Monday, May 01, 2006

Strange Baptist Fire


For years the anonymous publishers of the website, baptistfire.com have hidden in the shadows and spewed forth venom, lies, distortions and half-truths against people, churches and organizations who do not espouse their particular brand of Fundamentalism. They especially hate historic Southern Baptist theology, or the doctrines of grace.

Sadly, some naive souls have been duped into believing their lies and have used their misrepresentations to attack church members and leaders who believe the doctrines of grace. Many churches and individuals have been wounded by the cowardly misinformation campaign of baptistfire.

Today a new blog has launched for the purpose of helping to set straight the distortions and falsehoods of the anonymous author(s) behind that internet National Inquirer. Strange Baptist Fire is now available to tell "the rest of the story." Following the wisdom of Proverbs 26:5 several men (who, unlike the men/women behind baptistfire, have openly identified themselves) have taken up the challenge to address issues of Baptist theology and history with honesty and integrity to set the record straight.

The first post by Dustin Segers is worth reading as it sets the tone for the future of this helpful blog. I recommend that you check it out and make others aware of it.

16 comments:

Michael King said...

Tom,

Thank you for the link. It is a good article. Neat graphics too. I look foward to what they say over there.

Much grace to you,
Mike

Mike Miller said...

Praise God for those guys. And thanks for letting us know, Tom.

Mike Miller said...

Something else I will say is that we need to continue to refute the caricature that so many people have of Calvinism. I teach for a certain seminary extension center, and just last week we had a chapel speaker who was purporting to refute Calvinism. He misrepresented us so poorly that it was hard to sit still. He basically had the same old tired accusations: Calvinists don't believe in evangelism and missions, Calvinists don't believe faith is necessary for salvation, Calvinists believe we are all robots, Calvinists don't believe John 3:16. You get the idea. Anyway, the sad part is that such a tirade, devoid of any theological substance, does nothing but spread the lies. I wonder how many students walked out of chapel thinking, "Wow! Those Calvinists are stupid and evil." Then, those same students are going to run tell their churches the same things.

So, of course, I e-mailed the guy what I believe to be a very gracious response (3 pages), pointing out his errors. I gave him the benefit of the doubt--that he was not consciously lying, but rather misinformed. His reply? In essence, he said, "You do, too believe those things. I was completely accurate in my assessment." So, now I see him as someone who is either unwilling to be corrected or unable to hear the truth. I'm not sure how I can say, "I don't believe that," and someone can respond, "Yes you do!" But unfortunately that seems to be the preferred method of debate for the ranters and ravers--to never respond, but only accuse and attack. And it's really too bad that so many people are listening and believing the lies.

On a side note, it so happened that James White played part of this same guy's message on Dividing Line last week (he had preached it in his church in January--I can give the link if anyone wants to hear it). Maybe James can get somewhere with him . . . but alas I don't have much hope.

Mike Ratliff said...

This is long overdue. The first article was very well written and I am looking forward to the CONTRAST between the theologically correct from Strange Baptist Fire to the deliberatly ignorant of Baptist Fire.

Mike Ratliff

Darel said...

Certainly more information == good. Standing up for the truth, and discussing theological issues and differences is also good.

Just a concern:
Was it entirely necessary to have a separate website devoted to specifically fighting some other specific website? Is it, like, a "website war" or something?

There is a lot of information easily accessible online about this topic already, and these people aren't interested in listening to reasoned arguments anyway.

I guess my question is, are we going to have to start a brand new website for each and every doctrine, and have people constantly posting "new" articles about these issues? antipaedobaptism.com, defendingthetrinity.org, postmillenialnotes.net?

Or am I too late in stating this concern, and we are already there?

GeneMBridges said...

Mike Miller,

It's sad to see men of God behaving in such a mannner. You have done as you should and sought to correct a brother. If you choose to make another attempt, might I make a suggestion.

When a detailed analysis comes back with such a response, I've learned to pick out one particular element from the opposing aisle to examine and give them a taste of their own medicine.

