatures of calvinism and ask him to defend them.

By the way Tom. I am speaking at the african-american, pentecostal church this Saturday night.

D.R. said...

I am a little confused with Erwin Raphael McManus speaking at the pastor's conference, and not because his church is very different from those which are represented by the majority of attenders to the conference. It is because of his theological leanings, of which I am uncertain, but worried about nonetheless. First, he offered a positive blurb on the back of Greg Boyd's book, "Is God to Blame." He said, "Greg Boyd addresses what may be the single most asked question among skeptics and seekers. Many without Christ are still waiting for us to respond with an intelligent answer. Greg provides an apologetic that actually makes sense about an issue that really matters!"

Additionally in an article that appeared in the L.A. Times, the Times writer made the following statement: “Mosaic is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention but it does not subscribe to many stances of the nation's largest Protestant denomination; Mosaic, for example, allows women pastors.”

While I appreciate that the pastor's conference is including guys like Ben Witherington and William Lane Craig in the breakout sessions, I wonder if they would let McManus speak from the floor if indeed he did hold to open theism.

Jared Moore said...

About Jones and Morgan, one statement you said was, "and both stood against perversions of the Gospel."

I've heard some of the individuals who post on here who are 5 pointers, speak about "returning to the true Gospel" or something along those lines... when speaking about the SBC's need to return to the "doctrines of grace". I'm a 2 pointer... I was wondering if you could explain to me what they mean when they make statements like that. From what you wrote, it seems that you don't lean the way they do...

I really enjoy reading your blog... It's the blog that I read the most. I look forward to you helping me to understand the above statements.

Thank you for your time, and keep up the good work.

In Him,

Jared Moore

Tom said...


Spurgeon said "Calvinism is the gospel." Yet, in the downgrade controversy he was very clear that evangelical Calvinists and evangelical Arminians needed to stand together against the evolutionary teachings of modernists who were denying the authority of Scripture. He counted his Arminianistic collleagues as brothers--mistaken, to be sure, but genuine brothers. That is my own position as well.

Some Calvinists take Spurgeon's quote above and argue from it that, "therefore," no Arminian preaches the gospel. I do not think that way. Rather, I think that when Arminians preach the gospel they sound very much like Calvinists!

This is actually the way that Lloyd-Jones and Morgan viewed things as well. When asked how they could work together given their theological differences, Lloyd-Jones said that while Morgan may be an Arminian, when he prays, he is a Calvinist. Morgan said that though Lloyd-Jones was a Calvinist, when he preaches, he is an Arminian.

These comments should be seen as expressions of charity and not as theological judgments. The point that they were making is that they had much in common and that they rejoiced in those common commitments to the gospel.

The gospel is all about Jesus Christ--who He is, what He has done and why it matters. I am convinced that Calvinism is the best understanding and expression of the gospel. But I am also convinced that my less Calvinistic brothers can and do preach the gospel of Christ as well. They just don't understand it as clearly as I wish they would ! :-)

They feel the same way about me.

In my estimation the real problem in the SBC is not Arminian theology but, to borrow a Spurgeonism, neology--views that have so little of God in them that they cannot honestly be described as theologies in any sense. Our problems come from being a-theological and hyper-pragmatic. The eastern mysticism stuff that you exposed going on at M-Fuge is a case in point.

I do desire to see pastors like yourself come to believe the so-called 5 points of Calvinism because I believe that these views, these doctrines, are taught in the Bible and manifest the glory of God in creation, providence and salvation in ways that no other understanding can. But I am not willing to write out of the kingdom those who disagree with me on these points .

These are my thoughts. I am sure that others have different perspectives on these things. Maybe they will give us their insights in response to your question, as well.

Thanks for your kind comments and encouragements. Press on.


PS. Hashman, "Preach!"

LawyerDad said...


Perhaps you could make a post or comment explaining how wrong someone can be and still preach "the true gospel." Or if not how wrong, then "in what way can they be wrong." I wonder, would you consider someone who used the Lewis's Mere Christianity formulation ("Christ died, was buried, and was raised, and somehow through that He has opened up the way to God." - at least that's what I remember from M.C.) as preaching the true Gospel?

I ask because I've been thinking about who should be considered "the church" in light of reformed anti-ecumenical stances, etc.

Thanks. ;v)

Jared Moore said...

I appreciate your charity concerning this issue... you are a true picture of what a consistent Calvinist should look like... the arrogant ones shoot themselves in the foot because, according to their theology, it is only by God's decree that their eyes have been opened (I affirm this as well, though in a different way)... so their arrogance is inconsistent...

Also, thank you for shedding light concerning this issue. You have helped me very much to understand this issue, as well as your point of view... which eases my heart...

(at one point on here, it seemed that some of the individuals on here wanted you to debate Patterson instead of Mohler

Quote: "Scott said...

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"?')

From what I understand from your previous statement... is that you stand firm on the doctrines of grace like Mohler, but you agree to disagree, thus not severing unity over that which is a non-essential for salvation or "true church".

