Sunday, June 17, 2007

Florida Baptist Truth Project: Send Amazing Grace to Florida Baptist Pastors

As I reported last week, Dr. John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention, recently mailed out Dr. Jerry Vines' sermons entitled, "Baptist Battles," to every Southern Baptist pastor in Florida. Included in that series is an error-filled message entitled, "A Baptist and His Election: Calvinism."

Many pastors and other concerned Baptists have contacted me to express their displeasure over this action. Several have suggested that, in the interest of unity and fairness, the Executive Director should mail out material that presents the other side of the issues that Dr. Vines addresses. As the pastor of a cooperating Florida Baptist Convention church, I certainly agree with that suggestion. But as one who has witnessed this kind of misrepresentation from denominational leaders over the last 25 years, I am under no delusions that this will happen.

While no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons, Dr. Sullivan reportedly was able to finance the mailing with the help of Eddie McClelland, President of Florida Baptist Financial Services. According to the article linked above, Mr. McClelland said that he was asked to raise money for this project. Dr. Sullivan, he said, asked him for a gift. He was unaware of the exact nature of the project. According to the article, he said, "I did not know it was political. Our agency doesn't get involved in politics. We serve all Florida Baptists."

I have been in contact with several Florida Baptist pastors (as well as many Southern Baptist pastors outside the state of Florida) who are very disappointed that those CDs were mailed from our state offices. A similar gaffe was made last year by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Their Executive Director apologized once he realized how inappropriate that action was.

At the suggestion of my brother, Bill, I have made a special arrangement with the producers of the Amazing Grace DVD to secure and distribute copies of this tool to the very pastors who received the "Baptist Battles" CDs. Subtitled, "The History and Theology of Calvinism," this two-disk DVD presentation contains more than 4 hours of professionally produced interviews, quotes and explanations of the issues surrounding the doctrines of grace. Among those interviewed are Dr. Tom Nettles, the most prominent historical theologian among Southern Baptists today. Also, Pastors Walt Chantry, Walter Bowie and yours truly contribute to the DVD. For a sample clip, go here.

It will only cost $20,000 to get a copy of this powerful presentation into the hands of every Southern Baptist pastor in Florida. A special fund has been established by Founders Ministries for this very purpose. Let me encourage you to contribute to this project, as you are able and are led by the Lord, to help give Florida Baptist pastors the other side of the story--the side that was seriously caricatured by Dr. Vines' sermon.

You can send your tax exempt contributions to:

Founders Ministries
PO Box 150931
Cape Coral, Florida 33915
ATTN: Florida Baptist Truth Project

You may also contribute online by using the button below.
Riverbend Church of Ormond Beach, Florida, under the leadership of Dr. Roy Hargrave, has offered to match up to $5000 that is given by July 8. That means that your gift can be doubled if you give in the next two weeks.

In addition to supporting this effort by giving, I am asking that over the next several weeks you commit to fast and pray that the Lord will use this project to renew and rekindle a deep love for His Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ not only in the churches of Florida but beyond them throughout the whole Southern Baptist Convention. Specifically, from June 24 through July 31, pray that those who receive this DVD would honestly watch it and open their hearts and minds to the truths from God's Word that it presents. Please encourage or lead your church to join in this prayer effort, as well.

Let me reiterate the purpose of this effort. The historic Southern Baptist understanding of salvation was blatantly misrepresented in the sermon sent out to Florida Baptist churches by our state Execuive Director. A growing number of pastors and churches in Florida believe the Bible teaches exactly that historic perspective. Thus, we and our churches were severely and widely misrepresented and the truth that we proclaim was caricatured to our fellow pastors and sister churches by our own state convention leadership. In an attempt to right this wrong, we are asking for all who love the doctrines of God's sovereign grace and are weary of seeing them distorted beyond recognition by Southern Baptist leaders to join with us in making the Amazing Grace DVD available to Florida Baptist pastors and churches.

We have no interest in division or in being contentious. We do have an interest in truth. We believe what we believe because we think the Bible teaches it. We understand that not everyone shares our convictions. But we desire of ourselves and ask of others, not to misrepresent the views of their brothers and sisters with whom they disagree on these vitally important issues.

For the cause of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, please pray that His truth will prevail and that we will all be humbled before it.

89 comments:

Steve Weaver said...

Excellent idea! I'm glad someone is thinking. Tom, it was good to see you in San Antonio.

GeneMBridges said...

Tom,

I have recently written a check for a couple thousand dollars to pay for a new motor in my car, so, unfortunately, I cannot contribute financially right now, but I will pray fervently for this. I have also passed it on to the elders of my church. Also, I wanted to let you know that I have not forgotten that project-response from earlier this year. Some protracted health issues have gotten in the way, and it took me a long while to complete my additional reading, which only confirmed the original thesis anyway, but I wanted to do some "text criticism" too, but I believe these issues are close to being resolved. I've completed it and will get it to you after the Founders Conference so you can review it closely. I want you to concentrate on your obligations for the month and not worry about this.

Also, since I live in NC, if you and Dr. Akin's folks would like to put together some collated material for an info packet on regenerate church membership/integrity in ch. membership, I'd be willing to man a table and distribute the material @ Ridgecrest. I can even go to SEBTS to help get it together if you want. My email has also changed. Just click on my profile here and you can reach me @ my new email.

Blessings,

Gene

Sojourner said...

So, if we happen to live in Louisiana, how may we obtain a copy?

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Tom:

I think this is an excellent idea. Indeed, I do pray that God would move in the hearts of Florida pastors to watch the DVDs and see how biblical the Doctrines truly are. The added part about evangelism is excellent too and I think would go far (God willing) to recover a more God-centered approach to soul winning.

May God be glorified in His truth!

SDG,
dbh

DoGLover said...

Tom, I'm glad to support this effort to proclaim & reclaim the the historical & scriptural foundation on which Southern Baptists stand. Perhaps God will grant us the reformation & revival we so desparately need in our day.

dogpreacher said...

Brother Tom,

You said, "A similar gaffe was made last year by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Their Executive Director apologized once he realized how inappropriate that action was."

Why would anybody in the position of 'Executive Director' of the SBTC...NOT understand how innapropriate that action was. I do not buy that. The damage was done. He would not give equal time to the truly representative portrayal of the D.O.G.(Calvinism). Thus, his 'apology' has a hollow ring to it, and to some degree...one must question the integrity of the man. Don Cass never apologized. That would have meant more to me than Jim Richards stock response (damage control) after the damage was done.

I will be praying for you guys in Florida concerning this situation, as I know what it felt like here in Texas last year. Similar to Brother Gene, the money is tight, but I feel like I must supply at least a few of those DVDs to the cause. Please accept my "widows mite", and know that I appreciate men like you, Bill, Roy, etc. who will stand in the face of this.

Rhett said...

This is an awsome idea!!!

For those outside of FL., the makers of the Amazing Grace DVD have the video on sale for 1/2 price ($14.99 until the end of the month: http://store.nicenecouncil.com/

Soli Deo Gloria!

irreverend fox said...

Tom,

have you requested any financial assistance from your state convention to assist in offsetting the cost?

it seems like a fair request to me given the circumstances. can you request an equal amount of funds used to ship the Vines message from wherever that funding came from?

being denied such equal funding would be a note worth making, on this blog and others. but let's assume the best of them first...why not request assistance from them to make this happen?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Dr. Ascol,

I find this post most interesting. Especially your statement struck me: "...no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..." Are you sure? Did you verify it?

Like for example, the verification Timmy Brister assured us in his post "Connellism Versus Calvinism: You Be the Judge." He writes as recommended by you: “Well, Tom Ascol has just verified that Dr. John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Florida Baptist Convention, has indeed mailed Dr. Vines’ messages to every pastor in the state convention - paid for with what? Yes, God’s money! Talk about cooperation!"

Further though, Dr. Ascol, you wrote on that same post "Little did I know. Not only has the denominational leadership of my own state convention given Dr. Vines a pass on this sermon, *they have used God's money* to send it to every Southern Baptist in the state!"

And, I fear there's more. In the comment thread, you morally indicted Dr. Sullivan:

“As I told a reporter today, it is immoral to ask churches to support with their finances activities that blatantly attack what those churches believe and teach.”

Now, however, you simply state "...no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..."

I am wondering, given the severity of the indictment offered here and elsewhere pertaining to the misuse of CP monies by Dr. John Sullivan if an official apology will be offered. Is it not appropriate?
Would it not be expected if Founders were wrongly accused of misusing funds?

Grace today, Dr. Ascol. With that, I am...

Peter

james.thompson said...

Your PayPal donation link isn't properly constructed. It doesn't get me to the right place to send a donation by this means. Can you perhaps fix this or simply disclose the email address that is accepting the donations via PayPal?

Darel said...

