We Are Right and You Must Agree

April 29, 2016

by Dr. William F. Harrell

*This post was taken from Dr. Harrell’s website and is used by permission

For those involved in the work of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the effort to bring the SBC back to the theological position of some, but not all, of its founders has taken on a growing new life among us.

What I am going to say about this will undoubtedly be misunderstood by some.  Others will ignore what I say.  There are some who just aren’t into the whole thing. Still others, especially those who are sympathetic to the movement, will simply try to find something for which to respond in a negative way.   

Let me “steal a little of their thunder” at this point.  While I am a pastor and Bible student of the last thirty-seven  years, I get the feeling at times some of my Calvinist brothers perceive me as simply “ignorant and uneducated” and therefore, “can’t grasp” the positions of those who hold Five-Point Calvinism as their theological model.  Apparently I am “unread”, having never read any of the cited confessions and certainly too “dim witted” to grasp anything that Spurgeon, Whitefield and others have espoused concerning Calvinism.

Like it or not, that is the kind of thing that is thrust upon someone like me.  Indeed I also get the feeling that, once Calvinism is properly explained to me by my Calvinist brothers, they fully expect me to switch my theological positions and join the ranks of the Five-Point Calvinist group!

I’m reminded of the Charismatics in the mid 70’s who implicitly stated that “when you have our experience then you will be as spiritual as we are and you will have arrived.” Didn’t work then. It isn’t about to now.

Recently I was talking with a very dedicated Christian man who is a Calvinist although not a five-pointer of the more modern day radical variety.  We have been very good friends for a long time and the Calvinism thing has never been a problem for either of us.

Why was it not a problem given the hyper state of the discussion in the SBC these days?  The reason it is not a problem for my friend and me is twofold.  First, we BOTH accept the fact that the other is saved.  In the course of a good, friendly but lively exchange, I asked him a question that is very pertinent: ”Do you think I am saved?” He answered, “Absolutely.”  Then I said, “Well, I think you are saved also.”  What follows is simple common sense.  If he thinks I (a non-Calvinist) am saved, and I think that he (a Calvinist) is saved then salvation is not the issue.  Instead, the core issue is one’s theological model and methodology.  

Secondly, we both agree that it takes repentance and faith in Christ in order to be saved.  That is the bottom line of our fellowship; not whether I adopt his theological model or not.

So, just how does this apply to the conflict over Calvinism in the SBC?  As I see it, the issue that is troubling the SBC is the insistence that a person and ultimately the convention agree with the Calvinist position concerning the process of salvation.  In other words, we are right and you must agree.  That is, one must conform to their position.

My question is, “If I said to these individuals, Okay, I accept your Five-Point Calvinistic model,” would the disagreement and animosities cease to exist?  Does one mean to tell me that if I would simply start agreeing with the Calvinists and adopt their theological position that all would be well?  If I would agree with them then all the sniping and blasting directed toward those poor “misinformed” non-Calvinists would suddenly disappear?

Are the Five-Pointers actually willing to put the Convention through all the rhetoric and vitriolic verbiage just to hear people say that they capitulate and adopt their approach? If that took place would everyone be happy and would all the plotting to take the Convention back to the theological position of some of the founders of this great body of believers cease when, in reality, the vast majority of the people of the SBC do not hold to that particular theological model and, as an overall group, have not held it for a long, long time.

My difference of opinion with the Five-Point Calvinists is not founded upon the fact that they hold their position.  I too, hold many of the same beliefs as they do.  My disagreement with them is centered around the way that many of them go after churches in order to get them into the Calvinist camp.

A couple of years ago, I was taken to task in the blogosphere for simply pointing out that a Calvinist should not accept the call of a non-Calvinist church, failing to inform the people of his leanings and slowly but surely prod them in a surreptitious way toward his Five-Point position in an effort to get them to adopt his theological model.  What happens in a host of cases–actually most of the ones about which I am aware–is that the church does not want to go there.  Inevitably, a church fight erupts which splits the church, divides families and causes general confusion.

Conversely, I do not think a non-Calvinist should accept the call to a Calvinistic church and surreptitiously attempt to change it either. I was simply calling for the same thing that several of our noted convention leaders and others had called for–integrity in dealing with a church that is trying to call a person to lead them.  And integrity demands we give the church the privilege of calling a person who agrees with them doctrinally without having to go through all the theological gymnastics in order to make sure of the theological position of their pastoral candidate.

More and more churches are finding that they have to be very specific in the questions they ask in order to get at the truth of a person’s position because many of our Calvinist brothers know the Five-Point position won’t fly in the majority of the churches in the SBC and they become very adept at talking around the issue while making the pulpit committee feel comfortable with them.  This should not be done by Calvinists or non-Calvinists.

I might also point out that the non-Five Pointers such as myself and the vast majority of the people of our convention, did not create the current issue in the SBC which is becoming very divisive.  It was created by the aggressive Five-Point Calvinists who insist that people agree with them and who are willing to push the issue to a breaking point just to hear people say that they will adopt their stance.  I would hasten to add that not all Calvinists are part of those who hold such a position.

One of the major problems is that Calvinism has been taught more and more in the last few years.  Consequently, many of the younger people ascribing to it have taken that theological position beyond the Calvinism of Spurgeon and the like.  They have adopted an aggressive attitude which becomes very indignant and aggravated when people don’t join them in their theological stance or when a person voices one word of caution or difference of opinion.

They display their immaturity in the way they use such hostile and vitriolic language as they attack people they really don’t know.  The hostility is palpable and it is, in most cases, a byproduct of being young and having blood which is full of “spit and vinegar.”  Non-Calvinists have never really cared if a person was a Calvinist or not as long as they both believed and preached the Bible, and as long as they both tried to win the lost, and as long as advocates of neither viewpoint made a point of insisting that their theological position be adopted.

Question:  Is agreement on Calvinism really worth all the vitriol and division that this unnecessary family argument is bringing?  What is going to be accomplished if Calvinists succeed? Would they then say, “Well, we are all saved, and we are all winning the lost of the world, but better still we won the theological argument?” Furthermore, “Everything we went through was worth it so that we could all hold the position that we, the Calvinists agree with.” I think that we are paying too high a price for that and my fear is that it will get worse before it gets better.

Over the last couple of years I have been casually compiling a list of churches which have been bothered, disrupted and split by this issue.  This list continues to grow as I become aware of such churches through conversations with others.  The stories are all basically the same and they are tragic.  Please hear me:  It is not tragic that a pastor holds a Calvinistic position.  Rather, it is tragic what happens to a church body when a pastor uses the above mentioned process to try to change a church’s theological orientation from non-Calvinist to Calvinist and the people needlessly and unnecessarily suffer great trauma.

While at the SBC meeting in Louisville a couple of years ago, I received an e-mail from a person in South Carolina who has been communicating with me concerning Calvinism infiltrating their beloved church.  She and her husband left a church where the pastor failed to inform the people of his positions and when those positions became apparent, the church went through some very difficult times.  Sadly, this is the case with many churches.

As I stated at the beginning of this commentary, I know that, if past reactions to any criticism of the Calvinist position are the norm, I will be duly roasted, skewed and taken to task by people who don’t even know me and furthermore couldn’t care less if they did.  I would simply say this in response to that possibility and probability:  I am doing nothing more than voicing what many, many people in the SBC are saying and thinking.  For one reason or another they simply don’t want to get involved any further than giving their private opinion to another in a private setting.  I can appreciate that but, quite frankly, I really don’t care what someone might say about me.  At this stage of the game I am not building a resume’ and it really doesn’t matter to me what anyone says.  And, you know….that’s really liberating!

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Jon Estes

Interesting article. Thank you for sharing it.

You state… ” It was created by the aggressive Five-Point Calvinists who insist that people agree with them and who are willing to push the issue to a breaking point just to hear people say that they will adopt their stance.”

I ask… To make such a dynamic issue within the convention itself, the person(s) who are being aggressive, to that which you refer, must be in some position of authority or influence. Can you tell me who this or these people are who are insisting such? Is there any record of this insistance which can be researched by me so I can respond with full context being looked at?

I just do not see Joe Whoever insiting something like this within the SBC gaining traction, so it must be somone in the know and who will be listened to. Please share for clarity purposes.