So, does this mean that the above statement by Scott is a wrong assumption? (I assume that it is)

Tom, I agree with lawyer dad... it would be great for you to write a common denominator that must be included in the Gospel in order for it to be THE true Gospel.

What must an individual know before they're able to be saved?

That they're a sinner, The Trinity, The 2nd Person of the Trinity's submission to the 1st, and thus Christ's incarnation, virgin birth, 100% man, 100% God, sinless life, substitutionary death on the cross, resurrection 3 days later... and their repentance and faith in this Christ alone, their Lord and Savior, and His ability alone to save him or her... this is what I tell each of the individuals whenever I'm pointing them to the Christ that they must agree with and respond to.

Would you add anything to or take away anything from this? I've heard of individuals adding creation to this... do you agree or disagree?

A post titled, "That which is essential to the Gospel" would be a great post brother.

Once again, keep up the good work. I've learned much on here, and I look forward to learning more.

In Him,

Jared Moore

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Ascol,

Yet again you show that you have a true heart of wisdom and gentleness. I thank God for the example He provides in you for people such as myself.


Burt Harper said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Burt Harper said...

I think this is a good debate. If Patterson keeps to interpretation through exegisis, analogy, and context; then Mohler will have a tough time backing his theology up with anything other than creeds and confessions. The traditions of the Five Points wont stand with proper interpretation of the Bible. I know this can be debated with love, because we are currently debating this in Sunday School. God has given me more love and respect for my Sunday School teacher now than I had when he started trying to teach the Five Points. I do respect the fact some with Calvinistic tendencies dont have a fuzzy faith.

David B. Hewitt said...


A contemporary reformed I have visited with from time to time has made the statement that "The strength of the Reformed position has always been exegesis." Indeed, I would have to agree with him. :)

When Scriptures are exegeted, and the Whole Counsel of Scripture is used properly, I'm confident that people will arrive at the conclusion that Reformed Theology is indeed true.

I'm curious, however, what passages you are thinking of when you say that exegesis would refute Reformation theology. I would indeed love to see them, and hope that you'll be willing to post them, either here, or at my blog perhaps:


Dave Hewitt

centuri0n said...

multicampus churches. I like that one. I'm going to leave it at that. :)

Jamison said...

centuri0n has thrown out something I'm intereted in hearing more about from the Founders group - multi-site churches. I currently attend one (long story) and I'm as yet undecided what I think about it. If this is an appropriate place to discuss, what's the conventional Founders' thinking on this? Many thanks!

Burt Harper said...

I want to start by saying I love all people. I love all Christians. I especially have a love for those Christians who search the scriptures seeking the truth of the Gospel. If I use any words of my own that offend anyone I apologize. I find that not useing the best words of my own are a weakness of mine. However, I cannot apologize for any words from the Gospel that anyone may find offensive.
We can start with the theory of limited atonement and the Gospel from John Chapter 3(KJV). The passage teaches the doctrine of salvation, and teaches that it is offered to all men. When Jesus told Nicodemus that a man could not see the kingdom of God "Except a man be born again" (vs 3). Nicodemus does not understand how a man can be born again and Jesus esplains that he must be born of the Spirit. Nicodemus says "How can these things be?" (vs 9). Jesus goes on to explain how. "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (vs 15-18) It is clear in vs 16 that God loves the world and in vs 17 that Christ died for the world "that the world through him might be saved". (vs 17) Verses 19 thru 21 go on to explain the why the man that does not believe is "condemned already". World in verse 16 is the whole fallen world for it is the same condemned world in verse 17.

David B. Hewitt said...

Thanks, Burt.

You might be surprised to know that Reformed people such as myself agree with you, in that the Gospel should be offered to any and everyone. That's not the question.

The issue of Limited atonement, believe it or not, can be supported (to a small extent) by John 3:16ff and especially over in John 10.

John 3:16 is a passage we all know and love, and rightly so. However, I would submit to you that for such a beloved passage, we have all too seldomly done the exegetical homework on it that is required for best understanding. With that said, I would like to point you to this link, which is an exegesis of John 3:14-21 that I did a while back. I would encourage you to read the FIRST post in the thread, and then the LAST TWO posts in the thread. The reason for this is that I correct myself slightly in those last two about the term "world." I do hope it proves useful and brings glory to our God and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Dave Hewitt

Burt Harper said...

I am not surprised that Reformed Christains are evangelistic. Many of you are faithful to Mark 16:15. Including my Senior pastor, Membership pastor, and Childrens pastor. They are just as evangelistic as I am. However, I did not have to go to Seminary at an impressionable young age and have errant professors indoctrinate me with 5 points. However, I praise God that they were not indoctrinated with theology even more liberal than the 5 points. Such as denial of the virgin birth, fallibility of the Bible, mortality of Christ, and many others which were common to SBC seminary professors in the 70's and 80's. We did have enough of a Conservative revival to get rid of those professors, from what I am told by my pastor. This issue with the 5 points is not evangelism. The important issue is the proper interpretation of scripture.
But, back to the point. Would you be so kind as to post your response here instead of sending me looking elsewhere? You may can just cut and paste. It will keep all our classroom notes on the same chalkboard.


