Rethinking Our Southern Baptist Anti-Non-Calvinist Partnership

June 21, 2013

At the 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston, Robin Foster asked an excellent question of Kevin Ezell during his North American Mission Board report: “After seeing last night that word was put out that we work together with Acts 29 and that we have partnerships, could you clarify that and also define exactly if there is any partnership formally or informally and how do we work with them if we do?”

Ezell began his response dismissively with, “That’s the absolute first time I’ve ever been asked that,” before recovering with, “I do appreciate your question.” For good reason, Ezell has been inundated with requests asking him to justify the unequal partnership discriminating against Non-Calvinists:

Although Southern Baptists are willing to accept into our membership ALL Acts 29 Pastors who affirm the BFM 2000, the Acts 29 Network is UNWILLING to accept into their membership ALL SBC Pastors who affirm the BFM 2000.

Ezell explained our partnership: “We plant Southern Baptist Churches. Our church planters are expected to endorse The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and give to the Cooperative Program. We don’t ask questions necessarily about what type of conferences they go to or what type of support networks that they might be a part of.” Along with many others, I believe we should.

While conference attendance is irrelevant, I believe we must ask about their support networks. When we plant such churches, we enter into a financial partnership with a distinct religious organization whose beliefs clearly differ from ours. The SBC has labored to remain soteriologically inclusive. Why then should we partner with a network that is soteriologically exclusive?

Many Southern Baptists may be unaware that the doctrinal statement of Acts 29 excludes Non-Calvinists. According to their website, “Churches planted from within the Acts 29 network are expected to agree to the doctrine and mission of our network.” Among those doctrinal statements that exclude some Non-Calvinists is an affirmation of total inability found in the statement, “Sin has totally affected all of creation including marring human image and likeness so that all of our being is stained by sin (e.g. reasoning, desires, and emotions).” Their view of election implies that it is unconditional: “We believe that the salvation of the elect was predestined by God in eternity past.” The context makes it clear that this is not simply a foreknowledge type of election, but a predetermined type. Even more clear is their position on irresistible grace: “We believe that God’s saving grace is ultimately irresistible.” Clearly, these positions are much more narrow than those found in the BFM 2000.

Groucho Marx once said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me for a member.” My concern is almost the reverse: “I refuse to pay for any network that would NOT have me for a member.” Make no mistake—when we partner with another organization, we are not only supporting our own. We are also supporting theirs. Many organizations have begun such partnerships believing they were using the other party to promote their own interests, only to discover later that the other party was actually using them instead.

Why would any of my Calvinist brothers ask me to support financially a network with a Statement of Faith that not only excludes me personally, but also contradicts The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 on the significant matter of soteriological neutrality, the very issue we are making a special effort to address in Southern Baptist life with such sensitivity and grace?

I gladly welcome the Truth, Trust and Testimony in a Time of Tension Report. It clearly describes both the kind of cooperation we should all promote and the significant differences we should all admit. But when Southern Baptist Calvinists bring a third party to the table whose standards for membership exclude their Non-Calvinist Southern Baptist brothers, the resulting friction is not due to a lack of charity on the part of Non-Calvinists.

Perhaps the affections of some Southern Baptist Calvinists are actually closer to the Acts 29 Network than to the SBC. The possibility is very real that church plants started primarily with Southern Baptist resources might fall into the hands of the other partnering organization. This situation is a bit like the old adage that you should “dance with the one what brung you.”

An indecisive young lady has one suitor who purchases her prom ticket, buys her corsage, takes her to dinner and escorts her to the dance hall. There she meets another suitor, who tells the first one to go fly a kite before engaging her in conversation, offering her a glass of punch and asking her to dance. If I’m the first suitor, I ask the lady to make a choice. She has the right to choose him over me, but they cannot expect me to pay for their date. This partnership does not work. I have been excluded by him and rejected by her.

Southern Baptist Calvinist Brothers, hear my impassioned plea. I don’t mind working together with you in fulfilling the Great Commission, but please don’t make me pay, through an unequal partnership, for the reformed vision of an organization outside of Southern Baptist life that accepts my money but not my membership. Acts 29 excludes me. Please allow me to reciprocate.

By Rick Patrick, Pastor
First Baptist Church
Sylacauga, Alabama

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Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

Brother Rick,
An excellent article along with an impassioned closing analogy. That is the issue. Southern Baptists are being invaded for their money not their theology. Let’s face it, groups like Acts 29 do not want to change our theology. They desire our funding. Within 5 years, if this continues, there will be no SBC new church starts they will all be Reformed an Acts 29 sole identity.

Also, this is not confined to NAMB. According to a comment stream over at Timmy Brister it is happening in the IMB. It seems that reformed churches send Missionaries to the field and these reformed Missionaries block any non-Calvinist Missionary from serving in their area. According to a comment by Vanessa while visiting a Missionary from her reformed church she was told that Calvinist Missionaries in the IMB refuse to work with Non-Calvinist Missionaries.

We have something more than the Calvinism report revealed.

Wes Taylor, Pastor Tabernacle Baptist Church

Even though I am not a Calvinist in any way, the last thing I want to do is cause any division among the brethren because only Satan wins in that scenario. That being said. I totally agree with what Bro. Patrick has stated here.

    Tim Rogers (@Timothy_Rogers)

    Brother Wes,

    I agree, the last thing anyone wants to be accused of is causing division. That being said, taking stand on what is being said on one hand and what is being done on another is not causing division–it is remaining faithful to the call.

