TULIP Mania Strikes Again:
Of Bulbs, Bubbles and Burgeoning Beliefs

January 2, 2013

RickPatrickBy Dr. Rick Patrick
Senior Pastor
Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church
Hueytown, Alabama 


Long before the dot-com crisis fifteen years ago and the real estate disaster five years ago, from the Dutch Golden Age of the Seventeenth Century comes the fascinating story of the world’s very first speculative economic bubble. Known as Tulip Mania, the price of tulips in the Netherlands skyrocketed so rapidly that at its peak in 1637 a single tulip bulb sold for more money than ten times the annual income of a skilled craftsman.

This frenzied excitement stemming from instant fortunes was frowned upon by the stern Calvinists of the day as a denial of the virtues of moderation and diligence. Please take a moment to savor the delicious irony of Calvinists refusing to embrace the tulip.

The bubble burst at an auction in Haarlem, when buyers apparently refused to show up. Only sellers existed, with no buyers at all to purchase the flowers. In just a few weeks, prices fell to one percent of their earlier value. Many wanted to sell the tulip, but nobody was buying it anymore. Everyone who really wanted a tulip already had one. The trend would not continue its skyrocketing trajectory, but was destined for a mighty crash.

In a similar fashion, ministries often confuse short term trends with long term realities. A church growing from 0 to 500 over five years believes it will run 1,000 in ten years, following the logic of a simple straight line progression. One might ask the bankrupt Rev. Robert Schuller about the validity of such projections. Sometimes trends drop off mildly, while other times they crash, which explains the reason investment companies disclaim their funds by stating: “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

The historic rise of Reformed theology in America over the past few years has been well documented. This movement famously described by Collin Hansen as “Young, Restless and Reformed” totally dominated the Christian landscape over the first decade of this century. If Calvinism were a commodity, then in 2000 I would certainly have bought futures in Mars Hill Church, the Acts 29 Network and Sovereign Grace Ministries. Today, however, I would consider them much riskier investments.

Mark Driscoll is not only mired in charges from former members concerning church discipline practices, but he has admitted to the existence of visions so disturbing one wonders how any church member would not feel their privacy violated. In a similar fashion, C. J. Mahaney faces charges of misconduct related to discipline, not to mention a charge of negligence in dealing with allegations of child abuse by staff members.

With the arrival of 2013, thousands of ministers across America are actively selling the TULIP. What is less certain is the existence of a market in the American Christian landscape for many more of these Reformed congregations. By its own internal logic, Calvinism isn’t for everyone. Could it be that the TULIP once again has more sellers than buyers?

Is the market for Reformed theology reaching its saturation point? With more Calvinists today than at any point over the past one hundred years, is it possible that the pendulum is about to swing back in the other direction? Will the Calvinistic growth trend continue its meteoric rise? Will it slowly wane in popularity? Or will the scandals of Reformed leaders so tarnish its reputation that the TULIP Mania bubble bursts once again?

Having finished speculating about the future spread of the TULIP congregationally, a matter that will only become clear with the passing of time, let us now turn our attention to the central issue of this essay and the spread of the TULIP theologically. By this I mean to suggest that Calvinism clearly influences a variety of Christian doctrines in addition to soteriology. Just as wild tulips in a field might double in number over the course of two years, the TULIP of Calvinism, though rooted in soteriology, has been known to blossom and cast its seed into other fields of doctrine influenced by its logic.

Determining the scope of Calvinism’s theological implications is vitally important, for if the present tensions in the Southern Baptist Convention represent nothing more than a minor squabble over salvation doctrine blown wildly out of proportion, then our heated theological debates can be attributed to the character flaws and personality conflicts of Ministers Behaving Badly, which sounds like a new television sitcom on NBC.

On the other hand, if instead of a minor squabble over salvation doctrine alone, we are in fact dealing with a widespread and multifaceted theological debate of denominational proportions, with seeds fertilizing nearly every field of Christian doctrine, then we are much more likely to view these debates as substantial and legitimate expressions of theological conviction, an effort to preserve our specific understanding of the faith, and to avoid the kind of cross-pollination that would result in a PresbyBaptist denomination.

Below is a list of theological categories, beginning with soteriology and extending to many other Christian doctrines, all of which are associated, directly or indirectly, with the Reformed movement. The more it can be demonstrated that certain burgeoning beliefs, intrinsic to Calvinism, are in fact spreading to other areas of Christian doctrine, the more it becomes clear that we are dealing with a profoundly significant and even denominationally defining phenomenon.

1. Soteriology: Does God choose only certain souls to overpower with an irresistible grace or does He offer every soul true freedom either to accept or to reject His grace?

2. Anthropology: Does God’s creation of man in His image so endow man with the gifts of reason and self-determining will that man possesses an ability to respond to the gospel by either embracing or rejecting the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit?

3. Patriology: When the Father considers lost souls and saved souls, does He possess the same love and saving desire for both, or does He reveal a public love and will to save all while contradicting it with a private love and will to save only some?

4. Hamartiology: Was I born simply with an inherited sinful nature inclining me to sin one day when I reached the stage of moral capacity, only then standing guilty before God not for my inherited sinful nature but for my own sinful actions? Or was I born not merely sinful, but actually guilty already for the sin committed by Adam, guilty before God and under His condemnation prior to any sinful deed on my part?

5. Missiology: In the interest of contextualizing the gospel in order to reach a secular culture, should we embrace more culturally acceptable positions on such issues as the environment, the use of beverage alcohol and concerns regarding homophobia?

6. Ecclesiology: Do we favor the Elder Led model of church government common in Reformed circles or the Classic Congregationalism associated with Southern Baptist life? Do we further emphasize such Reformed leadership characteristics as a strong emphasis upon Communion, the heavy use of church discipline measures and a disinclination to report congregational activity in the Annual Church Profile?

7. Christology: When Jesus was on the cross, did He have on His mind the sins of all people everywhere, or did He limit His own atoning work to the souls of only those persons He both knew would be saved and actually caused to be saved.

8. Pneumatology: Does the Holy Spirit regenerate a person’s soul prior to their profession and in order that they will respond with repentance and faith? Or does the Holy Spirit convict someone of sin and draw them to repent and believe, only then regenerating their soul through the inseparable experiences of grace received in that precise moment?

9. Eschatology: Are we to embrace those views popular among the Reformed, such as  postmillennialism and optimistic amillennialism, in which the gospel changes the whole world, ushering in a Golden Age? Or do we favor the more pessimistic view of dispensational premillennialism, the most popular view among Southern Baptists generally, in which worldly matters grow increasingly worse, followed by the Rapture, the Tribulation and the Second Coming?

That TULIP Mania has spread theologically, not to mention culturally and practically,  suggests that Southern Baptists have two distinct parties, each defined by a list of irreconcilable doctrines. With differences great enough to threaten a schism, the way to avoid one is to admit that fact and deal with it directly. As a matter of conscience, for example, one group might not wish to support the sending of missionaries and planting of churches promoting the other group’s doctrines. Can we not accommodate those wishes? If both sides are going to walk through this TULIP field hand in hand, then by God’s grace, we must not ignore all the obstacles, but tiptoe through them with more careful precision than the bizarre 1960’s icon Tiny Tim ever imagined possible.

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available

Pamela Rodriguez

The Baptists have always been in the “Calvinist” camp because of their belief in “eternal security” (perseverance of the saints). Those who believe that one can lose their salvation fall into the “Armenian” camp, such as the Pentecostals, etc… People fall into one or the other camp either Armenian or Calvanistic. There is no middle ground. Calvanistic Christians (believes in eternal security) can reject the other Doctrines such as; Amillennialism,etc…There always seems to be worry about the influences of “Calvanism”. I never hear about any worry over the influences of “Armenianism”! I’m more concerned about the influences of the “Armenian” belief (losing one’s salvation)in the Baptist Churches due to the influences of the Nazarene and Assembly of God(Pentecostal)Churches. It seems like the “Free-will Bapists” have been influenced by Armenian Doctrine.
When I was a new Believer in Jesus I attended Pentecostal Churches. Because of the Armenian belief of losing one’s salvation, I lived in bondage to the fear of losing my salvation. Then I started going to a Baptist Church where for the first time I heard about the Biblical Doctrine of the eternal security of the Believer and found great relief, peace, and freedom to live and serve Christ!

    Rick Patrick

    Pamela,

    I join you in rejoicing over the doctrine of eternal security. In fact, the P of the TULIP is my favorite petal, and one I share with my Calvinist friends. Believing in it distinguishes me from an Arminian. I would not be comfortable describing myself that way–even if one were to use the term “Modified Arminian.” Of course, I disaffirm the label Calvinist as well.

    When you claim there is no middle ground, I’m afraid it marginalizes me, leaving no room for my view of Traditionalism, which indeed falls between Arminianism and Calvinism. For an excellent summary of this view by Dr. Eric Hankins, click on the link in the upper right corner of this site, which reads “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation.”

    Eternally Secure in Christ,
    Rick

      Johnathan Pritchett

      It is also worth noting that Arminius himself never stated one way or the other the issue of “losing salvation”.

tim G

Rick, I liken it more to a dance than a tiptoe :)! And since Baptist have a hard time dancing, this dance will be tough to say the least!

Great post!

    Rick Patrick

    Tim,

    Thanks, and you’re right about our dancing. For that matter, we don’t even clap to the music very well! I’m glad you caught the “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” reference, although Tiny Tim’s song is disturbing on so many levels: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcSlcNfThUA

R. Smith

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Tulip bubble and other economic bubbles and their causes, I recommend the following:

The Truth About Tulipmania by Doug French
http://mises.org/daily/2564

———

“Early Speculative Bubbles” by Doug French (A free 145p book)
He explains three famous economic bubbles:

1. Tulipmania
2. The Mississippi Bubble
3. The South Sea Bubble.
http://mises.org/Books/bubbles.pdf

By the way, I’ve been a Calvinist as far as soteriology is concerned (5 pt.) and a Dispensationalist for at least the last 40 years to the dismay of some who think you can’t do that. So, it’s not necessary that you give up your eschatology to become a Calvinist. In fact, the biggest supporters of dispensationalism in the 1800s in the USA were actually Presbyterians.

    Rick Patrick

    Thanks for the links and the friendly reminder that not all Calvinists will miss the rapture!

    Lydia

    R Smith, Great link! I have read a lot of history on the South Sea Bubble and the early jobbers in the crude stock market in pubs and coffee houses of London/Amsterdam. Interesting stuff. At least there was a product. Now we speculate on speculations. :o)

    Rick,

    “Determining the scope of Calvinism’s theological implications is vitally important, for if the present tensions in the Southern Baptist Convention represent nothing more than a minor squabble over salvation doctrine blown wildly out of proportion, then our heated theological debates can be attributed to the character flaws and personality conflicts of Ministers Behaving Badly, which sounds like a new television sitcom on NBC.”

    From my “cheap seats” I have noticed a basic change in the theme over the last year or so. We seem to have gone from YRR insisting Reformed is the “true Gospel” and the only place one can go if they want to see the nations rejoice for Christ to now we can cooperate and we are not really heretics or semi heretics.

    Color me confused. What changed?

      Rick Patrick

      Lydia,

      Excellent observation about the Reformed strategy to dial down the elitist rhetoric that was so inflammatory. Personally, I think what changed is that they realized they were attracting more and more opposition–letters in Baptist papers and blogs, churches cutting their funding, a thousand signers of the Traditional Statement, the formation of a committee to address the tensions created by the Reformed Movement’s efforts to Calvinize our institutions.

      I do NOT think their goals or doctrine has changed. I think their tactics have changed. They want to position themselves as the “Unity” people, thus defining others as the troublemakers. “Can’t we all just get along?”

      I believe they want the Traditionalist side to just be quiet, calm down and go away. However, I don’t think this approach will work unless they deal with the real nitty gritty issues.

tim G

Pamela, I have been in Baptist churches all my life and not once ever was eternal security tied to Calvinist beliefs. I agree with the dangers of Armenian ism. My concern with Calvinism is the “how” one is actually brought into a relationship with Jesus Christ and the thought that God offered Jesus to only a few while bringing many into the world with NO opportunity to accept Him. That is why Baptist do not fit into the Calvinistic system of theology in my mind.

Pamela Rodriguez

I’ve always understood that Baptists were generally 4 point Calvanists, some were 5 point.

    tim G

    Pamela, growing up in the SBC I had never heard of Calvinism until my college days. In fact my mentor has always said that if a Calvinists asked, he would reply with 3.5 or 4 based on their terminology. He would then say “but I am not a Calvinist and Calvinist do not define my theology”. And I grew up in a very strong Bible teaching, conservative, soul winning church that was not afraid to take a stand etc.. I was blessed to have three men as my Pastors in younger years who truly taught the Bible. So if what you say you understand was there, I just did not see it.

    Rick Patrick

    Pamela,

    While I am curious to know which books or ministers gave you that impression, I can assure you that Baptist positions run the full gamut of the five point TULIP scale.

    Undoubtedly the strongest petal is PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS, especially when what is meant is eternal security, or “once saved, always saved.” The next most popular petal, in my opinion, is TOTAL DEPRAVITY, which I can affirm as long as it does not also include the Total Inability of man to respond to the Holy Spirit. I suspect many Baptists might stop here and call themselves two pointers, which is hardly a Calvinist at all.

    The weakest position of the five might be LIMITED ATONEMENT. I know many four pointers who accept the Calvinist framework but reject this one petal. Some divide it in half and differentiate the extent of the atonement from the intent of the atonement.

    To me, the rubber hits the road with UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION and IRRESISTIBLE GRACE, doctrines which seem rather inextricably bound together.

    Thus, a Baptist might call himself a One Pointer, Two Pointer, Two And A Half Pointer, Three Pointer, Four Pointer or Five Pointer. Some are happy to identify as Calvinists. Others, like myself, disaffirm the label.

    I mostly just wanted to point out that Baptists are not just Four and Five Pointers.

    Have a blessed day.

      Steve Davis

      The issue with Calvinism is the words they add, e.g. “Total” depravity (which does mean total inability, BTW), not simply depravity as the Scripture teaches (Ro. 5:18,19). Or “unconditional” election, not just election (Eph. 1:4). Or “limited” atonement, not simply atonement (I John 2:2). Or “Irrestible” grace not just grace (Titus 2:13).

        Rick Patrick

        Outstanding insight, Steve! Our disagreement is not with their nouns but with their adjectives. What a helpful observation!

      Robin Foster

      From what I understand, Hershel Hobbs claimed to be a one pointer and he was instrumental in the 1963 BFM.

Pamela Rodriguez

Rick,

First, I should clarify that what I meant about the statement that you have to be either Calvinist or Armenian is concerning the Doctrine of eternal security. Obviously, one can’t believe both. You either believe that you’re eternally secure or you don’t. There is no inbetween place.

Secondly, I’ve understood over the years; that Baptists generally agreed to the 4 points, some 5 points. The trouble was over the Limited Atonement point for those who agreed to the 4 points.

Also, I don’t understand why people object being Calvanist in Beliefs whether 4 or 5 point. It just simply states the Bible Doctrine that one follows. It sure brought peace, joy and relief to my heart after much turmoil that I had before with the Doctrine that I could lose my salvation. Especially, when a Southern Baptist Pastor shared with me the verse in John 10:28-30 “…and they shall never perish…”. It brought such peace like the balm of Gilead pouring over my soul! :)

Blessings to you!

    Rick Patrick

    Pamela,

    Thanks again for your comments. Please let me clarify something that may not have been clear from my post. I am happy if someone’s convictions are Calvinistic for them to believe in all four or five points.

    My concern in the latter half of the post is with defining our denomination’s theology as we cooperate in planting churches and sending missionaries. Many Calvinist churches do not contribute very much to our common missions fund, but spend their mission dollars on strictly reformed parachurch organizations and church planting efforts. This is not easily proven since they are disinclined to complete denominational paperwork.

    On the other side of the aisle, the Traditionalist churches have not yet formed such new giving channels based upon our unique theology. Thus, if we continue contributing to the common fund, we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of planting Calvinist churches using Traditionalist dollars, a matter that grieves our conscience.

    Furthermore, some of our seminaries hire only Reformed professors, thus adopting a theological position more narrow than our denomination itself. This Calvinization also finds expression through other agencies and institutions, so that our denomination’s entities and leaders are becoming more Reformed than our denomination’s churches.

    To summarize, while Reformed organizations have the right to Calvinize the Southern Baptist Convention, they cannot require me to financially subsidize their efforts. My concern with TULIP Mania is not directed at individuals who become Calvinists at all. It is with my denomination’s response to the challenges created by our differing convictions.

      Tim G

      Rick, that is the best concise answer and summation yet! Well done!

        Rick Patrick

        Thanks, Tim.

    Tim Rogers

    Pamela,

    What you have done is take a Biblical passage and interpreted it through a man-made doctrine. While the term “eternal security” is a better term than “perseverance of the saints” the latter term is a term that came from the Council of Dort. As a Southern Baptist the term eternal security is the term I prefer for the simply reason John 10:28-30 is a biblical basis for us to understand Romans 8:38-39. We understand that “scripture interprets scripture” and directs our doctrines not some 15th century theologian.

rhutchin

“Mark Driscoll is not only mired in charges from former members concerning church discipline practices, but he has admitted to the existence of visions so disturbing one wonders how any church member would not feel their privacy violated. In a similar fashion, C. J. Mahaney faces charges of misconduct related to discipline, not to mention a charge of negligence in dealing with allegations of child abuse by staff members.”

Neither of these has to do with theology. Just to clarify, the charges of child abuse related to a family attending Mahaney’s church in the 1990’s. Church staff provided counsel, thus were aware of the allegations, but were not involved in any abuse. All churches today, presumably, routinely notify the police in such situations.

    Tim Rogers

    rhutchin,

    C. J. Mahaney faces charges of misconduct related to discipline, not to mention a charge of negligence in dealing with allegations of child abuse by staff members.

    Don’t see where Rick has said the staff members were involved in the “child abuse”. I do see where it says the staff members were negligent in dealing with child abuse allegations. Mahaney’s charges are for his misconduct that is related to the discipline he and the church staff implemented on those that were abused by other leaders in the church.

      rhutchin

      Less room for confusion if it had said, “…not to mention a charge of negligence by staff members in dealing with allegations of child abuse.”

        Rick Patrick

        Thank you, rhutchin. Your sentence construction is clearer and better expresses my intended meaning.

          Rick Patrick

          In light of further allegations today, my accidental order of phrases in the original post might prove to be the more accurate construction after all.

    lydiasellerofpurple

    “Neither of these has to do with theology”

    Really? SGM teaches that the victims are heinous sinners, too…. as in all sin is equal. Having a 3 year old face her molester and forgive him is beyond the pale and does have to do with “theology”. SGM pastor telling a woman whose husband raped his daughter to just put a lock on the daughters door from the inside and give him more sex has nothing to do with errant theology?

    The cruel and very public discipline methods at Mars Hill (after confession, btw) were not related to their errant understanding of theology? Porn divinations? I cannot even repeat all the other problems with Driscoll on a blog as they are too vulgar but I would definitely think that for a minister these words/actions are a part of his faulty “theology”.

    “All churches today, presumably, routinely notify the police in such situations.”

    Not sure how that erases the past. Just ignorance? Pastors thinking they could handle a “criminal” offense better?

    It also speaks to differences in Ecclesiology where elders seem to hold the keys to the kingdom.

    CJ and company has moved to Louisville, started a Soveriegn Grace church which was meeting in my child’s school until a week ago. SBTS has strong ties to SGM and has been promoted by some of our leaders. The shepherding movement is all about errant theology.

      rhutchin

      ““Neither of these has to do with theology”

      Really? SGM teaches …”

      The theology in view was that expressed in the “TULIP Mania” article. Allegations against the pastors/churches say nothing about the legitimacy of TULIP.

        Lydia

        The theology in view was that expressed in the “TULIP Mania” article. Allegations against the pastors/churches say nothing about the legitimacy of TULIP.”

        Now I am really confused. Does God decree/determine behavior/events or not?

rhutchin

First on the list of theological categories should be God’s Omniscience (especially as it plays out through God’s sovereignty). If God is omniscient, then He knew the elect and the non-elect when He created Adam (even before). Nothing would change from this point to the final judgment. Until the non-Calvinist deals with God’s omniscience and incorporates God’s omniscience into a non-Calvinist theology that makes sense, he really has no complaint against the Calvinists. I have yet to read anything worthwhile on this (including appeals to Molinism).

    Tim Rogers

    rhutchin,

    So, you are saying that God created humans just to destroy them.

      rhutchin

      I am saying that non-Calvinists have yet to deal with God’s omniscience in any credible way, so criticisms of Calvinism tend to rely on deflections from the real issues rather than solid arguments.

      Nice example of deflection with your question.

