Thursday, May 29, 2008

What Should Southern Baptists Do with Calvinists?

In the previous post I mentioned the above titled article written by Elmer Towns of Liberty University and published in Theology for Ministry (May 2008). Kenneth Fryer found the article online which makes it more convenient to review (the published version has been somewhat edited). I encourage you to go read it at the link above.

I found Dr. Towns' article to be seriously flawed in both research and argumentation. While he does not caricature the doctrines of grace in the typical ways that characterize many of the opponents of Calvinism, he makes some glaring factual mistakes, fails support some gratuitous assertions and leaves the reader wondering what exactly he is trying to say.

For example, in a footnote that is appended to the acknowledgement that "from the beginning the issue of Calvinism has been an issue among Baptists," Towns' makes this observation:
Leon McBeth in his historic encyclopedia, The Baptist Heritage Broadman Press, 1987 gives several incidences of Calvinism in the history of Southern Baptist. He gives lengthy discussions of the English Particular Baptist in the 17th and 18th century, and their decline (p. 152-154, 171-178). He tells of the Primitive Baptist, or "Hardshell Baptist" including other small sectarian movements, i.e. the "Absoluters" (p. 720), the "Old Liners" (p. 720), the "Progressive" (p. 720) and the "Two Seeds in the Spirit" (p. 720). He describes many smaller attempts of churches and associations to revive Calvinism such as “Sovereign Grace Bible Conference” (p. 771) and "The Banner of Truth" (p. 771-772), "The Sword and Trowel" (p. 773) and the paper The Baptist Reformation Review (p. 773). We are indebted to McBeth for documenting the futility of so many Calvinistic attempts to influence the Southern Baptist Convention [emphasis added].
What does his last sentence mean? The Southern Baptist Convention was formed by men and churches who held to some version of the 1689 Baptist Confession. Is Towns suggesting that the groups he mentions tried (and failed) to "influence the Southern Baptist Convention?" Does he really regard all of these groups as "incidences of Calvinism in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention?" Check the pages cited from McBeth and judge for yourself if Towns accurately represents the author's meaning.

He misunderstands the LifeWay research that was released at the Building Bridges Conference last November. After noting that some "alarmists" have warned that "eventually the Calvinists will take over the convention if the seminaries continue to indoctrinate graduates with Calvinist leanings," Towns evaluates the study this way:
Should people be upset at this trend? The research indicated that "churches pastored by Calvinists tend to have smaller attendance and typically baptize fewer persons each year." While the study suggested that many Calvinists have the same statistics as non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists, it also asserted that the growth of Calvinism is not a threat. However, the study did not differentiate between five point Calvinism, and Southern Baptist pastors who have identified themselves as Calvinistic [emphasis added].
He is simply mistaken. The 2006 LifeWay research asked the question, "Do you consider yourself a five point Calvinist?" the 2007 NAMB research asked respondents to state their level of agreement with the following statement: "I am a five point Calvinist." Towns makes this mistake twice in this article, the second time by asserting, "Stetzer’s report did not distinguish between five point Calvinists and the generic Calvinist [by this latter term Towns means someone who believes in the "sovereignty of God," "salvation by grace" and "eternal security"]." Further, the word "threat" is nowhere in the research document. The conclusion, however, does not the growth of Calvinism, particularly among younger ministers within the SBC.

Towns raises the following big question before addressing four specific questions that he believes will help clarify how the big question should be answered.
Should or should not Southern Baptists attempt to purge itself [sic] of five point Calvinists?
The first clarifying question is this, "Should any Southern Baptist fly under a particular flag?" He asserts, "Most Southern Baptist pastors fly the SBC flag rather high, but some also have other flags," and then names some of them, including the "Bible expostion," small groups," "Sunday School" and "Southern gospel music" flags.

