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.
Pastor and Messenger
Calvary Baptist Church
[Publisher’s Note: Some readers supportive of this conversation have nevertheless questioned invoking the name of Mormon talk show host Glenn Beck. While the author is more than willing to reword this and other sections, readers should know that his Resolution has already been submitted to the Resolutions Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. It is now theirs to amend, reword, combine or decline. It is also worth reiterating that the goal of the author and every well-meaning Christian commenter is certainly to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8) The question is not whether we promote concern for the poor, compassion for the needy, help for the hungry, healing for the sick, and justice for the oppressed. The question is about exactly which philosophy we embrace while pursuing these worthy and biblical aims. As a reminder, in our ABOUT US section, one finds the following explanation of our posting policy: “SBC Today does not necessarily endorse all that is written on this blog, not only in the comments section, but even in the articles themselves. Within reason, we want to encourage the free expression of a broad range of ideas.” Our brother and fellow laborer in the Lord has presented this motion for the consideration of our Resolutions Committee. Therefore, we present it for the consideration of our readers as well. While it is thought-provoking and even controversial, we hope the conversation can foster greater understanding as we all seek to love our neighbor as ourselves and glorify Christ.]
Whereas the social justice movement and worldview are being promoted worldwide, and are being presented using various labels such as eco-justice, economic justice, racial justice, and global justice, to name a few, and
Whereas social justice by definition is based on the anti-biblical and destructive concepts of Marxist ideology, and among other things is interested in redistributing wealth, opportunity, and privileges within society, and
Whereas social justice activism should be considered evil in that it is a vehicle to promote abortion, homosexuality, gender confusion, and a host of other ideas that are antithetical to the gospel, the Christian worldview, and God’s call to holiness (1 Peter 1:16), and
Whereas social justice is now being promoted and enforced by governments worldwide, with Canada being one example that as of 2011 developed Social Justice Tribunals, and is seeking to enforce Bill C-16, a bill passed in 2017 that in application sees it as a hate crime to use the wrong gender pronoun to describe an individual, and
Whereas social justice is deceptive, in that well-meaning Christians become unwittingly drawn into such ideology under the false assumption that social justice equates to standing up for people’s rights and compassion, and
Whereas social justice is based on Marxism and Postmodernism, and should be opposed because of its anti-biblical stance and worldview, and although Christians are attempting to blend social justice with Christianity, they must realize that to accept social justice ideology is to invite liberal theology and liberation theology into our churches, schools, and institutions, and
Whereas authoritative voices have warned against such, for example on the May 2010 “Glenn Beck Program” when Jerry Falwell Jr., declared that social justice was “insidious,” and Glenn Beck warned of a “perversion of the gospel” and called on Christians to “run as fast as you can” away from churches who start teaching social justice because of the toxic nature of social justice, and
Whereas social justice is showing it’s true colors at George Washington University and other campuses in 2018 where they are holding classes and seminars seeking to combat “Christian Privilege,” and attacking Christianity for it’s prominence in society using the social justice ethic, wherein the seminar at GWU students are taught “American Christians receive things they don’t deserve and are not worthy of getting,” and
Whereas Southern Baptists ought to furthermore be warned by the example of the Methodist and Episcopal denominations that have already embraced the social justice movement, and instead of growing in number, these same denominations continue to lose membership at an alarmingly fast rate, and
Whereas we have a present crisis point in the Southern Baptist Convention, in that the same social justice has been recently defended and promoted by Russell Moore of the ERLC within the Southern Baptist Convention, with Dr. Moore writing multiple articles and hosting events promoting social justice, and
Whereas the social justice agenda in the Southern Baptist Convention has become pervasive in some seminaries and state conventions, even to the point that it is apparently an unwritten rule not to speak against the social justice movement, or one’s job or position will be in jeopardy, and
Whereas social justice and Christian ethics are clearly antithetical to each other in the areas of tolerance, sexuality, gender, human life beginning at conception, and in general the role of a believer and the purpose for good works being to glorify God, and
Whereas social justice differs from the New Testament in that social justice expresses compassion for certain groups they deem as “victims” while hating those with whom they disagree, rather than following the command of Christ to love everyone, and especially our enemies (Matthew 5:44), and
Whereas social justice warriors routinely shut down speech that they disagree with, often with violence as part of their “social justice,” instead of “seeking to live at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18) and
Whereas social justice destroys lives by convincing people they are victims who are right to magnify even the most minor of offenses, and to note every disagreement or slight as a “microaggression,” and to complain rather than obey scripture and “count it all joy,” (James 1:2) and
Whereas our own denomination must reject this harmful social justice philosophy in it’s entirety, and
Whereas biblical doctrine and the Christian ethic must be chosen over social justice, then be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Dallas, Texas, June 13–14, 2018, decry and reject the terms and framework of social justice as insufficient to adequately reflect the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Christian worldview; and be it further
RESOLVED That the entities of the Southern Baptist Convention be encouraged to avoid the terms “social justice” and social justice warrior” when referring to Christian ethics or activism, and that the Holy Scriptures be used as a guide without mimicking the verbiage of the Anti-Christian social justice movement, and be it
RESOLVED That all SBC Colleges and Universities be encouraged to review their teaching programs with special attention given to Humanities Departments to ensure that Marxist based social justice is not being taught in our colleges, universities, and seminaries, and be it
RESOLVED, That we encourage churches in preaching, teaching, and in discipleship to address the issues of racial reconciliation, poverty, the environment, sexual and gender issues, immigration, and education from a Christian worldview and reject the ideological underpinnings and verbiage of the social justice movement.
Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Executive Director, Connect 316
Publisher, SBC Today
In the midst of today’s #MeToo society, Paige Patterson is not being charged with committing any type of abuse at all. Take a moment to let that sink in. He did not touch someone inappropriately. He has not been unfaithful to his wife. He is not being charged with the same kind of offenses that dozens of other well-known men have been charged with over the past year. Instead, over a lifetime of ministry, he has been charged with making a few careless statements, for which he has offered his clarification and expressed [his sincere regret].
Because one must always consider the source, it is worth mentioning that in the case currently before the SBC, those calling for action based on inaccurate information have been stirred up by Ed Stetzer, a former SBC employee with a history of criticizing Patterson, and Jonathan Merritt, a former associate minister who was [outed as a homosexual by his former lover Azariah Southworth in 2012]. Primarily, these are the two people behind the attacks on the Father of the Conservative Resurgence. In light of their personal histories, one could be forgiven for suspecting a hidden agenda is at work here.
For the most part, Patterson’s critics have offered two major accusations, both of which are manifestly false, despite the “success” of Twitter in rapidly spreading this misinformation, and the willingness of the mainstream media to promote the story in a manner consistent with its usual liberal bias. (I am referring to the Washington Post, with its close ties to Russell Moore, and to Christianity Today, with its close ties to Ed Stetzer.)
False Charge One: Did Patterson Knowingly Advise an Abused Woman to Return to Her Abuser?
Evidence exists of Patterson in a 2000 interview inaccurately recounting that he once told a woman being abused to go back into the home and simply pray by her bedside for her husband, at which point she suffered the abuse of two black eyes. The climax of the story was that the husband came to church, trusting in Jesus for salvation, and restoring their marriage, such that there was never again any abuse. Of course, the concern is that in Patterson’s original yet false recounting of the story, he supposedly advised a woman he knew was being abused to go back into the home of her abuser rather than separate from her husband and contact the authorities. We now know Patterson did no such thing. Yes, he advised a woman to pray for her husband, but he had no idea at the time that she was being physically abused.
All of this was clarified in an [April 30 article by Baptist Press]. Patterson admitted that he had previously misstated the facts, thus revealing the false nature of the narrative now being spread far and wide on social media:
According to [an article by David Allen], this counseling situation took place 54 years ago. Patterson would have been only 21 or 22. Frankly, this helps explain his difficulty in accurately recounting the story after all these years. Despite such fuzzy details, Patterson’s clarification really should settle the matter. He has admitted that he botched the story when he told it back in 2000, that he had not suspected any physical abuse when asking the woman to pray by her bedside, and that knowingly sending a woman back to her abuser’s bedroom in no way reflects his belief regarding the proper handling of spousal abuse.
This event from 1964 recounted poorly by Patterson in 2000 simply did not happen the way it is being reported on social media and picked up by the mainstream press. As one who has on many occasions recounted events poorly, I do not believe this is the unpardonable sin. Patterson’s clarification on April 30 is a correction of his own false statement in the 2000 interview. When he gave this woman the advice to pray by her bedside, he did not know or suspect she had suffered any physical abuse. This changes the entire narrative. According to Patterson’s clarification, he never knowingly sent an abused woman back to her abuser’s bedroom.