        Tim Rogers

        rhutchin,

        No deflection at all. According to Calvinists concerning God’s “omniscience” it means God ordains because God knows. Non-Calvinists say clearly that just because God knows does not mean that God ordains. What have I missed?

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Actually, according to Calvinism, God knows because He ordains, not ordains because He knows. It is logically divided as such:

          God’s natural knowledge – decree – God’s free knowledge.

          This is actually theologically bankrupt (Molinism suffers from this as well, since it posits middle-knowledge logically sandwiched between natural knowledge and the decree) because it holds that God’s definite certainty in His knowledge of future contingents is eternally co-dependent on performing an action. Having an attribute co-dependent on an action is unacceptable, impeaches God’s aseity, and ultimately makes the cosmos as necessary as God Himself. This is a complete removal of what it means to be God who is omniscient, because God must do something (decree is an action) in order to know something (knowledge is an attribute).

          Furthermore, what God knows to be the case is unrelated to how something came to be the case within that knowledge God possesses.

          Hence, rhutchin’s whole complaint about omniscience is meaningless and irrelevant.

          This is where it would be helpful if Reformed folks like rhutchin actually read Reformed theology, rather than peddle internet Calvinist arguments.

          Calvinists hold that humans possess a will that is “self-moved” (read Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology). Because the will is self-moved, Calvinism (rightly, in my opinion) can hold that God is not the author of all sin. Because if the will is self-moved, it is not God-moved. However, the difference is that when it comes to soteriology, according to Calvinists, regeneration (An action of the Holy Spirit upon a person total) precedes faith so that the self-moved will can self-move towards Christ in faith.

          Omniscience is unrelated to this issue, as the distinction is not in omniscience, in which that God knows what is the case regarding the the identity of the saved and the damned, but rather, in God’s omniscience, God knows the saved and the damned as well as how it came to be the case that the identities of the people in those two categories came to be in those categories. That is where the disagreement actually lies, the “how”, not the “what”.

          Steve Davis

          I don’t think that the Calvinists I know eould agree. On discussions they are quick to say God knows because He decreed it. Therefore the Calvinist actually limits God’s omniscience. The non-Calvinist says that God’s foreknowledge stems from His omniscience. He simply knows evetything that will happen becausr of His omniscience.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Yep!

        Rick Patrick

        Perhaps a question like: “Does God merely foreknow all those who will freely come to Him or does He also predetermine this outcome and cause it to happen?”

          rhutchin

          Or we might first settle the question, “Does God foreknow all those who will come to Him (regardless how that happens) and did He know this when He created Adam?

          Once that question is settled, the non-Calvinists can get into all the fun of analyzing the implications of this and explain how the Calvinists got it all wrong.

            Rick Patrick

            If you are suggesting that a belief in God’s foreknowledge forces one to believe in His causation, I simply disagree. While I’d love to experience the fun you’re talking about, we are not at all boxed into some corner by God’s omniscience.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Answered already. But once again…

            Yes,

            So?

            It is the “so” part that is problematic for the Calvinists, not for anyone else…which is PRECISELY why it is fun explaining how the Calvinists got it all wrong. ;)

      R Smith

      Are you saying that if a person believe in the omniscience of God that the implication is that “God created humans just to destroy them”? If so, do you believe in the omniscience of God? Does that imply what you said? His point, I think, is that if God knows from eternity past (leaving out foreordaining) that a person that is to be born will or will not get saved, that makes it certain to happen as He knows it will. So, all those that God by omniscience know will be lost will be certaing to be condemned when they are born. So, believing in omniscience without foreordination does not relieve you of the problem that you want removed.. That’s what caused Clark Pinnock to deny omniscience. He saw that if God was omniscient, everything was certain and if everything was certain, man could not have free will (contrary choice). So, he ended up denying an attribute of God so that he could have free will (in his thinking).

        Johnathan Pritchett

        And Pinnock and Calvinists alike have been refuted on this point time and time again by Arminians such as David Hunt and Molinists such as William Lane Craig, as well as many others like Norman Geisler, etc. That Pinnock became an open theist due to erroneous thinking is irrelevant to whether or not his (and Calvinists) reasons are sound or not. In any case, they were not.

        That God knows something for certain includes God knowing what creatures will “freely will” to make those choices certain. How robust is your notion of secondary causation?

        Indeed, properly understood, God’s decree not only renders certain what God knows AND what God chooses, but also renders certain the free will choices of His creatures as well (including their sins, lest we attribute God as the author of them). So long as those choices are freely chosen in the libertarian definition, they are not determined. In a compatibilist definition of free will, those “free” choices are determined. However, if one rejects compatibilism, then who cares about irrelevant objections they make? See the point?

        Problem solved, quite easily too. Knowledge, certainty, and even foreordaining aren’t as related to determinism and a lack of free will as Pinnock, and indeed, Calvinists have asserted.

        Non-Calvinists who are not open theists are not concerned with God knowing logically prior to the creation of the temporal universe who will be saved and who will be damned. That isn’t the issue at all, and trying to make it the issue doesn’t make it the issue, since exhaustive omniscience is unrelated to free will of creatures, as has been demonstrated time and time again.

        That God has decreed the fact of freedom does not entail that God meticulously predetermined the acts of freedom. That God knows the outcomes of those freedoms in advance to foreordination doesn’t entail a lack of freedom, but rather, renders them certain. Their certainty doesn’t render them freedomless in a libertarian sense. The fact that the universe continues to exist while I am freely typing this response demonstrates the following:

        1. I am freely writing this response.

        2. God foreknew from eternity that I would write this response.

        3. God has continued to allow my existence and the existence of the universe to continue while knowing I would freely type this response prior to the universe. Hence, His approval from eternity that the universe exist with this freely typed response to be a part of it.

        4. There is nothing illogical with the affirmation that I could have chosen to not type this response, since this response, like my existence and the existence of the universe, is not necessary, but rather, is contingent.

        5. Even Calvinists affirm that knowledge is not itself causation. Helm affirms this in his book with Boyd, Craig, and Hunt. That isn’t the issue here, which is why rhutchin’s objection is as ill-founded as your follow-up.

        6. That God, in a sense, has ordained that the universe exist and be actualized with my eventual freely chosen act to write this response does not entail God meticulously predetermined my act to write this reply without any deference to His knowledge that I would prior to His ordaining the creation, or more to the point, because of it. God has simply decided to allow it as a foreknown act of freedom in a cosmos where God has ordained the fact of freedom. Hence, a robust understanding of concurrence.

        7. If God had never created the universe, He could still know that I would have freely typed this response even if this universe was never actualized since God knows absolutely everything, including the libertarian free choices of creatures, even if only potential since God’s knowledge attribute is unrelated to His actions in eternity.

        8. The non-Calvinist need not explain “how” God knows absolutely everything whether or not He decrees anything any more than any theist needs to explain how God can eternally exist without beginning or end. That He exists due to the necessity of His nature is a “what” answer, not a “how” answer, because we have no “how” answer, in terms of the mechanics of how a necessary being exists necessarily. In similar fashion, I don’t need to explain how God knows everything prior to creation and independent of actions taken prior to creation. I have no answer as to “how” and don’t need one. I only need to affirm the “what”, which is that God knows everything that is, will be, and could have been but never was. The Reformed explanation (natural knowledge – decree – free knowledge), is a misguided “what” answer that causes WAY more problems than it solves…ditto the Molinist “what” explanation (natural knowledge -middle knowledge – decree – free knowledge) since it is based on the same error that God must “do” in order to “know”.

        9. There is no mystery here. Libertarian freedom exists. Exhaustive foreknowledge exists in God’s omniscience. Foreordaining does not entail determinism. in the same way foreknowledge entails it. God knowing in advance who is saved or damned does not entail God meticulously determining who is what. God ordaining (actualizing) this world as opposed to others does not mean that God meticulously created some specifically to be damned and others to be saved.

        Simple as that. I have seen no arguments that convince me that any of this is contradictory or that these affirmations pose problems for the non-Calvinist like rhutchin mentioned. .
        Somewhere in this objection is two implications that have no basis in reality.

        1. That God foreknows who will be saved and who will be damned implies Calvinism.

        2. That God foreknows who will be saved and who will be damned, AND MORE TO THE POINT, that God chose to actualize this world, thus rendering those final numbers to be the case in reality, implies Calvinism (a theological system of explaining how it is the case)

        I have no issue that God’s ordaining THIS cosmos “to be” renders “certain in reality” who will be saved and who will be damned, persons whom God foreknew would be in those categories. There is no necessary logical connection between this and Calvinism or any kind of determinism.

        It is hard to take seriously the idea of omniscience without foreordaining (which to the Calvinist thus entails determinism) when this objection nevertheless presupposes it. Just saying leaving it out doesn’t mean it is left out in these objections.

        Unless one is an open theist, that the universe exists and God has exhaustive foreknowledge means that God knows the future, and ordained it to be. Hence, you continually presuppose that foreknowledge prior to creation entails determinism.

        This has been refuted, and no restating the problem eliminates the Calvinist error of presupposing that foreknowledge is dependent upon foreordaining and that both entails determinism. Nor does restating the problem refute the non-Calvinist assertion that God foreknowing something, and foreordaining the universe (given that the universe exists, He did foreordain it) does not entail determinism and mean a lack of libertarian freedom within it.

        Once again, the confusion between “what is the case” and “how it comes to be the case” continues with our Reformed brothers and sisters on every matter in the debate.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          In the following paragraph, I meant to say “how” rather than “what” and have changed it below.

          The Reformed explanation (natural knowledge – decree – free knowledge), is a misguided “HOW” answer that causes WAY more problems than it solves…ditto the Molinist “HOW” explanation (natural knowledge -middle knowledge – decree – free knowledge) since it is based on the same error that God must “do” in order to “know”.

Pamela Rodriguez

Just to add… 4 point Calvinism is not Reformed Theology. The Reformed and Presbyterian Churches embrace the full 5 point Calvinism.

David (NAS) Rogers

Just to bring clarity:

One can be a full blown Arminian in theology AND also believe in “eternal security.” While a majority of Arminians do indeed believe that apostasy is possible, that particular doctrine is not one that would keep a person from being labelled an “Arminian.” It is a distortion of the system for that to be the one characteristic which defines it. People need to do some more investigation in understanding Arminianism before deciding to dismiss it.

    Rick Patrick

    Dear David (Not Adrian’s Son) Rogers,

    Thank you for a correction that is very well taken. You bring up a point that makes this conversation more confusing than it needs to be. Since both the terms Calvinism and Arminianism can be used to define a host of different points along the spectrum, it’s hard to be precise. Because both terms can be applied so broadly, I reject either label.

    This partly explains my fascination with the Traditionalist Statement above. I can call myself a Traditionalist with regard to soteriology without any additional fine tuning.

    One Calvinist leader labelled me and every other Southern Baptist a Calvinist of one form or another. Others want to call me a NON-Calvinist, as if my only identity is found in relation to them. Others insist upon calling me an Arminian, which I also reject, if not on the basis of every definition, at least on the basis of auxiliary baggage. Believe it or not, I have also been called a Semi-Pelagian. The one label many Calvinists have adamantly refused to call me is the label that I prefer most since it describes my view with the greatest precision–Traditionalist.

    Thanks again for your good word.

Pamela Rodriguez

R. Smith- Actually, “The Prince of Preachers”, Charles Spurgeon the famous Bapist Preacher was a 5 Point Calvinist! So, I’ve read.

    R.Smith

    Yes, and the great Baptist, John Gill – both premil.

Zach Van Gieson

I find unsettling that mention of personal alleged pastoral misconduct would even enter into this discussion. Personally I reject the Calvinist label but would consider myself a Calvinist sympathizer as I appreciate the way in which they have challenged me personally to think more carefully about own theology. I also take umbrage to the notion of the Calvinization of our seminaries. I am nearly thru my MDiv. at one of our SBC and while I will not deny the presence of a large contingent of Reformed professors never for a moment have any of them attempted to make me Calvinist . to suggest such is unfair and contrary to the reality of the situation. These men have all been a great encouragement to me in my ministry and have been committed above any theological label to faithful teaching. And as a side they have all been rabidly committed to the Great Commission and personal evangelism.

I would humbly ask that you apologize for your borderline ad hominem statements. You nay assert these issues are public knowledge and you would be bright. But are you practicing the golden rule here? Would you want a brother writing about you in this way? By your veiled hints that their theology is somehow undermined by alleged character flaws it could be asserted that we should reject Martin Luther’ s critiques of the Catholic Church because he was a documented and viscious anti- Semite.

Respectfully,
Zach Van Gieson

    Rick Patrick

    Thanks for weighing in, Zach. The personal misbehavior of well known Calvinist leaders was simply used to support my argument that Calvinism’s popularity may be waning in the years to come as its well known leaders face their well known public scandals. I do not consider my observations ad hominem attacks. It is not their theology’s legitimacy that is under attack by their misbehavior. It is the popularity of the movement they champion.

    You are just as free to take umbrage at the notion of Calvinized seminaries as I am free to take umbrage at the Calvinization itself. I’m a faithful Southern Baptist who contributes through the Cooperative Program, but I could not be hired at a certain seminary due to my theology, which is totally consistent with the BFM 2000. I do not speak ill of your professors, but of the process of screening out those who are not strongly Calvinistic. The theology of our seminary faculties should reflect that of our churches.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Ditto this! This is at the heart of the soteriological debate as well. No one wants to kick Calvinists out, but Traditionalists don’t want to fund opposing theology with their dollars when the proponents of that soteriology are the ones doing all the excluding with those very dollars!

      Zach Van Gieson

      Dr. Patrick,

      Those are helpful clarifications, especially concerning behavior related to popularity of a movement . No doubt many are in the YRR movement because it en vogue. As for hiring issues, and since its no secret we are talking about Southern, do you think the Abstract of Principles is contrary to or opposed to the BF&M as one Truett McConnell prof has asserted?

        Rick Patrick

        “Is the AP contrary to or opposed to the BFM?”

        No. A subset is neither contrary to nor opposed to a set, but it does exclude the other subsets.

        The more important question is this one: “Does the AP force Southern to engage in soteriological discrimination against the majority view of BFM affirming Southern Baptists?”

        Yes.

          Rick Patrick

          By the way, while I answered your question about the AP and the BFM generally, you also made reference to a specific issue regarding a Truett McConnell prof.

          If you are speaking of Dr. Adam Harwood’s concerns, let me clarify that his primary emphasis compared the BFM with the Southern Seminary’s Exposition on the BFM and not with the AP itself.

          His issue (inherited guilt vs. inherited sinful nature) illustrates well the relationship between Southern and the rest of the convention. While we can debate whether Southern’s views fit within the BFM, they are clearly not the ONLY views that fit within the BFM, and it is fair to question whether or not they should be asked to broaden their position in order to include those doctrines held by many other Southern Baptists.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Sorry, but these issues are relevant. I know more than a few Calvinists in the SBC concerned about Driscoll’s drivel about Sinai-like “revelations”, for instance. This is how cults are started. Driscoll, while not SBC, casts a shadow among many within it, and it is concerning, even for a lot of Calvinists in the SBC. Mohler and others even seem to have given up defending Driscoll…

    Lydia

    “I would humbly ask that you apologize for your borderline ad hominem statements”

    Exactly how are they ad hominem?

    “. You nay assert these issues are public knowledge and you would be bright. But are you practicing the golden rule here? Would you want a brother writing about you in this way?”

    Is this sort of like how the Physician club works? Never acknowledge any wrong doing by another doctor? Pretend there was never any malpractice? Is that a helpful protection for the patients?

    ” By your veiled hints that their theology is somehow undermined by alleged character flaws it could be asserted that we should reject Martin Luther’ s critiques of the Catholic Church because he was a documented and viscious anti- Semite. ”

    Are you familiar with what Luther called “reason”? Because I believe your statement serves to show you agree with him. Perhaps we would be well served to remember that Luther was trying to “Reform” the Catholic church. And we should never discount his views on any subjects if we are promoting him or his brand of theology.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Ad homenim is just a word he heard somewhere on the internet and thought he’d try it out.

      As with most informal fallacies (whose merit of being actually fallacious is debatable anyway), it is wrongly applied in this context…

      To my knowledge, Rick never argued Calvinism is false because these Calvinists act like irresponsible idiots, so I have no idea why he made the informal fallacy charge..

      One the other hand, it is indeed relevant if one’s “orthodoxy” leads to their “orthopraxy”. Meaning, if their theology informs their behavior, it is a good indicator of the theology.

      The track record of both Catholic and Reformed theology manifested in a rich history of violence, slavery, oppression, etc, while not disproving the theologies, certainly calls it into question as to why such horrendous behavior is deemed acceptable under such theological paradigms.

        Zach Van Gieson

        Jonathan,

        Your reply strikes me as dismissive and insulting. I never accused ad hominem I implied it was borderline.

        Also, it is clear you are extremely knowledgeable about these issues as evidenced by the disproportionate amount of material you have provided. I would caution you towards 1 Cor. 8:1.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          It only strikes you that way because it was intended to be dismissive and insulting. I have no idea why you thought it worth including saying it is “borderline” ad hominem, The use of the disclaimer “borderline” allows you to accuse Rick of it without being called on it. I don’t play that game. It either was ad hominem, which is why you used the term in the first place, or it is not ad hominem, which makes your use of it ill-founded, and the hiding behind the word “borderline” cowardly. You intended it to be ad homimen. Your own words betray your whining here.

          You wrote, “By your veiled hints that their theology is somehow undermined by alleged character flaws…”

          That is exactly what ad hominem would be. Hiding behind words like “borderline” and “veiled hints” that were merely used as a ploy to accuse Rick of something while having an out if ever called on it is exactly what that was. Again, I don’t play that game and see right through it.

          Rick had no reason to apologize for discussing public issues, so asking that he do so deserved the derision you received from me. You can A. Be upset about it. Or B. Get over it.

          As for 1 Corinthians 8:1, I am not using my knowledge to puff myself up over others in my freedom in Christ, but rather pressing it into service in dialog and debate with others. As such, your caution from a prooftext doesn’t even make sense. Your trying to make a 1 to 1 about eating or not eating foods offered to idols and contributing to a dialog on theology with other learned men and women on a subject seems to run afoul. One has to strain mightily, especially in light of what the Bible says about the importance of knowledge, and putting it to use, to make some sort of general theological principle from this verse that “all knowledge of all kinds and in all forms can always puff up people in all kinds of circumstances or discussions of issues”. That principle clearly isn’t here in this verse.

            Zach Van Gieson

            Jonathan,

            I’ m bowing out of this one. God Bless you brother.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            And you as well.

Johnathan Pritchett

Rick, you article is enlightening, but there are some unfortunate aspects to it that I would like to discuss. The theme here is basically that the debate and discussion to this point has thankfully been limited to a few areas of theology regarding soteriology. Sadly, that you have raised other issues under the banner of “Calvinism versus Traditionalism”, you have mixed more theological boundaries that are not as tangential to the discussion as you perhaps think.

As a Traditionalist, I did not realize the scope went beyond the Traditionalist statement on soteriology. I certainly hope this is not where it is going.

As a Baptist, I think debate and discussion is good and healthy on all matters of theology. That theology is discussed at all, even when there is disagreement, is a recent improvement on SBC life than in recent years, so I hope that it continue, and that there is no fragmentation in all the debate and peace talks.

In any case, one need not be Calvinist or Traditionalist to hold a “one or the other” approach to the other issues raised. Indeed, Reformed figureheads in our denomination like Steve Lawson are very much dispensationalists, and others have pointed our their own Calvinism and dispensationalism co-existing in their theological frameworks.

I am quite confused about some of these categories, and I would like some clarification and add some thoughts on them as well. I will quote in total to keep things in proper order. There are some points listed that I think are misguided as being distinctly or Calvinist influence.

“5. Missiology: In the interest of contextualizing the gospel in order to reach a secular culture, should we embrace more culturally acceptable positions on such issues as the environment, the use of beverage alcohol and concerns regarding homophobia?”

Not to make this reply larger than absolutely necessary, I will make claims without backing them up, unless you wish for further discussion on any one or all my assertions.

My first assertion is this. The Bible contains a Doctrine of Ecology. I do not know what is meant by “culturally acceptable positions” when it comes to the environment. I do see what I call “liberal environmentalism” as not so much about actually caring about the environment as it is about power and control through taxation and lifestyle manipulation. That being the case, ecologically concerned Christianity is vitally important, and the SBC needs to have a more robust theology in this area. We need to be promoting a Biblical ecological doctrine to rescue REAL environmentalism from the political left. By this I mean, of course, stewardship. I think it is in the interests of the SBC to be against litter, pick up trashy neighborhoods, fight corporate and individual polluters, and the like. Surely you wouldn’t disagree with this, so I am asking for some clarification on the issues of the environment. As Creationists, I think the Bible demands Christians to be environmentalists in some sense of the word. I think getting back to real environmental activism, or rather proactive activism regarding the environment, and rebuke politically leftist environmentalism is a great culturally relavent and attractive ticket to do Kingdom work and shame the political left at the same time…but that is just me. I don’t see Calvinists holding any different view on the environment here that I have outlined, so I am not sure what the issue has to do with Calvinism, or what constitutes “actually acceptable” approaches. If by “culturally acceptable” it is meant what I have outlined, then I am all for it and I am not a Calvinist.

