Monday, March 13, 2006

Malcolm Yarnell's "The Heart of a Baptist," pt. 2; Is hyper-Calvinism really a problem in the SBC?


A surgeon must be a precisionist. When he takes the scalpel to the precious tissues of the human heart, it behooves him to make no mistakes: to move neither too fast nor too slow, too deep nor too shallow, too far to the right nor too far to the left. A surgeon must be extremely careful. Likewise, the Baptist theologian must be careful when excising those dangerous tissues which threaten to traumatize the Baptist heart.

However, surgery nevertheless is sometimes required. There comes a time when the danger of inaction is greater than the possible dangers of action. Now is a time for surgery. Please allow me to identify five critical issues or calcified tissues which threaten the Baptist heart (8).



With these words, Yarnell opens the third section of his paper in which he comments on current dangers to Baptist health. "Loss of biblical fidelity" is the first concern he raises and he wisely includes neglecting the Bible along with the commonly addressed malady of higher criticism. Failure to teach and learn the Bible is a much greater threat to Baptists than the frontal assault of liberal theology.

"The Second Critical Issue is the Calvinist-Arminian Debate" (9). Yarnell seems to applaud a "low-key" debate on these issues "which can be and is quite healthy" (9). Inexplicably, he immediately follows that acknowledgment with this statement: "However, the debate can become quite unhealthy when some Baptists demand that others advocate their particular position" (9). I don't know to whom he is referring but I feel certain that he is not criticizing the insistence on confessional fidelity required by our institutions and agencies. It would be helpful to know if this is merely theoretical or if there is some reference in mind. After distancing himself from both five-point Calvinism and Arminianism, he makes another inexplicable assertion, this time, as a fact: "Hyper-Calvinism is becoming a real problem in the Southern Baptist Convention" (9).

This is news to me. I don't profess to know all that is going on in the SBC, but I try to keep up with the various theological currents that exist and are emerging. I have several very astute conversation partners who share my concern about such matters. I would like to know exactly what Yarnell sees that causes him to make this assertion. Hyper-Calvinism is a very serious error. It is a doctrinal parasite that sucks the life out of vital Christianity where it takes hold. It should be resisted with courage and strength by all who love Christ and His church. Therefore, it should be exposed where it exists. So, I for one, would like to know where such miscreant theology is lurking and how it is manifesting itself in the SBC to the degree that it is becoming "a real problem."

Those of us who are evangelical Calvinists--or historic Southern Baptists--are used to being accused of hyper-Calvinism out of both ignorance and malice. Such accusations, though unhelpful and even painful, are easy to dismiss because, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, "The ignorant Arminian does not know the difference between a Calvinist and a hyper-Calvinist." But Dr. Yarnell is neither ignorant nor an Arminian. When he makes this accusation, it is worth hearing what he has to say. The problem is, he does not identify who these hyper-Calvinists are. Hopefully, he will do so soon.

Yarnell uses Timothy George's chapter on John Gill in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition to identify hyper-Calvinism. I think that he has misunderstood George and seriously misrepresented him at a key point. Yarnell writes:


According to Timothy George, hyper-Calvinism is defined doctrinally as the advocacy of eternal justification, ethically as the surrender to antinomianism, and evangelistically as the refusal to give an invitation.



This is not an accurate representation of what George has written. While interacting with the common and unjustified charge that Gill is the "paradigm of hyper-Calvinism," George offers an analysis of why this accusation is leveled. He writes, "On three distinct issues Gill's writings were taken to lend support to extreme views which appeared to undermine the necessity of conversion, the moral requirements of the Christian life, and the evangelistic mission of the church" (26). George is not offering a definition of hyper-Calvinism, but rather is offering insights into 3 areas of Gill's writings that have led some to charge him with hyper-Calvinism. George uses the terms "eternal justification" and "antinomianism" in his analysis. But you will search in vain to find the phrase, "refusal to give an invitation." That is Yarnell's terminology and it is not an accurate representation of what George actually has written: "The third issue on which Gill's hyper-Calvinist reputation is based was his presumed refusal to preach the gospel promiscuously to the lost" (27).

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, Yarnell has transposed George's carefully worded analysis into the idea that hyper-Calvinists refuse to "give an invitation." Now, imagine how this sounds to the congregations where this message has been preached (Criswell College, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention leadership and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Founders Day chapel). I dare say that most of his hearers associate Yarnell's "giving an invitation" with the modern practice of giving an altar call. Indeed, one gets the impression that this association may even be in Yarnell's mind as well by the way he continues to use the phrase.


It is the anti-invitation expression of hyper-Calvinism that currently challenges Southern Baptists. Now, it matters not exactly how you conduct the invitation, but we must treasure the divine command to be instruments in the calling of sinners to repentance and faith. The invitation is not to replace baptism, but an invitation to Christ is nonetheless necessary.



The Gospel is not properly preached unless it includes an invitation! But that invitation is to come to Christ, not to come to the front of a building to find Christ, or to raise a hand or sign a card or any other physical activity. There is no doubt that Yarnell knows and understands this distinction, but when he equates hyper-Calvinism with not "giving an invitation" and feels compelled to warn that "The invitation is not to replace baptism," then one is left to wonder just what is in his mind.