Towns then asks, "So what’s wrong with a five point Calvinist flag?" And answers,
The problem is that most five point Calvinists don't just point to their flag; many become exclusionary of any other view that will not salute their flag and fight for their flag in ecclesiastical battles. These five point Calvinists claim they have the right flag that should be flown over all churches. Some five point Calvinists try to proselyte everyone into their point of view [emphasis added].
Not only does Dr. Towns demonstrate an inability to read published research accurately, he also shows no hesitation to speak in unwarranted generalities based, as a footnote explains, on nothing more than his experience.

Second clarifying question: "Is Calvinism a diversion against the Great Commission and baptism?" Included in this section is the odd statement that "Most five-point Calvinists do not give a gospel invitation after they push to get people saved." What is a "Gospel invitation" if not a "push to get people saved?" As becomes evident later in the article, Towns equates the former with an altar call.

In this section Towns does acknowledge that Spurgeon was a "great Calvinist," but then makes the undocumented assertion that "research doesn’t show he preached often in [sic] the tenets of five point Calvinism."

Towns' treatment of Calvin left me wondering if understands the reformer's theology. He pits the theology in Calvin's Institutes against his expositions of Scripture.
In his early life John Calvin espoused extreme positions on predestination in his theology called the Institutes of the Christian Religion.14 Later in life Calvin seemed to mellow his view of predestination as he studied the Scriptures more thoroughly by writing commentaries on every book of the Bible. As an example, his view on predestination opened when he wrote in his commentary on I John 2:2.
Calvin published the Institutes first in 1536 and revised it 4 more times before the final 1559 edition was published. Towns' footnote in this paragraph (14) is to the 1559 edition. Calvin's commentary on 1 John was published eight years earlier, in 1551. Had the reformer changed his views he would have had ample opportunity to note that in the last edition of the Institutes.

Towns' third clarifying question is this, "Is five point Calvinism a new intolerance?" Fair enough. But the explanation that follows has nothing to do with Calvinism at all but rather address the widespread cultural relativism and ideological intolerance of our day. He concludes with this: "Now anti-Christian views are gaining influence, and they have become intolerant to the Christian church, denying the freedom to teach in public what they have always believed."

What does that have to do with Calvinism?

The fourth clarifying question: "Will five-point Calvinism spread?" Again, I do not follow the reasoning that follows this question. Towns writes,
If five-point Calvinism were an isolated doctrine that could be embedded into a church for only its members to enjoy, that would be fine, but does it preach "the whole council [sic] of God?" As an example, many deeper life pastors find a nugget of truth in the “abiding life,” and their church becomes a separatist congregation from all other churches because they go deeper into the Word each week to find new nuggets. Sometimes, nuggets become the reason to verify their existence. In the same way, five point Calvinists find their doctrine of predestination the main reason for their existence.
Each of these sentences can be dealt with individually (though the first one doesn't seem to make much sense), but their relationship to each other escapes me. For the record, I have never met a five point Calvinist who found his reason for existence in the doctrine of predestination.

Towns suggests that a dandelion rather than a tulip would be a better description of Calvinism because "dandelions spread their seeds across the entire lawn, blown about by the winds of fads and self-examination. And what more do we know about dandelions, they kill the surrounding grass and as they spread across a beautiful lawn, they can destroy an entire lawn [this sentence was edited in the published version in the journal, but not without new grammatical difficulties]."

So, what should Southern Baptists do with Calvinists? Towns acknowledges that it is "alright to be a Calvinist," but quickly adds that "it is not alright to be a flag waving five point extremist that attacks any and every position or church that disagrees with its own." Since I do not know any Calvinist--or non-Calvinist for that matter--who fits this description, I suppose it is safe to assume that every Southern Baptist Calvinist should feel welcome in the SBC, according to Dr. Towns' view.

He also makes the point that it is "alright not to be a Calvinist." Churches that are "dispensational" and that "expose their young to an altar call where everyone - including children and youth - are led to Christ through a tangible conversion experience" do not have to be Calvinistic. I have never come across the language of "tangible conversion experience" before but suppose that he means by that a spiritual experience (conversion?) that is marked by physical movement (walking the aisle).