    Scott Shaver

    Jon:

    I don’t believe your underlying purpose is “clarity” and I don’t believe “the list of names” you keep requesting would be sufficient to convince you of the author’s premise. The word “disingenous” comes to mind.

      Tom

      Scott:
      Jon is a “tricky” one–LOL!

        Scott Shaver

        What do Ed McMahon and William Thornton have in common?……”Its Tricky”.

        McMahon was trying to save his house…….so is Will.

      Jon Estes

      Scott – If a Calvinist made such an accusation towards a Traditionalist without giving sources, I do not think you or may here would be happy. I can imagine the labels we would get on top of the ones already being given. Then again, I could be wrong and you maybe fine with sourceless accusation. I doubt it but I could be wrong. Maybe such a forum as this likes the anti-Calvinist rants so much, it matters not if there is proof. That would be very telling.

Joshua Wilson

It’s assanine that this is still a topic in the SBC. I mean that. For over ten years I’ve heard Calvinism described and treated like a plague by pastors and various laypeople. Special committees formed to handle the “infiltration”. As if you have nothing better to do. It’s also childish, I will add, and in no way, shape or form, are you advancing the gospel while you argue about how to do away with Calvinism once and for all.

    Scott Shaver

    Joshua:

    You meant it’s not a “plague”? Could have fooled me.

    Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck……..

Rick Patrick

I think the topic of salvation doctrine, generally, will always be with us. Always. In my opinion, the topic is not “Calvinism” per se—which results in people lining up either IN FAVOR or AGAINST it—but rather “A Comparison Between Calvinism and Traditionalism,” in which case each person presents and defends their own theological view. In other words, I think the views themselves are in conflict, not just the people who hold them.

Often, however, what is being resisted is not just the theology of Calvinism, but rather, the direction of our convention’s leadership that has resulted from Calvinistic initiatives. Frankly, that is my larger concern. I think our current leadership trends have been detrimental to the SBC.

Finally, I cannot speak for Dr. Harrell, but I did not read his article as one advancing the notion that we should “do away with Calvinism once and for all.” In fact, just the opposite. He is friends with Calvinists and works together with them, just like I do. Balancing Calvinism and Traditionalism in our convention, in the proper measure, is a worthy and peaceable goal.

I agree this issue should not paralyze us or distract us, but it is currently begging to be addressed in genuine and substantial ways. The Calvinism Advisory Committee was a good start in defining some broad understandings, but we never got around to implementing anything specific in terms of balancing our partnership in a fair and representative manner. I am hopeful that both wings of our denomination can work together, but it will start with an open and honest conversation about our concerns, rather than seeking to stifle and shame those like Dr. Harrell who raise such issues.

    Andy

    I’m just wondering what you, or Dr. Harrell thing the solution is. The concern over attempted church conversions to Calvinism has been raised for years. Many calvinists agree that such kinds of deception is wrong. So what’s the solution? This article does not seem to offer any. If previous blog posts over previous years on this exact topic did not bring solutions, What is different about this one?

    Chris

    “Balancing Calvinism and Traditionalism in our convention, in the proper measure, is a worthy and peaceable goal.”

    “but we never got around to implementing anything specific in terms of balancing our partnership in a fair and representative manner.”

    Rick,

    Your verbage could be in plainer terms. It seems like you really mean, “Stop hiring Calvinists in leadership positions and stop hiring Calvinist professors at Southern, Southeastern, and other seminaries.” Your proposed hiring board/committee seems like a power grab. You take the power to hire away from Calvinist seminary presidents and give it to your committee. In this conversation, “fairness” seems like a political word that really means “power.” We want fairness could be reworded “We want power.”

    I may misunderstand your motive. But help me understand how I am missing the end result of your proposal?

      Rick Patrick

      Chris,

      You were correct when you wrote, “I may misunderstand your motive.” The end result of my proposal is not *power* but, as I wrote in all sincerity, *fairness.* In other words, I desire proportionality, representation, the proper measure of Calvinistic influence in the SBC as reflected by the theological positions embraced within the membership of our churches.

      You suggest that I really mean, “Stop hiring Calvinists in leadership positions” but that is not quite right. If 80% of the SBC members in the pews paying the bills are not Calvinists and 20% are Calvinists, then in some cases, perhaps we SHOULD hire Calvinists in certain areas to provide a fair and equitable balance…a proportional reflection of the convention. If, on the other hand, 80% of our newly elected leaders, conference speakers, authors, and leadership methods are Calvinistic, while only 20% of our church members are Calvinists, then yes, there needs to be an adjustment period, for a time. However, what I am NOT saying is that we should drive Calvinists away.

      I am saying we should only be as Calvinistic in our leadership as we are in our membership. Again, the goal is not power, but fairness.

        Chris

        Rick,

        This will not be the first time I have been wrong.

        But if you got what you wanted…a committee with the power to hire sbc leadership and leadership/professors at seminaries…wouldn’t Southern and Southeastern be where you start? Wouldn’t you be trying to change the culture at those seminaries?

        Also, you say this isn’t about power but if your committee has hiring authority, then they effectively take the power away from Mohler and Akin

        Robert Vaughn

        “If 80% of the SBC members in the pews paying the bills are not…”

        Rick, are there other areas of belief where you think it would be proper to impose these kind of hiring quotas — e.g. premillennialism vs. amillennialism, restricted communion vs. open communion, tithing vs. freewill offerings? Do any others rise to the level of concern as does soteriology?

        Thanks.

Lydia

I guess I find it astonishing an entity employee gets by with such division. Thousands of young minds of much being indoctrinated with such arrogance and myopic thinking is quite enough for serious concern.

And pushback to this is considered treating them like they have the plague? Seriously? It is more like they fill the coffers with millions of dollars on the T4G stage with their shepherding cult pedophile protecting partner— who is now SBC! They laugh about the plague all the way to the bank. That movement has produced nothing but thin skinned little perfume princes who take offense at any disagreement and promote such silliness and sanctified testosterone.

Real men do not protect other men who protect pedophiles

Les

And then there’s this conversation featuring Dr. Al Mohler and Eric Hankins, Traditionalist Statement author. Love the way these two gentlemen have obvious respect and love for one another.

    Scott Shaver

    Les:

    You obviously don’t understand that if these two guys don’t respect each other you’d never know it when they appear together on stage and in public.

    It’s staging for the “right” perception. Being friendly and showing deference on stage is an act by which battling preachers have been giving four-star performances for decades within this denomination.

    Fundamentalists expressed great “love and respect” for Dilday and Honeycutt at the same time they were assassinating their character, their beliefs and locking them out of their offices and livelihoods.

    Naivete is neither a virtue or solution to problems in this discussion, IMO.

      Scott Shaver

      Might also interest you to know, Les, that David Hankins, the father of Eric Hankins and Executive Director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention was allied and on-board with Pressler, Patterson, Mohler and Louisiana “fundamentalists” in the CR. They can’t afford to appear at odds with the crowd they cast lots with 20 years ago.

      “Calvinism” was the problem at Louisiana College which led to Hankins maneuvering for the ouster of crazy Joe Aguillard as President of that school 9-10 years after Hankins was at least partially responsible for putting him into a position to which the man never should have been appointed.

      In short, the Hankins (both junior and senior) have historically played both sides of this issue depending on personal need and changing perceptions within the denomination.

      Enemies tend to become allies when the ship they’re both riding upon begins to break up.

      Les

      Scott, I really know very little about LC and all that. But thanks for sharing your thoughts about it.

    Les

    Thanks Scott. I apparently am naive about Drs. Mohler and Hankins. I didn’t realize that they were “acting” so as to fool people. I know you all expect that from Dr. M, but I’m surprised that the author of the Traditional Statement would on here be accused of acting to fool people and being disingenuous and deceptive, the very thing Cals are accused of all the time. Learn something new every day. Thanks again Scott for the information.

    Lydia

    Thanks Les for pointing out how they play too particular audiences. So which is it?

      Les

      Lydia, you thank the wrong person. That would be Scott you should thank. I didn’t point that out. Scott did.

        Lydia

        Les, I should have been more clear. I was thanking you for posting the video.

