Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Confessional integrity and theological education, part 3

As the previous two posts have shown, those who drafted the Abstract of Principles as well as those responsible for setting the course of theological education in the Southern Baptist Convention clearly intended that the professors in our institutions be held to a strict doctrinal accountability. In his "Three Changes in Theological Institutions" address, James Boyce argued that "The doctrinal sentiments of the faculty are of far greater importance than the proper investment and expenditure of its funds."

He also forcefully demonstrated that accountability to a written confession of faith is not only in keeping with our Baptist heritage it is imminently biblical. To those who would protest in the name of liberty of conscience, Boyce made this salient point:
It is no hardship to those who teach here to be called upon to sign the declaration of their principles, for there are fields of usefulness open elsewhere to every man, and none need accept your call who cannot conscientiously sign your formulary.
As has been noted previously, that original commitment to doctrinal integrity was lost over time and by the middle of the twentieth century some Southern Baptist seminaries became havens for teachers who had little regard for the doctrinal standards that they signed as terms of employment. Michael Spencer (aka the Internet Monk) summarizes his first-hand experience of this during his days at Southern Seminary in the 1980s:
Dr. Dale Moody, beloved and controversial professor of theology at Southern Seminary in Louisville, used to get majorly steamed up in class every time there was a signing of the school's "Abstract of Principles" in chapel. (Tenured Professors would dress up in their finery and sign this century old document in an impressive ceremony.) Moody made it clear that he didn't believe most of what was on that piece of paper, particularly the Calvinistic theology on subjects like election and perseverance. He had signed only after telling the powers that be that he disagreed with it and wouldn't be bound by it. They had said, sure, whatever, and he signed it. But Professor Moody never missed the opportunity to point out that those who were signing the Abstract didn't believe it, and shouldn't have to act like they did.
Moody was half right. They should not have acted like they believed the Abstract, but neither should they have signed it (nor should the "powers that be" have allowed it)! This highlights the nature of the problems that we had in our seminaries in the 1970s-80s. They were not only doctrinal problems, they were moral. To believe and teach bad theology is a doctrinal problem. To sign a document promising to teach according to it and not contrary to it without honestly believing it is a moral problem. By safeguarding confessional integrity, we can resist both.

That is why I am very concerned about the attitude displayed on this blog by a current professor of one of our Southern Baptist seminaries. He is not at all convinced of the doctrines of grace and has made that point repeatedly. But that is not what concerns me. I have never insisted that a person see eye-to-eye with me on every theological point in order to receive my respect or be the object of my love and appreciation. I have great fellowship with people with whom I disagree doctrinally.

My concern for this professor, however, stems from his comments here on June 29, 2006. As a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, he is employed at an institution that uses the Abstract of Principles (along with the Baptist Faith and Message) as its doctrinal guide. Professors are required to sign the Abstract as terms of employment. This professor purportedly recognizes that the Abstract explicitly articulates 3 of the so-called "5 points of Calvinism." Yet, when pressed about his own affirmation of the Abstract, he responded with this troubling comment:
And I am never ashamed to admit publicly and before all, including churches I may pastor my soteriological position. To not do so, is unethical. I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them, rather than their being dependent on the entire system's presuppositions (emphasis added).
Here is how I responded to this brother on that occasion:
Now, I am quite sure you are no liberal, but this is *precisely* the way liberal professors at Southern and Southeastern rationalized their signing of the Abstract of Principles in the 1980s. Authorial intent was completely rejected. The real question--the question that every honest signer of that document should be able to answer in the affirmative--is this: Do I believe the article of this statement in the same way that James P. Boyce and Basil Manly, Jr. did?
He did not answer my question, and the response he did offer did nothing to alleviate my concern.

Let me reiterate exactly what that concern is. After the hard-won battles of the last 27 years, I am concerned that we not lessen our commmitment to confessional integrity in our theological institutions. It is utter folly to think that "our side" is immune to the very same temptations that led the "other side" to disregard confessional boundaries. The issue is not personal, it is moral and doctrinal. My hope is that professors, administrators, trustees and the churches to whom they are all accountable will be vigilant in our efforts to maintain confessional integrity throughout our institutions.

66 comments:

Denny Burk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jim Shaver said...

I too am very concerned that we maintain confessional integrity in our seminaries. What concerns me is a push by some within the convention to replace the Abstract of Principles at Southern and Southeastern with the BF&M 2000. Talk about ambiguity on several key issues of theology!

One blog I read was entitled, "Abstract of Principles Have to Go". Another disturbing note was sounded by the NAMB trustee from California who wants to make the BF&M 2000 a test of fellowship for all churches in the SBC.

Tom, do you think the Abstract of Principles is a Hill on Which to Die for?

Tom said...

Jim:

I would certainly oppose any attempt to remove the Abstract from either of the two seminaries that use it. It remains the best doctrinal statement that Southern Baptists have produced.

brad reynolds said...

Tom

Wow, I am honored. I earned a post on your blog.

Let us not lead the readers astray. I did answer your question, by stating I affirm them as Dr. Akin believes they can be affirmed. I even clarified it more. Here are some of my comments: WORD FOR WORD!

“And I am never ashamed to admit publicly and before all, including churches I may pastor my soteriological position. To not do so, is unethical. I affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I can define them, rather than their being dependent on the entire system's presuppositions.”

“As you know Calvinism is a system...to take 3 points away from the other points does not do the system justice, especially with the presuppositions on which the system is based. __Allow me to reference you, also, to Dr. Akin's understanding of the Abstracts, which I affirm.”

“The system I refer to, has been termed TULIP. Some of the presuppositions are the interrelatedness of the points in the system. Thus, unconditional election is related to limited atonement within the system.”

“Concerning the system. I can affirm total depravity and others provided they are not interrelated to limited atonement (sufficiency), which I cannot affirm. Hence, my words concerning the system.”

“If Basil Manly, Jr. had wished to say, the Holy Spirit’s salvific work in a person’s life is irresistible“ those words or similar ones were available for his use.”

“If not a then b, is a philosophical flaw. Just because I am not a Calvinist, does not insure an Arminian theology….On the Abstract, it’s not what the authors beliefs were while writing the document that’s important, it is what they believed one would have to affirm in signing the document, if they had wanted to use the language of “irresistible grace” or “unlimited atonement” those words were available to them.”

“I am certain I cannot expound any more clearly than my Presidents scholarly work on the abstracts application to three point Calvinists in his message The Danger of Loving a Theological System More than a Savior found at http://www.sebts.edu/president/resources/viewResource.cfm?ResourceID=63&CategoryID=192”

Now, I will assume you have been a busy man and just did not read all my comments that day and posted erroneously…if so I know your integrity will cause you to retract some statements and implications.

If however, you truly believe I should not be teaching based on these comments and it is a true concern, rather than Blog rhetoric then by all means stand up for your beliefs and call Southeastern Seminary, ask to speak to the President, quote my words to him and then ask him to ask for my resignation based on these words.

Further, if you TRULY believe one has to affirm all 5 points of Calvinism in the way Boyce did then call for Dr. Akin’s resignation for being a 4 point Calvinist and hiring a 3 point Calvinist…while your at it, call Southern Seminary and call for Dr. Mohler’s resignation for hiring 3 point Calvinists.

To call for such integrity on your blog and not call for these Scholarly Presidents’ resignation (since they view one can affirm 3 points and still hold to the Abstract) is seemingly inconsistent.

As for me, I will trust Dr. Mohler’s and Dr. Akin’s understanding of what the Abstract entails rather than yours.

