Monday, April 23, 2007

Grace Baptist considers Tom Nettles for Associate Pastor

Dr. Tom Nettles, Professor of Historical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky will visit Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral on May 4-6 in view of a call to become the Associate Pastor. While this news may come as a shock to many people, those who know Tom well will not be surprised. He represents what is best in our seminaries and has consistently carried out his classroom responsibilities with a sense that he is a servant of the local church.

The best seminary professors are those who teach with a pastor's heart. That is the way that Dr. Nettles teaches. It was a great blessing from God when I first stepped on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary 28 years ago to have Dr. Nettles for my first professor. He taught me that all of history takes its significance in relationship to the person and work of Jesus Christ. He taught me that loving the brethren includes caring about those servants whom God gave to the Church in generations past. He convinced me that my theological understanding of the Gospel and how it works was too superficial to sustain authentic ministry in a local church. And he patiently helped me to come to a more accurate understanding of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

What many of his friends and students may not know is that Tom never intended to be a classroom professor. He believed that God called him to be a pastor and fully intended to pursue that calling in a local church. God providentially directed him along a different path. For the last 32 years he has fulfilled his calling by training pastors, missionaries and church leaders whose ministries span the globe. And he has done so as a churchman with a pastor's heart. Only a few days ago I spoke to a recent former student of Tom's. His testimony echoed what I have from countless others and personally experienced during the years that I studied under him. This new pastor described how Dr. Nettles sought to shepherd him during his days as a student, caring not only for his knowledge of history, but more particularly for the health of his soul.

The journey by which the Lord has led both Tom and Grace Baptist Church to this path is a testimony to divine wisdom and grace. Though there are still some very important, final steps in the process of his being called to serve as a pastor at Grace, the elders of our church are recommending him to the congregation and he and his wife, Margaret, sense the Lord leading them thus far to entertain that possibility.

I know that many of the readers of this blog love Dr. Nettles and praise the Lord for his life and ministry. Please pray for him and Margaret, and for the Grace family over the next three weeks. We all want the Lord's will to be done and are very consciously depending on Him to speak through His church in guiding us and the Nettles in this important matter. By God's grace, we hope to have a confident understanding of the Lord's will by the middle of May.

For the formal announcement by our church, go here.

38 comments: said...

Wow. This is very exciting, and you can count on many of us praying for you all in this.

GUNNY said...

"Wow" is right, Joe. That's a lot of Toms in one church.

Kind of unfair to hog all the Toms, like becoming the Yankess of the Reformed & Baptist world.

Need a boy to carry around the clipboard for the Toms?

My name isn't Tom, but I could play one on TV.

He would, of course, be a great addition to any church and I will pray for the potentiality of the exploration.

Steve said...

Great news. I now expect to see a bunch of new pastoral books published by you guys. A new "Puritan Paperbacks" series. C'mon! :)

Brian Hamrick said...

Wow. I'll be praying about this here.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

I want to congratulate Grace Church along with both you and Professor Nettles. I'm quite sure you're right: it comes as a surprise to many.

I'm glad you shared about Dr. Nettles' passion and call to local church ministry generally and pastoral ministry specifically. He surely will be a great addition to your Church.

Through the years, I've had a profound respect for Dr. Nettles, especially his specific contribution to my own understanding about Baptists and the Bible. His work was the "manual" for earlier developments on the Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy among younger Baptists--of which, at the time, I was one--during the last quarter of last century. I shall always be grateful for that, even though I do not agree with the good Professor in interpreting the Doctrines of Grace.

May our Lord guide you and Grace Church in your future together for Him.

With that, I am...


Nathan White said...

Although it will be sad to see him leave Southern, I think this is great news.

Having spent a small amount of time with Dr. Nettles, I can certainly attest to the Lord givin him a pastoral, shepherding heart, and a love for others.

As RC often says, 'God only had one Son, and He made Him a Preacher'.

Timmy Brister said...


So that explains why Dr. Nettles wouldn't send me a syllabus for this summer's class?!

It goes without saying that Dr. Nettles is a beloved lectuer and professor, one of the best around. But as you have mentioned, he has a huge pastor's heart. Though SBTS would be deprived of one of the best Baptist historians and theologians around, I am excited to hear about the new development in his life and ministry.

