Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SBC Exec Com Chairman on the "problem of Calvinism" in the SBC

Bill Harrell is pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, Georgia. He is also the new chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee. This is Harrell's second tour of duty on the Exec Com, having been one of the first "movement conservatives" appointed to that powerful body in the early days of the conservative resurgence.

In a recent interview with the Georgia Christian Index, Harrell expressed his views on two problems in the SBC that need to be addressed and solved. Timmy Brister and Marty Duren have already commented on this. I am sure others will (or maybe have) as well. Here are some excerpts from the article.
The SBC Executive Committee chairman expressed, "We have two important issues to solve in our Convention. First, concerning the matter of worship style, we must decide what identifies us as Southern Baptists. This will be difficult, because we are autonomous, but I believe our Convention leaders need to make a more definitive statement about how we identify ourselves in worship and who we are as Southern Baptists."

"We are never going to be homogeneous, never have been, but there are some lines we should never cross as Southern Baptists," Harrell added. "There must be something distinctive about us or we will lose our identity."
While I appreciate Harrell's concern for maintaining a true Baptist identity, one must first know what such an identity actually is. In other words, what actually constitutes a Baptist? Or a Baptist church? Instead of getting bogged down in debating worship "styles" (which is is about as productive as herding cats) I suggest that Harrell and all others who share his concern about Baptist identity read Tom Nettles' trilogy called, The Baptists. Volumes 1 and 2 are already published and volume 3 is due out early next year. This set is simply brilliant. Nettles has thought more deeply about this question and addressed it more rigorously than anyone in the Southern Baptist Convention, and maybe any Baptist in the world. The question of Baptist identity is crucial, but it will not be addressed by trying to set some uniform "style" of worship.

Here is the second problem that Harrell sees:
"Second," Harrell continued, "we must deal with Calvinism. I have solid Christian friends, some of them pastors who are Calvinists, but I think they are wrong about the tenets of five point Calvinism. In my opinion too much of the New Testament must be ignored or radically interpreted to embrace the five points of Calvinism."
Of course Harrell is entitled to his opinion. But that does not change history. The necessary implications of his assertion is that the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention were wrong about their understanding of salvation and ignored or radically interpreted much of the New Testament. Isn't it ironic that he so castigates the very founders of the denomination whose executive committee he now chairs? It sort of makes one wonder if the full significance of the complaint was appreciated when it was repeatedly and loudly chanted in the 1970's and 1980's that "the SBC has been stolen."

The article continues:
Harrell further explained, "I think the problem of Calvinism in the SBC could be solved if we establish one ground rule. If a man wants to start a Calvinistic church, let him have at it. If a man wants to answer a call to a Calvinistic church he should have the freedom to do that, but that man should not answer a call to a church that is not Calvinistic, neglect to tell them his leanings, and then surreptitiously lead them to become a Calvinistic church. That is not to suggest that all of our Calvinistic friends do that, but when it is done it is divisive and hurtful.

"The same thing should be true of a contemporary church," Harrell added. "Don't try to transform a traditional church into a contemporary mindset just because it is the popular thing to do."
Interesting ground rule. I wonder what Harrel would say about a church that was established by Calvinists as a confessionally reformed church but was led away from that confession by pastors who came in and preached contrary to it? In other words, does his "one ground rule" go both ways? Should a man who is not Calvinistic go to a church that was established on Calvinistic theology? Should a man who thinks that Calvinism is wrong serve as pastor of a church that was founded by Calvinists with a clearly Calvinistic commitment?

Here is the kicker: As the article indicates, Abilene Baptist Church was founded in 1774 as the Reed Creek Baptist Church, the 3rd Baptist church in Georgia. It's founding pastor was Abraham Marshall, the son of the famous Daniel Marshall, the famous founder of the Sandy Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina (who, contrary to popular revisionist historiography was indeed Calvinistic). Daniel also founded the oldest continuing church in Georgia at Kiokee in 1772. Although I do not have the founding documents of the Reed Creek Baptist Church at my fingertips, I do have this piece of information about the Kiokee church, which was later pastored by Abraham from 1784-1819.

