Things That Bear Watching

April 12, 2012

Bill Harrell has served as Pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, Georgia, for over 30 years. He also is active in the Augusta Baptist Association, Georgia Baptist Convention, and SBC, including having serving as the Vice-President of the Georgia Baptist Convention and as Chairman of the SBC Executive Committee.


In the short span of time of about five years, those of us who are observers of activities within the Southern Baptist Convention have witnessed not only changes but mega-shifts in our convention. It would take a large volume for someone to treat all the various subjects at hand but I want to address just a few that are very subtle in some ways but very overt in others.

Most of our Southern Baptist people are just tending to the business of the Kingdom in their part of the world unaware of the forces that are in play and what those forces are trying to achieve and indeed are achieving with much success.

Two things have come to our attention in recent days that bear watching. First, our agency for missions within the US, NAMB, has been using some of the Cooperative Program funds to help establish “Acts 29” churches. These churches must, by their own charter, be organized as five-point-Calvinist churches. There are those who have it as their goal to change the SBC into a Reformed convention more akin to a Presbyterian church that a Baptist church. I cannot, in these few words, get into a broad examination of what is going on, but any informed member of the SBC understands that this is happening.

The driving force behind the Acts 29 churches has been Mark Driscoll; and I do not need to elucidate how controversial he is. He has become, to the younger people, somewhat of a folk hero who they are willing to follow no matter what he says or does. Chapter 10 of his recent book, Real Marriage, is nothing but pornography. It encourages people to think that it normal to do sexually what the Bible condemns. Yet, it is Southern Baptist people who suddenly seem willing to accept the things that the people of our convention rejected outright as sinful until recently. In recent days the leadership of Acts 29 has shifted to someone else, at least in the public eye. Driscoll is the founder of this emergent church, Calvinistic organization; and many believe he will still be the “behind the scenes” leader. Being the founder, he is not going to “ride off into the sunset” too easily or too far.

Let me suggest why the younger generation finds it so easy to accept the kind of things Driscoll mentions in his book. This is the generation that was raised on the internet and all that it offers including pornography. I believe that this young generation is willing to accept and actually applaud the activities that are suggested as acceptable sex in chapter 10 of Driscoll’s book. I believe that many, though certainly not all of the younger generation that is currently pushing for such radical changes in the SBC are not alarmed by the content of chapter 10 because they have been exposed all of their lives, through the internet, to the grossest of pornographic videos and images. Many have exposed themselves to this internet trash and it has imprinted their minds. They think it is okay to do such because they have been dealing with it for years. They are part of the video generation who had the ability to go to their rooms at night and spend hours looking at pornography while their parents thought they were asleep. So, no wonder they don’t blink an eye at what Driscoll refers to in chapter 10. In fact, they wonder why we old “fuddy-duddies” are so worked up about it all. Only people who are accustomed to consuming pornography would gravitate toward such filth and endorse it. Some have noted what a good book he has written, especially in the first chapters. One must realize that it was the same mind that wrote those chapters as the one that wrote chapter 10 and encouraged people to do such things even to the point of providing web sites to help people know where to find aids that would heighten the sexual experience. Because human nature is what it is, things will get worse before they get better. How far will such people as Driscoll have to go before we become convicted and turn away in disgust? We are far removed from the purity that was expected of the New Testament Christians.

The people of the SBC in annual meetings have made it clear that they want nothing to do with Driscoll or Acts 29, yet some of our leaders continue to thumb their noses at what they know has been said on the issue at the convention. They don’t care what we think because these leaders of this new wave of thought are convinced that they are in control so they will do as they wish no matter what we think.

NAMB has been helping to start churches in the St. Louis area that are Acts 29 affiliated. The leaders at NAMB were confronted several months ago about this and we were assured that they were not funding Acts 29 churches with SBC monies. This all died down for a few months, and now we find that they have continued to do this. I don’t know about other people in the SBC, but I do not plan to fund such activity. I also believe that if the masses of the SBC people were to find out what is going on they would not fund it either. The real problem is that those good people are not informed about the current direction of the SBC. They trust their leaders and agencies never realizing that such is happening. The very people they trust are relying on them to continue to give because that is what they have always done and, at the same time, they are going in directions the good people of the SBC would never go.

There is a growing emphasis on church planting and missions. Let me offer a suggestion as to why. The young Calvinists, who are being turned out in numbers from Southern and Southeastern in particular, are finding it difficult to get a job in a Southern Baptist church because 90+ % of our churches reject five point Calvinism. The leaders of these seminaries know they cannot tell a young person that “we are going to educate you in Calvinism, but we want you to know that it will be difficult for you to get a job in a Southern Baptist church when you graduate.” Now suppose they told them that. How long do you think they would attract students in number? So, they are pushing church planting and missions to give these people an outlet for ministry opportunities. They can’t afford to warn the young student about the reality of job hunting in the SBC as a five point Calvinist. They just make them a part of their little group, which I describe as an “intellectual, spiritual groupie thing.” They have their gurus who they follow almost unquestionably. The same is true of those attached to the Acts 29 group. As churches get more familiar with the situation, they are starting to ask directly if a candidate is sympathetic to or is a part of the Acts 29 network. When the average Southern Baptist church finds out that they are connected to or sympathetic to Acts 29, they turn from them and seek another candidate. So, this new emphasis on church planting is being largely driven by the fact that five-point-Calvinist students and Acts 29 adherents need a place to go preach and minister because churches do not want their theology (in the case of the Calvinists) or their organization (in the case of the Acts 29 group).

These church starts in the St. Louis area are very revealing and bear watching. Lifeway, which is in the process of being changed into a Reformed agency, has just released a series of Sunday School lessons on the gospel of which all authors are Calvinists except maybe one person. Now, let me ask a question: With 90+% of the SBC people rejecting Calvinism, how did our educational agency happen to product a Sunday School series on the gospel that is authored almost exclusively by Calvinists? I think it was by design. It was intentional and done because, as stated previously, they think they are in control of the convention enough at this point that they can do as they please.

I believe that it has always been a dream of the President of Southern Seminary to use that institution of higher learning as the home base for making the SBC a Reformed convention. Even Christianity Today saw this. When Al Mohler arrived at Southern in 1993, he began firing the liberals who did not hold to inerrancy. We all watched and said, “Praise God, Brother Al is getting rid of those liberals.” We just didn’t notice that as he fired the liberals, he replaced them with inerrantists who happened to be Calvinists. Some were not even Baptist; they were Presbyterian. The Southern Baptist people were so overjoyed at the way Southern was being brought back into the inerrancy camp that we were totally unaware of the direction in which it was being taken. Now we see. Southern and now Southeastern are both turning out numbers of the young, restless Calvinists with Southern having been doing it for years. We have a large number of them seeking to pastor our churches. Many churches that are not Calvinistic in their theology have been ruptured by these young preachers who accept a call to a church but fail to tell them that they are five point Calvinists. The church is usually split and damaged before they find out the truth. One will be loudly condemned for stating this truth but as my Grandmother used to say . . . ”the proof is in the pudding.”

While I believe that there has been a long term plan to take the convention to the Reformed position, I also think that the number of our agency heads and leadership positions held by Calvinists or those sympathetic to that theological model prove the point. Where did Thom Rainer come from? Southern Seminary. Where did Ed Stetzer make his trek to Lifeway from? Southern. Where did Trevin Wax, a new writer and editor for Lifeway get his Masters degree? Southern. Where did Kevil Ezell come from? He was Al Mohler and Danny Akin’s pastor in Louisville. Where did Clark Logan, now at NAMB come from? Did you guess Southern? You are right. Even Danny Akin went to Southeastern from Southern. A “family tree” kind of graph, showing where the current leadership of some of our most influential agencies came from and who has been involved in their hiring, might be very interesting.

All of this points to why Lifeway would be so bold as to issue a Sunday School series on the gospel authored primarily by Calvinists. Dr. Mohler, along with The Founders group and others know that it would take five lifetimes to take the SBC back to a Reformed position church by church but he is also smart enough to know that it could be accomplished in only a couple of decades through the educational system: Lifeway. The good people of the SBC are not theologians. They simply trust their agencies and are unaware of the plan. They could be manipulated into the Reformed tradition through the educational process and never know what hit them. Also, less blood will be shed this way.

In connection with this, let me point out another thing that bears watching. With this gospel Sunday School series, they are subtly trying to change the definition of the word “gospel.” Even now, when those who hold to Reformed doctrine refer to preaching the “gospel,” they are meaning that one is preaching Calvinism. When one of the Calvinists says “preach the gospel brother,” he is really saying “preach that Reformed doctrine brother.” NonCalvinists are saying “preach the whosoever will gospel brother.” There is a vast difference. And, I believe that the goal is to re-educate the people of the SBC to understand that Reformed doctrine is the “gospel” and that the “gospel” is Reformed doctrine. Once that is accepted by the people after a couple of decades, the leaders of the Reformed resurgence can say, “we have done it; the SBC is now a Reformed convention.” And, they will have used the same basic approach to accomplish their goal as they use in the local churches: slow indoctrination that “sneaks up on the blind side.”

Let me pose this question: “Why, in the midst of all the other things that are transpiring that would totally transform the SBC, do we have this effort to change the name of our convention?” Let me offer this assessment. The effort is to “rebrand” the SBC. Call it something else and change the image of the convention in the minds of the people. At the same time the goal is to insert Calvinism as the identifiable theological bent of the convention. It would be easier to do it that way since the name “SBC” would not easily carry the designation as a Reformed convention. Rebrand it; rename it; insert Calvinism; educate the people that this is where the new convention is theologically. It would be much easier to call a newly named convention a Reformed convention than it would be to identify the SBC as a Reformed group. I realize that not all the people on the name change committee are Calvinists and had no concept of this. But, I believe others did. Those who are not Calvinists probably went along with the “nickname” approach because that is far better than totally changing the name, in their view.

Such name changing and rebranding was tried in 1995-96 when a committee studied changing some things so that we “could operate in a smoother way and more effectively reach the world for Jesus.” This committee renamed the Home Mission Board, NAMB. They renamed the Foreign Mission Board, the IMB. They eliminated some minor agencies. They thought that rebranding and renaming some of our key agencies would make things work better. Worked real well didn’t it? The whole process was a waste of time and money and at least one of the people involved with that process is involved in the current one. So, now they have come up with the brilliant idea of a “nickname”, Great Commission Baptists. Those who want to use this new moniker can do so in place of the Southern Baptist Convention name. This is only going to produce confusion in the eyes of those very people we want to reach. Now, some will have to say ”we are a GCB church”. Then comes the question: “I thought you were Southern Baptist.” “Well we are, but we are choosing to use Great Commission Baptists as our identifying name.” Now one would say, “so, there are two conventions?” “Well no, there is one but it now has two accepted names.” Is it just me or do others think that this is creating confusion? Let me tell you what I think will happen. I think that the GCB will become the “Calvinistic arm” of the SBC. The perception of the young, restless Calvinists is that their heroes are the ones behind this renaming approach, and they will run to be a part of whatever Brother So-and-so helped form and endorses. Soon it will be obvious that this “division” of the SBC is the Calvinistic “arm” of the SBC. Money will flow there in order to support whatever their leaders “suggest” is a good thing to support. So we will wind up with the CBF on one side, the SBC in the middle and the GCB (Calvinistic arm) on the other side. They will do the same as the CBF has done and stay in our convention and churches. More fracturing and confusion will be the result.

When people look at the different facets of the current happenings in the SBC, they can begin to get an idea of what is actually taking place and where it is all headed. Of course, this assumes that they have enough background. If current trends continue we will not recognize the SBC in a very few years. Which begs the question: “Is there NOTHING right about the SBC?” Is everything wrong and in need of radical surgery? I think not! These people are doing with the convention what many of them have done in churches: radically change the makeup of the church while making those who might oppose them out to be one who really doesn’t desire to be obedient to God or fulfill the great commission.

Things are changing in our Southern Baptist Zion and they are not for the good. If things continue on the present course, I predict that in only a few years we will not have thirty-five state and pioneer conventions but about twenty-five. Some will cease to operate. Some will combine with a more stable convention in order to survive. Additionally, I predict that the Executive Committee will cease to be the entity that has guided us so well in the past because fewer conventions will reduce the number of committee members. As it grows smaller someone will ask: “why have an Executive Committee? It is now much smaller and we don’t need to waste that mission money on having a meeting since we have the internet with the ability for each person to stay home and participate in a video conference.” There will be a movement to let the officers of the committee meet about twice a year, set up a video meeting and hold an Executive Committee meeting in such a manner. Next will come the bright idea . . . “Since we don’t have all those people meeting twice a year and since so much has changed, why don’t we sell the Baptist Building? We could take that money and start some more churches and send some more missionaries.” I mean, who in the world could be against such good things?

One might say I am being an alarmist, but I believe that the fragmentation of the SBC is already taking place and it will proceed in that direction until we are no longer the monolithic spiritual body that has influence in the nation and world. We will be like any other denominational body. We will not be the leader among denominations as we have been, but we will be classed with those that the world doesn’t care if they exist or not because they are no threat to the sinful directions of society.

I know that what I have said will be decried as harsh, but we are dealing with harsh realities in the SBC. If things follow a normal course, it will be the young theologues who have little or no experience who will be the harshest in their criticism of my thoughts. They are still “wet behind the ears” and don’t have the experience or background to say very much at all. In general they have no respect for those who have had a ministry of forty or more years. I really don’t care who says what. My observations are built on the foundation of sixteen years on the Executive Committee and thirty eight years of pastoring Southern Baptist churches.

The things I have mentioned are some of the things that bear watching. Time will prove if I am right or not. I think I am.

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Bill Mac

Lifeway, which is in the process of being changed into a Reformed agency, has just released a series of Sunday School lessons on the gospel of which all authors are Calvinists except maybe one person.

I’m wondering if either one of these assertions can be proven.

    Bob Hadley

    Surely you jest!

    I know you are fully aware of all the attention Lifeway has received over its recent actions and that especially of The Gospel Project.

    ><>”

      Bill Mac

      That’s not an answer. It certainly isn’t proof. The mocking suggests that you don’t have proof. Proof is what I’m asking for.

      Casey

      Bob Hadley,

      Beth Moore sells more books at Lifeway than all the Puritans combined. I wouldn’t be such an alarmist.

volfan007

Brother Harrell,

A lot of people will not like what you’ve just written, but it contains much, much truth. A lot of us have been saying much of what you’ve written, here, for a long time.

You’ve got grit, Brother.

David

    Bill Mac

    but it contains much, much truth

    David: Is it all true?

      volfan007

      Bill Mac,

      I’ve found myself agreeing with someone 100% very, very few times in my life. How about you?

      David

        Bill Mac

        Sure. Me too. I’m just curious what things in the article you might disagree with. Possibly (hopefully) that Calvinists preach a different Gospel than non-Calvinists?

          volfan007

          Bill Mac,

          I dont think he said that. But, if he did, then I would disagree with him. I think where we disagree if over the finer points of theology…in the area of gray.

          David

Jason

Wow, this ought to be fun.

Steve Evans

Bro. Bill, I want to say “thank you” for what you’ve shared before the mud slinging commences. Get ready to be attacked like never before. And the sad thing is – it will be by those who claim to be your brothers and sisters – in – Christ! Holding forth the Word of life – that is what you’re doing! May our Lord bless your boldness!

    Chris Roberts

    Steve,

    So are Calvinists your brothers and sisters in Christ?

      volfan007

      Chris,

      I count my Calvinists Brothers and Sisters as just that…Brothers and Sisters. I also count my Assembly of God Beleivers as Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I just wouldnt want an Assembly of God crowd to come in and lead us to be Assembly of God. I also do not want the SBC to become Presbyterian.

      David

        Chris Roberts

        As it happens, neither do Calvinists want the SBC to become Presbyterian. If that’s what we wanted, we would just go be Presbyterian!

          volfan007

          Elder ruled Churches…5 pt. Calvinist theology. All except for the Believers Baptistm by immersion thing; you’re a Presbyterian.

