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J.D. Greear: “I Would Never Say I Am Not a Calvinist” Jared C. Wilson Clarifies His List Merely Claimed Greear to be an "Influencer" of New Calvinism

May 18, 2018

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
17. Lecrae—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.

Earnest Easley to Nominate Jerry Drace for Second Vice President

May 16, 2018

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

SBC Social Justice Resolution Against the Anti-Gospel of the Social Justice Movement

May 15, 2018

Grady Arnold
Pastor and Messenger
Calvary Baptist Church
Cuero, Texas

[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 we are repeatedly warned in Scripture concerning such error and being deceived, with Ephesians 5:6Hebrews 13:9, Colossians 2:8, and 1 Timothy 4:1 being just a few of these warnings, 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 true Christian theology builds people up to be resilient in the face of trials, but social justice seeks to stoke discontentment (1 Corinthians 10:10Hebrews 13:5), 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.

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