The first article of the Kiokee church's covenant says this:
"According to God's appointment in His Word, we do hereby in His name and strength covenant and promise to keep up and defend all the articles of faith, according to God's Word, such as the great doctrine of election, effectual calling, particular redemption, justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, sanctification by the spirit of God, believers' baptism by immersion, the saints' absolute final perseverance in grace, the resurrection of the dead, future rewards and punishments, etc., all according to Scripture which we take as the rule of our faith and practice, with some other doctrines herein not mentioned, as are commanded and supported by that blessed Book: denying the Arian, Socinian, and Arminian errors, and every other principle contrary to the Word of God. Now yet since we are exhorted to prove all things, orderly ministers of any denomination may when invited, preach in our meeting house" (emphasis added).
Don't miss the irony here: the man who founded Reed Creek Baptist Church in 1774 (Pastor Harrell's church) is the same man who upheld this covenant and its doctrines. How does Harrell's ground rule apply here?

P.S. Providentially, Particular Baptist Press has just announced their newest publication, entitled, Daniel and Abraham Marshall: Pioneer Baptist Evangelists to the South, by Dr. Thomas Ray. The book may be purchased by contacting Gary Long at Particular Baptist Press, 2766 W. FR 178 Springfield, MO 65810, (417) 883-0342.

HT: Kurt


pregador27 said...

Interesting post. Also, if Bill Harrell's "ground rule" is applied fairly, and a Calvinist pastor would be disqualified from pastoring a non-Calvinist church and vice-versa, the principle should go throughout the SBC and all the non-Calvinists should resign and join the CBF, since the SBC was at its foundations CALVINIST or REFORMED in belief.

Forest A said...

Man, this is really an upsetting post. I truly wish things were different in our convention and this rivalry between the two sides of this matter would cease. Nevertheless, we must stand our ground and not give way to untruth and thus compromise the integrity of God's Word and abandon the true historical stance of our convention. At times I personally see the appeal in abandoning the SBC to other conventions as I have seen others do, but the more I study our roots and see the beauty of the doctrinal truth held by our spiritual forefathers I can not help but be bound even more deeply to the very thing that pains my heart due to these factions.

I feel the SBC today can be closely likened to the state of our nation. One can not help but be moved by the deep spiritual convictions of our national forefathers and in turn be outraged by the current state of national affairs. Does this mean we are to abandon our country and move to a different nation that is more in line with our spiritual views? God Forbid! We must pray, submit to God's Word, stand firm, and speak with a loud voice in desperate hope that reform may come.

This must also be applied to our convention. The SBC historically held to a view of God and His Glory much higher than that of our current state. Please, brothers, continue to pray, study God's Word, study baptist history, stand firm, and speak loud. God forbid you abandon these roots in such a time as this. Love the Lord. Seek to make Him known in all His glory. Never settle for compromise!

Brian Hamrick said...

Great investigative analysis, Tom.

I hope you might email/mail Harrell this blog- he needs to understand the view you present.

Another question I would ask him is, "What should a pastoral candidate do about churches that have both Calvinist and non-Calvinists in them? Should he abstain from applying unless he is both at the same time?"

DoGLover said...

So, would Bill et al be willing to encourage congregations that began in the reformed tradition (& were stolen by progressive/liberal pastors) to return to their origins? Would they agree to the same terms regarding convention leadership?
To expand the "ground rule," should a pastor who desires to evangelize the lost of his community leave because his church is apathetic? Should he abandon a dead church rather than seek revival? Should he leave a divided church instead of pursuing unity? Should he leave a church because he drives a Ford, while everyone else drives a Chevy? What if he supports a different political candidate or football team?
Bill has already answered his own question - Baptists have never been homogeneous. Therefore, to try to impose this "dress code" of sorts is just silly. We are fiercely independent after all, aren't we?

David said...

That is a good question Brian. When I first read Harrell's statement regarding Calvinist pastors not accepting calls to non-Calvinist churches, my thoughts were the same as Tom's thoughts. How about all of the Arminian/Church Growth pastors that accept calls to reformist leaning churches?