          Les

          Happy to receive your thanks for the posting.

dr. james willingham

Dear Dr. Harrell: As a child I was exposed to the ministry of Brother George Washington Gray at a small village church in Arkansas. Later. I was converted from Atheism to Christianity in St. Louis. Brother Gray had nothing o do with my Atheism. That was the result of an effort to say how could there be a God and let what happened to me as a child happen to any child (a home broken by divorce) and being raised on a sharecropper’s farm for 11 years and having to work from sunup to sunset in the fields from age four fourteen. Funny, how when the Lord appeared to me that night in a Youth for Christ meeting in St. Louis, that the question never entered my mind. I received the Lord as my Savior (by asking that He forgive me of my sins and feeling a weight lifted off of me that I did not know I had, and then crying tears of joy for the first time in my life).. I Joined the Calvary Baptist where there was a mixture of Calvinism and Traditionalism. In fact my future brother-in-law was won to Christ by the youth minister, a warm hearted Calvinist whose three point sermon on Lydia we both have used to this day, 1. Her Hands stilled, 2. Her Heart was opened, and 3. Her House was saved. Believe it or not my brother is a Traditionalist, though he had Dr. Curtis Vaughan at SWBTS for Ephesians (I would have given my eye teeth for that experience. I am a Sovereign Grace believer,, all five points, but reject the term Calvinist as the positions were taught before Calvin (I did six years of research in church history and have some knowledge of what I say.

You are quite right about their being people in both camps that are saved, and it also follow that there are individuals in both camps who are as lost as lost can be. I have known both. Sad to say.

I think the answer lies in the grace of God being applied to the sinner’s heart, from beginning to end. This handles the infancy that die at such an early age. Imagine my shock, when I said to a lady that there were no babies in Heaven. My reason was simply that they appeared in Heaven in the full bloom of what they were meant to be, and who would not want to see their child in the spiritual magnificence of heavenly maturity. In fact, I think all babies go to Heaven, having their depravity and inability transformed by the blood of Chrit during the death process – by grace.

The problems we face are really intellectual problems, something that Baptists have been ignoring for the past 150+ years. I wish I could say more, but I am a heart patient and have run out of steam. I also have to care for my wife who is a heart patient, too. I do have help, but it still involves effort on my part. Your discussion is interesting. Have you read Whitefield’s efforts at reconciliation with John Wesley or Wesley’s reply?

    dr. james willingham

    Adding to what I said above, I must comment on my conversion. I was a professing Atheist, when I attended the Youth For Christ meeting in St. Louis on Dec. 7, 1957. While there I thought I would like to go forward. My next thought was: “Why would I want to do this? After all, I did not believe that any of it was true.” Just then I saw a vision or a hallucination of Jesus standing before me, facing me, with one arm raised like he was knocking at a door, the door of my heart, I suppose. Then I did not want to go forward. I wanted out of that place, and after the service I left determined to tell no one, but two blocks from my home I decided to tell me mother. That night I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins and felt a burden lifted off of my heart. I think the Lord opened my heart as it says in Acts 16:14. So two verses represent my conversion, Rev.3:20 and Acts 16:14.

    I joined the church where my mother and sister attended the next evening, and in the Spring of ’58 felt the call to preach.. In the Fall of 58′ I was introduced to the doctrines of grace at ETBC in Texas. I wrote my pastor about it, and he responded, saying, “It was all a tempest in a teapot.” In the meanwhile I did study the issue gather books from both perspectives on the subject. We called a new pastor to my home church, Dr. Ernest Campbell, who had been Dr. R.G. Lee’s Associate at Bellevue. Dr. Campbell was a five point hyper-Calvinist with an engaging approach, a hyper Calvinist (his words), he pastored a number of churches across the world, found a race track chaplaincy, and was evangelistic as any one could desire (had 100 conversions in a country church in Georgia.. He ordained me, knowing that I did not agree on the matter of Calvinism or Sovereign Grace, but within a year of dealing with people in depravity, etc., and studying a Puritan on Original Sin (David Clarkson), I came to some of the doctrines during that first year in the pastorate. Eventually, I was persuaded of all of them. At first this made me a know it all, a habit of any theological student who has adopted some view which he thinks explains all and does not allow God any wiggle room.

    Eventually I became acquainted with George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards and learned the value of cooler heads. The same went for Baptists in America. Statistics indicate that of some 1200+ Baptist churches in America more than 1000 were Calvinist in their theology. However, they were wrestling with the issues. One item is I think evident, namely,. that they believed one must be persuaded of the truth, not manipulated or forced to conform. This was the real beginning of working together for missions as is indicated by the meetings between John Gano and Shubal Stearns as well as others such as Luther Rice. We also have the 1787 agreement about the issue of preaching that Christ tasted death for every man; it was the light of Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke and before them, the writings of General Baptists in England, setting forth Liberty of Conscience (for which some paid with their lives).. Clarke and Williams put it into precept and practice.

    There is more, but I must cease due to a lack of strength.

    Scott Shaver

    Intellect can only take you so far in spiritual concerns.

    If this is all purely about intellect……we’ve been off base for years.

      dr. james willingham

      Dear Scott: Whether it is all of intellect, I leave to someone else to answer. However, I would point out to you that the first requirement of the Gospel is repentance, namely, a change of direction based upon thinking through what God has said. The term, metanous, means a change of mind based upon reflection. It was the stress upon this meaning that had a great deal to do with the Great Awakenings. Our failure to stress such might well have something to do with our lack of a visitation today. And as to the intellect, I would call your attention to the very use of the word logical in Romans 12:1. I trust that you have a GNT and could not look it up. The word rational or reasonable is the r4endering often used, but it could it be logical as the term is a form of it in the Greek.

Scott Shaver

In many ways Les, this whole Southern Baptist debacle for last 20 years has amounted to a gag-reel with some really bad actors.

Prove otherwise by the history which has unfolded since the “CR”.

    Les

    Scott, I admit I was digging a bit in my last comment. But I really did think Dr. Hankins and Dr. Mohler were onto something at the time. At least I thought they were being sincere and genuine and that maybe those who hold to their respective soteriologies might begin to approach each other in, well, a more amicable manner. I suspect some have and some have not. But they certainly seemed genuine.

      Scott Shaver

      Mohler pretty well summed up his position and that of the SBC by default in this video.

      He said: “Eric, I do think your soteriology is deficient”

      When push comes to shove do you think he’ll treat Hankins any different than others with whom he has “theological” disagreements?

      Les

      “He said: “Eric, I do think your soteriology is deficient””

      But Scott, don’t both sides of the soteriology argument think the other side’s soteriology is deficient? I’m pretty sure folks on here and Dr. Hankins and all other non Cals think my soteriology is deficient. I think yours is as well as Dr. Hankins’ and all other non Cals. Doesn’t mean I think non Cals are not Christians who love Jesus sincerely as I’m certain Dr. Mohler also doesn’t think non Cals are not Christians who love Jesus sincerely. We just disagree on how we believe the scriptures teach God saves people. A couple of people who comment here seem to believe we preach “another gospel” in the vein of Galatians 1:6. But no Calvinists I know (and I know a fair number of them) say that about non Cals.

      Anyway, thanks for the discussion.

        Scott Shaver

        You are correct Les, “both sides of the argument” do think the soteriology of the other is “deficient”.

        The rub comes with how one side or other of the argument deals with theological (i.e. soteriology) diversity.

        Mohler’s obvious policy and the policy to which the father of Eric Hankins suscribed was “scorched earth”.

        As for Mohler, he’s held true to that particular modus operandus.

        Lydia

        Mohler is an entity employee. And a lot of funds that pay for his position come from non Calvinists.

        Hankins is not an entity employee.

        There is your difference. If Mohler wants autonomy then he should go be a pastor in an autonomous SBC Church where he can have Elder rule of Yes Men.

          Les

          “Mohler is an entity employee. And a lot of funds that pay for his position come from non Calvinists.” So what?

          “Hankins is not an entity employee.” So what?

          “If Mohler wants autonomy…” He doesn’t have autonomy. There are trustees he is answerable to. That is the way the SBC system works.

            Tom Parker

            The trustees are trustees in name only. None of these guys dares to confront Mohler about anything.

