Defining the Elephant
Part 1 of 2

July 24, 2012


By Dr. Rick Patrick
Senior Pastor
Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
Hueytown, Alabama


Charles Kettering said, “A problem well-stated is half-solved.” Now that Southern Baptists are talking about the proverbial elephant in the room, it seems helpful to define that elephant as clearly as possible. Thus, I write this article not to foster division among us, but to more clearly define that division which already exists. The tension between Calvinism and Traditionalism in Southern Baptist life will never make sense to anyone who views this struggle merely as a dispute over minor doctrinal concerns. Rather, our present fault lines stem from three specific components: a theological debate, an institutional struggle and an intrinsically adversarial agenda. Unless we look at this elephant from all three sides, we will fail to comprehend the scope of our conflict resolution challenge.

1. The Theological Debate

Surprisingly, of the three components in our conflict, the theological debate itself is the least contentious of all, but it clearly provides the basis for the other two. Frankly, the number of Southern Baptists in the world who get all worked up about precise theological formulations and definitions is smaller than any seminary professor or preacher cares to admit. This stems not from a lack of intellectual curiosity, but rather the desire among most Southern Baptists to avoid arguing theology and concentrate instead on loving each other, moving on and telling the world about Jesus. This desire for peace is commendable, and would be more likely if our theological disagreements simply concerned one minor issue of salvation doctrine. However, even the theological component which comprises only one-third of the elephant is more complex than it would seem at first glance, touching not only salvation doctrine, but also related views of the church, our mission and the nature of man, as summarized below.

  • Soteriology: Did God create man truly able and free to accept or reject God’s grace? Or did God decree, before the foundation of the world, precisely those souls which will irresistibly come to Him?
  • Ecclesiology: Does the church make decisions through channels of classic congregationalism or does it function with ruling or leading elders? How does it receive members, extend altar calls and make use of the Sinner’s Prayer in evangelism?
  • Missiology: In order to contextualize the gospel and reach our culture, will the church permit the moderate use of alcohol, a softer stance on homosexuality, and an emphasis upon issues such as environmentalism?
  • Anthropology: Does man’s total depravity include or exclude total inability? Does the sinful nature we inherit from Adam include or exclude inherited guilt? Is the unredeemed man best understood as lost or dead?

 

While this multifaceted theological debate furnishes the initial conflict, the other two components are actually responsible for carrying the struggle from the ivory towers of theological reflection to the more practical matters of denominational vision and stewardship allocation.

 

2.  The Institutional Struggle

Due to church autonomy, when a congregation is Calvinized, our denomination possesses no stake or vote or any claim at all upon that church, nor should it. The Traditionalist concern in these matters is not so much the individual church’s decision, but the cumulative impact of a growing Calvinist influence upon our mutually owned institutions and agencies. There exist certain stress points in this institutional struggle found precisely in those areas where Traditionalist and Calvinist churches cooperate through direct ministry endeavors the most–areas such as publishing literature, VBS outreach, summer youth camps, seminary training and planting churches in America and around the world.

We can easily exist as one denomination when we are contributing toward theologically neutral areas like disaster relief and world hunger projects. But when we preach and teach and write and evangelize together as a denomination, the theological concerns which separate our individual churches can no longer be avoided. The question becomes, “Will our individual agencies and institutions lean toward an understanding of theology that is Traditionalist or Calvinist?” The examples provided below reveal the difficulty of attempting neutrality in those areas of denominational cooperation where theology matters the most.

  • Publishing: If Calvinism claims 10% of the convention and 90% of those involved in The Gospel Project curriculum, are we really to believe this happened completely at random? Even if the first quarter of literature is not overtly Calvinist, one has reason to be concerned that future lessons may not preserve this same neutrality. By introducing Southern Baptists to Calvinism’s brightest stars, the gate has been opened for further Calvinist indoctrination through books and conferences down the road. Granted, the meta-narrative approach to this curriculum is a staple of modern Calvinist preaching and teaching. Should this curriculum manage to offer three years of lessons featuring this approach without even a hint of its usual Calvinist underpinnings, I will be the first to apologize. The point of this example is not to attack The Gospel Project itself, but to illustrate the difficulty in claiming theological neutrality in denominational publishing.
  • VBS Evangelism: Calvinists and Traditionalists approach children’s ministry differently. How can Lifeway be expected to synthesize in one curriculum an approach able to satisfy both theological camps? With changes in our VBS musical direction, many will watch to see if a strong evangelistic appeal is still present in the songs and lessons, or if the approach will be softened to reduce the number of what some characterize as premature decisions for Christ that have become such a concern among certain Calvinists. Of course, Traditionalists do not favor false professions and overly simplistic gospel presentations, but are confident in the ability of local church leaders to provide proper decision counseling for kids. Again, the point is not to critique VBS literature, but to illustrate that our theological differences are expressed not only in our publishing but also in our VBS evangelism.
  • Youth Camps: Reports from certain Fuge locations this year indicate a strong dose of Calvinist theology was clearly preached in some large group sessions. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen. How can we really expect Fuge to be soteriologically neutral when both camps expect them to share God’s plan of salvation? I can explain salvation to a young person from the view of either the Traditionalist or the Calvinist, but I cannot synthesize the two and do both at the same time, for no matter how much we may wish it to be otherwise, they simply contradict each other in very specific ways and can hardly be reconciled. Most of these teenagers come from churches who are not Calvinistic in their theology. To expose them to specific doctrines which their pastors, youth ministers and parents do not espouse, and to do so using camp fees paid by Traditionalist parents and churches, reveals yet another stress point as we struggle in our institutional cooperation.
  • Minister Training: Fast forward a few years and those youth at Fuge are now college graduates, called into ministry and preparing for seminary. With respect to the present discussion, will they receive a theologically neutral education at all Southern Baptist seminaries? Or would it not be true that Traditionalists are already encouraging their sons and daughters to attend either Southwestern or New Orleans, while Calvinists are already encouraging their sons and daughters to attend Southern or Southeastern? How could it be any clearer that our theological debate is expressing itself through a series of institutional struggles as each entity in Southern Baptist life responds by favoring either a Calvinist or a Traditionalist approach?
  • Church Planting: Assuming that your church is the sole sponsor for a new work, when your committee meets to select the pastor who will plant this new church, would it or would it not select a Calvinist? The church I serve has screened out Calvinists in our last three ministry searches. We would desire to plant a church that believes as we do. If a church selecting a church planter would screen for Calvinism when directly sponsoring the new work, why would it give up this desire when cooperating with other Southern Baptists to sponsor a new work through NAMB? One cannot help but wonder if all our Traditionalist churches truly desire to plant Calvinist churches whose theology and methodology provide such a stark contrast with their own. As we cooperate to plant churches, let us be theologically transparent about exactly what kind of denomination we are building.

Coming tomorrow…

At some point, it is fair to ask the question, “Is it good stewardship for me to pay for the institutional advancement of organizations promoting doctrines I do not embrace personally, nor desire to teach my children, nor favor publishing at Lifeway, nor seek to advance through church planting?” It is precisely here, in the practical outworking of our theological disagreements through our institutional struggles, that the same elephant we might overlook in our Sunday School class or church becomes absolutely impossible to avoid at the denominational level.

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Kyle Thomas

Wow, Rick. Telling quote here:

“Let us be theologically transparent about exactly what kind of denomination we are building.”

I think this is where young guys aren’t jumping on our bandwagon anymore. When I talk to church planters or young pastors, I don’t get the sense that any of them are interested in “building a denomination.” They see the denomination as a launching pad for building the kingdom – not the SBC.

That quote may be the biggest distinction between some of the Traditionalists on this blog – and the majority of Southern Baptists (some calvinist, most in the middle probably) who are more about the mission than the denomination. That’s the elephant we ought to talk about.

    Rick Patrick

    Kyle,

    Thanks for reading and interacting. Please let me clarify my use of the phrase “building a denomination” versus “building the kingdom.” Since the context was NAMB planting Southern Baptist churches, I was simply referring to the kingdom building WE do as Southern Baptists, in the sense that we are not planting Presbyterian or Lutheran or Methodist churches.

    The very title of this blog is “SBC” Today. It is fair, indeed it MUST be fair, for us to speak of our “denomination” without suffering the blatantly unfair criticism that in doing so, we are demonstrating some kind of greater concern for Southern Baptists than we feel for the larger kingdom purpose of our Lord.

    In other words, when we plant Southern Baptist churches, we are engaged in the building of the Kingdom, but it is a specific sort of Kingdom building. Rather than setting these two things against each other, I wish these planters and young pastors you mention would view them as compatible in every way.

      Kyle Thomas

      Thanks for that clarification. I agree with you that they can be compatible.

      My point was that a lot of young guys are much less inclined to battling over denominational infrastructure. Aside from a couple of young bucks I’ve seen around here, the majority of young SBCer’s appear to be commenting at blogs that are always harping on mission and discipleship.

      Bob Hadley

      Kyle,

      You comment that the younger guys are not inclined to battle over denominational structure is the same for the older guys with ONE MAJOR EXCEPTION: if you don’t inspect it; don’t expect it.

      The problem is the structure is important because that is the vehicle that allows us to do so many things together. So, if the denominational structure begins to falter, so does its ability to function as it has in the past. Calvinists are positioned in every aspect of the convention entities and for some, me included that poses a serious problem and one that I am adamantly against.

      I believe it is first of all, theologically incorrect. I understand that this argument killed Calvin and it is now killing us. (joke) I agree with Rick that it is not my concern whether or not churches are reformed. Go for it. It is my concern where the entities of the SBC are concerned and that is the reason for my involvement in this debate.

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    Paul Bryant

    Amen for the above comment. It is NOT about the denomination it is about the Kingdom. I am in a church presently that is pastored by a good man who is Calvinist and a very strong Southern Baptist. I lean Calvinist because of the doctrines of Grace. I am been an avid reader of Reformed Theology for a couple of decades. Previous to coming here I was in a church for 25 years that was not Baptist and would be classified in the Wesley tradition where one could loose their salvation. It was a denominational church but hardly anyone knew it. I am a graduate of Golden Gate Seminary. I grew up Baptist. When I became part of that church years ago I was sick of the SBC’s denominational pride and arrogance. Now living in the deep South I understand that football team loyalty transfers to denominations.
    Anyway the church I belonged to previously grew from nothing to 3,000 in attendence in those 25 years. We never counted membership like the SBC. We had 150 care groups. We planted 30 churches in that state during that time. One church plant we sent out 400.
    This division is grieveous to the Holy Spirit and is sickening. The argument will not be won on either side. Each side has their arguments and they make sense and all draw from scripture. But the conflict will not end.
    Maybe God set it up this way to sharpen each other in our knowledge of God, which is paramount and that loving each other and walking together transends the finer and more subtle issues of the doctrine of Salvation.
    The finer points of soteriology maybe are not meant to be settled or understood completely on this side of eternity. So now we walk together in love. I think so.
    Also how about reaching across denominational lines for fellowship. I remember in my old church the local Catholic pastor came and preached one time. He came to Christ through Inter-Varsity in college and preached the gospel is clearly as anyone I have ever heard.
    Paul Bryant

    Norm Miller

    Where would your kingdom building be w/o a denominational launching pad, Kyle? There are some who diminish denominationalism while utilizing the benefits of it. Seems rather odd to me. – Norm

    Brad Reynolds

    Kyle and Paul,
    Thank you so much for the interaction. Can I infer from your comments that the majority of Young Calvinists are therefore not concerned if Southern Seminary ceases to be Reformed? Can I further infer that the vast majority of young Calvinists would also not raise an eyebrow if Lifeway used the Trads rather than the Calvinists for its material? I am honestly asking this to bring about unity.

    If you are saying yes, then the solution which would satisfy the vast majority of Trads and not offend the vast majority of young Calvinists would be for Southern to move away from its Reformed position and Lifeway to cease using Calvinists for their material. This solution would certainly remove the current disunity and allow us all to concentrate on missions rather than this discussion. If I am hearing you correctly then you have a hearty amen from this corner of the world. If I am not hearing you correctly then please help me.

    And thanks again for interacting and helping us understand young Calvinism better.

      Kyle Thomas

      Brad,

      Good question. I don’t pretend to know the answer. I can’t speak for others, but I don’t know that young Southern Baptists are the ones that worked up about all this. That was my original point.

      LifeWay uses Trads all the time for their material. As I pointed out below, you’ve got 1 curriculum out of 11 that has a higher number of Calvinists working on it. I’ve never seen young SBC Calvinists all up in arms over Trads dominating LifeWay. Nor should they be.

      But back to your point, I don’t think young Southern Baptists are focused on pushing Trads or Calvinists one way or another politically within the SBC. I think they’d resist a movement that marginalizes Trads or Calvinists – either way. Excluding others is a fundamentalist posture – not a Southern Baptist one.

      If we demanded all seminaries be the same, they wouldn’t like that. If we demanded total uniformity in curriculum, they would’nt like that either. That’s my guess.

      When you have 30% of the SBC identifying as at least somewhat reformed, though, you have to expect entities to serve that segment of the SBC. Right now, we’ve got 2 out of 6 seminaries leaning that way (33%) and 1 out of 11 curriculum lines with a number of Calvinists (not even 10%). Looks like things are about where they should be.

        Brad Reynolds

        Kyle

        Thanks for responding. I think Dr. Patrick’s point is those numbers seem to have grown and there appears to be an effort by some (Founders perhaps) to continue to grow this numbers via stealth modes (not being transparent about one’s beliefs when interviewed by pastor search committees). Moreover, it appears to some Trads that some leaders would actually push Calvinism via Lifeway and NAMB church plants in an effort to increase their numbers.