A couple of things come to my mind as I think about this. The first has to do with the local church being the place for theological education. If we really mean this, our best trained theologians and historians should be teaching in the local church context anyway, right? Secondly, as you have communicated the future prospects of developing a church planting emphasis, we realize that some of the models have very low if any ecclesiology to them. This is the critique of the church growth movement overseas. Having Dr. Nettles available to teach and train young church planters in a robust, biblical, and baptist ecclesiology will be a huge plus. The possibilities and opportunities to build God's Church are wide open, and I am excited about the future of Founders, Grace Baptist, and the SBC at large. May God give you guys a weighty and glorious vision for the future as you attempt and expect great things from our Almighty God.

Timmy Brister

stephen lee cavness said...

i have had the privilege the last three years of being a member of the same local church as dr. nettles. i have had three of his classes as well. while he is well known for his teaching in the classroom, i have benefited greatly from the times that he took to meet and speak with me when i had questions or concerns about various things. he and mrs. margaret are both very gracious and humble people. dr. nettles has been a living demonstration to me in what it is to have much knowledge without being pompous or arrogant, and to humbly teach without belittling or making your listeners feel inferior.

if he and mrs. margret do leave, they will be greatly missed by many, but no doubt greatly appreciated by many more at their new church home.

Josh said...

It's my first semester at SBTS, and I have to say I'm really bummed that I won't get to have Dr. Nettles for class.

charles said...



Dull Iron said...

hehe...Peter, you are funny. Let me try to be as well.

You said, "...even though I do not agree with the good Professor in interpreting the Doctrines of Grace."

Let's see here...

Dr. Nettles (with commendations to numerous to list here) is right about the DOG?...or...

Pete, the blogger, is right about the DOG?

Man!!! Now, I'll be up all night trying to decide who might have interpreted scripture more accurately!!!

Dull Iron

P.S. To save you some time Petey, I have typed your reply for you.

My dearest brother Dull Iron,

While I do not see it myself I, for one, am ever so grateful that I could bring a note of delight to your evening. May God's grace rest on the balance as well.

You, sir, will certainly not get a battle from me on the ever-growing length of the commendations that the good professor Nettles has received. And rightly earned, I might add.

However, what you fail to surmise, my good brother Dull Iron, is that just because his analysis of the Holy Writ happens to agree with
and, of course,
along with perhaps one or two other fairly well-minded theologians and preachers does not make him right, now does it?

Come now, my good and faithful fellow servant Dull Iron, isn't there at least a small chance that I am right and these gentlemen are all wrong?...even if I am just someone who you think of simply as a "blogger"?

You must agree that the possibility exists, just as sure as the glorious sun will soon arise in my part of God's creation.

I wish all of this and more to you and yours today and forevermore.

With that, I am...


How close was I Pete?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Dull Iron,

I think it is wonderful, my Dull Iron, that folk read me so often that they may be able to quote me so accurately. Thank you.
And, as for choosing either myself or Dr. Nettles when it comes to interpreting the doctrines of grace, I encourage you to choose neither. Rather, "Thus saith the Lord" is a much better option--at least the way I see it.

What's ever so odd, Dull Iron, is that, upon a celebrative occassion to rejoice with Drs. Ascol and Nettles, not to mention Grace Church, you would rather, shall we say, have a little fun with me.

That's perfectly alright, of course. My wife and I raised three children and trust me: I know how to laugh along with others or when others laugh at me. Kool.

Nonetheless, I do not know how respectful it is to the present occassion to focus on satirical humor when our Dr. Ascol has called for serious prayer.

Oh well, Dull Iron. What can I say? I trust our Lord and Savior bless your ministry today. With that, I am...


Dull Iron said...

Peter, you brought the issue up first. Why even say what you said in your first comment about the DOG? I don't get it.

It does seem like you want to pick a DOG fight all the time. I'm all for letting the post stand as is and lifting this great team that God has brought together.

Man how I wish I lived in Florida...anywhere in Florida...and I would be there.

Blessings to you both and the folks at Grace.


Jeff said...

It was Dr. Nettles book By His Grace and for His Glory that gave me the courage and conviction to realize that I was a Calvinist. I owe him a debt of gratitude.

C Ben said...