            Lydia

            Les, I almost forgot I was talking to a Ruling Elder who believes in top down spiritual rule. I should not expect you to get it.

              Les

              Lydia, yes a RULING Elder. And don’t forget again. :)

              Top down? Nay. We are a representative form of government. Not pure democracy like the SBC.

    Scott Shaver

    Not only does Mohler arrogantly compare himself to Jesus Christ in this exchange with Hankins, he basically calls (or wishes for) censorship including the internet until after he and his other “ultimately enlightened” colleagues have a chance to formulate a treatise for the next bill of goods they want to sell to the SBC constituency.

    Absolutely sickening the way Mohler walks back clear, concise statements to redefine his meaning after public blow-back. Hankins is clearly nervous and struggling for words in Mohler’s presence.

    Most foks tend to nervous reaction when they find themselves in the presence of a snake. Others tend to grab a shovel or axe.

    I’m a shovel guy myself.

      Lydia

      Scott, that is part of the problem a lot of these men are intimidated by Mohler. The propaganda about his so called intellect that surrounded him since he was hired at age 33 has been ridiculous. The man went to Samford, for crying out loud. And cut his teeth working for so-called liberals.

      But, The propaganda worked. His real skill is in the area of political strategy and tactics. That is the snake part and why so many are scared of him. The YRR boys will follow him off a cliff.

        Scott Shaver

        It’s bizarre Lydia.

        There’s absolutely nothing intimidating about Mohler either physically or intellectually. Don’t understand it.

          Chris

          Lydia and Scott,

          I get you disagree with Nobler and don’t like him. Now you are acting like he’s dumb. Let’s have some integrity here…Mohlers clearly very intelligent. That doesn’t make him right but disagreeing with someone should not lead to your insulting their intelligence. I thought you all faulted Calvinists for that sort of thing.

            Chris

            *Mohler, not nobler. Thanks autocorrect

              Scott Shaver

              You blood related to Mohler or something Chris?

                Chris

                I wish.

                Think it’s funny when people making ugly remarks get challenged on their remarks, and then respond with “Are you related to the person I am bashing?” No one has to be related to someone to ask you to be kind of fair to them. As Christians, that is something we should all be growing in/striving for.

                  Chris

                  *kind or fair

                    dr. james willingham

                    The Bible says agape love does not behave itself unseemly. The positive spin is that such love is courteous

                  Scott Shaver

                  Calling my remarks “ugly” Chris, doesn’t necessarily make them untrue.

                  I asked if you were related because of your inability to see Mohler as a man rather than a demiurge.

                  Kindness and fairness has not been one of Mohler’s trademarks and I don’t take my marching orders on “Christian Living” from his starry-eyed young sycophants like yourself.

                  “Strive” with that

                    Chris

                    Your remarks against Mohler’s intelligence are untrue. Any person not blinded by bias could see that.

                    “your inability to see Mohler as a man rather than a demiurge.”

                    Really? I think he’s a “demiurge” because I think you should be fair and kind towards him? It’s like you are saying, “If you don’t hate him, you must think he’s god” There is a large span of healthier opinions between those two extremes.

                    “I don’t take my marching orders on “Christian Living” from his starry-eyed young sycophants like yourself.”

                    I thought the Bible would be more influential for you but it does not seem to influence the way you interact on here.

                    Lydia

                    You must be fair and kind, comrade. We do not mention our dear leader’s partnerships with Mahaney and Driscoll in the same sentence with the word, intelligence. :o)

            Scott Shaver

            Chris:

            I’m insulting Mohler’s intelligence because I don’t find the man “intimidating” either physically or intellectually?

            Not only are you hyper-calvinist, you’re hyper-sensitive as well. I would suggest applying pine rosen to your backside for the purpose of thickening your skin a little.

            Mohler is a master of high-browed insults.

              Chris

              Why am I hyper-calvinist?

              Maybe, I misunderstood your implication. But it appeared you were saying more than that Mohler was not intimidating. It seemed like you were saying he wasn’t intelligent. So do you think Mohler is intelligent?

              “Hyper-sensitive”

              Again, with the insults. I guess that’s not only a Calvinist thing.

                Scott Shaver

                “Appeared”?

                You tripping on mushrooms Chris?

                  Chris

                  Scott,

                  Throw out all the insults you want. C
                  But can you tell me why you say that I am a hyper-Calvinist?

                    Scott Shaver

                    Respectfully Chris,

                    Don’t know you but guilty at my age of usually rolling with first, second, third impressions.

                    Let me pose to you a question. Can you tell me why you are not a hyper-Calvinist?

                    Chris

                    Yes, I can tell you why I am not a hyper-Calvinist.

                    Iain Murray wrote a book called “Spurgeon V. Hyper-Calvinists: the Battle for Gospel Preaching.” In the book, Murray outlines hyper-Calvinists as those who would not support missions, Gospel proclaimations to all and so on. I do support missions and the gospel being shared with all.

                    A hyper-Calvinist is not someone who likes Calvinism a lot or a 5-pointer. Those would be better defined as normal Calvinists or just “Calvinists.” So often that term hyper-Calvinist is used without reference to its historical meaning.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Insults Chris:

                    In an effort to be biblical: you’ve not yet striven to blood in your struggle against sin…..

                    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/churchgoer-killed-fight-seat-sunday-service-article-1.2618098

              Les

              Permit me to quote someone on the internet, anyone–it doesn’t matter:

              “I’ve always believed that people use name-calling as an argument when they cannot support their point of view and wish only to intimidate their opponents.”

              Obviously and it doesn’t work.

              Les

              Or Socrates: ““When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

                Scott Shaver

                Would be nice, Les, if you ever had an original thought.

                Wont’ be holding my breath waiting for that from Mr. Cut and Paste however.

                Les

                “there is nothing new under the sun.”

                  Scott Shaver

                  That biblical truth holds especially true in your testimony….eh Les? :)

                  Les

                  Since I’m on a cut and paste frenzy, I love so many Groucho quotes.

                  “I have nothing but respect for you — and not much of that.” Oh, and :)

                    Scott Shaver

                    Gonna lose a lot of sleep over that one Les. Yawn.

              Lydia

              “Mohler is a master of high-browed insults.”

              And the master of plausible deniability in hundreds of examples.

              Recently, his backhanded slap at T$G to the once children of vile predators protected at SGM, was cruel and unnecessary.

              His sycophants are trained well.

            Scott Shaver

            If integrity has anything to do with consistency, Chris, I’ve always thought Mohler a jerk since the the days of CR.

            You must have me mistaken for someone (“you all”). Calvinist scan keep insulting right along with me all they want. No problem.

            I’ve always faulted them for abhorrent theology, not their playground skills.

            Les

            Yes Chris. I think of “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

              Scott Shaver

              poor babies….so hated and persecuted.

              Les

              “A scoffer does not like to be reproved”

                Scott Shaver

                This “scoffer” loves “rebuke” Les….what else you got?

                Les

                “This “scoffer” loves “rebuke” Les….what else you got?”

                There’s lots of fertile ground coming via you for drawing on a wealth of scriptural replies. But that’s enough for now. Oh and if you’re ever in STL area I’d love to meet you. A face to face conversation would be enjoyable I’m sure. Just let me know. I’ll buy the coffee or beer. :)

                  Scott Shaver

                  By all means Les, and consistent with MO:

                  Why stop when you’re ahead and dissecting me with with bountiful scriptural evidence to the glory of God in the process? By all means….keep going and showing me your masterful use of The Word under the Spirit’s guidance.

                  Please sir…..we want more.

                    Scott Shaver

                    By the way Les, were we to ever end up in a St Louis pub together, what in the world would make you want to buy beer for a guy you have no respect for (per Groucho Marx)?

                    I guess it’s just the “Christian” thing to do?

                  Les

                  Scott,

                  Why would I buy you a beer considering the Groucho mark? I did put a smiley thing after that quote. Just trying to have a little fun. Groucho was a comedian after all. Me apparently not so much. Though you and I are poles apart on most discussions on here, I’m sure you’re a great guy who loves Jesus and who is obviously passionate about your church/theological positions. I have respect for you my brother in Christ. We just tend to get a bit edgy with each other sometimes. So the offer is genuine and some good pubs are plentiful.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Point well taken Les. Missed emoticon.

