Thursday, March 04, 2010

Memo: How to smoke out a Calvinistic pastor in your church

Yesterday I was sent the following 3 documents that have been circulating in Western Tennessee among some Southern Baptist Churches. It seems that they were distributed at seminars being held for churches to teach "how to find out if any of your staff are Calvinists and how to get rid of them." Since receiving them I have communicated with others who have verified that they are being made available to Southern Baptist churches in Tennessee, not by any official denominational worker, but by zealous people who view the doctrines of grace as heresy. I am trying to contact one or more of those persons in hopes of better understanding what has provoked this mission.

The first document is in the form of a memo and is entitled, "Reformed Red Flags." It contains a list of 16 "behaviors" to look for when seeking to smoke out Calvinistic pastors. Number 3 on the list is "use of the ESV Study Bible." Someone should alert Crossway immediately. Founders made the list, as did John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, RC Sproul, James White and the first Southern Baptist confession of faith (which is still used at Southern and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminaries, and which even the famous non-Calvinist Paige Patterson has signed), the Abstract of Principles.

To read the documents in a larger size, click on them.


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The second document is entitled, "Theological differences between Traditional Southern Baptist and Extreme Calvinists." It seems to be a warmed over version (and perversion) of some of the things that Fisher Humphreys put in his book, God So Loved the Word: Traditional Baptists and Calvinism. Most of the depictions of Calvinism in this document are built on the caricatures found in the previous one and many of the views described as "Traditional Baptist" are held by all evangelical Calvinists. Granted, I know the document purports to deal with "Extreme Calvinists," but I defy anyone to capture and put on display such a creature as described below. Are some Calvinists unbalanced? Yes. Are some jerks? Yes. Is there a danger that the profile given below of extreme Calvinism is sweeping into Southern Baptist churches? No. The kind of inaccurate and distorted representations are easy to make (anyone who reads blogs knows this) but they violate the 9th Commandment and should be renounced by anyone--Calvinist or not--who genuinely takes the Bible to be the Word of God written.


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The last of the documents is recommended to churches to use with new pastors and staff members. The desire expressed in this document that a pastor be forthcoming in doctrinal convictions is commendable. It assumes, however, that the church to which it is recommended does not have a historic Southern Baptist confession of faith (most notably, the Charleston Confession, Abstract of Principles or New Hampshire Statement). A case can even be made that the Baptist Faith and Message is largely a Calvinistic statement, though not as explicit as earlier Southern Baptist confessions. The problem with many of our churches is not that pastors are coming in and trying to teach some "new" doctrine. Rather, it is that they often have drifted from their own stated doctrinal foundations through neglect or liberalism or pragmatism. When a pastor begins to restore those foundations, what he teaches can sound new when in reality it is fully in accord with the church's own doctrinal statements.


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Much could be said about the wickedness and ignorance behind a campaign to "smoke out" Calvinistic pastors using these dubious tools. However, I want to conclude by issuing a plea to my fellow pastors who may be more reformed in our understanding than others in the SBC. Though these documents promote caricatures and distortions, they are a sad reminder that this is the way that at least some people perceive us. As I have indicated, I don't know anyone who fits the profile that these documents present. I doubt such a person exists within the SBC. Nevertheless, this is how some people perceive us.

What shall we do? Protest and return fire with fire? Point out the practical (and sometimes, doctrinal) Pelagianism of our less Calvinistic brothers? Become defensive and try to answer each accusation point-by-point? I don't think that response is called for. Saying nothing of Proverbs 26:4 for the present, I instead recommend that we take the opportunity to examine ourselves and our ministries and see if there are any kernels of truth whatsoever in the accusations on which the caricatures are built. Enemies can help us even when they are trying to destroy us. Learning from them does not mean that we agree with the charges or judge them fair.

Caricatures die in the presence of long, consistent evidence to the contrary. Our agenda is not to be set by accusations (or even affirmations). We have the Word of God for that. Let's examine ourselves in the light of that Word and determine to live wholeheartedly for our crucified and risen Savior. Critics will come and critics will go. What ultimately matters faithfulness to our Lord expressed through obedience to His Word.

123 comments:

C. M. Sheffield said...

They got the dates backwards on the fifth bullet of the first document. Incredible!

My favorite was this:

"Tendency toward a highly logical systematic theology."

GUILTY!

Arthur Sido said...

Those a great letters. Clearly the biggest problem in the SBC are closet Calvinists! Funding for missionaries, bah! Y'all need to smoke out people who take Scripture seriously.

J.D. Rector said...

Tom and others:

Wow... or as one of my favorite vintage TV characters would say, "Shazzam!!".

They "have a tendency to use their pastoral authority against members who question their reform theology or direction". I really got a laugh out of that one for this reason. I used to teach at a bible college in West Tennessee over 23 years ago. I taught Christian education courses and some of my students were calvinists, but most of them were not. At that time in my spiritual journey, I was not a calvinist. However, I frequently taught and reminded my students that if you go into the ministry, please do not "lord" your pastoral authority over your flock. Our blessed Savior in His earthly teaching ministry was a great example to all of us... calvinists and non-calvinists, that IF you are truly walking in the fulness of God's grace, you will not have to remind people of your "pastoral authority". Sadly, some of those students did not listen to their teacher very well. They, calvinists and non-calvinists, had church conflicts and some were fired for their selfish abuse of the "pastoral authority".

I know I am probably going to catch some negative feedback on this comment. But I just could not help to reflect on my former teaching career, though relatively short, about that particular "warning sign".

Perhaps I should exclaim like Gomer Pyle used to say... "Surprise, surprise, surprise!!" Lots of men use their "pastoral authority" to intimidate, bully and demand their way... calvinist and non-calvinist, ALIKE on that one.

Respectfully,
J.D.Rector

Scott Douglas said...

I think it's so sad that this is how a Reformed theology is being presented. Wish the people who wrote this would explain some of the statements they made with some verifiable evidence.
I guess I'll continue to have a faulty theology that seeks to answer difficult questions, that gives God the greatest glory and the most authority, and trust Him and not my techniques to lead them to Christ.

Greg Alford said...

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

This will without a doubt work out for the good of every reformed pastor who runs into a search committee so ignorant as to follow this advice…

I do not know of anyone who would take such a church… No, I say that reformed pastors faced with this kind of behavior should heed the words of Martin Luther who said “let us follow the advice of Christ and shake the dust from our shoes, and say, 'We are innocent of your blood.'"

Grace Always,

junior said...

Life imitates Tominthebox News Network (from May 2008).

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

I guess I would never be welcome in any of those churches because I am pretty open about who I am. Oooops I forgot...some of those Calvinist witch hunters might be watching :-)

Frank Turk said...

I would love to talk to someone who thinks these documents serve any purpose at all in the local church -- to find out what that purpose actually is.

Lane Chaplin said...

These three pages could have easily been confused as a satire post on TomintheBox if it weren't on Founders and was as serious as this is.

Tom said...

I have heard from men in states beyond TN who are facing similar opposition. Of course, this is nothing new, but there does seem to be a greater desperation mixed in with some of the attacks. According to one note, these documents have been handed out to some churches in MS, as well.

We need to pray for pastors and churches that are being subjected to this kind of misinformation and its fall out.

billhaynes said...

"Tendency toward a highly logical systematic theology."

OK, I'll accept that many of our "traditional SBCers" have a very illogical and unsytematic theology.

Jason Vaughn said...

Men quick if we switch to the KJV or NASB they'll never see us coming. Bwahahaha.

But in truth may this humble us and remind us of the grace that God has given in light of the Scripture.

Citizen Grim said...

Whew, so Spurgeon quotes are still under the radar!

Dave Miller said...

Look at some of the comments made by men in this comment stream.

"Tendency toward a highly logical systematic theology." GUILTY!

"Y'all need to smoke out people who take Scripture seriously." (So, only Calvinists take scripture seriously?)

"I guess I'll continue to have a faulty theology that seeks to answer difficult questions, that gives God the greatest glory and the most authority, and trust Him and not my techniques to lead them to Christ." (Is the glory of God unique to Calvinism?)

I believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation, but I think it the kind of arrogance and self-congratulation inherent in comments like this that gives the opponents of Calvinism the ammunition to respond as they did.

It seems that a belief in the sovereignty of God ought to move us to humility and to meekness toward others, not the kind of ridicule I see in this comment stream.

student ad x said...

Thank you Pastor Ascol for sharing these documents with us. Very telling of the situation in Tennes..... errrrrrrmm at hand!

humbly,
a'reformed' SBC member from Indiana
Cam Prather

Jacob said...

I honestly don't know what to make of this. The first document is so over the top that I still have a hard time believing that it isn't being accompanied by a few winks and elbow-nudging.

Kern Pegues said...

Well said Tom. There will always be some in the SBC that will hide and throw stones. As Matt Chandler has said, if you want to criticize at least do not be a coward about it. Stand up like a man and show yourselves.

Scott Douglas said...

David,
Sorry that sarcasm didn't come out in my post and that it was mistaken for arrogance. To answer your critique of my position: No the glory of God is not only in Calvinism. I don't believe I ever said anything of that sort. I said that about techniques in response to the idea that somehow through good skills and communication we can convince people of their need to repent.

I appreciate the humble pie you served up, it is good to keep us humble before God and man. We are guilty at times of arrogance and guilty a lot also of being a bit sarcastic. For that I do apologize.

new5pointer said...

I think if more people actually understood the doctrines of Grace this type of thing would not be a problem. I must say though,that the questions border on, if not go way past absurdity.