          David

          Chris Roberts

          I see your understanding of Presbyterianism may be a bit lacking. There are more differences than eldership and Calvinism. And while the BF&M does not affirm elders, the BF&M leaves plenty of room for Calvinism in the SBC.

          volfan007

          Southern Baptists believe in congregational form of Church governance. The Presbyterians believe in Elder Ruled. Also, Presbyterians are Calvinists.

          David

          Max

          “:… the BF&M leaves plenty of room for Calvinism in the SBC”

          Someone finally said it!!

          Les

          Guys,

          I’m the resident Presbyterian. I’ve been an officer in PCA churches for years (and still ordained Southern Baptist).

          Vol, Chris is correct. There are more differences than eldership and Calvinism.

          volfan007

          Les,

          Where did I make a wrong statement? Are not Presbyterian Churches Elder Ruled? Are they not Calvinists?

          And, I’d say that a major difference in Presbyterian Churches and Baptist Churches would be Presbyterians being ruled by an Elder Board, and the baptism thing….you know, infant baptism, sprinkling, etc.

          David

          Les

          David,

          I don’t want us to get into a debate over Presbyterianism. You were pretty close. Elders, both teaching elders and ruling elders, oversee the church. The congregation does still have a say in many things. But it is a little of an oversimplification to just say elder ruled.

          Presbyterians use, mostly, presbyteries. The PCA does. So it is a connectional church…and a series of courts that actually have oversight of the church.

          Anyway, yes, baptism is different. All new believers who have never been baptized will receive baptism. Some do use immersion.

          The PCA website is a good place to look for more resources such as the Book of Church Order, etc. That will provide a fuller picture.

          God bless.

      selahV-hariette

      Chris, I’ve always considered them brothers and sisters in Christ. Always and will continue to do so, even though I am not intellectual enough to comprehend the finer points of their understanding of the Gospel. selahV, one dumb Christian who loves Jesus

    SAGordon

    Steve E,

    If any responses from Calvinists should be labeled as mudslinging, it would be simply to return that which has been slung our way. Let me also say, it would not be right.

    It would not be right, nor is it right to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to stereotyping all Calvinists (specifically within the SBC) as doing something like…say, ‘bowing the knee to Geneva,’ for instance. It is truly sad that those of us who are convictionally Calvinistic in our soteriology are being broadly addressed as anti-cooperation, anti-missions, or anti-congregationalist…or whatever. Or, we are seen as desiring to hijack the SBC toward a Reformed ecclesiology, eschatology, etc., etc. I stand with many, many other Calvinistic SBCers who firmly agree with and live and teach in total agreement with the BFM. I see NO preclusion of 5-point Calvinists nor non-Calvinist biblicists in our confession regarding the doctrine of salvation as we have commonly agreed as Southern Baptists.

    Sola Gratia,
    Scott Gordon

      selahV-hariette

      Scott, my brother, you wisely write:

      “It would not be right, nor is it right to turn a blind eye or deaf ear to stereotyping all Calvinists (specifically within the SBC) as doing something like…say, ‘bowing the knee to Geneva,’ for instance.

      “All” does not always mean “all” you know. As least that is what I have been told. Your sister, hariette

        Scott A Gordon

        Hariette,

        Indeed. And I think, Bill, Bob, et al., need to define their contention more clearly so as to be unmistakeable in thir critique. As it now stands, they are stating they are anti-Calvinist (with a 4-5 point soteriology), seemingly desirous of our departure. Sad (as I’ve said many times and in many places)…sad, sad, sad.

        SG!

    Mark

    Steve,

    You mean the mud slinging that started in the post with assertions and poisoning the well?

Bill Mac

Is it the sentiment of the non-Calvinists in the SBC, like Mr. Harrell, that Calvinists preach a different Gospel? And if it is a different Gospel is it not, by definition, a false Gospel?

    volfan007

    Bill Mac,

    I cant answer for Bro. Harrell, but I didnt see him say anything about Calvinists preaching a false Gospel. He did say that they equate the Gospel with Calvinism. I believe I’ve heard as much said by more than one Calvinists. Thus, Calvinists emphasize thier Calvinists theology while preaching the Gospel. We dont agree with the finer points of theology that Calvinists emphasize, concerning the Gospel. So, its not a false Gospel…it’s just a Gospel saddled with all the things that make up your system.

    David

      Bill Mac

      David:

      Even now, when those who hold to Reformed doctrine refer to preaching the “gospel,” they are meaning that one is preaching Calvinism. When one of the Calvinists says “preach the gospel brother,” he is really saying “preach that Reformed doctrine brother.”

      Notice the wording here. It plainly says that the Reformed gospel is Calvinism, not the true Gospel. Note that he does not say “some” Calvinists. Spurgeon did say that Calvinism is the Gospel. It is not terminology that I would use. Does anyone want to suggest that Spurgeon did not preach the Gospel? Mr. Harrell is painting with far too broad a brush. If I truly thought some in our denomination were preaching a Gospel by a different definition, I would want them gone.

      I am a Calvinist. I am not a professional preacher, but when I preach, I preach the Gospel, not Calvinism. Not with a little Calvinism mixed in. I do not have a different definition of Gospel.

      I hope reasoned disagreement is not seen as “mudslinging”.

        volfan007

        Bill Mac,

        He’s saying that a lot of Calvinists equate the Gospel with Calvinism. Is that not true?

        David

          Bill Mac

          Dave: No, sorry, that is not what he is saying. He is saying that Calvinists have a different definition of the Gospel. Two different definitions of the Gospel means that one of them cannot be true.

          BTW, I agree that some Calvinists might equate Calvinism with the Gospel. I would disagree with them. But that isn’t what Mr. Harrell is saying. Now perhaps that is what he meant, but I don’t think so.

        Bob Hadley

        Harrell is referring to what I call the “hijacking of terminology” that the calvinist elite have effectively done with the word “grace” and are now doing with the term “gospel.” By re-branding these specific words and using them exclusively with the underlying tenets of calvinism, they are effectively saying that is what these terms mean and if you believe in grace… then you have to be a calvinist; if you believe the gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation then you are a calvinist.

        Very, very, very effective move.

        ><>”

          SAGordon

          Bob,

          Indeed it is. And the conspiracy is almost complete. Join us and we will complete your training. Together we will rule the galaxy. Do not underestimate the power of the Reformed-side! :-)

          Now, before I am castigated as mean-spirited (might be fair, might not), let me simply say that this conspiratorial witch-hunt is simply antithetical to our community. If we have a solid confession of faith mutually respected within our convention, must we (or should we) seek to more narrowly define ourselves when we are all within the proper constraints of biblical orthodoxy? Should the SBC become what it has never been? Would you then be as guilty as the extreme and militant Calvinists (to whom I am also opposed) who desire to more narrowly define our acceptable soteriology?

          Sola Gratia!

          Bob Hadley

          Scott,

          There is a very big difference in cooperating together for the sake of the gospel and the calvinist move to the forefront of the convention to lead its future. I had nothing to do with that. I have not even been involved in the discussions but now for 18 months or so… maybe 2 years at the most.

          So as I see it, it it not me who has created this situation but the folks who are following the lead from Louisville (which is closely akin to the Founders, TGC, T4G and others) and I for one unapologetically am against that direction.

          Hey… we all have our positions as well as the right to voice them and have folks listen and let the Lord lead from there.

          This is no witch hunt; it seems to me that the cards are all out on the table now and it is a matter of choosing which direction we are most comfortable with and for me that has nothing to do with limited atonement and irresistible grace.

          I have said it before and I will say it again. We may all be wrong but one thing is crystal clear in both camps, we cannot both be right and when it comes to conversion and passing from death unto life we need to have it right and I do not really believe for a minute that anyone really wants to agree to disagree on that issue. I know I don’t.

          May God take control and lead the SBC in the days ahead.

          ><>”

          selahV-hariette

          Scott, “Together we will rule the galaxy. Do not underestimate the power of the Reformed-side! :-)”

          That is not mean-spirited…It is FUNNY…. :)
          However, I, for one, am not underestimating anyone anymore. I’ve been duly put in my place by the powers-that-be and I am trembling. :)

          D.R. Randle

          Bob,

          You closed your comment above by saying, “May God take control and lead the SBC in the days ahead.”

          There’s a lot that can be said here. First, do you reject completely the idea that God has been leading the SBC over the previous few years? Are you suggesting that Satan is behind the Calvinistic Resurgence in the SBC? And if so, would this also be true of the Reformation and the First Great Awakening?

          Secondly, is it at all possible in your mind that God could very well be the catalyst for the Calvinistic Resurgence and not these conspiracy theories?

          Finally, if God does “take the lead” and pushes us in a more Reformed direction, will you submit to His will or continue to be divisive in your actions and attitudes?

          Bob Hadley

          D.A.

          yes, yes, yes, and NO.

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          Did you really just say “yes” to “Are you suggesting that Satan is behind the Calvinistic Resurgence in the SBC?”

          D.R. Randle

          Bob,

          Can you clarify? I’m not sure you read my questions closely? I asked 5 questions and you gave 4 answers, which could have potentially contradicted one another. And the last question was a bit more complex than a simple yes or no could answer. A little more clarification would be helpful here.

          Bob Hadley

          I was a little hasty in my answers earlier… i apologize… Let me try again;

          First, do you reject completely the idea that God has been leading the SBC over the previous few years? NO.Are you suggesting that Satan is behind the Calvinistic Resurgence in the SBC? And if so, would this also be true of the Reformation and the First Great Awakening?No.

          Secondly, is it at all possible in your mind that God could very well be the catalyst for the Calvinistic Resurgence and not these conspiracy theories? I do not think so but certainly could be.

          Finally, if God does “take the lead” and pushes us in a more Reformed direction, will you submit to His will or continue to be divisive in your actions and attitudes?NO.

          ><>”

          D.R. Randle

          Bob,

          Thanks for clarifying. It seems as if you are saying that it is indeed possible that God could very well be in control of the SBC’s move in a more Reformed direction. And despite a still confusing answer to the last question, I am assuming you are saying that you would submit to the will of God in that area and cease to be divisive.

          So assuming I have read you correctly, what sorts of “signs” or clear indications of God’s movement in the SBC would you be looking for to show you that perhaps you are wrong and that you should submit to God’s movement? Also, shouldn’t you be sure that this is not God’s own work in moving the SBC before you pull financial support from entities that God is directing? If He indeed is behind the moves at NAMB and the IMB, shouldn’t you continue to support those entities instead of pulling that support?

          Overall, if you could, give us a walk through of your decision making process in light of the possibility that it may be God Himself who is choosing to move the SBC in the direction of Reformed theology.

    Tom Shelton

    Very good questions Bill! It would seem that many non-calvinists in the SBC do directly or indirectly claim that calvinists in the SBC do preach a different gospel. The question we must then answer is: What is the difference? As best as I can tell it all revolves around the free will presupposition that many non-calvinists filter everything through.

    selahV-hariette

    Bill Mac, No, it is not, in my opinion, “the sentiment that non-Calvinists in the SBC, like Mr. Harrell, that Calvinists preach a different Gospel? And if it is a different Gospel is it not, by definition, a false Gospel?”
    However, it is the sentiment of some non-C’s that we are being told our faith is questionable, and our Gospel message is not articulated well enough to lead a dumb goat to water, much less teach a flock of sheep to drink from the Living Water or eat the Truth of God. selahV

      Bill Mac

      Hariette: I have never seen or heard a Calvinist question the faith of a non-Calvinist (just because they are a non-Calvinist). If a Calvinist does that, they are most definitely wrong. I have no doubt such people exist. My doubt is that they are prevalent among the people that Mr. Harrell is decrying. I could be wrong and will happily stand against them if someone has that evidence.

        selahV-hariette

        Well, Bill Mac, now you can’t be everywhere, can you? Guess I’ll just have to accept you have not heard of that before because you just don’t get around as much as some of us. Then again, it is just probably me. I’m so intellectually challenged, you know. I can’t even figure out what it is I’ve been “lying” about all these years and how I contracted the disease of “homophobia”. There’s hope for me though. I read Philippians 1:6….so I know there’s hope.

          Bill Mac

          If a Calvinist does that, they are most definitely wrong. I have no doubt such people exist.

          Perhaps you missed that in your effort to be sarcastic.

        selahV-hariette

        hey again, Bill Mac,
        I apologize for my lousy attempt at sarcasm. I’ve tried and tried to figure that out and every time I try to use it, I mess it all up. I try to be forthright and honest but am learning that it isn’t appreciated or “acceptable” either.

        Yes, yes…I saw that statement tucked in there. that’s why I said ya can’t be everywhere and see everything…or hear everything. being a non-C (whatever that means…someone labeled me that one time because I didn’t grasp all the petals), has definitely placed ME (not saying anyone else), but me in that category of… well, unregenerated before. And to hear Dr. Mohler put it, any way but the reformed way is the wide highway. but then when it’s all discussed out in the world, that isn’t what he is saying at all.
        Hope that clears up what is wallowing around inside a few of my brain cells. :) don’t be mad at me. I have a hard time dealing with my desire to eat twinkies and potato chips when folks are mad at me. selahV

Bob Hadley

Bro. Bill,

You are RIGHT ON with this article… Your opening statement, “Most of our Southern Baptist people are just tending to the business of the Kingdom in their part of the world unaware of the forces that are in play and what those forces are trying to achieve and indeed are achieving with much success.” is exactly the case and the leaders looking to move the direction of the convention through its entities are fully aware that this simple FACT will work in their favor. The average pastor in the pew and person in the pew will not see the need to even try to understand what it going on much less examine the ramifications of those actions.

Cudo’s again with the next statement, “some of our leaders continue to thumb their noses at what they know has been said on the issue at the convention. They don’t care what we think because these leaders of this new wave of thought are convinced that they are in control so they will do as they wish no matter what we think.” You can add to the Driscoll mess Lifeway’s recent Board of Trustee decision to ignore the vote of the convention with respect to the NIV 2011 being sold in its bookstores. Why would the trustees make such a move against the vote of the convention, on a product that cannot be producing enough revenue to potentially inflame the grassroots, to simply ignore that vote or voice unless you are correct and the entities believe they can now do what they want to do and not answer to the convention? I believe that is the case.

I also voiced my disapproval with respect to Lifeway’s production of The Gospel Project and my insistence that it ought to be labeled a “Reformed Perspective” which has fallen on deaf ears, including a personal letter to Drs. Rainer and Stetzer as well as the trustees of Lifeway at their February meeting. My article on that can be read BY CLICKING HERE It is past time for our churches to begin to have an impact and let the trustees of the SBC entities know that we are tired of this agenda being put out of Louisville.

You are correct again on the warnings with respect to Lifeway SS literature aimed at the teens and young adults. It is time to pay attention to the links that the literature is sending teens and young adults to… it is no longer safe to assume Lifeway literature is safe literature for all of our church’s SS departments. What a sad day indeed. Perhaps it is time for some of our seminaries to consider taking the reigns in this department.

I believe the comments with respect to re-branding are again 100% accurate, as evidenced especially by NAMB and Lifeway; Not so sure the IMB is as big a target for Louisville since its focus is international missions; I am not personally questioning the decision of the GCR to allow the IMB to focus on international people groups in the US, when they did not have enough money to send missionaries to foreign people groups already, prior to the GCR recommendation. That made absolutely no sense to me and still does not, unless in chasing the money one realizes the IMB has a $324 Million budget for 2012! Now, that move does make sense.

With respect to your comment concerning NAMB’s current actionsI do not plan to fund such activity. I also believe that if the masses of the SBC people were to find out what is going on they would not fund it either. “ We will be sending $1 to AAEO and the balance of our offering probably to the State of Florida for Home Missions. If enough churches were to do the same, I believe that would get the attention of NAMB’s trustees and cause them to understand that NAMB is still accountable to the churches. This is the only way I believe this process will be held in check, if it is even still possible.

We are indeed dealing with harsh realities in the SBC and we need to step up to the plate and make an attempt to handle the issues before those issues are handling us. It will THEN be too late. My only real concern is that THEN is not already NOW.

Thank you once again for a very good article.

><>”

    Chris Roberts

    “We will be sending $1 to AAEO and the balance of our offering probably to the State of Florida for Home Missions.”

