Thursday, June 07, 2007

Denominational integrity and controversy in the Florida Baptist Convention

On Thursday, May 29, I received a phone call from Ryan Helms, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church near Bonifay, Florida. Ryan is a faithful bi-vocational pastor who has labored for 6 years shepherding this rural congregation with expositional preaching and loving pastoral care. As one of the church's members told me recently, because of their deep love for their pastor, they would follow him anywhere he led them as long as it was according to the Word of God.

Ryan called me to tell me about a meeting that had taken place a week earlier in the Holmes Baptist Association in northern Florida and to ask me if there was division in our local Baptist association. In April, the Director of Missions of Holmes Association (in which Ryan's church participates), arranged for staff from the Florida Baptist Convention to lead a conference for their associational officers to learn how to use the church planting training for small church revitalization. The conference was to be limited in scope and exclusively for the associational leadership. The concern was to promote church health through church planting training. It was scheduled for May 22.

Shortly after arranging this conference, the DOM resigned his position in order to go plant a church in the midwest. The pastor of First Baptist Church of Bonifay had become upset with this DOM due to his perception of the DOM's Calvinistic convictions. FBC announced that they were pulling their financial support from the association after Paul left because the association "lacked purpose." Three weeks before the scheduled church health conference, Kent Lampp, the acting moderator received an email from Rick Lawrence, Director of Church Planting Department for the Florida Convention, informing him that he must invite the pastor of the FBC to attend the May 22 meeting, despite the previous explanation that the meeting was to be small and exclusively for associational officers. After some emails back and forth, Kent invited the staff of FBC to attend.

Two days before the meeting, the moderator was informed that Cecil Seagle was also going to attend the meeting. Mr. Seagle is Director of the Missions Division and South Florida Urban Impact Ministries for the Florida Baptist Convention. When the May 22 meeting came around, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Seagle were accompanied by Jim Robinette, the Director of Church Planning and Revitalization Department for the Florida Convention.

These 3 executives from the state convention met with 6 ministers (two of whom were accompanied by their wives), including the pastor and staff member from FBC, Bonifay. The meeting, according to Pastor Helms, never addressed the announced topic. Nothing on church health. Nothing on church planting training. Rather, as copious notes from that meeting state,
Florida Baptist Convention staff had communicated that this meeting would be about small church health. Paul Fries (former DOM for HBA), had requested that key staff be taken through the church planting training and use it as small church renewal. Attendees had no idea that associational division would be a topic of discussion. The meeting began as a purpose development for the Holmes Baptist Association. This was discussed up to the dinner.
These notes were taken during the meeting and six of those in attendance reviewed them and revised them for accuracy after the meeting. All six have declared them to be a very careful and accurate recounting of what happened that night. You can download a pdf of the complete notes here. I am making them public with permission from Rev. and Mrs. Kent Lampp-Moderator of Holmes Baptist Association, Rev. Eddie Eaton-Missions Director of HBA, Rev. and Mrs. Ryan Begue-Director of Evangelism, HBA, Rev. Ryan N. Helms-Director of Discipleship, HBA.

Those notes indicate that the meeting quickly devolved into a session given over to concerns about Calvinism and those who hold to the doctrines of grace, particularly in the state of Florida. Once I got a copy of these notes, and verified that six participants had all agreed that they are a very accurate representation of what was said at that meeting, I called Cecil Seagle at the Florida Convention offices on June 4 and again on June 6. He returned my call on the afternoon of the 6th.

The reason I called him is because the six witnesses from the Holmes Association said that Mr. Seagle expressed concerns about me in particular after he took over the meeting to speak against the evils and dangers of Calvinism in the SBC. According to these six--5 of whom are not Calvinists!--Mr. Seagle referred to the "Founder's Club" and my blog and the influence we are having. Particularly, the notes indicate, I am responsible for seriously dividing my local Baptist association over the issues of the doctrines of grace.