Christain

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Please keep up the good work by keeping us informed.

Pam Knight

Brother Rick, Thank you for saying what I and so many others feel about this issue. You said it perfectly.
In Christ
Pam Knight

David Bennett

Very thoughtful and well stated. Thank you for having the courage to shine the light on this issue

Chuck Fuller

I’m wondering if our Calvinist brethren might have an even stronger complaint, since some entities directly supported by CP funds not only make Calvinists unwelcome, but actively remove them from their ranks.

    Norm Miller

    Mr. Fuller: Thank you for your comment. I’m wondering if you have documentation for the last seven words of your comment. — Norm

      Chuck Fuller

      My last seven words seem more than speculation (LC, etc) but not readily verifiable. Nonetheless, it seems odd that we have CP-receiving entities that openly make Calvinists unwelcome and some Calvinist churches being denied associational membership (http://m.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=36423), yet some are more concerned about church plants that have patnership with a non-SBC organization. I don’t know if this is pot/kettle or speck/log, but it seems really strange. Does the post mean to suggest that T5 is great, unless any Calvinist church partners with an organization that holds its same convictions? What about the reverse? Should any nonCalvinist church partner with a non-SBC organization that disallows Calvinists?

        Norm Miller

        Thanks, Chuck, for the clarity. With all due respect, I think you have missed the point of Rick’s post. As I understand Rick, and agree with him, he finds it unconscionable to give money to church planters who would not allow into their organization planters who who share the beliefs of supporters who hold soteriological beliefs like Rick’s. Therein is a glaring inconsistency, if not an ethical issue. — Norm

          Chuck Fuller

          I don’t want to belabor the point, but couldn’t our Calvinist brethren find it equally unconscionable for the CP to fund entities that do not allow Calvinists within their ranks? I see the situational point Rick makes but, to gain perspective, I think it’s only fair to reverse it in a similar context–if that makes sense.

            Norm Miller

            Again, Chuck — apples and oranges, mostly. The only citation you brought to support your initial statement was an article about an apparently Calvinist-leaning church being excluded from a single local association, not a plurality of examples, as you stated “… CP-receiving entities that openly make Calvinists unwelcome and some Calvinist churches being denied associational membership” as you initially and secondarily averred.
            I would defend the autonomy of that local association because the corporate autonomy of the association is an amalgam of each church’s autonomy. Of course, I would also defend that church if it decided not to support financially the local association. I treasure our historic Baptist principle of local church autonomy.

          Chuck Fuller

          I still struggle to understand. You defend the autonomy of a local association, but not the autonomy of a local church plant to partner? If NAMB sponsors a church plant and that plant begins an additional partnership with A29, I neither see how that constitutes a NAMB/A29 partnership nor how it somehow violates Baptist conscience or polity. No one has ever accused the SBC and CBF of being in partnership, yet quite a few churches partner with both. On the other hand, we really do have corners of the SBC–directly receiving state CP funds (Louisiana College for an explicit example)–in which a Calvinist is not welcome. Perhaps my comparison is apples/oranges but, if so, it only demonstrates how out of balance this NAMB/A29 inference really is. You demand that I provide documentation for what seems self-evident (would an avowed Calvinist be hired to teach theology at TMC? Even NOBTS? SWBTS?), but no one has provided any documentation/proof that NAMB and A29 have a formal partnership–only inference.

            Norm Miller

            You commentary here has ventured far from Rick’s original points. You intimated that Calvinists are being shut out of SBC agencies and local associations, but have documentation for only one such instance.
            Among Rick’s valid points is that an Acts 29 church planter could take SBC money, and then cut-and-run to do his own thing apart from the SBC. I have witnessed such behavior among church planters and find it to be unethical and reprehensible.
            Another main point is that the BFM allows for Calvinistic planters, but Acts 29, by decree, disallows “Non-Calvinist” church planters who are from the SBC, but will take SBC money. Do you find that to be ethical? — Norm

            Chuck Fuller

            I don’t think it’s ethical for an SBC/NAMB plant to cut and run, no matter to where or to whom it runs. Calvinism, the T5, and A29 isn’t the issue on that point–integrity is. The cut-and-run problem has been around much longer than A29, and extends further than church plants. It’s an ethical issue about which Baptist polity can do very little. Perhaps we’re shoe-horning one issue into another? And, to be fair, since you keep asking me for documentation (do I really need to dig up Dr. Aguillard’s own statements, etc?), do you have documentation of such activity? In a plurality of instances?

              Norm Miller

              Here is the question of ethics I raised: “Another main point is that the BFM allows for Calvinistic planters, but Acts 29, by decree, disallows “Non-Calvinist” church planters who are from the SBC, but Acts 29 will take SBC money. Do you find that to be ethical?” — Norm

            Chuck Fuller

            Honestly, I think the spirit of T5 allows such. Calvinists are free to partner with Calvinist-only organizations, and nonCalvinists are free to partner with nonCalvinist-only organizations. This is fair within our polity. If a NAMB-sponsored church partnering with a non-SBC, Calvinist-only organization creates an ethical problem, then certainly we have an ethical problem when CP-supported entities (like colleges) exclude Calvinists (is there really any doubt that this happens? Do I really need to provide substantiation for this to be believable?). So, again, to ask a similar question: do you find it ethical that certain CP-supported entities exclude Calvinists when the BF&M clearly allows them?

              Norm Miller

              The question was not whether T5 allows for such, but whether the practice is, in your opinion, ethical.