    So when some churches decide not to fund the missions organizations or the CP because of disagreements over how the funds will be used, they are accused of being unBaptist. But when non-Calvinists do it over rather silly conspiracy theories, they are simply following their convictions? Why the double standard?

      volfan007

      Maybe people like Bob are just trying to follow the leadership displayed by Ezell of NAMB while he was a Pastor? Support your own things….things you really like….dont support CP and Annie and Lottie. Designate your giving. Maybe that’s where we are heading in the SBC, and is exactly what Bro. Harrell pointed out.

      David

      Bob Hadley

      No double standard.

      What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The mega churches have been and still are doing this all the time just read the GCR. Money talks… everything else is just a distraction. Seems to me a major criticism of Ezell’s own church, while he was pastor in Louisville gave very little to AAEO.

      No double standard at all.

      ><>”

        Bob Hadley

        One other thing. I did NOT say I was curbing our giving to the CP. For the record, our church voted THIS year to increase our CP giving 25% over last year and since 2007, I have led our church to increase our CP giving 233%. Our LMCO and AAEO’s have increased an average of 300%+ since my becoming pastor here.

        I do not believe it is prudent for you or anyone for that matter to lecture me on my decisions with respect to giving here. The church’s records speak for themselves.

        ><>”

          anthony clay

          “I have led our church….”.

          I see. Good for you!

        SAGordon

        Bob,

        It is a double standard if you had previously complained about the practice and are now doing it. I can’t say in your case…but I know others ’round here had done so. To change is either to live a double standard or to waffle according to the wind.

        SG!

        Bob Hadley

        Scott,

        I did not make that charge; Chris did. I simply responded to the charge from MY perspective. Since we are all autonomous, we must do what we believe is most prudent for us. I have no idea what others have given; I have read of the actions of others but I am not responsible for what others do.

        Sola Gratia back at ya.

        ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          If you are going to cut your giving to a missions organization (giving $1 to NAMB through AAEO) you cannot criticize other churches which choose to give little or none.

          Bob Hadley

          I didn’t. In fact, I am advocating that very action.

          ><>”

      Joe McGee

      In a few weeks our associaiton will meet for its spring meeting. One of the resolutions that will be offered is one in which the churches will be encouraged to take a portion of the cooperative program contributions (15 – 50%) and desiginate it to State Missions to help off-set the lost of CP monies that has gone to SBC institution because of the GCG. Many of our churches feelo that Al Mohler and Dan Atkin is running the SBC, along with a few Calvinist mega pastors. Our associaiton consist of rural and small town churches. Some of our churches have had a negative expereince with new pastors from Southern. The problem was not only Calvinism, but an attitude that seems to come with Reform theology teaching. Many of our pastors are disappointed with IMB, NAMB, LifeWay, and Southern.

msh

Brother Bill has for many years been willing to speak the truth, even when it was very unpopular to do so. He continues, and I believe he voices what many mainline pastors today see and believe. There are so many players in the SBC Resergence saga, the liberals who disagreed and left, the moderates who left but continue griping and fuming about the way they were treated, the conservatives who felt relief that corrective action was taken to save the convention and relaxed, the fundamentalists who felt the cuts were not deep enough, and now the neotheologues who want to scrap the convention model completely.

Brother Bill is certainly right about one thing, “the proof is in the pudding!”

Now, let the dissections begin!

selahV-hariette

Dr. Harrell, Thank you. Finally. The clarion sounds loudly and clearly that we are not in Kansas, anymore. hariette petersen of SelahV Today and SBC Encounters.

Mark

Where is the information on which seminaries graduate the most Calvinists?

The best I can tell is that according to the 2006 LifeWay study and a 2007 NAMB study there are no percentages given to compare the differences by which each seminary is graduating Calvinists. However, on page 14 of the surveys, the SBC seminaries are listed in descending order in proportion to their graduates who are Calvinists. While Southern tops the list in the 2007 NAMB study followed by Midwestern, Golden Gate, Southwestern, New Orleans and Southeastern; the 2006 LifeWay study has Golden Gate leading the way followed by Southeastern, New Orleans, Southwestern, Midwestern, and, finally, Southern. Cf. Calvinism and SBC Church Leadership:Key Findings and Evangelistic Implications.

Mark

Volfan007,

When you mention elders in Baptist polity, are you referring to churches like Bryant Wright’s that have elders?

Also, are you aware of the answer to the question, “What is the SBC’s stance on a church having elders?”

The answer: The Southern Baptist Convention has not taken an official stance on these matters. Because each church is autonomous, each issue is addressed and determined by the local church.

    selahV-hariette

    Hi Mark, and if we plant enough of those elder-led/ruled, authoritarian-Acts29-style churches, then soon we will hear from the SBC (or GCB), messengers as to their “official stance” concerning the polity of autonomous churches, won’t we?

      Mark

      selahV-hariette,

      I don’t have a crystal ball, do you? I can’t know who would do what in the circumstances you describe. But there has not been an uproar against all of the deacon-led churches nor of the single pastor-ruled churches in the SBC.

      I will say though that elder-ruled is not the same as elder-led. I wish people would understand this and stop conflating the two.

        SAGordon

        Mark,

        Amen. To much conflation going on in here!

        SG!

      Bob Hadley

      OK… lets look at it from a little more contemporary position:

      The Founders are very select on who they fellowship with and invite to their speaking engagements, same for TGC and T4G and Acts 29 church plants are very specific in their organization which contractually makes them reformed; so much for congregational autonomy there… if that is the precedent for the NEW SBC then I will vote no today and am doing so without apology or reservation.

      Plus, the issue of Limited Atonement is either correct Scripturally or it is not. If it is correct, then I am wrong. If it is not Scripturally correct then it is wrong. We cannot both be right. So the question is, which way should the SBC go? Make no mistake about it, it is headed one direction or the other; like it or not. I am not being an alarmist; I am not making this a witch hunt I am simply pointing out the obvious to anyone who has an eye to see and an ear to hear.

      ><>”

        Chris Roberts

        Are you saying a congregation is not allowed to autonomously decide what its governing documents will be? SBC churches are only allowed to operate the way Bob Hadley wants them to operate? They are only allowed to associate with Bob Hadley approved ministries and organizations?

        Bob Hadley

        Nope.

        What I am saying is when a mission is constituted, if it is contracturally constituted as a reformed entity then the congregational aspect is eliminated BEFORE it has a congregation to make that decision. That is what I am talking about.

        ><>”

          Chris Roberts

          So who was the congregation that decided to organize the congregation that way? Churches don’t exist in abstract. There had to be some body making that choice. And all who later join with that body are doing so voluntarily. The only thing being forced are those who claim Baptist autonomy yet want to impose methodology.

          Bob Hadley

          Chris,

          I see your point. Thanks.

          >&lt:>”

        SAGordon

        Bob,

        I’m sadly amused. You do realize that churches, pastors, theologians, and professors, in SBC history have been both limited and general atonement in their don’t you? A five point Calvinist in the SBC is not a new nor odd nor aberrant position for a pastor, church, theologian, or professor. Our BFM takes no position regarding this.

        But, if you are bent on this crusade, maybe you should put it forth in a motion or resolution to our annual meeting in NOLA.

          Bob Hadley

          Scott,

          I am of course aware that calvinists have had a part in the history of the SBC. Are you aware that the overwhelming majority of SB today are non-calvinists?

          I am not for calvinist control of the SBC which is the case now for the entities of the SBC and am actively involved to change that.

          ><>”

    Zack

    There you go again, neighbor, trying to mix facts and citations into this discussion.

Jared Moore

From Acts 29 in 2009: “We are glad to have SBC churches in our fellowship. They give to the Cooperative Program and we are glad. They are governed as elder-led churches (rather than elder-ruled churches). And, they have expressed to me that they would like it if the misrepresentations would end and we could focus on the gospel, mission, and church planting.” http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/ministry-of-reconciliation-and-the-sbc/

Three years later and the misrepresentations continue.

EES

In case you wonder why young people are leaving the SBC in droves, the mindset represented in this article is why. This post is entirely “against” A29 instead of presenting an alternative for young leaders who have reformed leanings. If you’re under 40, want to see lives impacted with the gospel, and believe people need to be reached differently than they were in the 50’s – 70’s, where do you look for guidance within the SBC?

I know our generation has been overly sexualized! I know that we bear the scars for that. We are desensitized in ways that older generations are not. I know that we need to be spoken to with love and purity and we need guidance and Driscoll isn’t always the best voice for that. But who else is out there leading? Who else is coming alongside young people with a passion for God’s word and a heart for a dying world and is trying to provide some guidance for them. All young leaders are being told is that “you don’t fix the SBC by leaving it” and “we’ve never done it that way before.”

But many many young leaders are sharing the gospel and discipling new believers who have been taught that living together before marriage is the best course, who have never participated in a healthy family, who have children outside of marriage with many different parents, who have substance abuse issues, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, who have never heard Bible stories, and have zero foundation in the Christian faith. There is no energy left for denominational battles when so many lives are at stake.

If it weren’t for Ed Stetzer, I’d have very little hope for the SBC. Thankfully, I think he provides some leadership in these areas and a cooperative nature that is sorely lacking throughout most of the SBC.

I don’t agree with everything that Driscoll does but I’ve seen him grow spiritually throughout his ministry and he comes from a context that many of us in the south cannot grasp. I think it’s time that we start fighting the real enemy and not people who are sharing the gospel, even if it doesn’t align with our exact interpretation of scripture.

    Les

    EES,

    Great comments!!! Thank you for saying this. It is almost as if some in the SBC “want” to run off the younger people. I know they would say no to that. But their rhetoric and actions say otherwise. Guns are sufficiently pointed at the wrong people. The enemy of the SBC is not younger Calvinists nor is it Mark Driscoll nor is at ACTS29.

    Bob Hadley

    EES,

    Thank you for your input. We all have our perspectives and yours is certainly noted. Ed Stetzer gives you hope for the future of the SBC. OK. While you are certainly correct in your description of the world we live in today, it seems fair that the younger generation has always had similar problems and they pretty much always seem to know more than the generations that preceded them so in that respect I am not so sure the differences that they are facing are much different than for any of us. It is nothing short of a small miracle that I made it past the early 20’s myself but with God’s grace and the patience of some folks in the local church, I survived and so did they.

    While personally wish I could share your sentiment, “I think it’s time that we start fighting the real enemy and not people who are sharing the gospel, even if it doesn’t align with our exact interpretation of scripture.” I am finding it very difficult as I have said on a number of occasions both here and other places, to rectify our differences in interpretation of Scripture when it comes to HOW an individual passes from death unto life and goes from being lost to being saved. When someone says God and God alone is responsible for an individual being born again and regeneration comes from God before repentance and saving faith, then I have a serious problem with that. When someone says that Jesus died for the elect and then goes on to say that those for whom He died for are the only one who will be saved then I have a problem. That person and I cannot both be right and it is not an issue of who is right for the sake of being right, but these guys are producing THE GOSPEL PROJECT to correct the gospel misconceptions that have plagued the SBC for decades now.

    OK… so you suggest that we all just keep working together and doing our own thing and letting everyone alone and those who do the best job will prevail in the end? That is an option but not one that I plan to engage.

    May God bless you and thanks for your input.

    ><>”

      Les

      Bob, dear brother, it’s almost as if you and others are shadow boxing, or soon will be.

      Bob Hadley

      na… don’t believe in boxing brother… i am packing.

      Plus when I fight fire with fire, I typically use a flame thrower.

      Love at ya brother.

      ><>”

      Tim Tuggle

      Sir,
      Your statement above: “When someone says God and God alone is responsible for an individual being born again and regeneration comes from God before repentance and saving faith, then I have a serious problem with that.” denies that salvation is of the Lord, the He is the author and finisher of our faith.

      Do you plan to publish the specifications for the altar to your pagan goddess of free will?

        Bob Hadley

        Tim,

        You wrote, “denies that salvation is of the Lord, the He is the author and finisher of our faith.”

        That is YOUR interpretation, just not mine. I am ignoring the last statement.

        ><>”

      anthony clay

      Bob,

      You went into some detail in your last post and I’m confused by your statements regards salvation.

      Two people at church hear the same gospel at the same time, one believes, receives grace, and is eternally saved, the other doesn’t and gets run over by a cement truck as they leave. What is the difference? Was one smarter than the other?

        Bob Hadley

        If I am understanding the jest of your scenario, my answer is that it is not a question of one being smarter than the other, it would appear that one responded in faith and repentance and one did not.

        I am also supposing from the tone of the last statement that you are challenging their individual responsibilities to choose Christ or not. So the answer to your question as I see it would simply be… not was one smarter than the other but whose fault was it that the one did not repent and was saved and then perished when he left the church service.

        I suppose there are really only one of two possible answers. It must have been either the individual’s fault or it had to have been God’s fault. Either the individual failed to make the choice that I believe God gave him the responsibility of making or it was God’s choice because God and God alone is sovereign over all events and decisions and so ultimately if God did not choose to save him from the death he deserved, then the cement truck was there for a purpose.

        I do not believe any sort of version of the latter. God gives us the responsibility of choosing; we just do not get the choice to choose the consequences of our choices. God does that too. That is why I believe the statement, “today is the day of salvation” is so vitally important. If God was the One making that choice for poor pitiful sinners then that passage has no significance as far as I can see.

        You asked… and you received. Be blessed my brother!

        ><>”

      EES

      (This is a long comment…if you don’t read anything else, please read the last paragraph)
      First, I think I need to say I’m not a 5 pointer. I can’t quite reconcile the doctrine of irresistible grace. I’m not sure my theology is fixed yet, but that’s where I am today. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit move in peoples hearts and watched them reject him. We also have John 3:16 and 1 Timothy 2:4.

      But I’ve listened to the A29 guys preach. I’ve podcasted their sermons to their churches and I’ve listened to their counsel to young leaders. They present the gospel — the how to be reconciled with God and saved from hell gospel. God in his great love sent Christ to die a sacrificial death for you. He had to die for you because you’re a great sinner and cannot be reconciled to God on your own. If you believe and repent you will be saved from the hell you deserve because of your sin. After you repent be baptized, because God said so.

      I’ve heard Driscoll talk about preaching and the elect. He has said many times that God knows the elect but he doesn’t. He preaches like everyone is elect. None of us know who will respond to the message of the Gospel. Only God does. (I’m using Driscoll as the example because he’s said this most clearly).

      So, it seems to me, with brothers so committed to sharing the gospel that leads to salvation we should be supporting them, or at least agreeing to disagree with them. Theology is important. I’m not saying we should get along with everyone. Osteen’s a problem. There are others who are a problem. But they preach a false gospel that will make people feel good about going to hell. In my estimation, the A29 guys do not do that.

      There is mystery in the gospel, I really don’t understand how God is sovereign and we must still respond in faith. I don’t understand how he hardened Pharaoh’s heart but Pharaoh was still accountable for his actions. This is the mystery. Theology helps us frame this mystery and we will all interpret it differently. But just like Peter said to Jesus, “You have the words of eternal life, to whom else will we go?” We have to stop thinking that we will ever find a magic panacea where we all agree completely. Paul and Barnabas didn’t even do that.

      Now, I’m delving into territory that is beyond my ability to speak. I just wanted to make that point that for many of us younger folks, we don’t see irreconcilable differences with reformed theology and traditional SBC thinking when it comes to planting chuches and sharing the gospel. We are not attracted to an organization that sees the A29 brand of theology, their methodology, and style as an enemy to be defeated.

      This is my final thought, and I will be done. My husband and I find ourselves in a position where we’re not 5 pointers and don’t fully align with A29 theology even though we’re close. We also don’t like this tone in the SBC and really don’t want to be a part of hunting down and banishing the A29 guys from the SBC. We will NOT participate in that. We want to do ministry. We want to share the gospel. We want the help of a larger organization that we support. We believe the CP is an amazing tool and want to be part of planting churches and sending missionaries and sending our church members on domestic foreign mission trips without having to take on the burden of managing that process all ourselves. Please see this as a sincere question, because it is… where do we go?