If not giving an altar call is tantamount to hyper-Calvinism, then Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, William Carey and John Calvin himself (to name only a few), are all guilty of this error. You could also add Rick Warren to this list.

In contrast to the declaration that "hyper-Calvinism is becoming a real problem" Yarnell also allows that "hyper-Arminianism can be a real problem in the Southern Baptist Convention" (9). Presumably, this is a mere hypothetical threat at this point.

In his conclusion to this section Yarnell states that the SBC has room for one-, two-, three-, four-, and five-point Calvinists although "a modest Calvinism [which he evidently equates with the Baptist Faith and Message's position] is preferable" (10).

A third threat that Yarnell identifies concerns "The Presbyterian and Quaker Threats to Baptist Ecclesiology" (10). The latter he equates with individualism and the former with "arguing for multiple elders, or a forced distinction between teaching and ruling elders" (10). Baptists have had elders in their history. The historical evidence is overwhelming at this point. Simply read the earlier editions of the Baptist Faith and Message. Even WB Johnson, the first president of the SBC, advocated elders in his The Gospel Developed (1846). He reiterates the point in a numbered summary: "1. That over each church of Christ in the apostolic age, a plurality of rulers was ordained, who were designated by the terms, elder, bishop, overseer, pastor, with authority in the government of the flock." A return to this kind of congregationally sensitive eldership is far from a threat. It is biblical and consistent with our heritage.

The fourth threat is lack of "Intentionally Orthodox Preaching." No argument from me here. Amen. I particularly appreciate his call for Trinitarian preaching that is appreciative of orthodox creeds and confessions.

The last threat he calls the "Loss of Missiological Clarity" (11). After rejecting the "Camel method" of witnessing, Yarnell rightly calls for bold, open discipleship on the mission fields. Included in that is believer's baptism.


Christians who do not practice baptism are simply not Great Commission Christians. Southern Baptist missionaries should firmly rebuke other missionaries who do not completely fulfill the Great Commission. Jesus said to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. Without baptism the Great Commission remains unfulfilled (11)!



I am willing to grant that argument but, again, am left wondering why it is only selectively employed? Should it not be used with equal vigor about "making *disciples*" and "teaching them to *observe all things*" that Christ has commanded us? Why then doesn't Yarnell call upon his fellow Southern Baptists to "firmly rebuke" those pastors and denominational leaders who do not completely fulfill the Great Commission at these points?


I plan to offer one final analysis tomorrow on what Dr. Yarnell has written. This will include my final observations and reflections. Let me state very clearly, however, that I think he has provided Southern Baptists with another helpful opportunity to discuss doctrine in light of our identity as Baptists and a "people of the Book." For that we owe him a debt of gratitude.




31 comments:

Scripture Searcher said...

I earnestly plead with Dr.
Malcolm Yarnell to kindly
provide names of all the
HYPER CALVINISTS living and ministering in Southern Baptist churches, colleges and seminaries in 2006.


Unless and until he does, we must conclude that he is
guilty of erecting straw men that exist only in the pages of history and the fertile imagination of his
own mind.


And that's neither scholarly
nor CHRISTIAN.

Scott said...

Scripture Searcher,

You are exactly right! However, one more step is needed. We must call these guys down and confront these brothers for their error.More and more are seeing this reformation coming in the SBC. We must not let these men tell and teach our churches and seminaries that we are hypercalvinist.If we remain silent some may actually believe this about us!

Stephen Thomas said...

Why don't you know? The hyper-Calvinists are all those guys who call themselves Founders Ministries. Tom Ascol is the King of Hyper-Calvinists in our age.

You know, of course, that I'm being sarcastic.

It's a wonder that people use the term "hyper-Calvinist" as a sort of slur when the simple term "Calvinist" is thought of so nastily anyway. For most people, simply saying "Calvinist" is swear word enough.

Still, this idea of referring to some nefarious group within the SBC without actually getting specific is nothing new, escpecially from the sort of fellow who would speak for the SBoTC. I'm still waiting for the names of all of those homosexual pastors in Texas that the BGCT is harboring.

GeneMBridges said...

We've been Scripture Searched! :~)

This is a good thing.

What more is left to say? You have said it all.

In a post at SBC Outpost, Marty Duren posts:

But, according to the faulty page referenced on my post, Dr. Yarnell is a member at Birchman BC where, incidentally, Paige Patterson and Emir (I think) Caner are also members. IMB trustee Bob Pearle is the Senior Pastor.

As to Dr. Yarnell's local church involvement, I couldn't say, but I do not myself believe that para-church involvement equals loca church involvement. That is a very good point. And, as you suggested, today I did send Dr. Yarnell as series of questions with permission to publish his responses.

--Now, before jumping to conclusions, let me say that one of us should verify this before drawing inferences...but this seems rather, how shall we say, interesting, that these particular individuals are congregating in one place and saying the things they are saying.

GeneMBridges said...

From: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2004/12/hyper-calvinism.html by Steve Hays:

1. It is used as a term of abuse for anyone who is more Calvinistic than the accuser. For example, a 4-point Calvinist will accuse a 5-point Calvinist of being a hyper-Calvinist.