But may your day be blessed.

PS – Since I don’t know which comments of mine you will post and which ones you will not post…this will be my only comment. Also, I am very busy at my blog. Dr. Land just sent me his article on abstinence…it is not the BP one…and it is interesting
BR

Ranger said...

Dr. Reynolds,

Thanks for reading and responding to these comments by Dr. Ascol. I do not believe the point of these posts was to call you out, but instead it serves as a general call to integrity in regards to the Abstract.

I am interested in something though, if you wouldn't mind responding.

When you sign the Abstract:

1. Are you affirming the original understanding and intent of the authors of the statements within the Abstract?

2. Are you affirming your personal interpretation of what it means? (Because honestly some of the statements can be interpreted very generally)

3. Are you signing it not based on the content of the article itself, but with the understanding that your theology does not step outside of the bounds of Dr. Akin's authority?

The latter seems like what you said in your post, but I want to make sure that this is what you are saying since I may be misinterpreting your words. As you clearly understand, this final view could be dangerous depending on the president of the seminary.

Professors at the seminaries hold so much influence over the future of our denomination. Personally, I can say that several of my beliefs were completely changed through the teaching of my professors at SWBTS. Therefore, in such positions of influence, you can understand why Dr. Ascol would be concerned if professors (not specifically you, but professors in general) are signing the Abstract with little regard to actually teaching the doctrines it espouses.

brad reynolds said...

Ranger,
I am uncomfortable posting this because of my word, that my first comment would be my last. But if you and others will forgive me I would be grateful. I honestly felt no comments would tempt me…but your gracious spirit and true concern has prompted a response. I think you deserve one. Please know I am truly uncomfortable with this and have struggled, but in the end I felt you should be given the due respect your comments deserve. Thus I should not have said it would be my last comment. I was wrong and insensitive to you and others.

Honestly, as I searched my heart in posting this response, I realized I still carried frustration that one of my comments, which I felt was legitimate, was not posted earlier on this blog. This prompted my comment about not posting again. Thanks for the opportunity to take care of some hidden sin in my life:)

Now to your concerns:

I hold to the Abstracts based on MY understanding of what they say. I think my understanding fits into the guidelines of authoral intent as does Dr. Akin. Who explained far better than I ever could why the Abstracts allow a three point Calvinist view.

Contrary to what the blog world believes we hold dearly to both the Abstract and the BFM2K. These are our guiding principles. When I was hired not only was I asked if I affirmed them but I was asked if I thought they contradicted each other…being a three point Calvinist I did not and I explained why.

I guess some could ask Dr. Akin to release professors who did not affirm the BFM2K the way they thought it should be affirmed. In fact, the BFM2K could pose some problems for 5 point Calvinists.

I shall quote from the BFM2K with my Capitalization:

“God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the FUTURE DECISIONS of His FREE creatures.”

“Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who ACCEPT Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.”

“Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.”

“Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the FREE AGENCY of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end.”

At SE we have a happy family ranging from 3-5 point Calvinists held together by the tension not only that SB have historically held (exemplified in the spirit of the Patterson/Mohler debate) but by the tension in the Abstract and the BFM2K.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Ranger
One other word. I would NEVER sign something I did not affirm because of my loyalty to Christ.
And when I say “MY understanding” what I mean is that I can affirm All of what is written whole-heartedly. I believe most statements of faith purposely allow a little movement within them theologically. Thus while Boyce certainly affirmed the Abstract he may and indeed did affirm more than what was written. For example, I may write a statement asking all SB to affirm the literal second return of Christ. Now while I believe such a return is pretribulational and thus those who read my writings know this is how I feel, I have not required all SB to hold to this.
This also conforms to what Dr. Akin and Mohler understand about the parameters of the Abstract. I cannot say I understand them exactly how Boyce understood them for I am not Boyce...but I can say my understanding fits into what Akin and Mohler as well as Patterson believe the Abstracts require.
BR

GeneMBridges said...

You must be joking.

“God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the FUTURE DECISIONS of His FREE creatures.”

A. This statement is about God's infallible foreknowledge of the future and targets Open Theism.

B. What Calvinist cannot agree to this? The LBCF2 says: Although God knoweth whatsoever may or can come to pass, upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything, because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

and it has a whole section called "Free Will" to boot.

C. The only way it would be a problem for a Calvinist is if "free" means "libertarian freedom." Such an interpretation however, assumes what it needs to prove.

“Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who ACCEPT Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.”

What Calvinist does not believe that salvation is offered to all who accept Christ? All to whom it is offered accept Christ. Depravity subtracts from ability not responsibility.

You'd have to deny instrumentality and hold to eternal justification to say otherwise. I know of no Primitive Baptists in the SBC.

“Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the FREE AGENCY of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end.”

Calvinists have generally referred to “free agency” when discussing this issue and not “free will” when discussing this issue. The latter refers to libertarian free will, the Arminian doctrine. The former refers to what we call compatibilism, so the very choice of words is easily affirmed by any Calvinist. Certainty is not inconsistent with free agency.

The NHC states this too, and so does the LBCF2:

God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.

The NHC is written against the Free Will Baptists and the BFM takes its cue from the NHC on this. We believe that Election is the eternal purpose of God, according to which he graciously regenerates, sanctifies, and saves sinners;46 that being perfectly consistent with the free agency of man, it comprehends all the means in connection with the end.

The NHC goes out of its way to choose a particular term and avoid others. Notice there are not mentions like this: "The call of the Gospel is co-extensive with the atonement to all men, both by the word and strivings of the Spirit, so that salvation is rendered equally possible to all; and if any fail of eternal life, the fault is wholly his own." or "The human will is free and self-controlled, having power to yield to the influence of the truth and the Spirit, or to resist them and perish." or "the power of free choice is the exact measure of man's responsibility."

“Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.”

The ordu salutis would be Effectual call thru regeneration-conversion (repentance and faith)-justification in Reformed soteriology, so the only ones having a problem here would be Primitive Baptists holding to their doctrine of eternal justification.

GeneMBridges said...

“As you know Calvinism is a system...to take 3 points away from the other points does not do the system justice, especially with the presuppositions on which the system is based. __Allow me to reference you, also, to Dr. Akin's understanding of the Abstracts, which I affirm.”

This is a tacit admission that you do not believe one doctrine logically underwrites another. As was explained to you once before, Covenant Theology or NCT or a version of dispensationalism is a system, Calvinism is not a "system" unless you define a "system" as "any set of doctrines in which one underwrites the other." On that basis, however, you'd have to remove the Trinity, your ecclesiology, your sacramentology, your Christology, etc. Each of these underwrites the other and is thus a "system."

Moreover, do you honestly not understand that each of the Articles of the Abstract underwrites the others, so they stand in logical relation to each other?

“The system I refer to, has been termed TULIP. Some of the presuppositions are the interrelatedness of the points in the system. Thus, unconditional election is related to limited atonement within the system.”

So, because unconditional election stands in relation to limited atonement, unconditional election is false or is it that unconditional election is false and thus limited atonement is true, or is it that they simply stand in relation to each other and you affirm one and not the other? Your statement is incoherent. There's such a thing as Amyraldianism too, so holding to limited atonement is not necessary to hold to unconditional election itself. I'd further add, however, that it is logically inconsistent to hold to penal substitution and hold to general atonement. It is also logically inconsistent to hold to unconditional election and not effacious grace. To do so manifests the ecclectic and anemic theology that has been plaguing the SBC for decades.