Alcohol consumption – Outside rebuking drunkenness, this is a Romans 14 issue and should stay that way.

Homophobia. Certainly Christians should not be homophobes. We should stand against political issues of redefining marriage and condemn homosexual behavior, but we should also not go light on condemning heterosexual behavior when outside the marriage union either. I believe that a homosexual can be a Christian, even one that falls into a sexual sin here and there no different than a heterosexual can be a Christian, even though he or she may fall into sexual sin (as is often the case in our churches, by the way). The Bible condemns behaviors, such as unnatural lusts and unnatural sex between same sex partners. It no less condemns natural lusts and natural sex between people of the opposite sex who are unmarried. The Bible does not condemn attraction, and some homosexuals may life a life of chasity and diminishing lust, while never removing the attraction. Attraction is not the same as lust, lest many pastors be removed for constant adultery for their wicked hearts if this were the case. (Matthew 5:28) There must be a mature dialog on this issue, and I don’t see too many Calvinists being any more tolerant or intolerant of the issues surrounding homosexuality than anyone else. I would like clarification as to whether or not you think a non-practicing homosexual can also be a Christian, even if God never removes the same sex attraction? If not, would you care to back that up as being different than unmarried, chaste heterosexuals? If so, how is this related to Calvinism?

“6. Ecclesiology: Do we favor the Elder Led model of church government common in Reformed circles or the Classic Congregationalism associated with Southern Baptist life? Do we further emphasize such Reformed leadership characteristics as a strong emphasis upon Communion, the heavy use of church discipline measures and a disinclination to report congregational activity in the Annual Church Profile?”

It is worth noting that many SBC churches are what I would term “Elder-led congregationalism” as opposed to “Elder-Rule, which I think you probably meant by “Elder led”. Could you please define or clarify this in light of “Classic Congregationalism”. If by “Classical Congregationalism” you mean the church runs the church and is not under a pastor, then count me as a Traditionalist who rejects “Classic Congregationalism” if so defined. A little clarity here would greatly help. As a Senior Pastor, I assume you have a staff and some deacons, and am curious as whether your receive your marching orders from the pews, or do you lead the church and leave voting to matters of staff, finances, etc.? If the latter, I’d say that is “elder-led” (even if we calling the “elders” pastors), though that may be what you meant by “Classical Congregationalism”. Again, just seeking clarification.

“9. Eschatology: Are we to embrace those views popular among the Reformed, such as postmillennialism and optimistic amillennialism, in which the gospel changes the whole world, ushering in a Golden Age? Or do we favor the more pessimistic view of dispensational premillennialism, the most popular view among Southern Baptists generally, in which worldly matters grow increasingly worse, followed by the Rapture, the Tribulation and the Second Coming?”

What has eschatology have to do with Calvinism? As mentioned above, there are many Calvinists who are pre-mill dispensationalism. I even remember a MacArthur message saying something about all self-respecting Calvinists are dispensationalists. :)

Also related is the issue of popularity. What has that to do with anything whatsoever? The BF&M2k seems worded so that many eschatological views can be embraced. Here, I can speak for at least a sizeable number of Traditionalists and Non-Calvinists in the SBC who hold to a Covenantal framework of some degree or other, and a partial-preterism view of eschatology, and outright reject pre-mill dispensationalism. Must we embrace the “popular” pre-mill dispensationalist view in order to be Traditionalists also, or would it not be better to, again, simply limit the debate to soteriology so as not to exclude many, like me, who count themselves in the ranks of Traditionalists?

Please do not think I am attacking here, but I do think raising these issues, while important, should not be included in the current debate regarding soteriology and Calvinism in the SBC. The fear here is that it could further fuel the fire that the outcome of the soteriology issue is meant to shrink the size of the SBC tent rather than to peacefully live within it with all sorts of differing views on non-essentials unrelated either to Orthodox Protestantism or Baptist distinction. I would like some clarity on some of these issues as well. Perhaps some more defining of the meanings I inquired about such as “culturally acceptable”, “classic congregationalism”, etc. would help.

I guess I just do not see the point of having the particular debate and discussion on soteriology be widened to include these other topics, since the boundary lines are not quite as clear as they are with the issue of soteriology. I.e. Calvinists who are dispensationalists, Traditionalists like me who are not. Nor do I understand what is meant by evoking homosexuality and the environment. Some of us believe in evangelizing the homosexual community, and while not compromising Biblical values on behavior or marriage, still reject homophobic rhetoric and contentious approaches to that community, as well as believe that we should care about environmental issues (real ones).

Sorry for the length, but much of this was puzzling.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Also, what is considered “heavy use” regarding church discipline?

    Church Discipline, so-called anyway, is both commanded and expounded at some length by both Jesus and Paul, and in general, it is sorely lacking in many SBC churches, regardless of soteriology. Sadly, in many churches, exercising any discipline towards members at all is considered “heavy use”.

    I must say, I am in complete agreement with those who see the need for more “church discipline” in SBC congregations, regardless of whether or not they are Calvinists.

    God’s name, reputation, and justice are at stake, and too many SBC congregations allow the profaning of Yahweh’s name to continue from within because of neglecting this doctrine. Just this past year we saw the consequences of a lack of discipline from that racist church in Mississippi.

    Ditto the issue of addressing the biggest golden calf in SBC life…those lie-telling membership rolls that are never cleaned up to reflect truth in reality.

    I’ve seen it up close, and one of my former pastors and mentors provides a clear example of this failure of exercising church discipline, which is why I never went back to that church when I was looking for a church to join, despite my own and my family’s strong desire to return there.

    This past year, there is a member there who left his wife and three kids (don’t know if the divorce is final since many months have now passed), has had an on-going public affair with a women complete with Facebook photographs of him and his girlfriend, and has refused to repent despite many private and even some public calls from other members of the church to do so, and continues his claim as being a Christian, living a Christian life (no doubt posting Christian stuff on Facebook as well). He is still a member of this church (though hasn’t attended in a while, naturally).

    After several months, the pastor still refuses to officially bring the matter publicly before the church, dis-fellowship the member for his obstinate, impenitent behavior and direct other members to not associate with him until he repents (as the Bible explicitly commands).

    This man’s name remains on the golden calf (the membership roll).

    This failure of leadership on the issue has consequences that reflect on the congregation, whether they want it to or not.

    1. It means that this church says it is okay to be a Christian and live in continuous, public, unrepentant sin.

    2. One can be a member of this SBC church and be flagrant adulterer,

    3. This church has a complete disregard for Biblical teaching on this matter.

    and most importantly:

    4. This church has zero concern for God’s reputation that the unrepentant sinner bears the name of Christ and drags it through the mud, along with the local church’s reputation by extension, with his lifestyle, all with this church’s implicit approval, since that is the result of non-action taken by the leadership.

    This kind of stuff happens in all SBC churches at some point or other, and dirt is thrown to cover it up or ignorance and people’s feelings are considered a higher priority than God’s reputation and commands.

    The flip side of this, what I have witnessed in many churches I would call “Traditionalist” in their soteriology, is a poor exercising of church discipline when it is actually exercised. I have seen poor, unwed single mothers brought out in front of the church to apologize for having sex and getting “knocked up”, while the actively fornicating men in the congregation sitting next to their girlfriends sit by and watch this nonsense and go un-rebuked in like manner for their own sinfulness everyone knows about,

    In any case, the SBC perhaps needs some “heavy use” of church discipline, since it is better than no discipline at all! God will not be mocked, and the SBC can’t claim to be “Biblical” unless church discipline is executed in our churches. I, for one, am thankful that the Reformed wing of our denomination harps on this issue within the SBC, and saddened by it at the same time, since Biblical doctrine as clear as this should be expounded on equally by us Traditionalists.

    Just my $0.02

      Lydia

      Jonathan, Who disciplines the discipliners? In the caste system hierarchical elder rule structure of many Reformed churches a discipline issue is daring to disagree with the pastor/elders. If the responses to the Trad statement did not convince you there is a problem in this area, nothing will. Go back and read the original Trad Statement thread.

      When a seminary president in charge of training pastors says some people who signed the Trad statement need to be marginalized there is an obviously bigger problem and handing over discipline power to such is dangerous to people. It is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.The SBC employee who made the marginalization statement was not disciplined but rewarded with a seat on the “unity” committee.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        I am talking about discipline in a local church. There is no other Biblical warrant for discipline in that kind of context.

        The church is responsible for discipline, and the pastor is in charge of the leading the church (unless the pastor is the one under discipline).

        Just because there are bad examples of church discipline does mean that good church discipline should not be taught and implemented.

        It is Biblical, and there is no way around it. Like it or not, doctrinal issues warrant discipline within a local church just as much as the “will not inherit” lists of sins that go unrepentant after the process Jesus outlined is exhausted (sometimes that process is not even proper, considering Paul told Titus to boot people out after one or two warnings. In any case, to maintain order and proper function, sometimes a disagreement with the pastors/elders brings about divisions within the congregation. They are right to squash it under whatever ecclesiastical structure they use.

        In a convention, a seminary, or any other context, they can discipline offenders in any manner of Biblical standards, but it could not properly be called “church discipline.”

        If Mohler and others want to speak about marginalizing other scholars and pastors elsewhere, that is their business and purview to do so. Likewise, anyone who wants to sound warnings about them in return are free to do so. But none of that is related to church discipline.

        Contrary to popular opinion, there is no one set of rules for local church structure in the Bible.There are offices of the church, brief descriptions and prescriptions for them, but that is about it. The case for Elder Rule churches are just as valid as congregationalism in my opinion. While I am biased towards sane congregationalism, I can still, critically and without bias, acknowledge that there is no Biblical mandate for it or any alternative model. Unlike Geneva and other places in Europe in centuries past, no one forces anyone to be a member of those Reformed, Elder Rule churches. Like you, I choose to go elsewhere because I share your concerns about that model. However, it is not up to me to decide they are wrong or unBiblical. Congregationalism comes with its own set of baggage and abuses, and I can acknowledge that as well.

        Nothing is perfect until King Jesus returns, but until then, we must do as He commands, and church discipline is commanded, and thus must be taught and implemented, not according to our standards, but as it is written in the text.

          Lydia

          I understand where you are coming from Jonathan. What I don’t understand is that the marginalizing statement was made by someone we have put in charge of training young pastors. And then we are shocked when this sort of thinking and behavior is modeled in SBC churches by young men for whom we have subsidized their education?

          No, we do not have any control over what a local church does. But we also do not have to reward such thinking, either.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Agreed on that point for sure.

    Ben Simpson (@jbensimpson)

    Johnathan,

    It seems that you have hit on something absolutely major here that Rick perhaps unintendedly communicated, namely that to “win” the soteriology debate will never be the end because within this “Traditionalist” movement is a latent Fundamentalism (yourself apparently not included, Johnathan). These men who are spearheading this movement will not be satisfied until the SBC tent (or at least the SBC leadership) is shrunk to only those who are little-t “traditional” Southern Baptists–which is really nothing more than the SBC of post-1960 in which they grew up:
    • believing that God chooses everybody and that man is completely self-determining;
    • that God has no special love for His adopted children;
    • that man is born innocent and only inclined to sin
    • that environmentalists, moderationists, and gays should be demonized
    • that plural-elder-led congregationalism is unbiblical, Lord’s Supper should only be quarterly, church discipline is unloving, and the ACP is the 11th commandment because numbers determine who’ll speak at the next pastors conference;
    • that Christ’s death paid for the sins of even those who will pay for their sins in hell;
    • that people catalyze their own new birth and heart transplant, and;
    • that God has two distinct plans for the two distinct peoples of God (Israel and the Church), leading to two returns of Christ (first for the Church at the rapture and then for Israel at the end of the tribulation).

    If these “Traditionalists” have their way, the tent will shrink considerably, and the actual goal of cooperation for missions will be decimated.

    Great insight, Johnathan!!

      Dean

      Hey Ben, our convention is big enough to have a divergent set of leaders. We have some who believe:
      they can make the Bible say what they want regardless of the author’s intent.
      that hiding their convictions from search committees is not a sin and discipline shouldn’t happen in that case because the poor church just hasn’t been taught the truth.
      that God hates infants because they rebel against their parents by wetting their beds. They must be sent to hell.
      the ACP should be done away with because they would rather sit at Starbucks drinking coffee and reading than soul win – after all God has saved who He loves anyway.
      they have been enlightened and its a shame they have to share the SBC with the simple uneducated.
      that God takes great joy in sending people to hell and we should celebrate when He does.

      We have a big convention.

        Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

        Dean,

        It’s a shame that you see your Calvinistic brothers (you do consider them brothers, right?) in such a distorted way. What you said is in no way representative of the Calvinistic Southern Baptists I’m aware of.

          Dean

          Ben, I assume you were being tongue in cheek with yiur characterization of “trads.” Your comments represent no trad and are obsurd so I was playing along.

          Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

          Well, perhaps I was a bit on these two:
          • that environmentalists, moderationists, and gays should be demonized
          • that plural-elder-led congregationalism is unbiblical, Lord’s Supper should only be quarterly, church discipline is unloving, and the ACP is the 11th commandment because numbers determine who’ll speak at the next pastors conference;

          But, as for the others, what makes you think I was tongue in cheek? Those were either the explicit or at least implied counterparts in my own words for what Rick wrote in the OP.

            Dean

            Ben, no trad I know honestly is trying to return the SBC to the pre 1960’s. I will allow you to define catalyze for me in your words. If you mean it to mean that trads believe they are responsible for their salvation then you are either tongue in cheek or a moron and I do not believe the latter to be true. Certainly all trads understand that God has a special love for His children.He disciplines us, He has prepared us a home, He will not cast us into hell. It is a special love just for us. We just don’t believe He hates everyone else.

            Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

            Dean,

            I never said that “Traditionalists” were trying to return the SBC to the pre-1960s. I said some simply are pushing for the traditional church that they grew up in post-1960. Read my comment again. We all tend to gravitate to and perpetuate what we know from our experience. That’s a sociological fact, and that’s all I was saying.

            By “catalyze” I mean the element that decidedly brings something about. “Traditionalists” believe that God can do all He wants to try to bring about the new birth and the heart transplant but unless man does something, it will never happen. Therefore, according to the “Traditionalists,” people catalyze their own new birth and heart transplant.

            I pray you’ll not label me moronic. That would certainly be against the commenting guidelines TMC has posted: “4. Don’t Take/Make It Personal. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. Immediate revocation of posting privileges will occur. Because lighthearted ribbing is too easily misinterpreted, please minimize such commentary.”

            As for God’s love, wouldn’t you say that God loves all people the same?

            Dean

            Ben, I believe you were pretty clear that we would not be satisfied until we shrink the “SBC” tent, esp.leadership, to post 1960. You made no mention of the church in that statement.

            Now I will answer a couple of your questions. I honestly do not believe you think trads believe we decide when we are going to be saved. Surely you are joking – just poking fun. Regeneration is an act of God not of man. All trads believe this. Trads believe man has a free will. E. Y. Mullins states, “He keeps the reins of government in His hands. He guides the universe to His own glorious end. That end embodies the highest ideals of holiness and love.” Hobbs (the tradest of them all) states, “Man by his free will may accept or reject God’s sovereign will. He is responsible for his choices.”

            Does God love all people the same? I believe God loves all people but not the same.

            As for the moron comment, I was crystal clear I do not believe you are a moron. I have read you too much. As a matter of fact I know I am not your intellectual peer. With that I am off to watch football for the evening. Ben thank you for some delightful chat. You have been a blessing to me today.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Thanks for the reply. I don’t know if I want to say that that is Rick’s personal intent, because I don’t believe it is at all.

      Spokespersons for a movement can not necessarily be held to account for whatever extra-curricular nonsense comes about from certain followers of a movement..Something Traditionalists need to keep in mind as well when discussing Piper versus some of his zealot followers, for example. Sometimes they take what is incidental from their leader and make it the main axe to grind. It happens everywhere. Leaders aren’t necessarily responsible for what their followers DO, but they ARE responsible for how they present things so that those who follow them don’t fall into that kind of extra-curricular nonsense as much as possible.

      That said, I don’t think Rick wants to personally shrink the tent, even if some others in the Traditionalist camp do.

      I count myself firmly in the Traditionalist camp, wrote a defense for one of the articles in the Traditionalist Statement, and don’t want to be excluded from it. I fear that widening the issues could lead some within the Traditionalist camp wanting to see me gone because I don’t embrace a specific set of other doctrines regarding eschatology, ecology, etc.

      For the record, I disagree and debate the merits of Calvinism and soteriology all the time. This does not mean I am against Calvinists, or all that Calvinism or Reformed theology teaches. I am in general agreement with a good deal of it, in fact.

      I attend a Reformed Baptist Church and the pastor is a dear friend of mine. We agree on much more than we disagree, and we can disagree on soteriology with firm conviction, clashing colorful rhetoric even, and then go out and serve the community together and do things that actually matter for King Jesus. :)

      So, I don’t think it is the intent of those who spearhead the movement to do those things, but I do think that the rhetoric of the leaders can impact the followers who may have more angst than the leaders and want those things you listed.

      I just don’t think that is the intent of the leaders. I do pray and hope I am correct on this. Time may tell otherwise, but a fair hearing of Rick, Eric and others suggests otherwise.

      As I don’t attribute to Piper every knuckle-headed thing his followers say (he has enough knuckle-headed comments of his own to blast at, as do we all), I wouldn’t want the same to be said about those spearheading the movement. I know them, they have their gripes, legitimate I think, otherwise I would not associate myself with it, but they and I also have a responsibility to keep the rhetoric and issues firmly up front, lest many sympathetic to the movement take some non-issue and make it the next major axe to grind.

      We’ll know the outcome if the next few weeks are dominated with pre-mill dispy stuff and other issues being discussed and whether the Trad followers think folks like me need to be tossed out of the Trad camp for not believing in all that other theological grids like dispensational schemes or whatever. .

      In any case, that was the sole intent with my reply to the article. I don’t want people to think that I think Rick is trying to shrink the tent, I am just warning of what may result if these other issues are brought to the forefront of the Calvinism vs Traditionalism soteriological discussion.

      Rick Patrick

      Ben,

      It is not at all my desire to limit the size of the SBC tent, but rather to make sure that those in charge of the tent are indeed representative of the entire tent’s membership. It is unhealthy in a democracy for the minority to rule the majority, and in my view, we are moving toward that.

      Although I disagree with many of your bullet point assertions, they do help to illustrate that there are two distinct parties in Southern Baptist life, and that soteriology is not all that divides us, which frankly supports my primary thesis.

      Blessings,
      Rick

        Johnathan Pritchett

        But not necessarily supports it either, frankly, because that would mean you and I are divided because I am not a pre-mill dispensationalist.

        Are we really “divided” because of it though? I would hope not.

        We can divide all these things up to every issue and ultimately find every Southern Baptist divided from every other Southern Baptists and united to other Southern Baptists in ways as well that don’t fit a particular category of “Calvinist” or “Traditionalist”.

        Rick, you and R. Smith are just as likely to unite against me in a discussion on eschatology as you and I are to unite against R. Smith in a discussion on soteriology….etc. etc.

        Hopefully you see the point. Slice the grid into enough pieces and there will be divisions and unions of all kinds in the oddest of pairings and opponents. Divide the pieces small enough and the notion of two distinct parties goes up in smoke.

        Wherever there are two Baptists, there are three opinions on one subject for each person. :)

          Rick Patrick

          Jonathan,

          I certainly see your point about the grid, especially on those issues that are indirectly related to Calvinism, most notably eschatology.

          Having said that, I do still think it is possible to connect soteriology, ecclesiology, cultural worldview and a host of other issues in which most of the YRR present a fairly common profile that contrasts starkly with much of the convention.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Sure. That shadow of the Driscoll sort that hangs over the YRR’s in the SBC. There is a type for sure.

            Though, I do agree with your assessment that the trend will die out. But where I would differ is the that while I think the YRR model of what the young Calvinist and adjacent baggage will come to a sputter, Reformed theology in the SBC will not.

