Lifeway’s Gospel Project Returned
Interview with Ralph Green, Senior Pastor
Calvary Baptist Church, Bel Air, Md.

August 21, 2012

Finally, it’s here – SBCToday’s interview with Ralph Green, the Maryland pastor who returned Lifeway’s Gospel Project Sunday school curriculum because he deemed it too Calvinistic for consumption by church members.

While I recognize how much time has passed since we promised the publication of this interview, suffice it to say that two successive trips to my former state of residence regarding personal business significantly preempted the interview’s posting. Add to that the responsibilities associated with a new fall semester at a college that God has blessed yet again with record enrollment, and it becomes clear where my time necessarily has been invested.

Add to this the heavenly home-going of my mother-in-law and the requisite travel of nearly 1,500 miles and more than a week in ministry to family, then it becomes clearer still why the interview has been delayed.

Whereas I’ve been told of some who speculated as to why the interview was not yet forthcoming, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the others who conversely offered grace and the benefit of the doubt in such a trying time for my family and me. Thank you ever so much.

Deus Caritas Est,

Norm Miller, editor

NOTE: Pastor Green will not be available for comment.

================ 

When SBCT re-posted a commentary that appeared first on your own blog, you said you never had any intent of that going so public.

Yes. Like many other pastors, I use my blog to communicate with our church members. I realize it was posted on the World Wide Web, but I never sought the level of attention that initial post has gotten.

Why did you allow SBCT to re-post it, then?

Well, it was already public for one reason. Second, I believe I have a responsibility to my fellow pastors and all Southern Baptists to ring the alarm bell when needed. I was alarmed at what I was reading in the Gospel Project curriculum. I want to encourage everyone not to take my word for this, though. Check it out for yourselves. See what you think. I know others have blogged about this and say they see no problem with the curriculum. But I have to wonder if they are not already Calvinists. If I were a Calvinist, I’d have nothing but positive things to say about the curriculum, too.

You realize that the blowback from this could be severe?

I do. I was shocked at some of the comments I read at SBCToday when the first article was posted. I expect there will be more of the same. After reading those comments, I discovered a couple of things: 1) I must be an unqualified, inept and uneducated moron; and 2) I must be an unqualified, inept and uneducated moron who can hit his target. I think it’s ironic that all these Calvinists are claiming there’s no Calvinism in TGP.

Do the ‘less-than-favorable’ comments bother you?

No. What bothers me is that some of those who write “Sola Dei Gratia” after their names have offered so little grace to you for re-posting my article or to me regarding my perceptions of the curriculum. But I don’t take that personally. My perceptions of the curriculum are exactly that: my perceptions. If a few want to condemn me for my perceptions, that’s on them. While I believe there are some black and white evidences of Calvinism on the pages of TGP, I say again that Southern Baptists ought not take my word for it. They should do the research for themselves.

When did you first become aware of the apparent Calvinistic overtones in the curriculum?

Actually, one of my deacons brought it to my attention. He also teaches Sunday school, and he had looked at some of the initial materials offered online by LifeWay. When he told me what he was seeing, that led to my own investigation.

What are the deacon’s issues with the curriculum?

He told me, “God’s love is not evident. This isn’t theology; it’s philosophy.” He also spent countless hours reading and researching the curriculum and gave me a multi-page report of his findings.

And?

And he has some of the same perceptions I have, but many more of them. Speaking of perceptions, I think that poses a huge problem for LifeWay. People will have various perceptions about the curriculum. I get that. But what LifeWay needs to realize is that perception is reality.

What are some of the deacon’s findings?

I have his permission to share his information, so let me give you what he wrote as a summary statement of his investigation. His research has led him to conclude the following:

“Love is the Achilles heel of Calvinism. The Calvinists cannot explain it or fit it into their philosophical system. Therefore, they ignore it and substitute erudition, eisegesis and the like for it. Perhaps their weakest point is that they see no responsibility on God’s part to love us, only our responsibility to love Him. Therefore, in straight up, honest Calvinism, God hates His enemies and they go to Hell. Yet, we are commanded to love our enemies. Since God is love, if we do not understand His love, and especially if He does less than He commands us to do, we cannot know God well in spite of how much about God we think we know.

Calvinists do not know what to do with the love of God and the restraints it places on God. To the Calvinist, God’s sovereignty is somehow undone by His love in a way that the Calvinist cannot fully understand or accept. They cannot fathom that God’s love allows everyone the opportunity to choose to love Him or not. Part of this is the fact that their philosophical/logical view of ‘sovereignty’ is not biblical, but they are stuck with it. This is part of the philosophical system and approach that is driving the faulty ‘theology’ of TGP. This clearly begs the question: What to do about it?

Finally, [TGP’s] Advisory Board is virtually completely Calvinistic and only about half SBC. Yet, they are overseeing SBC materials for SBC churches. Apparently, the SBC is allowing LifeWay to pursue ecumenicity rather than Southern Baptist theological distinctives. Question: Is this the background/source of the Sunday school approach and material we want used and taught at [our church]?

Obviously, any pastor who received such observations from a deacon/Sunday school teacher would be concerned and would follow up with his own investigation. What were some of your findings?

First of all, I need to say that my associate pastor and I both earned M.Divs. from Southeastern Seminary. That means we have the training and resources to use in serving the members of our church. With these tools, we spent hours examining the curriculum and came to the conclusion that we, as a church, could not use it. We boxed up the whole order and shipped it back.

Next, my awareness that the advisory board is almost totally Calvinist, and many of the lesson writers are too – that gave me a predisposition toward the curriculum. So, I had concerns that every time I read the word “grace” I wondered, “Is this the Calvinistic ‘irresistible’ grace or the traditional Baptist view of grace?” This drew my attention to other theologically laden terms in the curriculum that were not defined. That, too, was another great concern to me. I was left wondering if there wasn’t a hidden theological agenda.

From lesson one (p. 14, Fall 2012 TGP Leader’s Guide), is this statement that I believe is a problem:

“It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally. 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 in existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.”

The problem is that the last sentence of the above hypothetical statement is not true because it dismisses a major aspect of God’s character, His love. One thing God cannot do is to act in a manner contrary to His own nature. The Bible teaches that God’s love compelled Him to plan to reveal Himself to us to redeem us. But the hypothetical statement above means that God could have ignored man, who was created in His image and after His likeness, prior to any sin. However, the hypothetical statement in question provides no biblical evidence to support this view as part of God’s nature that is inclusive of love, mercy, compassion, and relational capacity. Man did not obligate God to act in love. God obligated Himself to act in love and to reveal Himself, according to both His nature and His plans. In order for this hypothetical statement to be true, God would have had to have turned from His own plan to communicate His blessings and His commands to man created in His own image, to forego His plan for redemption, and to decide to do all of this before man ever sinned. I find such a position unthinkable especially in light of the following passages: I John 4:7-9; Rom. 8:37-39; Deu. 7:9; Eph. 1:4 & 2:4; John 3:16; Micah 6:8; Matt. 25:34; I Peter 1:20, James 1:17, Mal. 3:6.

What other issues did you discover?

This quote noting the temptation of Adam and Eve (p. 51, Fall 2012 TGP Leader’s Guide) says: “The point of the story is not about the type of fruit, as if the fruit juices would poison the minds of Adam and Eve. No, the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths. ‘It was the not the nature of the tree that made it dangerous, the bearer of covenant curse and death, but what it stood for, obedience to the word of God.’”

Does this mean the first couple was fallen before they fell?

Some have voiced that observation to me. But, taken at face value, those statements make God the author of evil which is clearly contrary to Scripture. And the tree as the bearer of covenant curse? That sounds like Calvinistic theology to me. And how can it not be? The last sentence is attributed to Michael D. Williams, a writer for P&R Publishing.

How many Southern Baptists will know that P&R stands for Presbyterian and Reformed?

How many will know he is a systematic theology professor at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis? That’s not a Southern Baptist Seminary. However, he and other non-Southern Baptists are cited in the curriculum as “Voices from the Church.”

So you think that Southern Baptists in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class reading from literature published by a Southern Baptist entity would think “Voices from the Church” implies that the “Voices” are Southern Baptists?

It’s worse than that. The theological persuasion of some of these “voices” is not revealed.

Why is that problematic?

Well, one of these “voices” is Graeme Goldsworthy (p. 58, Fall 2012 TGP Leader Guide). He is an Anglican, who, if true to his church’s doctrine, holds that baptism and the Lord’s Supper impart grace. Southern Baptists reject that the “sacraments” are necessary for salvation. Also, Goldsworthy is a prominent figure on www.monergism.com. Monergism is the notion that the Holy Spirit is the only effective agent in regeneration and the human will cannot cooperate in regeneration. TGP recommends Goldsworthy more than once as an additional resource for study. I believe some of Goldsworthy’s theological convictions violate our Baptist Faith and Message.

I have similar objections to Stephen Lennox being cited as a “Voice from the Church” (p. 57, Fall 2012 TGP Leader Guide). He’s not a Southern Baptist. He’s a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. And, if I understand correctly, Wesleyans also believe that the Lord’s Supper and baptism impart grace.

Two more “Voices from the Church” who are not Southern Baptists are Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen (p. 60, Fall 2012 TGP Leader Guide). Bartholomew is professor of philosophy at Redeemer University College that has Calvinistic leanings, and he is an ordained minister of the Church of England. Goheen is Professor of Worldview and Religious Studies at Trinity Western University, an Evangelical Free institution. Goheen holds a Master’s degree from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, which has a Calvinistic foundation.

These two men have written a book called “Living at the Crossroads.” A review of the book at this web site, www.reformedreflections.ca, said: “Living at the Crossroads is a thoughtful book that draws on the rich tradition of Reformed thought.” Are Southern Baptists to believe that the contributions of these men to TGP will not also be influenced by that same “rich tradition of Reformed thought”? Well, the answer is no because Southern Baptists who use TGP will have no way of knowing the theological foundations of these two “Voices from the Church.”

Dorian G. Coover-Cox is cited on page 59 as a contributor to the Holman Christian Standard Bible. But she is not cited as a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary – another non-Southern Baptist institution with a Calvinistic foundation.

With the obvious theology of these “Voices,” how can Southern Baptist pastors and church members know that these contributors to TGP aren’t filtering Scripture through their T.U.L.I.P. colored glasses?

TGP also cites Andre Gide (p. 50, Fall 2012 TGP Leader Guide), who was born to a Huguenot family. He won a Nobel Prize, and nobelprize.org says of Gide: “… his work lived on the never resolved tensions between a strict artistic discipline, a puritanical moralism, and the desire for unlimited sensual indulgence and abandonment to life.”

A web search of Gide also reveals a few stunning quotes:

“There are admirable potentialities in every human being. Believe in your strength and your youth. Learn to repeat endlessly to yourself, ‘It all depends on me.’”

“Be faithful to that which exists nowhere but in yourself – and thus make yourself indispensable.”

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”

Nothing in TGP warns that Gide is a skeptic and a humanist, who says people should totally transfer their allegiance from God to themselves. To cite Gide is to endorse Gide.

Did you note any others cited as part of the curriculum?

Sure. Not everyone has Calvinistic convictions or is a professor at a non-Southern Baptist institution. I did find it curious that the late Adrian Rogers was cited as a “Voice from Church History” and not a “Voice from the Church.” He was a prominent Southern Baptist, and not a Calvinist. Go figure.

Your examination of TGP – was it only of the Leader Guide?

No. I reviewed the youth curriculum, too, and found it to be more problematic. It’s hard enough to gain and keep the attention of middle school aged boys. But TGP’s packaging and graphical design is slick. I am concerned that TGP will indoctrinate the next generation into Calvinism.

I understand you had a telephone conversation with TGP Editor Trevin Wax.

Yes, I did. Our conversation was straightforward, but it was also congenial. I shared my concerns with Trevin, and he said he took them seriously and would use them to inform the spring quarter literature for TGP. But when Trevin told me that he was a 4-point Calvinist — this only confirmed for me that I had made the right decision in returning the curriculum.

Trevin said he would try to achieve a more balanced approach in the future. But when I told him a balanced approach seemed impossible since every member of the advisory board holds Calvinistic views, he did not deny this.

I also told Trevin that I was initially excited to hear that LifeWay was writing a curriculum to deal with the tough issues and would essentially be a systematic theology for lay people. But I added that LifeWay ruined a great idea by stacking the theological deck with Calvinists as advisors and lesson writers. I suggested that, at the very least, TGP needed to clearly tell people up front who these lesson writers and commentators are. The footnotes just don’t cut it, and I shouldn’t have to spend time researching these men’s backgrounds.

I cited a passage from one lesson that was problematic for me and told Trevin I was taking it at face value. He told me I shouldn’t do that. And when I noted another passage I felt I couldn’t take at face value, he told me I should. Not only was that confusing, I concluded I had been hearing double-speak.

Did you ask Trevin why the lesson writers, recommended resources and advisory board were imbalanced to favor Calvinism?

Yes, and he cited a survey saying that about 30 percent of Southern Baptists claim to be Calvinists and 30 percent don’t. That means about 40 percent are in the middle. However, that also means that about 70 percent do not identify with Calvinism. If those numbers are correct, how does LifeWay justify a curriculum so heavily biased toward Calvinism and the repeated quoting of non-Southern Baptists? Why must we quote so many Calvinistic professors from non-SBC seminaries when we have six SBC seminaries with theology departments full of professors who are paid with Cooperative Program dollars? Of the materials I investigated, I recall only three SBC seminaries represented.

What are your sentiments at this point?

I’m frustrated. I’m extremely disappointed. I feel like I’ve been deceived, and I don’t appreciate that. I will never buy another LifeWay curriculum without inspecting it from stem to stern. And you know, I shouldn’t have to work that hard on materials my own denomination produces. I don’t have time to be looking for hidden meanings. That irritates me. It bothers me that I can’t trust what LifeWay sends me.

What kind of feedback have you gotten regarding your original blog post?

Overwhelmingly positive. Church members have thanked me for protecting the church and our doctrine. I’ve heard that at least three pastors in our association have decided not to use the curriculum. I also got a letter from someone in Valdosta, Ga., who had resigned a Sunday school teaching position because the church was planning to use TGP. This person had just left another church because there was so much emphasis on election.

What kind of problems did you envision if you had decided to use the curriculum?

One problem would have been this: I really do have rocket scientists in our congregation. Given their tendency to do research, they would have discovered many of the same problems I did and would have asked me why we decided to use that kind of material.

Also, it’s hard enough to get folks to witness. They come up with every excuse as to why they can’t. If we add to that the thought that God saves who He wishes, then we think we’re excused from witnessing, but are still acceptable to God for our lack of obedience to His Great Commission.

Why can’t we go back to being Baptists?

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Rick Patrick

Dear Pastor Ralph Green,

Thank you for sharing your heartfelt convictions and the fruit of your research on this topic. As a pastor myself, I too rejected The Gospel Project, but merely on the basis of the Calvinistic bias of the creative team members referenced in your interview. I did not bother, initially, to read any of the actual lessons. One may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but one can usually judge it by its author.

Only later, at the prompting of others, did I read a couple of lessons for myself. My impressions were similar to yours, as I found overtones promoting Calvinistic ideas. Lesson Six in the Student Series presents a Total Depravity with a Total Inability bias, setting up a view of salvation that can only favor the Calvinist perspective.

The “Additional Resources” sections read like a Calvinist Who’s Who–Platt, Piper, DeYoung, Moore, Erickson, Owen, Bridges, Henry, Schaeffer and others. Like the creative team itself, the resources students are encouraged to read and view clearly favor Calvinism. Similar to a movie trailer, these suggestions for further study whet the appetites of class members to explore the very best that Calvinism has to offer.

Despite any and all assertions to the contrary, The Gospel Project is a Sunday School curriculum designed and overseen by Calvinist advisors, written by Calvinist authors, discussing Calvinist themes from a Calvinist perspective, and recommending further exposure to Calvinist books and Calvinist sermon podcasts.

Thank you, Pastor Green, for telling it like it is.

Miles Morrison

This is embarrassing. This was billed as Ralph Green sharing the evidence for why TGP should be avoided, but I counted only two references to the actual text. And honestly I didn’t see the problem with either quote. I don’t understand why he spent so much time researching who the men quoted were, does that really matter? Do we need to agree with everything a person believes in order to read what they have to say? It’s ridiculous to say that a citation is paramount to an endorsement. Half of this piece was spent just trashing Calvinism, in fact the deacon’s findings were literally just that: his conclusion on Calvinism, it didn’t even have anything to do with the curriculum.
Is this really the type of article to encourage people “about how best to pursue God’s calling in our lives”? It sounds like it’s really just an attack on a well written curriculum because of the authors’ personal third tier theological leanings. The attack wasn’t even based on what was said, it was completely based on who the people were.
I think some people need to move on from juvenile disagreements. Also, if this was the best critique of TGP SBCT has to offer, then I am very excited to use it at our church. Oh, and I’m not a Calvinist.

    Joey

    Miles,
    Of course we do not have to agree with everything a person believes to read what they write. I love reading David Platt, for example, and I am not a Calvinist. However, I am up to speed on who David Platt is. The average lay person may not be. What would you think if John Wesley, and some of his beliefs, were quoted in our Sunday School material? I hope you would have a problem with it. As we are not Methodist, we would be best served by not quoting John Wesley. There are also reasons why I am not Presbyterian or Church of England. I am a Southern Baptist. Are you seriously telling me that there are no Southern Baptists that we can find worth quoting for a Southern Baptist Sunday School material?

      Jason

      So I’m guessing we would be best served to stop singing hymns written by Charles (and his brother John) Wesley?

        Joey

        Jason,
        Very nice comeback. My point was simply that are many competent Southern Baptists that we could reference, and yet we choose to look outside the denomination. Why is that?

        For the record, I think some of John Wesley’s hymns are very good, but I have never quoted him from my pulpit. While we would certainly agree on some points, which is why I can sing some of his hymns, there are far more that we would disagree on. To quote him from the pulpit, to the congregation, would be putting a rubber stamp his entire theology.

          Jason

          Thanks. I’ve never been known for my sharp wit. I understand your main point about using Southern Baptists and see where you’re coming from there, but I don’t see how singing some of his hymns is any different than quoting him in a sermon (or Sunday school literature). Either way, you’re not rubber stamping his entire theology. If you can sing some of hymns because you can agree with him on some points, why can’t you also quote him in a sermon (or Sunday school literature) on points you agree with?

          Darryl Hill

          On the contrary Joey, I think you’d likely find that you agree with John Wesley much more than you think. And that is really the point of this entire insipid debate. We are brothers. We agree on the non-negotiables. We disagree on what God is doing behind the scenes while the Gospel is preached, and from what I’ve read of many trads saying that God must draw for someone to believe, I’d say we’re even closer than I even thought. But we’re in the process of dividing ourselves once again and, if history is any indicator, the denomination won’t survive in its current state. And that means that our taking the Gospel to the nations (and to our own nations) will be significantly diminished. I hope we can avoid that.

          Jessalyn

          I find it very concerning that a huge critique of the curriculum and as you continue to state here in the comments is that non Southern Baptists are quoted and referenced.

          Are we really to believe that denominational politics and pride should trump theological thought and intelligence? God has used many faithful and gifted men from many Gospel-grounded churches (churches who contend for the true faith) in many different ways to build up the body.

          I find some of these critiques and comments to suggest that the SBC is the only true church. We are a part of the body and the body is much larger than the SBC, thought it is greatly benefited by the SBC.

            volfan007

            Jessalyn,

            While it’s true that we can learn from Believers from all flavors of the Christian faith, still we are SB. And, while we can learn from people like John MacArthur, and J. Vernon McGee, and Ironside, and many others; still this SS curriculum is supposed to be for SB Churches. And, we do have many SB theologians, who are very qualified to write the material for our SB Churches, who have SB beliefs and practices.

            So, why do we need to go outisde for SB SS curriculum.

            David

      Miles Morrison

      You don’t have to know a person’s 3rd tier theological convictions in order to read them. If we know the Truth of Scripture, we should have no fear of reading what man has to say because we will be able to discern fact from fiction. Read Ephesians 4. I feel this is an appropriate text, one that Ralph Green should especially take to heart.
      My point is that why should it matter if someone is a Methodist if the quote has nothing to do with that? Joey, Ralph doesn’t even mention one of these seemingly heretical quotes, he just lists off their current employment. For someone who mentions his M. Div. as being proof of his qualifications, his critique wouldn’t have gotten a passing grade at any University or Seminary that I’ve been to because he didn’t give any real text examples for all of his assertions.
      That’s why this is an embarrassing article. SBCToday should aspire to a greater level of unbiased writing if they want to be taken seriously.

        Joey

        Miles,
        I agree that you should not have to agree with a person’s 3rd tier theological convictions in order to read them, but let’s be honest, how many people in our churches would even know what you just said? I am not trying to say that our church members are unintelligent. I believe the problem is far worse. I think that they are just not concerned about the things of God.

        It is our responsibility to teach them, and we must be careful to do so rightly.

        Many in our pews would not understand that we do not agree with their 3rd tier theology. I have been told by some that their is almost no difference between the SBC and the United Methodist Church!

        We could avoid these issues simply by using SBC leaders. Do we not have men in our convention worth quoting?