I have to admit, the previous pastor at the church in which I now serve appeared to have been Calvinist (I really don't enjoy using labels at all). The statement of belief here contains thoughts on the 5 points. This was encouraging to me as I was seeking God's leading as to whether or not I would accept the church's call, if indeed it came at all.

Now almost two years after accepting this call and knowing that God led me to these people, I have found a diversity of people who share at least one thing in common. They thirst to know the true word of God. That does not mean that some do not have difficulty with the 5 points that come through my teaching and preaching.

I have to admit, I still struggle at times myself. But I have determined through prayer and study that this is true to the gospel preached by Christ and the Apostles and I will continue to pray, study, and strive to both understand and help others to understand the true nature of God and the beautiful mystery of divine redemption that is revealed in His word.

My call came from God. The invitation to serve at this church came from its people and the confirmation to accept came from God. I didn't take the call to change people over to my way of believing but rather to teach them about the God I have come to know through His Word.

Yes I understand that we should consider "compatibility" in seeking God's will in our call but I often believe that this becomes a focus of the pastor's decision making process rather than seeking God's will. Our focus must be upon God, His will (for us and His people), and delivering the gospel of Christ to very thirsty people.

From Harrell's statements, I fear the focus of our new EC Chairman is not upon God, but on the visible outward acts of religion (dare I say Pharisitical) and percieved threats to worldly agendas. This is most discouraging.

Brent said...

It is obvious Bill Harrell does not understand the SBC. The leaders of the convention naming or promoting a particular style of worship? We simply cannot take this man seriously on any issue dealing with the Convention. He simply doesn't understand the issues he's commenting on.

We are currently witnessing the cost of having horrible seminaries for 40-50 years in our denomination. Our leaders don't even understand what we are.

allofgrace said...

I guess the part about Calvinism doesn't surprise me much..it's the general tone of the SBC leadership these days...I would like to touch on the subject of "worship style" though, since it's something that's currently affecting my church family. I would agree with Dr. Ascol that debating that issue is kinda futile..but it's an issue I'm struggling with and have been for a while now. I agree with something John McArthur said on the subject...that something being contemporary doesn't make it bad in and of itself..it's more a matter of substance than style. Along those lines though, I have to say that many of the praise choruses that have been introduced..imho..just don't have much substance. Also, the arrangements aren't very skillful or imaginative...and very repetitive as are the lyrics..which for me is almost mind numbing. I know most of the men who comment on this blog are much more astute on these matters than myself, so if anyone has something helpful they could add concerning this...it would be much appreciated.

Pilgrim said...

Excellent post! I can't help but marvel at the religious elitism (or is it selective amnesia) that causes our "leaders" to ignore our past in a "quest" to recover our identity? In our zeal for souls we have replaced preaching the Word and relying on the Holy Spirit for conversions with gimmicks and other forms of entertainment to get decisions and rededications.
Alas! We know Boyce, Broadus, and all the other founders of our denomination in name only and as a result our humble leaders are still sneering at Mont Blanc.

Brian Hamrick said...

I just want to repeat my thought:

Are we talking about these views, or, are we talking to them about their view? Harrell needs to have a sit down with a maturer believer.

I agree, this idea that we need to settle upon a worship style is incredibly absurd, and clearly focused on people-pleasing rather than being informed by Scripture.

Still, I take little satisfaction in disagreeing with Harrell in these blog comments. I want to see his heart and mind change! I pray God would do that! Tom, how far do you go to speak personally to these people about their views? How far do we, the commenters, go to speak personally to these people about their views? I confess my own confrontations with these persons are few and far between?

Are we just being armchair quarterbacks, or are we loving them by speaking truth to them?

Brian Hamrick said...

My confession should not have a question mark, but an exclamation point.

sparrowhawk said...

Very interesting that nearly all the rhetoric is coming from pastors and not from the seminaries. It may be a proxy move. Seminarians see the growing influence of Drs. Mohler and Akin, notably, across the evangelical (and secular, in the case of Mohler) spectrum and may fear contending against them on the matter of their Calvinistic beliefs.