It's good to see that there are still guardians in the church.

I would assist in this financially, but PayPal is incapable of taking my money.

Tom said...

Thanks for all the encouraging comments. Please pray for this effort.

Irreverend:

I did actually think about asking the Florida Foundation for assistance, but decided against it. It's not a bad idea, though.

Dr. Lumpkins:

I am surprised to learn that you think that the only money that qualifies as "God's money" is that which is given through the cooperative program! This must be your position or else you would not have reasoned the way that you do. Dr. Lumpkins, you and I must simply agree to disagree on this point. Let me quickly add that, if I believed as you do--that the only money that belongs to God is CP money--then I would accept your call for an apology as the appropriate thing to do. But, since I do *not* believe that the CP constitutes the sum and substance of all the money that God owns, no apology will be forthcoming for my statement that the state office used "God's money" to send out Dr. Vines' sermons.

May you have a grace filled day, Dr. Lumpkins!

Hargrave said...

When a set of CD's is sent out with letterhead from the Florida Baptist Convention with an official letter from the primary executive of the State Convention on that letterhead, promoting, I might add, what has been proposed in said CD's, that involves resources from the Florida Baptist Convention. If on the other hand, the official letterheads can be bought and paid for by an external entity and sent out to Florida Baptist pastors as an official correspondence from the primary executive in the state, then we have a serious problem which is much more severe in nature than was previously thought. And who is Eddie McClelland, President of Florida Baptist Financial Service? Isn't he to be held accountable to Florida Baptist to some extent, seeing that he is the primary CEO of a "trust" agency of the convention? And if, in fact, Dr. Sullivan was not forthright with him about the content of what he was supporting, doesn't Dr. Sullivan owe him an apology? I'm certain that Lumpkin has already made that demand of Dr. Sullivan. And I wonder if Dr. Sullivan asked his secretary (paid for by FBC) to write the official letter encouraging pastors to listen to Vine's sermons. Or did Dr. Sullivan, who's salary is paid for by the FBC, carry all of this out during his time off. What a convoluted argument to suggest that Founders in the FBC owe these men an apology. Sounds like the Democratic parties tactics. That would be akin to my church sending your church a letter opposing your views with Riverbend's official letterhead and asking you to apologiize for blasting us due to the fact that we got a guy off the street to pay for the contents. The point is, if you don't want entities to be accused of the obvious, STOP using our letterhead to promote division! And STOP allowing money given by other entities to utilize our letterhead in promoting division.

Hargrave said...

Oh, I forgot to add, were the copiers used for the mailout paid for by Dr. McClelland's money? Were those in charge of the packaging for the mailout paid for by external money? Was the time of all FBC employees who were utilized for this mailout paid for by external money?

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

Gee, Dr. Ascol, I did not so much as pen one syllable as to my own view of stewardship. Rather I simply quoted your own words back to you.

You wrote: "...no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..." If this is so, then I am unsure what you mean in your little rejoinder to me: "if I believed as you do--that the only money that belongs to God is CP money--then I would accept your call for an apology."

Of course, I do not believe that the only money God owns is CP money. I think with you He owns it all.

But that isn't what we're talking about here. You wrote: "...no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..." O.K., if that's so, I am afraid the moral challenge is still before you.

Grace, Dr. Ascol. With that, I am...

Peter

Tom said...

Dr. Lumpkins:

Wow. I hold you accountable for your words and logic and you confuse the issue by bringing up the topic of stewardship. I am certainly glad to know that don't believe that God's money is limited to the CP. Given that, why do you still think I should apologize. Perhaps you are operating on the basis of some canons of logic to which I am not privy. It seems rather simple to me:

Tom: God's money was used.
Tom: No CP money was used.
Dr. Lumpkins: Tom is morally obligated to apologize for saying the first because he acknowledges the second.

Once again, Dr. Lumpkins, you and I must simply agree to disagree on the congency of your protest.

Have a blessed day!

Earl M. Blackburn said...

Sending the CDs is an excellent idea. Though in Louisiana, I am going to present this matter to our combined Elders & Deacons meeting tomorrow night. I hope we can send over some money to help our sister churches in Florida.

BTW, we are planning on sending Dr. Tom Nettles book "Ready for Reformation" to every church in the LBC (1,600+ churches). The total cost will be $14,400. We have $3,500. As you think of this matter, we would apprciate your prayers.

No surrender!

Earl

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Dr. Ascol,

Bravo! Very clever. I like to be clever (when I can). I like it when others are clever (like you).

The problem is, the tone of being clever is a little off-base here. Indeed, I think I know why.

Founders possesses a pretty clear record in calling for public apologies, indicting those who "slander" the DoG, publicly taking to task those who "speak evil" against the brethern, etc.

Thus, I can appreciate why you wish to sidetrack the point I make by "being clever." For me, I say that's simply peachy.

I do not know how Dr. Sullivan feels though since he probably was deeply offended by being accused of something by you but now, according to you, he did not do: "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons."

Oh well. Chalk up one for the old clever, Dr. Ascol, aey?

Grace for this afternoon. With that, I am...

Peter

Tom said...

Dr. Lumpkins:

Clever? Me? Hardly. I am simply trying to be honest and encouraging you to be, as well. How have I sidetracked the point? I have tried, as simply as I know how to point out that you have falsely accused me. You accuse me of accusing Dr. Sullivan of misappropriating CP funds. I have never done that and you, despite your many efforts, have not been able to demonstrate that I have. All you have been able to do is repeat my words that "God's money" was used. When I expose the fallacy of your reasoning and encourage you to own your duplicity, you charge me with trying to be "clever" and sidetracking the argument.

Dr. Sullivan knows that I have not done what you have accused me of doing. He and I have discussed it. Anyone who reads what I have written knows that I have not done what you have accused me of doing, because my words are not hard to understand. Nevertheless, if you are determined to persist in your false accusation--which you seem bent on doing--I cannot stop you. Having done my best to point out your error and encourage you to correct your false accusation, all I can do now is to stand by and watch your credibility further evaporate with each attempt you make to confuse the issue further while refusing to own your actions.

Still, I wish you a grace filled day.

irreverend fox said...

Tom,

I think you really ought to approach your state convention and let them help you. I think the cooperating churches in that state convention deserve to hear a reason why such a request would be denied...if in fact it would be. And if the request is granted how wonderful would that be?

I do strongly encourage you to make the request...the churches in that state would be served well by you making it and knowing about the response.

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

"all I can do now is to stand by and watch your credibility further evaporate with each attempt you make to confuse the issue further while refusing to own your actions."

Dr. Ascol, with all due respect, I do not think you are concerned about my "credibility further evaporat[ing]" You're not only clever, but an hilarious hoot as well:^)

You wrote three statements of interest about this:

a) they [convention state officials] have used God's money to send it to every Southern Baptist in the state

b) "it is immoral to ask churches to support with their finances activities that blatantly attack what those churches believe and teach."

c) "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..."

Contrarily, the issue is not how Dr. Sullivan views it. After all, Dr. Sullivan is an alleged anti-Calvinist sending out anti-Calvinist propaganda. I would not rely too heavily on him as an authority were I you.

Rather the issue is whether or not Dr. Sullivan used "[churches] money" (b)--what you call "God's money" (a)--to "blatantly attack what those churches believe and teach." Unless I'm missing something in your posts, Dr. Ascol, God's money" and "[churches] money = CP money.

Now, at least the way I read it, Dr. Ascol, (c) seems to be a direct correction to the record of (a) and (b).

And, Dr. Ascol, for the record: there is no "many efforts to demonstrate you have [accused Dr. Sullivan]." I simply read your post today and noticed a glaring inconsistency: "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons", which is directly against you've repeated numerous times and others like Brister, Lollar and Puryear followed your lead.

Come to find out--CP monies were not used: "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons."

Peace today, Dr. Ascol. With that, I am...

Peter

Jeff Fuller said...

It doesn't take being a Southern Baptist to see how wonderful an opportunity this is to spread the gospel! I look forward to giving what I can.

I'm not privy to the polity of the Florida Baptist Convention so I don't exactly understand all the politics involved... yet I have been a calvinistic Christian long enough to have experienced being misrepresented and marginalized!

Tom said...

Dear Dr. Lumpkins:

We must have used different textbooks in our logic classes! I suspect we probably used different ethics books, as well. :-)

You write:
a) they [convention state officials] have used God's money to send it to every Southern Baptist in the state

b) "it is immoral to ask churches to support with their finances activities that blatantly attack what those churches believe and teach."

c) "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..."

Then you write:

Now, at least the way I read it, Dr. Ascol, (c) seems to be a direct correction to the record of (a) and (b).

I will certainly grant that you have the right to read it that way. But I must sadly point out that your reasoning would not convince even a freshman student of logic--unless, perhaps, he or she used whatever textbook you studied.