That accusation was very alarming to me and my fellow elders, since we have been under the impression that Grace Baptist Church has a very harmonious relationship with the Royal Palm Baptist Association. Before calling Mr. Seagle we met with Everett Rafferty, the DOM for the RPBA and asked him to speak to this charge. He said (and he gave me permission to quote him), "There is not a shred of truth to it." Everett said that we have one of the most unified associations in the state and that my theology has never been a problem in the association.

I was prepared to report this to Mr. Seagle when we spoke, but he denied ever having made that accusation. He said that Ryan Helms completely misrepresented what happened in the May 22 meeting and that he was at that meeting at the direction of Dr. John Sullivan, his boss. He assured me that he had never had a conversation about me or my theology, that he was not "anti-Tom Ascol," or "anti-Calvinism." In fact, he told me that he did not see how anyone could read the Bible without recognizing that Calvinism has a great deal of truth in it. This surprised me, due to what the notes said, and what others have reported about Mr. Seagles' views on this matter over the years. Nevertheless, I am always willing to give a man the benefit of the doubt. So, I asked Mr. Seagle how we should account for the discrepancy between his report and what was written in the notes of the meeting. He portrayed it simply as a difference of opinion between him and Ryan Helms.

Of course, as I reminded him, that is not an accurate portrayal of this impasse. What we have is the testimony of 6 witnesses that contradict his own testimony. He indicated that the number of witnesses did not give him any reason to back off of his denials.

I have since learned that, at the request of the associational leadership, Pastor Helms called Mr. Seagle before I spoke to him, and asked Mr. Seagle to apologize to the Holmes Association for several specific things, including slandering the former DOM, Paul Fries, being deceptive about the purpose of the meeting and attempting to lead the association in a discussion on disciplining Calvnists. Mr. Seagle believes he owes no apology to the association.

I understand that today Dr. Sullivan told leadership in that association that he stands by Mr. Seagle and does not believe that he did anything wrong. He has stated that as far as he is concerned the matter is over.

This whole series of events is tragic for several reasons. I will only outline them here. But it does not take much biblical wisdom or Baptist conviction to fill out the details.

1. The May 22 meeting gives the appearance of being a set up by the state convention. It was announced to be about church health, but became a meeting about Calvinism and associational divisiveness. It looks like the meeting was hijacked by those whose job it is to serve the churches that had invited them to meet in the first place. This is a severe violation of Baptist polity and is an assault on the autonomy of local churches.

2. According to the six witnesses, a denominational employee, who works for them and their churches, attempted to intimidate them with accusations about people and theological positions. One of the people mentioned was the much-loved former DOM, Paul Fries. The pastors did not accept it when his character was called into question, something which, from all appearances, Mr. Seagle did not anticipate.

3. The discrepancy between Mr. Seagle's version of what happened at the meeting and that of the six witnesses raises serious issues of integrity. If the state office attempts to sweep this under the rug for the sake of friendships or a supposed "peace" or "unity," the consequences will be devastating. Such a coverup will undermine the kind of trust that is absolutely essential if a convention of churches is to move forward in cooperation. This truth will not be difficult to ascertain. It is done every day in courtrooms across our nation. Simply get the principal parties together, let them each testify and see where the preponderance of evidence leads. Where inaccuracy is discovered, correct it. Where sin or deception is discovered, rebuke it. But do not turn a blind eye toward all of this and announce that it is over. That would be a collosal failure of leadership and dishonoring to the God of truth. Followers of Jesus are to be lovers of truth. Let's pursue it together and if it is discovered that some who are among us are standing against the truth, then, as brothers, let's seek to correct and restore them.

This issue is not about Calvinism. It is about integrity at every level of our denominational structure. Here is what I hope will NOT happen:

1. Attempting to turn this into a Ryan Helms vs. Cecil Seagle misunderstanding. There are 6 witnesses who testify to the accuracy of the notes of the May 22 meeting. Mr. Seagle says that he is not guilty of the things that those notes indicate he did and said. Dr. Sullivan, who was not at the meeting, has indicated that he is standing by Mr. Seagle and that the matter is closed. It is not closed. Florida Baptists deserve to know if their servants, whose salaries they pay, are undermining the autonomy of local Baptist churches in the way that the Holmes Association notes indicate.

