Dr. Caner @ John 3.16 Conference

March 22, 2013

Salvation in the eyes of the local church

Dr. Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell College — addressed issues surrounding varying understandings of salvation within SBC churches, particularly in the discussion of Calvinism. He stated that the understanding of salvation impacts the local church and its effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission.

Because of the many differences that create what Caner referred to as “quiet revolutions” in churches today, it is necessary for the leaders of these churches to be clear about their theological beliefs. This prevents theological confusion in the congregation and solidifies the church’s ability to accomplish its purpose.

Caner stated four areas of theological transparency for the church: biblical exposition or hermeneutics, theological issues, church polity or ecclesiology, and evangelism/discipleship. Within these categories he cited theologians, gave general definitions, and prescribed questions to be asked by pastoral search committees of their candidates. 

In the matter of biblical exposition, Caner stated, “Salvation’s enablement is not based in the sufficiency of man or in the secrecy of God. It is found in the sufficiency of God’s word.” He added that upholding a belief in both the hidden and revealed will of God undermines His unity. Questions to encourage theological transparency in this area deal  with word-defining in particular passages of Scripture, and differentiating between theological systems and the Gospel.

Caner referred to theological issues, posing questions concerning salvation, free will, predestination, the purpose of man, and God’s judgment. These questions necessitate specific and clear answers, which must be supported by biblical foundation.

Concerning the third area, church polity or ecclesiology, Caner stated, “The church is not a conclave of bishops but the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.” This statement reflects his opinion that pastors should establish their view of the church concerning authority, leadership, church discipline, confessions of faith, and curriculum.

Evangelism and discipleship exist together in the final area of theological transparency. These two elements are necessary to the life of the local church in fulfilling the Great Commission. Because of this, it is necessary for church leaders to outline their positions on the subjects with questions concerning salvation, methods of evangelism, and elements of church services. These things should be evaluated through Scripture alone.

In conclusion, it is evident that the local church’s view of salvation is necessary to fulfill its purpose. However, Caner expounded on his original thesis statement saying that, “ultimately the question really is: how will it impact souls that surround our local churches? The local church is the most important organism, other than the family.”

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dr. james willingham

It seems that the decision has been made to boot out the Calvinists. At least that is what I have been told. Since I have done years of research in Baptist Church History, written a Master’s thesis in American Social & Intellectual History on, “The Baptists & Ministerial Qualifications:1750-1850,” and served as Chairman of the Historical Committees of the Sandy Creek Baptist Assn., 1977-81, and the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, it seems appropriate that I should call attention to the Father of Missions, the Rev. Dr. Luther Rice, who enlisted Southern Baptists in the cause of World Missions. I have laying before me the Memoirs of Rev. Rice by James B. Taylor, published in Baltimore in 1840.

It seems that Rev. Rice was delighted to meditate on the theme of Christ, and him crucified. He gloried only in the cross of the Lord Jesus, the author declares. He was a decided believer in the doctrine of divine Sovereignty. The author cites Rev. Rice as declaring, “Why should it not be the very joy of our bosoms, that he has “fore-ordained whatsoever has come to pass?”(p.327) Rev. Rice also stated:
“How absurd it is, therefore, to contend against the doctrine of election, or decrees, or divine
sovereignty.”

Rev. Rice was also very plain that we must preach that God commands all men everywhere to repent, and Paul urged repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, he notes that purposes and decrees are found in the Bible and should be preached. He even noted that the good minister of Jesus Christ cannot excuse himself or be approved in it by his master, if he shuns to declare this part of the counsel of God.(p338). There is more, but I only wish to mark how Sovereign Grace believers, and Calvinists in particular were involved in the launching of the Great Century of Missions. In fact, the Calvinists of Virginia and Kentucky who worked out the parameters of association, saying, that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man would be no bar to communion, showing that the majority were of the Particular Redemption view, and it was this view that was involved in the launching of the Modern Missionary Movement.

