Monday, February 20, 2006

What should we discuss for an encore?


My previous post on the presidency of the SBC ("Johnny Hunt to be nominated for President of the SBC") generated such interest that I have wondered what should be discussed next. Actually, I would like to continue (or recapture) the main points that I originally raised in that post and the one that followed it.

Contrary to what will most certainly become a cyber-legend, I did not intend to start a war of words between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. In fact, you will search in vain to find me make a reference to Calvinism anywhere in the original post. That subject was introduced by an innocent-enough question raised by deacon in the comments. He asked, "Not to get too far off track, but [are] the rumors true that Hunt is extremely anti-Calvinistic?"

I think several observations are worth making in light of the dialogue that (to date) has stretched over 240 comments.

1. There is obviously a great deal of interest in discussing the upcoming SBC annual meeting and the election of a new president. This is a good thing. We need to be thinking and talking about this. What kind of person do Southern Baptists want? What kind of person would serve us well? These questions should be asked and debated and they should be considered without acrimony or personal attack against those whose names get tossed around in the conversation.

2. It seems to be unsettling to some that faithful, conservative Southern Baptists could even entertain the possibility of voting for someone other than the person who is publicly endorsed by well-known conservative denominational leaders (although others--OK, actually one--seem to relish the thought of someone else being nominated for the sheer anticipated enjoyment of watching him get thoroughly trounced).

3. The issue of Calvinism is not going away in the SBC. It can't be ignored and those who caricature it can rarely get away with their misrepresentations going unchallenged anymore. It is time for serious convention-wide conversations on this subject to be held. Perhaps the breakout session with Drs. Patterson and Mohler where they will acknowledge their different views of election will be a starting point.

4. There are issues on which Southern Baptist Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree, and these must not be overlooked when discussing our differences. We agree that Jesus Christ should be preached to all people. We agree that we should seek the salvation of all people. We agree that the Bible is God's Word written. We believe in the autonomy of the local church. We agree about the wisdom of cooperation. We agree that God is worthy all praise, glory and honor.

5. There are issues on which Southern Baptist Calvinists and non-Calvinists OUGHT to agree, such as the necessity of discipline in the life of a local church. The illegitimacy of non-resident and inactive members. The lack of integrity in inflated membership rolls. The deadliness of denominational pride. The cheapening of grace through shallow evangelism. The lack of compassion for the lost. The need for churches to break out of cultural captivity.


The next few years will be pivotal, it seems to me, in setting the course for the future of the SBC. The issues listed above will be among those that, depending on how they are addressed, will help determine the trajectory of that course.

105 comments:

Chuck said...

This issue is getting stickier by the day, as evidenced by th 240+ comments (which I read, to the detriment of my studies and school work). Unfortunately, with rhetoric like that of the Caners and other leaders being tossed about in reference to Calvinism (i.e. 'virus', I can't see too much real cooperation down the road. Call me a pessimist, but I think the 'conversation' between Drs. Mohler and Patterson is going to go all Paige's way, not because his Scriptural position is superior but because of denominational politics. I look for things to get worse after the convention, not better. As Patrick Henry said, 'I smell a rat.'

Gordon Cloud said...

Tom, you have presented your points very succinctly. I would definitely like to see the convention have two conservative candidates. The question would be, where is the line of distinction drawn? Is Calvinism the main issue? Is age, methodology or clergy/laity (I don't like that terminology but can't think of a better term right now)?

The thing we must remember, and I think you are all over this, whatever the distinction is, it will be secondary. We should not let this division degenerate into an all-out war as was seen during the resurgency.

Wes Kenney said...

If you are so inclined, I would like to see further development of a statement you made at the end of point five: The need for churches to break out of cultural captivity.

In online conversations with missionaries on the field, I hear them expressing the need to figure out how to be more in step with the culture they are trying to reach. Here in the Bible belt, things are a bit different, obviously, though I'm not sure what the solutions are.

Perhaps you could better define the problem, as you see it.

Timmy said...

Tom,

I appreciate you stressing the points where Calvinists and non-Calvinists AGREE. This is key to the future of the SBC. And where we agree, we agree on a real need for reform in our churches (microscopicly) and denomination (macroscopicly). Unlike what I have experienced here and elsewhere on the Internet, I have found many non-Calvinists very friendly and cooperative towards Calvinists (and what is beautiful about our partnership is that they don't know that I am a "Calvinist." We fellowship together, pray for the lost together, contend for the truth together, and share the love of Christ to a needy world together.

The first and foremost concern for the SBC president and for us in cooperation with one another is not what where we DISAGREE but where we AGREE. I think that is what the Baptist Faith and Message is all about. If only the caricatures and rhetoric could subside long enough for a listening ear, objective/humble attitude, and charity in spirit - we could really see something great happen in the SBC. You know, when I think about it, many of the people with whom I served several years in intimate ministry never knew I was that abhorrent 5-pointer. They knew I loved Jesus, that I loved them, and that I loved to tell sinners about Jesus my treasure.

Thank you for addressing the concerns that all of us share (at least I hope so) in the progress of seeing the material principle of reform take place. May the Lord be gracious and give us wisdom and a willingness to labor earnestly for such a worthy cause.

Ecclesia reformate semper reformanda!

centuri0n said...

Pasor Ascol:

Great post. The matter of evangelism and the preaching of the Gospel is, for me, what is 100% at stake in the issue of "calvinism" (I prefer the word "reformed", but it's your blog) -- and by evangelism, I'd stand by Mark Dever's view that evangelism does not end at the baptism pool.

Dever's "we'll see" attitude regarding sanctification is the right view for healthy church life -- and it is almost unknown in the rest of the SBC.

This exchange has been wildly profitable as far as I'm concerned. The soft conservatives (is "soft" a bad word? How about "inconsistent"? "independent"? "libertarian"?) generally demonstrate what kind of theology they have when this subject comes up -- and then get mad when one points out what kind of theology it is. If more people engaged this discussion, more people would hear the Gospel for the first time completely and become better members of the church for it. That includes pastors, with all honor to them for their place in the church.

Keep up the good work. If you get nominated, we'll pull together and get you an Armani suit to wear to your swearing in.

Gordan said...

Wes Kenney,

Not trying to speak for Tom on the issue of "cultural captivity," but here's what I think the issue is:

Missionaries try to build bridges to different cultures in order to share Christ effectively. Here, the bridges are built and, as Doug Wilson has pointed out, the traffic is almost totally in the wrong direction. Rather than us changing them, our churches have largely become miniature reflections of the lost culture that surrounds them.

Peace.

jbuchanan said...

Tom,

You bring up some good points. I am amazed at the level of interest in this years convention. You are right in pointing out that one thing that we all agree on is that Jesus must be preached to all nations. Therefore, perhaps what we should be looking for in a President is missionary experience. I love Dr. Rankin and would love to see him be president of the SBC but perhaps he would be too controvesial. But the idea of electing a missionary would really help to define what is ultimatley important in the convention.

JM said...

Maybe someone can answer a question unrelated to Calvinism for me? How much time does the SBC President commit to? Is it 15 hour a week responsibility? Or is it a couple of intensive months of planning? Is it so much that a church with a small staff/one preaching pastor would be unable to allow their pastor to fill the office?

Nathan said...

I have weighed in on this over at My blog. To summarize my thoughts here: I think Johnny Hunt possesses many of the characteristics that I would like to see in a SBC president. So far, we are not comparing apples to apples. In fact, we are not comparing anything. There is only one name on the table (anticipated at that). The best nominee for the job is Johnny Hunt. If he becomes elected (and it seems all but certain), will those in opposition change their tone? I believe we need to be as Christ-like about this as possible and drop all personal attacks. Shouldn't there be a radical difference in our spirits as we elect our Convention president than there is in the political realm when we elect a National President? So far, I am seeing too many parallels.

Oh, btw and fyi, I am Reformed.

hashbrown said...

I think the key to making the next election more interesting and healthy, may be to find the most prominent SBCer to nominate someone like Mark Dever EARLY.

If you've ever been in a small church BM (business meeting), there is an interesting dynamic. Many times the first one to speak to an issue wins, because no one wants to debate. We would much rather rip on the vote and complain at Shoney's after the meeting.

Likewise, when nominations open for a chair to a committe, the first one to get nominated usually gets it. This is why we usually nominate someone 1.1 seconds after the floor is open, to avoid "the person we don't want" getting nominated or someone nominating themselves. (which actually happened once)

If a prominent person would nominate the alternate candidate early, it would put the awkwardness on the establishment to nominate an "alternative" candidate.

So here is a question? Who is the most prominent SBCer who would be willing buck the system and to nominate a guy like Dever?

http://deverforpresident.blogspot.com/

Nathan White said...

Nathan said: I believe we need to be as Christ-like about this as possible and drop all personal attacks.

