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Norm Miller

Something for everyone,
but not everything for all

And maybe that’s the way it should be.

The first words from anyone’s fingertips ought to be of gratitude to Dr. Frank Page for having the fortitude and foresight to assemble the committee who, through prayer, perspiration and perseverance has delivered a document that, while it does not settle all matters of theological divergence among us, it celebrates the mandate that unites us: The Great Commission.

That said, committee members themselves are owed our most sincere thanks as well. Not forsaking other ministry, they sacrificed their time and applied their hearts and minds in an effort to clarify and heal. Thank you, Committee members.

Personally, I want to thank Dr. Eric Hankins, whose commitment to the Traditional Statement and the Sinner’s Prayer Resolution is evident in some of the content of the Calvinism Committee Report (CCR).

As one Southern Baptist, I call on the rest of us to embrace, endorse, celebrate and obey a document whose authority is implied by those who drafted it, and whose authority is divine inasmuch as the document appeals to scriptural principals.

While it is no secret that I am not a Calvinist by any stretch (and that doesn’t necessarily mean I welcome being identified as a non-Calvinist), and while I am happy to be identified as a Traditionalist since I signed the Traditional Statement, I much prefer my doctrinal identity to be, simply, Southern Baptist. (After all, I was born in Baptist Hospital in Nashville.)

Having read the CCR a couple of times, I offer a few observations.

There is so much to celebrate with regard to our common commitment to evangelism, missions and church growth/discipleship. My hope is that these three historic commitments and realities of our beloved Convention are not mere shibboleths, but are sureties of certainty. We ALL are under the mandate of the Great Commission, which by some accounts is one-third evangelism and two-thirds discipleship.

Whereas in previous days it appeared the Abstract of Principles seemed to be held by some as a founding SBC document preeminent to the BFM 2000, support for the BFM 2000 statement has supplanted that appearance as the single document of doctrinal guidance for the entire Convention. To wit:

“Other Baptist Confessions are not to be lenses through which The Baptist Faith and Message is to be read. The Baptist Faith and Message alone is our expression of common belief.”

Of significant note is CC member Tammi Ledbetter’s statement in her written “Testimony” at the end of the CCR. She wrote: “Secondly, our appeal for honesty regarding doctrinal convictions on the part of candidates interviewing with churches is, in my mind, the key to solving deep divisions that have arisen in churches that feel betrayed. Churches and ministerial candidates must show integrity in the search process as to who they are and what they believe.”

Whereas we are aware that, in a few cases some pastoral candidates have intentionally held their Calvinism secret, and at a later time have caused churches (staff and members) considerable heartache, the CCR calls on all pastoral candidates to be completely forthcoming Re: their theology (and that includes soteriology). I posit that this also includes Traditional candidates as well. Anyone who obfuscates anything before a search committee may be compared to a criminal on the run, hiding the clues of his escape.

Here are a few statements from the CCR that caught my attention:

Neither Calvinism nor non-Calvinism ought to be equated exclusively with sound Southern Baptist doctrine nor be considered inconsistent with it.

Neither those insisting that Calvinism should dominate Southern Baptist identity nor those who call for its elimination should set the course for our life together.

We affirm the power of the Gospel to redeem every single human being through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom the Father has now declared to be both Lord and Christ, the Savior of the world.

Anyone who understands the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit may, in prayer and petition, trust Christ through repentance and faith, and we should plead with all sinners to do so.

We affirm that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was both penal and substitutionary and that the atonement He accomplished was sufficient for the sins of the entire world.

We affirm the necessity of conversion and the truth that conversion involves the will of the believer as well as the will of God.

… no systematic construct can ever contain the fullness of Scriptural truth, that it is we and not the Bible who are subject to error, that we should approach the Word with both fidelity to the past and readiness for further reformation, and that it is better to live in the tensions of unanswered questions than to ignore or adjust some part of the whole counsel of God.

I have significant interest in the “Tensions” section of the CCR, from which the immediately preceding statement comes.

The “Tensions” are well-known to us all, but to categorize them as such helps us understand that, yes, we have differences, but let us acknowledge them and move ahead for the sake of the Gospel.

To put tension on a rope is to demonstrate its strength. While the tensions illustrate differences, they also demonstrate, like the rope under pressure, connectedness. Let no one suggest we unravel the rope. Rather, let us hold each end of that taut rope and march forward, using it as a trip wire to thwart the efforts of Satan.

More from Tammi Ledbetter, whose “Testimony” I like the best.
“I pray Southern Baptists will do three things: stop talking so much about that which they have overheard but not personally studied or verified; actually read our report before judging it; and show up in Houston to witness during Crossover block parties where we demonstrate what we claim to be our priority of pleading with sinners to believe in Christ, confessing to others that “our Lord is mighty to save and that He saves to the uttermost.”

So much more can and will be written about the CCR. You are welcome to write it here. However, in the cooperative spirit of the Report, SBCToday is going to welcome factual, charitable commentary only.

It is high time we celebrate what unites us, and not denigrate others for what attempts to divide us.

Onward and upward for the sake of the Gospel and the lost who need to hear it.

Norm Miller, editor/moderator

    joeblackmon

    the CCR calls on all pastoral candidates to be completely forthcoming Re: their theology

    Can I ask a question? Ok, let’s say I was in a meeting with a search committee and I was asked “Are you a Calvinist?” and I said “Let me tell you what I believe and you tell me if I’m a Calvinist” and then I did just that would you (anyone reading this) consider that forthcoming? I wouldn’t want to answer the question “yes” or “no” because some people say that Calvinists are anti-evangelism or don’t believe in altar calls but neither one of those are true of me. I know answering with a complete explanation would be a little long winded but I would want to be totally truthful and accurate. I’d appreciate any input anyone might have.

      Norm Miller

      Were I in that situation, Joe, I might say: “I will be happy to answer that question, but may I ask a question, first?”

      And that question would be, “What do you understand are the distinctions that qualify someone as a Calvinist?”

      Then, if the responses to that were counter to a classical definition of Calvinism, then I would say, “Nope, that’s not me.”

      However, I think I would then be fully forthcoming on the specificities of my soteriology and how they find application in my ministry. — Norm

        joeblackmon

        Thank you. I atually thought about that too but I considered the fact that it might give the appearance that I was trying to avoid the question or hide something. Anyway, thanks for the input.

      rhutchin

      “Can I ask a question? Ok, let’s say I was in a meeting with a search committee and I was asked ‘Are you a Calvinist?'”

      I don’t think I know what a Calvinist is and it means different things to different people. So much bias and misunderstanding that I think Norm’s question is good.

      “What do you understand are the distinctions that qualify someone as a Calvinist?”

      The three great distinctions are the beliefs that (1) God is omniscient; (2) God is omnipotent; and (3) people are sinners unable to save themselves.

        volfan007

        BUT, you should tell a Search Committee that you are a Calvinist…if you think that the Church is not a Reformed Church, and that it’ll be, or could be, an issue in the future.

        David

        Mary

        The problem comes in because Traditionalist believe God is omniscient, omnipotent and people are sinners unable to save themselves. So if someone only tells a committee that than there is a serious issue. I saw a Calvinist one time describe Calvinism to a group of people as simply meaning that God is Sovereign. Traditionalist believe God is Sovereign. …

          Mary

          You can’t just use “code” words that have different meanings to different audiences.