In closing, I might mention that the first convert won to Christ was actually won by one accused of being a Hyper Calvinist, Dr. John Thomas, who led Krishna Pal to Christ and then went insane with joy at the first convert. Pal was baptized by the five point calvinist, Dr. William Carey, the Father of Missions. There is more, but I wish that the Traditionalists might think carefully about the reality of the origins and that the Calvinists were the ones who worked out the agreement of cooperation. I even pastored a church founded fifty years after the first agreement in 1787. That church, the old Sardis United Baptist Church, founded by Elder John B. Longan, who believed in Sovereign Grace, and who also held that Christ tasted death for every man. The Baptists of Missouri in 1827 were very much aware of the fact that they were acting in accordance with that practice (cf. Duncan’s History of Missouri Baptists). It would also explain how Dr. John Priest Greene and the folks of William Jewell College were so eager to get possession of C.H. Sprugeon’s library, the great strict, five point Calvinist of the 19th cdntury, the person in whose pulpit James Petigru Boyce did not feel worthy to preach, the minister who received a telegram from the Faculty of Southern Seminary on one of his anniversaries.

Brethren, my ordaining pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell was what someone has called an oxymoron, because he was a publically declared, self-professed supralapsarian hyper calvinists, his words from the Pulpit and person to person at Calvary Church in St. Louis whi9ch at that time held the record for putting more boys and girls into the ministry and missions than any other church in the Southern Baptist Convention. At least, that is what I have been told. And Dr. Campbell was a soul winner, par excellence, pleading with sinners to look to Christ until the tears ran down their cheeks. Dr. Robert G. Lee thought so much of Dr. Campbell that he put it in his Will that Dr. Campbell should preach his funeral. While Dr. Lee had five preachers for that august event, Dr. Campbell use to laugh and say, “But the only one that was legal was me.” He also founded the American Race Track Chaplaincy while serving as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hialeah, Fla. (Cf. Who’s Who in Religion.2nd edn.: Chicago: Marquis Pubs., 1977). He once preached a revival in a country church near Augusta, Ga. and had 100 conversions. These were but a few of the great Calvinists who inspired the Great Century of Missions in the 19th Century and the 20th Century. Dr. George W. Truett summed it up well in his Centenary Address for C.H. Spurgeon after being introduced by the Prime Minister of the British Empire, when he said that Calvinism pressed down upon the head of every man the crown of responsibility.

    David (NAS) Rogers

    I’m not quite sure how the above article relates to a seeming “decision . . . made to boot out the Calvinists”. Surely a call for theological transparency is not ipso facto the same as a call to boot out Calvinists. From what would they be booted? The national convention, national agencies, state conventions, associations, local churches? Surely local churches have some autonomy to “boot” or not to “boot”. Surely they should be theologically informed about their pastoral ministry candidates, shouldn’t they?

    You are certainly correct about the Calvinist spring running throughout SBC history, and Southern Baptists should certainly become aware of that theological tradition from the very beginning. It is also certainly correct to let SBC-ers know that there is also a long running stream of non-Calvinism flowing all the way back. Whether that particular stream should deservedly earn the excluding label “Traditional” or not is another matter.

    I’ve heard some Calvinists express a somewhat equivalent condescending theological booting of non-Calvinists from the idea of a robust Evangelical biblical and theological realm. Calvinism is the only place where the truly theologically seeking could possibly explore. What other place is there? said one prominent SBC Calvinist. (Said or seriously implied, I may be off on the exact wording.)

    I myself would resist any “booting” from my local association any congregation sheerly on a Calvinism basis, but I will indeed resist theologically, intellectually, debating-ly, should a Calvinist church or churches attempt to co-opt the association or larger entities as the only theological stream for Southern Baptists.