As my Aussie friends say, "Good on you, mate"

The "Baptist Bloodhound"

Tom said...

Thanks for all the encouragement and especially the promise of prayer. There are many interesting displays of God's wisdom in providence thus far in this process. We want to be very careful not to be presumptuous while maintaining a real hope of what the Lord seems to be doing among us.

C. Ben: Great to hear from you! It has been too many years.

G. F. McDowell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor Klay said...

I'm so glad I was able to study with Dr. Nettles back in 97-98. Also, having him in Florida would definitely help my plans to host him here in Delray Beach!

Oh yeah, I'm also extremely fortunate to have studied with "C Ben" as well!

Biblically Reforming said...

Goodness gracious, that's fantastic! :-)

Hmmmm said...

Wish I could say I'm suprised that Ascol would allow Dull Iron to attack someone the way he's done here, but I'm really not at all suprised. Everything about this blog is to promote an agenda and it has nothing to do with the Bible. Keep up the good work here. There are many who've been turned onto the Founders and their real agenda. It's very educational to watch exactly how lovers of DOG really conduct themselves.

J.D. Rector said...

Good news! As a former student of Dr. Tom Nettles, I am delighted to hear of this. Dr. Nettles was very instrumental in my academic endeavors. The Lord used him to challenge my shallow theology, and I use that word shallow literally.

I will always be grateful for his ministry and impact upon my life. While I am dismayed that Southern will be loosing a great professor, I am excited that a local body will benefit from his wonderful ministry!

I am praying for God's will to be done and that HE will be glorified!

Doug said...

Hmmmm, why are you even here if you don't like the blog or the message?

Peter brought up DOG, which, up until his post, had not even been mentioned. Dull Iron called him on it, although with a little less grace that I would like. Peter responded and the thing was over. Why attack Tom for something he had nothing to do with. Why not rather pray for his church as they are making an important decision and pray that God would be glorified, no matter what your view of DOG?

B Nettles said...


Do you have something specific to say about "exactly how" Tom Nettles conducts himself?

Make sure it's not just YOUR agenda, and that it's about the Bible. Just a word of encouragement to not get caught in the fray. The topic here is about a well-known, usually well-loved seminary professor making a transition to pastoral ministry.

I can definitely affirm that what people see of Tom N. in the classroom and the office is what happens with his family and friends. Gracious and firm, kind and compelling, humble and forthtelling, wise and humorous, guileless and perceptive. Not perfect, wanting constantly to reflect God's glory, patient.

I just wish this church was closer.

Dull Iron said...

My apologies Tom, Doug, and all. I did use less grace in dealing with Petey than I normally would have. Hmmmm actually helps my point with Peter.

Just like Hmmmm, Petey has a tendency to linger in areas where things are discussed that he the DOG and this blog. I for one don't understand that. He took yet another opportunity to stick a jab into the DOG, or someone known to support it, when the DOG hadn't even been discussed previously in the post.

In my view, loitering and looking for a chance to jab at something you despise, and then when there is no opportunity to jab, one is just created abruptly...well, it caused my sarcastic side to swell...which I am very good at unfortunately. I hate that about me. Thank you for your forgiveness one and all.

My true position stands as mentioned...

"Man how I wish I lived in Florida...anywhere in Florida...and I would be there.

Blessings to you both and the folks at Grace."


Please everyone, after Petey gives his paragraph or two about how "he doesn't despise the DOG"..."and he doesn't loiter"...and "if I don't mind, he would like to go to which ever blogs he wants to"...etc, etc...can we let that be the last word as this is distracting from the post which is worthy of prayful attitudes by all and hopefully a glorious celebration for Grace members.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Dr. Ascol,

I confess a little confusion how the wee bit of sincere encouragement I proposed was turned on its head, not to mention that somehow I'm supposed to "despise" those doctrines which I do not define precisely the same way as others.

My concern ever is, as I know yours is, that, though diagree we do, there are still good things to say, respect to be given to the respectable, offering honor to whom honor is due. Dr. Nettles is an honorable teacher and a worthy proponent of Historic Calvinism.

How--if I do not agree with every jot and tittle of his theological nuance of the Doctrines of Grace or the understanding of this community--that is supposed to count either against his honor and respect in my sight or that I "take jabs" at him or his Calvinism, escapes my discernment completely.

