“Ask the Theologian” is a radio program launched and hosted by Dr. Randy White, pastor of First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas. As a blogging pastor and contributing writer for SBCToday, Dr. White granted the following interview to relate his motivations and aspirations regarding this new ministry venture.
When did “Ask the Theologian” launch?
We launched a beta version on the Internet last fall. The program officially launched on radio stations the weekend of January 18, 2014. Our prayer is to have 100 radio stations in the first year.
What reasons motivated you to inaugurate this ministry?
Theology is so absent from the church today. Almost everything that a Christian can find in sermons, Bible studies, Christian books, and even seminars and conferences is “felt-need” oriented. The development of good theological thinkers is essential to a healthy future of the church. I am worn out with the “Twitter theology,” as I call it, which encapsulates a pithy doctrinal saying into a few words, but is often not even biblically valid. Yet, because it sounds good and is about the Bible, Christians like it, post it, retweet it, and praise it. It is time for Christians to question the assumptions of these statements. Sadly, many sermons and Bible studies have become Twitter theology, but with a longer character space.
As a pastor, why did you name the program as you did?
At first I was a little hesitant to call the program, “Ask the Theologian.” Like so many, I had accepted the lie that the theologian was someone with advanced academic degrees, who lived and breathed academia. I would have been more comfortable with “Ask the Pastor.” Then I realized that this thinking is indicative of the problem in the church today: the pastor and theologian are not considered as the same person. It seems many pastors cannot engage in a meaningful, in-depth, theological conversation. I’ve heard some pastors say things like, “We don’t deal with theological hairsplitting in our church; we just want to help people have good marriages and be people of impact.” That’s a nice way of saying, “Theology is for the seminary, not for the church.” I think a pastor should be a theologian — someone who can really help people answer their deep theological problems.
Perhaps the most prevalent theological issue in the SBC regards what is dubbed as New Calvinism. Do you expect “Ask the Theologian” will help people understand that system’s views and opinions of salvation?
I do. I think one of the reasons that New Calvinism and the Reformed movement is so popular among many young believers is because they want more than the seeker-sensitive and purpose-driven movements have to offer. They like the depth of theological discussion that the Reformed movement gives. Sadly, however, they have adopted a flawed theology. The Southern Baptist Convention and the broader conservative, evangelical community is in great need of non-Calvinists who can strongly articulate the biblical position that brings the Bible together in harmony as it relates to the issue of election and other soteriological and theological issues that Calvinism presents. Why is it that the best so many non-Calvinists can say is, “The Bible seems to have a tension between election and free will. We will never understand this tension, we simply have to accept it”? I don’t believe there is a tension at all; the Bible very clearly explains the “whosoever” nature of the church, distinguishing it from the election of Israel. When properly explained, there is no tension or disagreement in the passages that speak about Christ dying for the sins of the whole world. The entire TULIP system is built on false assumptions, such as total depravity really meaning a total inability to respond to God unless one is regenerated first. As a pastor/theologian, this is one area in which I want to help give Christian thinkers an alternative view. The two pigeon holes of Calvinism and Arminianism simply are not sufficient.
What has been the reception so far?
I’ve been very pleased. We log strong web site traffic, enjoy a wonderful turnout to our Thursday night online Bible study (which serves as a go-to place for radio listeners who want Bible exposition), and receive new questions from listeners every day. The church is filled with believers who have theological or doctrinal questions, but who have few places to turn to for answers.
Any tangible blessings thus far, like lives changed, mysteries solved, clouds cleared, epiphanies, etc.?
While it is certainly too early to judge the tangibles, response to our efforts has been good. I see an open door to create a resource that is needed. The Bible Answerman and theologians like R.C. Sproul, for example, give a preterist and covenant theology perspective to Scripture. Believers need alternatives to these views. Our program gives a verbal, plenary and literal approach to biblical interpretation. Such an approach was once very common, but is now rare in the church.
What other aspirations for the program do you have?
I hope our teaching urges young pastors to question the assumptions of the pop-theology they hear and read. I hope they will become good Bereans per Acts 17.11. I hope they will bring good Bible teachers into their churches for Bible conferences who will open the Word and expositionally teach Scripture. I hope they will become the resident theologian for their flock. There needs to be a resurgence of Traditional, biblical theology in the Southern Baptist Convention to counter the insurgence of Calvinistic theology that is gaining prevalence. “Ask the Theologian” will help believers understand these and other matter of theological import.
To learn more about “Ask the Theologian”radio program, click HERE.
About Dr. White
As pastor of First Baptist Church of Katy, Texas, since August 2003, Dr. Randy White has a passion for making disciples through biblical preaching, world-wide missions, and personal evangelism. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas; a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in Mill Valley, California. He has been a pastor since 1992, and in ministry since 1987.