      dr. james willingham

      Dear David (NAS, not a son – is that correct?) Rogers: I appreciate your stand and hold the same myself with reference to the Traditionalists. It was my pastor who told me so, and he is a signer of the Traditionalist statement. His statement floored me, for he has made statement for which some of the more vociferous Traditionalists would give him the boot, too. It has a been a depressing week and a half, since I heard that statement, Since we have a son who is a pastor, one who will celebrate his 14th anniversary as pastor of a church with the baptism of his 12 years old daughter and three other individuals, one who has served as the Moderator of his association for four years (they suspended the rules so that he could serve one more year while they looked for a DOM. Since I know of efforts on the part of state convention officials in other states to get rid of calvinistic pastors, I expect the same approach will be tried here and that is depressing. My ancestors include a noted minister, Holland Middleton, mentioned in Henry Holcombe’s History of Alabama Baptists in 1840 and whose father might have been the Holland Middleton as one of the two men appointed to execute the will of Daniel Marshall, the founder of the Kiokee Baptist Church, the oldest continuing Baptist Church in Georgia…which same church has a Willingham as one of the original members at its inception. We have bad eggs in every group. Our Lord had Judas as one of the Twelve. I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening for (it will be this Fall) 40 years. One of the reasons the theology of Calvinism has come back, I think, is that it is the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the launching of Modern Missions. Witness the fact that Calvinism was the theology of Jonathan Edwards whose tract, Humble Attmept, inspired Andrew Fuller and William Carey, five point Calvinists, to begin the effort which made Carey the Father of Modern Missions. He would baptize the first convert of the effort, won by a fellow charged with being a hyper calvinist, Dr. John Thomas, who after leading Krishna Pal to Christ literally lost his sanity in a rapturous burst of joy, a frenzy of happiness. Talk about folks not knowing their theology, our present day folks are cases in points. They do not know that even some Hyper Calvinists can plead with souls until tears run down the cheeks of sinners. My ordaining pastor pleaded with my step-father until the man did practically weep. Alas! he was never saved, as far as I know. O what a grief…, but it was not for lack of appeal to him to look to Christ…and that by a Supralapsarian who knew his theology.

        David (NAS) Rogers

        Thanks for the reply.

        The (NAS) is my way of noting that I am (Not Adrian’s Son) since I and the much more famous son of Adrian with the same name as me should not be confused. He doesn’t need to be tarred with any of my comments.

        So far, my association has not had a non-Calvinist/Calvinist controversy but I have heard reports of some troubles in individual churches with the problems coming from both sides. Since I teach some courses at the association, I make extensive effort to assure that clear and accurate information is conveyed with regard to Calvinism. I know the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism and constantly emphasize that true Calvinism is evangelistic. However, I sincerely believe there are many problems with Calvinism even apart from that issue. And I’m sure Calvinists make critique of non-Calvinists also.

        Should Calvinism become an association problem, I will fight vigorously for accuracy of information, autonomy of churches, theological disclosure and a sincere belief that both sides can indeed co-operate in the spread of the commonly held saving Gospel.

          dr. james willingham

          Well, I can’t improve on your statement. In fact, it is what I would say, too. Or, at least, so I understand and believe now. I appreciate your honesty and integrity. It is one of the reasons I declared to the one telling me of the Traditionalist determination to rid the SBC of Calvinism, that I did not think it could be. After all, I have a brother-in-law and his son who are not calvinists and are both preachers. I hardly think they would allow such a thing just out of family affection alone, not to add any appreciation that they might have for our commitment. The same is reciprocated by my son and myself. There are good Traditonalists who would not countenance such an effort. However, apparently, those influencing my pastor think otherwise and have set themselves on a course to eliminate the Calvinists in positions at SBTS and SEBTS, because, supposeldy, they are intending to get rid of the Traditionalists. I pointed out that at SEBTS there were only three, possibly four, if one throws in a Molinist for good measure (hardly your standard Calvinist), and one of the Calvinists I know personally. He is hardly the type to come down like a ton of bricks on those who do not conform to his theological parameters. In other words, if they can’t be persuaded to his view, he has not desire and manifests none either to get rid of them. Also Dr. Mohler has non-Calvinists on the staff, while Dr. Akin is determined that SEBTS is not going to produce a bunch of rubber stamps in that theology. So I don’t know what all the uproar is about, when I go exploring. The fact that a few Calvinists might insist on conformity is nothing new, but they are just talking, like whistling Dixie (it ain’t gonna be folks. So forget about it.).However, if we have a Third Great Awakening, and the theology that rises up and is blessed to produce it as happened in the First and Second Awakenings and in the launching of the Great Century of Missions, well, that is another matter. Then the theology might come to the fore. And that is what I pray. I want it to win by persuasion, by its fruitful and productive effects and blessings on the sons of men.

          I can say this, having studied that period from 1750-1820, the half has neither been told nor realized about the power and depth and blessing of that theology in those visitations of God. One could trace it in the streams of tears making white streaks down the coal blackened cheeks of the miners in England under the preaching of George Whitefield. One could sense the effect in the impact of Ev. George Whitefield, when he pointed at a Free Black man who had come to disrupt his meeting and quoted his text with the effect that the man went flying backwards and passed out sort of like the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus and He said, “I am.” Or I might call attention to the statement of a Circular Letter writer in Virginia in 1816 saying that while the past 50 years had not seen a miracle, it had seen something remarkably like it. Yea, a theology of power that created a mass populace of moral citizens for a new nation, the likes of which had never been seen of earth, a nation of free people who behaved themselves by and large.