In the final analysis, Towns does not answer the question his title sets out. While I can understand the difficulty in publicly doing so, I wish that his article had not promised more than it delivered. What he has written does not offer much help to the kind of fraternal exchange that needs to take place within the SBC on this issue.

What would be wonderfully beneficial is a thoughtful, expository explanation of the convictions that men like Towns hold in contrast to historic, evangelical Calvinism. Perhaps the John 3:16 conference will do that. I certainly hope so. That type of effort could promote genuine engagement over the Word of God. Every Christian--Calvinist or not--can support that.

31 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Tom,

Judging SBC's by the SBC's reactions to your motions the last two years, I don't think the SBC needs to worry about what to do with Calvinists. It is obvious, if you look at numbers and stuff, that the SBC has yet to figure out what to do with Baptists.

Calvinists oughtn't be a problem, on that basis.

Darby Livingston said...

I'm so glad that those who used to stand outside the SBC and throw incoherent stones at it are now comfortable enough with the direction of the SBC to join it and throw incoherent stones from within.

pregador27 said...

I know the Lifeway did the survey/poll about Calvinists in the SBC and the "small" percentage it was, but will they do a survey on how many members actually show up to church? I wonder, if 10% claim to be Calvinists, but our churches claim 40% more than attend, the 10% obviously exist, but take the 40% from the 90% non-Calvinists since the numbers are inflated and... drat, I confused myself. I think reading Elmer Towns' article is contagious. Making up numbers and convoluting logic is easy.

Fred said...

Dr. Ascol,

In September of last year our church called one of, "Those five pointers" to be our senior pastor. Since then nothing has been the same.

We now have to listen to, "Expository Preaching" every Sunday.

We no longer have an, "Alter Call" at the end of each message, just when the Pastor feels led to.

We even had, "Church Discipline" brought against two members!

If it wasn't for the fact that this new guy faithfully preaches the gospel each Sunday, I would really be suspect of this, "Calvinism" stuff!

Who would have thunk that the book of Judges would be so full of the, "Gospel of Christ"!

Oh, by the way, did I mention that we have had more converts won to Christ since September 2007, than the previous five years. Yes and we will be baptizing two more into Christ's Church this Sunday!

That Church disipline thing is working out too. Both times all the parties involved repented and have continued to follow the Lord.

Yeah, Calvinism is a sickness, alright, a sickness that I'm glad our church has. I only wish more SBC churches would get it.


Your brother in Christ,
Fred

Tom said...

Bob,

Or maybe the reactions the last two years are a little example of what the SBC wants to do with Calvinists? ;-)

Darby,

Well....

Pregador,

:-)

Fred:

Yeah, we could a lot more of that kind of sickness going around! I am glad that the Lord is honoring His Word among you in such evident ways.

Will said...

"The old truth that Calvin preached, that Augustine preached, that Paul preached, is the truth that I must preach to-day, or else be false to my conscience and my God. I cannot shape the truth; I know of no such thing as paring off the rough edges of a doctrine. John Knox's gospel is my gospel. That which thundered through Scotland must thunder through England again."—C. H. Spurgeon, A Defense of Calvinism

condemnant quod non intellegunt

Will
Cedar Hill Texas

Bill Formella said...

God's predestination is not the main reason I exist. It's the ONLY reason I exist.

Fred, thanks for your testimony. It's great to hear of God working. Our calvinistic, expository preaching, faithful disciplining church has gone from about 60 people in attendance 2 years ago to nearly 200 now. I didn't know churches could exist that had more attendees than members.

Our dead calvinistic church even goes out into the community to share Christ with people who haven't even visited our church yet. That's just weird. Not only do we go to community festivals, etc., we even have some men who will stand outside a Marilyn Manson concert and witness to people most churches wouldn't want in their sanctuary. I guess we're not evangelistic enough because we don't have a circus, bring in pro athletes or rely on a rock band to do our evangelizing.

Will said...