2. Attempting to turn this into a disagreement over Calvinism. Though what Mr. Seagle reportedly did and said has serious implications about the Florida Baptist Convention's attitude toward those pastors and churches in the state that believe the doctrines of grace, that is not the issue. The issue is all about Baptist polity and, more importantly, integrity at every level of our denominational structure in the state. It is worth noting that 5 of the supporters of the notes of that May 22 meeting are not Calvinists! The issue raised by these events transcend our doctrinal differences at this point.

Here is what I hope WILL happen:

1. That Dr. Sullivan will call for a meeting of principal parties in this controversy and, face-to-face, faciliate a search for the truth of what really happened in the May 22 meeting. My prayer is that anyone who is misrespresenting truth will be humbled and so confident in the Gospel that he or she will repent and demonstrate the power of God in the lives of His people.

2. That the state convention leadership will take this opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to our long-cherished Baptist polity of local church autonomy and commitment to integrity among all its staff.

3. That the Holmes Baptist Association will have its hope and confidence restored in the Florida Baptist Convention.

4. That all Florida Baptists will be motivated to pray for our churches and state denominational servants, that the Lord will enable us to move forward in evangelizing our great state with its residents and guests from around the world.

Pray that the Lord will overrule these events to bring about good to His people and glory to His name, and that repentance and forgiveness will prevail in the fractured relationships between those involved.

32 comments:

Wade Burleson said...

Welcome to my world.

:)

One thing I have learned is that Southern Baptist leaders (not all) are often passive agressive, learning to spiritualize away clear violations of Scripture regarding integrity, honesty and transparency.

Keep shining the light on the problem and pretty soon people will begin to understand that the people who have real integrity are those who are unafraid to say in public what they say in private.

In His Grace,

Wade

Steven, said...

If this is what I can expect when I go to preach in the context of the S.B.C....

then Pray that the Lord be with me.

Those notes scared me, but I will admit I am a bit sensitive.

G. Alford said...

Tom,

I just read (and reread) the complete notes from this meeting in my local association.

Seeing as I was mentioned by name at this meeting I would like to address just a few of the issues raised.

First: I am so very proud of the men (Rev. Kent Lampp, Eddie Eaton, Ryan Begue, Ryan Helms) who represented Holmes Baptist Association at this meeting. They showed true Christ likeness in defending the integrity of their DOM and fellow Southern Baptist Pastors in their absence. As Ryan Helms mentioned, I am a bi-vocational and I have not spent much time in fellowship with you men over the six years I have served as pastor of First Baptist Church Ponce de Leon… this has been my loss… as I now know what kind of Christian Men each of you truly are. Thank you for defending me and standing beside me… This is something I will never forget!

Second: If I have ever offended any of my fellow Southern Baptist Pastors in the Holmes Baptist Association by mailing them literature on “Reformed Theology” (although as Ryan noted in the meeting that was five years ago) I apologize and ask your forgiveness… The intent was to inform as to prevent any division that might arise between us due to someone else misrepresenting what I actually believe… the intent was never to get you to join the “Founders Club”.

Third: To Pastor Shelly Chandler and First Baptist Church of Bonifay… If Calvinism is indeed causing division in your congregation, and I can help bring peace, please know that I will do all I can to do so. Calvinist and non Calvinist have worship side by side in perfect peace within my congregation for over six years… it simply is not an issue for us.

Fourthly: To Cecil Seagle and John Sullivan… I am embarrassed by your conduct!

Grace to all,

Tom Buck said...

Tom,

This is why I gave my potential theory of what the strategy might be in regards to the current attacks on Calvinism. It is almost like a covert operation that then is followed up with complete denials and proclaimed misunderstandings. As soon as someone wants to challenge what happened, we get the "case closed" mentality from the leaders.


Thank you for taking a stand and saying that we cannot just overlook such activity. Biblical repentance needs to happen on someone's part. Either the six witnesses have given false witness against Cecil Seagle or Cecil Seagle has been dishonest about both his intentions for the meeting and what he said at the meeting. Either way, the truth needs to come out for the integrity of all involved. This would be especially true since Cecil Seagle told you he was going on behalf of Dr. Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan should be very concerned since his integrity is now on the line as well.