Though I am growing weary of pointing out the obvious, let me try to do so one more time:

The only way c would contradict a is if "God's money" is limited to "CP money." You have stated that you do not believe that (which relieves me) and yet you continue to defend a position which requires that untenable view.

The only way that c would contradict b is 1) if the only money that ever flows from churches to the state offices is via the CP or 2) if you disallow that which Dr. Hargrave pointed out, that CP monies are used to support the general operating expenses of the state offices. I must assume you must hold both views in order to make your claim.

Dr. Lumpkins, it is clear that you and I will never agree on this matter. So, this is my last response to you about it. Thanks for dropping by. Have a grace filled day!

Pastor Klay said...

Tom, PayPal wants to charge sales tax on this donation (I never got my extra slice of bacon in San Antonio by the way).

If we Florida pastors donate in this way, will the 6% have to be sent to the state? Would a mailed check be better for the project?

Tom said...

Klay:

Sorry about that! We are working on fixing that problem. The additional 6% for "sales tax" in Florida is automatically added, but we hope to take it off asap. I assure you, that 6% of any donations will not be sent to the state government.

Thanks for pointing this out. Look for your extra slice of bacon in the mail! :-)

ta

farmboy said...

Mr. Ascol,

I'm sure you are familiar with Phil Johnson's blog "Pyromaniacs." Mr. Johnson has just a few rules for his blog, one of which is "Don't feed the trolls." I did not fully appreciate this rule until I made the ill fated attempt to engage in a rational exchange with a certain defender of the SBC party line. That exchange drove home the importance of not feeding trolls.

Your points have been made in a clear, rational, evidence supported manner. You have presented the truth for anyone who cares to see it. My unsolicited advice is that you do not need to spend time belaboring the obvious.

Keep up the good work!

peter lumpkins said...

Dr. Ascol,

For you to continue to insist on your point in the face of your own words--"no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons" is beginning to embarrass even me, my good Dr. Ascol. I'd hoped you would, for all the times you've called on others to publicly retract, have better evidence than "I don't see it like you do."

Oh well, if nothing else, perhaps others will now run the resources they get on the net, doing their own research, before they climb on board the hay wagon.

To your defense your usual hit men have gone silent. I recall the last encounter here when I was only wishing well the possible coming of Dr. Nettles to your church and even attempted to offer my compliments to him. Consequently, I fell among theives, was wounded and left for dead.

The only one to your rescue now is Farmboy--whom, of course I dare not address since I remain a troll. Of course, I recall the brief exchange I had with him differently than he. From my memory, I was attempting to offer evidence as he piled on the emotive insults. If that is being a troll, then being a troll I shall be.

I hope your evening is a peaceful one. With that, I am...

Peter

J. Gray said...

I think Bro. Hargrave's comments made it quite clear that CP money did, in fact, pay for this mail-out.

CP money paid for the resources - letterhead, ink, envelopes, labels, time spent.

Plus, where does Florida Baptist Financial Services get money from? If the money was drawn from their resources (gifts from SBC churches and members), does it not in fact act as a de facto CP.

I have to question no only the ethics of Dr.Sullivan from drawing money from FBFS (while also hiding the reason for the request from McClelland)...but also his attempt to disguise this as not taking any CP and FBC resources, when it clearly did. I also view it as unethical to stamp the FBC logo on the CDs to give it credibility, but then when called on using CP funds says the FBC didn't pay for it. If it didn't, then don't pretend it did. (Again, he did use FBC and CP resources, even if it is not line-itemed in the budget.)

Highly unethical...if not purposefully misleading.

I think Dr.Sullivan needs to be reminded that he works for us...not the other way around. IMO, he's gotten "too big for his britches" the way he has made declarations and pronouncements (and decisions like this) the past few years.

This whole thing stinks...I for one am glad that there is a response. I just wish Sullivan would "man up" and address his reasons as well as answer the criticisms.
That is what any honest man of God, with nothing to hide or apologize for, would do.

David B. Hewitt said...

At the risk of feeding "trolls" it would seem that the two of you genetlemen (Drs. Lumpkins and Ascol) are using different definitions for the same terms.

Originally I has *thought* that CP funds were used for this distribution myself, but I had wrongly equated two things that were not necessarily the same. (logical fallacy of equivocation on my part)

Since Dr. Ascol has clarified his meanings, I have been corrected as to my understanding. :)

Dr. Lumpkins, I cannot help but think that you are simply not grasping the difference in definitions the two of you are employing. From what I've seen of you on this blog, you have been amiable and have enjoyed the dialogues I've read [usually :D], though here the misunderstanding is growing and appears less than helpful.

I'll stop with what I was saying regarding it, especially since Dr. Tom has stopped and I fear I may be out of order continuing to address it. So, I'll end with this last comment:

May God move in the hearts of His people to get the funds together for this project and may His truth be known far and wide in the Florida Baptist Convention!

SDG,
dbh

J. Gray said...

BTW, Pete...maybe no one is rushing to Tom's defense because...he doesn't need defense against your statements.

Your logic is flawed. Your perspective is backwards. Your statements are condescending and underhanded.

What I don't get is how someone can be shown their error several times but still talk down to someone as if they were right all along.

For the most part you are being ignored...now I will join the throngs in overlooking your ramblings.

With that I am....back to ignoring you.

:)

peter lumpkins said...

Dear J. Gray,

"Your logic is flawed. Your perspective is backwards. Your statements are condescending and underhanded." Why, thank you, J. Gray. How wonderful of you to say so.

David,

I may be missing the "definition" but my question is, why would we need a technical definition in a question of this type? One recalls the classic Clintonian response: "It depends on what you mean by 'is'." Please.

Dr. Ascol himself conceded: "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons." Splitting hairs over this is simply, well, ur, uh splitting hairs, for heaven's sake.

My simple point is, if no CP money was spent, the outrage is misguided.

Grace. With that, i am...

Peter

Tom said...

J. Gray:

I understand your frustration. Indeed, in many ways I share it. Let me caution you, however, about getting personal in your critique. Dr. Sullivan is our Christian brother. In many ways and situations I have found him to be a wonderful, respectable Christian leader. Obviously, I disagree with what he did in sending out these CDs. I think it was a mistake and an unwise use of *God's money" (note to anyone who may miss the obvious: God's money is not limited to that which flows through the CP).

I have spoken with Dr. Sullivan about this. We had a very cordial, even warm conversation about it. We disagree. Let's keep our comments here focused on the great good that can come out of these events if our Lord is pleased to overrule them in that way.

Join me in praying that the Lord will enable us to do what we are planning in this project; and pray that many will be challenged and encouraged in their understanding of and commitment to the truth of God's Word.

Rella said...

Maybe no one's coming to Dr. Tom's defense because like Peter and those bloggers he referenced they too read Dr. Tom's words as meaning CP funds not just "God's money." A less prideful person might be able to recognize that since more than just Peter saw Ascol's posts as referring to CP money he should make some attempt at apologizing for having not been clear enough in his rant (if indeed he actually never intended to imply CP money was used since there seems to be a question of ethics). Pray for humility indeed!

Jon Nunley said...

Praying fervently for you all in this God-honoring endeavor.

For the sake of His Truth for HIS glory.

Lisa Nunley

KPcalvinist said...

Gentlemen,

I agree whole heartedly with Dr. Hargrave.

There's no way that FBC funds were not used in this ordeal. Maybe there's no budgeted line item for this transaction. However, the expense of letterhead, secretarial time, John Sullivan's time, postage, copier usage, and everything else that Dr. Hargrave points out - we paid for.

So again, there's no reason to apologize to John Sullivan.

And I have a question, why are we so apologetic all the time. As if we have to defend everything we say with an apology for being forthright.

Is there no room for zeal in the life of a Christian?

Does zeal have to be smothered in the gravy of "please don't take this wrong my Christian brother?"

Man, why can't we just say it because the Bible says it?

Do we not believe like Spurgeon that calvinism is the gospel?

If so, (I certainly do) then why do we have to qualify every little thing we do so that they won't say we're mean calvinists?

Frankly, I think it's time we call it like it is and stop wanting to hold hands and sing Cum ba ya.

We're not talking about the color of the carpet; we're talking about the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish that our Calvinist leaders would start making that the issue because that's the issue worth fighting for.

J. Gray said...

Bro. Tom,

Thank you for your careful warning. I want to make sure that my critique doesn't become washed out by a harsh tone. Your warning is well taken.

But I think there is a need for Dr. Sullivan to step up and answer the questions that have been brought out by his actions in this regard. (My frustration stems from several years of actions and statements by him.) It is a fine line between making critiques personal and critiquing the actions and attitudes of a person.