Ok, not to open this can of worms all over again (this original conversation came before Caner joined in), but can someone please, please define for us what a 'personal attack', from a biblical definition, actually is? I’m getting sick and tired of people shouting ‘personal attack, personal attack!’ every time someone points out flaws in Johnny Hunt. Forgive me for being so blunt (and this is not a shot on Hunt), but why is it that Johnny seems to be above correction to some people? Why is so much partiality shown to him in the area of disagreements? A whole lot of you guys will take shots at the Caner brothers all day long but will throw a fit if someone even dares to say ‘I don’t think Johnny is a good candidate because [fill in the blank]. Whether someone deserves more respect or not is beside the fact according to scripture, we should show partiality to no man.

So please, someone define ‘personal attack’ (especially from the perspective of 'Christlikeness' since we obviously saw Christ being critical of other religious leaders in His day) so we can strive for some consistency, and so we can agree on what is proper and improper to discuss concerning certain disagreements with other individuals.

SDG

Scott said...

Tom,

What should we discuss for an encore ? Before I share my thought lets make a point right away. It seems there are many calvinists and non calvinist who keep bringing up " How can both sides work together"? It's almost as if the convention is higher than the authority of scripture. How can we work together when we are so divided on what is the gospel, decrees of God, nature of the church, God's attributes, and methodology of evangelism. Some of these things have been eluded to on previous entries. Is it true in that what we believe about God determines how we behave/ministry philosphy.

So, what should we discuss for an encore ? My reccomendation is that we Calvinist put a list together to show what noncalvinistic theology has produced in the SBC. Such as no fear of God, unregenerate church membership, role of Pastors/Deacons, evangelistic preaching( Gospel recovery). How about this one " How did the convention at one time become so liberal"? Was it under the pulpits of Calvinistic preachers? No! In this list it should be pointed out what the first several Presidents believed about these things( Johnson,Howell,Fuller, and Mell). Can we put a list of what these men believed and look at the health of the SBC during this time. We might find some interesting things compared to the noncalvinistic theology that has been running so rampant for years. Once we do this then can we say " How can we work together"? It's not first " How can we save the SBC" it's " How can we glorify God" and then the rest will take care of themselves!Last, please notice again in Dr. Tom Nettles book By His Grace and For His Glory chapter 6 ( Beware the Slough of Arminianism) " The first seminary in Southern Baptist life rested on a Calvinistic foundation. Infact, Southern Baptist Theological seminary, in the eyes of its founders, constituted a bulwark against the gradual encroachments of the Arminian fox into the Southern Baptist vineyard".Remember Spurgeon's comments!

Tim Batchelor said...

hashman,

You hit the nail on the head. One forefeits the right to complain if he is unwilling to offer any alternatives. The key is to identify a willing candidate early and then have Baptist Press put out press release with info on the proposed nominee. All further nominees will be looked upon as "opposition candidates". It is also very important to communicate that the nomination is not an effort to "take over" but an effort to get more folks involved.

By the way, Morris Chapman is soliciting nominees for the nominating committee to consider at SBC.net. Don't complain about nominees if you aren't willing to get involved.

Tim

G. Alford said...

Tom,

Great follow up post…

For me the most pressing question is what kind of Convention will the SBC be in the very near future? With the issuing of the new IMB policy, which is heavily influenced by Landmark-ism, adding additional restrictions (that are not expressed in the official theological contract between all parties of our convention, the BFM2000) upon who can serve as missionaries, and the eagerness with which some of the Mega-Church pastors and SBC Leaders are now attacking Calvinism (doctrines clearly expressed in the BFM2000) one can only question if SBC will remain a “Large Enough Tent” to allow Arminians, Lardmarkers, Calvinist, and the Masses that fall someone in between to remain in corporate fellowship within the same Convention.

P.S. I want to thank all those who attack and misrepresent Calvinist as not being missions minded and not being personal soul winners. Really I do! This has the unintended effect of “prodding – up” every Calvinist who hears or reads them into being even more faithful in these areas than most Arminians I know… which only leads to more Calvinist being brought into our Churches and the SBC. I know it hurts us at times, but in the end I personally think these misrepresentations are a good thing for the furtherance of the Calvinistic movement within the Convention.

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Friends,

Many of our Arminian brothers and sisters worry, or are afraid, or assume that Calvinism, specifically "unconditional election" means that it is pointless to pray for the lost, send missionaries, preach the Gospel, etc., because salvation or non-salvation for each person is already set, and will not be influenced by our prayers or actions.

Such people cannot intelligently consider our doctrinal truths, because they are so emotional about what they think the implications of such truths will be.

So, what about a post and discussion about the implications of Calvinism for prayer, missions, evangelism, etc., so that we will know how to help our Arminian friends over this emotional hump.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Scott said...

Jeff,

Great idea!

Timmy said...

I thought this might be profitable for the discussion. In light of what I said previously about areas of agreement, there is historical precedent and godly examples to follow. May there more of the mold of Charles Simeon in our generation.

In a conversation with John Wesley, well-known Arminian, Charles Simeon tells the story:


Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?

No.

What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree. (Moule, 79f)


This blurb can be found here:

http://www.desiringgod.org/library/biographies/89simeon.html

Nathan White said...

Uh Timmy, he didn't mention Limited Atonement. Just kidding :)

Actually, I cannot see how Limited Atonement can be divorced from Perseverance. How can Christ's death only make salvation possible, yet a true believer who is indwelt with the Holy Spirit is sustained as a true believer until the end? Doesn't make sense.

So if someone believes in 'one saved always saved' so to speak, then they automatically agree with Limited Atonement -they just don't realize it.

Thus, Simeon's synopsis is correct.

SDG

hashbrown said...

I checked out the nominations request info at SBC.net and found the process for making suggestions for trustees, committees, etc,... but not how to nominate someone for President. I could have overlooked it.

I have emailed SBC and inquired about the process. I would be happy to nominate someone for president, but my name carries about as much weight as a tea bag.

In all seriousness, possible candidates should be asked about their interest. If they are interested, then the next step would probably be (I'm no expert)to find a "weighty" person to make a public statement of endorsement to the Baptist Press or the Florida Baptist Witness, etc.

Aaron J Kirch said...

"What should we discuss for an encore?" What a great question! How about what does our convention need? I am thankful for the men who diligently and faithfully stood for truth during the resurgence and before the resurgence began. But what does the convention need now? We have a solid theological foundation to build upon within our convention.
I believe we need to lead our churches to the God that has so often been overlooked. A God who is sovereign over all aspects of creation and our lives. Is that not what reformed theology stands on? Arminian theology is based on the fact that man can come to God, but reformed/calvinist theology is based on a God who comes to us FIRST. He is the seeker we are the recipient of grace.

I will gladly serve that God everyday and see contorted faces from the congregation because they have never heard that before. The Bible demonstrates God's grace through His reconciling work. Not man's reconciling work. Our God rules over all.

Sojourner said...

Pastor Tom,

Since church discipline is something that we all hopefully agree on, why not discuss that? Especially how it relates to the Lord's Supper. I am not a Landmarker, at least I don't think so, but I am attracted to a nuanced close communion because of the discipline issue.

Oh yeah, and since last year we had the "million more" campaign. Let's do the "million less" (via discipline) campaign next year. Wouldn't that be a healthy change? Further, I believe that it is something that we actually have the power to accomplish.

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
G. Alford said...

Tom,

All I hear is praise for these Mega-Church pastors… But has anyone ever stopped to actually see just what percentage of their community these “super evangelistic” Mega-Churches are actually reaching? And what their Membership to Baptism ratio really is?

When looking for a model church to hold up as an example to follow and whose pastor would make a good SBC President I think these are much better indicators of a successful ministry than just blotted membership rolls from churches located in huge cities like Atlanta and Jacksonville.

"Heck, Anyone can catch fish in a stocked pond"

The Church I pastor has only 80 members, there are 5 other Baptist churches within less than 5 miles, and the community has about 5,000 within 5 miles of the church and about 8,000 within about 10 miles of the church. I say all this to make a point that many Churches who have less than 100 members would probably spank most, if not all, of these so called Mega-Churches when you use the two statistics I mentioned above to measure success.

Blessings,

Chuck said...

I agree that we should be stressing the points we agree on with non-Calvinists. I think we can and should work with non-Calvinists. The problem is that I cannot see things working out well when the attacks levelled against my beliefs are knowingly erroneous (i.e. I can't believe in missions and evangelism if I promote Limited Atonement). The tone also matters. It's one thing when my non-Calvinist friend and I lob joking insults at one another during a private conversation. We know each other; we trust each other; we understand the terminology and the stakes; etc. However, when the same jokes and language are issued from the pulpit on a Sunday morning to the average church goer who has never had any sort of training, thinks Arminians are from somewhere near Eastern Europe,etc., I have a problem. It seems like a lack of concern for unity and fellowship more than anything else. True unity says, "Here's where we disagree and why; here's where we agree and why; now let's go." Certain SBC people fail to even explain the differences accurately and then call historic Biblical doctrines a 'virus'. Can the SBC survive that kind of strife?

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Sojourner,

I love the "Million Less" campaign! Be careful with your grammar, though, it actually would be the "Million Fewer" campaign.

Role-cleaning and other church discipline would be a good idea for another discussion. The dear people in our churches need work in this area.

My members: "Brother Jeff, 15 people have dropped out since you came here. Why won't you go and talk to them and get them to come back?"