"The late lamented Mr. Denham has put, at the foot of his portrait, a most admirable text, "Salvation is of the Lord." That is just an epitome of Calvinism; it is the sum and substance of it. If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, "He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord." I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. "He only is my rock and my salvation." Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, "God is my rock and my salvation." What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross;" CH Spurgeon

condemnant quod non intellegunt

Tim Guthrie said...

Maybe Tom, we should be less concerned with "Calvinism" and more concerned with reaching people. I keep hearing the cries from this blog about how the SBC and some of us do not in the SBC do not accept nor want you guys in - maybe it is your assumption that is wrong. I am not a "calvinist" but I have many friends who are and some who are to some degree. Big deal. I do not ask about it and they do not ask me about it - why should it matter?

If Grace is the focus - push Jesus and let Calvin rest in peace!

Micah said...

Tim,

Perhaps you don't know what Founders Ministries is about, but Calvinism, what Spurgeon called a "nickname for the Gospel" is a central focus. The fact that the SBC has veered away from what the Founders of the Convention believed for the kind of sloppy presentation found in the article Tom addresses is evidence of the deeper problem within the convention itself. When pastors and leaders can be so loose with history, engage in all sorts of unBiblical evangelism methods, and accuse other SBC members of heretical beliefs (specifically those who believe what the Founders of the SBC believed) it is evident that truth is the victim.

Since Tom is "inside" the SBC he has a much clearer view of the goings on therein and thus is in a proper position from which to critique the movements within the Convention.

I realize that some people are uncomfortable with labels, however, labels identify specifics. The way one knows to drink the bottle with apple juice in it and not bleach may because the label on the bottle. Likewise, it is much easier to identify a set (or subset) of beliefs by label than spending a week expressing the differences between one view and another.

Why it matters comes down to the root of how and why one preaches, what is preached and the expected outcome. Indeed, as a Calvinist I know that since it is God who does the drawing, the calling and the saving, my responsibility is to focus on telling others the Gospel as faithfully as grace allows since that is the means God uses by which to do the work.

In the majority of evangelicalism today, however, the preacher (and the hearer's 'freewill') is the ultimate basis on which one comes, or doesn't come to Christ. Thus, many have adopted a whatever-means-necessary approach to evangelism hoping to entice unbelievers.

Finally, since we believe that Calvinism is a true summary of what Scripture teaches about God's sovereignty, we'd be sinning if we did not teach it to others and seek to spread the Gospel (and thus Calvinism, since it is true a summary of specific Biblical doctrines). In the end, it matters because we're commanded to preach the Gospel, and therein the Sovereignty of God is clearly displayed and proclaimed. Woe to us if we do otherwise.

- Micah Burke

Tom said...

Tim:

Thanks for your perspective. I have not thought of my posts as crying about not being wanted in the SBC. What I have tried to do from time to time is document and respond to caricatures and unwarranted castigations against what those of us who are historic Southern Baptists believe.

Of course, I am with you 100% about reaching people for Christ, but your first sentence really isn't very compelling. The same logic could be used on any number of topics. Maybe we should be less concerned with (take your pick: SBC politics, Baptist identity, *talking* about reaching people, etc.) and more concerned with reaching people.

My burden for theological integrity is not an ivory tower exercise. If the Gospel is muddled, compromised, forgotten or assumed, souls that will never die will be eternally ruined as a result.

I selected neither the topic nor title of Dr. Towns' article that was published in an academic journal. Upon reading it and judging it deficient on several fronts, I decided to review and critique it--not because I don't want to reach people, but precisely because I do want people to be reached with the truth that has been revealed to us in Christ, Unwarranted misrepresentations of theological positions undermine that effort.

Timmy Brister said...

Tim Guthrie said:

Maybe Tom, we should be less concerned with "Calvinism" and more concerned with reaching people.

Right on, Tim. Now please forward this to the following:

Jerry Vines
Johnny Hunt
Frank Cox
Nelson Price
Frank Page
Malcolm Yarnell
Steve Lemke
Bobby Welch
Jack Graham
John Connell
Ergun Caner
Norman Jameson
Lonnie Wilkey
Hal Poe

and a few others that I fail to remember.