I truly believe that his actions in this issue (and his vague statements since) are unethical. I think this was a calculated move and it was set up so that he could answer "no CP monies were used". That is purposefully misleading.

So, while I (as a lifelong Florida Baptist) am thankful for the work Dr. Sullivan has done over the years, it does not mean that I am willing to overlook unethical actions now.

I do however want to make sure that I do not attack him, as I know him to be a faithful brother in Christ. But his actions MUST be critiqued...especially since he is serving us as Florida Baptists. The line between actions and the person are a very thin one.

Hargrave said...

There are certain biblical admonitions that appear to be most applicable in the context of the blogosphere these days. Proverbs 26:4 comes to mind.

Pookas said...

What kpcalvinist said.....

CorneliusDOGLover said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Hargrave:

Indeed, Proverbs 26:4 seems appropriate with many things going on in the blogosphere nowadays.

Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

SDG,
dbh

CorneliusDOGLover said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rella said...

That's funny Cornelius!

hisbygrace said...

kpcalvinist,
Amen and amen! If we truly believe that the doctrines we hold are truth, then it's time to stand up and say so. If indeed the doctrines of grace ARE the gospel, then why compromise with another one? Nobody likes division...but the truth will divide, there's no getting around it. That is unless one takes the position that truth is all relative. I'm not saying that one should set out with the sole purpose of being divisive, I'm just saying it's time to take a stand and let the chips fall where they may.2

NativeVermonter said...

When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the Word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed (Acts 13:48) With this and other countless accounts of God's Grace in Salvation--why does man cling so tightly to "decision theology?" Are we impugned so fervently because we dare to say that God saves sinners and actually mean it? (Actually these questions are rhetorical in nature.) I agree with the brothers who are enouraging us in love to stand...and after that, to stand. Whether in His justice, or in His mercy...He will be Glorified.

Rella said...

NativeVermonter says:


"--why does man cling so tightly to "decision theology?" Are we impugned so fervently because we dare to say that God saves sinners and actually mean it?"

...and let the misrepresentations begin.

Hey Dr. Tom, what happened to your sense of humor? Maybe you could bring up that post about NetFinney cause it sure is funny to mock the other side isn't it?

Bill Formella said...

Tom, I absolutely love this idea and will pray with my family about how to be involved financially. Then, when this is done we can figure out how to do the same in Georgia. This is where the battle is and really where it should be. I mean at the local church level, not just in the great state of Georgia. :-)

When it comes to government, we have the kind of politicians we have because of the kind of people we are. When it comes to the SBC, in many cases (not all) we have the kind of leadership we have because of the kind of churches we have. When our churches are transformed our convention will be as well.

In fact, I believe we need to go farther than this. I think we should have a set of relatively concise but powerful documents in PDF format that can be easily e-mailed. Imagine if our people began e-mailing documents like Tom's "Integrity Resolution" or Roy Hargrave's "An Idol Called Evangelism" to everyone on their e-mail list with a request to pass it on to anyone they think would benefit. We could come up with other very attention getting titles. Let's take this to the streets.

What do you think Tom and Roy?

William said...

Tom, I am not in FL so I had to go to the Woodstock website and find Dr. Vines' sermons on Baptist Battles. I finished the sermon and let the music continue until the end of the sermon. What Dr. Hunt said at the end was even worse than what Dr. Vines said even though he only spoke a few sentences. In essence he said -- You Calvinists need to tell your friends what you really believe . . . tell them that you believe that babies go to hell!

The emotional attacks that are w/o basis are what I find most disturbing.

Pastor Klay said...

Paypal taxes are removed, but now there are S&H charges. BUT, I still managed to give exactly what I intended - though I did try several combinations first! :)

David B. Hewitt said...

I think this is the most I've ever commented on a post before. :)

In any case, I wanted to chime in about how people are mentioning the importance of standing up for the truth of the Doctrines of Grace, and it is surely important.

However, someone (I think) seemed to express frustration at all of the constant attacks said Doctrines suffer and also seemed to be growing tired of being gentle in communicating our apologetic for the truth.

I would caution us to remain ever gentle as we remain ever firm. Failure to do so runs great risk of violating the Scripture's commands regarding gentleness.

I wrote this article nearly a year ago that deals with this very thing. It's a bit lengthy, but I think worth the read. There are a couple of quotes from Dr. Tom in there too that I think pertain wonderfully to the matter at hand.

May God's people be encouraged, and may our Great God and Savior be glorified.

dbh

David said...

mpaqTom

I am a frequent reader to your blog and have never left a comment. I must say that the entire debate seems to hinge on the implied meaning of…

“As I told a reporter today, it is immoral to ask churches to support with their finances activities that blatantly attack what those churches believe and teach.”

Although you have made it clear that this is not CP money, in the context of a state director and Florida Baptist Churches, one could very easily assume that you are referring to CP money. I believe that Dr. Lumpkins is reading the quote this way and thus ask for an apology only if to clarify the issue.

However, the reason I am commenting is concerning the language in which you corrected Mr. Lumpkins. Using phrases such as “freshman logic” and “evaporating credibility” I believe is beneath you. Having said that, I know nothing of your previous discussions with Dr. Lumpkins. Maybe he deserved it, but you still should not go there.

In the end, think you for your insight. I enjoy all that you write.

David G

GeneMBridges said...

Dr. Ascol, with all due respect, I do not think you are concerned about my "credibility further evaporat[ing]" You're not only clever, but an hilarious hoot as well:^)

One cannot tarnish a rusted blade.

Tom is castigated for allegedly saying that CP money was used for the mailing.

Peter is the one who equated "God's money" with CP money.

And now Peter is allegedly embarrassed for Tom, because Tom says that CP money was not used, and nowhere has Peter found a statement by Tom stating that CP money was used.

By Peter's own admission above, Tom has made 3 statements:

a) they [convention state officials] have used God's money to send it to every Southern Baptist in the state

b) "it is immoral to ask churches to support with their finances activities that blatantly attack what those churches believe and teach."

c) "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons..."

He sees c as a correction of a and b, but what Peter has done is make an assertion minus the argument. How, exactly, is that a correction, except on his own assumptions about a and b? One has to assume the consequent in order to arrive at that conclusion, e..g that "God's money" refers to CP dollars, particularly CP dollars spent on the mailing itself.

I would point out that Dr. Sullivan used his *position*, which does involve CP monies, via the general operating expenses of the FBC (a fact that Peter has yet to acknowledge here), to do this. If Peter has a problem with that, then perhaps he should write Dr. Hargrave or just get the FBC to stop using CP dollars to pay the ED of their convention.

What we *do* have if Eddie McClelland's admission that FL Baptist Financial Services was asked to raise money for the project, and is dismay that Dr. Sullivan used the monies in the gift for something that Brother Eddie himself says was political. Basically, that's their credit union. They do church funds mgmt, estate planning, charitable gift planning, trust mgmt, personal investing, church lending, and scholarships.

That sounds a lot like God's money at work.

What we have here, then, is a classic example of turning material into an argument before attempting to refute , ineffectually, an argument of his own making, then castigating Tom for not measuring up. That's called mirror-reading. Peter is castigating Tom for something that is dependent not on what Tom wrote, but what Peter assumed and inferred, and, as we shall see, it was Peter who made the connection.

To your defense your usual hit men have gone silent.

“Hit men.” Ah, yes, the irenic world of ad homineum invective. So much for Peter's forked tongue rhetoric about irenicism.

The reason those "hit men" have "gone silent" has nothing to do with the lack of merit to Tom's response, but the obvious illogic of your own. There is some damage that can only be done by an interlocutor who continues to make the same flawed presentation. So far, they have let you do all the work. Being the agreeable guy you are, you were drawn here like fly to paper, despite your repeated and often self-refuted claims to have no grudge against Founders ministries, Calvinists, or those who post here, and now you've gotten your wings trapped in it. You drew your own negative conclusions and then you proceeded to argue with...yourself. The whole time you called for Tom to make a correction, it was, as we shall see below, nothing more than a correction of your own making, for you drew negative conclusions on your own then proceeded to castigate Tom for negative conclusions that you drew.

My simple point is, if no CP money was spent, the outrage is misguided.

Since Eddie McClelland himself has made the comment that had he known about the purpose for which the money he was asked to raise was to be used, he would not have done so, since his institution serves "all FL Baptists."

However, even if your frame the issue without reference to “CP dollars” Brother Sullivan still used his position as Executive Director of the FBC to do this. Further, the letter does not indicate that he was acting as a “private citizen.” No, he was acting as ED of the FBC and using his access to the churches to do this. Ergo, even if we frame the issue in the terms Peter provides, there is plenty of “outrage” here.

I would further point out that, as we shall see, from Peter’s own comments elsewhere, if CP dollars were used there is, in his view, still no outrage. Peter can't seem to keep track of his own thinking, or he's since changed his mind, or he's speaking with a forked tongue.