When I began to study them I could'nt deny them. It is the same thing with doctrine of the security of the believer. They are both in the Bible but people cannot or won't see it.

It truly has to be something that God opens your eyes to see.

Jerry said...

Sad, very sad.

Robert said...

Why should Churches need to smoke out Calvinism
Sorry.....I believe the solution to this problem is not to lash back at the anti-calvinist but declare your
convictions. In my opinion too many Reformed, Founders friendly, Doctrines of Grace churches are simply afraid to state their convictions.
So in that spirit and not with pride but rather reliance on God.....no David Miller the person who believes anything other then the Doctrines of Grace is robbing God of His Glory. This is due to the unbiblical view of regeneration.
So they all band together and they
decide to kick us out of the SBC.
1) It would be political and missional suicide.
2)I am sure other denominations would gladly accept our membership.
The EFCA(evangelical free) comes to mind. I know if a church that is dually aligned with the SBC and EFCA in Kansas and a Church that recently switched from SBC to EFCA.
3. ultimately our loyalty must lie with truth not the SBC.

SDG
Robert I Masters

Nobody has to smoke out Al Mohler!

Todd Pruitt said...

Tom,

Carl Trueman has linked to this post over at Ref21.

Marcus Pittman said...

I hate to admit this but I do own an ESV study bible. If its leatherbound do I get bonus points?

Johnny said...

I think a little research by a few more Pastor Search Committees would alleviate the need to "smoke out" Calvinists.

My answer to the question of "Am I a Calvinist?" is radically different depending on my perception of the level of understanding about doctrine on the part of the person asking the question.

Sometimes a simple "yes or no" is not sufficient. If I say yes, and the committee believes I agree with the definition of Calvinism given in this memo, then I am being untruthful. For no Calvinist believes those things.

If I say no, then I am being dishonest, because I want to be forthright about my stance regardless of whether or not the committee understands Calvinism.

All that is to say, there is an honest, mature, biblical way to handle differences in theology between a Pastor Search Committee and a prospective pastor.

This memo is not that way.

I think there are many more ill-informed Pastor Search Committees than there are "deceitful" Calvinists.

David B. Hewitt said...

Dr. Ascol:

Again, you serve as a great example as to how we are to respond to such situations. May prayer and supplication be the norm as this trial passes through the body of Christ in Tennessee and elsewhere.

sdg,
dave hewitt

One Salient Oversight said...

If a church doesn't want a reformed pastor then they shouldn't appoint one. The church needs to be very clear on who it calls and who it doesn't call.

In the same way, reformed pastors must be transparent on this issue so that no misunderstandings take place.

If a pastor hides his reformed beliefs from a church that calls him then he really has only himself to blame if that church ends up being disappointed in him.

But if a church who doesn't really mind reformed theology ends up appointing a reformed pastor, they only have themselves to blame if they suddenly discover they don't like what he's teaching.

Transparency on both sides is needed.

Brad Williams said...

Plant a church and you don't have to worry about getting smoked out. You get to interview all your members, go over the statement of faith, and appoint elders to help you. It's a glorious thing. More of us should do it.

heelgrabber said...

1 John 3:14-15 "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates their brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." (English Standard Version)

The implications behind this verse sadden me. Christians DO NOT hate their brothers in Christ. Are these documents hateful? Are our responses hateful? Let us respond in love as Jesus did (Phil. 2).

ReformedArsenal said...

Use of the ESV Study Bible...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

gospelandgrace said...

Well I am a Calvinist who uses the HCSB, so did I just move from 5 to 4 points or is that 6 to 5? (That was a little "inside baseball" humor for those who are wondering).

It is a sad day that in a denomination like ours that is attempting to insure that the Gospel is the center of all we do this type of ignorance could prevail. My pastor is not a Calvinist and neither is our Youth Pastor, they know that I am and yet they allow me to write the curricula we use in our Youth department.

You asked what should happen? I think we need leaders within our convention nationally (Mohler, Akin, Platt, Patterson, Hunt, Floyd) to stand up and condemn this type of thing.

We don't necessarily need a "Rodney King" moment but we can co-exist and work together for the Gospel even if we don't agree on Calvinism.

If we can't do that, well then I don't think we can successfully achieve a Great Commission Resurgence either.

Mark | hereiblog said...

The pledge states I wish to state that I do not hold to a reformed or Calvinist doctrine...

Which doctrine would that be? The Trinity? Justification by faith alone? The other four Solas?

Since many SBC folks hold to three points, how far is one willing to go with this "pledge"? The wording is ambiguous.

Do the folks who wrote this stuff really think that most in the SBC are so doctrinally informed? Do they understand who wrote and can hold to the BF&M?

Darrin Crockett said...

I don't necessarily know where to start. I'm not even sure this is the right place to submit this comment but I hope it lands wherever it needs to.

As a lifetime Tennessean and member of the SBC for my entire lifetime as well, this all sickens me to no end. I commend you and whole-heartedly agree with the following statement and for whatever my feeble opinion is worth I would plead that this be the heart of each side of this debate which in reality is more akin to a debacle.

"I instead recommend that we take the opportunity to examine ourselves and our ministries and see if there are any kernels of truth whatsoever in the accusations on which the caricatures are built."

Both sides have done a fine job in creating caricatures. Have either adequately portrayed Christ though? This debate has gone on long enough in my opinion. It is so discouraging to see names that I have great admiration for and have personally grown from their influence being placed on separate sides of a fence. I have learned and grown so much from the preaching and teaching of godly men from both sides. Johnny Hunt, Jerry Vines, Ergun Caner, John Piper, John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Al Mohler, and so many more.

It seems to me that in a battle waged around the supremecy and sovereignty of Christ, that to an outside world looking in, it is precisely His name, His honor, His glory, and His mission that has been diminished.

One of my former pastors and hero's in the faith once said this: "The Bible speaks of predestination and the Bible speaks of free will. God's Word does not contradict itself. Somehow it all works together in a way that is beyond our limited human comprehension."

I don't consider myself a traditional baptist. As a matter of fact I have fought against becoming "a product of the system." I don't consider myself a Calvinist either. If anything, as Jerry Vines once said, "I want to be a biblicist." I want to study, preach, and teach God's Word and let the chips fall where they may.

What would John Calvin say about how much more his name comes up in this debate (not to mention blog entries) than the name of Christ?

I exhort all to go back and read the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3.

Trying to speak the truth in love and attain unity in the faith,
Darrin Crockett

Chris Price said...

They realize Jack Graham uses the Esv and is published by Crossway, right?

I guess that makes Jack a Calvinist! Ha!!!

Robert said...

Hi Darrin,
I am currently a Tennessee resident but not a lifetime resident.
I dont really see this as a attack on non-calvinists anywhere in the body of Christ. The attacks are all coming from the anti-calvinist side.
I will list some other points that I think are rlevant to your posts and others.
1)Since the overwhelming majority of SBC churches had elders in the beginning someone must have un-reformed them. My point being that the someone led them away from a more "reformed" understanding of church governance to what the majority are now.
2). Not one SBC church I am aware of has ever stated that they have fired a pastor for being a Dispensationalist.
3).Why do churches that believe in the "Free Will" not join a denomination that is called Free Will Baptist. They have there headquarters here in Nash-Vegas too. I see that Tom Rainer spoke at their college this past week.
I have no problem with that but that is not out theological heritage.
4) opposing someone is not hating them! I know you didnt say that Darrin.
5) sometimes the opposition is from those within the camp itself.....my pastor and church are pretty reformed but they are dogmatic about not being labeled Reformed.

Just some things to think about in this discussion.

God Bless
Robert I Masters

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

If you were pastor of a church who followed an acrimonious and disgraceful episode triggered by a calvinist whose conduct and teaching was extreme, and if you had personal knowledge of a numerous similar experiences in other churches, you would completely understand why there is a segment in our church life that believes that calvinism is something to be smoked out.

Would that all of my calvinist SBC collegues looked at the matter like Tom Ascol does, with a sufficient dose of humility and the sad recognition that there are problem calvinist brethren.

I almost hate to say it but when I read some of the comments, it makes me think that every church certainly should have a guide to understanding the lethal strain of calvinism that sometimes is seen in SBC life.

I recommend that my calvinist brethren, if asked, "Are you a calvinist?" answer "yes" and have an honest discussion of your beliefs, churchmanship, and goals for a congregation so that a search committee can make an informed decision on you as a reformed pastor.

Bill said...

I humbly disagree with the approach my brother William recently submitted, "I recommend that my calvinist brethren, if asked, "Are you a calvinist?" answer "yes" and have an honest discussion..."

I suggest that when asked if you are a Calvinist that you reply, "How do you define that?", and then go from there. Be honest about what you believe but do not add to the stereotyped characterizations by allowing yourself to be labeled.

Preach Christ, invite all to respond by repentance and faith, share the Gospel, have a high view of the sovereignty of God and do as the brother above suggested and don't be labeled... be a Biblicist.

Bill Pfister
Taylors, SC

Reformed Renegade said...

Besides being so hurtful, it's regretable that it can and will be so divisive.

Darrin Crockett said...

Robert,

Thanks for your reply. It seems like both sides feel attacked yet know one feels like they are attacking. I can clearly see that the attack goes both ways, although it may sometimes be disguised in subtlety. Taking the high ground is the proper approach but if not carefully guarded even it gives room to take a few shots.

