Saturday, February 11, 2006

North Carolina Baptist Recorder Editor Discusses Calvinism

Tony Cartledge, editor of the Baptist Recorder, has blogged about his experience with Calvinism in the SBC. He has also included articles that report on John Piper's ministry at their Evangelism and Church Growth Conference. Cartledge does not agree with what he understands Calvinism to teach and does not pretend that he has a thorough grasp of its history and theology. The discussion in the comments section of his blog is interesting and his irenic spirit is refreshing. May his tribe increase.

HT: Mingo


Scripture Searcher said...

YES, may his tribe increase!
Editor Tony appears to be understandably confused but teachable. How refreshing!

And judging from the notes he has received regarding his comments on a basic, fundamental scriptural subject, his enlightenment is about to begin. I call it CONTINUING EDUCATION.

It bears repeating from this
older participant in the discussions on this informative (and at times inspirational) Founders blog directed by the honorable Dr. Tom Ascol:

I am thrilled at the growing number of Bible believing members of the Southern Baptist Convention who, in these exciting times, are courageously speaking the truth in love!

Persevere, Tom! Persevere,
all young Bereans!

David B. Hewitt said...

Scripture Searcher:

I have to echo Gene's comments from a few posts ago -- you are a shining example of encouragement, and your comments are greatly appreciated. I smile every time I read one. :)

I will also agree with you and Dr. Ascol about editor Tony over at the Biblical Recorder. His gentle spirit and teachable attitude, along with being ready to admit when he doesn't have all of the answers is something I wish all of us had more often.

May God get the glory as His Word continues to penetrate us further and further, bringing us into a greater understanding of Himself.

David Hewitt

Puritan Fan said...

Thank you Tom for the link to this blog. The manner in which he differs on these issues is refreshing. I have sent him the following email:

Dear Mr. Cartledge,

It is refreshing to have someone voicing an opinion that differs from mine in a non-emotional, sincere and non-judgmental way. I applaud you as well for backing your convictions with scripture.

I have come to embrace what is commonly known as the Doctrines of Grace. Ironically enough, it seems as though I've done so of my own "free will." :-) I wrestled with the issues involved for many years, but in the end, have concluded that reformed doctrine, in its orthodox form is indeed biblical. If I err, I err, but it will be on the side of crediting God as being totally sovereign in all things.

I wish I could have heard Piper's sermon that you referenced. I don't recall him denying in any of his writings that man has a free will though I think he affirms that the will of man is bound by his naturally sinful state. Most people I encounter in the reformed tradition affirm that man has a will, but that it is bound by the condition of his heart. In other words, absent the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, man's nature is corrupt (and has been since the Fall) and his will is governed by the corrupt nature. Walt Chantry has written a couple of essays on the subject of man's free will (available online) that I have found helpful. You may find those thought provoking as well.

God Bless,

Ken Askew
Puritan Fan

GeneMBridges said...

If you all go to, thumb down to last week's entries. You'll find my notes from Dr. Piper's sermons. I was there too.


GeneMBridges said...

unfortunately, his template will not allow me to register. I keep getting an error message.

Perhaps, Tom you should contribute a note to the comments section there.

I've found Tony to be a very good BR editor, and I have nothing but compliments for him most of the time, even when we disagree. However this statement from him in his comments bothers me:

My use of the term "anti-missionary" was historical -- that was the term used in the 1830s when the debate was hot and heavy in the South, and thoroughgoing Calvinists did not believe in missions.

---But, this is an a-historical statement, *some* Calvinists did not believe in missions. Let's not generalize. Let's take the founding churches of the SBC, they all affirmed the Philadelphia Confession, which is itself a recapitulation of the 2nd LCBF. Mr. Curtis Freeman above his comments should read the confessional documents of those churches. Each and every one of them held the Philadelphia Confession. Their Calvinism was not "hybridized" at all. Founders Ministry is not pointing to a few gentleman theologians, they are pointing to the confessional documents of the founding churches themselves.