I may be missing the "definition" but my question is, why would we need a technical definition in a question of this type.

David did not call for a "technical" definition. This is now your tendentious characterization of the term "God's money" as defined for you by Tom, a definition given to correct an argument of your own making, Please do not chastise others for answering you on your own level.

Peter can't keep track of his own argument. Tom merely answered Peter on his own level, since Peter is the one that framed the argument in those terms. Then, when answered on those terms, he complained about the answer.

I simply read your post today and noticed a glaring inconsistency: "no cooperative program money was spent to send out Dr. Vines' sermons", which is directly against you've repeated numerous times and others like Brister, Lollar and Puryear followed your lead.

Peter is confusing words and concepts. “God’s money” is a set of words. It can mean many things. Rather than actually, you know, ask Tom nicely to clarify, Peter came out with guns blazing.

What’s more Brother Peter can't keep track of his own argumentation over time, so it seems somebody will have to do it for him by actually looking at the pertinent material.

Peter mentioned Timmy Brister's comments, but where was Peter when Timmy Brister posted that? An entry from Peter is remarkably absent from that thread. If then that was an issue, then he should have said something then. Timmy did make a statement about *cooperation* not "CP dollars." These are not convertible concepts. The first mention of CP dollars in connection with this incident came from one “Davethepastor” in the form of a question in the combox, and it was not answered one way or the other.

So, yet again, we have *Peter* making that connection as fact, not the writer, and what did Peter actually say about CP dollars?

Peter mentioned Bill Lollar. If this alleged inaccuracy was a concern then, then Peter should have said something then. But here is what he *did* state then on Bill's blog:

But know nonCalvinists such as myself could slice that pie too by whinning about Dr. Nettles who teaches at SBTS, offering a point of view that not only does not
represent my views, but is far from the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists. Do I think it is wrong to pay Dr. Nettles with my CP dollars? I do not.


(emphasis mine)

a. One cannot help but notice that in that thread, Bill Lollar had said nothing about CP dollars. I contacted him personally to verify this after looking for it myself, and for information about any other comments he may have made in unguarded fashion. He replied: "I did not make any reference to CP dollars funding Sullivan's CD project."

b. So, Peter made that connection. And, guess, what, brothers, in my original commentary @ Triablogue, I too made that connection (a correction has since been made), but I’ve also been too hopped up on Soma and Vicodin over the past few weeks to fail to notice. At least I have an excuse. Peter’s objections are remarkably absent from that thread too.

c. Speaking of which Peter apparently had no problem with the idea that if *CP dollars* were used, they should be used for such a mailing, since his own illustration involved
Dr. Nettles @ SBTS, a position paid for by CP dollars with which Peter disagrees, yet he does not find it disagreeable that he teaches at SBTS on CP dollars.

d. So, where is the outrage? He says he believes Tom falsely accused Brother Sullivan, but apparently it isn't *by his own words* an accusation with which he has a problem anyway if true, and it is, in reality a conclusion that Peter himself drew, so Peter is castigating Tom for falsely accusing Brother John Sullivan, but why? Peter is the one that actually did that himself in his own mind and in other comments, while believing and publicly stating that, even if true, it isn't objectionable at all. I see this on a regular basis from atheists like John Loftus, who throw up objections to Christianity which they really don’t believe anyway; I expect better from the Brethren.

An atheist can’t very well attack the Bible on the grounds it is immoral if s/he doesn’t believe anything is intrinsically good or evil. In the same way, it is irrational to attack Tom, Bill, Timmy, and Les, or anybody else for connecting “CP dollars” to John Sullivan and this incident if one doesn’t believe that using CP dollars for such a project is problematic. That’s schizophrenic. So, what he does is attack Tom on the grounds that he’s called on others to retract misleading and misrepresentational statements in the past, but that’s still irrational since (a) Tom made no such statements; (b) the person making the statements was Peter from negative conclusions he himself made and then proceeded to treat as fact; and (c) John Sullivan is the ED of the FBC, a powerful position that depends on CP dollars.

e. Peter stated this not because of something *Bill Lollar* stated, but because of something one *Ubergoober* stated, about "all of us" paying for it (eg. FL Baptists), and he's right, for the FL Baptist Foundation receives money from "all of us,” and John Sullivan represents “all of us” with money paid for by FL Baptist dollars. Peter was the one that made the connection to CP dollars directly, not Tom, not Bill, not even Ubergoober, you Peter, and you appeared to have made the connection not simply to his position and power, which is clearly funded by CP dollars anyway, but, as you state in this combox at this time now, regarding the mailing itself. So, framed in the terms of your own argumentation, “You are the man.”

f. Greg Alford made the connection to CP dollars reflecting on the conversation between Ubergoober and Peter. So, it seems that the term "CP dollars" there is one that was invented by Peter.

g. The only other reference I can find to CP dollars on this at Founders came from Aaron Turner in the combox of Tom’s first thread. There was no protracted discussion, just a comment.

h. Peter mentioned Les Puryear, but Les never said anything about CP dollars being used, and Peter posted one time in that thread and said not a word about CP dollars. I personally checked with Brother Les. He wrote, “I don't have to check my blog archives because I have NEVER said anything about CP dollars other than reporting CP giving percentage from the churches on nominees to various boards and agencies. When I heard about the witch hunt in Florida I did provide a link from my blog to Tom Ascol's. However, I have never personally said anything about anyone's use of CP money, much less the FBC."

Peter waited until now to raise this issue it seems, and that strikes me as eminently disingenuous, for you see, he castigates Tom for falsely accusing Brother John Sullivan for an action that, if true, he wouldn't find problematic anyway, so he doesn’t seem to really believe there’s a problem with using CP dollars for such a mailing. Apparently he’s either changed his mind secretly or he can’t keep track of his own argumentation. Ergo, he’s upset about a misrepresentation in which, if true, he does not, following his own comments at his own named sources, really believe is a problem. No, he’s concerned that Tom misrepresented John Sullivan’s actions, but that is patently false, and in fact, is a negative conclusion that Peter drew long ago on his own without any help from anybody he names and, it seems, without emailing Brother Tom, Bill, Timmy, or Les or at least voicing his concern or belief the term needs to be clarified in the combox. Further, in the midst of crying foul and holding Brother Tom accountable for allegedly bearing false witness, he bears false witness against not one, but THREE brothers in the course of a single sentence, and if you add Tom, FOUR. The only persons who have been falsely accused here are those four persons.

Tom said...

David G:

Thanks for your comment. I think you are correct about the interpretation of that phrase. I was very careful in how I worded things, both to the reporter and on the blog. I did not know if CP money was spent when I originally posted. Given the fact that the head of the Florida Financial Services co-signed the letter, I suspected it wasn't. However, resources that came from Florida Baptists most certainly were used. When Dr. Sullivan criticized the debate on resolution #5 last year at the SBC he wrote that he could not believe that 30 minutes of God's precious time was wasted on that issue. His words were in my mind when I wrote what I did.

Regarding your rebuke of how I responded to Peter. I accept it and thank you for it. As you guessed, there is a long history behind our exchange. Take a peek at his blog to get the most recent rounds. I don't want to be personally defensive, for many reasons, not the least of which is that it clouds the issues at hand. So do personal attacks. Where I am guilty of making such, I am without excuse. My intent was to point out the irrationality of Dr. Lumpkins' argument. He and I have often disagreed but usually because of difference of opinion, not because of an inability to draw valid conclusions from known facts. He made assumptions and then charged me with what he assumed. I reject his assumptions and stand by my very carefully selected words--words that are in print and beyond dispute.

Someone referenced Proverbs 26:4 earlier in this string. Verse 5 follows immediately after it, thus setting us on the horns of a dilemma at points. By this I do not mean to call anyone a fool, but to recognize the biblical wisdom that comes at times by refusing to engage a disputant on his own terms and at other times doing exactly that. I confess that I do not always see clearly when to do which.

Thanks again for caring enough to comment and for your willingness to address me on this.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

God Bless you Tom.

I look forward to attending the meeting in November.

David G

Mark said...

Tom,

I'm not in the SBC but felt led to support the project. There are times when I wish I were part of the SBC, I love to listen to Dr. Mohler, Dr. Dever, Pastor Paul Washer, and to read your daily blog. I will look for a link to listen to your preaching in the near future.

I've lived out the fruit that comes from the Anti-Calvinism camp, I come from a Calvary Chapel background, where I was ordained to the ministry and then later told I wouldn't be able to teach because of my beliefs regarding the Doctrines of Grace, specifically my classical reformed view of the Atonement, they had big issues when we got to the fine print of the doctrine and all it entailed. So the issues you are facing are not limited to the SBC.

1 Corinthians 9:24
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

For His Glory,

Mark

burtledog said...

