Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reflections on the #SBC2009

The 2009 Southern Baptist Convention may well go down as the one that has left me the most hopeful...ever. My first convention was 1979 when Adrian Rogers was first elected President and the "Conservative Resurgence" (CR) officially began. I am grateful for that movement because it inhibited the slide toward liberalism that was taking place in many of our agencies and institutions. Some doubt that such tendencies were present, but I lived through them and have many personal stories to illustrate the documented case that has been made in various places.

Others (Ed Stetzer, Aan Cross, iMonk, SBCimpact, Alvin Reid) have offered insightful recaps and observations of the convention and following are some of my own reflections of what took place the last two days in Louisville.

The Great Commission Resurgence

Many of us who fully support the CR have grown increasingly uneasy over the last several years as it became apparent that the gospel was being pushed (or left) on the periphery of convention life in favor of secondary or tertiary issues. God has used that unease to unite brothers and sisters who do not agree on some fine points of theology in the common cause of reasserting the preeminence of the gospel in both our creed and deeds. The growing call to recover the gospel and and to reassert its pride of place energized a growing number of Southern Baptists over the last few years while leaving others fearful that gospel preeminence would necessarily mean Baptist indifference.

The 2009 convention, on initial blush, seems to have set a course for Southern Baptists to major on Christian essentials without compromising on Baptist distinctives. The means by which this has been accomplished is the Great Commission Resurgence led by Drs. Danny Akin and Johnny Hunt. The call of such a resurgence over the last year has rallied Southern Baptists--including more of the rising generation than we have seen interested in a while--to reexamine, retool and recommit to great task of proclaiming the gospel in word and deed.

The passing of Dr. Mohler's motion to form a task force to study how the SBC can become more effective in serving Christ through the great commission was a significant milestone in our recent history. His motion was challenged, most notably by a messenger from Florida who asserted that what ails the SBC is nothing other than the rise of "Calvinism." But the challenges did not hold sway and Dr. Mohler's motion passed by a 95% margin.

Anti-Calvinist Rhetoric

It may be that the anti-Calvinist messenger was emboldened in his opposition by the foolish remarks of the president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, Morris H. Chapman which were made earlier in the day during his report. Dr. Chapman's words have been publicly repudiated by SBC agency heads as well dozens of Southern Baptists who have voiced their concerns on blogs and twitter, and well they should be. He stated,
The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man.

Some are given to explain away the “whosoever will” of John 3:16. How can a Christian come to such a place when Ephesians says, “For by grace are you saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8)? I do not rise to become argumentative, or to change minds already convinced of one perspective or the other. But I do rise to state the obvious. Man is often tempted to design a theological theory in light of a biblical antinomy in order to clarify what God is trying to say.
I daresay that Dr. Chapman, or any Southern Baptist for that matter, can find any person in the Southern Baptist Convention who holds such horrific views. If such a miscreant could be found I would be the first to renounce his errors and to try to persuade him to submit to the teaching of Scripture that God is absolutely sovereign and people are absolutely responsible in the gracious work of salvation.

Dr. Chapman's comments were out of place and sounded more like the incendiary rhetoric of years past than the more respectful kinds of exchanges that have tended to characterize the Calvinist debates since the Building Bridges Conference in 2007. Though I was disappointed in him, I was greatly encouraged by the response of the messengers. No one went to a microphone to attack him personally and all of the public comments that I have heard dealt with his words, not with his person or character. That is the way that it should be among brothers.

Personal Conversations

I was greatly encouraged by personal times of fellowship with brothers and sisters at the Founders Breakfast, Baptist 21 lunch, 9Marks sessions and President's reception as well as in hallways, parking lots, restaurants and shuttle buses. It was great to learn about work going on amon unreached people groups, new church starts, church restarts as well as in established ministries. Not all of the stories were of great victories, but all of them reflected the grace and goodness of God as He is keeping His servants strengthened and faithful in the task.