          Miles Morrison

          I fear the problem is worse than you make it sound. It’s not that people are uninformed or not concerned about the things of God, the problem is they’re not Christians. I mean, how can a Christian not be concerned with the things of God? Moralist maybe, but not a Christian.
          I think there are plenty of SBC men and women who are worth quoting, but I have no problem with quoting outside of our SBC box. I think it encourages people to read and expand their literacy, which goes into exactly what you were just saying. We don’t need to indoctrinate them into SBC life or culture, they need the Truth of the Gospel for their salvation, regardless of whose voice they hear it from.
          That’s one of the things I appreciate about Ed Stetzer, he’s very involved in other denominations because we have much to gain from unity (as Eph 4 says).

            Jessalyn

            I completely agree with you Miles. I refute the idea that SBC congregations cannot benefit from theologians from other denominations.

            Take for instance John Piper. I am sure that a great many SB church members have greatly benefited from his preaching/writing ministry. Many of them would probably even site him as a major encouragement to their calling to evangelize the lost even thought he is… (gasp!) a well known Calvinist.

            Mary

            The question isn’t can we learn from theologians from other denominations but can we learn from theologians who are not Calvinist/Reformed? Why are those theologians from other denominations being referenced overwhelmingly Calvinists? Can we not learn from nonCalvinist theologians as well?

            You miss the point that’s being made – it’s not just we’ve gone outside the SBC, but we’ve gone outside the SBC to gather Calvinists – not just theologians, but Calvinist theologians.

            Zack Skrip

            But Mary, one of the people listed in the article was teaching at a Wesleyan school. I would certainly feel comfortable assuming he’s not a Calvinist! ;-)

            I do think that your point is probably the main point being made, but the article is pretty clear he dislikes that non-SBC theologians make up some/most of the quoted authors.

            Mary

            Zack, the question is the “most” and why is it that it’s “most”

            I actually don’t have a problem with having a curriculum that is “mostly” Calvinist or Calvinist leaning. The problem is that it’s not being marketed that way.

            I still know people who think that if it comes from Lifeway it must be trustworthy and they wouldn’t dare buy anything from another source. So the problem is that you have people who have been a little too trusting of Lifeway – which is not a bad thing, but they may not be as discerning. I can read John Piper – I prefer Johnny Mac actually but I know where they’re coming from. A lot of people wouldn’t know that what they’ve been taught in their Traditionalist nonCalvinists church is not waht John Piper believes. A lot of the people in the SBC are still back in the day where being SBC meant Traditional nonCalvinism, Jesus died for the world, organ on the right side of the church piano left, Lifeway is still the Baptist Book Store, and we’re all waiting for the Rapture singing Just As I Am albeit with the band and not the organ now. Obviously times have changed and now we need to eduacte people to these changes.

            When you just sorta of slowly start changing things and you can get away with it because you have a trusting audience? There’s a problem with that.

            What I think most of us are fearing is the frog in the pot thing. It’s the slowly turning up the heat to move the SBC in a direction that a lot of people would reject if you were completely and totally upfront about it.

            And I’ve actually watched this happened where young Calvinist guy comes into church and starts preaching about the “Sovereignty of God” and doesn’t get around to telling the church about Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement until a few years in where he can then proclaim “we all believe the Sovereignty of God right! So you can’t believe in Sovereignty and reject U and L.” It’s the conditioning of people slowly to get them to except the “harder” doctrines they would reject outright if you were upfront in the beginning.

            Lydia

            “But Mary, one of the people listed in the article was teaching at a Wesleyan school. I would certainly feel comfortable assuming he’s not a Calvinist! ;-)”

            And you would be wrong. Some of my friends who teach at IWU are telling me it is becoming an issue there, too.

        Lydia

        “For someone who mentions his M. Div. as being proof of his qualifications, his critique wouldn’t have gotten a passing grade at any University or Seminary that I’ve been to because he didn’t give any real text examples for all of his assertions.
        That’s why this is an embarrassing article. SBCToday should aspire to a greater level of unbiased writing if they want to be taken seriously.”

        This is not a white paper or a peer reviewed article. It is an INTERVIEW. It is not embarassing at all. It is a challenge to analyze the TGP like they did. He is simply hitting on some highlights.

        It is very important to give the background and theological thinking of the creators, writers, etc. When you read political treatises, you should want to know the same sorts of things because their indoctrinational presuppositions can be very subtle. We all agree God is Sovereign. We do not all agree what that means in the grand narrative.

        With the Reformed wing the presuppositions tend to start with the very nature of God and His attributes. That is why they prefer exegesis instead of hermeneutics for convos/teaching. They subtly use similar wording that sounds right but has a different definition and conclusion concerning God’s relationship to humans. They do not come right out and say we believe such and such because they know many SBC churches would empty.

        BTW: The elitism coming out of our Reformed wing is astonishing as your comment proves. This is blogging. Not a seminary class.

        I was at a party last week and a man was telling me his SS class is going to do the TGP. I asked him if they had heard of the controversy surrounding it and he had not. I gave him a few links to read. He emailed me a few days ago to tell me he was astonished at how many Calvinists outside the SBC were involved in TGP. He then went on to tell me WHY he is NOT a Calvinist. He is an organizational engineer and quite sharp. I really do not think Lifeway thought this one through very well. They would have done better to just be upfront about it. Why? Because even a grand narrative such as TGP is going to come to different conclusions eventually with the Platonic/Augustinian/Calvinist overlay. The trick is to get people thinking of a more determinist God so that the rest of their thinking and conclusions fit that filter. One must question the premise in order not to get lost in the circular thinking that comes from their exegisis.

          Miles Morrison

          The problem is that you and Mr. Green have or are giving no proof for your statements about how dangerous TGP is. If you’re going to tell people to not read something, send it back, basically boycott it, then you should at least have some solid evidence for WHY we should do that. There’s nothing even said about Trevin Wax (outside of his conversation with him) or Ed Stetzer, the two men most heavily responsible for the content, and instead he worries about trifles like what seminary someone who is only quoted works at. Ridiculous.
          It just sounds like Ralph spent more time on Google than he did actually studying the material.

            Mary

            Miles, where has anyone told anyone not to read something? I thought the original article said several times that people should read and decide for themselves. Is there wrong with saying these are my perceptions but you read and decide for yourselves?

            The only people I hear trying to marginalize voices in the SBC is someone like Al Mohler.

            Lydia

            On the contrary, Miles. I think they should read it and analyze every word. I just think Lifeway should have been upfront that it is Reformed. They deny that but it is ridiculous to deny it is an subtle attempt to “cradle to grave” indoctrinate Reformed thinking about a determinist God.

Andrew Wencl

“It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally. 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 in existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.”

Green’s response to this select quote from TGP shows a misunderstanding of the curriculum’s use of the hypothetical situation. The point in making this hypothetical situation is to magnify God’s love and goodness to us by making the reader consider the alternative: a God who doesn’t reveal Himself. The curriculum is stating emphatically that this was not the case. Far from suggesting that God isn’t a God of love, the curriculum is actually making a case that the mere act of revealing Himself is an act of love.

I think his perception of Calvinism as having no concept of the love of God is coloring his interpretation of this quote. I would hope that everyone could say that it is “an act of Grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally.”

    Roy

    Andrew,
    You miss his point. We all understand the value of rhetorical devices. However, their value must have some basis in the possible. The authors might have said “What if he….” instead of “He could have…” The difference between the two is exactly what Pastor Green said, His love. This hypothetical should have pointed to His love rather than to His sovereignty, and Pastor Green is exactly right that this comes from a mind transformed by Calvinism rather than one transformed by the Love and Grace of God. It is because of his Love that he sent his Son.

      Jim

      But Roy, that is exactly the point the curriculum is making. The writer does not appeal to God’s sovereignty, but to his grace. Multiple times in fact.

      “Mercy is at the heart of God’s revelation to us.” (14)

      “The very fact we are created is a result of God’s grace.” (14)

      “The Father overflows with love… God’s grace is the source of our creation.” (14)

      “It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally.” 

      Had the quote been extended, it would have shown in the next paragraph. that the writer was comparing a Deist view of God with the revealing God of the Bible. “The Deist view of God is certainly plausible. But is it true? Not according to the Bible… God has revealed Himself personally. His revelation is an act of mercy and grace.” (14)

      Andrew Wencl

      The point TGP is making is that, yes, God could have done that, but it’s not a part of His nature. They could have written the following elsewhere:

      “It is also an act of grace that God would send His Son to die for us personally. God was under no obligation to redeem us from sin and make us righteous in Christ. He could have left us to die in our sins, leaving us to suffer for eternity in hell apart from Him.”

      Green could have responded saying, “The problem is that the last sentence of the above hypothetical statement is not true because it dismisses a major aspect of God’s character, His love. The Bible teaches that God’s love compelled Him to redeem us. God was under obligation to save us.”

      God wasn’t obligated to save us or to reveal Himself to us. He obligated Himself, true, but he wasn’t obligated to obligate Himself. That’s the point!

        Tim Rogers

        Andrew,

        God wasn’t obligated to save us or to reveal Himself to us. He obligated Himself, true, but he wasn’t obligated to obligate Himself. That’s the point!

        This is the point of disagreement. God is obligated to provide a way of salvation and to reveal Himself to us. It is His attribute of Love that obligates Him. Certainly God can do whatever God desires to do. Neither, you nor I can change that. However, God operates within His attributes. I like the way Millard Erickson puts it

        The biblical treatment of the attributes of God is not a speculative but rather a practical matter. There is a vital connection between what God is and what he does, between his attributes and his acts. The attributes of God are frequently revealed in his actions, so that what he does is a clue to what he is. Further, the attributes revealed in the Bible are an indication of how he will act. God’s actions are not spontaneous, erratic, or arbitrary. They are outflows of his nature. Thus there are a constancy and a dependability about them. We can correctly relate to God by governing our actions in accordance with what the Scriptures say God is like. Moreover, knowledge of God’s nature becomes a means to realistic self-knowledge.(Christian Theology p299 Emphasis Mine)

        Thus, Andrew, this preoccupation with God’s Sovereignty is at the expense of God’s love. That is not a price I see SB willing to pay.

          Lydia

          “Thus, Andrew, this preoccupation with God’s Sovereignty is at the expense of God’s love. That is not a price I see SB willing to pay”

          Amen, Tim. It all goes back to the very nature of God and ALL His attributes. Let us hope the SBC is NOT willing to pay that price but I am not as hopeful as you are. I see it already happening in our entities in training new pastors in this presupposition.

            Mary

            Thus, Andrew, this preoccupation with God’s Sovereignty is at the expense of God’s love. That is not a price I see SB willing to pay”

            And I’ll just copy it again because it’s needs to be said over and over.

            Andrew Wencl

            At what point does copying and pasting the same reply over and over become badgering? I’ve yet to see a preoccupation with God’s sovereignty at the expense of God’s love in TGP.

          A Different Andrew

          If God is obligated to provide a way of salvation, it ceases to be grace. God would be just as loving to send all rebellious sinners to hell.

Andrew Wencl

“The point of the story is not about the type of fruit, as if the fruit juices would poison the minds of Adam and Eve. No, the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths. ‘It was the not the nature of the tree that made it dangerous, the bearer of covenant curse and death, but what it stood for, obedience to the word of God.’”

This statement doesn’t attribute sin to God in any way shape or form. The point is that even before Adam and Eve even took a bite, they had consciously decided to disobey God. Also, can we not say that God had made a covenant (agreement) with Adam that contained one stipulation: a curse for disobedience? Just because some people have a larger frame of reference known as Covenant Theology doesn’t mean that we can’t call something a covenant.

    Joey

    Andrew,
    Not sure how you get your conclusions?

    “the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths.”

    You may be able to say what the intended meaning was, but the implied meaning is that God is the author of sin. It seems to me a Calvinist would believe this, even though they don’t want to admit it. I mean, if man has no choice but is destined down a particular path, that must mean that Adam and Eve were destined to sin. If they were destined to sin, who destined them to sin? It must have been God. I know my thought process will get bashed, but I am just carrying it out to its logical conclusion.

      Andrew Wencl

      Joey,

      At what point does it say anything that Adam and Eve were destined to sin? It says that before they ever took a bite, they had already sinned. It’s not any different than when I say that before someone ever prayed a prayer to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, they were already saved because they believed before they spoke the words. That has nothing to do with election, and this passage says absolutely nothing about determinism.

        Joey

        Andrew,
        You missed what I was attempting to say, or I did not say it well. The quote was, “the poison of sin coursed through their veins…” Okay, now, where did the sin come from? The Calvinist does not accept free will. If there is no free will, where did the sin coursing through their veins come from? If there is no free will, it had to come from God. Thus, God has to be the author of sin. I know God does not author sin, therefore there has to be free will.

          Zack Skrip

          Well, Adam and Eve are a totally different animal from you and I.

          A calvinist would believe that we are all dead in sin, unable to choose God unless he opens our eyes and draws us to himself. But all of this would not be said for Adam and Eve. They were pre-fall, obviously ;-)

          I believe a traditional arminian would struggle with some of the same issues. If a foreknowing God knew that they were going to sin, and did nothing, isn’t he in some way responsible? if you saw your 4yr old turn the key to your car, and drive into the street, and did nothing, wouldn’t police hold you responsible?

          Both Calvinist and Arminian would say that God knew they were going to sin, and that man was fully responsible for this sin.

            holdon

            “If a foreknowing God knew that they were going to sin, and did nothing, isn’t he in some way responsible? if you saw your 4yr old turn the key to your car, and drive into the street, and did nothing, wouldn’t police hold you responsible?”

            Foreknowledge does not confer responsibility. It is just like knowledge: it doesn’t alter the facts. In fact, there can only be knowledge when the fact is there. God has the ability to see that before: that is simply foreknowledge. (I don’t think any Theist would argue this).

            And no, God is not doing nothing: He was warning Adam not to eat, etc.. And He is since doing all He can to bring people back to Him. So your example doesn’t fly. Change that example to a 24yr old to whom you had given the keys of your car and that would be more like it in our situation. What the driver does after that it is his responsibility: “Where are you” and “what have you done” are the question that ever since demand a ‘response’ => responsibility.

            Zack Skrip

            Holden, you and I actually agree that foreknowledge does not confer responsibility.

            What I’m saying is that Adam and Eve are the only ones who actually did have something like free will. They were in perfect community with God. They were unstained by the mind-dulling effects of sin. They had no addictions, no compulsions, no innate desires that even the Trad statement holds to (the innate desires, that is). They were free. And they sinned.

            That doesn’t make God responsible.

            Joey says if the sin didn’t come from the apple, then it must have come from God.

            I believe the point the TGP is making the point that sin starts in the heart, a la “look at a women with lust / same as adultery.” Adam and Eve decided they could judge right from wrong just fine on their own, thank you very much.

            Joey

            I understand you would say they were fully responsible, but did they have free will? The answer must be yes. The Calvinist would have to agree with that or else God is the author of sin. So my point is, why would God give Adam and Eve free will knowing they would sin, but not give us free will and thus create someone with no chance? This seems to be very inconsistent.

    Matt

    “This statement doesn’t attribute sin to God in any way shape or form. The point is that even before Adam and Eve even took a bite, they had consciously decided to disobey God. Also, can we not say that God had made a covenant (agreement) with Adam that contained one stipulation: a curse for disobedience? Just because some people have a larger frame of reference known as Covenant Theology doesn’t mean that we can’t call something a covenant”

    Andrew, Sorry Buddy, this is not what Genesis teaches. Eve was deceieved and ADMITTED IT. Adam sinned with his eyes wide open and then blamed God and Eve. You have started out of the gate with some wrong thinking to make your point.

Rick Patrick

Well, like D.A. Carson, the Pope is also outside the SBC fold. If he’s willing, would it be okay for him to serve on the Advisory Board, so Carson might not feel so out of place?

    Rick Patrick

    My primary point, originally responding to a rant that has been removed, is not to impugn either Carson or the Pope, but to ask: “Why do Southern Baptists at Lifeway feel the need to look outside the SBC fold for advisors or writers of Lifeway curricula?”

      Andrew Wencl

      In business, we get a similar question: “Why hire someone from outside the company?” There are a lot of benefits, provided we don’t neglect promoting people from within. Those from the outside can often see problems and opportunities we’ve missed merely because we’ve become so accustomed to doing things a certain way or using a specific process. Outsiders can also provide insight into areas we are unfamiliar with and knowledge of business practices and methods we haven’t tried before.

      Would you have your current pastorate if the pastor selection committe had said, “Why do we feel the need to look outside our congregation for someone to pastor our church?”

        Tim Rogers

        Andrew,

        In business, we get a similar question: “Why hire someone from outside the company?” There are a lot of benefits, provided we don’t neglect promoting people from within. Those from the outside can often see problems and opportunities we’ve missed merely because we’ve become so accustomed to doing things a certain way or using a specific process.

        First, this is not about hiring someone from outside to give us fresh insight. This is about bringing people in from outside the SBC because of their connection within the “good ole boy” network of Calvinism. Thus, the promotion here is not about finding something of benefit from outside the SBC it is the pushing down the throats of the people in the pew a theology that is not affirmed by 85% of the people. Second, are you seriously telling me that we do not have Scholars on the level of DA Carson within the SBC Family? Third, Ed Stetzer has called attention to the fact that most of the curriculum is being purchased by churches outside the SBC. That, evidently, is the real purpose of the curriculum to give more churches outside the SBC something to purchase from LifeWay.

          Mary

          Tim, this may sound like a snarky question but it’s not. Is Lifeway’s purpose to only make money, to serve those outside the SBC or is Lifeway’s purpose supposed to be to serve the SBC?

          I think what we see is Calvinists elitism here – only Calvinists are now qualified to write SS curriculum and so it’s become necessary to go outside the SBC to get qualified contributors.

          Andrew Wencl

          Tim,

          Carson is one person who came from outside the SBC out of many SBCers on the advisory council. Do you currently read a Bible translation that was translated by only SBCers? Have you never learned anything from a non-SBCer (Spurgeon, Swindoll, MacArthur)? I present to you the same challenge that I presented Rick:

          Would you have your current pastorate if the pastor selection committe had said, “Why do we feel the need to look outside our congregation for someone to pastor our church?”

            Mary

            If there were men qualified within the church to lead the church? Then yeah the search committee should first look within the church. Who understands the church better than someone already there.

            You just the made the point – Calvinists think they have to go outside the SBC to find the “right” people to put together an SBC curriculum because the SBC doesn’t have the “right” people inside it.

              Mary

              Am I the only one who keeps hitting reply and it’s not working?

            Tim Rogers

            Andrew,

            I went to Campbell University–a NC Baptist School. I went to SEBTS–a SBC school. When the Pastor Search committee at my church began to look for a candidate they wanted a person that was “inside the SBC”. Not one trained at outside seminaries. I live in the Charlotte area. In this area we have fine Theological schools. We have Southern Evangelical Seminary–a non Calvinist school; We have Gordon Conwell Seminary a Calvinist seminary; Reformed Theological Seminary–another Calvinist Seminary. I have in a drawer in my office multiple resumes from many fine pastoral candidates. They were placed to the side for the simple reason they were “outside” the SBC.

            Your comparison of “inside” the congregation is a straw man. However, if you want to compare the pastoral search committee to searching for people educated with a SBC seminary or outside the SBC that would be more accurate.

        volfan007

        Andrew,

        I would really wonder about a Search Committee recommending a Presbyterian Preacher, or a Methodist Preacher to be the next Pastor of a SB Church. Wouldnt you?

        Now, if the fella had a change of heart about his theology, and wanted to be a SB, then I could see it. But, to recommend someone, who is clearly committed to the Presbyterian beliefs and practices?????

        David

          Andrew Wencl

          Volfan,

          I’m not sure if you’re being silly or seriously trying to respond to my comment. I never suggested hiring a pastor outside the SBC fold. I’m talking about the “insiders club only” approach that would say we can only quote and reference SBC people in our studies. As a comparison, that would be like a church saying it would only accept a pastor who was raised in their church.

            volfan007

            Andrew,

            Totally serious, Bro. You said, “Would you have your current pastorate if the pastor selection committe had said, “Why do we feel the need to look outside our congregation for someone to pastor our church?”

            My answer is “NO, of course not.” But, if that committee started looking outside of the SBC…then, yea, I would have a problem with that. And, this is in regards to us feeling the need to go outside of the SBC to have Advisors to “guard” the curriculum….to make sure that it’s “kosher.”