In this sense, it is used by someone who wants to strike a compromise between Reformed and Arminian theology. He believes that both are half-right, two halves of a whole, but their relation is one big imponderable paradox.

This usage is unhelpful because it blurs the meaning of a term and confuses what something stands for with what we stand for. I can disagree with something without bending the meaning of the word all out of shape. Labels cease to be useful unless they clearly demarcate a given position and distinguish it from a contrary position. If someone doesn't believe in 5-point Calvinism, he should just find (or make up) a label for his own position rather than stealing ours.

2. It is used of a preacher who refuses to call everyone in the audience to repent of their sins and believe in Christ.

This begins with a Reformed premise, and derives what it considers to be a more consistently Calvinistic conclusion, to wit: if no one can come to Christ who is not chosen by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and regenerated by the Spirit, then it is inappropriate to call on the reprobate or unregenerate to repent of sin and believe in Christ. And since we don't know the state of grace, or graceless state, of every listener, we shouldn't call on anyone to repent and believe.

To my knowledge, this is pretty rare. It seems more often to be a scarecrow erected by the enemies of Calvinism to frighten away any passersby who might take an interest in the doctrines of grace.

3. It is sometimes used of a preacher who does, in fact, call on everyone to repent and exercise faith, but who denies that God loves everyone or wants everyone to be saved or has conferred common grace on everyone.

Ironically, this accuser is the mirror-image of the hyper-Calvinist. For he is saying that the objective offer of the gospel is invalid unless certain divine preconditions are acknowledged and respected. It isn't enough to call on everyone to repent and believe: unless you (the preacher) believe that God seconds your call from the pulpit, then the offer is insincere and sub-par.

Scott said...

Gene and my fellow brothers,

I always enjoy what you have to say. Thanks for sharing your Biblical studies with us. I've learned alot of new things.You have pointed out something very interesting.
You mentioned Dr. Yarnell is a member where Emir Caner and Paige Patterson attend church. Excuse me ( Members as well).Lets put some pieces of the puzzle together:

1. The upcoming talk between Dr. Patterson and Dr. Mohler.( I do want to apologize to Dr. Mohler for being overly critical of him recently on some things. I played too much Monday Morning quarterback on him. He has done a great job at Southern. I do disagree with him on some things but I went overboard on him on some issues).
2. The Dr. Akin article( Let's be honest that it wasn't pro calvinism).I have seen alot worse.
3. The Baptist Fire website( Enough said about that).
4. More and more attacks at conferences against calvinism.
5. More and more attacks from the pulpits of the mega churches against calvinism.
6. Denominational leaders saying that the Founders and Founders friendly churches are hypercalvinist. They are saying if you embrace five points that makes you a hypercalvinist.
As we have already seen that they are " Watching Us". I want to issue a challenge to my Calvinistic Brothers:
1. We need to have some mtgs( Planning sessions/ prayer time together.
2. Are we personally supporting(Financial) the Founders ministry ? There are alot of projects that can be done. Reprinting of Boyce and pass out to SBC members and seminary students. Let's give something to them quickly( $ 10,20,50, 100,and more). Every bit helps! Send a check!I sound like "Freddie Gage at the Pastors Conference."
3. I can assure you that the others are clearly thinking and have a plan to try and " Shoot down" what were fighting for. Don't think for one minute that they are not!
4. Are you personally discipling someone? Also, are you sharing the gospel on a daily basis?
5.Don't let them make you think that the SBC won't reform unto calvinistic theology. Remember we are a fast growing number.The more we preach the gospel and disciple, publish books, conferences, start calvinistic churches, and confront the closer we are to seeing reformation in the SBC!

Press On, Press On !

Scripture Searcher said...

Let's cut to the core of the
issue -


Yarnell does not know the name of a single HYPER~CALVINIST living/serving in a single SBC church, college or
seminary in 2006!


What a disgrace he is to the
cause of Jesus Christ!

deusvult2 said...

Mr. Yarnell does not have any statistical nor substantial evidence for the existence or increase of Hyper-Clavinists. For one thing, as Dr. Ascol pointed out, he seems to have a deficient view of what hyper-calvinism is. Secondly, maybe he sees sagging baptism numbers and declining new convert numbers across the SBC as a sign that Calvinism is to blame. Please, it's not like all those other Arminian denominations are racking up a million baptisms a year either! The truth is Calvinistic denominations, like the SBC may become, have historically advanced evangelism and missions far greater than any Arminian denomination, save for the Methodists under Wesley and Pentecostals in the Western Hemisphere. Also, some of the greatest...no, I MEAN MOST of the greatest soul winners since the Reformation have been Calvinists! It has seemed apparent to many people that in the last ten years or so there has been a revival of Calvinism, at least the five points, within the SBC. Many of the SBC's leaders, prominent pastors, and youth have begun to embrace and champion the five points. Perhaps this revival began in the seminaries with the return of conservative power and presence, I think so. Either way, Yarnell seems astutely aware of this rise of Calvinism and he seems scared and anxious over it. Ultimately, the rise of Calvinism, not hyper, is occuring in our convention and this has and will continue to intimidate, scare, and confuse poeple from all angles within the Baptist world as a whole. But this will be inevitable, it happened during the conservative reformation in the SBC and it will happen in other times of reform. God willing, the revival will continue and prevail.