“Concerning the system. I can affirm total depravity and others provided they are not interrelated to limited atonement (sufficiency), which I cannot affirm. Hence, my words concerning the system.” This is just logical inconsistency at worst, incoherence at best. Notice Dr. Reynolds refuses to define "total depravity," and his statements about irresistible grace and his denial thereof logically mean he could be redefiniing "unconditional election."

“If not a then b, is a philosophical flaw. Just because I am not a Calvinist, does not insure an Arminian theology….On the Abstract, it’s not what the authors beliefs were while writing the document that’s important, it is what they believed one would have to affirm in signing the document,

A. It's funny that you mention the law of excluded middle and false dilemma in the first phrase, because in the second you commit it by committing the fallacy of limited alternatives! It's not an either/or question; rather it is a both/and question. What they believed is reflected in what they wrote, and thus what they believed one would have to affirm is related to what they wrote and what they said about the Abstract and their own usage of it.

B. Let's just rephrase this for effect: It's not what the Apostles actually believed when they wrote Scripture, it's only what they believed one would have to affirm to be saved that matters. That's where such an objection leads.

if they had wanted to use the language of “irresistible grace” or “unlimited atonement” those words were available to them.”

“If Basil Manly, Jr. had wished to say, the Holy Spirit’s salvific work in a person’s life is irresistible“ those words or similar ones were available for his use.”


A. It's an Abstract. As such, as I believe you were asked once before, of what document do you believe it to be, sir?

B. By this logic, if the LBCF2 doesn't used those explicit words, then it doesn't teach irresistible grace. Ditto with the WCF, the Savoy, and the First London Confession.

C. This assumes that Manly would have chosen those words, so you're simply assuming what you need to prove, but as we shall see, he is actually using confessional language from the document of which he was writing an abstract, therefore, as such those particular words were not available to him, because they are not in the parent document of which this is an abstract.

D. Dr. Reynolds is now playing games and committing the word-concept fallacy in the process. This is the kind of games that Romanists play with the Church Fathers and Federal Visionists play with the WCF, Witsius, Voetius, and others. Considering that the order of placement is regeneration, repentance, and faith and Manly's understanding of these words and concepts and they way they relate to each other comes from his understanding of the Reformed ordu salutis, then the original intent is abundantly clear. Any other interpretation is nothing more than obfuscation. Notice there that regeneration is wrought in the heart, and the result is saving knowledge of God's Word, a renewing of the nature, etc. and is a work of free grace alone (no synergism).

D. Let's break this down, shall we and find out exactly where Dr. Manly got his language and look at how this statement in the Abstract clearly comes from the LBCF2. :

LBCF2: Election is under the Decree of God:

By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated, or foreordained to eternal life through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.
( 1 Timothy 5:21; Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 1:5, 6; Romans 9:22, 23; Jude 4 )

4.______These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.
( 2 Timothy 2:19; John 13:18 )

5._____ Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto.

Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving him thereunto

Abstract Election is God's eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life -- not because of foreseen merit in them, but of his mere mercy in Christ -- in consequence of which choice they are called, justified and glorified.

Now, it's worth noting here that calling, justification, and glorification are all the consequence of election in both documents. So, let's look at the appropriate comparisons, shall we, since we need to find where calling is referenced in these two documents in relation to election and conversion's elements:

LBCF1Faith is ordinarily begotten by the preaching of the gospel, or word of Christ, without respect to any power or agency in the creature; but it being wholly passive, and dead in trespasses and sins, doth believe and is converted by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead.

LBCF 2:Effectual Call: Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.

This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead

Abstract: Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone.

LBCF2:Repentance:This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavour, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.

Abstract: Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things.

LBCF1: Faith is the gift of God, wrought in the hearts of the elect by the Spirit of God; by which faith they come to know and believe the truth of the Scriptures, and the excellency of them above all other writings, and all things in the world, as they hold forth the glory of God in His attributes, the execellency of Christ in His nature and offices, and of the power and fulness of the Spirit in its [His] workings and operations; and so are enabled to cast their souls upon His truth thus believed.

All those that have this precious faith wrought in them by the Spirit, can never finally nor totally fall away; seeing the gifts of God are without repentance; so that He still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality; and though many storms and floods arise, and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock, which by faith they are fastened upon; not withstanding, through unbelief, and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight of this light and love, be clouded and overwhelmed for a time; yet God is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, where they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their names having been written in the book of life from all eternity.

LBCF2: Saving Faith: The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord's supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened. ( 2 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 10:14, 17; Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32 )
2._____ By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word for the authority of God himself, and also apprehendeth an excellency therein above all other writings and all things in the world, as it bears forth the glory of God in his attributes, the excellency of Christ in his nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in his workings and operations: and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed; and also acteth differently upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life and that which is to come; but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.

Abstract: Saving faith is the belief, on God's authority, of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces, and leads to a life of holiness.

So, as you can see, effacious grace is most certainly in the Abstract. What's more it is not only underwritten by the article on election, but it is elucidated by the article on regeneration and the 2 on conversion. In addition, the following three doctrines, particularly the ones on sanctification and perservance require it to underwrite both of them, because it regeneration results in conversion and then "all other saving graces" flow from there.

If it's not, it's not in the SLC or the FLBC, using the linguistic yardstick as Dr. Reynolds, that is, the argument that particular words must be used. Simply saying "Manly could have used such and such language" is insufficient. As a professor at a seminary, one has an expectation that one would be competent to make assertions that are supported with better argumentation.

Further, if you TRULY believe one has to affirm all 5 points of Calvinism in the way Boyce did then call for Dr. Akin’s resignation for being a 4 point Calvinist and hiring a 3 point Calvinist…while your at it, call Southern Seminary and call for Dr. Mohler’s resignation for hiring 3 point Calvinists.

A. How quickly we retreat to straw man argumentation. Where did Tom say that you had to be a "Five Pointer" in order to be able to affirm the Abstract?

B. There is no mention of the scope of the atonement at all, not even a word except with regard to Christ dying on the cross for the salvation of sinners, so Amyraldianism is certainly at home in the Abstract, so one cannot make the assertion that Tom is calling for only 5 pointers to serve.

“I am certain I cannot expound any more clearly than my Presidents scholarly work on the abstracts application to three point Calvinists in his message The Danger of Loving a Theological System More than a Savior

A. One agrees, albeit because of different reasons. You are no Danny Akin.

B. The issue here is not what Dr. Akin has stated, but what the Abstract actually states when exegeted properly in its original historical context, sequential arrangement of articles, and with the appropriate parallel literature. This is the same procedure we use with Scripture, the Church Fathers, the Protestant theologians, other confessions, and every other written document. All raising Dr. Akin's interpretation to your defense does is beg the question in your favor and move the question back one step in the process. If you do not believe that the Abstract affirms effacious grace then you should just say so and then make a case for that interpretation You don't do that. Instead, however, you retreat to the "I can interpret it the way I want, because my boss will let me get away with it" defense or the "If Manly had meant that he would have used such and such language." Neither of these constitutes an argument.

To call for such integrity on your blog and not call for these Scholarly Presidents’ resignation (since they view one can affirm 3 points and still hold to the Abstract) is seemingly inconsistent.

Non-sequitur. Since Dr. Mohler (Calvinist) and Dr. Akin (Amyraldian) can affirm the Abstract, there is no inconsistency here at all. He is not arguing that those who believe what they affirm about which doctrines fall within the scope of the Abstract, rather he is arguing about professors who say they get to interpret the Abstract as they see fit and then run behind the apron skirts of those use of the Abstract happens to favor them at the moment.