        Thus, since the young Calvinists would resist some sort of apparent move to “traditionalize” the convention they should not be too upset that we would resist an apparent move to “Calvinize” the convention. If this is not happening then there should be nothing to worry about, but if Dr. Patrick and others are right then one should not be too upset at the “politics” involved. For you seem to admit that young Calvinists would resist it were the shoe on the other foot. I hope that helps.

Bill Mac

Wow, this elder thing will just not go away will it. No matter how often elder-led churches say they are congregational, people just won’t believe us. Are we lying? How often do we have to say it? Elders=Pastors. All SBC Congregations are elder-led. How does elder-led congregationalism differ from “classic” congregationalism? Specifics please. And how is elder-led congregationalism outside biblical ecclesiology? And please don’t throw church autonomy at me. I want to know why you think it is wrong.

    Rick Patrick

    Hi Bill,

    I never said elders were wrong. The point of my article is not to oppose elders, but to identify various issues in ecclesiology that tend to separate Calvinists from Traditionalists in Southern Baptist life today. I contend that elder rule is much more prominent among Calvinists.

      Bill Mac

      Much more prominent than elder-led among Calvinists? If so, do you have any way of supporting your contention?

        Rick Patrick

        To clarify, my contrast was not between LED and RULE among Calvinists. It was between the more Traditionalist structure of Pastor and Deacons and a (more commonly) Calvinist structure making use of a plurality of elders– designated as such and not simply ministry staff members.

      Mark

      Rick,

      I contend that elder rule and also deacon rule is much more prominent among “Traditionalists” (I hate that word).

    Donald Holmes

    “No matter how often elder-led churches say they are congregational, people just won’t believe us. Are we lying?”

    Bill,

    I pastor an elder-led congregational church. Most of our members tend toward the conclusions of Reformed Theology. I agree with many of the conclusions of Reformed Theology, but do not utilize a Calvinistic Hermeneutic.

    I say that to hint that I do have some standing in this subject. Elder-led congregationalism is different than the traditional single-pastor congregationalism that dominates the SBC landscape. To say that it isn’t is to engage in wordplay for rhetorical advantage. One huge example of the difference is in how membership is approached (both when people join and if there is a need to remove membership after church discipline).

    Personally, I believe that there are huge advantages to multiple pastors/elders and think that a case can be made for this being a normative practice in the early church. That being said, many of us “elder-led” churches want to heap too much day-to-day decision making on pastors instead of focusing on the ministry of the word.

    Functionally, we become much more like elder-rule (with a nod to congregational oversight) than we do to New Testament Congregationalism.

    FWIW

      Donald Holmes

      EDIT:

      “I agree with many of the conclusions of Reformed Theology”

      should have been

      “I agree with many of the conclusions of Reformed Theologians”

      Bill Mac

      I am an elder in an elder-led church. Our elders have no part beyond regular members in the day to day decision making of the church. We are constitutionally barred from presiding over business meetings. We do no administrative functions. How members are received or disciplined is no different than in any single pastor church that I know of.Our polity is congregational, period. In fact, I will go so far as this, beyond the fact that we have plurality of elders, our polity, as evidenced above, is more purely and practically congregational than any other church that I know of, where the pastor presides as CEO of his congregation.

      If your church functions as an elder-ruled church, then that has nothing to do with reformed theology and everything to do with how you and your church wants it to be. Elder-led congregationalism is what we make it.

        Donald

        “Elder-led congregationalism is what we make it.”

        Truth! I am glad to hear that your assembly is another exception to what is, all to often, becoming the rule. To deny the direction that so many others are going is a bit disingenuous however.

Bill Mac

By the way these questions are asked, I cannot help but come to the conclusion that this author at least, cannot see a way forward for Calvinists and non-Calvinists to work together in the SBC.

    Rick Patrick

    Bill,

    Your conclusion is unfounded. I believe our issues are enormous, that indeed the elephant in the room is not a baby elephant but a giant one. However, I do believe a way forward is possible. It simply does not involve pretending we don’t have a problem and wishing it would all go away.

Bill Mac

I can explain salvation to a young person from the view of either the Traditionalist or the Calvinist, but I cannot synthesize the two and do both at the same time, for no matter how much we may wish it to be otherwise, they simply contradict each other in very specific ways and can hardly be reconciled.

With respect, lots of people can. It isn’t that hard. Repent, believe, confess. Call upon the name of the Lord. Repent of your sins and put your trust in Christ for salvation. But perhaps you are right after all. This isn’t a synthesis of views. It’s the same message. They don’t need reconciling.

    Rick Patrick

    Bill,

    If the reformed preaching that was done at Fuge had indeed kept matters at this superficial level, it would never have become an issue, would it? Granted, at the level of depth you have discussed salvation doctrine, it would be impossible to distinguish between Calvinist from the Traditionalist.

    The need for reconciliation comes in when matters are more deeply explored: (1) Does regeneration precede faith? (2) Is salvation monergistic or synergistic? (3) Is salvation ALL of God or has man been given the capacity truly to respond freely to the grace of God? (4) Is God’s will the same for all men or does he have two separate wills depending on whether or not a person is among the elect?

    Sure, on the surface, both views can simply say, “God loves you.” But as we really get into the process of salvation, we have two distinct perspectives, and it is these two perspectives that I contend cannot be easily reconciled.

      Bill Mac

      Rick: You specifically referred to the issue of explaining salvation to a young person, so that was what I based my response on. Yes, my Calvinism informs me as to what I think God has done to draw the person to Christ, but that doesn’t affect my message. It really shouldn’t. For the Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike, in this area at least, the Gospel message should be the same.

        Donald Holmes

        Bill,
        Of course it changes the message. As one example, you could not look anyone (child or adult) in the eyes and say “Jesus died for you”. At best you could confuse the child into thinking that Jesus died for him by saying that He died for sinners and that the child is a sinner, but you could not mean what the child thought you meant.

          Bill Mac

          If you mean that I cannot present the Gospel exactly as you do it, then you are probably right. For example I don’t tell people to ask Jesus into their heart. I tell people to repent, believe, and confess. I tell them to turn from their sins and trust Christ for salvation. I believe, unless you can show me otherwise, that I am on fairly firm biblical ground with that as my presentation of the Gospel.

            Donald Holmes

            “my Calvinism informs me as to what I think God has done to draw the person to Christ, but that doesn’t affect my message”

            I gave one example of how Calvinism affects the gospel message. Am I wrong? Since Christ died for all, and you cannot declare that truth as it applies to a particular individual, then your Calvinism has affected your message. Truth!

            Not The Original Les

            Donald,

            “I gave one example of how Calvinism affects the gospel message. Am I wrong? Since Christ died for all, and you cannot declare that truth as it applies to a particular individual, then your Calvinism has affected your message. Truth!”

            First, I can’t find in the scriptures where we are to tell people that died for every single individual as part of the gospel message.

            Second, telling them that or not telling them that does not affect the message that Bill Mac stated well above, “Repent, believe, confess. Call upon the name of the Lord. Repent of your sins and put your trust in Christ for salvation.”

            What your or my belief behind that (the extent of the atonement) has no effect on what God may or may not do in that witnessing situation, right?

            Les

            Brad Reynolds

            Bill Mac
            Please pardon my interruption here but what Donald has shared has prompted something that has gnawed at me and with your candor I think you may be able to help me understand.

            How can a Calvinist when presenting the gospel say to someone “Christ took your place – he died for your sins – he was your substitute?” To say such from the pulpit or one on one denies the very system Calvinism affirms – namely Christ did not die everyone’s sins. (In fact to even imply via other choice words seems deceptive)

            I honestly believe a more accurate presentation of the gospel as a Calvinists understands it would be: “Christ may have died for your sins and he may have been your substitute – I really might have some good news for you.”

            I am not trying to knit-pick but I am curious as to how a Calvinist can honestly and transparently say such.
            Thanks

            Brad Reynolds

            Les
            “Repent, Believe…” assumes by definition one is capable of doing so – otherwise one is waisting time and words. It would be the equivalent of commanding my pet dog to “jump to the moon”

            I think you will answer some might be capable – to which I would ask then why would you not say that. Why would you not say “Some of you cannot be saved because God has deemed it so but those of you whom God has already enlightened Repent and Believe.” That seems far more consistent. Again, not trying to knit-pick but from our vantage point the Calvinists praxis seems at odds with their beliefs

            Bill Mac

            Brad: It seems to me that you are following Donald in assuming that there is a particular phraseology that is necessary to present a biblical Gospel message. You are right, for a 5 point Calvinist, saying Christ died for YOUR sins is not correct. But not all Calvinists are 5 pointers, as many are quick to point out. And this is the important part, not everyone HAS to present the Gospel with the same phrases. As I’ve already said, I don’t get bent out of shape if someone uses “ask Jesus into your heart”, but I don’t use it. I tell people Christ died to save sinners. I tell them He will receive all who come to him in faith. No one is turned away.

            At best what you and Donald are saying is that I cannot present the Gospel the way you are doing it. So be it, I can live with that.

            Not The Original Les

            Brad,

            I need not go beyond what we see in scripture. As you remember from Acts 16, when asked what to do to be saved the reply was “And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.””

            In a talk withsomeon or from the pulpit there is no need to say maybe you are elect or maybe Jesus died for you maybe not. That’s not what we see in scripture. We see calls for simmers to repent because Jesua died for sinners of all stripes. It’s God’s business to work in that situation as He deems.

            Donald Holmes

            “It seems to me that you are following Donald in assuming that there is a particular phraseology that is necessary to present a biblical Gospel message.”

            I am not sure why you assume that I assume this. The only point I am making, and for which you seem unable to reply, is that your theology affects your message.

            You denied this when you said “my Calvinism informs me as to what I think God has done to draw the person to Christ, but that doesn’t affect my message”

            Brad Reynolds

            Bill Mac.
            Totally fair.

            But I hope that you can see from our vantage point that its seems more honest if you said “Christ died to save some sinners” – that would certainly better conform to your beliefs than leaving it open for many to assume you believe Christ died for all sinners (which most would probably assume – If I was lost and someone told me every person is a sinner and Christ died for sinners I would assume he is saying Christ died for all – which really is not what you are saying). Thus, it appears from my vantage that your praxis does not really match your theology. I hope that makes sense.

            Bill Mac

            Donald: I’m not sure why you don’t get this. My message is repent, believe, confess. What is the problem?

            Brad Reynolds

            Les
            Very true!!! It appears to me the disciples assumed all were capable of believing. Which gets to my point. You present the gospel as Acts presents it but you and I both carry with it our assumptions concerning to whom the gospel can reach. I believe it can reach every person and thus would gladly state to every person I visit “repent and believe and you will be saved.” By definition of your belief you cannot say that to every individual on the earth. For in your system they all cannot repent, they all cannot believe and they all cannot be saved. Thus, it seems that your praxis (at least to the lost) implies anyone can be saved but your theology says otherwise.

            I know we will not agree but I hope you can see why it appears somewhat less than transparent for those of us who not Calvinistic.

            Not The Original Les

            Brad,

            “I know we will not agree but I hope you can see why it appears somewhat less than transparent for those of us who not Calvinistic”

            I can see why it appears that way to you. Nevertheless, I too believe when I preach or one on one with someone, that that person can believe. I believe sincerely that that person can repent. In other words, I believe everyone encounter may be a Lydia and I am asking God to open their hearts.

            If I step back into the theology books, I will say that as I see scripture, I acknowledge that not everyong will i the end will be saved. The Lord will not open every heart of every person who hears the gospel. Not everyone will be a Lydia. And I know you acknowledge that as well as do all evangelical Christians.

            But, that belief in no way hinders or alters the message of Christ. Jesus said,

            “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
            (John 6:35-40 ESV)”

            He also said,

            ” At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

            (Matthew 11:25-27; Matthew 11:28-30 ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
            (Matthew 11:25-27; Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)”

            I tell people that. For as we have said on numerous occasions, none of us knows who the Father has given to the Son. That is not our prerogative. Is it mysterious? Yes. But I try to trust in His method to redeem His elect. That is the indiscriminate preaching of the gospel. He will save whom He will save in His time.

            Les

            Donald

            “Donald: I’m not sure why you don’t get this. My message is repent, believe, confess. What is the problem?”

            I don’t think I ever suggested that your message was anything different than what you have stated, nor have I said that you have no message. If you will go back and re-read what I have said, perhaps you can reply to some of those comments.

            Bill Mac

            Donald: Theology affects message. OK. But your statement was that my Calvinism means I cannot present the same Gospel that you do. Well, perhaps that’s true. My main presentation of the Gospel is repent, believe, confess. If that isn’t the way you present it, fair enough. I’m confident that my presentation of the Gospel has a solid biblical foundation.

      Darryl Hill

      This was the point at which I disagreed as well. The only thing that has changed about my Gospel presentation since my theology changed is that I have now taken greater time to understand it and share it more effectively and I now believe more strongly than ever that the work which needs to be accomplished is not based on my superior speech or presentation but on the truth presented and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person.

      I completely disagree that the Gospel presentation is different between Calvinism and Traditionalism. The Gospel is the Gospel. Even if we’re teaching students how to share the Gospel, I don’t see why it is a problem. I just shared the Gospel with children in VBS last week. I think I might post the Gospel presentation I used. It was simple. It took about 15 minutes or so to go through it.

        abclay

        Darryl,

        You said:

        I now believe more strongly than ever that the work which needs to be accomplished is not based on my superior speech or presentation but on the truth presented and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the person.

        I say, AMEN! Give God the glory, Let God be God!

Fred Johnson

Rick-
It really is time that you acknowledge the implications of all you speculating about The Gospel Project: all the people involved with it are outright lying about it. You need to quit this silly niggling around with unconfirmed suspicions, pony up and make the charge.