            David

              JT

              You equate “look[ing] outside our congregation for someone to pastor our church” with looking outside our theology to teach us theology? That is quite a stretch.
              Reformed theology teaches that God does not love everyone enough to save them. The Bible clearly teaches otherwise. The passages cited by Ralph Green (I John 4:7-9; Rom. 8:37-39; Deut. 7:9; Eph. 1:4 & 2:4; John 3:16; Micah 6:8; Matt. 25:34; I Peter 1:20, James 1:17, Mal. 3:6) are clear enough.
              My problem is that I am not as smart as a Calvinist. At least that is what they tell me. The more I try to explain my understanding of God (as gleaned through a personal relationship with Him) the more the reformed ascend into Theological heights of knowledge beyond my grasp. 2 Peter 1:20-21 anyone?
              Thank you Ralph Green for helping me see TGP as it is, the finest crafting of the reformed theology ever marketed to the laypeople of SB churches. If that is what you want, this is it. If an honest and open disclosure of that fact is what you want, sorry. The two cannot coexist.
              My only hope is that one of the elect can explain it to me in simple terms…

        Lydia

        Andrew, As an organizational development consultant there are a ton of problems with your analogy and mapping it to the Body of Christ. In fact, mapping business practices to the Body of Christ is one the biggest problems we have in the institutional church! (Vision casting, leadership, Branding, etc)It begets pragmatism and one reason we are seeing the rise of the cult of personality in Christendom. I learned all this the hard way, btw. :o)

        First of all, how many of the Anglican/Presbyterian advisors/creators, etc of TGP practice infant baptism or see no problem with it? Why would we need a fresh look from “0utside” when we decided as a group a long time ago that was error? That is just one example of what happens when we start down this road. Some think that is a third tier doctrine but what is the doctrinal thinking behind it? That thinking behind it is NOT third tier.

          Andrew Wencl

          Lydia,

          There weren’t any Anglican/Presbyterian advisors/creators. The person in question here is Don Carson, a Baptist.

            Max

            “The person in question here is Don Carson, a Baptist.” … a Calvinist Baptist, that is.

            Hmmm … hold that thought … could this be a solution to the SBC theological dilemma we are in?! Perhaps Dr. Page’s committee, in the spirit of big tent unity … get along to get along … agreeing to disagree, should consider a simple fix. All SBC churches with a leadership leaning toward reformed theology, paint “Calvinist” on their church signs … the rest post “Non-Calvinist.” Southern Baptists could then attend the church of their choice (I mean election, or whatever).

              Mary

              Max, I think you’ve really hit on the problem here. The Calvinists do not want the people in the pews to be given information. Southern and Southeastern are the Calvinists Seminaries. Calvinists on the blogs have declared that Trads can have Southwestern and New Orleans. Quite magnaminous of the Calvinists isn’t it? It wasn’t so long ago that an infamous SBC blogger pitched a tantrum with a rant against Paige Patterson’s plan to alledgely remove all Calvinists from Southwestern, but now the Calvinists are delcaring that they’d be alright with that since no one can deny any longer that Southern and Southeastern (contrary to what Akin claims just look at Dr. Willingham’s post upthread about Southestern) that these two seminaries are Calvinists.

              So we see Calvinists defending Calvinists run institutions by trying to claim they are ok with Trad Institutions. BUT we have to keep that on the down low. Can’t let the people in the pews know which institutions are “like them” and which aren’t. Can’t have everything out in the open. Calvinists claim they’re ok with splitting the baby but they will not go for telling the SBC at large about it. And when it comes down to it Calvinists are not really willing to split the baby. Someone here was hysterical because he heard a rumor that a school in LA was going Trad which he thought was awful.

              So we get to the heart of the problem. Calvinists want to take over institutions without telling the SBC. Calvinists want to have curriculum produced by Calvinists but they don’t want to tell people in the Pews. Calvinists want Seminaries but they don’t want to tell people in the pews. Calvinists want to plant churches but they don’t want to tell people in the pews.

              Why on earth all this hullabaloo about exposing the fact the The Gospel Project was produced by Calvinists and that it references mostly Calvinist and that if you’re not a Calvinist you might see Calvinists leanings in the literature. Why can’t you be upfront and tell people that? You can’t give people information to make their own decisions because they may make decisions you don’t like. So you intentionally withhold information and you try attack those who are trying to inform the SBC at large.

              And please spare me the “rally round the BFM” – it’s the Calvinist that exclude beyond the BFM with the Abstract. If we’re really going to rally round the BFM than let’s do that for real – not like two seminaries who won’t allow Trads on staff because of the Abstract. You can’t claim you want unit but then declare that it’s perfectly fine to exclude Trads at Seminaries and to only teach Calvinism at Seminaries.

                Mary

                I’ll just repost something I wrote upthread:

                The question isn’t can we learn from theologians from other denominations but can we learn from theologians who are not Calvinist/Reformed? Why are those theologians from other denominations being referenced overwhelmingly Calvinists? Can we not learn from nonCalvinist theologians as well?

                You miss the point that’s being made – it’s not just we’ve gone outside the SBC, but we’ve gone outside the SBC to gather Calvinists – not just theologians, but Calvinist theologians

                It seems like the Calvinists on this thread are trying to tell us that God is speaking mostly through Calvinists. Where are the nonCalvinists nonSBC people? Where is the call for cooperating with nonCalvinists outside the SBC? Notice how the people we’re supposed to listen to and cooperate with outside the SBC all happen to be Calvinists? Why is that exactly? And you know what? I’m SBC for a reason so sorry if I’m not buying the “it’s our obligation to make our tent bigger.” Especially when make the SBC tent bigger is only about bringing in Calvinists from outside the SBC.

                Ivory

                Mary
                From another person in the pews I have now read all the comments on this article/interview. 
                Maybe, just maybe, you are not trusting the people in the pews. I think I read somewhere recently that SBTS and SEBTS have the largest enrollments of the SBC seminaries. 
                Seems like the people in the pews are making decisions about where to study and whom to read and maybe, just maybe, that’s why a lot of the ‘traditionalists’ are up in arms about things. 

                From what I’m reading in these comments and comments on other articles it sure sounds like the ‘traditionalists’ are freaking out because they just might be losing some influence and power over some younger folks in the SBC. 

                Our church has seven students attending seminary right now–4 at SBTS, 2 at NOBTS and 1 at SEBTS. We also just sent three off to three years on the mission field–those three greatly influenced by David Platt’s writing. 

                We have a mix of  leanings in our Pastoral staff—2 lean reformed, 3 lean Arminian/Traditionalist. 

                We all get along quite well and don’t question one another’s faith or motives. 

                I wish that this controversy would die in the SBC because the longer people like you continue to brand Calvinists as those desiring to take over the SBC and call in to questions others heart motives ( rather presumptuous since God tells us only He can know and judge the heart and mind ) the more likely it is that our younger members will leave the SBC entirely. As well as churches like the one where I’m a member, who gives more than 25% annually to the Cooperative Program, will distance itself from the SBC. There are already some deacons in our church who want to distance us from the SBC because of this good old boy “holy huddle” that seemingly wants to oust anyone with reformed leanings. 

                The pastor who was instrumental to leading me to the Lord 19 years ago was a graduate of SEBTS. He is thoroughly, through and through, by his own confession, maybe a three point Calvinist. Most would call him a traditionalist. However, he won the preaching prize at SEBTS and did that with his traditionalist leanings. 

                As I’ve become more reformed in my leanings over the past twelve years or so, I’ve had many wonderful discussions with my former pastor about these doctrines. We love each other and our families are the best of friends. We don’t question one another’s hearts or love for the Lord when we disagree on doctrine. We agree that we both love Jesus and will do our best to live for Him and be a witness for Him in the unique circumstances where God has placed us. 

                All that to say, traditionalists like you aren’t the only ones in the pews and it is quite possible for people in the pews to hold to different leanings. 

                  Mary

                  Ivory, Calvnists like you aren’t the only Calvinists in the SBC. Many of us have experienced the militant form of Calvinism that you so easily dismiss. There are Calvinists who have taken over churches, declaring everyone had to sign a new Statement of Faith which was Calvinism or they would no longer be members in good standing. We’ve seen it, we’ve lived it. What you show is that as person in the pew maybe you’re not so up on what’s going on in the SBC. You are believing that someone like me wants to get rid of all Calvinists. That is not what’s going on. Ideally I’d like the institutions to serve the entire SBC not this institution serves this minority or this one serves this one. It’s the Calvinists that have taken over institutions and made them strictly Calvinist. Our church plants are looking to be overwhelmingly Calvinist/Acts 29 knockoffs. If you look at their founding documents many members in the SBC who contribute to the CP would not be welcome as members in these church plants because they would not be able to sign the Calvinists Statement of Faith and or Covenant. That’s a problem. Since you have no problem with people in the pews gaining information than let’s inform them. Southern has record enrollment? How many churches know Southern is the Calvinists Seminary. We agree Ivory! Let’s give the people in the pews all the information we can. Let’s tell them that there are Seminaries in the SBC that will teach those young people they are sending that the doctrines in their home church is wrong. Let’s tell the people in the pews that NAMB church plants are going to overwhelmingly be Calvinist churches with closed membership for only Calvinists. And then let’s see what happens.

                  And Ivory the young have been stamping their feet and claiming they were going to leave the SBC for years now and they haven’t left yet. And no it’s not the Trads who are worried – it’s the Calvinists who are pitching tantrums about the Trads organizing.

                  But I’m so glad we agree Ivory – let’s give all the information we can to the people in the pews – the people who are paying the bills and see what happens!

                    Ivory

                    Mary, my heart is heavy that you have had those experiences in your churches. Thankfully I have not experienced anything like that. I’ve read that the same thing has happened to others at various churches and I’m wondering if there are links to these churches available? That would be a great way to get this truth out to the people in the pews. So far I’ve not been able to find anything like that no matter how I google it. Can you provide the links?

                    The church where we are members already supports several non SBC missionaries/organizations because of the work we have witnessed. But we still also give generously to the Cooperative Program at 25%- which I’m told is higher than most churches.
                    However for those in our church who also are informed and do sense that there is a witch hunt in the SBC to root out all reformed leading believers–they will push for our church to give less and less to the Cooperative program. Because they don’t sense that their kind is wanted in the SBC.

                    After reading many of the comments on this and other posts, I can’t say that I blame them.

                    Our pastors encourage our members to read widely and deeply from those of the faith who have been giants of the faith–whether they be SBC, Presbyterian, or Methodist. Sure, they point out our distinctly Baptist differences from others, but they are not trying to censor the members from reading those who disagree with our Baptist distinctives.
                    Why would they? Why would anyone?

                    There are going to be Acts29 churches in SBC life and I don’t see that as a bad thing. God has been greatly using the Acts29 network of churches to bring the lost to salvation and to bring Himself glory.
                    Why should the members of the SBC be in opposition to that?

                    I agree that we should get all the information out there. As for me, Im ready to read some real cases where Calvinists have overrun leaders and taken over churches and driven members from the fold. I believe what you are saying, but that will not suffice in making the case. So far I’ve not read of one concrete example where this has happened.
                    Those in my church, much more astute and learned than I, will not settle for the allegations without the proof. And one or two examples does not make the case that there is a conspiracy afoot to take over the SBC. Still, concrete evidence of even one or two cases would be a good place to start.

                    Just like this review of TGP doesn’t cut the mustard in convincing TGP is Calvinistic. There’s nothing here that proves the case.

                    I would have hoped for an in depth review that actually proved from the curriculum and the Bible that TGP is in error and seeking to indoctrinate the masses. Based on this review, nothing even close to that is proven.

                    Donald

                    “So far I’ve not been able to find anything like that no matter how I google it.”

                    Ivory

                    I do agree that the problem is not Calvinism, in and of itself, as it has existed since the beginning of the Convention without these issues. But the issue is real and it does seem to be centered around some new sort of aggressive Calvinism.

                    Now, what would you do with a link? Would you call the church and talk with the new pastor that was hired after the other one split the church? Would you call the DOM and ask him? Would you take their word for it, or would you require more proof? What would you consider proof, and do you think that everyone will suddenly decide to back off their previous positions on this and just agree that there is a problem?

                    Locally, we have had one church split because of this sort of thing. The Pastor that was hired in was not up front about the direction he wanted the church to go, nor about his being a Calvinist. After a time, he drew a line in the sand and when the church voted against sweeping change he left taking about a third of the church with him.

                    Another local church was merely damaged and lost almost 2/3 of its members before he pastor resigned. It now is recovering but with no young families or children in the church.

                    The third that I know of had a big congregational reaction to the Calvinist understanding of election, the pastor backpedaled and it all calmed down for now.

                    All three of these guys will tell you it isn’t about their Calvinism. It is simply because the people would not follow the Bible (as understood by Calvinist). Two of these guys will deny being Calvinist, because they “don’t like labels”, and at least one is conflicted on “L”, but the issue down here is not atonement but ecclesiology (once again, driven by Calvinism). Please note, I use “Calvinism” synonymously with “Reformed”.

                    So, please tell me what sort of “proof” will settle the culpability and convince all those who deny the problem that there really is a problem. If there would be some real fruit, I’ll be happy to send you a link.

                    Ivory

                    My thought is that if this conspiracy is afoot then those having experienced this would tell the names of the churches, pastors, etc.
                    Personally I think there are probably pastors of all persuasions who may not be up front with a pulpit committee. I saw that at a previous church where the congregation was about 50/50 SBC, CBF. The church was looking for a new Education pastor and thought they had found one who was SBC to even out the pastoral staff. Seems it was not so and that ended up splitting the church when he pushed behind the scenes for more involvement with the CBF.
                    So I do know these sorts of things happen. It should not be so.

                    But, isolated incidents do not a conspiracy make. So, if it is true that this conspiracy by aggressive Calvinists exists, there should be ample evidence that proves this to be true.

                    For me, that’s all I’m suggesting.

                    Rick Patrick

                    Ivory,

                    Dr. Steve Lemke has been quoted asserting that there have been literally dozens of Calvinist splits in SBC churches. Here are just a few:

                    Lee Road Baptist Church, Taylors, SC
                    Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, Easley, SC
                    Gowensville Baptist Church, Blue Ridge, SC
                    Dauphin Way Baptist Church, Mobile, AL

                    By the way, I am happy to know you are at a church, presumably with a fair number of Calvinists, which gives 25% through the Cooperative Program. Just as you have asked for details, may I inquire as to the name of your church?

                    Finally, after reading Pastor Green’s review proving The Gospel Project contains a Calvinist bias, your assertions that such a bias does not exist are entirely unproven. Where is the proof that he has not proven his case? You claim he has not demonstrated anything, but you have not proven that he has not demonstrated anything. Many of us find his proofs convincing and your proof nonexistent. I would have hoped that a comment questioning someone’s proof would have offered a little more in the way of proof itself.

                    This may be my favorite Calvinist game of all. I say, “The sky is blue.” They say, “You have no proof.” I say, “It looks blue.” They say, “Sometimes things look different than they are. You have no proof.” I say, “People talk about ‘blue skies.’ It’s a common expression.” They say, “Lots of people believe in horoscopes. You have no proof.” I say, “Man, hold a color wheel up to the sky and you tell me what color it is.” They say, “That’s not biblical. Show me the Bible verse where there’s a color wheel.” Eventually, I give up. One cannot “prove” anything to a well-trained Calvinist.

                    Ivory

                    Not looking for an argument with anyone. Not looking for anyone to prove anything to me. I find his arguments against TGP unconvincing. I wrote about it above re: the love of God and his saying TGP makes God the author of sin.

                    If pastors in the SBC want the people in the pews to be informed, then give us the information. We have seven of our members in seminary now and we are supporting them. If we are supporting them learning unbiblical doctrines the people in my church would surely want to know that.

                    No, I will not give the name of my church. It’s a large church in south GA and I don’t think naming the church makes any contribution to the discussion at hand.

                    Donald

                    Ivory,
                    So you won’t name your church. Well, you have to stop telling these stories then because they cannot be believed without links or proof or whatever…

                    Ivory

                    Relevance?
                    I’m not the one making serious accusations against some leaders and theologians in the SBC. I’m not the one accusing some of our seminary presidents and others leaders at Lifeway of being involved in a grand conspiracy to overturn the SBC. I’m not the one looking for people to run out of the SBC. 

                    What church I am a member of is irrelevant. I do not represent my church or pastors. I represent myself and my family. 

                    If I were the one making these sorts of allegations about others I would think it incumbent upon myself to provide data for others to judge for themselves. 

                    As it is, it’s obvious to me that true dialogue is not wanted so as I’m not someone who frequents these blogs but was led here by a tweet I will leave the conversation gladly. 

                    Thankful that I can love and serve Jesus with many sorts of people who don’t all think just as I do. 

                    Mary

                    Rick, you’re in Alabama, Dave/VolFan is in Tennessee, Bob Hadley is in Florida, Peter in Georgia, Lydia in Kentucky, Tim Rogers in North Carolina, Les Puryear is ???, Tim Guthrie ???? I’m in Missouri. A whole bunch of us, many of us never met, never talked on the phone, never nothing outside a couple of blogs on the internet all have the same experiences, all have personal acquaintances with the same experiences, some of us have spoken to Associational leaders and State leaders with the same experiences, but none of that matters because some other stranger can dismiss all that evidence of something happening all across the SBC as just “delusion” or outright lies because we’re not willing to give personal information for bullies to go bully people who have already been abused. And the fact is it doesn’t matter if you gave the information the Calvinists just dismiss the evidence with “well churches split for all kinds of reasons.” Yeah but there’s not an actual organization that has set out to split churches for all kinds of reasons. There is an organization that has as it’s purpose for over thirty years now to reform the SBC.

                    If you listed a hundred churches that have been split by Calvinism the Calvinists would claim “well that’s only 100 churches.” There will never be evidence to convince the Calvinist so there will never be unity in the SBC. Too many of us are tired of being called liars and delusional for sharing what we’ve lived through. The Calvinists don’t want unity. They don’t care about victims of Calvinists. What they want is for everybody to just agree that Calvinists have never done anything wrong and we are all just liars and delusional. And oh we should just admit we’re heretics too.

                    D.R. Randle

                    So Rick, in comparison how many splits have occurred over finances or worship music or pastoral v. congregational direction? How many over moral issues?

                    Oh, and by the way, if you or Dr. Lemke thinks Daulphin Way was just simply a split over Calvinism, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.

                    I would dare say that the rest of those mentioned were much more complex situations as well. We do ourselves no favors when we simplify Church splits down to theology (especially theology which doesn’t in any way violate a Church’s Statement of Faith), when most often sin is at the heart of the real issue.

                    Randall Cofield

                    D. R.,

                    You hit the nail on the head. I’ve seen a number of churches split over the last 40 years. I have yet to see one split over theology.

                    Lydia

                    “You hit the nail on the head. I’ve seen a number of churches split over the last 40 years. I have yet to see one split over theology.”

                    You mean they don’t split over HOW theological differences are handled? I disagree. Calvinism is very authoritarian in nature. It produces arrogance and condescention in many who go into ministry. As evidenced in this thread. That will split a church in no time if there are people in it who are not lemmings.

                    Donald

                    Lydia,
                    You are right. Locally, one split was over ecclesiological differences rather than an intellectual disagreement over soteriology. There was a line in the sand drawn by the staff and the congregation rejected the list of changes (like the staff counting the money and the Pastor being able to declare someone a troublemaker and remove them from their place of service (e.g. SS teacher, committee member, etc…). The whole staff resigned and announced they were starting another church: “We still feeled called to Pastor in this area and will be making an announcement in the next few days”

                    Rick Patrick

                    DR,

                    Ivory just asked for one or two examples. I mentioned four. You came and trashed them. Fine. I expect no less. But here’s the thing. Calvinism did play a role in splitting all four churches. I answered her request, honestly and accurately. And then you played the whole Calvinist “This doesn’t prove anything” Card. It’s almost laughable how common this pattern is. Ya’ll really have it down.

                    1. No matter what your opponent says, tell them to prove it.

                    2. No matter their proof, attack their logic and tell them it proves nothing.

                    3. Rinse. Repeat.

                    Mary

                    Rick,

                    It’s Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

                    hariette

                    Rick, did you see where D.R. says numbers don’t mean anything as far as fruit is concerned, it’s labor, and then Randall tells Lydia she has to own the SBC’s dismal numbers? How weird. I yam tho cornfooozed. (last sentence misspelled for diction purposes).

                Donald

                “Southern and Southeastern (contrary to what Akin claims just look at Dr. Willingham’s post upthread about Southestern) that these two seminaries are Calvinists.”

                Mary,
                SEBTS may very well be Calvinist, but what Willingham said does not make it so. I was there in the early 00s, and remember some discussion about the Abstract of Principles. One of my professors (I struggle to remember which one) mentioned how when he was being hired he went to speak to Dr. Patterson because he has reservations about signing the Abstract, as it did seem to him to be a Calvinistic document. Dr. Patterson told him to reread it very carefully, paying close attention to precisely what the words said and see if he did not feel better about the whole thing. And yes, he did. And yes, Dr. Patterson signed the document as well as a large number of others who were not Calvinist. The Abstract does not require Calvinism.

                As an example, much is made of the Abstracts statement on Election:

                “Election is God’s eternal choice of some persons unto everlasting life…”

                Now, compare that to the denial part of the Traditional Statement on Election:

                “We deny that election means that, from eternity, God predestined certain people for salvation…”

                If one reads the actual words (I regret that so few are able to read precisely) there is a huge difference between “some persons” and “certain people”. “Certain people” adds to the meaning of “some persons” the fact that the person making this statement knows which persons they are but is not volunteering the names. “Some persons” is very compatible with a corporate view of election, whereas “certain people” is not.

                I went back (online) a couple of years ago on a second degree, and took Hermeneutics under Dr. Akin. He does not teach a Calvinistic Hermeneutic. What he taught was not unlike what I had been taught in the early 00s, though he had too much love for alliteration.

                SEBTS is not SBTS, at least not yet. Dr. Akin is fast friends with these guys and does buddy up more that I would like.

