Monday, September 18, 2006

Lifeway: 10% of SBC pastors are 5 Point Calvinists

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[9/19/06 EDIT: A friend from LifeWay contacted me today to let me know about the availability of a brief podcast with Dr. Waggoner regarding this research project as well as other research projects in the works. He even gives a "60 second overview" of Calvinism that is actually very good. It is certainly better than what is often presented. Dr. Waggoner makes the point that LifeWay wants to be on the cutting edge the things that are being discussed in our denomination as well as in evangelicalism in general. After discussing some of the plans with my friend and listening to the podcast, I am very encourged with potential good that LifeWay Research can do in helping pastors and churches understand various trends and tendencies that affect us all. You can access the podcast from the LifeWay news page. Click the podcast button.]

According to Baptist Press, a recent study by Lifeway Research, one out of every 10 Southern Baptist pastors considers himself a 5-Point Calvinist.The research also found that 85% do not consider themselves Calvinists while 4% do not know if they are or not. I think it's a pretty safe assumption that that latter group aren't either.

Brad Waggoner, director of Lifeway Research said that the study found that, contrary to popular opinion that the resurgence of the doctrines of grace is a young man's movement, "there is no significant statistical difference in those who are over 40 years of age responding in the affirmative and those under 40. Therefore, age is not a determining factor in those who embrace Reformed theology." I find this interesting, as well. The recent Christianity Today cover story suggests otherwise. Also, most of the anecdotal evidence indicates that the rising generation of evangelicals is more inclined toward reformed theology than those in the recent past.

I would be quite pleased to discover that one's age is not a factor in the theology he espouses. There are certain measurable realities, however, that would lead one to expect that more ministers being trained today in our seminaries would be Calvinistic than would have been the case 30 years ago. One of those realities is the fact that we now have more professors in our seminaries who understand and appreciate the reformation heritage of our Baptist faith. Only a few decades ago it was not uncommon to find seminary and college professors who were largely unware of the Calvinistic foundation of the Southern Baptist Convention. Consequently, those reformed roots were often overlooked when teaching Baptist history and theology. I well remember when it was common to hear the charge, "Southern Baptists have never been Calvinistic." With every new republication old books and articles, however, those claims became exposed as unfounded.

Another factor that leads me to believe that today's students would more likely be Calvinistic than previous generations is the breakdown of Southern Baptist sectarianism that we have witnessed over the last 30 years. For example, in the 1970s very few Southern Baptists were members of the Evangelical Theological Society. Today Southern Baptists are well represented in that organization. Interaction with the broader evangelical world has made Southern Baptists more aware of helpful writers and teachers who are not part of our own denomination. Men like John MacArthur, J.I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, John Piper and Iain Murray have been favorably introduced to Southern Baptists and their ministries have challenged many to look more favorably on reformed theology. In fact, one seminary dean told me 5 years ago that more and more students are showing up with reformed commitments already firmly in place.

The BP story also reports this interesting tidbit:
LifeWay Research also found that a slight majority (51 percent) of Southern Baptist pastors address Calvinism from the pulpit once a year or less, while 45 percent of SBC pastors address Calvinism several times a year or more from the pulpit. Four percent refused to answer the question regarding the frequency with which they address Calvinism from the pulpit.
I would guess that there are more Calvinist pastors in the first group than in the second. One common misconception is that a pastor who is committed to the doctrines of grace is regularly ringing five bells from his pulpit. A pastoral intern in our church disappointed a former classmate of his when he was asked what it was like to be in a church "where Calvinism is preached all the time." The intern honestly replied, "I don't know. In the four months that I have been here, all I have heard have expositions, mostly from the book of Ephesians."

As has been demonstrated on this blog and many others, what seems to be far more common is for Calvinism to be attacked from the pulpits of those who fear it, do not understand it, or vociferously oppose it. Too often when that has been done, the doctrines of grace have been caricatured and then dismissed as heretical. In this new information age, a pastor does that at his own peril. Thirty years ago, men could get away with making outlandish statements about what Calvinism is and what specific Calvinists have believed and taught. Today, with a reliable internet connection and google, those claims can be checked out very easily. Sometimes, when a check is made and claims are discovered to be inaccurate, the making known of that fact draws the accusation of "impertinence." Though a haughty spirit can rightly deserve that label, there is nothing impertinent in exposing error with truth.

I am grateful to Lifeway for conducting this research. I hope they will do it again in 5 years, because the return to the historic faith of our Southern Baptist founders is growing. John Broadus referred to "that exalted system of Pauline truth which is technically called Calvinism, which compels an earnest student to profound thinking, and when pursued with a combination of systematic thought and fervent experience, makes him at home among the most inspiring and ennobling views of God and the universe He has made." This biblical system of truth is being seen by more and Southern Baptists who take the Word of God seriously. By God's grace, that trend will continue and increase.


Forest A said...


What an excellent blog. It's statements like these that cause me joy to know that my roots as a southern Baptist and reformed soteriology never need to be separated. The more reports like these emerge, and the more authors like Tom Nettles write on Baptist history, the more clarity is given to our true historical roots.

I agree wholeheartedly with your statements on the labeling of calvinistic Baptist Churches, and it is extremely unfortunate. In my recent years of studying I have moved states quite a bit and attended a good number of calvinistic Baptist (founders friendly, etc...) churches and I could honestly count the number of sermons regarding calvinism on one hand (that's less than on sermon for each point!). In addition, the best expositional sermons I have ever had the privilege of worshiping with, were sermons in reformed (calvinistic) baptist churches.

In the midst of Christianity being aggressively attacked from the outside and the inside (the recently converted Buddhist Monk in the church of England who still claims to be a Christian and minister in a Christian church and the preparation of the PCUSA to seize the properties of the church's wishing to secede from them), I believe God is raising up a generation for Himself of ministers with a hard enough theology to withstand the rough waters and proclaim His Word clearly to the nations and send true revival to the land.

May the Lord continue to work in out midst and raise up ministers who stand in awe of His sovereignty and proclaim from the pulpits and rooftops "salvation belongs to the Lord" and "fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell".

Rachelle said...

If we are looking to see if there is a trend in the younger generation then we have to take into account that some (maybe many) are not yet pastors. They are seminary students who do not hold a pastorate. I would be interested to hear the pecentages for seminary students in SBC seminaries. This would be enlightening!