Me: "Because I don't want them to come back, unless in repentance. They didn't attend regularly, they live a worldly lifestyle, they spread discontent in the church, they don't serve in the church's work, and their children are wild and disobedient."

My members: "Yeah, but we just need to love everybody. You shouldn't judge anyone."

Me: "You want an army to be well disciplined, a football team to be well disciplined, a school to be well disciplined, right? So why dont' you want the church to be well disciplined?"

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Rabbi said...

Yeah, I posted this comment right as the old conversation ended, so I thought I'd move it here for the sake of making sure it got read. What can I say, I like attention. :0)

I gotta say, I'm confused. I thought this was a blog about Dr. Hunt's nomination for SBC President and who else might be a good choice. But most of it seems to be about Calvinism, doctrine, church history, and lots of other stuff I'm not schooled enough to speak on (by the way, my username is just my nickname; I consider myself a follower of Christ). I do have some thoughts though:

1. Most people here need to LIGHTEN UP. Oi, you'd think they believed that humor was sinful. I consider sarcasm to be a spiritual gift! :0P

2. Despite not being nearly as smart as any of you ( I am only a junior at *gasp* Liberty University), I have some notions about predestination, limited atonement and such, which I guess can be summed up in this: if people are predestined for Heaven or destruction, why evangelize or pray for them? Isn't it God's problem? Like I said, I don't have a doctorate, so no need to flame me.

3. Finally, You've all stated that you're busy guys. Me too. And while this has been an interesting read and there are some topics on here that really do need to be addressed, the time we've spent reading and posting probably could've been spent on something more worthwhile. Believe me, I am NOT rebuking anybody. You're all older, wiser, and more knowledgeable than I could ever hope to be. I just know that I've been convicted before about killing so much time in front of a computer, regardless of what I was doing.

That's all I guess. I'm just trying to live the way Christ wants me to, like the rest of you (I hope). Thanks for reading.

To borrow from someone whom I consider a great professor and godly man:

Predestined to believe in general atonement,
~Rabbi

David B. Hewitt said...

Hey, Dr. Tom!

I'd love to see any of the things mentioned in this thread as our next topic of discussion. The thing that appeared to get everyone going on the other one about the SBC president was Dr. Hunt's attacks on Reformation theology. That being said, and especially with the way Dr. Caner (I forget which) and Rabbi signed off on their last posts, perhaps a biblical discussion of what it means to believe in "Limited Atonement" among the other points and what that indeed DOES do for evangelism?

I for one have been much more evangelistic since becoming Reformed in my theology than prior.

Just my thoughts, and sir, I thank you and thank God for you -- your ministry here has certainly been a blessing to me, and I look forward to it continuing to be just that.

SDG,
David Hewitt

johnMark said...

rabbi,

You clearly don't understand predestination. I don't know if your lack of understanding is a product of the seminary you attend or that you simply have not studied the issues. It's a tired and uninformed argument.

One could ask you why you would pray for another's salvation if their belief hinges on their libertarian free will decision. So praying for God to change their heart would violate their free will.

An unbeliever could as well ask the Christian why he fails and backslides in his walk since he's supposed to be regenerate. Shouldn't we just automatically mirror Christ in our lives since we're regenerate? Strawman questions don't help this discussion.

This seems an example of a non-calvinist showing up just to misrepresent calvinism. This seems to be what we consistently see whether is Reavis or Hunt or whoever. How many calvinists publicly strawman the non-calvinists the way these mean do towards calvinism? Who is responsible for not working together again?

We see again that it's okay for the non-calvinist to use every logical fallacy against calvinism. At the same time if the calvinists defend themselves we get told we are unloving theological perfectionists who believes their theology is correct. Am I the only one who sees the double standards here?

Mark

Chuck said...

Rabbi,

Do you really think "Your doctrine is a VIRUS" being said repeatedly, without apology, is a joke? If I came into a conversation with a group of Liberty Students and kept repeating over and over again, "Dr. Ergun Caner teaching doctrine that is cancerous and kills true evangelism," would you think it was funny or cute? Methinks no. Also, I find it odd that some people seem to think that nominating an SBC president should have nothing to do with things like doctrine. I thought sound doctrine was one of the marks of a Godly leader. This is not to say that Johnny Hunt is ungodly or has bad theology in every respect. He believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that the Bible is the word of God, that we have Christ's imputed righteousness, and many other essentials which many are casting off in our time. My issue is that because of his openly vitrolic statements, things could get very ugly very quickly.
And by the way, no one thinks your less smart. I am only a senior at Missouri Baptist University- a school with less than stellar credentials, to say the least.

tl said...

Some have asked why men like Johnny Hunt can take cheap shots at Calvinists (and others I suppose) and can not be held accountable for his words.

The truth is that good men, convinced (at least in their own minds) that they have the mind of God clearly discerned on all matters, never feel they need apologize for their words.

The danger is that very fallable men can mishandle the inerrant Word of God when their egos are not held in check (or in other words, when they are not accountable for their words).

J. Gray said...

tl,

That is one thing I don't get as well.
How can men like Hunt make comments like he has made but NOT be seen as divisive??
Guys like Caner and Reavis also make comments that are completely divisive...yet they have no problem whatsoever that they are a) misreprsenting their brother's views, 2) they are being divisive, and 3) they are making false charges against their brothers.

I find it quite sad that this is what the leadership in the SBC does repeatedly...without hesitation.

Now the Caner-ites are coming out to echo what their teacher has said...I wonder if Caner's "second generation" theory works for them as well?
For those of you coming here to stir the pot...please study the issues, and read literature from both sides. Understand what Calvinists believe, not just what Caner SAYS they believe.

I guess I just wish there was open dialogue about these issues...and not just ignorant sound bytes from pastors conferences.

How can we foster dialogue about these issues...somewhere other than blogs??
I guess the Caner/White debate would be a first step,if Caner accepts the invitation.

What ideas for discussion do you guys have?

Scott said...

The issues that are being raised by all bloggers are starting to become clearer to me. I see some really scary things from both sides. For example:
1. The Calvinists= Seem to be lets try and make this thing work with men who openly deny basic christian doctrine. Such as Total depravity, unconditional election, the gospel,and nature of the church.( Most Calvinists that have been blogging would not say lets still try and make this thing work). That makes me feel better but enough to make me worry "So to speak".
2.Noncalvinist= Some of the recent students from Liberty are wrong concerning Predestination and I'm sure many other doctrines. However, their spirit seems to be very humble on their blogs. That's good! Most will become a product of the teachings of Ergun Caner. That is very scary for the future of the SBC. " Predestined to believe in general atonement". Enough said!

We are miles and miles apart from these brothers ! Do we love them(Of course). So, it is our duty as Christians to teach them healthy doctrine that builds up the soul and our duty as " True" Baptists to teach true baptist distinctives to them. Again, I like the idea of Jeff! I feel strongly that is the area Tom needs to take the next blog in.

Some scripture/facts to remind us of some things: Conditional Election(Elected because I selected), General atonement, Resistable Calling, and Partial depravity( Man is marred from the Fall)do these teachings build up the soul? Do these teachings teach that Christ has failed in His plan ? So, lets work together to glorify God! I leave the following 2 Timothy 2:14-26, 2 Timothy 3:10-17,Ephesian 4:11-12.

Have these false teachings by the noncalvinists done enough damage in our SBC? Have they confused majority of our older/younger generation? Pray, Preach the Word, and don't give an inch to doctrine that trys to blanket the " Glory of God"! I'm writing a check to Founders today from our church to support that healthy work and so should you !

Nathan White said...

Rabbi said: if people are predestined for Heaven or destruction, why evangelize or pray for them?

Rabbi, can I ask you:

1)When you pray for your lost friends, do you petition God for their salvation, or for favorable circumstances so that they have the best possible scenerio for making the right call?

2)What is your view of election? That is, the term is all throughout the Bible. Eph 1:4 explains that this happened before the world was made. So, what is your view of it? Is it foreknowledge? If so, why pray or evangelize when the the decree has already been made (through foreknowledge) and thus everything is fixed anyway?

I think you will find that your position has much more trouble with your above question than does the Calvinist position.

SDG,
Nathan W

jbuchanan said...

I would like to see us have a discussion on the gnostic and perhaps even Satanic influence of using chairs instead of pews in our buildings. I would submit that the chair "fad" that we see today is heavily influenced by Gnosticism and the desire to have an individual rather than community experience in worship. I think chairs violate the regulative principle and that they should be banned from every church sanctuary. I hope that Mark Dever will add this as the 10th mark of a healthy church. If pews were good enough for Paul and John Broadus, they are good enough for me. Our Baptist forefathers would never approve of this and in fact one of the little known charges brought against Michael Servetus was that he favored chairs over pews.

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason Sampler said...

jbuchanan said: If pews were good enough for Paul and John Broadus, they are good enough for me.

That's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. Hilarious. Also the part about Servetus. Too good.

G. Alford said...

Charles,

Why are you asking Tom about the Ministry of Mark Dever?

If you really wish to know these things just call or email Mark himself…

Phone:
(202) 543-6111

Web Site:
http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org

Email:
chbc@capitolhillbaptist.org

Jason Sampler said...