                  Mary

                  Donald, I know Akin just recently affirmed that he was 3.5 of Tulip but he doesn’t consider himself Calvinist. So I’m assuming the 3.5 is TUP plus half of I. I guess it could be half U and all I but that doesn’t make sense.

                  I understand that Trads/nonCals in the past have signed the Abstract, but today I think it’s pretty clear that the Abstract is being used to exclude based on soteiriology. If you look at want Al Mohler said about the Abstract at his first something or other speech at Southern which is published at Founder’s you can see that he was very clear that the Abstract would be a tool used to exclude those who disagree with the DOG.

                  So what I think is happening at Southeastern is a more gradual move than what Mohler did at Southern, but it is a move toward Calvinism. And of course we know that Paige Patterson could not declare that Southwestern was formed as strictly non Calvinist so he is going to take it back to it’s founding. This would not go over well at all.

                    Donald

                    Mary,
                    I get what you are saying, and it does seem that you are right about Mohler and SBTS. I have not been on campus @ SEBTS since 2004 and so am not up to speed. From Danny Akins Hermeneutics class, I will say that he did not teach us Calvinism. I would have no issues if that one class reflects what is going on at the campus. For example, on Election he taught us exactly what Dr. Paige Patterson teaches, deferring to Dr. Patterson’s comments in the Baptist Study Bible on Romans 8:29-30:

                    *8:29 Predestination and election have always been the subject of theological inquiry. Here, as in First Peter 1:2, God’s foreknowledge logically precedes the elective or predestinative act of God. Another truth to be affirmed is that the Scriptures present salvation as viewed in two very different spheres. The earthly sphere sees man as totally responsible for his actions and faced with the necessity of choosing either to reject or to accept the atonement of Christ. The heavenly perspective in no sense contradicts the earthly, but it does add a new and infinitely more profound dimension. That new dimension declares that God has an elective purpose and that all that ultimately transpires conforms to that purpose, including the salvation of the elect. Difficulty arises in man’s seemingly unending efforts to reconcile the heavenly insight with the earthly perspective. Wrong answers are not infrequently the result of erroneous questions. Instead of attempting harmonization of those truths which are ultimately understood only by God (11:34), the question to be answered ought to be, “Why is the doctrine of election present in the Scripture?” Four distinct answers emerge from this passage: (1) As long as the doctrine of election is in the Bible, salvation must be the gift of God alone. Predestination framed in God’s foreknowledge assures us that salvation is from start to finish the work of God. (2) The doctrine of God’s elective purpose guarantees the perpetuity of salvation. Unthinkable is the idea that one of God’s elect could forfeit his salvation. Those whom He has justified He will glorify. So certain is that sequence that “glorified” is an aorist tense in Greek, meaning that glorification has already happened in the mind of God (vv. 30-39). How could God lose one of His elect? (3) The doctrine of election assures a peculiar providence which attends the way of every believer. If God’s heart is set on us in His elective purpose, we may be sure of His concern and providential intervention in our behalf (v. 28). (4) Finally, that same personal providence bound up in election extends throughout the entire course of history. There is no runaway world. God’s hand is systematically guiding the age to its intended consummation (vv. 21-22).

                    8:30 An order of salvific events may be deduced from this passage combined with insights from other passages. The order of events is in some cases chronological, but many of the aspects happen simultaneously, making the order primarily logical rather than chronological: (1) foreknowledge, (2) predestination, (3) calling, (4) contrition (2 Cor. 7:10), (5) repentance (Luke 13:3), (6) faith (Heb. 11:6), (7) regeneration (Titus 3:5), (8) justification, (9) reconciliation, (10) sanctification, (11) adoption, and (12) glorification.

      Darryl Hill

      How about this thought…

      “For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”

      Is truth limited to Baptists? If we compare ourselves with ourselves, won’t we always be able to smile and agree that we’re just the greatest thing since sliced bread? Yes. What is the Church? Is it Baptists only? Are we becoming the example of that joke I hear and dismiss where St Peter is escorting people around heaven and then passes an area, telling those taking the tour to be quiet because, “Those are the Baptists, and they think they’re the only ones here.” I thought we go over ourselves long ago. Perhaps not.

      As I said to you recently brother, can God not speak to and through someone who disagrees with you? That’s my answer. If they have truth and they have spoken to the issue, then why not quote them? And I agree with others who have already spoken here- if we can’t receive anything from non-Baptists in our literature, then half the Baptists hymnal needs to be removed.

      This whole thing is a witch hunt, in my opinion, and it would appear like that monty python sketch where they couldn’t find a witch, so they dressed a woman up like one because she had a wart. So, if the Gospel Project curriculum weighs the same as a duck then it must be made of wood, so… “burn it!”

      Oh well, I’ve had enough of this whole thing. It’s a shame we can’t be reasonable and treat one another like brothers in Christ. Well, for my part friends, I will still treat you like brothers. I guess I’ll be the leper to you. I’ll just go around screaming, “Unclean! Unclean!” Or perhaps we could all get a scarlet C branded on our person somewhere.

        Mary

        The question Darryl is “can God not speak through Baptists?” Are the people of the SBC really not qualified to “speak” or to write a curriculum for the SBC? Why is an entity in the SBC excluding so many in the SBC to go outside the SBC. It seems like Calvinists in the SBC are more gung ho about seeking cooperation outside the SBC then they are about seeking unity among those within the SBC. The message of the makeup of the contributors of the Gospel Project gives is that there aren’t any qualified theologians and thinkers within our own ranks so they had to go outside the SBC to put this together.

        And on a side note Darryl you are one of the ones who’s been guilty of gossiping and backbiting these last several weeks on other blogs against SBC Today and Norm in particular. He told you why he hadn’t presented this article and you and your BFFs were gleefully speculating that he was lying to you because he had “nothing” to present. You need to repent of your acts against a Christian brother.

          Mary

          Darryl your lack of grace and your unwillingness to apologize for your remarks against Norm are shameful. There is no excuse for the way you and your friends behaved in attacking motives and thoughts. You all but called him a liar and mocked and belittled the site for not “producing” the goods. No evidence will ever be good enough for you and your friends because you’re mind is already made up.

          And yes Darryl of course there are SBC Contributors – the problem is the amount of Calvinists both inside and outside the SBC listed in this project. Calvinists of course have no problem with that, but they certainly don’t think the people in the pews should have that knowledge of who they’re reading. The problem here is that it’s the Calvinist who don’t believe they have anything to learn from nonCalvinists/Trads.

      volfan007

      Rick,

      That’s been one of main concerns about this whole deal. Why in the world do we feel the need to get ADVISORS from outside the SBC? …as if the ones, who are called upon to overlook what’s written, and guard the curriculum from bad theology, have to be people from OUTSIDE of the SBC????

      What’s with that?

      David

Bill Mac

Confirmation bias.

Just one more thing: Is grace not an expression of love?

Andrew Wencl

Green’s criticism of the sources of quotes is rather petty and occasionally undermines his assertion that TGP is a Calvinist indoctrination tool:

Michael D. Williams: A Calvinist writer for a Presbyterian and Reformed publisher.
Graeme Goldsworthy: An Anglican and a mongergist.
Stephen Lennox: A Wesleyan (Oddly enough, Wesleyans are Arminian. It seems strange to quote him if your quotes are designed to woo people to Calvinism.)
Craig Bartholomew: A professor at a college with Calvinistic leanings, a minister of the Church of England, and wrote a book that “draws on the rich tradition of Reformed thought.”
Michael Goheen: A professor at an Evangelical Free institution with a Master’s degree from a Calvinistic seminary, and wrote a book that “draws on the rich tradition of Reformed thought.”
Dorian G. Coover-Cox: A contributor to the HCSB, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (a non-Southern Baptist institution with a Calvinistic foundation).
Andre Gide: A skeptic and a humanist (Again, it seems strange to quote him if your quotes are designed to woo people to Calvinism).

Green also takes umbrage at calling non-Southern Baptists “Voices from the Church.” Should we assume then, that Green believes only Southern Baptists are part of the Church (with a capital “C”)? He also finds it curious that Adrian Rogers is cited as a “Voice from Church History” and not a “Voice from the Church.” Maybe this is to diminish the influence of quoting him, since he’s not a Calvinist. Or it could be because he’s no longer with us, whereas the others are still alive.

Brad Whitt

Thank you Pastor Green for your observations and perspective. As a pastor I agree with many of your concerns and conclusions regarding The Gospel Project. It is sad that our denomination’s publishing entity, one that evidently spent a great deal of time and money on this curriculum, couldn’t have been more balanced in their approach. If so, maybe more churches like Abilene, (or more of our flagship churches) could have taken advantage of such an encompassing product. For now we are left either having to use other Lifeway products (Some of which seem to be under a similar revamp) or moving to using curriculum from Dr. Vines or Auxano Press. (Both of which are excellent, and would cover the emphases of either Explore the Bible or Life and Works.) I imagine that you will catch much grief over your decision and explanation (a great deal from those who are not local church pastors), but let me thank you for your courage and consistency. May the Lord bless you as you lead and love your church, community and Lord.

abclay

Andrew addresses the whole argument (TWO passages???) against TGP above.

An elder taking theological instruction from a deacon….humm? Cart before the horse anyone?

Though Mr. Green states he investigated the material himself, it appears he only investigated the writers of the material. I wonder if Mr. Green ever quotes Spurgeon in his sermons?

But hey, it got a lot of publicity!

    Dean

    Abclay, I have one question, if I am to believe that all the great founding theologians in the SBC were reform, why do we need to go outside of the SBC for contributors to teach on sovereignty of God. It would be appropriate for any denomination to quote Bounds on prayer or Torrey on the Holy Spirit because they are understood to stand above most on the subject. I don’t think that is the case with these gentlemen noted.

      abclay

      The Lifeway material wasn’t returned because it quoted people outside the SBC , as it appears now, is the major problem with TGP. It was returned because

      The more (they) read and studied the curriculum, the more convinced we have become that this curriculum is not suitable for use here at Calvary……….. it is no longer a healthy debate but indoctrination; and we cannot allow that indoctrination to take place here at Calvary.

        Dean

        Abclay read the article down to the question, “Why is that problematic?” He then lists the names and reasons he has issues with the voices of the church portion of tgp. When you see something that is problematic that will be a reason why something is rejected and sent back. If SBC material is going to quote nonSBC sources and writers the one quoted needs to be understood as an unquestioned authority on the topic. We are the Southern Baptist Convention. I applaud the deacon for saying pastor I teach Sunday school in a SBC church. My kids are placed in a SBC Sunday school. Can you see if I’m correct in finding issues with this material. We do not get or Sunday school material from the RTS and do want the difference to be noticeable.

    Tim Rogers

    abclay,

    It seems that you think Deacons cannot think theologically. Some of the greatest theological insight I have received in a church comes from my Deacons.

      abclay

      Tim,
      Thank you for bringing this up. While I don’t know the situation in Mr. Green’s church, my purpose was to show the un-biblical role that many deacons assume (or are given) in churches today. I’m sorry if my point was taken as an offense towards the many non-ruling deacons who serve their churches biblically with God-fearing humility.

    Lydia

    “An elder taking theological instruction from a deacon….humm? Cart before the horse anyone? ”

    This is a perfect articulation of the elitism that comes from the Calvinistic system using Augustinian philosophy. The Augustinian paradigm. A few enlightened ones must lead and teach the incompetent masses.

    Are you suggesting the Deacon cannot have the indwelling Holy Spirit to know truth and spot error because he does not own the right title?

    Is the SBC funding church plants with young men who have this thinking?

      Dell Russell

      Lydia,
      The Primitive Baptist that I know of don’t have Ss teachers, because they may differ with the Pastor, but as you may know, they are Calvinist as well. In the SBC, many times deacons are Ss teachers. Thats because we believe they can actually think as well.

Tim Rogers

Jerry,

Green’s assertion that the Advisory Board influenced the Gospel Project toward Calvinism has long since been disproven.

Where, when, by whom, and to whose satisfaction? Your statement is subjective at best and borders on false information being disseminated by you. The only thing stated by Wax concerning the Advisory Board is, “we didn’t ask if they were Calvinists or not”. This is the same as moderates complaining that Jerry Vines preaching at the Pastors Conference would be a promotion of the doctrine of inerrancy and the PC President saying; Well, I really can’t say if I asked Dr. Vines is position on inerrancy.” There would be no need to ask Dr. Vines his position on inerrancy as everyone knows. It is the same with the Advisory Committee for TGP. Everyone knows they lean to reform doctrine and they promote it as well.

For the sake of argument say half of the writers are Calvinist. That means half of them would not be Calvinist…

When 85% of the SBC is non-Calvinist the question is not whether or not the curriculum may promote Calvinist doctrine. The question is: “In a convention where the overwhelming majority of people, are non-Calvinists, why have a curriculum that promotes Calvinistic doctrine 50% of the time?”

Green’s concerns that some of the quoted “voices” are problematic is ill-founded and off point. A citation does not indicate endorsement. It takes an extremely closed mind to think so. Does this mean Green or Rick Patrick never quote or cite public figures, politicians, Spurgeon, Luther, poets, songwriters or others? Do they endorse everything about them? You have set up a strawman with this argument. Green has not said it indicated endorsement. What Green pointed to were the people in the pew that may not be as astute concerning some of the names being presented. Then finding a book written by Gibe and assuming it would be ok to follow his teaching of skepticism and humanism thinking it was endorsed by SB because it was in our Sunday School Lessons.

What you and everyone at LifeWay fail to grasp is the history of the Conservative Resurgence. This was the reason the Conservative Resurgence began. The Sunday School Material that was being pushed on the people in the pew was not what they believed.

Tommy Lusk

Pastor Green,

Thanks for your excellent analysis and revealing information. Your first point of “love missing” totally identified with my own experiences with many (too many) of those who say they are Calvinist. To me the love of God is the first and best test. And, if it is not there, don’t go there!

The revealing of contributors who are not Southern Baptist and in some cases even very contrary to Southern Baptist beliefs and interpretation of scripture, and some even contrary to the 2000 BFM to me is unforgivable.

Your deacon’s analysis is commendable also. How I wish that every church had deacons this discerning and devoted to the Word of God.

Thanks also sbctoday and Norm Miller for staying the course in these troubled times in the SBC. I hope and pray that the true SBC survives. It is sort of like that old show, “To Tell the Truth,” where two imposters tried to fool the panel while the true person told the truth. Unfortunately, this is not a game, it has eternal consequences.

May God bless His Word and His servants with faith and perseverance in these times.

Adam B. Embry

A while back, Norm Miller advised me to read the response from SBC Today to TGP, so I did that this morning after hearing that disagreements over TGP were published, here, though I have quit reading this SBC “discussion” on Calvinism and have thus quit reading SBC Today and SBC Voices.

I have one comment to make and that pertains to Graeme Goldsworthy. I reviewed TGP for a month for free earlier this year and enjoyed how it attempts to present a whole-Bible theology, from Genesis to Revelation, of salvation in Christ. This is Goldsworthy’s forte, as he is one of the most well-written authors in the academic field of biblical theology. His Anglicanism is a Protestant Anglicanism, for one thing, as all Protestants believe in non-salvific grace, typically called means of grace, whether that be baptism, the Lord’s Supper, bible reading, listening to preaching, praying, singing, or Christian fellowship (at a pot-luck, obviously). Perhaps he should be criticized for carrying on the redemptive historical exegesis project of Geerhardus Vos at Westminster. But I need not belabor this point on grace (even still, it would be interesting to know if Ralph Green and any Traditionalists have read Goldsworthy – he’s also written extensively on preaching).

What is worth pointing out is that there is no “Southern Baptist” view of interpreting redemptive history. Historically, there are two views, the first being covenant theology, which Traditionalists would obviously reject and which the founders of the SBC would have espoused though with a Reformed Baptist perspective. The other view would be dispensationalism, which came to shape in the early 1800s in England by the 39 Articles-approving and Calvinist-defending minister John Darby (ordained in the Church of Ireland). Today, dispensationalism, with its emphasis on discontinuity between Old and New Testaments and its pre-trib / pre-mill view of the end-times is undoubtedly the view of most Southern Baptist pastors and church members, as well as most of evangelicalism. Dispensationalism was popularized in America by C. I. Scofield, an ordained Congregationalist minister and later a Presbyterian pastor in New York. Dispensationalism, arguably the pre-dominant view of how to interpret redemptive history in Southern Baptist life, does not have Southern Baptist roots.

So, are Southern Baptists who believe in dispensationism at fault for believing in a view that is not distinctly Southern Baptist? Of course not! Yet this is the exact charge against TGP. Though not dispensational myself, I would never critique someone who believes dispensationalism exclusively on the basis that their view point is out of line with the convention and the BFM2K.

Who are Southern Baptist authors that TGP could have used instead of Goldsworthy? I think there are several acclaimed professors in the field of biblical theology that could have been used: Tom Schreiner, James Hamilton, Stephen Wellum, Peter Gentry, Andreas Köstenberger, and Craig Blaising. But if the opposition from SBC Today to the faculty at SBTS and SEBTS is any indication of what criticism these men would have received, Drs. Schreiner, Hamilton, Wellum, Gentry, and Köstenberger would have received criticism for teaching at Southern and Southeastern, the two Calvinist-leaning seminaries in the convention. I do not know where Dr. Blaising falls in his soteriology, but he has published along side of Dr. Darrell Bock, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. Ralph Green expressed his displeasure with a DTS author in his article apparently only because the author was from DRS.

The fact remains that Southern Baptists are doing biblical theology like Goldsworthy. Perhaps TGP will incorporate the professors I have listened into the curriculum for a second edition, though it is doubtful that unless anyone who openly rejects Calvinism or unless the contributing authors are evenly paired 50/50, the contributors of SBC Today, and pastors like Ralph Green, will probably find something at fault. By the way, I think Ralph Green can return the curriculum if he likes.

Regardless, I am exiting this discussion, again, but did want to read it as Norm Miller suggested.

    Stephen

    Dr Hamilton is quoted in the 2nd lesson, I believe.

Dean

I have one observation: if you notice who is quick to praise something or defend something that will tell you a lot about a subject. The very fact that the reform in the SBC is angry if someone attacks tgp and they want to use it tells me it is Calvinistic. I don’t have to read a word of it to know that. If I attacked the Bible Book series would anyone be upset?

    Andrew Wencl

    I’m just tired of everything returning back to some Calvinist conspiracy to take over the SBC. Much of the criticism leveled at TGP sounds more like Fahrenheit 451 hysteria than legitimate concerns. This curriculum isn’t a Calvinistic indoctrination tool. If this “evidence” is sufficient to prove that it is, then I would find it hypocritical for anyone who agrees with Green’s premise to be caught reading Spurgeon, Broadus, Swindoll, or MacArthur, since there’s a lot more overt Calvinism in their writings than in anything that’s been presented from TGP.

      Mary

      I’m tired of Calvinist acting like all the victims of the Calviniztion in the SBC are delusional at best and liars at worst. Many of us have seen first hand what Calvinists try to dismiss as “conspiricy theories” According to Calvinists there’s a conspiracy by Trads who all got together one day and said “hey let’s go get the Calvinists, things are kinda boring right now. We’ll just make stuff up and send people from all over the country on the blogs to lie and tell similar stories of Calvinists behaving badly. It’ll be great fun! We’ll associational and state leaders to tell the same stories too!”

      Christian brothers and sisters across the SBC who’ve seen and experiencedthe damage done to lives and churches by the Calvinization of the SBC, people who don’t know each other from Adam and they will all get dismissed as delusional conspiracy theorists.

      Dean

      Andrew, you see no difference in a pastor reading Swindoll in his study than a Sunday school curriculum being taught citing nonSBC teachers and theologians? Again the citings are not of understood leaders on a matter. One quoting Billy Sunday on the subject of abstaining from alcahol would not be an issue with anyone. I simply ask do our six seminaries not produce enough scholars that can be quoted so that we do not have to use their contemporaries from other denominations.

      Mary

      And let’s be very clear. One side states there are those who wish to Calvinize the SBC because they think the SBC has “lost” the Gospel or look down thread at someone who claims only Calvinists know anything about Biblical theology.

      We can disagree with that agenda and still understand that the motives behind the agenda may be well-intentioned – to “recover the Gospel” and now we see “Biblical Theology.”

      But the Calvinists are basically saying the people who speak against the agenda are really just wolves who are trying to destroy the SBC – nothing Christian about the motives of the Trads. When you keep speaking of one side as delusional and inolved in conspiricy theories there is no other conclusion but that you think the SBC is full of wolves seeking to attack. Of course the Calvinists will come back with “oh no we know you’re Christians you’re really just dumb Christians who are so delusional you believe in “conspiricy theories.”

        Lydia

        Mary, You may not be aware that both Calvin and Luther decimated, with serious vitriol and condescention, anyone who dared critisize or question their doctrine. Of course, they had the power of the magistrate behind them to punish if the person was in their reach. (Which was Servetus’ mistake as Calvin premeditated his burning in a letter to his friend years before)

        We are seeing the roots of that sort of response today in emulating their hero’s.

