Since the announcement was made that Ken Hemphill will be nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention at that body’s 2018 meeting in June in Dallas, many excellent reasons for him to be elected have been explained. I believe there is another compelling argument for Dr. Hemphill’s election as president . . . the proven fact that he has already demonstrated excellent, effective leadership during a time of terrible crisis in our denomination.
Ken Hemphill’s “trial by fire” took place when he was chosen to be president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary after Russell Dilday was fired. In that aftermath of the Dilday termination, Southwestern was thrown into chaotic crisis. The seminary’s future was uncertain. Dr. Hemphill took on the thankless task of attempting to lead Southwestern out of the dangerous morass in which the institution floundered. And his leadership through that terribly dark period was masterful and effective.
Dr. Hemphill held the seminary together, held the diverse seminary community together, built bridges between people, and brought reconciliation where reconciliation had seemed impossible. He helped the seminary regain its strength and made it a viable academic institution again.
And he accomplished all this without compromising the importance of the veracity of God’s Word. He even persuaded several to “tighten up” their allegiance to Scripture and strengthen their commitment to it. (And, it must be said, he persuaded others to “lighten up” in their rhetoric and let healing begin.)
I know this because I was there. Had it not been for Ken Hemphill, the seminary that so many of us love so much could very well have failed to recover from its greatest crisis. Because of him, and the Lord’s blessing upon Hemphill’s excellent leadership, and because of the movement of the Spirit of God, the seminary not only survived, it thrived. I will never forget how Ken immersed himself into the daily life of the seminary, winning the hearts of the students, their families, and even casual guests in the dining hall.
How I thank God for this brilliant capable, and yet humble man of God!
Ken Hemphill has proven that he has the ability to effectively lead a large Southern Baptist institution . . . even in the worst of times. How wise we will be if we select him to lead our great denomination through the days that lie ahead!
In this article announcing that Bossier City, La pastor Brad Jurkovich will nominate Dr. Hemphill for president is an ever-growing list of those officially endorsing Dr. Ken Hemphill for President of the SBC.
Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Executive Director, Connect 316
Publisher, SBC Today
Evidence of J.D. Greear’s Reformed theological leanings was never an issue in the 2016 SBC Presidential election. After it was all over, an article in Christianity Today made the following observations, which never drew any rebuttals from Greear:
Gaines is “a traditionalist on evangelism, the need for personal commitment to Christ in salvation, and the commonly held Baptist soteriology of the past century,” noted Eric Reed, editor of the Illinois Baptist, while Greear’s leadership is more contemporary and more Reformed. [emphasis added]
Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, which has grown in worship attendance from 350 to almost 10,000 during his 14 years there. Summit is a member of the Acts 29 church planting network, and has planted 26 churches in conjunction with the SBC’s North American Mission Board. [emphasis added]
When SBC Today considers Greear to be a Calvinist, we base such a view on Greear’s associations with the Calvinist-only Acts 29 Network, the perception of Christianity Today and many other news reports that Greear is more Reformed, Greear’s association with groups like The Gospel Coalition and Nine Marks, and various sermons in which Calvinistic doctrines are espoused.
In fact, Greear is even called “a strong Calvinist” in this article by The Christian Post.
If SBC Today is wrong about Greear being a Calvinist, then we are in very good company. The prevailing view in Southern Baptist life and in the evangelical world at large is that J.D. Greear is indeed a Calvinist.
If he is not one, then he is more than welcome to remove all doubt on this point by joining Steve Gaines and Ken Hemphill, along with over 1,300 other Southern Baptists, in signing the most attested confessional statement Southern Baptists have ever produced other than The Baptist Faith and Message, namely, A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.
Also, we have J.D. Greear’s own words, in the introduction to a sermon on Romans 9, that certainly leave open the door for the acceptance of Calvinistic doctrine:
“I would never dogmatically say I am not a Calvinist because I think so many aspects of the classic doctrines of grace are an inexorable part of the gospel and I think John Calvin was probably the finest theologian, or at least in the top 3 or 4, the Christian Church has ever known.”
So at least we can say that Greear is not “not a Calvinist,” whereas in the case of Gaines and Hemphill, they both clearly disaffirm Calvinism.
More specifically to Wilson’s clarification, his article is entitled The Top 125 Influences on the Gospel-Centered Movement. Wilson later clarifies the term gospel-centered, which is frequently used elsewhere as synonymous with Calvinism, by stating:
I tried to think keenly about all the folks whose voices have given shape to this still-developing movement, sometimes called “young restless and Reformed” (YRR), “neo-Reformed,” “gospel-centered,” etc.
Perhaps it will help Wilson to grasp our view if he understands three things from the perspective of SBC Today.
First of all, each of his three descriptions above define a theological understanding we call Calvinism. If Wilson wants to split hairs so that YRR, Neo-Reformed, and Gospel-Centered are no longer terms for New Calvinism, then he needs to start defining such terms and using them in more distinct ways. As it stands, we lump these descriptions together.
Secondly, when we refer broadly to Calvinism, we are typically encompassing both its Four-Point and its Five-Point manifestations. Many of us are not persuaded that even Calvin himself believed in Limited Atonement. So when we use the term “Calvinist” we take in Amyraldists as well.
Thirdly, apart from theological considerations, we have a logical and rhetorical problem with the notion that anyone could be among the 125 strongest “influences” upon a movement while disaffirming the movement itself, which, by the way, we have already shown that Greear is unwilling to do. How exactly does one meaningfully “influence” the scope and direction and promotion and growth of a movement without in some sense directly participating with it as at least something of an adherent?