I pray your time with your Church over the next few weeks go well as you discern our blessed Lord's will in the matter.

With that, I am...


Brian Hamrick said...

Peter- I never found your initial comment on the DOG to be a jab at anyone (it was actually intended to express as much appreciation as you possibly can for Dr. Nettles), and the response you got was way out of bounds (the mock reply was particularly embarrassing). If I could apologize on behalf of my brother, I would.

peter lumpkins said...

Hey Brian,

I very much appreciate your words. Honestly, I pretty much have come to expect that no matter how much one tries to be irenic, there will always be those who question one's sincerity in it.

I have also come, over the past year, to respect Dr. Ascol more. It surely is not unusual, as most in this community attests, that my comments here are sprinkled to engage. Yet, I have never felt once that Dr. Ascol either desired me to vanish into cyberspace nor has he ever been less than Christianly.

My grand hope is that all Southern Baptists, regardless of their particular views pertaining to nonessesntials in our great Faith, will learn to love one another and treat each other with dignity and respect.

Grace to you this evening, Brian. With that, I am...


Caddiechaplain said...

As one who had the privilege of studying under Dr. Nettles at SWBTS and a son who was equally as fortunate to have studied with him at SBTS, he will truly be sorely missed. He life and the light he shed on our Savior is what I admire most about him. I would hope that he continue to publish all the unfinished works I know he had stored up in his head and heart.
God bless you Tom in your new adventure. Welcome back to the local church!

Ron Harvey
Riverside, CA

Dull Iron said...

Brian - Did you read the comments?...or just Peter's? No need to apologize for me, I already did. Confusingly interesting?

You got the last word Peter...I hope? Take care.

I still wish I lived in Florida.


Lance M. Roberts said...

Great Tom. I am from SW Floirda and think it would be great if you guys could start some sort of a Bible school/seminary down there. Have you ever given it any thought?

Byroniac said...

I forgot to say this before. This news concerning Dr. Nettles is exciting. I've heard nothing but good about him from places I visit and trust on the Internet. Whatever one's views of monergism in the SBC, we can all sincerely pray that God will be glorified, and His church edified.

Peter Lumpkins said:

My grand hope is that all Southern Baptists, regardless of their particular views pertaining to nonessesntials in our great Faith, will learn to love one another and treat each other with dignity and respect.

You said a mouthful there. Amen! I, for one, will certainly agree with you.

Will said...

Brother Tom(s)

Would it be wrong for me to pray that God would set things up so I could move there?

You talk about being fed!

May Lord add his blessing to your ministry.


Byroniac said...

Will's posting gave me an idea: will audio sermons/teachings be available? I mean, I'm seeking audio from BOTH of you and the church itself, please understand! :)

Steve said...

Thought you guys might be interested in this – a new Reformed Baptist Blog


wgmoore55 said...

A few days ago a friend called me with the news about the possibility of the Nettles' moving to Florida to be involved in a church ministry. Frankly, I was not surprised. Dr. Nettles loves the local church, and I can see his desire to be more actively involved in a local church setting for the rest of his ministry.

I do regret that future seminarians will not have the pleasure and privilege of studying under him as many of us have had. I treasure the memories of seminars and colloquia with this godly man. Dr. Nettles is the epitome of the Southern gentleman garbed in grace.

May our Lord be pleased to smile upon this new phase of the Nettles' pilgrimage.


Jim McDermott said...

Perhaps both Toms may be featured at the 2008 Toledo Reformed Theological Conference?!

Thanks, again, for your teaching and for taking time for koinonia! Unfortunately, Pastor Philip De Courcy's time was limited, given the fact that he and Steve Lawson are board members at The Master's Seminary. Deo volente, you and he will have another opportunity to share the pulpit and enjoy each other's fellowship!

By-the-way, I did inform Kelly in Cocoa about Riverbend; prayerfully, I'll be able to "update" you as to that situation!

Keith said...

This is great news for Grace Baptist. Looking forward to seeing you both again at Bethel this summer.

michael said...

Having been in several of Dr. Nettles' classes, I can say that I was always impressed by his pastor's heart. I only wish that I could hear some of his (probably feisty)sermons. It will be a bitter sweet day at Southern though. Congrats to Dr. Nettles?