          Mary

          And how many times are we seeing in these conversations Calvinists declaring they’ve debated, they’ve won the debate now everyone needs to agree with them because they’ve declared themselves the winner of all debates. It you can’t convince them they’re wrong then that means you are obviously wrong and need to SHUT UP or your voice should be marginalized and you will be declared a lying liar, delusional crazy conspiricy theorist, heretic. But Calvinists are all about “unity” which means only their “truth” matters. “Unity” doesn’t mean they have to stop the name calling and the accusations.

Tim G

Great interview. The one thing that stands out to me strongly is the whole Adam and Eve scenario. To say: “the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths.” is indeed to say that God produced evil. Denied by TGP is the reality that both Adam and Eve were given a choice. A choice to reach out and sin or deny the temptation. The same choice that we are given every single day of our lives.

I am extremely troubled by the references used and the whole “voice from the church” idea. Where indeed are the references to SBC theologians like Vines and so many others? And calling Rogers a “voice from church history” is indeed the point that we who hold to the Traditional Baptist theology are making. The cries of “we are not a mission to Calvinize the SBC” are proven wrong in this distinctive labeling.

Perception has proven reality!

    Daniel Davis

    Rogers being labeled as a “Voices from Church History” is due strictly to his status as no longer living on this earth. All of the church history voices have an accounting of their lifespan. There is no subliminal message in this label. Please don’t read anything into this. Rogers is honored for his faithfulness. At any rate, he would be included in this designation with Spurgeon, W.A. Criswell (leader p. 39), and Herschel Hobbs (leader p. 41). Good company.

      volfan007

      Daniel,

      I wonder why Dr. Rogers was not referred to as a great voice from Southern Baptist history?

      David

        Andrew Wencl

        Maybe the authors felt that Rogers is worth reading even in circles outside of the SBC.

          volfan007

          Andrew,

          The TGP is supposed to be a SB curriculum written for SB Churches….correct? And, Dr. Rogers was a great, SB Pastor and Theologian of our past.

          Oh wait, I forgot that a whole lot of the Churches buying this curriculum are outside of the SBC….so, they might not like that Dr. Rogers was SBC.

          My bad.

          David

            Mary

            David, I think the sword only cuts one way. Calvinists outside the SBC don’t really have anything to learn from a man like Adrian Rogers or anyone in the SBC. So to reach those outside the SBC, Lifeway has to hide anything that would say SBC.

        Darryl Hill

        David, the reason he’s mentioned as a “voice of church history” is because he died a few years ago. That’s the whole distinction. Those who are “voices of the church” are living. Those who are “voices of church history” are dead. That’s it.

        But don’t let that stop you guys from making more accusations.

          volfan007

          Darryl,

          My question was why not call Dr. Rogers a voice of Southern Baptist history?

          David

            Darryl Hill

            David, you are clearly speaking from ignorance of the lay-out of the curriculum. There are 2 ways “voices” are referred to throughout the curriculum.

            1. Voices from the Church- these are Christian people living today.
            2. Voices from Church history- these are Christian people who are not currently living.

            There is no category for “voices of Baptist history.”

            There is no slight against Dr. Rogers here. Sometimes you guys seem so determined to find a monster under every rock, it seems it doesn’t matter what is in this curriculum, many will still find problems.

            volfan007

            Darryl,

            I have not read the curriculum. You’re right. I did not know about the lay out.

            I’m not trying to find a monster under every rock. I was just wondering why we didnt call Dr. Rogers a voice from Southern Baptist history. In fact, why wasnt that a category? You know, a voice from SB history?

            Anyhoooooo….I’ve got to get back to hunting for monsters…there’s a few rocks outside of my office.

    Ryan

    I’m not sure why this was so alarming. It seems to me the idea was that Adam and Eve determined to eat the fruit prior to actually putting it in their mouths, thus the type of fruit (was it an apple? gala or golden delicious?) was inconsequential to the nature of disobedience, i.e. sin. It doesn’t say “long before”, “well before”, or any sort of qualified “before”… just before.

    Honestly, it’s an odd wording. I wouldn’t describe the Fall in such a way, but I also don’t have a problem with someone saying that you have sinned even as you carry out your sin but have not brought it to fruition (*rimshot*).

Darryl Hill

Well, if this is the best critique which can be offered, I’d say the Gospel Project is doing alright. I will say that I’m saddened that at this point in time that we can’t hear quotes of non-Baptist believers and just take them for what they’re worth rather than making so many distinctions about the people who said them. Sounds like trail of blood all over again. “If they’re not Baptists, I’m not listening!” Oh well.

So, it’s as I have thought and now know- since I hold the Gospel Project curriculum in my hand- this is much ado about nothing.

Move along people. There’s nothing to see here.

    Tim G

    Darryl,
    I see nothing wrong with hearing from those outside the SBC realm when they believe as we do. What I am wondering is why so few SBC people are highlighted and why Dr Rogers was quoted as “lesson from Church History” while others “lessons from the Church”? Would we not want to be thankful for and shine a little light on the great Theologians that we have in the SBC and have had?

      Darryl Hill

      Tim, the distinction is between the living and the dead, that’s it. He’s a voice from church history because he’s dead. The voices from the church are still living. The Church in this instance is NOT the Baptist denomination. The Church is speaking of all believers. But the distinction between the 2 categories is about being living or dead. It’s certainly not a way to disparage Dr. Adrian Rogers in any way.

        Darryl Hill

        I would also like to add that I often go to pick up my kids from school early just so I can catch “Love Worth Finding” on the radio every afternoon at 2:00. Which reminds me, it’s time to go that way. I love to hear Adrian Rogers, even his sermon against Calvinism, “predestined for hell? absolutely not!” I don’t affirm double predestination, either. Believe it or not, people can listen to a preacher who doesn’t agree with them on every subject.

    Lydia

    “Move along people. There’s nothing to see here.”

    We should take your word for it? Why is it that the Reformed wing has such a problem with their doctrine being analyzed and discussed? Is it proving uncomfortable? Or perhaps it will make jobs harder as more and more pew sitters start challenging the foundational presuppositions of Calvinism if they are looking too closely?

    “Move along, nothing to see here”, is a tactic of those who want to control others. You need to realize that. It communicates: We will do your thinking for you. (No thanks)

      Darryl Hill

      I suppose you might view it in that way Lydia. Actually, that is exactly what I would expect you to take from it. But no, in this case, it’s all about there being no real substance to this claim. 2 quotes from the material and a bunch of accusations against the men who are quoted. It’s a tempest in a teapot. Feel free to attempt to stir it into something more though.

        Lydia

        I don’t understand why you have a problem with people critiquing the curriculum and sharing their conclusions? Why say, move along, nothing to see here? Should I say that is what I expect from someone who wants to be in control of people’s thinking and I expect that from you?

        Methinks Calvinism works great if people don’t question the presuppositions. It works much better with magistrates who control and censor. Or those who think analyzing and discussing the doctrine is sinful and use censoring tactics like calling the discussions sinful, sowing discord, etc. I am so glad it is not the 16th century! I fear what this doctrine would beget if there was real raw power wedded to the elitism we are seeing coming out of this movement.

          Darryl Hill

          I have no problem with a critique of the curriculum Lydia, but that’s not what this is. This amounts to dismissing the material without analysis on the basis of who wrote it or who is quoted in it, not the CONTENT of what is said or taught.

          I’m still waiting for a critique.

            Lydia

            “I’m still waiting for a critique.”

            There is no such thing that will please a Calvinist unless it is said and done their way. We have seen this over and over on every thread concerning this subject. Say it the way we like and use our defintions and we MIGHT accept it. What you don’t realize is that there are some that are no longer willing to allow Calvinists to direct and frame every single discussion. There are some who refuse to be “marginalized” as your leader insists.

            The bottomline for this discussion will be money. Will folks continue to pay for leaders of entities who want to tell them how and what to think.

David R. Brumbelow

Ralph Green,
Thanks for your two articles on The Gospel Project. They are very informing and helpful.

It has been ironic to me that Calvinists say The Gospel Project has nothing to do with Calvinism, yet they are enthusiastically defending it and using it.

Norm Miller,
Thanks for your time in all this. Praying for you in all that you have recently been through.

There are some out there who owe both of you an apology.
David R. Brumbelow

    volfan007

    David B. is right. There are many people, out there, who owe Norm Miller a big apology for questioning his motives for not having this critique up sooner, and some even attacked him, and the others from SBC Today, for not having this critique posted. You all know who you are, and maybe you should do the right thing, and apologize to Norm Miller and Pastor Green for the incessant questioning and snide remarks about this not being posted sooner.

    David

    D.R. Randle

    David,

    One reason why (and in my view the main reason why) Calvinists are defending this curriculum is because it is finally a move in the right direction – toward teaching the Bible in a more wholistic way, as opposed to pulling verses out of context and applying them in all sorts of ridiculous ways (e.g. the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane during Easter time of this year with the application being made in the Life and Work series that we need accountability partners – how horrendous!).

    Additionally, for Calvinists as opposed to the vast majority of those calling themselves Traditionalists, we are just simply more interested and further along in theological development in specific regard to Biblical Theology (the discipline that addresses the progressive nature of Scripture and examines the OT forward to fulfillment in Christ and the NT backward to copy and shadow). David, I actually looked at the writings of professors that were mentioned by Traditionalists over at SBC Voices a few months back to see if any of those Traditionalist professors were writing on Biblical Theology. None were. And yet this is a huge discipline of Biblical studies – one that needs to be studied and applied to our Church members.

    So, yes Calvinists are defending it, but not because of 3 quotes that sound Calvinistic or 4 or 5 guys who offer snippets within the material (if that’s all we could do much better with material that is cheaper and deeper outside of LifeWay), but because it addresses some things that have been sorely lacking in our SS material for the past 40 years or more. And it’s really terrible that people are more interested in tearing down this material to find such slim evidence of Calvinism than they are actually considering reading and learning about the Bible in ways that most PASTORS don’t even understand.

    So, please don’t be so quick to assume why Calvinists are defending this. I think if you and I sat down and talked about the actual content of this series, you’d be quite surprised how much you would want to learn from it!

      Mary

      “Additionally, for Calvinists as opposed to the vast majority of those calling themselves Traditionalists, we are just simply more interested and further along in theological development in specific regard to Biblical Theology ..”

      it’s always amazing to me that people think Calvinists are arrogant and condescending. I just don’t see it. What could possibley be hinder “unity” in the SBC?

        Lydia

        Mary, this is what they are coming into churches and saying. They really do believe it about themselves and that is what indoctrination does. It is not education.

          Mary

          Lydia, I’m not impressed with Page’s “Let’s all stop talking about Calvinism Committee.” The fact that 4 Pointers are thought to “not be Calvinists” so the makeup of the committee is somehow not weighted to the side of the Calvinists is a pretty good indication of where it’s going to go – we had a committee now everybody shut up!

          But if it were a real committee seeking to discuss real problems and seek real solutions for a move toward unity – this quote here shows what a huge part of the problem is in the SBC. Calvinists are better and smarter and just super Christians as compared to the rest of us so of course they deserve to be pushed ahead of everyone else and of course only Calvinists should be writing SS curriculum and of course we should Calvinize our churches so they become better and of course all church plants should be planted using men just like the one above who has this vast superior knowledge.

          Lydia, we’re just not worthy of men like ol DR -we should consider it an honor that he graces us with his prescence here on a lowly blog with such inferior beings.

            Max

            Mary writes “I’m not impressed with Page’s “Let’s all stop talking about Calvinism Committee.””

            With statements like the following from Dr. Page in this week’s Baptist Press article, I don’t hold out much hope that the committee will adequately address the heart of the problem. http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38537

            “Among various issues facing the SBC, Page emphasized that the most important issue is not doctrinal, but rather the relevance of the convention to the 21st century.”

            “Concerning Calvinism, Page stated that he envisions unity in the convention in spite of differences concerning soteriology.”

            ??!!

            The BP photo of Drs. Page & Mohler laughing it up is haunting … our leaders ought to be weeping and praying at this point.

        Lydia

        Mary, The fact that Mohler ( of We must marginalize people, fame) is on the comittee means it is all a done deal. When an employee of one of our entities can make the comments he has made (New Calvinism is the only place to go, the people who signed the doc did not know what they were signing, we are semi Pelagians) and not only get by with it but be taken seriously as a “unifier”, it means he has more power than we ever thought.

          Joel Hunt

          Umm… what about Eric Hankins? :/

            Lydia

            Hankins is a pastor of a church. Not a president of a seminary and paid employee of an SBC entity who influences tons of young men who are going to be pastors….when he says we must marginalize people or that the signers of the trad doc did not know what they were signing. The fact he was not censored at all for that arrogance says a lot about his power.

            Lydia

            In fact, Joel, I will go a step further and say they should keep entity leaders off the committee if they were smart and want a more representatitve SBC. They do not direct US. We direct them through our polity system.

        D.R. Randle

        Mary, read my comment below. You are assuming a definition of Biblical Theology that I did not. You did not read me closely. Please go to the article I linked below and answer my challenge to name a Traditionalist scholar who has published works specifically on the discipline of Biblical Theology.

          Mary

          Of course DR! When Calvinists are caught being arrogant and condescending it’s only because he’s misunderstood. You share no blame for the way that you communicate – it’s always the other guys fault.

        hariette

        Mary, the very fact that we are debating this issue in Southern Baptist conversations today, takes all the juice of credibility out of D.R. Randles’ assumption that Calvinists are “just simply more interested and further along in theological development in specific regard to Biblical Theology ..”.
        If the Trads were not interested and were such theological dwarfs, why would there even be a problem? We would all be sitting in S.S. saying, “amen, amen, amen” to the Gospel Project and all other reformed theologies. selahV

          D.R. Randle

          Harriette,

          Read my comment below. You too are misreading me. I mentioned a specific definition of Biblical Theology and you assumed I meant theology in general. You are free to accept the challenge as well to show me some Traditionalist SBC scholars who are writing on this very specific discipline.

            hariette

            D.R.
            thank you for correcting me. I have a real reading comprehension problem. Been told that quite often by some Calvinists. No problem. I do wonder how in the world I made it all these years teaching youth, women, children et al using the archaic theology we have at our disposal through the Sunday School materials from the SBC and Hobbs, Rogers, Criswell, Patterson, Yarnell, Allen and others. I have been thinking for over 6 years now, that I probably need to go back and apologize to all those I taught and witnessed to and led to Christ and to grow spiritually in His grace. I never once told them about the T.U.L.I.P. That’s not to say I did not talk about predestination and election and sovereignty and persevering, attonement, and sin, though. How in the world did the SBC make it all these years without Piper, Driscoll, MacArthur and the multitude of the new writings today on specific disciplines regarding theology? I don’t know. Grace, I suppose. And the new mercies of God each day, I guess. Or maybe it had something to do with the Bible and the Holy Spirit teaching us to observe all things by listening to the prophets in the pulpit, and then applying the Word to our lives. That’s all I have. And by the way, I’m not the least bit upset, angry, irritated or annoyed that there are more writers being published today who are calvinists. It’s a free country. selahV

            Mary

            Hariette, I’ve think we’ve talked about this before that every generation has thought that they are the ones who “get it” better than anybody who’s gone before them. They’ve somehow discovered something the old fogeys missed and now they are gonna show us all a thing or two about a thing or two.

            Christ is found from Genesis to Maps? Who knew?

            D.R. Randle

            Hariette,

            You entire reply completely ignores the content of what I wrote and you still fail to see that you are employing a definition of “Biblical Theology” that I am not. Why not take a break from being offended, read the Wikipedia article (that’s actually very good), and acknowledge that maybe Calvinists have put in some good work in an area where Traditionalists haven’t. Then maybe you could interact with the actual argument that I made and not the one you accuse me of making. That would certainly be much more beneficial than using sarcasm in a way that adds nothing to the actual discussion.

            Mary

            Because if somethings not in writing for you it means that only Calvinists are capbable of contributing and discussing the subject. If people haven’t published their thoughts and what they’ve learned it means to you that Calvinists must surely be farther along and more interested – not that Calvinists are simply more published in this area. Only those who are “published” are qualified to contribute to SBC Curriculum thus the need to go outside the SBC because it’s being “published” that makes one qualified – not a person’s thoughts or experiences or personal study. The only people worthy of being listened to on any given subject must be published. So all the theologians, Pastors, leaders in the SBC who are not published are obviously not qualifed to speak on a whole hosts of issues or contribute.

            hariette

            Mary, that about sums it up.

      volfan007

      DR, did you just seriously say this: “Additionally, for Calvinists as opposed to the vast majority of those calling themselves Traditionalists, we are just simply more interested and further along in theological development in specific regard to Biblical Theology (the discipline that addresses the progressive nature of Scripture and examines the OT forward to fulfillment in Christ and the NT backward to copy and shadow).” ????

      Herein lies a lot of the problem in the SBC today…..

      David

      Tim G

      DR,
      Do you really want your comment to stand? Claiming to be further along in Theology assumes that all of us, if we keep studying, will come to the place where we will accept your version. So you are agreeing with those who think that Calvinism is the only Gospel?

      You should now see why so many have a problem with this type of arrogance.

      Dean

      D R my pastor friends and I completely disagree that the Gospel Project is a better way of presenting the Bible in a wholistic way. Forget Calvinism, to say you are going to find the Gospel story in every story is going to take some creative interpretations.

        Joseph

        Perhaps they are trying to take Jesus words seriously that the Law and the Prophets and the Psalms are about Him?

          volfan007

          Joseph,

          We know that the Law and the Prophets are about Jesus…been preaching this for years. We know that the poetry sections are all about Him. In fact, and I believe I heard this from Dr. Adrian Rogers, the Bible is His story…history…

          We do not just believe that the Bible is a bunch of moralistic lessons…nor do we just believe that the Bible is just a bunch of facts and figures, and history, and such. Brother, we’ve believed that all the Bible has been about Jesus for a long, long time. The GP is bringing nothing new to the table….not by a long shot.

          David

          Dean

          Joseph, certainly the theme of the entire Bible is Jesus’ and His redeeming grace. My point is that when dealing with the laws that are given expressly to the governing of the nation of Israel or proverbs that contain wisdom on saving money you should teach the life applications that are obviously intended in the passage. To take proverbs on friendship and talk about Jesus being our friend is wonderful but not the intent of the text. However tgp may not do such a thing just a concern I have from reading promotional statements.

        D.R. Randle

        I know that Norm has got to be busy right now and so my comment back to Tim, David, and Dean is likely to be delayed due to it having a link in it. So here is another response without the link:

        Why did I know that I would be completely misread and misunderstood when I posted that comment? Guys, I gave a very clear definition of Biblical Theology and instead of actually addressing what I wrote, you launched an ad hominem attack on me with the assumption that I was saying that Calvinists were ahead of Traditionalists in Theology in general. That’s not what I said. Nor did I even imply that Calvinists were better scholars in general or more Biblical. My exact words were:

        …we are just simply more interested and further along in theological development in specific regard to Biblical Theology (the discipline that addresses the progressive nature of Scripture and examines the OT forward to fulfillment in Christ and the NT backward to copy and shadow).

        First, go and do a Google search for “Biblical Theology” – click on the Wikipedia article (for Wikipedia it’s actually very good and I normally hate Wikipedia and despise when people link to it or quote it). Then reassess what I said in light of the exact definition of the term “Biblical Theology.”

        Now, after doing that, read the rest of my response:

        It might very well make you mad for me to point out that Calvinists are the ones publishing the vast majority of the works on “Biblical Theology”. It might anger you that I challenged you to show me any Traditionalist Southern Baptist scholar who has published works on this very discipline. But, let’s leave the insults in the bag, shall we? I am no more arrogant for pointing out that Calvinists have exceeded Traditionalists in this scholarly discipline than you would be to say that Southern Baptists Traditionalists are more apt to evangelize than SBC Calvinists, which both of you have stated in the past (if I could provide links I would). It is also true to say that Calvinists have been much more advanced in publishing works against the New Perspective on Paul and on Open Theism.

        Still, the reality stands. Show me where any of the Traditionalist scholars in the SBC today have published works on “Biblical Theology” – this particular discipline? The Gospel Project has as its foundational theme this discipline. Therefore, they found the men who were writing on this subject to advise them. But that’s all. The writers are across the spectrum. And why did they ask these mostly Calvinistic men to advise them? Because not only were they the only ones doing it in Baptist Evangelicalism, but also because they were the best ones doing it in ALL of Evangelicalism. And we should all be excited and ready to learn from these men of God.

        We shouldn’t be so xenophobic and tribal that we can’t learn from non-Southern Baptists. Haven’t both of you used EE? Have either of you utilized Chuck Swindoll? Then why shouldn’t our Churches benefit from men outside of the SBC, when they are the best at what they are doing?

        Perhaps sometime in the future we will be able to look across the landscape of the SBC and see that the Gospel Project produced a new generation of SBC scholars who are eagerly publishing the best works on Biblical Theology out there. And then we would welcome those outside the SBC in using our own homegrown material. Wouldn’t that be a glorious day!

          Tim G

          It is hard to learn much from a flawed system of thought! And it is more troubling when that flawed system of thought is wrapped in arrogance and spiritual elitism.

            D.R. Randle

            Tim, seriously, that’s your reply? How is any of what I wrote flawed? And again, you assume ad hominem attacks are in any way fruitful. You know, it’s pretty clear that you don’t have any leg to stand on here and it’s easier just to insult someone. Yet, I’m the flawed, arrogant, elitist?

          Jim G.