              Norm Miller

              Regarding LC, ask LA Baptists. My tithes and offerings don’t support LC.

            Chuck Fuller

            Norm, I’m not sure the question stands, because A29 doesn’t take SBC money. A church may receive and give funds to both A29 and SBC, but I’ve seen no evidence of a direct exchange. Can you present such evidence? I don’t mind, though, declaring myself. I believe in Baptist polity, which allows any church to partner with any outside organization it chooses. I think churches should choose wisely, and I think that partnering with organizations that fall outside BF&M brings certain risks–even the risk of disfellowship in extreme cases. Also, I think that colleges/seminaries can hire whatever faculty members they wish. Hiring within the BF&M maintains our cooperation as Southern Baptists, hiring outside of it brings certain risks and accountability issues. If a college wants to hire all Calvinist or nonCalvinist theology professors, there is no problem. The BF&M is there to maintain our cooperation, not kill it.

            I’ve answered your question the best I know how. Will you answer mine?

            Personally, I’m thrilled to work in an environment (College of Christian Studies, Anderson University, SC) that has lived the spirit of T5 for years. Our faculty includes professors from across the SBC soteriological spectrum, all well within the BF&M. We actually celebrate the tensions. We learn from and refine one another. We love each other as brothers. We work as a team. We don’t keep secrets as to where we agree and disagree. Students enjoy hearing the angles, and benefit greatly.

              Norm Miller

              Don’t be naive, Chuck. If NAMB states it will partner with any planter who will sign the BFM, well — what do you think the word partner means?
              I resonate with your last paragraph. ACTS 29 is not as inclusive, but it will take money from those it excludes. — Norm

            Chuck Fuller

            I’m not convinced by this Rorschach way of defining “partnership,” and it seems odd that you demand documentation for my every claim but warn me not to be naive for not following your undocumented inferences. Nonetheless, if your point stands, then so does mine. We have colleges/seminaries on both sides that gladly receive funds from those they exclude. Do you find this ethical? Why do you find one situation problematic but not the other?

            Chuck Fuller

            Let me throw in two more angles:

            First, what if the third party excluded by methodology, not theology? Let’s say that a NAMB plant also partners with an organization that falls within the BF&M, but only sponsors plants that follow a particular model (Keller model, Stetzer model, Malphurs, Willow Creek, Purpose-Driven, etc–take your pick). By your definition of partnership, wouldn’t this constitute the same problem–taking funds from those they exclude? Whether the exclusion happens by theology or methodology, it’s still exclusion, right? Is there a difference?

            Second, it seems clear that there are pastors who hold PhDs in the Georgia Baptist Convention who would never be invited to the faculty of TMC or BPC simply because of soteriological differences. Yet, both colleges receive CP funds, supported by the churches that these pastors lead. Likewise, there are certainly pastors in the Kentucky Baptist Convention who hold PhDs who would never be invited to the faculty of Campbellsville or Boyce/SBTS due to soteriological differences. Yet, both schools (one state level and one national level) receive CP funds, supported by the churches that these pastors lead. This appears to be a similar (perhaps more severe) kind of exclusion that you find problematic with NAMB/A29.

            I make these points to demonstrate that exclusion happens all the time within Baptist life, at many levels and in many scenarios. You seem only to have a problem when nonCalvinists are excluded by a non-SBC, outside “partnership,” but no problem when it involves other entities or other exclusions–even within the SBC. If we bemoan one exclusion, then we imply a problem with another, and the very fabric of our cooperation unravels. Baptist polity gives much, much freedom. Cooperation requires that we honor it.

              Norm Miller

              I suggest you stick to the topic at hand. Playing the ‘what-if’ game is a real time waster. — Norm

            Chuck Fuller

            Wow, Norm. Instead of responding forthrightly, you demand documentation, then accuse me of being naive and wasting time. Since when is it wasting time to pan out for perspective, or to identify core similarities between corresponding scenarios? Besides, only the first example is a “what if,” the second is an actual that relates directly to the topic at hand. My question is simple and sticks to the topic: if you think it is unethical for a non-SBC organization like A29 to receive funds from those it excludes (a heretofore unsubstantiated claim), do you also think it is unethical for an CP-supported, SBC entity to receive funds from those it excludes?

              Norm Miller

              If the corresponding scenarios are wrong, as you imply, then I guess you are admitting that ACTS29’s policy of excluding “Non-Calvinist” church planters is also wrong. You allege that such policy is “a heretofore unsubstantiated claim.” Well, read Rick’s post again. He cites ACTS29’s policy.
              Your last question is still off point as it is not corollary to the inconsistency Rick cites.

            Chuck Fuller

            I haven’t claimed that any scenario implies wrongdoing. Rather, I contend that if you think an ethical principle is broken in one scenario (which, evidently, you do), then it seems necessary that you believe the same principle is broken in other, similar scenarios–unless we resort to some sort of situational relativism.

            The situations indeed correlate. If it is unethical for A29 to receive funds from those it excludes (as you believe), then it is certainly unethical for any SBC entity to receive SBC funds from those it excludes. Simple, a fortiori logic. No?

Norm Miller

Rick:
Because SBCToday underwent technical difficulties initially beyond our control, thus resulting in at least two full days of the site and your post being inaccessible, we plan to leave your salient commentary up for another day or two.