First it was the advisory council. Then, when it was confirmed they had nothing to do beyond the initial organization of the direction, accusations moved to content. Then, when the samples were made available and found to be non-Calvinist the warning became, “But wait until the regular curriculum starts.”

Now the first quarter is in process and it has a clean bill of health, you warn that future quarters may not be found as neutral.

Despite all assurances from everyone in leadership at Lifeway you continue to stones via unsubstantiated, indeed demonstrably false, rumor and speculation. Rather than waiting three years, and countless more erroneous, judgmental pronouncements, before issuing your apology why not cut your losses and do it now?

    Kyle Thomas

    If you read Rick’s post, the problem he has with camps and curriculum is ‘introducing Southern Baptists to Calvinism’s brightest stars.”

    Here’s the thing – many of Calvinism’s “brightest stars” ARE Southern Baptist.

    So should they be ignored or marginalized? Not quoted – even when the subject is not Calvinism? Not brought in as speakers at camp?

    I don’t want to read more into what Rick is saying than what he actually wrote, but it sounds like he wants he wants a quota system or something.

      Rick Patrick

      Actually, I want to eliminate the existing quota that evidently chose 90% Calvinists for the project.

      Theoretically, if one selected Southern Baptist writers with no bias at all, one would have 80-90% Traditionalists writing for the Gospel Project and 10-20% Calvinists. You would not need a set quota as long as you did not discriminate in your choosing.

      Again, let’s return to “reading for the main idea” for just a moment. I am not writing to attack the Gospel Project, but to reveal the simple existence of an institutional struggle when literature is produced that is perceived to be unbalanced theologically because those involved in producing it are drawn only from one of Southern Baptist’s major theological views.

        Kyle Thomas

        Rick,

        According to the recent research, 30% of SBC pastors consider their churches “reformed” or “somewhat reformed.” That’s a pretty strong showing. Now, what pastors mean by that is another story and I don’t want to hijack your thread with speculation. ;)

        But here’s where I come down…

        Isn’t it LifeWay’s goal to provide resources within the BF&M that reach all different segments of the SBC? I count on LifeWay’s website 11 lines of curriculum – none of which have ever been accused of leaning any way but Traditionalist. Are you saying that LifeWay can’t do 1 line out of 11 that uses a higher number Calvinists as contributors? Even if the writers’ expertise is in the grand narrative approach and that’s the intent of the curriculum?

        Don’t mean to pester you, brother. Genuinely curious.

          Rick Patrick

          I am absolutely fine with 10-30% of Lifeway literature being Calvinist–as long as they admit it upfront and clearly, rather than sneaking it in and denying its existence, which some of us suspect in the Gospel Project.

            Kyle Thomas

            I’ve seen more about the Gospel Project writers than any other curriculum LifeWay has ever produced. They’ve got some high profile writers.

            The editors blog too, so one can see easily see what they are all about.

            I don’t know how LifeWay can be more above-board with their writers and editors than they already have been.

            If the number of Calvinists working on the project worries you – even if they are intending to be broad – then you shouldn’t get the curriculum.

            But we ought to be careful with words here. You border on bearing false witness to use words like “sneaking,” brother.

            Some of the writers may be more Calvinistic than you or me. At least we know and can analyze the materials ourselves and make an informed choice. I think Southern Baptists ought to do that with any curriculum – no matter who is writing it.

            Bill Mac

            rather than sneaking it in and denying its existence,

            If this is in fact the case, then we have bigger problems than Calvinism. If you are correct in your assertions, then the curriculum arm of the SBC is being run by deceivers. This is a serious accusation.

    Rick Patrick

    Fred,

    I’m afraid I must wait until all three years of content are available before passing judgment on the presence of Calvinism in The Gospel Project.

    What if, in year two, the Calvinist underpinnings of the meta-narrative approach become clear?

    I realize the leaders of the Gospel Project are denying any Calvinist INTENT. What they cannot deny is their disproportionately Calvinist LEADERSHIP.

    I simply find the idea hard to embrace that, randomly, 90% of those involved in a curriculum happen to be Calvinist in a denomination only 10% Calvinist.

    Again, my larger issue is NOT an attack on the Gospel Project, so please don’t read it as one. This is merely one example of a stress point revealing the kind of institutional struggles that exist in Southern Baptist life today.

      Fred Johnson

      Rick-
      Then you must call those leaders “liars” as they have, at every turn, denied exactly what you assert. If you believe yourself to be right, you should call them out immediately and present proof of their lack of truthfulness.

      If indeed you plan to wait three years to pass judgment you should immediately stop this public speculation under whatever guise you choose to use. The facts are that you have done nothing but pass judgment since the original announcement. If you are waiting you should wait quietly.

        Rick Patrick

        What I’m waiting to pass judgment upon is the CONTENT of the material, since I speculate (reasonably, I think) that a group of Calvinists will, at some point in the process, make their Calvinism more fully known and expressed.

        The part that I am NOT waiting to pass judgment upon is the lack of representation of Traditionalist scholars, pastors and writers among the creative team. That is a proven matter of record.

          Bill Mac

          Rick: Are you not accusing Lifeway of deceiving the SBC? How is “sneaking something in, and then denying it” anything else but an accusation of lying?

            Rick Patrick

            No accusations of lying here, my friends.

            If you read carefully the context of my quote about “sneaking” you will see that it basically responds to the question: “Why CAN’T Lifeway have one line of literature that is Calvinistic?”

            My point is to permit clearly the existence of a Calvinist curriculum, but if indeed it is Calvinist, as presupposed by the hypothetical question asked of me, then it should be identified that way, rather than remaining unidentified and thus creating the suspicion that they are indeed “sneaking” Calvinism into everyone’s curriculum while openly denying it.

            My charge of sneaking is aimed toward the hypothetical situation posed by another.

            As for the Gospel Project, I am clearly not leveling any charges against the content right now, although I reserve the right to level such charges in the future. I won’t judge this book until the last chapter is written. However, while I do not charge the content as Calvinist presently, I do charge the leadership as predominantly Calvinist, unlike the SBC.

      Mary

      If someone knew how to search it, I think it was Jim G on a thread over at Voices who showed how already the Gospel Project was showing it’s reformed leanings. It was in a thread where people were challanged to show just that. Again I think it was Jim G who put together a post showing how he saw the reformed leanings in the curriculum. His comment was ignored.

        selahV

        Mary, here is the link to what you read of Jim G. at SBC Voices comment stream: http://sbcvoices.com/reflections-on-the-gospel-project-webcast-and-a-challenge/

        below is what Jim G. wrote:

        “Jim G. March 15, 2012 at 2:43 pm

        Hi all,

        I’ll answer Dave’s challenge now that I have finally been able to read through both the adult guides and the student learner’s guide of lessons 1-4 of TGP. I would give the project a qualified endorsement so far.

        I do not believe TGP is a “Calvinist indoctrination tool” by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think the curriculum has a Refomed slant in its approach. I’ll offer a few examples.

        1. In lesson 1 (on page 14 – all pages are from the Adult Leader Guide), there are some quotes like “God is not accountable to us; we are accountable to Him. God would have been fully just and righteous to create this world and leave it to natural processes, never to intervene, never to communicate with His human creatures, and never to involve Himself with our human plight. There is nothing about our existence that forces God to be a God who reveals Himself.”

        This is not a false statement, of course, but it is one-sided. God may have been “fully just and righteous” to leave us alone, but it would have been against his character. The God who is love cannot help but intervene. To be a well-balanced curriculum, both truths need to be emphasized equally. In my opinion, the Reformed tradition is where it is by overemphasizing the former while comparatively ignoring the latter. I see this imbalance occurring in lesson 1 already.

        2. Similar to (1.) above, on page 14 is the quote “God was under no obligation to speak the world into existence.” Of course this statement is not untrue either, but it is a misplaced emphasis. “Obligation” is not what creation is about. When we enter the world of discussing obligations, we have left the world of other-centered interpersonal relationships and entered the logic of the accounting office. We know that a relationship is on the skids when we begin discussing the presence or lack of obligations. Obligations do not define relationships between humans or between humans and God. The Law is an obligation. Love God and love others is the real foundation of that obligation, and therefore goes deeper.

        3. Similar to 1. and 2., the quote “God was under no obligation to pull back the curtain and let us see aspects of His character and evidences of His power. He could have spoken the world into existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.” (on page 14) misrepresents the character of God. Because God is a triune God of love, I submit he COULD NOT have left his creation alone, because he is who he is.

        4. Once this imbalance of the character of God has been established, it may remain out of balance throughout. This is the reason for my qualified endorsement.

        5. On page 32 of lesson 3, here is the following question: “Do you agree with the statement ‘In all God does, His first aim is to glorify Himself’? Why or why not? What are some ways that God’s glorifying Himself is a benefit to us?” This statement needs more unpacking. What does “glorifying himself” mean? How do we make sure we qualify that statement so that we maintain the balance discussed in 1-4 above? I certainly do not want to take the leap of theistic determinism that “all occurs to glorify God.” I think it is dangerous to leave that quote in that lesson without unpacking it. I would be much more comfortable with seeing the Bible’s own qualifications on God’s glory at this point, without wondering where it is going, given the Edwards-Piper theology present in the circles of the editors and known writers.

        These are just my concerns. I certainly applaud the deep thinking on biblical and theological topics. I have some caution that the presuppositions evident in the beginning of the curriculum will lead directly to a Reformed/Augustinian interpretation of topics later on. In other words, I see we are on I-40 and heading east out of Nashville. The chances of us winding up in Little Rock are not good.

        Thanks for the opportunity to reply. Jim G.”

          abclay

          This is ridiculous FEAR MONGERING!!! It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

          Even when I believed that “I took the first step and God took the rest” on my way down the aisle, these perceived “problems” are what I believed about the Nature of God.

          Take a poll of SBC Pastors and I would bet my autographed Paul “Bear” Bryant picture that better than 75 percent of them would have no problems with the above.

          Why can’t God be God?

Jamie

Rick,
You say, “Reports from certain Fuge locations this year indicate a strong dose of Calvinist theology was clearly preached in some large group sessions.” First, unless you document this with names and quotes it is just a rumor. Second, if supposed preaching was in “certain” camps and in “some” sessions this “clearly” means it was not at most camps and not in most sessions. Are you are intent on driving out all Calvinist preaching from the SBC? If not, then you have absolutely no point here.

    Rick Patrick

    Jamie,

    If this were a courtroom and I were making formal charges, I would produce my witnesses and provide the kind of names, dates and proof you desire. I assure you it could be done, but I have neither the resources of a law firm nor CNN.

    Against your notion that unless I have documentation, it is only a rumor, let me say that things can be true even when they are not yet proven. In a court of law, it has not yet been proven that our Colorado movie massacre suspect killed those people. If it is indeed true, then it is true right now, even though it may be unproven legally. The current status as “rumor” does not make it “false.” It only means it has not yet been proven as “true.”

    The issue of “driving all Calvinist preaching from the SBC” (which I certainly never discussed) requires more clarification. I would not seek this for SBC churches, which are autonomous. Personally, I do not mind if certain Southern Baptist camps and conferences share such beliefs. However, I think it is only fair to the Traditionalist churches, parents and pastors that we know IN ADVANCE what kind of theological training we are providing for our children and our youth when we send them to camp. Similarly, with regard to Lifeway, IF a curriculum is going to be Calvinist, I believe it should be clearly identified as such.

    We tend to get bogged down in details. These are specific examples of the KINDS of things that reveal institutional stress points among nearly all of our major institutions. Try to step back and see the whole forest. All I’m really saying is that these two theologies are clashing in our institutions.

Brad Whitt

Rick,

Thanks for this post. It states, in a simple and straight forward way, the concern that many Southern Baptists such as myself feel as we face the “elephant in the room” and the challenge that we have as a denomination. Thanks again.

    Rick Patrick

    Brad,

    Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your leadership and your ministry.

RobertSC

Thanks for your article. However, in missiology, I believe your categories are jumbled. SB calvinists are not calling for soft stances on things the Bible deems inappropriate such as homosexuality. Secondly, stances on alcohol do not come directly for a person’s understanding of the order of salvation. Finally, enviromentalism is not contextualization of the Gospel, it IS a direct outworking of the Gospel. We don’t care for the environment because the culture gives us a pat on the back. We care for creation because God has given us dominion and care over it, and He has plans to restore it. When we care for the creation, we are participating in the Missio Dei. We don’t have to all be ostriches with our heads in the sand on this issue. Proclimation of the Gospel should always stand central, but is not the only way to bear witness to Christ.

    Rick Patrick

    Robert,

    Thank you. You have made some excellent points regarding contextualization.

    In certain quarters, among primarily younger reformed pastors, I’ve heard about things like “Beer and Bible” night for the guys and other compromises with which I am personally uncomfortable. In various matters engaging the culture, it seems that some today are seeking to move away from the more conservative approaches common in Southern Baptist life in the past.

    My section on missiology was intended to reference the way that some pastors, primarily among the Calvinists, in seeking to “become all things to all men that I might save some,” carry Paul’s ideal to an extreme I consider unbalanced.

    Thanks for your helpful comment.

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

Is it God’s will that we seek peace and unity between Calvinists and non-Calvinists and thereby preserve the SBC? Or is it all about money and power and also about the importance and prestige of men. Perhaps the Great Commandment and Great Commission are just convenient props to hide behind. Have pastors and SBC leaders grown impatient with God and do they seek to accomplish their own will by the power of the flesh rather than God’s will by the power of the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit behind a Calvinist takeover of the SBC? Is the Holy Spirit behind a unity movement?