In response to your points, 1.) I also have come to believe that the elder form of church government is the biblical model. We can glean tremendous wisdom thought by staying attuned to our congregations. 2.) Most have no clue what a Dispensationalist is, let alone can spell or pronounce it. The same could be said for the word Predestination. 3.) Believing in "the free will of man" doesn't mean you line up theologically with "Free Will Baptists" It is only a piece of the pie and has to be held in tension with God's sovereignty. 4.) I totally am with you here. I wish people wouldn't be so quick to feel like opposition is an attack. 5.) That's why I'm most troubled. How effective could we be in carrying out our biblical mandate if "the camp" could focus on what unites us?

Johnny said...

I have a question.

As a Calvinist, if you were interviewing with a church and you were presented with this memo and asked "Are you a Calvinist?" how would you respond?

Tom said...

Johnny:

I would explain that the memo is filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations and that if its descriptions are what is meant by "Calvinist" then I most definitely am not one, and neither is any other evangelical Calvinist I know.

Your point is well-taken. We should be careful never to let someone else define what we are or believe, especially when many of the labels and definitions being currently used are so inaccurate. Far better to forget the nickname, "Calvinism" altogether and explain with open Bibles what one believes. Beyond that, identifying with a written confession of faith can also prove useful, if one can say, "I believe this is a good summary of what the Bible teaches."

Blessings,
ta

David B. Hewitt said...

Johnny:
I would have to respond in a similar fashion that Bill indicated. I would not hide my theological convictions, nor would I hesitate to provide biblical support -- but I would start by answering the question with a question. If asked, "Are you a Calvinist?" I would respond, "Well, what do you mean by that? How do you define Calvinist?"

I have yet to find someone who is not a "5 point Calvinist" who represents all five points accurately and the implications of them and God's sovereignty. Of course, I haven't talked to everyone -- but I have talked with a few. :)

William said:
"I almost hate to say it but when I read some of the comments, it makes me think that every church certainly should have a guide to understanding the lethal strain of calvinism that sometimes is seen in SBC life."


How would you describe this "lethal strain of Calvinism that sometimes is seen in SBC life?"

SDG,
David Hewitt

David B. Hewitt said...

And then I see Dr. Ascol's latest comment. Well said yet again, brother. :)

sdg, dbh

yoel said...

Well ummm... I would like to think what's going on on heavens courts between the Father an the Son...the first thing to came to my futile mind was: again the picture of the Son in agony dripping his last oz of blood, tears and breath but at the same time fully committed to the salvation of His bride/church pleading to the Father saying Father forgive them because they don't know what they are doing....

William said...

Bill, I take your point. No one likes to be defined improperly and most of us don't like certain terminology. The problem is that the term "calvinist" is what many churches and laypeople use. So, if the search committee doesn't dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s to suit you, do you deny that you are a calvinist?

Do you say to them, "No, I'm not a calvinist as you define it. I believe in the historic Baptist doctrines"?

Would it be more honest and straightforward to say, "Yes, I suppose many people would call me a 'calvinist' but I don't choose to use that term but if you do, here is what I believe a calvinist is."

The last bullet point in the 'smoke-out guide' is almost precisely what I have heard from several laypeople.

The 'lethal' strain is that which leads to killing part of the church or driving it out. Certainly, non-calvinists can be lethal also.

GUNNY said...

Please pass along my gratitude to whomever started the "smoke out," for it's very timely.

Tomorrow morning I'm starting a Sunday school series on what it means to be Reformed, using the DVD series "Amazing Grace: The History & Theology of Calvinism" and my own in-depth walk through of the 5 solas.

This type of tomfoolery (no offense, Tom), reminds me of how needed such a series can be.

Why is it such a novel idea to let Calvinists define Calvinism?!

Jim Shaver said...

My current church was one of the first 10 Baptist Churches in Missouri. Organized in 1826 we still have the original Articles of Faith as a part of our Church Constitution.

Article 4 says "We believe in the doctrine of Election and that God chose his people in Christ before the Foundation of the world."

Kind of hard for my SBC church to deny its heritage even though there have been many non-calvinist pastors through the years.

I realize I am blessed.

Robert said...

Bill Pfister,
You do realize that you just used a label about yourself....A Biblicist is a label.
People will use labels whether you like it or not so I would rather encourage them to use the right label.
I have no problem with the label Calvinist or Reformed.

RefBapRob

JJ said...

What is sad is that these documents are in reaction to some very bad theology and behavior of some "calvinists." We need to take heed.

Our Baptist church was also "taken over by Calvinists." We changed to Elder rule and changed our constitution, too. However, eveyone is happy because the pastoral staff 1) maintains good Biblical balance 2) are examples of Christ-likeness and 3) they/we don't try to minimize faithful Arminians.

What is sad is that we all have probably seen the other... as did the creators of this document. Some "calvinist" came in and created a church division, had really bad theology that was one sided to the extreme. (I love the fact that John Calvin would say, "I don't know."), and they tried to ride rough shod over those who didn't see thinks quite the same way.

We who say we honor the doctrines of Grace can learn from these pain-filled documents.

eric opsahl said...

http://vimeo.com/9953210
in the above link, J.Mac. Talks about reformed pastors taking a non reformed church in the link above from his sheperds conference.

eric opsahl said...

If interested, on the shepherds conference clips, scroll down to "Pulpit highlight an interview with John MacArthur"

tychicus12 said...

What you are witnessing in public has been going on in private for hundreds of years.

Satan hates the Word of God. You cannot fellowship with him. The continued line about "Arminian brethren" is a lie. They have used every tactic to stab at Christ while their fruit has been the degradation of society in every quarter.

1. the 'I don't understand --can you explain it to me again' tactic.

2. the 'I would have agreed with what you said if you had said it nicer" tactic.

3. the "I'm just a young anonymous person on the web who doesn't know much about theology and you are hurting my feelings to simply tell me 'your ' truth' tactic

4. the "language is an inadequate medium of communication" to know truth tactic ..which is really the "you can't prove --to the liar-- he/she is lying because language is inadequate to find truth.." tactic

5. the "let's just agree to disagree" tactic..

They think to cover over what they have done with churches filled up with deceived people. But they only used the church to further their lies and attack on the family.

It never ceases to amaze me how many Calvinist simply keep on with the emotional arguments that have always originated in the arminian camp about how unloving it would be to have a arminian-less church. They are deceived that emotion --and particularly the emotion of the human heart-- is morality.

You would do well to ask how many among those "zealous" people who oppose Calvinism are freemasons or Shriners? The Southern Baptist Convention has quite a few and it is the freemasons who have said that their number one enemy is those who oppose religious pluralism and hold that Christ is the only salvation. That fallen man must be born again and can only be born again by the Word of God shows up the Arminian heresy as a lie. Now they have been exposed and don't like it.

The Arminians have a false gospel, you know they have a false gospel and that false gospel has effects. Yet watch the Calvinists pretend these things have no connection to nations and attacks on entire peoples, but are only in the area of theological nerds who just love to argue over doctrine while they break the emotional rules the Arminians say Jesus laid down as an ideal model of behavior.

If you have already come out from among them and they have seeded themselves among you yet again, throw them out. They have already heard the same gospel you did and it had no effect on them except wrath.

Abraham was going to give up his son, God DID give up His Son --and you can't give up your false friends?

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 Be not diversely yoked with unbelievers; for what participation is there between righteousness and lawlessness? or what fellowship of light with darkness? and what consent of Christ with Beliar, or what part for a believer along with an unbeliever? and what agreement of God's temple with idols? for *ye* are the living God's temple; according as God has said, I will dwell among them, and walk among them ; and I will be their God, and they shall be to me a people. Wherefore come out from the midst of them, and be separated, saith the Lord, and touch not what is unclean, and *I* will receive you; and I will be to you for a Father, and ye shall be to me for sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

timothy

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

David B. Hewitt said...

JJ:
You are a wise man. You said, "We who say we honor the doctrines of Grace can learn from these pain-filled documents."

I stand by my claim to your wisdom, for a wiser man than we both said this long ago:

Proverbs 9:8-9 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. (9) Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

May we all become "still wiser" and show genuine love to those who reprove/correct us.

sdg,
dbh

David B. Hewitt said...

Timothy:

Am I right to understand that you are saying people who are Arminian (whether historic or the modern semi-pelagians) are not Christians?

sdg,
dave

alex-pro-1 said...

Tom,

I consider myself a reformed Baptist and I live in Russia. First of all, thanks a lot for your blog!

I placed a link to this posting in my LJ and then somebody asked a question, what percentage of Southern Baptist preachers/laymen are Calvinists? I am not sure if anybody counted but what would be your estimate? Thank you!

Alex.

Tom said...

Alex,
Great to hear from you in Russia! I had the opportunity to witness to a couple from Russia yesterday. Some of our folks have been sharing the gospel with them for the last few weeks and it seems that God is convicting them. Prior to this they had never heard the gospel.

It is very hard to answer that question definitively. LifeWay and NAMB have both issued reports of studies about the growth of the doctrines of grace in the SBC in recent years. I have addressed the resurgence in an article published in the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary Journal entitled, "The Way We Were, and Are Becoming Again: The Revival of the Doctrines of Grace in the Southern Baptist Convention" (The whole journal, including my article is available in pdf format here; it is the Spring 2008 issue). The LifeWay study indicated that 10% of Southern Baptist pastors are "5 point Calvinists." The NAMB study indicated that 29% of recent graduates from our SBC seminaries are "5 point Calvinists." I argue that both figures are conservative due to the methods of research employed and the fact that in the NAMB study only a few graduates of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary were surveyed.

Thanks for your encouraging words. Press on!