Charles, your questions lead me to believe you have never visted Dever's church web page, where he explains his theology on waiting on baptizing younger people. In addition, do you really think your scripture citation is justified support: "Suffer the children . . ."

Come on. Do you really think Jesus was telling his listeners: "Friends, there will come a time when children will want to 'ask me into their hearts' and then be baptized. You will be tempted to wait until they are older before baptizing them. Don't fall into that temptation. Suffer the children not from being baptized."

I think there are much better arguments for baptizing people (regardless of age) very soon after their conversion (biblical model, the Baptist conviction of baptism for believers only, our theology of baptism as symbolic union with Christ). All of these are much better arguments for you to put up than "Suffer the children."

You may think I'm attacking your position, but I'm not. I'm not even attacking you. I'm no 5 point Calvinist and I do disagree with Dever's position on baptism for younger converts (but I understand his reasoning and have sympathy for it). However, your ad hominum attack on "His Holiness Mark Dever" only decreases your credibility on this blog. Even if others have run down Hunt or Smith, you will lose any chance at an argument by playing the same way. You don't come to someone else's house and not play by their rules. Simple lesson I learned as a kid: "Don't attack people on their home turf. You always lose."

Finally, are you serious in your questioning of Dever's passion for discipline? That is so sad that it's funny, except that it's not funny.

I'm not sure why Tom blocked your earlier comments, but from reading all the comments in the last few days, he's let a lot of stuff slide. My bet is that your comments were too slanderous, off topic, or generally mean spirited. I guarentee you that he doesn't hate you, or that he is about to ban you. Engage in the discussion reasonably and you will find that the people on this site (even us non-5 Pointers) will be more than happy to dialogue.

P.S. By the way, in answering your question about discipline and baptism, I wonder if you have forgotten that one of the HALLMARKS for Baptists is regenerate church membership. That is, membership MATTERS. Those who equate baptism with church membership have bloated rolls and many unregenerates in their membership. Dever is successfully, I think, leading his (and, through his influence, other) church back to a Baptist distinctive.

Charles said...

Jason Sampler, Hello!

"Dever's passion for discipline?"

Brother, that says it all!

hashbrown said...

For the record, I have NOT said one negative thing about Johnny Hunt. Not one. I simply want there to be atleast two candidates.

Charles said, "Why does he (Dever)refuse to baptize anyone under the age of 18 when Jesus said, “Suffer the children ...?”

Is that passage about baptism? Did the disciples baptize those children? No, Jesus laid his hands on them, prayed for them and walked away. No where in the passage does it say that those children repented and believed. Your a little out of context.

If Dever was against praying for children or laying hands on them, I'd be with you.

We Southern Baptists have held the line somewhat on our baptism numbers for a couple reasons. (1) We are baptizing children younger and younger. (2) We are rebaptising multitudes of those who were baptised as Children who, later in life, discover that they were not baptized as believers.

I don't know if 18 is too old of a standard. When I was there, they were talking about 12 or 13. I think to baptize children as young as we do now is a relatively modern phenomena. Our Biblical understanding of what saving faith looks like has been downgraded.

Dever's baptism numbers may not match up to a lot of bigger churches, but the actual conversions that take place might. I don't know.

Charles also said, "what he calls church discipline."

If your assumption is that what Dever thinks is Biblical church discipline, is not. Then make your case. We are listening.

If our churches would get back to redemptive church discipline and honest rolls, to a time when a church that vouches for the fruit of a person's conversion actually meant something. If we did this, the corporate witness of the church would be greatly enhanced. The church would again become salt and light.

In fact we would discover, as Billy Graham is alleged to have said, "the greatest mission field is on the church rolls."

We need to have coversations with people on our rolls who never come to church, never show love to their brothers and sisters in Christ in service, never take the Lord's supper, never give financially to Christ's mission, who show no fruit of conversion about their salvation. Some may be saved and simply "backsliden", but we know that many are not.

I think that multitudes will split hell wide open with the assumption that they are saved because the are on the roll of a Baptist church or they "prayed the prayer" in VBS. Churches bear some responsibility for refusing to trust Christ's teaching in Matthew 18.

What Dever and many ministers like him are doing takes a great deal of courage and faith. I am at a church that has been around for 155 years, our rolls are littered with people who haven't been in decades, with cousins and children and grandchildren who were baptized long ago and quit going to church around the age of 18.

Engaging a church with the hard truth that many of these people need the gospel or need to repent, is like walking through a mine field. If you say the wrong thing or proceed too quickly, you get blown up. Ironically, discipline appears unloving to many, since it is actually showing the greatest love to those who may be uncoverted by sharing them the gospel. Church discipline according to Ken Sande is "a search and rescue mission."

adios

Jason Sampler said...

Charles,

Thank you for answering me, even if it was short and pointed. I hope you are not lightly sliding past the biblical commands to discipline. Jesus instructs inplicitly in Matt. 16.19 and explicitly in Matt. 18.15-20 that believers are to discipline one another. Paul provides a clear example in 1 Corinthians 5.9-13 on how to treat those who are disobedient within the context of a local church.

I would ask, in a spirit of Christian brotherhood, that you investigate these passages, if you have not already (I don't know if you have). Then, let us discuss what is wrong with having a 'passion for discipline.'

Respectfully,
Jason Sampler

hashbrown said...

Rather than saying, Dever has a "passion for discipline" it might be better said that he has a "passion for obedience to scripture" or simply "a passion for the church to have credible witness"

Eric Thomas said...

Tom, you offered this as the "ought to agree":

* The necessity of discipline in the life of a local church.
* The illegitimacy of non-resident and inactive members.
* The lack of integrity in inflated membership rolls.
* The deadliness of denominational pride.
* The cheapening of grace through shallow evangelism.
* The lack of compassion for the lost.
* The need for churches to break out of cultural captivity.

To these, with which I also agree, I would recommend adding:

* Disobedience by failing to baptize one person (not re-baptism) in a 12-month period of time.

Considering the specificity with which you correctly "call out" as illegitimate the non-resident / inactive members and inflated membership rolls (it stings me), it would seem to me important to "call out" as disobedience the failure to baptize one believer in a year's time.

Would you agree that this is also an "ought to"?

joethorn.net said...

Eric, it would be better to say that it is inexcusable to neglect the work of evangelism (for both congregation and pastors). Once we begin to madate numbers we are setting up extra-biblical standards. Your suggested "ought to" is one that William Carey would have failed to meet for years while laboring in India.

Tom said...

Eric:

No, I would not agree to that addition because I refuse to call something disobedience that is not commanded by the Bible itself. Nowhere does the Bible command to baptize x numbers of people in x amount of time. Men have arbitrarily set up such standards and called them biblical, but that does not make them so.

Would you call William Carey disobedient for 7 years, since that is how long it took him to baptize his first convert in India? Would you call Adoniram Judson disobedient for the 7 years that he did not baptize any believers in Burma (despite being pled with to do so by one who professed conversion)? I could add to this list, but will let those two examples suffice.

Having said that, if you wanted to word your concern along these or similar lines that we agree on the need to be boldly evangelistic or passionate about the Great Commission or about seeing lost people converted, baptized and discipled, I would say, "Amen." But I am unwilling to impose arbitrary standards, no matter how noble or well-intentioned they are, to that which God has given us in His Word as our duty.

Nathan White said...

Eric said: "Disobedience by failing to baptize one person (not re-baptism) in a 12-month period of time."

Eric, what if 12-months go by and there is not even one convert? Would that be disobedience in this area?

Scott said...

Eric,

As a former minister of Evangelism at a " Top five baptism church" year in and year out I believe I can speak to some things. Your point/question to Tom about churches who go one year without baptizing any should we discipline them. The answer is NO! The reason is that Salvation is of the Lord Jonah 2:9. I would strongly agree that if churches are not aggressive to preach the gospel then something should be said and something done about it. The argument from the noncalvinist usually is this: " Don't you think if you preach the gospel so many times you will at least see x amount of conversions and baptisms". This sounds great because I used to use this line at one time. The churches where I served always baptized at least 600 people a year however, must of the conversions did not come about from committed trained church members in evangelism or from visitation night. Majority of them came from " special events" such as Power Team and going to trailer parks giving away free food and giveaways.Also, we baptized these people almost on the spot. My wife used to ask me " Honey, why won't we baptize them on sunday in front of the church". My response was they may not come and we got to do it . How about churches that had traveling baptistries that they would take around to nursing homes. There is so much of this stuff that went on and probably still does.
I'm all for the accountability on sharing the gospel. We are commanded to but if you would share with 1000 people and I did the same but none of the people I talked with were converted would you then say you are a better"Soulwinner" than me. How about a better church. It's God who effectually calls( John 6:44). Again, I'm with you that churches need to get off their tails and preach about the wrath of God on all those who are dying in their sins and tell them who is the remedy!

jbuchanan said...