        Robert

        Rhutchin’s comments here provide a perfect example of how insufficient an answer to a question can be.

        Rhutchin begins by quoting a question by Norm and then responding to it:

        [[“ “Can I ask a question? Ok, let’s say I was in a meeting with a search committee and I was asked ‘Are you a Calvinist?’”
        I don’t think I know what a Calvinist is and it means different things to different people. So much bias and misunderstanding that I think Norm’s question is good.”]]

        A Calvinist like anything else can usually be seen by seeking to determine its essence. What is or are the elements that make up a Calvinist. Some immediately point to the acronym TULIP. And while this may provide some direction, a better approach is to ask of the elements of TULIP what Calvinist distinctives held by **all** Calvinists are there? The two “dead give aways” of a Calvinist are a belief in unconditional election and irresistible grace. Doesn’t matter if they are “five pointers” “four pointers”, “molinistic Calvinists” “Reformed”, “Reformed Baptist”, whatever. They all believe in these two beliefs. So if you want to know whether or not someone is a Calvinists just find out there stance on unconditional election and irresistible grace.

        Now where rhutchin’s post shows its real insufficientcy is his answer to a second question by Norm:

        [[““What do you understand are the distinctions that qualify someone as a Calvinist?”
        The three great distinctions are the beliefs that (1) God is omniscient; (2) God is omnipotent; and (3) people are sinners unable to save themselves.”]]

        The reason rhutchin’s answer so insufficient and could even by downright misleading is that if you know your theology you will know that *****a whole lot of Christians***** who are ***NOT CALVINISTS*** hold all three of these beliefs.

        Arminians believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent and that people are sinners unable to save themselves.

        Trads also believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent and that people are sinners unable to save themselves.

        And there are other non-Calvinists who see themselves as neither Arminians or Trads who also believe that God is omniscient, omnipotent and that people are sinners unable to save themselves.

        Both Arminians and Trads agree that the sinner on their own cannot place their trust in Christ for salvation. The sinner must experience the preconversion work of the Spirit for them to be enabled (but not necessitated) to trust in Christ alone for salvation.

        So say a prospective local church search committee asked a prospective pastoral candidate whether they believe that God was omniscient, omnipotent and they believed that sinners are unable to save themselves?

        ARMINIANS, TRADS AND CALVINISTS would all answer Yes. So these beliefs are way insufficient to demonstrating whether or not a person is a Calvinist because the fact is that *******many, many****** non-Calvinists affirm these three beliefs. If this question were asked by a search committee it really would not go far in revealing that someone was a Calvinist.

        If you really want to know whether or not some person is some version of Calvinist, just ask them about unconditional election and irresistible grace. Every genuine Calvinist who is not playing games or trying to mislead a search committee will openly and forthrightly present their Calvinistic beliefs when the issues of unconditional election and irresistible grace are brought up.

        Robert

          Mary

          The problem has also been that search committees are not educated enough to know what questions to ask.

          And then there are Calvinists who will do as demonstrated here and use words such as omniscient or Sovereign to describe Calvinism and a search committee will not understand that those words mean different things depending on who you’re talking to.

          Another situation which we witnessed just recently – the issue of Calvinism came in Pastor search at a church – candidate declares he’s not a Calvinist and then goes on to reject Limited Atonement. The man is a 4 point Calvinist who didn’t reveal his views on other four points. As Robert pointed out you have to get answers regarding Unconditional Election at the very least. We’re seeing more and more 3.5 and 3 point Calvinists who seem to deny Irresistable Grace now so not sure that would tell you all you need to know.

          But this demonstrates where some of the problems have come in. Many of these Calvinists candidates have brazenly admitted that if a search committee didn’t know enough to ask the right questions than it’s not their responsibility to volunteer the information.

          A candidate with integrity will volunteer his position on all five points of the TULIP in a way with words that the search committee understands.

            rhutchin

            “The man is a 4 point Calvinist who didn’t reveal his views on other four points.”

            There is no such thing as a “4 point Calvinist.” Either one is Calvinist or he is not. If a person only subscribes to four of the points, his understanding of Calvinism is minimal, at best (my opinion). No one should describe themselves as a Calvinist unless they first understand who God is, why man is unable to save himself, how this leads to TULIP and can explain all this with some degree of confidence. Until then, the person is basically still trying to figure it all out and where he ends up is anyone’s guess a lot of biases/preconceptions can come into play here.

            There are many wannabe Calvinists out there who claim to be Calvinist but should not.

            Mary

            “Until then, the person is basically still trying to figure it all out and where he ends up is anyone’s guess a lot of biases/preconceptions can come into play here.”

            So based on that statement maybe people who only accept a few points of Calvinism are not actually qualified for any positions of leadership in the SBC – if they’re still trying to figure it all out how can they lead others? So Danny Akin, Jason Allen, Russ Moore, Kevin Ezell are just “trying to figure it all out” and shouldn’t really be qualified for leadership. And Trevin Wax probably shouldn’t be overseeing the writing of SS material.

            sbcissues

            rhutchin,

            Amazing statement. If I made the statement rhutchins made, Ben Simpson would not only have me run out of the SBC but Chris Roberts would have me tarred and feathered before I got booted.

            “There is no such thing as a “4 point Calvinist.” Either one is Calvinist or he is not. If a person only subscribes to four of the points, his understanding of Calvinism is minimal, at best (my opinion).”

            “There are many wannabe Calvinists out there who claim to be Calvinist but should not.”

            You just described a number of very prominent folks who provide you a platform upon which to crow.

            I may want to quote you in the future; oh that’s right; I have no idea who you actually are. So much for anyone running you off!

            sbcissues

            Norm…

            I was just playing… not being mean spirited… could not resist that one. Sorry. I will try to do better… well maybe.

            rhutchin

            Well, it’s what I think. If the wannabee Calvinists don’t like it, that’s the way it is.

    Mary S.

    AMEN Norm!! Very well said.

    Norm Miller

    For all the talk about what should be done to whom or what, does anyone here remember how to get things done in the SBC?

    Blogging? No.
    Whining? No
    Drafting a report? No.
    If you want to effect change in the SBC, do it the old fashioned way. VOTE!
    The old adage is true: If you don’t vote, don’t complain.

    That said, just who in the SBC has the authority to accomplish what your desires may be? Belly-ache all you want about what should be done. But then, think about who has the authority to do it. Trot out some names. Offer solutions, not merely the recitation of problems.

    In the SBC, the authority flows from the pew up. And the best way to exercise that authority is to get all 10 messengers from your church and go to the convention and vote.

    Unless and until you do that, you really are wasting your time at the keyboard. And that’s the unvarnished truth of the matter. — Norm

volfan007

I sincerely hope that this document will taken to heart by people all over the SBC…especially those people in leadership positions. I want peace. Im for peace. I just hope that we’ll see people truly agree to the spirit of this statement. And, I’m gonna believe that this is what’s gonna happen all over the SBC, until I see different.

Thanks to Dr. Hankins, Dr. Allen, Dr. Lemke, and all the others, who served on this committee, and to Dr. Page for tackling such a big issue.