Tom said...

Timothy:

I find your comments to be way over the top ill-informed. Would you be willing to stay in a church that was filled with arrogant people, adultery and drunkards? Would you be willing to work for biblical renewal in a church that had a leader who actually taught heresy and was sexually immoral? From your comments, I doubt it. Yet, from the NT, we find that the apostles and the Lord Jesus did not give up on such congregations but called them to repent by pressing them to the gospel.

Anyone can be a critic and it takes little grace to be censorious. The gospel empowers us to be patient and pursue humility that seeks spiritual restoration in others and not their condemnation.

Mark Fuss said...

This all so very sad.

I hope that it is not out of place to mention that I have posted an article on this topic on my blog: Hunting Calvinists in Tennessee

Tyler said...

wow.

"Traditional Baptists" . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

Mark Smith said...

No, we CAN'T have such a thing as ELDERS leading a church. Anathema! Apparently, systematic theology is horrible too? Gosh!

On p. 2 -- Jesus died on the cross to make salvation possible? What was with Him saying "It is finished" (Jn 19:30), then?

A little bit of sarcasm in my delivery, aside, I think it is unfortunate that such distortions of people who hold to prevailing Biblical doctrines, and of the doctrines themselves, are out there. Especially some of the statements about half-hearted delivery of the Gospel -- really? I think the urgency of the "invitation" to come forward and get yourself saved will be replaced by a passionate offer of the Gospel, knowing that God will efficaciously draw people to believe and become disciples, and won't let them drive under a semi truck that night on the way home (a story I heard more than once about someone who didn't "get saved" one night at revival growing up).

Jadon Christensen said...

How much scripture did you guys see used in any 3 of those letters? All that us Calvinists need to do is defend the truth of God's Word using Sola Scriptura.

There was heretical teachings in document 2. Show them the errors in light of scripture. If it shakes up the church... good they need it.

Puritan said...

Very said that it seems there are so many Pastors out there who are too afraid of men to openly declare they believe in the doctrines of grace. You can't be both a faithful Pastor and a people pleaser.

To answer the the question "What shall we do?" about these who wrote the document. Pray the Lord will have mercy on them and convert them.

Admin said...

I've got to say that given the nature of internet discussions I've had just this week with young Baptist Calvinists (students, not pastors), I can see exactly where these fears come from. They are snotty, arrogant, know it alls. I believe we used to call this in seminary the "Cage Stage" of Calvinism where one was so impressed by his knowledge he was only fit to be caged. There's no pastoral tone to these people, no compassion, and they fit the caricature quite well. They would rather win a debate than win a person.

Tom said...

Admin:

That type certainly exists, but I don't see very many of them, comparatively speaking. Where we run across "snotty, arrogant, know it alls" (to use your phrase), it behooves those of us who are more experienced and mature to help them, whether that means by patiently admonishing them or by nailing their hides to the wall with the Scriptures that they love. I am grateful for those men who did that for me when I was younger and was a whole more cock sure about everything than I am today.

Let's not kill 'em, but help 'em.

Andrew Suttles said...

How does one contrast differences between Calvinism and Traditional Baptist? Is not Calvinism the Bible's doctrine regarding soteriology? Does not the title Baptist describe the Bible's doctrine with regards to Ecclesiology? How does one compare the two? Would this not be like comparing Cessationism with Traditional Premillennialism? It makes no sense.

Perhaps the paper should compare Calvinism with Tradition "handed down from our fathers". This is more in-line with what they are driving at, I think.

By the way, why are free-will Southern Baptists so ashamed to call themselves Semi-Pelagian, or Arminian, or even Weslyan? You'd think a person convinced by Scripture that men are not dead in trespass and sin would not be so afraid to wear such a label.

B Treece said...

Tom, thanks for posting this. It helps to know that our brothers are enduring the same persecution around the world, or at least the SBC world. I've been "smoked out" from a Bible teaching position at an SBC church-run Christian school here in Durham, NC, so I want to both take your correction to heart and expect the treatment as a false prophet.

May the Lord make us faithful to His whole counsel.

Britt Treece

Karen H said...

I am saddened reading the comments following this article. We are called to love one another, so the world may know we are His. How heartbreaking it is to find such sarcasm and disdain within the body of Christ boldly proclaimed for the world to read.

I truly love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and mind; I am your sister in Christ, but I am not a Calvinist. I am a simple stay at home mom, yet I have studied in depth the "Doctrines of Grace" and have a firm understanding of them, formed from reading the writings of John Piper, John MacArthur, Mark Dever, R.C. Sproul and even John Calvin and Augustine. I am not alone, I know many others equally educated but still in disagreement. Those who assume church members who disagree with reformed theology do not understand the doctrines therein are mistaken.

Though I had not seen the documents shown in this article, and don't necessarily agree with the content, I may be able to help answer your questions as to the motive behind it. We were members of a non-Calvinist SBC church for 12 years. When our church began the search process for a new Sr. Pastor, a survey was taken and one of the major criteria revealed for screening candidates was that we have a non-Calvinist pastor. Our search team questioned each candidate accordingly, while many men of integrity answered honestly affirming their Calvinistic theology, some answered evasively. Long story short, a senior pastor who holds to reformed theology was inadvertently hired. He has followed a course much like that outlined in Ernest Reisinger's Reformed Reader article, "Reforming a Local Church." Needless to say, the result is just as Daniel Akin acknowledged in his April 2006 SBC Life article, "Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility", we were left wounded, working through feelings of having been deceived. Unfortunately, as you know, our experience is not unique. We are now members of a different non-Calvinist SBC church that split several years ago after the exact same thing happened there.

Experiences like ours, as well as the comments some have even made here stating they would not say they are "Calvinists" when directly asked are exactly the reasons non-Calvinists feel a need to try and formulate a list of "right questions" to ask, or "Red Flags" to look for.

I wrote this solely in an attempt to answer the requests to help you understand the possible motives behind such documents. I hope seeds will be planted in your hearts to encourage you the next time you meet with a search team. If they ask the questions, even poorly, for the sake of the unity of that local body, I beg you to be completely forthright and transparent. We serve an awesome, sovereign God, trust Him to provide a place of ministry.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2

Robert said...

Karen H,
I am sure you will consider this unloving but pardon my skepticism when you post on a blog that is decidedly Calvinistic in nature then you ask us to do something you are not willing to do yourself for this blog.
I am sure you feel you would be attacked back if you stated names and places for people to verify but that would make your argument
foundational stronger.
I am still waiting for someone to give ONE example of a pastor being fired for being a Dispensationalist.

I try to do what I think would be an example.

Robert I Masters
Nashville Tenn
Grace Community Church...Brentwood,TN
Mark Dever says we are a Reformed Baptist Church
The Church says we are not a Reformed Baptist Church!!!
Scott Patty the Senior pastor
is a Calvinist and preaches as such.
We love missions/missionaries
and we will be starting two new churches in the fall.
Come visit us anytime when in the SBC Geneva.
I am a laymen and not a pastor and do not pretend to speak for the church.
Now your turn!!!!

God bless
RIM

Karen H said...

Robert,
You are correct, your tone doesn't exactly reflect love.

I believe you completely missed the point, I didn't have an "argument." Several of the people commenting made reference to wanting to understand what might prompt such action. I simply shared my personal testimony,knowing it might provide insight for those who are willing to listen.

Jadon Christensen said...

I wonder what the Official SBC view on this would be. Isn't their some kind of hierarchy/church government/board that is or is not condoning this prejudice officially for the entire denomination?

For example, one rogue SBC church decides that homosexual marriage is acceptable... don't they answer to a church body higher up the ladder?

What is the official SBC take on all of this is my point.

Robert said...

Karen H,
Well your article doesnt relect truth.
As Spurgeon said "Calvinism is the Gospel".....thus anything else that you would believe is not truth.
I can assure you I LOVE YOU and that just as you are unwilling to be transparent about the facts of your experience many "Calvinists" feel the need to be incognito as far as the label "Calvinist".
All they are doing is preaching the Bible.

SDG
Robert

Karen H said...

Robert -
I refrained from posting this in my first reply, but can't resist the urge now... the irony is I will not name the church out of respect for the current reformed pastor. Though I disagree with the way he came into his postion, I respect him as my brother in Christ and will not tarnish his reputation in that manner. You see, I know he loves the Lord, just as I do, we just don't agree on the 5 points. My husband and I purposefully met with him, discussed it at length and left in peace. In fact, you will probably be surprised to learn we enjoyed a mutually edifying healthy debate on the 5 points at the conclusion of our last meeting.

My comment was entirely true, so I share a Word of exhortation with you personally at this point-

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." Matt 12:36.

BTW - I believe the Word of God, to my knowledge that is truth.

My husband has advised me to end our dialogue here, I will gladly submit to his lead. Farewell.

Jadon Christensen said...

"can't resist the urge" by golly, that almost sounds irresistible.

I was going to message the SBC.net site to see if anyone would give an official response, but I am not doing very well with their contact selections. Anyone know who we can contact over there for an official response?

Jadon Christensen said...

If the issue is in Tennessee, below is the contact info for the Tennessee Convention.

http://www.tnbaptist.org/contactus.asp

info@tnbaptist.org

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

Karen,

I was not challenging the Facts of your story.
Just challenging the Truth of the theological conclusions you came too.

Btw---I believe this will continue due to the overbroad nature of the BFM.