Timmy said...

Denny,

I would have loved to hear what you had to say . . .

Tom,

You know, as a student we agree to a student covenant in which we agree to abstain from alcoholic beverages, gambling, etc. Of course, I have no problem with this. But let just say I caveat this by saying, "so long as I can have the interpretive freedom to define them myself."

No. The authors of the school covenant have the right to enforce its authorial intent in spite of my own personal definitions or interpretations. The consequences would be that I could no longer attend SBTS as a student.

Now that is about a covenant dealing with social issues such as drinking, gambling, etc. How much more should we take seriously our theological covenant and respect that authorial intent! To personally define articles of faith is to give one the license to ascribe whatever values they deem palatable to one's predisopositions and at the same time immunize onself from any accountability with the authorial intent of the documents.

Let's take this to extreme (for the sake of making a point) and say that a universalist or process theist subsribes to the Abstracts and BF&M so long as they can insert their own personal theological control beliefs. At what point do we hold our professors accountable? Where's the threshold? I fear that the greatest threat to our confessional integrity is in the slight of hand which undermines biblical precision and ignores confessional authorship in such instances. When we go easy with our professors just because they are conservative evangelicals and say that, "Oh, it's no big deal - so what if they can make up their own meaning?", we are guilty of the same errors of the past.

Another issue is the call for consistency. If the same institution can hold students accountable for third-level social issues such as alcohol and gambling, should not the same institutions hold their employed professors to the same degree of accountability with regards to first-level issues as the confessional articles which theologically define that very institution?

I sincerely hope your three posts serve as a platform for open discussion on this matter across our convention for those interested in the future of our confessional identity and future of theological education. Thank you for the efforts you have made here to bring this matter to the forefront.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I trust you are well and Florida is not so hot these days--no hotter than Georgia, I imagine.

I do possess a question, my dear Brother, Dr. Ascol: given the fact that I have more than once heard numerous commenters on this blog--not to mention yourself, I do believe at one juncture at least--when encroaching the subject of dealing with Pastor Search Teams and dealing with one's theology, particularly those 5 Points that so often become provocative, I recall specific counsel about Calvinists not being so blatantly open about their Calvinism.

It seems like, if my wretched old memory serves me correctly, terms were used like "Historic Baptist" and etc. to, I can only suppose, soften the image of ill-conceived Calvinism.

I am wondering, Dr. Ascol, the difference in at least some Calvinist's sorta "hidden Calvinsim" and a Professor's purported hidden "non-Calvinism". Do they not both--whether signed or non-signed--risk breach of integrity, given the criteria you offer?

I trust your day goes very well. With that, I am...

Peter

scripturesearcher said...

Yes, this is a DOCTRINAL and MORAL issue and those involved in this present discussion are fully aware of this fact.

But PRIDE (arrogance) and PAYCHECKS are powerful even in the lives of seminary presidents and professors - and others.

It was not the the money but his amazing PRIDE that caused Moody and others to behave as they did several years ago.

Shall we not expect some to
do the same in the present - and the future?

I think we should expect serious DOCTRINAL and MORAL problems in each and every generation until the return of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 4

Perry McCall said...

Peter,

In some sircumstances it would be a real issue of integrity. This is esp. true when a theological agenda is being hidden. However, a calvinist one does not have to be in order to affirm the A&P. I know Gene's comment is long but I can not express the arguement any better than he did.

BTW, I hope people paid attention to your comments awhile back about how "calvinists" are perceived by many people. Unfortunely, I am afraid the vocal "calvinazis" among us are often the only contact that many people have.

Tom said...

Brad:

I hesitate responding to you because you and I have demonstrated in previous exchanges that we have difficulty communicating. I have never said that the Abstract of Principles assert the so-called 5 points of Calvinism. Your comments to the contrary simply demonstrate that either you have not understood what I have written or else you for whatever reason have twisted what I have written in order to accuse of something that you think will help your case.

You admit that the Abstract asserts 3 points of Calvinism, then you say that you (and I am quoting you word for word here) "affirm 3 of the classic points of Calvinism provided I [you] can define them."

My concern is not what you believe or don't believe about those 3 points. To my knowledge, you have not tried to explain what you believe about them on this blog. My concern is your hermeneutical approach which you claim as a license:

"I affirm....provided I can define."

Brother, *this* is my concern. This principle allows anyone to affirm anything. It is what allowed liberals to sign the Abstract as well as the BF&M for years without any qualms of conscience. It violates the very principle of confessionalism and confessional integrity on which the trust vested in our seminaries by our churches is based.

I have read everyone of the more than 6 dozen comments you have left on this blog. If you would read carefully what I have written you would notice that I said that your response did nothing to alleviate my concerns, not that I did not see your response. Your reprinting of them does nothing to change that.

In fact, your comment above gives me even more reason to be concerned. You sate:

"I hold to the Abstracts based on MY understanding of what they say."

Brad, compare your statement to that of James P. Boyce:

"No difference, however slight, no peculiar sentiments, however speculative, is here allowable. His agreement with the standard should be exact. His declaration of it should be based upon no mental reservation, upon no private understanding with those who immediately invest him into office; but the articles to be taught having been fully and distinctly laid down, he should be able to say from his knowledge of the Word of God that he knows these articles to be an exact summary of the truth therein contained" (emphasis added).

You are claiming for yourself precisely that which Boyce argued must not be allowed! Brother, you are out of step with those who framed the Abstract of Principles and intended for it to be used to guard our institutions' confessional integrity. If your view of being allowed to have your own private interpretation of your confessional contract becomes the norm, then we will turn right back down the slippery slope toward theological apostasy that we were on in the 1970s and 80s.

My concerns stand, and I am not alone in holding them. Trust me, if I have am convinced that a teacher in one of our schools is out of bounds with the confessional covenant between the school and the convention, I will encourage that situation to be investigated through proper channels.

C. T. Lillies said...

Dr. Reynolds
I just checked the SEBTS website. Under "what we believe" I found a link to the BFM2K but nothing like the Abstract. Do you think you could direct me to the appropiate link?

Mr. Bridges
As I said I would do on a previous thread I have read both the Abstract of SBTS and the BFM2K and written a rather lengthy comparison. I am afraid that I must stand by my original assessment that the two documents are incompatible.

Much Grace
Josh

Tom said...

Peter:

Things are hot here, like everywhere else in the USA these days. I appreciate your question but think the comparison between talking to pastoral search teams and signing a confessional statement that you promise to teach according to and not contrary to are not the same. Integrity is demanded in both cases, as it is always with followers of Jesus.

I do not advocate any candidate hiding his theological convictions from the prospective church. I do advocate being wise in how one speaks so as to be understood. My cautioning in using theological jargon is for the sake of understanding, not deception.

When a professor is required to sign a statement of faith as terms of employment and does so with the caveat, "I hold to this statement based on MY undertanding of what it says," then confessional integrity has left the dock and is well on the way down the river.

Stay cool up there in Georgia!

peter lumpkins said...

My Brother Perry,

Thank you for the note. I too believe it could be a real issue of integrity. I must think more deeply, however ,before I could agree that one would not necessarily have to be a Calvinist to sign the AP.

Not that the document nor wording proper necessitates say, High Calvinism. For example, there seems to be no clear affirmation of Limited/Definite Atonement.

Rather, if we are not allowed to rip the document from its authors, its authors' context and, especially its authors' particular theological leanings, how, then could the document be legitimately interpreted as non-Calvinistic?