Instead, all you do is unleash the vocal pastors we've heard from recently. Have them try to affect an anti-Calvinist position in their congregations. Some of the young people may then go to seminary with such a bias. You then have successfully inoculated them against any truth from SBC history and other Calvinistic truths. Thus, you have a successful proxy tactic on the part of the leaders of the seminaries (presidents and professors) who are not named Akin or Mohler.

Conjecture only.

Christopher Redman said...


Write this post up on Founders letter head and have ship it overnight, Fed Ex with return reciept requested to Bill Harrell.

Ask for his comments and response. Perhaps the Baptists and Calvinism debate can be revived at Harrell's church in Georgia!


Bartimaeus said...

What I am finding so intersting about the two debates on Worship and Calvinism is how the two are related to each other. Bad theology(man centered synergism)produces man centered worship. It will produce "worship" that is designed to entertain the flesh rather than glorify God. It is also designed to convince the sinner by modern marketing techniques rathre than relying on the power of God to convert the sinner.

Christopher Redman said...

Should read - "have it shipped overnight..."


Sojourner said...

Who do you have to know to get on the Executive Board?

Ben said...

Stellar post, Tom.

Following your line of thought, I wonder if Harrell would have pastors who believe in biblical church discipline not encourage such a practice in those churches that have abandoned it. Would he have inerrantist pastors not accept pastorates of churches that have abandoned inerrancy if those pastors would want to re-establish the inspiration and authority of Scripture? What about churches that are de facto whites only? Should pastors not evangelize minorities?

I never cease to be amazed at the selective logic these brethren employ.

ClemsonCalvinist said...

His position ticks me off. I suppose he thinks he occupies a middle ground. His words are almost as offensive as Adrian Rogers' saying that Reformed Theology was the biggest roadblock to evangelism in the modern age.

scripturesearcher said...

Revision - the rewriting of history - is the unending task of those who oppose both the United States of America and our Baptist foundations - and in the process they are making efforts to rewrite the New Testament.

Through the years I have often challenged the revisionists (aka)
modernists to read our historical documents.

Some have but most have not - this is another instance of a SBC modernist who refuses to be convinced with the historical facts.

Some of us call it APOSTASY.

David said...

Well, I have to admit that I have addressed my concerns and questons via e-mail to Reverend Harrell. I was certainly not as eloquent as Tom or many of you would have been but it was done out of love and a desire for understanding.

Time will tell if they are worthy of a response.

Larry said...

Let's see...the SBC is in bed with the Republican party, so much so that it had a pro-abortion member of the president's cabinet as key note speaker at the last SBC convention but the 'problem' with the SBC is Calvinsim.

The SBC spent much time and energy at its last convention formulating a rule that made an extra-Biblical standard a criteria for service on SBC committees but the 'problem' is really Calvinism.

The president of a high profile seminary founded by an even higher profile SBC pastor cannot properly exegete Romans 9:11-13 but our REAL problem is Calvinism.

All this time I've been in the dark as to what the real problem is. I'm thankful to Bill Harrell for setting me straight.

Jim Crigler said...

Re: Worship To be a little charitable for a moment, I believe Rev Harrell is seeing people leave churches as they incorporated "contemporary styling" into their worship. He seems to be interested in not harming the churches.

Jim Mccaffrey said...

It is a sad state that the Chairman of the EC can make statements like he did on "Calvinism" within the SBC. It goes to show that there is still reform needed throughout the SBC.

I do encourage us to respond lovingly and respectful to those we do disagree with. I sat through my seminary class at Southeastern Monday night watching one classmate make every concievable face and hand gesture, publicly showing his obvious dissatisfaction with what was being said. As I watched this 20 something respond to the teacher who is more than twice his age and has been studying Scripture for longer then this kid has been alive, really made me think how people respond to those we do disagree with (I am sure most of us are guilty of this at some point, I know I am).

I hope that we can respond lovingly and respectful to those in authority and who might be older then we are. Let us lovingly open up the paths of respectful debate between those who have a valid topic or question.

Thankfully I have not seen disrespectful comments on this site but have on other "SBC" blog sites about various disagreements. As various debates come to light among the convention in the near future, peoples blood pressure will rise and we must not be hasty to respond out of anger. The name calling and coments I have seen is not productive and does nothing in clarifying and correcting the issues at hand.