          Hi DR,

          I don’t know if these men signed the Trad statement or not, but the following are biblical theologians who are published and I doubt any of these are Calvinists (if any are, I stand corrected beforehand):

          S. Aaron Son (SWBTS) – not sure
          David Beck (SEBTS) – nonC
          A. Kostenberger (SEBTS) – not sure
          Scott Kellum (SEBTS) – not sure
          I’ve published in systematics with a heavy bibliclal emphasis.

          That’s at least a start.

          Jim G.

            D.R. Randle

            Jim,

            Kostenberger and Kellum are both Calvinists (though I think Kellum might consider himself a moderate one). And as far as I know neither has published a work specifically on Biblical Theology (again see the definition on Wikipedia – it’s a specific discipline with a specific focus).

            I am not familiar with Beck, but after reviewing his recommended reading list, I would question the idea that he is a Traditionalist. Finally, Aaron Son, according to the SWBTS website has not produced any books or articles on Biblical Theology.

            Again, Jim, let me emphasize that Biblical Theology is not Systematic Theology. It’s also not Practical Theology or Biblical Studies. And it’s not simply combining Biblical Studies with Systematic Theology. Its specific focus is on tracing elements of continuity between the Testaments in an effort to show the intersection of all points of the Bible at Jesus Christ.

            Jim G.

            Hi DR,

            To say Kostenberger has not produced a work on biblical theology is, well, misinformed at best. His recent “Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters” is the opening volume in the “Biblical Theology of the New Testament” series. He is the prof of BT at SEBTS. He may well be a Calv, but he never mentioned it while I was there. He’s certainly not vocal about it.

            I read the Wiki article. The definition of biblical theology is too narrow. Biblical theology as a discipline deals with the theology of a specific book, author, or even testament. It certainly includes a christocentric focus of Scripture as a whole, but it does not have to deal only with that to still be biblical theology. Using the broader definition, I have read Beck and Son and both are certainly biblical theology. I am more systematic, but a large chunk of my work is biblical.

            I’m not aware of any SB non-C scholars who work in christocentric biblical theology, but to be fair, that is not the forte of all the GP writers either.

            Jim G.

            Mary

            “….that is not the forte of all the GP writers either.”

            That kinda of just destroys his whole argument right there.

          Lydia

          DR, I think you did not get the memo. No more are folks allowing Calvinists to frame the debate and force us to accept their definitions for discussion no matter who the scholars are. What? Have you guys trademarked “Biblical Theology” now? And that is exactly what you are trying to do when you claimed Calvinists are further along in blah blah blah. Perhaps you are following man in the Reformed bubble and just do not realize it.

          BTW: My grandmother was a scholar and Romans was her specialty. Problem is, she was not a celeb that young pastors fawned over.

            D.R. Randle

            Lydia, you ask:

            Have you guys trademarked “Biblical Theology” now?

            Well, given that we can trace this specific term back to at least 1892 with Geerhardus Vos at Princeton Seminary, and the specific discipline back to the Reformers and men like John Gill who brought it to the attention of men like Charles Spurgeon (who is often quoted in regard by those in studying the discipline), then I think it’s safe to say that no one is trying to define terms. Rather, we are seeking to employ them properly. Unfortunately, Biblical Theology has fallen so far out of fashion with Southern Baptists that we don’t even recognize that such a term has existed for over 100 years!

            Also, Calvinists are not the only ones to employ the term Biblical Theology in reference to this discipline. Way back in 1999, Methodists Joel Green and Max Turner wrote a book about the subject called Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology.

            So then the answer to your question is “no, we haven’t trademarked the term now – it’s been around longer than any on this board have been alive and it’s well understood in Christian circles to mean exactly how it’s been used here.” No one is trying to frame the debate, rather we are simply showing that people don’t understand what the debate is all about.

            hariette

            Lydia, first we misread D.R. Then we didn’t understand what Biblical Theology is because it is assumed we didn’t read wikipedia, then we didn’t comprehend the points, then we are offended, then we are not published, then we are so ignorant we can’t even “understand what the debate is all about”. Makes a person wonder how we could get from Genesis to Revelation without a Calvinist compass, huh?

            Mary

            Hariette, we’d all be Calvinists if we knew anything about anything.

            Mary

            Lydia, you’re grandmother wasn’t published anywhere was she? So no, sorry, she’d have nothing to contribute anywhere. It has to be in writing to have any validity. Just reading the Bible and/or books about stuff doesn’t really count unless you’ve been published somewhere.

            Lydia

            “Unfortunately, Biblical Theology has fallen so far out of fashion with Southern Baptists that we don’t even recognize that such a term has existed for over 100 years!”

            Perhaps this is the reason it fell out of “fashion” with the SBC:

            Geerhardus Vos
            John Gill

            :o)

    Mary

    Being a Calvinist means never having to say you’re sorry :0

      Tim G

      Mary,
      These Internet Calvinist not only never apologize they are seldom wrong. Did you not know they are pre-ordained to teach us Bible reading people the rest of the story!

      DR highlights the attitude and perceptions that are wrong in the SBC today. He rants but fails when it comes to transparency. He hides behind books and such dodging the realities.

      Tis sad! Thankfully his tribe is small and it will not increase!

Kyle Newcomer

It’s notable that some of these critiques treat the Convention as if it were a Church. The Southern Baptist Convention is an association of churches, but doesn’t itself claim to be a church in the same manner that the PCUSA or the Anglican Church or the Roman Catholic Church does. If we were a church, it would make sense for us to have a codified theology in the singular, but as a convention there will always be theologies, plural. So no matter the source of a particular book or curriculum, all churches within the SBC should always expect to evaluate it critically. If you want more uniformity than that you should probably join another kind of denomination.

That said, I think there is great wisdom in having a loose association like the SBC has. My experience with more connectionalist denominations is that the unity they try to achieve is either a sham or fought with intramural fights. For example, imagine the theological diversity you’d find if you spoke with a Roman Catholic priest serving in Boston and one serving in rural Texas. Or consider the theological diversity and tensions within a conservative denomination like the Presbyterian Church in America. Though these organizations may claim to be a church, good Baptists know that all these groups can ever be is an association of churches.

If the SBC is healthy, then Lifeway should be producing a variety of resources from a variety of theological perspectives, which would reflect the diversity of the convention. If they tried to produce one thing to please everyone I imagine it would be bland and ineffectual and useful to no one.

volfan007

I love everybody. I dont hate anyone. But, I have no problem with quoting people, who have said good things, that are worthy of quoting. I have quoted Spurgeon, Wesley, Calvin, Adrian Rogers, and John McArthur. I would have trouble with anyone quoting Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and a host of others….at least quoting them in a good light…as if they were someone worth listening to. I might quote them to show just how bad thier theology is.

But, I can see how if 80% or 90% of the people quoted were strongly Calvinistic in their theology, then I’d be left scratching my head and wondering why? Why the need for Piper, Sproul, Carson, and other, NON-SB would be quoted so often and so much? It would make me start thinking something….

David

    D.R. Randle

    David,

    Show me some Traditionalist Southern Baptists who have focused on Biblical Theology (specifically the discipline related to prophetic continuity and fulfillment between the Old and New Testaments). A few months back you posted over at Voices a list of those you thought should have consulted and written for the Gospel Project. I checked each one’s list of published works and not one of them had written anything on the subject of Biblical Theology. The guys they quote here have. We shouldn’t be so xenophobic that we can’t look outside ourselves to find the best scholars. Certainly we would never teach a seminary student to write papers that only quoted or researched what other Southern Baptists had said on a subject. Why then would we ask the same of our own SS writers? Southern Baptists have been surpassed in this area and perhaps through the Gospel Project there will come a day when our own scholars will be on the cutting edge in this area. Until then, why not celebrate how we can learn from one another and not bemoan the fact that God has blessed others outside the SBC?

      volfan007

      DR,

      I know many, many, plain ole, SB theologians, who preach and teach that Jesus is found on every page of the Bible.

      Give me a break, Brother.

      Good grief, Charlie Brown.

      David

        D.R. Randle

        Just preaching that Jesus is on every page of the Bible is not Biblical Theology. I think the fact that no one can name a single Traditional scholar writing on the discipline of Biblical Theology speaks volumes as to why Calvinists had to be consulted for this material. And instead of acknowledging that there might be a reason, you guys just keep dancing around the subject and posting more ad hominem attacks. It’s silly David. It really is.

          Mary

          Right, because only people who have “written” on the subject are actually qualified to speak or contribute anything to the discussion.

          Lydia

          “I think the fact that no one can name a single Traditional scholar writing on the discipline of Biblical Theology speaks volumes as to why Calvinists had to be consulted for this material”

          What definition of Biblical Theology? The Reformed definition. We know the game and the drill by now.

Brian

Wow. This is like watching a nature show about the mother eating her young. Get back to me when the SBC is in tatters so I can congratulate you for driving out the EVIL CALVINISTS.

The whole notion that “Calvinists don’t know what to do with God’s love is laughable. Since reading more Reformed writers, I’ve foud more of Gods love than I did before.

Now let’s see if this site will interview someone from Lifeway to provide a response.

    Randall Cofield

    Brian,

    Now let’s see if this site will interview someone from Lifeway to provide a response.

    Ain’t gonna happen, brother.

      Mary

      If you’re really interested in what Trevin Wax has to say you can find an interview at SBC Voices.

      These comments are always so funny. Calvinists blogs outnumber Trad blogs twelve zillion to like four but somehow Trads are supposed to show “balance” but the twelve zillion Calvinists blogs can posts caricutures and straw men ad infinitum.

      FYI there used to like 15 zillion Calvnist blogs to only two Trad blogs but the Calvinists started realizing that Trads could read their blogs and so the Calvinists blogs had to stop openly talking about how they were “reforming” the SBC and they went private or stopped blogging. There’s some real interesting stuff if you had the time to peruse the comment section archive at a blog like Founders where Calvinists used to openly comment about their efforts to “reform” the SBC. Of course it’s all just a conspiracy even when most of us rememer the days when the Calvinists openly talked about “reformation.”

      Norm Miller

      This site is open to anyone from LifeWay who wishes to respond. That we have no response from Mr. Wax is because he wasn’t on the phone with Ralph and me. — Norm

Lydia

Norm, Thank you for explaining the delay with the interview. I am very sorry to hear of your family’s loss and the subsequent challenges you have faced.

Pastor Green,

Thank you for being the kind of shepherd who respects those he teaches in the Body enough to listen to their views as they have the indwelling Holy Spirit, too, if they are saved. This humility and understanding of the true Priesthood is fast becoming rare in the SBC.

Tim G

Here is my REAL ISSUE:

“why can I not the nice little quote boxes in my comments?”

or did I just figure this out?

    Tim Rogers

    Tim,

    It is simple. Before the section you want to quote you place a “” To close the quote you place the “”.

      Tim Rogers

      Tim,

      That did not come out correct. I will text you the html code, or you can look at the bottom of the comment box and see the code. :)

carl peterson

““Love is the Achilles heel of Calvinism. The Calvinists cannot explain it or fit it into their philosophical system. Therefore, they ignore it and substitute erudition, eisegesis and the like for it. Perhaps their weakest point is that they see no responsibility on God’s part to love us, only our responsibility to love Him. Therefore, in straight up, honest Calvinism, God hates His enemies and they go to Hell. Yet, we are commanded to love our enemies. Since God is love, if we do not understand His love, and especially if He does less than He commands us to do, we cannot know God well in spite of how much about God we think we know.”

God has no responsibility to love us. He did not have to create us or save us. He chose to do it because he loved us. The reason His love is so great is precisely because he did not have to do it. He does not have to love us but he chooses to do so. I cannot go to God and tell him that he has to lvoe me because it is His reponsibility. God is not contrained by that. He is not forced to love me. But he does. That is how great God’s love is for me and for us. If you state that God has a responsibility to love us then you take away from the greatnes of the love of God and also his soveraignty. The church fathers guarded this understanding with their doctrines of the simplicity of God and the impassibility of God. God just loves. He is not moved to love.

Also in CAlvinism, Arminianism, and the traditional view God sends people to hell. In all these views the people want to go there. But in the end God divides the sheep from the goats and sends those who reject him to hell. My point here is that all of these theological systems have the problem of how a loving God sends some to hell.

Also the repobate choose to go to hell. There is no person who is honestly searching and wants to put hteir faith in God but God will not let them do so. That is not what Calvinism teaches or implies.

“Calvinists do not know what to do with the love of God and the restraints it places on God. To the Calvinist, God’s sovereignty is somehow undone by His love in a way that the Calvinist cannot fully understand or accept. They cannot fathom that God’s love allows everyone the opportunity to choose to love Him or not. Part of this is the fact that their philosophical/logical view of ‘sovereignty’ is not biblical, but they are stuck with it. ”

This part has moper to do with what modern man thinks is fair and what he thinks consitutes a choice or free choice than anything else. Right or wrong it is very much a product of our culture, Western wordlview, and time in history than what the Bible states or does not state. the modern man thinks it is not fair that one man’s choice should bring guilt upon all of offspring. But what does the Bible say or does not say about this? I know there was another article on this blog about this. Iam just pointing out that this is not a biblical or really a theological argument against Calvinism. this seems to be more of an argument based upon a cultural worldview and philosophy.

“Man did not obligate God to act in love. God obligated Himself to act in love and to reveal Himself, according to both His nature and His plans. In order for this hypothetical statement to be true, God would have had to have turned from His own plan to communicate His blessings and His commands to man created in His own image, to forego His plan for redemption, and to decide to do all of this before man ever sinned. I find such a position unthinkable especially in light of the following passages: I John 4:7-9; Rom. 8:37-39; Deu. 7:9; Eph. 1:4 & 2:4; John 3:16; Micah 6:8; Matt. 25:34; I Peter 1:20, James 1:17, Mal. 3:6.”

The whole point of the hypothetical is that God did not do it because he loves us. He misses the point of the hypothetical and then seems to make the point the hypothetical statement was trying to make. Again God does not have to love us but he does so. Why? Because His love is so great he loves us. Nothing compels God to love us except God. So (hypotheticall) God could not love us. But because His nature is love then He chooses to do so. Very weak critique at best here. The best the author does here is state that maybe they should not have used the hypotheical. But the point is the same from either side.

D.R. Randle

There are plenty of criticism that could be made about this interview and the actual quotes that Green lists, but I want to address the final paragraph where Green writes:

Also, it’s hard enough to get folks to witness. They come up with every excuse as to why they can’t. If we add to that the thought that God saves who He wishes, then we think we’re excused from witnessing, but are still acceptable to God for our lack of obedience to His Great Commission.

This is both inflammatory and egregious. I would like to invite Ralph Green down to the University of Georgia campus any day of the week, where he will likely find more Calvinists sharing their faith and preaching the Gospel than he will Traditional Southern Baptists. And based on my experience, the same would likely be true about many college campuses – where Traditional Southern Baptists have abandoned evangelism because they aren’t seeing the results they believe they should. Thankfully, the mantle has been picked up by those of the Reformed faith who are worried less about numbers and more about faithfulness and the Gospel being proclaimed.

Green ought to also check out the IMB’s appointment numbers, where somewhere around half of all of those new appointees going to mission field come from Southern Seminary, the place Traditionals claim is the bastion of Calvinism in the SBC.

Such criticism, though they continue to be echoed by those who care to do little more than build straw men and listen to voices of the minority, are thankfully proving to be false over and over again. And the credibility of those who continue to say such things cannot help but be called into question.

This statement, out of all others here, seems to show most clearly that Green was biased against Calvinism when he picked up the Gospel Project to review it and that we shouldn’t be surprised that he would offer a biased review of it. Thankfully, I don’t believe this will convince many pastors and so the good work done by these faithful brothers will not be sullied by this interview. It is only Ralph Green and SBC Today who will come away wounded because of this.

    Lydia

    DR, The question is are they witnessing/teaching Calvinism and ergo “saving” people to a philosophical system? The seekers do this same sort of thing by thinking that inviting people to attend church is “witnessing”. Again, we have learned to be concerned with definitions/semantics. After all, Mohler said that if one wants to see the nations rejoice for Christ, New Calvinism is the only place to go. Sounds like that would be the focus for the “witness” to me, coming from the Reformed wing.

      D.R. Randle

      No Lydia, but thanks for assuming the worst about your brothers in Christ. They are preaching the Gospel – to atheists, to agnostics, to those of other religions, and even to those who call themselves Christians who mock and cuss at them as they pass (some of which have told them that they members of the seeker friendly SBC-affiliated Church in town). In fact one example, where an atheist professor was saved by means of efforts made by a Reformed SBC minister in the area (and those with him), was celebrated at last November’s Georgia Baptist Convention meeting.

        Lydia

        \”No Lydia, but thanks for assuming the worst about your brothers in Christ.\”

        Which is exactly what your leader of New Calvinism in the SBC, Mohler, did with his brothers and sisters in Christ with his many comments. But when he says them, it is truth. And how do I know SOME are witnessing “Calvinism”? Because I have met some of them (mainly SBTS seminary students) and that is what they were doing. In fact, some of them actually witness to Christians telling them they do not know the real gospel! And that is exactly what their president has made known he thinks is the “true gospel”. Calvin.

    Tim G

    DR,
    So I guess the question should be asked, do your church additions and new converts substantiate your claim of Calvinists leading the charge in evangelism?

      Tim G

      In other words, how many have you baptized in the last three years?

        Brad Whitt

        Great and pertinent question Tim. I look forward to D.R.’s quick response. He reminded me a year or so ago that we went to school together at Union so I’m sure that his church is at the forefront of Gospel witness under his leadership.

          hariette

          D.R., I didn’t know you were a pastor. Where do you pastor? what’s your church? selahV

          D.R. Randle

          Brad,

          You are welcome to come visit Athens anytime and observe whether the church I serve “is at the forefront of Gospel witness under [my] leadership.” But I don’t think you can adequately conclude that based on a set of numbers.

            Brad Whitt

            I’d love to come see your church and ministry field to see what you’re doing. What’s the name of your church again? Where is it located? I’m sure you’re being faithful and seeing much fruit in your ministry.

        D.R. Randle

        Tim, the fact that you asked that question in determination of whether I preach the Gospel faithfully speaks volumes about how you view faithfulness. And it says a lot about why the SBC is in the situation it’s in now. Faithfulness = numbers. Yeah, that’s a Biblical paradigm.

          Tim G

          DR,
          I did not ask that question in determination of anything much less your faithfulness, other than your conclusion that Calvinists do a better job of evangelism. If you are so convinced of this – answer the question please?

            Tim G

            I serve in a currently located inner city location and we have baptized 37 three years back to date with 5 awaiting baptism now. I do not post this to brag nor do I ask it of you to question your faithfulness in preaching. I just think that for one to make such a bold statement as you did, one ought to be forthcoming with some proof – especially from the home front. Don’t you?

            D.R. Randle

            Tim, where did I conclude that Calvinists do a “better job of Evangelism”. If that’s why you asked those questions, then perhaps you might be spinning your wheels, since I never said that. In fact, I would rather discuss what I did say. In the comment in question, I simply challenged Ralph Green’s words that “it’s hard enough to get folks [Calvinists] to witness. They come up with every excuse as to why they can’t.”

            My illustration of the campus Evangelism was to show that if Green’s statement was true, why are there so many Calvinists engaged in Evangelism at a place where they find some of the least amount of success? If they are constantly looking for excuses, then surely they could find one in difficult places like UGA (which was declared the #1 party school in the nation by Princeton Review in 2011 – they did slip to #2 in 2012, however).

            And if Calvinists are hard to get to do Evangelism, then why are so many of them lining up to go on the mission field, where cultural and language barriers, much less danger, difficulty, and lack of resources stand in their way?

            So as you can see Tim, I am making no such claim that you say that I am. But I am attempting to show that Green’s arguments fall flat when held up to actual verifiable evidence.

            Mary

            “……where Traditional Southern Baptists have abandoned evangelism because they aren’t seeing the results they believe they should. Thankfully, the mantle has been picked up by those of the Reformed faith who are worried less about numbers and more about faithfulness and the Gospel being proclaimed. ”

            I think clearly what is happening here is that someone is speaking in another tongue and doesn’t realize it and so the protestations of “I didn’t say that!” It happens so often to Calvinists. What we need here is an interpreter.

            hariette

            Mary, perhaps D.R. needs to go back and read what he writes, too.

          hariette

          D.R., faithfulness doesn’t equal numbers, but numbers are people and baptisms are fruit, don’t you agree? And fruit is kinda like “But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18

            Brad Whitt

            Also, Luke records a great deal of numbers of people who were saved in Acts to show the effect of the Apostle’s/Holy Spirt’s ministry. Just a thought.

            Mary

            Hariette, I missed something here. Calvinists are better at evangelism, but somehow telling us how many people have been baptized is “focusing on numbers.” If they’re truly evangelized aren’t they going to be baptized so there’s a number there? How is that mean to ask what the number is from the person proclaiming himself the superior evangelist.