This has turned pitiful. Tom explains himself. Tells us he has talked to Mr. Sullivan who does not see a false statement. FBC money was used though no CP. Tom never said it had been from a specific fund.
Who would have thought that our former graceful visitor would lay in wait to make a poor effort at an ambush. And another visitor who has been treated warmly and for the most part gently is also posting negatively.
Peter, you have yet to engage Tom, only your reading, not the actual words and intent. You have been told the supposedly offended party has no problem.
Brother you have lost me.
Greg

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Tom:

Your humility is an example to us all, especially how you responded to the rebuke in this post.

Again, I have reason to thank God for you, sir!

SDG,
dbh

KPcalvinist said...

Dave Hewitt,

Brother, please point to me where the Scripture tells us to be gentle when dealing with heresy.

We are speaking about heresy, right?

The DVD that we are mailing out advertises a statement from Spurgeon that says "calvinism is the gospel."

If we agree with what we are mailing out, then those who say the Doctrines of Grace are heresy and a false gospel are actually teaching and believing a false gospel themselves, are they not?

When Paul addressed the Galatian church he didn't say Oh foolish Galatians who has bewitched you – Oh I'm sorry I need to be more gentle.

Paul didn't say let those who preach this other gospel be accursed – Oh I'm sorry that just slipped out in a moment of fleshliness.

Jesus didn't say in Matthew 23 You Pharisees are fools, Oh man - didn't mean to say that.

Or in John 8 when Jesus called the Pharisees sons of the devil - He didn't take it back and say that His zeal got carried away.

Please show me where gentleness is commanded when dealing with heresy.

Jude doesn't say it! Peter doesn't say it! I can't find it.

Are we to be gentle in some situations, yes!

But we are talking about the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

I feel that gentle has left the building.

I don't mean that we use physical force but I do mean that we draw a line in the sand and say here we stand and we are held captive by the Word of God and we will not move or give in.

If God be for us who can be against us?

No one can take anything away from us that God does not decree.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Gene,

Thank you for your wonderful dissertation. And, quite honestly, I am flattered my little post drew such from you, Gene. I only wish the critique I humbly offered toward your flawed research on Sandy Creek could have garnered a quarter of the words, old fellow, you chose to direct toward this lost cause. I'm sure you disagree. But, we both know that's expected.


As for others here, I appreciate the criticism directed toward my post. Always, in my view, ideas need--no deserve--questions. Strength builds as a result.

More appreciated indeed, and oddly so, I suppose, the criticism toward me personally. I accept it--gladly. If one cannot accept without anger nor malice personal criticism, he need not crawl into the open as did I.

Some of you have implied my alleged "irenic" aura is now safely vanished away. That's also acceptable to me. I do not, gentlemen, depend upon your assessments of me to influence one way or another what I will or will not say or believe. I trust similarly the same for you.

If my interpretive powers are flawed in the particulars surrounding this entire fiasco, it will not be the only time this has been so. Nor will it be the last, I remain sure. And, contrary to some who believe my noetic view of sin smacks pelagianism, I remain a fallen creature presently even while I stand restored in Jesus Christ. I am a sinner; of course I can be wrong about this.

Nonetheless, you are sinners too, and I conclude from that, that, at bare minimum, the possiblity equally exists that you can be wrong as well.

That said, Dr. Ascol affirms he's done no wrong, along, of course, with his community here. My view is that innocence lacks--if we take the words as they are given, minus the rationalization process to make them work.

I am perfectly comfortable in admitting such divide in our "takes" on the matter. And, I am perfectly at peace with the public statments I've made about it as I am sure Dr. Ascol stands no less at peace with his.

Grace, brothers. And mercy for us all. With that, I am...

Peter

David B. Hewitt said...

kpcalvinist my brother,

You raise some good points. The issue is this, I suppose:

Are the people we are seeking to win over with biblical doctrine our brothers, or aren't they? The Doctrines of Grace are important matters of the Gospel, and they are worth defending and fighting for. However, I am quite wary of drawing my sword against a brother in Christ.

In Galatians, Paul spoke out critically against the Judaizers because of a critical flaw in what they were saying. Instead justification by faith alone in Christ alone, they had added a human work into the midst. They were insisting that in order to be saved, someone had to be circumcised in addition to the work of Christ in order to be saved. Paul rightly condemned this as a different Gospel, which is no Gospel at all. In fact, I have recently preached on this very thing; let me know if you are interested in it.

The important difference is that we do truly believe that (the majority of) those who are currently opposing us in the SBC with regard to the DOG's are in fact our brothers. Jesus identified the Pharisees as hypocrites, which brought His strong rebuke and woes. Paul didn't think that of the Judaizers and those who bought into their lies it would seem:

Galatians 5:2-4, ESV Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. (3) I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. (4) You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

These indeed are strong words. Even our semi-pelagian synergistic brothers to my knowledge accept that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. Of course, they are completely inconsistent as to how they think this takes place, but that is part of what we seek to do -- educate them and by the grace of God they would embrace a much more biblical soteriology and that Christ would be glorified all the more.

I do not doubt for a moment that TULIP is critically important for the Gospel; I believe it wholeheartedly, and will defend it to anyone who denies it, but when I do so I will seek to correct them with gentleness if at all possible. If someone persists in error and does not handle the Scripture properly and with reverence, a strong rebuke is in order. When the error is public, a public response is also in order.

My point is that, especially when we are dealing with brothers and sisters in Christ, we should seek to be gentle wherever possible. I do not dispute that the time for a passionate, strong rebuke comes at times (and one can be passionate and gentle simultaneously), but unbridled zeal is rarely productive.

SDG,
dbh

Cap Pooser said...

Tom,
Gregg Bahnsen gave this sense to Prov 24:5,6. Don't use your opponent's presuppositions in argument or you will wind up with his conclusions. Then use his presuppositions to show he can not live consistently and rationally with his own presuppositions. I don't know how this might apply here, but that has helped me in understanding those verses. Sort of in line with your comments.
As a word of encouragement, I worked with the Berean Tape Ministry in sending tapes on the doctrines of grace to the students at the seminaries and Baptist College of Florida. Some of the tapes were thrown in the trash can. Dr Lewis Lamnpley picked a set out and listened to them . He came by the Berean House and from those cast off tapes I was able to teach the doctrines of grace to a class of 7-10 black pastors for over 4 years. So let's do what we can do and trust God to do what He alone can do. By His grace alone, Cap

KPcalvinist said...

Bro. Dave,

I don't want this to turn in to a "you and me" show, so this will be my last.

I understand that we want them to come to the truth and we can reach out to them in love, but love doesn't always mean soft voices and apologies. Love can be shaking the dust off your feet.

You mentioned that we are dealing with brothers in Christ. Okay, let's say we are, wasn't it Jesus who rebuked Peter and said, 'get behind me Satan.'

That's a conversation to an apostle. That was pretty harsch wasn't it? Peter was probably pretty broken after that, which was likely the point.

Brokenness needs to come when you oppose the things of God.

Luther said this,
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Thanks for the exchange Dave.

David B. Hewitt said...

kp:

Your point is well taken. I, with Luther, have no desire to shrink back from the exposition of the truth of God, especially since it is under attack in the SBC right now.

I will, as God allows, continue to proceed forward with gentleness. If it continually falls on unreceptive ears, a more stern message may indeed be required.

My plea is simply that we exhaust gentleness before jumping to forcefulness. :) I've failed to do this on occasion, and it hasn't been a good thing.

SDG,
dbh

A.Schroeder said...

Hello: I've been "lurking" for some time but never commented here. In light of several comments in this thread I'm left wondering what it is in general that people think is necessary for the Gospel and so determines who are considered to be brothers & sisters.

david b. hewitt said:
"My point is that, especially when we are dealing with brothers and sisters in Christ, we should seek to be gentle wherever possible."

Without meaning to pass judgment on someone(s) I've never met, should those who hold to Arminian and, as is more often the case today, even Pelagian-like teachings automatically be considered brothers & sisters in Christ? And if so, on what basis? I don't deny it is possible to be trapped in this system and yet be born again (even before the reformation during the dark ages there were glimmers of light). But if a person holds to man's ability to choose God at any time, then they are really practically denying all 5 points of Calvinism in some way even if they don't admit to it (someone else stated above that Spurgeon equated Calvinism with the Gospel). How can a person have been brought to the point of utter helplessness, see that there is nothing they can do to be saved, and so rest completely on the grace of God but yet then say that it was in their ability to come to this point or that others can decide to come to this point as well? The theology would seem to contradict experience if there really is experience. Unless I am mis-reading him, Luther is pretty clear in Bondage of the Will that if one is really holding to free-will in the way that Erasmus seemed to be, then they are denying the very foundation of the Gospel and by implication the Gospel itself. Is Luther right? I'm not denying that believers can unwittingly hold to teachings that they really deny in practice, but is that really the case most of the time today?