David Worley

Christian

If this is taken to heart, does this mean some changes will be occuring in our schools and our church plants?

    Norm Miller

    The document isn’t binding. Time will tell if we all will abide by its spirit of cooperation. — Norm

Randall Cofield

This Committee, representing a broad spectrum of leadership within the SBC, has charted a clear course by which our Convention may sail through dangerous seas. If embraced by all, this document will enable the old Ship of Zion to carry the glorious Gospel of Lord Jesus to heretofore unreachable shores.

I rejoice with joy unspeakable at the continued mercy, grace, and guiding hand of our God upon our Convention.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Randall Cofield

To put tension on a rope is to demonstrate its strength. While the tensions illustrate differences, they also demonstrate, like the rope under pressure, connectedness. Let no one suggest we unravel the rope. Rather, let us hold each end of that taut rope and march forward, using it as a trip wire to thwart the efforts of Satan.

That statement is border-line brilliant…

    Norm Miller

    Ok, Randall. How much money do you want to borrow?
    (Had you said it was “brilliant,” I would have sent you some dough immediately.!)
    Thx for the affirmation. — Norm

Ron F. Hale

I came away very positive and hopeful after reading the Report late last evening. I remain hopeful. I love our Convention. I want to see us reaching the lost and spreading the Gospel around the world.

I want to say “Thank You,” to those who labored on the Committee and for the balance you brought to the writing of the Report!

Preach BlackMan Preach

The Southern Baptist Convention was and remains the champion of the Great Command and standard bearer of the truth of the Holy Scriptures in what appears to be a so-called evolving world . Excellent report which reminds all of us we have less time as stewards of the mysteries of God and servants of God’s people than we once had. I ask that you pray for me as I pray for you that we be found faithfull of the truth, and labor of love assigned to our hands before it is eternally to late.

rhutchin

“We should be thankful that these are the issues Southern Baptists are now discussing, even as liberal denominations are debating the full abdication of biblical morality and allowing the denial of central doctrines. We are, seen in this light, blessed by the discussions that come to Southern Baptists who want to affirm the fullness of the faith, not its reduction.”

A hearty AMEN.

    Preach Blackman Preach

    Amen, again Brother !

Robert

Norm shared some points that got his attention, one on particular is a bit of a concern from my perspective.

It is the statement that:

“Neither Calvinism nor non-Calvinism ought to be equated exclusively with sound Southern Baptist doctrine nor be considered inconsistent with it.”

Now I understand that they are trying to be political here (i.e. make room for everyone in the SBC, show tolerance for everyone). And that is fully understandable. They want everyone to work together as Southern Baptists and not allow their differences to unnecessarily divide them. All of this is commendable and understood.

However my concern is that this statement leads to the conclusion that two opposite views will both be viewed as correct. The problem is that two opposites cannot both be true at the same time, that is affirming a contradiction. I understand that they want to say that neither the Calvinist nor the non-Calvinist camp should be equated exclusively with sound Southern Baptist doctrine (i.e. they don’t want either camp monopolizing the convention). But how can two opposite beliefs not be inconsistent with Southern Baptist doctrine? It seems that one will be consistent with it and its opposite will not be consistent with it. But to claim that they both could be consistent with it, when they are opposites, is to affirm a contradiction. It is one thing to admit to tensions and disagreement, it is quite another to claim that two opposites are both consistent with your doctrine. That is not possible as two opposite beliefs could not be consistent with something unless you are willing to grant that you are affirming a contradiction.

I don’t want anyone to get the wrong impression as I believe the statement is very well done and should be very helpful if both camps abide by its intended spirit. But that statement that two opposites can both be consistent with something else is just not rational.

Robert

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I think what they mean is the BF&M is the core, and neither side, in their distinctive particulars, are inconsistent with that core, even if each side in inconsistent with one another.

    That is rational and not contradictory, because the BF&M is not so particular and specific in its statements as to make it inconsistent with either.

    Richard Hutto

    I understand it to mean that Southern Baptist Doctrine as confessed in the BF&M 2000 does not address these issues. For example, the extent of the atonement. The BF&M does not address whether it is limited or unlimited so both views are in accordance with “Southern Baptist doctrine.”

Johnathan Pritchett

Certainly nothing in the report ought to be objectionable to anyone … since all parties to the report agreed that God wants to save everyone, … and it is well written.

That said…

There used to be a time when prominent leaders in the SBC, with differing but orthodox theology, got together and DID things. Big things.

Now, when prominent leaders in the SBC, with differing but orthodox theology, get together, they simply SAY things (and already agreeable but nevertheless innocuous things at that) and everyone golf claps…

No one champions mediocrity like we Southern Baptists do these days…

With the clout and brain power on both sides in the committee, they could have DONE some awesome and inspiring things to demonstrate with concrete actions that models what they SAID in the report, which said nothing new that most same people affirmed already before the committee was ever formed…at least in principle anyway.

They had about a yer to put things together.

This was a wasted opportunity for true united greatness. I think the committee is as underwhelming as all the Calvinists and Traditionalists who are placated by simple, innocuous platitudes with no action.

If this report is truly enough for people on both sides, then the issue of Calvinism in the SBC, in both its pros and cons, has been greatly exaggerated and overblown by my camp in general and on this blog in particular, and for that, I apologize to my Calvinist brothers and sisters for the constant harping that turned out to not be that big of a deal as reported here and elsewhere.

Oh well…next.

Apologies, but someone had to be “that guy” today… :D

    Norm Miller

    JP:

    You said: “This was a wasted opportunity for true united greatness. I think the committee is as underwhelming as all the Calvinists and Traditionalists who are placated by simple, innocuous platitudes with no action.”

    What “actions” would you have taken? — Norm

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Well, whatever was important on Thursday and before then should still be important today and tomorrow. If this report means we all move on, letting this report just paper over everything, then what was important on Thursday should never have been important at all.

      That said. What they could have (and should have) done is one or plenty more, if not all, of the following.

      1. Dr. Hankins agrees to amend the section that troubled Dr. Mohler’s dear little heart. Even though we all know what Dr. Hankins meant, for some reason, because certain buzz words or catchphrases were left out, Dr. Mohler and his followers got to play the phoney game of theological gotcha. As that’s the case, Dr. Hankins should amend it, not to change the meaning, but to add clarity so Mohler’s dear little heart be not troubled.

      2. Dr. Mohler apologizes for the “Semi-Pelagian” remark. Dr. Mohler is neither stupid nor naive. Using that terminology “appears Semi-Pelagian” launched his followers into “you ARE Semi-Pelagians” all over Trads everywhere. At the very least, he essentially insinuated Trads are heretics. He should also apologize for insinuating that many theologically-minded SBC leaders are too stupid to recognize heresy. All of these are points Dr. Yarnell, Dr. Hankins, Dr. Harwood, Dr. Caner, among others have lobbied for publicly, Dr. Mohler, by using his terminology and not being stupid, caused way more chaos than necessary. You don’t get to say “bomb” on an airplane when there is no bomb, regardless of how one claims they meant it.

      3. Co-author and introduce a resolution at the next Convention opposing any use of CP funds that go to entities, organizations, seminaries or colleges, church plants, etc. that 1. Are not exclusively SBC, 2. theologically exclusive in their particulars, and 3. demand administration, staff, faculty, etc. to affirm MORE than the BF&F.