Thanks for bringing this ifo. to light here. It is good to see the views held amongst SBC'ers.

Travis Hilton said...

The more we read our own history, the more the truth can be told. This is unfortunate, but I agree with Brian, one on one engadgement should be initiated on this matter.

GeneMBridges said...

First, let me note that the irony of him making these statements while pastoring a church that Daniel Marshall founded is by no means lost. It continues to amaze me how the people that claim to be "Sandy Creekers" have very little in common with Separate Baptist theology. I am reminded of certain other Baptists of the past, some of whom remain with us in the present, who named Paulicans and Bogomils as Baptist forebears, though their theology resembled nothing close to that of the Baptists, not to mention Christians. I see the same lack of discernment in both statements.

That said, lest this thread be perceived as an "attack" on Brother Bill and Ex. Comm., please allow me to state for the record that the Ex. Comm. is largely responsible for keeping the peace in the Convention and for dialing back the obvious nepotisim in the trustee appointment process in recent years. They often hear the complaints from the churches that the trustee boards do not hear, so, please, I would encourage you all to remember that and to thank the Ex. Comm. for doing that.

PhotoJoeAZ said...

For allofgrace and others who have mentioned style and substance:

There are at least two publishing houses for contemporary worship music that come out of ministries that adhere to the Doctrines of Grace: Sovereign Grace Ministries and the loose UK affiliation that gets together at Stonleigh conferences.

The latter group contains Stuart Townend who wrote "In Christ Alone" and "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." If you didn't know those two modern hymns were written in the modern era, you might just hear them and think they are quite old with contemporary skins.

SGM is headed up by C.J. Mahaney, who some of you may know as one of those who is part of the Together for the Gospel folks along with Mark Dever, Al Mohler, and Ligon Duncan. "Rowdy" Johnny Piper, RC "Cola" Sproul, and Johnny Mac have also participated. One of those conferences where you would hate for a tornado or something to wipe out everybody, since so many of the modern giants of the Faith are in attendance. But I digress.

Be advised that both of these publishers also have Charismatic leanings, so most of you probably wouldn't find all of their music suitable, but very little of the Sovereign Grace stuff that I've seen is about sign gifts or any such thing-- most of it revolves around the Gospel once for all delivered to the saints, and that includes words that unpack the Doctrines of Grace. All of this music, IMHO, is done with high artistic standards, both lyrically and musically.

I highly recommend "In Christ Alone" and "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" as contemporary classics that will fit both traditional and contemporary styles. Check it out if you don't believe me. Both can be done sans drums.

I also recommend two SG albums: "Upward: The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project" and "Songs for a Cross-Centered Life." Most of these are contemporary in nature, but do have "crossover" moments that would work for most churches. Kauflin, at least from the T4G site pictures, apparently led some worship there.

I myself am sort of a substance watchdog for our Worship Team (at a non-SBC, contemporary, yet Calvinistic church) since we don't have a vocational music pastor. As such, I have struggled greatly with finding music that fits with the current flow of our style and yet upholds great truths.

Hope this helps.


www.sovereigngraceministries.org/music, and search for "Stuart Townend" or "Stoneleigh worship" at Google.

GeneMBridges said...

Here are some more questions:

a. Should a non-Calvinist even apply to a church that subscribes to the First or Second London Confessions?

b. Should conservative pastors go to "moderate" churches?

c. Apropos b, should they apply to churches that affirm the 1963 but not the 2000 BFM?

My point is that this "rule" in his mind makes the sheep lead the shepherds in the church. It makes what they believe, not what Scripture necessarily teaches, the end all of who should pastor the church. That's a homebrewed recipe for heresy, apostasy, legalism, antinomianism, and nominalism if allowed to steep in its juices and ferment long enough. It amounts to chaining a pastor-elder to tradition and not Scripture, and not just broad theology of a particular strain, but theology specific to a particular local church. Given the doctrinal myopia and latitudinarianism in the Church as a whole, not to mention the average SBC church, this isn't a standard that I think Brother Harrell himself could bear if judged by it himself, nor would he want it applied consistently to anybody. In so doing, it would throw away much of the good that has come of the resurgence at the local church level.