Perhaps this thread is wearing out for so many questions, but I would still be very interested to see some more dialog about this.

hisbygrace said...

a.shroeder,
I'll let the academia fill in the details but as I see this whole issue it's like this: every person's whole theology swings on the hinges of how they answer these two questions:
1) Something happened in the garden. What happened and what was it's consequence?

2)Something happened at the cross. What happened and what was it's result?

Everything else hinges on those answers.

A.Schroeder said...

hisbygrace:
If I believe that (1) Adam & Even fell in the garden & by consequence all mankind is trapped in sin and then also agree that (2) Jesus died on the cross to save sinners such as me and has propitiated the wrath of God against my sin, should I then conclude that I am a Christian and have been born again?

hisbygrace said...

a.shroeder,
My point is this: the real issue for me isn't whether I can call someone a brother if their understanding of the gospel is not mine...someone could know the doctrines of grace and be able to argue theological points front to back...but I can't look into that person's heart and know with 100% certainty if he is converted or not. The question for me is, can I truly cooperate with someone who holds to doctrines which are contrary to my understanding of the gospel? ie: going on a mission trip to take the gospel to a people group where one believes in a decisionistic gospel and whose goal in evangelism is to evoke a "decision for Christ" from an individual, and the other is willing to tell that same individual that he is a sinner, dead in trespasses and sin, and helpless to do anything about it? Can two walk together unless they be agreed? The answers to the two questions, for me at least, is a determiner as to whether I can truly cooperate with someone in the gospel.

A.Schroeder said...

hisbygrace,

I just read your comment from earlier agreeing with kpcalvinist and would agree as well. My only point in bringing up the calling of someone a brother was just to ask why we would generally assume someone is a brother who holds to doctrines that are contrary to the very foundation of the gospel? That's not to say that just because someone understands the gospel intellectually that they are converted, though ("you must be born again"). You raise good questions. I would add also: Should we even be calling "Christian" a system of theology that is contrary to the foundations of gospel?

Lin said...

I am convinced (rightly or wrongly) as a layperon that the biggest stumbling block we have to the Doctrines of Grace is one word: Calvin.

He was just a man and none of us want to go back to a state church with magistrates and Baptising infants. Why even mention his name when discussing or teaching election? If he is credited with 'systemizing' theology, then why not just teach it out of scripture.

I hear more about 'Calvin' in reformed circles than I do about Jesus Christ. I believe this is a great failing of a most beautiful truth of scripture.

Sparrowhawk said...

Someone once said that the SBC is many but not much.

The Texas and Florida mailouts are too coincidental to not have been carefully discussed and planned. What you are doing Tom in helping make the Amazing Grace DVD available is honorable. Wish Texan pastors had the same oppty to receive.

genembridges is correct in that the main objective is the reform within the churches. At a local SBC church, the new pastor upon taking office last year immediately changed the way we received new members. Gone was the three-month waiting period of evaluation. Instead, he reinstated the usual "Walk Forward/Join the Church" process. He did this arbitrarily, without consulting the deacons, without consulting staff. There were not many protests.

The mindset of "walk/join" is the macrocosm within the convenetion. The mindset needs changing first and foremost before any serious discussion can take place about church membership.

The pessimist would ask whether any serious discussion (theological, ecclesiological) can even take place at large within the SBC, where many leading evanglicals wonder about its theological astuteness.

Karen in OK said...

Dr. Ascol,
I hope you will reflect on the comments on this thread.
Many times you have said that non-Calvinists are too afraid of Calvinists.

Maybe you can see here that some of it is not imaginary. There are many Calvinists out there who can scarcely imagine that a non-Calvinist could be saved. Non sometimes meaning 3 or 3.5 points.

You have said that you can count non-Calvinists as brothers. There are plenty of Calvinists out there who only see non-Calvinists as embracing a false gospel.

Tom said...

Karen:

Thanks for your comment. You raise a very important point about how I operate this blog. I have tried to be clear about my views on the issues you raise. And I have acknowledged that some with whom I agree theologically are just as a great a hindrance to reformation and true fellowship through arrogance and lack of love as are some with whom I disagree.

In the "guidelines" that are available through the hotlink on the right of the page, I explain why I grant great leeway in what is put in the comments here. It is not because I agree with everything or approve of everything. Rather, this approach allows at least one measure of the kinds of thinking and attitudes that are "out there." Here is part of the rationale:

"This approach allows for rambunctious debate. It even allows for heated and offensive comments to be posted. I choose to leave such comments up because I think that by doing so a more accurate picture is portrayed about current thoughts on an issue than would otherwise be the case. One thing a blog does is provide opportunity for almost immediate feedback. Within the parameters stated above, I want that feedback to be an honest assessment of what readers of this blog are thinking--even when I may disagree strongly with the content, perspective or tone of those thoughts. What this necessitates, then, is allowing certain things to be said or to be said in ways that I personally do not condone.

Therefore, though I do not recommend it, unkindness and stupidity are not automatically censored. Neither are harshness or mean-spiritedness. Neither is ignorance. You can read back in the archives and find numerous examples from each category. There they stand, for good or ill, as a testimony to what some people think and feel."

Perhaps it is time for me to rethink this policy and tighten the ground rules for commenting. I am open to that. In one sense it would make it easier on me.

Thanks again for your comment. Please don't allow those on the radical fringe (which is how I would describe those guilty of the views you mention) define how the majority of those committed to reformed theology think or relate.

I sometimes describe myself as a 5-point Calvinist who is not mad about it. I think that is true of most of us.

Bill Formella said...

Lin Said,

"I am convinced (rightly or wrongly) as a layperon that the biggest stumbling block we have to the Doctrines of Grace is one word: Calvin."

Lin, though I understand your thinking, I must respectfully disagree. I think you are oversimplifying the matter. As another layman who has been a member of 3 different Atlanta area SBC mega churches, I can assure you that the vast majority of "Christians" in these churches know nothing of either Calvin or Spurgeon. They are just names that they hear from time to time from the pulpit when certain quotes suit the pastors message.

On the other hand you have the gatekeepers of the convention that should be well aware of the difference between Calvin and Spurgeon, the doctrines of grace and Presbyterianism. If they don't, who is responsible for their ignorance?

No, I believe the real issue with those who should know better is simply that they don't want to know better. Try to use terms such as "doctrines of grace" or "reformed" and they will often accuse you of hiding your allegiance to the man Calvin. This is exactly what Ergun Caner did to James White and Tom Ascol when that whole fiasco was going on. This is one of those....uh....let's say judged if you do, judged if you don't situations.

Lin, we can try to use terms that may be less offensive, but unless the Spirit works on their hearts they won't accept the truth either way. Our only option is to speak the truth in love and let the chips fall where HE wills.

Lin said...

"No, I believe the real issue with those who should know better is simply that they don't want to know better. Try to use terms such as "doctrines of grace" or "reformed" and they will often accuse you of hiding your allegiance to the man Calvin. This is exactly what Ergun Caner did to James White and Tom Ascol when that whole fiasco was going on. This is one of those....uh....let's say judged if you do, judged if you don't situations."

I know and understand. That is the whole point. Our allegiance should be to the Word ONLY. Election: It is in there, plain as day.

"Lin, we can try to use terms that may be less offensive, but unless the Spirit works on their hearts they won't accept the truth either way. Our only option is to speak the truth in love and let the chips fall where HE wills."

Friend, I must have not communicated well. It is NOT about being less offensive or politically correct. It is about glorifying God and His Word..not 'mans' words. My goodness, we have enough following of 'man' out there.

I have often wondered why the other 'side' does not refer to altar calls as "Finney's" or decisions for Christ, "Grahams". :o)

Grace and Peace of our Savior to you, friend.

A.Schroeder said...

Karen in OK said:
"You have said that you can count non-Calvinists as brothers. There are plenty of Calvinists out there who only see non-Calvinists as embracing a false gospel."