I continue to say, and hope that I am wrong, that if we dig deep into these situations, we will find a strategy to slowly undermine the ministries of those who hold to Reformed Doctrine. So it is time to engage in a loving but firm manner rather than retreat. If there is a strategy, as I suggest, retreat and withdrawal is exactly what would be desired by those who are attacking. So press on for the truth!

Tom Buck

james.thompson said...

I lament the things taking place in Florida. My wife and I don't feel comfortable visiting the church we were both baptized in when we go back for visits because of the chasm that has opened up between where we stand theologically as compared to the church and our views on how the church, and specifically the pastor, has acted on certain matters with a lack of Christian integrity.

I wrote an open letter to the church that the pastor refused to share regarding the dismissal of a minister without biblical cause because although we were still members of the church my views apparently didn't have merit. Now I simply hear about the internal struggles of the church from friends and family still connected there and am saddened that a church with so much opportunity is not achieving more.

And then when I hear about denominational leaders in the state behaving so poorly I wonder what it will take before effective correction throughout our denomination occurs.

micahfries said...

Tom-

As Paul (the former DOM) Fries' son, I have grieved with my dad for a while now over the behavior at this meeting and even previous behavior that precipitated this meeting. I am frustrated that it indeed happened, but am thankful that it is being exposed. Let us hope that wisdom and discernment prevail in this experience and let's hope that a strengthened partnership for the gospel proceeds from this.

Thanks for using your influential platform to shed light on it.

Jim Shaver said...

It is time for State Conventions nationwide to get the message loud and clear that they need us more than we need them.

If this happened in our association here in Missouri we would en masse withdraw from the convention, Calvinists and Non-Calvinists alike.

Tom said...

Wade:

That is the very analogy I keep using--the light has a way of cleansing things that would otherwise thrive in the dark. I intend to do what I can to keep it shining.

Greg:

Thanks, brother, for your good spirit in all this. The testimony of your church is the kind of thing that we need to keep before us as we seek to cooperate together the our associational and denominational life.

Tom:

Pray for us, brother! I don't understand why these things are happening or are happening now. You are correct--repentance needs to be expressed by someone. May the Lord grant that this may happen.

James:

We must keep speaking the truth in love and refuse to back down when improper actions are swept under the rug. May the Lord give you and your wife much encouragement!

Micah:

Press on, brother! God's truth will prevail and He knows how to vindicate His cause and His servants--including your faithful, church-planting father.

Jim:

Well said! Local churches and associations need to recapture this understanding. May it happen here and elsewhere as it has there in MO!

David Wilson said...

Tom, should I call it a coincidence or concerted strategy in light of what occurred in Holmes County when I receive a boxed set of DVDs of Jerry Vines speaking on the four most pressing evils within the SBC, one of those being "Calvinism"?

The FBC seems to me to be on a serious agenda of narrowing the parameters of fellowship.

And it should not be.

Not quite reformed, but standing with my brothers in Christ,

David Wilson
New Hope, Valparaiso, FL

David Wilson said...

For clarity, I should add that the DVDs in question came from the Florida Baptist Convention under the signature of the Credit Union president and the Executive Director John Sullivan.

My plan is to put them on eBay and send the proceeds to the IMB.

Timmy Brister said...

David,

Great idea. That's where the money should be anyways.

For all this talk about accusing the Calvinists of trying to convert Southern Baptists to Calvinism (which is more accusation than substance), we are seeing money that should be spent on missions and the gospel now being used to propagate anti-Calvinistic messages across the SBC. Perhaps that money should be called "anti-Cooperative" Program monies.

Aaron L. Turner said...

What happens if Cecil Seagle and John Sulliven do not repent, and relent? What then?

Do we just go on and forget it? How do we know when it's time to stop funding the convention, and put our money in other places where proper accountability is practiced?

How do we know when it is time to stay and fight, and time to go on and leave them alone?

Tom said...

David:

From what I gather, many other people are asking that very question. I am very grateful that you are willing to see this issue as something that transcends the spefics of reformed theology. It is a matter of integrity. Thanks for standing with your reformed brothers!

