Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dishonest Calvinists (?) and the call for integrity

Does anyone else find it troubling to hear what sounds like a growing chorus of criticism directed toward Calvinistic pastors who run into difficulties when trying to shepherd their congregations toward greater spiritual health? Mixed in with the criticism is a charge that such men have been dishonest in the way they have gone into their churches because they did not make an issue of Calvinism from the very outset. Perhaps this can be legitimately said for a few, but they would be the exceptions and not the norm. Why, then, all the criticism?

The now-defunct baptistfire.com carried this 2004 quote from Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:
When you are called to a church, be sure that you are a man of integrity and you disclose your full theological position to the church to which you are called. Many a church has called a pastor only to find, only to discover, a couple of years in, that he is determined to take the church in the direction of a Calvinistic church. He never told them that up front. He may even have deliberately misled them. One of my sorrows in hiring professors across these years is that I've often asked that question and gotten a misleading answer and found out later that this man was in the classroom perpetuating the system of Calvinism.
More recently Dr. Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, made the same accusation in a recent article that appeared in SBC Life. One of the 6 suggestions he makes to Southern Baptists for responding to the rising controversies surrounding Calvinism is this:
Act with personal integrity in your ministry when it comes to this issue. Put your theological cards on the table in plain view for all to see, and do not go into a church under a cloak of deception or dishonesty. If you do, you will more than likely split a church, wound the Body of Christ, damage the ministry God has given you, and leave a bad taste in the mouth of everyone. Let me give an example. I am pre-tribulational/premillennial in my eschatology. It would be inappropriate for me to interview with a church and continue the discussion if I discovered that it was committed to an amillennial position.

Now, let me address our topic. If a person is strongly committed to five-point Calvinism, then he should be honest and transparent about that when talking to a church search committee. He should not hide behind statements like "I am a historic Baptist." That statement basically says very little if anything and it is less than forthcoming. Be honest and completely so. If it is determined you are not a good fit for that congregation, rejoice in the sovereign providence of God and trust Him to place you in a ministry assignment that is a good fit. God will honor such integrity.
Even more recently Dr. Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church of Talors, South Carolina and an announced candidate for the presidency of the SBC, was quoted by Baptist Press as making these comments:
Noting that Reformed pastor John Piper's books are among the most read books on seminary campuses, Page said the movement is huge and growing -- "bigger than Texas," he stated. "We must have honesty about this issue. There are churches splitting across the convention because pastors are coming in quietly trying to teach Calvinism or Reformed theology without telling the pastor search committees where they stand. The vast majority of Southern Baptist churches are not Calvinistic in their theology and it's causing some serious controversy."
Years ago liberals made the same kind of charges against Dr. Al Mohler after he became president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was accused of destroying the seminary, wounding the body of Christ and hijacking one of our prized institutions in an attempt to push his Calvinistic agenda. I defended Dr. Mohler then just as I am compelled to defend many unjustly criticized pastors now. Though the source and target of the criticism is different now than then, the substance, curiously, is the same.

Nine years ago, in response to editorial that attacked Dr. Mohler for precisely these reasons, I issued a press release to Baptist Press. Here is part of what I wrote at that time:
Mark Wingfield is very upset by the fact that after many years Southern Seminary once again has a president and some professors who actually believe the doctrines of grace. Though this is true, it should be clear to anyone who looks beyond the surface that Al Mohler has no agenda to promote five-point Calvinism. What he obviously is doing, however, is restoring doctrinal and ethical integrity to the seminary by rescuing the Abstract of Principles (which the seminary's professors have signed since 1859) from the ash heap of liberalism onto which it had been cast for most of this century and restoring it to its rightful place. This document forms the doctrinal covenant between our mother seminary and the denomination it serves.
While granting the fact that there are, no doubt, exceptions, in the great majority of cases that I know about where Calvinistic pastors have encountered turmoil in their efforts to preach and teach God's Word, it was not because of Calvinism. It was because of biblical Christianity. Calvinism tends to be the tail on which the donkey of controversy is pinned, but the real culprit is the erosion of real biblical Christianity that has occurred over the last generation or more in many of our churches.

The situation that Dr. Mohler inherited at Southern Seminary 12 years ago is very similar to situations that many historic Southern Baptist (despite what Dr. Akin says, this is a proper description of modern Southern Baptists whose theological convictions are in harmony with the views of the founders of the SBC) pastors face when going into a typical SBC church. Dr. Patterson made this insightful and telling observation about the state of many Southern Baptist churches:
Regrettably I have to believe that anytime you stand up and face a congregation these days in the average church you're looking at 30-40% that have never been born again and are not genuinely saved.
He is talking about the people who have actually showed enough initiative to be part of the regular Sunday morning congregation, which it typically less than half of the membership!

If a man tries to introduce a biblical ministry into such a situation does it not stand to reason that there might indeed be some controversy along the way? When the Word of God begins to be taught and followed, those who have no appetite for it--and who have been not only allowed but encouraged to live happily in the church without it--will inevitably feel threatened, deceived and even "lied to" by the preacher. The reason is not Calvinism, but because of the strong reaction of godlessness to biblical Christianity, just as we saw happen at Southern Seminary with the changing of the guard a dozen years ago.

Should not that fact, coupled with the wisdom that recognizes that the proper goal of a genuinely Reformed ministry is not to "Calvinize" a church but to "Christianize" it more and more, lead a man who candidates for a church to emphasize his commitment to biblical Christianity more than to a theological system? This is not dishonesty. It is wisdom. It is just like saying, "I prefer to be called a biblical theologian rather than a Calvinist." I wonder if the above quoted critics would critize a minister who makes that statement?

The sad reality is that most Southern Baptist churches do not have much ability to discuss theological issues, even with their pastoral candidates. Dr. Akin uses the analogy of his commitment to pre-tribulational premillennialism, claliming that it would be "inappropriate" to seek a position in a church that was committed to amillennialism. Agreed. But that is a very cut-and-dried situation that, as most pastors know, rarely occurs in SBC churches. Let's make the example more realistic. What if he interviewed with a church that had pre-tribulationalism as a part of its church constitution and statement of faith, but had drifted away from that over the last 50 years? What if everytime he raised the question with the search committee, deacons, and everyone else he met in the process that all he got back were blank stares and a mumbled, "we just believe the Bible; we just want someone to preach the Bible?" Would integrity demand that in this kind of scenario that he withdraw his name?

Or what about a church that had a solid statement of faith regarding the authority of Scripture but had been led by a liberal pastor for the last 20 years. Would he feel compelled, as an inerrantist, to withdraw his name from consideration as a matter of integrity?

I am not at all suggesting that a pastoral candidate refuse to speak plainly with a search committee or church regarding theological commitments. But the reality is that most churches--including their search committees--are not very equipped to have that kind of conversation. Should the details of Calvinism--or pre-tribulational rapturism--be spelled out anyway, even though there is no understanding of the language, categories or constructs? Or would it be wiser to stick with biblical categories, language and constructs? When a man does the latter for the purpose of communicating as clearly as he can I find it disheartening to hear Southern Baptist leaders criticize him as being dishonest.

Furthermore, these kinds of criticisms expose the completely untenable position in which some Southern Baptist leaders place their Calvinistic brethren in the SBC. If we openly describe ourselves as Calvinists, we are accused of "wearing our Calvinism on our sleeves" and are admonished to stop doing this. If we speak in terms of wanting to recover biblical Christianity or the theological vision of the founders of the SBC we are accused of being deceitful and dishonest. When the same men level both criticisms it is a sure indicator that something more is going on than a quest for integrity and it causes their critiques to ring hollow.

Yes, let's insist on integrity, not only from Calvinistic Southern Baptist pastors, but also from non-Calvinistic Southern Baptist pastors. And let's not limit this call only to pastors, but let's expand it to include everyone in SBC life, even denominational leaders.

150 comments:

Timmy said...

Amen Tom.

I happen to be a student at Southern seminary, which has for past couple years been experiencing unprecedented growth in enrollment. In fact, we recently had to change class hours to accomodate the lack of parking for students. If most SBC churches, according to the SBC, are not Calvinistic in their theology, one has to wonder why the biggest and fastest growing seminary is unapologetically Calvinistic.

Furthermore, I have a problem with this idea of Calvinists being dishonest. If pastor search committees want full disclosure of every theological position of their pastor (which is hard for me to believe since most search committees don't take an intense theological approach), then why should we not expect every Arminian to do the same? Why don't we make the outcry that those who believe in a Trinitarian salvation to come out and say so? Those who believe that God is not sovereign in salvation to confess accordingly? Those who subscribe to freewill theism unsupported in Scripture to explain such? Those who hold to a decisional regeneration view of evangelism to describe their understanding of conversion?

I think once we disclose the difference between the "dishonest" Calvinists and the Arminian alternative, most of these churches will want a Calvinistic minister, especially when they realize that their doctrinal positions are biblically grounded. It is just that Calvinists are automatically demonized when the "C" word is brought up. I sometimes feel like some of these leaders trumpeting such warnings and admonitions are really looking for 21st century lepers to declare, "Unclean! Unclean!" and have found the Calvinists with the scarlet letter "C" on their chest to identify them as such.

Why don't we include that when pastor search committees desire that those "dishonest" Calvinists are called to have the integrity to disclose every theological nuance to their doctrinal positions that we include the Bible, the Baptist Confessions, and the Baptist history of the SBC? The point is that these leaders want disclosure to a degree, just enough to throw that cuss word "Calvinist" out there to a group of people who probably have little knowledge thereof. If the call for integrity is a call for disclosure, then by all means let's disclose, and do so fairly and openly.

scripturesearcher said...

THIS IS ONE OF THE BETTER ARTICLES YOU HAVE WRITTEN IN RECENT TIMES!

I can only pray that you will see fit to include it in a forthcoming issue of the FOUNDERS JOURNAL.

All Southern Baptists need to know that INTEGRITY (or the lack of it)
is the basic, fundamental problem facing the individuals and churches of the SBC.

There has been a such a scarcity of INTEGRITY in the actions of so many (leaders and followers) for so long that we desperately need a new biblical reformation and a fresh spiritual revival across the entire convention!

PS: Which Abstact of Principles did Paige Patterson sign when he was at SEBTS? Was this the original Abstract of Principles now
signed by all at SBTS?

The first to supply the answer to this question is my hero for the day, week, month and year.

Tom said...

Timmy:

I think your assessment is "spot on."

Scripture searcher:

Thanks. I may put this in a future journal one day, or maybe even in a "blook" (ask Gene Bridges:) ).

The Abstract at SEBTS is the same that was created for and used by SBTS. (Do I get a T-shirt?)

Jason Morrison said...

My interview process fits nicely into what commonly happens in SBC churches (as you wrote). These are some sample questions that were asked of me:
--Do you believe the Bible is true, the Word of God?
--Do you endorse the Baptist Faith and Message 2000?
--Do you believe the Pastor of a church should tithe his income?
--Do you support the Cooperative Program?
--Do you support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship?
Do you prefer songs to be sung accompanied with tape music or accompanied by live music?

I remember the first time I laid out for the congregation the views of Premillennial-Postribulationism (which I hold to), postmillenialism, and amillennialism, the members said they had never heard these things before.

Darel said...

These kinds of comments are themselves "misleading" and "dishonest". The call should be for them to come out and say what they really mean, and not to hide behind the cloak of anti-Calvinism. -- Also, I was taught that the sentence should be "I am an historic Baptist."

(Also, just a general blogging usage note to fellow commentors... there are tags for emphasizing words, such as bold and italic. ALLCAPS is generally seen as shouting, and is personally unnerving.)

Travis Hilton said...

"If we openly describe ourselves as Calvinists, we are accused of "wearing our Calvinism on our sleeves" and are admonished to stop doing this. If we speak in terms of wanting to recover biblical Christianity or the theological vision of the founders of the SBC we are accused of being deceitful and dishonest."

A catch 22, you might say? I hate to say this, but sometimes you get the feeling that having Calvinistic convictions is "akin" (no pun intended) to having some hidden sin. It's almost like the gentlemen you quoted think that those being interviewed who may hold to some form of Calvinist doctrine are more likely to decieve people.

I think that the point about the knowledege of categories among the average SBC member is a good one. If you voluntarily declared you were a Calvinist, these days you are more than likely to be mistaken for a Hyper-Calvinst who doesn't believe in evangelism. A one-time interview is a difficult place to start explaining theology in detail to people who may not be familiar with those terms to begin with. Pastoral candiates should articulate what they beleive to best of their ability, but the best way for a search committee to find out what a candidate for pastor believes is to actually listen to his sermons.

Nathan White said...

Tom,

I second both Timmy and SS: an excellent and timely article.

At Strange Baptistfire, we considered the idea of investigating and writing about the accusations of ‘church splits’ that Baptistfire and others have thrown out. But for now we have decided against it due to the subjective nature of trying to figure out what really went on in each situation.

Personally, I think the those who call for this double-standard are in the same camp as others you mentioned above: “When the Word of God begins to be taught and followed, those who have no appetite for it--and who have been not only allowed but encouraged to live happily in the church without it--will inevitably feel threatened, deceived and even "lied to" by the preacher. The reason is not Calvinism, but because of the strong reaction of godlessness to biblical Christianity…”

Like it or not, those who so strongly oppose Calvinism do not do so because of ignorance or personal distaste, the issue run much deeper than that...

SDG

Chris Whisonant said...

Good post - thanks!!

Timmy, regarding: "most search committees don't take an intense theological approach" - Amen to that!! A few years ago I was on a search committee for a music pastor. Riding in the van with the older members of the cmte (I was about 23), you know, the ones who are supposed to be more knowledgeable..., some of them got on a discussion of predestination. I kind of sat back because I was just getting into the doctrines of grace, but they obviously were all clueless about it.

But, the irony was that on the resume of the prospective pastor, he stated that he adheres to Boyce's Abstracts of Principles! Codespeak for "I'm a Calvinist..." These older people who grew up in an SBC church had no idea what those principles were. I just kind of smiled to myself.

scripturesearcher said...

darel - what a cute picture you use in your advertising. how old were you when it was taken? and how long ago was that?


sorry some of us have "UNNERVED" you using CAPS from time to time. GUILTY! i plead GUILTY!


i may not please you but i do know all the proper styles of writing - i simply like to UNNERVE some of my friends in Christ.


TOM - NO SHIRT BUT I KNOW A LITTLE SHOP NEAR A LOCAL FUNERAL HOME THAT SELLS HAIR PIECES!


darel - I was SHOUTING at our beloved brother and fellow Berean!



At his age, his ability to hear is not what it was when he ran around in Beaumont,TEXAS! lol

Timmy said...

Personal example:

After being on staff with a church for over two years, we had a staff and deacons meeting (a total of about 15 people in the room). There was a moment where guest cards were brought up, and a lady mentioned the following, "It is obvious that you are a church that holds strongly to Arminian theology, and because of that, I don't think I will be coming back." After chuckling for a few moments, the men in the room looked at one another and finally asked,

"What in the world is an Arminian?"

Not a single person knew, including the "senior pastor." This was the leadership (staff/deacons) of the church which has in the past two years preached six anti-Calvinist sermons since then - none of them supported with the Bible.

I can remember when I first mentioned the "five points" of Calvinism to my pastor. He had never heard of it before. When I explained them to him (which took about two hours), he agreed to every one of them - that is, until his mentor Johnny Hunt got to him. A year later he was reading What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt and preaching it from the pulpit. The rest is history.