I was even blessed to have both fun and serious conversations with brothers with whom I disagree theologically. It is good to be able to have good-spirited banter over differences on fine points of doctrine, as important as they are, knowing that we agree on the essentials of the gospel. I enjoyed that kind of fellowship on more than one occasion. It is also good to be able to confront a brother with love and respect with whom there is strong disagreement and to be shown love and respect in return. Some of us may never agree on some points this side of heaven, but we can learn to disagree without rancor and resorting to caricature. I believe that this kind of spirit is spreading within the SBC and, despite the antics of one or two blogs that continue to assert half truths, distortions and conspiracy theories that border on paranoia, will ultimately the SBC of tomorrow.

Finally, who cannot be encouraged to see the number of younger Southern Baptists who participated in the convention this year? As I listened to some of them preach, lead dialogues and describe God's work in their lives and minstries, I could not help but be energized. Under the grace of God, the future looks bright for Southern Baptists and I am very hopeful. God has raised up exceptional leaders for such a time as this and seems to be stirring the hearts of more and more among us. So I leave Louisville motivated to keep pressing on in working for renewal in my own life and congregation as well as trying to encourage others along the same path.

May the Lord grant us a genuine resurgence in love, joy and zeal in pursuing His mission in the world.

39 comments:

Bill0615 said...

Tom,
Like you I am greatly encouraged by what I saw and heard at the SBC in Louisville. I was blessed beyond words by the preaching at the Pastors' Conference as well as the theme presentations during the convention itself. For the first time in a long time I stayed to the very end of the convention, and I can say that it finished on a high note. The NAMB report was very challenging and the crowd that stayed to hear it makes me hopeful that a Great Commission Resurgence is already underway. I go back to my own church with renewed vigor to lead our congregation increasingly to make the main thing the main thing and to have done with lesser things. Last year I was cautiously encouraged. This year I am greatly encouraged. May the Lord help us to be faithful to Him as we labor to take the gospel of the crucified and risen Savior to the neighborhoods and to the nations.

oncedepraved said...

Brother Tom,

I pray you are right about what you saw at the Conference this year. I was not able to attend, and only was able to watch part of the convention online, and watch the blog/twitter updates. For me, the resolutions against Pastor Driscoll, Brother Stetzer, and Dr's Akin and Reid, seemed to put a damper on the whole process. Couple that with what the person said about Calvinism during the GCR debate.

The GCR is a great step forward, but I fear as long as people like Roger Moran have a voice in either my state or the national convention. We are going to stay in the proverbial gutter, and not do what the GCR is intended to get us to do.

Thanks for your time,

-SvMuschany

Grady Bauer said...

I am also hopeful, though maybe not as much as you. At this point I feel like we've watched a drunk declare that he will stop drinking....but no strategy or plan to do so. I hope that the GCR becomes more than simply a way to ease the conscience and actually results in changes...significant changes.

I'm also grateful that the negative stuff was kept to a minimum...and I think those who participated alienated themselves from a convention that seems to be ready for change.

Mark | hereiblog said...

Tom,

Thanks for your insights. I was thankful I was able to watch the SBC over the net. We're getting much better with technology.

AND, we're almost there, but still no mp3's! Maybe one day. :)

Mark

Tom said...

I agree that we still have a long way to go, but at least we are facing the right direction. And though I was disappointed in the negative things that happened, but on the floor of the convention and in the exhibition area (particularly Emir Caner's decision to pass out Roger Moran's screed at the Truett-McConnell booth), those things were dealt with appropriately by procedure and personal relationship.

God is at work. Let's unite to pray for the Task Force over the next 12 months.

Todd Pruitt said...

Tom,

While I am no longer a part of the SBC (since November) I continue to root for you, Akin, Mohler, and others. I am also encouraged by what seems to be positive leadership from Johnny Hunt.

I am astounded by the remarks of Morris Chapman. Does he truly believe what he is saying? Does he even know any Reformed individuals? Is the extent of his knowlege relegated to Dave Hunt? What he said is not only ignorant and uncharitable it is a clear violation of the ninth commandment.

Press on Tom. You are appreciated!

Manhattanite said...

"I daresay that Dr. Chapman, or any Southern Baptist for that matter, can find any person in the Southern Baptist Convention who holds such horrific views."