Scott said...


Please go to FBC Woodstock) and listen to Dr. Hunt's 9-10-06 evening message( Sources of Encouragement- Cont'd. Go to 1hr 9 minutes and start at that point. He is once again attacking Calvinists and majorily misreprensenting historical definitions but also the Word of God. He again calls us Hyper and ( Well just listen to it). I just prayed for those that heard it and am praying that God's Word will get to these people in other ways through other preachers and just reading the Scripture on their own. The title of this blog would be better if it was titled 10% of SBC members hear the truth on Scripture and historical definitions. That's all I will say!

Scott said...


I forgot to add this:

Disbelief of Election:

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart" CH Spurgeon

Let me be clear: I believe Dr. Hunt is a saved man however (I)personally believe he does not understand Grace. He will quote Eph 1:4 and Acts 13:48 but his comments again and again and again prove show he believes God elects based on people who He forsees who will choose Him. Just listen to the comments. What I'm about to say will make some people really angry but it's a basic fact ( Dr. Hunt has no business calling himself a Gospel Preacher) when he does not understand Grace and how he says some think they got it figured out how God saves! Yes, the Bible tells us clearly how it is that God saves! He has no business Pastoring when the Pastor does not understand the work of God in Salvation. Sounds rough but that's the truth!

Tom said...


I agree with your assessments. And I think Rachelle has an excellent point about the current students.


I am trying to access the message you mentioned. It won't let me fast forward, so the video of the whole service is playing. I take exception to your characterization of Johnny Hunt's fitness to pastor. By the rationale that you have outlined then only 5 point Calvinists would be qualified to serve as pastors. As a convinced Calvinist, I do not believe this. I could wish that every one believed as I do, but I recognize that good and godly men do not agree with the views that I hold dear.

Each church ultimately has the responsibility to recognize and call men of God to serve as shepherds of the flock. It will come as no surprise that many churches would not consider people like me qualified to be pastors. That is their perogative.

In our disagreements with brothers who differ with us on the doctrines of grace, I want to work as diligently as I can to exude the grace of those very doctrines.

Scott said...


Thanks for your input. Dr. Hunt does not believe in Total Depravity as Scripture teaches, does not believe in unconditional election, does not believe in Particular atonement of Christ for His People alone, does not believe in effectual calling as the scriptures teach( He believes man can resist the inward call).So, if a man believes man is (marred) from the fall but not dead and FBC Woodstock believes as a church because it has it's leaders and Pastors sign saying that they believe man is marred( Marred= Means very sick but not dead)then how do they preach the gospel correctly? How do they deal with sin properly? How do they teach about Christ work properly? How do they teach about why would one need Christ urgently if one is marred rather than dead. Do they not then teach that sin is not that serious as compared to being dead because of it? Do you believe Dr. Hunt can properly expound on the gospel clearly when he rejects four out of the five points? The gospel is good news because why?
I believe he is a saved man and is a nice man but how can he call himself a Gospel preacher when he rejects major doctrinal issues of the Gospel? Is it OK for you and I to teach this Sunday that Christ was raised for the nonelect? When a person rejects four out of the five points of Grace then they don't understand Grace so, how do you call yourself a Gospel preacher then? If you have an incorrect view of the atonement, sin, man, God, and ressurrection then how do you preach the gospel as Paul ? Again, he is a nice man but I disagree lovingly with you. One of his church members said the other day that he is sounding more and more like a Methodist with his doctrine! So, I'm not saying a person who is a three or four pointer should not be pastoring but one who only embraces one I have a major problem calling him a Gospel Preacher . Do you ?

Tom said...


As I read your last comment, I was listening to Johnny Hunt emphasize that unconverted people are dead (he reminded the people that they had just sung that very thing) in the sermon that you cited. Now, he said lots of other things that I wish he hadn't, that I think shows confusion, or imprecision, in his understanding on the issues related to God's sovereignty in salvation. I wish he wouldn't build straw men in his representation of positions that he opposes. Most of the things that he warned against in this message are things that I oppose, as well (no one will be saved apart from the Gospel, therefore we must go preach the Gospel). If Calvinism really looked like the picture that he drew of it, I would run from it as quickly as I could!

Here is what I think. I think a man can preach Christ even with confusion in his understanding of what the Bible teaches about how salvation works. I am not advocating that we give a man a pass on his doctrinal aberrations. I am advocating that in the spirit of genuine love, we hope the best and give the benefit of the doubt where we can. In other words, that we extend the same grace and charity in our evaluations of others that we would like to receive from them.

Scott said...


I agree that even all Calvinists don't agree on all doctrine in all areas. I was not referring just to Election but Dr. Hunt disagrees with Four out of the five pointes of Grace and we both know this effects ones view even on the ressurrection and many other things . It is a domino. If you believe a person should be pastoring and calls himself a Gospel preacher but rejects Total depravity, Unconditional Election, Particular Atonement, Effectual Calling then we again can lovingly disagree( You have not said this )but Again these rejections affect ones view of sin, ressurrection, and many other things. I appreciate your ministry and if I'm wrong then please forgive my incorrect view of the clarity of the gospel and what level of doctrine we ought to draw the line on. Paul hammers Timothy on the importance for a Pastor on sound doctrine. Remember you have showed me many times where I have been wrong on things so if I am once again please forgive me and show me the Truth so I can glorify the Lord.

Scott said...


He does use the word dead but he has his Pastors and SS teachers sign a document entitled Truths that We Hold Dear and under the section of man it states that man is marred from the Fall and also he has told me personally he believes man can come to Christ when he wants to at anytime. He has said over and over comments that clearly show that he does not believe in Total Depravity . I will agree that at times he will say the right thing and then minutes later say the very opposite in the same sermon. He does this often when he talks about the role of God and man in Salvation.However, I will say again he always ( So to speak) demonstrate kindness to people, loves his family( Big Time), and loves to help people( Big Time) but his doctrine I believe destroys the clarity of the attributes of God and the clarity of the Gospel. He has alot of great strengths !

Forest A said...


