Monday, September 15, 2008

Concerns about the challenge of Calvinism

Clear Creek College
Two stories arrived in my inbox within 24 hours that indicate that Southern Baptists are past the point of avoiding a dialogue about theology. The first came from the September 9, 2008 edition of the Kentucky Baptist Western Recorder. Dennis Fox is the President of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College and contributes a weekly column to the paper. He announces an upcoming conference on "Meeting the Calvinist Challenge." The conference is decidedly "not a debate about Calvinism" but rather a "response to the challenge of Calvinism," which he defines as "the challenge of trying to be 'converted' to Calvinsm."

Dr. Fox is plain-spoken when he writes,
The trustees and administration of Clear Creek made it very clear a few years ago when we publicly stated that we do not teach, promote or endorse Calvinism. We maintain this same position today.
This kind of candor is commendable. While I could wish that Clear Creek would be more open to the theology on which the Southern Baptist Convention was founded, it is certainly the prerogative of the trustees and administration and Kentucky Baptists not to be.

The other story is announces the results of a LifeWay study. Noting the documented growth among younger SBC pastors who identify themselves theologically as "5-point Calvinists," LifeWay Research asked 778 Southern Baptist pastors to agree or disagree with the statement, "The rise of Calvinism among recent seminary graduates concerns me."

The results: "27 percent strongly agreed and another 36 percent somewhat agreed with the statement indicating that they were 'concerned.' Sixteen percent strongly disagreed with the statement and another 17 percent somewhat disagreed. The remaining 5 percent indicated they 'don't know.'"

Call it the return of theology to the SBC. Whatever your attitude about the actual theological points involved there is no escaping the fact that Calvinism is a conversation that the Southern Baptist Convention is going to have. And it will be best addressed in formats initiated by last year's Building Bridges Conference, where the issues are clearly stated and positions are heartily yet respectfully argued.

Does Calvinism present a challenge? Without a doubt it does. If it is true, then we must acknowledge that much that is being taught in our churches today is false. If it is false, then we must acknowledge that those who believe and teach the biblical doctrines historically delineated by that nickname are misled and misleading others. We cannot have it both ways.

I believe that this coming conversation has great potential good as well as for evil. By that I do not mean that it will be good if "our side wins" and "there side looses." What I mean is this: if the kind of thinking that views this dialogue as a "win-lose" proposition and that wants to choose up sides prevails then much evil can erupt from it. If the 63% that are "concerned" decide that they need to declare war on the growing numbers that embrace the doctrines of grace, or if those in the growing minority decide to lock and load on the ones who are concerned, then we can expect an ugly and largely fruitless bloodbath.

If, on the other hand, cooler heads prevail and this issue can be viewed as an intramural debate amongst brothers who are willing to show love and respect to those with whom they disagree, then much good can come from it. This is my prayer. And it is how I want to conduct myself.

Don't misunderstand me. I am NOT suggesting that anyone back off his or her convictions. What I am suggesting is that Southern Baptists grow up and learn how to be ruthlessly biblical in arguing for positions that we believe are derived from the written Word o God and to do so in love and gentleness. Ours is a day that seems to think that solid convictions and genuine humility are mutually exclusive. But truth and love are not opposite choices. Truth requires love and love always rejoices in the truth.

So, let the conversation begin...or in some cases, let it continue. Join it. Don't be shy about it. Nail your theological colors to the mast and speak plainly about your beliefs. And do it without rancor or animosity, but in joy and hope that as we press each other to examine God's Word more carefully, the Lord may well be pleased to give us all greater insight into the truth He has entrusted to us.

52 comments:

Matt said...

The real disaster is when a college thinks ministers are not theologians but mere ceo's of their church, theology is of no concern. Therefore, ministers preaching in the pulpit can not articulate to their people the knowledge of God or man.

Mike Gross said...

I am a graduate of Clear Creek and now am a Master of Divinity student at Southern Seminary. I did not affirm the doctrines of grace while a student at CCBBC, but I do now.

It has been a 'challenge' on the campus of Clear Creek for several years, and has even resulted into serious conflict at times. Like you, I can understand their desire to have a discussion on the subject and that they want to be true to their institutional convictions.

However, it appears that they are starting out with an "us against them" mentality. I truly hope and pray, however, that my concerns are unfounded and that they will present a fair & balanced treatment on the matter.

I would also add that the word 'converted' Dr. Fox uses makes me cringe. It carries with it a negative connotation that some may misunderstand to mean that Calvinism is something other than Christianity. That would certainly make those 63% even more willing to declare war.

I would love to be a fly on the wall.

debbiekaufman said...

I never worry when someone uses the word unconverted in their sentences, which I see as more of a manipulation tool than fact. I know differently and will be in heaven, whether someone thinks I am or not. They'll just be surprised. :)

johnMark said...

Who is doing the dividing here? This is a very clear and proactive move. It's a shame.

Tom,

On a similar note. Is TnT going to be at the John 3:16 Conference? I will be there and it would be great to see you guys.

Mark

p.s. Can anyone guess who or what TnT is? ;)

justamessengerboy said...

The glory of being in Christ is that true Christians, Calvinist or no, are even now, to some degree or another, being sanctified and reformed by His Spirit and for His Father's Glory. If we could view this conversation with that in mind, namely our Father's Glory and our Brothers' Edification, we would do well.

That's the kind of thing that the world takes note of and wonder at.

NativeVermonter said...

Those who do not hold to the Doctrines of His Marvelous Grace are simply at the "grammar school of repentance"...where we all were at one time. Hopefully after study and prayer our Lord will reveal to them the "university of election."

Tom Bryant said...