Let us consider the names on Wilson’s list and ask: “Are they either a Four Point Calvinist or a Five Point Calvinist?” Because of space concerns, we will not look at every name on the entire list, but we can at least go down to Greear’s name at #52.
Are These People Either Four Point Calvinists or Five Point Calvinists?
1. John Piper—YES
2. Matt Chandler—YES
3. Tim Keller—YES
4. R.C. Sproul—YES
5. Mark Driscoll—YES
6. Al Mohler—YES
7. D.A. Carson—YES
8. John MacArthur—YES
9. Justin Taylor—YES
10. Francis Chan—YES
11. Tullian Tchividjian—YES
12. Collin Hansen—YES
13. Tim Challies—YES
14. Russell Moore—YES
15. C.J. Mahaney—YES
16. Wayne Grudem—YES
18. David Platt—YES
19. Jen Wilkin—YES
20. Jerry Bridges—YES
21. Thabiti Anyabwile—YES
22. Mark Dever—YES
23. Paul Tripp—YES
24. J.I. Packer—YES
25. Kevin DeYoung—YES
26. Ligon Duncan—YES
27. Michael Horton—YES
28. Ben Peays—YES
29. Paul Washer—YES
30. Elyse Fitzpatrick—YES
31. Voddie Baucham—YES
32. Bryan Chapell—YES
33. Sinclair Ferguson—YES
34. Timothy George—YES
35. Ann Voskamp—YES
36. James White—YES
37. Keith and Kristyn Getty—YES
38. Joshua Harris—YES
39. Ed Stetzer—YES
40. Bruce Ware—YES
41. Bob Kauflin—YES
42. Derek Thomas—YES
43. Crawford Lorritts—YES
44. Tony Reinke—YES
45. Eric Mason—YES
46. Trevin Wax—YES
47. Tom Schreiner—YES
48. Darrin Patrick—YES
49. Derek Webb—YES
50. Gloria Furman—YES
51. Thom Rainer—YES
52. J.D. Greear—?????
In a series of tweets recently, Wilson denied calling Greear a “Calvinist.” He took issue with a VOTER GUIDE we posted earlier in the campaign alleging that his inclusion of Greear on this list identified Greear as a Calvinist. He called it a fabrication. We do concede that, technically, Wilson did not use the specific word “Calvinist.” This much is granted. The statement was not a direct quote of Wilson. It was not placed in quotation marks. Rather, it was merely a summary description of Wilson’s list full of New Calvinist Influencers. Frankly, we invite Wilson to indicate which of his 125 influencers are merely Three Pointers or less. There could not possibly be very many, for this is basically a list of Calvinist leaders.
In light of Greear’s refusal to disaffirm Calvinism, in light of the media reports describing Greear as a Calvinist, in light of Greear’s many associations with Calvinist groups, in light of Greear’s sermon recordings with Calvinistic teachings, and in light of Greear’s noteworthy “influence” upon the movement of New Calvinism as evidenced by his inclusion on a list which appears to consist entirely of influential Calvinists, we are left to conclude that J.D. Greear is indeed a Calvinist.
Just in case all of the preceding arguments fail to persuade the reader, consider this statement by Greear, proving beyond a doubt that he affirms the monergistic, Calvinistic doctrine of regeneration before faith:
It takes the illumination of God’s Spirit and his regenerative work inside our hearts before we will ever believe. (J.D. Greear, Breaking the Islam Code, Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, OR, 21.)
All of this begs the question: “Why is Greear working so hard to disassociate himself from Calvinism?” On this matter, SBC Today will leave our readers to speculate and draw their own conclusions.
Jerry Drace, evangelist and bivocational pastor from Jackson, Tennessee, will be nominated for second vice president of the SBC by Ernest Easley, Professor of Evangelism at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee. Jerry has been a vocational evangelist since 1975. During this time he has served two terms as the president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. For the past eight years, in addition to the ministry of the Jerry Drace Evangelistic Association, he has served as the bivocational pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Friendship, Tennessee, located a few miles north of Jackson.
Friendship Baptist Church gives nine percent of its total budget through the Cooperative Program, in addition to supporting the Lottie Moon Offering, the Annie Armstrong Offering, and the Golden State Mission Offering of Tennessee. Friendship Baptist Church ministers to approximately forty percent of the residents of Friendship each week.
Jerry grew up as the son of a Southern Baptist pastor. He graduated from Union University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Golden Gate Theological Seminary, now Gateway Seminary.
Jerry is the author of two books: From the Heart of a Father and 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage. He is the editor of the Hope for the Home Study Bible published in 2009 and used in churches throughout the United States and Scotland. As an evangelist and pastor, he supports The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
Jerry has served as a guest lecturer at a majority of our Southern Baptist seminaries and has spoken on numerous university campuses in the Southern Baptist Convention. He has spoken at the International Congress on Preaching at Westminster Chapel, London, England; Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England; and Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Jerry has preached in approximately one thousand Southern Baptist churches and conducted numerous international missions and crusades. He has served as a Chaplain Coordinator for the Rapid Response Team with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and has served as the State Director of Tennessee for the Franklin Graham Decision America Tour.
Jerry has also served as an adjunct professor at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee, and Anderson University, Anderson, South Carolina. Jerry and his wife Becky have two children and five grandchildren.