God Bless
Rob Masters

C. M. Sheffield said...

Jadon Christensen,

No. There is no "hierarchy" in the SBC. We are not a denomination in the strictest sense of the word. More like an association of independent churches. The Baptist Faith & Message and any other Position Statements would be documents to look at. However, these statements weren't framed by any board or higher church "court." They were approved by the entire Convention.

With regard to Calvinism, the Baptist Faith & Message is without argument, at least a moderately Calvinistic statement.

volfan007 said...

Karen H.,

What you shared is exactly what has happened in many Churches in W. TN, and what probably prompted someone to write this memo on how to smoke out a Calvinist pastor. You are exactly telling it like it is, whether these men want to hear you, or not. You have told the truth this day.

Also, as a Pastor in W. TN, I had never seen this memo, nor had I ever even heard of it until I saw the title of the post on SBC Voices and came in here to check it out. I have asked my Pastor friends all over W. TN if they've heard of this, and all of them have said that they have heard nothing about this.

I'm not saying that it doesnt exist. I'm not saying that anyone is lying, or anything sinister like that. But, what it looks like to me is that someone had a Church go thru this experience of having a five point Calvinist come in as Pastor...without the Church knowing where they stood theologically. And, after they came in..the Church had major problems. And then, this fella got this info together to try to somehow help other Churches know if a man was a Five point Calvinist, or not...when searching for a Pastor.

I personally know of 4 or 5 Churches in W. TN...here lately... and some of them have been large Churches....where they called a man to be their Pastor, who was an aggressive, 5 point Calvinist, who came into the Church to change the Church; and they did not know that he was a Five point Calvinist. And, the Churches went thru major strife and division, and got severely hurt in the situation. And, at one of those Churches, I was specifically told that they asked the man if he was a five point Calvinist,and he told them that he was not. But, then, when he got to the Church, they found out that he was. And, this Church had tremendous problems, and they ended up firing the fella.

So, I imagine that's where this memo is probably coming from. But, to act like it's something from the Tennessee Baptist Convention, or even the SBC, as some have hinted in here in their comments, is absurd. In fact, it's not even something that's even widespread in W. TN where it has apparently originated. I cant even find anyone else that even knows about this memo. So, it's an isolated thing from some lone person out there, who feels that they were ambushed by a five point Calvinist Pastor, and he wants to warn other Churches.

Just commenting in here to try to help with the understanding of this thing...like Karen H. tried to do. I am also not trying to argue with anyone, nor am I trying to stir up anything. Just letting yall know something. That's all.

David

Tom said...

David:

Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately, your 3rd and 4th hand accounts don't really add much to the discussion here. For every story you can tell about things you have heard from somebody who was told something to somebody else about churches hurt by an unwise Calvinist, I can tell 5 stories of people in churches who have acted godlessly in attacking pastors because of biblical conversion, biblical ecclesiology and biblical salvation.

The documents that I put up have been used in 3 different states. I am glad that you and your friends don't have any first hand experience with them, but that does not mean, as you conclude, that "it's an isolated thing from some lone person out there, who feels that they were ambushed by a five point Calvinist Pastor, and he wants to warn other Churches." That is rather naive.

Blessings,
tom

volfan007 said...

Tom,

Maybe you missed the comment I made about me personally knowing 4 or 5 Churches here lately that have gone thru this? I know the Churches. I know people in the Churches. I've heard directly from the people in these Churches. And, I know of a lot more Churches in W. TN and N. MS that have gone thru this experience...where a five point Calivinist did not tell them that he was one before going to the Church that did not want to be five point Calvinist.

Also, I was simply telling you all where this thought is coming from. I live here. I hear people talking. I'm not trying to argue about who causes the most trouble in a Church. I'm just telling you the perception that people have around W. TN where this memo apparently originated. And, I can tell you that the talk is growing...due to this happening at some of the larger Churches in W. TN. here lately.

If you want to know the names of the Churches, I can certainly tell you.

Also, if it's such a big thing...going around to 3 different states...probably W. TN, N. MS, and NW Arkansas...and I know lots of Pastors and Church members from all of these places, why have they not heard of it? I have pastored Churches all over W. TN and N. MS, and I have family that live in the Arkansas delta. You'd think that some of those people would've heard about this if it was out there going out all over the place. But, so far, no one that I've talked to has seen or heard of this memo. I had not heard any talk about it until I saw your post.

Some of your commenters in here were insinuating that this might be a TBC thing, or an SBC thing. lol. It's not. But, I can tell you that this memo, and more things like it will probably get going all over the Mid South area before long. Why? because of situations like Karen H. and myself have described.

As I said, I'm not trying to argue anything, nor am I trying to stir anything up. I was just trying to shed light on this from someone who lives here...in W. TN.

So, believe me, or not; there it is. But, I do think that I have a pretty good handle on what people in this area think, and what they perceive, and how they feel about things. I was born and raised around here, and all of mimistry has been in this area. So, there it is.

DAvid

GUNNY said...

Part of the problem is the search process. The "pulpit" committee is often theologically ignorant or disinterested. Many SBC churches lack an official doctrinal statement. But, if it is the BF&M 2000, then a candidate in good conscience could say, "I am in agreement."

What I object to is not thorough theological discussion in the candidating process, far from it. I object to a caricature presented of "Calvinism" and then insisting Calvinists claim that caricatured label for themselves in the search process.

Regardless (or even irregardless), I would love to see search processes get beyond the veneer of looking good and sounding good in that one sermon.

David B. Hewitt said...

Karen:

I am truly sad to see that I arrived after you and your husband decided to leave this conversation; I was hoping to visit with you for a short while, especially after you indicated that you had a conversation with your former pastor about Calvinistic Soteriology, and also indicated your familiarity and understanding with the doctrines.

Not one time, with people I have talked to here or face to face, have I met someone who was not a Calvinist who represented all five points accurately...and rarely even one of them. I was looking forward to a change in that trend.

Karen and Volfan:
I concur with Dr. Tom's assessment about "nailing someone's hide to the wall" with the Scriptures they claim to espouse (referring to cage-stage Calvinists). Graceless Calvinism is a contradiction.

Furthermore, I would readily affirm that deception to attain one's position is completely inappropriate. Not only does it violate God's 9th Commandment, but shows a lack of faith in the Sovereign God Whose sovereignty such a person would be ever so quick to defend.

Before when I mentioned using the question, "What do you mean by that?" I would wait for clarification, and, when (almost certainly) a misrepresentation is presented, say something along the lines of, "Well, I'm not that kind of Calvinist, but here is what I believe about what you just said." I would then proceed to open my Bible and explain from the Scriptures the DoGs as well as (some of) their appropriate applications, purposely addressing any concerns they would have mentioned.

I think such a method would avoid the accusation that I would be hiding anything, as well as helping dispel misconceptions.

sdg,
dbh

Justin said...

Can anyone verify the original source of this memo? I want the name of real churches and pastors. All I have heard is that it was circulating in West Tennessee. I just find it hard to believe that these documents are legit.

Boyd Murrah said...

The concluding sentiment in the blog article, that we need to look for kernels of truth in the attacks of our "adversaries," is well taken. I speak as a "Calvinist," but am convinced that a lot of damage is done by well-meaning but uninformed rationalistic presentations of the "5 points." Sometimes the Confessions show a better and more well-thought out way. I'll point to one of my own blog articles showing the sense in which the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches "free will."

http://christocentry.blogspot.com/2010/01/free-will.html

Strong Tower said...

I personally know of 4 or 5 Churches in W. TN...

Well, which is it that you "personally know", four or five?

I personally know five, or I personally know four, living members of my immediate family. But if I said that I know four or five of my immediate family who are alive, would you believe anything I had to say about the subject?

Now, if you really want to smoke out the Calvinists just ask them if they want a beer. If they say yes, ask them what kind. If they say it doesn't matter, you have every reason to believe they're not being honest. If they give you a specific brew, you've nailed them, their honest, and surely cannot be non-Calvinists, then.

volfan007 said...

Strong Tower,

Wow. That's all I can say to your comment. Lot of grace in your comment, Brother.

David

Strong Tower said...

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, Brother.

Andrew Suttles said...

I'd like someone who is "in the know" to characterize how exactly these alleged Calvinists are "tearing churches apart." Was it the expository preaching that caused the stir? Could it perhaps been the doctrine of Perseverance that caused people to get upset? Did the pastors believe that the Holy Spirit sanctifies those whom he saves? Could it be that the Calvinists were not Dispensationalists and that was the true reason for the split?

I've grown up in non-Calvinist, no make that anti-Calvinist, no better yet, let's say rabid contra-Calvinist Baptist circles and now I attend a Calvinistic church. In my experience, the Calvinistic brothers seem to be more mature and have had a greater sense of charity and willingness to look at both sides of the issue. Based on this experience, I'd be surprised to find out that these pastors were looking to smoke the Arminians out or remove them from the church. I rather suspect that the anti-Calvinists in these churches have staged a coup against their pastors because they differ with him on one of the afore mentioned doctrines.

Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps someone from TN will correct me.

Roy Hargrave said...

I have three questions and a conclusion to consider:

1. Are the five points of Calvinism true? If they are, the opposing view is false unless you are relativistic as it pertains to truth.

2. Are things that are true worth defending? If the answer is yes, then consider Martin Luther and his passion for such truth. He didn’t spend time aiding and abetting those who didn’t believe that truth. He battered down the gates of falsehood within the same bastion that he had previously embraced. Lets just get along at any cost is nonsense as well as blatantly unbiblical.