Although I would reject that those of us who have come to a different conclusion about these issues as being in 'grammar school', I would also reject the idea that we cannot as a denomination talk without yelling or name calling. If the CR was about a doctrinal issue - and I believe it was - we need to continue to talk with each other about these other doctrinal issues.

timmybrister.com said...

I am interested in the reasoning of LifeWay's research department for the phrasing of their question.

"Concerned."

Okay. Concerned how? Talk about an ambiguous and misleading term!

5% don't know if they are concerned. I am concerned about that. :) But seriously, every Southern Baptist should be "concerned" about theology, regardless of what side you fall on the issues. The problem we are in today is because we are all the time "concerned" about numbers and methods irrespective of what the Bible says and the implications that lay therein.

Now I get what they are saying. The majority of Southern Baptist pastors don't like the direction the seminaries are taking the students theologically. But I am curious as to how many of those polled could accurately articulate what Calvinism historically is (and also how it has been embraced among Baptists in the past).

So basically, the research is not helpful and comes across as misleading. Being "concerned" is like being for "change." We are all concerned, and we all want change, but we all just don't know what that means.

Yet.

Lipstick said...

""Those who do not hold to the Doctrines of His Marvelous Grace are simply at the "grammar school of repentance"...where we all were at one time. Hopefully after study and prayer our Lord will reveal to them the "university of election.""


Gee, I really can't imagine why there should be any kind of division in the SBC with such arrogant, condescending, "uppity," elitist, attitudes as evidenced above. Don't agree with Calvinism or in 5 Pointers insistence on highjacking words like Sovereignty and Grace? Don't worry they were all stoooopid like you once and now God has graduated them into the "University of Election."

Dexter said...

Somebody is teaching something that is not truth as truth. When this untruth concerns the very nature of God the untruth is intolerable.

My problem is that I know some who are teaching untruth unknowningly love God as much or more that I do. They believe that the truth I know as untruth, and they can not tolerate untruth as much as I.

If they are justified as I am, then we both have the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us. So why would the Holy Spirit teach me one thing and my saved neighbor something else about the same doctrine.

We Southern Baptist have a problem don't we.

Will said...

Brother Tom

I write this in love, but I wonder how many brothers and sisters out there feel the way I do, which can be basically summed up "I don't care anymore".

Of I course I do care, but I am developing a somewhat cynical attitude that this debate will never end, and honestly I challenge myself with the question "how does this debate bring Glory to the Lord"? and the answer I come up with is it doesn't, at least not very often.

I also think the debate is often framed around the larger question of reforming the denomination, and I wonder whether the SBC as it exists today is worth reforming. Buearucratic, political, wasteful of resources, unwilling to admit its membership is not 16m because of fear of losing secular influence, worshipping the idols of numbers of baptisms and new members, set afire with issues of alcohol and Calvinism while in our denomination there is no difference in the divorce rate than among the lost, we practice cheap grace and give people the false assurance of salvation, do not practice church discipline, and personal holiness is very hard to find.

I once did missionary work with a church that declined to a very low and poor state, and I learned in that experience that sometimes it is better to just start fresh.

Personally, I wish the Spirit of the Living God would inspire and breath on men to raise up a Reformed denomination that I could proudly and prayerfully say I am a member of.

Wow I never talk that much.

Will
Cedar Hill Tx

Tom said...

Will (and others):

Thanks for the comments. I do think that suggestions of being superior in understanding are not helpful in this kind of discussion. Though I recognize the language that Native Vermonter used (from Whitefield, if memory serves me well), we should apply such to ourselves and our ministries and not as a basis by which to compare ourselves to others. IOW, let's make sure that we are clear and passionate about the abc's of repentance and faith before we get exercised about election and predestination.

I also recognize the denominational malaise that is engulfing many who have previously cared at least somewhat about the SBC. Our concern should not be (in my opinion) the denomination per se, but the family of churches that comprise the convention. Love demands that we care. And historical awareness should lead us to be amazed that we are even at a point where doctrinal issues as substantive as "Calvinism" are being discussed. Who could have imagined this 25 years ago?

I grow weary of the caricatures--on both sides of this debate--but those are becoming fewer and fewer because of the democratization of theological information. Anyone with internet access can fairly quickly locate tons of material--both historical and exegetical--on the specific doctrines that are being addressed today. For example, when an authority figure stands and says that "Baptists have never believed in all of the 5 points of Calvinism," his credibility is injured in the eyes of hundreds if not thousands of people who with a few clicks of a mouse can download the 1689 Baptist Confession.

Isn't there a noticeable lessening of the bombastic, half-baked accusations flying around about these issues over the last couple of years? The context is changing and it is becoming more and more conducive to genuine doctrinal dialogue. The flamethrowers stand out all-the-more in this new day.

So, while I am glad that we live in a post-denominational world (and denominationalISM is dead), I still genuinely love the people and churches known as Southern Baptist. We're not the only folks in the vineyard and we have some very serious problems to address. But I am very hopeful that the Lord is forcing us to do just that. And I am prayerful that we will be able to do so with love, conviction and humility.

Will said...

Tom
As usual your comment/response is thoughtful and considerate.

I will reflect on what you have said.

Will
Cedar Hill TX

Damnant quod non intellegunt

GeneMBridges said...

Gee, I really can't imagine why there should be any kind of division in the SBC with such arrogant, condescending, "uppity," elitist, attitudes as evidenced above. Don't agree with Calvinism or in 5 Pointers insistence on highjacking words like Sovereignty and Grace? Don't worry they were all stoooopid like you once and now God has graduated them into the "University of Election."

You know, I was going to stay out of this conversation until I read this bit.

For starters, the tenor of this portion doesn't match the tenor of the first paragraph. On the one hand the comment about which you were concerned (no pun intended) was arrogant and condescending and and on the other, we read the accusation that 5 pointers have hijacked particular terms.