Tom & others. Are you sure Morris Chapman's view is being properly understood? He uses the same words that many Calvinists use, but he seems to mean something very different by them. When he says: "The Southern Baptist Convention is experiencing a resurgence in the belief that divine sovereignty alone is at work in salvation without a faith response on the part of man", the immediate response is something like: "what is he talking about!?? Of course we believe man must have faith to be saved." But is Chapman really coming from the same perspective when using words and phrases like that? He also states in his address: "The sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man both are taught in the Bible. Both are necessary elements in the salvation experience." When he starts using language like that, I think his real meaning behind the words is coming out. I can say man is responsible if I mean by that word that he will be held accountable for sin and he must repent even though there is no ability to do so apart from sovereign and unmerited grace. But when Chapman uses the word "responsible", he seems to be mixing man's ability with God's ability in some sort of synergistic way. If the word responsible means that man is morally ABLE to repent, that is very different use of the word and could actually lead to a works/merit-based understanding of salvation.

So I guess I don't see him as building and demolishing some sort of straw man but perhaps meaning different things by the same words. The problem is when we read our meaning of a word into his use of it and vice-versa. It seems we need to get beyond the words themselves and to the root/core beliefs.

Arthur Sido said...

Tom, thanks for speaking the plain truth. What Mr. Chapman said was foolish and should be called for what it is. I pray for my brothers who are still in the SBC fighting the good fight.

Bob Cleveland said...

Tom,

Danny Akin's apology for what Morris Chapman said was the only note I took, at the B21 panel/lunch, in ALL CAPS. I'm saving the paper.

It would be nice for Morris Chapman to say it, too, but he may well not want to know the truth about us Calvinists. That's the only explanation I can think of.

Gabaptist said...

Tom,
Thank you for your kind demeanor and thoughtful actions/responses on your blog. I believe Sola Scriptura will win the day, even though rhetoric seems to capture the attention of many SBCers. I do hope the task force will analyze the decline of percentage given to the IMB. From my recollection, it was 15 to 17 percent in the mid 1980s that reached the foreign mission field. I may be mistaken, but most in the SBC really desire it to go that direction.
Also, I hope that the Founders can continue to emphasize that salvation is grace alone and that God has to enable to sinner to believe. This doctrine is evident from the Abstract of Principles to the current BFM 2000. May the Lord continue to bless you in a mighty way.

Joshua Owen said...

Tom,
I was more alarmed by Chapman's comment that Baptists succeeded in earlier generations not because they loved doctrine but because they loved Jesus, than by his caricature of Calvinism. I've heard rhetoric like that before, but most of it moved to the CBF.

Tom said...

Bob, I fear you may be right, but perhaps there will be an openness to understanding that will surprise us both.

GaBaptist, Thanks. I am encouraged that we are entering a new season within the SBC when we will be able to speak with grace even as we address controversial issues.

Joshua, I agree. That part of his speech was disturbing as well. I hope that he was attempting a sort of rhetorical flourish and not stating a genuine conviction.

ta

Marvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ted said...

I respect the years of service of Dr. Chapman. However, sitting their and listening to his report, I was convinced he built a straw man of someone teaching "sovereignty only" and then attacked this doctrine by saying this group needs to add "human responsibility" to view. Is there any evangelical writer or teacher that hold the position he was attacking? I know of none, but of course this "straw man" is very easy to defeat.

Tom said...

Manhattanite:
I appreciate your charitable reading of his words. However, none of those who responded to him took them that way--including Danny Akin, Al Mohler & Ed Stetzer. Furthermore, he has not clarified his meaning along the lines that you describe though he has been given opportunity to do so.

volfan007 said...

Tom,

It was good to see you in Louisville. The SBC this year turned out to be more eventful than many of us thought it would...next year should be a humdinger.

When you said,"The 2009 convention, on initial blush, seems to have set a course for Southern Baptists to major on Christian essentials without compromising on Baptist distinctives," I hope you are right. I truly hope that you are correct. That is my greatest concern about the GCR...what it might lead us to.