I've said this before: In Calvinism the Father elects actively; the Son redeems perfectly; and the Spirit applies the benefits of redemption infallibly, as men preach the gospel faithfully.

In this man's soteriology, we know that he denies men are unable to believe in Christ apart from effacious grace. These men that preach this, thus deny both what we affirm and what genuine Arminians affirm on this point. Listen carefully, they have no doctrine of universal prevenient grace. In real Arminianism UPG is a non-saving benefit that comes by way of the cross. This gives men the "boost" they need to believe. In these sermons, we're told that men can do this naturally, by way of design. In his website articles, Elmer Towns explicitly says that this is common grace to everyone. Assuming he knows the difference between special and common grace, Towns is affirming that this ability is natural to men and not a special grace by way of the cross (UPG).

So, they put election outside a chain effected by grace, so the Father is passive. They further put the Spirit outside the chain of grace, because there is no UPG and regeneration depends on men's free will decision. Only the cross is in view, and it only makes men savable; it does not actually save anybody.

Ergo, we must conclude that this man is a functional Unitarian. Thus, I suggest you write back very nicely make the argument very succintly, and tell him that you have no choice but to believe he must be a Unitarian.

Yes, this will provoke a response. He'll say he doesn't deny the Trinity. Ah, but then you get to reply, "Yes you do," and then repeat the argument. The shoe is now on the other foot. Then you tell him, "and now you know how I feel when you say I believe such and such and you say I really do." (The problem for him is still the validity of the argument, because you really don't believe what he says you believe, but he really is a functional Unitarian if he disaffirms total inability, denies UPG, and puts the Father and Spirit outside a chain of grace in salvation). Then you say something like, "Might I suggest we learn from this and actually talk to each other instead of insulting each other."

Darel,

The reason we started that website was to address Baptistfire in particular. We are not going to address each and every anti-Calvinists on the web. Our material is to be restricted to what Baptistfire posts. For example, they do not allow any pro-Calvinist posts on their discussion boards. Any dissent is immediately squelched. Thus, we will address some of the things said there. We will also review the articles and books that have been written and sermons that are posted.

I would add that that rule at their discussion board is one of the reasons that prompted this response. They only want a monologue on their website.

However, we will not make it our business to address every anti-Calvinist on the web. Baptistfire's material is often quoted by folks in the churches. Our website is simply a reasoned, well argued, well presented response pegged to their own material, nothing more, nothing less.

If you notice, unlike SBF, we allow comments from everybody. We will feel free to address comments, but we will not restrict our comments to only those who agree; and we reserve the right not to respond to comments. Nathan will, I believe, be writing a post with the rules of engagement soon.

Mathew Sims said...

Thanks for the info on the new blog. I have enjoyed already the few posts. Also, is there any way you could e-mail the file for Dr. Caner's sermon posted previously or send me the link. I can not find that thing anywhere or seem to DL it right.

Mathew Sims

Tony K. said...

Great idea. I remember finding Baptist Fire about 5 years ago when in Bible College. They had some old R.G. Lee sermon's but the site started smelling bad when they burned the Calvinists alive.

Isaias Lobao said...

My name is Isaias, I’m a teacher of systematic theology and history of church here in Brazil.
I am also pastor of Baptist Church.

It is not different here in Brazil. It exists many caricatures of that it is the reformed faith between the brazilian baptists.

God Bless You.

Revd. Isaias. Brasília, Brasil.

Darel said...

"The reason we started that website was to address Baptistfire in particular."

That's my point. Where does it stop? Do we start a website in opposition of every single little group?

I don't disagree that these people are completely wrong, and that their theology is riddled with error and leads to the de-spiritualizing of the church.

But, do we need a separate website for every one of these? I mean, seriously, there are more groups like this , that match the above criteria than I can possibly count. Find just every "Baptist" group that is like that, such as CBF and IBF and etc. etc. and you'll run out of room on the Internet to defend against them all by giving them individual apologetics-blogs. Then let's spread it to Protestantism in general, and we multiply the errors by a factor of 1,000. Then create one for every sect of Catholicism ....