            In the SBC, like ’em or not, there are plenty of old school Calvinists like Steve Lawson telling the YRR’s to grow up…and I think they eventually will. But it won’t be because of Trads like us telling them too, but rather Calvinists like Lawson. Those guys just need the dust we kick up to tell the young and restless folk in their camp to simmer down. Older Calvinists don’t want any chaos, and Mohler deep down doesn’t either since his ego won’t allow him to be seen as anything other than a magnanimous peacekeeper in the eyes of the pew folk. We can trust that if public demands and negative assessments of his SBC image start to turn on him from the Joe and Jane Pews, he’ll pipe down as well and sing a softer tune as well.

            Traditionalists just need to keep applying the right amount of pressure.

        Ben Simpson (@JBenSimpson)

        Rick,

        Thanks for clarifying the real issue. So, the issue is not that there are Southern Baptists individuals and churches who are more Calvinistic. The real issue is one of two things: either 1) there are SBC leaders who are Calvinistic at all, or 2) there are too many Calvinistic leaders in the SBC.

        To the first possible real issue, there have always been Calvinistic leaders in the SBC who gladly serve under the big tent banner of the BF&M, and I’m assuming there will be until Christ raptures us and returns (unless of course, the BF&M is amended to exclude Calvinistic SBs). Calvinistic leaders have served well, and I expect they’ll continue to.

        As for the second possible real issue, are there really too many Calvinistic leaders in the SBC? Is it that disproportionate? There are eleven SBC entities. What’s the proportion of Calvinistic leaders? Let’s see:

        IMB – Calvinistic leader? No
        NAMB – Calvinistic leader? Yes
        SWBTS – Calvinistic leader? No
        SBTS – Calvinistic leader? Yes
        NOBTS – Calvinistic leader? No
        SEBTS – Calvinistic leader? Yes
        GGBTS – Calvinistic leader? No
        MBTS – Calvinistic leader? Maybe
        Historical Library & Archives – Calvinistic leader? Don’t know
        ERLC – Calvinistic leader? No
        Executive Committee – Calvinistic leader? No

        Let’s throw out the HL&A since it doesn’t really matter one’s theology in that position. That gives us an even 10 entities of which 6 definitely do not have a Calvinistic leader. That’s 60%, which is a majority. So, the majority is not being “ruled,” as you said, by the minority. Rather, the majority is “ruling” the majority.

        But let’s go a step further. What if 100% of the entities wanted to call as their leader a well-qualified, godly, Southern Baptist committed to the Great Commission who also happened to be Calvinistic? What would be wrong with that? As long as that man affirmed the BF&M and did a great job in that position, wouldn’t you be fine with that?

          Rick Patrick

          Ben,

          Of your two issues, one is not a concern. Two is.

          Your breakdown of entities is pretty good, although I would include Rainer at Lifeway as a Calvinist even though that institution is not technically an entity. I would also label Allen at Midwestern as a probable Calvinist. I’ll go ahead and assume the next ERLC President will continue the trend.

          That’s 6 of 11 for the Calvinists, since I too exclude both HL&A and Guidestone as theologically neutral.

          If the SBC is only 25% Calvinist, I believe that is what our leadership should look like.

          As to your question about 100% of our leadership being Calvinists, I would not be fine with that, as I thought I had made perfectly clear, because I would not consider this leadership representative of the theological positions embraced by Southern Baptists.

          I think our leadership should look like our churches, and that we are getting a bit top-heavy on the Calvinistic side.

            Mary

            The other problem is that when Calvinists have been put into leadership that they actively discriminate against Trads. Thus the takeover charges. It’s not just about who’s in leadership it’s what do they do once in charge.

    Rick Patrick

    Jonathan,

    I hope you and yours are well and enjoyed the holidays. Thank you for your major contribution here. I’ll respond generally rather than to each precise point.

    First, I am not so much trying to broaden the categories of Traditionalism and Calvinism as I am attempting to illustrate that the differences between the “Young, Restless and Reformed” and the rest of the convention involve an entire host of other issues, in some cases directly related theologically, while in other cases, indirectly related by culture, associations and common tendencies.

    Without overstating the idea of mission creep, let me say that I perceive this movement to be a combination of John Piper’s theology, Jonathan Merritt’s cultural worldview, Mark Dever’s ecclesiological framework and Al Mohler’s denominational connections, among many other influences.

    It’s certainly fair to limit your concerns only to the issue of soteriology. That is indeed the scope of the Traditional Statement. What I’m trying to suggest here is that there is much more contributing to our Southern Baptist tensions than merely salvation doctrine. While I believe it starts with soteriology, I believe related issues deserve consideration as well.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Fair enough.

      Some of the wording seemed a bit vague though. I know you believe in witnessing to homosexuals, you care about the environment, etc as well. But it did seem odd with your wording that you thought typical southern baptists did not favor these things in general.

      Perhaps in subsequent posts, you can take these items in discussion one at a time, and give us a specific take on these issues and how they differ from many in the Reformed camp on these issues.

        Rick Patrick

        Thanks again for your interaction. It occurred to me that other issues probably could and should have been mentioned. I wrote this essay prior to the Connecticut tragedy, but realized in its aftermath that we also have a different approach to theodicy, with Calvinists explaining that God “ordained” such events, while others are more comfortable with the word “allowed.”

RobertSC

“Furthermore, some of our seminaries hire only Reformed professors, thus adopting a theological position more narrow than our denomination itself.”

There are only 6. If you make such a stong claim, please be specific.

Thanks! Happy New Year!

    Rick Patrick

    RobertSC,

    Thanks. Happy New Year to you as well.

    And I’m glad to oblige, with a minor edit. Many of us believe that Southern Seminary hires “almost exclusively” Reformed professors. At least, we see a greater Calvinism there than exists in the convention as a whole, which is the general concern.

    If I were to name another, despite the protestations of its President, I would have to mention Southeastern, although to a lesser degree.

      Mary

      On Founders Website they have Al Mohler declaring that he would use the Abstract to ensure only those who follow DOG would be on staff. This hasn’t been in dispute. Al Mohler has for years actively discriminated using the Abstract of Principles. What the Calvinists are now doing is moving the goal posts and coming up with all sorts of “well this person isn’t really a Calvinist because he’s a 3.5 or 4 pointer.” Al Mohler has been very honest that he discriminates beyond the BFM by using the Abstract. Now that the jig is up you get these people trying to claim that 3.5 or 4 pointers aren’t “really” Calvinists. The fact is that people like Jerry Vines, Adrian Rogers, Paige Patterson…. would not be welcomed by Al Mohler at Southern Seminary. Of course he would be very politic and say absolutely they’re welcomed but the proof is in the pudding. No one who would be described as Traditionalist is welcomed by Al Mohler and what we’re seeing is that only those who fall in line with Al Mohler are now the only ones qualified to write SS mateirals for Lifeway, plant churches for NAMB or be considered as President of a Seminary. The Calvinists have now taken over three seminaries. Two of which actively use the Abstract of Principles beyond the BFM for qualifications of employment.

Shawn

To My Brother, Rick,

Thank you for your insights. I would offer a point of correction here. Just because you perceive that Southern hires “almost exclusively” reformed professors does not support the implication that they discriminate against non-reformed professors. Mohler’s stance/theology attracts more reformed-minded people — that is why you perceive greater Calvinism there than in the other seminaries. But he has hired (and I dare say will continue to hire) qualified non-reformed professors. I know because I was an adjunct professor there (I am reformed, but I knew others who were not). I would also remind you that we have only one seminary where the president has actively sought to discriminate against and remove professors who disagree with his particular soteriological position, and that is Southwestern. And Paige has done this even though the BF&M2K does not in any way exclude Calvinists. So as I noted in a response to Adam Harwood’s article, it seems that Southwestern has “an institutional commitment to a theological position which is not affirmed in the BFM and excludes many Southern Baptists.”

Thank you for your labors, brother.

    Lydia

    “I would offer a point of correction here. Just because you perceive that Southern hires “almost exclusively” reformed professors does not support the implication that they discriminate against non-reformed professors. Mohler’s stance/theology attracts more reformed-minded people — that is why you perceive greater Calvinism there than in the other seminaries”

    Shawn, My state government bureaucracy overwhelmingly hires people who are in the democrat party. Finding a republican or a conservative working in any capacity is almost unheard of. Even if they are there, they are quiet about it.

    What should that tell me? Obviously, I cannot “prove” they discriminate against republicans. But what should I glean it?

      Shawn

      Lydia, you could glean several things: that more democrats apply for state jobs, that republicans generally have an aversion to bureaucracies and don’t apply, or that democrats in the positions to hire others discriminate against republicans. There are many options when we take a step back and try not to interpret appearances on the basis of our conspiracy theories.

      Secondly, if you are, on the basis of principle, opposed to denominational leaders pushing a particular soteriological perspective beyond the bounds of the BF&M2K, then that principle should be applied across the board, not just to those whose perspective you disagree with. As it is, it seems the traditionalists are not interested in principle, just their particular brand of theological politics. You seem to deride what Mohler has done as horrible, while elevating what Paige is doing as something great. (This is evidenced in Harwood’s article).

      The BF&M2K is our denominational statement, and it accommodates us all — by design, I might add. I am glad for the opportunity to have these kinds of discussions in our convention. They are long overdue. But I would hope we would be humble and loving, not dismissive or belittling, not exaggerating one another’s flaws, or mischaracterizing the whole of a theological perspective on the basis of the moral failings of a couple prominent persons. Such venom diminishes the good and the understanding that could be fostered in these exchanges.

      Lydia

      “You seem to deride what Mohler has done as horrible, while elevating what Paige is doing as something great. (This is evidenced in Harwood’s article).”

      You will never catch me defending Patterson. I have huge issues with him going way back. The truth of the matter is that his power days are over. His influence has waned and you all know it. There really is no Trad leader everyone is rallying around. Unlike Mohler, who is the undisputed leader in not only the SBC Reformed wing but the Reformed resurgence.. And I think there being no major Trad leader everyone looks to is a GREAT thing and very Baptistic. It is more like who we are.

      If Patterson has said that only Non Calvinists want to see the nations rejoice for Christ then you might have a point. Or that he thinks the YRR in the SBC should be marginalized. You guys would have a fit and then declare war..

      ” But I would hope we would be humble and loving, not dismissive or belittling, not exaggerating one another’s flaws, or mischaracterizing the whole of a theological perspective on the basis of the moral failings of a couple prominent persons. Such venom diminishes the good and the understanding that could be fostered in these exchanges.”\\

      Saying some should be marginalized was not only venomous but extremely arrogant for an employee of the SBC. The that fact he was rewarded for it with a seat on the “unity” committee tells me exactly where this is going. I am sorry you cannot see seems to suggest it is the new normal for our leaders.

      About the only thing you guys can do is try to censor negative truths or rebuke the person who brings them up. It usually works, too. But not with me. :o)

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Ditto.

        And I am not a Patterson fan either.

        The SBC is in decline and is a disaster no one wants to talk about. It is certainly bigger that Traditionalism versus Calvinism for sure.

        But that is another topic for another time, though the long and short of it is that the ENRIRE current Denominational and Seminary leadership, regardless of their theological camp, needs to be set out to pasture. Their combined failures, in all areas of SBC life and operations, has a ten year track record that has gone overlooked long enough. Their time has long passed since they havebuilt done realI good into andthe for thethe SBC and people need to recognize that thre treading water in tat the midst of stacking failures needs to come to an end.

        I am sure they are good people and all, but their era is long done and they just aren’t equipped for this present context.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Sorry for the typos…posting from a phone.

    Rick Patrick

    Shawn,

    Thanks for your correction. I am glad to know Dr. Mohler hires non-reformed professors.
    I hope he will continue to hire more and more of them until the faculty at Southern Seminary is soteriologically proportionate with the convention generally.

    Perhaps when that occurs all other Seminary Presidents, who may or may not be screening on the basis of soteriology, will be encouraged to follow suit, resulting in a balance among educators at each of our seminaries that presents a healthy reflection of the entire SBC.

    Blessings,
    Rick

      Johnathan Pritchett

      While I have been in an ecumenical mood lately, I do think that that balance should not be an even 50/50 balance, but rather one that reflects the actual balance in the SBC, which is, by somewhat sizeable majority, not Calvinist.

      However, I don’t think that the seminaries themselves need to have balance among the professors. I am all for Southern and Southeastern being exclusively Calvinist in their faculty and education outlook, and the other four being exclusively non-Calvinist in their faculty and outlook.

      That 4 to 2 ration seems fairly accurate in terms of the SBC balance, and I think making them exclusive is the right thing to do in order that people may know what they are getting when they attend.

      Of course, even if the faculties ever become exclusive, the assigned material should not be. Reformed professors and students need to engage material outside their own tradition, written by those outside the tradition rather than reading Reformed critiques of other traditions. And the same goes to non-Calvinists regarding Reformed materials.

      I personally can speak to the benefit of reading from all sorts of traditions. Reformed, Arminian, Charasmatic, Catholic, EO, etc. One doesn’t have to accept everything from those traditions in order to simply accept what is beneficial to them. Reading different perspectives on their own terms is always better than getting information only from their critics.

      In any case, I am all for the seminaries becoming exclusively one way or the other. It helps people choose more wisely which seminary they can go to with sympathetic theological leanings.

        Shawn

        Dear Jonathan,

        While I disagree with you theologically, I agree with some of what you have written here. In fact, I think it is already happening on its own. Contrary to many people’s perspective, Southern doesn’t take traditional SBCers and make them Calvinists. It attracts those students who have already come to Calvinistic perspectives, just as Southwestern attracts students who have already come to more Traditionalist perspectives. I also agree heartily that all our seminaries and professors should equip students with the tools to discern which perspectives most closely align with Scripture and then expose students to a wide array of theology. Reading different perspectives is indeed beneficial. Thank you, brother.

          Lydia

          Contrary to many people’s perspective, Southern doesn’t take traditional SBCers and make them Calvinists. It attracts those students who have already come to Calvinistic perspectives, just as Southwestern attracts students who have already come to more Traditionalist perspectives. ”

          This is contrary to what I have witnessed here over last 8 years or so. I know quite a few who moved here to attend SBTS for an MDiv or PhD and were shocked to find it so fully immersed in the Reformed movement in just about every area. So you either join the club or keep your mouth shut.

          Anecdotal, I know. But so was yours.

      Shawn

      My Dear Brother Rick,

      Forgive me if I am unfairly summarizing your comments, but it seems you are saying, “If Dr. Mohler (who actually hires professors with soteriological positions different from his own) makes his seminary more representative of the SBC, then maybe other seminary presidents (like Dr. Patterson, who is actively discriminating against alternate soteriological positions) will be encouraged to do the same.”

      You are calling for more definitive action from one who is closer to your principle while virtually ignoring the actions of one who is diametrically opposed to your principle. (The principle being that our seminaries should be reflective of the entire SBC) Do you admit the bias? Please correct me if I am treating your position unfairly, my brother.

        Rick Patrick

        Shawn,

        You asked me to forgive you so I will. While I am unable to confirm your parenthetical statements, please understand that if Seminary A is too Calvinistic–regardless of its alleged hiring philosophy–I can easily understand Seminary B erring on the side of Traditionalism in order to balance the equation overall.

        My overarching principle, I suppose, is that “what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.”

        While I think our seminaries should reflect the SBC generally, Jonathan’s suggestion that we provide that balance through a four to two split rather than six individually proportional faculties may have some merit after all. But then I must wonder about Midwestern, and whether we are really sitting at three to three.

          Shawn

          Thank you for your brutal honesty, Rick, though it grieves me. What you deride in the agenda of others, you espouse when its suits your preferences. It saddens me when I see it in Calvinists, and it saddens me when I see it in Traditionalists. These discussions are pointless if all we seek is the advancement of our own personal kingdoms. May Christ be merciful to us, and cause us to lay down our idols. . .

            Rick Patrick

            Cheer up, Shawn. You are not giving my position enough credit for its consistency.

            I deride the violence of the man who strikes my wife or child, but if he does so, I will use that very same violence to defend them. You would fault me for an inconsistent position on violence, but I tell you, it was wrong for him to hit my family and right for me to stop him.

            If Mohler is building a seminary more Calvinist than the convention, I do not blame Patterson at all for building one more Traditionalist than the convention.

            It’s not a matter of personal kingdoms and idols, but a matter of fair representation in the institutions that serve all Southern Baptists.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick, brother, that is a very telling analogy. Are you sure you want to place what Mohler is doing at SBTS on par with beating your wife and child?

            Rick Patrick

            Oh, for Pete’s sake, Randall. There is NO WAY any reasonable person would read my metaphor and claim I was accusing Mohler of assaulting anyone or characterizing his Calvinization of the seminary as an attack.

            If I have to explain the metaphor in boring terms, try it this way: It is not an inconsistent position to disapprove of one party initiating a certain behavior while at the same time approving of a second party engaging in that same behavior as an appropriate response to the first party.

            Please. Just please.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            You said:

            I deride the violence of the man who strikes my wife or child, but if he does so, I will use that very same violence to defend them. You would fault me for an inconsistent position on violence, but I tell you, it was wrong for him to hit my family and right for me to stop him.

            Then:

            If Mohler is building a seminary more Calvinist than the convention, I do not blame Patterson at all for building one more Traditionalist than the convention.

            Apply the analogy: Only if Mohler’s actions are so heinous as to be on par with striking your wife or child is Patterson’s reciprocal action justifiable…according to your analogy.

            Otherwise, you are only pointing to what you perceive as bad behavior to justify equally bad behavior…in which case Shawn’s analysis is spot-on.

            Rick Patrick

            You still don’t get it. That which is bad behavior for the instigator can be good behavior for the responder.

            My analogy NEVER implied that Mohler’s behavior had to be on par with a crime. It used the figurative language of self-defense to show that sometimes an action might be proper as a response that would be improper as an initiative.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            If you are unprepared to place Mohler’s actions on par with striking your wife or child (again, your analogy) then your categories of “instigator” and “responder” are predicated entirely upon your personal bias…and Shawn’s analysis was spot-on.

            Mohler is the “instigator” on no other grounds than that you dislike Calvinism, while Patterson is merely “defending” on no other grounds than you approve of his Traditionalism.

            Your entire premise works just as effectively (or ineffectively) when argued inversely.

            Rick Patrick

            Shawn,

            You appear intent to force a meaning upon my metaphor which I clearly disavow, so let me say it plainly. All metaphors break down. My metaphor breaks down any time the idea of violence is the prevailing consideration. The intent of the metaphor was to point out the difference between taking an action first and taking the same action second and in response to the first action.

            That is why, if your assertion is true and Patterson is building a Traditionalist Seminary, I could excuse him for doing so in response to Mohler’s building of a Calvinist Seminary.

            Don’t make this about violence. Really. Any further comment is unproductive.

        Mary

        It is absolutely not true that Mohler hires professors with differing soteriological positions from his. He has publically declared that he would use the Abstract of Principles as a litmus test to make sure everyone at Southern was in line with DOG. You can find his words over at Founders where he talks about taking Southern back to it’s roots using the Abstract.

        Patterson on the other hand actually has on staff Calvinist professors.

    Adam Harwood

    Shawn,

    Because you mentioned your comment to my previous essay, I’ll comment here also:

    Your suggestion (which is asserted but not supported) that Patterson advances a theological agenda at SWBTS has no bearing on my thesis. It is SBTS–not Southwestern–which has published a document advocating a view not found in the BFM. Where has SWBTS published their interpretation of the BFM? You have not demonstrated a “institutional commitment to a theological position which is not affirmed in the BFM and excludes many Southern Baptists” by SWBTS. You have suggested an inclination in hiring practices, which is a different issue.

    Thanks, brother.

    In Him,

    Adam

Zach Van Gieson

Lydia,

I in no way implied participating in cover ups or looking the other way. Rather I was suggesting making statements about things with which we have no direct personal knowledge is sometimes slippery. Besides that Dr. Patrick clarified what he meant and I accept that response.

Also, thank you for the education on Luther. Somehow I missed that. Incidentally I wasn’t seeking a debate about Luther I was using an illustration.

    Lydia

    Thanks Zach, The illustration fit perfectly with my point but Jonathan said it better concerning orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And I do have personal knowledge about SGM and it’s practices. What Rick mentioned is simply public knowledge. He does not have to know SGM, CJ Mahaney or SGM pastors to mention it. And NOT to acknowledge a huge problem with the systemic false teaching from SGM (this was not just one SGM church) concerning molestations and rape is simply “looking the other way” because they are pastors. That cannot be good, either.

    The lawsuit is public and you can read it online. There is also the inconvenient fact that some of the victims families did contact the authorities later inspite of being told not to by SGM pastors and we know as a result there was a conviction and imprisonment. This result was contrary to SGM’s advice to victims to forgive and forget

Pamela Rodriguez

Rick, To answer your question about what books I read or which ministers gave me the impression that Baptists were Calvanists, I don’t remember. I’ve received Christ as my Lord and Savior 32 years ago. It was in my early Christian years. I read alot and questioned Pastors alot. I went to various Baptist Denominations.