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Tom,

So far, all I have heard is that Calvinist pastors are dishonest with search committees. As a result of Calvinist teaching, the church splits. What about the pastor (such as myself) whom God leads to the truth regarding salvation during his pastorate?

Praise the Lord, our church never split. By God's grace, most of the congregation was won over to the truth. (We even, just recently, changed our church name back from New Hope Ministries to New Hope Baptist Church!) However, what do the accusers say about the church that splits because a pastor, during his tenure came to Reformed theology?

I ask this because it seems as though it is automatically assumed that if you believe Reformed theology you are a deceptive pastor.

Tom said...

Brian:

That's a good question. I don' t know how the folks I have quoted would answer it. But it is true, isn't it, that like every other Christian, pastors also grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Yet, a pastor continues to preach, teach and lead as he grows. If that growth takes a man down a path that leads to disagreement with a clearly articulated point of doctrine in the church, he should make that known and perhaps resign--depending on the issue.

For example, Fred Malone resigned once he came to baptistic convictions while pastoring a Presbyterian church. He did it in a proper way, making his reasons known to the proper church authorities according to their own procedures. I grew to see and believe the doctrines of grace while serving a Southern Baptist church that was founded in the late 19th century. The only doctrinal statement they had stemmed from that era and was a very brief summary. My developing views were not inherently contrary to the church's theology and were much closer to the original, stated positions than those that the church had sort of drifted into over the previous half century. God providentially moved me from that church but I had no qualms of conscience about staying and teaching them what I was learning as long as I did. I was simply trying to take them deeper into God's Word, which meant a return to what the church's founders intended for the church to believe and teach.

Cliff4JC said...

Sadly, Churches split all the time! Most for the most frivolous reasons. Occasionally, it's over some point of doctrine. Why are we not criticizing all the non-Calvinist pastors who's churches have split? Early in ministry before I came to hold to the doctrines of grace, I was at a church that split. It was awful! Bottom line; it split because many didn't want the intensity of biblical Christianity lived out in their congregation. Lives were being changed, souls saved, new Sunday School classes begun, it was incredible. No one said we were splitting over growth etc. They found the usual criticisms of the pastor. When they couldn't find enough to get rid of him; they made stuff up. The same thing happened in many churches in our association within a few years of each other. None had anything to do with Calvinism! Where were the denominational leaders then?

Allow me to say this though: I love Danny Akin! I cannot understate his contribution to my life and ministry when I was his student at SEBTS in the 90s. He was a great prof, very fair with those that disagreed with him. I just referenced his systematic theology notes from my class today while preparing for a message on the Holy Spirit. I hope we can find a way to respect each other and celebrate our differences rather than let our "depravity" tear us apart in the SBC!

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Thanks for the response, Tom.

You stated: pastors also grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ

It should be pointed out that if a pastor were to lead his congregation toward theological *and hopefully, pragmatic!* reformation, the hope is that he would do it with that same grace (patience) and knowledge (teach, teach, teach). I know, at least for myself, the temptation is to lead change like a "bull in a china shop." This will most certainly cause controversy.

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." (emphasis mine)

If pastors are willing to be faithful to this verse, splits would be rare. Incremental change is still change.

Pastor Kevin said...

Tom,
You shared some excellent thoughts, which encourages me. I am a young first-time pastor who was *very* candid about my theological beliefs, even before I was aware the church already had issues in the past. I was very open with the search committee and the deacons. I answered all their questions, and I even met with the entire Body the night before I preached "in view of a call."
I was voted in 100%.
8 months go by, and we begin a discipleship series on several topics, one being the attributes of God that one of my discipleship teachers was using Pink's material;-)
Long story short-based on biblical teaching and not wavering from the truth, our church experienced a pruning by God. It was glorious for the simple fact it was over truth and not over carpet.
One gentleman, after I had offered several chapters for him to read in the Bible and who apparently had big problems with my theological understanding,told me, "You know, I love the Lord with all my heart, but I have a hard time just sitting down reading the Bible." But yet he was one of the major individuals who spear-headed this charge to deceive souls and dramatize the situation. Needless to say, he along with about 40 others are gone. In addition, he was fully aware of my Calvinism.

jbuchanan said...

It is hard for me to imagine that many Southern Baptists Churches have split over the issue of Calvinism. The average Southern Baptist is simply unaware that such a thing even exists. I agree that every Pastor should be upfront and be clear about where he stands on doctrine, but honestly pulpit committees simply do not ask deep theological questions. They are much more interested in things like whether or not you are purpose driven and what kind of music you prefer in worship services.

I agree with Paige Patterson that a large percentage of the members of an SBC church are indeed lost. I would place the number a little higher maybe 50-70%, but the result is the same. As soon as a Pastor begins to preach the Bible there is going to be trouble. As soon as he begins to institute church discipline and clean up the rolls, there is going to be a problem.

Timmy said...

Quote:

"As soon as a Pastor begins to preach the Bible there is going to be trouble."

Bingo.

PBill said...

Many churches do split and I've often heard it said that splits are our major method of church planting. Too bad.

Having one first hand experience with calvinism splitting a church and a couple more close at hand, I think the brethren are right when they say that calvinists ought to be upfront about such things to a search committee. And sure, the problem is that unless a church has already had a bad experience with an overly agressive (and usually younger) calvinist pastor, they don't have a clue what to ask.

Why don't those who are serious calvinists ask the church where they stand on the pertinent doctrines? Every serious calvinist I've ever known has the ability to do that. If the church is clearly arminian, the candidate would say that he will attempt to bring the church to a more biblical position. That ought to generate a fruitful discussion.

Clay said...

Thanks for this.

I have heard that Calvinism is like underwear. You need it, but it is inappropriate to show it publically.

As a music minister who is reformed, I discuss these issues with the pastor when I talk with a church, but never with the committee. It becomes and issue when we make it an issue.

Chuck said...

Interesting thoughts...
I was recently asked to send a resume to a church for a youth ministry position, because the pastor's adult son knows my dad and knows I just graduated from college (the assumption being that a college student makes a perfect youth minister, I guess.) Anyway, I just e-mailed the resume about ten minutes ago, and chances are good I might get a request to go visit. Here's the kicker: my Dad's not a TULIP fan (but knows I am) and neither is the church I sent it to. In other words, this very topic has been in the forefront of my mind tonight.
Good thoughts, all of you...

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Timmy said...

As this was referred to on my blog, I thought it would be good for this discussion. Jim Eliff and Donald Whitney wrote a few articles about a prospective pastor and certain questions which should be asked. He is a question about the questions asked:

Question:
About half of your questions address specific doctrinal concerns. Do many search committees give doctrinal issues enough attention or do they often assume if the candidate is a Southern Baptist and has "been to seminary," then that qualification has been satisfied?

Answer:
I think it's generally true that if a man has been raised and educated in a Southern Baptist context that search committees assume he's orthodox in all matters of doctrine, especially if he has already pastored in an SBC church. A few doctrinal questions may be asked, but they are mostly pro forma. . . . Committees should take nothing for granted theologically about a candidate. With more than 45,000 SBC churches and even more ordained ministers, you just can't assume that they are all doctrinally sound. That's especially so in a day such as ours when there's so much change occurring on the theological landscape. The best way to find out a man's theology is to ask him directly about it. Furthermore, I think that the most theologically solid men will actually appreciate the concern for correct doctrine expressed by asking good questions.

Here are the links:

http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/quest.html
http://www.spiritualdisciplines.org/qfaq.html

By the way, they listed 55 questions to be asked. Yes 55.

Here are questions 26-29:

26. How does the Bible relate the sovereignty of God to salvation?

27. What does the Bible teach about the extent of man’s depravity?

28. What does Christ’s atonement accomplish?

29. What does the Bible teach about the perseverance and preservation of believers?

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Caddiechaplain said...

Why is this last post even allowed to remain as a post. JCRip, you have missed the whole point! Defending one's theological position is not "whining!" It is giving a correct "apologia" to the hope that is within, and with gentleness and respect.
Dude, (only those from the west coast and socal can really use that term in the right spirit) you are being disrespectful!

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bristopoly said...

If anything, these posts have shown me how demonic some people who claim Christ can be. Maybe this is due to the theology that all that matters is praying the prayer, and speaking to Christians as though you are speaking to Christ doesn't matter (afterall I'm saved no matter what, Jim Bob). But you will know them by their fruits and certainly Arminian/Ignorant Baptist theology produces, even among so-called "nice" people, some of the nastiest and hostile people when the truth comes to light.

David said...

Interesting Comments. I completely agree with Dr. Akin's comments. Perhaps most Southern Baptists don't know the five points, TULIP, pre,post,amillenialism, or any other theological term that we throw around. But, shouldn't that be one of our callings at the church? The biggest thing we hear today is that the church is biblical illiterate due to lack of sound biblical preaching and the lack of deep theological teaching to the members. Perhaps you should explain your theology within the frame work of the five points, then explain that this is referred to as Reformed theology, Calvinism, whatever. You have a duty to explain as much about yourself to the committee, regardless of their knowledge or understanding of biblical truths. A pastor must be willing to step forward and say "here I am. Here is what I believe, and here is what I am going to preach/teach." I think too many times pastors just try to get through the interview because they need a job/place to preach. As Dr. Akin once said, "Better not to be doing it (preaching) than to be doing it at the wrong place."
It hurts me that things are said against those that I admire (Dr. Patterson, Dr. Akin, Dr. Hunt) just because they may or may not be a five pointer. As someone that is fairly new to the study of Reformed Theology/TULIP, I find myself struggling to reconcile all view points. Perhaps I am fighting a battle that has been fought for hundreds of years.
I'll keep reading because you all entertain me.

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Tad Thompson said...

I had a meeting with Dr. Floyd today. I asked him about the issue of Calvinism in the SBC. He said he felt that Calvinism was good for the SBC, except of hyper-calvism and he brought up the dishonesty issue. I immediately asked him if he felt this dishonesty was rampant in Calvinist circles - he said no he doesn't.

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Byroniac said...

(Oops. I need to clarify that I was talking about Eph. 2:1 in a certain spot.)

Dr. Tom Ascol:

That is a good article. I never realized the Catch-22 position a lot of us reformed Christians could fall into, through no fault of our own. Saying that reveals I haven't had those unpleasant experiences (yet, though apparently I should stand prepared). I fully affirm the call for integrity for all SBC pastors, Calvinistic or not.

It concerns me that some people are so ready to demonize Calvinism, and do so in claim of God's defense. My few encounters with this underscored the major foundations of such objections: a fundamental denial of the ultimate sovereignty of God, denial/misunderstanding of God's intrinsic goodness and holiness, and a fundamental cheapening or whitewashing of original sin and man's consequent sin nature inherited from Adam. I want to ask these people these questions: What do you feel is so threatening about God's sovereignty? If God is Holy and completely good, what is the problem? And, why do you value man's so-called free will over God's free grace?

I believe that many in the SBC do not truly understand/believe the doctrine of original sin, and man's inherent sinfulness. I know I did not fully understand these for years, and I am still learning from the Scriptures (especially Romans 1-3). Funny how in the SBC many would in Eph. 2:1 happily substitute "sick" or "wounded" in trespasses and sins, for "dead." Perhaps some would even substitute even less-offensive terms such as "troubled" or "perplexed" by sin, though basically good and upright.

This is a far greater matter than Calvinism/Arminianism, that's true. This is a scriptural issue. I wish pastors all across the land that know and understand Romans would begin taking time as the Lord leads to teach these precious truths from it.

John Calvin RIP said...

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Byroniac said...

john calvin rip:

Bristopoly's post does not contain your name, and neither does mine. I was reflecting on my personal experiences, that is all. Don't accuse people of what they're not guilty of doing.

You apparently confuse five-point Calvinism with hyper-Calvinism. This is simply wrong. But it is a common false charge against those who are reformed (I didn't know what it was, either, before).

You would do well to read this:

Primer on Hypercalvinism: an excellent article by Phil Johnson.

If you want to have a meaningful dialogue here, you will have to lose the hostility, show respect, and be willing to learn. If not, you are wasting our time and yours. Your current monologue here only reflects badly upon yourself, while possessing no redeeming or instructive properties.

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Tom,

Thanks for this excellent post. I'm going to reference it in my post that I'm currently working on that addresses some of the things Dr. Page said in that BPNews article you referenced.

Once again you touch on a timely subject and are gracious in your presentation...not to mention hitting the nail on the head in the process. :)

God bless you sir.

SDG,
David Hewitt

Aaron L. Turner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Timmy said...

Just to let you guys know, John Calvin RIP is on the move. He has already commented twice on my blog. Just thought I'd let you know.

Also, in light of this, let's not get away from Tom wrote about. Let Tom deal with trollers and drive-by comments. Let us interact with what Tom has written in a mature and responsible manner for healthy discussion and Godward edification.

Byroniac said...

Timmy:

You are right, sir. I should have not even bothered commenting to our newest drive-by, whoever he or she is. And the article by itself should generate a lot of good discussion.

Aaron L. Turner said...

Tom,

Thanks for the gracious, insightful post. I believe that we are required to use Biblical terms to describe what we believe. Most of the time "Five point Calvinist" doesn't describe to most pulpit committees what we indeed believe, but conjurs up misconceptions about what we believe.

This is not being dishonest but wise.

I could go one, but would only be repeating what you have already said.

Alex F said...

BTW - Tom allows comments from people who disagree with him and are not reformed provided that they are substantive and made in an irenic spirit. If your comments are constantly deleted you probably should step back and consider not only what you say, but how you say it.

SavedandSure said...

Well, there some of you go again!


With my apologies to one of our greatest presidents, "Well, there you go again!" How often did Mr. Reagan say, "Well there you go again?"



In most discussions (not cuss-ings)
about Calvinists and Calvinism ~


~ terms I like much less than BIBLE BELIEVING CHRISTIANITY ~


some uninformed brother brings up the old "strawman" called HYPER Calvinist or HYPER Calvinism.


Methinks this is done because the individual does not know what he or she is talking or writing about!


As I have asked so many times in the past fifty three years - both privately and publicly all over the nation -


GIVE ME HIS NAME AND ADDRESS!


I have asked so many teachers and preachers for this information that a few have replied that they know what my question is before I even get to state it.


To date, and this is June of 2006, no one has provided me with the NAME AND ADDRESS OF A SINGLE HYPER CALVINIST in the Southern Baptist Convention!


Again I ask all you wonderful Bible believing Christians, including some who have "ranted and raved" in recent days -


Supply us with the NAME AND ADDRESS of one (or more) HYPER Calvinist in the Southern Baptist Convention. We are waiting!!


One very distinguished (not extinguished) SBC seminary professor has had several months to give me that guy's name and address. I suppose he is still looking! His president can't find one of these critters, either!


Still waiting!! Still waiting!!

Alex F said...

Reading this I can't help but think that if churches more closely followed the biblical pattern of church leadership, these kinds of issues wouldn't loom so large. So a church would not be basically rudderless in looking for a new pastor they don't know.

Byroniac said...

Dr. Tom Ascol:

I'm sorry for messing up several times in my posts and for having to delete them. I really should master that mysterious button labeled "Preview" someday.

Stephen A Morse said...

Tom; this post is the best one I have over here at the founders blog. Thanks for the precise formulation of your thoughts.