The central problems of Christianity are always in the midst of the people of God and not in the circumstances of the world. Satan strives to cripple the church from within. Although Christians are useless to God without being empowered by the Holy Spirit, many pastors and leaders ape the world’s wisdom, trust its forms of publicity and imitate its ways of manipulating men. If we put the world’s wisdom at the center of our activities, we may gain the power of the world, but we will forfeit the power of the Holy Spirit. The world, at every level, is at war with the forces of evil. But we cannot win our portion of the engagement with earthly weapons (Eph 6:10-18).

    Bob Hadley

    Nice neat little comment. One problem. We are responsible for what we do. The calvinists are responsible for what they do with the gospel as they see it. I am responsible for the gospel as I see it. This is true on a myriad of levels. Now, where the SBC is concerned, the calvinists are mandated by their convictions to do exactly what they are doing. I believe they have done a masterful job.

    Non-calvinists have not been engaged in the calvinism debate because for the most part, it is none of our business what another church does or believes unless we are asked. However, when changes are being sought concerning the theological underpinnings of the convention entities that is another matter.

    That is what has taken place in the SBC and especially in the last 5 years and now that many of those changes are evident, there are those like me who are saying “wait a minute”… so my position is a reaction to what has already been done.

    Does the devil like what is going on… I would say he does. Is God crippled at this, absolutely not and as for the forfeiting of the power of the Holy Spirit, I guess time will tell the story on that one.

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      Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

      Perhaps God would prefer the formation of a “Traditional Southern Baptist Convention” and a “Reformed Southern Baptist Convention.” This option, once in place, would gradually end the fight. By Scripture, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste and no city or house divided against itself will stand.” For five years in a row, SBC membership has declined and the rate of decline is accelerating. 16MM members are claimed but primary worship attendance is 6MM.

J S Frady

On the matter of the Gospel Project, why would it even be wrong for this curriculum to be shaped by Calvinist theology? If 10-20% of the SBC is Calvinistic, what is wrong with one curriculum among many others the SBC produces, having a Calvinistic bent? Are we going to require every curriculum to have a warning label that sets forth its theology? This is not who we are as Southern Baptists.

Further, what is wrong with our seminaries having different flavors? I don’t begrudge Southwestern for their stances nor Southern for theirs. If Calvinists are a significant and growing minority in our denomination, they deserve a voice at the table.

There are wonderful, godly people on both sides of this debate who want to see people come into the kingdom. They can work together for this goal even where they differ. Individual churches will be shaped by their leaders without a doubt but this will always be the case no matter the theological hot-button issue of the day. Our denomination’s strength and foundation is found in the autonomy of the local congregation and mutual cooperation for missions. I would hate to see either of these things fade away through either the “smoking out” of Calvinism or by a wholesale mandated shift to Calvinism within our denomination. We need to strive for peace with each other as we strive to be faithful to our Lord.

    Donald Holmes

    “Are we going to require every curriculum to have a warning label that sets forth its theology?”

    I would not use the term “warning label”, but I do think that this might be a great idea. Fly your flag high!

      selahV

      Donald, I would also like to know the theological leanings of each and every writer be written in the short bibliography of the quarterlies (and the teacher’s guide). It would be most helpful for me. I also wish that the publishers of books would post that on their promotion listings of authors. I have purchased books wherein I thought the title was intriguing and the subject matter interesting, only to find I did not agree at all with the author’s conclusions or views within the book. Therefore I wasted my money as I dumped the book in the trash rather than selling it in a yardsale or donating it to Goodwill. I’ve all but stopped purchasing books, unless I have a clear understanding of who is writing what from which perspective. selahV

        Darryl Hill

        Why do you even read if you do not intend to consider the thoughts of the author? If your intent is to never have your point of view challenged, you might never learn another thing in life. If your point of view can’t stand up to argument then it shouldn’t be your point of view, right?

        This whole idea of having every writer post either Calvinist, Arminian, or Traditionalist in his biographical information seems to fly in the face of what we’re really after when we read and study the writings of other believers. We’re desiring to hear how God may have spoken to this brother or sister in Christ because this is one of the ways in which God speaks to us. So, take what is good and disagree with the rest. But I can promise you this, there are many good things that I have read from non-calvinists that have helped me immensely. I do not tell people to avoid non-calvinists’ writings and I don’t think I ever will.

        But I will likely tell people to avoid those who are militant against brothers and sisters of a particular theological slant because they do not write with the Spirit of God in mind often, but with a persona agenda in mind. There are some calvinistic authors I avoid and there are some authors’ books I avoid because they appear to be more on a personal crusade at times. But I will consider the writings of any brother or sister who is speaking regarding the Gospel of our Lord or some devotional thought or Scripture which might edify the reader. Why not?

          selahV

          Hi Darryl, I read because I like to read. I read these blogs and do not agree with many who comment, and I read some blogs which I do not agree with and stop going back to read them–because of the attitude and tone of the blogs.

          I am not saying I do not want to read what some have to say. I am saying I want to know who is saying what they are saying as I read and consider their thoughts. I’m not worried about my views being challenged. I’ve had that going on my entire life. When you’re a Republican in a household of Democrats, and have a father who was once a Southern Baptist who went to Church of Christ and then argued his view of salvation from their perspective, I tell ya, Darryl, that is challenging to one’s views.

          However, when I read literature from my own denomination and I have trouble reconciling the my point of view with the authors, I want to know why I find their views so far off base from my own. Some readers take the material as Gospel, totally true, and without question. I don’t. My husband always preached to the congregation not to just take his word on it, but go home and study it for themselves. I do that. But with our literature, it would be helpful to know who is writing what. There is a slant to every point a person writes in teaching, reporting, and conversing.

          In the early days of reading SBC leadership S.S. material, we were told….some theologians view this passage this way, and some theologians view it another way. I like to know who views it one way and who views it another. I especially like it when they told us why they think that way.

          As far as not reading views other than my own, I read a lot of Oswald Chambers material and know that he was a Calvinist, my copy of My Utmost is totally worn out, I’ve read it so many times. I’ve since bought other copies, but still keep going back to my original copy. And some of what he has written I agree with, and other things I don’t. I agree with some things Spurgeon says and don’t agree with other things. I like to read Spurgeon; I like some of what John MacArthur writes. I use to like to read Chris Roberts blog, however, when someone accuses me of something I am not and insists I am not what I say, I lose interest in what they have to say.

          I read Al Mohler’s blog and often agree with him on cultural matters. However, some things he writes do not line up with my views. That is fine until he broad-brushes all as if he has a pipeline into our lives, as in the homophobia, and lying comments he made, and the marginalizing certain people in a panel that Frank Page will be forming. His words are confusing. I’m not sure who he wants to marginalize and why. Is he speaking of himself when he said that some of the rhetoric before the convention on the “elephant in the room” was a bit unseemly (I’m paraphrasing here)? Or was he referring to others he disagreed with?

          Not all Calvinists believe the same thing about the same doctrines. They argue them differently, they define things differently. I am still trying to figure it all out–but after 6 years of hearing the same thing: that I can’t understand because I am not a Calvinist, then the less interest I have in hearing their arguments.

          I am excited about this blog because they are writing things about what I believe, and they are helping me understand my own theology better. But that’s just me. Some come here and challenge every phrase and syllable of the authors’ posts. It’s interesting to watch who does it and why. I find it very telling that many of the most vocal challengers here are not even Southern Baptists. Really interesting. selahV

            Darryl Hill

            Hey SelahV, I wanted you to know that I read your reply and I appreciate it. I understand your frustration in attempting to have discussions with various Calvinists of various stripes. It’s true, we all argue differently. And we all have different understandings of some of these things- some are more mature and others are less mature. Some have a greater knowledge and it has made them arrogant. Some have learned some wisdom to go with their knowledge and this results in humility. We all have moments of failing in these things.

            Regarding someone telling you it’s not possible for you to understand unless you’re a Calvinist, I disagree with that thought. Text is a poor medium to begin with, but some are better at communicating through text than others. I do think sometimes people tend to characterize their opponents as the worst, most extreme version of themselves.

            Anyway, thanks for the interaction.

            Lydia

            “But your statement speaks volumes about your opinion of me and anyone else who agrees with the reformed position, just as Bro Patrick’s policy of excluding without even meeting any calvinist for a position at his church…””

            Not at all. You made a broad statement:

            “We’re desiring to hear how God may have spoken to this brother or sister in Christ because this is one of the ways in which God speaks to us. So, take what is good and disagree with the rest””:

            …..and my disagreement with the broad statement included examples from non Calvinists. I thought that might be a clue as to where I was going in dealing with the broad statement. There are MANY God is obviously NOT speaking through who sell tons of books. I plea with all youth pastors to stop recommending books and encourage them to be Bereans instead so they can spot error. I long for them to read Jesus’ words direct and not interpreted through Piper or Warren.

            Are the ad hominen words really necessary from you guys? Where have I accused either of you of “hating”, “spewing” or “demonizing” anyone or anything? Is that necessary?

          Lydia

          “We’re desiring to hear how God may have spoken to this brother or sister in Christ because this is one of the ways in which God speaks to us. So, take what is good and disagree with the rest”

          Now there is a dangerous proposition. Is God speaking through Todd Bentley? and if you say no then how would you know if you did not really know Christ? Yep I have thrown books away rather than give them away. One of them was the Purpose Driven Life. Was God speaking through that one, too? How about “Your Best Life Now”?

            Darryl Hill

            Oh Lydia, if I weren’t laughing I’d be crying. You’re a broken record. Do you find people getting frustrated talking to you often? I would bet so.

            But your statement speaks volumes about your opinion of me and anyone else who agrees with the reformed position, just as Bro Patrick’s policy of excluding without even meeting any calvinist for a position at his church…

            You have equated a Reformed brother or sister with Todd Bentley and Joel Osteen. Any questions anyone? That says it all, doesn’t it? Just so you know, I never read Purpose Driven Life or Your Best Life Now, either. I did watch some video of Todd Bentley just to see for myself what the fuss was about, and that man was not working in the Spirit when he kicked a guy in the crotch who was suffering from testicular cancer.

            But the fact that you’d equate a reformed writer with any of these says it all. Demonizing isn’t necessary Lydia. It’s really not.

            Not The Original Les

            “Demonizing isn’t necessary…”

            Darryl, unfortunately sometimes that’s all some people have. Sad.

      Rick Patrick

      I, too, favor the warning label, in the same way that a transparent agenda creates less distrust than a hidden one.

        Darryl Hill

        Bro. Rick, I personally do not even like the label “calvinist” and have never called myself that. You guys are the ones who want to label me that way. As I have stated before, your average person in the pew doesn’t even understand the term and many of the ones who have some inkling as to its meaning have some kind of negative connotation tied to it, thanks once again to folks like yourself and others here who perpetuate straw men and false understandings.

        I would hope you could understand why I would not desire to carry a label that is nearly universally misunderstood among Baptists.

        It seems the true desire of wanting labels is to silence those who believe reformed teaching. So, what if the Scripture I’m teaching about deals with unity in the church? What if it deals with being a servant? What if I’m teaching on worship or fellowship or service or spiritual gifts? Would you have people ignore anything and everything I say based on the label “Calvinist”?

        I would submit to you that given the same group of people, I could explain what I believe using Scripture and, though they might not agree with me, they could at least see how I might come to those conclusions; whereas, you could explain my beliefs to them and have them viewing me as a false prophet in the same amount of time. I’m certain many others here could do an even better job than you would at that.

        The truth is, we are brothers in Christ, and the vast majority of us are just like you, desiring to walk with the Lord, failing and stumbling along the way, repenting and trying to overcome sin, and trying by God’s grace to do what God has called us to do. I’m not the devil bro. But some here make it seem like I am.

          Lydia

          “As I have stated before, your average person in the pew doesn’t even understand the term and many of the ones who have some inkling as to its meaning have some kind of negative connotation tied to it, thanks once again to folks like yourself and others here who perpetuate straw men and false understandings.”

          Afraid Calvin, the man, has done that all by himself. No strawman involved in asking if his doctrine drove his behavior.

        selahV

        Rick, yes. and also, it helps when reading a person’s views to know who they are. I get a bit tired of answering to ghosts and goblins who won’t reveal their identity. selahV

        Luther Jones

        “I, too, favor the warning label, in the same way that a transparent agenda creates less distrust than a hidden one.” -Rick Patrick

        This is very telling.

        Would you only require a “warning label” for Calvinist writings and not for traditionalist writings also??? Please don’t tell me you only want warning labels for Calvinist writings and not for Traditionalist writings also. Please clarify. I would hate for you to lose all crediblity for being unchristian.

          Rick Patrick

          Of course, both tracks would be clearly identified, just like in the grocery store they label the milk so you know whether you’re getting 1% or 2%.

      Lydia

      “On the matter of the Gospel Project, why would it even be wrong for this curriculum to be shaped by Calvinist theology?”

      It needs to be marketed as a Reformed curriculum written by mostly Reformed theologians.

        selahV

        Lydia, exactly. selahV

          Darryl Hill

          Can a Calvinist not speak, teach, or write in the power of the Holy Spirit my friends? Is nothing a reformed brother or sister might offer worth considering?

          How should the label appear? Should it look like an explicit content label? Should we also print your definition of “Calvinist” beside that “warning label”?

            Lydia

            “How should the label appear? Should it look like an explicit content label? Should we also print your definition of “Calvinist” beside that “warning label”?”

            How about a little silhouette of Calvin with his long beard? Or it could be a TULIP icon. :o)

            Rick Patrick

            I think just something like “Reformed Theology Series” would suffice.

            It would have helped this church: http://pastorralphgreen.blogspot.com/2012/07/guarding-sacred-trust.html

        Luther Jones

        This is remarkably unchristian behavior, Lydia. Has anyone asked you to repent yet? Has the Holy Spirit convicted you yet? And have you responded to Him?