But, what I’m hearing about Baptists not being Calvinistic is new to me. I understand that the Doctrine of eternal security comes from Augustine, down to Calvin, down to DL Moody,etc…Although their beliefs differed from one another.

It seems to me that “Eternal Security” and “Perseverance of the Saints” mean the same thing as, “once saved always saved”. I don’t see any difference.

R. Smith

To Dean says:
@ January 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm
There was no way to post under your post, so I’m putting it here.

You said: Hobbs (the tradest of them all) states, “Man by his free will may accept or reject God’s sovereign will. He is responsible for his choices.”

Where could I find that quote and what do you think of it? I don’t doubt that he said it, but it sure is hard to understand how he could make such an awful statement.

    R. Smith

    Clarification: My question doesn’t apply to, “He is responsile for his choices.” for I agree that God does hold man responsible. It’s the first part that is totally outrageous to me.

      Tim Rogers

      R. Smith,

      I do not know where the quote you referenced came from. However, I looked to Dockery and he does not report on Hobbs beliefs with that statement that I can find. Here is what Dockery says about Hobbs;

      He [Hobbs] maintained that God chose to limit his sovereignty so that men and women could either accept or reject God’s salvific offer in Christ.56

      I left the reference in place because I have the book in my library that Dockery referenced to make his statement. He referenced Hobbs book Fundamentals of our Faith on pages 91-93 to support his analysis. I give you two exact quotes from that book found on page 92 and 93.

      2. The free will of man.–Over against the sovereignty of God the Bible places the free will of man. God made man in his own image (Gen. 1:27). Man is a personality with the power of choice (Gen. 3:1-6); he is capable of a sense of guilt (Gen. 3:7); he is morally responsible for his decisions (Gen. 3:8-24; Jer. 31:29-30; Ezek. 18:2; Rom.1-3).

      …When man sins, God imposes the higher law of his mercy and grace (Eph. 2:1-10). God takes the initiative to save miraculously in accord with his righteousness and love. Hence come the incarnation in Jesus and his crucifixion. resurrection, and continuing intercession. But the free will of man is involved, for he must either accept of reject the saving overtures of a righteous and loving God. Even the sovereignty of God is limited by God’s moral and spiritual laws and by the nature of the free will of man.

      Hobbs goes on to say on p.94 that God’s “foreknowledge” is not synonymous with God’s “fore-ordination”. Here is the way Hobbs describes it.

      “The foreknowledge of God simply means that God knows all things before they happen. God knew beforehand who would accept or reject his overture of Grace.

      But a person’s foreknowledge of an event does not make it a part of his will or planning. In his finite foreknowledge he may know that automobiles are going to crash and people will be killed. But he does not will or cause it. The infinite foreknowledge of God removes all uncertainty, but it does not make God responsible. Predestination with regard to salvation, on the other hand, simply means that God has predetermined that those who respond affirmatively to his call or election will be justified, or declared righteous, and furthermore will be glorified. All of this is “according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28; Eph. 3:11).

      I believe Hobbs gives a clear biblical based presentation concerning the depravity of man along with the foreknowledge and predestination of God.

    Dean

    R Smith, sorry for delay in answering your question. The book is “What Baptist Believe.” Broadman Press, 1964. It is found on page 107. The same page that the Mullins quote is found. The section has to with salvation and in particular election or predestination.

    Dean

    R Smith, I don’t have book in front of me now. I am sure he says election has to do with salvation and evangelism. I am working from memory but I believe he says in evangelism God has elected man to share the Gospel. He elected you to do that. That is His soveriegn choice. You however may choose not to soul win and be an unfruitful Christian. He believes the same may happen in salvation. Again I know the quote is accurate, I double checked it, but if I have misrepresented Dr Hobbs in the explanation I am sorry.

Adam Harwood

Dr. Patrick,

Thanks for your post, which demonstrates that a conversation about Calvinistic theology must include more than the doctrine of salvation.

In Him,

Adam

Pamela Rodriguez

Church history is another good thing to study. Roger Williams who founded the first Bapist Church here in America was a Calvinist. A person can read up about him in the Wikepedia. How some Baptists moved away from Calvanism is interesting.

Matt

Rick, there’s no reason to think Traditionalist doctrine and practice is succeeding and everything’s Calvinism’s fault. Thanks for holding down the Traditionalist fort. If you claim the name of Traditionalist, then you claim the current predicament of church decline in the “16 million member” SBC.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

“Nearly three-fourths of Southern Baptist churches nationwide are in decline or stagnated in terms of membership, the Florida Baptist Witness newspaper reports. The denomination is losing 900 churches a year, said NAMB president Kevin Ezell.”

Reference:
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/features-the-religion-world/2012/12/27/southern-baptists-workshop-how-to-stem-decline/

    Rick Patrick

    Au contraire, Matt with no last name. If Traditionalism must be saddled with the general decline of Christianity in America, then we would expect Calvinist denominations, such as the Presbyterians, to be flourishing, which is certainly not the case.

      Matt

      Who cares what my last name is? No way in the world would I put my last name up here! It’s in my email address which if for your eyes. “Lydia” trolls these blogs and, to my knowledge, no one has asked for her last name. But then again, I assume she’d agree with everything you say so no need to call her out.

      The point I made was simple. No need to bring Presbyterians into this. The SBC is declining. All can acknowledge that. Traditionalist doctrine and practice build the SBC into the “16 million member” monster that it is. Your very own definition of Traditionalism encompasses the past 100 years of SBC life. If you claim Traditionalism, then you claim it’s current state of decline. The logic is simple on this. SBC Calvinists didn’t create the SBC decline. There’s no way in a million amillennial years you’d ever admit that Traditionalist doctrine and practice have failed to produce a healthy SBC environment.

        Rick Patrick

        Fine to remain anonymous, Matt. I just get chippy whenever Calvinists make what I consider to be an arrogant insinuation, namely, that Traditionalism is the problem for which Calvinism is the solution. Please come save the day with your five points.

        My point is that one must view the decline of the SBC within the general framework of the overall decline among all Christian denominations, including Calvinist ones. If your premise is right and Calvinism really is the answer, we should expect Calvinist denominations to be prospering, which they are not.

          Matt

          When did I state that Calvinism is the answer? I went back and re-read what I wrote and I never stated that. I made an observation that if Traditionalism has ruled the day then it must take ownership of the current state. Decrease in membership across the board for all denominations is different than the fact that the SBC claims to have 16 million members and less than 6 million show up. Clearly, a biblical understanding of discipleship has been missing in SBC Traditionalist life for the past 100 years.

          By the way, I assume nothing less than unbecoming sarcasm from a pastor that spends most of his day on this blog and other anti-Calvinist blogs.

            Rick Patrick

            I do not blame Calvinism or Traditionalism for the decline in America’s churches, whereas you have blamed Traditionalism for the decline in the SBC. I think that’s unfair.

            By the way, whenever I post, I interact with readers in my spare time, usually my day off or my weekend.

            I hope you have a blessed day, Matt.

        Lydia

        Hi Matt, I saw you invoked my name as a troll. I will have you know I go to a lot of trouble not to look like a troll with makeup and a few highlights here and there but am often not successful. :o)

        One reason I do not blog with my last name is that early on I got death threats and even folks who found where I lived and harassed me over comments. And guess what? They were from “Christian” blogs. That was a few years back in the wild west early days of blogging.

        My DH was furious since he travels a lot and we both agreed it was only an attempt to censor and scare me. So, no more using last name. Blogging has been an eye opener on what calls itself Christendom. All the threats and hatred done in the name of Jesus to protect the institutions/celebrities, of course. I never knew there were so many very angry young men in Christendom. It is chilling. But perhaps I am just naive because I do not believe God controls every single molecule so their totally depraved behavior after proclaiming Christ is the norm?

        There are even blogs I would never comment on because of how others have been pursued. You have no idea how grateful I am the Diests founded our country and gave us freedom of religion and speech contrary to the Puritan rule. I would have been burned long ago. (wink)

          Matt

          Sure. Not that non-Traditionalists don’t have their websites tampered with by by people watchers …

            Lydia

            Matt, I am sure. There are scary people everywhere. But the scariest ones are the ones who do their scary in the Name of Christ no whether they are Calvinist, Trad or IFB, etc.

            “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” CS Lewis

      Randall Cofield

      Rick,

      Yet “Matt with no last name” wasn’t referring to “the general decline of Christianity in America.” He plainly pointed to decline in the SBC, and you shifted the question.

      If, as you claim, the SBC is predominately “Traditionalist,” then it only stands to reason that if the SBC is in decline “Traditionalism” must own the lion’s share of the blame.

      This is precisely why reform is needed.

      (Ladies and gentlemen, please fasten your seat belts)

        Rick Patrick

        Randall,

        You claim I “shifted” the question. I prefer to think of it as “placing the question in its appropriate logical framework.”

        If all churches and denominations are in decline, then I don’t think you can myopically consider only the SBC and then infer that the majority view in the SBC is alone responsible, nor can you infer that the minority view in the SBC is the answer.

        If your premise is that Calvinism solves the problem of Traditionalism, we should see Calvinist denominations in America flourishing. Because we don’t, we must look outside of the Calvinist-Traditionalist discussion for the overall issues in our culture and society that are driving the decline of Christianity generally, which of course impacts the SBC specifically.

          Randall Cofield

          Rick,

          Yet SB churches are experiencing a decline that is unique in conservative evangelicalism: 16m members, 10m AWOL.

          That can indeed, as Matt pointed out, be placed squarely at the feet of populist “Traditionalism.”

          One in your own camp raised that issue on this very thread. And, though you posited a very critical (and over-blown) stance toward Reformed church discipline in your piece, you failed to address his concerns.

          That is very telling, and until “Traditionalists” both own and address this issue, the SBC will continue its decline.

            Rick Patrick

            Randall,

            I get it. You and Jonathan both agree with Mark Dever in purging the rolls of absentees. Fine. If I were starting a new church, I might even approach matters the same way. See, it’s not that big of an issue for me.

            But suppose all our churches did it tomorrow. Instantly the Southern Baptist Convention has 6 million members. Nothing has really changed, except the absentees are now prospects instead of members. They’re still not coming, so it has no real impact.

            You know, if that’s what it would take for people to stop yacking that “We have 16 million members, but half never even come!” then maybe we should do it.

            Better yet, why not negotiate a deal? We’ll drop the absentees if the Calvinists will report all their information on the Annual Church Profile, completely disclosing everything.

            Regardless, I do not believe our patterns of church discipline related to membership rolls is the reason for our decline at all.

            lydiasellerofpurple

            Better yet, why not negotiate a deal? We’ll drop the absentees if the Calvinists will report all their information on the Annual Church Profile, completely disclosing everything.”

            Would that include every penny spent to plant reformed only churches? And the money spent on any Acts 29 partnership or support over the last 5 years? Even those who now are distancing themselves from Acts 29?

            lydiasellerofpurple

            “You and Jonathan both agree with Mark Dever in purging the rolls of absentees.”

            Oh dear, this would not work for us. We are one of the few places that still love old people. Many are reluctant absentees but clearly wed to their church in spirit. I know cos I visit them all the time. But they are technically absentees.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Why does my agreement about membership rolls have to link me to 9Marks simply because they say it too?

            This was precisely my problem with expanding a soteriological discussion to include other issues within it.

            Anyway, Traditionalism is not to blame for the decline. Nor is Calvinism. The leadership of the Convention and seminaries are to blame for it, regardless of their theological leanings. Next would be the pastors, and then the deacons. Leadership should be held responsible. If they don’t want the responsibility, they shouldn’t be leaders.

            If this were a business, and the SBC, from the Convention to the tiny rural churches, loves to run itself like a business…we know what would happen.

            Those old guys have been in those Seminary and Convention spheres for the past decade presiding over the decline. They need to go, the convention needs to revamp its efforts, and the seminaries need to retool themselves because they are cranking out the pastors that have also presided over the decline in the local churches. It is a complete failure from top to bottom, but the buck stops with the leadership, not the pews, because the leadership’s stance filters all the way down to them.

            Furthermore, knowing the revamping and retooling is necessary, why in the world would we leave it to those who have presided over the decline stacking failure on top of failure to continue to lead the way? It would make zero sense to do that.

            Christianity declining in general is no excuse for the current disasters in all sectors and endeavors of the SBC, nor is it an excuse to sit on our rears, but a reason for the opposite and get off of them.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            lydiasellerofpurple, I love “old people” too. It sounds like you are talking about shut-ins. No one I know of wants to exclude shut-ins at all from membership. Shut-ins aren’t a part of that discussion.

            When I was a pastor, I went to visit the shut-ins almost weekly. I am such an advocate for them that I insist their vote should be taken at business meetings for crying out loud. I may not have even been fired from that church I was last pastor had their vote counted like the Jezebel and her pagan clan’s votes that ousted me.

            We were a church that started with 13, and in a few short months were running about 45-55 for worship. While I was doing my residency for seminary, I was voted out by seven people (out of 11) who showed up to vote.

            Go figure… But don’t make the membership roll issue include something it never has by anyone who believes membership matters, and that rolls, if a church is to have them, should be well maintained and accurate (a principle gleaned from 1 Timothy 5:9-10).

            Randall Cofield

            Jonathan,

            Well said. On this we are on complete agreement.

            lydiasellerofpurple

            It sounds like you are talking about shut-ins. No one I know of wants to exclude shut-ins at all from membership. Shut-ins aren’t a part of that discussion”

            I understand where you are coming from but therein lies the problem of this mass plan to purge membership roles. We have people who live in another state 6 mos a year. Or college students who visit 3 times per year who are on the roles.

            I agree with Rick that this does nothing to fix any problem. Many churches would not even know where to start. There is not a mega church in the country that publishes true numbers. They don’t even know.More attend than are members. Members join and don’t come back. Then you have the problem that many attend religiously who never join for reasons for which we should be more compassionate. One example is a dear friend of mine who was raised Catholic so officially joining a Baptist church would send his elderly parents into cardiac arrest. His not officially joining and getting his name on a roll is the only formality. Everything else he is comitted to which quite frankly makes him a functioning member even more so than members who never get involved.

            Some pastors read this and think it is lack of committmen and wrong. I understand where they are coming from because this is their business…growing a local church.

            BTW: Does anyone know the name of Paul’s local church? :o)Or was it simply the one he was visiting at the time?

            One thing we could do is stop providing numbers for the SBC to the media. What if they are Acts 29 churches we helped to start but are not really SBC? How do we figure in those sorts of situations? Many SBC churches don’t even acknowledge they are
            SBC.

            I guess I have another view because growing up we had an SBC ‘home church’ we were rarely in because of a ministry situation. I was in tons of different SBC churches for anything from months to years at a time. Perhaps that gives me another view?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            lydiasellerofpurple, a few points, if I may, for your consideration.

            “I understand where you are coming from but therein lies the problem of this mass plan to purge membership roles. We have people who live in another state 6 mos a year. Or college students who visit 3 times per year who are on the roles.”

            I understand these sorts of cases.

            People who for work or other related issues that can’t attend can be granted exceptions, so long as they are faithful in attending church somewhere in their absence.

            No such exception should be granted for college students only coming three times a year. Part of taking church membership seriously is teaching people who are displaced or displace themselves from their childhood church is that they should be instructed and convinced that they need to find a local church and become a faithful member of it wherever they are.

            “I agree with Rick that this does nothing to fix any problem. ”

            Then like Rick, you would be wrong. It fixes a lot of problems. Here are but a few:

            1. It fixes our indifferent, individualistic, and careless attitude towards local church membership. All Biblical teaching on the church operating as a body with Christ as the head come in the context of letters addressed to local church communities. So while they have universal meaning and applications, they must be expressed outwardly and visibly in localized churches.

            2. It fixes our honesty problem with our numbers.

            3. It fixes our lack of accountability problems in our churches.

            4. It fosters an “all-hands-on-deck” and “stand-and-be-counted” approach to corporate worship and service with everyone involved.

            It is important to remember that the membership roll issue is one point in a larger case about taking local church membership more seriously, as a church. When the church maintains integrity about its rolls, the whole church maintains integrity about the value and importance of active church membership. Furthermore, “Inactive membership” is a contradiction in Biblical terms by definition of what it means to belong to a one body with many members doing what they are called to do.

            “Many churches would not even know where to start.”

            It fixes this one too.

Mark

Rick, point 9 on eschatology jumped out while browsing your article. I think there is a problem on this point when you take into account the Calvinistic roots of dispensationalism.

    Rick Patrick

    Granted, Mark. It appears to be the weakest link, as others have pointed out as well.

Randall Cofield

Or do we favor the more pessimistic view of dispensational premillennialism, the most popular view among Southern Baptists generally…

Much of the “Traditionalist” argument is predicated upon the contention that theirs is the most popular view in the SBC.

For example, after the release of the “Traditional Statement” this blog was filled with assurances that this was the predominate (popular) view of soteriology among SB, though the document received less than 1,000 signatories (out of a possible 16 million).

Rick Patrick even offers a percentage-based argument that SB entity leadership should reflect the popular opinion of SB Churches.

Brothers, surely you understand the dangers of embracing popular opinion?

Why do you maintain this argument?

    Rick Patrick

    The majority may not always be right (see Obama 2008 and 2012), but it should rule in a democratically ordered government such as the Southern Baptist Convention. The congregational principle is majority rule, which admittedly conflicts with the philosophy underlying elder rule.

    When I say that our leadership should reflect the majority position of our churches, I am standing on a very solid principle of Baptist polity.

      Matt

      Who are you to say that the last two elections were not rightly decided by the population?

        Rick Patrick

        Matt,

        I am not the Supreme Arbiter of right and wrong, and we both know it. I was offering an opinion, just like my essay above offers opinions. I could just as easily ask, “Who are you to question me?” But I realize that readers have the right to question, just like writers have the right to editorialize.

          lydiasellerofpurple

          But I realize that readers have the right to question, just like writers have the right to editorialize.”

          This is the part of the SBC culture I have been the saddest over losing. And it is almost gone.

        Donald

        Matt, some truths are self-evident.

      Randall Cofield

      Rick,

      When I say that our leadership should reflect the majority position of our churches, I am standing on a very solid principle of Baptist polity.

      I would pose two questions:

      1) Could you point me to a biblical example of an ecclesiastic body functioning within the framework of a purely democratic polity?

      2) If the majority position of SB churches became pro-choice, would you maintain your “stand”?

        Rick Patrick

        1. Acts 15:22 “Then the apostles and the elders, WITH THE WHOLE CHURCH, decided to select men from among them…”

        2. If the majority position of SB churches became pro-choice, I would likely leave the Southern Baptist Convention, or more accurately, it would have left me. Still, I would endorse the congregational form of polity–that the majority must prevail while the minority must be heard.

          Randall Cofield

          Rick,

          1. … :-) … Right. The church, ratifying the spiritual leadership of the apostles and elders (notice the plurality there?), selected these men. Every biblical example of ecclesiastic polity is elder-led. Your insistence upon a purely democratic “Classic Congregationalism” does not square with scripture. The Word of God is to rule ecclesiastic decisions, the elders are to rightly divide the Word of truth, and the ecclesiastic body is to move according to that truth.

          That ain’t democratic, my brother.

          2. And herein lies a significant difference between you and I: I would continue to fight for reform from within, for I am not married to the unscriptural view of “Classic Congregationalism.”

            Rick Patrick

            1. Even within congregational polity, there are leaders who make recommendations concerning a course of action. The point is that the ENTIRE CHURCH ultimately made the decision. It was not a decision others made before informing everyone else how it was going to be. As Adrian Rogers put it: “Pastor led, Deacon served, Committee worked and Congregation approved.” I believe this squares with Scripture as well, if not better, than anything else. In a letter, Thomas Jefferson once wrote that the Baptist Church “was the only form of pure democracy that exists in the world.”

            2. To be clear, my departure would be a matter of conviction regardless of which form of polity was presently being used. If an Elder Board or Pope said we were now pro-choice I would just as quickly leave. (Actually, I would be gone already on the basis of the change in polity.) You would really remain in a pro-choice denomination, huh? Interesting.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            With all due respect to both you and Dr. Rogers, your framework misses the point. The Word of God is absolute authority in ecclesiastic decisions. Where an absolute authority exists, democracy ceases to exist.

            Herein lies a huge problem in Southern Baptist ecclesiastic polity. And that same problem completely undermines your approach to SB entities “reflecting” the pew.

            I’m certainly glad they don’t reflect either the theological (sic) views or the commitment to faithfulness we see in the pews.

            Can you imagine what our entities would look like if 7 out of every 10 presidents/professors, etc. didn’t even bother to show up for work every day?!!