      4. Agree that everyone on the committee co-author a SS curriculum that charitably explores all the issues related to the debate on soteriology for the folks in the pews.

      5. Have a unity conference, or start an annual unity conference, where some or all the committee members and others present papers with topics on unity, mission, evangelism, theological agreement, etc.

      6. Petition written commitments from all six seminaries to diversify their faculty, staff, guest speakers for Conferences and chapel services, etc. to the best of their ability, and especially in regards to 2. about no longer having anyone affirming more than the BF&M.

      7. Some of the committee members from both sides get together start some SBC exclusive, but theological inclusive organizations, like a church plant or ministry organization or whatever,

      8. Members of the committee announcing people from the other sides will be speaking at such and such events…i.e. Mohler preaching at FBC Oxford, Hankins will be speaking at SBTS chapel service, etc.

      And that kind of stuff is just off the top of my head…This kind of stuff 1. isn’t hard to do, 2. would demonstrate unity in action rather than just platitudes, and 3. would illustrate real progress and advancement. Any of that would have been better than a trivial document that stated what everyone in principle already believed and affirmed. That does nothing to resolve the real issues that have been addressed on this blog by both sides, and elsewhere as well.

      Taking almost a year to produce a piece of paper borders on pathetic. Anyone with a word processor and an internet connection can produce a document for public consumption.

      If these folks were serious, they would DO serious things.

      Thus they get no kudos from me like the ones you mentioned in your initial post. Maybe I’m being to hard on them, but I don’t think so. They are all grown men, and should do a lot more than pretend to get along and affirm a document together and then we all wrap this issue up in a nice box with a bow. That approach always postpones even bigger disasters later after the placation wears thin and nothing changed.

      Fifty years ago, prominent SBC leaders would have DONE something rather than just SAY something, and the SBC faithful in the pews would have expected nothing less than that either.

      I am not claiming that actions speak louder than words. I am claiming that words should be accompanied with complementary actions simultaneously. Words without actions are just words, and just words alone would never have been sufficient in any other time in SBC life by anyone, regardless of their theological camp.

      They could have stunned us and got everyone excited with big things…they blew it. I predict in a couple of months, most people will agree.

      For either the Calvinists or Traditionalists to be placated by words that could have been composed in less than two hours is beneath all of us as Southern Baptists, and beneath all the diverse Southern Baptist leaders who were on the committee. I guess I can sort of understand the Calvinists finding this good enough to some extent, because they never thought there was a problem in the first place. So there’s that. But if they did want real unity, they’d have the same complaints as me as well, and so not all of them should be happy with this at the very least.

      If producing a document, which anyone can do, is all it takes to “move forward”, all of us are either 1. mediocre as a denomination, 2. this issue with Calvinism or New Calvinism and their tactics in the SBC isn’t what it was billed to be…especially by us Trads, and thus we should just apologize for all the ruckus WE in fact started despite the claims made by us to the contrary, even as recently in the papers presented at the John 3:16 Conference, or 3. both.

      Well, anyway, you asked. ;)

        Jim G.

        Hi Jonathan,

        I said pretty much the same thing on a couple of posts on SBC Voices earlier today. I was a little more radical on my list of specifics, but we are at least in the same part of town – a town that seems to be pretty close to a ghost town. I am with you that this document is severely lacking. I am assuming, and this is only an assumption on my part given the men who served on the committee, that this was all they were able to accomplish. If that is indeed the case, then the opposite of what you say is true – the problem is worse than we thought and all we are seeing is spin from the members of the committee.

        I have a real problem with Tom Ascol on this committee. I have nothing against him personally, but his mission statement for Founders clearly implies that because I do not embrace TULIP, I have lost the gospel. Unity is impossible when such stances (along with the semi-Pelagian shot akin to yelling “bomb” on a plane) are unrepentantly at the front of the line in pursuit of “unity.” I’ll say it for the umpteenth time: the existence of Founders as a power-broker in the current SBC makes unity absolutely impossible. And, to be fair, so would the existence (if one does) of a non-Cal “ministry” that declares that Cals have lost the gospel. Until such groups are GONE from the SBC, we won’t see a lick of real unity.

        Jim G.

        Norm Miller

        Whew! I don’t have the time or energy to answer all of that. I will say that some of your suggestions I really like, and perhaps they could come true.

        Some of your suggestions, however, remind me of a surgery-happy doctor who grabs a hacksaw when a prescription will do. As much as was said and done to Trads in recent months, let’s not forget the turning of the cheek, and rendering good for evil. Romans 12 admonishes that we leave room for the vengeance of God. Perhaps we saw some chickens come home to roost when a committee half-full of “semi-Pelagians” — who, b/c they reject TULIP have lost the Gospel — managed to hammer out a document that their accusers signed. Can you appreciate that irony?

        I would take exception to some of your characterizations of the committee and their work. I think that they all did exceptionally well. And I hafta say I am very pleased with a large portion of the report. Is it everything I wanted? Heck no. But I’d rather have this document than none at all.

        Well, this 57-yr-old has gotta hit the hay. I can’t hang with you young whipper-snappers any more. — Norm

          Johnathan Pritchett

          All I am saying is that doing is better than just merely saying, and history is on my side with this one. I am not claiming those are all the best ideas. Those are just ideas of things that they could have done. With the brain power in the room, they could have come up with much better things than that, I am sure.

          In any case, I guess I was just raised different than other people. Three days and some e-mails hardly constitutes “hard work” where I come from, and youth groups accomplish far more than a piece of paper at summer camp. ;)

          That we’d ever call it more than it is and be impressed by it to boot smacks of mediocrity. Or, this was all the issue ever warranted, and most of the stuff passionately raised over the past year was a lot of hot air that turned out to be not all that important after all. Just saying…

            Norm Miller

            J-man:

            Doing is not always better than saying. Ever utter the words: “I could just smack that guy”? ;^>
            But in your comment’s context, I do take your point.

            Let’s look at one one of your ‘action plans,’ Mohler’s apology.
            Baptist Press paraphrased Dr. Harwood from his J316 comments, writing that “… unity within the SBC may depend, in part, on Mohler retracting his claim.” (That claim being semi-P.) Further, if memory serves, I think on the blog Adam called for Mohler to either explain what me meant or apologize. I am certain Al read the BP article, and I am certain of the scores of IP addresses from L’ville that hit our blog, so Al is aware an apology is expected. We’re still waiting. Now, I agree w/you that RAM ought to apologize, but how would that have been implemented by the Committee? Certainly not by force. Not only is that unworkable, no forced apology ever has been sincere.

            Are you sure the CAC could’ve written their report in two hours? A group in majority agreement maybe could have written that doc in two hrs., but the CAC was not in majority agreement. I suspect there was some serious debate in the room. Not only that, I suspect there was considerable work time in the members’ homes and offices as they surely traded emails in discussing their beliefs and finalizing their position statements. I’m not one who wants to be dismissive of what I think was heart-wrenching ministry on behalf of the entire SBC.

            I suggest we give the document some time. Let us see, for example, if there is a significant shift in SBC board and agency appointments. Let us see if those sympathetic to Founders (and those not) tone down their rhetoric and their actions.