I really wonder how we are supposed to be 'honest' with the search committees when, as has been stated before, they have NO CLUE of what they believe to begin with. If they have it in their minds that Calvinists are hard, cold, anti-evangelistic, authoritarian theological bullies then how would we ever communicate anything differently? In every interview that I have ever had... pathetically even my ordination interview... I have only been asked 2 theological questions (and both referred to my belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures). Each time I HAD TO BRING UP THEOLOGY! When I did I didn't use words that they had absolutely no valid understanding of. I told them that I did believe that God's Word is without error and cannot err. I told them that God's Word was both authoritative and sufficient. I told them that I beleive that God is sovereinty over His creation and that He is the author and finisher of our faith. I spoke of His control over everything and our depravity.

Interestingly enough when I told them that I believed that no one comes to the Son except the Father draw him there were NO PROBLEMS!

Was I dishonest because I didn't speak to them in words that they were clueless of? I don't think so. Am I to blame because their former pastors we more worried about filling the pews than filling their hearts and minds with God's Word? I don't think so.
Am I to blame when they reject the straight-forward exposition of His Word?

When will we stop having to read about all of these calvinists who split the church?

I want some documentation on all of these instances!

ANYWAY...
Tom....
Thanks again... I am looking forward to meeting you in NC at the founders breakfast! I'll be the one with the

"I'm predestined to sleep through most of the denominational schpiel"

T-shirt on!

John Calvin RIP said...

So am I forgiven? Can i comment now?

Mopheos said...

Great article Tom.

I think those who are hostile to the doctrines of grace ought to be honest themselves when they use such terms as "biblicist" to describe their theological position. Such equivocating, obscurantist language is a cheap attempt to dodge the issue while appearing to take the "high road" in this controversy. Who isn't a "biblicist" who takes the Scriptures as their point of departure for doctrine? The term just fogs the theological air, and provides high-sounding cover for people who never come to the rub of Paul's questions in Romans 9:14 & 19, for instance.

I don't see any way to avoid splits in the modern evangelical church world (and particularly the SBC) these days, because the majority of SBC churches have decades of deficient doctrine - doctrine which is actually opposed to such founding documents as the Abstract - that has become entrenched and unquestioned. Add to this the virtual death of biblical theology from the pulpit, and most church members don't even have the categories necessary to understand the progressive unfolding of the eternal purpose of God accomplished in Christ Jesus - and that before time began!

When dealing with some of these issues in a former SBC church, it was common to see eyes glaze over when one began to discuss Romans 9, for instance, or John 6. The necessary framework was just not there for most. Preachers and professors bear a large responsibility for such a situation in our churches.

And boy, are you ever right - "Calvinism tends to be the tail on which the donkey of controversy is pinned..." But my experience for long years in an Arminian church tells me that such a notion is almost purely driven by prejudice. How many non-Calvinist churches have split over who knows what? I would venture to say resistance to Calvinism is almost never the problem, but it is a symptom of more radical maladies. I've known disobedient Arminians, disobedient Calvinists, and disobedient "biblicists"! Theological systems usually aren't the culprit in one's disobedience, whether the issue is evangelism or church discipline.

Thanks for the discerning, level-headed post, Tom.

Timotheos Patterson

Tom said...

John Calvin RIP:

If you want to participate in the conversation in at least a civil, if not Christian, manner, then you are welcome to comment. If not, then I suggest you start your own blog where you can write what you want in any way you want.

Stephen Thomas said...

I read the main post and some of the comments earlier today before work, and then the rest of the comments just now, so if I am repeating something, it is because I can't remember what I've read beyond a few hours. :-D

Anyway, regarding the Catch-22 issue for Calvinists, I think that it is difficult for Calvinists to find the right words to convey their beliefs in most modern day churches. What I mean is, if a pastor tells a search committee that he is a "Calvinist", chances are that they will suddenly think of something that he isn't. "Calvinism" is so misunderstood, that the word doesn't signify the same thing to all people. Here at this blog, where most of us are Calvinists, it is no problem for someone to come in and say, "I'm a Calvinist." We know what it means because we are Calvinists. But in most churches, well, I don't think I need to explain all the wrong ideas that exist concerning what calvinism is.

So what else does a pastor say? He could say, "I believe in the doctrines of grace." Well, to the average person, that doesn't mean what Calvinists intend it to mean. They think, "I believe in grace, so I guess I believe in the doctrines of grace, too." A pastor could say that he believes in the sovereignty of God, but very few people would claim to deny that. So again, the phrase's meaning is lost. For a pastor to say, "I'm an historic Baptist," well most people's idea of "historic" doesn't go any further back than the 1920s.

All that's left for a pastor to do is to spend several minutes (or hours) giving a summary of Calvinism, which most search committees probably aren't interested in sitting through.

Now I am not at all saying that a pastor should reveal his Calvinism, I'm just saying that it isn't easy to do.

And as a final thought, I'm kind of suprised that there are any Calvinists who aren't quick to let it be known. There seems to be something about Calvinism that makes one want to come running out of the doctrinal closet flying his banners high.

Cap Pooser said...

This is a good article. I think it reinforces my belief that pulpit committees are God's curse on those who refuse to follow His Word in choosing elders. All the qualifications for elders can only be discerned by choosing someone in the church whom God has placed there and who know and are known by the church through daily living. This practice of "fruit baskets turnover" to get our elders has produced the problems noted on this posting. Cap Pooser

Eric said...

Dr. Ascol,

First, please forgive any incoherent thoughts or misspelled words, it is 5:37am, and I have not slept all night because I have been helping my wife take care of our 4 month old.

Your article is timely. The church that I pastor has just met as of Wednesday night and agreed to hold a vote to remove me from the pulpit because what I preach is "too calvinistic." (Three weeks ago they gave my wife, son, and myself groceries as a way to say "We love you.")

There are too many sorrowful circumstances to go over for now, but the worst of them is that they think and said this Wednesday, "The calvinism in his preaching is becoming worse." And, they are convinced that they are doing the "loving" thing by voting me out, since they don't agree with me. (They have never once confronted me on this issue, nor expressed any concerns over my preaching prior to Tuesday of this week.)

Needless to say the entire situation is a shock. I would love to speak with you, I need help and some objective thinking - and your prayers.

Glad to be at His mercy,
Eric

Tom said...

Eric:

I am very sorry to hear of your situation. Your experience is, sadly, all too common in our day. So many of our churches do not know how to operate according to biblical principles, especially when dealing with conflict and controversies.

I tried to figure out how to contact you, but was unsucesseful. Please feel free to email me at editor at founders dot org and send me your phone number.

Good for you for helping your wife through the night with your baby. Try to remember that this painful trial is more difficult on her than it is on you.

David B. Hewitt said...

This is a great discussion; maybe it will make the hall of fame over there at the right of the main page! :)

I found this particularly noteworthy in the latest batch of comments I read:

"If they have it in their minds that Calvinists are hard, cold, anti-evangelistic, authoritarian theological bullies then how would we ever communicate anything differently?"

Chances are, we wouldn't. The issue of a catch 22 holds true for sure, so much so (and with the above quote in mind) that I really think it would be dishonest in many situations to introduce oneself as a Calvinist. The reason is that the well has been soo poisoned against the term that people have no idea what it means, and often believe it to mean something that has nothing at all to do with it.

So then, if we are aware of this, and we tell people we are "Calvinists" then are we honestly communicating to them what we believe, or are we getting them to believe something false about us since they have a wrong definition of the term?

I really think the latter of the two is the correct answer.

I think all of us ("Calvinists") here believe what Spurgeon said about it (who was, by the way, extremely evangelistic and an adherent to all "5 points"):
"Calvinism is nothing more than a nickname for Biblical Christianity."

He was right! What we need to do then is exegete the Scriptures, preach expository sermons, using proper context, and we'll expose these doctrines to the congregation as we go through the Bible. The Gospel of John contains them all, and when I get a pastorate, I do indeed plan to preach through that Gospel. :)

The truth is, if Calvin had never lived, these doctrines would exist. The reason is that they are BIBLICAL.

I think I'll start asking a question if and when people ask that I'm a "Calvinist." I'll simply ask them, "Well, what do you mean by that?" and see where it goes.

I'll have some more of this over at my blog eventually, but this thread has been a great blessing.

Thanks again, Dr. Tom.

SDG,
David Hewitt

Puritan Fan said...

Of late, I have determined not to try and defend my beliefs about "Calvinism" and here's why. What is Calvinism? To the like minded folks on this blog it has one meaning yet to the average person in the pew, I fear it has another meaning. My point is that the generic term "Calvinist" means so many different things to so many different people that I do not find it helpful.

On the other hand, I will gladly discuss any particular point of doctrine to which I adhere. For instance, I was recently asked my thoughts on "double pre-destination" to which I gladly answered.

Another unhelpful term is a derivative; hyper-Calvinism. I'm being short here but I venture to guess that a vast majority of the people who embrace reformed theology including those labeled "Calvinist" have a distinct dislike for true hyper-Calvinism. Much like the mother term though, this one is much abused and has come to mean 'any view of Calvinism that doesn't line up with mine.'

I do believe that reformed theology is Biblical and I heartily embrace it. My prayer is that it continues to be studied and embraced within the SBC and that it would be accepted or rejected based on Biblical reasoning and not on innuendo.

Likewise, I think pastors and staff persons should be straightforward and candid about their doctrine and churches should call or pass candidates based on those doctrinal beliefs. I say this as opposed to accepting or rejecting a candidate based on whether he wears the ambiguous label “Calvinist.”

Tom said...

David:

What you are thinking about doing has been my standard response for a while. When I respond to the question, "Are you a Calvinist?" with "What do you mean by that?" the answers often run along the stereotypical lines of one who doesn't believe in evangelism or missions, etc. Once that is made clear, I respond, "Then, no, I am not a Calvinist; at least not one like you just described." I have had some fruitful discussions as a result.

Aaron L. Turner said...

Eric,

I have prayed for you this mornning dear brother. I too would be honored to help you in any way that I can. I am sure this is a scary time for you, and your young family, but God will take care of you.

Please feel free to contact me @ aaronlturner@mac.com

John Calvin RIP said...

Tom

thank for lettinf me back in. i will behave myself. i just wish your calvinists had a sense of humor...

the story of the pastor being let go is sad. nad for what its worth, i am very sorry to. no pastor deserves to be kicked out with nohwere to go unless he is immoral or heretical. though i dont like calvinist or dont agree it is not hersy.

there should be some type of arrangement or neogotion between them like we will give you 3 or 4 mos to find something else. the churhc needs to love everyone not just people like them

you do this--set up a fund on you're website or a bank account at your church. do it so persons can remain anonymous. i will give the first $250 for this man and his family and others like him who are treated wrongly for what they believe.

Joe Specht said...

If a division or a split is a sign of something under-handed taking place, what will our critics accuse Jesus of in the sampling of verses listed below?

1)The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat? John 6:52

2)From that [time] many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. John 6:66

3)And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. John 7:12

4)Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?...So there was a division among the people because of him. John 7:40,41,43

Jeffro said...

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Patterson preach on the subject of predestination in chapel at Southeastern. Basically, the quote taken from BaptistFire that was made at NOBTS was made at SEBTS. Being a Calvinist, I specifically made the trip to Wake Forest when I saw his topic on the chapel schedule, and I must say that I was baffled. Dr. Patterson who fought the war for the Bible and literal truth failed to exegete Romans 8:28-9:16. He basically read the text, departed from the text, and never returned to the text. He made statements like, "How do we reconcile 2 Pet. 3:9 with Ephesians 1?" After 45 minutes of confusion from Scripture, he basically stated that we can't reconcile free will and predestination, and anyone who says they can is an arrogant, know it all Calvinist (not a quote, just an inference). He claimed that Calvinists were deceiving pulpit committees across the country and splitting churches everywhere they went.

I said all of that to say this. After chapel, I audited a class with a friend of mine who was a student. We were discussing the theological and exegetical fallacies of Dr. Patterson's sermon when we were accosted by an 18 year old kid who said that we epitomized what Dr. Patterson had just said. So with this type of attitude that is propagated and fueled from our anti-Calvinist leaders, how are we to explain to anyone, much less a theological inadequate pulpit committee what Calvinism is in 10 minutes.

This type of rhetoric is not being delivered out of a sincere care for the poor churches who happened to call a Calvinist and didn't know it. Rather, it seems that the purpose behind is to undermine true Biblical doctrine because it is seen to be a threat to the establishment of the SBC.

Oh, and by the way, thank you Dr. Patterson. After hearing that message my convictions were strengthened that God is sovereign over all things, especially salvation.

Settlemoir said...

I was sitting in a church in Fayetteville, AR when Tom was speaking and asked about this very issue years before it happened to me. How do you respond to a search committee that asks if you are a Calvinist and they don't know the meaning of the word? Tom's response was to ask them "What do you mean by Calvinist?"

Years later, a church never even asked me any theological questions until after I had been there over a year. One deacon confronted me and asked me if I was a Calvinist. He called me a liar for not telling the search committee, he said that my preacing was sending people to hell. He had the deacons of the church call a "special meeting" to discuss the issue with me and they demanded that I never preach on any scripture that talks about election, predestination, or the Soverignty of God again. My preaching method was expostional so it wasn't like I was trying to shove my theology down anyone's throat. My approach was to introduce the doctrines of grace gradually as they came up in the texts I preached from.

I refused to allow them to dictate what I said from the pulpit and 3 months later I was out of the church. I resigned hoping to avoid a split, but some of the church members (even some who didn't agree with me theologically) left when they heard how I had been treated.

To the brother who is going through this now: You are in my prayers, my friend. I have been where you are and know the pain you are feeling. Tom said that your wife will hurt more and that is so true. My wife felt betrayed and abandoned after this was all over. Thank you for your stand for the truth of God's Word, you know that He will be honored for it.

Jon

Bill Moore said...

As much as I think of Dr. Akin, his illustration concerning being eschatologically pre-trib, pre-mil is off the mark and is only self-serving. How many churches in the SBC do not hold this now-populist position? That's like going to Atlanta's Turner Field and asking, "If I wear a Braves tee shirt, will I be welcomed here?" Somehow, I don't think a pre-trib, pre-mil pastoral candidate will lose any sleep concerning the possibility of running into an amillennial congregation in the good ole SBC.

Three and a half years ago, I was called to the church at which I am pastor. The Saturday evening prior to the Sunday morning vote, we had an hour-long congregational meeting in which anyone could ask anything germane to my being their pastor. I don't know how I could have been more forthright with my answers. As a matter of fact, I wasn't crazy about the idea of coming down to a town church in South Carolina. A New Hampshire church three times the size of the SC church had wanted me to go there, and I prefer the climate of NH to SC (I realize only dimly my depravity!). Still, I was unable to tell the SC church "no."

Questions ran the gamut from youth ministry to evangelism to meaningful church membership to God's sovereignty in salvation. I told the church that this is who I am and what I believe. If they didn't want that, pleased don't vote to call me. They did. Even with that, I was told last evening by one of my stauchest supporters that even he did not understand the ramifications of what I had said that evening. However, through systematic expositional preaching, he had learned and growned. Others, though, listened and left. Their leaving was rarely over issues of God's sovereignty. Often, it was over this sensational and novel idea that church members ought to show up for worship at least occasionally!

Tom, I join others in saying this is an excellent blog entry. Thanks for caring enough to keep this blog going.

Benjamin Cripps said...