A question for you...a sincere question...are you and others in the Founders fold truly willing to join with others in the SBC, who do not hold to a Dortian, five point theology? I havent seen that in the past in the Dortian Calvinists that I've encountered. They have all been very aggressive and strong about their five points being the only true Gospel, and everyone else is preaching something less...even false. Are you now going to be able to join with Johnny "J16 Conference" Hunt, and Ronnie "Red Fire Engine Baptistry" Floyd, and and all the other non-Calvinists and even semi-Arminians that are out there in the SBC? Really and truly join with them?

David

Tom said...

David:

I genuinely do believe that we are now on a course to major on essentials without denying distinctives. Such a course is what I and others have been advocating for years. Moving down that healthy path has been hindered by some who have seemed intent to make secondary and tertiary issues of primary importance. I believe (and hope) that their fears have been calmed and, if not, that at least their voices are being drowned out by the growing number of Southern Baptists who want to be gospel-centered in life and ministry.

David, I want to believe you when you say that your question is sincere, but it is difficult to do so for the following reasons:

1) Past experience in dialoguing with you has often left me more frustrated than enlightened. I am willing to own part of the blame for this--maybe you and I are simply the kinds of personalities that clash and do not communicate very well.

2) I assume that you include me in your description of the Calvinists you have encountered in the past that have "all been very aggressive and strong about their five points being the only true Gospel, and everyone else is preaching something less...even false." Though I am certainly capable of being a jerk and have acted as such in the past, I have tried to be quick to repent and to make amends where I can. Thus, I am unwilling to own that charge.

3) I came up with the idea of the Building Bridges Conference and Founders helped sponsor it. It is, therefore, hard for me to take seriously anyone who knows about that conference and then goes on to question my willingness to work with folks with whom I disagree. I am left thinking that I probably cannot convince such a person and, quite frankly, I am doubtful that such a person is genuinely interested in knowing the truth.

4) Your attempt to wrap Johnny Hunt in the J316 conference is, at best, disingenuous. He did not sponsor that conference. He allowed it to be hosted by his church. It seems that you are having difficulty reconciling my critiques of the conference with my respect for Johnny Hunt. If that is the case, then, again, I am left doubtful that I can illumine you with any more words.

5) You also attempt to raise questions about my ability to respect and honor Ronnie Floyd while maintaining concerns about a fire engine baptistry in his church. Go back and read my words about this ("I think it is unwise"). And then read Paige Patterson's words about it ("This is blasphemous"). If you are unwilling to ask Dr. Patterson the same question that you have asked me, then I cannot help but remain somewhat skeptical about the sincerity of your inquiry.

I hope you don't mind that I have spoken plainly to you. That is what brothers must learn to do if we are going to move forward in cooperating in the great commission.

Do you know what keeps me from cooperating with some Southern Baptists, regardless of where they stand on Calvinism? Dishonesty and lack of integrity. I cannot work with people who say one thing in private and something completely different in public. Nor can I work with people who break their word and then, rather than repenting, attempt to justify it or cover it up.

So, in answer to your question, no--I cannot work with *all* the "non-Calvinists and even semi-Arminians that are out there in the SBC." Neither can I work with *all* the Calvinists that are out there (because dishonesty and integrity issues are not limited to Arminians). However, I am willing to work with anyone and everyone who refuses to assume the gospel but rather is determined to emphasize the gospel by proclaiming it promiscuously and learning to order our lives and churches by it.

RichardS said...

All:

While some speak of fine theological points, I am not sure there will ever be agreement that one can trust in unless those fine theological points are identified. Unless there is genuine agreement on the Gospel there will never be true agreement. No one can truly agree on what the Gospel is until they get beyond the words themselves to the meaning of the biblical and doctrinal content.

It is not enough to just assume that those who profess to be Arminians are in fact Arminian. They might be Pelagians. It is not enough to assume that those who profess to be Calvinists are indeed Calvinists. But even more, just because people from different theological camps use the same words regarding the Gospel does not mean that they mean the same things about those words. There is only one Gospel and apart from a unity in the Gospel in truth there will be no true peace that God will honor. For there to be true unity, the people must be really and factually united in Christ with more than just words.

volfan007 said...