You guys are all missing the point. You are dicussing minor side issues like church discipline and baptism when you should be worried about the influx of theater style seating in our Baptist Churches. Am I the voice crying in the wilderness or the lone prophet. Will I have to challenge the chair crowd all by myself, like Elijah did against the Baal worshippers. By the way the Baal worshippers were notorious about using chairs in their worship centers. Just look at the damage that is being caused. I know that SBC leadership are mostly chairites but gentlemen we must continue the fight. We need to elect a President that rejects the influence of theater-seating and vote for a pewvanist.

Scott said...

Eric,

Please excuse my frustration that I took out on you. You seem to mean well. Sorry! I was also a minister of Education at a megachurch where we ran over 2000 in SS. Before God opened my eyes to see the truth of Calvinism I fired a couple of godly ministers because I didn't think they produced in SS numbers and baptisms. I fired two youth guys because they didn't baptize at least 100 people in their area. They both were faithful in sharing the gospel and did a great job in discipleship. They loved the kids and their parents and i fired them. I take personal responsibility ! However, that was modeled before me in my earlier years. Keith and Tracy were their names. A few years ago I called them and asked for them to please forgive me. I put their families out on the street because I followed mans way of doing things! I can give our audience several names of men that this has happened to that were aggressive gospel sharers but they couldn't " Get them down the aisle". This is what the SBC has turned into.A friend of mine named Scott Frye who gave me permission to give his name out. He was a former chairman of the deacons and head evangelism trainer at one of the churches where I served . His number is 770 231-8786 and ask him about all the horrible things he saw for the sake of numbers. He is a layman who is tired of this stuff . Give him a call guys. Be prepared for what you will hear! Eric, please don't fall victim to this stuff as I once did!

G. Alford said...

Eric,

I agree with you that Churches that consistently do not baptize even one person year after year are probably not being faithful in evangelism and need to take a long hard look as to why not! This is particularly true if you are a Calvinist Church.

But, I must agree with Tom one can not say with absolute certainty that this is always a sure sign of a church that is not being faithful to evangelize. There are exceptions to the rule… but that is just the point these are exceptions and not the norm.

I did a little checking (now I am on your side on this one) and there were 13 churches in my local association and the association in the next county over that did not baptize a single person in 2004. And I can tell you that these churches are not growing, but, as the pastor of the only Calvinistic Church in our area, I can also tell you that not a single one of these churches are Calvinistic.

Here is the link to the baptism data in Florida for 2004, if anyone is interested: http://www.flbaptist.org/news/fbc_news_baptisms_2004.htm

So I think we can find common ground on this issue, “No Baptist Church (Arminian or Calvinistic) will prosper for very long if Souls are not being won to Christ.”

Blessings

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear jbuchanan,

I might consider joining your cause, but I have to make sure you are as orthodox as I am.

Tell me, are you a 5-point Pewite, or not?

According to the eternal church practice, dating back to when Peter sat on a bench in the high preist's courtyard, All church seating must be:

1. Totally Homemade
2. Unpadded
3. Left unfinished (no stain or paint)
4. Imcomfortable (the KJV term)
5. Perpendicular (no slant to back)

In understand there are 3 and 4-point Pewites, but I cannot fellowship with them.

There are also Semi-Paddites, who claim to be true 5-pointers, because they allow only bottom pads, and no back padding. These are not the true heirs to the tradition of Peter, however.

Let me know, so I can see about possibly cooperating with you in a pew-building mission trip.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

J.D. Rector said...

Brothers and ... yes sisters! We must have another candidate who will agree to be nominated as president of the SBC besides the one already announced. Now, who is that going to be? I wonder if we could get Wade Burleson to agree to run as president? Ooops. That probably will violate that so- called trustee agreement with the IMB trustee executive committee.

Travis Hilton said...

Hashman,

Good words about church discipline. I think there have to be hundreds of younger pastors (I hope) struggling with the same reality. I have been preaching on the subject for three Sundays now. I even quoted from Dever's book! It may take many years for some of us teach a biblical view of church membership to our members (who are actually attending) before we begin to see significant change. Much damage has been done and continues to be perpetuated by many of the "stars" of our denomination. I wish someone would give me an example of a church over a thousand that actually effectively practices church discipline. I have developed a generally negative view toward many of the mega-churches from the reports I've read and that is perhaps one of the main reasons.

Tim Batchelor said...

Jbuchanan,

I believe all seating is unbiblical. The only guy that the New Testament records as having sat down in church (Eutychus) fell out a window and died. The apostle James talked about folks sitting on stools (not pews) and even then they were a source of conflict in the church. I think everyone ought to stand while the preacher sits. Then the pentecostals already stand most of the time anyway. Maybe they are on to something. Can I get a witness, Amen?


Tim

jbuchanan said...

Jeff,

I am a 5 point pewite. The Left unfinished was very difficult for me to accept at first but eventually I saw the wisdom in it. How can I possibly infringe on the glory of God by adding man-made stain to what He has created. I know that many of our churches have abandoned the ministry of pew building, and in fact according to Lifeway, nearly 30,000 of our SBC churches failed to make one pew last year.

Scott said...

Brethern,

Check out James Whites website at www.aomin.org. He and Dr. Ergun Caner have had some interaction. If Dr. Caner is such a " Pitbull" as he claims then why not have Dr. White debate him on his own turf ? As you will see that Dr. White asks him to explain John 6:44. Then Caner says" How about 2 Peter 3:9". Let us at this blog site give you some heads up on the passage: 1. The text deals with the Second Coming. 2. Pay attention to the pronoun "Us'(Elect) 3. The letter of 2 Peter is written to Christians( To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by righteousness of our God and savior Jesus Christ).
We wonder why most of our SBC churches are so messed up! I should have listened to Nathan White long ago about these guys!

GeneMBridges said...

Perhaps, Tom, a series on biblical church discipline would be in order, since that topic seems to have arisen in this thread.

GeneMBridges said...

Rabbi said: I have some notions about predestination, limited atonement and such, which I guess can be summed up in this: if people are predestined for Heaven or destruction, why evangelize or pray for them?

For the same reason a non-Calvinist would pray for a Christian brother or sister to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. After all, Romans 8:29 says that "Those He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son..." Why pray for them if Scripture says they are already predestined for this end, right? I mean, this text will identify these persons as those "justified," this is about believers. Ergo, if you really believed your own objection, you would not pray for the sanctification of any of your Christian brothers and sisters at LBU, right

I wonder, Rabbi, do you pray "God change the heart of such and such, a sinner who needs you," or do you pray, "God, please woo them equally but do not violate his free will." Isn't it just a tad inconsistent to pray for God to change a man's heart if God does not violate his free will?

The answer to your question is twofold:

(a) God ordains the ends and the means. Your question looks to the ends, but not the means. This conflates a necessary and a sufficient condition. The ends are decreed as are the ends. A decree for an end is a necessary, but insufficient condition for the end to occur. A decreed means is also required. This is the sufficient condition. It continues to amaze me how many people criticize Calvinism but never actually read what the confessions have to say about secondary causes and their efficacy.

(b) Because God commands what we do. We are to order our lives after His revealed will, not by attempting to peer into His sovereign decrees. Deut. 29:29 spells that out quite clearly does it not?

I would also add that non-Calvinists are notorious for teaching the 'traditional' view of discerning the will of God, which has folks running around trying to line up Scripture, prayer, circumstances, and internal impressions all in a vain attempt to discern God's "individual will." It is the Calvinists who tend to teach the wisdom view, in which we order our lives after the precepts of Scripture and wise decision making without attempting to order our lives after a vain attempts to peer into God's sovereign decrees by way of his "individual will." Who then really believes in free agency?

Rabbi said...

Ok, first of all, you shouldn't disagree with me. I'm Jewish, I'm one of God's people. You do NOT want to argue with me. I'll sue you for hate crimes. :0P

But seriously... did anyone read my third point?

And btw, I have several good friends who are Calvinists. I have a rather good idea of your beliefs.

To answer your question: when I pray for a friend or family member, I ask God that their hearts will be open to the Gospel, not for "favorable circumstances".

Chosen before you,
the Caner-ite

Eric Thomas said...

Gentleman, thank you for your thoughtful responses. I presented this same "ought to" in a different way many years ago to a group of seminary students. The responses varied, from indignation to exultation.

Joe, I wouldn't call Carey or Judson or Jeremiah himself disobedient due to "no converts." They are heroes. Exceptions certainly abound in most "ought to" lists, whether it deals with inflated membership or inactive members or baptisms.

Tom, you wrote "Men have arbitrarily set up such standards and called them biblical, but that does not make them so." I agree. I would love for us to stand on common ground and not repeat "arbitrary standards" for church membership numbers either, what "we" consider inflated. That they are inflated is a reality (again such a reality that it grieves me), but to put a percentage to it would be arbitrary. We stand on very common ground as we envision the problem and the pathway to the solution. And I believe that there is opportunity to make significant headway, but some will have to remove the chip off the shoulder and others will have to take the plank out of their own eyes.

Nathan, you asked "what if 12-months go by and there is not even one convert? Would that be disobedience in this area?" I wouldn't know. As a side-note, Nathan, it seems to me that you are very confident of yourself, at least your letters display that confidence. You obviously have ability to understand an argument and the issues raised (at least as it pertains to reformed doctrine, but hopefully more than that as well). I pray that God would continue to grow in you blessings of humility and kindness so that your ministry might be as honoring to Christ as the ability with which He has gifted you.