3. Are we guarding our reputations? If the answer is yes, then we’ll placate the enemies of the gospel in order to gain favor at any cost to the very gospel we claim to preach. That, of course, would be unlike Spurgeon whose reputation was marred by the downgrade controversy because he loved the truth more than himself.

Conclusion: What we believe and preach is either true or false. Therefore, if it is indeed true, conciliation is unacceptable, though courtesy is always commendable. To prove my love for God and others by way of undue compromise is no love at all. Buy the Truth and sell it NOT!

A Few Remaining Tidbits:

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Let the Pulpit Committee ask the prospect, “are you an Arminian?” I don’t hear any Seminary Professors or Presidents for that matter promoting that approach though it is an unscriptural view.

The appearance of love is not always the reality of love. As Edwards once stated when answering a hearer who stated that he was “cruel due to his much preaching on hell,” to which he replied, “No, I’m not cruel, because I believe in Hell, and I don’t want you to go there.” (paraphrase)

Roy Hargrave

volfan007 said...

Andrew,

These Churches did not hold to limited atonement, nor to irrestible grace. I would say these two would be the main two things, and the way a Five point Calvinist Pastor approached mininstry and evangelism based on these doctrines, that caused the trouble in these Churches.

For example, one of the Churches that I know, the Five Point Calvinist Minister had an issue with signs quoting the Roman road that was put up at the Churches ballfield was an issue to him. He said that these signs might mislead people, somehow????? Quoting Scripture from the book of Romans???? He was also fixated on teaching the five points, instead of just teaching the Bible.

Another example from another Church was that the Pastor wanted to have a board of Elders to rule the Church, instead of being congregational. He also was teaching Calvinism from the pulpit.

At another Church, a Five point Calvinist Pastor told the Church that he didnt want them to have a city wide outreach anymore. And, there were other things.

There are more things and other examples. But, the main thing is that these Churches were not five point Calvinist Churches, and they did not want to be. These Pastors, who came into these Churches were great men. I'm sure they love the Lord. But, they most definitely should have told these Search Committees where they stood on an issue like this...that is so controversial. A lot of the lay people, who serve on the search committees, are not up on theology enough to ask the right questions, and may not have even heard of Calvinism and Arminianism before. So, this should be talked about. Dont you think? Dont you think that they should tell a Church something like this?

DAvid

Darrin Crockett said...

Just curious, will we ever realize that by claiming not to be a Calvinist doesn't mean that someone is by default an Armeninian. I would say that many, if not most SBC churches would actually fall closer to true "Calvinism" than they would true "Armenianism" if anyone were to lay the true doctrines out.
Maybe it's not actually so much the doctrine espoused to being a Calvinist that they are afraid of as it is the pompous, arrogant attitude that so often seems to go hand in hand. Pick from the abundance displayed on here if you need evidence. Maybe it's not Calvinists they are afraid of but the hyper-Calvinists who use the same title. Is that why some Calvinists are opting to make more use of the word "Reformed"? To distance themselves from hyper-Calvinists?

I say all of this in love. Love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, love for the Word of God, and love for the One whom it is supposed to be all about, Jesus. I haven't seen his name mentioned in a while.

In 2 Corinthians Paul realized the risk of becoming conceited, puffed up, haughty, exalted above measure, or too proud by the knowledge he was gaining, the revelations he was receiving, not to mention that he had been moved by the Holy Spirit to write much of the New Testament. He received a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble.

This danger is not one-sided. It is present on both sides of the fence. Let's not forget that the "mystery of the gospel" is Christ in you, not Calvin, Arminias, Wesley, or any other man.

If necessary, can we follow the example of Paul and Barnabas who, after strong contention, chose to go their separate ways resulting in a positive outcome for all. Were the differences between these two rooted in pride, personal ambition, hurt feelings, or were they were rooted in different spiritual gifts, outlook, and calling?

Robert said...

Volfan,
Did you write this memo?

Robert I Masters

Andrew Suttles said...

David -

If the picture you paint is the whole story (I don't doubt you in the least, but we are only hearing one side), then some of these behaviors are atrocious and the man of God is at fault.*

A man who is "fixated" on any five points of doctrine does not have the grace or wisdom to be an effective shephard. You are right, ideally the man of God would be fixated on Christ. Perhaps the blame here falls on the seminary model. Too bad Pastors are not training by experienced men of God in a church setting. All too often seminary trained men want to turn the church into a seminary classroom for his own personal use for hobby-horsing (be it eschatology or soteriology, etc). Do we not all to often hold seminary professors is the highest regard as against Pastors of congregations?

Anyhow, with a plurality of elders and elders being trained within the context of the local church, search committeess would be a thing of the past. I do agree with you, that Pastoral candidates should be completely above board with respect to their personal convictions. This is an area where a confession of faith is so valuable. Clearly, if a man has a calling, the Lord has a place for him to serve. He should be obedient to the Lord's revealed will as he awaits the Lord's Providence.

Thanks for your perspective, Brother David. May God bless you and the rest of our brothers in TN.

*NOTE: I do not understand the issue with elders, here. Elder rule is not in any way in conflict with congregationalism. Elder ruled churches many times are more congregational in that they are not lorded over by a wanna-be popes.

Andrew Suttles said...

> I would say that many, if not most SBC churches would actually fall closer to true "Calvinism" than they would true "Armenianism" if anyone were to lay the true doctrines out. <

Darrin - How can you be so sure? I think many SBCers would accuse Arminius himself of being an "extreme" Calvinist, were they to read his writtings. I would think most SBCerss would be semi-Pelagian or Weslyan.

> Maybe it's not actually so much the doctrine espoused to being a Calvinist that they are afraid of as it is the pompous, arrogant attitude that so often seems to go hand in hand. <

I'm sorry you feel that way and I'm sorry if I've modeled that behavior. I hope you have not noted any prominent Calvinist Pastors modeling such behavior? I grew up in the types of churches that "smoke out" Calvinists, so I've seen very anti-Christian behavior demonstrated on the other side of the fence. Perhaps some Calvinists here are just feeling a little defensive because they feel like they are being attacked. Or, perhaps they are expressing youthful zeal (without charity).

> Is that why some Calvinists are opting to make more use of the word "Reformed"? To distance themselves from hyper-Calvinists? <

Reformed usually refers to those that follow the theology of the Reformer Calvin (Zwingli, Knox, etc.) and the denominations that resulted from them - Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, etc. Reformed can (now adays) also generally be post-Luther, Protestant theology resulting from the Protestant Reformation. Our theology is the result of crossing swords with Rome! Baptists do not traditionally wear the label reformed, but some do today in order to identify with our historic Baptist Fathers who fought the good fight for Protestant theology against Rome.

Hyper-Calvinism is very rare. I don't know one and I've never met one. When I was an Arminian I would read a lot of literature that distorted the Doctrines of Grace and would refer to that strawman as Hyper-Calvinism, which is libelous. It may exist, but then again there are Baptist snake handlers aren't there?

>I say all of this in love. Love for my brothers and sisters in Christ, love for the Word of God, and love for the One whom it is supposed to be all about, Jesus.<

Amen

Strong Tower said...

Carl Trueman said about another somewhat similar subject: I was brought up to believe that, if it's white, wooly, and goes `baa' when you kick it, it's a sheep, no matter what you care to call it. Indeed, to claim otherwise is, to use the technical scholarly terminology, a load of old flannel

Translated: tell us what you believe, that will label you what you are.

Jim Shaver said...

I'm still stunned by the numbers of SBC Churches that were led out of "Calvinism" since 1845 and nobody questioned their change in theology!

Creeping liberalism and non Calvinists led the SBC to the point where we had to have a conservative resurgence to get partially back to where we theologically started from in 1845.

Now this latest anti-calvinism controversy in TN crops up and very vividly points out once again how much we lost in the SBC between 1845 and 1979.

I say either there is room in the SBC for Calvinistic Baptists like the ones who gathered in Augusta, GA in 1845 or it's time to "RESURGE" again!

Rev. Matt Neace, Jr. said...

Many of the reformers died because they didn't use the Catholic Bible (i.e. King James Version). God forbid someone to use something other than KJV because we all know that in Palestine during the biblical days they spoke the king's English. lol.

Julio Martinez Jr. said...

I can really appreciate this but I wonder why there isn't any mention of the magisterial documents like the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity?

Darrin Crockett said...

Andrew,

I realize that the first comment of mine that you referred to was way too broad of a statement and I apologize.

I haven't felt like you model the behavior I described. Actually, I meant to get on here earlier and commend you on your reply to David. I think you were very accurate in those perceptions.

I'm not sure of everyone who would be considered a prominent Calvinist pastor. There is a particular one that comes to my mind that displays the behavior but I won't post a name here. As I mentioned a few days ago, I do not consider myself to be a Calvinist but I have been stretched theologically, intellectually, and spiritually, especially in the areas of the sovereignty of God, His grace, love for the Scriptures, etc. from reading/listening to Godly men such as Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, etc.

One of my former pastors used to comment on how divided the body of Christ has become. He would mention the tendency for people to gravitate towards others who had similar gifts while being cautious or uncomfortable around others who's gifts may have differed from their own. He was basically saying that most of the feet were hanging out together and the ears were gathered somewhere else. Instead of working together, as designed, they can fall into the temptation of thinking more highly of themselves than they ought and not giving proper respect to the others.

You hit pretty close to what most of my personal experience has been. Having been closely involved with ministry on a college campus for several years I believe that a lot of the attitudes and behaviors I noticed were probably due to youthful zeal. I won't get into the specifics on here now though.

I am thankful for you and others on here who don't seem to fit the caricature.