            D.R. Randle

            No, Hariette, I disagree that numbers of baptisms are the fruit of faithfulness. In fact, I think the Bible teaches against such conclusions. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, we have an illustration of how such thinking is not Biblical. There Paul writes,

            What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

            Here Paul states that “each will receive his reward according to his labor,” not according to the number of converts, the number of baptisms, or the number of missionaries sent out. Many scholars believe that Paul had very little success (by today’s Church growth standards) in Corinth (as was also likely the case in several other places where Paul faithfully preached the Gospel). But that Apollos followed up Paul’s ministry and many came to Christ during his time there. The Corinthians were tempted to not regard Paul because he didn’t have numerical success, but Apollos did, thus they were fracturing into camps.

            Paul rightly points out that it is not about numbers and success, but God’s will and our faithful labor. We will not be rewarded because we performed 10 or 20 or 2000 baptisms, but rather because we remained faithful. I would dare say that the greater in the Kingdom of God will not be Billy Graham, but the pastor in Iran or Iraq who faithfully served his flock, saw few converts, but who lived constantly for the Glory of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

            But when we make success about numbers, then things like Church Discipline, Discipleship, and Christian charity, which cannot be quantified, but are just as Biblically necessary and Gospel-centered parts of our ministry, fall by the wayside and we learn quickly that the fruit we thought we had was really rotten to the core.

            I do find it interesting that you brought up James 2, however, as an argument that showing numbers was akin to showing fruit. The reality is that if you read that passage in context there are three examples of fruit there – taking care of the poor, Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, and Rahab’s hiding of the spies. None of these acts of obedience could be quantified by numbers. They were acts of obedience that sprang forth from changed hearts. Neither Abraham or Rahab knew what the result of their obedience should be. They simply obeyed. That is how we should be in Evangelism as well – we shouldn’t worry about how many are converted, rather we should be concerned with whether or not we are being faithful. God gives the growth. We are but planters and waterers.

            Mary

            So what you’re saying DR is your working really hard but you don’t have any Baptisms, but you know for a fact that Trads are not working really hard and all they care about are numbers which somehow makes Calvinists the superior evangelists.

            Tim G

            DR,
            You specifically said trads had abandoned the colleges due to low numbers. You sir mentioned numbers.

            Play the game and argue for points. Switch the theme and dodge the question. When really one needs to ZERO in on the real answer to the question. agreed?

            Lydia

            “….but you know for a fact that Trads are not working really hard and all they care about are numbers which somehow makes Calvinists the superior evangelists.”

            Mary, DR is good at the bait and switch as I have been reading his comments for a while now on other blogs. But I did notice he never gave the name of the church he pastors after being asked a few times.

            Mary

            “So as you can see Tim, I am making no such claim that you say that I am. But I am attempting to show that Green’s arguments fall flat when held up to actual verifiable evidence”

            Verifiable evidence – like telling us how many people you baptize at your church would be verifiable evidence that Calvinists are the superior evangelists! Yeah you’ve proven Green’s arguments fall flat all right with VERIFIABLE EVIDENCE except we’re not suppoed to talk about numbers. So verifiable evidence is just proclaiming something to be true and we’re all supposed to accept that it is true without any of what we used to call actuall facts. But Trads are supposed to provide all kinds of facts and names and numbers and such but a Pastor can’t tell us the name of his church or the baptism number for his church.

            Lydia, we seriously need to put together a dictionary of how Calvinists define terms – you know sorta of Newsspeak kinda thing – those words don’t mean what you think they mean.

            Tim G

            DR,
            Funny how I know the arguments and jumps you will make before youbtype them. Same ol spin and change.

            Answer the question since you raised the point and said trads abandoned…!

            Or shall I get you help with the answer?

            One to Pastor to another, Pastor up boy! You should know better than to bear false witness against other believers!

            Randall Cofield

            D.R.,

            I’ll help you out a little here. Here are the “baptisms” that Tim G., Mary, Harriette, Brad, et al are thumping theirs chests about and calling “fruit:”

            Baptized SBC Members: 16 million
            Unaccounted for SBC Members that cannot be found on Sunday morning: 10 million.

            hariette

            Randall, I could help out D.R., too, and provide some numbers, too, regarding his church, however, it seemed more appropriate since someone else asked him specifically and because he is the one saying we trads are all so bad at evangelism, that he should be given opportunity to share his church numbers for the past, say 6 years, to put all the questioners in their place. And since D.R. is so certain that we need to trust all the Calvinist authors of the Gospel Project because they have published all these books on Biblical Theology, it seems it would behoove him to show us how his Calvinistic teachings have effected his own church in the past few years. That’s all anyone is asking him. selahV

Jared Moore

Do ya’ll affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000? Article 14 says,

“Christ’s people should, as occasion requires, organize such associations and conventions as may best secure cooperation for the great objects of the Kingdom of God. Such organizations have no authority over one another or over the churches. They are voluntary and advisory bodies designed to elicit, combine, and direct the energies of our people in the most effective manner. Members of New Testament churches should cooperate with one another in carrying forward the missionary, educational, and benevolent ministries for the extension of Christ’s Kingdom. Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.

Exodus 17:12; 18:17ff.; Judges 7:21; Ezra 1:3-4; 2:68-69; 5:14-15; Nehemiah 4; 8:1-5; Matthew 10:5-15; 20:1-16; 22:1-10; 28:19-20; Mark 2:3; Luke 10:1ff.; Acts 1:13-14; 2:1ff.; 4:31-37; 13:2-3; 15:1-35; 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 3:5-15; 12; 2 Corinthians 8-9; Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 4:1-16; Philippians 1:15-18. “

Max

Thank you Brother Green for your perspective on The Gospel Project. I have been following this development for awhile after encountering problems with LifeWay’s young adult Sunday School literature. Our church uses the Life Matters “Threads” material produced by LifeWay. Last year, I complained to LifeWay’s editor of these publications about the extensive use of marginal notations pointing students to sermons, articles, books, websites, and blogs by leading influencers of the New Calvinism movement (John Piper, Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, and several others). Recent issues of Life Matters appear to have addressed this subtle approach to introducing young adults to a reformed “thread”, as I don’t see as many marginal references of this sort compared to issues produced in 2010-2011 and perhaps earlier.

My concern is that such materials are intended to effect a generational shift in SBC ranks to reformed theology, targeting primarily young folks . Sunday School departments throughout SBC need to be vigilant in this regard. Your following comments in the SBC Today interview are my sentiments exactly: “It bothers me that I can’t trust what LifeWay sends me” … “I am concerned that TGP will indoctrinate the next generation into Calvinism.”

Thank you for alerting us about your concerns with LifeWay’s TGP literature. Hopefully, Southern Baptists can get past this theological rift soon and focus on the Gospel project God has entrusted to us .

Rick Patrick

On the issue of Lifeway’s relationship to churches outside the denomination:

(1) If we prepare solid material GEARED TOWARD SOUTHERN BAPTISTS and happen to find that others are interested in it as well, then I am certainly fine with that; however,

(2) If we have started preparing material GEARED TOWARD OUTSIDE CHURCHES only to find that some Southern Baptists are interested in it, I feel we are off course.

    Lydia

    If you all noticed in the very first thread when the trad doc was introduced (600+comments) quite a few of the defenders of Calvinism were eventually shown to be outside the SBC. Many were Presbyterian and some were even from the Acts 29 Driscoll wing. And they were vitriolic and condescending. I wish I could find that sermon where Driscoll made so much fun of us as backwoods hicks and post it. But he has probably taken it down by now as he did with so many other things he has taught. And we partnered with him and gave them money.

      Max

      “And we partnered with him and gave them money.”

      Lydia, since you brought up Acts 29, it might be worth mentioning that Acts 29 President Matt Chandler is on The Gospel Project advisory council … but I’m sure he wouldn’t bring New Calvinism belief and practice to the table in providing advice for the “Project.”

        Scott

        Matt Chandler is also a Southern Baptist.

          volfan007

          Scott,

          He’s also the new head of the Acts 29 network. They only allow Calvinists to start Churches in thier network.

          David

          Max

          “Matt Chandler is also a Southern Baptist.”

          Bingo!

            Lydia

            And Matt Chandler was on the board of Acts 29 for several years before taking over but did not seem to have a problem with Driscoll’s perverted teaching. Have you guys ever heard some of his boot camp sermons? With the bodies he throws out piling up behind the Mars Hill bus? He is teaching pastors this! And we have been paying for it. Nevermind the Sodomy stuff and the porno visions. Why didn’t Chandler have a problem with this for those years he was on the board and either step down or publicly say something?

Ivory

I am not a pastor or trained theologian (i.e. no seminary), merely a lay person in the pews trying to bring God glory as He gives me and my family opportunities.

I have been a member of two SBC churches for 18 years. The first would be said to have an Arminian or Traditional leaning. My family left that church when those traditionalists decided to ordain a woman to the pastorate. Now we are members of another SBC church where two of the pastors would be thought of as leaning reformed and the other three as Arminian or traditionalist.

I’m not impressed with this review because it is shallow at best. And obviously there was a bias before ever reading TGP curriculum.

Just a few of my observations:

“Love is the Achilles Heel of Calvinists.”

Now, many people, Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike are at times unloving.
Proof in point: this statement is a very unloving indictment about brothers and sisters who have also been made the bride of Christ.
Right out of the gate it’s hard to read the rest of the supposed wise criticisms of TGP understanding that the author thinks of Calvinists as unloving. That’s a bias hard to overlook.

““It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally. 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 in existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.”

Is the critic saying that an act of grace is not love? How do we separate grace from the love of God? This paragraph has the love of God all over it.
Unless the critic is saying that to love us, means that God is obligated to love us?

I don’t believe God is obligated to do anything for those He created. He certainly chooses to lavish us with love and grace but to say He is obligated to love us, makes His love–not grace, but duty.

“The point of the story is not about the type of fruit, as if the fruit juices would poison the minds of Adam and Eve. No, the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths. ‘It was the not the nature of the tree that made it dangerous, the bearer of covenant curse and death, but what it stood for, obedience to the word of God.’”

This in no way makes God the author of sin. Of course the sin coursed through their veins before they ever took a bite of the fruit. As the Bible teaches everywhere it is in our minds where sin begins, thus the first sin here. The sin here is that they questioned/doubted God’s love for them in questioning his authority over them. The fruit didn’t make that happen. This wasn’t some magic fruit that all of a sudden gave them sinful hearts.

As for quoting those not branded by the SBC—who cares if the quotes used are in line with biblical doctrines? Really now–do some in the SBC think they are the only ones God has graced with His Salvation?

Our church is not using TGP however. Because we are in the middle of a multi years long study of Romans. Our pastors write our own curriculum. Perhaps we will move to it at the end of this study.

It makes me sad that this critic of TGP thinks so little of others and thinks so little of the people in the pews–the non degrees theologians. Perhaps he fails to realize that God also gave us brains as well and we are capable of thinking as the Spirit leads us when we read the Bible or any other book or curriculum.

I think this pastor should do some more study because I downloaded TGP a few weeks ago and read it through with my Bible in hand during that time and didn’t find one instance of anything being unbiblical.

Isn’t that what we Baptists claim to be–people of the Book?
Seems to me that TGP is Baptist through and through unless there’s some secret sect of Baptists I’ve never heard of.

    Darryl Hill

    Ivory, I would just like to say that I appreciate your response here. You have dealt with the only 2 quotes of the actual content from TGP and you have dealt with them biblically and logically. I appreciate it, and I agree with your conclusions.

    That first quote that is supposed to be denying that God is love is TEACHING that God is love. How ironic! That is the entire point of that section of the curriculum. God didn’t have to love us but He chose to give grace to us anyway. And I agree, trying to distinguish between grace and love is an exercise in futility.

    That second quote, which is supposed to be teaching that God is the author of sin or evil does no such thing. The Apostle James makes it clear when he writes…

    “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

    I suppose if we are to accuse the Gospel Project writers of making God the author of sin, we would have to accuse James of the same. Sin springs from the desires that are within us. Sin was already present with Adam and Eve when they were willing to listen to the accusation of satan that God simply didn’t want them to be wise like Him, and the sin of pride to become like God (they saw that the fruit was able to make them wise) was within them before they took a bite.

    It’s very clear to me that these 2 quotes are not any more calvinistic than anything you’d find in the Bible Book series. Perhaps it’s a bit more thought provoking, but it’s certainly not “calvinistic indoctrination materials.”

    The real beef here, if we boil it down to what is calvinistic or not, is this: Pastor Green doesn’t like the fact that reformed brothers wrote the curriculum. He also doesn’t like the fact that reformed brothers are quoted in the curriculum. That’s the bottom line. He’s not upset with the CONTENT of what is being said or taught. He’s upset that those who wrote this and who are quoted are not more like him. Nevermind that many non-calvinists are also quoted, including CS Lewis and Adrian Rogers, among others.

    Anyway, excellent response. Thanks.

Jessalyn

As a Southern Baptist with reformed convictions, I find it very unfair and unkind to assert that calvinists take the “love” out of God’s character with their theology. I understand the difference in views and the theological distinctions between Calvinism and Arminianism and see this assertion as a major straw man in the argument against reformed theology. The doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election and so forth scream love to the calvinist. The love of God shown to a completely helpless and rebellious people is perhaps one of the most persuasive arguments for Calvinism in my opinion. I can see nothing BUT love in God sending his son to die for me, though I did not deserve it and could not attain salvation on my own.

I just wanted to add a little balance to that thought (from an SBC member who happens to hold to the doctrines of grace).

    Mary

    Oh I know Jessalyn! It’s so unkind and unfair when Calvinists have gone on and on an on that Trads reject the Sovereignty of God and they’ve even called us heretics! We need more balance definately. It’s really important for Calvinists in this thread to point out how only they are concerned with Biblical Theology and such. Nothing unkind and unfair there! And oh how bout the swipe that Trads only care about “numbers” and not really about sharing the Gospel.

    I mean you know talking about generalties such as the tension between God’s love and God’s Sovereingty is like so equally offensive as attacking Trads as not understanding Biblical Theology and not caring about sharing the Gospel. So unkind and unfair indeed.

Mary

Joseph what you Calvinists don’t get is that it’s because we’ve experienced Calvinists behaving badly in the SBC, we’ve seen the evidence for ourselves, we’ve actually lived it and so it’s the combination of our life experiences with Calvinists in the SBC over the last decade combined with the evidence presented here makes are concerns valid and legitimate.

Calvinists like you have no compassion, no care, no love for anyone who’s seen and experienced first hand the Calvinist agenda over the last decade.

It’s you’re attitude that you will dismiss everyone who has real life, one on one experience with Calvinists pushing Trads out because as you’ve demonstrated with your words that you think you are superior to Trads and thus you will defend you’re idol of Calvinism at all costs.

But yeah thanks for admitting that you think all critque against Calvinism is being lodged by those who are either too stupid to know better or are actual wolves within the SBC. It’s best to get all the cards on the table so we can see where everybody stands.

dr. james willingham

Pastor Green reveals things about himself by his remarks in the interview cited above which raise serious questions. One, is that he has a Master of Divinity from SEBTS, an institution which from its inception called for its faculty to subscribe to the Abstract of Principles, a document that is noted for its calvinism, specifically, Article V on Election, VI on The Fall of Man, VII on The Mediator, VIII on Regeneration, IX on Repentance, X on Faith. The writers of the document, Basil Manly, Jr., as the leader of a group noted for being calvinists. Just here we should note that J.P. Boyce had appointed Manly, a friend from childhood, the latter’s father, Basil Manly, Sr., being the former’s pastor at the FBC of Charleston. All of this information is available online. One wonders why Pastor Green attended Southeastern (which I also attended), if he detested calvinistic views (which were not very pronounced then or now). I remember one professor asking me, why I believed that grace is irresistible. I replied, “If you will check Ps.65:4, I believe you will find that the verb is in the hiphil.” The hiphil is the causative verb in the Hebrew. The professor, a D. Phil. from Oxford, opened his Hebrew Bible to the text referenced, looked at it, said, “You are right.” He then began the lesson for the period and never again made reference to the matter. Not all of the so-called calvinists (I prefer the term Sovereign Grace) are of the Reformed variety. My pastor in my childhood in Arkansas, Rev. George Washington Gray, preached Sovereign Grace, and my ordaining pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell, was a supralapsarian hypercalvinist (his words from the pulpit and person to person). Dr. R.G. Lee thought so much of Dr. Campbell that he put it in his will that Dr. Campbell should preach his funeral. Dr. Lee had five preachers for the funeral, but Dr. Campbell as he would laugh and say, “was the only legal one.” But I also have ancestors. One, Holland Middleton, was noted in Henry Holcombe’s History of Alabama Baptists in 1840, and an online reference states that he was one of the two executors appointed by the Court to execute the will of Daniel Marshall in Georgia in 1781. Other family members include the Craigs, who were noted for their Sovereign Grace views as well as their leadership in the effort to secure religious liberty in Virginia. Our background as a denomination has been to leave the individual free on these matters, both in preaching and in writing. The first allowance came on the part of the calvinists in Virginia, when the Separate and Regulars united, declaring that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man should be no bar to communion. Clearly, that implies that most of the two groups held to Particular Redemption. I should also point out that the church that sent out the first SBC missionary to China stated in its articles of faith that Christ died for the church, not a word about Him dying for every one with out exception. Such was the theology of Luther Rice, William Carey, and Dr. John Thomas, some of the first progenitors of missions. As to love, I did two years of research on I Cors. 13, did my Project for the Doctor of Ministry on Christian Love and Race Relations. Is it love to deny truths that are actually taught in the Bible? And what about our Lord preaching Particular Redemption to the woman of Canaan (“I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”) and Total Depravity and even Reprobation (“It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs”), and her response was worship and agreement and an argument that it would be alright for the dogs to eat the crumbs (Mt.15:21-28). Since Southern Baptists come from such Sovereign Grace ancestors and predecessors, what in the world is wrong with their having materials written in a way the believe is more consonant with the Scripture…especially as the calvinists were the folks that got the ball rolling on the Great Century of Missions. There is more love in Jesus’ statements to the woman of Canaan than in just saying, “God loves you.” Some sinners are in such a sad shape, that they need something a lot stronger than that to reach their desperate situation.

    holdon

    “Is it love to deny truths that are actually taught in the Bible? And what about our Lord preaching Particular Redemption to the woman of Canaan (“I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”) and Total Depravity and even Reprobation (“It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs”), and her response was worship and agreement and an argument that it would be alright for the dogs to eat the crumbs (Mt.15:21-28).”

    If you are not a Jew (I don’t know), you are not saved, because you say “Christ was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. These kind of ventriloquist biblical text applications are false on the face of it. And same goes for your Reprobation theory from this passage. Have you not read what Jesus tells her: “O woman, thy faith is great. Be it to thee as thou desirest.”?

    Sorry, I love truth; not some bending of the bible to one’s “particular redemption” theologies, like you are doing.

volfan007

While it’s true that we can learn from Believers from all flavors of the Christian faith, still we are SB. And, while we can learn from people like John MacArthur, and J. Vernon McGee, and Ironside, and many others; still this SS curriculum is supposed to be for SB Churches. And, we do have many SB theologians, who are very qualified to write the material for our SB Churches, who have SB beliefs and practices.

So, why do we need to go outisde for SB SS curriculum.

David

volfan007

Some Calvinists are acting like no one else preaches and teaches that Jesus is the theme of the Bible. We know that the Law and the Prophets are about Jesus…been preaching this for years. We know that the poetry sections are all about Him. In fact, and I believe I heard this from Dr. Adrian Rogers, the Bible is His story…history… The Bible is about Jesus, and His atoning work.

We do not just believe that the Bible is a bunch of moralistic lessons…nor do we just believe that the Bible is just a bunch of facts and figures, and history, and such. Brother, we’ve believed that all the Bible has been about Jesus for a long, long time. The GP is bringing nothing new to the table….not by a long shot.

David

Joel Hunt

“Why can’t we go back to being Baptists?”

This summation said it all. Many care more about being Baptists than they do to be followers of Christ’s Gospel. Whether you are Calvinist, Arminian, or Traditionalist/Modernist, we should never make “being Baptist” the definer of our faith.

Randall Cofield

Anxiety, Futility, and Paranoia

Both the article and the comments on this thread remind me of a passage from the book of Leviticus. Bear in mind that a “90% Traditionalist” SBC has produced 16m members, 10m of which cannot be found anywhere near the house of worship on Sunday morning. Couple this with the “Calvinists are gonna get us” hysteria and read the following passage:

26:14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments,
15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant,
16 then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and shall flee when none pursues you.

Isa 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I will not give to another, nor my praise to…..(the Southern Baptist Convention).”

Soli Deo Gloria

    Lydia

    “Bear in mind that a “90% Traditionalist” SBC has produced 16m members, 10m of which cannot be found anywhere near the house of worship on Sunday morning”

    On the other hand, Islam and Mormonism are growing. And both have a sort of determinist god paradigm, too.

      Randall Cofield

      But you’ve gotta own the dismal numbers in the SBC, don’tcha Lydia?

        hariette

        Randall, haven’t you heard? D.R. Randall says that numbers don’t matter. Numbers have nothing to do with anything of import. D.R. depends on scholars and says that even the Apostle Paul didn’t do much with numbers. Check out D.R.’s understanding of it all here:

        “No, Hariette, I disagree that numbers of baptisms are the fruit of faithfulness. In fact, I think the Bible teaches against such conclusions. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, we have an illustration of how such thinking is not Biblical. There Paul writes,

        What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

        Here Paul states that “each will receive his reward according to his labor,” not according to the number of converts, the number of baptisms, or the number of missionaries sent out. Many scholars believe that Paul had very little success (by today’s Church growth standards) in Corinth (as was also likely the case in several other places where Paul faithfully preached the Gospel). But that Apollos followed up Paul’s ministry and many came to Christ during his time there. The Corinthians were tempted to not regard Paul because he didn’t have numerical success, but Apollos did, thus they were fracturing into camps.”