Scott, I appreciate your pain concerning your personal experiences. Please know that I am well aware of "bad practices," but it is a fallacy to paint every church that you have termed "mega" with the brush of "bad practices." Alford, I believe that you've made some of the same overgeneralizations ("stocked pond" post). It is a caricature (like Calvinists don't evangelize).

We can agree that "shallow evangelism" occurs. Yet, not all of us would agree to the definition. Perhaps, Tom, that could be a discussion in the future. A biblical definition of evangelism. I would happily engage in that discussion.

I apologize for the length of this response, and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to move forward in a discussion that brings glory to God and honors the Bride.

Lstudent1971 said...

On the matter that all sitting is unbiblical....I was under the impression that in Biblical times no one sat for much of anything. At dinner they reclined on the floor- despite what all of the paintings of the Last Supper look like. At church they might have stood or sat on the ground, who knows, but I bet they were comfortable; so why don't we have a bunch of La-Z-boy recliners in the new sanctuaries? Can I get a witness, Amen!

To take an example of someone sitting on a window ledge out of context and throw it for a loop stating that no one should sit in church services or even at all is horrible. I believe that God's word should be looked at in the whole- not picked apart, using verses to state doctrine.

Eternally His,
-a student seeking His Word, not man's

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

1 Corinthians 1:14-17 (ESV):

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know if I baptized anyone else). For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Would Paul have met a baptism criteria set up by the SBC? Would he have qualified to be a missionary in the IMB? He obviously didn't keep records, as evidenced by his "oh, yeah, now I remember" attitude. With no accurate records, he probably couldn't fill out the ACP. By stating that he was not sent to baptize, the Apostle Paul most certainly wouldn't be endorsed for SBC president. No one could, however, question his commitment to church discipline, teaching sound doctrine (and refuting the bad), indiscriminately preaching the Gospel, or his intense devotion to Christ and God's glory.

What I'm saying is that a certain criteria will not necessarily prove anything about a man or a ministry. If a ministry is evaluated, the whole picture must be in focus. Knowing this, we must still acknowledge that it will take as long as God wants it to take. "Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." Maybe we should be looking at men or groups of men (my plug for the plurality of elders) instead of church numbers. Are we electing a church, or a man to the presidency?

Results-oriented evaluations are destructive to the church. According to the world's standards, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were failures. The world demands results, God demands obedience and faithfulness.

jbuchanan said...

I agree with you brothers about the concern raised by "inflated" membership roles. I currently Pastor a church of over 500 members and we only average about 200 in worship. We are over 200 years old and I am sure that much of our inactive church role is due to inadequate record keeping. But I also realize that much of the problem is that many people on our rolls have never truly been converted. The only answer to this situation is to start making personal visits to every one of our church members and to talk with them about their walk with the Lord. This is a daunting task in a small church like ours and I can not imagine how it would be in a very large church.

I appreciate Eric Thomas's reminder that not every large church is as bad as we somtimes think it is. I also appreciate his words concerning humility. This is a lesson that we all need to learn.

We should always measure our success in terms of faithfulness and not numbers. But I think that if we consistently have no baptisms over a period of time in the church it may be a good sign that something is wrong. How long of a time would be contingent upon the health and condition of the church.

I would add also that the pew verses alien seating debate that I introduced earlier should be getting more debate. I pray brothers that God will open your eyes to the plague of theater style seating in churches.

Lstudent1971 said...

PS:

so what if Peter sat on a cold hard parkbench?!
Its not about traditions its about relations- with our Risen Savior.

I humbly submit before you:
What is so wrong with chairs v pews?
Are theatre seats too 'worldly'?
Are pews so revered that they are too be replaced when stained?

Thanks for your time and constant devoted dedication to this glob ...er..blog.

-me

Tom said...

Eric:

Thanks for your thoughtful follow-up. I also long for the common ground on which those of us who believe the Bible to be God's Word written can stand. I am willing to back off any arbitrary percentage when it comes to membership vs. attendance. Actually, the figures I have arbitrarily used were intended to be gracious or generous. My own personal conviction is that a healthy church should regularly have more in attendance than it has on its rolls. A little formula that I have used goes like this: Take the number of attenders and divide it by the number of members. If the result is less than one, something is probably amiss. But I am willing to forgo that arbitrary formula for the sake of ongoing discussion and addressing problems that we can both see and lament.

Thanks for your spirit in this and be assured of my willingness to stand with you.

jbuchanan said...

Tim,

You obviouslty represent the hyper-seatist view point. Ergun Caner would say that you are committing the classic error of going beyond what the first genertation of seatists taught. Although I have to agree that you have shown the weakness of defending pewvanism by appealing to the regulative principle.

Scripture Searcher said...

WHEW! Having read ALL the wise and unwise comments
of the brothers on this particular subject I am simply exhausted! WHEW!



Dear Lord, help ALL of us to spend as much time in prayer, Bible study and sharing the good news of JESUS CHRIST as we do in debating and discussing things that will not help one sinner to find eternal
salvation in HIM.



Too many spend too much time
with HUMAN TRADITIONS and too little time with DIVINE
TRUTHS that will explain God's immutable purpose and plan for the world and all its residents.



I fear this is true but, of
course, only our Heavenly Father knows. As Paul asked the Galatians, "Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?"



Please do not vote for me for anything - I am not seeking any office. The One that counts selected me, saved me and sealed me many years ago!

Tom said...

Hey, Scripture Searcher, welcome back! Good words. How about I submit your name to FBC Dallas as they seek a new pastor? :-)

I bet I can get a second on that.

Charles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hashbrown said...

Travis,

In shepherding a church toward Biblical Church Discipline, I would suggest that you get acquainted with Peacemaker Ministries led by Ken Sande. They have small group dvd packs and books and brochures so that you can saturate your church with good teaching on the subject. www.hispeace.org

Basically, they address the issue of Church Discipline first from the perspective of Glorifying God through Personal Peacemaking. If you can train your church to get involved with each other's lives and to lovingly hold each other accountable, it will be more rare that someone has to "come before the church". The goal of course is redemption and reconciliation not to "do church discipline".

If your church doesn't know how to talk to each other Biblically,and to speak the truth in love personally your not ready. Keep preaching the gospel. Work on personal Biblical reconcilation.
www.hispeace.org

I've been working on my church for 3.5 years and it will take many more.

I spent all summer preaching on 1 Corinthians 13, using Edwards "Charity and its Fruits" as a guide. It was very affective in moving them toward a biblical understanding of love. The biggest argument against church discipline is that it is unloving.

Model Biblical peacemaking, preach expositionally, and love their socks off. That will help pave the way.

Pastor Kevin said...

There have been talks concerning "free will." I just want to say, I am very thankful that God "infringed" on my "free will," if there is such a term. Without the sovereignty of God in *all* things *and* people where would I be, or who would I be? I know my thoughts as a result of residual sin; I cannot see myself having faith in Christ first apart from God's Spirit first making me alive.

boasting only in him,
kevin

GeneMBridges said...

But seriously... did anyone read my third point?

Yep, but then, for all you know some of us could be writers by trade...

To answer your question: when I pray for a friend or family member, I ask God that their hearts will be open to the Gospel, not for "favorable circumstances".

How is this not a violation of their libertarian freedom?

Ok, first of all, you shouldn't disagree with me. I'm Jewish, I'm one of God's people.
So, I take it you do not agree that election is based on the foreseen faith of others but on God's sovereign mercy and covenant affection just as Deut. 7 clearly teaches and that Romans 8:29 - 30 reiterates?

Calvin and Hobbes lover said...

Or maybe Rom 8:29-30 is refering to the Jewish people?

maybe...

Nathan White said...

Scott said: We wonder why most of our SBC churches are so messed up! I should have listened to Nathan White long ago about these guys!

[Boy it’s feeling a bit warm in here eh?] :) Scott is a dear friend of mine, but please don’t interpret beyond what was written. He’s just referring to my desire to see reformation in the SBC.

Eric said: Nathan, it seems to me that you are very confident of yourself, at least your letters display that confidence…I pray that God would continue to grow in you blessings of humility and kindness so that your ministry might be as honoring to Christ as the ability with which He has gifted you.

Eric, thank you for the kind words, but I’m kind of left scratching my head. What letters are you referring to? I assume my comments on here or my blog, correct? Also, in all honesty, I felt like your words were more of a rebuke than an honest compliment. I’m certainly not trying to be rude, its just that I’ve never had any interaction with you before and it kind of looks like your taking a shot at me. If you tell me that you’re not taking this very public forum to encourage me to act more humble (thus, a rebuke), then of course I will believe you. Just curious, that’s all.

SDG

Scripture Searcher said...

We must pray more earnestly for our beloved brother, old
friend and fellow Berean (aka SCRIPTURE
SEARCHER) for his silly and intemperate jesting.


Have all you, brothers (and sisters - if you are allowed to participate
and submit comments on this blog) read what this young, distinguished "head man" threatened to do to me regarding the FBC in Dallas? HORRORS!