                    Hakuna Matada

                    I’m not a stranger to pubs these days but normally playing guitar (working) and drinking Ice tea.

            Lydia

            Chris, the meme on Mohler from day one has been his superior intellect and brilliance. I question the meme and why someone like him would propagate such considering his education and experience.
            I do believe he has excellent political strategist skills. Often that takes boldness and a willingness to play people. CJ Mahaney and Acts 29 are excellent examples. Mohler managed to infiltrate the SBC with Shepherding cult polity and use pew peon money to do it! There is nothing “dumb” about that.

              Chris

              “I question the meme and why someone like him would propagate such considering his education and experience.”

              Who cares what his education was? He’s obviously very intelligent and brilliant. You should be able to disagree with him without attacking his person this way. His experience? He’s led Southern extremely well of the past however many years.

              Sure you disagree with him and maybe you don’t like him. It just doesn’t seem like you could be fair with yourself and truth to say he’s not intelligent. That seems to show heavy bias. His intelligence is really not in question by any fair observation.

                Lydia

                Chris, evidently some really cared because that has been the meme for years. And because it has been such a widely disseminated meme, at some point people are going to test, compare and contrast. And find it lacking.

                You ask who cares what his education was? Are we talking about the president of a seminary who has been promoted as brilliant and an intellectual?

                  Chris

                  Lydia,

                  It’s not a meme. It’s an observation of fact.

                  We are. His education doesn’t determine his intelligence. His intelligence is easily evident. The only way you could have this conversation is if you are heavily biased. Any semi-biased to somewhat-biased person would still admit he’s clearly an intelligent guy.

                    Scott Shaver

                    That word “bias” works two ways Chris.

                    Why should your “bias” be predominant in this discussion with folks who’ve been watching, victimized by and who’ve studied both the theology and political designs/aspirations of Mohler…..some of them in excess of 25-30 years?

                    What is the true basis of any authority in your appeals?

                    Chris

                    “Why should your “bias” be predominant in this discussion with folks who’ve been watching, victimized by and who’ve studied both the theology and political designs/aspirations of Mohler…..some of them in excess of 25-30 years?”

                    Because my bias (really opinion) agrees with reality. Love him or hate him. Agree with him or disagree with him. Mohler is a brilliant, intelligent guy. Anyone who listens to him for very long can pick up on that. He doesn’t have to write large books for that to be true.

                    I think you equate “rightness” with intelligence and brilliance so that because he is wrong he can’t be either of those things. None of that is true.

                    “What is the true basis of any authority in your appeals?”

                    Fair observation of Mohler. Reality.

                  Les

                  “The only way you could have this conversation is if you are heavily biased.” You’ve just described Lydia. That’s easily discernible.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Show me the great theological works and systematics of Mohler that have carried him to such lofty intellectual circles.

                    Have they been published yet?

                    More like a radio, media and TV personality if you ask me.

      Lydia

      “Not only does Mohler arrogantly compare himself to Jesus Christ in this exchange with Hankins, he basically calls (or wishes for) censorship including the internet until after he and his other “ultimately enlightened” colleagues have a chance to formulate a treatise for the next bill of goods they want to sell to the SBC constituency.”

      Here is how it works in Neo Calvin Mohler land. After the Tradition statement is published, Mohler comes out with “semi Pelagian” and the signers should be” marginalized”. Of course we are never to take his words at face value. His sycophants always rush in to intervene and tell us we misunderstood the great man who makes a living communicating publicly. (Sigh. Just like thought reform in action)

      That is how it works in Neo Cal La La Land. Just stop and think for a moment of the thousands and thousands of young men who have been indoctrinated to think this way, in the Name of the Sovereign God, of course.

    Les

    Well, if they are both putting on an “act” as you said, then there are two snakes on that stage.

      Scott Shaver

      Les, you could or could not be correct about that. Distinct possibility.

      Les

      Scott, I don’t happen to believe either of these men is a snake. I was just going by how you described their meeting…acting=deceiving.

        Scott Shaver

        Well Les:

        In that case you shouldn’t have publicly suggested or feigned the suggestion they were “both snakes” if you didn’t/don’t “believe it”.

        Don’t know much about Hankins, the younger….do understand some things about Mohler.

        Hhhhsssssssss! Snake Farm City.

        Les

        Scott,

        I was not calling them snakes, as in my view. The “as you said” part of my statement should make that clear. I was following out your statement that they both were “acting” to what would need to be your logical conclusion. i.e. if, as you say, they were both acting (deceiving) then not only would Mohler be a snake, but Hankins would be as well–according to your statement. That’s all.

          Scott Shaver

          Let me redefine “acting” in the current context, Les.

          They are acting within the boundaries of decorum (whether artificially or viscerally) their professions demand.

          To act like anything but brothers (despite their true feelings) would cause the loss of leverage in what amounts to political reconnaissance performed under the smoke-screen of a “soteriological discussion”.

          An interesting side-note in this discussion is Mohler’s apparent static view of SBC history. Notice how these guys always appeal to the composition (General/Particular) of the SBC is its fledgling years. They pay no attention whatsoever to the trajectory of SBC history (i.e. away from hyper-Calvinism) following Boyce, Broadus.

          The YRR and youn neo Cals are critical of “Traditionalists” for their moorings to “tradition” while they follow and idolize certain preachers and academicians who are hopelessly stuck in the static theological tradition of Civil War America. What irony.

          I happen to believe this mindset in it’s current expressions within the SBC is serving to set race relations back decades.

Robert

Dr. Harrell,

Very good and well stated article. There were many good points. A couple that particularly caught my eye were these:

“I’m reminded of the Charismatics in the mid 70’s who implicitly stated that “when you have our experience then you will be as spiritual as we are and you will have arrived.” Didn’t work then. It isn’t about to now.”

I went through this time in which the Charismatics were heavily evangelizing other believers and trying to convince others that they had the **real** truth and the rest of us had to join or we were lesser believers. For them it was speak in tongues and you have arrived. They spoke of their tongues experience as if they were inferior believers before they spoke in tongues. There are real parallels with this mentality and what I have seen from many Calvinists. They want to convince other believers that they have the **real** truth when it comes to theology and their comments often imply and sometimes outright declare that we are lesser believers if we are non-Calvinists. Consider how many Calvinists speak of their **conversion** to Calvinism, it is remarkably similar to how Charismatics spoke of their **conversion** to Charismatic theology.

We don’t need another conversion, if we are genuinely saved, that is the only conversion that we need to experience.

“I have been casually compiling a list of churches which have been bothered, disrupted and split by this issue. This list continues to grow as I become aware of such churches through conversations with others. The stories are all basically the same and they are tragic. Please hear me: It is not tragic that a pastor holds a Calvinistic position. Rather, it is tragic what happens to a church body when a pastor uses the above mentioned process to try to change a church’s theological orientation from non-Calvinist to Calvinist and the people needlessly and unnecessarily suffer great trauma.”

This is a second major, major concern about the so-called Calvinistic resurgence, especially as seen in the SBC: the division this movement causes. Churches are literally split on this issue. It is not the Holy Spirit of God that is behind these divisions caused by Calvinists. And this division weakens the SBC and instead of focusing on other issues and most importantly evangelism, people are dealing with all of the division and confusion brought by this Calvinistic movement. I fully agree with your statement that “it is not tragic that a pastor holds a Calvinistic position.”

It seems it is not being Calvinist per se that causes the problems: it is a mentality that evangelizes Calvinism, that speaks of them alone holding the “doctrines of grace” as if non-Calvinists do not believe in grace. Trying to convert everyone to their theology, trying to convert whole congregations to Calvinism.

Again this strongly parallels the Charismatic movement in the 70’s: the problem then was also an evangelistic mindset that sought to evangelize and convert all other believers to Charismatic theology and practice (I remember asking one zealous Charismatic: “If you spent as much time telling others the good news about Jesus as you spend trying to get everyone to be speaking in tongues, where would you be?” This same question could be asked Calvinists regarding their “evangelism”). And that led to all sorts of division and confusion as well. It led to two types of believers those who had it and those who did not. Likewise Calvinism that seeks to evangelize and ***convert*** other believers leads to the same two types of believers, those who have it and those who do not.