        Bob Hadley

        EES,

        Thank you for sharing your heart and your frustrations. Your sentiments are probably shared more than you realize on BOTH sides of the isle, even though to may or may not show. The problem as I see it, is not really aimed at individuals as much as it is aimed at ideologies. This is the difficult part to this whole process, at least for me. The majority of folk who are participating in the process have as a primary mindset ministry and reaching people for Jesus and being about the business of bringing glory to God. I think we all get that to one degree or another, especially the more mature ministry minded individuals. However, it is often difficult for many to separate the issues from the personal. That is where I believe much of the problems stem in these kinds of discussions and leads to frustrations for all concerned, as you have rightly expressed.

        Now, to the ideology. It would be nice for everyone to “get along and go along together for ministry” after all, that is what I believe has made the SBC great and that is the spirit of cooperation in spite of the theological differences. Calvinists and non-calvinists have worked together for decades and the SBC has moved forward. The problem for me is the Calvinist influence that has now taken over the entities of the SBC and continues to grow by the minute. That is my problem. I do believe the Bible teaches that the gospel is the gospel these guys are clearly preaching; I do not believe that God and God alone decides who is and by default who is not saved.

        Now, it is entirely possible that we may all be wrong but one thing is absolutely clear, we cannot both be right. So, when it comes to how a lost person passes from death unto life and goes from being lost to being saved, there is a MIGHTY gulf that separates me and the 5-point calvinist. And here is the real caveat in this, the 5-point calvinist is as adamant in his position against mine as I am firm in mine and he does not like my position any better than I like his. Some in that group want to return the SBC to what they deem its theological roots; I want the convention to preserve its current state, which is decidedly and overwhelmingly non-calvinist.

        So, what is the correct thing to do? My answer is to be as diligent as I can to stand by what I believe by conviction is what the Bible says about conversion and I believe those on the other side of the issue should and will do. I hate what is happening; I hate the conflict. I hate the division but I had nothing to do with the issue overtaking the entities and only wish I had seen it coming sooner.

        Thank you for your post and comment and for your continued love for the Lord and the lost and His kingdom! May God continue to lead and bless the SBC!

        ><>”

      Bob Sharp

      Bobs comment
      “We all have our perspectives and yours is certainly noted. Ed Stetzer gives you hope for the future of the SBC. OK. While you are certainly correct in your description of the world we live in today, it seems fair that the younger generation has always had similar problems and they pretty much always seem to know more than the generations that preceded them so in that respect I am not so sure the differences that they are facing are much different than for any of us. It is nothing short of a small miracle that I made it past the early 20?s myself but with God’s grace and the patience of some folks in the local church, I survived and so did they.” – so misses the point. Of course every generation faces change and challenge. Of course they will be ok. These things are not the question. The question is how are we to address the issues currently faced? How should we deal with an over sexualized society? I haven’t read Driscoll’s new book. Probably would not have except for this conversation. But I am sure that ignoring sexual topics is not the way to handle it biblically.

      As for “A29” and Calvinism…. I am a student at Southern. I would say I am Calvinistic, but not a 5 point Calvinist. I think most Baptists hold some Calvinistic views if they hold to the Eternal Security of the believer. Many times folks who are 100% Calvinist do think, or at least act like, you must be a 5 pointer to even be acknowledging God for who he truly is. They may be forgetting that even they are suffering from a flawed logic because of their flawed heart. (one of those annoying problems that comes with sin.). But that is also a lesson to all other believers, we are wrong to cast Calvinists away because of the differences is in the view of what God is doing behind the seans. (I.e. when the new birth, aka regeneration, actually occurs.).

      SAGordon

      So, Bob, what did you contribute to your salvation?

      [“when someone says that God and God alone is responsible for someone being born again…”]

pam knight

Thank you Bill for caring enough to bring light to these things that need brought out into the light. Please keep informing us about things we need to know. Men like you are so appreciated.

Chris Alsup

Brother Bill,

Thanks for this.

I do struggle with one thing and perhaps you can help.

According to your church’s ACP, your church has declined by almost forty percent in the last 8 years.

Is it possible to grow a a church like many of these men have or are we just doomed to pastor a remnant?

Chris

Ryan Abernathy

While some Southern Baptists like Bill are bashing Acts 29, Mark Driscoll, and Calvinists, let’s take a look at what those horrible people in the Pacific NW are doing shall we?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mhcseattle/sets/72157629794678095/

Last time I checked SBC baptisms were dropping like a stone.

Jesus said “By your fruit you shall know them.” Maybe it’s time for Bill and Bob and SelahV and Peter and the rest of the tribe to go back to their communities and “tend to their own knitting ” (as my Granny used to say) Seems like you would be more worried about the cobwebs in your collective baptistries than the influence of a pastor and an organization that want to see the Gospel proclaimed.

Jealousy is an ugly thing.

    Les

    Ryan,

    Great points. I’ve been working with several Acts29 churches over the last year. They never talk about Calvin and I’ve encountered only hordes of mostly under age 40 people, singles and young families, and they are full of the joy of Jesus and they share it and people are being baptized and God is being honored.

    It seems like the Oldsmobile generation (I could qualify since I’m 54) is losing their grip and it ain’t setting well.

      volfan007

      Les,

      You could not be more wrong. And, I’m also growing really tired of hearing that old, worn out arguement that the older generation is trying to hold on; doesnt like change; etc; etc; etc; etc; ad nauseaum.

      A lot of us, out here, dont like the whole Acts 29 thing, because of its Elder Ruled, only Calvinists welcome mentality.

        Les

        David,

        I could be wrong. I’m just saying what it looks like. The angry and bitter appearing people seem not to be the Calvinists. It seems to be the non-Calvinists. I’m not saying you are angry and bitter. But this whole post comes across like that and as someone trying to hang on the old ways.

        I surely could be wrong. But maybe folks ought to listen to EES and Ryan and the like.

          volfan007

          Les,

          I dont believe in pragmatism. I believe in sound doctrine. If young people dont want to stay in the SBC, because they dont like sound doctrine, and just want thier ears tickled; then “bye.”

          Thankfully, there’s a whole lot of young people, out here, who are very interested in sound doctrine. And, they are not too fond of the founding and the direction of organizations like the Acts 29 network.

          David

          Les

          David,

          I don’t get what you mean about pragmatism. If you are saying that pragmatism is what Acts29 churches is all about, well in what way?

          I’ve been worship services and heard preaching from SBC pastors whose churches are affiliated with Acts 29 and they were some of the more doctrinally rich and sound sermons I’ve heard. There was nothing remotely close to “tickling any ears.”

          Just FYI. :)

          Les

    volfan007

    Jealousy? Are you serious? lol

    peter lumpkins

    Well, no, I have no intention of “go[ing] back” Ryan. Neither I nor SelahV nor Pastor Bill nor another possesses any less freedom than you to log our perspectives. Complaining about what we log counts exactly jack squat toward engaging what we log. We have an open dialog box here and on my sight. I suggest you do your best to overturn the ideas we bring rather than popping off about our bringing ideas.

    With that, I am…
    Peter

      D.R. Randle

      Peter, nothing on your site is truly “open”. You regularly moderate your comments and even send threatening emails to those who post things you dislike, telling them you will ban them from your site in the future. Plenty of folks I have spoken to have their comments modetated, even when they don’t violate your rules. You did that to me just after sending a threatening email to me a few months back. It’s not open if you control the conversation. It’s your perogative and your site and you can do with it what you want, but you can’t claim in any truthfulness that it’s “open”. It’s very much closed.

    selahV-hariette

    Hi there, Bro. Abernathy,
    I know you didn’t actually address me, here, but since I was in the area and you brought up my name and a few others in my tribe, I thought I’d say hello and thank you for the link to the pretty pictures of that church in NW Pacific.

    I would love to share a few of my own, however, our sanctuary goes dark when we baptize our folks and the pictures I got were so blurred, I can’t offer you any images to help you with your concern over the “cobwebs” in the “baptistries” in general and ours in Lawton, in particular.

    Do you happen to have any of your SBC church in Yukon, OK? I tried to see if there were any available when I visited your website, but I kinda felt like I was intruding on your neighborhood. You were kidding when you said my “tribe” and I ought to go back to our communities and tend to our knitting, weren’t you? I thought so. I knew a pastor who loves Jesus would certainly not come to a site that is designed for Southern Baptist voices to engage on ways we share Jesus with others and our stewardship of our money that God gives us to spend in the best possible way, and accuse the brethren of not being connected to the Tree of Life and thereby being fruitless.

    I do take a tiny bit of exception to what you say about us “tending to our own knitting” in our respective communities, though. You see, you may not realize this, but SBC Today IS our community…the SBCToday blog is a “forum for Baptists to dialogue about how best to fulfill God’s calling in our lives”. We kinda think it is our responsibility as participating Southern Baptists to edify, inform, admonish, encourage and engage one another in how God would have us be the Ambassadors Jesus calls us to be in our OWN communities. I may have missed it when I visited your website, but I couldn’t find where West Metro Community Church in Yukon, OK was a cooperating Southern Baptist Church (not that you have to be a SB to comment on an SB blog). Just found it rather curious as to why you think we need to “tend to our knitting” in our communities, but you can play hookey from your community and come here and suggest we are “jealous”. Or was your little parting epithet simply a confession on your part since you don’t have a forum for your “Community” churches? Since you are guest here, I’ll be polite. I’m just curious if what you said about our “fruitlessness” is the typical response any Southern Baptist might find when they visit your community of churches? And should we assign your understanding and interpretation of what “Jesus says” about inspecting “fruit” to our entire “tribe” of cooperating Southern Baptist churches?

    I pray your day in the Yukon is filled with lots of fruit to show for your efforts. Not sure how Bro. Harrell, Hadley, and Peter are doing these days, but as for First Baptist East in Lawton, the proof is in the pudding. God bless you immensely…selahV, another saint sealed, sanctified, justified and made righteous through the blood of the Lamb

    Bob Hadley

    WOW… I was wondering what had Peter so riled up… Somehow I missed it earlier.

    “Maybe it’s time for Bill and Bob and SelahV and Peter and the rest of the tribe to go back to their communities and “tend to their own knitting ” (as my Granny used to say) Seems like you would be more worried about the cobwebs in your collective baptistries than the influence of a pastor and an organization that want to see the Gospel proclaimed.

    Jealousy is an ugly thing.”

    That is a nice thing to say. I guess that means you disagree with us and think we ought to have our privileges suspended to share what is in our hearts.

    It ain’t happenin, not today anyway!

    Hope you have a wonderful day and a GREAT day in your church this Sunday.

    ><>”

Robert Kelly

Bill
Maybe some of our planters are drawn to Acts 29 because Southern Baptists have done such a poor job taking care of them over the years. Ezell is trying to turn that around at NAMB. He made it clear months ago that NAMB only plants one kind of church: Southern Baptist churches that uphold Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and participate in SBC missions offerings. I say we give Ezell time to change things and not flush all of his efforts just because a few planters are also choosing to take advantage of other resources and networks.
Robert Kelly

James Dunn

Thank you, brother Harrell for taking time to express your concern. I appreciate your interest in the truth of matters affecting the Convention. So I hope you’ll show equal interest in the fact that the HMB/NAMB entity only funds and otherwise supports Southern Baptist Church plants. Why do you insist on accusing fellow ministers of the gospel of clerical espionage? I’m not a Calvinist but I still wonder what fear is driving you to rally your loyal supporters to war fueled on conspiracy theories and methodological prejudice. Do we really need an anti Calvinist resurgence too?

volfan007

I wonder when the last time the Founders had a non-Calvinist speak at thier conferences? I wonder why all the speakers at the T4G this year were Calvinists, and it met at Louisville….hooking up with Southern Seminary? Why were no, just, regular ole Baptists asked to speak at this conference? Why do all Acts 29 Church plants have to be by Calvinists?

Does this sound like the Calvinists are for unity in the SBC? Does this sound like they want people, who are not reformed, to have a place at the table in the SBC?

I can worship and serve the Lord with Calvinists like Scott Gordon and many others like him. I would certainly be all for us serving together in Churches in the SBC. I would not be for kicking out Calvinists, who were like Charles Spurgeon or, who are like Scott Gordon and many other Calvinists, whom I know personally. But, I’m just having a hard time seeing that a lot of the Calvinists, out there in the SBC land, really want to have people like me and Hariette and Ron Hale and Eric Hankins around. And, when I see them having conferences where they’ve invited no one, who’s not reformed, to speak….well…..does that not tell us something?

It does me.

David

    D.R. Randle

    David,

    I’m sorry man, but this is a ridiculous comment. The reason why non-Reformed guys don’t speak at the events you mentioned is because they are Reformed conferences. The John 3:16 conference had no Calvinists speaking at it. Were they also divisive and uncooperative for doing so? The recent eschatology conference held after that (can’t remember the name of it) invited no speakers who weren’t premillennial dispensationalists. I would expect that a conference about liberal theology wouldn’t invite a Fundamentalist to speak. That’s not divisive, it’s logical.The conference is held for like minded individuals to come together to hear other like minded individuals.

    Now contrast that with the SBC – we cooperate around a much broader Confession of Faith than that of TGC or T4G and we are a denomination, not a conference attendees pay to attend. I could go on, but the contrasts far outstrip the comparisons. It’s simply not a logical or legitimate complaint.

      volfan007

      DR,

      Why do you think they had the 3:16 conference? Why do you think they felt the need to have such a conference?

      Because of things like Southern being involved in a T4G…and Founders meeting to encourage taking over the SBC one church at a time…and Acts 29 gaining influence in the SBC…that’s why. I’d bet you a Krispy Kreme that if these types of groups werent meeting, and making Reformed theology such an issue; then conferences like the 3:16 wouldnt have felt the need to even meet in the first place….and, people like me wouldnt be so concerned about what’s happening in the SBC right now.

      God Bless you,

      David

        Mark

        David,

        People were slamming Calvinists and taking potshots at them before Acts 29 or T4G became influential to whatever extent it is today.

        T4G always meets in Louisville, it’s not an SBTS thing. T4G nor Acts 29 are SBC organizations.

        I don’t understand how you logically conclude that since T4G, Founders, and Acts 29 don’t have non-Calvinists speak at their gatherings; therefore, Bill Harrell’s article above is justified.

        Also, you said, “I would not be for kicking out Calvinists, who were like Charles Spurgeon…” If this is the case, since Charles Spurgeon said that Calvinism is the gospel, why do you have trouble with Founders, Acts 29 et al?

        D.R. Randle

        So, in your opinion David, conferences like T4G and TGC were created to cause division in the SBC, right? There’s no way they could actually have been created to encourage like minded pastors, ministers, and lay people? And so just the mere existence of such conferences requires that a divisive response be made? Really? And that makes sense to you?

          volfan007

          When a group is formed to take over the SBC one church at a time, then I do take that to be a very divisive thing…yes.

          The Founders have had as their purpose for existence to promote reformed theology, and to take over the SBC one church at a time.

          Over on SBC Voices, I got into a conversation with Timmy Brister. I asked him if he would be willing to cooperate with people like me? be able to send us as missionaries, if they were in control of the SBC? I thought we were getting somewhere…at first….then, he made his final statement that he could cooperate with anyone who was at least a 3 point Calvinist. So, in his world, apparently, you’ve got to be a Calvinist in order for them to be able to cooperate and send as a missionary. So, the Founders crowd could join with Stetzer, Russell Moore, and Trevin Wax; but they would not be able to join with Steve Lemke, Page Patterson, Jerry Vines, Eric Hankins, Hariette Peterson, and David Worley.

          I found that very enlightening.

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David, I didn’t mention Founders. And you didn’t just mention Founders, you specifically targeted TGC and T4G, implying they were divisive because they didn’t have any non-Calvinists on their platforms. If you notice above, I countered that argument by saying that it is ridiculous to expect a Reformed Conference, created to encourage Reformed Evangelicals, to have non-Reformed guys speak. That’s not divisive, it’s logical.

          Now, if Founders is the real problem, why go after TGC and T4G as being divisive, when they have nothing to do with the SBC?

          By the way, can you point me to that blog where Tim said what he did. I’d like to read that for myself.

          volfan007

          DR,

          If you want to see the blog comments between Timmy and myself, you’ll have to look at SBC Voices. I cant begin to remember which blog post that was in. That was more than just a few weeks ago, and I used to comment a lot at SBC Voices.