Ascol is only joking, of course, because both he and Tom Nettles have been (or will be) recommended to this very stragetic congregation, now that
Brunson has had a camel ride "revelation" (on Mt. Sinai) in which his God told him to go to FBC in Jacksonville.


ALL

Scripture Searcher said...

CONTINUED....


ALL AGREE THAT EITHER MAN OF GOD (ASCOL OR NETTLES) WOULD BE A GREAT PASTOR OF THE HISTORIC DALLAS CHURCH!

Travis Hilton said...

Hashman,

Thanks for the recomendation. You are exactly right. Love and correct communication are the key. Tedd Tripp has been another helpful writer on that subject. I have been teaching and preaching in my church slowly on this subject for three years as well. It has been slow, but we're starting to see progress. I praise God for the open hearts in our church. I feel for pastors of churches that aren't so open. It is certainly many times a slow, patient struggle.

Scott said...

Eric,

Thanks for your reply! I do not view every megachurch the same. Also, I never said they were. However, thanks for the reminder that we shouldn't.If you study or investigate the churches that are in Metro( Megachurch group) which I was in for a while you will find that it was about with a good many of them " It's all about butts inchairs on Sunday morning and baptisms". I was on staff at four megachurches and I know what I heard and saw and not to mention what other ministers said about the pressure that was on them to produce. I could give you a whole bunch of names of good godly men who wre fired because of the obsession with numbers.
Many of these Pastors and not all of them are the men that are put on the major platforms in the SBC. Why( SS numbers and baptisms). Why don't we look at how many of these Pastors train their men on how to have nightly Family worship time(Teach children and wife their church confession, sing Hymns, Psalms, and spiritual songs, share the gospel with family, and catechize them as well)? Also, how many of these guys are preparing a weekly Family Worship guide for the church, making sure each church member knows the church confession ?
My point is that a christian is to be balanced in all areas and not just being a " Soulwinner". Again, I'm sure this is being done in some of our megachurches. Medium and small churches are "Guilty" as well. Let me be clear on that. One last example: I was one the phone today with a minister of education of a church that runs 3000 in SS and all he could talk about was SS growth and Baptisms and how they needed more to reach their goal. After thirty minutes I asked this question " What new thing have you learned about God that is in Scripture the last couple of weeks"? His response was " What do you mean"? My response was " The question that I asked you"! My point is that this mentality is driven into our ministers. They almost can't think outside of that box. Our churches are dead because a good many of our ministers are dead!

G. Alford said...

Eric,

My “Stocked Pond” post was not really meant as an Arminian verses Calvinistic Baptist Church comparison (There are large Calvinistic Churches in large cities also)…

But it was a rather poor attempt to show that a successful ministry cannot be judged by numbers alone. Many faithful pastors (Calvinistic and Arminian) will never be considered for President of the SBC no matter how faithful they are in evangelism do to the fact of ministering in a small community and not a large city.

And YES it was over the top, Sorry about that!

J. Morrison said...

I believe a good discussion might be centered around why State Conventions receive the larger dollar amount than the National Convention. If funding for international missionaries is lacking, I for one would like to see more Cooperative Program dollars being sent to the IMB and not for many state programs which could be performed by local churches.

jbuchanan said...

I still do not think that most of you are taking serious the down-grade that we are on due to the use of theater style seating in our sanctuaries. What will be next? Will we begin to use artificial light instead of the natural light that God has given us? Please remember that the the strange fire that Nadab and Abihu brought before God was a flashlight. Will we accomodate the King of England and abandon our beloved Bishops Bible for the modern Authorized version? Will be allow instruments to distract our minds during the singing of Psalms rather than staying with the pure antiphonal singing of Leviticus. Obviously brothers, the answer is no! So how can so many accomodate the world by using theater style seating. We must protect the purity of the pewity in our churches.

hashbrown said...

jbuchanon

o.k. I'm a little slow, but in repeating your diatribe against stadium seating, are you mocking the people on this thread that are talking about meaningful membership rolls and biblical discipline.

In other words saying that they are trivial, stupid things.

Jason Sampler said...

Hashman,

I can't speak to jbuchanan's 'authorial intent', but I see this as just a jolt of humor into an otherwise pretty serious blog. Things have been quite heated around here for the last week or so. I think he's just trying to inject some good humor through a portrayal of seating through the eyes of a Calvinist.

I, for one, have cracked up at all of his stuff. Pew on!

Burt Harper said...

Alford,

I want to thank all those who attack Calvinist as not being evangelistic? I see people opening the Word to dispute your theology. I cannot remember seeing or hearing anyone call Calvinist non-evangelistic. I do see and hear people calling hyper-Calvinist non-evangelistic. I am in no way a Calvinist. I love and pray for all of my brethren even if they are are theologically PC.

Jeff Richard Young,

I see things just the opposite of the way you portray them. Calvinism is so pious that people become emotionally attached to it. It is very emotionally seductive to me. As a man it appeals to my natural tendency to be irresponsible because of the freedom from responsibilty it represents. I know that man is responsible for his sin. And if he does not put his faith in Christ he will go to hell for eternity. However, if God choose me because He loved me and did not choose others, then I am free from the responsibility to respond to His call. Brother, remember this. Christ was amazed at the unbelief of many Jews. If He did not choose them why was he so amazed at their unbelief?

Nathan,

We cannot explain why God's Word doesnt make sense sometimes. We merely accept the truths taught from the Word. Does it make sense that Christ died and rose from the dead for sinners? Does it make sense that God would use murders like Paul, and David? You must let go of your emotions and listen to God.

My family may possibly be seing more fruit in our church from our witnessing at the present time. I can honest say that my children are salt and light in the public school. We are consistently seeing people come to Christ through our ministry. Just last night I looked around at the church dinner and counted 6 people we invited that came on their own and 4 that we brought with us. We took 2 vehicles to church so we could carry everyone that needed a ride because we are a family of 4. I look to God in wonderment and amazement and tears come to my eyes as I realize He is allowing at wicked sinner such as I to do His work. It is so humbling. I am so unworthy. With this in mind. Whether you believe in Calvinism or not, your works will show whether your faith is dead or alive. So, if you choose to believe in Calvinism, I hope you are like some of the Calvinist I know. I hope your faith is alive.

johhmark,

I will pray for the lost as Christ interceded for the unsaved while he was on the cross. I will try to persuade men with the Gospel as Christ and Paul did. I will thank God that He allows a worm like me to serve Him.

Tom,

I like your formula. I will have to steal it for future use. I think that formula works well when we take the Word to those who are envisioned by most to be very sinful. Let people accuse us of being winebibbers and publicans because of who we are seen with. And smile about it. Isnt God great!!

All,

I believe the great servant of God, William Carey, went many years without a convert in India. He is my hero missionary of the past. And yes, I know my brethren he was a Calvinist. Glory to God. You dont have to be perfect in your theology to be used of God. Can I have an Amen?

Burt Harper said...

I am curious about something. Some of you have claimed that many of our pastors are obsessed with numbers? Is the obsession driven by a burden for the lost? Are many pastors obsessed with numbers for some other reason(s)? If there obsession is driven by something other than a burden for the lost, what are they driven by?

G. Alford said...

Burt,

I am just amazed at how quickly you can forget these immortal words of the Caners (Brothers Grim) condemnation of ALL Calvinist:

Have any of your grown a soul-winning church like Woodstock?
Do you send out missionaries every two weeks?

Have any of you done ANYTHING accept kill your churches with sermons expounding the Westminster Confession?

Probably not.

I would guess that, unlike William Carey, most guys who are hyper about Calvinism use it to justify your laziness.

…………

Yes, I absolutely believe Calvinism (5 points) is a virus.

And to Philip: Do I see as synonymous 5-point Calvinism (supralapsarian) and "Hyper-Calvinism?"

OF COURSE I DO.


All of this just in case you are having a “Senior Moment”…

By the way, you said ”You must let go of your emotions and listen to God” Very good point! Why don’t we just start with the book of Ephesians… lay aside your emotions and simply read and listen to what God has said in this book and remember that God said these things and not some Calvinist (although I must admit that He does sound a lot like a Calvinist in this book).

Blessings

Nathan White said...

Burt said: You dont have to be perfect in your theology to be used of God. Can I have an Amen?

Praise God that you are correct in that we do not have to have perfect theology. However, I feel there is a great danger in making this statement. We certainly cannot let obvious errors go unchallenged can we?

No matter which side you stand on regarding this debate, we must understand how vitally important these issues are. Prayer, evangelism, teaching, worship, philosophies of ministry etc, all are drastically affected by where you stand on the doctrines of Calvinism. Confrontation and discussion of these issues, of course in an attitude of love and grace, is a sign of spiritual health. May we fear the day that we ‘agree to disagree’ and thus throw theology out the door in favor of unity.

SDG

Micah said...

RABBI - You've asked the same question on several comments sections, are you reading our responses? Perhaps you might deal with the responses we've provided you rather than posting the same question over and over?

Stephen Newell said...

I don't know, it just seems to me that 75% of the people on both sides of this issue have no idea what they're talking about beyond the "talking points" of their respective parties. And yes, I am saying this looks too much like politics. I'm quite frankly sick of it.