What really seems bothersome is that it singles out Calvinism, but why not Arminianism? Should a pastor not go to a church that disaffirms the security of the believer? Private Prayer Language? Why not eschatology? Should a pretrib premill go to a church that affirms amillenialism? Should historic premills not go to churches that are pretrib premill? Should those believing Baptist originate in English Separatism go to churches in KY, AR, and TX that affirm a form of Landmarkism? In short, this line is quite arbitrary. It's also the same sort of logic that you'd expect to hear from Anglicans and Presbyterians in England in the 17th century. We regularly lament the way those groups treated us Baptists when we changed our views, and now we're using the same sorts of "rules" that they concocted against us to keep us out of their churches. This same line of reasoning applied to the Protestants during the Magisterial Reformation as well.

He also speaks out of two sides of his mouth. He says we have not ever been 100 percent uniform, nor should we, but then says that Calvinists "need not apply" to certain churches. The words "Separate But Equal" resonate loudly.

Brian Hamrick said...

Should Luther retract his theses since they were not what the church wanted?

Matt Privett said...

If taken to its logical conclusion, Harrell's ground rule would preclude any pastor from leading a congregation away from any in-force doctrinal (mis)understanding, practice, or tradition.

What ever happened to ecclesia semper reformanda (the church always reforming)? Aren't we Baptists, to so-called people of the book, supposed to be consistently conforming to the Word of God?

Harrell's ground rule promotes the status quo for every church, regardless of what that status quo is.

jbuchanan said...

How exaclty is the Southern Baptist Convention going to establish a ground-rule for anything in a local church. This sounds like popery to me.

Biblically Reforming said...

A question:

Is it best to attempt to reform a local southern baptist church from within (and thus attempt reform in the church at large), or start a separate and decidedly reformed baptist church, attempting reform from without?

Biblically Reforming said...

I would also like to echo Joe's comment, namely that Sovereign Grace's stuff is absolutely excellent.

Another group that is out there that also does some steller work is Indelible Grace. They're an RUF group who take many of the old hymns and put them to fresher, newer music. A song to note from this group is "Thy Mercy", a beautiful old, 18th century hymn by John Stocker that Sandra McCracken (wife of Derrek Webb) took and added newer music to.

I would also highly recommend Indelible Grace to anyone looking for solid, biblical hymns set to a more contemporary and modern music style.

george d. said...

"jbuchanan said...
How exaclty is the Southern Baptist Convention going to establish a ground-rule for anything in a local church. This sounds like popery to me."

Great comment. They seem to be against this in all other aspects since they don't "govern" individual churches so how are they to make us do certain things so we are "distinct?"

David B. Hewitt said...

biblically reforming said:
A question:

Is it best to attempt to reform a local southern baptist church from within (and thus attempt reform in the church at large), or start a separate and decidedly reformed baptist church, attempting reform from without?

This is a good question, and it varies I would have to think.

For a long time I have been in my church (well, only two years, but it seemed a while) trying to get people into the Scriptures, teaching a Sunday School class and emphasizing things like grammar and context to try to get them to see the Scriptures as they are rather than through tradition's lenses. Of course, only the Holy Spirit can convict of truth (and I and all of us would be wise to remember that), and He did give at least one of the students I was teaching a passion for the Word of God, and as a result, that student is now a convinced Reformed Baptist and continues to desire Christ in His Word.

However, as anyone here who has been keeping up with my blog will note, that inner working came to an end recently. The pastor of my now FORMER church preached a "sermon" (which I am in the process of reviewing at my aforementioned blog) that was clearly anticalvinistic, and when I went to him to discuss it, he and another one of the pastors confronted me over a few things, not the least of which was what I believed about the Atonement. When I wanted to discuss the Scriptures that he used in his sermon, both were unwilling, but put restrictions on me if I were to continue teaching. Having thought it over and prayed (and consulted with my wife), I resigned my teaching position and we left the church last Sunday. Now, God willing, we'll work for Biblical Reform from the outside of it, perhaps as members of a new church start that is quickly taking root.

I hope this information has been helpful to you, BR.