I'm sure Tom will have a much better formulated response than mine, but just one quick thought that comes to my mind. Looking back at church history, if we assume the firm stance that you are declaring, then we would need to look at persons like the Wesley's and say they too are not gospel preachers. If this be the case, then I guess Edwards would have been in the wrong by not disassociating with them. The same could be said of Spurgeon and Moody. There is a spirit of unity that must be maintained (to an extent) by those who have been called by the Lord and long to see His name be known among the nations. While we long for others to come to a more full knowledge of Grace, we should not disassociate from them nor should we let their lack of knowledge of grace overshadow our view of how God is using them for His kingdom. (I became a convinced calvinist under the ministry of Jerry Falwell)

Calvinists (and founders ministries) are given the stereotype that we are pushing more for the conversion to Calvinism than to Christ and that we are causing all kinds of divsion among the SBC. In reality we know where the where the division begins, as is evidenced by Hunt. Just be careful you do not fall into their stereotype.

Scott said...

Forest and Tom,

I appreciate your words! Good grief I can come up with a list of 100 faults of mine in about 5 minutes so none of us are batting 1,000.You both had great points that would be hard to argue. Thanks for your wisdom!

Perry McCall said...

Wow, 10% are 5-pointers. I wonder if they asked how many believe in unconditional election? Or, how many viewed themselves as 4-pointers? If it stands at 10% with a restricted definition of only 5-points, then the numbers of people who view themselves as Reformed but not a 5-pointer could be significant.

SBC Layman said...


From your posts you seem to correlate the doctrines of grace to the Gospel as one in the same.

I was under the impression that the Gospel was stated in 1 Cor 15:1-8 or Phil 2:5-11.

That the Doctrines of Grace were the "how" the gospel is accomplished and "why" the gospel is needed.

There were many in the last 2000 years (even pastors) that have understood the "why" but not the "how" according to the doctrines of grace.


SBC Layman said...


Thanks for posting the article. I wish it would have been more rigorous.

As has been previously stated, a sample of all the seminaries would have been nice, or a breakdown by each point instead of lump sum.


GUNNY said...

Scott said,
"[Johnny Hunt] has told me personally he believes man can come to Christ when he wants to at anytime."

I think I understand what you understand he means by that, but a Calvinist could and should be able to say that as well. The issue is not whether or not he/she can if the desire is there, the real issue is whether or not he/she will ever have the desire apart from divine grace.

As long as they love the darkness and hate the light, they will never want to follow the Light of the World, hence the need for a change of heart, the need for regeneration prior to faith.

sbc layman, you just may get your wish ...

Calvinism in the SBC slated as first study of Lifeway Research

This Lifeway Research is a new entity that "would assist and equip church leaders with knowledge that leads to greater levels of church health and effectiveness." It will help by "help by putting out studies of the relevant and more important issues, clarifying them in a succinct manner."

I'm hoping this survey is not the totality, but a downpayment on the subject. It has whet my appetite for more, but I do wish the sample size would have been more expansive. Would it not be feasible/beneficial to have that issue as part of the ACP this year?

I must say I'm curious, a bit nervous, about this. In general, I think it's a good idea, but I just hope we have objectivity and Scriptural authority (even sola Scriptura) as the guideline of evaluation and not other competitors.

Good post, Tom, and how about eeking out that 'W' this weekend against Army?! Yikes!

oneidcracker said...

Hello all,
I have been reading on this blog over the past year and have enjoyed the discussions that I have read and look forward to continuing to do so. I am not a real scholarly student but one who likes to read differing views to try and more fully understand the topic.
I have enjoyed reading many of your posts and am appreciative of the kind of loving spirit that you portray in your words. May God bless you & your ministry.

This is your old intern Shea Ferguson, yeah you know the one eyed guy. Haha! I hope that this finds you and your family doing well.
Brother I pray that I am wrong, but over the past year I have been reading your posts here and there amd it seems your main desire is to spread Calvinism rather than spread Christ. I was your intern when you first started believing and accepting the five points of Calvinism. You came in every day trying to show, convert me to Calvinism rather than teaching me about ministry and about a more personal intimate walk with Christ.
I have to ask why do you continue to listen and follow Dr. Hunt if you are in such disagreement with him. Your words portray someone being more focused on Calvinism than Christ. I know how much FBCW did for you and your family and that is why i don't understand why you are always attacking a ministry that God is obviously using. I am living proof of it, because of Dr. Hunt and the ministries of FBCW I have grown and been challenged in the Word continually.
I knew you to be someone to go out and witness to anyone, but lately from your posts on here I see someone more focused on a theology rather than a relationship. Where you are taking calvinism is to a religion not a relationship. I love you brother and pray that I am wrong but I have to step in and point out that God is using Dr. Hunt and the ministries of FBCW.
Until He Comes
Shea Ferguson

Scott said...