Tom,

First of all, I'm very sincere in my walk with the Lord, and I do not try to trick and scheme. I say what I mean, and mean what I say. I know that that comes across blunt at times. I try to be tactful, and I'm working on it. Also, I try to be friendly to everyone, even those that I strongly disagree with. I have disagreed with you and other Founders types in the past, and I still disagree with you. I told you plainly from the beginning that I think that yall have gone off the deep end theologically. I believe that this made you and some others very mad, or upset with me. Well, I am just telling the truth. I really do think that yall have gone off on an extreme tangent. I hope that this doesnt make you and the others in here mad. I do love yall in the Lord, and I appreciate anything yall do for the Kingdom of God. And, when I shook your hand at the SBC, I meant it. There was nothing insincere about it.

Secondly, I have dealt with Dortian, five point Calvinists many, many times. Most of the time, they were trying to convert me. And, they did have an air of our Gospel is better than yours, and some even accused me of believing and preaching a false Gospel. I have found that most aggressive, Dortian, five point Calvinists believe that all of us who aint are a little short in the theological world, and that we're very suspect, and that we're probably semi-Pelagian, Arminian, synergists who dont believe that God is sovereign. Even though I beleive that salvation is by grace thru faith, and that it's completely the work of God, and even though I believe that God chose me before from eternity past and planned to come to me...to save me; still, I was suspect to the Dortian Calvinists that I have encountered thru out my saved life. I guess I've developed an attitude towards all Dortian Calvinist based on all the ones that I've encountered in the past.


(I have to post this is two different posts, because of length)

volfan007 said...

Also, Tom, my experience from talking to different Dortian Calvinists would lead me to believe that they would have a very hard time joining cooperatively with non-five pointers, and with non-Calvinists, and with semi-Arminians. I truly believe that they would have a very hard time joining with these type of people, thus my question to you, and to any other Dortian Calvinists that are out there. From my experience, I really cant see the Dortian Calvinists that I've encountered, debated, talked to, argued with, and have had get mad at me and accused me of preaching a lesser Gospel; joining with those who are not Dortian, five point Calvinists. Do you see the problem I would have with seeing this? So, you are saying that you have always believed that all of these different viewpoints could work together in the SBC as equals, and do believe this now, and are willing to join with these others that I've mentioned. Okay. Thanks for answering my question.

Tom, you wonder if I am really interested in knowing the truth. I can assure you that I am. I am all about the truth. I take the truth of a matter very seriously. I never claimed to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I am all about truth. That's why all this thats going on the SBC concerns me greatly. I could care less whether I ever teach in a Seminary, or serve on a SBC committee or board. I'm not looking to advance my career, nor trying to buddy up with anyone in order to get a larger Church. I am very content to serve wherever the Lord leads me and do whatever the Lord wants me to do with my life. I'm in these blogs to encourage people to the truth... to remain sound and Biblical... to encourage the younger Pastors to stay sound...to not go off the deep end, nor to get off into crazy fads of worship, or practice, or belief. That's the only reason I started blogging... the only reason. It's the only reason that I continue to blog. I want to see the SBC love the Lord and stay true to His Word. That's why I participated in the CR back in the day as well. I want the SBC to stay true to the Word of God and lift up the Lord Jesus to the world. That's it. There is no other motive in my heart.

(this is part 2)

volfan007 said...

Tom, if my words have gone over the line in the past, or if they have been too harsh, and hurt your feelings; then I do apologize. I apologize for the tone, and I apologize for hurting you. I do not apologize for speaking the truth. I really dont want to be fighting with you, nor with Timmy, nor any other Dortian Calvinists; but it always seems to end up that way. I guess when I have people tell me that I'm preaching a lesser Gospel, or they question my motives, or they get after one of my friends, or after men that I look up and admire; then I do have a tendency to speak strongly back to those people. To challenge them, and sometimes I get riled up. But, I really dont want to be at war with yall, but I will continue to not agree with you, and speak boldly about aggressive, Dortian, five point Calvinism being an extreme view of theology. And, I guess yall will continue to say that I dont see it as good as I should. That's fine. That's fair. But, dont say that I dont preach the true Gospel, or that I have a lesser view of God; just because I dont believe in the five points of Calvinism. From this point on, I will try harder to speak in less harsh tones and less harsh words when talking bout Dortian Calvinism. I really do believe that the SBC tent is big enough for Dortian Calvinists and non-five pointers, and non-Calvinists to serve together...as long as they all stay committed to the essentials of the faith, and to the distinctive beliefs that we Baptists hold dear...as being what keeps us true to the Word of God.