Further, Dr Tom, again I thank you for your ministry here. This blog is a tremendous blessing to me and hundreds of others I don't doubt.

God bless you, brother.


Michael Spencer said...

That a represent of the conservative resurgence in the SBC is talking about some kind of denominationally approved uniformity of worship is one of the most alarming, Non-baptist, bizarre, polity-ignorant statements I have ever heard come from a denominational type...and that's some pretty stiff competition.

This keeps getting stranger and stranger. What ever happened to a denomination held together by a modest confession and a desire for missions and cooperation? What happened to leaders who would have recoiled at sounding so "top down" in admiring uniformity.

A sad, sad day.

Bill Formella said...

Photogeewhiz. You forgot another great Townend song called Beautiful Savior (All My Days). I highly recommend all of his songs that have been mentioned. A lot of depth in these gems. Definitely not what Johnny Mac would call 7-11 worship songs. (Same seven words sung eleven times)

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

I mentioned earlier that I had written Rev. Harrell today expressing my questions over the article in the Christian Index. He has responded and was very gracious to do so.

I don't think it fitting to comment on the answers I received because I don't want to appear critical despite the fact that i don't agree with much of the content. I would encourage others to write as I have to find out the pertinate details of his statement for yourselves.

However I don't think you will be suprised by the answers. One thing seems certain though - Our leaders have no idea what the important issues are in the struggling small rurual churches in this country. It surely is not Calvinism nor worship style in this hillbilly's neck of the woods.

Rob Mart said...

Whether the founders of the SBC were Calvinists or not has already been debated before but it is a fairly unknown fact that your founders were also pro-slavery. Slavery was the major reason for the formation of the SBC in 1845. "Before 1800 many Baptists in the South spoke out against slavery, but they later changed their minds and defended the practice. A major turning point was Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin in 1793, which made large-scale plantation farming feasible" (Baptist Before 1845, McBeth, H. Leon).

Joel Thompson said...

What Mr. Harrell sees as a "problem" in the SBC, Scripture reveals as the gracious blessing of God upon us undeserving sinners. Harrell's real problem is not with John Calvin but with God's Word. ALL (not just some parts) of what stands written, taken in its literal, historical, grammatical sense means just what it says. The biblical teaching on Redemption in both Testaments unfolds that our Sovereign Triune God accomplished His peoples' salvation by Himself, and didn't leave it up to our will (Jn. 1:13,15:16). One must "radically" ignore the clear meaning of words such as election and foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:1-2) and phrases such as those spoken by Jesus in Mt. 11:27; Jn. 6:44,65 to dismiss their straight-forward exposition as a "problem." My problem is with those who will not deal fully with these passages in their context and in light of the overall teaching of Scripture. Responsible exegetes must concede there is doctrine in these and other passages that teach just what the so-called five points of Calvinism expound. No other system adequately treats them. Just because another passage "seems" to teach otherwise doesn't justify denying the plain meaning of the other. We don't need influential men (of either theological persuasion) making power plays in the Convention. But we will all benefit from honest dialogue about the plain meaning of Scripture and allowance for differences, not labeling and ostracizing pastors for their theological convictions borne out of much prayer and diligent study. Can we do otherwise without asking our brothers to violate their own conscience?
Joel Thompson
Montgomery, Alabama

GeneMBridges said...

Whether the founders of the SBC were Calvinists or not has already been debated before but it is a fairly unknown fact that your founders were also pro-slavery.

a. No, it is NOT a "relatively unknown fact," except to those that do not know SBC history in particular.

b. This would, of course, apply to Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Jews, Lutherans, Moravians, and a host of others in the South at that time, so if it is exculpatory evidence for one, it is exculpatory for all others. So, by way of reply, "So what?"

c. Actually, the SBC was formed when the Southerners realized our brethren in the Triennial Convention were making slave ownership a test of missions' cooperation in contradiction to their pledge to do otherwise. That makes all the Northern Baptists and their descendents oath breakers by the standard of comparison you seem to be offering.

d. To argue that if we are to return to slavery if we return to Calvinism commits the the fallacy of the illicit totality transfer. I sincerely hope you aren't going there. We need not accept slavery any more than we accept infant baptism. If that's true, that all non-Calvinist Baptists must, to be consistent, accept Socinianism like their forebears.