Eric, I am so sorry. I too had a similar situation at an SBC church about 9 months ago. One week, the pastor and I were the greatest thing since sliced bread. The church even tried to give him a large raise not too long before. But within a week’s time of my teaching on the attributes of God (with many of the youth and parents learning for the first time that God had more attributes in Scripture than merely "Love"), the deacon meetings began, the secret phone network began, and the door-to-door campaigning began - all to "fire the false teachers." It was two months total, but they finally succeeded in firing us (after they brought in "non-active members" from out of state who had not attended in years.
They called on us to resign, but after getting counsel from our spiritual mentors, we realized that we had done nothing wrong, and therefore to resign would be insinuating guilt on our part. And if we were guilty, we were guilty of one thing – preaching Christ and Him crucified. We had not once "preached Calvinism" (not that it would have been wrong if we had, because Calvinism is nothing more than the summarizing of biblical doctrines). We had not deceived anyone. We had done no moral wrong to anyone. We had preached and taught Scripture from day one. So, if they were going to act in an unbiblical way, they needed to fill up their sinfulness to the uttermost, so that when they look back on the incident, they would see their sinfulness and not have a chance to overlook it by thinking we resigned because we were wrong.

All this to say, stay strong until the end. It is worth it. God took care of us.
It is important, though, to stay strong for your wife - support her, as she is loosing her bearings as well (especially if she has a newborn and the hormone shifts that come with that!).
Stay morally pure. Don't give them reason to make accusations against you. Heap coals on their heads. They are the ones acting unbiblically and sinfully when they treat you this way.
You are supported by Christ, His Word, and His people, who seek to honor Him by glorifying and enjoying Him forever.

Keep your head up in Christ,
Ben Cripps

volfan007 said...

i have to say that this is one of the big problems i have with many five point calvinists. they dont tell a church where they stand on this issue. then, when they come into the church and try to convert everyone to calvinism, then the church ends up in trouble and even splitting. be honest with search committees and churches. if you plan to lead the church into five point calvinism, then tell them about it. if you plan to lead a church into a contemporary worship, then tell them about it.
let them make up thier own minds if thats the way they want to go or not. to not tell them this very important info about your ministry and beliefs is very dishonest. it makes me wonder about your intentions and motives. maybe your plan is to try to convert churches. or maybe you realize that you cant be called to a church with those views, so you hide it. hummmmmmm?

i have seen many churches be hurt severely and even split here lately due to some five pointer comming into a church and trying to convert it. this is wrong and you all know it.

Stephen A Morse said...

Eric;
My heart hurts for you and your family. I was contacted last week by some former members of a church I pastored in Illinois. They have a prospective pastor coming in this week from Mid-western Seminary and my heart hurts for him. I am certain that they will not be honest at all about their non-doctrinal position and will spread the red carpet for him.

The problem is that a year and a half ago this same church voted me out. The issue wasn't Calvinism or any ethical circumstances. It had to do with the stand against pragmatism that I took. The reality is that I took that strong stand because of the grace that God has shown me in the understanding that His Word is not only the authority but is sufficient to accomplish all His will.(Those are the two things led me to finally take hold of the doctrines of grace.)

Brother, I know the pain... 1.5 years later I still experience the hurt... here's my advice... finish well... make them vote so that they put themselves on record for their actions (although don't be surprised when they rewrite the minutes to these meetings to remove the mark on their names!)... read 2 Timothy 2:22-26... HOLD YOUR WIFE... she needs it... and trust in the Lord with all of your might and do not lean on your own understanding!

In Christ, my Rock

volfan007 said...

oh, and by the way, cults also try to avoid answering direct questions about thier theology. you could tell the church about your theological position, or answer a search committees question about being a calvinist very simply. you say that you believe the five points of calvinism, yes. would that be a problem.

is that too hard, or too much to ask of you who have gone in this direction in your theology. a church should know this about you. just as they would need to know if you are a tongue speaker of not, if you know that this could be a major problem. just as they would need to know if you are going to have healing services. simple, common sense and wisdom would tell you that you would need to talk to a church about these things. they could hurt and disrupt and tear apart a church later on down the road.

i know of three churches that have been severely hurt and even split over this very issue. i know of others that went thru major problems due to this very thing. be honest with people. tell them who you are. dont try to hide it from people when you know that this could be a very hard pill for a church to swallow.

of course, the best thing would be for you all to come out of this extreme tangent and just get back to the bible. i say this in love and with respect. i am not trying to fight with anyone, nor am i trying to argue with anyone. return to the bible instead of a system.

mark said...

volfan007 said:

"...the best thing would be for you all to come out of this extreme tangent and just get back to the bible."

wow...can anyone say "complete misunderstanding"?

volfan007 said...

mark,

calvinism and arminianism are young men's religions as my old seminary prof. used to say. come out of the system and get back to the bible. learn matthew, mark, and romans and hebrews, instead of learning calvinism. and yes, you have to learn calvinism. you dont just get that by reading the bible. you have to learn it from another calvinist.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I have only a short time to type a message before off to Sweden for a couple of weeks. Please also be patient if my post is sloppily written.

Nevertheless, I wanted to, if you allow me the priviledge, to make a point or two. I also realize that, the points I make will probably not be so well received.

From my view, one problem the calvinist family possesses is the very problem the calvinist family points out,quite often in fact, to non-calvinists: the area of methodology. Now, i realize just how much pragmatism means to many of you--not much.

Yet, I have to say, if the methods you continue to use to "reform" the SBC are not examined, you will, like it or not, continue to be ostrasized.

Everyone else possesses an anecdote (please do not misunderstand: my heart bleeds for the brother who presnetly faces termination and by no means do i imply his tragic saga an anecdote) so let me just pitch one in.

We constantly harp about others--the non-calvinists, the un-"reformed"--as theologically illiterate, biblically uninformed and, in many cases, destitute in their christian walk. How many stories have been on this blog about the old deacon who didn't even love to read the Bible. Or, Pastors (unreformed, of course) who desired to just build a kingdom of their own, did not believe in Biblical truth and was thus not glorifying God in thier ministry.

Now, I aam sure I will get tons of replys "Show me the evidence! Quit making charges you can;'t back up! Stop being cruel! ad infinitum...

Here is the truth of the matter for me: I learned more about calvinism from a non-calvinist theologian than I did from reading calvinists. In seminary, Fisher Humphreys introduced me to what he called the "beautiful system of calvinism". No system he told me was more intricate, more thought out, more logically consistent more overarching, more culture-affecting than historic calvinism and that coming from a man who emphatically DID NOT believe it. It was Humphreys who introduced me to JL Dagg, who was for Humphreys one of the giants of SBC life and theology. He encouraged me to read him and enjoy him. I still do..

Now, contrast this approach with one blog I visited recently had taken "Johnny's" words and systematically parsed virtually every syllable and presented "Johnny's words" against his reading (or in my view, many times misreading or not giving Dr. Hunt the benefit of the doubt)which, of course, was the, excuse me for borrowing a convient phrase from my literary mentor, F.Schaeffer, "true truth".

Brothers, these men are peoples' Pastors. They are not perfect but they deserve more respect than so many of them receive on the blogosphere. What do we expect the people to do when a great pulpiteer like the late Adrian Rogers is perpetually parsed on every single syllable he utters about election from some of these calvinist blogs? (now, I might as well say, at this point, I'm speaking of the AO/DividingLine. Granted Dr. White is not SBC. But if we are fair, I'll bet you the overwhelming majority of the Founder blog readers make AO a regular hit and use many of the arguments Dr. White has formulated).

I do have a point: the current method that calvinists employ to "reform" the SBC is, in my view, fatally flawed. It possesses no hope of success. All that awaits calvinists in the SBC is schism, conflict and failure if your present pragmatic paradigm does not shift. The whole question of reform needs to be rethought.

I am sorry Brothers. I would love to sing with you about my comments, but I am off to Sweden. With that, I am...

Peter

p.s. Hello Cap. Remember me. We attended seminary together:)

Mike Miller said...

Um . . . I got it from the Bible, Volfan. I didn't even know I was a Calvinist until later. I was actually surprised to learn that I was a Calvinist, because the only picture I had of Calvinism was the caricature that was painted for me at seminary--apparently the same one you have. And, by the way, where did Calvin get it? Or Augustine? Or Paul? Your categorical assertions are pretty shallow and unsubstantiated. Most of us spend much more time in Scripture than in the writings of Calvinists. And most of us regularly read opposing viewpoints. Most of us also respect those with whom we disagree without having to resort to ad hominem and insult. We like to stay with biblical exegesis. It's one thing to say (as you did), "Get back to the Bible," but it is another thing altogether to refute our exegesis--or to provide your own. I'd like to know, for example, how you interpret John 6, John 10, Romans 8-11, or Ephesians 1.

Please don't say that the only way we become Calvinists is by learning a system. That is categorically false. And don't say that I am complaining because you challenged my beliefs. As one who holds to the principle of semper reformanda, I want to be challenged. I really want it. But I want it on biblical grounds instead of emotional grounds or quotes by former professors (which I don't undertand, by the way--"young men's religions"? What does that mean?). You see, I've yet to see a coherent, biblical refutation of Reformed theology. So, if you have something to offer, terrific! And I think I speak for others on this blog--including Dr. Ascol--when I say that we are delighted to dialogue with any biblical challenge to our convictions. The problem is that guys like you haven't provided any such challenges.

And by the way, would you also agree that churches led by non-Calvinists also split? And that churches led by Calvinists can split over other issues? I've only pastored two churches since becoming reformed in my theology, and they have both experienced significant growth and unity--and I followed non-Calvinists who left the churches in decline (one of them even left with a church split). Now, I don't know the future, and I might really blow it as a pastor, but if I do, I don't think Calvinism will be to blame.

Dave Scarbrough said...

Great article Tom.

I was in a situation very much like what you described. Though I am an assistant/education pastor and not a senior pastor. When I "interviewed" for the position, the men asking the questions, with the exception of the pastor, had little or no theological knowledge. All they really wanted to know was "have you been born again" and "do you use the King James Bible!" While these may be legitimate questions, the subject of where I stood on specific theological issues never came up. They did have a conservative confession, the 1833 New Hampshire, so I assumed that they believed what was written in the confession. I have since discovered that the majority not only do not know what it says, they don't even know they have one. So no, I never explicitly stated that I was a Calvinist, but I was also never asked. I also never thought it would be an issue because their statement of faith was Calvinistic. The real sad part is that it is still not an issue. Not because I would like to stir up a stink, but because I would like to see people interested in what they believe. To give you an example of what I mean, after discovering that the vast majority of the church didn't know they had a confession of faith, I started teaching through it, article by article, on Sunday nights during discipleship training. We are a smaller church with a membership of 410. We have about 150 (our real membership) in average worship attendance on Sunday mornings, we have about 50 on Sunday nights. However, I am averaging about 4 people in this class on our confession of faith. So not only are they not equipped to ask these doctrinal questions, they are also not interested in becoming equipped! But I know God is in control, so I will continue to teach the remnant.

Grace & Peace!
Dave Scarbrough

John Wootten said...

I assume that I am like most other people here in that, in my experience, I've come into contact with a lot of churches that were full of conflict over the years, and I've never once encountered a "split" over Calvinism. Obviously, I don't know every situation of every church in the history of the SBC, but as for Calvinism, of the churches I am aware of, either the church submitted to Biblical authority, or they unbiblically forced the pastor out.

What I've encountered in 99% of conflicts over doctrinal issues is anti-intellectualism and dishonesty by factions such as search committees and "deacons" who are trying to run the show in unbiblical ways.

I wish they would take volfan007's advice, and get back to the Bible. You don't know how to be a typical, back-biting, dishonest, tyrannical SBC church committee member by reading the bible. You get it from other typical, back-biting, dishonest, tyrannical SBC church committee members.

There is a serious problem with dishonesty and integrity in the SBC, but it isn't with Calvinists. While we are "getting back to the bible" where is the mandate to vote? On anything? Where does God instruct that the local New Testament church has a right to not submit to the pastor if 51% on the members disagree with him?

I agree with Dr. Patterson and volfan, we need honesty and integrity in our SBC churches.

And after we recover a convention-wide understanding of Biblical church polity, discipline, and authority, then perhaps we will be in a position to address doctrine.

Tom said...

John Calvin RIP:

You may send a donation to:

Founders Ministries
MInister Relief Fund
POB 150931
Cape Coral, FL 33915

Thanks for your generosity. I will also personally contribute to this fund.

Keith said...

Bro. Ascol: Great post. Look forward to seeing you at Bethel in July.

Timmy: You cracked me up with the "Calvinism is like underwear comment."

Eric: I am not a pastor. I once served as a Sunday School teacher in a church where I was asked to leave under similar circumstances. It is heartbreaking, but God is good. I will pray for you.

Timmy (again): During a meeting with church leaders (where I was asked to step down from my teaching position) one man stated: "I don't even know how to spell Arminian, much less tell you what it is." He later said, "We don't discuss doctrine here--it's too divisive." I must confess (so as not to be called "dishonest"), the church was a Restoration Movement (Stone/Campbell) church, so I wasn't surprised when they came accusing me of being a Calvinist. Actually, at the time, I just thought I was teaching the Bible. They called it "heresy." We had already had several discussions re: baptism and it's work in salvation. They held that baptism saves-- I stated that baptism was an outward sign/act of obedience portraying what had already taken place in the heart of the believer. Comments like that will get you thrown out of a Christian Church.

I am now at a "Founders Friendly" church that just happened to be, er, uh, was providentially right down the street.
---
Keith Whitfield

Byroniac said...

john said:

I wish they would take volfan007's advice, and get back to the Bible. You don't know how to be a typical, back-biting, dishonest, tyrannical SBC church committee member by reading the bible. You get it from other typical, back-biting, dishonest, tyrannical SBC church committee members.

Now that was a gem! :) My question is, where did the first church committee member get it from? Might Jeremiah 17:9 possibly give us a clue? It might also shed some light on this whole issue of mistreatment for the sake of the gospel and scripture.

Scott said...

Tom,

If we were to ask most Pastors and current denominational leaders of the SBC these questions I wonder how they would respond ?

1. Why do most Southern Baptist not share the gospel ?

2. Why do deacons lead majority of our churches ?

3. Why do most Southern Baptists not read their Bibles daily or pray?

4. Why do most Southern Baptists not tithe ?

5. Why is the divorce rate so high in our SBC churches ?

6. Why do most Southern Baptist Churches not practice church discipline?

7. Why do we avg less than half of our SBC membership in attendance on the Lord's Day?

8. Why do most Southern Baptist not know the BFM ?

9. Why do most Southern Baptist say that they don't know how to share the gospel with someone?

10. Why do most SBC Churches have to do High Attendance days or bring in " Popular people" to draw crowds or intrest in something in our churches?

11. Why do most men in the SBC not lead a nightly or weekly Family Worship time in the home ?

12. Why are we finding more and more SBC leaders refusing to sit down and talk theology?

I FIND IT AMAZING THAT CALIVINISTIC SOUTHERN BAPTIST ARE BEING TOLD THAT WE NEED TO BE MORE UPFRONT ABOUT WHAT WE BELIEVE TO CHURCHES. I AGREE THAT WE SHOULD BUT THE REAL QUESTION THAT NEEDS TO BE ASKED IS : WHY ARE OUR CHURCHES SUCH A MESS AND WHAT THEOLOGY DRIVES MOST OF THESE CHURCHES? HAVE WE BECOME SO BLIND THAT THE PRESENT SBC LEADERSHIP CAN'T FIGURE THIS OUT THAT THE THEOLOGY THAT HAS DRIVEN 99% OF OUR CHURCHES IS NOT CALVINISTIC THEOLOGY AND THE PRESENT METHODOLOGY IS PRODUCING SAD RESULTS THAT MY 12 QUESTIONS POINTED OUT.