I used to work counter cult ministry with Walter Martin and he used to say that we needed to beware of divisive movements within the church as they could do a lot more harm than a non-Christian cult does. If someone says I reject the trinity, we know that is wrong and have no difficulty avoiding such persons. If however someone holds to the trinity and other Christian beliefs, but then introduces some other theology (the “doctrines of grace”) or practice (speaking in tongues), that is much more subtle and difficult to deal with as they are believers within the church.

Chris

So much of what was said in this article against Calvinists could be said against this blog and some of the non-Calvinist commenters on this blog. For example:

“the effort to bring the SBC back to the theological position of some”

“In other words, we are right and you must agree. That is, one must conform to their position.”

“If I would agree with them then all the sniping and blasting…would suddenly disappear?”

“If that took place would everyone be happy and would all the plotting to take the Convention back to the theological position of some”

“They have adopted an aggressive attitude which becomes very indignant and aggravated when people don’t join them in their theological
stance or when a person voices one word of caution or difference of opinion.”

“They display their immaturity in the way they use such hostile and vitriolic language as they attack people they really don’t know.”

“Question: Is agreement on Calvinism really worth all the vitriol and division that this unnecessary family argument is bringing? “

    Scott Shaver

    Chris opines: “So much of what is said in this article against Calvinists could be said against this blog and some of the non-Calvinist comments on this blog.”

    You are absolutely correct Chris. Such things have long been “said” in print, in person and in public by “Calvinists”. That’s part and parcel of how the “CR” got started. They are being printed and proclaimed now and will continue to be shouted from the roof-tops by the boys in skinny jeans as long as they can draw a crowd and sell a few books.

    Tell us something we don’t know :)

      Chris

      “You are absolutely correct Chris.”

      Let’s remember this moment always.

      “Tell us something we don’t know :)”

      You won’t catch me in skinny jeans for several good reasons. :)

Chris

“a Calvinist although not a five-pointer of the more modern day radical variety.”

Calvinism began with 5 points. It’s not particularly modern or radical to be a 5-pointer. Sometimes people call 5-pointers “hyper-Calvinists” but that is to confuse the meaning of hyper-Calvinism with normal Calvinism.

rhutchin

There need be no conflict between the Calvinists and the non-Calvinists, especially those who call themselves Traditionalists. The Traditionalists maintain the God has provided people the means of salvation and a person must appropriate that salvation by faith. Traditionalists recognize that all do not exercise faith unto salvation, and some will be lost eternally. Calvinists say that God takes the people who willfully reject salvation and selects some whom He will save who otherwise would be lost eternally. Why should a Calvinist object if a person truly and willfully accepts Christ? Why should a Traditionalist object if God chooses to save some from among those who willfully reject salvation and who otherwise would be lost? Let’s recognize the dangers of the Traditionalist view – some will believe that their salvation is based on such things as church membership, baptism, or doing good works. There are people who believe God saved them as the Calvinism says but then will base their assurance of salvation on such things as church membership, baptism, or doing good works. Both are problems. Pastors do not save people through powerful sermons, erudite exegesis of the Scriptures, or other means. Whether Calvinist or Traditionalist, we know that it is God who saves through Pastors who preach the truth of the Scriptures with the Holy Spirit convicting. The arguments beyond this are for mature believers and not for babies – the problem is that babies are often drawn into things that they are not equipped to handle.

    Scott Shaver

    That’s funny Rutchin.

    There wasn’t a preacher anywhere around for miles when I was saved.

    Lydia

    “The arguments beyond this are for mature believers and not for babies – the problem is that babies are often drawn into things that they are not equipped to handle.”

    And besides, babies are evil in your tradition. :o)

      Les

      “And besides, babies are evil in your tradition.” No, in the SBC tradition of translation. And more importantly according to scripture.

      “Indeed, I was guilty when I was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.” Holman Christian Standard Bible, Lifeway of the SBC. Thankfully and happily babies who die in infancy are regenerated and go to be with Jesus. :)

        Scott Shaver

        Well then…guess the interpretation, application, and theological conclusions of “regenerated” babies are now Ex-Cathedra upon the confirmation of Les.

      Andrew Barker

      Lydia: If I can be permitted to misquote for a moment “Out of the mouths of babes” … “The arguments beyond this are for mature believers and not for babies – the problem is that babies are often drawn into things that they are not equipped to handle.” You couldn’t make this stuff up. Have you read The Institutes lately? Me neither ;-) lol

Lydia

“Calvinism began with 5 points. It’s not particularly modern or radical to be a 5-pointer. Sometimes people call 5-pointers “hyper-Calvinists” but that is to confuse the meaning of hyper-Calvinism with normal Calvinism.”

Gee. I thought it started in practice with Calvin his second time around in Geneva, taking pages from the pagan dualism of Augustine, and creating a systematic theology for the state church ruling elite to carry out.

When I read the institute’s and the laws of “Reformed” Geneva during Calvin’s time ,it made me even more grateful for:

“When in the course of human events……”

    Chris

    Lydia,

    The five points are actually a response to Arminian doctrine. Calvin did not specifically form them.

      Chris

      But it’s a pointless exercise to demonize Calvin…most Calvinists hold to the doctrines of grace because they see them in Scripture, not the Institutes.

      Lydia

      “The five points are actually a response to Arminian doctrine. Calvin did not specifically form them”

      Chris, I only responded to what you wrote:

      “Calvinism began with 5 points”

      I am amazed they got the Institutes down to 5.

        Les

        “I am amazed they got the Institutes down to 5.”

        Obviously you’ve never read the Institutes.

          Scott Shaver

          Is it really “obvious” Les?

          My bet would be that Lydia knows the “institutes” better than you and your band of ruling elders.

            Chris

            “They display their immaturity in the way they use such hostile and vitriolic language as they attack people they really don’t know.”

              Scott Shaver

              Ah but Chris,

              In a cyber-reality you and Les represent (embody) WHAT SOME OF US DO KNOW….and it ain’t pretty.

              Considering your mutual “vitriol” and condescending personal comments (which you both attempt to shield with scriptural proof-texts) toward the divergent views of others, how do you KNOW any of us any better than you say we “don’t know you”?

              “Woe unto you scribes, pharisees and HYPOCRITES” (emphasis mine) as long as we’re throwing out scripture.

            Les

            Scott,

            “My bet would be that Lydia knows the “institutes”…”

            :)
            And Chris, as you aid earlier. Great quote from the main article.

            Les

            Correction: “And Chris, as you aid earlier.” should be And Chris, as you said earlier.

        Chris

        When the 5 points of Calvinism were formed, no one was trying to distill the Institutes to 5 points. A group of Dutch Arminians (Remonstrants) distilled their protest against Calvinism as it was (theologically-dominant in their area in their day) to five points. The Synod of Dort analyzed that teaching and responded to it with 5 counter points that became known as the five points of Calvinism or Tulip.

        Calvin died in 1564 and the Synod of Dort met between 1618-1619.

          Chris

          According to the article, believing the five points is modern…but the five points were formed in 1619.

            Scott Shaver

            Wow Chris:

            I admire your tenacity. You won’t us to live, think and apply scripture in 2019 with a 1619 template.

            Russell Moore and Al Mohler are only pushing back to the Antebellum and Civil War periods.

            You’re a pioneer!

              Chris

              Scott,

              We all have a way we understand Scripture. I hope we all want our understanding to be older than 1619.

              Calling Calvinism a template misses the point. If we wrote your understanding of Scripture down, we’d have Shaverism. We could call it a template or a system and then ridicule it as man-made. The problem is that everyone has a fallible understanding of an infallible book. You are just faulting me for holding to a particular one you don’t like and disagree with. That’s fine but you are working with fallibility in your understanding as well.

                Scott Shaver

                “Fallibility” notwithstanding Chris: I’m bound to keep “missing your points” because they are distractions rather than an honest address of issues.

                I’m not faulting you for anything other than trying to convince (shame) me and others of the value of Calvin’s system when it’s obviously a major contributing factor to the decline, dismissal, and reconstitution of a denomination under the leadership of Al Mohler.