            Rick Patrick

            Can I pick which seminary Presidents stay home?

            lydiasellerofpurple

            The Word of God is absolute authority in ecclesiastic decisions. Where an absolute authority exists, democracy ceases to exist”

            But Randall, Your “authority” is the Augustinian/Calvinistic filtered one. Therein lies the problem. You as the big cheese with the authority given by God in your polity get to decide how to interpret the “absolute authority”
            :o)

            lydiasellerofpurple

            The Word of God is to rule ecclesiastic decisions, the elders are to rightly divide the Word of truth, and the ecclesiastic body is to move according to that truth.”

            That is exactly what CJ Mahaney taught at SGM.

            Randall Cofield

            Lydia,

            But Randall, Your “authority” is the Augustinian/Calvinistic filtered one.

            Nay, sister. Our authority is the unfiltered, unbridled, living Word of God.

            You as the big cheese with the authority given by God in your polity get to decide how to interpret the “absolute authority”

            Nay again, sister. Both my fellow elders and the parishioner in the pew may challenge my interpretation of the Word.

            If I cannot convince them from the Word, the church does not act. Unanimity on both the interpretation of the Word and the application of the Word are necessary.

            The biblical model we follow simply does not fit into your self-prescribed mold for Calvinism.

            lydiasellerofpurple@yahoo.com

            Nay again, sister. Both my fellow elders and the parishioner in the pew may challenge my interpretation of the Word”

            Based upon reading your comments over the last 6 mos I bet most would not dare. :o)

        lydiasellerofpurple

        If the majority position of SB churches became pro-choice, would you maintain your “stand”?”

        Randall, would this indicate the Holy Spirit was not operating in that Body of Christ? My Baptist culture was that each believer can possess the Holy Spirit and did not need mediators between them and God to tell them how to believe.

        I spent many years in elder led mega churches and I can tell you that “groupthink” and “yes men” are the first things to come to mind from that experience. I have never seen so much concentrated deception in all my life with NO oversight from those paying the bills. Makes me yearn for Ronald Reagan:
        Trust but verify.

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          I made a small wager with myself when I started down this road that you would show up with your guns blazing within a matter of a few hours. I think I’ll take my wife to dinner with my winnings… :-)

          I said:

          The Word of God is to rule ecclesiastic decisions, the elders are to rightly divide the Word of truth, and the ecclesiastic body is to move according to that truth.

          You said:

          That is exactly what CJ Mahaney taught at SGM.

          The sad thing here is that your rage is so blinding and your heart is so closed that you don’t even recognize that my statement is drawn directly from the inspired, infallible Word of God…

          I have for months watched you post here, all the while trying to mask your feminism and and extreme anti-authoritarianism. You’re not fooling anyone, dear sister.

          The sad reality is that, while you would rid the SBC of Calvinism, should you actually nail your colors to the mast the SBC tent would not be large enough to welcome you…

          My heart genuinely hurts for you as I see your cynicism. I wish you could have been protected from whatever has driven you to this extreme. You should have been protected from it.

          Feel free to continue responding to what I post. I’ll not engage you further.

          May our Sovereign God, as He did with your biblical namesake, open your heart to your brothers in Christ Jesus.

            Donald

            “Feel free to continue responding to what I post. I’ll not engage you further.”

            Pretty weak, buddy. You attack under the guise of sympathy and then pull the cowards “last word” as you back out.

            It sounds like you just don’t like women taking you to task. Just sayin’…

            (BTW, since I ended with “just sayin'” you can’t get mad or even negatively respond. It’s a rule.)

            Randall Cofield

            Donald,

            Umm…I thought I gave Lydia the “last word.” As many as she chooses to take.

            “Coward,”…”guise”…”weak”…”don’t like women taking you to task”….

            May your “buddy” borrow your crystal ball?

            Just sayin’….

            ;-)

            lydiasellerofpurple@yahoo.com

            It sounds like you just don’t like women taking you to task. Just sayin’…”

            Perhaps he just does not like women who talk back?. But I am used to it. They always pull out the feminism card. I was proud of him for not pulling out the “perpetually deceived” card. I realize I venture into not only a man’s world but a pastor world, too. I find it sad more women don’t interact.

            He thinks my concern for the victims of SGM shepherding movement is ‘rage’. I find that interesting and quite telling. That is one of the tactics SGM actually used on people. Call their concern,rage, gossip, bitterness, etc. The tactics are textbook.

            . He was espousing the exact same polity that SGM stood firm on. It can be a huge sin trap to seek that much power over people. But it is very popular in many Reformed circles and it is a cause for concern as Baptists who value the priesthooed. We have lots of young men coming out of seminary who have a different definition of a priesthood.

Lydia

“ick Patrick even offers a percentage-based argument that SB entity leadership should reflect the popular opinion of SB Churches.

Brothers, surely you understand the dangers of embracing popular opinion?”

Randall, About the only way to get folks to pay for what they disagree with is to do it in as covert way as possible.

    Rick Patrick

    et tu, Lydia?

    ick

      Randall Cofield

      Is that Pig Latin for “conspiracy theory”?

        Rick Patrick

        Just a joke about Lydia mistyping my name as “ick.”

        BTW, I do not believe in any conspiracy theories, only the published reform agendas indicated by organizational purpose statements.

          lydiasellerofpurple

          Sorry Rick, ick was a Fruedian slip. :o)

          Seriously, there is a glitch in the comment box where it won’t erase the words, ‘Leave your comment here”. Makes reading the first part of a comment near impossible because one is typing over it.

          You are no where near “ick”. I find your interactions with people refreshingly humorous, fair and quite irenic.

            Rick Patrick

            Thanks, Lydia. I’ve been hearing about these commenting glitches. One brother can’t even get his computer to do it–only an iPad.

            It’s a sticky problem…or perhaps an icky one.

Bob Schembre

Brother, I have watched the SBC closely since leaving the Independent Baptist Movement in 2004 and becoming Southern Baptist. You have launched basically what is another attack against your brothers who adhere to the historic baptist doctrines of grace. thank you for extending the war. I don’t know that I have ever read a more uncharitable article.

    Rick Patrick

    Basically, I spend the first half pondering the future of the YRR Movement and suggesting it might be on the wane, just as other movements rise and fall. It is speculation, based on the history of such bubbles. I spend the second half drawing out the reality that there is more to this discussion than salvation doctrine. Many of us have issues with the Founders Thirty Year crusade against our own theological beliefs, seeking to turn churches like mine into churches like theirs. I consider their agenda to be the uncharitable one, brother.

    If you reread the article, my attack is not against brothers who are Calvinists. I do wonder about the future of the movement, but my primary concern is with the manner in which our denomination deals with the problems of these multi-faceted tensions.

    Forgive me if I gave you the impression I opposed Calvinist brothers instead of opposing a Calvinist Reform Agenda for the denomination.

      Bob Schembre

      I did re-read it brother. it is indeed a very uncharitable article. not helpful at all.

        Rick Patrick

        Why in the world would you re-read the most uncharitable article you’ve ever read? :-) I’d recommend something by Piper or just check out the Founders website. I don’t find their writings all that helpful, but different strokes, right?

Bob Schembre

Not to mention, name calling, straw-men, factually wrong information. sad.

Randall Cofield

Rick,

From your post above:

You know, if that’s what it would take for people to stop yacking that “We have 16 million members, but half never even come!” then maybe we should do it.

Before I respond to that post, is it really representative of your perspective in this issue?

    Rick Patrick

    Don’t rip it from its context, but yes, if it would stop the yacking. However, that would never happen because each autonomous church would have to make that decision about their rolls and they won’t. A better understanding of my position is that I would do it, as I said, if I were starting a church. Just print my whole quote, not bits and pieces, and yes, it is representative of my position. It’s not a big deal with me one way or the other. I don’t think church discipline unlocks the magic door solving our problems.

      Randall Cofield

      Thanks, Rick.

      Give me a day or two to measure my response. My biblical convictions on this issue run pretty deep, and I don’t want to be sinfully offensive in my response.

        Rick Patrick

        Randall,

        Feel free to respond here, of course. But you might also consider a full blogpost specifically on the issue of Church Discipline. While my original post did mention it, it was not the main idea or thesis. In fact, the longer these comment threads go, the more we tend to stray from the original topic.

        Since you have strong convictions on the topic, maybe you could write the article, and I could come and comment on it.

        Thanks for your patience. Have a blessed evening.

          Randall Cofield

          Maybe you could use your considerable clout to have it posted here at SBC Today…? :-)

            Rick Patrick

            Well, I do know two Millers–Dave at Voices and Norm at Today. (No relation, I think.)

            On a hunch, your article might fit in better at Voices, but I’m only basing that on the theological persuasion of MOST of the commenters. I will do what I can to help.

            (But only so I can disagree with you in the comment thread.) :-)

Randall Cofield

Rick,

Can I pick which seminary Presidents stay home?

My post was rather sobering, wasn’t it?

    Rick Patrick

    Actually, my tone in this comment was intended to be quite lighthearted, an attempt at humor that must have gone unnoticed. I don’t really think you get me. I’m really not mad at anybody. I want peace. I just don’t want significant problems swept under the rug. Have a blessed evening.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Rick,

      Yeah, I got the attempt at humor. Actually even thought it to be mildly humorous. Perhaps I should have placed a :-) behind my query….

      …. :-) …..

      But do you really want the leadership of SB entities to reflect the membership of SB churches…? Really? (emoticon inserted, then expurgated)

        Rick Patrick

        Well, I did want the leadership to reflect the churches when the leadership was liberal and the churches were conservative, so I guess I’ll stick with it now that the leadership is Calvinist and the churches are Traditionalist. Yes, I really, really do want the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention to reflect the positions and views held by the membership of the convention.

          Randall Cofield

          Rick,

          I can only shake my head in amazement. Fully 62% of SB church members don’t even bother to show up to worship on Sunday morning (not to mention Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, etc.), yet you want SBC leadership to reflect this.

          Brother, exactly what “positions and views” do you think this clear majority of the SBC hold? Obviously their theology, soteriology, Christology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, etc. stinks to high heavens.

          Your appeal to leadership reflecting membership makes no sense to me, and it seems to ignore the biblical qualifications for ecclesiastic leadership.

          I’m trying to “get you,” I really am. But this makes no sense to me.

            Rick Patrick

            The 38% who show up and pay the tithes that support the salaries of the seminaries and the institutions. Our leaders are accountable to them.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            Ahhhh! Now we’re getting somewhere.

            So, let me get this straight.

            Of the “38%” ( a distinct minority) who “show up,” only a percentage “pay tithes.” This reduces the percentage to an even smaller minority (shall we liberally say 25% for the sake of discussion?).

            Of this 25% (4m), only a percentage of them are actually “Trads.” If we use the number of signatories on the “Trad Statement,” only a tiny fraction of these are “Trads” ( .0002%, to be precise).

            But hey, I’m in a liberal mood. Let’s say that 10% of this 4m are in complete agreement with you and the handful of Trad boys from Georgia (man! am I being liberal or what?!). That gets you to 400,000.

            Which brings your self-proclaimed “majority” to a whopping .025% of the total membership of the SBC.

            Yeah, I think I “get” you now.

            You are not really interested in the “majority” of SBC members.

            You just want your tribe to “rule” the SBC entities.

            Pot, meet kettle.

            :-)

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            One last thing. You said:

            The 38% who show up and pay the tithes that support the salaries of the seminaries and the institutions. Our leaders are accountable to them.

            No sir.

            In a truly “democratic” entity (your claim), the leaders are accountable to the entire body of 16m SBC members…

            You can’t have your cake and eat it too, brother.

            Rick Patrick

            I’m doing low carb. Don’t want the cake. Don’t want to eat it. Let me put it this way. All those folks who don’t come…I reach out to them, but they don’t attend the business meetings, they don’t vote, they don’t give, they don’t serve, they are not practicing Southern Baptists. Please remove them from the equation, and yes, I can and do believe this.

            It is the active and voting membership of Southern Baptists who send the missionaries and support the institutions. Believing in congregational polity does not mean I must allow all the backslidden non-attenders to set policy in the church or the denomination.

Randall Cofield

5. Missiology: In the interest of contextualizing the gospel in order to reach a secular culture, should we embrace more culturally acceptable positions on such issues as the environment, the use of beverage alcohol and concerns regarding homophobia?

While I am unclear as to exactly what Dr. Patrick meant by his question “…should we embrace more culturally acceptable positions on…homophobia,” this is an excellent exchange on the issue between a self-professed “Traditionalist” and a Calvinist:

    Rick Patrick

    “We’ve lied about the nature of homosexuality.” — Al Mohler

    Randall, I guess it won’t surprise you that I disagree with this statement. But I also have in mind the viewpoint of Jonathan Merritt, which has appeared in print frequently.

      Randall Cofield

      Rick,

      The lie: “Homosexuality is a choice.”

      It goes back to the sin-nature. We’re born with it, bound by it, and only Jesus Christ can free us from it. Dr. Mohler made that powerfully clear in his response.

      And if I were a wagering man, I would wager you that there were more than a few “Trads” among those applauding his answer.

      And I’d also wager that when you pray for homosexuals you pray that God would save them and change their hearts. Right?

      Were all Calvinists when we pray…

        Rick Patrick

        Most of the Trads I know were not satisfied with Mohler’s evasive answer. We did notice the Cals tweeting about how Peter Lumpkins was “Mohlerized.” No one ever claimed Mohler was not good at talking.

        When I pray for God to save a homosexual, I believe the Holy Spirit will draw that person, but I believe that person must themselves repent and believe. We are not all Calvinists when we pray.

          Randall Cofield

          Rick,

          Evasive? You would have a hard time finding a question answered more directly. He owned Lumpkin’s charge in unmistakable terms and gave the most lucid five-minute apologetic for the power of the gospel you will ever hear.

          Not satisfied with Mohler’s answer? His answer was that homosexuals are inexorably bound by sin and only the gospel of Jesus Christ can set them free. No different than you our me. That a thoroughly gospel-centered answer is unsatisfactory to you is…disturbing…

          When I pray for God to save a homosexual, I believe the Holy Spirit will draw that person, but I believe that person must themselves repent and believe. We are not all Calvinists when we pray.

          You’re dodging. Do you pray that God would change their heart, or don’t you?

            Rick Patrick

            God will change their heart if they are willing to repent of their sins and trust in Him to do so. I have no question about God’s willingness or ability. The open question, for me, is whether they will accept or reject what he desires to do. When I pray for Him to change their heart, and yes, of course, i do, I am praying consistent with His will to change ALL men’s hearts. The only issue is their free response.

            Rick Patrick

            By the way, Mohler spends most of his answer describing homosexuality as sin, and of course, I agree with all that.

            Where I disagree is the part about “we’ve lied” and “we’ve practiced homophobia.”

            Yes, we minister to the homosexual, but I do not believe that requires us to accept the premise that it is not a choice they make, or to admit that we are homophobes.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            So, for all intents and purposes, you are praying that God would do that which He is not capable of doing without help.

            I, on the other hand, pray to the Sovereign God of heaven and earth, with Whom nothing is impossible, to move so powerfully upon the sinner’s heart that they are made gladly willing in the day of His power.

            That way, all the glory belongs to Him when a sinner is saved. As it should.

            I like my “Sinners Prayer” better (note the absence of the apostrophe).

            Much better.

            :-)

            Rick Patrick

            The corollary is that when you witness, you’re talking to the wrong person because the only decision that matters is that God chooses to overwhelm that sinner. Once He chooses, they will be saved, and if He doesn’t choose, tough twinkies for them. When we witness, we’re all Traditionalists.

            Randall Cofield

            Rick,

            Talking to the wrong person? Nay.

            Mr 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

            We witness; God saves.

            I’m comfortable with that. Comfortable and profoundly grateful.

            Given enough time I can convince almost anyone to “choose Jesus.” And they would be no more “saved” than Adam’s house cat.

            But when the Spirit blows where He wills…folks get born from above! So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

            When I pray for Him to change their heart, and yes, of course, i do, I am praying consistent with His will to change ALL men’s hearts. The only issue is their free response.

            Then when you pray, you are talking to the wrong person. According to your own statement He wills to change ALL men’s hearts, but He is unable.

            And if you fail to lead them to a “free response”….how do you sleep at night? It’s all on you, buddy.

            No sir, I’m no Traditionalist when I witness. Not by a long shot.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Randall, that is a strawman. No begger gets any glory in receiving a gift that was extended without any obligation or merit on the part of the potential recipient (pending acceptance). It is completely fallacious to assert that a being of maximal glory in salvation gets “more” glory in monergism and synergism. The glory of a maximal being can’t get “more” of anything, since He will receive the maximal amount in saving people however it turns out He decided it work. So if it works according to the Traditionalist soteriology rather than Calvinist soteriology, or the other way around, then neither gives God more glory than the other since God establishes how He is to receive the maximal glory in salvation. This is simple logic.

            One of us is wrong, but neither of us should be fallacious.

            “But when the Spirit blows where He wills…folks get born from above! So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

            Now this is just bad exegesis. John 3:8 doesn’t teach that the Spirit blows wherever it pleases in some random, arbitrary fashion. Indeed, you are confusing this with John 16:8 which tells us exactly where the Spirit “blows” in His work. I.e. the world, and right in and alongside the Gospel presentation of disciples (John 15:26-27, John 16:7-11).

            You totally misread the play on words in John 3:8. Jesus is contrasting the experience and mechanism of the new birth versus the experience and mechanism of birth from a mother’s womb. The experience for everyone born again is like the wind blowing, not simply the Spirit is like wind blowing. This states “what is the case” regarding being born from above. The “how it comes to be the case” that one is born again is taught by Jesus in John 3:14-16. You are confusing a “what” with a “how”.

            Furthermore, when you reverse them, and make John 3:8 a “how” one becomes saved, you turn Jesus into a terrible teacher regarding John 3:14-16. People weren’t cured of poison so they could look at the snake. The opposite Likewise, people aren’t born again so they can look to the cross and believe. You get it backwards and make Jesus look stupid in the process. Not the best position for your theology. ;)

            Anther strawman is this. “He wills to change ALL men’s hearts, but He is unable.”

            The last bit is straw and is simply rank question begging on the part of the Calvinism.

            This hasn’t to do with God’s ability, but rather God’s process. Does God impose grace or extend it? This is the debate. The issue is not could God monergistically convert people, since everyone agrees that if this is how God decided for it to work, then of course it could be done.

            Rather, the issue is whether the Bible teaches that this is how God has chosen to save sinners. We say the Bible does not teach this. Romans 9 does not teach this. Ephesians 1 does not teach this. John 6 does not teach this.

            So…okay then.

            Randall Cofield

            Johnathan,

            Randall, that is a strawman. No begger gets any glory in receiving a gift that was extended without any obligation or merit on the part of the potential recipient (pending acceptance).

            Straw man? Nay. If one beggar, by his own unaided free will, “chooses” to receive the gift while the beggar beside him doesn’t have the good sense to do the same, he would indeed share the glory. I literally heard a man pray once “thanking” God that he had the good sense to accept Christ.

            It is completely fallacious to assert that a being of maximal glory in salvation gets “more” glory in monergism and (than?) synergism. The glory of a maximal being can’t get “more” of anything, since He will receive the maximal amount in saving people however it turns out He decided it work.

            Only fallacious if I were asserting a both/and in relation to monergism/synergism. Obviously I ain’t. :-) It is axiomatic that He shares His glory with none, hence synergism is a myth. (see response #1)

            And it could be pointed out that you are merely assuming the contrary position in the last line there.

            One of us is wrong, but neither of us should be fallacious.

            I agree that you are wrong. I also agree that you should not you attribute fallacy where it doesn’t exist. One of the snares of studying logic is that one will often cry “fallacy” without actually proving fallacy. :-)

            Now this is just bad exegesis. John 3:8 doesn’t teach that the Spirit blows wherever it pleases in some random, arbitrary fashion.

            Agreed. Never said anything about “random” or “arbitrary.” That is a stra…. Nah! The term is already overused. (see reference to the snares of studying logic above)

            You totally misread the play on words in John 3:8. Jesus is contrasting the experience and mechanism of the new birth versus the experience and mechanism of birth from a mother’s womb. The experience for everyone born again is like the wind blowing, not simply the Spirit is like wind blowing. This states “what is the case” regarding being born from above. The “how it comes to be the case” that one is born again is taught by Jesus in John 3:14-16. You are confusing a “what” with a “how”

            That’s an interesting take on the passage. You seem to be overlooking the fact that Nic asked “how?” and Jesus responded “You’re a ruler in Israel, and you don’t understand what I just told you?”

            Furthermore, when you reverse them, and make John 3:8 a “how” one becomes saved, you turn Jesus into a terrible teacher regarding John 3:14-16. People weren’t cured of poison so they could look at the snake. The opposite Likewise, people aren’t born again so they can look to the cross and believe. You get it backwards and make Jesus look stupid in the process. Not the best position for your theology. ;)

            And you manage to commit both the error of mixing parables (just as tricky as mixing metaphors) and eisegesis in the space of two sentences.