You see what I'm saying?

It's not that these issues shouldn't be answered, but there *has* to be a more efficient way to do this.

Mike Miller said...

Gene,

Thanks for the encouragement and the word of advice. Actually, I had already responded in a similar, though not as complex, way in my last e-mail to him (to which he did not respond). The following is what I said:

"I must admit that I find it troubling when Calvinists tell you, 'We don't believe that,' you still insist on saying, 'Yes, you do. I am accurately representing what you believe.' What makes you a better authority on what we believe than we do? Just curious. That would be like me saying, '[Name withheld] believes that God is a weakling who cannot accomplish His will on earth. He is utterly dependent on the completely free and sovereign choices of His creation. He wants to do certain things, but He just can't.' Then, what if you said, 'I don't believe that,' and I said, 'Yes you do. I don't feel I've misrepresented you'? That's the way you are responding to me. I suppose you might respond that you are just taking my beliefs to what you believe to be their obvious conclusions, but I could say the same thing about my hypothetical statements. While I see the God you believe in as impotent, I don't really think you do, so I will try not to mischaracterize what you believe--even though you insist on doing so regarding my beliefs--even after I have sought to correct your misunderstandings. I find that most unfortunate."

Timmy said...

Mike Miller,

Before I read your comment about your attempt to talk with Dr. Wilks, I happened to email him as well. I have talked to three students who were there at the chapel service, two of whom I went to college with and one from my hometown. They are really upset by this and cannot believe that NOBTS let this actually take place.

After hearing your correspondence, I doubt that I get much different response if any. I will say that there are a lot of people who known of what was preached, and the day where one can do this and get away with no accountability to Scripture is over. Whether or not, though, pastors will hold to Sola Scriptura, that, well, is another issue - and one which reminds us why we need reform in your churches.

Be encouraged to know that there are many preachers and young ministers who think that such happenings are not only disappointing, but demand a response, which I pray is humbly yet truthfully given.

Mike Miller said...

Yeah, Timmy, I have heard from many upset students myself. In fact, I've been very encouraged by the number of Reformed students on campus as well as the number of non-Calvinist students who thought the guy was way out of line. The latter was as encouraging as the former, as I was glad that there are non-Calvinists who don't appreciate non-intellectual vitriol. There were some students who thought the guy was brilliant--straight from the Bible (sad they think so)--but I really think they were in the minority.

Not only was I able to address some of those students yesterday, but I was also able to have some open dialogue with some who were ignorant of the truth. Therefore, I think there has been some great victory for the Gospel of grace as a result of the ranting monologue. Praise be to God! One man intended it for evil, but God intended it for good (yes, I know he would disagree with that assessment--he thought he was doing good--but the point is that his intentions and God's intentions were completely different). Hmmm . . . have we just seen a modern-day example of compatibilism? :-)

Mike Miller said...

One more thing I should add is that the director of the extension where this happened is one of the godliest, most gracious men I know. He and I have had some wonderful conversations, and he has even offered to have me preach in chapel next semeseter on whatever topic I choose. I told him that I would love to have a panel discussion instead of a monologue (though I'm always happy to preach, it's just that I don't preach Calvinism, I preach expository sermons, and one text can't cover all of my theology--anyway, praying about it), and I think he's open to the idea. Any students reading this--remember to be very gracious in any criticism or comments you make to those involved. I know our director will be happy to hear you. That's the kind of man he is. Just approach him with the respect he deserves because of his position as both center director and brother in Christ.

David said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David said...

Tom,
Thank you for the information. I am new to the blog thing..but wanted to update the Johnny Hunt for SBC president blog. I am a member at FBCW and at the close of Sunday's sermon..Dr. Hunt indicated that he WILL NOT be accepting the nomination for president of the SBC.