This is a call to return to the historical documents upon which our Baptist churches were founded
and to insist that all the leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention do the same!

This is a call for character, honesty and integrity among all members of all our Baptist churches and a plea that all cease their efforts to rewrite the TRUTH contained in these documents.

David said...

John 6:65-66
Let's face it - these are hard sayings and many cannot and sadly some will not ever accept them. It was true in the day of Christ and it is true today. As some have said before, we must pray and allow the Word to stand and the Holy Spirit to act. Hearts must be changed and I know that I can never do that. I fought 33 years to give myself the heart that I believed "good." God had to do it.

I have discovered one other pastor in my Association that has Calvinist beliefs. I have only found one Associate Pastor that procliamed to be Arminian so far. Most of the others share some common ground with me. But one thing that I have found encouraging over the past day is that they, like me, are still striving to understand the truth of God's word through prayer and study.

With that the case, there is hope. Thank you Tom, for providing a place where I can be informed, edified, and encouraged. Thank you to all that post here - you are a newfound blessing for me.

PhotoJoeAZ said...

biblically reforming: Thanks for the hookup with Indelible Grace. They will be helping me to part with some money very soon. :)

Bill: I agree that "Beautiful Savior" is a fantastic song.

Sorry all, for the off-topic nature of my earlier comments, but I just thought it important that people know that along with the Reformed Resurgence among young folks (cf.: recent Christianity Today article), there is a resurgence of great truths set to contemporary music.

Any movement that seeks uniformity of musical genre or style generally gets weird somewhere. If you want to know what I mean, go to Sermon Audio and search for Frank Garlock. He's a Bob Jones guy, and would be among those who think rock music is inherently ee-ville and of the deh-ville apart from the lyrics. The Bible says so, apparently. I think it's either in 1st Opinions or Hezekiah or the Book of Hesistations. Not sure.


Daniel Cassady said...

I feel maligned by Harrell's comments. Its not those who believe in the Doctrines of Grace that have to turn the Bible upside down to get our systematic theology to fit. Its those who deny the 5 points that have to turn the Bible on its head to get their system of doctrine to fit. They are the ones who twist scripture and misinterpret the text to say the opposite of what it says.

Biblically Reforming said...

Joe: You're welcome. And you might want to check chapters 4, 8, and 23 in 1st Opinions which speak of the evils of rock music, gambling, and alcoholo, respectively. Also, there is a passage in the 4rd chapter of the Book of Hesitations that speak of the wickedness of cigars.


Nicholas Kennicott said...

I think even more disturbing are Harrell's comments on his church's website. I've commented on it at my blog and have provided a link to the article of which I speak. His desire for worldwide conformity seems to reach beyond the church. It's sad to know that we still have to argue for the beauty in and profit of multiculturalism.

Rob Mart said...


a. I'm sure I can go to any one of the Founders SBC churches and ask a church member about this and they would know. Excuse me.

b. Yes, this does apply to Presbyterians, Moravians, Methodists, but they are equally wrong concerning what they teach. Us, Baptists, are supposed to be biblicists and the closest thing to a New Testament church. We are supposed to expect error from other churches who have not aligned themselves to the true teachings of the Bible.

c. McBeth, H. Leon.

d. Socinianism! Nice touch.

Andy Chance said...

He makes one important statement. Reformed Southern Baptist should make a concerted effort to plant more churches. The 10% of pastors who are five-pointers should outpace non-Calvinist in church-planting and sending missionaries. If this is already happening broadly (please don't tell me, "well, my church..."), then I'm not aware of it or how I could better support it.

Major B said...

Buntin's Rules For Calvinizing

For Calvinistic Preachers Seeking a Church

1. If the church has no idea what a calvinist is (don't laugh, I've seen it in person), tell them you are a calvinist, and accept the call. Never mention calvinism again, just preach expositorily.

2. If you know they are anti-calvinist, don't go there; don't waste their time by meeting with the committee.

3. If you cannot find a calvinistic church, start one.