CAN ANYONE GIVE ME ANSWERS TO MY 12 QUESTIONS AND WHAT CAN THE SAD RESULTS BE TRACED BACK TO. I THOUGHT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GET OUR METHODOLOGY FROM OUR THEOLOGY. THE PRESENT SBC LEADERSHIP NEEDS TO BE UPFRONT TO THE SBC AS TO WHY ARE CHURCHES ARE IN SO BAD SHAPE. DR. PATTERSON HAS EVEN SAID THAT THE SBC IS IN BAD SHAPE IN EVANGELISM, CHURCH DISCIPLINE , AND OTHER AREAS. GREAT ARTICLE TOM ! CALL FOR INTEGRITY ? MOST NEED TO LOOK IN THE MIRROR OF GOD'S WORD !

volfan007 said...

i have already gone thru the calvinist and arminian debate. i have already been thru the calvinists trying to convert me thing. i sat under dr. tom nettles in seminary. believe me, i have considered the five point view, and i have dealt with the scriptures that you(mike) have mentioned. i have dealt with the fatalistic slant that you all put on them. and, i really dont feel like going thru it all again for the thousandth time. i have talked with many calvinists, and i have shared the scriptures with them. and, they just dont see it, or dont want to see it. i find five point calvinism lacking scripturally. it's better than arminianism, but it still falls short of what the bible really teaches.

the comment of the prof. about calvinism and arminianism being young men's religions simply means they are for those who are immature in thier faith. that's what the prof. meant. the prof. who made this statement was a great man of God who knew the bible like the back of his hand. he was from england, and he taught at mid america baptist seminary in memphis, tn. when he made this statement he was about 80 yrs old. highly intelligent man.

Brian R. Giaquinto said...

Volfan007 said about the congregation:

let them make up thier(sic) own minds if thats the way they want to go or not.

Isn't the goal of a shepherd to lead the sheep somewhere? Where did we get the idea that the sheep decides where to go? Why, then, do we need a shepherd? I am reminded of 2 Timothy 4:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The implication of this verse is for pastors to preach the truth, even if it is not what the congregation wants to hear. Even though they will go to great lengths to find someone who preaches what they want, Paul adds two little words in verse 5: "but you." This is in spite of the opposition, in spite of what the congregation thinks they want.

Oh, Volfan007...you said, "cults also try to avoid answering direct questions about thier(sic) theology." True, but even more so, cults will surround themselves with teachers who give them what their "ticking ears" want to hear (what they want). That's generally how it starts. A group of people dislike a historically orthodox truth, create their own version of it, then select a leader for the group.

The shepherd must lead no matter how obstinate the congregation; however, he must do it with great patience and instruction - verse 2. Otherwise, we are no longer true shepherds, but rather come under God's judgement found in Ezekiel 34. Here's verses 7-10, but the entire chapter applies:

Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, therefore, O shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.

Let us repent, and may God be merciful.

Jack Maddox said...

I guess according to volfan007's prof, men like Spurgeon, Boyce, Broadus, Manly and even today with Dr. Mohler...are all 'spiritualy inmature'

I guess that makes me a spiritual zygote

jm

Mike Miller said...

Yeah, Jack. All those guys plus Edwards, Carey, Owen, each of the first messengers of the SBC, Piper, MacArthur, Carson, Nettles, Schreiner, Grudem, Packer, and countless others through the ages. All babes in Christ. And how do we know? Because an 80-year-old prof at a vocally anti-Calvinist institution said so. Really, somebody needs to mentor those guys.

70 year old Brother in CHRIST said...

PRIDE, PRIDE, PRIDE.
The people need to hear and read GOD’S WORD “The BIBLE”. Set down with Church Members and share BIBLE versus that show GOD’S GRACE and how GOD calls his Children. The “BIBLE” reveals all these TRUTHS and it is not from SATAN. Read what is said about the doctrines of Grace, Predestination and Election.

Stephen A Morse said...

John!

"You don't know how to be a typical, back-biting, dishonest, tyrannical SBC church committee member by reading the bible. You get it from other typical, back-biting, dishonest, tyrannical SBC church committee members."

You must have had some tremendous discipleship when you were in high school to have come up with this gem! I would love to meet your youth pastor some day!

Scott:
Those questions are not legitimate. We all know that the problem is Calvinism. Who cares about the details?

Somewhere, somehow, the virus of the doctrines of grace are lurking in the background of each of these situations just waiting to rear their ugly head and split the church!

Dr. Patterson et al have put their finger right on the pulse of the problem. How can we be so blind?

The one I want to see answered by those who claim that Calvinism = hyper-calivinism is the first question!

When can we communicate to the SBC that inviting someone to church is not evangelism?

Eric said...

To those who have responded,

Thank you. Your kindness and prayers are so deeply appreciated and needed.

My wife is deeply encouraged and grateful for the sound words of advice that I would hold her and love her during this time.

How gracious is our King.

An undeserving servant,
Eric

ErgunIsMyHero said...

To mike -- I think what I find very funny, is that the giants of the faith today, Patterson, Merritt, the late Rogers, Falwell, etc, etc. are against Calvinism. Are they not men of God. Do they not love the Lord. Do they not read the scriptures daily? Do they not read the same Bible as you? Or maybe, they DON'T read Piper, Spurgeon, Sproul and the list goes on.

Now, let me harp on the SBCers. Yes, the SBC is full of Deacons who don't even know the Bible...why? because being a deacon has become sort of a boys club. Unfortunately, Calvinism has become a boys club, too. the Founders.org blog is where you come to whine about how everyone doesn't agree with you. You come here to feel...I don't know...normal? I totally agree that there needs to be a REVIVAL in the church...but it is not going to happen in your silly "reformed" way. No, unfortunately for you, most non believers and Christians alike cannot grasp the depths of the scripture like you. No, it will be a more pragmatic approach. Jesus' own disciples were the uneducated. Why? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Not confuse.

1 Corinthians 1 -

10I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

(EIMH's note: add Calvin or Spurgeon or Piper to any of these names)
12What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas[a]"; still another, "I follow Christ."

13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into[b] the name of Paul? 14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16(Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."[c]

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."[d]

AMEN! my own addition :)

Timmy said...

You know, an interesting note is that twice I read of personal accounts where ministers were forced to leave for teaching the attributes of God. Let me be the third person to this list.

Here's the deal. We want a god we can manage. We want a god we know enough to use, to call our friend, to sings love songs to. We don't want to know God in the full expression of his manifold perfections. I will never forget that when I first realized I was a Calvinist was when I truly submitted to the sovereignty of God and acknowledged that from him, through, and to him are all things. That day, apart from when God saved me, was the most life-changing moment.

Calvinists are not teaching or slanted to a "system." We want to bibically portray our awesome God without such slants and "control beliefs" as human self-determination and a domesticated deity. When do you hear Arminian pastors preach on the attributes of God? It's just doesn't fit into the pragmatism project. But the truth remains . . .

Thus says the LORD, "Let not the wise boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in th earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23-24

There is not only a famine of the word of God in the land, there is a famine of the knowledge of God. To display God in all his excellecies with shatter the pride of man, dethrone him from his presumed autonomy, and bring him to the humble recognition that God is in heaven and does whatever he pleases (Psalm 115:3).

"What do have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

David B. Hewitt said...

Volfan said:
"i have talked with many calvinists, and i have shared the scriptures with them. and, they just dont see it, or dont want to see it. i find five point calvinism lacking scripturally. it's better than arminianism, but it still falls short of what the bible really teaches."

How is it lacking Scripturally? Perhaps you've gone over the Scripture with previous people, but I haven't yet had the privilege of seeing/reading what you have to say. What Scriptures? I truly am curious.

Furthermore, what exactly is your interpretation of John 10? I'm getting ready to do an exegesis of this chapter on my blog pretty soon, which makes me all the more curious as to your views.

SDG,
David Hewitt

Timmy said...

EIMH, you said:

"Now, let me harp on the SBCers. Yes, the SBC is full of Deacons who don't even know the Bible...why? because being a deacon has become sort of a boys club. Unfortunately, Calvinism has become a boys club, too. the Founders.org blog is where you come to whine about how everyone doesn't agree with you. You come here to feel...I don't know...normal? I totally agree that there needs to be a REVIVAL in the church...but it is not going to happen in your silly "reformed" way. No, unfortunately for you, most non believers and Christians alike cannot grasp the depths of the scripture like you. No, it will be a more pragmatic approach. Jesus' own disciples were the uneducated. Why? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Not confuse."

You viewpoint is welcomed by all of us, but I don't know if you are going to ellicit responses from us when you go out of your way to be so sophomoric, condescending, and pejorative in your comments. Calling your brothers in Christ silly, a boys club, trying to be normal, etc. is no way to foster dialogue my friend. I think everyone here who reads your comment and others with various convictions try to approach your statements with humility and due consideration.

I don't know what it is, but John Calvin RIP, volfan007, and Ergun is my Hero I think wants to provoke emotional rhetoric from commentors more than substance. If you notice, they want to bring the conversation down to mischaracterizations, accusations, and tangential tirades. Let's not go there, and let's not encourage this. I am all about discussing the issues with people who disagree, but not with those who are unwilling to be cordially conversant.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

To eric -- peace to you. I have lost my job in the past and it is not fun. the best thing you can do is show your wife that you are actively looking...even if that means going from Door to door, church to church. God is good...and no one can change that. It is all in His plan.

Stephen Thomas said...

ergunismyhero said, "Unfortunately, Calvinism has become a boys club, too. the Founders.org blog is where you come to whine about how everyone doesn't agree with you."

You just described every single blog or message board, regardless of theological positions. It is not limited to deacons and Calvinists. I have never ever been to any sort of Christian blog or message board (or non-Christian, too) that didn't have like minded people complaining about those who disagree with them. Hopefully, if there is a difference at this excellent blog, it is that the complaints are less "he offended me and I don't like it" and more "I wish that if this person was going to attack my beliefs, they would do it in an informed way." I think that is the biggest beef that we Calvinists have--that we are constantly misrepresented by people who have never learned what Calvinism really is. It just gets frustrating.

It is also frustrating when you come to believe in the doctrines of God's grace and sovereignty primarily by reading the Bible alone, and then told that we need to "get back to the Bible" and way from our "systems." If I need to throw out my Calvinist books, then the apostles John and Paul in particular will get thrown in the trash heap. And that is something I cannot do.

Mike Miller said...

EIMH--you have never--nor will you ever hear me even imply that the men you mentioned are not men of God. All I was pointing out is that it is quite silly to state that all Calvinists are spiritually immature. In fact, I have no reason to believe that Patterson, Merritt, and many other non-Calvinsists I know of are anything but sincere men who read the Bible and love Jesus. But what is the difference between your referring to them and my referring to the others? Are you saying that we should only read the Bible and not things written by men? Surely you wouldn't say that.

It's also interesting that you calssify those men as "the giants of the faith." Are non-Calvinists the only ones you would so describe? Are you exalting them over other believers? If so, let me refer you to 1 Corinthians 1:12 (quoted by you, I believe). Surely we Calvinists don't exalt people. Again, I was simply pointing out that some very mature believers--very competent Bible scholars--are, and have been, Calvinists. I did not say that there are no spiritually mature non-Calvinists. Can you not agree that men like Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, John Owen, John Piper, Tom Schreiner, Al Mohler, and many others are competent biblical scholars? Are non-Calvinists the only ones you respect? Oh, I hope not.

And yes, we do need revival. If you will study the great revivals and awakenings of history, you will run across names like Edwards, Whitefield, Lanphier, and a host of other Calvinists who were at the forefront of the movements. Not sure what you are getting at when you say that revival won't happen in our "silly 'reformed' way." What way is that, and is it different than the First and Second Great Awakenings in America? I know that's what I'm praying for.

Also, are you sure all of Jesus' disciples were uneducated? How do you know that? Have you ever read Matthew, John, Peter, or Paul (I know, Paul's not one of the original 12)? In fact, Peter uses some of the most difficult Greek in all of Scripture. These were bright men.

I also find it interesting that you quote from 1 Corinthians. Are you implying that passage teaches that God doesn't use educated individuals? Surely the men you mentioned would take exception to that. They are highly educated. I, too, am pretty well educated, but by the grace of God I cling to the foolish cross. Can you not see how this passage is teaching that there is a difference between worldly wisdom and the wisdom of God? You see, God chose the foolish, weak, and lowly things like me that we might become truly wise, though foolish to the world and the worldly. "O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!"

bristopoly said...

I remember there was this pastor once who was trying to lead people the way he believed God had instructed through His Word. Almost none of the congregation agreed with him. He was so arrogant in thinking he was right and everyone else was wrong. Someone even had the audacity to say he was humble even when he clearly was trying to push his way and not let the people vote on it. Unbelievable! There were plenty of other people intelligent enough to lead and their convictions were just as strong. Who was this guy to not listen to his flock? He just kept preaching and leading his way. This joker would have been taken out of ministry by a big faction a few different times if it weren't for that earthquake, plague, and God making them wander around in the wilderness for forty years.

Signed,
Dead Israelite

GeneMBridges said...

then tell them about it.
let them make up thier own minds if thats the way they want to go or not.


Let's look at this logic for what it is. First, it's the logic that the sheep lead the shepherds of the church. It's also unbiblical. So much for the teaching authority of the elders. Second, it lets those in error perpetuate error in the church. "If you're going to lead them into Trinitarianism tell them about it." Let them decide if that's the way they want to go or not." This is the kind of attitude that lets people gather together men to tell them what their itching ears want to hear with impugnity.

of course, the best thing would be for you all to come out of this extreme tangent and just get back to the bible

So tell us, volfan007, were the Founders of the SBC on an extreme tangent? They affirmed the Philadelphia Confession, which encapsulates the Five Points of Calvinism. Since when did teaching what Scripture says become "extreme?'"

calvinism and arminianism are young men's religions as my old seminary prof. used to say. come out of the system and get back to the bible.

A. Amen, brother. Let's put it this way, the objections to Calvinism are not exegetical, they are ethical. That should tell you something about the biblical basis of your position.When you can find the magic text of Scripture that proves libertarian free will (a philosophically derived proposition from beginning to end), let us know.

B. The "five points of Calvinism" are not a system. Covenant theology is a system. New Covenant Theology is a system. Classic and dispensational theology are systems. Calvinism transcends these systems. Ergo, it is not a system in itself. There is something else that is driving it, namely the exegesis of the text. Yes, the points logically fit together, but that should be true if logic is an attribute of truth and truth is an attribute of God. It would make sense that doctrines should logically cohere.

learn matthew, mark, and romans and hebrews, instead of learning calvinism. and yes, you have to learn calvinism. you dont just get that by reading the bible. you have to learn it from another calvinist.

A. This is a self-defeating statement. For everybody learns theology from somebody else, including you, and you name one such item in your statement. God has given teachers for that very purpose. How then does this help your argument?

B. Persons in the Protestant Reformed Churches and Presbyterians and lifelong Reformed Baptists and others will tell you that you don't get your system of theology from reading the Bible, QED.

C. Many, many of us came to believe these doctrines by reading the Bible for what it states, including me. For the record, I have no memory of not believing these doctrines. I grew up going to a Christian school from the time I was in first grade. It was IFBx too. We were taught the Bible from very early. In high school we were learning about other religions and some of the theological systems. This was underwritten by years of Bible teaching. I'm a Calvinist because of the Bible.