Tree4life said...

As a student at SWBTS, I was at chapel that day for Dr. Yarnell's address. I've had him for Systematic Theology. He would call himself a calvinist. In fact, in chapel he mentioned, though I cannot remember in the written version of the sermon, that he is a 4 Point calvinist.
What was said was addressed to those who no longer give invitations which I was kinda surprised that it was a big deal to him.
Time ran out after the "Calvinist-Arminian" point. But on this issue he was speaking to the extremes, but was very clear to say that there is room for both in the camps, to work through the issues.
The issue of invitations being left out as evidence of hyper-calvinism, not sure bout how that is, but he did associate the two.
Hope this helps. I heard. I saw. Some of which I agreed. Some I didn't.
Aaron Landis

GeneMBridges said...

I want to go on record here that I think the connections are less than coincidental. It does appear the IMB policies and the recent comments by certain persons are cut from different parts of the same cloth. On the other hand, in some large churches and educational institutions, having served in one at one time myself, one hand doesn't know what the other is doing sometimes. It does, however, in my opinion, signify a trend, "birds of a feather..."

That said, I'm not so sure that the issue with respect to Dr. Yarnell's perception of Calvinism is that he doesn't know how to define it, but rather he doesn't seem able to handle his sources correctly and/or is unwilling to let them speak.

In discussing Dr. Piper, he used the October 2005 document from the Desiring God website. This is merely a summary. The full rationale can be found here:

http://theologica.blogspot.com/2005/09/baptism-and-membership-at-bethlehem.html See the links provided.

Dr. Yarnell chose to say that a person need not be baptized to join BBC in his section on creeping Presbyterianism. (One can't help but notice the Caners tried this same tactic). The policy itself is highly qualified and reads both (a) that a person who had experienced no baptism at all would not be admitted to membership; and (b) any person that wished to appeal to their paedobaptism would have to make a highly detailed account of their position that was based on Scriptural conviction and sound exegesis, not tradition and this would further have to pass by the elders of the church.

Quote: This conviction of conscience must be based on a plausible, intelligible, Scripturally-based argument rather than on mere adherence to a tradition or family expectations. The elders will make all such judgments in presenting candidates for membership to the congregation (BBC documentation).

The policy applied to adults only. Paedobaptism itself would not be permitted; and those entering the fellowship under this policy would have to submit to the teaching of the elders on believer's baptism and would not be allowed to teach paedobaptist views, or, for that matter, teach at all. There were also several qualifications with respect to the level of service that such a member would be allowed to render. None of this is even referenced.

No, instead, he had to raise the spectre that Dr. Piper did not understand a regenerate church membership and was rejecting believer's baptism...which the extended documentation expressly states is not the case. (Perhaps, Dr. Yarnell assumes the BBC takes its members the way most SBC churches do...if so, then I might tend to agree, but since they screen their members very, very thoroughly I strongly disagree.) The policy has a statement about a regenerate church membership:

However, we believe it is fitting that membership in the local church (distinct from leadership in the local church) should have prerequisites similar to the prerequisites for membership in the universal church. In other words, we believe it is unfitting to deny membership to a person who, by faith in Christ, gives evidence of regeneration.

On baptism:

Thus the official position of Bethlehem Baptist Church is that only baptism by immersion of believers will be taught and practiced by the church. Customarily,therefore, all members of the church will have been baptized by immersion as believers.

Since we believe that the New Testament teaches and demonstrates that the mode of baptism is only the immersion of a believer in water, we therefore regard all other practices of baptism as misguided, defective, and illegitimate. Yet, while not taking these differences lightly, we would not elevate them to the level of what is essential.

If they desired eldership or to serve in a teaching capacity, they would have to be baptized and affirm the elder covenant which is far more restrictive doctrinally than the general covenant. In short, Dr. Yarnell slandered Dr. Piper and his church.

I wonder if Dr. Yarnell actually believes that believers baptism guarantees a regenerate church membership. It is a control, not a guarantee. Why mention this?
In his sermon he stated:

Baptism is the Baptist distinctive which leads all other Baptist distinctives!

Err, no. Logically, the concept of a regenerate church membership underwrites believer's baptism; baptism per se does not underwrite the concept of a regenerate church membership. Dr. Yarnell's logic could only be valid if he affirmed baptismal regeneration. The Baptist distinctive that leads to all others is the concept of a regenerate church membership, which is, in turn based on a conversionist understanding of the gospel which underwrites a non-regenerative view of baptism by way of Sola Fide and Sola Gratia.

As for misquoting Dr. George, as Tom's article thoroughly showed, this is another glaring error. He is the director of the Center for Theological Research. Such misrepresentation and miscitation by one advertising those credentials leaves one wondering about the integrity of the research done at SWBTS. This is sloppy, and that is being nice. The fact that it was used in a public sermon makes it, in my opinion, worse, because those who heard it wouldn't know that Dr. George said no such thing. Is it asking too much for the Center for Theological Research to do adequate research and handle the sources properly?

GeneMBridges said...

