25 Traditional SBC Heroes

October 28, 2014

Dr. Rick Patrick | Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church, Sylacauga, AL

Long before SBC began to mean Slowly Becoming Calvinists, the greatest leaders of our convention espoused Traditional theology. Some of these leaders actually signed the Traditional Statement of 2012 while others who may not have signed it clearly embrace its doctrines. Several more could have embraced the statement if it had existed when they were alive. These are conservatives whose ministries have balanced God’s sovereignty with a robust view of man’s libertarian free will.

Young, Restless and Reformed ministers today are often catapulted by their public relations machines to near rock star status. In the process, a generation of legendary Southern Baptist heroes, upon whose shoulders we stand as a denomination, is in danger of being overlooked as role models. Since the latter did not approach their ministries from a Calvinistic perspective, their names and contributions are fading into the background as we shine our spotlight on the newest reformed superstars.

This list explores 25 of the most influential Southern Baptists in history who have clearly disaffirmed Calvinism. Some leaders highly deserving of this recognition, such as W. A. Criswell and Lottie Moon, are believed to fit within our Traditionalist wing. However, with some amount of soteriological evidence on both sides, we have chosen to leave them off. Many other worthy names could have been listed. Like the heroes mentioned in Hebrews 11, this is a Roll Call of Faith for SBC Traditionalists.

Incidentally, an asterisk identifies all signers of the Traditional Statement. If you wish to identify theologically with the doctrines and ministries of those who are listed, you may register your convictions by signing the Traditional Statement HERE.

25.  Adam Harwood *
Harwood’s writings challenge Inherited Guilt and Total Inability, affirming that Christ died for everyone and God’s loving desire is for every person to be saved.

24.  Eric Hankins *
The primary author of the Traditional Statement of 2012, Hankins is largely responsible for calling Southern Baptists to discuss salvation doctrine publicly.

23.  Malcolm Yarnell *
The theologian who gave us the concept of Baptist Identity, Yarnell challenges Southern Baptists to preserve our distinctives in a sea of evangelical anonymity.

22.  Steve Lemke *
The theologian and co-author of Whosoever Will, Lemke has also written the essay What is a Baptist: Nine Marks that Separate Baptists from Presbyterians.

21.  David Allen *
The theologian and co-author of Whosoever Will, Allen has also written the essay Recovering the Gospel: Why Belief in an Unlimited Atonement Matters.

20.  Junior Hill *
The evangelist who has conducted over 1700 revivals and crusades, Hill has preached for six decades, with his Harvest Days continuing to be in demand.

19.  Bobby Welch *
The pastor and co-creator of the FAITH Outreach Strategy, Welch’s Everyone Can American bus tour urged witnessing as his church gave 15% through CP.

18.  Henry Blackaby
The pastor and denominational leader, Blackaby wrote Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing God’s Will, selling seven million copies in many languages.

17.  Paul Pressler
The judge and co-architect of the Conservative Resurgence, Pressler wrote A Hill on Which to Die and may rank as Christianity’s most influential layperson.

16.  Morris Chapman *
The pastor and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, Chapman warned against Great Commission Resurgence language harshly attacking state conventions.

15.  Jimmy Draper *
The pastor and SBC President from 1982 to 1983, Draper staunchly supported the Conservative Resurgence and served as Lifeway President from 1991-2006.

14.  Chuck Kelley *
The President of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, which is regarded as generally favorable in espousing Traditional Southern Baptist soteriology.

13.  James Leo Garrett
One of greatest Southern Baptist theologians of all time, Garrett has established that Southwestern professors have never taught the doctrine of Inherited Guilt.

12.  Bailey Smith *
As a former SBC President, Pastor and Crusade Evangelist, Smith is the only SBC Pastor in history ever to baptize 2,000 people in a local church in one year.

11.  L. R. Scarborough
President of Southwestern Seminary from 1915-1942, Scarborough founded the first seminary department of evangelism and served as SBC President.

10.  Roy Fish *
Longtime professor of evangelism at Southwestern Seminary, Fish was a bold evangelist, brilliant lecturer and passionately devoted personal soul winner.

9.  John Bisagno
Pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church from 1970-2000, Bisagno has written 25 books, baptized 15,000 souls and preached 37 international crusades.

8.  George W. Truett
Pastor of Dallas’ First Baptist Church from 1897-1944 and SBC President from 1927-1929, Truett received nearly 20,000 members in his 47 year pastorate.

7.  Richard Land *
President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC from 1988 to 2013, Land boldly promotes Christian values and sound traditional theology.

6.  Jerry Vines *
Pastor of First Baptist Jacksonville from 1982 to 2006 and President of the SBC from 1988-1990, Vines has spoken in opposition to current Calvinistic trends.

5.  E. Y. Mullins
President of Southern Seminary from 1899 to 1928 and of  the SBC from 1921   to 1924, Mullins chaired the Baptist Faith and Message Committee in 1925. ++

4.  Herschel Hobbs
Pastor of FBC Oklahoma City from 1949-1972 and President of the SBC from 1961-1963, Hobbs chaired the Baptist Faith and Message Committee in 1963.

3.  Adrian Rogers
Pastor of Bellevue Baptist in Memphis from 1972-2005 and SBC President for three terms, Rogers chaired the Baptist Faith and Message Committee in 2000.

2.  Paige Patterson *
Current President of SWBTS and former President of SEBTS, Criswell College and the SBC, Patterson is the Father of the Conservative Resurgence in SBC life.

1.  Billy Graham
Southern Baptist evangelist with a lifetime audience of over 2.2 billion, Graham preached, extended altar calls and urged every sinner to trust Jesus in prayer.