Another thing, I guess I was lumping you in with the other Dortian Calvinist about Johnny Hunt and Ronnie Floyd. I saw many Dortian Calvinists really giving them what for...and do you really think that Johnny Hunt was not for the J16 conference? to let them use his Church? Would you have let them use your Church for this conference? I believe that he was for it, unless he says otherwise. I know that I wouldnt let people use my Church for a conference that I didnt agree with, or believe in. So, when I saw that you had a problem with these things about Johnny Hunt and Ronnie Floyd, and some other things, and reading what some of your blogging buddies were saying about some of these things; I just assumed that you were coming down on them as well. If you werent, then I apologize for saying that you were. That was my perspective from reading all that was written. That's why I asked about your joining with them for the GCR in particular.

Well, one other thing. When you said,"Do you know what keeps me from cooperating with some Southern Baptists, regardless of where they stand on Calvinism? Dishonesty and lack of integrity. I cannot work with people who say one thing in private and something completely different in public. Nor can I work with people who break their word and then, rather than repenting, attempt to justify it or cover it up." Who and what are you talking about? I really dont understand this statement.
Were you talking about me? or, did you have someone else in mind?


David

volfan007 said...

Wow, this is the very first time that I have ever commented so much that I had to post it in three different comments. Blogger would not let me post it all together... said that I was too long winded! lol.

Well, anyway, there's my comment(s).

David

Tom said...

David:

Thanks for your thoughtful response--even if blogger thinks you are long-winded! ;-) Please be assured that you have never hurt my feelings. Nor am I offended by your opinion that I have gone off the deep end theologically. I have no problem whatsoever with someone thinking I am wrong. I simply respectfully request that they try to understand what it is that I actually believe before lumping and dumping me in preconceived categories. The record of my beliefs is very public and fairly consistent over a lot of years. Anyone who really cares to know can know.

I am willing to own my words but unwilling to own anyone else's. The comment policies of the blog make plain that I allow comments that I think are unhelpful or even stupid to stand. Doing so does not imply approval, but rather serves the interest of accurately understanding how people think and what they believe. What I ask is that those who want to engage me do so on the basis of my words and not the words of anyone else--including my friends or theological allies.

I have no reason to doubt your sincere interest in the truth. I assume that of everyone I engage in dialogue until facts dictate otherwise. That is why I took your question to me seriously. It is also why I asked if you were going to make a similar inquiry of Paige Patterson.

When I mentioned my inability to work with dishonest men and those who sell their integrity cheaply, I was not trying to indict you implicitly. If I thought that about you, I would either a) confront you on it or b) simply refuse to engage you. As you and I both know such duplicitous men do exist and some have demonstrated their lack of integrity in documentable ways. While I harbor no ill will toward such men, neither do I trust them.

I believe a new wind is blowing across the SBC. It will carry those who genuinely want to unite on the centrality of the gospel for kingdom enterprises. I am encouraged by that and am sure that you are as well.

May the Lord bless you and give you a wonderful Lord's Day on Sunday.

Bill said...

David: I think this type of dialog would be helped by a few definitions. You talk about Dortian Calvinists, Dortian 5 point Calvinists, non-Calvinists, and semi-Arminians. Can you help me out with some definitions? Is there a difference between a Dortian Calvinist and a Dortian 5 point Calvinist? For centuries we have called 5 pointers "Calvinists" and now we have the term Dortian tacked onto it and so I wonder what the distinction is. Also, what is the distinction between a non-Calvinist and a semi-Arminian? For that matter, what is the difference between a 3 or 4 point Calvinist and a semi-Arminian? (for the record, I don't think 3 or 4 pointers should be called Calvinists at all, but my application to the Reformed terminology police was rejected).