          Luther Jones

          The way you speak of Calvinists is sin Lydia. A lot of sinning going on at this site I see. Such immaturity by commenters, SBCtoday itself and its authors. If I didn’t know better, I would think the kids got a hold of the computers, rather than the SBC pastors. Except for the high level of theological knowlege, it is almost impossible to decern adults from children. Is this a mark of Traditionalism?

          Lydia

          Nice try Luther. You enjoy yourself some church discipline power, don’t you. Maybe you enjoy it too much. However, I would never listen to a rebuke from one of you guys. I have seen way to many of the YRR bullies and their methods. And it is not “Christian”.

          For crying out loud, Driscoll defines sin as questioning him! He called it “sinning by questioning” and it was concerning the elders he fired. I think most of you guys are really a lot like him. You love that power to rebuke. And you do not define “Christian” behavior for me. After all, you are totally depraved and unable. I prefer Christians who take responsibility for their behavior.

Mike Davis

Anthropology: Does man’s total depravity include or exclude total inability? Does the sinful nature we inherit from Adam include or exclude inherited guilt? Is the unredeemed man best understood as lost or dead?

Like many issues raised in the post, total inability is not a view held only by Calvinists. I think a majority of Southern Baptists believe it. Also, the recent LifeWay survey showed 50% of SBC pastors believe in irresistible grace. I think you are going to find overlap in viewpoints throughout the issues you raised and that out in the congregations there are not any particularly clear demarcations in the way “Calvinistic” and “non-Calvinistic (including Traditionalistic)” folks seek to do church. While these issues may be intensely debated in the blog world I don’t think most out in the churches see any need to have a Convention-wide power struggle.

    Alan Davis

    Mike,

    Where can I link that study? That is something that 50% believe in irresistible grace. Completes some thoughts I have had that the number of 10% as Calvinists didn’t account for nor represent all the spurgeonists out in SB land. Thanks Mike.

    Alan

      Mike Davis

      Here is the link, Alan. It surprised me too. Lots of folks in the SBC just don’t stay in nice neat little categories.

        Rick Patrick

        In the same study, only 17% affirmed Limited Atonement, 16% affirmed Five Point Calvinism, and 16% affirmed unconditional election.

        I found the wording of the irresistible grace question interesting: “God is the true evangelist and when He calls someone to Himself, His grace is irresistible.”

        Frankly, I agree with the first part of the sentence, but not the second part. The wording of the other questions was more concise and less misleading, in my opinion.

          Mike Davis

          “God is the true evangelist and when He calls someone to Himself, His grace is irresistible.”

          I don’t see anything misleading in it; it’s pretty clear to me. Even includes both “irresistible” and “grace”. Since those surveyed were pastors and it was a survey about Calvinism, I think they understood the question. I don’t think anyone was mislead.

          In the same study, only 17% affirmed Limited Atonement, 16% affirmed Five Point Calvinism, and 16% affirmed unconditional election.

          That’s my point. There are two-pointers, three-pointers, four-pointers, Calminians, Arminians, Traditionalists–people don’t always fit into these nice neat categories. I think the denominational goal of most in the SBC is to cooperate for the spread of the gospel.

          Also, note there are 16% who affirm all five points, 30% who are Calvinistic/Reformed, and 50% who affirm at a minimum both irresistible grace and eternal security. It looks like we can finally retire that obviously inaccurate claim that only 10% in the SBC are Calvinists. Some who claim a Traditionalist majority appear to want to put every non-4/non-5-pointer in the Traditionalist category, but clearly many non-Calvinists would still not fit a Traditionalist designation as defined by the TS.

Jerry Grace

You frame this matter, its impact and its import as succinctly as is possible. Arguing over theological differences among us clearly falls into the category of useless quarrels we are admonished to avoid. Equally as foolish is arguing over who has the best claim to the theological beliefs of our founders. All of those men are dead; not a single one of them climbed upon a cross for my salvation, or offer one word superior to what appears in the Bible.

Saying those words normally is a preamble to a conclusionary statement that my interpretation of the Bible is not only superior to whomever I’m making such a statement, but also that they are morons for believing such nonsense. Were we talking about the Mormons or the Jehovah Witnesses, the Calvinists would join in lock step with the traditionalists. We are not.

There are fundamental and irreconcilable differences over the most basic concepts of
Christianity itself between the Calvinists and the Traditionalists. That’s a statement of fact. Telling me that I am wrong is no more effective than the converse. The thought that some negotiation between the two camps could result in an averaged theology where the most extreme views on both sides are rejected in favor of finding some middle ground is absurd. The survival of our denomination is at stake

If the Southern Baptist Convention dies, it would be a shame. It is surprising that we have survived intact for as long as we have, one of the reasons why we cannot conceive its end as we know it.

The Church will survive. But the “big tent” is not big enough for the game of winning and losing defined along theological lines. It is clear that within the denomination, the Calvinists have seized control of important agencies and institutions far in excess of anyones estimate of their actual numbers among Southern Baptists. It is also just as clear that at the denominational level, leaders of our agencies and institutions are far more interested in continuing financial support and power, regardless of which side of the Calvinist argument they may personally believe.

A century and a half ago, our denomination was formed for the purpose of supporting missions. What a fantastic result? Today all of that is endangered over how one views the question of “irresistible” grace and its associated tentacles. Without Albert Mohler’s power grab, this age old question would not be nearly as important as it has become. The question before us is do we leave this divisive question unanswered? The Traditionalists didn’t raise it; the Calvinists did.

Minority rule has long been a concept embraced by Baptists, as long as that minority was limited to the three members of the trinity. But that’s not the case here. We have allowed a small minority to gain control of much of our denomination, just as we have allowed a small minority of judges in the ninth district of California to successfully alter the moral fiber of our nation.

The test before us is not about who’s right and who’s wrong or who wins and who loses or even the question of Irresistible Grace. It’s about our most basic beliefs in the character of God and the efficacy of Christ’s death. I’m not saying the Calvinists are wrong. I am saying that the “big tent” is just not big enough for both of us.

Let the people of the SBC decide if we accept or reject Irresistible Grace and then let our denomination and its institutions and agencies reflect the voice of the majority.

    Darryl Hill

    So, what you’re saying is, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.”

    That’s a sad shame, in my opinion. I disagree completely.

      Lydia

      Darryl, When an entity employee says publicly his brothers in Christ did not know what they were signing and some people need to be marginalized, I would say he has made it clear “the town is not big enough” for both. He is your leader. What shocks me is how you guys think what he said was normal and appropriate. That tells me how bad the situation really is and upside down our convention polity has become. It really is more about power politics than doctrine but I don’t expect the YRR wing to get that part.

        Darryl Hill

        No Lydia, the sad thing here is the way you characterize Dr. Mohler’s comments. It’s clear to me that you have demonized him and others, and you’ve come very nigh assigning me a place along with them based purely upon my disagreement with you on this topic. Your words say you have no desire for unity unless it comes with complete agreement with your position. In this discussion, from the very beginning, you have demonized every person who might be considered any type of authority who disagrees with you.

        You may think that Dr. Mohler’s statement that part of the TS “seems to affirm semi-pelagianism” while stating that he didn’t believe those who signed it were SP is not what you’ve made it to be. I can speak for myself because I have made the same statement. I do not believe those who signed that document are semi-pelagian nor do I believe that they intend to be. And that is not intended to be any kind of slam or slight. It’s simply the logical conclusion to me, knowing that many of those f0lks are not semi-pelagian and having read some of their writings, I can’t help but think that they did not intend to be understood as SP.

        Regarding those he said should be marginalized, he spoke of those whose desire was to divide the SBC into 2 conventions should not lead the discussion. I agree completely. I wish he had used a word other than “marginalized” in that statement, but I can’t imagine anyone would want to see the SBC split. Is that what you want Lydia? Do you think we should find as many divisive people as possible and let them decide the fate of the SBC? I’m going to assume you don’t want that.

        But some of you guys have absolutely trashed him for making these statements and have made him out to be saying things that from what I can tell were never intended.

        I do not like the demonizing of the opponent Lydia, as you well know, but this seems strategy number 1 for you. As I’ve stated before, it is an invalid argument, aside from the fact that it is unbecoming of a sister in Christ.

        Mary

        Lydia, my kids and I are reading 1984. Calvinists are particularly good at Newspeak. Those words don’t mean what we always thought they meant and further the history that you’ve experienced for the last 10 years is wrong. You haven’t experienced, seen what you think you’ve seen since it’s all being rewritten.

          Not The Original Les

          Mary,

          Actually we are using large neuralizers like they used in the Men in Black movies. :)

          Lydia

          I know, Mary. It is amazing how well the leaders communicate to the public on cultural issues and make a living as public communicators….but when it comes to this ONE issue we never seem understand correctly their actual words. All of a sudden they have to be interpreted for us. And it is our fault we did not understand them correctly because we were just looking for offense.

          So if we mention their clear meaning, then we are demonizing them. Great gig if you can get it. It is called framing the debate and he who makes the rules and defines, wins.

          I just don’t play that game anymore. I expect our paid employees at that level to communicate clearly what they actually mean.

          All of this has taught me to never take their words at face value, again.

    Dave

    Jerry,
    Totally off the subject but are you the same Jerry Grace from Mississippi who used to run a blog called “SBC OUTHOUSE”..if so this is one “moderate calvinist” who has missed you in the blog world.
    Dave

      Jerry Grace

      Yep. Reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated. I just grew weary of fighting, and being categorized by the tension between the sovereignty of God and the free will of men. From the very beginning, my concern was not the theology, but what appeared to be yet another power play, this time under the banner of Calvinism, not by theologically minded Calvinists. Since the time I started writing SBC Outhouse, the advance of that power play has grown considerably. Equally as concerning at the time were the power plays by those on the other side, during and after the conservative resurgence.

      I’m an ardent congregationalist. Admittedly I’m not fond of an elder form of governmnent, but just as quickly recognize that it is the right of any church to choose. There are plenty of Baptist churches run by Deacons who are turf barons producing the same result or far worse than elders. I draw counsel on this issue from a famous senator, who ironically was a Presbyterian elder–Sam Ervin. His words are not from the Bible but paint a portrait of the selfishness of man as well as any I have ever read. “The inescapable lesson of history teaches us that no man or group of men can be trusted with unlimited power.” Those words are just as applicable to Southern Baptist churches and all the denominational entities as they are to the political despots to which he’s referring.

      I don’t care for preachers who see themselves as CEO’s, Deacon’s who see themselves as dictators, seminary presidents who see themselves immune from the will of the people, convention presidents who see their election as a certain path to a cushy job, agency heads who do not appreciate that the money they may be squandering came from people who tithed a social security check, agency heads who view their selection as an opportunity to write, publish and promote their books, board members who were selected as a payback and view their appointment as a matter of prestige. There are both Calvinists and far more Traditionalists simply due to their total number, who fit into these categories, and yes indeed Calvinists who do not.

      These are my concerns and what I view as the greatest threat to both our churches and our convention All the product of selfishness grown into greed. As to Calvinism, Southern Baptists need a good dose of just how important the
      Sovereignty of God is and recognize that we’ve done a poor job of that. And Calvinists probably need to heed a verse that’s not among their proof texts: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” which appears in those words or some permutation all across the length and breadth of the Bible.

      At the moment, and over the past couple of years, whatever spiritual issue I might be struggling with or contemplating in need of a conversation would be with or include a pastor, not my own, who describes himself as a 5 point Calvinist. The difference for him is that he has taken seriously those words: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

      Pardon the length of this but I’ve receive a good many messages on facebook inquiring if I were the same Jerry Grace. In one statement I wanted to make certain, that whoever reads what I write understands I’m not out to demonize Calvinists, and it was not my goal in commenting here.

    Bob Hadley

    Jerry Grace,

    Well said sir. Welcome!

    ><>”

    selahV

    Jerry, You write “If the Southern Baptist Convention dies, it would be a shame. It is surprising that we have survived intact for as long as we have, one of the reasons why we cannot conceive its end as we know it.”

    I do not think it surprising that we have survived this long. We have focused on the main thing, lifting up Christ and seeking to share Him with the world. I think the main problem with our beloved convention at this point in history, is many have forgotten their “first love”. Jesus addresses this in Revelation. We’d all do well to heed His warnings. selahV

      Jerry Grace

      If I left the impression that I differ with what you said about our “first love” of missions, I must beg forgiveness for a lack of clarity. That absolutely has been and is the greatest strength of our convention over these 170 or so years, far and away its greatest reason to exist and in my strongest opinion ought still to be its primary focus.

    Bob Hadley

    Jerry,

    Shoot me an email at bob@bobhadley.com

    Thanks

    Bob

Tommy Lusk

Rick,

Thanks for the excellent spelled out way of presenting many of we “Traditional” Southern Baptists concerns. There definitely is an Elephant in the room needing dealt with. Many of the comments here reinforce my perceptions of what’s happening with the SBC. I am not a theologian to take anyone to task over these issues, however, I live and serve down at the grass roots level where the effects of new calvinism is making waves. I know there is a diversified people in both camps of thinking and that not all traditionalists or calvinists are the same. But the people I’ve observed, are not moving in a peaceable way. They have not revealed themselves to search committees honestly. They have not honored the traditional congregational method of leadership. They have not conducted invitations in a way familiar with our churches, which BTW, are not indulging in magic or incantations for salvation. The larger percentage typically do not fellowship with the other pastors, instead there is an emitted sense of loftiness and elitism. It is hard to get them to participate in associational affairs, but just let the SBC come up, near or far, and they are off on wings of the morning to cast their votes in support of calvinist issues in the convention.