++ While Mullins might not have been able to embrace the Traditional Statement’s Article Six on Election, he would certainly join us in avoiding the extremes of both Calvinism and Arminianism: We are learning to discard both names and to adhere more closely than either system to the Scriptures, while retaining the truth in both systems. (The Christian Religion in Its Doctrinal Expression, 1917, p. vii)

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Bill Mac

While of course everyone has heard Billy Graham preach, the only other one that I have heard preach in person is Henry Blackaby. I’ve been through EG several times, and although I don’t like some of the theology in EG, Henry Blackaby is one of the finest and most moving preachers I’ve ever heard.


As you note, many other worthy names could be listed. They would not call themselves heroes, but I think of the countless itinerant evangelists who have labored in the field to bring in the harvest and attempted to revive church members across the SBC landscape. You have mentioned some of them here. These folks have worked the highways and byways for decades with little acknowledgment, but they made the Lord’s list! It’s a shame that the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists (COSBE) is not tapped as much as it should be for church revival meetings.

P.S. Vance Havner is on my “Great Southern Baptists” list. Additionally, the impact of Henry Blackaby’s ministry reaches far beyond the SBC.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Truth is Max, Ezell loathes Evangelists. He really does. He openly gutted them, undermined them, devalued them, and distorted them. That is why COSBE is having a hard time being utilized.

    Ezell thinks backyard bar-b-ques and fiscally irresponsible, redundant church plants in North America that way more often than not spectacularly fail is “evangelism.”

    Meanwhile, legacy SBC churches plod on with zero compassion and renewed support from the organizations they helped build, getting ignored while many of their DOM’s hope they die out.

    No, typical SBC church planting is the broadly ineffective, seeker-friendly junk all over again, just with more Calvinism these days, as if that “doctrine” sanctifies the silly model these same people decried in years past during the Hybels heyday.

    In any case, the corporate worship service is not primarily about evangelism, nor should it be. (please not I said “primarily” people…)

    Church planting as done today is not evangelism. The church planting zealots can appeal to Paul founding churches all they wish, but setting up 501-3c corporations, seeker-friendly services, and hosting espresso-gulping gatherings is NOT what he did.

    He preached the Gospel openly, and stayed with appointed elders until it was time he could move on. Always preaching regularly though out in the streets. Not too many church plant pastors, or any pastors really, doing that these days…open air preaching is now dominated by the Pelagian sandwich board crazies. A shame…

    Anyway, church planting schemes are not even remotely close to either the picture of Paul, nor the other Evangelists of Scripture.

    You want to know who essentially killed evangelism in the SBC? It was Kevin Ezell. His influence filtered down from there, making the old time revival, that I thankfully get to watch work with amazing impact in the ministries of Drs. Braxton and Harold Hunter almost every weekend, almost a thing of the past in many SBC circles these days. However, where Evangelism and Evangelists still operate, God still mightily uses this Biblical means.

    In other news, the SBC is in decline in almost every marker, and moreover, I read blog articles in denial of it, examining particulars for false comfort in light of the general trend that says otherwise.

    Anyway, despite the hyperbole, this is a good summation of the situation with evangelism in the SBC, broadly speaking. While I am thankful for them, I take no false comfort in the particulars of the ministries that keep on successfully trucking. I just wish those ministries were the general trend, not the exceptions.

      Andy Williams

      “You want to know who essentially killed evangelism in the SBC? It was Kevin Ezell.”

      I think you’re giving Ezell too much credit. Even if we accept the rest of your post as given…The SBC, (along with most other baptist and evangelical churches) has been faltering on evangelism for years before Ezell even came on the scene. Also, as for my own individual SBC church, we had stopped doing traditional revivals well before Ezell took over NAMB…not because we were too busy church planting, but simply because people didn’t come to them anymore (we are not in the south). We have had much better results with one-on one evangelism by our members than we ever had with a revival and an out-of-town speaker.

      But the point is, Ezell did not MAKE us stop having revivals. In fact, I can’t think of one single thing Ezell has done that has had any impact on our church, except that a small percentage of our CP giving probably is divided a little differently than it was before.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Not at all. He deserves the credit. My response was to Max with respect to COSBE. He killed it, and thus the evangelism and revival mentality in the SBC with it. COSBE is, after all, the barometer for evangelism in the SBC.

        It is an attitude. While I highly doubt the influence of attitudes such as Ezell’s towards revival and evangelism has had no impact on your church, that is, after all, only your church anyway, and not the SBC, broadly considered.

        Only recently did NAMB hire someone to head up evangelism (Joel Southerland), and gave peanuts of a budget to make sure it does little as possible.

        Anyway, Trinity Crusades does revivals in states like Ohio, Michigan, and here in Indiana as well as the south. It isn’t a southern thing. If people stop coming to revivals, it usually is because pastors and churches don’t know how to prepare for them, and not because of the format, the speaker, etc. This is why Trinity Crusades sends out packages with things to do in order to prepare for them. Rarely has there not been a crowd, and if there were a rare occasion where there wasn’t, it was because the pastor and church didn’t bother to do anything.

        In any case, with over 30 years of experience in this, especially in the SBC, we here at Trinity certainly keep up with what is going on in areas like evangelism and revivals. We know full well about Ezell’s abysmal tenure at NAMB in this regard. It is time we call this anti-evangelistic experiment the abject failure it is and get back to being Southern Baptists.

        Ezell essentially killed apologetics in the SBC as well, and just when it was starting to get somewhere in the local churches.