Good to hear from you. Hope the new baby is doing well? I'm glad you read the posts here. First, the doctrines of grace do explain the gospel. The five points deal with sin, atonement, mans inability to come to Christ on his own, the work of Christ, Holy Spirit, and the Father with Election ( Which teaches Salvation is of the Lord). A person's view of Election determines his view of the Atonement and the Ressurrection.I believe Christ died only for the All ( Elect) that were given to Him by the Father and so He was only raised for those He died for. How is this not a major emphasis on the explaining of the gospel? Of course there needs to the explaining of Repentance and Faith as well.
I shared the Gospel this weekend with someone in my neighborhood and dealt with these points. I challenged that person to believe who Christ claimed to be and to Repent and follow Him. The doctrines of Grace do explain a major portion of the Gospel. Your father n law ( My best friend) will tell you the samething. We don't walk up to someone who is unconverted and say " Let me tell you the five points" . We start with God and who He is and why are we here. Then move into sin and man and then the work of Christ and and our responsibility to believe who Christ claimed to be and repent and follow. Second, it's a lack of the emphasis on the majors that have led to a problem in the SBC with the rebaptisms, less than half of SBC members attend on any Sunday, Divorce rate, the lack of motivation for the things of the Lord because we just emphasize praying a prayer . Third, how can you say that I or anyone elese loves to convert people to Calvinism more than sharing the gospel when the five points deal with major truths of the Gospel? Should those that emphasize these things be said that they cherish Christ because of his work on the cross? Fourth, I invite people to come to Christ on a weekly basis so how could you accuse me of this when you are not around me? Just like I could not accuse you of not caring to share major empasis of the gospel when you present the gospel since I'm not around you regularly.Noncalvinist such as yourself love to beat this drum because we may blog about the importance of this stuff. Then Dr. Hunt will get up and make comments like " Calvinists don't share the gospel", "these bloggers just want to talk about doctrine"( The NT talks throughly about the importance of sound doctrine)and Paul hammers this to Timothy.
I have been hearing Johnny for sometime mislead FBCW on several things( Role of God in Salvation, The totally ruin of man, Atonement, and Baptist History)and calling traditional Calvinism " Hyper". Just a little reading and studying would show someone that there is a huge difference between the two in some major areas. These are public comments he is making at Church and the Convention floor.
I believe the gospel to be good news! But why do I believe the gospel is good news is what is important? I believe the scripture teaches that the gospel is good news is because a ( People) ( Elect Ones) have had their Salvation secured because of the work of the triune God. How is this not putting a emphasis on the gospel in it's contents? I'm bragging on Christ in His completed and perfect work that He secured for His people. This is what motivates me to share the gospel because I know people will be saved because of Christ work and that he has not failed but the noncalvinist teaches that He has failed because He does not actually secure the Salvation of anybody but only makes it possibly for all to be saved. This is not good news because if man is dead then how will anyone respond to Christ without the atonemeent and His effectual calling? Calvinist put more of emphasis on God than noncalvinist when it comes to explaining the gospel. So how is this wrong?
Thanks for your input! I do miss you and yes I can still whip you in Basketball! Well we actually have never played one on one but the 35yr old 250 pounder can take you down on the post. Keep taking good care of my best friends daughter( Your Wife). Your father n law loves you very much. He keeps me updated on you guys at Liberty. Please know that I do acknowledge Dr. Hunt as a brother in Christ and one that has followed Christ in many areas such as helping people as he has done for you. However, he needs to not misrepresent to the people the scriptural definitions of Election and the Atonement, depravity of man. Also, he needs to define correctly to the people what a Hypercalvinist is and a Calvinist.We all will be held accountable for our teaching/preaching. You will find Calvinist who are passionate about the gospel so don't let anyman tell you that we are not when he does not know but has chosen just to throw out the same sayings" These Calvinist need to talk more about the gospel". This one does! Again, good to hear from you and the offer has been given to you ( When you come back to see your families in Ga I will whip you in a game of one on one) you pick the place! Take care!

Scott said...


I forgot to answer one of your questions. Why do I listen to Dr. Hunt if I disagree with him. Good question! I rarely listen to him but when he preaches on major platforms and a few times that I have heard him he is the one bashing Calvinists.I don't bash him in my messages but I just preach the text of scripture that I 'm supposed to be teaching. Also, I take very serious in defining terms to my congregation correctly. I don't just throw out sayings about things!

Scott said...


Yes, you got it right! Thanks for making that clear where I didn't!

SBC Layman said...



I may be misunderstanding your posts. But you appear to be saying that I cannot understand the Gospel if I don't understand the Doctrines of Grace. And if I don't understand the Doctrines of Grace then my salvation is doubtful.

The Doctrines of Grace have evolved with our comprehension and understanding of the written word. Something the early church would not have had (at least in the form it is now). What they had is the "gospel" as presented by the apostles. And we have many examples (like the ones in my previous post) where the gospel is defined.

I think there is a difference.


Tony Hicks said...

I hope the qualifier "five-point Calvinist" was not an intentional narrowing of the field. That term has become a pejorative in many parts of the SBC and used by people who don't know what it means, only that it is bad. While I might call four-point Calvinism inconsistent (and some who claim it are actually Arminians), a true 4-pointer is a legitimate [Low] Calvinist if he holds to sovereign election. I guess my point is that many people make a huge issue out of limited atonement when the real issue is sovereign election (and the fallenness that makes it necessary). I would have preferred a survey of theological beliefs on salvation rather than a response to a label.

DoGLover said...

Tony's right, a survey of actual doctrinal beliefs, not just the labels people use, would yield more interesting and telling information. To pose a question, especially one that's politically charged, without defining the terms can only lead to confusion.

I'd like to see LifeWay, or anyone else, do a legitimate survey of the doctrines of grace.

Scott said...


The doctrines of Grace help one to see the Gospel with Clarity and there is a connectedness that makes 1 Cor 15:1-8 and other passages even clearer. I am not saying at all that one has to be a whatever pointer to be a Christian but if a Pastor claims to be a Gospel Preacher but rejects four out of the five points then his view of the gospel is very" Cloudy". I was converted under an arminian preacher because it is God who saves! Hope this helps a little.

Amicus said...

One day a few weeks ago my secretary told me that LifeWay had called while I was out. "They want to ask you about Calvinism," she said, and they would call back. They never did.

Too bad. I'm a 54-year-old five-pointer.

But until a year ago (and since before starting seminary at Southwestern in 1977) I was a four-pointer. Actually the change in my thinking (on the purpose of the atonement) was relatively subtle, as compared to my coming to reformed convictions about unconditional election and irresistible grace three decades ago. But had LifeWay talked to me a year ago I would have been included in the 85% who are "not Calvinists".

Speaking of three decades ago, we learned in college "stats for social science" that you could get the results you wanted on a survey just by changing the wording of a question.

The real controversy is over the meaning of total depravity, predestination, and foreknowledge. If we really want to know the extent of historic orthodox soteriology among Southern Baptist pastors - and not just acquire ammunition for next year's report to the convention on Calvinism - let's have LifeWay ask more than one question, and address those topics.

Scott said...


Again, I believe what Spurgeon meant when he said that Calvinism is the gospel. I think( Maybe I'm wrong) that Spurgeon was saying there is a connectedness with the system of Calvinism with the Gospel because you will deal with points that should be discussed in a Gospel presentation( Sin, Man, God, Atonement and etc...). The five points are things that should be discussed in the Gospel. How can it not be so? Because you are dealing with the things I have already said. Election moves me to talk about Atonement and Atonement moves me to talk about the Ressurrection and etc... .

1 Cor 15:1-8 says this the Gospel that Christ died, Buried, and rose for( Notice the pronouns You, Us Our). The gospel is good news because He has assure the Salvation of People. The Gospel is not that He made Salvation possibly because He died, buried, and rose for " ALL". That's not good news because then " All have not been saved". That teaches Christ has failed!This was good news to the saints at Corinth because their Salvation had been secured by Election, Atonement, Effectual Calling, and Resurrection for the You, Us, and Our.