Aaron:

That day may well come, but while we have opportunity, let's encourage our denominational employees to fulfill their responsibilities to the churches to which they are accountable. My hope is that this issue will be resolved in a God-honoring way. Let's work toward that end, hoping and praying for the best. Your questions are valid. May the Lord intervene in such a way that we will not need to pursue them.

Bill Lollar said...

Cecil Seagle is a bully who has been throwing his weight around Florida for far too long, and getting paid well in excess of six figures to do so! He's never wrong and he doesn't take kindly to anyone trying to say otherwise. Just mention his name in NAMB's Church Planting Group and you'll send shivers up their spine. For some unexplainable reason, John Sullivan always backs him up, which just adds to this man's power and creates more of an "intimidation factor" for those who have to work with him. I have also seen the soft side of this big grizzly bear, so I know he has a heart for the Kingdom and the things of God. I just wish he could break free and just learn to chill out over the whole Calvinism debate.

Bill Lollar said...

One more thing, Tom. I would like to offer a prayer for Brother Seagle.

"Please God, would you bless our terrifying and difficult brother with a sense of your overwhelming grace in his life? Show him how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. Take away his irrational fears of the doctrines of grace. Enable him to know the refreshment of the precious oil on the head and the life-giving dew that falls on the mountains of Zion; for there You have commanded the blessing...life evermore!"

I really hope God surprises Cecil with what Steve Brown calls "scandalous grace."

M. Jay Bennett said...

Keep the faith guys!

Tom said...

Be sure to read the very pertinent and insightful thoughts of Gene Bridges and Timmy Brister that are relevant to this discussion.

Tom Bryant said...

I understand why we are upset. I share the feeling. But to call a man a "bully", "terrifying" and "difficult" seems to me, exactly the kind of name calling that we are against.

Bob Cleveland said...

Tom: Add my gratitude to that of these others, for refusing to sit down and shut up.

There's an old analogy I use .. it concerns vessels of the sort that hold stuff. The analogy is that, if the pressure inside is greater than the pressure outside, then what's inside will leak out. BUT, if the pressure outside exceeds that inside, then what's outside leaks in.

Assuming the accuracy of this information, then the world has leaked into certain Conventional leadership. Expediency. Ends justifying means. All that sort of thing.

If Mr. Seagle said certain things in the meeting, provable according to biblical standards, and now denies it, that seems to be lying. And we KNOW who fathers that sort of thing.

Maybe I'm being harsh. Good. God was harsh with Ananias and Saphira, too.

Tom said...

Bill:

I agree with Tom, your comments about Mr. Seagle are over the top. We need to treat our brothers, even our brothers who mistreat us, with the kind of love and patience that the Gospel demands and our Lord Jesus displayed. If we are going work toward reconciliation, we must not respond in kind when treated unjustly.

Mike said...

"let's encourage our denominational employees to fulfill their responsibilities to the churches to which they are accountable."

Amen! That's the pithiest statement of my eccesiology I've ever read.

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Ascol:

Many thanks for posting this and also once again thanks for your Christ-like gentleness in handling it. In doing so you maintain the firmness and conviction required but never (at least from what I've seen) come across harsh.

Thanks be to God for what He has taught me about these very things through your ministry!

May your tribe increase, my brother.

Looking forward to Indy '08.

SDG,
dbh

G. Alford said...

Tom,

I am still trying to keep a positive spirit about all this… but I need to bring something up that I believe is critical to this discussion about the abuse of power within the Florida Baptist Convention…

John Sullivan and Cecil Seagle are not acting very… well… not acting very “Baptist”. Where is their respect for the autonomy, freedom, and rights of every Baptist Church, Believer, and Pastor? Are their edicts and actions now to be considered above question? Do they no longer have any respect for our Baptist Confession of Faith?

XIV. Cooperation
Christ's people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner.

The Florida Baptist Convention is NOT a Church! It has NO authority and NO Right to interfere with the work of a local church, inject the opinions of its leadership into local church matters, or attempt to call for the discipline of local church pastors who do not agree with them. All of this one could expect from the authoritative leadership of other denominations but never from the Executive Director of a Baptist State Convention!