          Thanks for the reply,

          I suppose my experience in SBC circles is limited, but my point is simply that from my first experince in an SBC church in 2002, in seminary, and in my most recent 7 years serving at the same SBC church, I had never heard of COSBE until reading this comment thread. From 2002-2010, Ezell was a non-factor. That’s not to say I did not perhaps in that time hear a preacher who was from COSBE…it is only to say I did no know of its existence. It simply seems to me that diminishing of Revival mentality began well before Ezell. I would say this has also been the case in the GARBC Baptist church that I grew up in, and keep in some contact with.

          However, Thank you for your continued work in Evangelism.



      Whoa! Johnathan, you have just described several SBC church plants in my area – all staffed by reformed “lead pastors” (these young guys love that title). Whoever is at fault, defunding and discouraging vocational evangelists in SBC ranks is a sad commentary on where we are headed.


Brothers, I just want to point out an inconsistency in this blog post. Please know that I am not trying to ruffle some feathers. I just want you to consider something. In this post you say that the YRR are captivated by “rock star” preachers. Yet, what you claim that the YRR are doing is actually what is presented in this article. You evan call these people you admire “legendary southern baptist heroes”. That sounds exactly like what many of you call out the Reformed crowd for. Also, I have great love for many of these men. In fact, they are the reason why I am Calvinist. The Conservative Resurgence taught me to take Scripture as authoritative and seriously. That is exactly what I did. I became a Calvinists because of what these men taught me about the nature of Scripture. I am indebted and thankful for them. God bless! (By the way, forgive me if this posted twice. I think I messed my first try up)



    I find it ironic that you would say that these men are the reason you became a Calvinist, when they were NOT Calvinists. And, they were faithful believers and teachers of the Bible, themselves. They STUDIED the Scriptures, too…and, it didn’t lead them to Calvinism. I study the Bible, and believe it….and, my studies of the Bible…just the Bible….leads me to NOT be a Calvinists. Interesting.



      And praise God we can have this conversation and still be brothers in Christ! I apologize if it looked like I said that “if you study Scripture you will become a Calvinist.” That was not my intention brother :) I know it is funny how it works. But here I am! A Calvinist and enjoying life! I am very thankful for the Conservative Resurgence! I probably would not be Reformed (or an orthodox Christian for that matter) without it!

Seth Dunn

Rick, this is all so man-centered. Why should our denomination be about you and friends (“heroes”)?

It should be about Jesus.

Calvinism doesn’t bother me. Political power grabs do.

    Allen M Rea

    Ligonier ministries will be hosting a John Knox conference for the 500th anniversary soon. A good portion of MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” conference was devoted to the views of certain Reformers. Of course, our brothers from across the aisle in Founders, will be hosting their Founders Conference soon. Would you consider these to be man-centered? Who are your heroes? Do you want the SBC to be about them?


      Allen, your response is just a tu quoque (sort of, anyway, I don’t represent any of those groups). Any selfish actions taken by John MacArthur and Ligonier don’t justify selfish actions actions takem by Connect 316.

      There’s an aisle in the statehouse, not the church house….except for the one Connect 316 is making.

      My hero is Jesus. I want the SBC to be about Him.

        Rick Patrick

        Hi Seth,

        Once again, I think you’ve interpreted my words and intentions rather uncharitably. I believe in glorifying Jesus in all that I say and do–even when I am giving honor to whom honor is due, just as we are taught in Scripture. And as for there not being an aisle in the church house, I think it is naive to suggest that denominations will not form distinctive wings or parties representing different positions within the group.

        A few years ago, it was Conservative and Moderate. In the reformation, it was Protestant and Catholic. In the New Testament, it was Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians. Thirty-one years ago, Founders formed a little group of like-minded people separating themselves from people like me. One year ago, we finally formed a group to promote the opposing view. We did not create this aisle. In fact, we were thirty years late for that party. There are genuine differences in our convention. We can acknowledge them with respect for one another, rather than shaming people and blaming people just for promoting the theological positions they hold dear. Blessings upon you and yours.



          In what kind of esteem do you hold judaizers, Catholics, and moderates (I call them liberals)? I certainly don’t esteem such.

          There’s no kind of place in Christendom, SBC or others, for their views. It seems like you’re lumping Calvinists in with them.

            Rick Patrick


            Jump to conclusions much? The intent of naming the two sides in various denominational controversies was simply to demonstrate that denominations, like secular political parties, do indeed develop caucuses of like minded individuals.

            Let me disabuse you of your assumption that I am lumping Calvinists in with the “undesirables.” For the record, I am happy that we have Calvinists in the SBC. I am also happy that we have Traditionalists. My hope is not at all that Calvinists will leave the convention, but rather that as we share the convention with one another, our denominational strategies, platform personalities, publishing, scholarship and ministry initiatives will promote BOTH theological positions in a manner that is proportional to the views held by Southern Baptists generally. To be even more specific, I believe we are a Traditionalist majority denomination overly invested in promoting Calvinistic initiatives, and that we need to restore a proper balance that will better represent and reflect the theology of the people in the pews.

        Allen M Rea

        My friend, I do not see where you answered my questions and concerns. Are you implying that our hero is not Jesus? Are you insinuating that by Connect316 taking a stand, we are the sole source of division? How is this post, or any part of C316, “selfish”? The church were I serve has an aisle and an altar. The BF&M is broad and there are obvious differences between interpretations. Will you please outline a plan and course(s) of action you would take to revive and renew your current view of the SBC to one you envision where Jesus is center.