I would point out that term "hijacked" strikes me as little more than arrogant, condescending language. What's more, I would further point out that this is a good example of the schizophrenia we see coming from the other side of the aisle. On the one hand they lay claim that everybody believes in these terms, but then we're told we on our side have "hijacked" them - and, to bolster that opinion, we often get treated to the old canard that Calvinism is built on apriori, rationalistic concepts about God's sovereignty, decrees, etc., just like Lutheranism's central premise is Sola Fide. What's up with that? Don't both attitudes manifest the same spirit?

It seems to me there are parties on both sides who are acting as if it's the Rebellion vs. the Galactic Empire.

If Southern Baptists, and Baptists in general, are going to have a rational discussion about these issues then both sides need to tone down this sort of rhetoric. Don't come out on Red Alert with phasers and photon torpedoes locked until the time calls for it.

justamessengerboy said...

Will,

I noticed you're from Cedar Hill, TX. I live a few short miles away in Grand Prairie, and I go to Heritage Baptist Church in Mansfield, TX. Dunno if you've ever attended Heritage, but we're "Reformed Baptist" through and through (even holding to the 1689 London Baptist Confession, believe it or not!)

Stephen said...

Not a Baptist but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.
If I wasn't married to a self proclaimed Calvinist Charismatic(with a seatbelt on) I would be in the LCMS. I grew up in the Baptist church and broke my digital pedometer walking the aisle every month or so trying to get "that feeling" of being saved. Never knew I was redeemed by Someone outside of myself until I discoverd the doctrines of Grace. Now my "works are not for God but for my neighbor".
Every once in awhile I'll venture to downtown Charleston, SC and walk the old aisle at FBC at lunchtime...those WERE truly the good ole days. There is a part of me that wishes I still was not confronted with the difficult knowledge of slavery to the King.

Lipstick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oswald said...

The comments herein seem to point out exactly why peace may never be attained in the SBC between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. The "debate," if that is the proper word to use, on this topic goes much deeper than theological opinions or philosophical speculations.

But the surface comments that appear here is a good starting point. Despite the pretense of desiring to begin or continue a "dialogue" on this issue, many of the comments seek to silence or marginalize non-Calvinists.

Take the name-calling for example. According to the Calvinists, those who do not share their view are in "grammar school" and have not as yet "graduated" to the "University of Election." This is not dialogue - this is simply a smear tactic.

Unfortunately, however, this is not an isolated incident. The attitude that "we were all once in the same place as those who do not hold to Calvinism" is rampant on this website, and and most other Calvinist websites associated with Baptist Calvinists. It is that attitude of superiority that seems to naturally follow those who claim to be specially "chosen" that prevents civility and engenders spirited responses from non-Calvinists.

And it should also be clear that Calvinists have attempted to monopolize terms acknowledged on both sides like "grace" and "sovereignty." Non-Calvinist Baptists do not teach that God is not sovereign or that mankind is not saved by God's grace. But, at every turn, Calvinists make this claim. That is why many instead take the label "doctrines of grace" and seek to identify any non-Calvinist as an "Arminian" or even worse "Pelegian."

If you want to know what Calvinist Baptists have in mind, just look at the avowed purpose of the Founders website. It is stated to be "the recovery of the gospel and the reformation of local churches." In other words, Baptists who are non-Calvinists have "lost" the gospel (more name-calling) and their churches must be reformed (taken over by Calvinist doctrine).

So is a call for peace on this website a legitimate one? Speculation would abound on both sides, I suspect, but any such call for peace must begin with those whose stated goals include the taking over of the denomination. That is the first step

NativeVermonter said...

Just for the record that was George Whitefield, it matters little to me what doctrine you hold as long as your covered by His Blood.

Stephen said...

I haven't met a calvinist yet who wasn't an arminian when they started. Simple facts. Most arminians don't know or associate with evil calvinists at all. Fortunately, we closet calvinist usually have no choice but to associate with cafeteria christians, arminians and JoelOsteenians. You'll be happy to know there are no "Reformed" churches in our immediate area. Perhaps my kids won't come down with the same disease I have. But, my 2y.o. is halfway through the evil Children's Catechism. There...more name calling.

Tom said...

Lipstick, aka Oswald:

I agree that condescending attitudes are fellowship-breakers and will stifle the kind of conversation that we need to be having--and that we will have, if I am reading the winds properly. But I would say that the unwillingness to be straightforward works the same way. Why are you anonymous? Helpful conversation will be enhanced by all parties being open and honest not only about what we believe but about who we are.

The purpose of Founders goes much deeper than debating Calvinism, as the quote you gave indicates. I hope that you understand that I recognize this when I use this language. If you think we do not need to recover the gospel and renew local churches, then perhaps we could have a beneficial dialogue about that.

Blessings,
tom

Oswald said...

Tom, just to correct the record - I know who Lipstick is, and we share the same computer, but we are not the same person.

I'm not sure how this furthers the debate at all, but you must think it is important so I will make sure you're not confused on that point.

But that response illustrates the point I'm trying to make. It seems that rather than simply address my point, more importance is placed here on a personal attack. Whether I provide you with my last name is a meaningless point in the discussion, except as an attempt to discredit my statements without addressing them.

By the way, there are many people who write here who do not give out that kind of information on the world wide web. This is never a problem unless the writer disagrees with Calvinist sentiments, and then it is a big deal.

This is not a friendly place, and is not encouraged to be. Whether this is a first step remains to seen.

Russell Taylor said...