                You are correct….it is “ugly”. That’s the face of “Calvinism” to me regardless of your man-crush and your affinity for the butcher of Geneva.

                That’s the one and only truth I’m concerned with in all this “dialogue”. “Fallible” or not.

                  Chris

                  “distractions rather than an honest address of issues.”

                  Untrue, unfair.

                  “I’m not faulting you for anything other than trying to convince (shame) me and others”

                  Ironic. You and Lydia use “shame” all the time citing what an evil guy Calvin was.

                  “when it’s obviously a major contributing factor to the decline, dismissal, and reconstitution of a denomination”

                  I’d love for you to give evidence for this claim. I have been to multiple SBC churches that are decline, and there were no Calvinists in sight (not including myself visiting). You can’t blame the ills of the whole (most of which is not Calvinistic) on one small part which is often healthy.

                  “Regardless of your man-crush and your affinity for the butcher of Geneva.”

                  So I have a man-crush because I think you should be kind and fair to a person? Butcher of Geneva is over the top. And I don’t especially have any affinity for Calvin. So much of what you are saying here is inaccurate.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Inaccurate or just unpleasant Chris?

                    I think it’s the latter.

          Scott Shaver

          “Synod of Dort” or “Synod of Dorks”?

Lydia

“But it’s a pointless exercise to demonize Calvin…most Calvinists hold to the doctrines of grace because they see them in Scripture, not the Institutes.”

Right. A 500 year old “brand name”—and we should ignore that part. Got it.

    Chris

    Lydia,

    Your argument then amounts to your “brand name” is named after a bad dude. Your anti-Calvin rhetoric could not actually prove or disprove anything more .

    I think that’s a misguided way to argue because you argue against things many Calvinists would also argue against. And it misses the point (most people don’t believe in the doctrines of grace because of Calvin)

      Scott Shaver

      Hey Chris:

      I think you meant to say most people “miss the doctrines of Grace because of Calvin”.

        Chris

        I actually think most people miss the doctrines of grace because of prior presuppositions that act like a pair of colored glasses that affect everything the person sees.

        Some people have given it careful thought and not been convinced…I get that. But that’s not everybody…I had a friend in college who i talked with about Calvinism. At one point after we had talked for some time, he told me that he had seen it in the Bible in many other places than I had mentioned. He never became a Calvinist even though he saw it in the Bible. His prior theological commitments were stronger than what he himself said he saw in Scripture.

        For some people, it’s not that no persuasive, biblical arguments have been given. It’s that they have already decided it can’t be true so every argument to the contrary is refuted by that obstinate presupposition…no matter what evidence is offered.

          Scott Shaver

          Chris:

          In that case, call me when “good biblical arguments” as opposed to “presupposed” theological templates and proof-texting of those templates are offered up for discussion.

          Meanwhile, I’ll be crappie fishing Lake Conroe. You have a nice day now.

            Chris

            Hope the fishing goes well.

    dr. james willingham

    Dear Lydia I became a believer in Sovereign Grace five years or more before I ever obtained Calvin’s Institutes. In fact, I do not owe anything to him for my views of the doctrines of grace. What persuaded me was the Bible. The little word, “can,” was quite convincing. Besides, I researched church history and found such truths were believed before Calvin was ever thought of. There is more, but just because some one claims to believe does not mean he or she practices the doctrines of grace with any understanding or compassion. Sometimes God has to exercise stern discipline to get a person’s attention.

      Andrew Barker

      Dr. Willingham: With all due respect to your age and failing health, I have no intention of engaging with you in protracted debate on this matter. I too do not owe Calvin anything for my views on the doctrines of grace. What persuaded me was the Bible. In my case the little word ‘all’ brought the truth home. All have sinned; Christ died for all; all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

      These truths stem right back to the early church fathers who taught them unequivocally. Unfortunately, Calvin did not go back to the early church fathers but relied heavily on Augustine who in turn had rejected what the early church taught and had introduced elements of Manes’ teaching along with Gnosticism and Platonism. There are interesting parallels between the way Augustine and Calvin conducted themselves. Both had teachings which were not immediately accepted and both used the offices of state to enforce their view of theology on others. If you are looking for examples of those who have used the so called ‘doctrines of grace’ without understanding or compassion then you need go no further than Augustine or Calvin. As illustrations of how not to do it, they are without peer! (other than each other of course)

        Lydia

        “Unfortunately, Calvin did not go back to the early church fathers but relied heavily on Augustine who in turn had rejected what the early church taught and had introduced elements of Manes’ teaching along with Gnosticism and Platonism. There are interesting parallels between the way Augustine and Calvin conducted themselves. Both had teachings which were not immediately accepted and both used the offices of state to enforce their view of theology on others. If you are looking for examples of those who have used the so called ‘doctrines of grace’ without understanding or compassion then you need go no further than Augustine or Calvin. As illustrations of how not to do it, they are without peer! (other than each other of course)”

        This is spot on. When a calvinist tells me they learned Calvinism from scripture I know that in reality they have read scripture through the Augustine/ Calvin filter.

        But what astonishes me even more is how they could ever map the lives of these men to anything from Jesus Christ. Perhaps it is because they divorce behavior from belief?

          dr. james willingham

          Dear Lydia: I think you failed to read what I have written. I learned sovereign grace before I ever read Calvin much less Augustine. Even after I purchased a cheap copy of
          Calvin’s Institutes some four-five years after I had come to the conviction regarding the sovereignty of God. even then I did not make a thorough study of his work.
          that would come some years after that. I did not consider Augustine nor give him close study for 10-12 years or more. after my conversion and change. But I did study both and I know where and why I disagree with them. For example, I dis agree with infants being in Hell. His reason was that they had not been baptized. Calvin’s view on reprobation and the matter of sin are open to serious question. He violates the idea of freedom and reduces God to a mere manipulator. But such will not hold, and Mohler in his discussion with Hankins tells of an incident where he finally agrees with a woman in his church regarding the idea of permission. It was a moment of humor, and, please, I am no great fan of Mohler. His protetion of the fellow over the child abuse makes my blood boil.

          Permissio is an issue few Calvinist today study, but it is clearly set forth in Zanchius’ Absolute Predestination and in John Gill’s Body of Divinity and Cause of God and Truth as well as other writings. Most people write based on no study of the facts. Take for example, and as much as I do not care for Calvin and his execution of Michael Servetus, it seems every one is overlooking how many people were still put to death by the Inquisition. Even as late as the turn of the 20th century, the father of a late friend of mine was subjected to the torture of one of the inventions of Inquisition, the Iron Maiden. The study of that institution gave me nightmares. Contrary to the views set forth in this blog, most Calvinists do think for themselves and some will wish they had. Dr. George W. Truett pointed out that Calvinism placed the crown of responsibility on the head of the individual. You all might read Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex or the influence of Witherspoon on Madison and others. I must cease as I am weary. God grant you all grace to see the reality of the sources.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Over the years I made it point to include, in the held belief portion of my resume these words, “To Be Read” in bold print. I discovered most committees did just that with perhaps greater interest. Now what they read could be labeled today as “em” fighting words due to our social climate and the evolution of the local New Testament Churches since the 70’s. Obviously some of those items would be tabled for discussions but not all due to sheer assumptions on their part.

One may think with such openness, no Church would be interested at all. What I discovered in spite of by-laws, polity and organizational structure many called perhaps to see what rock I crawled out from under. They discovered The Rock, The Rock was Christ, The Stone in which the builders at the time rejected, the same is the Head of the Corner, the Chief Cornerstone. God used these occasions to introduce to some and present to others expository preaching, and sound doctrine.

The men who use this method may not end up where they thought they should be but I can assure them that they will find yourselves in the One Place “thou oughtest to be”.

In some cases it’s not the Church who turns down the candidate but rather the other way around to the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Transparency in this discussion will benefit all parties going forward.

Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

The Scriptural doctrines of grace rightly put are the Doctrines of Christ, given in the inspired body of revelation to His apostles to commit to faithful men to give to His Church. There is a noticeable distinction as to whats been repackaged recently as the “doctrines” of grace, which had led to the longest running theological debate right after, “Did Cain marry his sister”.