            I love and respect you, Johnathan, but I must differ with you on the word mediocrity. Given the direction we were headed, and the general climate, I prefer magnificent as an adjective for the CCR.

            Warmly,
            Norm

    rhutchin

    “… since all parties to the report agreed that God wants to save everyone,…”

    I don’t remember seeing that. Can you give the language that said this? I kinda thought the report skirted that pretty well.

      Chris Roberts

      It was stated most clearly in the Tensions section:

      “We agree that God loves everyone and desires to save everyone, but we differ as to why only some are ultimately saved.”

        rhutchin

        I remember that, now.

        The Calvinist reads this and thinks, “God loves both Jews and gentiles and desires to save both Jews and gentiles…”

        The universalists reads this and thinks, “God loves each and every person and desires to save each and every person…”

        The non-Calvinists read this as, “God loves everyone and desires to save everyone…”

        sbcissues

        rhutchin,

        You DO realize that the two statements you make ARE the same thing don’t you…

        for “Jews and gentiles” constitutes “everyone” in the world and for that matter includes “every single person.” Every single person falls into one or two categories; they are either a Jew or a gentile.

Mary

Johnathan I’ll just say I’m very disappointed so far; since Norm wants this blog to reflect kinder, gentler thoughts. What I hope is happening is the people of this blog and those Trads on the committee are in a “trust but verify” mode. Meaning, let’s all decide to get along but if changes aren’t made then there will still be problems that need to be addressed.

    Norm Miller

    You nailed, Mary, on the trust and verify thing. That is exactly where many of us are. Trad and Cal leaders hashed it out, and the document provides a guideline for behavior. We’ll see.

    As far as a “kinder, gentler” blog, perhaps. One can be like a knife here, but only in one of two ways: pointed but not cutting.

    We will cease the name calling. We will cease the diatribe. We will stick to the topic. We will avoid pejorative adjectives. We will do these things, or we will not be heard. — Norm

      Mary

      Norm, I’m very disturbed that this statement is glaring in the absence of the word Traditionalist. I feel as if the Calvinists are allowed to not acknowledge Traditionalism as an acceptable belief within the SBC. I would have liked to have seen something a little more pointed- “Traditionalism is not heresy and has been a healthy part of the SBC

      I think the fact is that it was the Traditionalist Statement that forced the forming of this committee and so to just ignore Traditionalism is a very disrespectful attitude – not promoting unity to ignore so many in the SBC.

        Norm Miller

        Mary:

        Folks on both sides surely are wishing for more content reflecting their own positions. I probably would have preferred a different term to define me other than “non-Calvinist,” but that is what I am. While labels may be necessary, they divide and don’t unite.

        I think Randall had a “near-brilliant” comment. He said: “Practical application of the principles laid out in the CCR by the majority of SBs will expose the extreme voices on both sides of this issue–and will result in their marginalization.”

        This is a good word for at least two reasons:
        1. Trads and Cals drafted, finalized and affirmed the document. So if any of either side do not heave to, then they heap upon themselves deserved criticism and may earn themselves a seat on the sidelines.
        2. Note Randall’s term, and it’s a good one, “extreme voices.” The CCR highlights so much of what unites us, and by comparison, notes what divides us. I think the “extreme voices” grow too loud when those on either extremity try to prove their position is right. I think that’s where the issues are — some people want to be dogmatic, but the Scriptures don’t seem to be that clear, or dogmatic. One need only look at the verses both sides have cited to settle some of the “Tension” issues. In some cases, commentors here have cited the same chapter and verse in support of their positions, yet their positions were different.

        Take heart, Mary. A year ago it seemed apparent that the Trads had no voice nor influence in the SBC. But a year after the Trad statement was released, we have a document that, if honored by all, can guide us away from our differences and toward our unified efforts of missions, evangelism and church growth/discipleship. — Norm

          Lydia

          I think Randall had a “near-brilliant” comment. He said: “Practical application of the principles laid out in the CCR by the majority of SBs will expose the extreme voices on both sides of this issue–and will result in their marginalization.”

          In the wake of unity party, this will probably get deleted but this makes no sense to me at all. If one does not think it extreme for the president of one of our entities to say publicly on a video that if one wants to see the nations rejoice for Christ, then New Calvinism is the only place for them to go.

          And many other such statements.

          That is not considered “extreme” for someone who is an employee of the SBC and paid by many Non Cal/Trad dollars?

          Are we ignoring the elephant in the room? Did Mohler admit he has been wrong but it is being kept a secret from us?

            Norm Miller

            Lydia:
            I am sure many will agree with you. How would you suggest that the “elephant in the room” issue be resolved? — Norm

          Randall Cofield

          I think Randall had a “near-brilliant” comment.

          Norm and I are going to meet at the Truett booth in Houston for a few rousing verses of Kum ba yah…if anyone would like to join us…

          :-)

            Norm Miller

            You bring the Sterno and chocolate bars. I’ll bring the marshmallows and Graham crackers (if Billy will part with them).

            Lydia

            am sure many will agree with you. How would you suggest that the “elephant in the room” issue be resolved? — Norm”

            I have some fair ideas but won’t float them here as a nobody. A bigger concern is the Unity statement coming out right after 2 members of the Unity committee put out a statement as T4G defending Mahaney which was full of misrepresentations. I fear the Unity committee gave the elephants cover. And I do see them related as evidenced by the statement being in the media and who is representing the SBC concerning the T4G statement.

        Mary S.

        Mary, the word “Traditionalism” is about a year old now. Wasn’t it May 2012? It is still an infant. No history behind the word. It probably should not be included on those grounds.

          Mary

          Mary S. there is an incredible amount of history behind Tradtionalism. Unless you’re one of those who think some of the heroes of the CR have no clue what it is SBCers actually believe Tradtionalism is the majority belief in the SBC. Maybe you can easily dismiss that men like Patterson, Vines, Welch etc have no clue what the SBC believes, but to me that takes an incredible amount of hubris. The people who signed the Tradtionalist Statement have centuries of experience in the SBC and the idea that they are somehow the aberration simply defies logic. The signers of the Traditionalist Statement were leaders in Seminaries, State Conventions, local Associations, Mega Churches, small churches and churches in between. To act as if that influence is miniscule doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Somehow Calvinists have tried to illogically dismiss Traditionalism as not part of the SBC History. People don’t know SBC history if they somehow think Tradtionalism is new and in it’s infancy. Just peruse Founders.org and you’ll see that it is Tradtionalism that Founders.org is trying to eradicate. Dismissing Tradtionalism as something new does not help to advance Unity.

            Mary S.

            Mary: How old is the “Tradtionalist Statement”, Mary? One year old, correct?? That’s about how long you guys have been calling yourselves traditionalists. Right?

            The reality is that Dr. Mohler was correct when he said that some things in that document “appears Semi-Pelagian”. The real problem is that Dr. Hankins has never corrected those regrettable appearances. And that is his fault. Hankins should have corrected them. It still needs to be corrected. Why it has not been: pride? denial? lack of time or concern? Some praise worthy reason perhaps? I have no idea, but it needs to be corrected.