Calvinism is an issue in the SBC not because of Calvinists but because of the antagonism against Calvinists. The overwhelming majority of Calvinist involvement in the SBC is an apologetic and defense of our beliefs and right to exist in the SBC in response to the continual barrage of sermons, convention speeches, white papers, state paper editorials, etc.

Do you really believe these men are "pushing Jesus" as much as they are trying to push their brothers out the door? If they are so inclined to focus on Jesus, then certainly they would not be wasting so much time attacking Calvinism.

David Milton said...

I think we all would agree that more SBC churches need to verify "tangible conversion experiences" before admitting the aisle walker into membership. He may be onto something here.

Visit his web site and he seems like a likeable person, concerned about true spiritual growth. There does not seem to be an overriding sense of magnamimosity (is that a word?) about him like other Calvinist critics...which is why this particular article critical of Calvinism has the markings of a certain Turkish ghost writer.

Greg Welty said...

Towns asks: "What Should Southern Baptists Do With Calvinists?" (title)

Towns answers: "As long as a church believes and teaches the fundamentals of the faith and commits itself to the Baptist Faith and Message it is welcome in the SBC" (12).

I conclude: According to Towns, Southern Baptists should welcome just about every Calvinistic church that is in the SBC :-)

I note: It is encouraging that such an irenic public assessment is made by the Dean of a Baptist University.

However, the main problem with the rest of the paper is that it *seems* to practice what it condemns. The paper decries flag-waving Calvinists, while at the same time practicing its own brand of flag-waving anti-Calvinism. Perhaps I am mistaken, but in this paper five-point Calvinists are characterized as:

-- having a theology that does "not have a Biblical basis" (1);

-- having an "intrusive influence" (3);

-- being "enthusiasts" (3, 4, 5, 7, 10);

-- being those who "impose their human definitions on the Words of Scripture, then attempt to impose their theology on everyone else" (3);

-- "exclusionary of any other view that will not salute their flag and fight for their flag in ecclesiastical battles" (4);

-- those who "try to proselyte everyone into their point of view" (4);

-- those who have "an intolerant DNA, just like their forefathers" (5);

-- weeds that "spread their seeds across the entire lawn, blown about by the winds of fads and self-examination... they kill the surrounding grass and as they spread across a beautiful lawn, they can destroy an entire lawn" (10);

-- those who have a "narrow point of view" (10);

Now, I'm not offended by any of this. (It takes a lot to offend me.) But I'm puzzled how Towns thinks this strategy will help his readers to embrace his conclusion. Reading just the title and conclusion, you would think Towns would want to welcome into the SBC any BFM-affirming Calvinist. But reading the stuff between the title and conclusion, you would think the purge is on.

In charity, he's probably aiming for a more nuanced conclusion: accept BFM-affirming Calvinists into the SBC, but not those who are like *this* (read list).

Fair enough.

But the problem is that the descriptors on his list are both anonymous and extreme. Being anonymous, the author is not under the burden of having to actually *argue* that specific individuals or groups are the tangible source of some sort of substantial problem. And being extreme, who would actually see themselves being described here anyway? (Raise your hand if you're 'narrow' and 'intolerant' and you 'impose your human definitions on the words of Scripture'.) Thus, the alleged 'problem' of Calvinists in the SBC, even if it were to exist, would remain untouched as a result of the anonymous-extreme strategy the author has chosen to pursue.

At least that's how it looks from my admittedly limited and fallible vantage point.

Strong Tower said...

As I was told at SBC Today, if you don't like the way the SBC is today, then get out. They mean it, there is no room for the historic Southern Baptist.