To All,
I can remember going through what is called the “cage stage” of my understanding of Calvinism. I’ve had to repent of much concerning my attitude toward those who lacked understanding of grace. God gave me the opportunity to pastor a “reformed baptist church”, that was where I was theologically on almost all the major issues. I went through four years of a living hell. I found myself surrounded by some of the most ungodly men and women (all 5 pointers) that I’ve ever had to deal with (including my pagan years). God has since delivered our church from these people and brought us through the valley, to a place of joyful ministry with people who are gracious to be with. We have a mixture of views on calvinism. I am consistently teaching the Word expositionally, which is consequently moving everyone toward the doctrines of grace. I have , however, realized that teaching the system of calvinism does not, necessarily, lead people to understand grace. I am more a calvinist today than ever in my life, but I have learned that unless our doctrine transforms us into the image of Christ, it merely puffs us up. I delight in the sovereign grace of God and have learned that God wants me to understand it so that I can rejoice in the Lord, not my self when I get the right answer on the Bible quiz. Humility, security, purpose, hope, meaning, etc. are words that are defined by our understanding of the doctrines of Grace. If our life doesn’t look more like Christ when we understand these doctrines, then we don’t really understand them. If our life does look more like Christ when we understand them, then we’ll be much better at helping others really understand them. We must work harder to communicate the reasons why they must think rightly about sovereign grace. Their spiritual growth is vitally related to these truths just like all other truth in the Word. We can not let “sovereign grace” become an issue to be tossed around in the arena of ideas. Sovereign grace must be what transforms our lives.
To Tom,
Thank you for your example. I’ve heard a lot of negative caricature’s attached to the Founders Ministries, but I can honestly say that the leadership of the Founders have never justified them. I believe that much of the “success” of the reformation is because of ya’lls (Southran for you all) humility and patience with those who oppose it. A lot of us have liked a good fight, but I must say, fighting doesn’t seem to be the Founders agenda. I believe that love is. Love for truth, God and men.
Godspeed.
Russell

refbaptdude said...

Will wrote:
>Personally, I wish the Spirit of >the Living God would inspire and >breath on men to raise up a >Reformed denomination that I >could proudly and prayerfully say >I am a member of.

Will,

There are two baptistic and reformed associations established. 1. The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America (ARBCA) www.reformedbaptist.com
and
2. The Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals (FIRE) www.firefellowship.org

Enjoy,
Steve

Tom said...

Oswald:

I certainly was not trying to personally attack you and, having reread my comment, wonder how my words have landed on you that way. If we are going to have a substantive discussion--including the kinds of accusations that you have made--then we why should there be any hesitancy to sign our names to what we have written?

I thought you and Lipstick were the same person since your post originally appeared under the name of "Lipstick" and you both have only recently established blogger accounts.

I tried to engage the point you made, but admit that I wrote hastily and therefore may have miscommunicated. Your point: that the purpose of Founders = "name calling" and "tak[ing] over [churches] by Calvinist doctrine." I dispute that point. That is why I offered to have a substantive conversation with you about it. I have addressed these things many times in many venues.

I rather think that this blog is a friendly place. I believe that we can be friendly even when disagreeing strongly on important matters. No one has to agree with the so-called "5 points" in order to engage the issues here. My desire is to provide a forum for serious dialogue about these issues. You are genuinely welcomed to contribute. I hope that you will.

Blessings,
tom

Tom said...

Russell:

Thanks for your testimony and wise words. Tragically, many of us who say we believe God's grace the strongest too often do not evidence it in the way we treat people. We are without excuse when we do.

ta

debt said...

Very well said. My husband and I are in the middle of this debate within our family. It has been divisive. Our prayer has been that we would be able to dialogue and not argue. The other side of this situation has not been able to do this. We travel this weekend and will be with them. Our prayer is that the God of all grace would be seen in our attitudes and our words. I am a parent and desire for my children to walk in the truth. This will be the only way we have unity and peace. Right now, we just want peace. Without it, we won't be able to dialogue. May God's truth prevail.

debt said...

One more thought. I, too, don't believe this blogspot is negative or bombastic, but open in allowing others viewpoints. All you have to do is read the guidelines that have been set up for dialoguing. Keep on, Tom!!!

David Milton said...

Stephen's posts are the funniest I've seen in a while.

Genebridges, be careful about using big words and speaking in full sentences. Much less using correct punctuation....

Oswald said...

Tom:

Your response to me was personal because, rather than address the issues I raised, you wondered aloud why I had not provided my last name to you.

I pointed out that you don't take that confrontational approach to Calvinist writers who provide comments here. Indeed, some of the comment writers in this thread have not provided that information, but their comments receive no such retort. These methods are transparent.

The comments which have followed yours raise my confidence that no real attitude shift here will come. But I will wait and see.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear brother Tom:

You said:

"let's make sure that we are clear and passionate about the abc's of repentance and faith before we get exercised about election and predestination."

"My desire is to provide a forum for serious dialogue about these issues. You are genuinely welcomed to contribute. I hope that you will."


I appreciate both these statements.

Paul said:

"Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3: 12, 13 KJV)

"Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (4:6)


God bless,

Stephen

timmybrister.com said...

Oswald,

Tom has twice attempted to appeal to you for the sake of a "beneficial dialogue." Apparently, his attempts are not satisfactory to your standards. Over the course of this blog, there has never been a time where non-Calvinist's are intentionally trying to be "silenced" or "marginalized." Granted, you will likely find more comments from Calvinists than non-Calvinists, but a disproportionate number of comments does not warrant your assertions.

If Tom had an "attitude of superiority" as you claim, he would not pursue "beneficial dialogue" with you--something which you refuse to have with him. It is clear that your antagonism has prevented you from sitting without shouting, and having done so in the dark (anonymously).

You say that the "stated goal includes the taking over of the denomination." Could you verify specifically where that goal can be found?