Scott said...


Let me correct something that I just wrote. Spurgeon said that calvinism is the gospel. Actually he said that calvinism is a nickname for the gospel. I believe Spurgeon say how in Matthew 1:21, Eph 5:25, John 10:11, John 10:28 . The Gospel is to be preached to all but Election, Atonement, and Ressurrection was done for Sheep only. Again, good news is that there will be a great number of sinners from the human race that will be saved because it is secured for them by our glorious Savior and they will be kept by His great power for eternity. The modern day gospel presentations in the SBC have been so polluted " Cloudy" because men don't understand the elements of the gospel. We assume that unconverted men really understand who God is and his great provision for sinners( I can say sinners because that is language of the scripture however it is to particular sinners). We rush through small gospel tracts and say just repeat this prayer. Where is the mighty thundering of the gospel that God is a God of love but also wrath? Men are wicked before this Holy God who reigns freely.This where the doctrines of grace remind me and others as well as Spurgeon to say that the five points touch all and lead into a full clear presentation of the gospel.To me there is no way around it( If I'm wrong please show me) so I can repent and ask others to forgive me for false teaching. Thanks for your response!

oneidcracker said...

I would hate to come to GA and embaress you on the basketball court. Besides is there any chance an auburn fan could beat a duke fan? I think not.
I appologize if my statements made it seem as though you do not witness to anyone, my intention was that from your posts on here that you seem to focus on bringing people to Calvinism. And that you are continually bashing the ministry of FBCW, a ministry that God is using.
Is "hyper-calvinism" used in the wrong context at times by men when preaching. Yes, according to the textbook definition of "hyper-calvinism," however in todays age "hyper-calvinism" is often used by many myself included to define those who talk more about calvinism than they do about an intimate and personal walk with Christ. This doesn't mean that these men aren't witnessing but that they desire to talk more about Calvinism than anything else. I have heard numerous times where people ask eachother when they started believing in the doctrines of grace or calvinism rather than when they were saved or what God had recently been teaching them. Questions that are much more important and much more valid than a particular doctrine.
Once again I do accept a challenge to drain the three in your eye any day.

Scott said...


There are many things that FBCW does quite well. Many! I will talk to youn in person when you come to Atlanta has I " Swat" any three point attempts that you try. The question is " Can you handle the almost 6"4 250 pounds in the post. My shots will be a higher percentage. I do agree that a Duke basketball is far greater than Auburn basketball but as Lee Corso on ESPN says" Not so fast my friend"! Auburn is ranked #2 in the country in Football. How about our last three years. You have to give me that one.
My concern for FBCW is with a lack of proper teaching on the work of God in Salvation and what makes up a clear teaching on the gospel. Your own church confession teaches that man is " Marred" from the Fall and not dead. This is huge( Shea). FBCW view of Election shoots " Grace" right to the ground. The church has beenteaching that God looks into time and see who will choose Him and God then elects based on the performance of the sinner. This is not Bible and not historic and current Baptist doctrine. Scripture and written SBC documents prove my point. We can disagree and be friends. I accept that. I have only questioned Johnny's doctrine and not him as Christian man, husband, father, grandfather, gentleness and many other great strengths he has however FBCW has even departed from the churches historical view on Election which was under recently the churches website. It may still be there. Johnny Hunt has strengths that I don't have and has influenced a great many in a Christ honoring way. I really mean that but his doctrine is not healthy in major areas is damaging. He keeps bringing up in the pulpit wrong definitions and is actually leans more Methodist with his doctrine on Salvation than what Baptists believe. However, I love him in the Lord! I really enjoyed getting to know you at FBCW. I have an offer for you in closing: Your father n law and myself will challenge you and Aaron to a game and the winner gets a free Outback meal. Well let's get your father n law to pay for all of us since he has more money than all of us. I think it's great when christians can discuss the things of the Lord.

Scott said...


Yes I am aggressive about bringing " Christians" to Calvinism and I'm aggressive with wanting to share the gospel to the " Uncoverted"! Any chance that I get to teach Christians doctrine in many areas you can bet that I will do it as well as sharing the gospel. As a matter of fact I have an appt tonight to share the gospel with one of our church visitors and he will hear the gospel. Pray that God will save him from his sins! Remember that Dr. Hunt and his friends regularly bash " Pure Sovereign Grace" with their views on Election and I believe purposefully mislead people in their churches by calling us Hypercalvinists rather than Calvinists when it comes to our doctrinal views. Dr. Hunt knows there is a difference because he can read historical definitions that are online or are in Sytematic Theology books. Dr. Ergun Caner does the same thing and Falwell does as well.

Scott said...


Go to FBCW website and see for yourself . Click on information and then click on Where we came from and then click on chapter 1 and last read article 3 and 4. This proves that FBCW was founded on like majority of SBC churches that believed " Calvinistic Baptist Doctrine". Article 3&4 show that the confession FBCW has it's leaders sign goes against the doctrinal history of the church. The early FBCW church believed man is dead and can't recover himself for Salvation but your church holds to the " Marred" position in the document Truths That We Hold Dear. Also Johnny preaches against the historic definition of Election based on FBCW history but most important Scripture. Also he teaches against the New Hampshire Baptist Confession in which the SBC adopted in 1925 and even added ten new sections to it as well.In otherwords he has taught against Four major Baptist Confessions of Faith 1644, 1689, Philadelphia, New Hampshire. This is was concerns me because the people are not being taught correctly about the work of Salvation( Grace) and are not holding to Baptist doctrine and FBCW claims to be Baptist. These are just the facts! I'm not attacking his character but his doctrine and bad doctrine is deadly to the church.

oneidcracker said...

I will be praying for your appt. with the family this evening. I pray that the Spirit of God will move in their hearts.
I don't think the game would be to fair with Aaron and I taking on the two Scott's. But between my father-in-laws knees and mine it might even it up some.
My prayers will be with you this evening.

Scott said...


Enjoyed our blogging conversation. You may be right on about the Bball game. Keep up your studies at Liberty and maybe we will see each other soon!

GeneMBridges said...
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GeneMBridges said...