And, as I have said before, the real intruders are those like Townes and those on the list Timmy provided plus inummerable others that are producing the same disengenuous misinformed tripe. What is to be done? How do you tell a naked man he is naked while he is trying to get you to admire his arredare and he doesn't even know what that means. This psuedo-intellectualism is DNA of the classic Fundamentalists. Do they really think that no one else knows the facts so they are free to mince them, or boil them down into a porridge. Traditional cultural food of the satus quo, one wonders but doesn't find it appetizing to really contemplate the head-cheese faculties of the anti-Calvinists. With a new infusion of infection from Liberty (should we be suprised) I imagine that that Caner cancers will be surfacing everywhere. My suspician; it is the Secret Nine. The Secret Nine works under the cover of SBC membership, many in postitions of leadership, to rid the world of Calvinists. Though we have no direct information, Caner may be the grand master. But, that is just conspiracy speak. No one seriously imagines that behind closed doors or in secret communique anti-Calvinist are really plotting the death of the SBC Founders, do they?

One thing that was obvious about several of the presenters at Bridges was their anti-Calvinist angst. Though Bridges was an attempt at dialogue and a good one, it is clear that some fear the encroachment of Calvinism, not merely because of its inherent theological differences, but because it would upset the authoritarian structure that chokes the SBC and keeps the masses ignorant of the SBC's history and doctrinal base. It is far more difficult to control seeing as how Reformed theology is all about reforming and by nature a threat to extra-biblical machinations of political powers.

Greg Welty said...

Strong Tower wrote:

-- "the real intruders are those like Townes"

-- "the same disengenuous misinformed tripe"

-- "psuedo-intellectualism"

-- "the head-cheese faculties of the anti-Calvinists"

-- "With a new infusion of infection from Liberty"

-- "I imagine that that Caner cancers will be surfacing everywhere"

-- "the authoritarian structure that chokes the SBC and keeps the masses ignorant of the SBC's history and doctrinal base"

-- "extra-biblical machinations of political powers"

You know, I take it all back. Perhaps Towns was on to something after all...

Tom said...

Strong Tower:

Your comments are way over the top. Regardless of what has happened to you or how others may misrepresent you, you are not free to violate biblical injunctions that govern how we are to speak.

Your words are not helpful to the cause of God and His truth.

Strong Tower said...

I'm sorry!

My response here.

johnMark said...

Greg,

Don't take it back! You've made some good observations. Also, the fact that you and Tom both replied in like manner to Strong Tower, at the very least, shows that we are willing to speak up when those on "our side" of this debate go off track.

If we can get folks on both sides to rebuke their own in such a manner maybe we could me more headway.

Blessings,

Mark

p.s. I've often thought about Dr. Roger Olson's statements in his book Arminian Theology that I'd really like to see a reaction or response to. On pages 30-31 he argues that most, not many, but most of today's American evangelical churches are semi-pelagian or even pelagian.

One of his examples is that 'satan cast a vote, God cast a vote, now you cast the deciding vote' presentation of the "Gospel".

Dr. Olson made a very pointed and specific charge, yet no one seems to be responding.

I wonder why that is?

GeneMBridges said...

1. With respect to Calvin on Predestination, Towns is uncritically reproducing information from second hand sources. Unfortunately for him, this view has been very well refuted by Richard Muller himself. I believe the refutation is in Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment. One wonders if Dr. Towns has bothered to read it. Probably not,as I've noticed a marked tendency within this group of critics to have failed to interact with the material from Drs. Muller, Clark, Trueman, etc. On the one hand, that's sad; on the other, it makes it easier for the rest of us.

2. With respect to the quote ending with this: Some five point Calvinists try to proselyte everyone into their point of view [emphasis added].

One wonders if Dr. Towns is only critical of Calvinists or of his own colleagues at Liberty, namely one Ergun Caner who has regularly done this very thing. Is it not "not alright to be a flag waving five point extremist that attacks any and every position or church that disagrees with its own" but alright to be a non-Calvinist like Caner and do that very thing?

Brother Greg is spot on, one can't very well say one thing and do another...

Now, back to my summer vacation...

GUNNY said...

What a whippin.

Does anyone else notice a pattern?

Someone attacks and/or caricatures and/or otherwise misrepresents the theological positions often referred to as "Calvinism."

Next, those who hold to such theology attempt to defend themselves and/or said theology or otherwise elucidate.