Daniel Marshall established the churches of the Georgia Association, daughters of Sandy Creek. Article four of the Georgia Association Articles of Faith reads;"We believe in the everlasting love of God to his people, and the eternal election of a definite number of the human race, to grace and glory: And that there was a covenant of Grace or redemption made between the Father and the Son, before the world began, in which salvation is secure, and that they in particular are redeemed."

Article six further demonstrates Daniel Marshall believed in sovereign grace. "We believe that all those who were chosen in Christ, will be effectually called, regenerated, converted, sanctified, and supported by the spirit and power of God, so that they shall persevere in grace and not one of them be finally lost."

In 1833, John Leland wrote of Separate Baptist preacher John Waller: "Waller is not ordained to wrath,/ But to employ his vital breath/ In the Redeemer's praise;/ His sins, thro' Christ, shall be forgiv'n, / and he shall ever reign in heav'n/ Thro' free and sov'reign grace." He pictures Waller himself, who suffered much at the hands of hostile authorities pleading for mercy for his hearers: "Father, forgive the stubborn race/ Subdue their hearts to sov'reign grace,/ That they may be forgiv'n, (Powell)

Robert Semple wrote of the Separates, "A large majority believed "as much in their confession of faith [the Philadelphia Confession] as they [the Regulars]did themselves." Oliver Hart of FBC Charleston called a meeting of the Charleston Assoc. to secure missionary labors to the interior of neighboring states, before Sandy Creek was founded. Later Richard Furman helped organize the General Missionary Convention.

The reason that some of the early 19th century confessions, including the New Hampshire Confession seem "softer" is that The LCBF2 and the Philadelphia are 95 % from the WCF and are highly restrictive for doing church. This is the same reason many Reformed Baptist churches today use that Confession. There is simply no record that "moderate Calvinism" played a role in this shift. Churches and associations had been moving away from those confessions since the 1770's, because they are unwieldy. When they wrote their own, they agreed with the LCBF and Philadelphia Confessions. They tended to remove articles that dealt with church order, not articles dealing with soteriology.

Tony should know better than to generalize like that. It's statements like that that get read and then imputed to folks today. It's hard to see how missions oriented Calvinism is a "modified" Calvinism when the founding churches and associations, with a handful of holdouts, used the Philadelphia Confession/LCBF2.

GeneMBridges said...

I'd add to that, that I have in my possession a paper on the American Bible Society Controversies over the translation/transliteration of the Greek terms for baptism / baptize for the publication of the Bengalese Bible. The entire board, as well as that of the Baptist organization that split from it, was composed of Calvinists, and this all transpired in the very time period that Tony cites. This, in turn, spawned years of ecclesiological polemics between Presbyterians and Baptists and questions about the validity of the immersions of Presbyterians on the frontier, precisely because Baptists and Presbyterians were close allies in the missons work on the frontiers. Tony is overamplifiying hyper-Calvinism.

deacon said...

Does it seem odd to you that an editor of a SBC affiliated or at least connected newspaper uses a publishing company, Smyth and Hewlys Publishing, which is notorious for publishing the liberal Mainline Baptist material, to publish his own memoirs?

deacon said...

Smyth and Helwys Publishing

GeneMBridges said...


From time to time I have intersected with Tony, and, while he and I disagree about many things, he has a remarkably irenic spirit.

I do take issue with his citation of Bill Leonard in some of his comments in the link provided. Bill lives, literally, not far from me, and there are stories about the Divinity School at which he teaches and their graduates that absolutely make me cringe. We call the place SEBTS in Exile around here.

Not six months ago, one of their students got my Mom's church to participate in survey that, when I read it, I realized immediately would cause a major problem...and sure enough it did. The pastor ended up having to have a word with the church about the survey and took the student to task over it. The response from the school's end was "cool" to say the least, as they realized they were dealing with "an inerrantist church" and they wanted nothing further to do with them. That divinity school has also graduated openly homosexual persons from its ranks and declared that this is a wonderful thing. Needless to say Bill and I sit on opposite ends of the political and theological spectrum, and, to be quite honest, I don't consider him a reliable church historian.