          Johnathan Pritchett


          Don’t ask people like Seth to write thoughtful replies. It becomes harder when the flippant bumpersticker phrases like “man-centered” and “political power grab” run out.

    Kyle Gulledge

    Hi Seth,

    Thanks for your post. I do not speak for Rick but I would like to respond to your comment above.

    1.You have asked: “Why should our denomination be about you and friends (“heroes”)?”
    -First let me ask–where in this piece did Rick say that our denomination is about him and his friends? I fear you are reading into and implying more than what Rick has written.

    2. You stated: “It should be about Jesus.”
    -If you have read the piece in its entirety you would have seen that all of these men mentioned point to Jesus–as they are pastors, evangelists, and former SBC Presidents. Are you insinuating that no names should be mentioned? Should we change the names of the books of the bible because they mention men’s and women’s names? I know this last question is far reaching and I know that you don’t feel we should change the names of the books of the bible–but that question is just as silly as your statement. These 25 names that are listed are great men who have done great things for God here on this earth–how is that man-centered?

    3. You finally state: “Calvinism doesn’t bother me.”
    -With this statement you contradict yourself. You find Rick’s listing of men man-centered but not Calvinism? You do realize this is the definition, so to speak, of being man-centered–naming yourself and your theology after a man (John Calvin)–hence CALVINism. To make this less man-centered shouldn’t it be called by another name? By your own statements Calvinism should bother you.

    Blessings to you my brother.


      #1. “Where in this piece did Rick say that our denomination is about him and his friends?”

      Richard Land, for example, is a director of Connect 316. At one time, I believe Eric Hankins was as well. Another on the list has been in the employ of Emir Caner (another director).

      #2. You’re just burning down straw-men here.

      #3. “With this statement you contradict yourself

      Here are the assertions I made:

      This is all so man-centered.
      It should be about Jesus.
      Calvinism doesn’t bother me.
      Political Power grabs bother me.

      Please demonstrate a contribution in those statements.

        Kyle Gulledge

        Hey Seth, I pray the Lord has blessed you immensely today. Unfortunately you have failed to answer or make a contribution to any of the points that I made.

        1. In your newest response you said: “Richard Land, for example, is a director of Connect 316. At one time, I believe Eric Hankins was as well. Another on the list has been in the employ of Emir Caner (another director).”
        -This has nothing to do with the question I posed–please go and re-read what I posted and offer a coherent answer.

        2. You assert “You’re just burning down straw-men here.”
        -In part yes–but I also clearly stated that within my post.
        -Again you have not answered the question simply avoided it and contributed nothing more than an assertion.

        3. In your last point (and I am using the term “point” lightly) you again have ignored the question at hand that I offered. You have made no attempt to even come close to anything that resembles an answer.

        I truly appreciate your reading our blog here at SBCToday and welcome further comments and interaction–but please actually have something to say in response–I am a pastor, husband, father and student–my time is precious.

        Blessings brother.


    Johnathan Pritchett

    Yeah, certainly we should all rip Hebrews 11 out of our Bibles…it is so “man-centered.”

    When did it become “not about Jesus” to honor faithful men who were all about living for Jesus?



      Think of it like this.

      1. If Jesus does X then X is okay
      2. Jesus does X
      3. Therefore X is okay.

      That’s a perfectly valid and sound argument.

      However, in our day of heralded mega-preachers, sometimes I come across

      1. If hero man does X then X is okay
      2. Hero man does X.
      3. Therefore X is okay.

      I’ve actually been told by a pastor that If a certain megapreacher is okay with something then it MUST be okay.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Patrick,

Thanks for the post. I’m sure many more could be added. Personally, I think Mullins deserves more than an honorable mention but that’s personal preference. Also I think Mullins becomes a sort of “mixed” bag so to speak among many “trads” because of his tendency toward experiential revelation. And, after I’ve read more of F.H. Kerfoot of late, I cannot help but think he’s among one of the unsung heroes of “Traditional” Baptist notions.

Lord bless. With that, I am…

Tom Buck

I would like to know how you determined that Billy Graham would agree with the “Traditionalist” doctrinal statement. Surely it isn’t because he extended an altar call and led people in prayer as they trusted in Christ as their Lord and Savior. I know many people who are theologically Reformed in their soteriology who extend an altar call and have no problem leading someone in prayer who is coming to Christ for salvation (a prayer like the Publican who cried out to God for forgiveness in the Temple). In fact, I am one of those who does both of those things.

Have you spoken with Billy Graham and asked him if he agrees with the “Traditionalist” statement, or are you just surmising that he would? Let me share a fact about something Billy Graham HAS “signed” and endorsed. There are few books that are more Calvinistic than J I Packer’s “Knowing God.” In this book Packer explains how God elected those who would be saved from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1), and that God’s love is extended to “individual sinners” (John 3:16). He lays out a clear argument for the complete depravity of man that would absolutely contradict the “Traditionalist” position, which borders on being semi-Pelagian. In his book, Packer makes it clear in his arguments that we are born sinners and do not only become guilty when we personally commit sin (Rom. 5) and that man is completely spiritually “impotent” to do anything to please God (Rom 8) – including being able to believe the Gospel apart from a work of the Holy Spirit (John 3). Now, here is Billy Graham’s endorsement of the book: “Knowing God is must reading for any Christian who is serious about their faith. While it is theology, it is practical, and while it is profound, it is easy reading. I highly recommend it.” One might argue that Billy Graham doesn’t say that he agrees with the book, but his high recommendation is based on it being a must read for those who are “serious about their faith.” It would be strange for Billy Graham to use language about a book that is as bold about Calvinism as this book is if he were as strong a “Traditionalist” as you want your readers to believe. Name one of the other heroes on your list who would have their names with this same endorsement placed Packer’s book. As far as I am aware, Billy Graham has not said anything about the “Traditionalist” statement, let alone given any endorsement to what it espouses. This being the case, I think you should find out if Billy Graham now renounces his publicly printed support of a book that is clearly Calvinistic, and actually does agree with your “Traditional” statement – which he has never signed nor to my knowledge has publicly addressed. Otherwise, your above presentation is more than misleading. Unless you have actually asked Billy Graham about his position, I think you should put a qualification as you place him at the number one spot by saying that you are merely SURMISING that he holds your position and that his PUBLIC record actually contradicts your position. I am certain that as great a man as we all believe Billy Graham to be, you wouldn’t want to misrepresent what he truly believes – especially about something as important as essential doctrine.