D. In my church, we are all about the Bible. Pastor Dustin's sermons last about an hour. They are 100 percent expository. In addition, we have question and answer periods after the sermon. We eat lunch together every two weeks after church. After lunch, one of our church members came up to me and said, "I was just noticing..." I asked him to go on. He said, "I was looking around during lunch and there was this group of people over here talking about the sermon, and another was talking about their lost relatives and asking for people's advice, and another was talking about church history, and another was talking about doctrine with their Bibles open." You just don't get that in many churches. He's right, Volfan, and in my experience the churches that are more confessionally Calvinistic, the more that happens. My home church is one of the most prominent in NC. Unlike our largest sister church in Charlotte which was built on revivalism, we were built on expository preaching. We were not confessional Calvinists, but we could talk about it openly and disgree among ourselves without a problem, because that was the example set for us in the pulpit. On staff, we had several Calvinists when I was interning there. We had several that were not. We all got along. Since the pastor has retired bec. of his health, I understand things have changed. Recently, a group of Dave Hunt style persons has gotten into the church and they have made problems for the Calvinist folk. This wasn't brought on by any takeover attempt by the Calvinists either. When I go back and look into the Sunday School rooms, I see the Dave Hunt crowd teaching Jesus Loves Me level information to their classes. I see the other wading deeply and drinking mightly from the river of God's Word.

i have dealt with the fatalistic slant that you all put on them.

Something tells me that you made it through seminary without understanding the difference between fatalism and determinism, not to mention how to use capitalization when writing. For you to trot this out tells me that you didn't learn what you say you learned. Tell us, what is fatalism and how does Calvinism = fatalism in light of the proper definition? Note too that this is a philosophical, not an exegetical objection. I thought you said that we should get back to the Bible? We're there, brother, are you?

ErgunIsMyHero said...

timmy, you said:

You viewpoint is welcomed by all of us, but I don't know if you are going to ellicit responses from us when you go out of your way to be so sophomoric, condescending, and pejorative in your comments. Calling your brothers in Christ silly, a boys club, trying to be normal, etc. is no way to foster dialogue my friend. I think everyone here who reads your comment and others with various convictions try to approach your statements with humility and due consideration.

I don't know what it is, but John Calvin RIP, volfan007, and Ergun is my Hero I think wants to provoke emotional rhetoric from commentors more than substance. If you notice, they want to bring the conversation down to mischaracterizations, accusations, and tangential tirades. Let's not go there, and let's not encourage this. I am all about discussing the issues with people who disagree, but not with those who are unwilling to be cordially conversant.

Timmy - I am having a hard time listening to your waffling:

Tim said: I sometimes feel like some of these leaders trumpeting such warnings and admonitions are really looking for 21st century lepers to declare, "Unclean! Unclean!" and have found the Calvinists with the scarlet letter "C" on their chest to identify them as such.

timmy said...

Quote:

"As soon as a Pastor begins to preach the Bible there is going to be trouble."

Bingo.

mark said:wow...can anyone say "complete misunderstanding"?

ohh, and just anything Mike Miller says on this blog.

I answer with an attitude, yes. I should. You are on just as big of an attack as I am. You just have more in your ranks than I do on this particular site. You mask your intentions with more words than feeling. In the words of the great John Stossell - GiVE ME A BREAK!

bristopoly said...

As some have said before, I think the real issue with all these splits have to do with issues of authority and Church Government. If you look at the way Americans grumble about the President or anyone in authority they don't agree with, it's a symptom of our autonomous views (which then lead to a low ecclesiology in the Church). I think the hardest word an American can ever utter is the word "submission." And evangelicals seem to have a greater sense of entitlement than even the world does, so your going to be pulling teeth whenever you try to exercise authority over anyone who does not agree with you in the first place. That is where the real hostility comes into play and those hostilities break up churches. To blame it on Calvinism is absurd.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Gene said...

then tell them about it.
let them make up thier own minds if thats the way they want to go or not.

Let's look at this logic for what it is. First, it's the logic that the sheep lead the shepherds of the church. It's also unbiblical. So much for the teaching authority of the elders. Second, it lets those in error perpetuate error in the church. "If you're going to lead them into Trinitarianism tell them about it." Let them decide if that's the way they want to go or not." This is the kind of attitude that lets people gather together men to tell them what their itching ears want to hear with impugnity.

Dear Gene M Bridges - It's called "accountibility" :)

Timmy said...

EIMH,

If you can't see the different in my underscores and reiterations and your statements, then I cannot help you. I have never called anyone silly, never charged Arminians on a slant with a system, never a boys club, etc.

Concerning the attitude and perception of Calvinists, it is true, and your comments, I think, reflect the current disposition of Calvinists. As your hero has stated, Calvinism is a virus. My description of the scarlet letter "C" and the "Unclean!" statement is reality for a lot of us. That is simply the fact.

By the way, this was brought to us. For all this talk that Calvinistic pastors to disclose their agenda, why don't we have all these SBC elites and mega-church pastors disclose their agenda against Calvinism in the SBC. Wait a minute . . . they have. They want us out.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Timmy - then go! It's like the crusades to take back Jerusalem. the SBC is a lost cause. Go start your own churches that don't have the "Baptist" name to them. Like First Calvin Church of Atlanta...I don't care. Start your own universities and tell your kids to stop trying to infiltrate the Baptist circles...it's a lost cause.

What would it hurt to start 1st Calvin churches?

Scott said...

ergunismyhero,

You mentioned Dr. James Merritt and that he can't stand Calvinism. These are your words! How well do you know Dr. Merritt? I know him very well and you are not(100%) accurate with that statement. Dr. Merritt claims to embrace four of the five points of the doctrines of grace( Not Particular Redemption). I have probably 500 messages of him in my office. When he preached through Titus at FBC Snellville( Where I served on his staff) he preached in one of his messages and I quote " Listen up FBC Snellville and Baptists most of us think that we made our salvation happen but I got news for you from God's word that salvation is all of grace and you are saved because of God and not your working" and then he went on to quote Spurgeon about the doctrines of grace in a very positive way.
Do you know why Dr. Merritt runs away from the word Calvinism now ? Three years ago at FBC Snellville there was a layman named Scott Fyre who was a deacon, evangelism trainer, SS teacher and you name it. James once told me that Scott Fyre was one of his top three members that he had ever pastored. God opened Scott's eyes to the truth of Grace and God used men like John MacAruthur, Sproul, and Piper as means to teach him. Scott went to see Dr. Merritt and Merritt told him that he believed in four of the five points but told Scott that he could not teach Election because though it was the truth however it would confuse the church because they have never been taught that. Dr. Merritt admitted that it was true and had his associate pastor Dr. Dan Greer( Who is a five point Calvinist) and a fine christian man go to Scott and tell him not to make much of this in SS.Scott left the church. I love Dr. Merritt but when a pastor tells one of his layman that he can't teach the truth on election because it may affect the church then they are wrong! Dr. Merritt is a great expositor and speaker, husband, father and avid Bulldog fan but he has openly admitted in messages and conversations that Four out of the five points he fully embraces. Dr. Akin and Merritt are so far closer to historic baptist theology than Ergun, Hunt, Floyd,Vines, Graham, and Patterson.
I wish Akin and Merritt would rethink about who lines up closer with scripture Founders or the current SBC leadership. Just their beliefs on at least four points puts them miles closer to Founders than the other but they do keep their distance from Founders and that's a real shame. Dr. Merritt can talk theology with the best of them and he will share the gospel as often as anyone. His two downfalls are that he dosn't embrace Particular Redemption and he is a Georgia Bulldog Fan. Auburn is the real SEC team!
I will agree that Dr. Merritt does distance himself from what he would call" Calvinism on the sleeve" but he has told me he would hire five point calvinist, his associate pastor is a calvinist, his good friend Dr. Mohler is a calvinist, his good friend Dr. Akin is at leat a four pointer and he loves Spurgeon.
Drs. Merritt and Akin have personally told me of the severe problems in our churches and it can be traced back to " Poor theology". These were their words and they were not talking about Calvinists and I won't name the names! If I can't have for SBC president Dr. Tom Ascol, Mark Dever, Dr. Mohler, Dr. Nettles then give me Drs. Merritt or Akin. We can't afford any longer the theology of Drs. Caner, Hunt, and Floyd.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

please don't go into the exegesis of he similarities to the SBC and Jerusalem, either.

bristopoly said...

EIMH,
How are elders in authority over the congregation when they have to answer to them? Asking the authority questions and seeking godliness in leadership is one thing, but holding rebellions and voting to out him is an exercise of authority. If the congregation has it over the elders, then the elders don't have it over the congregation. If the sheep go wherever they want, then the shepherd may or may not walk with them, but whatever theoretical "authority" they say he has is irrelevant.

scripturesearcher said...

Dear EIMH:


Do you and your hero at the Falwell school understand the meaning of these words:


Sound and fury, signifying nothing?

Tom said...

Ergun is my hero wrote:

(EIMH's note: add Calvin or Spurgeon or Piper to any of these names)
12What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas[a]"; still another, "I follow Christ."

The irony here is inescapable. A man (or woman) who identifies himself (or herself) by claiming another man as a hero admonishes us with verses that warn against personality cults. Thanks for the laugh.

Further, your suggestion that we should just "Go"--the SBC was started by our theological forbears. We are their theological heirs. Churches they started and institutions their labors gave rise to were built on the very theological foundations that we stand on today.

Your admonition for us to go sounds just like the liberal's wish 25 years ago. They wanted the conservatives to get out of the SBC, but, by God's grace, those who were unashamed of the full authority of the Bible refused to be intimidated because they knew that they not only had biblical truth on their side but also their views of biblical authority were those of the founders of the SBC. The convention had been infiltrated and led astray from its original moorings.

Those of us who are historic Southern Baptists are saying nothing different. Arguments that were legitimate for the battle for the Bible are equally so in the battle for the Gospel.

This presents something of a conundrum for fundamentalists who want reformed Southern Baptists simply to "go."

Timmy said...

EIMH,

"Then go!"

I wonder if the Calvinists in the SBC told non-Calvinists this, what would they think? After all, was it not the founders of the SBC Calvinists? But I do not hear a single Calvinist telling non-Calvinist to go.

Tom, on another note, I this another misconception of Calvinistic pastors is that all they do is preach the doctrines of grace in their sermons. At least that is the stigma/perception. When I was in Mobile, I sat under Dr. Steve Lawson for a year and did not hear one sermon about Calvinism. He simply went verse by verse and taught the Bible. Here in Louisville, my pastor is also a NT professor at Southern and is a Calvinist. I have sat under his preaching now for almost two years. He has yet to preach a sermon advocating Calvinism or teaching the doctrines of grace (nor have I heard it in SS). For the past year or so, he has been preaching expositionally through 1 Corinthians and lovingly shepherding us. Furthermore, at Southern Seminary, the "flagship" seminary full of Calvinists, I have yet to hear a lecture on Calvinism. We often have special lectures on various subjects, but we have not made it a PR stunt to push Calvinism. The last two lectures dealth with the substitutionary atonement (Schreiner) and elders (Wright).

Those who are searching for a pastor and find that they are Calvinist I fear automatically assume that they will be preaching on predestination or reprobation or why they should believe in infralapsarian election. This, in my mind, is just another reason why it is difficult as a Calvinist to pastor in the SBC. The caricatures and misreprentations are layered thick.

Jack Maddox said...

Ergun is my Hero

Jesus is my Hero! :)

Blessings
Jack Maddox

Stephen A Morse said...

Tom!!!
I knew something about his statement was getting to me!

"The irony here is inescapable. A man (or woman) who identifies himself (or herself) by claiming another man as a hero admonishes us with verses that warn against personality cults. Thanks for the laugh."

You're killing me!

I love it!

John Wootten said...

Stephen, you have such a sense of humor. You must have some delightfully witty and demiurgic students during your theologically formative years.

:)

Kennith said...

When I interviewed for the church I am presently at,I gave a doctrinal statement,and mentioned that I held to the Abstract of Principles, the 1689, and the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. I also offered to clarify and go over anything that the search committee, if so lead to read those articles had questions about. Was I dishonest? No, because I offered them the chance to discover what Baptists believe. They did not want to be bothered.

Many of the local pastors are starting to realize my doctrinal stance, and are amazed that I am supporting a local pastors group that goes to Korea for a missions trip. Only twice have I flat out stated my theological views to a couple of other local pastors. We have great fellowship, they only ask that I continue to support missions and preach the Truth of God's Word.

Lastly, there is a witch hunt in parts of Louisiana against Calvinists. The Parish(county) I recently left hates Calvinist, although the charther within that very association says "We being Calvinist in Doctrine". The largest predominant church split over issues of church discipline and Calvinism. We must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves to whom we reveal ourselves here, otherwise, you will be taken out and burned at the stake (so to speak), by so called loving brothers who have lumped us in with the "hyper" breed!

ps.
New to this blog, and have been greatly encouraged by what I have read!

johnMark said...

Hey Scott,

Do you have another blog? We are in the same area and I'd like to get in touch with you.

Thanks,
Mark

Ps. Pardon my hijack, Tom. =)

Calvinist Gadfly said...

Tom, I convert to my Macism this weekend, so I just wanted to leave my last PC comment ever on your blog :P

Byroniac said...

calvinist gadfly:

Brother, don't you realize you'll never be happier once you drop your new-found elitist electronic Calvinism (i.e., Macism) and embrace digital Universalism (i.e., Linuxism), like I have? We are compatible with your hardware. All will be redeemed and brought into glorious electronic redemption. Even if they aren't aware of that fact. It's only a matter of time. Everyone is elect. Both the Calvinistic Macist and the Arminian PCer will be brought under the fold of triumphant Universalism at last.

Pardon me. I need to go check my front door. There's a bunch of people with torches and pitchforks outside. Whatever could they want at this hour?!?

Scott said...

Johnmark,

I live in Buford. You can email me at scottmorgan33@yahoo.com .

Tony K. said...

The whole issue hangs on definitions – what does the committee understand by the word Calvinism?

Calvinism = you want to be like Piper or Spurgeon.
or
Calvinism = you think God is mean in the OT.
or
Calvinism = you am against public invitations.
or
Calvinism = you subscribe to Founders.
or
Calvinism = you own all Calvin’s commentaries.
or
Calvinism = you want to be a Presbyterian.

Honesty requires clear communication, which would mean a definition of any “fuzzy” terms.

Docsalogy said...

My prayers for the brother who has been asked to leave. I too, was recently asked to leave my last church because I am a Calvinist. I was accused of "misrepresenting myself" to the church, even though I spoke at great length with the search committee about my doctrine, and specifically about my Calvinsitic beliefs. The church even had a paragraph in its doctrinal statement specifically stating that they believed in election, but when it came up, they all denied having ever heard of the doctrine. An older pastor in our association, the father of one of our staff went around and stirred up all sorts of strife in the association, so now our reputation has been called into question, and most of our sister churches and fellow pastors are treating us as if we were plagued. I too have children to support, my younger daughter with cerebral palsey, and many special needs. So, after 15 months in that church, I have left and am now starting a new mission, under the sponsorship of a church from out of town. We are openly Calvinistic, however, in the new church, as in the old one, we refuse to make Calvinism an issue. The older pastor I referenced above, having pastored for his entire career in the SBC, and having a doctorate from an SBC seminary and two sons in the ministry, claimed to never have heard of predestination until I came along. The issue is not honesty among Calvinists, but honesty and utter doctrinal illiteracy among the SBC. I was repeatedly told, "We just believe in John 3: 16." I told them they needed to read the rest of the Bible--at least the next two verses (John 3: 17-18). That's the level of "theology" in most of our churches.