This is an unbearable offence to Baptist Principles and Polity, and Baptist of all theological opinions should see the ultimate danger of this kind of conduct. Which begs the question; where is the governing “State Board of Missions” in all of this? Should not they be the ones who step up and say to John Sullivan and Cecil Seagle (who are their employees) that they have gone too far and overstepped their authority?

Grace to all,

Arthur Sido said...

I guess the advantage of being a "Southern" Baptist in Northern Michigan is that there aren't enough of us for anything really controversial to go on. We are just happy to keep the doors open.

There is often much talk of sticking it out in the SBC, but if (and I assume pessimistically when) that day comes when we do have to leave, has anyone given serious thought to the alternative for those who hold to historic Baptist beliefs including the doctrines of grace? Where could we go and under what circumstances would that have to happen? Is there or should there be an "exit strategy"?

DENNIS said...

I would love to know where you think this is going. What is the purpose of these tactics? What do they hope to gain? What needs to be done to protect against these actions?

Tom said...

Ryan Helms was unable to post a comment here due to computer malfunction. He asked me to post this in his behalf:

Brothers In Christ,

Please do not speak of a split. I am unwilling to permit hostility at the State level to keep me from the fellowship that I have with these non-Calvinist brothers. Robert Chapman was a pastor who lived in Barnstaple, England in the days of Spurgeon. Spurgeon said of Chapman, “he is the saintliest man I ever knew”. Chapman spoke to John Darby prior to and after the Plymouth Brethren split. Chapman chided Darby for not giving the issue more time. Darby replied, “I waited six months”. Chapman said, “I would have waited six years”.

Let us be patient and permit God to work. I have no animosity toward John Sullivan or Cecil Seagle. I am willing to meet with them anytime. I knew that my integrity would be called into question and that does not bother me either. Those who know me personally and professionally know my character. More importantly the God of my salvation knows.

This really is not about me. I did not know that the FBC pastor had conflict with Calvinistic pastors. He never called me. He never said anything at the associational meetings. I assumed we were in good standing. When this event occurred I realized that there were issues beyond what was being discussed.

The First Baptist pastor and I are in good standing. I approached him after the meeting. I called him by phone to be sure. He assured me that the common ground of the BFM 2000 was sufficient for us to work from. He assured me that the underlying issues were not me.

The associational leadership chose to make the notes public. I would have never made that decision without their approval. Further, I counseled with Calvinists and non-Calvinists about making them public. The associational leadership is unwilling to permit this to die without an apology. Cecil could have apologized to the association that night and to Paul Fries. He did not. Dr. Sullivan could have apologized to the association and to Paul Fries he did not. I called them both and gave them time to do so. As of today they still have not called any of the associational leadership nor Paul Fries.

I am willing to meet with any of the leadership that was in attendance. This has not been unwillingness on the association’s part to meet. The leadership of the association is willing to co-operate with any Baptist that gives faithfully and believes the BFM 2000.

Ryan Helms

dogpreacher said...

This sounds almost as bad as the fiasco in Texas last year when Don Cass sent anti-calvinist propaganda to all the pastors on the SBTC mailing list (using SBTC letterhead, etc.). He never apologized either.

When people do these things (assuming they are true), does this type of dishonesty/sabotage not seriously call into question their qualifications for the ministry? I am...

...Grateful for Grace

William said...