Lastly, because Tom has allowed comments to be posted does not mean that he agrees with them. The *permitting* of comments does not equate to *promoting* of their ideas. It is an open forum, and comments like yours and others are welcome, though they do not reflect the author of the original post.

You have accused Tom of a "personal attack" when there was none.

You have charged that Founders is trying to "take over the denomination" when there is no support thereof.

You have called this blog an unfriendly place, when your comments have been welcomed, in spite of your anonymity.

All three of these charges are false.

Tom has asked that you would be open and honest, willing for there to be beneficial dialogue. He has responded to your comments with charity and clarity in substantive commentary. He has welcomed you to contribute with the hopes that you will.

You are looking for "a real attitude shift" and are waiting to see if that happens. With all due respect, I struggle to find the credentials of such virtue in your writing to demand this from others. Perhaps instead of waiting for others, you could lead by example by changing your approach to the discussion to contribute in a more meaningful, irenic way. I suggest this, not because I desire to argue with you, but with the hopes that we can at least agree to be Christian before we discuss anything else.

Danny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brad Williams said...

I have often strived, but have rarely succeeded in, saying "You're wrong" in such a manner that the hearer was not offended.

Hopefully, I am getting better at hearing it without offense. If we don't, we'll never learn.

Russell Taylor said...

Dear Oswald,
Please take this as a sincere attempt to dialogue about your statements in a friendly way. Specifically your statements on words like sovereignty and grace. Wouldn't you agree that if someone uses a word with a correct meaning and that word describes a position that they regularly dialogue about, then monopolizing that word may be expected? On the other hand, if someone uses the same word, but means something else that is not true, then they've hijacked the word? This is important because when a Calvinist says that we are "saved by grace", we mean something different than Arminians mean. Let me explain:

Ephesians 2:1-10 gives us the clearest definition of what it means to be "saved by grace". Specifically verses 5 says, "Even when we were dead in our trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-". The definition here of being "saved by grace" is this: God's act of saving us by making us alive. This action is based on God's mercy (:4) not our merit. Therefore he is sovereign in it, not us. So then, when Calvinist say that "We are saved by grace" or use terms like "sovereign grace", this is what we mean. If someone uses these words and means something other than this biblical meaning, then they've hijacked the words, not us. Hope this helps.

Godspeed.

John said...

Matt,

I couldn't agree more. It bothered me when I was in seminary that there was this idea that if a student was very smart, he should stay in the academic world and not waste their time as a pastor!

Oswald said...

Timmy:

The points I tried to make originally continue to be reinforced, most recently again by your comments to me. This is a Calvinist website, and Calvinist sympathisers are warmly received. This includes the name they use or whether they provide biographical data.

As I noted earlier, many Calvinist writers don't provide such information to this site, but are never accused of being "anonymous" or approaching "from the dark." These attacks are saved for writers who disagree with the Calvinist majority here. And make no mistake about it - these are ad hominen arguments that attack the person rather than the statements.

So there is an obvious double standard, depending upon a writer's theology. This disparity finds a home in the comments of many writers, including you and Tom.

Further, there is a decided tendency here for Calvinist writers to miscast statements made by others who don't agree with them. For example, in your response to me you claim that I said Tom had an "attitude of superiority." I didn't say that. I made that statement in reference generally to those writers who appear to exult in their "chosenness." The example I used was the writer in this thread who claimed that non-Calvinists were in "grammar school" and had not as yet graduated to the "University of Election." That attitude of superiority was so obvious that Tom reminded everyone not to talk like that.

But for you to write that I had said that about Tom was incorrect, and is just one example of what I was trying to point out initially: there is no reason for non-Calvinists to believe that the Baptist Calvinists here want "peace" or a "dialogue."

You also seem befuddled at my observation that non-Calvinists are routinely marginalized on this website. Again, the truth of that statement is so obvious that it hardly needs to be gone over again.

But I'll do it one more time.

Writers who disagree with Calvinism are systematically belittled and insulted here with impunity. The classic example, which has occurred over and over again, is the statement made by Native Vermonter. His words are not unique, nor is his sentiment unusual. Such statements have occurred here literally hundreds of times.

Native Vermonter, as I pointed out above, described those who do not hold to Calvinism as being in "grammar school" as opposed to Calvinists, who attend the "university of election."

There are so many things wrong with that I hardly know where to start. To begin with, it is spoken to silence any dialogue, rather than to encourage it. It is an insult which is calculated to make non-Calvinists conclude that they are not adept or savvy enough to "compete" with the intellect of Calvinists, who are obviously better armed.

It is also the height of conceit. It claims that Calvinists know better, and non-Calvinists should sit quietly on the sidelines and learn from their more studied peers.

Another example which appears on this website continuously is the sentiment among Calvinists that "we've all been there" or "we all started out thinking as you do." This appears herein with the comment of Stephen that "I never met a Calvinist who wasn't an Arminian to start with." Stephen, I should note, is "anonymous," as you use the term.

Again, these are nothing more than thinly-veiled insults designed to belittle non-Calvinists into giving up.

A final example that appears with frequency is the tactic of "piling on." For example, if a non-Calvinist makes a statement contrary to the general sentiment of the Calvinist majority, it is very likely that two, three, or more commenters will simultaneously go after the offending writer. This goes on time and time again.

You have also claimed that I placed the goal of Founders as being the taking over of the denomination. Again, I didn't say that, although I would agree with you that "taking over the denomination" is the logical end-point.

What I did say was that the real goal of Founders is found in their own stated purpose: "the recovery of the gospel and the reformation of local churches." If the gospel must be "recovered" and returned to the Baptist churches to which you refer, than someone lost it. Whatever is taught there is not the gospel, in your view. Again, clearly, that is little more than name-calling. That is basically the same thing as saying those churches teach heresy.