Your post reminds me of issues in the Conservative Resurgence, particularly the teaching of Higher Criticism at Southern Seminary, primarily, and others, too. Southern Baptists were alarmed to read the findings as revealed in the then-much vaunted Noel Hollyfield thesis which showed the tragic decline in the fundamentals of the faith as students pursued their theological degrees at SBTS.

I contend that rank-and-file Southern Baptists are largely unaware of the issues continuing to trouble their Convention. But the whistle-blowing nature of your post will help.

During the CR days I cited, both theology and financial stewardship/accountability were actually one issue in that Southern Baptists hated the heresy of the Higher Critical method, and hated even more that their tithes and offerings paid for that which was destroying the faith of seminary students, and, subsequently, threatening the SBC.

I suspect that, as more and more Southern Baptists discover that their tithes and offerings are funding church planters who advocate beliefs that are foreign to their hearts and history, and their understanding of Scripture, then Southern Baptists will demand a much higher level of accountability at the agency level.

Whereas a few have suggested they don’t want their tithes and offerings to plant ‘Non-Calvinistic’ churches, that issue is not the same as you have cited. Plainly put, if NAMB is (and/or continues) funneling money to ACTS 29 church planters, then NAMB is thumbing its nose at those who are providing the money. Worse, still, NAMB is rubbing their constituents’ noses in the problem by apparently funding those who would not accept a Non-Calvinist planter, as you have duly noted. Even more egregious would it be if this funding were to continue after the Calvinism Advisory Committee Report’s apparent attempt to pour oil on troubled waters. Continuing to fund church planters whose theological/soteriological stock is found largely in the “Tensions” section of the CCR relieves no tension; it unfortunately lights the oil on top of the water.

My intent is to view the CCR as a “mini-Peace Committee Report.” Would to God that ALL of our SBC agencies would follow suit. — Norm

    Max

    “I contend that rank-and-file Southern Baptists are largely unaware of the issues continuing to trouble their Convention.”

    Norm, I couldn’t agree more! Southern Baptists are not willingly ignorant, I believe the multitude are either uninformed or misinformed. Since a small percentage (or at least I believe it to be) read blogs, how would you propose that the pew become knowledgeable and active in the issues troubling the SBC?

      Norm Miller

      Max: Thx for your comment. In the days of the Conservative Resurgence, Baptist Press was considered by some to be hostile to the movement. Certainly, a few state Baptist paper editors were. I attended many meetings back then — both conservative and moderate — that Baptist Press and state paper writers also attended. I was dumbfounded to read the news stories written by those ‘journalists’ about a meeting that was described far differently than I remembered. Conservatives launched their own publication, the Southern Baptist Advocate. Today, the blogosphere offers a new way to get out the news, and that’s what we hope to do.
      You can help by informing your friends of SBCToday. — Norm

        Max

        Thanks Norm. I will continue to put the word out about SBC Today and related blogs as I get opportunity – a trustworthy source of information! In my opinion, Southern Baptists can’t rely on what they read in the funny papers … too many sins of omission in SBC news sources regarding the real issues troubling the Convention. Perhaps we could get a volunteer to print and distribute about 16 million bulletin inserts each week or post such news on the back of those nice bulletins that the churches buy from LifeWay (on second thought, referring this to our publication house wouldn’t be a good idea) ;^).

          Norm Miller

          I must admit, Max, that I was a bit bothered when the news story of a year ago about the Traditional Statement was mis-characterized by BP’s title of “Anti-Calvinist statement.” That sort of editorializing in the title defies classic journalistic training and is on par with the liberal media, who calls me “anti-choice” instead of “pro-life.”
          On the other hand, I think the John 3.16 story by BP gave that Conference a very fair shake. But there’s a not-too-nice back story as to how that happened, too. — Norm

            Max

            Norm – Southern Baptists of the majority non-Calvinist persuasion should expect trustworthy reporting by Baptist Press regarding “issues continuing to trouble their Convention” (as you put it). On the BP About Us page, the following is noted about BP News: “Covering the critical issues that shape your life, work and ministry.” I categorize troubling issues as critical issues! I don’t think we would get an overwhelming approval rating from SBC pulpit and pew regarding BP coverage on certain critical/troubling issues. There is no doubt that the issues noted in Rick’s article will shape Southern Baptist life, work and ministry in the years ahead. The question is “Does the majority know what’s going on and do they really give a big whoop?” I believe they would if they knew. We had a pastor once who would occasionally pause to have “Family Talks” which covered a lot of ground. If still in the ministry, you can bet that he would be having a talk with the family about questionable church planting partnerships and financial support of same.

            Max

            Associated Baptist Press has been providing more objective reporting on certain SBC issues than Baptist Press. Check out today’s example of that in an article entitled “The New Calvinism in the SBC”
            http://bit.ly/17jSuD7

              Norm Miller

              Note that the article is an editorial; it is opinion, not news. Further, ABP has never been friendly toward the Conservative resurgence. That trend continues in the cited editorial. However, despite the overt bias, I found these three paragraphs from the editorial the most thought-provoking to me.

              “Many students entering seminaries, having been influenced by the preaching and writings of Calvinist authors John Piper and Mark Driscoll, more often than not find a place where their Calvinist theology is reinforced and refined by seminary faculty members. Indeed, a concern among a number of Southern Baptist leaders is that relative to the Southern Baptist population, Calvinists are over-represented on seminary faculties.

              Given that Dortian Calvinism is not the primary theological orientation of most Southern Baptists, when recent seminary graduates step into pastorates with the Bible in one hand and J.P. Boyce’s Abstract of Systematic Theology in the other, they receive significant pushback and frequently leave churches in chaos scrambling to find another congregation to pastor or often to start a new church.