As a student at SWBTS, I was at chapel that day for Dr. Yarnell's address. I've had him for Systematic Theology. He would call himself a calvinist. In fact, in chapel he mentioned, though I cannot remember in the written version of the sermon, that he is a 4 Point calvinist.

I do not know Dr. Yarnell, but I would point out that this is the single most often repeated mantra I hear when non-Calvinists talk about their theological position in the SBC, and a 4-point Calvinist will accuse a 5-point Calvinist of being a hyper-Calvinist.

A. To quote Steve Hays, "Labels cease to be useful unless they clearly demarcate a given position and distinguish it from a contrary position. If someone doesn't believe in 5-point Calvinism, he should just find (or make up) a label for his own position rather than stealing ours."

B. I've learned that when people say this, if you probe their statements, you find out they are really 4 Point Arminians who use Calvinist language. They redefine the 5 Points of Calvinism llke Norman Geisler and think this gets them off the hook. Take Ergun Caner. He claimed to be Amyraldian, but then said, "Elected because I selected."

But Amyraldianism (real 4 Point Calvinism) is simply a belief in general atonement. All the other points are defined exactly as in Calvinism. No Amyraldian would dare say, "Elected because I selected." The particularizing decree comes after the decree to atone for sin. All the decrees are enacted before creation, so the atonement is abstractly universal but only particular in its application. I can live with that. I disagree, as I believe that you have to defend too many instances of the extensional fallacy exegetically to defend general atonement, not simply because of more systematic theological considerations. The point is, this is real Amyraldianism, not the position with which these individuals often seek to be labeled.

Now I'm not accusing Dr. Yarnell of error. I'm just saying, "take that with a grain of salt," since the redefinition of terms is such a prevailing tendency these days, even among academics.I know some Amyraldians and they are constantly amazed by the redefinition of historic terms that occurs in the seminaries and Bible colleges when this comes up, because their actual theology is coopted in the process and made out to be something it is not.

Charlie Wallace said...

Fellow brothers in Christ,

I am enjoying reading this blog and its comments. However, I would like warn/admonish everyone here that we are all indeed brothers. Therefore, saying something like "What a disgrace he is to the
cause of Jesus Christ!" about a fellow Christian and Southern Baptist is probably not the wisest thing to say, nor does it bring glory to God.

With that said, I look forward to reading more (and maybe posting more).

Scripture Searcher said...

The kind invitation goes to
Charles A. Wallace and any others like the professor I consider a disgrace:


Give the name(s) of any and all HYPER CALVINISTS living
and serving in any seminary,
college or church affliated
with the SBC in 2006.


Many of us await your names
because if you cannot and will not identify these false teachers, please cease
your false accusations.

Cary Loughman said...

At a much lower level than anything I've read since finding this blog 3/13, I am currently blogging a series on the Doctrines of Grace because of the constant misundertanding and misapplication of the term Calvinist. I am finding this review and other posts here very helpful in my endeavor. After trudging through the SBC Prez thread yesterday and the interaction with the Caners (whom my pastor thinks highly of), I am even more inspired to do my homework and attempt to clearly communicate the one true Gospel.

Scott said...

Brothers,

First, I appreciate the zeal of Scripture searcher!I think he is doing exactly what we all need to be doing( Holding these guys accountable) for what they say. Whether it's through the blog or emailing or calling them. It's obvious that Patterson and his anticalvinistic supporters are and have been using the false label on us" Hypercalvinist". So, what do we do and how do we respond?
1. We hold them accountable and not let their statements go.
2. Please let me have your full attention on this one: Just ask them this same question over and over and over( They can't escape this one) Who has been in the pulpits and major SBC denominational leadership posistions the 80-85yrs in the SBC ? Just stick with that one question and not let them take you anywhere else. Their camp has led this denomination to some sad days(Let me Illustrate)
1. Their leadership let the Liberals gain much control at one time. They are famous for talking about the resurgence but how did it get that way to begin with? It was not the Calvinist that were leading the SBC or pulpits!
2. Just look at their membership percentage that attends on any given Lord's Day.
3. They even admit that evangelism is dead in the SBC. This has come out of their own mouths. They are actually critizing themselves and their own pastors and leaders because they have majority of the control in the SBC.
4. If you investigate their top churches you will find that majority of their " Decisions" as they like to call them don't come by their lay people sharing the gospel but by the altercall or large events. Could this explain the low percentage of their membership on any Lord's day?
5. How about the extreme high divorce rate in the SBC? Are they practicing church discipline on these cases?
6. How about the low return of our High School kids back to church as they go to college?
7. Are even half their members studying the scripture every day. I hear them screaming about this.I ask who are the Pastors of these people?
8.They love to talk about " What is a Baptist". Can their members even walk us through properly the Baptist Faith and Message ? Do they even own a copy?

These Guys Have Killed Their own People! So, I have a question for Paige Patterson: Who has been in the Pulpits and major leadership Posistions the last 80-85yrs? Calvinist or you guys? Can you please convince me or the SBC that we need to support you and the type of leadership that has been going on all these years. Please come out and talk on these points with us? Please show me that I'm wrong on these eight points and that you don't know the theology of these men in majority of the pulpits in the SBC. They are a product of your "Type" of theology and leadership. Will you take some responsibility for our average SBC laymen ? Some of your own " Close Friends" have been heading down the Andy Stanley / Ed Young model of a church. Do you support these guys?