In a final clarification, I don’t think anyone should be a Calvinist just because Billy Graham so boldly endorses a book that teaches it. I want people to believe what they believe because they have wrestled with the Word of God and not just embraced “traditional doctrine.” It seems clear that you are trying to persuade people to join with you and sign the “Traditionalist” statement by using names that ought to impress the reader. “These are all GREAT men, therefore I wouldn’t want to find myself going against the doctrine they believe.” While I agree that the men I know on this list are certainly great men, that is no good reason to jump on board to be on their side. I could name dozens of great men who love the Lord and I disagree with them in some area of theology (e.g. infant baptism). Surely you would want your readers to think more deeply about the Scriptures before signing your document than just agreeing with a list of men, no matter how great they might be. How about actually wrestling with the theological statements made in that document? And how about listing the pages of heroes from Church History who stand theologically in complete opposition to the document? For example, Lottie Moon? There are great men AND women from SBC history who have been on both sides of the theological fence. But the way we decide which side we will stand on shouldn’t be about picking a list of people, but by actually wrestling with what God’s Word says. That should be true whether you are a Calvinist or a “Traditionalist” or something all together different. What should persuade people to believe ANYTHING should have NOTHING to do with personalities and EVERYTHING to do with what Scripture actually teaches – or what exactly was the conservative resurgence for if we don’t point people to the very Scriptures we fought to restore?

    Tom Buck

    To clarify, I meant to say we are “unable” to believe the Gospel apart from work of the Holy Spirit.

    Rick Patrick

    Hi Tom,

    In 2007, this spoof was written announcing that Billy Graham had become a Calvinist and had been wrong all along. http://bit.ly/1E89dJE This little piece of satire proves that it is quite literally a joke to suggest that Billy Graham is a Calvinist. For more substantial evidence, please check out the video link that David Worley shared in the comment stream below. Thanks for engaging here. Blessings to you today.

Garrett O'Hara

1) #18 is a mystic. There’s no good reason to have him on this list regardless of one’s soteriological stance. The fact that the SBC has fallen in love with him and peddles him at its bookstores (and has him on this list) speaks volumes.

2) Denial of inherited guilt? Psalm 51:5 disagrees strongly. I could go on.

    Allen M Rea

    We diverge again brother. Lifeway also peddles books by MacArthur and Mohler. Is this a testament to your perceived illegitimacy? I cannot speak for others, but I have learned a great deal from the ministries of the Blackabys. Tozer was a confessed “mystic,” and Lifeway also sells his books. I am no huge endorser of our bookstore. The church that I serve does not use their literature any longer. I think it is ridiculous that I see Osteen’s when I walk in. Nonetheless, I hardly see how the SBC has “fallen in love with him”. I would much rather read Blackaby than Osteen or Hagin, wouldn’t you? I think having him on this list is wise. I recognize a distrust of Blackaby in the Y,R,R movement, though I do not actually understand it. He may use language that some are uncomfortable with, but I see no reason to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. It is often easier to cry “heretic” than “brother,” but that does not make it right. I would love to have you clarify what you mean by Blackaby’s name on this list “speaking volumes”.


      “I recognize a distrust of Blackaby in the Y,R,R movement, though I do not actually understand it.”

      Allen – In my interactions with New Calvinists in my area, I have found them to have a mistrust in personal experience. Thus, they distrust the focus of Blackaby’s ministry on experiencing God. I find that Christian attitude a bit strange … there is nothing mystical about having a personal relationship/experience with Christ! I hear very little in the way of testimonies from New Calvinists of a direct experience of grace … an initial point in time when penitent sinner met a forgiving Savior and an ongoing experience of walking with the Lord. On the other hand, I hear much about an intellectual conversion to the doctrines of grace … following a period of time in which the mind yielded to and embraced such teachings. When I have shared my salvation encounter with the living Christ through repentance, belief and faith, I have had some reformed folks stare at me like raccoons caught in the headlights of a car (the mistrust in personal experience I referred to). Strange days, indeed, in the Southern Baptist Convention … some of the “heroes” listed by Rick would not recognize it.


    Hi Garrett,

    Psalm 51 also talks about being cleansed with hyssop. Can you come up with a less “poetic man talking to God”–proof text –for inherited guilt?

Allen M Rea

I read, recommend, and give away copies of MacArthur’s books; however, that does not make me a Calvinist. Packer’s “Knowing God” is without doubt a classic. I have read and enjoyed the book. I learned from the book. Nevertheless, that does not mean that I espouse and endorse the entirety of the author’s theology. Professors write blurbs on the back of books frequently. They may even say great things about the book in a review in a theological journal. They are endorsing the author’s work, not everything about the author. I have been to Graham’s “Cove” many times. They give away a plethora of books and sale a myriad of them. I fear if I follow your logic, we would have to label Graham as an eccentric ecumenical with no real foundation. Authors that espouse theology that I disagree with write great books. Don’t you think this could be the scenario with Graham’s recommendation of “Knowing God”?