This is interesting research. I'd like to know the methodology behind it. Was *every* SBC pastor consulted or was this just a "representative sample?" If either, is the number based on the total who responded, or did they actually personally contact every person surveyed until they received a response? Was the definition of "pastor" really "senior pastor" (one man for one church) or did it include all of those serving as pastor/elders in the churches (e.g. churches with more than one pastor on staff, multistaffed churches, etc.)?
What is the margin of error? These are all questions that such a study should address so the accuracy of the numbers can be assessed. If it's just a statistical sample, then what makes this sample "representative?" Are these Calvinists strewn throughout the SBC, or are there particular geographical concentrations of them (for example, I gather there are quite a few in MO compared with say, NC)?

So, going with these numbers, we do find some interesting material. For example, if 51 percent discuss Calvinism once or less a year, and if ten percent of those are the Calvinists themselves, then why are 41 percent of the pastors addressing Calvinism? If 45 percent are addressing it several times a year, if we assume that all ten percent of those are in that 45 percent, then why are 35 percent addressing it so frequently.

I would hazard a guess here that those addressing Calvinism are putting it in a negative light, barring the ten percent of SBC pastors who identify in this manner. Ergo, these statistics (a) disprove the contention the anti-Calvinists are making that Calvinism is a major problem in the SBC at present, a threat even. (b) They prove that the attacks on Calvinism are, in fact, disproportionate with respect to the number of Calvinist pastors in the SBC. The problem is simply not as big, so the number of attack sermons is disproportionately large compared to the number of actual SBC pastors, professors, and churches who are part of the alleged problem. The anti-Calvinists in the SBC should take no consolation in these numbers, because, while they show Calvinists in the minority, they reveal some unflattering facts about the anti-Calvinist rhetoric in the SBC.

I wonder if the problem these men fear isn't the pastors and churches in the SBC but the loss of the members of SBC churches to independent Reformed/Sov. Grace Baptist churches on the one hand and, on the other, the rapid growth of the PCA, which is, I gather, drawing a disproportionately large number of its new members from the SBC. Granted you don't *have* to be a Calvinist to join the PCA as a member, (you do to be a deacon or elder), but I do know that some SBC members go to those churches for lack of a stable Reformed/Sov. Grace fellowship easily accessible to them, so the ones that do leave seem to be leaving because of their doctrinal beliefs.

Now, I'd like to know, however, in light of Amicus' and Perry McCall's comments about "4 Pointers" how many of those responding were Amyraldians and could not, therefore affirm being a Five Point Calvinist. If the bar for "Calvinist" was "5 Point" then the number would be, I would expect, quite low. However, I'd hazard another guess that if you added the Amyraldians, that number would increase a good bit.

Christopher Redman said...


Some of the answers to your questions can be found at in the "news" section of the site.

However, I like Gene, would like to know if this meager news report is the whole finding of Lifeway Research's first publicized study. Is this the extent of the report?

There are just too many questions left untouched to really sense that the report is thorough.


Caddiechaplain said...

I would tend to agree with you about the possibility that those young men who are in seminary, destined to be our future pastors, are indeed 5 point Calvinists. My son would be one of those. He choose SBTS for that very reason. Among his choices for a reformed Seminary were RTS (anywhere) Master's, etc. He never even once considered my Alma Mater (SWBTS) to which I am glad he didn't.
I firmly believe that there is a strong growing contingent of young men and women who are incorporating the Doctrines of Grace in their Spiritual Formation, and I would pray to the Father that I would be alive to see it in my day. Gloria Deo!

Amicus said...

My son just transferred in to Boyce College, which as most people know, is now a four-year undergraduate Bible College and an integral part of the SBTS community. It is already a transforming experience for him. He is enthusiastic about his professors' spirituality, the place's heart for evangelism (they have these kids out doing servant evangelism and street witnessing) and about President Mohler's accessibility even to the undergrads, as well as the serious Biblical/theological study he is getting to do. His thinking is being challenged to be ever more God-centered.

Sorry to have to say that I agree with you about being glad my son is not going to my alma mater in Fort Worth. But I find myself more optimistic this fall about the future of our denomination.

C. T. Lillies said...
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Bill Formella said...

I always seem to miss the good ones while traveling and get in when the discussion is over.

I have to say I somewhat share Scott's concern, but for a different reason. I do believe that many godly preachers throughout history have not accepted the doctrines of grace. However, what is it that causes so many preachers to be so vicious in their attacks on Calvinism? What is it that causes them to raise up straw men, so blatantly mischaracterize a movement and deliberately ignore certain scriptures in their attacks? Is it not fleshly pride and, dare I say, the spirit of the devil?

In the four + years since I have come to embrace the doctrines of grace, what I've seen has truly been a discouragement to me. I have witnessed men who were otherwise very gentle become filled with anger and resentment at the mear mention of the doctrines of grace.

Once I was in a bookstore when the young man behind the register recommended a book by a reformed author to two very friendly and chatty customers. Instantly their countenance changed as they very disgustedly said they didn't like his theology. In a very gentle manner the young man said, "I'm sorry. I basically agree with his theology." The men, with anger all over their faces, picked up their bag and quickly walked out.

I've experience these types of exchanges too often. Even in my old church, though I never tried to proselytize anyone, after learning of my thoeological interests I was told I would never be allowed to teach in any fashion, and it was highly recommended that I move on. Truthfully, I completely understand their unwillingness to let me teach. If they have the conviction that my theology was dangerous they shouldnt let me teach. However, it's how I was treated after their decision, or how I was ignored, that really bothered me.

Later I wrote my Pastor a four page letter. In that letter I asked this question. If I was a Moslem you would have tried to convert me. If I was a paedo baptist you would have tried to explain pure doctrine to me clearly. But, upon hearing that I was a Calvinist, there was no effort to correct me or show compassion and try to help me see more clearly. I was simply told it would be best if I left. Why is it that there was no concern for my spiritual well being if what I believe is so dangerous? Is a Calvinist more out of reach of the love of God than an atheist, hindu or moslem? No, there was no concern for me. Indeed, there was not even one conversation with me to clarify my position or help me see the truth more clearly. And this, Scott, from yet another Pastor in metro Atlanta who was asked to consider the presidency of the SBC this year.

After my four page letter was sent, I was sent a one paragraph letter saying, essentially, you go with my blessing. The questions were ignored.