Supposing that being the case, one must necessarily adhere to High Calvinism, as did the framers, would one not, given the premises of the alleged concerns proffered by Dr. Ascol's papers, or else risk losing integrity?

If I am even close to being correct, then it seems to me, my Brother Perry, no one could legitimately sign the AP unless they graduated from the Founders' Study Center :)

By the way, thank you for the encouragement. I simply cannot understand why we must hack each other. Perhaps Dr. Ascol may consider re-running the very fine article by Professor Nicole on what we can learn from those with whom we disagree...

http://www.founders.org/FJ33/article3.html

Have a great afternoon. And with that, I am...

Peter

brad reynolds said...

Tom
As my comments above make clear I clarified what I emant by affirming the 3 points...I cannot affirm total depravity if it entails a connection to irresistable grace. But I can affirm total depravity.

Further, as to "my understanding" if the principles. Let me try to make that more clear although I think I did a fairly decent job earlier.

I cannot affirm them based on what Boyce understood he meant for I am not Boyce. I am Brad Reynolds...I do not hink in the same way as Tom Ascoll (obviously from our lack of communication) not James Boyce. Thus, I must sign them based on my understanding of what Boyce meant!

I have responded for the benefit your readers. But if you are really concerned as you say you are, Southeastern's number is in the phone book. Be my guest:)

By the way, I don't remember recieving any private e-mail or phone call confronting me with this concern of ethical violation. I think that is the Biblical model the SIGNERS of the Memphis Declaration agreed to...didn't you SIGN that statement?
BR

SavedandSure said...

I believe everything - provided I get to define what I mean by the words BELIEVE and EVERYTHING.

I love all women of all ages - but I must be allowed to define what I mean by LOVE.

I will sign anything required to get a good salary (with perks) and
maintain my arrogant attitude.

Do you begin to get the drift of all this stupidity?

Tom said...

Brad:

Once again you and I prove that we are two Southern Baptists separated by a common language. I have reread you last comment and still find myself unsure of what you mean. But, once again, I am troubled. Let me try to explain why. You say:

"I cannot affirm them based on what Boyce understood he meant for I am not Boyce."

How then can you understand the letters of the Apostle Paul? Based on your reasoning, what keeps you from necessarily making this statement?:

"I cannot affirm the pastoral letters based on what Paul understood he meant because I am not Paul."

Further, exactly what part of the Memphis statement are you referring to? I went back and reread it, also, and your point escapes me. You made a public statement in a public forum and have been publicly called on it. If I have violated Scripture in doing so, please help me to see it.

brad reynolds said...

Tom
I assumed that in point 5 of the Statement the confrontation would be according to the biblical principles of confrontation. Forgive me for the assumption. The biblical model is when you think a brother has erred publicly or privately you go to him personally. If he has erred publicly there should be public repentance but this does negate the responsibility to approach him personally. But if you think blogs are the best way to confront a brother then by all means continue.

I think we are speaking past each other and I will gladly take the blame.

Let me see if I can, one last time, try to clear this up.

Paul says pastors are to not be paroinon – Dr. Patterson believes Paul meant not “given to wine” since the word can mean this, and he feels the context calling pastors to higher standards then deacons requires such a translation. Some moderationists believe Paul meant not “a drunkard” since the word can mean this. Now neither, Dr. P nor Mod’s inerrantly know exactly what Paul meant for they are not Paul…but with the best of their abilities they have both tried to arrive at what Paul did mean, now both can’t be right. We are incapable of saying inerrantly “Paul meant this”, but we can say “I believe Paul meant this and here is my evidence to support it.” This is “their” understanding of what Paul meant.

Thus….my understanding of what Boyce meant which may not fit into your understanding of what Boyce meant but does fit into what Akin and Mohler believe Boyce’s parameters allow.

Against my better judgment I have spend way too much time explaining to you my theology. Any more questions can be directed to my Presidents office.

BR

deusvult2 said...

Dr. Ascol,

I have a question for you. I am so grateful that are seminaries and their colleges are back to confessional accountability and orthodoxy today. However, I'd like to know what's the deal with our other Baptist colleges like Mercer and Wingate and Wake Forest, etc? Aren't some of them under control of the state conventions and receive my tithing money thru the CP? Or am I igonorant of exactly how they're ran? I'd really appreciate your input or anyone else who knows. Thanks and God bless!

brad reynolds said...

Tom,
One final note:
If you cannot see the lack of wisdom in your comments and implications which have caused comments such as the following (which obviously are in reference to the prof you mentioned ie: me), then my colleague’s advice to no longer post is here is wise.

“I believe everything - provided I get to define what I mean by the words BELIEVE and EVERYTHING.__I love all women of all ages - but I must be allowed to define what I mean by LOVE.__I will sign anything required to get a good salary (with perks) and_maintain my arrogant attitude.__Do you begin to get the drift of all this stupidity?”

“Yes, this is a DOCTRINAL and MORAL issue and those involved in this present discussion are fully aware of this fact.__But PRIDE (arrogance) and PAYCHECKS are powerful even in the lives of seminary presidents and professors - and others.”

BR

Tom said...

Brad:

I guess you are reading your own interpretation into what point number 5 means. Here is what it says:

"Therefore, we commit ourselves to confront lovingly any person in our denomination, regardless of the office or title that person holds, who disparages the name of our Lord by appropriating venomous epithets against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and thus divides our fellowship by careless and unchaste speech."

Here is YOUR interpretation:

"The biblical model is when you think a brother has erred publicly or privately you go to him personally. If he has erred publicly there should be public repentance but this does negate the responsibility to approach him personally. But if you think blogs are the best way to confront a brother then by all means continue."

Oh really? Then was Paul unbiblical when he rebuked Peter's public sinning publicly? (Galatians 1:11-12) Was he mistaken when he publicly rebuked both church and adulterer in 1 Corinthians 5? I realize that you can come back with "Well, I don't know what Paul meant when he wrote those things because I am not Paul," but, brother, THAT IS THE PROBLEM. I take no joy in your illustrating it all too clearly.

Further, I have not rebuked you. I have engaged your dangerou and unbaptist position in the very forum where you made it known.

I fear you have imbibed the spirits of this age more than you know.

brad reynolds said...

Tom
I think you meant Gal 2:11-12 which says
“I opposed him TO HIS FACE.”

Further Paul’s APOSTOLIC letter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to a CHURCH he established is not equivalent to publicly implying a person is unbaptistic and unethical in teaching at a seminary without ever speaking to him privately.

But I’m sure you disagree so my brother carry on.

Your rhetorical and ad-hominal statement of imbibing needs no response.

I shall assume you have called SE and Southern Seminary confronting the Presidents’ hiring of professors with dangerous and unbaptistic positions:)
BR

Tom said...

Brab:

Finally! We agree! I DID mean Galatians 2:11-12. :-) Thanks for the correction. I am sorry for not including down through verse 14, which says, "But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter BEFORE THEM ALL, 'If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?'"

Paul records in the letter what happened publicly at Antioch. He addressed Peter in the same arena in which Peter committed his error. By YOUR standards he was being "unbiblical." Of course, I recognize that you may choose to define Paul's words in some other way. But, even though I am not Paul, I do think his meaning is sufficiently clear to any and all honest readers.

Are you implying in your last comment that there are other professors teaching at SEBTS and SBTS who would say with you,

"I hold to the Abstracts based on MY understanding of what they say"?