As to the goal of "reforming" local chuches, that is a clear reference to reformed theology, or Calvinism. How can that be accomplished except by the systematic replacing of the "lost gospel" of those churches with Calvinism?

I recognize, however, that it is premature for Calvinists here to openly declare any desire to "take over the denomination."

But the name "Founders" says it all. What is implicit in that name is the assertion that Baptists as a whole were, at some point in the past, "Calvinist," and that the "Founders Friendly" individuals and churches here seek to bring Baptists back to their "roots." That is a topic for another day, but all this leaves little doubt as to true motivations.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that non-Calvinists would conclude that Founders is an unfriendly place. The evidence for that is overwhelming, and the responses here just reinforce it.

I sign off for now, but when time permits I'll drop in again.

Jason Vaughn said...

Gene I'm so happy you added the Star Wars and Star Trek references in your response. I think otherwise I would have had no idea what you were talking about. :)

Jason Vaughn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil said...

I find it a waste of time to debate or attempt to intelligently converse with someone about an issue they have (1) never researched, resulting in complete, conscious ignorance of it, and (2) already made up their minds to oppose, no matter what evidence is presented in its favor.

To paraphrase Hollywood, the SBC has serious problems, and we need serious people to deal with them. Where are they?

G. Alford said...

Russell,

I am glad that you have come through the fire “refined” and not burnt.

Calvinists do not have a corner on being mean spirited. There is a particular type of Baptist in the SBC that, no matter your theological position, sees everyone who does not agree with them as an enemy to be destroyed or excluded.

Tom,

In the spirit of fairness is Lifeway expected to soon release the survey results of those in the SBC who are concerned about the activities/attitudes/actions of the “Anti-Calvinist” that threaten to directly and permanently rupture the unity of the convention?

As we have already read in the comments of this post some Southern Baptist are just tired of the fighting and ready to give up on the SBC.

If Lifeway will not take a survey asking if the activities/attitudes/actions of the “Anti-Calvinist” are a concern to Southern Baptist perhaps you can do it… I think that we would find that most Southern Baptist are not happy with, are concerned about, the “Anti-Calvinist” direct attempt to stir-up discord in the convention.

Grace Always,

Russell Taylor said...

Oswald,
I would love to have your feedback on my comments on sovereignty and grace. You've accused the Founders of being mean, but all of your posts have migrated toward controversy and you've ignored an invitation to have meaningful dialog about "sovereign grace". I'm cornfused:)

Godspeed.

Arlan said...

I've been a member of a Southern Baptist Church now for little over one year. The only reason my wife and I joined the church was our deep appreciation for the Pastor's expositional ministry and his Pastor's heart for the people.

I was raised in a Temple Baptist Church, graduated from a Baptist University, and am an alumni of Grace Theological Seminary and Talbot Seminary.

We were members for twenty-five years at the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton where Chuck Swindoll was pastor.

I was not reared in Calvinism but came to accept it after much internal struggle being convinced of it's Biblical correctness.

Sadly the potential confrontation coming to the SBC is why we did not want to join a Baptist Church. Baptist Churches have a reputation for fighting and splitting over a wide range of issues. All, "in the name of or pursuit of truth"!

If the confrontation emerges as I suspect, their will be no winners. The cause and name of Christ will be dishonored as much heat will be generated but little light. 1 Corinthians 13 will be sacrificed upon the altar of doctrinal purity. God forbid that brothers can disagree.

jeffndi said...

After reading this thread, it's evident that no one is actually addressing the topic, but rather ranting and having a match of wits.

What does the bible say about "divisions" and who causes them? Paul answers this for us in Romans 16:17
17) Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

John Calvin started the division when he came up with his own theology which completely contradicts God's Word. Also, is anyone here remotely aware of the fact that he was a murderer and tortured those who opposed his false doctrine of demons? Sounds like a great man of God, huh?

Once we are "saved" by grace, through faith, not of works lest any man should boast- we are then called to walk worthy of our calling. We are called to obedience.
Calvinism states that you can live like the devil and still enter God's kingdom.
Jesus said different.
Matthew 7:21
Hebrews 5:9
In fact, 25 out of 27 books of the New Testament warn us of the dangers of apostasy and the outcome- eternal damnation.

Scripture refutes ALL 5 points of Calvinism (the T.U.L.I.P. philosophy) and I suppose it all comes down to which J.C. you want to believe.
JOHN CALVIN or JESUS CHRIST?

Think carefully, eternity is forever.

Finally:
Eternal Security sounds good on paper- too bad it's NOT parchment paper.

May God grant you all the ears to hear and may He also grant you repentance for those of you who are spreading such a diabolical doctrine which is deceiving millions.
If anyone is interested, here are what we like to call the lists of warnings:
Gal. 5:19-21
Gal. 6:7-10
1 Cor. 6:9-10
Ephe. 5:4-5
Rev. 21:8
All written to CHRISTIANS, the saints...
Ironically, this LIE was started by the father of lies in the garden when he told Eve,"YOU WILL NOT SURELY DIE."
Sound familiar?

Also, for those of you who have been deceived into believing that God cannot BLOT us out of the book of life, here's some verses that will not "tickle your ears":
Rev. 3:5
Exodus 32:33
Psalm 69:28

IN CHRIST-
Jeff and Diane

Danny said...

I looked up all your scripture references and althogh somewhat convincing by themselves they lend no change to the metanarrative when read in context of the chapters around them.

Danny said...

BTW, two against one is not fair.

jeffndi said...