I don’t know what the fix is, I do know we are broken and need fixing. I know this for sure, God doesn’t have to have the SBC to win the world. But, if the SBC has any future in winning the lost, we are going to have to get our programs back on the love of God as revealed in John 3:16 to all, whosoever, will instead of some mysterious chosen few. I believe Jesus Christ’s blood was applied to pay for every sin of every person that has ever been committed, if the individual sinner will accept that and freely choose to call upon the Name of the Lord Jesus.
(No offense meant to anyone, but don’t step on me and not expect me to cry out in pain. May God judge between us.)

Tommy Lusk

Darryl Hill

Pastor Rick, you said:

“The church I serve has screened out Calvinists in our last three ministry searches. We would desire to plant a church that believes as we do. If a church selecting a church planter would screen for Calvinism when directly sponsoring the new work, why would it give up this desire when cooperating with other Southern Baptists to sponsor a new work through NAMB?”

This, to me, is troubling. I guess I would like to know more about the screening process you work through. I can’t help but think that you’re screening out guys who wouldn’t be militant calvinists like the ones who are so dangerous and were mentioned in the Trad Statement as “New Calvinists.” In other words, you may well be screening out guys who would be a perfect fit for the area in which you’re planting a church. It seems to me that the process should be more about finding the right “person” or “leader” than finding a particular theological bent.

Long story short, if you’re suggesting that NAMB use the same screening process as you use to kick out all the “Calvinist,” I think that would actually defeat the purpose you’re wanting to accomplish, which is to plant a church that preaches the Gospel and fulfills the Great Commission in a community. God calls a PERSON to a work, not a TYPE of person. Be careful brother.

    Darryl Hill

    Let me just add this: I would NOT screen out a traditionalist just because of his theological difference with me. I would search for the right PERSON and prayerfully consider the candidates, not X out the guys who failed to answer the questions as I would have answered them on my questionnaire.

    I think this entire thought flies in the face of seeking God’s will. It’s like me sitting down after seminary and drawing a circle on a map with my hometown as the center and going out 200 miles- and then telling God, “Ok Lord, you can send me anywhere in that radius.” You’ve possibly already eliminated the person God wants there and you’re drawing on the leftovers. And I’m not saying you wouldn’t have still settled on 3 non-calvinist church planters. You may have, but don’t eliminate the guy based on something like this before even meeting him.

    Not The Original Les

    Darryl, that’s a good point.

    Rick,

    ” If a church selecting a church planter would screen for Calvinism when directly sponsoring the new work, why would it give up this desire when cooperating with other Southern Baptists to sponsor a new work through NAMB?”

    Would you propose that a similar screening process be enacted at NAMB? If so, what would Trad churches then do? Pick and choose where their monies flow? i.e. Trad churches funnel money only to like minded church plants and Calvinistic churches funnel their money only toward like minded church plants?

    Les

      Lydia

      “Trad churches funnel money only to like minded church plants and Calvinistic churches funnel their money only toward like minded church plants? ”

      Yes. Over my dead body would I ever give one penny to support anything Acts 29 or SGM or anything resembling what comes out of those cults. And I am hoping more people find out what we have been supporting with Miss Mildred, casserole baker, money. She would flip out at Driscoll or CJ Mahaney.

        Not The Original Les

        Lydia,

        “…Acts 29 or SGM or anything resembling what comes out of those cults.”

        That’s a pretty broad sweep. I know pretty well several Acts 29 churches. Cults? Not even in the same universe as a cult. That was a pretty sad broad sweep Lydia, even coming from you.

        Les

          Lydia

          I am to take a “ruling elder’ from the Presbyterians, recommendation on that? Would someone choose to go with Acts 29 who had a problem with Driscoll and his arsenic served up with his in your face Gospel over the last 8 years? That shows a lack of discernment. Same with Mahaney. I do not support spiritual abusers or those who have been trained by them.

        Darryl Hill

        So, Acts 29 is now a cult? Ok, just so we’re clear. Any church that was planted by Acts 29 is a non-Christian sect which uses psychology and manipulation, along with other devious means, to garner the support of unsuspecting, weak-willed people. Demonize much?

          Mary

          A cult can be completely orthodox in it’s beliefs.

          but yeah, there is some serious mind control and thought policing going on in some Acts 29/SGM churches.

          Separating people from family and friends is a classic cult tactic.

          Of couse all those victims speaking out against the spiritual abuse of SGM/Acts 29 are liars just like everybody else who dares whisper a word against Calvinist.

          Not The Original Les

          Darryl,

          It is simply amazing. All Acts 29 (I know nothing about the other) are cults according to Lydia. The demonizing of whole swaths of Christianity happening here by some (not all thankfully) is astounding. so how is this unity thing going?

          Les

          Lydia

          Yep. Although my guess is you have no problem with that based on changed definitions. I am already talking to people coming out of Acts 29 churches here. It ain’t pretty.

          I suggest you go read Joyful Exiles blog. I am seeing the same types of tactics coming from them with young men getting too much power too soon and add in the heirarchical teaching of Driscoll’s Calvinism and it is a disaster . Like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

          And yes, a cult can look very orthodox in beliefs like Mary said. SGM is a perfect example of that.

      Rick Patrick

      Not the Original Les,

      I suppose that is one possible solution that would preserve the stewardship preferences of Southern Baptists on each side of this equation. There may be other solutions as well.

      But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. I’m still continuing to define the problem in Part Two. After it is clearly defined, we may begin exploring some of the options for moving forward.

    Lydia

    Namb uses a screening process by default when they fund any part of an Acts 29 church which only allows Reformed. Why is that ok?

      Darryl Hill

      It’s not, in my opinion. I don’t think they should make that a screening criteria that automatically rejects a candidate without considering any other factors.

    Rick Patrick

    Darryl,

    To clarify, those three minister screenings were not for church plants, but rather for our own congregation. I was screened for Calvinism when I was called twelve years ago. The others were our last two youth minister searches.

    Just so you know, the Acts 29 Network also screens their church planters with regard to Calvinism, ruling out Traditionalists, as is their right. To follow your warning, I suppose they may be ruling out some very good people as well. I hope these brothers will also be careful.

      Darryl Hill

      Yes Bro. Patrick- they may well be excluding good, Godly men by rejecting without even meeting a candidate who is not a Calvinist. I agree with you. Yet, you say that as if it’s an answer to what I’ve stated. Or did you think that would just shut me up because I wouldn’t dare disagree with someone who agrees with me on the doctrines of grace? Sorry to disappoint you. Two wrongs don’t make a right. I see that given as an answer often here. “Well, so and so the calvinist does it, so maybe you should get onto them. If they do it, we can too.”

      I note you threw in, “which is their right” in order to justify yourself. But you didn’t answer my question. How is it seeking the face of God regarding a PERSON whom He may be calling for a particular purpose when we are looking for a “type” of person and the person God might want doesn’t fit our criteria.

      Does reformed teaching disqualify someone from doing youth ministry? I hope not, that’s what God has called me to do. I guess you guys should talk to God about His calling on my life, eh? I guess I should quit now, eh? Given that I can’t possibly be a student pastor as a reformed person, I should quit now. What do you really think of me Rick? I would love to hear an honest opinion because it seems clear to me that you don’t think I should even be doing what I’m doing. Let’s see, I have 20 years of youth ministry experience. I have a Masters of Arts in Christian Ed with a youth ministry emphasis from Southwestern. But you would immediately reject my application because I also happen to believe in the Doctrines of Grace. It’s clear to me that, practically, you don’t even consider me a co-laborer for the Kingdom.

      I know you won’t see it. But maybe you could understand why I think it’s a bad policy, especially for one who wants to lead the SBC into unity. Your first statement leading unity: “Ok everyone, the first thing I want to do is install a litmus test for any Calvinist and reject them from working in any position of leadership.” Yep, that should do it. Can you imagine Acts 29 leading the charge for unity in the SBC? No? Me neither.

        Rick Patrick

        “Does reformed teaching disqualify someone from doing youth ministry?”

        It does at the church where I serve and many others, but certainly not at all churches. Each church has the autonomy to decide that issue for themselves.

earl simmons

Really have enjoyed reading all the replys, However there is still that most fundamental problem..How do you preach to a congregation that some of them will not be going to Heaven because God has already decided who will go? It seems that Calvinists want to lubricate that point with lots of theological oil and let it slide. They seem to want to ignore the full impact of denying man has any choice in his salvation or reprobation. They will not own up to what they truly believe. So we can play nice in a blog. but are you willing to tell Grandma we really are not sure if her grandson is going to Heaven. If it won’t preach then we will always have a division in the SBC. God bless you all.

    Not The Original Les

    Earl,

    “How do you preach to a congregation that some of them will not be going to Heaven because God has already decided who will go?”

    Earl, this Calvinist has preached many times to surely a mixed crowd. I tell them all what the bible teaches, that today is the day of salvation. “If you sitting here today will repent of your sins and trust Christ for your salvation He will surely save you.”

    Neither I nor anyone listening has a list of all the elect. Ours is to preach as commanded and from broken hearts for sinners and God does the saving.

    Les

    Darryl Hill

    Earl, it’s not a matter of lubricating the point “with lots of theological oil and let it slide.” This point which seems so huge in your mind is absolutely without any practical application in mine. I preach as though every person is elect. I assume that a person who is responding to the message is elect. There is no practical difference.

    A person who believes in election and predestination (which are biblical terms my brother, not created by John Calvin) simply leaves the electing to God and preaches to whosoever will. It’s not difficult or challenging in any greater way than preaching to the same congregation as a traditionalist.

    Donald Holmes

    “It seems that Calvinists want to lubricate that point with lots of theological oil and let it slide.”

    :-p

    Alan Davis

    Brother Earl,

    Probably not all in any congregation is going to heaven no matter if a Calvinist or a Trad is standing in the pulpit. “narrow is the way and few be that find it”. The gospel that Jesus came preaching was a call for all men everywhere to repent and believe on Him and His work. Not all have and not all are going to. I am not sure what nor how some Calvinist preach but for the most part in the SB you are dealing with those who preach the above and believe that whosoever truly repents and believes is the elect. Just my thoughts on the line you were writing about. I feel your frustration and I hear you brother. Brother I have been labeled a Calvinists though I feel I am more a spurgeonists and believe the Bible. I promise you brother I believe and preach that Christ died for whosoever will…will what? repent and believe the gospel with a saving faith. Have a good evening brother Earl and God bless you brother.

    Alan

    Darryl Hill

    Bro. Earl, I was just re-reading this statement of yours and noticed this line…

    “but are you willing to tell Grandma we really are not sure if her grandson is going to Heaven.”

    Here is the real question you should answer: Are you willing to tell Grandma her grandson IS going to heaven just because it WILL preach? That’s called giving them what their itching ears want to hear.

    I note that you are defining “what will preach” based on what you think Grandma wants to hear. Traditionalists spend large amounts of time telling people they’re going to heaven. At least that has been my experience. What do most traditional baptists teach?

    Did you ever ask Jesus into your heart? Did you pray a prayer one time? Did you mean it? Did you get baptized and join the church? Did you write down the date in the back of your Bible? If so, you need to tell the devil to leave you alone. You’re saved! And the same applies to your grandson. Did little Billy raise his hand in Bible School? Then he’s in.

    But what does Scripture say? (by the way, this has nothing to do with reformed theology, but simply the truth regarding where assurance of salvation comes from) Scripture teaches us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. Assurance isn’t based on Once Saved, Always Saved, at least not according to our definition of what it means to be saved. Assurance is derived from examining one’s own life. If God once worked in me, He’s still working in me. If I once truly repented of sin, then I am still repenting of sin.

    And when I preach that message dealing with the tests of genuine conversion from 1 John and Grandma’s grandson is genuinely regenerated by the working of the Holy Spirit, do you think she will thank me for preaching truth? Or is ignorance bliss? Ignorance might be bliss in this life, but what good will it do to have warm fuzzies about the whole family yet stand before God and watch as He says “depart from me, I never knew you”?

    This comment is not directly related to reformed theology, but I do think our traditional Baptist approach over the last several decades has led to this assuring people of their salvation whose lives are continually in sin, but they prayed a prayer one time. We can offer no biblical reason for assurance to those people who went out from us because they were never of us- despite the fact that they prayed the prayer.

Darryl Hill

I think some of your traditionalists are becoming the very thing you claimed to be so strongly opposed to in that original Traditional Statement. That is, it seems some here have become militant against brothers who believe in a reformed way. In this thread alone, we’re throwing away books whose author disagrees with us, we’re screening out pastoral candidates who don’t agree with us on these fine points, and we’re drawing lines in the sand. Some of these things are subtle but some are very overt.

It seems to me, and please, please correct me if I’m wrong, that some of you folks have decided that there is a mutiny afoot and you’re going to militantly fight it. That is, by whatever means, you’re going to fight fire with fire. We’ve been told many times not to assume the motives of people, but I’m seeing more and more the motives of Calvinists in the convention being assumed and questioned. Is that not the very thing these “new calvinists” are doing? Is fighting fire with fire the right approach, if indeed your assumptions are correct? I don’t know friends. Perhaps we all need a time-out here. It seems to be getting personal to many of us, perhaps me too.

    Lydia

    ” We’ve been told many times not to assume the motives of people, but I’m seeing more and more the motives of Calvinists in the convention being assumed and questioned”

    Not at all. Your leader has been very clear. We are just paying attention and taking his words at face value. Some of us think he means what he actually says as he is a paid public communicator.

      Not The Original Les

      So not helpful Lydia. I think I know who you refer to as “your leader.” Speaking for myself, he is not my leader. By His grace, Jesus is my leader. But, just so not helpful.

      Les

        Lydia

        Les, You are a Presbyterian. I was not thinking of you. You have magistrates and ecclesiastical courts. Oh wait! You ARE a former magistrate of sorts as a former “ruling elder” (your descriptor). :o)

          Not The Original Les

          Lydia,

          Magistrates? Really? I haven’t seen them. Ecclesiastical courts? Yup. They usually work very well.

