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

May 18, 2018

Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Executive Director, Connect 316
Publisher, SBC Today

Evidence of J.D. Greear’s Reformed theological leanings was never an issue in the 2016 SBC Presidential election. After it was all over, an article in Christianity Today made the following observations, which never drew any rebuttals from Greear:

Gaines is “a traditionalist on evangelism, the need for personal commitment to Christ in salvation, and the commonly held Baptist soteriology of the past century,” noted Eric Reed, editor of the Illinois Baptist, while Greear’s leadership is more contemporary and more Reformed. [emphasis added]

Greear is pastor of The Summit Church, which has grown in worship attendance from 350 to almost 10,000 during his 14 years there. Summit is a member of the Acts 29 church planting network, and has planted 26 churches in conjunction with the SBC’s North American Mission Board. [emphasis added]

When SBC Today considers Greear to be a Calvinist, we base such a view on Greear’s associations with the Calvinist-only Acts 29 Network, the perception of Christianity Today and many other news reports that Greear is more Reformed, Greear’s association with groups like The Gospel Coalition and Nine Marks, and various sermons in which Calvinistic doctrines are espoused.

In fact, Greear is even called “a strong Calvinist” in this article by The Christian Post

If SBC Today is wrong about Greear being a Calvinist, then we are in very good company. The prevailing view in Southern Baptist life and in the evangelical world at large is that J.D. Greear is indeed a Calvinist.

If he is not one, then he is more than welcome to remove all doubt on this point by joining Steve Gaines and Ken Hemphill, along with over 1,300 other Southern Baptists, in signing the most attested confessional statement Southern Baptists have ever produced other than The Baptist Faith and Message, namely, A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.

Also, we have J.D. Greear’s own words, in the introduction to a sermon on Romans 9, that certainly leave open the door for the acceptance of Calvinistic doctrine: 

“I would never dogmatically say I am not a Calvinist because I think so many aspects of the classic doctrines of grace are an inexorable part of the gospel and I think John Calvin was probably the finest theologian, or at least in the top 3 or 4, the Christian Church has ever known.”

So at least we can say that Greear is not “not a Calvinist,” whereas in the case of Gaines and Hemphill, they both clearly disaffirm Calvinism. 

More specifically to Wilson’s clarification, his article is entitled The Top 125 Influences on the Gospel-Centered Movement. Wilson later clarifies the term gospel-centered, which is frequently used elsewhere as synonymous with Calvinism, by stating:

I tried to think keenly about all the folks whose voices have given shape to this still-developing movement, sometimes called “young restless and Reformed” (YRR), “neo-Reformed,” “gospel-centered,” etc.

Perhaps it will help Wilson to grasp our view if he understands three things from the perspective of SBC Today.

First of all, each of his three descriptions above define a theological understanding we call Calvinism. If Wilson wants to split hairs so that YRR, Neo-Reformed, and Gospel-Centered are no longer terms for New Calvinism, then he needs to start defining such terms and using them in more distinct ways. As it stands, we lump these descriptions together.

Secondly, when we refer broadly to Calvinism, we are typically encompassing both its Four-Point and its Five-Point manifestations. Many of us are not persuaded that even Calvin himself believed in Limited Atonement. So when we use the term “Calvinist” we take in Amyraldists as well. 

Thirdly, apart from theological considerations, we have a logical and rhetorical problem with the notion that anyone could be among the 125 strongest “influences” upon a movement while disaffirming the movement itself, which, by the way, we have already shown that Greear is unwilling to do. How exactly does one meaningfully “influence” the scope and direction and promotion and growth of a movement without in some sense directly participating with it as at least something of an adherent?

Let us consider the names on Wilson’s list and ask: “Are they either a Four Point Calvinist or a Five Point Calvinist?” Because of space concerns, we will not look at every name on the entire list, but we can at least go down to Greear’s name at #52. 

Are These People Either Four Point Calvinists or Five Point Calvinists?