Also for the record, I have asked this question in other places but haven't been entirely satisfied with the answer. While the term "Dortian" may be technically precise, I cannot help but notice a steep increase in the use of the term by people in the SBC who have taken a strong stance against Calvinism (or Calvinists). I have been assured that the term is not being used pejoratively but it certainly seems that way.

Thanks in advance.

volfan007 said...

Tom,

Thanks for your response.

Bill,

Do you not agree that where people fit theologically across the SBC spectrum runs the whole gammet between Dortian Calvinism and Arminianism? There may be some hyper-Calvinists out there in SBC land, but if they are, they are few in number. But, by Dortian Calvinist, I'm talking about those Calvinists, many who would be termed aggressive, who would line up with the council of Dort...those who have swallowed Beza's five points hook, line, and sinker. They would also be the one's who believe(mistakenly believe, IMHO) that regeneration precedes faith. They also have a very fatalistic view of predestination and election.

Those who are just plain, ole Calvinists, IMHO, are those who might call themselves 4 and half pointers, or who hold to 4 points, or who hold to 3 and a half points, but they are basically Calvinistic in thier theology, without being committed to all of the five points.

Those who are non-Calvinists are basically Calvinistic, but refuse to be labeled in any system of theology. These are the ones who would probably say that they just believe the Bible. They would tell you that salvation is by grace thru faith. They believe in predestination and election...but, they would also tell you that man must respond to the calling of the Lord thru faith...and the atonement was truly for all people everywhere...it was sufficient to cover the sins of all the people who have ever lived and who are living right now, and who will live in the future.

Semi-Arminians are those in our SBC that are not into theology very much. They are the pragmatist. They are the program people...you know, if we just do this, we can have big numbers...we can get more people baptised. So, while they believe in the perseverance of the Saints....they sound very Arminian in thier approach to Church growth and evangelism.

These are just my opinions. These are just my observations of all the players in the SBC in this day. And, as I said before, I dont claim to be the brightest bulb in the chandelier; but this is what I see.

David

volfan007 said...

Bill,

The term Dortian, or Scholastic, Calvinist would describe the Founders type of Calvinists. They hold...well, you can read what I wrote above. It's just another way to describe who and what kind of Calvinist you're talking about.

Like, Dr. Tom Nettles would be a Dortian Calvinist.

Dr. David Dockery would be Calvinistic. I've heard him describe himself as a 4 and half point Calvinist.

I would fit somewhere between Calvinistic and a non-Calvinist in my theology. But, Peter Lumpkins would be a non-Calvinist.

I really dont want to name Semi-Arminians. They might take it as a slam on them. But, I will bet that you can think of three or four or five that this would fit.

David

Bill said...

David: Certainly SBCers run the theological gamut. I think there's room for all, although I don't think all can be correct.

I do think, with respect, that you are using the term Dortian a bit pejoratively. The way I understand your answer, you are saying that what you are calling a Dortian Calvinist is a 5 point Calvinist (or as you would suggest, someone who has "swallowed" all 5 points of Calvinism).

I would suggest that historically speaking, plain 'ol Calvinists are 5 pointers. That doesn't speak to the rightness or wrongness of their theology, but in my opinion (and I think, backed up by the historical use of the term) a 3 pointer is not a Calvinist. Perhaps Tom can help us out with this one.

Calvinists vary just like everyone else, and so I think it is a mistake to characterize 5 pointers as aggressive or fatalistic. We Calvinists sometimes call them "cage phase" Calvinists and it often wears off, at least the aggressive part.


Your definition of semi-Arminians is a bit imprecise, but I know who you are talking about. These are the folks who necessitate SBC Resolutions on Regenerate Church Membership.

Thanks

Gabaptist said...