False Charge Two: Did Patterson “Objectify” a Teenage Girl or Illustrate the Creation of Woman?
Evidence also exists of Patterson sharing a story in a 2014 sermon in which he was explaining the difference between two Hebrew words in the creation account. Adam was “formed” like basic pottery, while Eve was “fashioned” like a palace or a work of art. Eve was crafted beautifully and artistically for Adam. She was “made” for him. She was “built” for him. However, Adam was not made for Eve in the same way at all.
In the course of sharing this word study in his sermon, Patterson told the story of a mother speaking to him in the presence of her teenage son. An attractive sixteen year-old girl passed by. As Patterson recounted the story for the congregation, he told them that the girl who had passed by that day was “nice.” He meant it in the sense that she was pretty and not simply that she was pleasant in her disposition. As he continued the story, Patterson said the teenage boy remarked that the girl was “built.” His mother scolded her son for saying so, while Patterson joked that actually the young man was making an accurate biblical observation. God “fashioned” women to be beautiful in form so that teenage boys would notice and desire them. God’s plan was always for humans to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Thus, He “designed” or “built” women in a way that is visually and aesthetically pleasing to men.
Granted, in today’s world, it can be hard to distinguish between the creepy “objectifying” of women and girls and the healthy “noticing” that someone is attractive. Some have objected to Patterson’s use of the word “nice.” Would I prefer an expression like “cute” or “pretty” or “beautiful inside and out?” Sure. But Patterson is not the only minister who has spoken of female beauty at times in awkward ways. Young Pastors in skinny jeans serving contemporary churches will sometimes introduce their wives as “smoking hot.” Even though this expression only draws attention to the physical beauty of their wives, these ministers are never terminated or forced out of pulpits for such objectifying remarks.
If anyone in this story was “objectifying” it was the teenage boy who looked at the girl and called her “built.” We can certainly wish that he had spoken of her godliness, intelligence, talent, and sense of humor, but instead, he chose to act like most teenage boys and focus on her outward beauty. For that matter, teenage girls have been known to express occasional crushes on guys as well, sometimes even making reference to the male physique. Frankly, I’m not really sure there is any scandal here at all. What we have is a boy noticing a pretty girl and a preacher telling a story about it to illustrate that God fashioned women to be aesthetically pleasing to men. In the words of Robert A. Gagnon, “I don’t think I’m revealing a state secret when I say that teenage boys throughout history have found some teenage girls to be physically attractive and in conversation with other males have noted that fact.” This is not exactly Watergate.
Support Paige Patterson
Without Paige Patterson, the Southern Baptist Convention would have embraced abortion and homosexuality years ago. We would have trended more liberal theologically, socially, and politically, and would almost certainly have homosexual clergy today, as is common among many mainline denominations. We would question the inerrancy and truthfulness of God’s Word. The supernatural accounts of miracles would be doubted or explained away. In short, we would not be a Bible believing people.
In order to fight the Battle for the Bible and uphold the inerrancy of Scripture, Paige Patterson suffered himself to be called every name in the book. But there is one name he cannot, in all honesty, be called. Paige Patterson is not abusive toward women, nor does he condone the abuse of women by others. This is a false narrative, spun by savvy wordsmiths with an axe to grind. They are admittedly armed with access to extremely powerful media outlets. But they are in the wrong, and the reason is obvious.
The story here is that, just like Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, and even Jesus, Paige Patterson has managed, over the course of his long ministry, to accumulate a few enemies clearly out to get him. Trustees, please consider the well-being of our entire convention and the historic significance of your actions. Do not succumb to this crafty campaign of injustice in which fifty-four year old stories retold poorly eighteen years ago have been dredged up by opponents of Dr. Patterson to tear a great man down as he nears his retirement. Here, at the twilight of his stellar ministry, the Father of the Conservative Resurgence has simply and undeniably earned the benefit of the doubt. Dr. Paige Patterson should not be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Rather, he and his faithful wife Dorothy should be allowed to ride off into the sunset to the applause of a grateful denomination.
Please contact the current Board of Trustees at Southwestern Seminary before May 22nd and voice your support for Dr. Paige Patterson. Their names and addresses are listed below. Also, if you want to join over 500 people who have already signed this [PETITION IN SUPPORT OF DR. PATTERSON], please click on the link, fill in the information box, complete the “I am not a robot” task, and press “SIGN THE PETITION.” You should then receive the message that you have successfully signed the petition.
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