Again I ask, is it the Spirit of Christ that leads men to treat other believers this way? If not, what spirit is it?

pastorleap said...

Excellent post. I am indeed encouraged by the research. Just an "FYI" about Dr. Waggoner. He was one of my favorite guys at SBTS and a good friend and mentor to me while I was there. I'm pretty sure he knew of my Calvinistic persuasion, and it never changed the fairness and kindness with which he treated me. He was a very loved prof at SBTS, and was known to be very fair-minded, even-handed, and intelligent as well. Therefore, I personally would not question the validity of his research (that is, if he was the one doing this, which I don't know). Furthermore, Dr. Waggoner served as associate pastor to a prof at SBTS (now my PhD advisor) who is not only the Evangelism prof and evangelistically passionate, but very committed to sound theology, and certainly NOT a "calvinistic basher." These men would have to speak for themselves as to their own doctrinal commitments, I would never pretend to speak for them, but I do know them to be of excellent spirits, and NOT the "anti-calvinistic" type who would approach this type of research with an agenda.

Excellent post. Again, this data is encouraging, and I trust that Dr. Waggoner will continue to produce excellent research and material for Lifeway.

Tom B. said...

Sometime ago I visited the SBC church I attended 10 years ago. The pastor was going through Genesis. The pastor said that errors were in Genesis due to fact that the text was pulled together from sources J,D,E, and P.

I understand this to be the Graf-Wellhausen theory, and I also know that it isn’t good science or theology.

What made me angry is that the pastor who formerly preached and retired from this same church also attends it. The current pastor was up there in the pulpit teaching this theory like it was gospel while the former pastor just sat there approvingly. And the sheep took it all in without question.

What hath that to do with the topic? Some SBC preachers need the boot for the sake of sound doctrine.

I first encountered Reformed theology in Basic Training. God had something there for me besides physical conditioning and Army training.

I had never heard the term “Reformed” before, but I walked 3 blocks down the street to a Church that was billed “to worship in the Reformed Tradition.”

I am so thankful that a Sovereign God knitted my life’s circumstances together to lead me to this church. The first thing the Chaplain did was to ask me about my walk with Christ. I explained that I had walked down invitation aisle in a Southern Baptist Church.

He said “Oh, you are a Calvinist, then.”

I said, “What’s that mean?”

I am sure he sighed, and then he did what no other preacher dared do before:

1. He expounded on the great truths of TULIP, the 5 Solas, and taught on the rich history of why the church even had a Reformation.

2. He challenged my Arminian understanding of scripture boldly- not in pride- but for the Glory of God.

Up until this time, all I ever got was liberal, Arminian, and charismatic theology. I never had sat under a shepherd who really fed me meat. Saved in 1985. Finally fed in 2001. Hyperbole you say. I say it is a fact.

At the risk of sounding self-righteous, I will dare say as a layman that the church is full of incompetent and self-absorbed “pastors” who need to lead, follow, or just get out of the way. I like the way John Macarthur says it: “love apart from truth is nothing more than hypocritical sentimentality.”

There are SBC people who want strong doctrinal preaching- contrary to what some think.

This Army Chaplain wasn’t Southern Baptist, but he was a man who had a rock-solid soteriology.

Isn’t it ironic that I had to get outside the SBC to hear about our Calvinistic roots?

Chew on that one. I guess many of the “physicians” out there need to “heal themselves” by reading Romans 9:16.

Hopefully God will give them eyes and ears to see and hear.

CL Davis said...

The current issue of the Baptist & Reflector, a weekly newspaper of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, is running a couple of articles on Calvinism ( One was simply a news article about the Lifeway survey your blog was on, but one article, by the editor Mr. Wilkey, was very negative. I guess since we constitute only 10% of the SBC population, he felt free to alienate the Calvinist portion of Tennessee SBC’ers. His article is titled “Calvinists have no sense of urgency – Jesus did”. His article is full of the typical misrepresentation you would expect, but he goes way beyond that. He even denies the omniscience of God by saying (speaking of evangelism)“Why bother if God already knows who is going to heaven or not?” Wow ! 5 point Calvinists may only consist of about 10% of the SBC pastors, but I sure hope his brand of Open-Theism/Armenianism is represented by far fewer than 1%. He looks like a nice guy (from his picture), and he brags twice that he is only a layman (as I am), but if he’s going to be publishing this stuff in the name of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, he needs to have someone who is familiar with theology and doctrine proof read his work.

Please excuse me (a first time commenter) for venting a little. I was going to email the editor, and then I found out that Mr. Wilkey is the editor, and then I found that my email would not send – but hopefully this works, and maybe someone can email him for me.

stilldesiringGod said...