If so, then there really is reason to be alarmed. I had hoped that yours was an isolated case. I refuse to believe this implication until shown evidence to the contrary.

scripturesearcher said...

Sadly, a former president of the USA who was eventually impeached by the House of Representatives, had a serious DEFINITION problem, too.

He, an intelligent former Rhodes scholar, and the young kneeling female White House intern did not engage in sexual activities! He did not even know the meaning of certain very simple two and three letter English words!

Some seminarians (and others) who are extremely arrogant,egotistical and wildly argumentative have problems with DEFINITIONS, too.

A murderer I once visited in his prison cell told me he had never murdered anyone - he merely delivered his sleeping victim of his life and money! His personal DEFINITION did not keep him out of the electric chair.

Anytime we make ourselves our GOD,and DEFINE our words to please ourselves, and then vigorously defend ourselves as some attempt to do ~ we declare ourselves to be rebellious sinners in desperate need of divine deliverance, forgiveness and salvation.

Is it possible for me to make myself any clearer, plainer, or more understandable?

According to my DEFINITIONS the answer is NO!

sbc pastor said...

Tom,

In regard to your comment to Dr. Reynolds:

“I guess you are reading your own interpretation into what point number 5 means. Here is what it says: ‘Therefore, we commit ourselves to confront lovingly any person in our denomination, regardless of the office or title that person holds, who disparages the name of our Lord by appropriating venomous epithets against our brothers and sisters in Christ, and thus divides our fellowship by careless and unchaste speech.’”

In my humble estimation, you may have committed multiple violations of the declaration (i.e. Memphis Declaration) that you admittedly signed:

1. Did you confront Dr. Reynolds “lovingly?”

2. Have you disparaged the name of our Lord by appropriating venomous epithets against a fellow brother in Christ (i.e. Dr. Reynolds)?

3. Have you not endangered, and possibly already divided your fellowship with Dr. Reynolds, as a Christian brother, through “careless and unchaste speech?”

Please allow me to refresh your memory:

“Your comments to the contrary simply demonstrate that either you have not understood what I have written or else you for whatever reason have twisted what I have written in order to accuse of something that you think will help your case.”

“I have engaged your dangerou and unbaptist position in the very forum where you made it known.”

“I fear you have imbibed the spirits of this age more than you know.”

These insinuations and/or accusations do not appear to have been in a Christian spirit of love. Furthermore, the apparent appropriating of venomous epithets upon a fellow brother in Christ might very possibly disparage the name of our Lord. Thus, you may have (at the very least) endangered your fellowship with a fellow brother in Christ – Dr. Reynolds. Please understand that I offer this word of advice and caution as a Christian brother, with the desire that this type of conversation and inflammatory rhetoric be avoided.

Furthermore, in regard to your comment:

“Trust me, if I have am convinced that a teacher in one of our schools is out of bounds with the confessional covenant between the school and the convention, I will encourage that situation to be investigated through proper channels.”

It appears from your comments that you believe such a situation exists. Thus, I encourage you to have these “dangerous” and “unbaptist” positions by a SBC seminary professor investigated immediately. I trust that you are a man of your word. Please keep us informed on how it unfolds.

Thanks and God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

BSC said...

Regarding the Memphis Declaration:

Unlike James Boyce, who is no longer here to explain what he meant and if, in fact, any professors' words are in discord with and contrary to the Abstracts of Principles, I am able to provide substantive clarity to the section on confrontation.

The concern of paragraph five was "character assassination," specifically "unsubstantiated and malicious" in nature. The forum for confrontation on these is not specified, though the tone is to be loving and courteous.

Tom has been neither unloving nor discourteous, so it remains to see whether or not his statements have "assassinated" the character of Brad Reynolds.

On this account, Ascol has demonstrated great restraint by (a) carefully removing the name of the professor in order to make his point about what was said rather than who said it; (b) to include a sentence affirming that the professor in question was "no liberal," a courtesy which has yet to be afforded many of us who participated in Memphis; (c) he reiterated his concern, that it was doctrinal and moral in nature, not personal; and (d) Ascol has continued to demonstrate courtesy in his comments, even when confronting the professor in subsequent comments, by providing the biblical rationale for his method of redress.

I must agree, of course, with Tom Ascol that there are legitimate concerns that signing the Abstract of Principles has been superceded by the signing of the BFM2K. Both documents are to be signed. Both documents are to be affirmed. Both documents are to serve as the standard of confessional orthodoxy.

I am left with a question which is immediately obvious to any person reading this exchange:

How would our Southern Baptist seminary presidents handle a professor who signed the BFM2K, affirmed its articles with reservation or the necessity to "define" the meaning for themselves, and proceeded to teach/write/blog contrary to and not in accord with the document.

Would a professor who signed the BFM2K and proceeded as I have just outlined be allowed the flexibility to appeal to the fact that Adrian Rogers, the committee chairman, is now dead and therefore unable to clarify what was actually meant regardless of what the document literally means.

I think Tom's point about confessional integrity is both valid and clear. This is not a witch-hunt, like occurred in earlier days of the resurgence and occurs, to some degree, still.

His is a word of caution, not of correction. A word of warning, not of war.

Timmy said...

Jeremy Green (SBC Pastor),

While I do not think that Tom needs any help in addressing your comments, let me take a second to chime in.

What "multiple violations", sir, has Tom committed? You simply copying and pasting his comments do nothing to support your accusations. Tom's comments are mild-mannered and to the point. He has not sought to twist or contort the words of others but with plain reasoning presented his case. This cannot be said of Mr. Reynolds here or in the past.

You said, "It appears from your comments that you believe such a situation exists."

I am glad to see that you are such a moral vantage point to make such an assertion. Acutally, given your comments on the multiple blogs in the past month, I fear that you have more to be concerned about than Tom. While I do not think it profitable to comment and paste your rhetorical flourishes and ad hominem comments, if you need justification I will be happy to do so on my blog.

Furthermore, this is not about the Memphis Declaration. This is about being Christian. You have been banned on other blogs because of your unbecoming comments, and it would serve you well to consider you own accusations before attempting to project them on others.

sbc pastor said...

BSC,

Thank you so very much for sharing with us what your personal opinion is concerning his remarks to Dr. Reynolds:

"Tom has been neither unloving nor discourteous, so it remains to see whether or not his statements have "assassinated" the character of Brad Reynolds."

However, the normal and literal interpretaion of his comments would seemingly suggest otherwise. I am desirous to hear his answer as well as the outcome of his conversation with Dr. Akin in regards to the "dangerous" and "unbaptist" positions that he has noted concerning Dr. Reynolds, a seminary professor at SEBTS.

Thanks and God bless!!!

In Christ,
JLG

brad reynolds said...

Tom
Paul had spent precious time with Peter earlier. He knew him. And he confronted Peter face to face in front of the others who were SINNING with Peter! (the rest of the Jews also playing the hypocrite with him).

He did not confront someone he did not know in public with a statement implying he was unethical, having never spoken to him before face to face.

I know you won't be able to see the difference and feel Matt.18 should not have been followed here. That's fine, I am not responsible for your actions.

At this point I think we know where we stand and as for me its over...feel free to continue with it as long as you feel led.
And yes to my knowledge every professor signed the Abstracts based on their best understanding of what the Abstracts mean. Perhaps when you call the Seminaries with your concerns you can request to come teach a course an the inerrant interpretation of the Abstracts.
BR

brad reynolds said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
brad reynolds said...