            David (NAS) Rogers

            There is no denying that preaching by Calvinists contributed to the Awakenings in America.

            One must also note that for the first 350 years before Augustine that there is no indication of Church theologians holding to his doctrine of meticulous determinism perspective for understanding God’s sovereignty. The church grew by leaps and bounds in those years also.

            dr. james willingham

            David: You have evidently not looked at John Gill’s Cause of God and Truth which traces all of the doctrines of Grace back through the centuries before Augustine by consulting the Early Church Fathers.

            Jim G.

            I have looked at Gill’s work and I will state for the record that it is bogus. All he did is cherry-pick quotes from the fathers without weighing their total thoughts. Even the most ardent non-determinist can utter a sentence here and there that if read in a certain light can look deterministic. Steve Lawson did exactly the same thing. Neither he nor Gill read the fathers correctly. They found what they were looking for and in the process misrepresented the first 4 centuries of Christian thought on nature and grace.

            If the Greek fathers, for example, had been deterministic, then Eastern Orthodoxy today would be deterministic. Since it is about as far from determinism as one can get, they certainly do not see determinism there.

            Cassian’s critique of Augustine is another example. He was near Augustine’s level of brilliance and he flatly states that Augustine interprets nature and grace like no one before him. Augustine could not effectively appeal to anyone except some vague references to Tertullian, Cyprian, and Ambrose. Modern scholars not writing to prop up determinism have not found determinism before Augustine. I could go on and on.

            Jim G.

randallcofield

Transparency on issues of soteriology is certainly of first-order necessity for a church and prospective pastor.

A prospective Calvinistic pastor can easily articulate his position on these issues from the BF&M.

If, however, what is being called for is “transparency” in the form of “confessing” to the caricatures of Calvinism being bandied about in the SBC of late…well, that’s another issue altogether.

    Norm Miller

    Problem is, Randall, the transparency you cite is sometimes too opaque when the pastoral candidate hides his Calvinist beliefs. I trust such examples are few, but they do exist. As far as ‘caricatures’ of Calvinism — some of that is the artwork of Calvinists themselves.
    Dr. Allen at the John 3.16 Conf. today noted that even Calvin rejected the idea “bandied” by Calvinists themselves that regeneration precedes faith. In fact, he cited several examples clearly negating Calvinism as a monolithic system. So, what may appear as a caricature to you may be the actual tenet held by other Calvinists. — Norm

      randallcofield

      Norm,

      In fact, he cited several examples clearly negating Calvinism as a monolithic system. So,what may appear as a caricature to you may be the actual tenet held by other Calvinists.

      True, Calvinism is not a monolithic system, but then are there any monolithic systems within the SBC?

      Your citation of the issue of regeneration preceding faith is interesting. Our own BF&M seems to posit precisely that in article IV, doesn’t it?

      Any Calvinist being interviewed by a search committee would easily demonstrate that regeneration preceding faith is embedded in our own confession of faith.

        Norm Miller

        Randall: Since you noted the lack of a ‘monolithic’ system within the SBC, would you then allow for the proper and appropriate use of the Sinner’s Prayer as a means to assist those under conviction of the Holy Spirit to talk to God about their condition and its remedy? Also, I agree that BFM Article IV “seems to posit” that regeneration precedes faith.
        As for your last sentence, the problem in some cases is not what a Calvinistic pastoral candidate may demonstrate from the BFM; it is for him to demonstrate his Calvinism to the search committee in the first place. — Norm

Donald

“It seems that the decision has been made to boot out the Calvinists. At least that is what I have been told.”

By whom?

dr. james willingham

Jim G: I have Gill’s Cause of God and Truth. When I first got it, I checked his citations of Clement of Rome and several other early church Fathers and found that he had cited them correctly. I would hardly think the Book would have survived its first publication and to continue to be published for two more centuries, if it had been as erroneous as you suggest. Additionally, Gill was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity by the University of Glasgow, the fourth oldest University in the English Speaking world in recognition of his attainments.

    Jim G.