I'm not sure who in this thread that is directed at, but I'll attempt to bite since my comments might seem to imply something along these lines. First, I would not consider myself a Calvinist. In recent times everyone has their own definition of that term and so using it can be very misleading and generally I've found it's not very helpful. Yes, I believe that (1) man is utterly dead in sin by nature and those who assert that man has some natural ability to do good are really denying the concept of original sin and by extension the very foundation of the gospel. But if I believe this, it follows that (2) salvation is utterly 100% grace and is not caused by anything in man because there is nothing in man to cause it. To believe otherwise is to deny the first point, not to mention a great deal of Scripture. It then follows (logically & Biblically) that if some are saved and others not, that (3) this decision is entirely of God. To deny this is to deny the second point, which is then to also deny the first. From this it follows Biblically that (4) God has not decided to save every single human. To contradict this is to be a universalist. To deny it is to deny one of the previous points and by extension the rest of them. Then, if the cause of salvation totally rests in God and His will, then it follows that (5) those who He wills to save WILL be saved. Again, to deny this is to deny the rest of the points as well. If this is true (and I am open to discussion), then so far we can see that these 5 points (which some call 4 of the 5 points of Calvinism) all stand or fall together. If someone denies God's choice or election, we must attempt to see the motivation for why they are denying it. If it is simply that they have heard bad things about mean Calvinists, then that is understandable. But if the motivation in denying it is clinging to the free-will of man (and so the bound will of God to man) then their view of God and man is contrary to the foundation of the gospel itself. I am not saying that such a person absolutely cannot be a born-again believer, but I am saying that what they believe is contrary to the Gospel. It's not just some minor points or secondary issues. It's the Gospel itself.

Now, is the assumption that what I am saying is motivated by a hatred for people and a love of Calvin? Or could it perhaps be motivated by a love for God and a burden for many who are decieved to see the truth of His character?

volfan007 said...

i'm not a five point calvinist. i believe in salvation by grace. i believe that only thru the death of Jesus on the cross is what's gonna get me into heaven.

do yall think that i'm saved?

i'm not a five pointer...i believe that man is a free moral agent who makes real choices and has responsibility for his choices.

do yall think that i'm saved?

david

Mary said...

Hey VolFan, are you shaking your head with me and thinking these people haven't got a single clue what it is we actually believe and why?

A.Schroeder said...

volfan007 said:
i believe that man is a free moral agent who makes real choices and has responsibility for his choices.

All so-called "Calvinists" I know of also believe that man makes real choices and has responsibility for those choices. That is not the issue. The question is, what do you mean by "free moral agent" or what is meant by free-will? Do you mean:

1. Man is free to choose God without God first giving grace. Or,
2. Simply that man always acts according to his will because his will is really his greatest desire and man always acts according to his greatest desire. Apart from God first working grace, man's desire will always be sinful and never for God.

If #1, then how can one really claim to hold to a salvation of grace when the "cause" or motivator of the salvation is one's own decision apart from grace? In that scenario, man himself is the root cause of salvation, not the grace of God. #1 leads to a gospel of human ability not grace. #2 is basically what Jonathan Edwards, the reformers and most other "Calvinists" actually believe (perhaps except for a very very small number of historical hyper-calvinists, but I've never actually met one that I know of).

Mary said...

a.schroeder, here's the problem - you're taking one part of what you think you know about our "system" and putting it through the filter of your "system" and stating that it's illogical. And the question isn't is it logical but is it scriptural.

A.Schroeder said...

volfan007:

Just another quick point -- just because you believe those things does not mean that you are saved. In fact, just because somebody believes the 5-points of Calvinism does not mean they are saved. True faith does not reside solely in the intellect. The love of God must be in the soul and there must be some spiritual sight of the glory of God (faith). I'm not making any judgment about you -- based on what you just said I would neither assume you are a believer or an un-believer. On the one hand, assurance of salvation is the work of the Spirit. On the other, we can at times say with a good deal of confidence that somebody is NOT a believer, especially if it is clear that they deny the gospel (not just in mis-undertandings of words).

Brian Hamrick said...

David,

I am thoroughly reformed. I believe you are truly saved if you are relying on the death of Jesus alone for your redemption. However, as one convinced of the doctrines of grace, I believe your understanding of grace falls short of the Biblical revelation. Sort of like Apollos needing to be explained the way of God more adequately. I mean all of that as humbly as I can. I have simply never found adequate exegesis by a non-reformed theologian on passages such as John 6, Ephesians 1 and 2, and Romans 9; not to mention the way election is portrayed in the Old Testament in persons like Abraham.

Mary,

"these people" probably isn't the best way to converse with anyone, much less Christians, as it at least flirts with condescension. I, for one, would assume I have quite a clue about non-reformed beliefs. After all, I grew up in them (Arminian/general Baptist principles) for 18 years, fought against the doctrines of grace for a number of years after that, until about 5 years ago it finally clicked for me. I am not alone. I assume many of the brothers here were non-reformed before they were reformed. This does not prove the reformed faith, but it does disprove your notion that we are just plain ignorant of what a non-reformed Christian believes.

If you want to speak to the superiority of your views contra the doctrines of grace, I am all ears to see what I could learn. Seriously. I am not beyond convincing there could be better understandings than what I currently have. I will need some convincing after your comment above that you are really interested in things of such substance.

Mary said...

Well Brian, by all means sense you know exatly what it is I believe then please make corrections to the multiple errors in this thread. Thank you for the welcome to this blog.

Mary said...

Oh and Brian, you didn't just flirt with the condescension you married it. Don't hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for having evolved into a higher form of Christianity than us mere mortals.

Thanks Dr. Ascol, I see nothing ever changes here at your blog.

Condescension oozes off the computer screen as always along with caricutures and misrepresentations.

A.Schroeder said...

Mary:

What exactly is "your system" that I don't understand?

I agree that we must be Biblical, but I also believe that the Bible is logical & if there are contradictions, then the problem is with our interpretation of the scriptures not that the Bible contradicts itself.

What the question comes down to is this: What is the final & ultimate motivator of salvation? Is it the grace of God or something in man? Does God choose who He will give grace to or does He simply forsee what man will choose and act accordingly?

volfan007 said...

do you all think that i preach a true Gospel message whenever i'm not a five point calvinist?

david

Scott said...

Brian,

I have a question for you. You have written that you are "throughly" Reformed. Are you sure ? Do you mean that you are Padeobaptist? Are you Amill in your Eschatology ? Let me go on record that I am . Do you let the unbaptized join the visible church ? Do you let them take the Lord's Supper while being unconverted and unbaptized ? I trust that you mean when you say that you are " throughly Reformed " that you mean that Salvation is of the Lord, High view of God and low view of man, You believe in Church Discipline, Regenerate Church membership and so on.... ? It is so important to be clear these days in Baptist circles. The reason why I ask you these things is because I am teaching seven new potential church members that are visting our church on Thursday nights a class on Baptist History, theology . One of the couples who are Baptist said " We are looking for a Reformed Church and my wife and I are " Reformed to the Core". My response was really" Are you Reformed to the Core or are you a Calvinistic Baptist as I am and our church" . As we discussed what the differences were they said " We are Calvinistic Baptist". I mean no harm or aggravation toward you but we need to be clear on this blog that we are Calvinistic Baptist rather than " Throughly Reformed".

Volfan007,

First, you ought to be ashamed that you are not an Auburn fan. I already forgive you. You could be worse and be like Timmy Brister in being an Alabama fan. Please tell me as UT man that you and I share a major dislike toward Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide of Alabama ? It would help when asking your question if you will tell us what you believe the gospel to be then people could answer your question better. BTW, I got some inside info that it has already been Predestined that Auburn wins the SEC championship this year however you guys are still responsible in showing up and letting Auburn and Georgia " Tear you Boys Up" ! Ha Ha !

J. Gray said...

volfan,

I believe someone who is not a "calvinist" can absolutely preach the true gospel.
I think most of us were saved under the ministries of men who were not "calvinists" or in churches that were not.

My question is a flip of that: do you believe "calvinists" preach the true gospel? I'm pretty sure YOU would say yes. But if you think it is the position of most non-calvinists that calvinists actually DO preach the true gospel...then why is there such rancor and hatred in the tone that "calvinists" are talked about and talked to?


mary,

Why such condescension and vitriol in your tone?
If you want to discuss these things, I think a much wiser plan of attack would be to ask questions or discuss Scripture passages...rather than coming and 'talking down' to people on here. You mentioned the arrogance of people here, but something tells me you didn't think about how arrogant that accusation was.
I think you'll find that if you openly discuss things here, the tone will stay friendly.

JG

BTW, volfan, I don't think your non-calvinist views distort the gospel...but being a Vol fan certainly does. :)

Go Gators!

A.Schroeder said...

J.Gray,

In the introduction to The Bondage of the Will (Packer/Johnston translation) it says the following: "The man who has not practically and experimentally learned the bondage of his will in sin has not yet comprehended any part of the gospel; for this is the hinge on which all turns, the ground on which the gospel rests." (page 45)

It's also been said that Luther thought this was his most important theological work. The question becomes, is Luther right? Is a denial of free-will in the way Erasmus presented it that important? If so, I can think of quite a few major implications. If not, then shouldn't we at least admit that we are more in line with Erasmus' side of the argument than Luther's?

Tom said...

We have drifted considerably beyond the original purpose of this post. For that reason, and because teh ground being covered now has been sufficiently covered elsewhere (on this blog and other blogs), I am closing out the comments.

Thanks for participating. Pray for this project.

Press on!