Next, we have the accusations along the lines of "All you guys ever talk about is Calvinism. Go out and save some souls for crying out loud."

I'll answer the question, "What should Southern Baptists do with Calvinists?" ... leave them alone so they can continue to teach and preach for the sake of changed lives to the glory of God.

Derick Dickens said...

As a Liberty Grad, I had the opportunity to converse with Dr. Townes via e-mail about my beliefs on Reformed theology. The exchange was on topic and never divisive. We discussed everything from his commentary on John and how he dealt with John 6 to a section in his theology book on Calvinism.

I do not think Townes is a "scholar" but I do respect the man. Like many in the SBC, his view of Calvinism and her history is askewed. While he opposes us, he is not venomous towards us like I have seen in other segments.

I have often prayed for him to better understand our views and believe if he would, while he may not become a Calvinist, he may not be as opposing to our beliefs.

DoGLover said...

Technically, Towns doesn’t really critique Calvinism at all. To do that would require an extensive examination of the scriptural bases of the doctrines of grace. Instead, he tends to engage in ad hominem arguments against Calvinists as a group.

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denmay said...

Timmy Brister said...
Tim Guthrie said:

Maybe Tom, we should be less concerned with "Calvinism" and more concerned with reaching people.

Right on, Tim. Now please forward this to the following:

Jerry Vines
Johnny Hunt
Frank Cox
Nelson Price
Frank Page
Malcolm Yarnell
Steve Lemke
Bobby Welch
Jack Graham
John Connell
Ergun Caner
Norman Jameson
Lonnie Wilkey
Hal Poe

and a few others that I fail to remember.

Strong Tower said...

And, as I have said before, the real intruders are those like Townes and those on the list Timmy provided plus inummerable others that are producing the same disengenuous misinformed tripe.


...Way to go guys...Perhaps we should just forget about the blogs and start making direct phone calls to the liberals and moderates and let them know they can come take back the convention whenever they please. The conservatives are officially at war with one another.

DefenderOfTruth said...

You know the thing that amazes me about this age old discussion what to do with "us"? That for some reason these men with "seminary" degrees can be so downright ignorant in the bliss saying we are wrong and that we try to impose what we believe on them.....isnt making this kind of statement saying the same thing?....right back at ya' I guess....course that a man must possess this "degree" to be a preacher is also an amazing man-made idea.....I suppose mere fishermen could not be a preacher in today's culture....that wouldn't suit man's corrupt will. I discovered the doctrines of grace just over a year ago now and a born again Christian just over 3.....and the only "flag I fly" is that God is Sovereign and man is fully responsible to repent and believe.....but he simply doesnt possess that ability to love God....if he did, all mankind would love Him.....what part of "no one seeks for God" does this man not understand? In fact, OT and NT alike clearly show that man constantly is seeking to replace God.

The problem I see in the article and with others (with basically poor theology) is that they have never truly realized Who God is, infinitely Holy, and who we, as mankind....totally depraved....these two must be understood (isnt that seminary 101?) before you can fully understand grace and only then will you begin to understand and see what the prophet Isaiah meant when He saw the Sovereign Lord and even the seraphim covering their eyes and feet (poor Moses had to be told to take his shoes off) before our Holy Sovereign God....Isaiah 6:3 And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"

If I were this guy (and the others that talk about us like we are on pluto; "The venom of asps is under their lips" comes to mind which should remind us all of what we are) I would not worry to much about "what to do with us".....for they can be confident, as am I that He Who began a good work in us will bring us to completion.....you have no idea how glad I am that.. that "He"....is not me....

Josh said...

Tom -

I'm a student at Liberty University, and it seems that Dr. Towns really doesn't understand the doctrines of grace. I have taken his THEO 201 and THEO 202 classes which use his book, "Theology for Today" and a series of lectures to discuss the different theological doctrines (theology proper, christology, pneumatology, etc.). Multiple times between the book and lectures Dr. Towns either calls himself a Calvinist, not a Calvinist, or a believer in the 5 points of Calvinism as long as he can define them (and proceeds to define them in such a manner as to not accurately reflect any of them). So far, it's been disappointing to see how Dr. Towns and others such as Dr. Ergun Caner and the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr. have represented Calvinism to student's at Liberty University.

dnafam said...