Cary Loughman said...

Scott said:

"6. How about the low return of our High School kids back to church as they go to college?"

I see this as a huge problem, with my SBC church being typical. My pastor and I just had a heart to heart recently about the lack of second generation 20 somethings in our church. Especially when many of them made "decisions" (and plural decisions or "rededications" for many) as youngsters. I offered to do a unit on defending one's faith as one possible solution.

Greg Welty said...

FWIW, I toss the following pebbles into this deluge of comments:

Scripture Searcher, you say: "Yarnell does not know the name of a single HYPER-CALVINIST living/serving in a single SBC church, college or seminary in 2006!" Err, have you at least asked him privately and directly for specifics? If not, then don't you think publicly pronouncing him a "disgrace" on the basis of your own speculations is rather premature?

Gene Bridges, you say: "Dr. Yarnell chose to say that a person need not be baptized to join BBC in his section on creeping Presbyterianism." Yes, that's right. But you continue: "The policy itself is highly qualified and reads both (a) that a person who had experienced no baptism at all would not be admitted to membership; and (b) any person that wished to appeal to their paedobaptism would have to make a highly detailed account of their position that was based on Scriptural conviction and sound exegesis, not tradition and this would further have to pass by the elders of the church."

But Gene, if paedobaptism, no matter how sincerely practiced, is no baptism at all, then the proposed policy *does* entail that "a person need not be baptized to join BBC." The fact that paedobaptists think they're baptized, on the basis of a sincere but erroneous appeal to Scripture, doesn't mean that they're baptized. So what exactly is wrong with Dr. Yarnell's description of the proposed policy? That was one of the points on which I commended Dr. Yarnell in personal correspondence. He's one of the few to get this right (as opposed to those who say, wrongly, that BBC was proposing to accept paedobaptism as a form of baptism).

You continue by listing several particulars of the BBC policy, and then say: "None of this is even referenced." Sure, but none of it is in conflict with how Dr. Yarnell briefly described the policy. So what's the problem?

Gene, you continue: "No, instead, he had to raise the spectre that Dr. Piper did not understand a regenerate church membership and was rejecting believer's baptism...which the extended documentation expressly states is not the case."

Here you're mischaracterizing Dr. Yarnell's comments. He didn't say that Dr. Piper *did not understand* a regenerate church membership, *simpliciter*. Rather, he said that, "Piper fails to understand that regenerate church membership *is best served by* fidelity to the commands of Jesus Christ" (10, emphasis mine). Surely that's a fair comment? A regenerate church membership *is* best served by fidelity to Jesus's commands, including his command to baptize disciples alone. Do you disagree?

Gene, you say: "I wonder if Dr. Yarnell actually believes that believers baptism guarantees a regenerate church membership. It is a control, not a guarantee." No, he didn't say that believer's baptism *guarantees* a regenerate church membership. Rather, he said that regenerate church membership *is best served by* believer's baptism. Don't you think this more modest statement rings true? Why then raise the spectre of 'slander' at this point?

Gene, you responded to Aaron Landis: "I do not know Dr. Yarnell, but I would point out that this is the single most often repeated mantra I hear when non-Calvinists talk about their theological position in the SBC, and a 4-point Calvinist will accuse a 5-point Calvinist of being a hyper-Calvinist." Just for the record, in the sermon Dr. Yarnell says, "Please notice that five-point Calvinism is not necessarily hyper-Calvinism" (9), and "There is room in this convention for people who are five-point Calvinists" (10). Dr. Yarnell is not a four-pointer who thinks that anyone who is a five-pointer is a hyper-Calvinist.

Michael King said...

Hello friends of sound doctrine,

I would like to add a couple of cents here. Whether it means anything or not we’ll see. I am a five-point Calvinist and have been one nearly 17 years. I will freely confess that I do not evangelize like I should, pray like or should, or preach like I should. But I started a church with the purpose of reaching people for Christ, because I saw that many churches (non-Calvinistic churches) just weren’t doing it. I have had a little success at seeing some people saved, but many have come and gone. Some of this is because I will not compromise the gospel with catchy methods and easy techniques to get people to make a profession of faith and get baptized. For six years I have not given a single invitation, not because I am a Calvinist per se, but because I think the invitation system is flawed, both for Calvinists and Arminians. Sometimes people who were with me would leave, because I would simply read a Scripture text that mentioned election or predestination or some other facet of God’s sovereignty. I have never made it a pet peeve to cram Calvinism on anyone. (Read a post on my blog called Calvinists and Grace for an explanation). I have only wanted to preach and teach the Bible in an expository fashion (sometimes I do it kind of OK).

I have been called a Hyper-Calvinist a few times, once when I preached a sermon from Isaiah 46:9-11 and Daniel 4:35 after the 2000 presidential election. I only taught that God was in control of who becomes President of the United States. I had breakfast once with a program director for a popular Christian radio station in Greenville, SC, and he said Steve Camp would split your church if you invited him to come and sing because of his hyper-Calvinism. I think most of the accusations toward us come from men who are often ultra-sensitive, super-emotional, and willfully ignorant of theology—not all of them. I also would like to hear the names of the Hyper-Calvinists in the SBC. Somehow, I don’t think we will get the list.