          Former RE. Noooooo. I am a current ruling elder. And I’m seeking whom I may lord my tyrannical authority over. Ahhhhhh!

          Les :)

rhutchin

The author says, “Surprisingly, of the three components in our conflict, the theological debate itself is the least contentious of all, but it clearly provides the basis for the other two.” If it were the least contentious, would we be arguing the issue today?

The theological debate is very contentious and polarizing and rightly so. Only one can be the right theological position and SBs need to decide what it is that they believe. That debate appears to be less contentious because the non-Calvinist segment within the SBC appear to agree with many Calvinist conclusions.

However, there are some emotion laden issues that SB pastors have framed as a Calvinist vs traditionalist issue when they are not. Whether it is a children’s or youth program or the type of pastor for a new church, the overriding concern should be that which is taught and whether we are teaching the truth. How truth is taught can vary but whether it is Calvinist or not is immaterial.

The traditionalists need to come to grips with Calvinism is terms of the truth being taught and where they see that truth is not being taught, they need to scream about it and force SBs to decide what the truth really is. There is a great opportunity here to involve all SBs in such endeavors and raise the Biblical literacy of SBs considerably.

    Rick Patrick

    rhutchin,

    Thanks, and let me explain myself more fully. Of the three components (theological debate, institutional struggle, and adversarial agenda), I am saying that the theological part is indeed contentious, but that it is actually less so in many ways than the struggle over institutions and agendas, which are bound up in denominational politics through such issues as money and power.

    Clearly, I did identify the theological debate as the foundation of the other two. It’s just that relatively few Southern Baptists have really been exposed to the reality of some of the theological arguments. However, they do understand the meaning of “People who don’t believe like we do are changing our institutions and seeking to reform all of us.” When that message gets across, I believe we will find that the latter two components are actually even more contentious than the initial foundational one.

Dean

Dr. Patrick, thank you so much for your article. I enjoyed reading it very much and I am looking forward for part 2. I certainly have no issue with stating that I pastor a traditional church and we will use literature written by traditional believing writers. We will attend traditional camps. We will put on camps that are traditional in our facilities. I am not offended at all to state this. This will allow everyone including Calvinist to know what to expect. Why is it offensive for us to ask the same of Calvinist? The answer is obvious – their work in the SBC has to be stealth or they would have hardly a platform to preach and teach. The Gospel Project, camps with Calvinist speakers, Calvinist pastors, Calvinist professors should be transparent and state their convictions. Individuals do not do so because they know that there is no possible way that 30 % of the SBC believes in limited atonement. This number is completely fiction but does make some people feel that their beliefs are in the mainstream of SBC. Most pastors I know can list churches that have been devastated by Calvinist pastors who simply lied in order to become pastor. I have stated it time and again, if a man will identify himself as believing in limited atonement there will be no issue with Calvinism in the SBC.
One final thought, it is very naive to think that a person’s belief system does not determine his presentation of the Gospel. Many of these churches that have been devastated had pastors who stopped giving an invitation stating that man can not ask another man to do something that God has not ordained, its unfair to do so. It will be hard to reconcile that pastor’s presentation of the Gospel with a God called traditionalist evangelist’s presentation of the Gospel. I’m not saying one is right and the other wrong in that statement but they cannot be reconciled.

Leslie Puryear

Rick,

Excellent first post. You have defined the real issues with the Calvinist plan to reform the SBC. It’s amazing that such a small minority can make so much noise, but give them credit: they are doing it well. The majority of Southern Baptists are traditionalists and will continue to be.

    Bill Mac

    Les: Just curious. When you were a Calvinist, were you the arrogant, deceptive, scheming, anti-missional person that the rest of us Calvinists apparently are?

M. R. Williams

I think I’m about to sound “uninformed” .

What was this statement all about: “In order to contextualize the gospel and reach our culture, will the church permit the moderate use of alcohol, a softer stance on homosexuality, and an emphasis upon issues such as environmentalism?”

Respectfully,
Michael

    Rick Patrick

    Michael,

    Some, not all, of the young, restless and reformed leaders, have become quite moderationist in their view of the use of alcohol, as opposed to the more common abstentionist view. In certain quarters, there are even “Beer and Bible Nights.” Some have suggested we Christians have practiced a form of “homophobia,” an assertion I deny. Others have sought to bring Southern Baptists to engage the culture on a variety of issues, such as environmentalism, that are usually classified among the concerns of the political left.

    Those seeking to “contextualize” the gospel in order to reach their culture usually make these accommodations in order to “become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.” To put it bluntly, it appears to me that some Southern Baptists would advocate becoming politically liberal in order to reach political liberals. I think that approach is not quite what Paul had in mind, and in some cases even compromises the integrity of our message as we speak to the culture and seek to be “in the world but not of it.”

Daniel Wilcox

But Les,

You say
“This Calvinist has preached many times to surely a mixed crowd. I tell them all what the bible teaches, that today is the day of salvation. “If you sitting here today will repent of your sins and trust Christ for your salvation He will surely save you.”

But, the first point of TULIP claims all humans are incapable of repenting!
Correct?

Only those foreordained before the beginning of time–point 2–will because God forerdained them to repent and acts irresistibly–point 4–to make them do so.

So no one can repent (not unless they are foreordained to do so before they existed).

How is this Good News to anyone?

For the billions who weren’t foreordained, they “can’t” repent, but were born foreordained to Hell as Calvin claimed.

For those limited number who were foreordained to “repent,” it’s not them repenting, but individuals who have already been regenerated.

This is very confusing and the worst news.

Then you says
“Neither I nor anyone listening has a list of all the elect. Ours is to preach as commanded and from broken hearts for sinners”

My understanding is that you don’t have “broken hearts” for the non-foreordained,
Correct? Because they are incapable of repenting.

But then you conclude with
“and God does the saving.”

The last 5 words is the Good News that I think all Christians believe.

Thanks for the dialog.
Daniel Wilcox

    Not The Original Les

    Daniel,

    How is this Good News to anyone?

    “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

    Brother your argument, with all due respect, is not with me. God is the one who said we are to take the good news (gospel) to the whole creation.

    “My understanding is that you don’t have “broken hearts” for the non-foreordained,
    Correct?”

    You would be incorrect to assume my heart.

    ““and God does the saving.”

    The last 5 words is the Good News that I think all Christians believe.”

    Agree. We can all agree that God saves sinners.

    Blessings to you.

    Les

      Lydia

      “Brother your argument, with all due respect, is not with me. God is the one who said we are to take the good news (gospel) to the whole creation”

      Actually, his argument is with Augustine and Calvin. I call it the “too bad to be you if you are not elect” gospel.

        Not The Original Les

        “Actually, his argument is with Augustine and Calvin. I call it the “too bad to be you if you are not elect” gospel.”

        Well, he can’t talk to Augustine or Calvin. But he can talk to God about it, as can we all. :) and a wink

          Daniel Wilcox

          Sorry Les,

          But your statement
          “Well, he can’t talk to Augustine or Calvin. But he can talk to God about it, as can we all. :)”

          disagrees with Calvinism completely.

          I can’t. Remember, point #1 I am incapable, have inability, was foreordained to damnation, etc. No, I can’t talk to the “God of Calvin and Augustine.”

          I already asked you politely to answer this:
          How is your Good News to anyone, especially to the billions who weren’t foreordained? We “can’t” repent, but were born foreordained to Hell as Calvin claimed.

          You didn’t answer my questions (which of course is your choice. Yes, you see I do believe in free will.)

          I will be politely blunt: I am a total Atheist when it comes to the “God of Calvin and Augustine and TULIP.

          Instead, I accepted Christ as my savior and lord on the way home from Baptist prayer meeting long ago, I did to to the God of John 3:16, etc., to the God, Billy Graham speaks of in this quote from the July 2012 issue of Decision Magazine:
          He sent His only Son to the cross to suffer and die so that your soul may be saved. And if you were the only person in the whole universe, Christ would have died for you.”
          Decision Magazine July 1, 2012

          Now that is Good News that God of Jesus wills to save and love every single human who has ever lived or will ever live.

          That is the Gospel.

          Daniel

            Not The Original Les

            Brother Daniel,

            I answered your question. You apparently didn’t like it.

            Praise God for your testimony of His saving you a long time ago.

            May God richly bless you,

            Les

John

Why is it that every where I turn I see Traditionalist being Victimized here at SBCToday.
Today we see how Lifeway is victimizing Traditionalist.
Yesterday we saw how Chris Roberts was victimizing Traditionalist by using that forbidden SP word and Chris being of all things the author of Unity.
Before that we watched the dramatic results oriented 4 part story of how Ronnie escaped those satanic influences of Calvinism.
Who can forget how Tim Guthrie has fought his own battles with New Calvinist as he related his questions for Calvinist and concerns.
But thank goodness for the new SBCToday and Norm Miller bringing us to the round table to sit around discuss these issues as brothers in Christ on that not so distant day of July 9th 2012. Oh how we must come together around the table Norm has prepared as Southern Baptist to support our victimized Traditionalist brothers and put an end to these horrific influences.

Maybe it is time SBCToday does a Traditionalist Convention to combat these stealth Sovereign Grace conventions we see people attending that are broadcast over the internet. I look forward to the day when Traditionalist have a convention and present the issues that confront all Traditionalists. A time for gathering and fellowship. A time for learning how to survive all these attacks on Free Will and shedding the victim mentality, oh how I look forward to this Convention time.

    Dean

    Wow that is some imagination. The only victim that I have read on this issue over the last several months is Dr. Nettles crying that the traditionalist will not let the Calvinist drink from the same water fountain. I certainly have never been victimized by a Calvinist other than having to read some terrible or dishonest exegesis from time to time on verses like I John 2:2. The issue that Calvinist offer no answer for is this, why can’t a person simply state they believe in limited atonement when dealing with an established church. If said church calls you then God bless you. However if one is dishonest or practices double speak i e. I preach the doctrines of grace knowing he is camouflaging from the committee his beliefs then shame on such a brother and he has victimized some of God’s children. I have no desire to pastor a reformed church because we do not have the same beliefs on certain issues that are simply too important for me to ignore. If I did want to pastor such a church, for some strange reason, I would not hide my convictions and practice deception in order to become pastor.

      John

      Dean
      “why can’t a person simply state they believe in limited atonement when dealing with an established church.”

      A Pastoral candidate can and they should represent their soritology honestly when asked about it.

      Why are pastors search committees so I’ll equipped at asking question of discernment and investigating possible pastoral candidates. Maybe a Traditional conference is in order to help pastoral search committees, or as a starting point if Traditionalist truly have the discernment issue that you point out then how about a series of articles here at SBCToday helping search committees. A search committee can start out by asking for a perspective pastors Personal Statement of Faith, read his blog, or ask about websites he may contribute to. Use google to find past articles. Listen to or ask for copies of notes from sermons of text that you consider doctrinal issues. Again this is a victim issue, it is not like pastoral candidates fall from the sky without background.

        Dean

        John, I agree with you that a committee is responsible in calling a pastor. They need to be as thorough as possible. Not every candidate is published and several Calvinistic pastors in my state have lied about their beliefs when dealing with committees. The pastor is responsible for being honest. I can assure you that training is now taking place for committees with churches being hurt by this issue. What many perceive as bashing is many times traditionalist efforts to inform churches of what Calvinistic brothers believe and the fact that some hide their beliefs. The more training that takes place the greater the efforts of deception will have to be. John, SBC churches by in large do not want pastors who believe in limited atonement. Honesty will kill this issue in the SBC.

          John

          Dean,
          If pastors lie then they should be fired plain and simple and future references should reflect the issue.

          If an SBC church does not want to hire limited atonement believing pastors then don’t. But don’t complain if a “open” limited atonement church opens up in your community and half your congregation starts attending it, and it turns into the largest congregation in your community. This is also part of the real issue facing traditionalist.

            Dean

            John, nothing could be further from the truth. Growing Calvinistic Baptist churches are like four leaf clovers they are out there but hard to fine. All my experience with established churches in the SBC are they are having to clean up a mess. If a brother wants to start such a church God bless Him. I’m glad we agree that pastors who lie on these matters should be fired. I appreciate your concern for my church but it is a very healthy church that is built on exegetical preaching of the entire Canon. My wonderful flock understands the doctrines of grace. I dealt with that question four times in process of coming to this church. Again I state honesty will end this debate in the SBC. The theological difference will last until the end of time but SBC members simply reject limited atonement. There is no theological debate across the board in SBC on this issue. There is a very small % that wants to be considered the norm. They are not the norm. I accept unity among diversity among SBC as long as its done with honesty.

            Lydia

            “But don’t complain if a “open” limited atonement church opens up in your community and half your congregation starts attending it, and it turns into the largest congregation in your community. This is also part of the real issue facing traditionalist”

            Don’t get too prideful. Some of us are old enough to remember how cool the seeker mega’s were and they siphoned off many a small and medium sized SBC church. Cool is about all you guys have right now except membership covenants that make it harder to leave. People love rules and forumlas and Calvin has that. It is one reason Islam is growing so much, too. It won’t last.

            What I am seeing now, ironically, is many of the middle aged seekers leaving the cool hip megas for our boring churches where they can serve and be a part of the Body. The best part is they have more money than the cool 20somethings filling your churches.

            Seriously, lets talk demographics and psychographics.

            John

            Dean,
            Don’t worry I was not concerned with your church I was concerned for Christ bride :-) We do not want her defiled by lying deceitful leaders no matter what professed soritology they confess.