Redeemed not Reformed said...

I am not a follower of Calvin but I read this blog occasionally to keep up with events. I don't understand the suprise at a list of questions for churches. You have stated that you want to restore the gospel to the SBC. You clearly don't think the gospel is being preached in the majority of SBC churches at this time. As a senior pastor of an SBC church I don't want a member of my staff who thinks I don't preach the gospel so I won't hire a Calvinist. The best advice was offered by One Salient Oversight who said, "Transparency on both sides is needed."
The issue was seen at the Building Bridges conference (I was there) and Dr. Akin had a very good answer. I understand that the Calvinist minister may not want to be open about their beliefs because it means they may not get the position but it is the honest thing to do. If you deceive the committee, you should be dismissed for not being an honest person.
If you do find yourself unemployed, you should rejoice. After all, if you suffer for your faith, is that not God's plan for you? Maybe the Lord will lead you to start your own church and there will be more churches in that community.

Strong Tower said...

As a senior pastor of an SBC church I don't want a member of my staff who thinks I don't preach the gospel so I won't hire a Calvinist.

And so goes the story of auto-nomos.

And out goes accountability and enter in the popish system of single elder lordship over others.

We might ask of this anonymous (interesting how many anons who are nons who have commented here about anonymous situations, but it figures since accountability seems in short supply among them) what of a staff member who repents of his Arminianism (oh that's right, you have defined yourself as what you are not)... Well suppose a staff member becomes Calvinist. Would you then fire them, or would you uphold the reformed baptistic principle of autonomy of the believer? What about non-staff members, say deacons, are they allowed dissent? Can they freely communicate where they differ? Can the common pewsters voice, freely, what they find not representative of the Gospel in your doctrine (perhaps you're like most other nons who have no system of belief they are willing to define or defend, or those who do but reject the label that belongs to it). Can any of your members practice what Land claims as a the special heritage of baptists, freedom from you imposing your particular sectarian system on them?

The Reformed are far freer that what you portray yourself to be. I can understand the fundamentalist bent that wants to hide behind status, "I am Senior, you are inferior," hide information, and not allow any influences out of fear that it might undermine a magisterial authority which claims that peace and pragmatism is an important concern for the health of the congregation because all protestation is of the debul, However, it is a reversion to pre-reformation ethics founded in pride arrogance. So I also understand you name. You have rejected protestantism's maxims and returned to Rome. Reforming is not in your play book, you're infallible, and so Luther must go. Only good churchmen must be allowed to enter your communion.

The point remains, if these mem are ordained, accepted as legitimate SB ministers, endorsed by that ordination as deriving its authority though the authority of the convention under Christ, why are they not fit to pastor any SBC church? Or is it really the fact that the rejecting churches are not really SBC?

Robert said...

Redeemed not reformed,

You assume facts that you dont know or at least you do not admit having first hand knowledge.

David still waiting for your answer to my question.(Volfan)

Also waiting for one example of this happening in the other camp.The non-Calvinist camp. Please show me One example of a pastor being fired for being a Non-Calvinist.

Andrew Suttles said...

Pastor RnR -

Though you wear the moniker "notReformed", I hope that you actually are - not in the sense of being a member of one of those "Reformed" denominations, but rather in the 'Reform'ation sense of having your standing before God by grace through faith alone, based solely on the work of Christ alone. I trust this is the case.

>I am not a follower of Calvin...<

Amen, brother, and I hope no one reading this blog considers himself to be.

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." John 10:27-28.

>I don't understand the suprise at a list of questions for churches.<

I don't think folks are surprised that responsible search committees would question pastoral candidates on doctrine. The surprise is the uncharitable attitude with which it is done (in this case) and that this letter seems to be trying to stir folks to rise up against their Pastors, as has sadly happened in several instances.

> As a senior pastor of an SBC church I don't want a member of my staff who thinks I don't preach the gospel so I won't hire a Calvinist.<

I don't know that Pastor Ascol accused any Arminian pastors of not preaching the gospel. Spurgeon refered to the doctines of grace as the gospel, but I haven't heard Pastor Ascol say that. We should agree together that there are many churches in Evangelicalism today not preaching the gospel of grace.

I think everyone understands the pastor of a church wanting to hire assistants who they agree with in theology. But, do you think "smoking people out" of the church is the Christ-like mindset to that end?

>If you deceive the committee, you should be dismissed for not being an honest person.<

Amen. It remains to be seen whether this was in fact the case in the number of cases mentioned above, but I think everyone agrees with you.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and thanks for your ministry for our Lord.

Andrew

Cap Pooser said...

Pulpit search committees are God's curse on churches who refuse to call elders from among you. Gifts and graces can best be known when the person lives among you. That way there is no need to engage in the vile practice of smoking. The Surgeon General discourages it.

volfan007 said...

Robert,

I said early on in my comments that I did not come in here to debate anything, nor to argue with anyone. I just came in here to give some perspective from a W. Tennessean.

And, Robert, I guess you didnt read the comments stream early on. I said that I had not heard of this memo until I saw on SBC Voices that Tom wrote a post on it. Thus, I did not write it.

BTW, I talked to another friend of mine Thursday. He had heard of this memo. He was the first one that I had talked to that had heard anything about it. So, there's one.

David

Bob said...

Thanks for the blog post; I found it both amazing and amusing. The title, “Memo: How to smoke out a Calvinistic pastor in your church” is an example of why this whole issue is even being discussed. You know that this document has absolutely NOTHING to do with smoking out Calvinistic pastors or churches at all. It does however, have everything to do with assisting non-Calvinist churches without pastors choose men who are not Calvinists to be their pastor. I know the individual who wrote this questionaire personally and can assure you that he has no desire to influence Calvinistic churches in any form or fashion. His sole intention was to give non-Calvinist churches a tool to assist them, at their own discretion, in their selection process.

When I read the Founders’ expose on “Walking Without Slipping: Instructions for Local Church Reformation” I thought, and these guys are complaining about a simple questionaire for churches to use that do not want someone as their pastor coming in “walking without slipping.” Come on! To cry “foul” here is like getting your hand caught in the cookie jar and trying to blame someone else for getting caught.

In another comment on your own blog you made the following statement, “We need to pray for pastors and churches that are being subjected to this kind of misinformation and its fall out.” 3/5/2010 There is NO misinformation in this document. It may be information that you would rather churches not have but it is not misinformation and it has nothing to do with serving pastors of churches. You are the one who is spreading misinformation with regard to these documents.

Johnny who wrote his comment on 3/5/2010 is at least honest and is partially correct; “a little more research by pastor search committees is necessary.” That is why these documents were given out.

I like his comment, “My answer to the question of "Am I a Calvinist?" is radically different depending on my perception of the level of understanding about doctrine on the part of the person asking the question. Sometimes a simple "yes or no" is not sufficient.”

In the case of “are you or are you not a Calvinist” does qualify as a “yes” or “no” answer. If your answer determines whether or not a search committee recommends you to pastor a church then a simple yes or no answer may not be sufficient and there in lies the problem, from a non-calvinist perspective. Again, crying foul because someone simply wants you to qualify your theology is no different than having a Methodist wanting to be pastor of a Baptist church or a Catholic applying to pastor your Calvinist churches. It really surprises me that a Calvinist pastor would even want to pastor a non-calvinist church. I do not know of any non-Calvinist pastors who would want to pastor a Reformed church.

One Salient Oversight said... “If a church doesn't want a reformed pastor then they shouldn't appoint one. The church needs to be very clear on who it calls and who it doesn't call.” That is it. Why is this such a big deal?

In the same way, reformed pastors must be transparent on this issue so that no misunderstandings take place. Transparency on both sides is needed. Amen. What is wrong with that?

Once again in your response to Johnny’s question, “As a Calvinist, if you were interviewing with a church and you were presented with this memo and asked "Are you a Calvinist?" how would you respond?” 3/6/2010 you answered, “We should be careful never to let someone else define what we are or believe, especially when many of the labels and definitions being currently used are so inaccurate.”

If you are so concerned about someone labeling you, then simply be forthcoming in your answer and understand there are people who do not agree with reformed theology. Just because you know the church is not favorable to reformed theology, that is no reason to think, “maybe I can become their pastor and lead them into the light of reformation.” That is fundamentally wrong in my opinion.

><>

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

In the document, Walking Without Slipping: Instruction for Local Church Reformation” how can a Calvinist defend the following statements…


“Along with the doctrines of grace, human responsibility to believe is another foundational doctrine, a hill on which to die. We must proclaim to every single person: …

It is these foundations that must be vigorously constructed in our churches. Upon the hearty preaching of these foundational doctrines, who knows but that God may be pleased to fan the flames of reformation fire.”

I find NOTHING in this entire statement questionable. I am in full agreement with every sentence and paragraph. I agree that this is what we need to be preaching in our churches. However, these few paragraphs do not fit in the 5 Points of Calvinism as I understand them. Lets take these statements individually.

Jesus Christ, God's Son, is a perfect, able and willing Savior of sinners, even the worst, yea, even the chief.

In your own document, you state, ” We speak first of all of the doctrines of grace. Teach your people that they are utterly depraved and dead in their sins without God. Teach them that God chose the elect for salvation from the foundation of time out of his own mercy and desire, and that Christ died as a propitiation for his people. Teach them that it is the Holy Spirit who effectively calls sinners to salvation.”

So, Jesus Christ, Gods Son is a perfect, able and willing Savior of sinners, “who are the elect chosen by God for salvation”. Jesus did not die for sinners; He died for the elect.