It takes a long time to read 42 Comments, but at the end of them all I do have some questions for anyone to answer. Johnny Hunt was praised throughout these blogs as the type of man that he supposedly is, Pastor or not. Yet he was consistently portrayed by these same people, even the ones defending him on both sides of the issue(s) as a man who lacks integrity in the areas of honesty, accurately representing history, theological positions, doctrinal beliefs, and someone who has turned his sights on a group of brothers in Christ for anything but love. Tom, you yourself repeatedly in trying your hardest not to take a strong position on Pastor Hunt continually were forced to partially explain yourself only to incriminate him more. Some of the best quotes against him I could draw from your blogs if I were to take the space. My Founders brothers, Billy Graham himself said he was no Mother Theresa. Hopefully that will not take too much explaining. Some works of righteousness are merely of man and will not count for anything. There will always be the Smiths and Russells that will be picked off by nearly everyone in Christendom. The Wigglesworths and the Finneys that can be picked off by most. Then you start stepping on more toes and hurting more human feelings and not including into the fold, as though it were even up to us, those whose doctrine do not align with that which we would claim as orthodox Christianity. And before I name anyone it is like David Miller says about those who claim falsely any lay to the omniscience of God, either you are, or you aren’t. (omniscient that is) So either you are orthodox or you are not. The debate comes down to what is orthodox. For so long we, meaning Baptist, have longed to include those of mainline denominations for the sake of unity, perhaps not ecumenicalism, but true unity, a noble endeavor indeed. But at what cost? The Gospel? That is what this entire post has truly been about if you read all 42 comments. What is the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? One blogger has repeatedly said it is separate from the doctrines of grace. Another in defense has done a nice job in response stating the Gospel most certainly contains the grace doctrines plus faith and repentance and a proper understanding of the accomplishment of the resurrected Christ. Certainly a blog is not the most efficient platform, but welcome to our modern faceless world. When will the Father’s arms not extend to another? Sometimes we erroneously begin by looking at someone’s theology and casting judgment. Hopefully we are doctrinally sound enough to have gotten to the point where that last sentence will not spawn a new blog, i.e. judgment begins in the house of the Lord, by our fruit will they know us, (made it personal) judge with a righteous judgment, and keep reading the context of Matt.7 till you read verses 4 & 5. etc. Back to the previous statement, when we look at the back door of someone’s beliefs too strongly we certainly may fault and begin to play God deciding who is in the Kingdom or not. Who are we, oh men? Where were we when the stars were hung? At the same time the purity of God’s Church, His Bride here on earth is still precious to Him and Her integrity was supposed to be maintained by some sense of balance by church discipline. Yes, I know, that slowly faded away with our modern methods being more relevant. So we must find a balance between Matt.5:22 and universalism. So one way I personally feel Scripture commands us as the Body to recognize those who are truly His sheep are to see how other sheep listen to the Master’s voice and respond. Is it a response of confusion? Of anger? Of attack? Of Misinterpretation? Of Misrepresentation? Does the person have the ability to comprehend God’s Word? Is not that a sign of a true believer? Of course it is. The Holy Spirit indwelt believer will come to understanding as long as s/he tarries long enough in the Word and is not combative towards God. And many of you reading this know that even when we come on those terms God will still change our hearts to see things His way. But what of those people who profess the faith, but reject the sound doctrine that accompanies said faith? Can we out of human compassion include in the fold another acceptable doctrine of grace so that our Wesleyan brothers can be included into the fold? Can we out compassion God? Perhaps extend an understanding ear to out Lutheran kin because, man, that Luther fellow sure did a good job with that hammer and nail at Wittenburg? And perhaps just maybe there will be those in our very own convention who have come to a faith that looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, walks like a duck, and most certainly smells like a duck, but when you shoot it the thing pops and feathers fall out of the sky…maybe. Maybe those whose relationship look more like a mantra. Those whose purpose seem to have been the fight, and oooh, look, here comes another one with the Calvinists. Those whose denominationalism ran up the flag pole and they have been saluting themselves for 20-25 years. Whose pride was running off and reclaiming, rather than restoring and restitution. Now that there is a formidable foe, (in their eyes) they seek to attack with lies and deception, character assassination and slander, and they want us out. Christ like nature? Born from above? Brothers and sisters in Christ? Saints of God? No, I do not think so. But even if I did not think so, and more importantly than any perception I may hold is that of Holy Writ that stands condemning their actions and the lack of love that they have in their hearts for their fellow man. Not that there is no place for politics of some sort, I guess, but not the likes of Paige, Judge Pressler, Pastor Hunt, and the late Adrian Rogers among others. And I do not mind addressing Mr. Hunt as Pastor. There are countless thousands of men who have no business behind the pulpit. It has become just another religious job and title in many cases. Just look at our own Charles Stanley. You can even buy your ordination on the internet.

centuri0n said...

I guess that means there are more SBC pastors with a reformed bent than there are Mac users, which is its own kind of shame. However, I'd be careful characterizing LifeWay and an organization that is primarily concerned with "doctrine".

I am certain they have an eye out for the kinds of things they sell -- I'm not going to intimate here that they have no standards at all in their brick-and-mortar stores. I am sure they know exactly what they are doing in regard to supplying perceived needs.

But that's actually their "thing": supplying perceived needs. Suddenly, "Calvinism" is getting some play -- let's sell some Calvinism books! (btw: I can sell them some great t-shirt designs that are market-tested to do well with Calvinists)

I guess in that, the Gospel is being preached and who can really complain about that. It's nice of LifeWay to sell what sells when what sells is also good for people.

stilldesiringGod said...

If you read my previous blog (go two up) you will have good understanding as to why I turn to my older brother in the faith, Charles Spurgeon, to which my family and I have just read the Evening devotion for Oct. 5th for Morning & Evening. I trust we will all find it most helpful in light of our recent bloggings. It begins, "Mr. MacDonald asked the inhabitants of the island of St. Kilda, Scotland, how a person must be saved. An old man replied, We will be saved if we repent, forsake our sins, and turn to God. Yes, said a middle-aged woman, and with a true heart, too. Aye, rejoined a third, and with prayer. A fourth added, It must be the prayer of the heart. And we must be diligent, too, said a fifth, in keeping the commandments. Each having contributed his thoughts, and feeling that a very decent creed had been put together, they all looked to the preacher for approval- but they aroused his deepest pity. The carnal mind always maps out for itself a way in which self can work and become great. For those of you who have not read the blogs prior I apologize for leaving out what has already been stated. If you like go back and read every entry so you may comment openly and accurately. With Spurgeon's story he shows man's desire to do those things which are righteous as having an effect on our spiritual outcome rather than only recognize that it is we that do go through those processes in salvation, just not for the purpose of accomplishing said salvation of our own merit. God is already accomplishing our salvation in us; we merely join in to the work that is being done. Yes, we possess faith, and yes, we repent of sin, but those are manifestations of a reality set in motion by the Holy Spirit of God after He has quickened our spirit and made all things new. Only then are we capable of possessing the Easter gifts our Lord died to give us, faith and repentance, and we exercise them. We exercise them not because their source is us or the strength to do so is from us but from the Holy Father who drew us when we could not, nor wanted to. Our Easter gifts to receive, not invent from within. Just as salvation is a free gift we can not force it out of the Savior's hands as though we were on the playground crying for our playmate's ball. He gives the offer to all (mankind standing condemned) and effectually manifests the work of the Spirit in those whom He has called (regeneration of those He has justified) unto Christ as His child. (adoption) What part do we then play? The first part is that we live the sinful desperately wicked part that needs to be saved. The second is a submission to the inward working of the One who saves. God takes care of the things that are only possible of Him, which is everything holy and good in salvation and we are on for the glorious and always bumpy ride. Thanks be to God that He has joined us with Him on that ride. And Centurion you are right, Calvinism is good for us and Lifeway is supplying the sheep's demand to be fed the pure meat of God's Word. Let us stop nursing and chew on something a little meatier.