          Also, T4G is a reformed organization? And, Trevin Wax says that he’s not a Calvinist? And, Southern Seminary hooked up with this conference big time, even giving their students class credit for attending.

          Wow.

          I wonder what would be said if the next John 3:16 conference was held in New Orleans or Fort Worth, and it was hooked up with our seminaries in those cities in such a big way?

          I guess we know what Southern is promoting.

          David

          volfan007

          DR,

          And, what about the Founders? Lets not just dismiss them from this conversation.

          David

    SAGordon

    David,

    If I might simply answer your first question here in your comment…Ed Stetzer.

      volfan007

      Ed Stetzer spoke where, Scott? There’s so many comments floating around I’m not sure if you meant a Founders Conference, or a T4G?

      Also, is Ed a 3 point Calvinist? 4 pt.? Or, is he totally not a Calvinist, at all?

      David

D.R. Randle

EES makes a very wise observation above – part of the reason why so many young Southern Baptists are attracted to Calvinism is because those associated with it are taking the time to disciple, care for, and disciple the younger generation, while others are busy accusing those same younger guys of disrespectfulness and sin. I find it ironic that on the day that Bill Harrell chose to publish this article, literally thousands of younger men – many of whom are Southern Baptists – were being challenged, encouraged, and invested in by two older and just as experienced pastors at T4G.

    Les

    We really need a “Like” button. I like these comments.

    Joshua

    Amen!

      volfan007

      Are yall seriously saying that Bill Harrell and others like him are not concerned with the spiritual growth of younger Christians? lol. Wow…I would laugh, but this is so ridiculous and insulting.

      First of all, I wonder if all of those speakers at the T4G got paid for speaking at this conference? I wonder how much they got paid? Secondly, I wonder how much they’ll earn off the sales of thier books, etc. from this conference? So, before we get all teary eyed and start singing kum ba ya, I’d like to see if any of them were doing this with no financial gain whatsoever. I’m not saying that that’s the only reason they came and spoke. I’m sure it’s not. But, I doubt that they flew out there, and paid their own tab, and did all of this all out of love for the younger generation.

      Thirdly, do yall not think that the same thing could be said of regular ole Baptists? I mean, could we not say that there are many people, out there, who are encouraging young pastors? teaching them? discipling them? who are not reformed? I mean, I could say the same thing about Page Patterson at Southwestern….Steve Lemke at New Orleans….Emir Caner at Truett-McConnell….and I’d bet that Bill Harrell has done the same for a lot of young men in his churches, and other pastors, who are not reformed, have done the same.

      What an incredibly insulting comment, and unbelievably arrogant, to say that you made above, DR Randle…and then, “amened” by Les and Joshua. Unbelievable. And, this is a great part of the reason why the strife and division in the SBC is growing over this issue.

      Sad.

      David

        D.R. Randle

        David,

        Wow. I am impressed with how well you twisted my words. That’s a gift. You should be a politician.

        I never said that Harrell hasn’t invested in young adults, but I can tell you how insulting his words here come across. By maligning young men in the way he did above, he stands in stark contrast to the words many of us heard this week when older pastors did indeed take time to speak into the lives of specifically young guys.

        Sure, they got paid, but I bet you’ve gotten paid for almost every revival you’ve ever done. Does that mean you didn’t care about the people you preached to? Does that mean that it wasn’t an inconvenience and even a difficulty to you that you might not have done had you not been passionate about preaching the Gospel to others? Just because these men got paid for their service, doesn’t mean it’s not service. Otherwise, all of us pastors could be dismissed as merely “mercenaries”.

        Finally, Harrell chose to malign these young men, some of whom have given up a lot to serve as Church planters. Some have stretched their marriages and budgets to the breaking points, have worked 80-100 hours a week, and done every job in the Church to the detriment of time with their children in order to fulfill their calling.

        No, David, nothing you could have twisted my words to imply above could compare to the insult Harrell gave to the faithful young men who are our Church planters. If you want to talk about arrogance, well…

    John

    Yes. Amen!

Ben

Baptist haven’t been a monolithic, spiritual entity since 1845 . . . just saying

Bill Mac

I think if we broke Mr. Harrell’s article down, we might be able to discuss various points a bit more realistically than taking it as a whole. I don’t know where I come down on NAMB funding A29 affiliated church plants. But I think it is a legitimate issue. I think the SBCs association with Driscoll is becoming more of an issue every day. But I think Mr. Harrell’s article is couched in such accusatory, conspiracy theory laden language that the normal response on the part of Calvinists is to automatically dismiss it. Indeed, there is nothing in there that we haven’t heard a thousand times before, from the usual sources. In the end, if Mr. Harrell and folks like Bob really think that Calvinists are preaching a different Gospel, then cooperation is probably not possible. The bright spot is, as Mr. Harrell points out, that most SBCers don’t know about all the controversy, so they don’t know that they are supposed to be in fear of a small group of individuals. Georgia joins Missouri.

Ben

I’ll make more than just a snide comment this time.

Having attended Southern for one semester and graduating from another SBC seminary in 2011, I would say approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of current students have Calvinist sympathies.

I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing if these students are not going to be divisive about it. Moderate Calvinists and moderate arminians are essentially saying the same thing with different language. There is no reason for this to be a cause for split or need for one side to boogeyman the other. However, Harrell is right in that we need to be careful how we are defining the Gospel.

Also, I do agree a huge percentage of students are more interested in church planting, than in going to work in existing churches. However, I think this is more because church planting is perceived as “cool” and more “effective.” I think it has very little to do with theology. Church planting is also currently fadish in non-Reformed denominations and seminaries.

As for NAMB funding Acts 29, I don’t know. Is it not possible to make this decision on the associational or state level and leave it there?

Just my thoughts, for what they are worth.

Matt C

As a SBC Calvinist, I’d love to respond. But I’m only 28 and have only a few years of experience. Check back this thread in 34 years, and Ill respond. :D

Steve

This article is actually really sad. I had to repent after laughing at it. Listen, as a former SBC pastor this is one of the main reasons why people are leaving the SBC. While you pick a bone with Driscoll he is out sharing the Gospel and planting churches. Is he perfect? No! But he is penetrating the culture with the Gospel. Are you?
The main issue with guys like you is you are extremely proud. You are the older brother in the story of the prodigal. You need to not only repent of your un-righteousness but your righteousness. It is sad that the leadership in this denomination is struggle with identity. Calvinism? Really?

    Bob Hadley

    Steve,

    Let me say for the record, I find your comment concerning Dr. Harrell absolutely detestable and as much as I may dislike some whose paths I may cross, even yours today, I would not make such a statement about any one in the tone that you have expressed in yours. I for one an glad that you are no longer a pastor in the SBC with that kind of venomous tone for someone that I doubt you have even ever met.

    His record of service to his church, his state and the SBC deserves some respect, whether you agree with his statements or not. I now understand why you refuse to sign your full name to your blog posts and if I were the administrator of this blog, I can assure you this would never happen again.

    Your comment is an abject disgrace and is completely unbefitting a Christian, much less a minister of the Gospel.

    ><>”

      D.R. Randle

      Bob,

      I’m sorry man, but I am having a very hard time seeing how vastly different Steve’s tone is and the type of rhetoric he uses from Bill Harrell’s. Both make broad sweeping personal attacks and accusations based on limited to no real information. Both are wrong, Bob. Steve’s isn’t any more outrageous than is Bill’s.

      selahV-hariette

      Bob, I’ve been over at my own blog, “tending to my own knitting” and checking to see if there are any “cobwebs” in our baptistry at First Baptist East in Lawton, so a lot of folks have been commenting over here since I last dropped my line in the fishing hole.

      I must say that while I may have worded it a bit sweeter, I sadly have to agree with your reply to Steve…and his opinion of Dr. Harrell in particular and Southern Baptists in general. Reading some of these fellas gives greater evidence that we are foolish to look outside our like-minded brothers and sisters for affiliations to go, and preach and teach and baptize and disciple young and old men, women and children in the name of Jesus.

      It seems the greatest influx of admonition to our reluctance to connect our carts to ACTS-29 Network, (so named after a non-existent Chapter of the Holy Word of God), is coming from the “former” SBC folk, and the Southern Baptist who is now with the Presbyterians, and the West Metro pastor from Yukon, Ok of undetermined connection to the SBC. Now, I have no problem with folks coming over to our forum to discuss issues with us and even give us a few ideas, a bit of edification, information or encouragement. It’s a free country and this is an open forum for debate. However, I do get a tad weary of their constant barrage of insults without anything to offer in conversation to the real problems we SB see from what Dr. Harrell has suggested “bears watching”.

      I fail to understand how our views in how we show stewardship of OUR gifts from God being used or misused in our convention of cooperating “Southern Baptist” churches, is worthy of the insults and insinuations that we are sinfully “jealous”, “fruitless”, or speaking with “unrighteousness” and total disregard of love and desire for our young people to grow spiritually.

      These are some pretty hefty charges coming from outsiders, who are guests in our little world. Ya know? It’s times like this I do question the permissiveness of the “freedom of speech” and man’s free-will ability to defile himself with words from the innermost parts of his heart. Angry, I am not. Disheartened I am most intently. I know I am far from perfect. I know I get a bit testy and snarky at times trying to play nice with the guys in these crazy blogs…but…well,

      Well, now, I’ve said more than I’d planned cause I really need to get back to my “own knitting” in my own community. Oh…wait a minute. This IS my community. hmmmn.

      Well, Bob, Keep the faith, now, and grow in grace…mind your manners and remember in the words of Adrian Rogers: “The greatest sin in a Christian’s life is silence.” and “Silence isn’t always golden, sometimes it’s just plain yellow.” So…”watch your words. Make them warm and sweet, because you may have to eat them.” selahV

Kevin Apperson

Brother Harrell,
Thank you for your service to the Lord over the years. While I do not have the years of experience in SBC realms that you do, it only takes a perusal of the headlines to understand that ACTS 29 is gathering more attention with SBC churches. Mark Driscoll, Darrin Patrick, Matt Chandler, JD Greear, Ed Stetzer are all certainly regular speakers at various conferences around the US and all are ACTS 29. This doesn’t mean that all things about ACTS 29 are bad, but their particular flavoring, I believe, is different than what I believe most SBC churches would describe themselves in agreement with.
For example, ACTS 29 are strictly reformed and elder led as has been noted while many SB churches are congregationally led and maybe a 3 pt Calvinist according to how the points are defined. Many SB churches would have an understanding that while God’s grace and salvation is available to all who will receive it, some will reject it. This is not the reformed understanding as only God’s chosen/elect are saved by his calling, and all others are damned. Many SB churches would have a general atonement viewpoint of Christ’s work while ACTS 29 would see this as only a limited atonement. Many ACTS 29 churches will see a liberty, such as consumption of beverage alcohol, that many SB churches would not see. While I agree that these are my family in Christ, I do see that these are significant differences and not inconsequential. In my observations of public material put out by Driscoll the last few years, he has been consistent in his risque language. I find this very troubling that some leaders overlook this for some reason. Do we really want a man who calls Jesus a bartender, who speaks of the sin of abstaining from alcohol, and who has visions(sometimes right/sometimes wrong) of the sexual practices of the members of his flock? Are we as Southern Baptists even having this conversation? Bewildering to me. Benny Hinn gets some things right as a teacher but we don’t give him a free pass. Joyce Meyer and her prosperity teachings don’t get a free pass. Why Driscoll? Seemingly, the reformed connection….just my take.

Disagreeing with Brother Bill Harrell | SBC Voices

[…] Harrell recently wrote an article at SBC Today titled “Things that Bear Watching.” I appreciate Harrell’s ministry in the SBC. Any pastor that has served as long as he […]

Kevin Burden

Glory to God, I’ve found some more like minded brethren in men like Bill Harrell. There are more of us than some think :o)

Kevin Burden

Thank you Bro. Harrell. I agree totally!

Lydia

In the rebuttal to this blog post over at SBC Voices, Jared Moore quoted Scott Thomas, former director of Acts 29. Thomas VERY recently left Acts 29 after Paul Petry made the circumstances of his being fired as a Mars Hill Elder known on his blog, Joyful Exiles, complete with all the documentation. (10 days, I believe)

This documentation shows Scott Thomas very involved with this firing and as the “lead mediator” in Paul Petry’s “trail” at Mars Hill that Petry was not even allowed to attend. Thomas used the Acts29 email email server for the “official” correspondence with Petry.

So, to argue that Acts 29 churches are to be elder “led” as opposed to elder ruled is a bit disingenuous considering Thomas’ role in that matter. You see, Petry disagreed with proposed new bylaws for Mars Hill which took Mars Hill from 40 voting elders to 3 voting elders for about 12,000 members. While I cannot prove these 3 did not “lead” instead of “rule”, I can prove that Scott Thomas approved this move and even went along with ousting Paul Petry and Brent Myers who disagreed with the proposal. But we must ask why a “growing” church would want so few elders and go from 40 to 3. The quotes from Thomas that Jared Moore used were take from 2009, a few years AFTER he went along with this bylaw change at Mars Hill giving so few elders absolute power over the entire church.

Are we to assume the young men who were trained by Acts 29 were not influenced with this sort of authoritarian thinking? I suppose we cannot “prove” it but it would be foolish not to be concerned this sort of thinking and abuse of power is being funded by the SBC in any way shape or form.

    Jared Moore

    Lydia, for the record, Thomas said that the Southern Baptist Churches affiliated with Acts 29 were elder-led, not all Acts 29 churches. I never said that all Acts 29 church are elder-led. I said the SBC ones are elder-led. Here are my exact words:

    “What Southern Baptist churches affiliated with Acts 29 are elder-ruled? Here is a statement by Scott Thomas, Acts 29 director, from August 2009:

    “We are glad to have SBC churches in our fellowship. They give to the Cooperative Program and we are glad. They are governed as elder-led churches (rather than elder-ruled churches). And, they have expressed to me that they would like it if the misrepresentations would end and we could focus on the gospel, mission, and church planting.’

    So, Southern Baptist church plants that are also affiliated with Acts 29, are not elder-ruled, but elder-led, according to the Director of Acts 29.”

    I assume some Acts 29 churches are elder-ruled, but according to Thomas, the Southern Baptist churches affiliated with Acts 29 are elder-led, not elder-ruled. Thomas also said that a plurality of elders were one of the covenant essentials of affiliating with Acts 29, but they believe the local church determines how it is governed, “We agree that our church will meet all biblical requirements for elders, including that the church will be governed by a plurality of qualified male elders. (We believe that the local church determines how it is “governed” by its elders. Some are called elder-ruled and many others are elder-led like SBC/Acts 29 pastors JD Greear, Daniel Montgomery and others.)” http://www.acts29network.org/acts-29-blog/ministry-of-reconciliation-and-the-sbc/

      Lydia

      Jared, You are welcome to believe the distinction but my guess is most of those trained by Acts29 will emulate Thomas and Driscoll. Not sure “lead’ or “rule” has any real distinction for those trained by Acts29. But it sounds good to fit the BFM. In fact, If I were a betting woman, I would bet on it. Can you “prove” they will lead and not rule (wink) Of course, they can do what they want but many who believe in congregtional polity and believe Driscoll influence is bad, may not want to fund it.

      But I am not in agreement about SBC churches being elder led and would prefer not to fund “Acts29” churches that “claim” to be “elder led” since their understanding from Reformed influence could easily be “lead as rulers” ala Driscoll/Mahaney and even Chandler to some degree who describes himself as a “godly authority” and has said that he preaches to a depraved congregation. Huh? Topdown authoritarianism is the Reformed brand and many young guys are attracted to having that power very young. Many of us see congregational polity as the reality in the NT. With elders being “spiritually mature” with wisdom and discernment who would never seek authority over others but see Christ as the “authority”, not man.

      If what I see on comments from the Reformed wing will be in charge in churches, as in have power concentrated in a handpicked few, well it would be enabling sin to fund it. It would be like giving teenage boys whiskey and car keys. The last thing Christendom needs is more power hungry, porno vision Driscollites or even more angry YRR guys. Or even more Mahaney’s.