    I have quoted Luther and Calvin in my sermons, and on FB. That doesn’t make me a Calvinist, either. They were just good quotes.


    Tom Buck

    At face value, I agree with what you are writing. Billy Graham enthusiastically endorses a book that is fundamentally Calvinistic and is not on record of supporting anything that would indicate that he denies inheriting Adamic guilt. Knowing God is more than just a book written by a Calvinist, it asserts ALL of its teaching on Calvinistic doctrine. Nevertheless, the position that the above article is taking is that Billy Graham is the number one hero that supports their “Traditional” doctrine, yet there is ZERO evidence that he would – in fact, I present more evidence that he possibly disagrees with their position. And there is a difference in selling books you recommend to read and endorsing a book that is COMPLETELY Calvinistic as being fundamental for the mature Christian to read.

peter lumpkins

Dr. Patrick, 
How unbelievably odd so much criticism could be logged for mentioning a couple dozen+ names of Southern Baptists who’ve held, according to your judgment at least, the core principles of what you and this community call “Traditional theology” contra Calvinism. While one critic exposes what he presumably deems a contradiction (“what you claim that the YRR are doing is actually what is presented in this article”) another implicates you as doing nothing more in this piece than promoting a “political power grab.” Let’s see if we can take these and more one by one: 
“what you claim that the YRR are doing is actually what is presented in this article” No. What Patrick clearly is doing in this piece is trying to even the ledger so to speak. He clearly writes, “a generation of legendary Southern Baptist heroes…is in danger of being overlooked as role models…their names and contributions are fading into the background as we shine our spotlight on the newest reformed superstars.” Far from the proverbial pot calling the kettle black phenomenon, while Patrick acknowledges YRR has its heroes, so to speak, we’d like to recognize some who’re in danger of being both “overlooked” and “fading into the background.” 
“this is all so man-centered…should be about Jesus…Political power grabs [bother me].” Recognizing men and/or women for the extraordinary service they accomplish is necessarily “man-centered” in what way exactly? Our Lord said “Let you light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16, embolden added). While a line surely could and can be crossed when too much weight is placed on human accomplishments, how exactly is suggesting that a person is a theological role model crossing the line? Furthermore, the worst possible presumption is pushed upon the motives Dr. Patrick had in posting this piece. Rather than Dr. Patrick posting it to balance out what he believes is a neglect of certain accomplishments of non-Calvinistic Southern Baptists, the critic reduces Patrick’s piece into some sort of “political power grab” whatever under the blue sky that’s supposed to mean. But whatever it means, it’s surely not a compliment. Nor is it remotely relevant. 
“I would like to know how you determined that Billy Graham would agree with the “Traditionalist” doctrinal statement. Surely it isn’t because he extended an altar call and led people in prayer as they trusted in Christ. I know many people who are theologically Reformed in their soteriology who extend an altar call and have no problem leading someone in prayer who is coming to Christ for salvation.” Yes, and I know them too. However, if the critic can show that there’s as many “Trads” who have argued against altar calls and the “sinner’s prayer” than Calvinists, his point might have some teeth. The fact is, almost all resistance concerning invitations and the “sinner’s prayer” has come from his side of the aisle. Seems to me, he ought to be praising this particular point not pitching darts if he’s in agreement with it. 
“Have you spoken with Billy Graham and asked him if he agrees with the “Traditionalist” statement, or are you just surmising that he would?” Anytime the critic or another Calvinist would like to demonstrate Billy Graham is actually a Calvinist, many of us would welcome the evidence put forward. Nor is it even relevant Graham recommended Packer’s Knowing God. For heaven’s sake, I recommend Packer’s Knowing God! Several years ago I made it a practice to read Packer’s classic through at least once a year. Knowing God may be Packer’s greatest literary contribution. Perhaps I might give certain folk a ‘heads up’ about his very decided Calvinism; nonetheless I would not hesitate to recommend it. So what’s the point? To conclude as the critic does, “It would be strange for Billy Graham to use language about a book that is as bold about Calvinism as this book is if he were as strong a “Traditionalist” as you want your readers to believe” simply put is cloddish criticism. Moreover, I wonder if the critic would think Norm Geisler would not have theological reservations about the author who penned this book he highly recommended
‘“I want people to believe what they believe because they have wrestled with the Word of God and not just embraced “traditional doctrine.” It seems clear that you are trying to persuade people to join with you and sign the “Traditionalist” statement by using names that ought to impress the reader.’ Wanting people to believe what they believe because they “wrestled with the Word of God” and not merely have ‘embraced “traditional doctrine”’ is relevant to Patrick’s piece in what way? The critic tacitly assumes Dr. Patrick is promoting a message that says, “Don’t read your Bibles, folks. Read especially these traditional guys instead!” Where on Sam’s Hill he got such a notion just because a list of non-Calvinist men which the author felt was being ignored was posted to commend their great service, the critic needs to reveal. Given this type of cobbled standard, no one on the planet could remotely mention the kind or good or helpful or extraordinary acts of another human being without somebody, somewhere yelling, “Citizen’s A Ra Est! Citizen’s A Ra Est!” 
I may be entirely wrong. But the critics thus far come across to me as just wanting to bicker about something. There’s just no teeth in the claims logged thus far. 
With that, I am…