I used to argue everyday all these great issues when there was SBCNet on CompuServe. There were Pelagians in the SBC then (I am sure there are many now as well). It drives me crazy, but I got tired of it, because I was treated poorly by the non-Calvinists there. One guy even called me a racist. Weird. It was wearing me out. Plus, I was a married with children, full-time seminary student at SEBTS (Paige Patterson was president), and I worked full-time. Fortunately, Hurricane Fran came along in 1995 and took away our power for eight days and broke my addiction to the web arguments. In fact, except for some arguing buddies at seminary, I pretty much backed out all the Calvinistic discussion. I haven’t missed it too much either. Is it possible to love the Doctrines of Grace and not want to argue about it all the time? Besides I enjoyed playing guitar in the praise band at church. (In the words of Dewey Finn, “It’s about the music.”)

Once, in Doctrine of the Church course, taught by Dr. Patterson, a non-Calvinist student with a smart aleck attitude tried to paint Calvinists as not being evangelistic. Dr. Patterson pointed out that he had some Calvinist friends that do evangelize but that most do not. I wrote him and asked what everyone else’s excuse was for not witnessing. Forty thousand SBC churches and only a few Calvinists ought to be winning millions to Christ. If my reason for being slack in my evangelism is my theology, what is the majority of Southern Baptists’ reason? He acknowledged the strength of my point. We had a great dialogue on the subject. It came down to this: Christians (Calvinists and non-Calvinists) fail to witness like they should because they are apathetic and disobedient to God’s command. A good debate is fun but not when there is no love. I love Paige Patterson. For sure I am frustrated that he loathes Calvinism, but I love him. If there is no love toward your brother, you need to learn to obey the Scripture where Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Take a bunch of unlovely guys and tell them to love one another. Yeah, that’s it. Do you mean love the Arminians too? That is a toughie, but how did Jesus love me? I might be prettier than most (see my picture), but the inside tells the real story.

I want to see the biblical doctrine of God’s sovereign election spread and flourish in the SBC. I intend to get back into some of the discussion for its promotion. I just hope that while it is doing so, that we Calvinists are more loving than toward the others than they are toward us. Be Christ-like. Much grace to you, Mike

Tim Batchelor said...

cl,

This problem is not limited to Southern Baptists. It is a tremendous burden to me as a pastor. I have recently concluded that our efforts in children's and youth ministry are a total failure as I watch 80-90% of our young people leave church after high school and so far have not seen them return.

The reasons for this are complex. Some go to college and return to find that they no longer fit in so they wander from church to church with their friends. Others take night and weekend jobs that draw them away from the church. Some who remain eventually look for groups of singles and go from church to church depending on who is offering the most relevant activities.

I am convinced that the reason young adults and especially males struggle at this juncture life is rooted in a threefold problem:
1. the breakdown of the Christian family.
2. A secular culture that is toxic
3. A disfunctional Christian community with no identifiable authentic Christian culture in the local church.

I am in "crisis" mode as I search for ways to address these issues. So far, I am convinced that the answer starts in an authentic Christian environment in the home. In direct opposition to the teaching of some I am convinced that we must expose parents to the toxic nature of popular culture on the souls of their children.

Thankfully, I believe that the gospel is so powerful and the word that many of these young people were taught will spring up and bear fruit at some point in their lives. I have seen it happen. But how sad to see the hurt and scars that their "prodigal" wanderings have left on their lives.

Tim

Tad Thompson said...

I was on the campus of Southern Seminary last week for comprehensive exams and it was being said that Southern has surpassed SWBTS in enrollment. Now, it does not matter what some may say, SBTS is decisively calvinistic in the theology departmnet. What does this say about where we are going and the condition of SWBTS.

mark said...

scott said:
So, I have a question for Paige Patterson: Who has been in the Pulpits and major leadership Posistions the last 80-85yrs? Calvinist or you guys? Can you please convince me or the SBC that we need to support you and the type of leadership that has been going on all these years. Please come out and talk on these points with us? Please show me that I'm wrong on these eight points and that you don't know the theology of these men in majority of the pulpits in the SBC. They are a product of your "Type" of theology and leadership. Will you take some responsibility for our average SBC laymen ? Some of your own " Close Friends" have been heading down the Andy Stanley / Ed Young model of a church. Do you support these guys?

(actually, you had several questions for him) why don't you ask him yourself?
ppatterson@swbts.edu

Benji Ramsaur said...

Brothers,

I want to encourage us all to have a tone of respect for Dr. Yarnell since he is our brother and a professor at one of our seminaries. Marty Duren has e-mailed him about what he meant by "invitation" and hopefully he will respond. As for us, let us remember that people are watching us as believers in the Doctrines of Grace and I hope that people can see that we not only love sound doctrine but are a gentle people as well.

I think we have all been blessed to have the example of John Piper in our lives. He is bold about the truth, but he is also amazingly whimsical. And I think that the spread of the Doctrines of Grace has come in large part because of this combination in his life.