            But if you wish to be called Traditionalist, after a statement which is a mere one year old and still contains things that “appear” semi-pelagian (even though they are not), that is your business, Mary. I want nothing to do with that regrettable statement.

              Norm Miller

              MaryS:
              Dial back your rhetoric or you will be put back into moderation only after your second day out of it. — Norm

            Mary S.

            What seems quite obvious is that the “Traditional Statement” was merely a knee-jerk reaction to something in the Church. Sort of like the Catholic Council of Trent resolutions against the Protestant Reformation (another knee-jerk reaction).

            Thankfully cooler heads have prevailed with the recent “Calvinism Committee Report”.

              volfan007

              Mary S., you said:
              “What seems quite obvious is that the “Traditional Statement” was merely a knee-jerk reaction to something in the Church. Sort of like the Catholic Council of Trent resolutions against the Protestant Reformation (another knee-jerk reaction).

              Thankfully cooler heads have prevailed with the recent “Calvinism Committee Report”.

              Mary S., or, maybe the Traditionalist Statement was kind of like the 95 thesis nailed to the door by Martin Luther….as a response to the Catholic Church….maybe the TS was a response to the Calvinists in the same way?

              David

            Mary S.

            Okay. Thanks Norm.

            BTW: Norm, I really appreciate your calls for unity and the good you have found in the Calvinism Committee Report.

          Donald

          Mary S.

          I don’t know the original use of “Traditionalism” in SBC life, but David Dockery used it in 2008. Personally I dislike the term even though it is accurate. I have always struggled to identify with any term but Baptist and do not identify with the term Traditionalist even though I affirmed The Statement.

            sbcissues

            Donald,

            I think I agree with what I read in the spirit of your comment; I have been Southern Baptist most all my life and unashamedly NOT calvinist any of it. I did not even know calvinism was still alive until someone sent me a book in 2000. It has been a down hill ride ever since.

Donald

“that statement that two opposites can both be consistent with something else is just not rational.”

I did not read it that way. This is saying that, let’s say, Molinist ought not to declare themselves exclusively as being doctrinally sound SBCers, and everyone else some unfortunate aberration of theology.

Donald

“The three great distinctions are the beliefs that (1) God is omniscient; (2) God is omnipotent; and (3) people are sinners unable to save themselves.”

These are not distinctives.

    rhutchin

    They are to Calvinists. It just means that the issues with Calvinism really begin here and not with TULIP.

      Norm Miller

      All of those in Christian history worthy of followship also aver your three “distinctives,” and that well long before Geneva.
      Odd that so many millions would set sail across the seas of Christian history with God’s omniscience and omnipotence, and man’s impotence as references points, but then land in so many different ports-of-call.. — Norm

        rhutchin

        Good observation. Makes a person wonder How?

          Norm Miller

          Indeed. I s’pose the ultimate import is that we make it to that peaceful shore. — Norm

      Donald

      “They are to Calvinists. It just means that the issues with Calvinism really begin here and not with TULIP.”

      Absurd. What it really means is that you are more interested in spin than reason.

        rhutchin

        “…more interested in spin than reason.”

        No spin here. The basic issue people have with Calvinism begins with God and here God’s omniscience is prominent. It underlies John Owen’s argument in “Death of Death” and drives the basic question Owen asks in “Death of Death.” The problem people have with Calvinism is a God problem and not a TULIP problem. The proof of this is that the non-Calvinist arguments take the “God is Love” approach to argue against Calvinism. Calvinists argue that God is omniscient and omnipotent and build their theology on that. Non-Calvinists argue that God is love and build their theology on that. TULIP is secondary to that.

          Norm Miller

          rhutch:
          “God is love.” You know that Bible verse, I am sure.
          “God is glory”??? Not yet seen that one.
          Love is what God is. Glory is an adjective describing God.
          Saying God is love and God is glorious is distinctly different, grammatically.
          You posit that Trads build theology on God’s love. Is that not a strawman erected by you to allow you to put forth your opinion about that?
          If all Trads do start with that verse, they do so b/c it is a self-declaration from God as noted.
          My former pastor, a Calvinist, told me essentially the same thing — that I thought of God too much in his love, and I needed to think of him in his glory.
          Hmmm…?
          Every attribute of God is perfect. To deign to rank them is to say, “I am God’s peer.”
          Of course, God is glorious — no question. Plenty of verses in that regard. I am sure Isaiah would testify to that. Yet, what was the seraphs’ song?
          Holy, Holy, Holy! Not, glory, glory, glory.
          Also as was pointed out to you in this thread already, twice, Calvinists haven’t cornered the market on believing that God is omniscient and omnipotent, and that man cannot save himself. Many Christians from a variety of denominational stripes and backgrounds would agree. So, Calvinist are not the only ones who hold to those truths. Many others prefer to build their theology on the “whole” counsel of God, including his love.
          And speaking of building a theology – that’s hardly a glorious undertaking since fallen, finite, small-brained people undertake that task. Since it is people who do it, then it is flawed from the get-go, which is probably why there is so much “I am right and you are wrong” kind of talk in these threads. Could be we are all wrong to spend so much time trying to settle a debate that has raged for centuries.
          Trads do promise, however, never drown or burn at the stake those who disagree with them because we take just as seriously “Thou shalt not murder” as we do “God is love.” — Norm

            Lydia

            “Every attribute of God is perfect. To deign to rank them is to say, “I am God’s peer.””

            What a glorious way to put it! :o)

            The way the YRR frame this “Glory Story” and the constant drilling of it in every single convo to the negation of ALL God’s attributes is starting to remind me of Allah Ak’bar. Because that is THE attribute of the Islam god.

            A distant god, they promote without even realizing it because they ignore other very important attributes.

            But the One True Triune God has many important attributes He has communicated to us through scripture that paint a deeper picture of His perfect justice, mercy, long suffering, loving kindness, wrath, mercy, etc..

            But the irony is, we CAN know Him. He deigned to walk this earth as a lowly person..as one of us. He called us His “friends” at the same time He is our King.

            Perfect Holiness and yet our friend and King! eriously, do not let the narrowness ofthis myopic “Glory Story” rob you from all of that!

        sbcissues

        rhutchin,

        For ONCE I am going to agree with you. Two statements stand out for me here and I believe are 110% accurate.

        You wrote, “Calvinists argue that God is omniscient and omnipotent and build their theology on that.” For the record that is EXACTLY what calvinists have done. They have taken this foundation and begun to philosophically build a salvific platform that satisfies the foundation. The problem is God is more than those two aspects and His Word declares such.

        The second statement that you wrote that I believe is paramount is, “The problem people have with Calvinism is a God problem and not a TULIP problem.” I agree once again 110%.

        The Bible which is God’s revelation of Himself, does not picture Him as the One who decides who is and is not saved; it does not portray Him as the One who decides who does and does not get to go to heaven; it does not EVER even hint that He requires men to repent but says that only those He chooses CAN or WILL repent. He does not require faith to be saved but EVER says He must give it to us TO be saved.

        You are absolutely correct; my problem is not with the Tulip; it is a God problem that the tulip presents.

Donald

“Every genuine Calvinist who is not playing games or trying to mislead a search committee will openly and forthrightly present their Calvinistic beliefs when the issues of unconditional election and irresistible grace are brought up.”