Tom
Did you read Dr. Land's article on my Blog?
Your friend Ben Cole said:
"That is as convincing an appeal as I have ever read. Thank you for posting it."
BR

GOWITHGOSPEL said...

Many thanks, Dr. Ascol, for your important ministry of reminding us of the internal dangers threatening the doctrinal integrity of our SBC.

You (and your family) are in our daily prayers.

BSC said...

Brad:

Yes, I did not say I was convinced. I only said it was convincing.

Pray tell your purpose for reposting my comments here. They are quite extraneous to this discussion.

BSC

brad reynolds said...

Ben
I said, you said it was "convincing".

My purpose: to spread your wise words to others.

If you feel I spread them too far, I apologize:)
BR

BSC said...

Brad:

You are wise to use your own little bucket to carry your own water.

I'll use my bucket to carry mine.

BSC

Tom said...

SBC Pastor:

Thanks for your comments. Concerning your questionns:

1. Yes.
2. No.
3. No.

Thanks for your advice and cautions and concern for the Name of our Lord. I share that concern.

Concerning your inference that I think Dr. Reynolds' views are outside the bounds of the confession of his institution--I have to plead ingnorance at this point because Dr. Reynolds has not tipped his hand as to what he believes the Abstract teaches. He has only repeatedly appealed to what his President believes. I have given up hoping that he will nail his colors to the mast and speak plainly.

What does greatly concern me is his ubaptist and dangerous insistence on the right to private interpretation of the document he has signed. That opens the door to any and every kind of theological error. It is a door that, out of love (that hopes all things) I trust he himself as passed through.

Perhaps that in and of itself does rise to the level of being investigated by the stewards of the churches who are responsible for such teachers. If I become convinced that it does, be assured, I will pursue it. But be equally assured that I feel no compulsion to acquiesce to your request that I "keep [you] informed of how it unfolds." In fact, I surprised that you would even make such a request. It sounds like you are encouraging me to make public private communication.

The Lord bless you.

Tom said...

Brad:

No.

Blessings,
tom

bristopoly said...

Brad,
I think your biggest problem is that you don't read the Scripture's you cite (or read them too quickly) with careful examination. You just assume what you think it says and go from there. I've followed a lot of your comments throughout the past few months and you typically take a dogmatic position on a meaning of a text without justifying it via close exegesis. The Matt text you referred to deals with a brother who has sinned against you personally (the parallel text in Luke 17:3-4 makes that clear), not a sin committed within the assembly ("rebuke those [elders] who sin in front of everyone so that the rest will be fearful [of sinning]" 1 Tim 5:20) or a theological or moral position (pick any NT passage that contradicts a bad theological or moral position---2 Tim 2:17). Do you understand that you are taking a commandment that deals with a specific type of sin (i.e., personal) and making it general?
If you want to apply it in such a way, that's fine. But don't then go on to condemn others for not making it generic as though they are sinning for not doing so. That is ridiculous. I wasn't going to say anything, but your passive aggressive comments, which imply the sin of everyone who calls our your public comments in public, beckon someone to respond to the interpretations and applications that you are merely assuming to be true.
Finally, please note that you yourself now have committed the very sin you placed upon Dr. Ascol. If he is in sin for not obeying Matt 18, then you just rebuked him publically. At least Tom didn't ascribe to your interpretation and application of the passage. You do. And yet, you still violated it? Pot meet kettle. I'm sorry if I sound overly frustrated, but I am tired of Bible school professors not knowing the Bible with the depth that they should know it when quoting it. I would have such discussions with people who never set foot on a Bible College campus. For you to be so presumptuous with Scripture in the way that you have been the past few months would be a bit alarming to anyone wishing to send their children under your care. Either way, Sir, you should give a public apology for violating the very standard with which you condemned Tom.

GOWITHGOSPEL said...

Having read most of the comments
written by Brad Reynolds of SEBTS on this and other blogs the past few weeks, he would do himself and the seminary he serves a huge favor by ceasng his pontifications.

Will he heed the wise counsel of his friend he mentions and stop?

Probably not.....but we can continue praying to that end.

Ranger said...

I understand the fears that any professor would sign based on their personal interpretation of what the points mean, and not on their acceptance of the authoral intent. That is dangerous. I think Dr. Reynolds has made it clear that he signed the Abstract with his understanding of what Dr. Boyce means. This is why Dr. Reynolds said, "I must sign them based on my understanding of what Boyce meant." Since it is impossible for us to understand exactly what Dr. Boyce meant precisely on every point, and since any assumption is completely speculative, then I do not see a problem with Dr. Reynolds viewpoint as long as he signs with the authoral intent of the Abstract in view.

Dr. Reynolds does not sign based on his personal interpretation of the points of doctrine, but with the understanding that his views fall into the realm of what Drs. Boyce and Manly, Jr. meant and allowed for when the Abstract was first instituted. The Abstract is not as precise as the LBCF2 or BF&M2K, and thus allows for more room. If this were not the case then Dr. Toy would never have been hired. He had already been to Germany for study and already espoused the views of higher criticism that led to his questionable interpretations of Scripture. Of course, even Dr. Toy's beliefs, which led to his resignation, were nowhere near the blatant disregard for the Abstract that prevailed in the seminaries during the 1970s and 1980s. In the same way, Dr. Reynolds does not differ from Boyce or Manly, Jr. to the extent that Dr. Toy did, and he is definitely no Moody, Francisco or Hull and we all realize that...don't we? Some of us do not act like we do.

I think it is shameful that people have accused Dr. Reynolds of signing based on his wallet. That is clearly unnecessary, immature and inappropriate in respectable dialogue since there has been nothing that would cause anyone to suggest that.

It seems as though many of the negative comments made thus far are based on emotion with the purpose of irking the other side. Maybe I am being too forward in suggesting this, but we all might be the better if Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Ascol took the time to discuss this privately over e-mail and not on the boards...and probably even better if we all took some time off to think through our comments before posting and considering if they are posted in the spirit of encouragement, grace and Christian brotherhood.

Tom said...

Ranger:

Thanks for your insights. I don't think you are correct about Toy, though access to my books has been severely limited the last couple of weeks and I have no way of checking specifics. I thought he went to Germany for study after he began teaching, but I may be wrong on that. I do remember that the consensus was that he changed his views over the 10 years of his teaching at Southern and that many--including he himself--did not think he was out of step with the Abstract when he was forced to resign. But that is a minor point and certainly not too germane to your concerns.

I agree that no one should be questioning motives here and I regret that some would do that. My 3 posts have addressed concerns that are much broader than any one professor. Dr. Reynolds' *approach* to confessionalism is what concerns me, as his repeated comments about the right to private interpretation of the Abstract and its teachings have made clear. This dialogue seems to have given him opportunity to further clarify his position, and he has made some statements in the course of it that give me a little hope, such as the one you quoted.

But if you go back over the more than 75 comments he has left on this blog in the last few months and compare that statement with others, you may see reasons for ongoing concern. I really don't know what he believes the Abstract asserts. Determining Boyce's and Manly's views is not that difficult since documentary evidence of their views abound. Especially with Boyce. He has a whole Abstract of Systematic Theology available (acutally it is currently out of print, but Founders is about to reprint it). One need not sit and wonder what Boyce meant by election. Simply pick up his book and read it.

These posts were not intended to be about Dr. Reynolds. But they apply to him just as they do to anyone who signs a formulary as terms of employment at a denominational agency or institution.

Thanks again for your comments and admonitions.

Ranger said...

Thanks for a very gracious response Tom.