It doesn't do anything for people like me who are investigating the doctrines of grace nor does it do anything but besmirch the names of "good" Calvinists and non-Calvinists. I feel pretty bad for people like Tom Ascol and non-Calvinists who've not really waded into this cesspool. They've had to sit here and listen to a lot of diatribe about what they believe, and to be told that they are wrong and quite possibly blasphemous (yes I've even heard people on both sides toss around the word blasphemy).

I suggest that those attacking Johnny Hunt and those attacking his attackers all go get potty trained. You do a disservice to our fellowship and to the Gospel.

In the meantime let's get this issue of pews settled once and for all. The church stands or falls on the pew! ;-)

jbuchanan said...

Stephen,

Thank you. Finally someone sees the importance of setting the pew issue. By the way Stephen where do you stand on pewism?

Burt Harper said...

buchanan,

What is pewism?

jbuchanan said...

Burt,

Pewism is the most important battle of our day. Pewists stand against the use of theater style or any other uninspired seating in the sanctuary or worship centers of our churches. Theater style seating is a gnostic influence that promotes individualism rather than corporate worship. It also promotes comfort in the church and obviously that is someting that goes against the grain. It also represents a conformity to the world by trying to make the church look and feel more like the world. It should be heartedly rejected. If you will go back and read the previous entries on this subject you will find that we have even carefully defined 5-point pewism:

Jeff Young has defined them as:

1. Totally Homemade
2. Unpadded
3. Left unfinished (no stain or paint)
4. Imcomfortable (the KJV term)
5. Perpendicular (no slant to back)

I agree with Young with the exception that I do not like the reference to the King James Bible. We do not allow such modern translations to be used in the church and prefer the Bishops Bible.

I would love to hear what Dr. Ascol has to say on this subject. I relaize given recent events here that we want to avoid controversy. But I hopw the entire convetion will begin an earnest dislogue about pewism and maybe even allow it to be debated at the next Pastors conference.

Charles said...

Could someone please tell me why my posts are being deleted? This blog is allowed to take cheap shots at Johnny Hunt or Bailey Smith but as soon as someone says something about Mark Dever out comes the delete button.

Why the censorship?

Burt Harper said...

kbuchanan,

I think W T Sherman was the first notable anti-pewist that came to Georgia. He took many pews out of many Georgia churches and used them as firewood, barricades, and feeding troughs for horses. He may have been more conservative than the pewist in that he may have wanted everyone to stand or sit on the floor during worship services. I say this because he did not replace the pews with rocking chairs or any other available seating that would have been more comfortable than the pews. If he was an anti-pewist, then I may have to change my theology on the matter and become a pewist. Because I do not want to be associated with the Shermanist.

I may be a 6 point pewist because I believe that the pew should also be unsanded.

Scripture Searcher said...

I plead with my brothers to stop their bloviating on Tom Ascol's blog!

I was hoping to be removed from this respirator by now but with all the smoke, smog and fog (some of all three) it seems highly unlikely at this critical time in the history of the SBC!

Nurse, I need another big pain pill, too! Can I take
the whole bottle? It is so
painful - better call all the doctors and nurses to help. The need is great!


Dear locquacious lads, stop the profound pontifications
- put your lengthy remarks in book form and see if they make it to the clearance sale table in May
in Greensboro!


I hope I have not become your enemy for telling you the truth because I really do love all God's children, including you!

Tim Batchelor said...

I for one am a ptotatler believing that there is no biblical permission for either pews or seating of any sort in the house of God. The true elect of God are more than willing to stand for the duration and pray on their knees. Doing away with all seating of any kind is the sure answer to bloated church rolls and nonresident membership. By the way, I practice what I preach at least 35-40 minutes every service.

I am still waiting for Gene Bridges to slide into the pewgrade controversy.

Sincerely,

Tim

Jason Sampler said...

Never fear, Tim. I have alerted the verbose beast and he is, at this moment, composing his thoughts on this oh so serious of topics that plague us in these troublesome days.

GeneMBridges said...

A little bird told me Tim Batchelor had taken my name in vain...

Now, Tim, the hills have eyes,and I'm like a spider in its web...you never know where my minions are at any given moment...

As I understand it, the issue of pews has been quite the topic of late in RB circles. I believe here we need to clarify a few things. Our Baptist forefathers generally appealed to Scripture and the RPW (Regulative Principle of Worship) for their eccelsioilogy in those early years. I would say that being in worship is certainly an element, but that pews would be more or less an incident of worship. Given time we could, perhaps, discuss the development of the pew in history and the various interpretations of the RPW thereof, although one could probably infer from the use of the imperative to

However, I would point out that those who use pews have generally held together on the most fundamental issues of the gospel and its presentation, while those who have not used pews have tended to stray from the 5 points of pewism Jeff has enumerated for us.

Those who have done this have typically accused folks like Jeff, and I would argue myself, of imposing a Bezian supraposturaian structure on the RPW and the appropriate Scriptures. This is, of course, derivative of scholasticism in the schools of carpentery as well as theology at the time of the Synod of Dort. However, in my opinion, it is difficult to see how pervasive the influence of supraposturarianism could be since the confessions are historically infraposturarian.

So, as long as we all agree we should be in worship, perhaps we could all get along quite well. I believe we would do well to heed these words and stand in opposition to men like Mr. Batchelor who clearly articulates hyper-posturiarian views and would remove pews from the worship of the church.

When this happens, a slide into Socinianism and a Unitarian view of the grace of God manifested in pews and seating in general is lost. In this view, the grace of God is put outside of creation and carpentery. Only the wood of the pulpit is in view. We must watch carefully to prevent such a slide into heterodoxy, for therein lie the seeds of the destruction of the SBC!

As for Mr. Batchelor who has clearly decided to spread his views and exterminate pewism from the face of the earth, I can say only this:


"Pewism has never heard of him before, and if its advocates ever think of him hereafter it will never be in a connection flattering to his vanity."

Tim Batchelor said...

Mr. Bridges,

Your persuasive arguments have convinced me to repent of my hyper-posturiarian views. My problem now is whether to be a general pewist or a particular pewist (actually a very real issue in a roundabout way among baptists of the Charleston branch). James 2 seems to teach that if one chooses to use pews he must reject particular pewism for the more liberal general pewist position. What an odd position for a reformed mind to find itself sitting.

Brother Tim

G. Alford said...

Dr. Caner reviles the existence of a wide spread effort to “PURGE” the SBC!

In emails to Dr. James White today Dr. Caner implicates some leading figures within the SBC. Dr. Caner says:

"Drs Patterson, Kelley, and Roberts are leading the rest of us in purging our schools of such teachings as the deletion of invitations, the Baptist use of elders as an oligarchy, and in some cases, the advocation of pedobaptism (Piper's attempt in 2005)."

Dr. Caner continues on to make it clear that NO Calvinist (by that I understand him to mean student or professor) will ever be welcome at Liberty. Caner says:

"I do admit your movement (Calvinism) has "legs." You do garner followers. However, I state emphatically, they have no place at Liberty Seminary, and never shall."

Dr. Caner goes on to say:

"The evangelical world as a whole rejects fatalistic predeterminism. (Calvinism) Geisler. Hunt. Patterson. LaHaye. Virtually every seminary among the Baptists. Goodness, even men such as Drs. Mohler and Akin are distancing themselves from the Founder's Movement. Ask them if they want to be identified as the "reformed" schools of the SBC."

Read it all at http://aomin.org/

K. Morse said...

wow. I guess calvinists should all just throw in the towel. call it quits. we're doomed. for the first time in history, someone finally is trying to kick calvinism out of christianity. well...I give up. this kind of theology doesn't really have much support anyway (okay, i'm being really sarcastic here).

at least he's being honest and up front about it. i guess that's the only good thing I can think to say about it.

jbuchanan said...

Genembridges,

I have to bow to the Master. Never have I seen such an able and eloquent defense of pewism. Few in our convention understand the importance of this issue. Some even doubt whether or not it is real. But your post may in fact turn the tide. Thank you brother.

David B. Hewitt said...

Gene,

Sir, I suspect that I shall forever be in debt to you for your writings and excellent theological thoughts. Not only that, you've proven to be pretty decent at satire as well.

Enjoying the fellowship,
Dave Hewitt

jbuchanan said...

This morning I preached about the evils of the anti-pewist and semi-seatist influences in our churches. We have committed to holding up the Baptist tradition of pew sitting despite what others may do.

deacon said...

Tom said:
"Contrary to what will most certainly become a cyber-legend, I did not intend to start a war of words between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. In fact, you will search in vain to find me make a reference to Calvinism anywhere in the original post. That subject was introduced by an innocent-enough question raised by deacon in the comments. He asked, "Not to get too far off track, but [are] the rumors true that Hunt is extremely anti-Calvinistic?""

Oh!? Did I do this? Obviously I have opened Pandora's Box. I guess that it was the right question at the right time, since it has taken on a national debate.

And on Caner's comment that Mohler wants to distance himself from Founders. Oh really, so he can spend more time with the PCA? Give me a break.