              As long as Calvinists maintain a strong faculty presence at Southern Baptist seminaries, this pattern is likely to continue despite the delivering of irenic convention committee reports. Most SBC churches have stiff-armed Calvinism and are likely to continue the resistance. Only time will tell if Calvinism will continue as a force in the SBC.”

            Max

            And another thing … Baptist Press does not provide an opportunity to post comments to its articles; Associated Baptist Press does.

Luke

“The possibility is very real that church plants started primarily with Southern Baptist resources might fall into the hands of the other partnering organization”
I feel [you believe] we are competing against other entities for control of these churches. This goes against autonomy, not to mention that any church that preaches the gospel that we are saved by grace through faith through the atoning work of Christ on the cross should be a joy to anyone who believes the same thing.

    Adam

    Luke, the concern is that we will end up devoting CP money to churches that have low odds of themselves becoming CP supporters, cutting and running when the support is done. This has always been a significant piece in our planting efforts. Rick’s concern is not against autonomy as much as your suggestion goes against wisdom.

    Max

    Luke, I think Rick’s concern in this regard should be considered more seriously. Under the covering of “autonomy” that you note, there is a strong likelihood that a church planted by reformed leadership might opt to lean more heavily toward Acts 29 affiliation – a united reformed-only entity … rather than continue to move forward in the confusion of a divided SBC camp. That row would certainly be a lot easier to hoe. In many of the church plants, you have to mine for SBC affiliation since the sign out front doesn’t clearly indicate “Southern Baptist.” Most plants have really cool names which leave out even “Baptist”! At best, they give reference to BFM on their website page pertaining to “what we believe”, since the 2000 revision of that document gives plenty of theological wiggle room. It would be an easy step for such churches to simply say bye and head to Acts 29 when they become more independent from church planting funds.

Randall Cofield

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yea , and will rejoice.–Php. 1:18

    Norm

    Exactly, Randall. Why ACTS 29 is so exclusive in who it allows to “preach Christ” I will never know.

    Norm Miller

    Randall: I resonated with a comment you made yesterday that referenced Philippians 1.18: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.”

    In the context of the thread regarding Rick Patrick’s post, I rejoice and agree with your sentiment. But that only touches half the matter. The Apostle is talking about motive AND that Christ is preached.

    I have noted with interest your exchange with VolFan007. And you have asked about whether he thinks ACTS 29 is in some way doctrinally deficient (my terms, as I understand your comment).

    Back to the cited verse, why does Paul not care about the motivation as long as “Christ is preached”? I think it’s because Paul knows the power of the Gospel. If the Gospel is preached, people will be saved. I think Paul’s words indicate his trust in the Gospel’s saving power.

    So, the question is not about motivation; for our discussion, it is about which Christ is being preached. E.g., is the Christ being preached the one who died for the sins of the world or the elect only? And so, here we go. In fact, no we don’t. T5 acknowledges our differences; I’m not up for a re-hash of all that.

    I restate that, I am incensed that my tithes and offerings help pay for those who would preach a soteriology that finds its stock in the Tensions section of T5. And if the LifeWay survey is correct, only 30 percent of the SBC holds to Calvinism. Should the remaining 70 percent have to pay for a theology they think is not biblical, or at least has been determined by both Cals and Non-Cals as points of tension? Should ACTS 29 planters receive money from those whom they would not allow to plant churches in their network?

    Even if others would disagree with the premises of these questions, I think anyone, regardless of their side of the fence, can see the apparent unfairness in all of this.

    These questions, by the way, Randall, are rhetorical, and I think also are explanatory of what I believe to be the majority opinion is of the SBC.

    Thanks again for the warm regards for me you expressed personally while we both were at the SBC in Houston. Looking a brother in the eye and shaking his hand is a great thing.

    Bless God.

    Norm

      Randall Cofield

      Norm,

      …why does Paul not care about the motivation as long as “Christ is preached”? I think it’s because Paul knows the power of the Gospel. If the Gospel is preached, people will be saved. I think Paul’s words indicate his trust in the Gospel’s saving power.

      Yes, it was indeed my point that the Gospel rightly preached (regardless of motives) is the power of God unto salvation. Paul was being remarkably gracious, even in his bonds.

      The questions to David were to establish whether or not he thought Acts 29 churches rightly preach the Gospel. If they do, there would be no grounds upon which to withhold funds, IMHO.

      I restate that, I am incensed that my tithes and offerings help pay for those who would preach a soteriology that finds its stock in the Tensions section of T5.

      Conversely, I am in no way incensed that my tithes and offerings help pay for those on the Traditionalist side who preach a soteriology that finds its stock in the Tensions section of T5. Simply put, I think they do, indeed, rightly preach the Gospel. My differences with them are tertiary to the Gospel. Do you feel differently toward me, a Calvinist?

      Should the remaining 70 percent have to pay for a theology they think is not biblical, or at least has been determined by both Cals and Non-Cals as points of tension?

      Unlike the 70% (to the extent they view Acts 29’s Gospel unbiblical), I do not regard my Traditionalist brothers’ essential Gospel message unbiblical. Our differences are not sufficient to break fellowship or refuse cooperation–as T5 clearly states.