Timmy said...

Kennith,

Welcome to the blogworld (assuming that you are new to blogs). Unfortunately, the witch hunt is not exclusively in LA. Being from Alabama and having many pastor friends there, the witch hunt is alive and well there as well, and as Tom has stated, the testimony of our brother Eric is all too common in the SBC. It is almost that we need to have an Edict of Toleration like the Puritans had in 1689!

While the times are tought right now in the SBC for Calvinists, let us not forget those who have faithfully and sacrificially contended for the faith and be encouraged to persevere because of their example.

Kennith said...

The first curch I pastored asked me to leave because I preached expositionally. There defense was "we want a preacher who preaches the Bible and not all of this doctrine stuff.". I told them (and explained to them what 'expositional' meant and they liked it at first, but I guess when I also started introducing them to Spurgeon's catechism they freaked. I guess they didn't like the fact that they were being called on the carpet about not only 'believing the Bible', but knowing it as well.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Jack Maddox said...

Ergun is my Hero

Jesus is my Hero! :)

Blessings
Jack Maddox

Way to go Jack - touche.

tom said:

The irony here is inescapable. A man (or woman) who identifies himself (or herself) by claiming another man as a hero admonishes us with verses that warn against personality cults. Thanks for the laugh.

Good call...though, I only chose my name at the beginning to get a rise out of everyone.

Scott said...

ergunismyhero,

You mentioned Dr. James Merritt and that he can't stand Calvinism. These are your words! How well do you know Dr. Merritt? I know him very well and you are not(100%) accurate with that statement.

Now this one I have to answer to because you just actually twisted my words.

scott - I never said Dr. Merritt "can't stand" Calvinism. And no, i do not know him personally. I actually said that the "greats" of today were against it. And from the original post was why i said it. The discussion is about how the SBC churches don't want Calvinist pastors. But thank you for clearing up that Dr. Merritt has plenty of them in his ranks. :)

I personally think that being a GA Bulldog fan is also a tragedy!:) But he was predestined...so I guess you CAN't hold it against him. :)

Bible Believer said...

I'll throw my hat into this pool of men who get blasted because they simply believe in a biblical ministry.

I have been pastoring a church for about nine months. Three months into it, I found out that one of the power brokers is an adulterer.

Before I started pastoring, I made it clear to the entire church that I would deal with sin biblically.

So anyway...I confront the adulterer, and he claims to be repentent. As it turns out, after working with him for about 4 months, he is still in his affair. Thus he lied to me.

I followed the steps of Matt. 18 (which are also presented in our church constitution), and I eventually brought the issue before the church, and the church voted to have the man removed from the role.

Our Director of Missions found out about it, and he began to meet with people in our church, telling them I am out of line. Further, one of the deacons bailed on me, after assuring me of his support. Providientially, I started a small discipleship group early on, and one of the first things I taught was church discipline (wisdom I picked up from being ousted by another church for a similar issue!). The men who I am discipling are backing me, thankfully.

The issue is not Calvinism, at least in most cases. The issue is a Convention that has been poisoned by several generations of downgrade! The SBC is full of people who want a god made in their own image, who doesn't scare anyone, and who never meddles with their personal affairs!

Scott said...

ergunismyhero,

Thanks for your response ! However I did describe what you said about Dr. Merritt correctly. First, let me be clear that you (did not) say that he "Can't Stand Calvinism" but you said that he was " Against". The word AGAINST MEANS IN WEBSTERS DICTIONARY THE FOLLOWING AGAINST= IN OPPOSITION TO; UNFAVORABLE TO; IN CONTRAST TO. So, when I said that you said that he can't stand Calvinism actually I was correct in describing your word based on the definition. Do you disagree?
There are some men in the SBC who are in leadership who actually agree theologically with Calvinism or who are four pointers but are afraid to confront those who oppose the scripture on these doctrines because of the consequences( Pressure, Loose Ministry position, Loose friends, Loose speaking engagements and etc...). It has amazed me how some men run so close or have certain men come and preach at their church yet be so far away doctrinally than the guest speaker. Theology in the SBC has become a " Behind the door" thing rather than letting it guide us practically.

Example: A Pastor who fully embraces Election as Calvinist see it( Which the scripture teaches and the Abstract of Principles) should not have a man preach in his pulpit that totally preaches against it. This is no small issue. When one misteaches on Election then they don't biblically teach Grace ! So, why in the world would I want my church members or Seminary students be exposed to unhealthy doctrine. The scripture teaches we are to build up the saints with good doctrine.
I said all this to say THERE ARE SOME FOUR POINTERS AND CALVINISTS THAT NEED A WAKE UP CALL FOR INTEGRITY : DON'T FEAR MAN AND CONVENTION POLITICS BUT TRUST IN THE LORD. IF YOU ARE AFRAID THEN YOU ARE A SLAVE TO MAN AND YOU WILL NOT BE PRODUCTIVE IN MINISTRY!

ANY PASTOR OR SEMINARY LEADER THAT IS A FOUR OR FIVE POINTER THAT CAN'T PUBLICALLY SUPPORT THE FOUNDERS MOVEMENT THEN IN MY OPINION YOU DO NOT LIVE OUT YOUR THEOLOGY. RUNNING AND SUPPORTING OF THE CANERS, HUNT , AND PATTERSON THEOLOGY MAKES NO SENSE IN WHAT YOU CLAIM THEOLOGICALLY! NONE ! DROP THE " CALVINISM ON THE SLEEVE" STATEMENTS AND JUST ASK IS CALVINISTIC THEOLOGY THE TRUTH OF SCRIPTURE AND IF YOU BELIEVE IT IS THEN SUPPORT MEN AND MINISTRIES THAT PROMOTE IT !

Mike Miller said...

EIMH said, "ohh, and just anything Mike Miller says on this blog."

Huh? That was the entirety of the paragraph, and I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. It's not even a complete sentence. Help me understand, please.

Oh, and by the way, EIMH, please stop hiding behind your cloak of anonymity. It was Danny Akin (my doctoral advisor, whom I greatly respect and love, who will be speaking in my church next year) who stated that an anonymous letter is written by a coward. He advised us (his doctoral students) to throw any such mail in the trash. I think the same should probably hold true to bloggers. What are you afraid of? We aren't a threat to you, are we? Really--I'm not trying to be ugly. It just seems to me that the Christian thing to do is to come into the light. If you have something to say, you should be willing to attach your name to it--that is if you think what you have to say is meaningful.

Christopher Redman said...

Hey Scott! It's been a while. (This is Chris from Ormond Beach)

I've now pastored three churches. My experience has been that none, NONE, of the churches have any theological training at all. "I believe the Bible" is as far as it goes. But when you actually expose/expound what the Bible says, people are amazed. "I never heard that before. I read that many times but never realized what I was reading."

Since embracing the Doctrines of Grace, I am now in my second pastorate. I've only had one conflict over calvinism. The conflict was with a deacon in the church that after some dialogue and interaction was found to believe in speaking in tongues, direct revelation (God speaks to me directly), and a person can lose thier salvation.

I told him that he should not be serving as a deacon in an SBC church. After he tried to oust me but got no support, he resigned and left. It was smooth sailing after that.

My current church had split one year before I came. It was not under a calvinist pastor either. The church is so weakened and wounded that I'm not sure we will pull through (financially). But the nice thing is I'm able to rebuild, modify the bi-laws as needed, introduce better membership, leadership, and evangelism processes. I have a lot of freedom here and I love that.

I think it is interesting to note, as has already been stated by Scott and others, our churches are in a fine mess and its not because Calvinists have been running them or the SBC!

CR

Mopheos said...

ERGUNISMYHERO said: "I Corinthians 1 - Was Calvin, Spurgeon, Piper or MacArthur crucified for you?"

No - was Caner, Rogers, Merritt or Hunt crucified for you? Obviously not. Who would be so silly as to suggest such a thing? Just because you admire and have been edified by such men, and believe them to be men of God, does not mean you view them on a par with the Son or the Father. Likewise, just because men admire Calvin, Spurgeon, Piper or Macarthur, it does not follow that their admirers view them as you seem to imply.

It is fascinating that you cite that chapter in I Corinthians which is so...well, to put it in anachronistic terms, "calvinistic!"

But not to prejudice a reading of the Word with such an odious word like calvinism, a simple glance back over verses 18-31 is more than enough to establish the complete sovereignty of God in the salvation of the Corinthians.

"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God"

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were CALLED. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God CHOSE the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God CHOSE the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He CHOSE the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him.

30 It is BECAUSE OF HIM that YOU ARE IN Christ Jesus..."

I'm not "yelling" by using all caps, I'm just ignorant enough of HTML code to not be able to figure out bold or italics. The caps just emphasize profound truths concerning our place at the Lord's wedding banquet - it's because of Him and His choosing, calling grace that we are in Christ.

And in contrast to "those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks" (vs 24), there are some who have not been called, both Jews and Greeks, even though they have had the same gospel preached to them. To some it is a stumbling block, to others foolishness, but to "those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." To some Christ crucified is a stumbling block, to others He is foolishness, and to others He is the power of God and the wisdom of God. What accounts for this disparity of responses to the same message? The call of God, plain and simple.

God CHOSE some weak, foolish and lowly things; God CALLED some weak, foolish and lowly things; and those weak, foolish and lowly things BELIEVED and were saved.

All three of these things are essential to salvation (together with repentance, regeneration, etc.), but it is ultimately because of Him that we are in Christ. There literally are no grounds whatsoever for the slightest notion of boasting, except in the discriminate choice and calling of God in His grace.

Now I'm sure you know all this - it is right there in the Bible in plain english (or greek as you may prefer). Why would a lover of the Bible, and a lover of the unmerited grace of God, rail against such truth? Not because of Calvin, I can assure you of that! Perhaps the answer is found in those mouth-shutting questions which the apostle Paul answers in Romans 9:14 & 19...

It's ironically funny that calvinistic brethren today are being excoriated for their love of the Bible much like the Anabaptists were excoriated at the hands of the magisterial reformers some 400 years ago - except the tables are now turned on the calvinists by the supposed "heirs" of the Anabaptists!

Seems like no matter how much things change, the more they remain the same.

So here's to you, "Ergun Caner Is My Hero" - let's hope the Anabaptist "heirs" never acquire the authority of the state to aid them in their eradication of the calvinist "infection."

ServinginRussia said...

Hey Ergun. Another question for you to ignore. Think about this tonight when you lay down and watch the ceiling fan turn. Here it goes. You said "...God is good...and no one can change that. It is all in His plan."

Now, look right there...you see it don't you?...right there in front of you!...No, no...a little lower...right there at the end of your statement...come on, you see it!...right there! Okay, I'll help you. Right there when you say "...all in His plan." Question: Are you really a Calvinist just having fun with us? Do you really mean "all" as in God is sovereign in everything? Or do you mean "all" as in God is sovereign in everything...except salvation."?

You affection for John Stossel has me wondering when you will change your name to "stosselismyhero".

G. Burch said...

I heard of church splitting over The color of the carpet, so, I think pastors should say up front what color they like...

On a serious note, I think this "resurgence in calvinism" can be attributed to men of God (John Piper, John Macarthur, Begg, etc) who are not afraid to expound the Scriptures, namely, the hard texts. And secondly, young men and women searcing the scriptures themselves. I can remember the first time I came across Eph. 1 as a young believer and I asked the pastor about the predestination text, he responded that he knew that it taught that we were predestined and he said that he was a calvinist. Well, I had started teaching sunday school at the time and preaching on Sunday evenings and in my zeal for this new found truth (I'm not saying it was right)I was teaching and preaching this. The pastor began to grow uncomfortable, along with the congregation, and he later came to me and told me it was wrong. When I asked him why he had earlier agreed that it taught the doctrines of grace he said that he didn't really understand it. He then turned predestination on its head saying yes, it says predestination, but that's not what it means. So, to sum up this long story there needs to be integrity and honesty on both sides.

On a final note: as long as we emphasize Sola Scripura Calivinism cannot be defeated...as long as a subjective, relativistic, philosophical interpretation is allowed to interpret the word of God we will have these dicussions about,"yes, it says election but it doesn't mean it"...yes, it quacks like a duck but just trust me it is not a duck.

Broadstone said...

Perhaps we should start thinking in terms of planting new reformed SBC churches where the gospel is not preached and in places in North America where the pagans are.

Perhaps the problem is that we are staying in the same "gospel ghetto" and not trusting God as we start new churches in new places.

Perhaps Mark Driscoll made the most amazing discovery in that he went straight to the land of the godless and started preaching truth.

Perhaps part of changing the face of the SBC is being able to walk away from the ruined cities and begin building new ones.

Perhaps...

Sean said...

When I went in view of a call to the church I presently pastor, I was very up front with the committee and told them that I adhered to the Doctrines of Grace. They did not express any reservations and told me that our church has a broad range of Calvinists of many stripes. I have come to find out that many of the elders with which I serve are more Calvinistic than the average Southern Baptist. There was one member of the committee who is "Weslyen" and did not want to extend a call to me, so I had to come back for a second interview with the committee before they agreed to bring me in view of a call before the church. I assured him that I was a "compassionate Calvinist" and that this was my personal theology, not my agenda. I assured him that I am highly evangelistic and believe in praying for lost people's salvation and that I would not make this a litmus test of fellowship in our church. The committee was okay with this and here I am as pastor. I have not once preached TULIP from the pulpit, but the Scriptures speak for themselves through my expository preaching and many church members are coming up to me and expressing deep appreciation for expository preaching and for learning about new terms (to them) such as justification and regeneration. I am preaching the Bible, not Calvinism and I am seeing the Holy Scriptures transform our church. This is a first hand testimony of one Calvinist who was "upfront" with a search committee and who laid all of his cards out on the table so there were no surprises. It has been a wonderful experience as God has blessed our church and allowed me in His sovereignty to preach expositionally and teach our people the grace of Christ.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

scripturesearcher said...

Dear EIMH:


Do you and your hero at the Falwell school understand the meaning of these words:


Sound and fury, signifying nothing?

Dear scripture searcher --

I'm glad my 3 brothers thought it would be good for their 3 year old brother to learn MacBeth. So I am guessing that in a round about way, you are calling me an idiot...since the in the text of "sound and fury, signifying nothing" is preceeded by "It is a tale told by an idiot."

Thanks for the jab.

ErgunIsMyHero said...

Scott said...

ergunismyhero,

Thanks for your response ! However I did describe what you said about Dr. Merritt correctly. First, let me be clear that you (did not) say that he "Can't Stand Calvinism" but you said that he was " Against". The word AGAINST MEANS IN WEBSTERS DICTIONARY THE FOLLOWING AGAINST= IN OPPOSITION TO; UNFAVORABLE TO; IN CONTRAST TO. So, when I said that you said that he can't stand Calvinism actually I was correct in describing your word based on the definition. Do you disagree?


Actually, yes, I DO disagree. If you would like to argue semantics, formal, lexical or conceptual...the word "against" actually shows a position. The words "can't stand" show a demeanor or an attitude...Do YOU disagree?

oh, and STOP YELLING! WE ALL HEAR, er..uhhh READ FINE!