    Hi James,

    Find me one reputable patristics scholar who agrees with him. Just one will do. I am aware of NO early church historian who would claim that a deterministic view of providence existed in the first 350 years of Christianity.

    The Book of Mormon is still around, isn’t it? An old book still being published does not mean it cannot be erroneous.

    Additionally, since you have Gill’s works, go read his commentary on Matt 23:37. His understanding of the early church is so weak, he would have never survived the Council of Ephesus based on what he wrote there. Same with his interpretation of Mark’s account of Jesus and the rich young ruler. He resorts to a Nestorian view of the natures (making the natures subjects in their own right) to defend his determinism. I wouldn’t be championing John Gill on anything Patristic if I were you.

    Jim G.

      dr. james willingham

      Jim G.: So what if the Patristic Scholars disgree. The point I made was that when I checked out John Gill’s citations of, for example, Clement, he was correct. The same was true of some other early Fathers that he quoted. The fact that the Eastern Church does not hold much in the way of Sovereignty (determinism as you call it like the folks in Tragedy and Hope) is hardly germane. After all, the same could be said for the Westerch CHurch which, in essence, repudiated a lot of Augustine, and it was an Augustinian Monk named Luther that took them to task for their departures. One of his little works was The Bondage of The Will, the result of man’s fall into sin, Something you apparently have never recognized. Our Lord Jesus said man is unable to come come to Him, no one can come to Him (Jn.6:44,65). Man is dead in trespasses and sins, dead spiritually and powerless until the Sovereign Voice begins to quicken him into life (Jn.5:25). Makes me wonder, if you have ever heard that voice. I was an atheist, when the Lord first approached me, knocking just like He says in Rev.3:20 and then opening my heart like Paul indicated in Acts 1614. Has He ever opened your heart, Jim G?

        Jim G.

        James,

        How dare you presume to wonder about my salvation because I repudiate determinism! With logic like yours, no wonder this issue is so confused. Yes, I am a born again believer, but I am not a determinist. And yes, I’m more than familiar with Luther’s “Bondage,” although I disagree with much of it. I believe that humankind has fallen into sin due to Adam’s disobedience, but that does not entail your deterministic conclusions.

        ONE agreement with Gill from a “reputable” patristics scholar is all I ask. Otherwise, put the Nestorian Gill to bed. Surely there is ONE if Gill is right.

        Next time, keep your wondering about my salvation under your hat. Show me the same courtesy I have shown you. We disagree, but I never thought you were lost because of it. If you can’t answer my question, so be it. Don’t turn and question my salvation because you are defending the indefensible. That is presumption of the highest order.

        Jim G.

          dr. james willingham

          Must have gotten close, Jim G. Since your discourtesy in the other comments far exceeds that of most respondents, I really wondered, In fact, your attack on my determinism and etc. is perhaps equaled by only one other. Must have bothered the folks mentioned by Quigley, but then you might not know them at all. I have read a good deal of Gill’s writings, but I do not have much time to do it these days. However, he appeared fairly standard in his orthodoxy for the period in which he wrote. Can’t imagine that the people who recognized him as a scholar by granting him a D.D. (and was the D.D. then a higher degree rather than just your standard honorary slip of paper?) would have done so, if he had really been off in his christology, And why should I not ask you to question your salvation, when you have moved against me with such vindictiveness, never asking on what real basis of biblical exegesis and Christian experience I might have that would move me to a high view of God’s Sovereignty?

          My exposure to the world of debate is that which prefers a more courteous approach, but getting involved with a pole cat as my first church janitor told me about 50 years ago can garner one some gamey reeks. If you wish, we can restrict our points to a straight forward discussion of exegesis, without reflecting on each other’s shortcomings.

          I propose that we take a look at our Lord;s remarks in Jn.6:44,65 and Jn.5:25, man’s inability/depravity and deadness as being of such nature as to require nothing less than a full-fledged miracle of God’s Sovereign Grace. It was the three letter word, “can,” that spurred my change in views, as in “no man can,” due to having learned in childhood that “can” means ability. Hence, no man can means no man has the ability, some spelled out in the Sandy Creek Confession of 1816, adopted under the leadership of Luther Rice, with Basil Manly, Sr., participating as the clerk and last listed member of the Committee to draw up that Confession.