      Still, you quote Thomas as an authority with credibilty who participated in a very evil deed and used Acts29 resources to do so. Not so sure I take him at his word, considering what he was more than willing to go along with. But then, I am not sure what else to expect from the “totally depraved- the heart is always deceitful” set. :o)

        volfan007

        Jared,

        What do the congregations vote on in the “Elder led” Acts 29 churches, who are SBC? Do they vote on the yearly budget? Do they vote on who the Elders are?

        I’d say that if they dont at least vote on those 2 things, then they are not Elder led, but Elder ruled.

        David

          Les

          David,

          I cannot speak to the specifics of any Acts 29 churches. But let me say that the distinction between elder led and elder ruled is not necessarily one between the congregation voting on some things, many things or no things.

          I’m quite familiar with elder ruled churches…in the PCA. The congregation votes on things like:

          Election of elders
          election of deacons
          dismissal of each
          call of the pastor
          the budget
          church bylaws
          etc.

          So even if an Acts 29 church is “elder ruled,” and I think we’ve been told they are “elder led,” I’m pretty confident that the congregation is involved in some decisions. But if that’s not the case, maybe someone could let us know.

        Les

        Lydia,

        “Jared, You are welcome to believe the distinction but my guess is …”

        And you are welcome to “guess” and speculate. “Not sure…” And you’re welcome to be “not sure” and speculate.

        “Can you “prove” they will lead and not rule (wink)”

        Can you prove they won’t? (wink)

        “Topdown authoritarianism is the Reformed brand…”

        What does that mean? How? Can you prove that as a broad stroke?

        Oh that’s enough. Not trying to be mean or anything. :)

John

“There is a growing emphasis on church planting and missions. Let me offer a suggestion as to why. ”

Because your generation has bred churches full of nominal Christians who will not listen to the truth (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The typical SBC church is DEAD, thanks to the leadership of the outgoing generation of pastors.

    Bob Hadley

    Wow.

    I guess you were raised up under a rock. This thread is indeed getting interesting. Sure am glad the younger generation is here. Where has God been all these years!

    ><>”

      volfan007

      John,

      Ignorant statements like yours is what fuels the fires that are causing such division and strife in our SBC. And, it’s what makes a lot of us, out here, look with concerned eyes at the YRR amongst us.

      David

        John

        No, ignorant blog posts like this one start the fires! The younger generation isn’t the aggressor in this conflict. We are calling the previous generation to account and, of course, you don’t like it.

          Bob Hadley

          John,

          My point was with respect to your remark,”Because your generation has bred churches full of nominal Christians who will not listen to the truth (2 Timothy 4:3-4).” You do realize you are a product of that which you define, those who will not listen to the truth unless that is, you were not brought up in the same church you are critical of.

          I am not trying to be mean spirited, I am really not. I do not believe you like it when anyone, Harrell included speaks out against something that you are passionately in favor of. That is clear or neither of us would be reading this nor commenting on it. Both are time consuming and because of the emotions this exercise can elicit, it needs to be done with extreme caution!

          So, is it not wise to consider the source and hold some respect for the experience and knowledge and seek to understand that perspective as opposed to simply dismissing it and discounting it as well as the person and mark them as leaders of “dead” churches?

          There are a couple lessons I learned with respect to education. The first was, the more I learned, the more I learned there was to learn. The second thing I learned was the hardest; the more I learned the more I came to understand that there was a wealth of wisdom to be gained and gleaned from others.

          May God bless you on your journey!

          ><>”

      John

      How dare you assume to know where or how I was raised? I was raised in and among dead churches. I’ve served in and striven to revive dead churches, churches that are a horrific mess left behind by pastor after pastor whose pathetic revivalistic gospel left us with countless unconverted, spiritually deceived “members,” endless conflict, doctrinal confusion and ignorance–but plenty of self-righteous moralism and pot-luck dinners. The days of moralistic, therapeutic deism are coming to an end as the SBC norm, deal with it!

        Bob Hadley

        oooooppppsssss

        Just dismiss what I wrote above. I did not see this comment and the vast amount of wisdom and experience that you seem to have.

        Keep on keeping on brother.

        ><>”

          John

          This is why so many chose not to look to folks like you as upstanding examples of wisdom and maturity.

          volfan007

          John,

          I hate to burst your bubble, but Reformed Churches have unconverted church members, too. They also have church members, who cause trouble over shallow, meaningless things.

          In fact, John Edwards church dismissed him… even after they had such a great awakening from him preaching “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”

          Also, some of these churches are dead…not due to the work of the nonReformed Pastor….but due to the membership just not wanting to hear the truth anymore. I’ve known some very faithful Pastors, who just couldnt get a church to turn around…but, they faithfully preached God’s Word and tried to get the people to do what they should do. But, they wouldnt listen. So, how dare you falsely accuse these men, who tried thier dead level best, and suffered much, as they tried to lead some dead church to turn around.

          John, another thing, Brother, the YRR are the ones, who have pushed this issue to the point of strife and division…with their arrogant, cocky, mean spirited attitudes….just like the one you’ve displayed in here. I’ve been dealing with aggressive Calvinists since 1985…they are very divisive…amongst whom, the Founders crowd is the worst of the bunch.j

          David

          D.R. Randle

          David,

          You might want to go back and check your history on Jonathan Edwards. It is not believed that he ever preached “Sinners …” at Northampton. He did so in a Church in Enfield, Connecticut during a revival in 1741. Nine years after that he was dismissed from his Church in Massachusetts because he no longer wanted to continue the tradition that was started by his grandfather, Soloman Stoddard in that Church, of letting the unconverted receive communion.

          Now, as to the charge that the “YRR are the ones, who have pushed this issue to the point of strife and division…with their arrogant, cocky, mean spirited attitudes….” that’s just not true. Long before the resurgence of Calvinism (or even the popularity of Founders) there were websites like Baptist Fire and men like John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord who spoke of Calvinists as heretics.

          The strife between Calvinists and non-Calvinists can be traced to the days just after Calvin and Arminius, when a group of young, restless, and Arminian men demanded that the Church of Holland adopt the Five Articles of Remonstrance. Since then the controversy has not ceased to exist.

          Thankfully, Southern Baptists, when constituted in 1845, decided to put away these differences and cooperate together for missions. The first 5 presidents of the SBC were all Particular Baptists who cooperated with their General Baptist brethren and allowed them plenty of opportunity to be missionaries.

          Now that the theological pendulum has swung back towards Calvinism, it appears that the non-Calvinists have forgotten the cooperative roots of the Particular and General Baptists and are angry that Calvinists are leading entities and allowing other Calvinists to plant Churches. And in reality that’s what this entire post is all about – “how dare those Calvinists pastor ‘our’ Churches and use ‘our’ money to plant Churches”. Had the original leaders of the SBC had this same attitude, none of us would be here today. It’s time to put down those swords and cooperate together to accomplish the Great Commission. If we continue down this road, then we will find ourselves separated and ineffective in our grand goals.

          volfan007

          I think you missed the point I was making about Jonathan Edwards. I was pointing out…to John…that even Reformed Pastors have troubles in their own churches. I mean, Jonathan Edwards was dismissed from his church, even though he was reformed. So, it’s not like John was saying…that all of these non-reformed Pastors are leaving these churches in the mess they’re in…with unconverted members and such.

          David

          volfan007

          How can we cooperate when one group(Founders and thier friends) would not appoint anyone to any leadership positions, or as missionaries, etc. who are not at least a 3 point Calvinists? And, I know that the Founders crowd is buddy buddy with people like Akin and Mohler and Ezell….

          How can there continue to be cooperation when one crowd(New Calvinists) think upon the other SB Pastors as either ignorant, or semi-Pelagian, or even false teachers, who are preaching a false Gospel?

          David

Lydia

“Maybe it’s time for Bill and Bob and SelahV and Peter and the rest of the tribe to go back to their communities and “tend to their own knitting ” (as my Granny used to say) Seems like you would be more worried about the cobwebs in your collective baptistries than the influence of a pastor and an organization that want to see the Gospel proclaimed.”

This is exactly the “fruit” we are seeing come out of the YRR movement in my neck of the woods.

    selahV-hariette

    Hey, Lydia, wha’cha think of our brother-in-Christ (John) up there above, talking to our brothers-in-Christ, David and Bob? Isn’t he the poster-child of someone we want to send Cooperative money to and help further the work of the gospel message and disciple more young men to be like him? If I didn’t know much better than he, and know how silly and foolish his statements are, I might get upset. As it is, I’m just laughing.

    The coolest part about statements such as his regarding the “dead” churches and how he hard he has “striven to revive” them, is that those dumb sheep can’t comprehend doctrine. Notice that? It can’t be that they disagree with him; no…it is that pastors have left them with “countless unconverted, spiritually deceived “members,” endless conflict, doctrinal confusion and ignorance–but plenty of self-righteous moralism…” And his parting shot: “The days of moralistic, therapeutic deism are coming to an end as the SBC norm, deal with it!”
    Seems to me, little John has pretty much proved Dr. Harrell’s points. John seems to have all the answers for us. And we need to deal with it because with he (and those like him, I suppose), we are gonna be filled with converted, spiritually enlightened, “members or something”, without any conflict, and complete doctrinal understanding and wisdom, and absolutely absent of self-righteous moralism.” (Not sure if he’s gonna stop the potlucks). But he’s gonna fix the therapeutic deism 85-90% of the SBC has been suffering from.

    I’m excited. Aren’t you? (snark alert)…selahV…okay,” back to my knitting”

dr. james willingham

As usual there is a lot of hot air blowing and profound lack of knowledge of where this all started along with the agreements that brought the cooperation into effect among Baptists whose theology did not mesh. In 1787 a union between Separate and Regular Baptists in Va. was produced which had as one its rules, “that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man would be no barrier to communion.” (the quote is as near as memory can recall without recourse to the actual terms of the union). The prominent and major truth was the Christ died for the elect, Particular Redemption, hence, Particular Baptists or limited atonement as some have called it (though every view of the atonement limits it in some way. e.g., the Universalist takes it that Christ died for every one and every one will be saved, but he has a limited theory; it is limited in its power to save people in this life. Particular Redemption involves the idea of purposed redemption. Redemption has a purpose, and it is that that produced the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions, the creation of America, the government with the most freedoms that has every been upon earth, one that recognized the depravity of man and yet afforded him freedom within the restraints of checks and balances, a result of the Divine ingenuity of Holy Scripture. Brother Harrell pastors in Georgia, yet the oldest church, still in existence, Kiokee was established under the so-called calvinistic theology. Not many realize that Sandy Creek Separate Baptist Association was in correspondence with Philadelphia Regular Baptist Assn. which meant that there was an agreement on the doctrines of grace. The General Baptists were the folks with the doctrine of a General Atonement, and they lacked concern for godly living, carefulness about conversions (there are false and true conversions), evangelism and missions. Benjamin Miller and Peter Peterson Van Horn, two ministers of the Philadelphia Assn., persuaded some General Baptists to accept the doctrines of grace here in North Carolina in 1755. That group went along for about 46 years, baptizing 25-30 a year until 1801, and in that year they experienced the Second Great Awakening and had the pleasure of baptizing some 872 converts. In any case, Luther Rice came in 1816 and got the Baptists involved in launching the Great Century of Missions. He said these teachings are in the Bible and you had better preach them.

Now we are beginning to see a return to the truths that were instrumental in transforming Protestantism from a Gospel Recovery Effort, contentious, combative, and conflicted, into an out going, we will win you with persuasion of the truth movement (What a change). For 39 years I have been praying for a Third Great Awakening. I have not sought or thought of advancing the doctrines of grace as such, for one can take all of them and preach them and have them all wrong and do great harm with them as with any truth misused, misapplied, and misunderstood. On the other hand, the fact that such truths are coming back is to be expected as they are the theology that produced the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions. And they are evangelistic and missionary in essence, for the Regulars and the Separates were zealous for souls why the Generals were luke warm. The liberality of the Separates and Regulars involved a few, very few Separates who, due to Hebs.2:9, were preaching that Christ tasted death for every man (the context suggests that it is “many sons/children” vs.10, not every one without exception). The calvinists of both the Regulars and the Separates were liberal (and this is where real liberalism comes from – from biblically orthodox folks, who are willing to give believers the space to think their way through the facts and reach the truth on their own). The first missionary of the SBC to China came from a church organized in 1814, which knew in its articles of Christ dying only for the church, nothing about Him dying for everyone without exception. The church sent messengers to the Sandy Creek Assn. in 1816m, when Luther Rice came to enlist them in the missionary effort. Present that day was the young man who would lead Southern Baptists to found the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the Abstract of Principles of which are remarkably like the Sandy Creek Confession of 1816 which was draw up by a committee chaired by Rice and others, one of whom was that young man, Basil Manly, (later, Sr.).

Regardless of the Red Herring of Mark Driscoll, there are plenty of Sovereign Grace ministers through out the Convention who are the successors and, in some cases, the actual descendants of those Sovereign Grace people who launched our churches, associations, and, yes, the Southern Baptist Convention. They are not in the Reformed movement as such, and the Convention is so structured that no one group can impose its will for very long. There must be time for persuasion, tenderness, gentleness, and the blessing of God in owning what He is doing in our lives. One of my ancestors is mentioned in Henry Holcombe’s History of Alabama Baptists, 1840, Elder Holland Middleton, and he might have been the same Holand Middleton who is listed on some internet site as one of the two officials of a court to execute the will of Daniel Marshall, the founder of Kiokee Baptist Church.

Others have been praying for a great awakening or a revival as some call it, for longer than I have. I suspect that many have cried to God for a visitation for much of the past century, and I believe He is getting ready to visit us again, not just a little bit, but such a visitation, such a coming down of Heaven to earth, that it will win the whole earth and every soul upon it (hopefully beginning with this generation) and continue for a 1000 generations. And just so God can make a humorous remark to cheer his children about the number of the redeemed in Heaven being a number that no one can number.(Rev.7:9).

O and all of this comes out the calvinistic writings of Jonathan Edwards, especially his tract, The Humble Attempt, which inspired William Carey, Andrew Fuller, Luther Rice, Adoniram Judson, and others to launch the Great Century of Missions and to pray down the blessings of the Second Great Awakening. Edwards lists about nearly 100 promises that can be pleaded in prayer, and, if they were good for our ancestors and predecessors, they are surely good enough for us to do the same. Anyway, I have been pleading them, and since I began doing so there has come a resurgence of interest in the Bible as the word of God, in teachings of the Word of God, in supernatural faith, and the doctrines of grace, and of people beginning to pray for a visitation. So brother Harrell, you might want to study the past of Georgia Baptists as well as others states and Southern Baptists and get a look at those men of Sovereign Grace who launched the Great Century of Missions and the strongest denomination of Protestants and won religious liberty (a Methodist historian said the Baptists were the folks most responsible for the winning of that freedom, that they get the credit for it). I could say more, but I will add that theology was preached to me in my childhood in the forties and early fifties in Arkansas by Rev. George Washington Gray and by my ordaining pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell (who founded the American Race Track Chaplaincy cf. Who’s Who in Religion. 2nd edn. Chicago: Marquis Pubs., 1977), who said he was a supralapsarian, a hyper calvinist, and the only man named in Dr. R.G. Lee’s Will to preach his funeral. We have the freedom to differ so that folks can study and think for themselves, with the proviso that they must accept the Bible as the inspired word of God (even allowing for them to hold dynamic inspiration, the thoughts…though for the life of me, I can’t see how one can have thoughts without words). Our reaction to so-called liberalism, was actually a response to the skeptical methods of the higher critical approach to the Bible. I remember two of those folks saying to me, “Your ignorant for believing in the Virgin Birth.” Some of the Moderates set out to get me fired from my church, but I never responded with a get even attitude, believing that one must be very careful in representing Christ. True godliness is an impossible task, but it is one that our Lord sets before us at all times. Our success is often of the nature that my sister and I produced, when we made mud pies for grandma in our childhood. She would act like she was eating them and how good they tasted (it was play, mind you), and I suspect that our prayers (certainly mine are) are on the same order as the production of those mud pies. And yet, yet, yet, God sometimes honors the prayers of his children in their desperation and ignorance and in their pathetic and pitiful responses to His calls. When He does, the whole of society is changed. I remember my Bible teacher in College, Dr. W.L. Muncey, Jr., telling about a revival that happened in his home county in Arkansas, when he was a boy (must have been in the late 1800s/early 1900s.). There was not a single criminal case to come before the County Grand Jury for 10 years!!! We are going to have another awakening, I pray, a visitation, and all of the arguing over theology will by God’s grace not prevent or keep it from coming. We have the promise that the whole earth will be full of His knowledge and glory as the waters cover the sea.(Isa.11:9; Hab.2:14; Dan.2; Ps.72:19. Mr. Spurgeon prayed in his own day for the conversion of every soul on earth, and one of these days that must come to pass..as many others have prayed it for years….