            Note that Jesus didn’t make the connection you made. He said He must be lifted up so that men would believe. You are equating looking with believing (faith). Merely looking with natural eyes saved no one in the wilderness, faith was necessary.
            Those who have not yet received the spiritual birth cannot have a spiritual faith in what is clearly a spiritual promise any more than an unborn infant can cry out for the safety of its mother’s arms. Without the miracle of the new birth (1st parable), the faith of the new-born believer (2nd parable) is not possible.

            Anther strawman is this. “He wills to change ALL men’s hearts, but He is unable.”
            The last bit is straw and is simply rank question begging on the part of the Calvinism.

            One of the snares of studying logic… :-)

            I’ve often found the accusation of “begging the question” to be an effort to avoid answering the obvious question. So I’ll ask the obvious question:

            If He wills to change all men’s hearts (your assertion), yet will not unless men change their own hearts, is He not utterly bound by men’s decisions? (Don’t over-think it. Just answer the question.)

            This hasn’t to do with God’s ability, but rather God’s process. Does God impose grace or extend it? This is the debate.

            The “does God impose grace” line is the oxymoron that utterly unravels the synergist’s position. Grace is neither imposed nor extended, but bestowed. That’s why we sing that it is “greater than all our sin,” and “morning by morning new mercies I see.”

            Rather, the issue is whether the Bible teaches that this is how God has chosen to save sinners. We say the Bible does not teach this. Romans 9 does not teach this. Ephesians 1 does not teach this. John 6 does not teach this.

            Well, now. That is certainly an irrefutable exegesis of those passages, isn’t it?

            Keep hangin’ out with your Calvinist pastor. There may be hope for you yet. :-)

            Peace, brother

          Johnathan Pritchett

          “Straw man? Nay. If one beggar, by his own unaided free will, “chooses” to receive the gift while the beggar beside him doesn’t have the good sense to do the same, he would indeed share the glory. I literally heard a man pray once “thanking” God that he had the good sense to accept Christ.”

          And yet, we have two more strawmen. No Traditionalist believes that one’s choice is unaided. Second, while I generally think it is “good sense” to repent and believe in Jesus and “bad sense” not to repent and believe in Jesus (surely you agree with this), I don’t think someone who repents has “better” sense than someone who does not. They merely have a “different” sense in their response. Some respond in repentance and faith, others stone the preacher who calls them our for resisting the Holy Spirit.

          “Only fallacious if I were asserting a both/and in relation to monergism/synergism. Obviously I ain’t. :-) It is axiomatic that He shares His glory with none, hence synergism is a myth. (see response #1)

          And it could be pointed out that you are merely assuming the contrary position in the last line there.”

          Incorrect. You misunderstood. As it is axiomatic, if “synergism” (to whatever degree) is the case, then there is no lesser glory that God receives in salvation. In this matter, what either of us assert is irrelevant. That’s the point.

          “I agree that you are wrong. I also agree that you should not you attribute fallacy where it doesn’t exist. One of the snares of studying logic is that one will often cry “fallacy” without actually proving fallacy. :-)”

          Oh come on. I never said I was wrong, I said both of us could be wrong. Big difference. See above and understand that I did prove your thinking fallacious, unless you think it okay to answer back to God on how He receives glory and that if He doesn’t in the way YOU want Him to make soteriology work, his glory is lessened. That God doesn’t share His glory is only one thing that is axiomatic. The other is that a being receiving maximal glory can’t receive less than that, which means that if “synergism” is the case, then it can not be, by definition, less than the maximal glory that God receives in salvation ;)

          “Agreed. Never said anything about “random” or “arbitrary.” That is a stra…. Nah! The term is already overused. (see reference to the snares of studying logic above)”

          Sure, you want to appeal to God’s hidden, but ultimately just and perfect purposes. Trust me I know what the response is to this. However, while there are many mysteries about God, there is no mystery in what He has revealed clearly, and positing mysteries where there are none leads to arbitrariness and randomness in God’s supposed actions if they are contrary to what He has revealed. So, no, no potential strawman here. This ain’t my first rodeo on these issues. ;)

          “That’s an interesting take on the passage. You seem to be overlooking the fact that Nic asked “how?” and Jesus responded “You’re a ruler in Israel, and you don’t understand what I just told you?”

          Again, you misunderstood my “what”/”how” distinction. I will differentiate regular use of how and my technical use of “how” by the quotation marks.

          I agree that poor Nic was asking a how question. But the how was relating to mechanism regarding how the new birth works, since exiting from the womb as an adult doesn’t seem likely.

          That isn’t the type of “how” I was talking about. I was talking about applying theology to the text, which is different than a feature within the text such as a how question asking about one thing versus another.

          Your take on the passage posits that Jesus is teaching “how” one comes to be born again in John 3:8.

          I am saying Jesus is teaching “what” must occur to see the Kingdom, and Jesus explains the new birth process and how (a regular how, not a “how” in the sense I was talking about in my distinction) it works like the wind blowing rather than re-entering and coming out of a womb again.

          “And you manage to commit both the error of mixing parables (just as tricky as mixing metaphors) and eisegesis in the space of two sentences.”

          Not even close.

          “Note that Jesus didn’t make the connection you made. He said He must be lifted up so that men would believe. You are equating looking with believing (faith). Merely looking with natural eyes saved no one in the wilderness, faith was necessary.”

          That is not contrary to what I said, but goes along with it. Also, you are being needlessly pedantic here with “equating” that I never actually equated. You know what I meant.

          “Those who have not yet received the spiritual birth cannot have a spiritual faith in what is clearly a spiritual promise any more than an unborn infant can cry out for the safety of its mother’s arms. Without the miracle of the new birth (1st parable), the faith of the new-born believer (2nd parable) is not possible.”

          Uh, not exegesis…sounds like goofy midrash and bad poetic imagery to explain a theological position nowhere stated in the text…no offense. Talk about eisegesis, mixing parables and metaphors….

          In any case, you got it backwards again. Read the story of the snake. I am talking about the theological principle that you are assuming. Not mixing metaphors or whatever. Regeneration does not precede faith in this passage. One was not healed to look at the snake. One is not born again in order to believe. That is not in this passage at all, and contrary to what it says and the point Jesus was making.

          Jesus states a “what is the case” to Nic. One cannot see unless born again (or above). And then Jesus answered the manner of the new birth in distinction from Nic’s question.

          This is not the same as saying “how” it becomes the case one is born again. Repeating your same error and wrongly asserting I made one instead doesn’t remove your error.

          First parable – “what is the case”.

          Second parable – “how it comes to be the case”

          If you let Jesus teach rather than come up with something different than what He actually says, it tends to work out better. ;)

          Jesus made precisely the connection I made. He didn’t merely say that He has to be lifted up so belief is possible. He says more than that. He gives criteria “that whosoever/everyone that believes will…”

          This is not merely a “would” statement, this is a criteria statement. “Just as…so the…so that…” We know it is criteria statements, and not simply “would” statements, given the conclusion in verses 3:17-19.

          Your interpretation misses this entirely, assumes something not taught in the text(regeneration precedes faith), and at the same time fails to account for the echo of Numbers 21…

          “The “does God impose grace” line is the oxymoron that utterly unravels the synergist’s position. Grace is neither imposed nor extended, but bestowed. That’s why we sing that it is “greater than all our sin,” and “morning by morning new mercies I see.”

          Incorrect. charis is extended from a benefactor to potential clients, even divine benefactors. One can’t create private theological definitions of words that had a regular usage in the Ancient Near East in its patron/client reciprocity system. Grace can be accepted or refused. The “bestowal” of grace is not an “irresistible” proposition that can not be rejected. Bestowing grace is an extension of grace to another party. So you made a distinction without a difference…

          For instance, I can “bestow” grace and have it tossed back in my face. I am married after all (a joke!), and word meanings don’t change simply because they are in the Bible or that God is performing an action.

          Yes, the Bible makes technical terms out of every day terms on occasion (less occasions than some theologians may like), but nothing has convinced anyone other than Calvinists that grace means something other than just grace. When the majority of Christendom finds a private definition wanting, chances are error has occurred with the private usage.

          “Irresistible grace” is a far bigger categorical error than the one you pulled out of thin air responding to me regarding artificial differences between imposed, extended, or bestowed. You believe grace is bestowed and irresistible. I believe grace is bestowed and can be accepted or refused Bestowing makes no difference here. And my position lines up with reality, and yours is a misguided private theological definition not based in reality. ;)

          “Well, now. That is certainly an irrefutable exegesis of those passages, isn’t it?”

          I was commenting on a belief regarding those texts and our position, not giving exegesis.

          “Keep hangin’ out with your Calvinist pastor. There may be hope for you yet. :-)

          I have already been a Calvinist. I am thoroughly unconvinced of it these days, and I doubt I’ll be convinced of it again.

          “Peace, brother”

          Likewise.

            Randall Cofield

            Johnathan,

            No time for a tit-for-tat response this morning, but a couple of observations:

            Incorrect. charis is extended from a benefactor to potential clients, even divine benefactors. One can’t create private theological definitions of words that had a regular usage in the Ancient Near East in its patron/client reciprocity system. Grace can be accepted or refused.

            One need only look to the parable of the Good Samaritan to refute you here.

            But I would add that you make the classic synergistic mistake in your view of saving grace. One granted life, understanding, faith, and repentance unto salvation would no more “refuse” such than a man dying of thirst would refuse a tall glass of life-giving water.

            This synergistic concept of “refusing” the grace that gives eternal life is no less absurd than declaring that a yet-unconceived child can refuse to be conceived and be born (which is exactly what your interpretation of Jn. 3 does).

            I did notice you avoided answering a rather relevant question, so I’ll ask it again:

            If He wills to change all men’s hearts (your assertion), yet will not unless men change their own hearts, is He not utterly bound by men’s decisions?

            This is most certainly not the way Sovereign God reveals Himself in scripture, but your synergism demands that it be the case.

            Already “been a Calvinist”?

            Let me guess: A 4-pointer, right?

            Grace to you, brother. I’m sure you’ll not “resist” it. :-)

            Randall Cofield

            Oh, one other thing, Johnathan.

            I know this “ain’t your first rodeo.” But if “rodeos” are relevant to which of us is right, you ain’t been ’round long enough to be the one who is “right” when you debate me.

            Of course, “rodeos” have nothing to do with right or wrong exegesis. .

            I would point out that you here commit one of the “logical fallacies” that you seem so keen to point out in others…but then that is being “done-to-death.”

            Just sayin’. ;-)

            Johnathan Pritchett

            You are presupposing that life is given prior to faith, which is a presupposition without Biblical warrant.

            And your equating what goes on in natural childbirth for an analogy for the new birth is exactly opposite what Jesus was contrasting in John 3.

            Oh well…

            God is absolutely sovereign, this has nothing to do with determinism or monergism though. One does not entail the other…private language thing again. Determinism is a philosophical concept. Sovereignty has to do with authority and status of rulership.

            I’m still waiting for you to be right about something. It hasn’t happened yet. ;)

            Change of heart comes after change of mind. Hence the order in Gospel preaching. Repent, and (then) believe.

            Are you so old then you have forgotten Christianity 101?

            It is false to say God is “bound” by anything, So, no, God is not bound to anything at all in that sense. Again, God can save monergistically if He so wants to, but there is nothing Biblical that suggests He set soteriology up that way and plenty to suggest He didn’t.

            Your bogus and novel interpretations notwithstanding of course. ;)

            Anyway, I was a five pointer. My father was a Calvinist, and I grew up with Steve Lawson as my pastor at the Bible Church of Little Rock back in the day, and remained a Calvinist until my mid to late twenties (I am about to be 36). Of course, Calvinists never believe former Calvinists of having ever been Calvinists, so whatever…If you need concrete evidence of this though, Google Cross Soldiers on Myspace. That was my old Christian hip-hop group. Our album title: Perseverance of the Saints. :D (I had some killer mic skills for a white boy, btw…Eminem eat your heart out). One of my old Christian rock bands was called Bleed for the T.U.L.I.P. (Still a great name for a Calvinist rock and roll bank ain’t it…) I don’t know what else to say to convince you (or others) I was a Calvinist, so again, whatever.

            I’ll let you post the long-winded last word. This is getting redundant, and the SBC Today set up makes replying back and forth tiresome and tedious after a while because of the format.

Bob Schembre

Rick, It is very clear when Dr. Mohler said that, that he was referring to evangelicalism at large. Listen to again. I have read all of your comments today and your article, struggling to get a sense of where you are coming from. You seem to be bitter. Whether you are, or not, I don’t know, not really knowing you, but my impression is that you are bitter and uncharitable. Brother, I am certainly know one to even speak. I am nothing. Please, let’s fight the right fights. Is someone really trying to take “your” church, as you said? Maybe that is one of the issues. In your heart, its really your church? Surely not.

    Rick Patrick

    Bob,

    The purpose of the Founders Ministries is the recovery of the gospel, by which they mean Calvinism, in churches. They wish to change churches that are not Calvinistic into being Calvinistic. That’s their purpose. That’s what I’m talking about. We have no such organized counterpart among Traditionalist churches and pastors. It’s not a specific issue in my church.

    As for the psychological profile, I am not an angry person. I’m a gentle person. This media probably makes things seem different, because there are no inflections, no body language, etc. I’m not bitter or uncharitable, but I am firm in my conviction that a convention should not be ruled by its minority view, but by its majority view.

    I’m not fighting anyone. I eat lunch every other week with a Calvinist who is one of my dear friends. A Calvinist preaches in my church at least once a year. My quarrel is not against Calvinism per se, although I disagree with it. It is with those who appear to be seeking the institutionalization of Calvinism among our entities, seminaries, churches and denomination as a whole. That’s the dog that will not hunt.

    There is a committee meeting to work on these issues. My hope and prayer is that they are really working on the issues, and not just working on a way to tell everyone to hush and not discuss the many controversies that have arisen in response to all of this.

    Anyway, I am not bitter and I am fairly charitable. Have a blessed evening.

    Donald

    “It is very clear when Dr. Mohler said that, that he was referring to evangelicalism at large”

    No, Bob, it isn’t. When Dr. Mohler says “we” he’s taking about me and I haven’t lied to anyone about homosexuality. What, exactly, do you think this big lie is that “evangelicalism at large” has told?

      Randall Cofield

      The lie? “Homosexuality is a choice.”

      Jer 13:23 Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.

        Donald

        I would hope, Pastor, that you understand the proverbial nature of this verse.

          Randall Cofield

          Donald,

          It goes back to the sin-nature. We’re born with it, bound by it, and only Jesus Christ can free us from it. Dr. Mohler made that powerfully clear in his response.

            Donald

            So, you’d say that fornication is not a choice?

            Randall Cofield

            Donald,

            I’d say that sin, in whatever form, is our only choice apart from the transforming power of the gospel.

            To tell a homosexual that they can simply “choose” to not be homosexual is to lie to them. They can’t. Neither can you or I (“choose” not to sin”). We all posses a sin-nature, and are inexorably bound by it apart from the delivering, transforming power of the gospel.

            That is exactly what Mohler was saying. “Such were some of you…but now you are washed.”

            lydiasellerofpurple

            “They can’t. Neither can you or I (“choose” not to sin”). We all posses a sin-nature, and are inexorably bound by it apart from the delivering, transforming power of the gospel”

            So what do you do with long time professing believers who fornicate. Some even pastors. Did they have a choice to fornicate or not after being transformed?

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Donald, fornication is a choice. In many cases, attraction is not.

            Can you just “choose” to be sexually attracted to other men? I highly doubt it. I certainly can’t. I mean, I am sure you are a handsome fellow and all, but if I saw you, there is no way I can just will myself to be turned on. IT AIN’T HAPPENING! :)

            I hope you get the point. I think you do, because you yourself mentioned a behavior, and not attraction.

            Anyway, the Bible condemns behaviors such as lust and fornication (either same sex intercourse or unmarried heterosexual intercourse). It doesn’t necessarily condemn attraction. Attraction isn’t automatically lust, or every heterosexual is committing adultery all the time in his heart. That goes beyond what Jesus says though. Lust is sin, mere attraction isn’t. We can’t conflate the two.

            A gay person can choose to live celibate, and pray and seek God’s help, and in increasing in holiness his or her lusts lessen. However, God may not ever remove the attraction, and we ought not say that if the attraction is never removed, the homosexual convert is not “truly” saved. We all have areas of struggle in some area or other.

            Now, I don’t discount that some homosexuals (and a ton of bisexuals) are that way by choice. They are that way to be trendy, find a group to belong, etc. But I am in agreement that, generally, the majority are not merely choosing to have same sex attraction.

            Now I also disagree with Mohler on the issue of lying. I don’t think Evangelicals in general, or Southern Baptists in particular, have lied about the issue at all. To my knowledge, we have always rebuked the homosexual acts involved, but have not disparaged the homosexuals themselves and raked them over the coals for a disposition they can’t quite shake any more than when we are dealing with alcoholics struggling with an innate want for booze without them actually drinking all the time.

            I have always taken Southern Baptists to mean that when someone says “homosexuality is a choice”, what they never meant is that the disposition to be attracted to the same sex is a choice (in every instance at least), but the behavior is a choice.

            I’ll grant that phrasing it that way causes confusion and is unfortunate, but nevertheless, I don’t think they mean to insist that homosexuals need to automatically start being attracted to the opposite sex, but rather, they are talking about sinful behaviors involved.

            So, I think Mohler has conflated the two simply for the sake of rhetoric, rather than being charitable and giving them the benefit of the doubt that they intended to mean “behavior”, not mere “attraction” when talking about homosexuality.

            Now, if I am wrong about that benefit of the doubt, and we have been condemning persons for their bare attractions that most of them can’t seem to shake, then Dr. Mohler would be right.

            But I don’t think this is the case. In Arkansas, I have seen the most country “redneck” folks on planet Earth, people whom many liberals would, without evidence, simply and wrongly assume were gay-bashing homophobes, show astounding compassion to homosexuals and talking through their burdens with them in genuine sincerity while never compromising their position on the behavior involved.

            wingedfooted1

            What is disturbing to me is I asked one Calvinist….

            “So when a homosexual tells me ‘God made me this way’, is he speaking the truth?”

            His response?

            “If God did not make them this way who did? Is there some other creator-being out there?”

            Of course this is calvinism in its purest form. Vincent Cheung writes…

            “However, the Bible explicitly asserts this view, that reprobation is unconditional, and that God created some people for salvation and all others for damnation ‘out of the same lump’. The reprobates did not create themselves; God created them, and created them as reprobates.”

            Also, the word “choice” and “freedom” should be stricken from the calvinist’s library.

            Vincent Cheung clarifies…..

            “Calvinists often affirm that Adam was free before the Fall. But again, I always speak of freedom relative to God, and from this perspective, I would say that Adam had no freedom whatsoever even before the Fall. To be ‘free’ from sin is irrelevant. The issue is whether Adam was free from God to choose to remain free from sin – he was not. In addition, I would not say that God permitted Adam to fall, but that God caused it.”

            This is even more disturbing.

            wingedfooted1

            Johnathan,

            I agree with you completely that lust and fornication, as well as homosexuality, are sins; however same sex attraction is not by God’s design (though some calvinists like Vincent Cheung would disagree).

            I, like you, did not decide to be a heterosexual. We are heterosexual because God created us this way. “Be fruitful and multiply”

            However, homosexuality is more than just sin, it’s unnatural.

            Romans 1:26-27….
            Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”

            I think it’s important to take from this that both men and women were not born this way (homosexual), but rather became this way.

            Heterosexuality is not a choice, but homosexuality is. At least that’s my take.

            God bless.

            Donald

            Randall, so you are saying that there is no choice about any sin. I disagree.

            Randall Cofield

            Donald,

            I’m saying that those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

            Donald

            I agree. That, however, does not mean that any particular sin at any particular time is not the choice of the sinner.

            Donald

            Randall,
            I think that I can make my point clear. Before I was saved I was able to not be a murderer. I was able to not be a thief. Would I have murdered it would have been my choice. Would I have stolen it would have been my choice.
            In speaking of the sin of homosexuality, many choose this while in prison and then give it up when released. I am sure the temptation is stronger in some than in others, and yet to yield to this temptation is a choice every time it happens.
            Lest we forget, the issue that started this: am I lying to you when I say this? Mohler says I am. He is wrong. He was playing to the audience and went too far. He might be the liar, but “we” are not.

            Randall Cofield

            Donald,

            Before I was saved I was able…

            Brother, were you able to not sin?

            Lydia

            “Before I was saved I was able…

            Brother, were you able to not sin?”