Robert, I agree. But the ones not playing games or trying to mislead a search committee are not the one’s causing problems.

Every candidate must to beyond questions asked and intentinally declare everything that ever might be an issue. Will this cost you a job? Yes, sometimes.

This goes beyond Calvinism. In my own situation, my beliefs concering Youth and Childrens ministries resulted in dozens of rejection letters. It was clear on my resume, and I never got invited to an interview. I am convinced that was best for all. I am now pastoring in a church that has no issues with these beliefs, and we are a wonderful example of Calvinist and Molinist and Hubmarians serving together because we are focused on things beyond these diffeences.

    Randall Cofield

    Donald,

    Every candidate must to beyond questions asked and intentinally declare everything that ever might be an issue. Will this cost you a job?

    Did you intentionally declare in your interviews that you would ever wear that funky hat and fur collar you have on in your Gravatar photo?

    If so, I can understand the dozens of rejection letters….

    ;-)

    Grace to you, brother.

Randall Cofield

Practical application of the principles laid out in the CCR by the majority of SBs will expose the extreme voices on both sides of this issue–and will result in their marginalization.

This is as it should be.

    sbcissues

    Randall,

    Do you consider Al Mohler’s voice representative of an extreme side and him being marginalized?

      Lydia

      I would like to hear some definitions of “extreme” from both sides. I fear any negative truth will become “extreme”. It will be so easy to label someone “extreme” who voices concerns. I thought the T4G public statement concerning Mahaney that Dever and Mohler released was extreme and that it being released a few days before the Unity document was unfortunate for the SBC since both Mohler and Dever were on the Unity committee.

      sbcissues

      Unfortunately “extreme” is going to be in the eye of the beholder. Extreme is like trash; one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    Randall Cofield

    Bob Hadley,

    Do you consider Al Mohler’s voice representative of an extreme side and him being marginalized?

    No sir, I don’t. Nor do I thus consider the voice of anti-Calvinistic language in the preamble of the TS, nor the voices of Dr. Hankins, Dr. Harwood, Dr. Allen, etc. Anyone wanting to play theological hardball should wear their big-boy pants–and these men have worn them well. And they have all affirmed enthusiastic support of the CCR–as has Dr. Mohler.

    These discussions within the SBC have always been a rough-and-tumble affair, and I, for one, am glad we can have them. We are debating the finer and tertiary points of theology–rather than battling over the inerrancy of scripture, homosexual marriage, gay clergy, abortion etc. Praise God those are not the kind of debates we are having!

    By God’s grace, we are in agreement on the essentials of theology and soteriology.

    The extreme voices on both sides that need to be marginalized (and will be, by the grace of God) are those calling for division over non-essential issues. Such should be marginalized, according to scripture:

    Ro. 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to note those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites…

    Grace to you, brother.

      sbcissues

      Randall,

      Here is what surprises me in the rhetoric and perhaps you can help me out here. You made this statement… “By God’s grace, we are in agreement on the essentials of theology and soteriology.”

      I do not see that at all. If we were in a greement on “essentials of theology and soteriology” then why are we even having this debate in the first place? It is as if the calvinists in the SBC one minute think the issue of “getting the gospel right” is essential and the errant theology of the last 100 years in the SBC MUST be corrected and the SBC be returned to the OLD WAY… and then in conversions like this one…

      We all agree…we all need to get along… the extent and intent of the atonement is a tertiary issue… its not a real big deal where regeneration takes place concerning conversion… I know we disagree on whether people are saved to believe or must believe to be saved… but we are all one big happy family and we need to just all get along.

      If you can help me out on that one I would certainly appreciate it because for the life of me it does not make ANY sense.

      The reason I asked you the question I did is this: An extreme voice does not necessarily have to be the one doing all the talking. I do not believe anyone can argue that Mohler is NOT a leader of the new calvinist revival in the SBC. I do not believe anyone can argue that his influence has not been effective in help shape the theological leanings of trustee boards and the entities they serve. No one can argue the fact that all of the recent hires of entity leaders in the SBC have pointed right back to him in one way or another. No one would deny the fact that his words have been very effective both publicly and privately.

      Given the statement above, can you see why I might ask if Mohler is not an “extreme voice”? A voice that can be seen as responsible for a LOT that has been done in the background in the SBC without any collaboration on a convention scale that has potentially affected the convention to the degree that it is, makes him an extreme voice or better yet, a voice for the extreme.

      Would love to meet you in Houston. I do respect MOST of what you write and the depth which which you articulate your thoughts.

        Randall Cofield

        Bob,

        I do not see that at all. If we were in a greement on “essentials of theology and soteriology” then why are we even having this debate in the first place?

        Brother, that we are in agreement on the essentials is one of the primary points of the CCR. General and Particular, Charleston and Sandy Creek, Calvinist and non-Calvinist have coexisted, labored shoulder-to-shoulder, and advanced the Kingdom throughout the history of the SBC. And have done so with respectful humility and a cooperative spirit–all while disagreeing on tertiary issues.

        Indeed, the esteemed and learned Norm Miller, in a border-line brilliant comment… :-) …., stated exactly that, viz:

        To put tension on a rope is to demonstrate its strength. While the tensions illustrate differences, they also demonstrate, like the rope under pressure, connectedness. Let no one suggest we unravel the rope. Rather, let us hold each end of that taut rope and march forward, using it as a trip wire to thwart the efforts of Satan.

        To that I say a hearty AMEN! To do so would be to honor both scripture and the venerable tradition of the SBC.

        Whatever voices declare that we can no longer do so are in a distinct and divisive minority both historically and presently.

        Would love to meet you in Houston.

        I would be honored to make your personal acquaintance, Bob. To that end, I looked you up on facebook and messaged you my cell phone number. Message me yours and, God willing, we will make it happen.

        Grace to you, my brother.

        sbcissues

        Randall,

        Looking forward to a face to face in Houston!

        Brother, that we are in agreement on the essentials is one of the primary points of the CCR. General and Particular, Charleston and Sandy Creek, Calvinist and non-Calvinist have coexisted, labored shoulder-to-shoulder, and advanced the Kingdom throughout the history of the SBC. And have done so with respectful humility and a cooperative spirit–all while disagreeing on tertiary issues.

        You side step the issue. I never said nor even hinted that we have not had a cooperative spirit and have co-labored together. What I said was there is a significance difference in our theological positions that I do not believe for one minute that we can consider tertiary issues.

        How a person comes to Christ CANNOT be tertiary. It is not tertiary for the Founder’s Ministry where the SBC is concerned and it must nor be tertiary to those leading the calvinist revival in the SBC or else we would still be in the cooperative mode you mentioned in days gone by. There is a pronounced effort being made to return the SBC to its reformed roots and that is a convictional position and I do not believe it can be ignored or denied.

        Now to the reference of the strands of a rope… I am doing all that I can to trip up Satan… but one does have to keep that analogy in check. It is one thing to cooperate with a variety of theological positions but where the future of the SBC is concerned, it is prudent to take care that it is in the best hands. Some believe Mohler and company represent that position.

        I do not.

          Randall Cofield

          Bob,

          You side step the issue. I never said nor even hinted that we have not had a cooperative spirit and have co-labored together.