Lydia

“I hate to burst your bubble, but Reformed Churches have unconverted church members, too. ”

You mean like Calvin’s churches in Geneva where people were “compelled” to attend or hear from the magistrate? :o)

Lydia

Boy did I have to learn the hard way before declaring a church dead. God taught me a huge lesson on that one years ago. First and foremost, none of us know what seeds are planted and who waters them later. There is a something about being faithful even when one does not see results.This is not about notches on belts or big numbers as success. That gives man the credit.

dr. james willingham

As to my views on church government, I am a dyed in the wool, one hundred percent congregationalist. The government of the body is with the body (I think that is a Landmark statement which happens to be true). Elder led is okay, but elder ruled is an absolute no, no in my Bible. Peter makes that starkly plain, when he says, I Pet.5:3, “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but as being examples to the flock.” He also adds in calling for submission, “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.” Additionally, I would point out that Dr. Mohler took those folks to task who are tending to elder government (which he called presbyterian, if I mistake not), insisting that Baptists are congregational in church government. Such a statement is not a Reformed take over motif. So you folks who want to boot out the Sovereign Grace folks remember we are not only successors to the very sources of Southern Baptist life and work, but, in some cases, we are their descendants, too.

    Lydia

    “Additionally, I would point out that Dr. Mohler took those folks to task who are tending to elder government (which he called presbyterian, if I mistake not), insisting that Baptists are congregational in church government. ”

    That is strange. He was all for changing Highview from congregational polity to elder led.

      volfan007

      Elder led is A-0k. But, a Church should be congregational. It’s Biblical and Baptist. It doesnt really matter if a Church has 1 Elder/Pastor, or many Elders/Pastors. And, a Church should follow the lead of thier Pastor/Elder; but Elder Ruled is not Biblical, and it’s definitely not Baptist.

      David

        Lydia

        I do not trust people who use the term “elder led” but who practice and model “elder rule” such as Scott Thomas at Acts29 did. Then you add to the mix the new Acts 29 leader, Chandler, who teaches people must be under what he terms is “godly authority” describing himself and his elders, of course, yet at the same time saying he preaches to a totally depraved congregation. That is the thinking of despots throughout history no matter how nice they come off: “I am godly, they are depraved”. I guess I could ask why their charges stay depraved after his teaching? I suppose it is not working?

        Seriously, Do they not believe in the Holy Spirit? Or are they really attempting to be the Holy Spirit? I am having a hard time seeing how people can mature spiritually in these churches under those who think of themselves as godly authorities while their charges are totally depraved or their critics are narcissistic zero’s.

        This is a free country so I suggest they just go and start Calvinistic despot Churches with someone elses money. I am just a bit weary of them trying to pass off this despotism as Baptist. We rejected that thinking long ago…after the Civil War when we found out “God was not on our side”. (wink)

        (After reading some YRR comments, I am just glad that heretic burning is illegal now!)

      Bill Mac

      Lydia: This seems to be one of your pet peeves, but I’m willing to try again. Leading and governing are two different things. All congregationally governed churches are led by someone. This is often the pastor (aka elder). All (most) SBC churches are elder-led. Pastors are elders, elders are pastors. Leading is not governing. Governing is not leading.

      I understand that you think elder-led churches are secretly elder-ruled, but I doubt you can support that belief. All congregational churches are elder led.

        Lydia

        Bill, I imply reject your definitions because I see them as being worldly. From a biblical perspective they are “servants”. As all in the priesthood are. Even when the word “leader” is used in the NT, it is describing those “who have gone before ” as in being refined in sanctification. We are all servants to one another in the priesthood.

        Surely you do not think these mere mortals are above how Christ described himself?

        Elders in any form (pastor, etc) are to be the spiritually mature. And they should be recognized as such because of their calloused knees. They are not seeking authority over people. They would be appalled to call themselves the “godly authority” over others. They are models of Christlike love and humbleness.

        I won’t change your mind, of course. I am praying more SBC pew sitters wake up and stop helping fund Acts 29 type churches with totally depraved pew sitters and leaders who are their “godly authority”. What a recipe for despotism. And we have seen it played out at SGM and Mars Hill.

          D.R. Randle

          Lydia, your comment is not Biblical – it takes a few truths and mixes them with error and bias. The Bible clearly states:

          Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
          (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)

          Now, I know many like you try to deconstruct that verse until it means viritually nothing. Though you might say that “obey” doesn’t mean “obey”; “leaders” doesn’t mean “leaders”; and “submit” doesn’t mean submit, the vast majority of Greek scholars disagree with you. And not only that, the Early Church read this passage at face value, the Medieval Church read it at face value, the Reformers read it at face value, and the Early Baptists read it at face value. So unless you are going to argue that the Holy Spirit only started to reveal to us what this verse really means since the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, you don’t have a leg to stand on in claiming that there is not to be authority in the Church. The Bible clearly says it and we are called to obey it (and obey there really does mean obey).

          Les

          Lydia,

          Perhaps you have had some bad experiences with church leadership which leads you to appear to so distrust elders and maybe deacons.

          DR has rightly pointed out to you the error of your thinking. You should not let some bad experiences color your ability to rightly interpret scripture.

          DR also could have added 1 Tim 5.17 too: “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.”

          Notice that word “rule?” Now, should they be “models of Christlike love and humbleness?” Of course. There are countless elders out there who are doing just that by God’s grace.

          And, what is your issue with a pastor referring to his congregation as depraved sinners? isn’t that biblical? Like the Apostle Paul referring to himself as the chief of sinners?

          Bill Mac

          Lydia: So if elders are not leaders, who are? Are there no leaders in the church?

Luke

Bro. Harrell and others,

I have learned to stay away from blog comments because, in my humble opinion, they tend to inflame anger and are largely unfruitful. As I read this blog article, I was deeply hurt but was not going to respond until I read through the comment stream. I could nitpick with words and try to disprove this or attack that, but I don’t think that will accomplish much. I’ve read Brother Harrell’s commentary on his church’s website and it is evident that his feelings and perception are deeply rooted and will most likely not change based on my lone comment.

That said, I would challenge you with this – Brother Harrell, please don’t paint with such a broad brush. It hurts and wearies my soul for these gross generalizations to continue to be thrown around about young men under the so-called YRR label. As a recent graduate of SEBTS, our professors emphasized missions and evangelism more than anything else. Driscoll’s ideas were critically evaluated (when they happened to come up in class – to my knowledge I was never assigned a Driscoll book). I, along with my fellow students, were taught a love for Scripture – we were not programmed to follow a man’s lead. We all don’t have the attitude shown by John above, we are not seeking to plant churches because we cannot find “established jobs” (I have never heard that once mentioned from a church planter!), we all are not seeking to be disrespectful, we are not all seeking to turn away from congregational, autonomous churches. In fact, if my years at seminary are any indication, very few would fall into all of those categories. Unfortunately, that small minority happens to be the most vocal.

Unfortunately, Brother Harrell – thoughts and opinions like yours are spreading, but they are only dividing. Older men in my association and convention are quick to label me and not cooperate with me because I must be one of “those people.” Rather than speaking with me or talking with me, they are quick to judge. If I try to respectfully disagree or offer suggestions, than it is just chalked up to me being a so-called YRR. I, and many of my friends, are being placed in a no-win situation despite our desire for missions, evangelism, healthy churches and cooperation.

Bro. Harrell, if I had to sum everything up, I would leave with this question – What are you seeking to do? In my humble opinion, having read this article, I feel like you are drumming up support for an attack or war. Instead of graciously warning, encouraging, and correcting younger men (through Scripture!), I feel like you and other similar-minded people are just gearing up to fight. If you “win,” it will be a pyrrhic victory and the casualties will be many. Perhaps, there is a “more excellent way” where the truth is spoken in love with an effort to win and unify (1 Cor 12:31; Eph 4:15). I pray that we will all move more in that direction.

In Christ,
Luke

Bob Hadley

Luke,

I wanted to say hello and thanks for the heartfelt response to Dr. Harrell’s post. I want to make a comment on the frustration you alluded to with respect to the “older guys” dismissing you and your friends.

This really has very little to do with all the political wrangling that is going on as much as it is more simply, it takes a little time to get your feet firmly planted on the ground and get a little experience under your belt before folks who have been in the trenches for a while will acknowledge your contributions. This has been the case for centuries and it is equally the problem in just about every field I know.

It is a fact of life that everyone experiences when they enter a new field. The ministry is really no different. And, even when an experienced minister moves onto a new field, some of the same frustrations can be experienced all over again, probably not to the same extreme, but it can be a factor. Respect is earned and that is not a bad thing; it is simply the way it is everywhere. I believe you will see things change as men get to know you and see your consistency and your heart as demonstrated in your post.

May God bless you and your family and ministry!

><>”

    Luke

    Bro. Bob,

    I have no doubt that some times it is because of a lack of age and need to earn the respect of older men who have labored for years before us. However, I am increasingly hearing talk where I along with other like-minded young pastors are being marginalized and lumped together as trouble-makers. The talk that is occurring behind our backs and to our faces matches up with what Bro. Harrell is espousing. If these men think that it is because we are young and immature, then let’s do something about it! Offer to mentor me, take me on hospital visits, let’s have coffee and talk about challenges in the church, association, convention. Let’s sharpen one another as iron (Prov 27:17)!

    As I read through Ephesians 4 this morning, I read this:

    “29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ”

    I have no problem with “earning my stripes.” Unfortunately, as I read this article and hear similar things espoused by pastors in my ministry area, I do not see it as a spirit of edification. I do not feel compassion or a spirit of graciousness as should be evident in those whom Christ has forgiven. Will this article result in Eph 4:32 or will it result in the qualities listed in Eph 4:31? I am sure you can probably guess my answer to that question.

      Bob Hadley

      Luke,

      I do understand your position and there is most certainly a lot of validity to what you are saying and experiencing. I am working through all this as well, just from the otherside of the fence that you are probably looking from. I have learned that almost everything is a matter of perspective. Perspective however, is important.

      There is no simple solution for this very complex problem. I wish there was. Adding to the theological issues however is the age issue and the aggressive attitude of some that has made the conflict greater. Ask any manager of any business about 90 day wonders and they will almost all tell you the same story. It is a problem that plagues every industry and organization.

      Now, please do not mishear me either, that is not a characterization of you or the younger pastors coming up… it is a phrase I have heard all my life… and I have done sales consulting and that is most certainly a problem in that industry.

      So here is the thing that is making this whole issue more difficult; it is the frustration with the changes coming with the theology and that is being amplified by the association of the younger group that is making the whole process that much more volatile especially when some are more outspoken and in your face than others….

      Now that is true on BOTH sides… and the article by Dr. Harrell is evidence of that… here is the difference… he has been on the executive committee of the SBC for several years… pastor of one church 30+ and I am pulling this from memory without going back and looking for the exact stats…

      So… his opinion IS WORTH something becasue he has seen things from a much different perspective; not only for you but from MOST pastors in the SBC period! It is good to say… we all need to respect what everyone says and some are better at doing that than others are… but when things get difficult things are going to be said by folks on both sides of the issues and that is what is certainly adding fuel to the fire today and unfortunately it is only going to get worse.

      There is a BIG difference in union and unity and today we have union… the rhetoric is not creating a lack of unity… the situation itself has already created the divide.

      I do appreciate your response and pray that God gives us all His solution!!! Hope I made sense, I am just talking all this through in my mind as I am writing… so if it didn’t, then just ignore it!!!
      I am used to it already!

      ><>”

Lydia

“Lydia, your comment is not Biblical – it takes a few truths and mixes them with error and bias. The Bible clearly states:”

Hi DR,

There are about 58 “ONE ANOTHER” passages in scripture. How about focusing on those before claiming some “leadership” Authority from one proof text. :o)

It would be foolish for me to engage you anyway because you are “totally depraved” still, so why should I listen? (wink)

Lydia

Nice try, Les. Your last comment is the refuge of desperation because I disagree and see a ‘leader’ as one who is not like the Gentiles who want to lord it over. But a real servant who has gone before.

I guess I will have to assume you guys just want to “Lord it over”, too, as you accuse me of something silly. See how that works? It is not nice, Les and not worthy of someone as smart as you.

DR, I am used to from around the blogs. He likes to pit his “experts” against other “experts”. And it becomes a war of “experts”. :o)

    Les

    Lydia,

    Seriously, what did I say that seemed desperation? I just pointed out the scripture for my position.

    And, what was not nice? Seriously, I was just engaging.

    Les

    Lydia,

    “I guess I will have to assume you guys just want to “Lord it over”, too, as you accuse me of something silly.”

    What are you talking about here?

      Charis

      And, what is your issue with a pastor referring to his congregation as depraved sinners? isn’t that biblical? Like the Apostle Paul referring to himself as the chief of sinners?

      You answer your own question.

      Indeed, Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners, not his wife ala Driscoll, or his congregation ala the “pastor” mentioned.

      “Humility” is the opposite of arrogance/cockiness.

      Les

      Charis,

      All I’m really referring to is the biblical idea that though we are justified (if indeed we are in Christ), we yet remain sinners. Luther ran head first into the RC buzz saw for stating that we are simul iustus et peccator, simultaneously just and sinner.

      John n 1 John echoed this when he wrote to “saints,”

      “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 ESV)

      Pastors rightly preach to their people that they are sinners in need of grace every day. Of course, the pastors are included in that as well. And, they should never appear to be “holier than thou” to the people.

      John Knox said well in the Scots Confession,

      We confess and acknowledge that the law of God is most just, equal, holy, and perfect, commanding those things which, when perfectly done, can give life and bring man to eternal felicity; but our nature is so corrupt, weak, and imperfect, that we are never able perfectly to fulfill the works of the law. Even after we are reborn, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth of God is not in us. It is therefore essential for us to lay hold on Christ Jesus, in his righteousness and his atonement, since he is the end and consummation of the Law and since it is by him that we are set at liberty so that the curse of God may not fall upon us, even though we do not fulfill the Law in all points. For as God the Father beholds us in the body of his Son Christ Jesus, he accepts our imperfect obedience as if it were perfect, and covers our works, which are defiled with many stains, with the righteousness of his Son. We do not mean that we are so set at liberty that we owe no obedience to the Law–for we have already acknowledged its place–but we affirm that no man on earth, with the sole exception of Christ Jesus, has given, gives, or shall give in action that obedience to the Law which the Law requires. When we have done all things we must fall down and unfeignedly confess that we are unprofitable servants. Therefore, whoever boasts of the merits of his own works or puts his trust in works of supererogation, boasts of what does not exist, and puts his trust in damnable idolatry.

      God bless.

Max

Brother Harrell,

I’ve been out and about for a couple of days and just now revisiting your post. Whew!! It’s clear from the comment stream that the SBC chasm is growing. We are about the same vintage, sir. We’ve seen the SBC pendulum swing a wide girth over several issues and avoided getting hit in the head. But this YRR thing is getting tougher to dodge!

When I was a young man and starting to venture out on my own, my father imparted various widgets of wisdom to me. For example, he advised me that if I ever got on a bus and found out that it was going the wrong way, it would be best if I got off at the next stop. Well, I must have napped a bit on this old SBC bus. In a glance toward the front, it appears that the driver is not the same guy steering the rig that I got on with. I’m fully awake now and starting to look out the window for familiar landmarks … something that will help me get my bearings. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to sit here awhile … I understand the next stop is just up the road … I’ll decide then if I’ll stay on the bus or get off.

Lydia

“Lydia: So if elders are not leaders, who are? Are there no leaders in the church?”