Thanks also for mentioning your concern about what I said concerning Dr. Toy. I was going from memory, but did do some checking this morning to see if my memory served me right. Dr. Toy went to Germany in 1866, began at Furman in 1868 and Sourther in 1869. From my understanding his views had already begun to formulate, but as you said, they drastically changed during his tenure at SBTS.

C. T. Lillies said...

Brothers

Actually in Dr. Reynolds defense, from what I can gather from his posts, he does, in fact agree with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

Perhaps someone could post what standards each institution uses or email me? Southern has quite openly posted links to both the Abstract and the BFM2K but the other seminaries do not appear to have any such statements--online anyway.

Having read this and other threads and having done some research on my own I am very concerned about this.

Thank you kindly for your time.

Much Grace
Josh

Tom said...

Ranger:

Thanks for clarifying that about Toy. I can't get to it right now to give an exact footnote, but one of the most touching scenes from our Southern Baptist heritage comes from this sad story. In Broadus' Memoirs of Boyce he tells of Boyce taking Toy to the train station after his resignation and lifting his right hand in the air and saying something to this effect: "Oh Toy, I would gladly give this right arm if you would go back to where you were five years ago and stay there." It is a very moving scene and it displays the importance of the kind of confessional integrity that Boyce and other early Southern Baptist leaders insisted on. Love for people and concern for the welfare is extremely important. But such love gets perverted when it trumps love for God and concern for His glory. In fact, I would argue that anything that flies under the flag of the Second Great Commandment and yet requires compromise of the Great Commandment is not really love at all.

Tom said...

Josh:

Here is the link to the Abstract from Southeastern's website. It is found under the "Prospective Students" pull down window on the main page. The BF&M2000 is also there, along with other documents.

To my knowledge, only SBTS and SEBTS use the Abstract. The other seminaries use the BF&M2000.

Ranger said...

I've read that story before Tom...it is very moving and very sad. Do you have a timeline for when you are going to republish Boyce's Abstract of Theology?

C. T. Lillies said...

Dr. Ascol

Thank you sir. After a very brief read Southeastern's Abstract appears to be the same as Southern's with a few minor changes--at least in content. Even at that it is still much in conflict with the BFM2K.


Josh

Perry McCall said...

I will need to double check on the "signing" but I do know that NOBTS has their own abstract. It might be called a statement of belief or something like that. I think it is included as apart of the BF&M ceremony.

John said...
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IN HIS NAME said...

Brad,
Our current President has this problem, as I do also. Therefore pray the HOLY SPIRIT reveal the BIBLE verse or verses and reread until the WORD of GOD is written in your HEART.

Dyslexia is impaired ability to understand written language: a learning disorder marked by a severe difficulty in recognizing and understanding written language, leading to reading, spelling and writing problems. It is not caused by low intelligence or brain damage.

A Brother in CHRIST

John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
IN HIS NAME said...

Tom said,
My 3 posts have addressed concerns that are much broader than any one professor. Dr. Reynolds' *approach* to confessionalism is what concerns me, as his repeated comments about the right to private interpretation of the Abstract and its teachings have made clear. This dialogue seems to have given him opportunity to further clarify his position, and he has made some statements in the course of it that give me a little hope, such as the one you quoted.+

We the SBC and IMB of Trustees are having a big issue on PRIVIATE PRAY LANGUAGE and we overlook this kind of issue. Shame! Shame! Shame!

A Brother in CHRIST

Tom said...

John:

I understand your frusrtation, trust me. But please do not bring the arguments of another blog here. I have deleted your second post for this very reason.

Thanks,
tom

John said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...

Ranger:

We hope to have it out by the end of the year.

Christopher Redman said...

Dr. Reynolds has promised to address Calvinism on his blog. I am patienatly waiting.

Timmy said...

When I first found out about Boyce's work, I so wanted a copy but was told it was out of print. However, last year the Lifeway at SBTS sold copies of it which I was quick to purchase. I think there are some copies still available if anyone is interested. To view the page for the bookstore, copy and paste the URL below:

http://www.sbts.edu/campuslife/bookstore.php

If you email them, they should be able to assist you if you are interested in obtaining a copy.

Christopher Redman said...

This is a copy of the post I just placed on my blog regarding Dr. Reynolds statements here -

Dr. Brad Reynolds is an associate professor at SEBTS and, like me, new to the blogging world. Dr. Reynolds appears to be a nice fellow and very passionate about his positions and interpretations. I think that Dr. Reynolds and I could get along well and be friends if we had time to fellowship more intimately.

This article is not about Dr. Reynolds singularly as much as it is about so many that Dr. Reynolds appears to represent. He speaks as one who is in step with many who deny the Doctrines of Grace. However, his misunderstanding of the subject matter is very disheartening for a man of his education and influence within the SBC. He appears to have embraced common straw man arguments against the Doctrines of Grace and thus perpetuates the problem.

He made the following statement at the founders blog recently:

"In fact, the BFM2K could pose some problems for 5 point Calvinists.I shall quote from the BFM2K with my Capitalization:

God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the FUTURE DECISIONS of His FREE creatures.

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who ACCEPT Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ.

"Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the FREE AGENCY of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end."

Please, all who do not understand the Doctrines of Free and Sovereign grace: No one (especially within the SBC) embracing the Doctrines of Grace disagree with God's foreknowledge of all things including the future decisions of His free creatures, that salvation is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ, that all (and any) sinners who repent and believe in Christ are justified, or that election is inconsistent with man's free agency.

Sirs, this is a straw man. We affirm both God's sovereignty in salvation by free and sovereign grace and man's universal responsibility to repent and believe. We do not deny free agency but we do deny free will as having the capacity to choose spiritual good. Anyone, I mean anyone who repents and believes the gospel of Jesus Christ will be saved! Jusification is by grace through faith alone. Any, I mean any, sinner who repents and believes is justified.

We affirm man's total depravity - that man is corrupted in body (Rom 7:24), mind (Rom 8:7), and will (John 6:44) by sin. We affirm that for man to escape his bondage to sin (John 8:34), God's power must work to open his heart and mind to savingly understand the truth of the gospel and to agree with God regarding his sinful state and need for Christ as the only sufficient savior (John 3:3, 5, Titus 3:5). No sinful man has the natural capacity to understand the gospel truth and respond with true repentance and faith apart from the supernatural power of God which is given by His grace alone to whomever and whenever He chooses (John 8:36; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:30, 9:15-16).

I hope for a day when straw men cease to exist among Southern Baptists. By God's grace and for His glory, it may come.

Christopher Redman said...

Dr. Reynolds kindly clarified his position on my post.

Thank you,
CR

Aaron L. Turner said...

What an amazing day we live in! A man can post his opinion/position on a public blog, be called into account on that same blog, and then claim that he should have been confronted in private.

I would have to agree to what has already been posted. Tom Ascol has been nothing but gracious, and truthful in his exchanges with Brad Reynolds.

This is not about personal sin, but public positions, and therfore needs to be dealt with publicly.

On another issue: While I am not in oppostion to Seminaries, and Denomoniational colleges, I believe the local church is a much better setting for theological training. I thank God for the Founders Study center, which facilitates that training on the local church level.

John said...
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C. T. Lillies said...

Timmy

I emailed the bookstore and they said they were out. Thanks for the pointer though.

Josh

Timmy said...

Josh,

Sorry man! I haven't been there in almost a month. I also may be wrong on this one too, but they had Dagg's Manual of Church Order and Manual of Theology which are also hard to find.