          Not side-stepping at all, brother. My point was that we can and have cooperated because we are in agreement on the essential issues.

          You seem to be positing that we are not in agreement on the essential issues.

          Look carefully at the “Tensions” section of the CCR, giving special attention to the section of bulleted issues (the one containing 11 points).

          Notice the recommendation of the Committee that follows those 11 points.

          Are you saying that those 11 points of agreement are not sufficient to guard the future of the SBC from the designs of extremists? If so, your complaint lies with those holding your soteriological position who helped frame this document.

          The fact that some disagree with Calvinism does not by default 1) render Calvinism extreme, nor 2) exclude Calvinism from a place at the table.

          We’ve been here since 1845. Surely you do not wish to see us displaced?

          Grace to you, brother.

      Norm Miller

      Randall:
      If there were no Conservative Resurgence, we may very well be debating the “inerrancy of scripture, homosexual marriage, gay clergy, abortion etc.”
      This is not a statement against yours, but I am not so happy about all the “rough-and’tumble” activity. Sure, iron sharpens iron, and sparks will fly. But sometimes the iron tries to sharpen necks! (Gulp)
      I will not diminish the value of wholesome congenial discussions. But too often they devolve into debate, then argument, then rancor. And there is a world of diff between the debate and discussion. Classic debate seeks to win an argument and persuade minds, with the inherent truth of the issue being ancillary. A skilled college debate team could win a debate over a lesser team on the point that abortion is moral. That doesn’t make it moral. It just means the more skilled team won the debate.
      So, I think debate seeks to win; discussion seeks the truth.
      Debaters come to the debate pre-loaded.
      Those who would engage in discussion do not take opposite sides, necessarily. They sit at the same table, humbly, saying, I think I have some truth. I think you have some truth. Let’s refine this so we can get at the truth.
      How funny (or sad, at times) we must look to God when he sees his children debating and not discussing, or giving too much time to either instead of doing ministry. — Norm

        Randall Cofield

        Norm,

        If there were no Conservative Resurgence, we may very well be debating the “inerrancy of scripture, homosexual marriage, gay clergy, abortion etc.”

        Indeed, that is precisely what I had in mind when I made that statement. That we stand as the lone major denomination not having those debates is, to me, evidence of the merciful hand of God upon the SBC. This should be humbly celebrated with deep gratitude whether one is a Calvinist or a Traditionalist.

        And I appreciate your distinction between debate and discussion. I agree wholeheartedly that the latter should season our exchanges, rather than the former. May it increasingly be so, to the glory of God and the advancement of the Gospel.

        Grace to you, brother.

          Randall Cofield

          Norm,

          Meant to include this in my reply to you above.

          Bob and I would like to meet at Houston, and you and I have already discussed the same.

          Would you have the available time and inclination to schedule a time and place for the commentators here at SBCToday to meet for a few minutes of fellowship?

          I think that would diffuse a great deal of the tension that exists.

          Grace to you, brother.

            Norm Miller

            Sounds great.
            ‘Kum ba Yah’ at the TMC booth before or after the meal?
            You and Bob set the schedule. I will try to meet it.
            I wonder if we ought to agree not to discuss the extent of the atonement or the ordo salutis while at lunch.
            Why not give testimonies of how God is working in our lives?
            Gotta tell ya, Randall, I got a kick out of a line from your previous post. This one: “May it increasingly be so, to the glory of God and the advancement of the Gospel.”
            Nice balance! — Norm

          sbcissues

          I think that would be an OUTSTANDING idea… lets schedule a time to meet somewhere. That would be good for us all.

          Bravo Randall!

            Randall Cofield

            Norm and Bob,

            Well, it looks as if the three of us are in agreement on meeting. I would like to extend the invitation to all who comment here.

            I will suggest lunch Tuesday. If this doesn’t work, someone suggest something else.

            As far as a place, I’m not terribly familiar with Houston eateries. Anyone have a suggestion?

            Also, Norm, if we settle on something, would you consider posting it conspicuously on the site here?

            Grace to you, brothers.

Randall Cofield

From the CCR:

While these tensions can be a source of frustration, especially when we are uncharitable toward those with whom we disagree, they have also been a great benefit to us, reminding us that God’s ways are higher than ours, that no systematic construct can ever contain the fullness of Scriptural truth, that it is we and not the Bible who are subject to error, that we should approach the Word with both fidelity to the past and readiness for further reformation, and that it is better to live in the tensions of unanswered questions than to ignore or adjust some part of the whole counsel of God.

Well posited.

mike davis

The reason I think the Calvinism Committee Report is important is it reminds us that we agree on the essentials while also reminding us that on secondary and tertiary issues it’s okay to disagree and possible to do so agreeably. I also think the members of the Committee worked hard to hear and thoughtfully address concerns expressed by both sides.

Besides, on the non-essentials we’re all still learning and even though I hold to irresistible grace I kind of like the fact that you Trads are here to keep reminding me that humans are volitional creatures who are responsible for their decisions. :^)

Johnathan Pritchett

“Take heart, Mary. A year ago it seemed apparent that the Trads had no voice nor influence in the SBC. But a year after the Trad statement was released, we have a document that, if honored by all, can guide us away from our differences and toward our unified efforts of missions, evangelism and church growth/discipleship.”

Most of which was never the point. We all already wanted those things on both sides. Those were not the points made on this blog over the past year anyway. I have a long memory, brother. It was never simply about theological differences. Debating those is the fun part. That wasn’t where the VAST majority of the issues raised around here were concerned.

    Norm Miller

    JP: I did not quantify or qualify the “vast majority of issues” raised at SBCToday. — Norm

Nick

As a Calvinist myself (though I dislike the term), one of the biggest problems I’ve seen in Reformed circles is a lack of evangelism; a high view of God’s sovereignty in salvation should inspire us to witness more, not less. May all Bible-believing Christians, regardless of their soteriological views on this particular issue, join together to preach the Gospel of grace.

dr. james willingham

I read with interest the report of the committee on the calvinism issue and found much to encourage the view that we could continue to work together. The only thing remaining is for leaving the door open to a consideration of why one might proclaim that Christ died for the church and make no mention of the world as in the case of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, the one from which came the first Southern Baptist Missionary to China, Matthew T. Yates. Could it be that the idea of purpose that seemingly excludes the person addressed (directly or indirectly is meant to act as a therapeutic paradox, a sort of reverse theological psychology intended to bring healing by a very difficult process to those who are caught in the web of pride? The woman of Canaan in Mt.15:21-28 is a case in point. When she hears Jesus say, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” she worships Him. Then when He says it is not meet to cast the children’s bread to the dogs, she agrees and even uses His very words to argue for her acceptance…at least to the point of crumbs (a great compliment to Christ by the way, implying that a mere crumb of His grace can do everything she desires from Him. The same approach to Nazareth, Elijah and Elisha being sent to a widow and a leper, neither of which were Jews, while God sends no relief to the Jews. The idea of showing favoritism to the Gentile dogs, while withholding it from the chosen people infuriates our Lord’s fellow Nazarites, and they try to murder Him. Surely, He meant the same purpose in their case as He did in the case of the woman of Canaan, namely, a humbling of the Spirit and person, but they would have none of it and so turned to murder in their rage.

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