    Tom Buck

    Ah, Peter, you help to make my point. The issue is not whether Billy Graham is a Calvinist. I actually don’t think he is. I wrote my response with a little “tongue in cheek” and actually poking at the gaul to place Billy Graham as the number one hero without any evidence that he actually would be in the camp of “Traditionalists.” I think the onus is actually on Dr. Patrick and you, since you have engaged yourself into this argument, to put forth evidence that Billy Graham would agree with the document that Dr. Patrick asks people to sign. He clearly indicates that those on this list would agree with that statement, although he identifies those who have actually signed it with an asterisk. Clearly those with an asterisk have publicly declared that they deny the doctrine of inherited Adamic guilt, but what right does the author have to assume that those who have not signed it are with that position? Before he puts their name on a list of heroes for that position, should he not be required to evidence that they actually espouse such a view? There are all kinds of problems with his article – such as lumping Lottie Moon in with “Traditionalists” and saying that no professor at any time in the history of SWBTS has EVER taught inherited Adamic guilt? If I were a betting man, I would be willing to wager a huge chunk of change to be donated to Lottie Moon Offering against that one. So, Peter, are you willing to hold your standard to Dr. Patrick that you are to me? I will readily admit that I don’t believe Billy Graham is a Calvinist. Will you call upon Dr. Patrick to prove – or will you yourself prove – that Billy Graham denies the inherited guilt of Adam?

      peter lumpkins

      “I think the onus is actually on Dr. Patrick and you, since you have engaged yourself into this argument, to put forth evidence that Billy Graham would agree with the document that Dr. Patrick asks people to sign.” Excuse me? Where in the piece did Dr. Patrick suggest that all of the men he mentioned would agree with all that’s in the document? He specifically wrote, “This list explores 25 of the most influential Southern Baptists in history who have clearly disaffirmed Calvinism. It’s not just the Trad statement he mentions. In fact, again Patrick made it clear some in the list actually did not sign the statement by alerting the reader to note the asterisk beside the ones who did. So how you conclude I “prove your point” is not so obvious, Tom.

      What is more, to follow your logic, Dr. Patrick was actually discouraging people from signing the document since the number one Trad in the list–Billy Graham–has not signed it. “Hence,” the reader concludes, why should I?” What a double Georgia Hoot!

      And, for the life of me, I cannot even understand your point about “Adamic guilt” being read into this discussion thus far much less why you think I’m somehow giving Dr. Patrick a supposed free pass on something.

      Now, unless you’ve something relevant to what either I’ve written or you can show the OP claims, I bib you a very good day.

      With that, I am…

        Tom Buck

        You ask me, “Where in the piece did Dr. Patrick suggest that all of the men he mentioned would agree with all that’s in the document?” Then you quote a section of Dr. Patrick’s blog that you think undermines my question to you. But maybe you should have read further. If you have read down to the sentence RIGHT BEFORE he lists the 25 people with Billy Graham being the number one hero, you read this sentence: “If you wish to identify theologically with the doctrines and ministries of those who are listed, you may register your convictions by signing the Traditional Statement HERE.” I think it is crystal clear that he is indicating that to identify theologically with Billy Graham that you should sign the Traditional Statement. Who on earth would even begin to think that Dr. Patrick meant that anyone on that list might disagree with that statement if that is what I sign to agree with them? So hopefully now it is completely obvious that you have proved my point. I appreciate it.

        I am sorry if you didn’t understand the theological point about inheriting Adam’s guilt, but that is exactly what the Traditionalist Statement denies. Dr. Patrick said that no one has ever taught that at SWBTS. I find that very difficult to believe and even more impossible to prove. I bet I can a professor in one day that teaches it on that campus even now. My point was quite clear: You tell me to prove that Billy Graham isn’t a Calvinist, while Dr. Patrick clearly implies that he adheres to the Traditional Statement and we should sign IT if we want to align theologically with HIM. Do you call upon him to prove that Billy Graham agrees with it, of course no. Dr. Patrick claims that someone has proven that no one at SWBTS has ever taught inherited guilt, but you will not call upon him to document his claim. It’s okay, Peter, we understand why you don’t. You and many of those in the 316 crowd are about propaganda and nothing to do with the real pursuit of truth. I can deal with that, if you can.

          Rick Patrick

          “Garrett explains…’I have known, I believe, every person who has taught theology as a full faculty member since 1949, and I cannot identify any one of these who taught that we are all guilty of the sin of Adam (and Eve), with one possible exception.’ It is the testimony of Dr. Garrett that for over 100 years the theology faculty at SWBTS has affirmed: we are not guilty of Adam’s sin.” (Adam Harwood, John 3:16 Presentation, http://bit.ly/10ceRva)

          Tom, I will grant you that Garrett’s memory is not infallible, and that he did mention one *possible* exception. Still, it is fair to say that Southwestern has consistently taught the Inherited Sinful Nature without Inherited Guilt view—and for a long time.

          Peter Lumpkins

          Sorry, Tom. It’s neither about my supposed “proving your point” nor about not understanding your “theological point”. Instead it’s about the burnt beans you’ve brought to the table. So far, about all you’ve done is a) agreed that Billy Graham is not a Calvinist; b) but demanded nonetheless we prove he’s not. I’ll let others figure out the logic of that one.

          With that, I am…


    hmmmm. One man’s criticism is another man’s conversation.


I love the list. As a graduate of Mid-America I hold Dr. Gray Allison as a hero for Southern Baptists. His stance was rock solid and his demeanor was irenic.