1. John Piper—YES
2. Matt Chandler—YES
3. Tim Keller—YES
4. R.C. Sproul—YES
5. Mark Driscoll—YES
6. Al Mohler—YES
7. D.A. Carson—YES
8. John MacArthur—YES
9. Justin Taylor—YES
10. Francis Chan—YES
11. Tullian Tchividjian—YES
12. Collin Hansen—YES
13. Tim Challies—YES
14. Russell Moore—YES
15. C.J. Mahaney—YES
16. Wayne Grudem—YES
17. Lecrae—YES
18. David Platt—YES
19. Jen Wilkin—YES
20. Jerry Bridges—YES
21. Thabiti Anyabwile—YES
22. Mark Dever—YES
23. Paul Tripp—YES
24. J.I. Packer—YES
25. Kevin DeYoung—YES
26. Ligon Duncan—YES
27. Michael Horton—YES
28. Ben Peays—YES
29. Paul Washer—YES
30. Elyse Fitzpatrick—YES
31. Voddie Baucham—YES
32. Bryan Chapell—YES
33. Sinclair Ferguson—YES
34. Timothy George—YES
35. Ann Voskamp—YES
36. James White—YES
37. Keith and Kristyn Getty—YES
38. Joshua Harris—YES
39. Ed Stetzer—YES
40. Bruce Ware—YES
41. Bob Kauflin—YES
42. Derek Thomas—YES
43. Crawford Lorritts—YES
44. Tony Reinke—YES
45. Eric Mason—YES
46. Trevin Wax—YES
47. Tom Schreiner—YES
48. Darrin Patrick—YES
49. Derek Webb—YES
50. Gloria Furman—YES
51. Thom Rainer—YES
52. J.D. Greear—?????

In a series of tweets recently, Wilson denied calling Greear a “Calvinist.” He took issue with a VOTER GUIDE we posted earlier in the campaign alleging that his inclusion of Greear on this list identified Greear as a Calvinist. He called it a fabrication. We do concede that, technically, Wilson did not use the specific word “Calvinist.” This much is granted. The statement was not a direct quote of Wilson. It was not placed in quotation marks. Rather, it was merely a summary description of Wilson’s list full of New Calvinist Influencers. Frankly, we invite Wilson to indicate which of his 125 influencers are merely Three Pointers or less. There could not possibly be very many, for this is basically a list of Calvinist leaders.  

In light of Greear’s refusal to disaffirm Calvinism, in light of the media reports describing Greear as a Calvinist, in light of Greear’s many associations with Calvinist groups, in light of Greear’s sermon recordings with Calvinistic teachings, and in light of Greear’s noteworthy “influence” upon the movement of New Calvinism as evidenced by his inclusion on a list which appears to consist entirely of influential Calvinists, we are left to conclude that J.D. Greear is indeed a Calvinist.

Just in case all of the preceding arguments fail to persuade the reader, consider this statement by Greear, proving beyond a doubt that he affirms the monergistic, Calvinistic doctrine of regeneration before faith:

It takes the illumination of God’s Spirit and his regenerative work inside our hearts before we will ever believe. (J.D. Greear, Breaking the Islam Code, Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, OR, 21.)

All of this begs the question: “Why is Greear working so hard to disassociate himself from Calvinism?” On this matter, SBC Today will leave our readers to speculate and draw their own conclusions.

Earnest Easley to Nominate Jerry Drace for Second Vice President

May 16, 2018

Jerry Drace, evangelist and bivocational pastor from Jackson, Tennessee, will be nominated for second vice president of the SBC by Ernest Easley, Professor of Evangelism at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee. Jerry has been a vocational evangelist since 1975. During this time he has served two terms as the president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists. For the past eight years, in addition to the ministry of the Jerry Drace Evangelistic Association, he has served as the bivocational pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Friendship, Tennessee, located a few miles north of Jackson. 

Friendship Baptist Church gives nine percent of its total budget through the Cooperative Program, in addition to supporting the Lottie Moon Offering, the Annie Armstrong Offering, and the Golden State Mission Offering of Tennessee. Friendship Baptist Church ministers to approximately forty percent of the residents of Friendship each week. 

Jerry grew up as the son of a Southern Baptist pastor. He graduated from Union University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He went on to earn his Master of Divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and his Doctor of Ministry degree from Golden Gate Theological Seminary, now Gateway Seminary.

Jerry is the author of two books: From the Heart of a Father and 44 Ways to Strengthen Your Marriage. He is the editor of the Hope for the Home Study Bible published in 2009 and used in churches throughout the United States and Scotland. As an evangelist and pastor, he supports The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.  