ErgunIsMyHero said...

ServinginRussia said...

Hey Ergun. Another question for you to ignore. Think about this tonight when you lay down and watch the ceiling fan turn. Here it goes. You said "...God is good...and no one can change that. It is all in His plan."

Now, look right there...you see it don't you?...right there in front of you!...No, no...a little lower...right there at the end of your statement...come on, you see it!...right there! Okay, I'll help you. Right there when you say "...all in His plan." Question: Are you really a Calvinist just having fun with us? Do you really mean "all" as in God is sovereign in everything? Or do you mean "all" as in God is sovereign in everything...except salvation."?


WOW! Let me say first, thanks for the love that you all consider to only be an attribute of EIMH.
Now ---- hmmm, consider this:


Mark 6
45(AR)Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into (AS)the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side to (AT)Bethsaida, while He Himself was sending the crowd away.

46After (AU)bidding them farewell, He left (AV)for the mountain to pray.

47When it was evening, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land.

48Seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the (AW)fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea


If Jesus "foreknew" from the the foundations of the earth that a storm was going to come up on his disciples...did that mean he caused the storm...or do you think he sent them into the storm, fully knowing it was going to happen, because in the end he could TEACH them something?

You affection for John Stossel has me wondering when you will change your name to "stosselismyhero".

YOU ARE ON TO ME!...

deacon said...

To Volfan, ECIMH, JC Rip, and any others I have missed in this response:

The church I currently attend and serve (not pastor), called a new minister to be pastor about five years ago. During the committee's interview with him he told them he was reformed in his soteriology. He used terms such as: “Calvinist;” “Reformed Baptist;” “adhere to the 1689 LBCF;” etc…. I don't think he could have been more plain and used those “nasty” terms that you so desperately call pastors to use so that the church could decide on whether or not to chose to follow it. The committee said they had know problem with it, or they at least it didn't stop them from calling him to be the pastor.

When I came to the church three years ago the pastor was still using those terms when appropriate to the subject of what he was preaching, although not being overbearing with them. Mostly the preaching was about the holiness of God because that was just what particular subject that the pastor thought that needed to be explained at that time. I had come from a semi-arminian, SBC background so I never heard any of these terms before. So I did what I thought every other good Christian was supposed to do, I took notes, I researched what was said and tried to define these terms that I had never heard, I asked questions directly to the pastor (rather than getting on the phone and stir up the gossip chain). What I didn’t realize that what I did was extremely rare. No one else seemed to mind what the pastor was saying, not because they agreed, but because they have never given the teaching of the pulpit much thought. I really don’t know how the pastor could have been clearer. It is only after the pastor discovered lay-leaders, teachers, and some choir members that were living in sin that these people all of sudden had problems with this doctrine. This is when the rumor mill began, and the phone started ringing off the hook. The gossip chain had never been so alive and well. Thanks be to God that this was not the end of this pastor’s tenure. God used this circumstance for His own glory, and all of these people have now left and we are growing in the knowledge of Christ as never before.

After seeing how congregations can mercilessly tear a pastor a part I would like to propose an amendment to the statements of Drs. Patterson, Akin, Page, and any others that believe that doctrinal honesty is the most important issue when a pastor is called (of which I have no problem). Let us agree that the congregation needs to understand that the office of pastor is a God-ordained office and it is there to insure that the flock is shepherded in godliness. The man that fills the role of pastor is one not only called by the pastor search committee or even the church, but by God Almighty. To mercilessly attack the pastor without regard to his God-ordained position or his calling is to attack our Lord. It is the pastor who leads, not the congregation, or deacons. Church is not a democracy. Paul never polled his flock to see what they wanted or didn’t want to follow. If we are called to be a “priesthood of believers” then start acting like and become biblically literate.

deacon said...

Ergun is My Hero said:

If Jesus "foreknew" from the the [sic] foundations of the earth that a storm was going to come up on his disciples...did that mean he caused the storm...or do you think he sent them into the storm, fully knowing it was going to happen, because in the end he could TEACH them something?

To answer your question: Yes and Yes. I am assuming that you have a problem with the former so let me explain.

Job 36:27-32
27"For He draws up the drops of water,
They distill rain from the mist,
28Which the clouds pour down,
They drip upon man abundantly.
29"Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
The thundering of His pavilion?
30"Behold, He spreads His lightning about Him,
And He covers the depths of the sea.

31"For by these He judges peoples;
He gives food in abundance.
32"He covers His hands with the lightning,
And commands it to strike the mark.

Scott said...

ergunismyhero,

Yelling ? I will try to speak softer. Ok no capital letters. You have admitted that you don't know Dr. Merritt personally and I do. As a matter of fact I had a phone conversation with him just a couple of days ago before you and I even corresponded. He called me to chat and talked a little about calvinism and other things. I agree with you about the Georgia Bulldogs but there are two things worse Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Tech . Auburn is picked to win the SEC this year. Florida and Auburn will play for the SEC title.
I believe Dr. Merritt is not against Calvinism the way you were betraying him because his asscoiate pastor is one, and his two best friends Dr. Mohler (Five pointer )and Dr. Akin ( Four Pointer).Do I think he is going to defend or run with Calvinists, No! I will agree with you there but he is way more theological than Hunt, Caner, and even Patterson. He will stay just like Dr. Mohler does. He won't take sides but he is closer to Founders on the points of Calvinism than Patterson, Hunt, and Caner. Just him being a four pointer proves that but he is not going to openly support Founders and in fact he has had Dr. Caner in his pulpit which in " My Opinion" does not make sense. Again, theology seems not to matter anymore with a good many of our current leadership in the SBC. Most men today will run where it's safe. Don't " Rock the Boat". I believe that's where Dr. Merritt and Dr. Akin are with Calvinism. In closing I believe if we asked Drs. Merritt and Akin to give out a Systematic Theology book that one has been written by Dr. Caner or Dr. Tom Nettles to their students they would give out Dr. Tom Nettles book. However, they will run and fellowship with Dr. Caner. This is why our SBC makes no sense and we need men to rethink some things.

bristopoly said...

EIMH, it is the same as any other "tragedy" in the world (death, illness/blindness, etc.). Jesus says they are all done by God for a purpose, not just arbitrary things that happen by chance where God then has to react to them (Lazarus gets sick and dies for a reason, the blind man is made such for the purpose of the glory of God, etc.). So He knows the future because He causes it, not because He's a fortune teller that looks into the future at something that causes itself.

Psalm 107:24 They have seen the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep. 25 For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, Which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; Their soul melted away in [their] misery. 27 They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits' end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. 29 He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men!

Ryan S. said...

"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again."
—C. H. Spurgeon

volfan007 said...

for one thing, God bless all of you.

for another thing, i am not going to argue and fuss and fight with you about this.

for another thing, the seminary that i attended was not an anti-calvinist school. lol. in fact, we had three or four five-point calvinist on the faculty. all the rest of them were calvinistic.

i believe that God predestined to save me and conform me to the image of His Son. i believe that God foreknew me. i beleive that God chose to save me. He elected me. praise His wonderful name. i beleive that God is sovereign. He can do whatever He wants. He is God.

i also believe that man has choice and responsibility.

call me what you will.

i dont beleive in people at a church just choosing to beleive whatever they want to. lol. that's so funny that so many of you hyper people in here(oh, excuse me for using that word) would take off on that and miss what i was saying entirely.

let me illustrate this. if i were a tongue speaker, which i am not, i would tell a church this. i would know that that was a controversial subject that the church might not agree with. the ethical thing for me to do would be to tell the church up front. not to hide it because i was not asked, and then spring it on them later and try to convert the church to tongue speaking. i should ask them up front if they had a problem with this, or not. they should choose if this was what they wanted in a pastor or not. same thing with divorce. same thing with being an arminian. the church ought to know about this up front and then choose whether they want that or not. to not tell a church that you are a five pointer up front is unethical.

by the way, the only time i take the time to capitalize is when i am talking about God.

God bless you all. i love you.

volfan007 said...

oh yeah, i dont beleive that spurgeon, nor calvin, nor luther, nor zwingli, nor sproul, nor any other reformer was infallible. calvin would lock up people who didnt join his church. he was a little off on this. zwingli beleived it was ok to have sex with prostitutes. he was a little off on this. luther loved to drink green german beer, and his view on the Lord's supper was a little off; dont you agree? spurgeon smoked, and he had bouts with depression.

they came up short in other ways too. just as they came up short in thier reformed theology. but, at least, they got us going in the right direction.

volfan007 said...

by the way, i know that sproul was not a reformer in the time of calvin and zwingli. so, please dont write a book refuting me over this. i know who r. c. sproul is. he aint perfect and always right either.

fred said...

volfan007,
"luther loved to drink green german beer"

And your point is?

"spurgeon smoked, and he had bouts with depression."

"they came up short in other ways too."

Short of what? Your standard of righteousness?

Is there some passage of scripture you would like to cite that Spurgeon violated?

Just wondering?

John Wootten said...

Volfan007 said...
i believe that God predestined to save me and conform me to the image of His Son. i believe that God foreknew me. i beleive that God chose to save me. He elected me. praise His wonderful name. i beleive that God is sovereign. He can do whatever He wants. He is God.

i also believe that man has choice and responsibility.


Just wanted to point out the irony of posting the above. In a blog dominated by Calvinists, I believe writing the above is tantamount to the subject of this post.

What I mean is that the charge being leveled against Calvinists in this post is their being deceiving with their theology, and that is exactly what Volfan007 is doing here. Using Calvinistic terminology, when infact he is applying different definitions of predestine, forknew, election, choice, responsibility, etc. than the majority of other posters here.

I am assuming the irony was intentional, as it was a reverse example of how Calvinists can encode their doctrine to slip past pastor search committees. I found it rather clever.

ServinginRussia said...

Volfan - Since you will not take time to capitalize properly, will you take time to spell believe correctly?...or at least the same way each time. I get dizzy reading your posts. Do you beleave me?

Scott said...

Tom,

Let me try and make something clear about " Integrity in dealing with Pastor Search Committees".Tell me where I'm wrong with the following comments. As a Calvinist:

1. I do not have to tell a Pastor Search Committee that I'm a Calvinist in our talks. There is no scriptural mandate to do so. I need to give them a copy of my Confession of faith and be ready to answer any questions that they may have about it.Also If I don't differ on the churches Confession of Faith then why do I have to say that I'm a Calvinist? A Calvinist can agree with the BFM 2000 though it is watered down. The question is do I meet the standard of 1 Tim 3 and the present church confession. Most churches don't have one and they don't know the BFM.

2.Also, why should a Calvinist have to use this label when in fact that the dominate position of the 293 delagates in 1845 was Calvinistic( Bible) theology?

3. If the Abstract of Principles is good enough for Southern and Southeastern then why do I have to say that I'm a Calvinist to a Pastor Search Committee ? Many of these churches send their kids there. If I'm asked if I'm a Calvinist then I need to define what the theology is and say I believe what I just told you.
My lovely wife Ginger has a few comments of her own:
So, what you are asking is for pastors to "be honest concerning biblical beliefs". As a pastor's wife of twelve years, I have yet to hear a pastor search committee, deacon, Sunday School teacher, or any other "leader" in SBC life ask a serious theological question. Most of the "questions" asked involve incidental "fluff": "Should the deacons rotate or stay in service all year?"; or "How are you going to reach people?"; or "Where did you atttend school?" "What kinds of activities do you have planned for our young people?"; or "What color should the carpet be?" (Or my all time personal favorite: "How many apple trips are we going to take?") Never once has a pulpit committee asked a serious theological question. As a matter of fact, not ONE member of the past pulpit search committees brought a bible. My husband ALWAYS had to bring up theological issues. For instance, he asked them what confession did the church ascribe to. No surprise when he received blank stares in return. As a matter of fact, we have ALWAYS been very up front concerning our theological beliefs: Bible based, entrenched in the sovereignty of God, verse by verse preaching and "back to basics" of biblical truth. Amazingly, the committee and congregation embraced these ideals at first. The fact remains that congregations across the board really don't want to hear biblical preaching. They don't want to hear the words "sin" or "repentance". They don't want to believe that God is a God of wrath as well as a God of love. What do they want? A feel good, once-a-week 20 minute pick-me-up. It seems we might as well change the sign from "First Baptist" to "Garden Club". So, in response to the "integrity" issue - perhaps the question should be bounced back to those "Christian leaders" asking the questions.

Tom said...

Lots of helpful comments here...and some that are not so much! Regarding how a candidate should present himself to church or search committee, I want make a couple of observations. My thoughts are certainly not original and some of them have been expressed by Scott and others in comments above.

1. A candidate should be unreservedly honest in talking to the committee. Questions should be answered straight-forwardly with a goal of fostering a real understanding of what one thinks and believes.

2. A candidate should allow the committee to take the lead in interviewing him. Their concerns should be given priority and their questions will reveal as much about them and the church as their answers to your own questions (which I definitely recommend that a candidate be prepared to ask).

3. A candidate should do everything that he can to avoid leaving a wrong impression in the minds of the committee. Plain, simple speech, avoiding intimidating jargon, should be employed. Also, preconceived notions that are revealed should be considered in how a candidate describes his views. For example, if the committee comes to the interview with the idea that anyone who is a non-cessationist believes that you must speak in tongues to be saved, then a Baptist who believes that all of the spiritual gifts are still being given would be wise to avoid a simple declaration of "I am a non-cessationist." Though that is a simple and direct statement, it miscommunicates due to inaccurate preconceived notions held by the committee. Far better for him to explain what he believes without muddying the waters with labels that are loaded with different meanings.

4. In order to facilitate #3 sometimes a candidate should ask for clarification when labels are used, such as: "What do you mean by a 'non-cessationist?" or "What do you mean by a Calvinist?" By clarifying what is actually meant by the question good communication is fostered, not hindered. Such clarifying questions, then, are not dishonest or deceitful. They are helpful.

5. Above all, a candidate should go into the interview with a desire for God's will to be done, remembering that He is the God of truth. Therefore, a man should seek to speak the truth in love, trusting the Lord to guide both him and the church.

In addition to this, I think it is very helpful for a man to supply a copy of his confession of faith--whether that is one that he himself has written or a recognized confession from history. Let the committee know that you have convictions and that your ministry will inevitably flow from those convictions.

Finally, always accept a call in writing. In the letter, include your understanding of the terms of the call, salary, vacation, etc. along with a brief summary of your approach to ministry (with a reference to the confession of faith that you supplied them). Having it in writing does not guarantee that all will go well in the future but it does eliminate the need to rely on memories to recall what was said or not said at the outset of the relationship.

GUNNY said...

Though I'm not necessarily looking, those are some very insightful instructions for those in or entering into the candidating process.

Those are some nice, practical pointers to be men of integrity, but not sabatoge one's "marketability" (for lack of a better term) with loaded terms.

It's such a stacked deck, though isn't it? If you divulge your theological perspective in the "I am a Calvinist" fashion, then you're just out recruiting for the Calvinist party. If you happen to see yourself as just one who teaches, preaches, and lives the Bible, incidentally from a perspective that has been given the label Calvinism by some over the ages, then you're being sneaky or subversive.

From godly brothers who've had to endure persecution from the flocks they've loved, I'd say if one was to err, better to do it on the side of disclosure.

At the end of the day, I'd rather be fired over accusations of my theology than over accusations of deceit.

If I ever get canned (it's happened to men smarter, better looking, and more godly than myself), then I'll dust these off and be grateful for them again.

Danke, Tom.