I have just returned from a wonderful week of hearing Pastor Conrad Mbewe (Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia) preach at our SBFYC youth camp in Bolivar, MO. He preached in the mornings on "Missions" (three wonderful sermons on 1) the missionary, 2) his team, & 3) prayer). In the evenings he preached evangelistically (I know that some find it hard to believe that a 5 point Calvinist can preach evangelistically) on "Lessons from Sodom and Gomorrah." The sermons were powerful and passionate, and the Lord saved several of the young people who were in attendance. I say all of this because I have just now read the happenings in the Florida Baptist Covention and I am deeply saddened. John Sullivan was my mentor for five & one half years (1978-1983) at the Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport where I served under him as Assistant Pastor. I learned many wonderful things from him that have been very valuable to me in ministry through the years. He was always very kind to me, even when I became convinced of the doctrines of grace while at Broadmoor. He even defended me when a couple of the members of the Personnel Committee wanted to get rid of me because of my Calvinism. Not only did he defend me, he even defended my theological position and asserted that my theology did not, in fact, harm evangelism. He knew full well that I was a five-point Calvinist and was, I believe, genuinely sad to see me leave Broadmoor to begin pastoring at the FBC of Clinton, LA. While I will not impugn John Sullivan's motives, I know that he knows better.

I do not know what it would cost, but I would be willing to lead my church to raise part of the money to pay for the statewide distribution of a set of CDs on the doctrines of grace that could be sent throughout the Florida Baptist Convention. The addresses of all the churches are readily available, and we do not need to wait around for the state convention to do our work for us. We will be meeting for the national Founders Conference here at Bethel in a few weeks (not to mention the Founders Breakfast in San Antonio in a few days) and we could discuss the logistics of this.

Viva la Reformation in the Florida Baptist Convention, as well as every state convention, and throughout the length and breadth of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Bill Ascol, Senior Pastor
Bethel Baptist Church
Owasso, OK
http://www.bethelowasso.com

P.S. I am not certain about the blog etiquette of inserting the same message in two different blogs, but I have posted this same message twice in the hopes that my idea will get as much attention as possible.

hisbygrace said...

Gentlemen, I'm just a layman and I'm not privy to the inner workings of the denomination at any level, though I do keep up with what's going on within it, and I hear what the big names in the denomination are saying...at least what's publicly said, as well as pastors I've sat under. As far as I can see the "split" is already there, it's just not official. I can tell you at the individual church level that those of us who are Calvinists are very often ostracized for our beliefs. I can't count the times I've been offered prayers for my enlightenment, and that the Lord would open my eyes to my error. Not to mention the usual "oh, you're one of those that believes babies go to hell." Frankly I'm weary of having to defend myself, or keep quiet about my convictions just to get along and remain "Southern Baptist". I don't feel that I should have to compromise just to appease those who don't want me around anyhow. This much I'm certain of...God's kingdom was doing just fine before the SBC ever existed, and I'm quite sure it will continue to advance if the SBC disappears tomorrow. As far as the CP goes...there are plenty of missionaries out there I'm sure who are preaching and teaching the truths of the Bible and would be grateful for the support of a local church. What's more important..being Southern Baptist or being a Biblical church of Christ? Just thinkin out loud.

Jamie Dunbar said...

I'm grateful for the ministy of Paul Fries and pray for his church plant in WI (actually my home assocaition). It is hard to read about all this, knowing some of the things said about Paul, but I am (and I know my pastor is) excited to have a refromed brother in the association.

Mark said...

I love my dad! I have shared quite a few moments with him over the past 40 years. I have watched a man live with an intensely impassioned life with integrity and passion for Christ alone....When you live with someone, you see their 'guts'. Perhaps, more than any other in my life, my pop is the catalyst for my own abandon to the fame of God. I have loved watching Him move heaven and earth in order to share this incredible story of Christ alone. I have learned how to mature (see 'get old : ), yet not back up one inch in his passion and zeal for the name and glory of Christ. I love having a father, who called me 6 years ago to tell me that he was moving into a 5th wheel in the heart of Miami in order to join the hands of multi-ethnic groups/ SES/ denom etc. At the age of retirement for most, he's tackling a huge endeavor in order to push back the darkness. I love that guy!

I don't see much of him in the things posted on this site. But, I do see alot of Christ through Him and for that I am grateful. I see a man who lives for the glory of God because of his depth of satisfaction in Him.

So, I love that man. I love him because he doesn't even mention your web ponderings. I have the privilege of stumbling on this myself. What I love is that your posts and his reality don't correlate.

But, what I consummately love is the supremacy of Christ in all things. Enjoy God. It's a good day!

For the Glory,
Mark Seagle

Fellow pastor and stumbling one through this earth