Burt Harper

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, Burt.

The reason that I didn't bother to repost what I've done is that it is quite extensive. :) Besides, the format that I was able to use on the forum I directed you to allows for more versatility than the comments section of blogspot. So, if you were wanting the exegesis of John, swing on over. :)

On a different note, perhaps it would be more helpful to both of us if you were to post a couple of Scriptures that you say refute Reformed Theology, I'd be happy to examine them. (I know of most of the texts people use and claim as refutations, but not all)

When interpreting Scripture, we must remember two things:

The Bible will never contradict itself, and when interpreting we therefore must use the whole of Scripture to get the proper perspective on a particular doctrine.

The #1 rule for interpretation is context, period. First we look at a verse, then the surrounding verses, paragraphs, chapters, the entire book, other books by the same author, and then entire Testaments, followed by the entire Bible.

I learned the rules of interpretation long before I went to seminary, from a professor that I don't know whether or not he was Reformed. Another prof in my undergraduate work did introduce me to it a little, but I didn't think much of it until Seminary and realized that the supposed contradictions in my mind were not really there at all; I just thought they were, and didn't realize what the Scripture taught. After seminary, I continued my study, especially issues such as limited atonement (researching texts that dealt with the atonement) and came to the conclusion that God, in the atonment, had the intention of only saving eternally His elect. This is not to say that He also didn't intend others to benefit from it (common grace), nor does it suggest that the power of the atonment is limited. Its intent was limited as is taught by John 10 among other Scriptures.

So, I look forward to your responses. We'll stick to this thread unless Dr. Ascol wishes us to go elsewhere. :)

SDG always,
Dave Hewitt

Burt Harper said...

If I repost a post on the same blog site it would be much of a waste I believe.Look at my earlier post on John Chapter 3, you may have not read all of it. Limited atonement teaches that Christ did not die for everyone, he only died for an elect people? It is very clear from the grammatically correct translated passages I have quoted that Christ died for the world, "that the world through him might be saved". He died for the world. Limited Atonement contradicts this and therefore contradicts the Bible.

David B. Hewitt said...

"World" is a word wrought with meaning. Most often it does not mean "every single person without distinction." Rather, more often than not, it is limited in its description, as are most universal terms. People (including the authors of Scripture use such terms all the time, but don't usually mean "all" when they say it -- like I didn't mean it just now. If people really used those terms all the time, then no one would say anything else.

Such is the case with the term world. John uses it in 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 to refer to the world of "peoples" and not to every person in particular. One could infer the meaning of just the elect from those passages, but that goes beyond the meaning of the term directly; it would be better said that it would mean the elect by implication (not directly). In John 3:16, all that is said is that the way (the proper translation of the word "so") God showed love to the world (Jews and Gentiles) is by sending Jesus so that everyone who believes in Him would have eternal life.

Notice it does not say that everyone CAN believe, but that everyone who DOES has this eternal life, and therefore has the redemptive love of Jesus as mentioned in this passage.

It appears then that Jesus is talking about a particular group of people in this passage -- the group of people known as "everyone who believes in Him."

I've gone into much more detail in this at my post I referred you to before, and I would also refer you to to James's White's dealing with it.

We must be very careful not to read more into a passage than is there, and reading someone's ability into the phrase "everyone who believes" or that Jesus loves every single person redemptively into the word "world" is unwarranted.

The context bears this out a bit. :)

I hope that helps!

May God be glorified!

Dave Hewitt

SJ Camp said...


I really appreciate this article very much (and you my brother and friend).

One brief comment: Isn't it interesting that in all of their, "Reaching Today's World Through..." seminar titles and topics, that not one of them said, Reaching Today's World Through the Proclamation of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus...)?

Can anyone say... "Downgrade" ?

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:1-7

Calvinist Gadfly said...

Tom, thanks for the post. I believe that most Arminians preach the gospel, but with some important qualifications (which you may agree with).

i) Because of the Theocentric vs. Anthropocentric differences in the gospel presentation, Arminian understandings of the gospel is muddled and watered down, hence, they have no rich God-centered gospel presentation.

ii) If I juxtapose what I grew up with in my fundamental Baptist Arminian background with a gospel presentation by John Piper for example, the gospel message is night and day.

iii) So, I would classify most Arminian gospel presentations as "sub-Biblical” (because they stress the free-will of man not the bondage of man, theocentric vs. anthropocentric).

vi) Then you have your Arminian offshoots such as non-Lordship presentations of the gospel that teach that one does not need repentance to be saved. This form is not sub-Biblical, but just plain un-Biblical, so these folks teach a false gospel.

The upshot is I often hear, “Well, Arminians and Calvinists preach the same gospel message, therefore there is no warrant to argue about such “details.”

So, I am only comfortable with saying that most Arminians preach a sub-biblical understanding of the gospel (and other Arminians such as non-Lordship preach a false gospel).

Tom, any thoughts?