        .

        Lydia

        Randall, According to DR, your fellow Calvinist travellor, numbers are not a good measurement. So which is it?

          hariette

          Lydia, it all depends on what “is” is. When a person wants numbers to mean something, they use numbers to attack a person about numbers. When they don’t want to tell their numbers (for embarrassment or whatever), then the numbers don’t mean anything. On and on it goes…doublespeak I think one former Calvinist called it.

          hariette

          Lydia, did Jesus get mixed up when talking about the talents and telling us how many the Master handed out, then counting up what each servant made from the talents the Master gave them when he returned?

            hariette

            Lydia, do you think someone should tell Dr. Stetzer that we don’t need to be worrying over numbers and percentages so he can stop doing all those surveys he’s been doing? What is that form that all the churches fill out each year to tell us about giving, baptisms, attendees, and membership? Can we do away with that?

Dan Calkins

I respect Pastor Green and his deacon’s review of TGP and that we should read the material and judge for our local churches. I don’t have a dog in this fight since I’m not really a 5-point Calvinist and would be chastised by them for being inconsistent and inept. I’m apparently not a traditional Southern Baptist either since I don’t hate all things Calvinism. With that said, I do care about theology, don’t think Southern Baptists are the only ones going to Heaven, and that Lifeway would be out of line to make a theological stance so narrow as to be anti-Arminian, anti-Calvinist, or anti-“Trad”. I keep hearing the accusation that Founders is attempting to take over the SBC with Reformed theology, but is the website supported by CP funds or an institution supported by CP funds?

    volfan007

    Dan,

    I do not hate Calvinists, either.

    DAvid

    Mary

    Traditionalists don’t hate all things Calvinist.

    Founders is an organiztion that is not CP supported. Their stated purpose is to “reform” the SBC. Many of us have experienced these efforts first hand and seen churches split and people hurt. This has been going on for a lot of years now. Tom Nettles who is an SBC Employee at Southern is on the board of directors of Founders. Al Mohler is very closely tied to Founders. Pretty much any high profile Calvinist in the SBC can be traced back to Founders with Al Mohler being their first big gun appointed to an institution.

    Tradtionalist don’t want to be reformed and we’re concerned about the Calvinists in authority who have openly discriminated against Trads at SBC Insitutions such as Southern Seminary.

    And of course now we see that Lifeway has seemed to go out of their way to produce a curriculum that has and overwhelming majority of Calvinists as contributors and links to overwhelming Calvinists theologians.

    Of course Calvinist dismiss all concerns as “hate” and “delusions” and “lies”

volfan007

Joel,

You said, “Why can’t we go back to being Baptists?” This summation said it all. Many care more about being Baptists than they do to be followers of Christ’s Gospel. Whether you are Calvinist, Arminian, or Traditionalist/Modernist, we should never make “being Baptist” the definer of our faith.\”

You know, Brother, this sounds so spiritual. BUT, if I\’m being true to the Bible, then I will be Baptist in my theology. Also, I believe we all want to be more concerned about being a Follower of Christ, than we are about being a Baptist. But, being a Follower of Christ will lead you to being a Baptist.

Now, dont get me wrong. I dont believe that Baptists are the only ones going to Heaven. And, I\’m not saying that we\’ve got everything right. And, I agree that we should be all about being like Jesus and being true to the Word of God. Of course, being like Jesus and being true to the Word of God would make me want to believe the doctrines taught in the Baptist Faith and Message, rather than believing the doctrines of the Assembly of God Churches, or the Presbyterian Churches, or the Methodist Churches.

So, when someone makes a statement like the one you apparently didnt like, it doesnt necessarily mean that they\’re putting Baptist above being a Follower of Christ. Maybe it just meant, why cant we just rally around the main, basic truths of the Bible, which Southern Baptists have held to for years and years.

David

peter lumpkins

Pastor Green,

While I’m glad you’ve allowed the process you and your church experienced with TGP to be publicly posted, I cannot say I envy you presently. It’s a dangerous road to travel bringing up reservations toward Calvinism amongst Southern Baptist bloggers. We non-Calvinists are the definitive minority.

Even so, thanks to you and your church for affirming the predictable outcome of what I lamented months ago when LifeWay first announced the new curriculum all the while gleefully profiling the virtually unanimous strong Calvinist team of writers, editors, and consultants without mentioning a single word about the top-heavy Calvinism to the public at large. And, I’m fairly confident you and your church will not be the only ones who feel deceived by Lifeway.

Lord bless, Pastor Ralph

With that, I am…
Peter

Mary

No Ivory, I’m not going to give you names, numbers and mother’s maiden names of people who have been abused by Calvinists. They’ve been abused by Calvinists enough and have no wish to be further abused by Calvinist flooding their phone lines and emails with accusations that what happened to them had nothing to do with Calvinism but was really their own fault. There will never be enough proof for someone like you who thinks Calvinists can do no wrong. The fact of the matter is there is an organization that set out to reform the SBC. They used to brag openly about it on their blogs. People, many people not just a few that Calvinist think they can dismiss experienced it all across the country. People who didn’t know each have found each other on the internet and compared notes and low and behold it’s just like the plan in the “Quiet Revolution.” It’s not a coincedence. It’s not just a few people. Local Associations have seen it. State Conventions have seen it and even the elite in the SBC have acknowledged that there have been problems with Calvinists not being forthright in churches. But none of that evidence is enough because Calvinists refuse to believe that Calvinists have caused a lot of problems in the SBC over the last decade. The only reasons Calvinists like you demand “proof” is that you think you can somehow bully people who’ve already been bullied enough into claiming Calvinists are really nice people and the victims are not really victims.

So Ivory you can in your oh so nice way claim you don’t think I’m lying but you really do because you have to have names and numbers to confirm what I’m saying, but even then you and your “pastors” would just dismiss this as some “minor” anomaly because Calvinists are really truly great people and have never ever done anything wrong. Too many people have experienced differently and those people are sharing their experiences and those are the people who must be silenced by the Calvinists. Of course it’s poor Calvinists who are the victims because a few Trads got together one day and said let’s get rid of the Calvinists – and there was no reason at all for doing that – just out of the blue, let’s pick on the innocent Calvinists.

Since you all see nothing wrong with Founders organizing to kick out all who are not Calvinists I’m not sure why you have a problem with Traditionalist organizing.

Again Ivory, let’s trust the people in the pews because a lot of them know people who’ve experienced the Calvinization first hand.

Now as far as Acts 29 churches – there is a real problem with the way that they are structured which is leading to spiritual abuse. In an Acts 29 church you are not allowed to question and read anything for yourself – you’re controlled by “gospel groups” and “community groups” so who you associate with and what you’re reading and how you’ve interpreted any messages you’ve heard are strictly controlled. This is all documented from people coming out of them. But I know Calvinists claim these people are liars too. It’s documented if you read some of the rules these churches have posted on the internet about how they run their churches.

But I don’t know Ivory maybe you’re one of those people who think churches encouraging members to “shun” family members who disagree with their doctrine is a good thing. Maybe you’re one of those people who think that “elders” actually get to declare who is and who is not a Christian. Some of us don’t want our CP money to fund those churches. So let’s make sure the NAMB is totally upfront about what kind of churches they’re funding.

    Mary

    You must be right Randal because you Calvinists have demonstrated time and time again that you can read hearts, minds and motives over the internet. It’s an incredible gift that.

      Randall Cofield

      Beware lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…

Lydia

As to the “record enrollments” at SBTS. How many are for Boyce and how many are what our mission is supposed to be: Seminary?

Lydia

“If I were the one making these sorts of allegations about others I would think it incumbent upon myself to provide data for others to judge for themselves. ”

Ivory, Are you familar with Mohler’s words on the Gospel Coalition video? Or his words concerning the Trad document? If one of our employees feels free to say such things while those who are NOT new Calvinists help pay his salary, we have a BIG problem. And one does not have to wonder how a young 20 pastor from SBTS comes into a church and tries to model his hero causes division?

Tom

First, I want to respect and acknowledge Pastor Green\’s right and responsibility to approve and examine any teaching in his church. It is good to see a man who is thoroughly concerned with what his flock is taught.

Second, It does seem (in my opinion) that his issues with TGP are primarily centered on those involved in the production of it. This point leads to my main concern with this sort of \”Who\’s who?\” debate. Lifeway sells and promotes many authors, pastors, singers, artists who are not Southern Baptist no matter what their denominational affiliation. What I am wondering is why Pastor Green and others who are so concerned with Lifeway affiliating with non-SBC persons do not equally decry and call for the removal of materials from those such as: C.S. Lewis, Matthew Henry, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Max Lucado, Chuck Swindoll and the myriad of other pastors/writers/artists who adorn the shelves of Lifeway stores. It is disturbing that there is such a desire to maintain \”denominational purity\”.

Absolutely a pastor should choose materials for his church as he is led by the Spirit, but using the test of SBC-identity as the dividing line is concerning.

Thank you.

    Dean

    Tom, check again in your Lifeway store and see if you can buy Joyce Meyer or Joel Olsteen. The big difference is that the rest of the names you can buy at Lifeway are not sold under the banner of SBC produced material. TGP is a SBC produced product. My question again is why do we have to use contemporaries of our seminary professors from other denominations to serve on an SBC advisory board.

Pat

Thank you, Pastor Green, for the time you spent researching this material. Thank you for alerting us even when you knew that you might be attacked personally. One concern that I had with this material was the lack of emphasis on lesson-time devoted to incorporating the Bible into the instructional time, and the inordinate emphasis placed on videos and meaningless activities. Could this be the reason why such a large portion of young adults walk away from the faith? Have our young adults been firmly grounded in the Word of God? Do they read the Bible, or do they rely on what others say about the Bible? I believe that our young people lack the skills to defend God’s Word because they don’t read it. Are we teaching them the philosophical beliefs of curriculum writers instead of what God says? It is well known that curriculum writers base their writings on their philosophical beliefs. Therefore, it does matter who is writing the material.

Donald

Ivory,

Perhaps you might substitute the words “grand conspiracy” with “intentionality”.

Robert

(this got posted earlier in the thread when I intended it to be at the end so I am reposting it here)

Reading this thread is further confirmation of the problems with calvinism and why it is and will continue to be such a divisive force among Southern Baptists.

The apostle Paul in stating one of my favorite verses in the bible lays down one of the bottom lines of proper ministry. He writes to Timothy a young pastor:

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim. 1:5)

Note he does not say the goal of our instruction is knowledge and allegiance to CALVINISM.

Note he says this is a goal of a plural (“our”) group of people indicating this was one of the goals of the early church leaders. Jesus said that the entire law could be summed up in loving God with all your heart strength and mind and loving your neighbor. Paul who wrote 1 Tim. 1:5 also wrote the famous love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13. He says there that no matter how great your accomplishments, if you don’t have love involved, they are nothing, they are a waste of time. Paul also wrote that while “knowledge puffs up love edifies.”

One of the major problems with many calvinists is that the goal of their instruction appears to be knowledge and specifically knowledge of calvinism. It’s all about getting people to know and understand and embrace the so-called “doctrines of grace.” If knowledge of a theological system is the primary goal of your instruction, then that is what you will get, knowledge of that thoelogical system. And that knowledge will puff you up and it won’t edify. This partly explains why the theological determinists want to go back to the teachings of some early Southern Baptists, because they were calvinists. Again the goal is not love from a pure heart, it is calvinism.

And this pursuit of Calvinism leads to arrogance. To take a clear example in this thread, DR Randle wrote:

“Additionally, for Calvinists as opposed to the vast majority of those calling themselves Traditionalists, we are just simply more interested and further along in theological development in specific regard to Biblical Theology”

Note they are “more interested “in biblical theology and also “further along in theological development” than the “Traditionalists”. Not only is this statement extremely arrogant as others have noted, it again shows what their goal really is: knowledge of theology, and specifically knowledge of calvinist theology. They don’t want to go back to the teachings and beliefs of the early church Fathers before Augustine (because they were not teaching or promoting calvinism). No, they want to go back to the Reformers or to Baptists in early Baptist history who were calvinists. The goal is so transparent and obvious. And the fruit is obvious as well.

Lydia commenting on Randle’s arrogant comment wrote:

“Mary, this is what they are coming into churches and saying. They really do believe it about themselves and that is what indoctrination does. It is not education.”

Lydia adds the observation that not only are these calvinists making knowledge the goal of their instruction, it also involves indoctrination. And what is this indoctrination aimed at: same thing, knowledge and allegiance to calvinism.

Lydia adds another observation about the nature of calvinism:

“Calvinism is very authoritarian in nature. It produces arrogance and condescention in many who go into ministry. As evidenced in this thread. That will split a church in no time if there are people in it who are not lemmings.”

She is correct it is authoritarian in nature. You want a historical case study and proof of this, just study Calvin’s Geneva. When knowledge of calvinism is your goal, then those who have the “right knowledge” are the authorities, they are the ones who are supposed to be in control and dictate what others are to think and do. You will see this same pattern repeated wherever knowledge of calvinism is the goal of their instruction.

Note that Lydia also said that it produces arrogance and condescention in many who go into ministry. Again this is not surprising, if the goal if instruction is knowledge of calvinism, of the theological system, then those who have the most of it, will see themselves as superior to others who have less knowledge of the system. Now it is sad that if this happens to those “who go into ministry” then Paul’s statement to Timothy who was a young pastor is being ignored and replaced by something else. If 1 Tim. 1:5 is the goal of your instruction then you will seek to be a servant to others and seek to model the very thing that your goal of instruction is for others. As I was told early on, never expect those who follow you to be doing something if you aren’t doing that very thing yourself.

If your goal is the same as Paul’s in 1 Tim. 1:5 it’s not primarily about knowledge of calvinism, it’s primarily about having healthy relationships (with God and others) and fostering quality relationships in your own life as well as in the lives of others. If you know what a person’s goal is, you can usually understand their behavior very well. People are very teleological, they are always pursuing some goal. If you want to understand why calvinists are so into their theology and sometimes become so arrogant, just look at the goal: the goal of their instruction is calvinism. Understand that goal and you will understand their behavior very well.

Robert

Linden Wolfe

First, Mr Miller, I’m sorry to hear about your recent trials and loss. You and your family will be aded to my prayer list.

And now to the article: Pastor Green’s comments (along with “the deacon’s”) reveal several things to me. Here are but a few.

They:
•have extremely poor documentation of the allegations, especially given their gravity. The cited passages are not overtly Calvinistic, expecially when taken in context.
•have a seriously biased view of “traditional SBC theological distinctives.” This more than suggests that being a Southern Baptist and an adherent of just one of the schools of thought that makes up this denomination is the ultimate benchmark for inclusion.
•completely misunderstand Calvinism’s embrace of God’s love. Calvinists know exactly what to do with the love of God – wallow in it as seen in His infinite grace and mercy.
•have an incomplete view of the totality and harmony of God’s attributes. If God’s love “restrains” or overrides His other attributes and character traits (which includes His sovereignty, judgment, and self-glorification), then what we have left is a “Rob Bell and Love Wins theology.”
•infer the false assumption that citing someone equates with 100% agreement of all they espouse. I dare say Pastor Green quotes and cites many folks he isn’t in total theological agreement with (and sings Wesley’s songs).
•marginalize those who have a reformed persuasion who contribute Christian thought of great significance (and that would include Spurgeon, among many other “Baptists”).
•suggest that all Lifeway curriculum should come with some sort of disclaimer or warning label – “Beware, the following contains Calvinistic/Arminian ideas.”
•devalues the wisdom those who aren’t Southern Baptists (which would include the vast majority of great theologians and thinkers in church history).
•don’t understand the difference between “Voices from Church History” and “Voices from the Church.” Adrian Rogers would appear in the former because he (my former pastor) has sadly passed away.

I wonder what’s next on the agenda. Do we now start critiquing and rejecting curriculum because it infers mid- or post-tribulation rapture views? Or what about those that don’t claim Pauline authorship of Hebrews?

dr. james willingham

Ignorance is bliss until the truth be found. What is occurring is a reviving of the theology which was God’s instrument of truth in producing the First and Second Great Awakenings and in launching of the Great Century of Missions (what Kenneth Scott Latourette called the 19th century). Any careful reading of the sources for the Great Awakenings and the origins of the Missionary movement lays bare the reality that the Sovereignty of God and, more specifically, the doctrines of grace as the TULIP acrostic is better termed, are the means of transforming individuals, churches, societies, nations, and cultures. What we suffer from after a century long hiatus from the original theology of the Baptists in the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s is a lack of appreciation for the depths of biblical theology. Back in the period prior to the departure Sovereign Grace or Reformed theology was the leading intellectual influence in Western Civilization. Prayer for a Third Great Awakening has been going on now for nearly the same period as the hiatus (seeing as how our civilization has declined so precipitously one can appreciate why such prayers are being made). Every one is hesitant at the theology due to a nice brainwashing job in which the truth has been presented as the cause celebre’ of fatalism. However, a careful look at facts will belie such a viewpoint. Just consider what Dr. George W. Truett declared at the C.H. Spurgeon Centennial observance at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1934, where Dr. Truett was introduced by the Prime Minister of the British Empire. Dr. Truett presses home the issue in these words: “Calvinism magnified the sovereignty of God and placed a crown on the head of the individual man, whoever and werever he might be. It reminded man of his direct and inescapable responsibility to God.”(Dr. George W. Truett, “C.H. Spurgeon Centenary,” The Inspiration of Ideals. ed. Powhatan W. James. Grand RapidsL Baker Book House, 1950, p. 161). What’s that? What’s that? Responsible to God? We are told that this theology produces uncaring and unconcerned people. Well, Dr. Truett did not think so. On the contrary, he found “Calvinism” (his term) made men responsible. Now we know William Carey and Luther Rice were calvinists…Dr. Akin has told so about Carey, and I have read the same in Rice’s Memoirs, that he believed in Sovereignty, Election, Decrees, etc. And this is the man who introduced Southern Baptists (indeed, practically all of the Baptists in America {excepting the Black folks who got started in missions before the White folks did} to missions and who chaired the committee that adopted the Sandy Creek Baptist Assn.’s Confession of Faith in 1816, which is the source of our Calvinism. And the church that sent out the first missionary to China, Matthew T. Yates, stated in its Articles of Faith adopted in 1814 that Christ died for the church…and said nothing about Him dying for the whole world. That church, the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, was represented by its messengers in voting for the Confession of 1816. And shall I remind readers of the fact that it was the work of the greatest Calvinist America ever produced, Jonathan Edwards, his Humble Attempt, which inspired William Carey to start praying for the spread of the Gospel in other lands and then, finally, to go to India, where he would baptize the first convert to the Faith won by Dr. John Thomas whom some considered to be a Hyper Calvinist. (O and Dr. Thomas went insane, when he realized the Krishna Pal would go all the way and be baptized in response to Thomas’ efforts to win him while setting his broken arm. Now imagine that: A Hyper Calvinist so intensely concerned about winning souls to Christ in India that when he finally won one after 14 years, he popped out of his mind in a fit of elation. Listen, you folks, the most evangelistic sermons could well be those texts cited by the doctrine of grace advocates, that they are the soul-winning doctrines, truths, like when Jesus said so the woman of Canaan in Mt.15:21-28 could hear, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of israel.” Her response was one of worship. Really! Then He told her plainly that she was totally depraved and reprobate, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to dogs.” The woman agreed with Him, “Truth. Lord.” But even dogs need crumbs of food and can eat that which falls from the children’s table…and no one will object. What a compliment to Christ: a crumb of His power in the form of reprobation is turned into a way to be saved along with the idea of depravity and disability (dogs can only be dogs until God applies the doctrines of grace (the dog doctrines, if you please).

Now, I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening since the Fall of 1973, when I spoke to the Pastors’ Prayer Meeting of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association on the subject of A Great Awakening. Others have prayed longer than I have. D. M. Lloyd Jones prayed for most of his ministry for such a revival, and I know of one fellow who told me he started praying for such a visitation in the 50s. If the theology is a part of it, if it is necessary, and I think it is, surely, though I never set out to pray for the theology to come back , just for the visitation, the revival, the Awakening. But when the theology started to come back, I realized, “Well, yes, of course, that is the theology of the Awakenings and of the launching of the Missionary movement.” Read in Edwards works where his preaching on the Sovereignty of God was blessed in the salvation of souls. Read Whitefield’s works, Gano and Leland and Backus’ writings. God grant you folks to let things be and continue on their course, and if you must go look at Carroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope where the theology of the folks who run things is set forth and the theology they oppose, and you will find that they advocate pluralism and oppose Sovereign Grace. It is somewhere around p. 1239, I think…but that’s 20-years since I last looked at it….And, brethren, the Awakening is coming, the one which will win every soul on earth at one time, and continue for a 1000 generations (note generations not years so allow for 20,000-500,000++ years) and how many planets (thanks to John Owens the old Puritan and His Death of Death in the Death of Christ.).

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