      As for Acts 29, I, with Paul, rejoice that they are preaching the Gospel. To the extent they are planting Gospel-sound churches, they deserve our support to the glory of Christ; and perhaps they will one day mature to the point of non-exclusion. Likewise, I trust that those of our SBC churches and entities that are now excluding their reformed brethren will one day mature to the point of non-exclusion. Only then will our glorious Savior be magnified to the maximum in our midst.

      I too was moved by our warm meeting at Houston. “Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.”

      Grace to you, brother.

        Norm Miller

        The “essential gospel message,” do you present it as possible that anyone can be saved? Do ACTS 29 planters?
        John 3.16 has long been held as the Gospel in a nutshell, or the “essential gospel message,” if you will.
        Do you preach that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, or only the elect. And what of ACTS 29 planters?
        These are not preferential. These are doctrinal precepts with preferential interpretations. And Trads don’t prefer to translate “cosmos” as “eklektos” as do Cals.
        Ascol said in a Huffington Post article that both sides in these matters cannot both be right. Indeed, competing truth claims cannot both be true. One may therefore accurately infer that Ascol believes that one side is right and the other wrong. And there is no question which ones Ascol believes are wrong. If he and those of his ilk do not want their CP dollars funding non-Cal churches, then such folks have every right to “negatively designate” their giving. And the reverse would be true on the opposite side, too. If all these matters boiled down to such a solution, then a 70/30 split of CP monies would mean disaster for the 30 percent, would it not?
        BTW: I don’t recommend the above scenario.

        Norm Miller

        “… that the Gospel rightly preached (regardless of motives) is the power of God unto salvation.”
        Rightly preached is a crucial point. Calvinists have stated that the essence of Calvinism is the Gospel.
        I strongly disagree with that bait-and-switch kind of statement, but am not attempting to define or accuse you.

        “Paul was being remarkably gracious, even in his bonds.”
        Paul also was under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, too, as you know.

          Randall Cofield

          PART 1 of 2

          Norm,

          The “essential gospel message,” do you present it as possible that anyone can be saved? Do ACTS 29 planters?

          I (and the handful of A29 folks I know) preach that “all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Does that count?

          Do you preach that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, or only the elect. And what of ACTS 29 planters?

          Assuming that by “died for the sins of the whole world” you mean that Jesus made full atonement for and removed the sins of the whole world as far from us as the east is from the west…no I do not. Do you? I find no public presentation of the Gospel in scripture where it is stated that “Jesus died for the sins of the whole world.” Why would you require of me to preach something that neither Jesus nor the Apostles preached?

          These are not preferential.

          Brother, they are unless you can demonstrate—from the scriptural record of public Gospel preaching—that they are essential to the public presentation of the Gospel.

          And Trads don’t prefer to translate “cosmos” as “eklektos” as do Cals.

          I do not prefer to translate Jn. 3:16 thusly. The term is cosmos, and, as I have demonstrated before on this site, it is not necessary for Cals to so translate Jn. 3:16.

          Ascol said in a Huffington Post article that both sides in these matters cannot both be right. Indeed, competing truth claims cannot both be true. One may therefore accurately infer that Ascol believes that one side is right and the other wrong. And there is no question which ones Ascol believes are wrong.

          On these issues tertiary to the essential Gospel, I tend to agree with Ascol. Yet, according to T5, affirmed by Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike, we are in agreement on the essential Gospel message.

          continued below

          Randall Cofield

          PART 2 of 2

          If he and those of his ilk do not want their CP dollars funding non-Cal churches, then such folks have every right to “negatively designate” their giving. And the reverse would be true on the opposite side, too.

          I have no problem with my “CP dollars” (they are actually God’s dollars) funding non-Cal churches, entities, etc. I am personally of the opinion that any Calvinist who thinks thusly is extreme and should be marginalized…and vice-versa. This is the whole point of the cooperation called for in T5, as I understand it.

          Rightly preached is a crucial point. Calvinists have stated that the essence of Calvinism is the Gospel.
          I strongly disagree with that bait-and-switch kind of statement, but am not attempting to define or accuse you.

          I think the statement to which you refer is attributed to Spurgeon, who said “Calvinism is the gospel.” Part of the problem with quoting that statement is that it is often quoted without the context in which he posited the statement. Some were contending that Calvinism was not the Gospel. Sound familiar?

          But, setting that aside, are you saying that Calvinists do not rightly preach the essential Gospel? If so, it would seem that you are in disagreement with T5.

          The bottom line is this, Norm: If you spent a week with me in my community and sitting under my preaching at Lakeside, you would be very pleasantly surprised to find that I present the Gospel very much the same way you do. I’m reasonably certain the same thing could be said of most of the A29 brothers. Again, our disagreement lies only in issues tertiary to the Gospel.

          I said: “Paul was being remarkably gracious, even in his bonds.” You said: Paul also was under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, too, as you know.

          Agreed. Aren’t we all supposed to be under the leadership of the Holy Spirit?

          Grace to you, my brother.

volfan007

Randall and others,

I praise God for the Gospel being preached by a Presbyterian Church, or by an Assembly of God Church; BUT, I do not want SB, CP money going to start these kinds of Churches. I praise the Lord for all the good that an Evang. Free Church, or that a Pentecostal Church might do for the Kingdom of God; but I still wouldnt want NAMB, or the IMB starting these types of Churches with CP money.

David

    Randall Cofield

    David,

    WHY, specifically?

      volfan007

      Randall,

      Why would I want SB, CP dollars to go towards starting Pentecostal Churches? Or, Presbyterian Churches? Are you serious?

      Brother, I want Southern Baptist, CP dollars to go towards starting SB Churches, which preach sound doctrine….don’t you?