Tom,
Whew, what a discussion! I must weigh in on this Dortian stuff. Why not use the Calvinist terms of the 19th Century. In fact, most Arminians do not like their term and Dortian is insulting (or should be insulting) to any Baptist Calvinist. We are not Pedobaptists and I think Dr. Nettles would agree with me.
The old terms were High Calvinist, Low Calvinist, and Modified Calvinist. The Founders of our denomination were mostly Low, except for High's such as, Mell, and probably Boyce. Dagg was a Low and most early landmarkers like Graves and Pendleton were between Low and Modified. All respected the doctrines of grace, cooperated with each other, and had a great time spreading the gospel.
The definitive mark between Calvinist and Arminian is Effectual Calling! (Not 5 Pts!)
Adieu and God bless you all!
GA Baptist

Bill said...

Unfortunately the divide between Calvinists and non-Calvinists may be stronger than ever. I told a seminary trained SBC pastor on another blog that I believed that God sovereignly guides people, and he accused me of leaning heavily towards mysticism.

volfan007 said...

Bill,

Did you ask CB how much of a Calvinist he is?


GA Baptist,

I think my definitions hit it pretty well. I dont understand why Dortian Calvinist would offend you.

David

Bill said...

David: Admittedly, I'm operating with what I believe is the correct definition of Calvinist, which is a 5 pointer, but I see your point.

Can I ask you a question? Do you think God can and/or sometimes does sovereignly guide us unawares? (that's us that is unaware, not God)

Tom: Feel free to ask us to take it elsewhere. Those like me who like to discuss but don't have our own blog may overstay our welcome.

Bill said...

Tom does have a point. If you read the canons of Dort, there is a clear assumption of paedobaptism, which would suggest that Dortian Calvinist is not an accurate term for Baptist Calvinists.

Scott Gordon said...

Tom,

As one who enjoyed one of those friendly bantering sessions, I, too, am greatly encouraged by what I pray will continue to grow into a God-honoring tone of biblical unity among our Southern Baptist brothers. I hope this tone will be able to continue in the way you worked with Drs. Barber & Yarnell in INdy to finally get our convention to affirm the resolution on regenerate church membership. I hope it will allow us as a convention to deal with, in a respectful manner, a question which Bart posted on Twitter: "Will we ever be able to discuss Acts 29, including concerns, without it quickly devolving into attack & defense rhetoric?" I pray that we can. I pray that we will.

Tom, thanks again for this excellent post...as a BI 5pt Calvinist, I appreciate what you have said here. :-)

Sola Gratia!

Cap Pooser said...

For volfan007. See the Arminian remonstrance article 3
Article 3
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of an by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving Faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing. Since Arminians believe this why would one think it strange that Calvinists believe it? Cap

Cap Pooser said...

For volfan007. The Arminian remonstrance article 3 places regeneration before saving faith.
Article 3
That man has not saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he, in the state of apostasy and sin, can of an by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving Faith eminently is); but that it is needful that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me ye can do nothing. So why would one think it strange that Calvinists believe that?

Bill said...

It does not surprise me that some disagree with the doctrine of "regeneration before faith." What surprises me is that people seem to be surprised that Calvinists believe it, as if it is some new thing. That doctrine is the essence of monergism.

volfan007 said...

Cap,

I'm really not following why you said what you said to me???

Can you explain further?


I love Scott....what a great guy! Scott, it was great spending time with you and your lovely wife in Louisville. You Star Trek geek!

Bill, who is surprised that Dortian Calvinist believe in "regeneration before faith?"

David

Bill said...

David: Sorry. Not going to play the "Dortian" game anymore. Despite your inevitable protestation, the word Dortian has become code for the bad Calvinists of the SBC. Yes, I know, some of your best friends are Dortians. My assessment stands.

No one should be surprised that "Calvinists" believe in regeneration before faith. The surprise should be that there are Calvinists who do not, although I'm sure they exist. Didn't a recent poll find a significant percentage of atheists in America who believe in God? Anything is possible.

Cap Pooser said...

volfan007.
I merely meant that those who deny regeneration precedes faith are neither Calvinists nor Arminian.
As I understand it, the semi-Pelagians and Pelagians believe the contrary.