Who knows? Maybe Yarnell will show a deep humility if he responds. He is praying about it and that is surely safe ground for him before Almighty God. In fact, his choosing to pray about it already shows humility on his part. And let us remember that even if he has erred in what he has said, we surely have said things that we have regretted too.

I love you brothers and may God give us His grace to be a lowly people.

Scott said...

Mark,

I will ask him myself! Thanks for the email for Dr.Patterson. Since Paige has made so many public comments about calvinism I figured it would be a nice change for him to deal with these questions publicly. Let me email him now!

Cary Loughman said...

Tim said:
So far, I am convinced that the answer starts in an authentic Christian environment in the home. In direct opposition to the teaching of some I am convinced that we must expose parents to the toxic nature of popular culture on the souls of their children.


Thanks for the thoughts, brother. The home is a key area and I have also approached my pastor about me rotating through the various SS classes with a specialized series on worldviews, defending our faith, etc. with the goal of better equipping all with being able to give a defense for the hope that lies within them. I'm hoping he will give this idea consideration.

In line with what you are describing, you might look at stand to reason.org blog series on a youth mission trip to Cal Berkeley.

Scripture Searcher said...

Names, gentlemen, names ~ is that such a difficult think for Yarnell and his friends and disciples to do?



His accusation was made
in public - his proof should
be given in public!



Supplying the names of these dangerous men should be easy IF they exist in our
SBC churches, colleges and
seminaries in 2006.



Just give us the names of those false teachers called HYPER CALVISTS who are a real danger to TRUTH and a genuine threat to biblical evangelism and missions - and the future of the SBC.

Scott said...

Scripture searcher,

I totally agree! I'm afraid some of our brothers don't understand that we need to confront(lovingly but straight forward) these public statements. Bad doctrine does not build up a Christian.
Someone mentioned earlier why not meet face to face with them instead of emailing, blogging,and books. Great point! That's what James White has offered to do with the Caners. Is there any Calvinist here that would not be willing to sit down with the noncalvinist and discuss these things?
Here is a simple solution: Have the noncalvinist meet face to face in front of the convention and lets actually have a SBC theological debate. The problem is that this has been offered so I'm told but they will not do it. I'm waiting for one of their church members to ask them " Since you blast Calvinism why won't you meet face to face with them Pastor".
I'm getting to the point( No, I'm already at it) of saying Patterson, Caners, Graham, Hunt, Vines,Gaines,and Ragle here is your chance to show your church members that the calvinist are wrong by getting into the scripture in front of the Convention. What is so hard about putting this together? The calvinist side has been ready to do this for sometime.They know there is much to loose!
What is so sad is that there are some Calvinist that are afraid to see this happen because it could affect their employment. Many of us have already been down this road and we have paid the price and glad we did and would do it again and again.
I like this " Scripture Searcher Guy"! He is not being ugly he is just doing and saying what we should! I wouldn't want you as an enemy!

Benji Ramsaur said...

Scott and Scripture Searcher,

I agree that there is no justification for calling people hyper-calvinists in the SBC. But what if he honestly made a mistake in how he interpreted Timothy George and is willing to correct his error?

Also, what is wrong with trying to give Dr. Yarnell the benefit of the doubt as far as what he meant by "invitation"? I asked Marty Duren what he thought he meant by it and he took my question to Dr. Yarnell himself.

Scott said...

Benji,

All of us make mistakes! If he is willing to correct his error that would speak volumes about him even though we may disagree on things. Again, we all make mistakes.
Are you really a Duke fan? Tar Heel basketball but Auburn Football. Duke has been struggling latelt except for the ACC championship.Watch out for the Tar Heels!

Benji Ramsaur said...

Hey Scott,

I am married to a tar heel fan (what sacrifice!). I think the heels are going to be really good next year, but I hope this year will be coach K's 4th (if you know what I mean).

Forgiven Sinner said...

All I am saying is that while I am reading these comments........the hostility and anger I am sensing sound more like Arminians bickering among each other instead of "LOVING CALVINIST".....if your trying to be as Christ....let it show in your post.

eklektos said...

Will Baptists change their soteriology such that persons
are no longer seen as having any capacity to respond to God’s invitation to salvation?
Will Baptists take a “hyper-Calvinist turn” than hinders missions and evangelism?


Given this statement by Steve Lemke it seems pretty clear what "hyper-Calvinism" is to the critics, it's any traditional Calvinist soteriology. This is the heart of Calvinist and Southern Baptist soteriology; that a natural man has no capacity to respond to the gospel in any real way without intervention. That is a SBC distinctive, and to argue otherwise is to simply state a falsehood.
I'm somewhat amazed that the SBC is willing to tolerate compromise on Genesis and a humanist Arminian soteriology while at the same time promoting such sensationalist apocalyptic nonsense as the "Left Behind" series.
The issue is not the number of baptisms, it's the number of disciples the SBC makes and trains. I'm sorry, but from what I've observed this mission is being done pretty poorly. I doubt our Lord is impressed by pews full of the unrepentant and roles full of people who attend worship services rarely if at all. This is not unloving, it's a fair assesment of where we are.