Bill Mac

I think I too, would like to see additional evidence that Billy Graham is not a Calvinist. Like Tom, I doubt he is, but I think only basing that on the fact that he has altar calls and sinners prayer is thin evidence. I understand that lots of Calvinists don’t use these methods but I’m sure some do.

Honestly, when discussing Billy Graham, I’m not so interested in how Calvinistic he is but rather how Southern Baptist he is. I know he is technically SBC, but I frankly know little of his SBC life. Not that there isn’t anything, just that I’ve never read it.

Johnathan Pritchett

This is an impressive and interesting list.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t add my $0.02 of two people that would surely belong on my own list were I to draw one up like this. For me, Drs. Braxton and Harold Hunter would be up there in my top 25.

The elder, of course, has spent over 30 years in both the academic and evangelistic setting, leading hundreds and hundreds of people a month to the Lord through Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary’s Trinity Crusades program (STILL the ONLY seminary with full time evangelism), as well as the suicide prevention engagements that he also led. To be sure, now having faithfully served as President of Trinity for the past nine years, he continues to lead our school with unwavering Traditionalist theology. Who could forget his blistering message in the COSBE service at the Convention in 2011, directly challenging limited atonement in front of the “who’s who” SBC Calvinists?

Braxton Hunter continues this legacy of scholarship and evangelism, leading hundreds to the Lord every month while often serving as a private tutor to many Traditionalists both in the pew and on faculty positions at SBC seminaries. To be sure, as the youngest ever President of COSBE, when it comes to academics coupled with evangelistic zeal in the Traditionalist camp, I am not sure that the Lord has graced any other person with such a fruitful ministry in all these different areas. It is worth noting also that he is one of the rare few contemporary signers of the Traditionalist Statement that has engaged in formal, moderated public debates or discussions on the issue of Calvinism and Calvinism in the SBC against Calvinist opponents, and that is on top of his duties as Executive Vice President of Trinity, teaching courses at the seminary, co-pastoring a local church, and being on the road week after week holding revivals.

Anyway, I only mention it because these men are too humble to speak about the success and influence of their ministries themselves. In any case, God is good and has blessed these two men and their work for the Kingdom. While they never seek recognition themselves, I just thought I would bring it up because I recognize it and think they should be honored as well among the great Traditionalists. :)


I believe that the question about Billy Graham is answered at about the 9:30 minute mark and following. Just listen to this sermon.



    Thanks David. I continue to be amazed at the positions some folks take to defend/support their theology. Now, they’re trying to drag Billy Graham into the mess! When will this madness end?!

Ron F. Hale

I especially like the message at 23:40 and forward about the Cross!


Andy Williams


Thank you for the list. It brings my attention to some names I haven’t heard of. I don’t think it is man-centered to honor those who have labored in preaching the Gospel, and to hold forth their efforts as worthy of emulation.

I Do wish you sentence about Lottie Moon and AW Criswell were simply left out of this post. It would have been a stronger post. Both of these, as you note, have said things that either a calvinist or a non-calvinist could say, Criswell explicitly affirming predestination and claiming to be a calvinist, though he likely was perhaps a 2-3 pointer. My point is simply that if your stated desire is to avoid the extremes of both Calvinism and Arminianism…then people like criswell seemed to do that, but in a way that would most likely have prevented him from signing the traditional statement. He simply preached the Predestination passages like a calvinist, and the Whosoever will passages like a traditionalist. I suspect that a modern-day preacher who preached the way Criswell did would not be identified as a traditionalist.

I with there was more room for people like that in our current discussions. For my part, given the 3 primary positions on Election (Unconditional to salvation, conditional based on foreseen faith, and Corporate only…Christ is the elect and all who believe are elect in him), I remain convinced that unconditional individual election to salvation seems to best fit the biblical text (as it seemed, so did Criswell)…but beyond that, I don’t claim to have a system worked out, and think many calvinists take the system too far. I hold those passages in tension with texts in which Jesus says to Jerusalem, “I willed that you would come to me, but you willed it not.

But again, thanks for the list.



    “… many calvinists take the system too far.”

    And everybody said AMEN! (or should have)

    The annals of organized religion are cluttered with various groups that have taken their systems too far … this is not limited to Calvinists. At last count, there are some 40,000+ Protestant denominations worldwide – separated by theological difference! While man still defends “his” way as “the” way, Scripture reminds us “they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.” Ahhh … but the question Pilate asked Jesus still rings through our seminaries and churches “What is truth?” I have my opinion about that, but in the meantime you will find me worshiping Jesus and relying on the Holy Spirit to lead me into Truth … while I shake off the clutter of the teachings and traditions of men. The Word (Truth) + Spirit of Truth = Revealed Truth … Southern Baptists sure need a good dose of revelation right now. Religious debate has distracted us from our mission as a lost world dies without Christ.


I have read “Knowing God” several times and thought it was very interesting and well written. I do not understand the view that blurbing a book or even recommending it means you agree with it totally. Don’t we all read such books to understand other views or to make us think deeper about what we believe and why?

Speaking of Packer, that man has blurbed more books than just about anyone in Christendom. What does that mean?


Well, I guess we should give this article for everyone to consider….in the name of full disclosure. ;)



    David – Beware of a religious news source which refers to itself as “Satirical blog news pointing to truth through humor.” I find nothing humorous in this satire of Rev. Graham. As far as “pointing to truth”, if it actually happened more trusted sources of news at the time would have been abuzz. (Of course, I suspect you understand this by your winky smile).


Speaking of Henry Blackaby, SBC might consider “Experiencing God” again … if and when Southern Baptists get tired of experiencing each other.

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