Statement number 2. “The Father and the Son have promised that all who know themselves to be sinners and who put their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior shall be received into favor, and none shall be cast out.”

Calvinism teaches that these individuals who “know themselves to be sinners” are those whose hearts have been quickened by the work of regeneration that is the result of the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God’s elect. Those are the ones who shall receive favor and none shall be cast out.” This is a clear cut example of carefully chosen words that do two things.

First of all, they DO represent the tenets of Calvinism given certain pre-concieved concepts.
However, they also fit the non-Calvinist theological position with regards to salvation because those pre-conceived concepts are left to the hearers interpretation and they are intentionally misleading to “lure the listener” until he or she can be taught the “truth” as presented in the Doctrines of Grace. Only those who are the elect chosen by God are able to exercise this faith and repentance.

To the question, "What must I do to be saved?" we must respond to all who ask, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." What does that mean? It means: (a) knowing that you are a sinner, (b) knowing that Christ has died for sinners, (c) abandoning all self-righteousness, self-confidence and self-effort as a means of salvation, (d) casting yourself wholly upon Christ for pardon and peace, (e) exchanging your natural enmity and rebellion against Christ for a spirit of grateful submission to the will of Christ through the renewing of your heart by the Holy Spirit.

Come one! You guys preach this but be honest and consistent with your own theology… at least add a “Good luck to the end!” Why instruct someone to do something that they have no ability to do? That is like sitting a new born baby in the middle of a busy interstate and giving them a map they cant read and say, “Believe.” Why not answer their question as you do in your preaching of the Doctrines of Grace, “If you are chosen, you will be saved. If you are not chosen, nothing you can do will make one bit of difference in eternity. May God have mercy on your soul.”

If I were Calvinist that is what I would have to say.
><>

Tom said...

Anonymous Bob:

You have posted your last comment here unless you are willing to identify yourself and engage the issues openly and honestly. Your comments demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of the issues involved both theologically and ethically. I would be willing to engage them with you, but I will not do so if you remain anonymous.

As has been mentioned before here, it does strike me as strange that someone who cowardly hides behind anonymity here would chastise others for not being "up front and open." If you care to email me, we can pursue this further privately.

Blessings,
tom

Zachary Pendergrass's Blog said...

I agree with Tom that we have to be careful to constantly examine ourselves, especially in a day and time when it is easier to caricature one another and make strawman arguments to tear one another down. As one who formerly expressed great arrogance in my Reformed thought, I see why Calvinists are hated. The sad thing is, I know of a church who has a hand in putting these documents out there. I live in West Tennessee, and Jackson, TN specifically, and many in this area have an absolute hatred or just ignorance of this doctrine. Reformed theology is just one area that comes under attack. I teach Sunday School and have taught an introduction to Biblical Theology from Graeme Goldsworthy's According to Plan and I was labeled as dangerous. Such behavior has thankfully since left our church, but it is a serious issue in other churches in Jackson.

Jadon Christensen said...

I've made the decision to leave my SBC church based on this, lack of response from the SBC, other doctrinal issues, and bad hermeneutics, etc.

I am however considering going back to a nice PCA church that is Calvinist, even though I am credo-baptist.

Alan said...

"For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people." 1 Pet. 2:15 .... And this is the ESV translation.

drchickenman said...

Why do pastors who believe in God's sovereignty worry over a few letters going around. Many people on pastor search committees are walking close to God and He will lead them to God's man whether Calvinist or not. Of course, you can leave the South and come out here to the West where we don't have to deal with this kind of stuff.

Andrew Suttles said...

> Why do pastors who believe in God's sovereignty worry over a few letters going around.

I don't think anyone is worried. Do you not believe in God's Sovereignty?

> Many people on pastor search committees are walking close to God...

We would hope so wouldn't we? You'll note that it isn't the Calvinists who are trying to manipulate search committees here.

> Of course, you can leave the South and come out here to the West where we don't have to deal with this kind of stuff.

You don't deal with Bible doctrine in the West? Where do you live? Perhaps we need to send missionaries.

Fred said...

As one who has already been "smoked out" prior to this document, I pray for those Pastor's who will face hardship because of this document. When that time comes may they be able to say as Luther, "Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."

Lauren C said...

I'm completely not surprised by any of it really.... people are offended by the gospel, and this is no different...
I wonder if when you said "you're not responding "via" Proverbs 26:4", if at seom times it IS time to respond 'via Proverbs 26:5" so that if people stay silent, the fool will "seem wise IN his own eyes" [ if no one speaks up...

thistle93 said...

God help the SBC if this goes national. They are going to lose a lot of Godly pastors. This SBC will become more and more pragmatic and shallow. One just has to look at the history of the particular baptist and general baptist in England. The particular baptist (yes some branched off into hyper-calvinism) flourished while the general baptist for the most part became apostate churches. I pray this will not cause a split in the denomination. If so, it is those who are anti Doctrines of Grace that should start a new denomination. The Doctrines of Grace is historical SBC theology. Le both sides end the hostility and start acting like the body of Christ. For His Glory- Matthew

Rob said...

I think that the second comparison between "Traditional Baptists" and "Calvinists" shows a complete lack of theological understanding.

Both London Baptist confessions, along with all the other denominations at the time, confirm Total Depravity, Limited Atonement (which the writer scoffs at).

What is REALLY sad is that that which was declared as heresy by the Synod of Dort is now accepted as "Traditional" mainly because of the work of Charles Finney, Billy Sunday and others in the last century.

This is SAD.

Dr. James Willingham said...

Th best way to preach the doctrines of grace is to preach each one of them as an invitation, a wonderfully intense evangelistic invitation to trust the Lord Jesus Christ on His terms. Dr. John Eusden in his introduction to his translation of William Ames' Marrow of Divinity (the first text book in theology used at Harvard) stated: "Predestination is an invitation to begin on's spiritual pilgrimage." I applied his idea to every one of the TULIP Doctrines and Predestination and Reprobation, and in seeking Scriptural guidance on the issue found everyone of them presented by our Lord to sinners. In the case of the woman of Canaan, He presented silence, then selection (I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel) which includes the idea of particular redemption (and the woman treats His teaching as an opportunity to fall down before Him in worship). He then proceeds to Total Depravity and Inability and Reprobation (it is not right to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs). The woman's response was to argue with the Lord, saying. Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their masters' table. At that point Our Lord complimented her with the statement that her faith was great and that she could have whatever she wanted. Today we have a whole movement in counseling devoted to the idea of Paradoxical Inteventon. It would seem that the Lord of glory used paradoxical interventions to win the lost of his day. Remember, His theology would be the most gripping dramatic, thrilling, winsome, appealing, mystifying, deep, transforming, etc. Thre is more than one way to skin a cat as they use to say in my youth, and surely the truth is that the truth can be as one lady said, who was won to Christ by a friend of mine who did not believe in Irresistible grace and who wanted to know why she responded so readily, "Oh, it was so wonderful that I could not resist it." What is hilarious about the situation is that his name was Spurgeon, Dr. Gene Spurgeon. He said when she said that, what I had said about grace being irresistible popped into his mind. I asked then (circa 1965), "Well, have you changed you mind." He said, "No, but I am thinking about it." He was still thinking about it in 2003. By 2007 he had come to the conclusion that grace was irresistible. Along in hose years he found out from a family genealogist that he was kin to C.H. Spurgeon. Gentlemen for 37 years I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening, and it will come. Already there are more Sovereign Grace preachers than there were when I began to pray. As a student at Southeastern from 1972-76, I knew of only one other student in those years who held to Sovereign Grace,a friend from North Ireland who graduated with a D.Min. in '73. Now there are several on the faculty to who believe it and the President admits Sovereign Grace was involved in the launching of the Great Century of Missions, that Sandy Creek was surely founded by Sovereign Grace believers, etc. Things are looking up. We are promised that the earth shall be full of His knowledge and glory as the waters cover the sea. Spurgeon even prayed for the conversion of the whole earth on August 6 in his Evening Devotion pleading as a promise to that end, Ps. 72:19. Even so I pray and plead the promises stated by Jonathan Edwards in his Humnble Attempt. We are on the verge of a great outpouring, a great movement of the Spirit of God in our world. Who knows but what there shall be a 1001 generations of converts even from one extremitis of the Heaven to the other Extremities. Will man go into space, to the stars? Has he already gone in the past 50-60 years?

John Strickland said...

These documents just showed up in an anonymous mailing to our membership. Any idea where they originated?

Dwain and Amanda said...

This greatly disheartens me. Mostly because I see it all the time. It makes my hear sink to see this, mostly because this is the attitude in the area that I live in.

I am a student at SBTS and I work at one of the area churches. When most of the pastors around here ask me where I go to school they give me a strange and knowing look and the conversation ends rather quickly.

It is this attitude that has on more than one occasion made me think I didn't really want to be associated with the SBC much longer, but I stay and probably will stay. The cooperative program pays half of my tuition to train a future pastor. It is only right that I should continue, but it really does make my heart sink to see this stuff.

And I really wonder how many young students have the same attitude I do? How many young pastors have been on the verge of leaving the SBC because of this attitude?

With all of that being said, I have found myself very grateful for the Calvinists in the SBC that have taken a stand on these issues and actually made things better in today's time than they were even just a few years ago.

Josh Litton said...

Tom,

Thanks for pointing this out.

But you totally missed the solution in your assessment of what we should do. Sure, we need to examine ourselves. But what shall we do afterwards? Go on the offensive.

Romans 12.21
2 Timothy 2.23-26