            I am afraid I will disagree with you Dean and that is that the only growth that we see in church attendance today studies show is in conservative churches. I am afraid we will see a growth in reformed churches no matter what man thinks he can do about it. The reason is very simple and that is the more liberal society becomes the more conservative churches will appear to grow. Unless we adopt the european church model and that is in elimination of churches altogether except being displayed as old architecture. I will let you type in google “conservative church growth” and you can pick from many articles the studies you wish to research.

            Best to you Dean, hope you feed those sheep until the Shepherd comes.

          Steve Evans

          We are in the process of seeking a Pastor and I’ve been asked by both the deacons & the search team to assist in vetting the possible candidates. I will be asking hard questions!
          I have perused several of the resumes and have noticed very forthright stands on these issues. I have also had to do research on some of the other candidates. I asked one why he wanted to leave his current church and he responded he felt it was God’s will for him to seek another place of service. I called the church to ask questions and found that his story did not agree with the current leadership of the church. I do not know his heart but I do know the church is in strife because of an apparent disagreement with his teaching vis a vis limited atonement. It shows up nowhere in his doctrinal statement but by doing some homework I found out where he stands on that issue at least. So, yes, there are those who would keep their calvinist leanings close to the vest. I do not have a problem with those who believe in limited atonement but be forthright about it. There are those churches that are being wary about such issues.

            John

            Steve,
            Keep up the good work. You are asking the right question and it sounds like your discernment is respecting what the deacons and search committee is asking from you. Wolves need to be weeded out. I do like what you had to say:

            “I have perused several of the resumes and have noticed very forthright stands on these issues.”

            This is encouraging. Best to you brother in finding Gods Will for his flock.

            Steve Evans

            John, please understand I am not in agreement with Calvinist doctrine and am trying to make sure these candidates are in agreement with Traditional SBC doctrine as is and has been taught here at our local church. Blessings to you, Brother!

            John

            Steve,
            I thought you were clear, your church does not want Sovereign Grace doctrine taught.

            I support you and your churches effort in finding a pastor that is suited for your Traditional church. I happen to be a Calvinist that wants the Gospel taught and that is a Tier One issue for me. Soritology is a Tier Three issue for me. Some want to make Soritology a Tier Two/One issue, not me.

            In selecting a Pastor it should be clear where the Pastor stands and where the Search Committee stands on Soritology and the level of importance by all parties honestly, so no one can say they fell victim to one side or the other being dishonest. Best to you brother; get the best man for your Congregation.

        Lydia

        “A Pastoral candidate can and they should represent their soritology honestly when asked about it. ”

        Now there is a Clintonian answer. “when asked about it”. ????

        I have seen several YRR proudly claim the pulpit committees were too dumb about doctrine to ask the right questions so it was their own fault. I worry about guys with that attitude going into church work. What else do they have that attitude concerning and for people?

        The truth is for a long time many pulpit committees trusted our seminaries and out of love and tolerance never in a million years dreamed the nice guy they were interviewing would think them all simpletons.

        It is that attitude that really shows a lack of integrity.

      Lydia

      “The only victim that I have read on this issue over the last several months is Dr. Nettles crying that the traditionalist will not let the Calvinist drink from the same water fountain.”

      I still do not get that. Nettles has been a long time employee of SBC entities as a known Calvinist! How can he square that fact with what he said?

Luther Jones

Reading over the numerous comments here and on other pages, it seems to me this has taken place.

1. Trads are fed up and, so, trads at SBCtoday have posted many articles that can rightly be called “Calvinist-bashing”.
2. Some Calvinists have went on the offensive, countering with calls of heresy and whatnot.
3. Trads have responded by these attacks with more attacks.
4. Calvinists have attacked back.
5. Occasionally there are voices of calm.
6. More attacks.
7. SBCtoday continue to post more abusive articles against Calvinism.
8. More attacks from both sides.

Have I missed anything? Whose side are we on?

Is it SBCtoday’s goal to undermine unity in the SBC? Is that why the attacks from both sides are continually posted here?

I’m sure as servants of Christ, your goal could not be disunity. But the fruit the many articles SBCtoday have posted and the fruit of the attacks that have followed are surely division and disunity. Isn’t that a fair interpretation of these events?

I can’t help put thing this articles and comments at SBCtoday are doing harm to cause of Christ and ultimately serving the wrong master.

-Luther

    Lydia

    “Have I missed anything”

    Yes. The last 30 or so years of building up to this point and the Quiet Revolution by Reisinger. And the fact there has been a plan in place to make us all Presbyterians with ruling elders. :o)

      Not The Original Les

      Lydia,

      Looks like I’m stalking you. Bt I’m not. But you’re just spewing all over the place.

      ” And the fact there has been a plan in place to make us all Presbyterians with ruling elders. :o)”

      I think not. But hey, there are worse things in life than “Presbyterians with ruling elders.” Wanna ask my children?

      Les

        Lydia

        Les, No thanks. I will stick with the Holy Priesthood. The veil was torn in two for me at the Cross. I can go “direct”.

Bill Mac

Regarding the Gospel Project:

The opponents of the GP on here are essentially accusing the folks at Lifeway of deliberate deception regarding this curriculum. If they are deliberately deceiving the SBC, then you should follow your convictions and call for their termination. If I thought the leaders of our entities were lying to us, I wouldn’t be content to scold them on blogs. They need to be removed.

    Steve Evans

    Dear brother, don’t you know we’re just sheeple? We aren’t afforded a voice in these enlightened days.

    Rick Patrick

    I, for one, am not an “opponent” of the Gospel Project. I am a “wait and see” observer of the Gospel Project. I am skeptical of the notion that so many Calvinists can keep that fact secret in their writings for three entire years. I stated in my original post that if they do indeed manage to accomplish that, I will be the first to apologize. I am unwilling to form a final judgment on the curriculum until the last sentence has been written. For now, all I am judging is the unbalanced nature of their staff relative to Calvinism and the overall composition of the Southern Baptist Convention.

      Bill Mac

      Rick: Skepticism is one thing. An accusation of deliberate deception is another. I can’t see how one can read “sneak it in and then denying its existence” as anything other than an accusation of deception.

        Rick Patrick

        Bill,

        I admit it is an accusation of deception, but AGAINST WHOM? Against the hypothetical Calvinist writers at Lifeway referenced in Kyle Thomas’ comment. If Lifeway wants to produce a Calvinist curriculum, have at it, but don’t produce one without clearly identifying it as such. This hypothetical Calvinist curriculum of Kyle’s should not sneak it in and deny its existence.

        As for the Gospel Project, we will not know whether that has happened until the last sentence of the curriculum has been written, at which point, if my suspicions prove unfounded, I will apologize for my skepticism. At no point have I called anyone a liar or deceptive.

        I simply questioned, and still do, how such a strong percentage of those involved in the project are Calvinists if this happened completely at random. For me, the jury is still out on the Gospel Project.

        Rick Patrick

        Bill,

        You don’t have to wait three years for my accusation of deception. You can just read about our brother’s accusation of deception which he feels comfortable making right now. He’s read much more of TGP than I have:

        http://pastorralphgreen.blogspot.com/2012/07/guarding-sacred-trust.html

      Steve Evans

      Rick, I was being facetious with my comment to Bill Mac……..I am in NO WAY in agreement with Calvinism! I feel strongly Pastors or those who write for Lifeway should state their intentions up front. No stealth teachers or writers should be allowed in the SBC!

        Rick Patrick

        Steve,

        Thanks for your comments, and I agree. I was commenting to the earlier comment of Bill Mac.

Jared Moore

Rick, so what you’re saying is that you’re fine with Calvinists being in the SBC so long as they don’t influence anyone you love or any SBC entity you support or that they don’t write any curriculum you use?

    Rick Patrick

    My Good Frenemy Jared,

    Been using the chain saw lately? I’ll put your false accusations incorrectly restating my positions in quotes and my responses following them.

    “so what you’re saying is that you’re fine with Calvinists being in the SBC so long as…” I’m fine with Calvinists being in the SBC. Period.

    “so long as they don’t influence anyone you love…” I love many Calvinists and there are many Calvinists who are influencing people I love.

    “or any SBC entity you support…” I’m fine with Calvinists influencing the entities of the SBC, so long as they do so in a manner completely transparent to all, and in a measure equal to their numerical representation in the Southern Baptist Convention.

    “or that they don’t write any curriculum you use…” True, I will not buy any curriculum they write, but I’m fine with Calvinists writing curriculum at Lifeway, so long as they do so in a manner completely transparent to all. I believe their curriculum will be purchased in a measure equal to their numerical representation in the Southern Baptist Convention.

      Chris Roberts

      “and in a measure equal to their numerical representation in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

      I still find it odd to think of using a quota system to determine how loud a voice Calvinists are allowed to have in the SBC…

      Jared Moore

      Rick, you’re killing me on your negative assumptions of The Gospel Project. Can you not at least read it before you assume the worst? Is a Calvinist not capable of writing a curriculum you agree with?

        Rick Patrick

        Jared,

        I don’t want to kill you with negative assumptions, but I would have to read all three years worth of lessons, and I’m not even going to bother with it.

        As it turns out, you need not bother with my assumptions anymore, but can consider this minister’s much more informed observations:

        http://pastorralphgreen.blogspot.com/2012/07/guarding-sacred-trust.html

          Jared Moore

          Would someone please prove The Gospel Project is a Calvinist indoctrination tool by quoting The Gospel Project? How about some hard evidence for once?

          Being quick to assume the worst is not proof.

            Rick Patrick

            Jared,

            This pastor was not “quick to assume” but studied the curriculum for hours. Consider this paragraph:

            “After we were made aware of this Calvinistic/Reformed theological approach of the curriculum; Pastor Mike and I have spent literally hours and days digging through this curriculum once we received the shipment to see for ourselves. We found it to be biased in how it explains and interprets the study themes. There are numerous subtle seeds of the Calvinistic approach to Scripture and many that are overtly obvious. The more we read and studied the curriculum, the more convinced we have become that this curriculum is not suitable for use here at Calvary. I am greatly disappointed because there is nothing wrong with healthy dialogue and wrestling with theological issues. But when a curriculum is designed to teach only one side of the issue; it is no longer a healthy debate but indoctrination and we cannot allow that indoctrination to take place here at Calvary.”

    Lydia

    Jared,

    ‘If you want to see the nations rejoice for Christ, New Calvinism is the only place to go.’ (paraphrase)

    An SBC employee said this. One that Trads also pay. So please don’t tell me that the New Calvinist wing of the SBC is not into exclusivity. Not after that and saying that his siblings in Christ did not know what they were signing and it leans toward heresy. And why does he get to define who or what is “marginalizing”?

    I think the first statement above is “marginalizing” people in the SBC who are NOT New Calvinists. And I am aware you cannot see it. And you guys wonder why there is some pushback.

      Max

      “Where else are they going to go? If you’re a theological minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you’re committed to the gospel and want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see gospel built and structured committed churches, your theology is just going to end up basically being Reformed, basically something like this new Calvinism, or you’re going to have to invent some label for what is basically going to be the same thing, there just are not options out there, and that’s something that frustrates some people, but when I’m asked about the New Calvinism—where else are they going to go, who else is going to answer the questions, where else are they going to find the resources they are going to need and where else are they going to connect. This is a generation that understands, they want to say the same thing that Paul said, they want to stand with the apostles, they want to stand with old dead people, and they know that they are going to have to, if they are going to preach and teach the truth.” (Dr. Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary )

Lydia

“Lydia,

You should read up on it

What section of the Institutes is it in? :o) The only thing I can find in the New Covenant scripture are humble servants and the “spiritually mature”. You know, the guys who have been in the trenches and would NEVER want to rule anyone. They believe in “King” Jesus as the only “ruler” of the Body. And they would NEVER call themselves “ruling” elders. Better do a deeper word study on Hebrews 13:17. (That is Mahaney’s favorite verse)

    Not The Original Les

    Lydia,

    Keep looking. It’s also in the scriptures.

    “You know, the guys who have been in the trenches and would NEVER want to rule anyone.” Check your scriptures, again. They actually talk about the ruling elders.

    “They believe in “King” Jesus as the only “ruler” of the Body.” So, which color carpet did King Jesus pick pick out? :)

      Lydia

      “They actually talk about the ruling elders. ”

      No, the church state translators badly translated them as “ruling” elders. They were, most likely, afraid not to.

        Not The Original Les

        ” church state translators badly translated them as “ruling” elders.”

        Proper exegesis? ______________________.

          Lydia

          From a Presbyterian? I am a Baptist for a reason.

          Les Prouty

          Just offering you an opportunity to correct hundreds of years of error…all with a few key strokes by Lydia. (wink)

          Les

John T. Meche III

I’m a relatively young guy in the SBC at age 28. I moved to New Orleans 4 years ago to attend seminary. When I moved I was a new Calvinist at the height of the cage stage. God used the faculty of NOBTS to show me that there were people out there who weren’t Calvinists who loved theology and the gospel but weren’t Calvinists. I haven’t changed my mind on Calvinism, but I became utterly convinced that I love these non-Calvinistic brothers and sisters and that I can partner with them to spread the gospel around the globe and plant churches. Then events like the John 316 conference came along and debates like this one have sprung up. I’m still standing here with open arms to my brothers in Christ, but now I feel like I’m virus to be inoculated against. I feel like they want me to leave or at least be pushed to the very margins of the SBC. Talk about screening for Calvinists, the inability to preach the gospel for both Calvinists and “Traditionalists” (a term that in itself is offensive), and making sure that the Gospel Project isn’t too Calvinistic…these things are heart-breaking to me. I know that anyone can come along in a rational debate and play the hurt card and take the focus of the actual issues at hand. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I just feel as though it doesn’t have to be this way. I really don’t want to be pushed out of the SBC, because I’m in the Calvinist minority. And if the SBC splits over this, I’m not joining either denomination.

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