      David

        Randall Cofield

        David,

        We are in agreement on not funding churches of the denominations you mentioned.

        What I am asking is why, specifically, you would not want to fund them.

        Randall Cofield

        Is it because you do not believe they preach sound doctrine?

          volfan007

          Randall,

          Yes, they do not preach sound doctrine. I believe that they’re our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord. I believe that the Evangelical ones, who preach grace thru fiath are preaching the Gospel. But, their doctrine is flawed about baptism(Presbyterians believe in infant baptism and sprinkling), and the Assembly of God and other Pentecostal type Churches believe a person can lose his salvation, and the other Churches of other denominations have diiferent, errant beliefs that SB, CP dollars should not go to support.

          DAvid

            Randall Cofield

            David,

            So do you believe that Acts 29 churches preach similarly “flawed” and “unsound” doctrine? And on that ground they should not receive CP support?

            volfan007

            Randall,

            Well, let’s see…Acts 29 promotes an Elder Ruled Church govt. over a Congregational form. Baptist have long held to a Congregational form of Church govt. That alone would make me not be too fired up about SB, CP dollars going to Acts 29 Church plants.

            Also, as Norm has pointed out above, I’m not too thrilled about starting Churches, which belong to an organization(network), which would absolutely eliminate 70% of the SBC from belonging to their network. To even belong to their network, you’d have to, at least, be a 3 pt. Calvinist… according to Driscoll. And, Randall, there are no SB, Traditional Church planting organizations, out there that I know of, which exlude the planting of Calvinist Churches. So, what we have are some Churches, who are taking SB money to start their Churches, and they also belong to a network that excludes all of us, SB, who are not at least 3 pt. Calvinists.

            I’m not a fan of Acts 29.

            David

            Randall Cofield

            David,

            None of what you mention is unsound or flawed “doctrine.” All of what you mention is personal preference.

            See my response to Norm above and T5 for my position.

            Grace to you, brother.

volfan007

Norm,

BTW, some of those math problems in the security question are challenging to me! lol

David

Lydia

“Norm, I’m not sure the question stands, because A29 doesn’t take SBC money. A church may receive and give funds to both A29 and SBC, but I’ve seen no evidence of a direct exchange. Can you present such evidence?”

Chuck, This is a problem. Accountability for our money is vague. for example, Sojourn churches here WERE affiliated with Acts 29 (up until right after the Petry docs on Joyful Exiles became public) and the SBC.

Today several Mars HIll former employees/ staff pastors are employed there as Mars Hill has gone through some serious reorganizinig. I find it interesting that Sojourn can afford so many staffers and of that type without some help from the SBC.

So we know Sojourn was Acts 29 (Driscoll) for quite a while AND affiliated with the SBC. Perhaps Ezell could use that one example of how the SBC partnered with Acts 29/Sojourn and any funding? Seems everyone says there is no evidence of partnering with ACTS 29 but then there seems to be no paper trail either? Very confusing. It would do well for NAMB to be more forthcoming even if they are only funding a position or two in these churches for a limited time. Better to give more info than needed these days. Over communicate is always better in these situations.

    Norm Miller

    It would be well for NAMB to be more forthcoming. I can’t show you on paper that ACTS 29 planters receive CP money. But NAMB has said it will “partner” with any planter who can (or will) sign the BFM 2000. I have anecdotal info that such inquiries have been made, but to no avail. As long as NAMB doesn’t deny funding ACTS 29 planters, the assumption that it does indeed stands. Note also that not a single ACTS 29 planter has denied this here, nor anyone from NAMB. I would be very happy to be the first to retract such statements if and when NAMB publicly states it does not funnel money to ACTS 29 planters — Norm

Lydia

“None of what you mention is unsound or flawed “doctrine.” All of what you mention is personal preference.”

Randall, Giving money is also a personal preference. Best we not forget that. I do know quite a few SBC’ers who would not want to fund elder ruled churches.

Joey

I am afraid that I got in on this discussion late. As a result, I have read so many comments that they are beginning to run together. I do have a couple of thoughts that I would like to share.

1. The argument of autonomy does not relate, as I see it, to this discussion. The local church has autonomy, but, unless I am wrong, the SBC does not. The SBC is the voice of our churches collectively. Therefore, the people that are placed in SBC roles should be acting on behalf of the autonomous local churches collectively. In this instance, the door does not swing both ways. A church, not being funded by the SBC, but giving money to the SBC, can join any network they choose. However, a church that is receiving money from the SBC should not give to organizations that are outside of the SBC because they are directly receiving money from the SBC, which answers to the local churches collectively.

2. I do not like the sound of a statement that suggests giving money is a personal preference, if that money is the tithe. The tithe is not a personal preference. I hope we all agree on that. For example, a church votes to begin a building program. In that vote, the church says that tithe taken on the last Sunday of the month will go to the building fund. There is a person in the church does not agree with the building program so they designate their tithe on the last Sunday of the month. I do not believe that this person has tithed. Not only have they not tithed, but they are also causing division in the church since the church has voted in favor of the building.

There are my comments. If you take them and 50 cents, you might be able to buy a cup of coffee.

    Randall Cofield

    Joey,

    I do not like the sound of a statement that suggests giving money is a personal preference, if that money is the tithe. The tithe is not a personal preference.

    You have spoken truth on this fine day.

    Grace to you, brother.