Jesus Christ. Who described himself as a servant. There are servants in the church who have giftings in areas. Not as glam as leader, I know. Most likely some would not choose this as a career if they had to be called a servant like our Savior called himself.

Now, lets take your definition of leader, obey and rule to a real situation. Should I think that those pew sitters at Mars Hill are in sin for refusing to “obey” their “leader” by refusing to sign the new bylaws in the form of a membership covenant going from 40 voting elders to 3?

I really do think many of the YRR guys see that as the real definition of “leadership” and they are to be “obeyed” as they “rule”.

    Bill Mac

    Now, lets take your definition of leader, obey and rule to a real situation.

    I have offered no definitions of leader or ruler or obey. I just know leader and ruler don’t mean the same thing. Everyone does.

    My possibly uninformed opinion of the Mars Hill situation is that it is quickly moving cult-ward, so no, I don’t think those members would be in sin. But the excesses of Driscoll or anyone else do not negate biblical principles of leadership, just as Westboro Baptists hate filled excesses do not negate the biblical teaching on homosexuality.

    I’m sympathetic with the idea that a great many pastors have an authority complex. I’ve served under some. And I have no beef with the idea that a leader is primarily a servant. But suggesting that there should be no leaders in the NT church is wrong. And if the pastor/elder one of the leaders, then I don’t know what they are there for.

      Lydia

      Bill, you are changing the subject. The subject is what does “leader” mean. And we HAVE to line it up with all the whole pericope including what Jesus said about all of us being servants and describing himself as a servant

      Staying in something that is “cult-ward” is not sin? The bylaw/membership covenant demand happened a few years back so not sure “cultward” fits anymore. And let us not forget that Acts 29 has Driscoll DNA all over it. It is his creation and he set the tone.

Lydia

“Like the Apostle Paul referring to himself as the chief of sinners?”

Charis is right that Paul was referring to himself only. But it is not present tense. He is not still throwing women and children in prison or hunting Christians. So there are SOME (tic)changes because of salvation. I think it is a stretch to claim he is saying he is still totally depraved after his conversion. If so, people should not believe his words.

Again we see the false dictonomy of total depravity or sinfless perfection rearing its ugly head. If we cannot be born again and becoming more Holy then let us hide the silver when the Calvinists come to dinner.

    Les

    Lydia,

    See my reply above to Charis. But you said, “But it is not present tense.”

    I think it is a present indicative 1st person singular verb, FYI.

    Whether he and you and I are TD after conversion depends, I suppose, on how we understand TD. Do you believe in TD by the way? Other Southern Baptists I encounter here do not.

    God bless.

      Lydia

      “I think it is a present indicative 1st person singular verb, FYI.”

      So Paul was describing himself as a different sort of “chief sinner” from the one persecuting believers? He was not referring to that at all being “present” now?

      ?Whether he and you and I are TD after conversion depends, I suppose, on how we understand TD. Do you believe in TD by the way? Other Southern Baptists I encounter here do not.”

      I have no idea what you mean here. How can you be totally depraved and have Jesus Christ living within you? You are now to be the temple where He resides. If you are “totally depraved” after salvation and Christ is living in you, then how can you respond to the Holy Spirit convicting you of any sin at all?

        Les

        Lydia, how do you define TD?

          Lydia

          Les,

          the question is how do you define it AFTER you have been Born Again. I am focused on BELIEVERS who claim total depravity after salvation.

          Les

          Lydia, it was a simple question for you. Why can’t you just answer it? Go on record. You are the one on here bringing it up. You said,

          “It would be foolish for me to engage you anyway because you are “totally depraved” still, so why should I listen? (wink)”

          Just go on record with your definition.

        Charis

        Col 2:11-15
        11In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

        12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

        13And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

        14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

        15And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

        So, Les, are you clinging to your TD flesh?
        or have you “put off the body of sins”?

          Les

          So Charis,

          Are you able to interact directly with what I responded to you with?

          Les

          Charis, or is this all you have?

          Les

          Charis,

          Perhaps I should have asked you, have you“put off the body of sins?” reached perfection yet?

      Charis

      Cross posting from above:

      Pastors rightly preach to their people that they are sinners in need of grace every day.

      Substitute “wrongly” for “rightly” and look at “sinner” in John 9:31, Rom 3:7, 5:8, 5:19 for example (link)

      “Having sin” and BEING a “sinner” are two different things IMO. While not denying that they fall short, Christians should not be self identifying themselves or their brethren as “SINNERS”. (I have lived a long time and seen that self identification used as justification “I’m JUST a sinner. I can’t help it”)

      I am FORGIVEN and REDEEMED. Sins have been covered, remitted, forgiven, cleansed. In Christ I am “righteous”. To identify myself as a “sinner” minimizes what Jesus did for me and the power available to me to walk in His footsteps IMO.

      “18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity 24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: ” Matt 7

      Jesus would not have preached this if it was impossible. In Him, I can BE righteous.

        Les

        Charis,

        I can see what you are saying. e.g.

        “I am FORGIVEN and REDEEMED. Sins have been covered, remitted, forgiven, cleansed. In Christ I am “righteous”. To identify myself as a “sinner” minimizes what Jesus did for me and the power available to me to walk in His footsteps IMO”

        Yes, in Christ we stand, forgiven, redeemed, etc. we agree.

        But if we still sin, and we do, we are forgiven sinners. That’s all I’m getting at. And frankly, the church does in fact need to be reminded of that, lest we begin to think too highly of ourselves.

        But as to total depravity, which is what I was trying to get Lydia to define per her understanding, until we agree what that means, there is not much more we can do with this discussion.

        Thanks and God bless you.

        Les

        Chairs ans Lydia, if you two are still reading,

        Not only is what I’m trying to convey biblical as I have shown, but historic. John Knox wrote in a letter,

        “It were easy to enlarge in this way, would paper and time permit. But blessed be God, we are not under the law, but under grace. And even these distressing effects of the remnants of indwelling sin are over-ruled for good. By these experiences the believer is weaned more from self, and taught more highly to prize and more absolutely to rely on him, who is appointed unto us of God, Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. The more vile we are in our own eyes, the more precious he will be to us; and a deep repeated sense of the evil of our hearts is necessary to preclude all boasting, and to make us willing to give the whole glory of our salvation where it is due.

        Again, a sense of these evils will (when hardly anything else can do it) reconcile us to the thoughts of death; yea, make us desirous to depart that we may sin no more, since we find depravity so deep rooted in our nature, that (like the leprous house) the whole fabric must be taken down before we can be freed from its defilement. Then, and not till then, we shall be able to do the thing that we would: when we see Jesus, we shall be transformed into his image, and have done with sin and sorrow for ever.”

        http://www.gospelweb.net/JohnNewton/newtononbelieversinability.htm

dr. james willingham

Amazing to see one bearing the name of Lydia “whose heart the Lord opened,” opposing those who hold to the belief that God must open the heart, because man suffers not only from depravity but inability as in, “no man can, no man is able, to come to me, except…”Jn.6:44,65. My conversion from atheism began with a vision. hallucination (how does one tell?) of Christ standing at my door knocking (like it says in Rev. 3:20), and it ended with Him opening the door after I fled (like it says in Acts 16:14). After He opened the door then I freely asked Him to forgive me of my sins and felt the burden lifted off and cried tears of joy for the first time in my life. Like C.S. Lewis, I was “Surprised by Joy.” There is a lot of joy in the Christian life. In fact, I suspect that that is the only life that has joy in it, especially when times get really tough.

Lydia

“Perhaps you have had some bad experiences with church leadership which leads you to appear to so distrust elders and maybe deacons.

DR has rightly pointed out to you the error of your thinking. You should not let some bad experiences color your ability to rightly interpret scripture.”

Les, you wrote the above. This is a silly assumption on your part because I disagree. So I made a silly assumption about you to illustrate your pedantic assertion.

DR did prove his translation which fits his view of himself. Thankfully Jesus Christ taught differently.

I will give you one short example of the problem with the translation (coming from those who believed in divine right of kings, btw, like you guys):

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20: 20-28

How does DR’s translation match up with these words from Christ? (There are more like this, btw)

Ok, one more. Let’s take the word translated as obey:

According to W.E. Vine, the Greek word peitho means “to persuade, to win over, in the Passive and Middle Voices, to be persuaded, to listen to, to obey, is so used with this meaning, in the Middle Voice. THE OBEDIENCE SUGGESTED IS NOT BY SUBMISSION TO AUTHORITY, BUT RESULTING FROM PERSUASION” (An Expository Dic-tionary of New Testament Words, Vol. 3, p. 124).

The thrust of the word peitho is not one of submission to authority; it is one of listening to someone out of respect and taking their advice. A better translation of peitho in verse 17 is “Listen to,” not “Obey them.”

Peitho is sometimes translated “trust” in the King James Version of the New Testament and would have been an ideal translation in verse 17

We won’t even go into hegeomai or the other problems with how this is interpreted or we will be here all day and I have work to do.

But the bottomline is when you guys demand to be obeyed, have “rule” over others, it is not of Christ. I could give you a ton of examples from CJ misuing this verse over and over. And he is a big favorite of you guys. (Never mind that pesky blackmail thing with Larry)

If a person is above reproach, spiritually matured, apt to teach, and interested in saving souls, he doesn’t have to have one ounce of authority to be of service to others and to advance the cause of Christ. He will never have to demand that people respect and obey him, for that will be given to him gladly. Furthermore, if he is Christ-like in every area of his life, showing the same love qualities for others as did Jesus, people will be persuaded by his teaching and example and will yield to his wisdom. This is the essence of badly translated “elder’s rule.” It is a standard, the standard of Christ, rather than an exercise of commanded obedience. Yes, the elder rules, but according to the wisdom of God, not according to the dictates of man.

And WE are allowed to decide who is doing what. Dictates of God? Or man? I think “obeying” Driscoll who “rules” Mars Hill would be sin.

Lydia

“Amazing to see one bearing the name of Lydia “whose heart the Lord opened,” opposing those who hold to the belief that God must open the heart, because man suffers not only from depravity but inability as in, “no man can, no man is able, to come to me, except…”Jn.6:44,65.”

Dr. Willingham, Do you consider yourself totally depraved right now? I am speaking of after Justicifation many are teaching we remain totally depraved. If you are still living in the same sinful state you were in before conversion then what is the point of it all? I still have to hide the silver when you come for dinner because I cannot trust you as a ‘brother in Christ’ because you are still totally depraved. How can we be new creatures in Christ and be totally depraved at the same time?

I do not oppose the belief that God opens hearts to believe. I am talking about after salvation we do not remain totally depraved sinners. We are to grow in Holiness. We are told be righteous. (not self righteous). We are told we are new creatures in Christ.

Lydia

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 ESV)”

Why is it you guys always leave out the rest of 1 John?

1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. 4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God[a] is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. 1 John 2

4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. 1 John 3
18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5

Red

Wow. I can’t believe there are people on here who are starting to argue the finer points of whether predestination is true or not. No one ever changed their mind about the predestination/free will argument because they heard a “gotcha” question on an internet forum.

    selahV-hariette

    Well, Red, stick around; never can tell what might happen on a internet forum…and since this is the new and improved venue of communicating…who is to say that big things can’t be worked out and great confessions of faith formulated via the internet. We can still pray behind these monitors for those folk who need mercy as we see their monikers, and names pop up. Can’t we? :) Never can tell whose hearts or minds can be changed. Thousands read who never ever comment. selahV

Bro Jason

“When one of the Calvinists says “preach the gospel brother,” he is really saying “preach that Reformed doctrine brother.””

Really? That has to be without a doubt the most absurd strawman statement I’ve ever seen. When a “Calvinist” says “Preach the Gospel brother” he means “Preach the Gospel brother” because the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation! Check your facts before you sling mud sir.

Further, you seem to be pushing for Arminian theology… historically the arminians believe you can lose your salvation. Do you believe that?

Lastly, check your Baptist history my friend. Mohler and those you mentioned are not trying to sneak Calvinism or Reformed theology into the SBC. If it is headed in that direction as you say then it is merely a RETURN to true Baptist roots. You might do a little study on our Baptist Faith and Message. Want to know what Reformed Confession it came from? The London Baptist Confession of 1689. A Reformed confession.

Before you go spouting your non-sense you might want to do a little fact check.

Calvinists preach the “Whosoever will” Gospel. We simply trust that God will do what God does, which is draw His own unto Himself. He ordains the ends and the means. Whosoever will, will be saved. No one who has or will ever call on Christ will be turned away from salvation by God. God will save ALL who call upon Him. That’s Calvinist teaching my man.

Go after the Hyper-Calvinists… they are the ones who are anathema and ruining churches all over.

    volfan007

    Congratulations, Bro. Jason, you were the 200th comment on this post! You dont win anything, but you were the 200th comment! Woooo hoooo!

    Do Calvinists really preach a “whosoever will” Gospel? Whenever the non-elect have no chance, whatsoever of responding? I mean, according to yall, the non-elect will not and can not respond; so is that truly a “Whosoever will” preaching? I dont think so.

    David

      Les

      David,

      I have to ask a question. Are there people walking around right now who are not among the elect?

        volfan007

        Les,

        I believe that every person on this planet can truly be saved, and that God desires for them to be saved. And, His Holy Spirit is working thru His Church to shed light upon people to call out to them….I believe that there are lost people walking around the Earth right now… lost people, who can really and truly be saved…if they’ll respond to the light thats shed upon them…if they’ll respond to the calling and the convicting of the Spirit of God.

        Am I one of the Elect? Sure…I’m saved.

        David

          Les

          David,

          Thanks for the reply. But you didn’t answer my question. Now of course you don’t have to. But if you will,

          “Are there people walking around right now who are not among the elect?”

          I mean, there are billions of people in the world right now.

          It can just be a simple yes or no.

          Thanks.

          volfan007

          Les,

          Of course, there’s people walking around this world today, who will not be saved, who will spend eternity in Hell.

          David

          Les

          David, my point is this.

          Since you acknowledge that there are people walking around right now who are not among the elect, you must admit that at least some of the people you encounter in your preaching and evangelistic interaction are not elect and will never be saved.

          But you must also admit that you cannot tell the difference in them and the people you preach to and interact with who are actually among the elect.

          Therefore, when you ask above, “Do Calvinists really preach a “whosoever will” Gospel? Whenever the non-elect have no chance, whatsoever of responding?” the answer is yes, we preach a “whosoever will” gospel same as you do and we have exactly the same amount of knowledge about the elect or non-elect status of those we preach to as you non-Calvinists have…i.e. none!

          Neither you nor I have ANY knowledge about who is elect and who isn’t.

          So, we preach to all same as you do expecting the same thing you expect…that God will save those whom He has elected.

          Calvinists Spurgeon said,

          “”Our Savior has bidden us to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). He has not said, “Preach it only to the elect,” and though that might seem to be the most logical thing for us to do, yet since he has not been pleased to stamp the elect in their foreheads or put any distinctive mark upon them, it would be an impossible task to us to perform. When we preach the gospel to every creature, the gospel makes its own division, and Christ’s sheep hear his voice, and follow him.””

          Bob Hadley

          Of course, there are people walking around this world today, who will not be saved, who will spend eternity in Hell.

          There is a BIG difference in will not be saved and cannot be saved.

          Les, I KNOW you understand the difference in the two statements. But you and others continue to argue that we are saying the same thing when in reality we BOTH know we are not.

          I understand the reality of it all; if calvinists really said what they meant… people would bail by the minute.

          Here is MY answer to your question earlier, “Are there people walking around right now who are not among the elect?”

          There are people walking around right now who are not saved who can be saved If they will believe that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do… that if they will repent of their sin and believe in the gospel they WILL be saved.

          This is a choice THEY MUST make; it is not a choice that God makes for them.

          ><>”

          Les

          Bob,

          I agree that the non elect cannot ultimately be saved. If they could, they would be elect.

          I can almost agree with this quote of yours. I’ll rephrase it to what I can agree with.

          “There are people walking around right now who are not saved who can be saved If they…will repent of their sin and believe in the gospel they WILL be saved.

          This is a choice THEY MUST make; it is not a choice that God makes for them.”

          I affirm that.

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