            Donald, You gotta remember, in Randall’s total depravity/guilt paradigm all sin is equal. So whether you yell at your kids or murder a room full of children it is the same sin.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            wingedfooted1, I certainly agree same sex attraction is not God’s design. I also don’t think in most cases it can be helped. Whether it is nurture (given a fallen world) or even an oddity of nature (given a fallen world) is besides the point that it exists, and is a real struggle for the majority of homosexuals (who freely admit life would be easier not being gay), and especially for ones converting to Christianity. Attractions for believers doesn’t just go away for the homosexual any more than a heterosexual’s attraction goes away once they marry someone of the opposite sex.

            All I said was that these people aren’t choosing to be attracted to the same sex in many cases, whether that is due to the environment or how they were born is beyond my knowledge, and beyond my claim anyway.

            wingedfooted1

            Johnathan,

            I appreciate your feedback.

            You said… “Attractions for believers doesn’t just go away for the homosexual any more than a heterosexual’s attraction goes away once they marry someone of the opposite sex.”

            My point was (and is) a heterosexual’s attraction for the opposite sex should never go away. While lust, fornication, rape, and adultery are sins, the attraction for the opposite sex should never go away. God put that in us. That is the natural relationship that God designed. While the sins noted above are indeed sinful, the attraction and desire for the opposite sex isn’t.

            If the homosexual isn’t “choosing” to be homosexual, let’s say because of some defective DNA pattern interacting with the sin nature (otherwise, why aren’t all sinners homosexual?), then we could say the same for murderers, rapists, child molesters, or adulterers. If that is the case, how do we hold them accountable? They are just doing what they were born to do. And what does that say about those who reject God and His Son who live a natural heterosexual life while never committing adultery, murder, or rape? They were just lucky??

            But what do the scriptures say?

            “Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”

            When you exchange a natural relationship for an unnatural one that is a choice. Again, I could be wrong on this, but right now, that is how I see it.

            God bless

Bob Schembre

Rick, Please tell me who “they” are who “wish to change churches that are not Calvinistic into being Calvinistic. That’s their purpose.” Rick, I really think that you have let things get to you. No one is out to get you. No one is out to get your church. You Pastor your people and win the lost and we will do the same. Let’s serve Christ together. Please show me the “they” who wish to change these churches, and I will stand with you against that.

And Donald, if he is talking about you, then I would say that you need to say the truth about homosexuality, which is what Dr Mohler said. Can you find fault with his belief? Or are you just out to take pot shots?

    Donald

    Bob,
    Pot shots are random…

    Perhaps you can enlighten me a bit. If the sin of homosexuality is not a choice, then what is it? Yes, I believe it is a choice, as is fornication, idolatry, adultery, sodomy, theft, coveting, drunkenness, reviling and extortion. Which, BTW, means that I am not lying when I say this out loud — by the definition of the word.

    Rick Patrick

    Bob,

    You say no one is out to get me. I never thought they were. This is not paranoia, friend. I do think that, generally, within the SBC, there is one group that for thirty years has been trying to reform the churches of our convention–and in a sense, I suppose, that WOULD have to include my church–the Founders Ministries. The other group reforming from within in the areas of education and denominational strategy is Southern Seminary.

    Reforming from the outside are loosely affiliated organizations such as 9 Marks in the area of church discipline, Together For The Gospel in the area of Pastors Conferences, and the Acts 29 Network in the area of church planting.

    The mantra of this movement is “always reforming,” and I simply take them at their word. What else should a person do when they oppose certain reforms than to speak out against them? In my view, these organizations and their movement have destabilized the convention. Reform movements always inspire counter-reform movements. In this case, those who oppose the Calvinization of the SBC are trying to preserve our denomination’s traditional Baptist identity and avoid becoming a PresbyBaptist convention.

Bob Schembre

Rick, If we believe in the historic doctrines of grace, why wouldn’t we want to teach them. this does not mean that “they are trying to change” your church, and that is what you make it sound like brother. This is not a movement brother, no more than your Arminianism is a movemement. If there is a movement, it would be better to talk about this invention of dispensationalism that you have adopted. (actually just a jab bro) We have always been in the convention bro. You make it seem like this is some silly political thing. This is about missions Rick. Thats what the convention is about. Not power. Not politics. Your points that many reformed churches support other entities other than the CP. Aren’t SBC churches autonomous? Would you have us dictate to churches how they can give to missions? The reason that things are “destabilized”, is because of articles like you have written. We have always been here Rick. And you probably aren’t going to change that. We are only here for a little while, then we will be with the Lord. Arminians have always been here since the start of the SBC. (It isn’t a Presby-baptist thing bro. Its more of an ana-baptist thing.) And has been part of the “tradition” of the SBC from the beginning. Don’t claim roots you don’t actually have.

Donald, we are not communicating well. Maybe another time. I think we are all on the same page bro. Dr. Mohler spoke very clearly. He is saying that we have to reach those types of sinners also and not simply outcast them as people that are unsaveable. They need Jesus also. thanks

    Rick Patrick

    Bob,

    You have Reformed. I have Transformed. You have Calvinism. I have Traditionalism. You have 9 Marks. I have 7 Signs.

    Of course, you DO have the right to promote your views, bro. The SBC will change in your direction the more people accept your position.

    I just have the same right to promote my views too, which happen to contradict yours. So when I espouse my views, it may sound like I’m attacking you, and vice versa. Really, it’s just two factions within the denomination, each promoting their own vision.

    This is the tension I believe needs to be addressed.

    Donald

    “we are not communicating well. Maybe another time. I think we are all on the same page bro.”

    Bob, you and I might be. Dr. Mohler, however, says we lied. That means to intentionally say something we know to be untrue. I don’t know of any of “us” who have lied about homosexuality. He leveled a serious charge that is not true, and for which when he had a chance to repent he chose to press forward. Have you heard any of us lie?

    However, I undersdand. Another time. I listened to you preach “A More Excellent Way” last night and enjoyed the sermon. You and I were trained differently in sermon prep, but I did like a lot of what you had to say. Some points we all need to keep in mind as we banter back and forth on these blogs.

    lydiasellerofpurple

    “He is saying that we have to reach those types of sinners also and not simply outcast them as people that are unsaveable. They need Jesus also. thanks”

    I would be interested to view how many homosexuals Mohler interacts with on a daily basis? Some of us do every day living and working out in the real world. That is one reason his original comment came as such a shock to me about us lying and being homophobic. I just chalked it up to him living in a bubble in the Ivory Tower and having absolutely no clue.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      Well, in Mohler’s defense, most seminary presidents are now living in bubbles in ivory towers. :)

Bob Schembre

Rick,
I hope that was another jab in jest. Brother, Christ Redeemed me from a life of drug and alcohol abuse and has transformed my life. He changed me. it was nothing I did. My doctrinal views began when I taught through Ephesians, and it started with, “according as He has chosen us from the foundation of the world”, and I realized that what I was taught in Bible school concerning God “looking down through the corridors of time” and such was a complete twisting of the text, so I simply believed it and taught it. I know that you were probably just brought up in church and really believe all that you were taught and thats fine. (jk) – I know, it does need to be addressed, just without all of the childish “Tulip-mania” jabs, straw-men and other nonsense. Let’s talk as men, as brothers who love Christ and stop all the nonsense that came out in your article.

    Rick Patrick

    1. I did not grow up in church, etc, as you somehow suppose.

    2. The article is not nonsense, although I admit to wordplay on the historic bubble of Tulip Mania playing itself out, as the YRR movement may wane as well.

    3. There’s nothing childish and no straw men–just serious, principled disagreements about where SBC leaders want to take us, addressed in a spirit of love for Christ and one another.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      I just love it when Reformed folks of all people start whining about polemics and an edgy tone…

      Also, I found it interesting that Ephesians 1:4 was cited as a gateway into Calvinism. I know nothing of God looking down corridors of anything, time or otherwise, but an exegesis of Ephesians 1 certainly doesn’t yield Calvinism. Quite the contrary actually.

Bob Schembre

I disagree Rick. It was a sarcastic, non-helpful blast against your brothers and has no place in the type of dialogue that needs to take place.

Rick Patrick

At least we agree there needs to be a dialogue. My position is that addressing concerns forthrightly rather than ignoring them is appropriate. Many are those who have my same concerns. There is no need to insult my writing. You have the free will to change the channel. God bless you, Bob.

Ron F. Hale

Rick,
A wise man once said, “Nothing productive happens after comment 100.” Now,
you are over 200 :)

Sorry I’m late (computer problemo) … just wanted to tell you how much I
enjoyed your article — always educational and fun to read!

David William Dickmann

One question. Why does the arminian pray for the salvation of his friends family or anyone else. If god has done all he can how can you ask him to do more.

    wingedfooted1

    David,

    I can’t answer for the Arminian (who, by the way, is nothing less than a 1 or 2 point Calvinist).

    However, I could ask you the same question. According to the Westminster Confession (Chapter III: Of God’s Eternal Degree), regarding those whom God has unconditionally chosen to save, we read…

    “These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.”

    John Calvin writes….

    “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestinated to life or to death.” (Institutes: Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 5)

    Vincent Cheung writes…

    “God created the elect and the reprobates because he willed to manifest himself and to be glorified through them. Although the reprobates do not consciously glorify God, he glorifies himself through them by what he causes them to do and what he does with them. He is glorified by the elect in their salvation and by the reprobates in their damnation…… the Bible explicitly asserts this view, that reprobation is unconditional, and that God created some people for salvation and all others for damnation ‘out of the same lump’. The reprobates did not create themselves; God created them, and created them as reprobates.”

    If the salvation (and damnation) of every soul has already been decided by God, why do you pray for the Lost? In the calvinistic scheme of things, the “elect” will come to Him and the “reprobate” can’t. This is by God’s design. The “elect” no more make a decision for Christ, then the Lost make a decision to reject him. Both are in bondage to the secret decreed will of God.

    As a non-calvinist (hence, non-arminian), I reject the notion of “unconditional election to salvation”. I pray for the salvation of every living soul because I know that until that person takes their final breath, they can still accept Jesus as their Saviour. I believe the real tragedy regarding the Lost is that they could have had eternal bliss, which, according to calvinism, is an impossibility.

    God bless.

      Bob Schembre

      wingfoot, do you believe that every soul will be saved? If not, why do you pray? Do you believe that God has the ability to save them? If not, why do you pray? Do you believe that He will influence them more than He already does? Upon what scriptural basis do you say that? If you believe it is ultimately left to the “free-will” of man, why not just persuade man rather than “try” to persuade God to influence these men? If God does not answer your prayer and persuade men enough, why not? If the answer is because it is up to men to decide, then quit acting like you believe that you should pray that God will save them, and pray that God would make them willing, because that is the only way that men are saved. God does it all. Glory to God. (btw, I thought your “as a non-calvinist (hence non-arminian) was hilarious. But thats just how far most in America have come from good sound theology.

        wingedfooted1

        Bob,

        A lot of questions, but I will summarize.

        No, I don’t believe that every soul will be saved, but I do believe that until that soul takes its final breath it can be saved by accepting Christ as his or her personal Saviour.

        You asked… “Do you believe that He will influence them more than He already does? Upon what scriptural basis do you say that?”

        It appears from scripture that some are just looking for more evidence. Just reading the gospel of John, some believed in Him because of His words (John 4:41). For others it took signs and wonders (John 4:48). Some people believed when Jesus turned the water into wine (John 2:11). For others it took the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:45). What we can take from this is that as the evidence became more overwhelming, more and more came to faith.

        You said…. “If you believe it is ultimately left to the ‘free-will’ of man, why not just persuade man rather than ‘try’ to persuade God to influence these men?”

        Acts 14:1…..
        At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There THEY SPOKE SO EFFECTIVELY that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.

        Acts 18:4…..
        Every Sabbath he REASONED in the synagogue, trying to PERSUADE Jews and Greeks.

        Acts 28:23-24….
        From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to CONVINCE them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were CONVINCED by what he said, but others would not believe.

        Bob, if the number of those predestined and foreordained to either life or death cannot be either increased or diminished (according to the Westminster Confession) why do you pray for the Lost?

        Can you “pray” a non-elect into heaven?

        And, yes, arminians are still calvinists (if you think about it). They, too, hold to the calvinistic notion of total depravity. The only difference being the solution.

        God bless

Bob Schembre

OH, I think you wrote very well Rick. God bless you also.

Randall Cofield

Hey Rick,

All the head-knocking aside…I do love you as a brother in Christ Jesus and a fellow under-shepherd.

Have a blessed Lord’s day, and may you be anointed with an holy unction as you preach the Eternal Word of Truth.

    Rick Patrick

    Thank you, Randall. Likewise, my brother. We are like the football teammates on the sidelines who often engage in heated exchanges, but only because they want the team to play better. And yes, we are on the same team.

Christian

It is obvious from reading the comments that the SBC is in distress. In the small middle Georgia town where I live three SBC churches have split over Calvinism. Some members are relocating in other denominations, some are relocating in “whosoever will” SBC churches. The three churches where Calvinism was pushed on the congregation are dying. One of the pastors had to get a job as the church can no longer support him. One of the churches had purchased property and were making plans to relocate under their previous pastor but now under the new reformed pastor have lost the property. The last church, one of the largest in the community, now has a parking lot half full when at one time used every bit of parking space around the church, even having to park off campus. Now either the active members of these churches were not saved or just not in “tune” with the “new workings” of the Holy Spirit. Or could I dare say the pastors of these churches might not be in “tune” with Holy Spirit. The church that I attended had called a “traditional” pastor, but a few years into his ministry changed his beliefs and told the church, “it is what it is and if you don’t like it find another church.” Much confusion was in the church until he finally became transparent and told the church his new beliefs. Did he offer to resign the church or at least allow the church to decide if they still wanted him as pastor? Oh, no! He decided to stay and split the church. If a movement has to use deception to gain control God is no where to be found in it. A man of God should be a man of integrity. He should be honest and transparent. Calvinism has reaked havoc in our community. Thank you Pastor Rick for addressing “the elephant in the room” forthrightly.

    Rick Patrick

    And thank you, Christian, for sharing the heartbreaking testimony of church life in your town, one that is being repeated across America. Your story highlights the reason we must all take this issue seriously and not downplay the controversy or look the other way.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    There is another side to this as there are many SBC churches that are Reformed and flourishing. Though, admittedly, this is mainly seen in the more recent church plants and start-ups than what happens in existing churches, which die out for all sorts of reasons, including, but certainly not limited to, the reasons you cite.

      Randall Cofield

      This is a well-reasoned, and, I believe, accurate assessment, Johnathan Pritchett.

      May you never encounter kryptonite.

        Johnathan Pritchett

        Even when I take you to task on your Calvinism and exegesis? :)

        Love you brother. I like it that you can separate the rhetoric from the personal.

Randall Cofield

Christian and Rick,

I’ll share with you my personal experience. I know that it is purely anecdotal, but keep in mind, so is your experience.

My first church, had been split 3 times in 10 years by three pastors you would label as “Traditionalists.” It took 11 years of pastoral labor for the church to heal, but it is now stable and growing.

I am now in my second pastorate. Same song, second verse. Before I was called the church was split twice by Trad pastors in the space of only three years.

As a second-generation pastor who has been involved in church work for almost 35 years, I could write an entire book on church splits caused by so-called Traditionalist pastors.

Add to this the experience handed down to me from my father’s nearly 30 years of pastoral ministry, much of which I witness up-close and personal.

For whatever they are worth, here are my observations:

1) Churches almost never split exclusively because of doctrine.

2) When pastors cause church splits, it is almost invariably due to poor
shepherding skills and/or a wretched personality. Doctrine is seldom the real issue.

Rick, to borrow your phraseology: It is heartbreaking, and is being repeated across America.

Brothers, Calvinists have hardly cornered the market on splitting churches.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    Agreed. But I’ll add a third.

    3) Most SBC churches have split over something stupid and petty rather than something important. There are more wretched pew-warmers than wretched pastors.

    We have all those stories about arguing over Baptism curtains at business meetings for a reason.

    Donald

    Randall,
    I think you might be using the term “trad” a bit loosely here, making the mistaken assumption that if one is not a Calvinist then one must be a trad. Remembering the SBC splits that have happened in my area, there were always doctrinal differences. Please understand that this is not a common occurrence. Whether Liberals, Charismatics, or Calvinist; I do not remember a single split that did not have theological differences (and the associated power struggle as these beliefs are pushed on the non-agreeing majority) at its core. I can only remember back to the 1970’s, but have asked around and there really have only been a handful of SBC church splits. The most recent split being a Calvinist who did not reveal his agenda until after he was hired. What we hear even less about are the churches that are damaged when these men fail to gain enough support to split the church, but simply damage it in the attempt. You can add two other local churches to that tally – all in the last few years.

      Randall Cofield

      Donald,

      I think you might be using the term “trad” a bit loosely here, making the mistaken assumption that if one is not a Calvinist then one must be a trad.

      With all due respect, I’m pretty sure I understand what a “Trad” is, brother.

      I would certainly allow that your experience may be different from mine, but would remind you that neither mine nor yours is comprehensive. At best, they are only anecdotal.

      However, I think you would be hard pressed to find many SB who wouldn’t agree with me that most church splits have very little to do with theology.

      And I reiterate: Calvinists have not cornered the market on splitting churches.

      If you are insisting that Calvinists are virtually alone in causing splits in SB churches, it is incumbent upon you to produce broad factual data. If you have it, I’m all ears.

    Christian

    Sorry, Randall, but I know what I am writing about. These splits were due to doctrine.

      Randall Cofield

      Christian,

      I have no doubt you know what you’re writing about. Yet your experience, like mine, is anecdotal at best, and is certainly not comprehensive.

      I’ll say the same thing to you that I said to Donald above: If you are insisting that Calvinists are virtually alone in causing splits in SB churches, it is incumbent upon you to produce broad factual data. If you have it, I’m all ears.

Johnathan Pritchett

First, we are always brothers.

Second, we are occasional opponents.

Third, we are never enemies.

wingedfooted1

Bob Schembre,

Here is something else to consider in regards to a question you asked me above.

The calvinistic question is “why does one person believe the gospel and another doesn’t? Is it grace? Or is it something else?”

The biblical answer is everyone who does believe does so thru the grace of God thru the revelation of Himself to mankind thru His word.

The calvinist says “yes, BUT one person receives this grace and not the other.”

So why does one person believe the gospel and not the other? Grace?

So why does one believer embrace calvinism and not the other? Grace?

So why does one Calvinist hold to limited atonement and not the other? Grace?

So why does one Calvinist hold to God being the Author of sin and not the other? Grace?

The calvinistic answer is simple. Vincent Cheung writes…

“My position is not that God affirms false beliefs as true in his revelation, but that he is sovereign over all things, and that this must include control over false beliefs. Thus he reveals only the truth in Scripture, but he controls whether someone believes in it. When a person rejects the truth, he does this under the control of God, who also controls what falsehoods he believes instead.”

So if I understand reformed theology correctly, the more grace God provides, the more calvinistic one becomes. And when a person receives the full measure of God’s grace, that person will become a full 5-point, supralapsarian, God is the Author of sin, calvinist.

Nice to know.

God bless

Bob Schembre

Mr. Wingfoot, Nice straw man. God is the Author of sin? Such silly nonsense. I see you have pretty much deluded yourself into this position sir. Yes, the reason one person is saved and not the other is god. It is all about God, not you. sorry sir. You do not understand reformed theology at all. and I perceive that there really isn’t any sense in pursuing this further with you. good day

    wingedfooted1

    Bob,

    You said… “You do not understand reformed theology at all.”

    Really?

    Again, Calvinist Vincent Cheung (a reformed Baptist I believe, though I could be wrong) writes…

    “When Reformed Christians are questioned on whether God is the ‘author of sin’, they are too quick to say, ‘No, God is not the author of sin’. And then they twist and turn and writhe on the floor, trying to give man some power of ‘self-determination’, and some kind of freedom that in their minds would render man culpable, and yet still leave God with total sovereignty. On the other hand, when someone alleges that my view of divine sovereignty makes God the author of sin, my first reaction tends to be, ‘So what?’ Even Christians who disagree with me STUPIDLY chant, ‘But he makes God the author of sin, he makes God the author of sin….’ However, a description does not amount to an argument or objection, and I have never come across a half-decent explanation as to what’s wrong with God being the author of sin in any theological or philosophical work written by anybody from any perspective.”

    Cheung also states…..

    “Calvinists often affirm that Adam was free before the Fall. But again, I always speak of freedom relative to God, and from this perspective, I would say that Adam had no freedom whatsoever even before the Fall. To be ‘free’ from sin is irrelevant. The issue is whether Adam was free from God to choose to remain free from sin – he was not. In addition, I would not say that God permitted Adam to fall, but that God caused it.”

    You said… “I see you have pretty much deluded yourself into this position sir.”

    I believe the above comments speak for themselves.

    Grace

Leave a Comment:

All fields with “*” are required

 characters available