    Scott Shaver

    The tithe is the Lord’s, not necessarily well spent in a lot of circumstances by pastors, buildings and grounds committees or, as implied, the fiat of congregational vote (especially when less than 10% of membership participates in the vote). The tithe is the Lords, you’ve delivered it into the storehouse (the local church). And the great thing about being Baptist is you can designate the tithe of any given Sunday to stay in the general fund rather than the bldg fund, music fund etc.

Lydia

” I do not like the sound of a statement that suggests giving money is a personal preference, if that money is the tithe. The tithe is not a personal preference. I hope we all agree on that. For example, a church votes to begin a building program. In that vote, the church says that tithe taken on the last Sunday of the month will go to the building fund. There is a person in the church does not agree with the building program so they designate their tithe on the last Sunday of the month. I do not believe that this person has tithed. Not only have they not tithed, but they are also causing division in the church since the church has voted in favor of the building.”

Hi Joey, You are right I could have termed that better than a “personal preference”. What I was thinking was more about the indwelling Holy Spirit guiding believers in all areas of life including giving. I believe the pedestrian pew sitter can have the same indwelling Holy Spirit as a professional Christian like a pastor or elder. I believe how and what we give should be guided by the Holy Spirit and is no one else’s business. I would not be surprised to find my view is in the minority here. :o)

    Joey

    I appreciate the reply Lydia. I agree completely that the Holy Spirit can and does indwell all believers. It is a difficult argument to make on either side. I mean, who am I to say that someone is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, my stand has always been that tithes are not to be designated. Scripture simply teaches the whole tithe is to be taken to the storehouse.

      Lydia

      “Scripture simply teaches the whole tithe is to be taken to the storehouse.”

      Yes, the OT does teach that. I believe the New Covenant teaches we are to be cheerful givers and that can take on many variations from a building fund, pastor salaries, missions to a poor single mom who needs new brakes on her car. But lets face it, even in your view someone….or a few mere humans are “designating” the funds anyway. What I seem to be hearing from you is that you think those mere humans should decide what others fund. And that is fine if they are voting as a group. Still, I should not fund anything that Holy Spirit has given me concerns about. Which is why I designate. There are some entities I think are wrong to fund without more accountability.

        Joey

        Lydia,

        I typed out this really big response, but I decided that it should not be posted. Not because it was mean or argumentative, but because it is difficult, in this format, to clearly understand what each person is trying to convey. However, I do have one question for you. You say, “There are some entities I think are wrong to fund without more accountability.” This confuses me because my original comment has to do with the local church. Your comment does not appear to, unless you are speaking of your church’s CP giving. Does this mean you designate that your offering does not go to CP?

          Lydia

          “I typed out this really big response, but I decided that it should not be posted. Not because it was mean or argumentative, but because it is difficult, in this format, to clearly understand what each person is trying to convey.”

          I can totally relate to that one!

          “However, I do have one question for you. You say, “There are some entities I think are wrong to fund without more accountability.” This confuses me because my original comment has to do with the local church. Your comment does not appear to, unless you are speaking of your church’s CP giving. Does this mean you designate that your offering does not go to CP?”

          Before I answer the question at the end, we might have differing views on local church membership so that would affect the convo here. I am not a 9 Marks type at all which I fear is becoming the norm for many SBC churches.

          Lets say my church “votes” to build a new gym and I think, with the Holy spirits guidance, that money could be spent better helping some of our members who have lost jobs or something like that? Are you suggesting that it would be a sin for me to designate my money in that situation? It does not have to be contentious at all. I simply designate funds as I am led to do. People at my congregational polity church do this all the time for various projects and it is not contentious at all. We discuss it at meetings and voted. But perhaps that is because we still believe in a true Priesthood of believer. And we believe giving is personal with the Holy Spirits guidance. We simply believe that members are adults as in a case is made and they decide.

          And the answer to your last question is yes. There are simply too many questions not answered sufficiently with documentation and I am weary of the push to make the SBC a more top down/ hierarchical organization.

            Joe

            Lydia,

            I am not a fan of 9 marks either. Nor am I a Calvinist. I am in line with what we are calling the traditional Southern Baptist. Also, I completely believe in the Priesthood of the Believer. As I said, I believe we would find, if we were discussing face to face, that we probably agree more than it seems.

            I believe that God works through His church. If the church, at the direction of the Holy Spirit, is being led to build a gym, as you used in your example, then to designate tithes away from that would seem to hinder that end. That is my opinion, and I am not going to say that a person is sinning by designating their funds. I would not do it, even if I did not think it was the “best” course of action. I have no problem with offerings above the tithe being designated, but if, as I believe, the tithe is simply to be taken to the storehouse, then it is not for me to dictate, by myself, what should be done with the money. It is for the church, led by the Holy Spirit of course, to decide together.

            For the record, In your example of a gym being built, I would sure hope that a church would have a means of being able to help those in need and not put that on the back burner for the sake of a gym. My opinion would be that it is far more important to help those in need than to build a gym. However, if the church voted to build a gym, I would give my tithe undesignated, and I would use money above the tithe to help in this other area. However, if I truly believed that the church was not being led by the Holy Spirit in such an endeavor, I would have to make it a strong matter of prayer as to whether I am missing the direction of the Holy Spirit or if I am part of a church that is not listening to the Holy Spirit.

Scott Shaver

Lydia:

How dare you suggest that the Holy Spirit might trump pastoral directive or democratic vote in the area of tithes and offerings. What kind of Baptist are you? :)

    Joey

    Sarcasm duly noted.

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