Two against one is not fair?
What are we, 12?
We are a married couple who are one flesh, having the same Spirit and have been commissioned by the Lord to expose false doctrine, especially OSAS which is rooted in Calvinism.
The Lord tells us that if we ask Him anything "according to His will", He will do it.
Don't you think it is His will that His children KNOW His word?
Have you diligently sought the Lord on this or are you just adhering to what you've been taught?
We have sought Him diligently and He has been faithful to show us HIS TRUTH and expose the lies.
We are in the latter times of great apostasy and this shouldn't be surprising to anyone who is filled with God's Spirit.
OSAS is a myth, a fable, a doctrine of demons that contradicts the WORD OF GOD.
PERIOD.
It is "flesh stroking" though, so, I can see the appeal.
Too bad God will never stroke our flesh and that those that worship Him MUST worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.

As I said, every point out of the 5in the T.U.L.I.P. philosophy is unfounded in Scripture.
You'd have to do a whole lot of twisting, adding and taking away from to be able to actually believe such fallacy. Then again, the devil is the master at twisting Scripture and using it "OUT OF CONTEXT". See Mat.4

Also, only the devil would tell us that we can sin, sin, sin and that no matter what, we are "sealed" until the day of redemption.
God is never tolerant of sin but is forgiving and merciful so long as we confess (1 John 1:9) and repent. (John 8:11)

"YOU SHALL NOT SURELY DIE"- SATAN
This should be the slogan for OSAS.
It's the same LIE.

PRAY, seek the Lord. Read the bible in context, cover to cover. Humbly ask the Lord to reveal to you His character which has NEVER changed.
Man has changed the grace of God into a license for lewdness.
God's grace teaches us to live uprightly and to shun immorality as He purifies us as His own special people- zealous for good works.
Don't take my word for it.
Look it up yourself- Titus 2:11-14

Again- which J.C. will you trust?
John Calvin (the murderer) or
Jesus Christ our Lord?

Russell Taylor said...

Dear Jeff and Diane,

Thanks for your concern for our souls. I happen to agree that the doctrine of unconditional eternal security, or to put it your way "we can sin, sin, sin and that no matter what, we are "sealed" until the day of redemption", is unscriptural. However, it is not rooted in Calvinism. It is lawlessness. I would encourage you to read 'The Law and the Gospel', by Ernest Reisinger, to learn a sound position on this by a strong Calvinist. The doctrine of the "perseverance of the saints" does not teach what you are accusing us of. We believe that we are saved and sanctified by grace. You sound like you believe you are saved by grace and sanctified by works. On my website www.shepherdology.com I have my whole series on the book of Galatians which combats this very mistake. I believe if you give us an honest ear and reading, you will realize that we are as opposed to the teaching that grace is license to sin as you are, but for different reasons. Biblical liberty is freedom from the penalty and power of sin to live unto righteousness.

I would add that defending eternal security without being a Calvinist is an inconsistency. Although "eternal security" is not generally understand the same way "perseverance of the saints" is. Our critics who argue against sovereign grace and still hold to eternal security are the audience you are speaking to. I believe you are consistent to reject eternal security based on your system of theology. I would love to observe the dialogue you could have with the Clear Creek Association over this issue. It's always fun to watch Baptist who don't understand biblical grace, try to defend eternal security.

jeffndi said...

To Russell,

Who is the "Baptist" that doesn't understand biblical grace?
I hope you're not labeling me a "Baptist" just because I left two comments on a Baptist blog.
We did attend a Baptist church for a while and had to leave due to heretical teaching.
With all due respect, you are mistaken if you are implying that I do not understand God's grace.
Prodigals understand God's mercy, compassion and grace better than most who ride the wave of complacency called "playing church".
Jesus prefers us to be either HOT or COLD rather than lukewarm. A lukewarm person who may have "good works" but has a cold heart for the Lord makes God sick enough to expel them out of His mouth. At least if one backslides and becomes COLD, they realize their sinful state whereas the lukewarm one thinks they're fine and good.

Anyway, "Perseverance of the Saints" is not biblical either sir.
It is a man-made theology with no evidence of Scripture to back it up.
We MUST remain in Christ and then, He will remain in us. It is conditional. If we cease to abide, remain, endure to the end... we will die spiritually.
If we walk away from Jesus, we walk away from eternal life.
HE IS ETERNAL LIFE and that is biblical.
The ones who have made a one-time "profession" of faith and who have walked away from God and are now living for themselves are NOT His or "in Him" even if they once were.
We are not robots and God never revokes free will.
The bible is clear that we are drawn by the Spirit, saved by grace- through faith, and in the process of sanctification. It is also clear that we must endure to inherit the promise of eternal life. It is a conditional promise.
Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all those who OBEY Him. Heb. 5:9
That said, HOW are you concluding that I am saying we must sanctify ourselves by our works?
I am not saying that sir.
I am saying that GOD says we must abide in Him and obey Him, thus proving our love and faith to make it into the Kingdom.

I simply take the Lord at His Word and that's all she wrote.
Peace

Russell Taylor said...