Jerry has served as a guest lecturer at a majority of our Southern Baptist seminaries and has spoken on numerous university campuses in the Southern Baptist Convention. He has spoken at the International Congress on Preaching at Westminster Chapel, London, England; Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England; and Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, Scotland.  

Jerry has preached in approximately one thousand Southern Baptist churches and conducted numerous international missions and crusades. He has served as a Chaplain Coordinator for the Rapid Response Team with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and has served as the State Director of Tennessee for the Franklin Graham Decision America Tour. 

Jerry has also served as an adjunct professor at Union University, Jackson, Tennessee, and Anderson University, Anderson, South Carolina. Jerry and his wife Becky have two children and five grandchildren

International Travel Tips: Part 2

May 15, 2018

By Walker Moore
Awestar Ministries

There is nothing I enjoy more than training missionaries. I am of the opinion that every believer should live the lifestyle of a missionary. That means wherever I go, I am the missionary, and every place I set foot is the mission field. I should be the same whether I am browsing the shelves in a Wisconsin Walmart or standing in downtown Welshpool, Wales.

I think the words “short-term missionary” are misleading. If I read the Scriptures correctly, there is nothing short-term about taking up your cross daily and following Jesus. He will lead some of us to Walmart (yes, it is a mission field) and some of us to Welshpool. The “where” is God’s business; the obedience is ours. But there are some practical things you need to know about being a missionary:

1) What you wear is important: If you are serving in a mosquito-infested part of the world, don’t wear a moisture-wicking shirt. Trust me, to do so is to create a water fountain for anything that flies. If mosquitoes sucked fat instead of blood; I would be 50 pounds lighter than I am. And don’t go out and buy new clothes for a mission trip. Nothing screams “tourist” more than arriving in-country dressed like a Macy’s mannequin. In most of the places I serve, the nationals buy their clothes from a vendor squatting alongside the road. Try to dress as close as you can to those you serve. Thrift stores are a good place to get your clothes. But the most important thing to wear is the love of Christ.

2) Little things are important: When you land at your destination, gather your passport, your carry-on and the air sickness bag from the seat in front of you. You never know when you might need any one of these. Bring along a bag full of small, inexpensive trinkets to give to the children. You can show pictures of your family, but not of your two-story house with a pool in the back. And remember: Little things often lead to bigger things.

3) Food is important: Wear stretch pants, a stretch shirt and stretch socks, because every church you visit will want to honor you. They want to give you something, and about the only thing they have is food. They also want you to experience their culture and cuisine.  I have been to countries where the people have barely enough to feed their own families and yet will sacrifice their own food to share with their guests. Let them know that the bread of life is what fills your life.

4) Names are important: Try to remember the names of the people you are serving. If you have trouble, associate these names with words you already know. For example, Pastor Myhedurtz becomes Pastor My-Head-Hurts. Don’t forget to include the most important name in your conversation: Jesus.

5) Engaging the culture is important: I don’t how many times I have seen those who have raised thousands of dollars and traveled thousands of miles get no closer than 10 feet of those with whom they came to share the gospel. I have never been bitten while witnessing. I take that back; I have never been bitten by a human. Stand close enough that you can reach out and touch the people you’re sharing with. The best way to engage the culture is to do what they do; get involved in their lives. That might include learning to cook their way, doing their laundry or carrying banana stalks up a steep hill. Jesus came to identify with us in all things, and we do the same with those we serve.

6) People are important: Few of you work for National Geographic. Don’t get off the bus and start snapping pictures. Even when I go to some of the most exotic places in the world and take tens of thousands of pictures, I generally wait at least a day to start getting shots. Photos are good for communicating the story back home, but constantly snapping photos can make the people you serve feel like objects. And another tip: Don’t start shopping for souvenirs at the first place you come to; wait till the end of the trip. People first, pictures second, souvenirs last.

If you have been on a mission trip, you know there is no greater joy than being an ambassador for Christ. These six tips are simply a way for the messenger to avoid getting in the way of the message. The apostle John said it best: “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Whether this is your first mission trip or your fiftieth, the more you take the attention away from you and put it on Jesus, the greater joy—and the greater results—you will have.