          And if you must take up the determinism part, I prefer the biblical terms of God’s Sovereignty and Predestination. Consider how it is for a child of three to be deprived of both parents and left to the hardships of a sharecropper’s life and the sunup-sunset labor that goes with that calling. Like the Professor said, “If I did not believe God was in control to make that (he was referring to the death of his fine son, gassed to death by a space heater in off campus housing) turn out for good, I don’t know what I would do.” He said this in reference to a group of so-called liberal students going after me for having said something to that very end with reference to the murder of my mother and two half-sisters and the death of my step-father by suicide, apparently after committing the first three griefs.

            lydiasellerofpurple

            “Must have gotten close, Jim G. Since your discourtesy in the other comments far exceeds that of most respondents, I really wondered, In fact, your attack on my determinism and etc. is perhaps equaled by only one other. ”

            Are you sure that you are referring to the same person? Is he discourteous because he disagrees and challenged you on Gill? I did not read him question your salvation because he disagrees with you about Gill.

            All too often this is where disagreement about determinism leads. And why many young men are coming into our churches and telling us we do not know the true Gospel. I am not understanding how we can have unity with such attitudes.

            Jim G.

            You don’t want to discuss exegesis, James. You want to discuss hermeneutics instead. I have no desire to do the latter, because your assumptions drive you to see things in Scripture that I do not see. We will be wasting our time. I won’t let you be the one to define terms, either. I believe in sovereignty too, as well as predestination. They are indeed biblical concepts. But I do not hold the same meaning in these concepts as you do. So I prefer the word determinism to describe your idea of “sovereign grace,” so as to distinguish it from mine. Many of your fellow Cals embrace the term “determinism” because it is what it is.

            You can believe as you want. I won’t intimate that you are almost the devil for doing so, as you have done to me. I actually respect your position far more than you do mine. I just don’t agree with yours. Don’t take it personally.

            And, since you will not present one patristics scholar who affirms Gill’s interpretation of the fathers, admit he is not the best source to understand their views on nature and grace and call it a night.

            Jim G.

dr. james willingham

JimG: You would be interested in readying Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope which outlines the theology of the folks who (I suppose) think they control the world and the theology they oppose. I went back and did research on the book and the author.. In any case, you should find pp.1028 and 1029, which I downloaded via PDF from the net, velly interesting.

dr. james willingham

Well, Lydia, perhaps you don’t, but I felt that JimG was discourteous and not because he disagreed with me. Some of that discourtesy, no doubt, was reflected in my reply to him. Young men have a tendency to over-do, the enthusiasm and energy of their age is surely a factor. Also, there is such a thing as some call the Cage Stage or the stage in which one’s zeal blinds him to his excesses. And this is true in all commitments, regardless of the name. Sports fanatics are a suggestive example that tells us the problem is something else. It is interesting to note your responses, especially in view of your title, Lydia Seller of Purple. It reminds me of one of the texts that I use to explain and illustrate my conversion. The first is Rev. 3:20 and the second is Acts 16:14, because I had made up my mind that I was not going to tell anyone about seeing Jesus knocking at my door in a vision (?) (after all, one’s atheism is really strained, when the God whom one says does not exists shows up and knocks), then two blocks from home, something or, rather, someone opened my heart to decide to tell my mother what had happened which led to my conversion on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec.7, 1957,

As to disagreement, I really don’t mind them, having taught Senior Papers in Graduate School, History in a State College (and even one course in Philosophy as my Master’s was in Intellectual History) as well as Political Science in a Community College, Seminary Extension courses (Systematic Theology, Baptist History, Preaching, Isaiah, and Hebrews), and served as a counselor on the Counseling Staff of Senior High School responsible for the pathologies of Incest and Pedophilia. I also served as a pastor for a total of 28 years in four churches and as chairman of Historical Committees of the Sandy Creek Baptist Assn. and the Baptist State Convention of NC. O yes, I also took a course in Mediation with a Law firm for the Superior Courts of NC. Life is full of many terrible and unpleasant things, and one can sometimes find comfort in the Sovereignty God and His control of all things. The idea of Open theology, etc., has absolutely no appeal to me. Besides, I have experienced the Lord’s presence in very desperate circumstances. The problem of emotional attachments due to experiences of such a nature is something JimG might find helpful in his dealing with people who face terrible traumas in their lives. This leads, in turn, to the redemptive and consummation purposes of God, and His wherewithal to accomplish goals that are so above and beyond what we can imagine as to be virtually unbelievable.

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