I'm late on the subject, but found this link when searching for a theology blog at Liberty University.
I am a student there and have been involved in Elmer Towns THEO 104 class. I have been enlightened to know that there is a difference between "conversion and regeneration". By Towns definition, conversion is when man chooses God and opens the door into heaven. Regeneration is God's response to the faith we show by choosing to open the door.
I have been in this area for a while. I attended a local SBC until recently. I have seen the close minded views. I can tell you that Liberty was a major influence in those views. The Calvinist I have known have no need to compel others to their view. After all, not only is salvation given to me by God's reckoning, but so is knowledge and understanding. Why demand others have the same view if your view is they will never understand outside of God's influence?
It appears to me Liberty has a desire to inflate man's choice in salvation and make God the one who is compelled to respond to our faith in Him.
I believe this to be a dangerous position. Can I differ in opinion with other Baptist. Certainly. I use to attend a Freewill Baptist Church. I greatly opposed the theology, but saw a proper respect and love of God's word and lives that reflected a true relationship with Him. Despite what I would consider a misunderstanding of God's Word, the response was one of love for God and our fellow man.
Why I left the church I was attending was due to the pressure to conform to an idea that "we" must go out and save should for Christ.
This is abhorrent to me. I certainly desire to tell others about the change God has worked in my life. I desire to grow closer to Him through His word as He has done so much for me. I can never repay what He has done, but live with the knowledge my life is not my own.
In fairness, I must admit, the class has solidified my views. I have been challenged to determine what God would have me do. Though I have a hunger for God's word, I have been going deeper to determine if what has been said is correct. As yet, I can not find the support for it when Scripture is taken into context.
My classes have been online. I have desired an outlet for discussion of these topics at Liberty, but have not found one. All my other classes have required discussion boards. All my religious studies course have not only left it out as a requirement, but fail to even make one available for the class.

dnafam said...

I'm late on the subject, but found this link when searching for a theology blog at Liberty University.
I am a student there and have been involved in Elmer Towns THEO 104 class. I have been enlightened to know that there is a difference between "conversion and regeneration". By Towns definition, conversion is when man chooses God and opens the door into heaven. Regeneration is God's response to the faith we show by choosing to open the door.
I have been in this area for a while. I attended a local SBC until recently. I have seen the close minded views. I can tell you that Liberty was a major influence in those views. The Calvinist I have known have no need to compel others to their view. After all, not only is salvation given to me by God's reckoning, but so is knowledge and understanding. Why demand others have the same view if your view is they will never understand outside of God's influence?
It appears to me Liberty has a desire to inflate man's choice in salvation and make God the one who is compelled to respond to our faith in Him.
I believe this to be a dangerous position. Can I differ in opinion with other Baptist. Certainly. I use to attend a Freewill Baptist Church. I greatly opposed the theology, but saw a proper respect and love of God's word and lives that reflected a true relationship with Him. Despite what I would consider a misunderstanding of God's Word, the response was one of love for God and our fellow man.
Why I left the church I was attending was due to the pressure to conform to an idea that "we" must go out and save should for Christ.
This is abhorrent to me. I certainly desire to tell others about the change God has worked in my life. I desire to grow closer to Him through His word as He has done so much for me. I can never repay what He has done, but live with the knowledge my life is not my own.
In fairness, I must admit, the class has solidified my views. I have been challenged to determine what God would have me do. Though I have a hunger for God's word, I have been going deeper to determine if what has been said is correct. As yet, I can not find the support for it when Scripture is taken into context.
My classes have been online. I have desired an outlet for discussion of these topics at Liberty, but have not found one. All my other classes have required discussion boards. All my religious studies course have not only left it out as a requirement, but fail to even make one available for the class.

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