Dear Jeff and Diane,
I was not labeling you as Baptist. Actually, I had guessed you were either Assembly of God or Pentecostal. No matter, I was referring to the Clear Creek Baptist. My point is that they are the kind of Baptist who would more likely hold to the error that you are confronting. That of unconditional eternal security as explained by these non-calvinistic Baptist associations, groups and individuals. I was raised, from junior high on, in one of these churches and would argue your exact argument with my Sunday School teachers all the time. I personally know both Tom and Greg, who have blogged with us on this blog and I would be surprised if either they, or anyone else on this blog (except for possibly Oswald), would argue that a person can make a one time “profession” of faith and then walk away from Christ and still be saved. I do know other Baptist who would argue this, but they are not Calvinist. As I said, I was raised in a church that taught this, then I was saved by God’s grace through the writing ministry of John MacArthur and now I could no more walk away from Christ than I could stop being a child of my parents or a father to my children. I love them all too much. The point is not a theoretical one. I could reason that if I can choose to follow Christ, then I can choose to stop following him. This is the philosophical approach to the issue that spawned Arminianism, but anyone who has been truly saved by the grace of God, baptized by his Spirit, and is an object of his workmanship, knows that to walk away from Christ, while theoretically possible, is not possible because his grace has set us free from spiritual death and raised us to walk in newness of life. We are reborn people, new creatures in Christ empowered by his resurrection power, his very Spirit indwells us, has sealed us in him and is a guarantee of our inheritance. I have just a two questions for you.
1. Do you love Christ?
2. Could you personally walk away from him?
If the answer to the first is yes, then the answer to the second will be no.
If the answer to the first is no, then the second is not applicable.
To savingly believe on Christ is to see him as your only hope and a precious pearl of great price. It is to love him.
I agree that if someone loves Christ, they will keep his commandments.
Godspeed.

Ken Clouse said...

Jeff and Diane, after reading your posts it is obvious to me your are leaving some things out. To give you some background may I please tell you my story? I spent several years in the Assemblies of God church system, even attending their Bible School. Dr. Stanley Horton said in a class one day “I don’t believe in a permissive and perfect will of God, if He had two wills he would be unstable as the Scripture says, God is not unstable. I was surprised that most if not all professors at the school did not believe a person once saved could loose his salvation. Now this was evident except in the churches where holiness and devotion was emphasized, the way to keep everyone on their toes was by making the claim “in the last days, when the trumpet sounds what will you be doing, will the Lord be pleased, will you be ready?” You call TULIP a philosophy actually the idea one can loose his salvation is the real philosophy. We will get back to this but for now let me say something about your attitude. If I were a non-Christian what you have is nothing I would want. You lack love, your tone is condescending, judgmental and arrogant. Think abut this Scripture 1John 4:7 ¶ Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Your remarks lack love they are the opposite in fact. As for John Calvin the murder, you don’t have your facts right. Here are the murders Moses, David and Paul the Apostle and probably more, I know this because the Book of Truth (Scripture) says so. As for the T.U.L.I.P. this is hardly a philosophy and it did not originate with John Calvin, rather this system of doctrine is as old as the the day of creation, Calvin picked up on the writings of St. Augustine and others in the early years of Christianity.
1.Total Depravity, if you don’t believe this then you don’t believe sin was that bad, it didn’t totally destroy and some how man has the capability to help him self, contrary to Scripture “Jer. 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,And desperately wicked;Who can know it?
2.Unconditional Election, if you don’t believe this you don’t believe the Bible and no one is saved, since no one seeks after God, there is none righteous no not one. Col. 3:12 ¶ Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; this is why these Calvinists treat you so nice. They are the elect.
3. Limited Atonement, you either believe in limited atonement or universal atonement, you according to your writing believe in limited atonement as you believe some will be in hell.
4. irresistible Grace, now this one is simple, to all His disciples He said come follow me, they followed Him without questioning. I am also a testimony of Irresistible Grace and so is the apostle Paul.
5. Perseverance of the Saints.
I noticed this one you did not like, well Peter did and so do I, with out God’s power I would not make it. Any one who thinks he can is placing himself on the level of the divine, think about this scripture. Think of this, now we know Jesus is God but here is a verse that describes who is in charge John 5:19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.
Don’t think you can do from your self, the answer is no you cannot.
Luke 4:10 For it is written:
“He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’
This you have failed however, you have failed to love. I hope you will take this to heart and repent of your coldness toward other people.
Here are some Scriptures to let sink into your soul.
Rom. 6:22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
2Cor. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Eph. 4:24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
1Th. 3:13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
1Th. 4:7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Heb. 12:14 ¶ Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
Yes I am a former Assembly of God member who became very disillusioned by the infilling of the Holy Spirit as preached and taught in the churches as a greater depth spiritually. These very same people who spoke in tongues and prophesied were as vile as any sinner, they were still stingy, arrogant, deceitful wicked, dishonored parents, envious, prayer less, coveted, wealth oriented, without Bible knowledge etc. you name it they all had some sin left in their life. Right you say, this is true, we don’t claim perfection. Not so, I would expect people filled with the spirit to be lovers of the brethren, to often they were not and I see this lack of quality in you. If John Calvin were here today he could teach you a few things, there may be no one with as much humility as he. Oh, yes as for the Anabaptist who were killed all day long (as the story goes) by the reformers, well I checked this out. The first person I came upon was a man in France who with several men captured a town, killed many of the men and set himself up as king took many women as live in’s and raped others. He by the reformers was hunted down and hanged. So this old story which is more about hatred than truth is not a good one for an honest man to relate to build a case. It’s real poor for you to equate John Calvin a murder that some how this would disqualify him, you would have to give the same standard to the Apostle Paul who held the coat of Stephen. Still you have your story wrong about John Calvin.
Well this is the end of my writing, I am not condemning you. I pray for you that your spirit would be Christ like, if this means repentance I hope you will do that i.e repent.

risen_soul said...

I was accepted to the online program at Clear Creek Baptist Bible College before the beginning of this semester. The Admissions director Billy Howell called me before the semester started to encourage me to pray about going somewhere else. Why you might ask? Because my application for admission included my current occupation as an apologist along with my website www.nailmark.org that (among many other issues of theology and apologetics) talk about the doctrines of grace. I was dumb founded that this guy would actually call me up and tell me I should pray about going elsewhere. He questoined me as to why I would believe such as election and limited atonement. I felt like I was being interrogated by the KGB.

So I withdrew my admission status and chose Luther Rice instead (who apparently sponsored the John 3:16 conference). But at least I haven't been harrassed by any of their staff so far about my Scriptural convictions.