The apostle’s doctrine was sufficient when it was given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His chosen, and is still sufficient for sound doctrine in His Church today. We need no further revelation, nor interpretation other than whats been given by the Spirit of Truth.

At some point we all need to, including myself, translate the doctrines of grace into holy, sanctified, living for the glory of God as we reach all nations for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Preach!

    Andy

    “The apostle’s doctrine was sufficient when it was given by the Lord Jesus Christ to His chosen, and is still sufficient for sound doctrine in His Church today. We need no further revelation, nor interpretation other than whats been given by the Spirit of Truth.”

    You do realize that calvinists agree with this, don’t you? :-)

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Andy,

      Really!

      The apostles would have a great deal to say concerning “CALVINISM” and already have.

      Preach!

        Andy

        Perhaps you could elaboarate on what the apostle said about calvinism? So you have simply said the apostles doctrine is sufficient, with no specifics or context.

          Andrew Barker

          I think the Apostles had more to say about Gnosticism which is where Calvinism gets some of its roots via Augustine.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Andrew,

            Apostle Paul address those men and their messages and yes their motives as well.

            Preach!

            Scott Shaver

            Andrew, good comparison.

            “Calvinism” is equivalent to Gnosticism in the context of today’s SBC.

            Both require an emphasis on “special knowledge”.

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Andy,

      Continue to occupy the “mushy middle” my friend if you must but as the Church age is nearing it’s glorious conclusion, let it be known.

      The Lord Jesus Christ is not the Servant of Calvinism or any other “ism”.

      Between you, and me, the Holy Scriptures serve the will of God. Not Calvin, Zwingli and the others.

      Unless you grew up in a Reformed congregation, one discovered what he had been taught previously doesn’t measure up to the SOLA’S.

      This movement has mastered academia to scholarly heights, and with great intellectual savvy and quotes from worthy’s in order to silence the critics.

      Of course you will disagree but this debate in my estimation has been the Greatest running distraction in the Church age among believers.

      Preach!

Andy

Dr. Harrell, I’d like to respond to a few of your points:

1. IS CALVINISM A PROBLEM, OR ISN’T IT?
“My difference of opinion with the Five-Point Calvinists is not founded upon the fact that they hold their position….”
“One of the major problems is that Calvinism has been taught more and more in the last few years.”
“Please hear me: It is not tragic that a pastor holds a Calvinistic position.”
“Non-Calvinists have never really cared if a person was a Calvinist or not as long as they both believed and preached the Bible, and as long as they both tried to win the lost, and as long as advocates of neither viewpoint made a point of insisting that their theological position be adopted.”

–> These statemens, spread throughout your article, don’t seem to fit together. Are you saying that a person being a calvinist is not a problem, as long as they don’t TEACH what they believe? The TEACHING of calvinism is the “major problem.”? This sounds contradictory to the calls for honesty. Why would you be ok with a person holding a position, but not teaching it? If teaching it is so bad, then certainly holding such a position that should not be taught is also bad?

2. iNTEGRITY IN CHURCH HIRING…
“And integrity demands we give the church the privilege of calling a person who agrees with them doctrinally without having to go through all the theological gymnastics in order to make sure of the theological position of their pastoral candidate.”

–> While I can agree with this, there needs to be room for a person to honestly say, “No, I am not a Calvinist.” IF IN FACT THEY DO NOT CONSIDER THEM-SELF ONE…even if they agree with SOME of the points. In the same way as a traditionalist would not want to be called deceptive for refusing the label “Arminian.” We should not lump together all those pastors who may agree with unconditonal Election, but would not want to be called a “calvinist.” YES, they should be honest about what they believe, but should be given room to say, “no, I’m not a calvinist, but here’s what I beleive the bible teaches.”

3. YOU MUST AGREE…
“Question: Is agreement on Calvinism really worth all the vitriol and division that this unnecessary family argument is bringing? What is going to be accomplished if Calvinists succeed? Would they then say, “Well, we are all saved, and we are all winning the lost of the world, but better still we won the theological argument?” Furthermore, “Everything we went through was worth it so that we could all hold the position that we, the Calvinists agree with.” I think that we are paying too high a price for that and my fear is that it will get worse before it gets better.”

–>THIS, is the BEST point in your article, the one that the New Calvinism needs to hear and head. Groups like T4G & TGC were formed with the stated goals of EXTENDING gospel fellowship across denominational lines. Yet, despite their stated vision of focusing on being “gospel-centered” and being rooted in “historic Christianity”…they have at the same time implicitly, and sometimes explicitly excluded vast numbers of other true Gospel-believing Christians who disagree with them on the point of soteriology.

It seems to be a new form fundamentalism, in which the reformed Christians think they are the one’s who really understand Christianity, based on one small aspect of their belief system. It is no healthy or helpful for a 30 Calvinist to tell a non-calvinist 70 year old Sunday School teacher she doesn’t understand the gospel…nor is it helpful to even imply that “gospel-centered” = “Calvinistic.”

HOWEVER, I what I believe I see in some sbc circles is a reactionary fundamentalism that is just as harmful. Rather than the calvinists banding together against the Arminians, it is the traditionalists banding together against the calvinists, such that we force people to choose sides.

The result is that there is a fostered “us vs them” mentality that grows. Rather that looking at my Christian brother as someone who is “like me.” We instead look at them and think, “not like me.”

Finally, however true Dr. Harrell’s words are here, I predict that very little progress will be made until they are spoken by leaders WITHIN each camp, TO their own camp. A Gospel Coalition leader must come forward and state clearly that they should not pretend to be speaking for all of Christianity. Traditionalists will need those within their own ranks to stand up to those who would demonize all calvinists. Until that happens, things will continue as they are: that is, a minority will debate and argue from a position of “Anyone who disagrees with us should have their character, and maybe their Christianity questioned.” …All the while a larger majority will continue ignoring the blogs and fellowshiping with the Calvinists and non-Calvinists within their own churches, occasionally discussing theses issues, but from a position of “I may think you are wrong here, but I know you are a devoted follower of Jesus and my brother in Christ.”

    Andrew Barker

    Andy: Do yourself a favour. Don’t hold your breath waiting for this …. “A Gospel Coalition leader must come forward and state clearly that they should not pretend to be speaking for all of Christianity.” It’s not in their DNA. They style themselves as ‘The’ gospel coalition. It isn’t and they are not ‘The Gospel’. It’s as likely as Al Mohler qualifying his statement regarding the thinking person having to be ‘Reformed’. It just ain’t gonna happen. But then, neither should it happen. You see, identifying ‘The Gospel Coalition’ as a being a significant player is part of the problem. These para church entities (TGC is not alone) have no basis of authority, anywhere! They are a complete law unto themselves, which is precisely why they were set up in the first place. They may well be part of the problem. It does not follow that they necessarily have to be part of any solution.

      Chris

      “It’s as likely as Al Mohler qualifying his statement regarding the thinking person having to be ‘Reformed’. It just ain’t gonna happen.”

      Mohler did qualify his statement about being Reformed. He did so in the video someone linked to of him and Hankins.

        Andrew Barker

        If you say so Chris, but I don’t think the rest of the world sees it that way. If they did, they would he saying so and loudly. :)

        Lydia

        “Mohler did qualify his statement about being Reformed. He did so in the video someone linked to of him and Hankins.'”

        Yes. Different audience. The ones that pay for him to be the SBC Pope.

      Les

      Andrew: “It’s as likely as Al Mohler qualifying his statement regarding the thinking person having to be ‘Reformed’. It just ain’t gonna happen.”

      Chris: Mohler did qualify his statement about being Reformed. He did so in the video someone linked to of him and Hankins.”

      Lydia: “Yes. Different audience.”

      You just can’t make this stuff up. He won’t. But he did. Yes, but… Talk about Lydia;s fav CD condition. But fun to watch..

        Andrew Barker

        Les: Ha ha yes, indeed. This was a retrenchment of his original statement …… NOT! Let me restate it. To his fellow Southern Baptists who are non-Calvinists …. “you just don’t realise how ‘Reformed’ you are”. That’s a real climb down isn’t it! Mind you, it’s a change from the usual “you just don’t get it” claim. Then the killer blow ….we both have deficient theology but “your theology is MORE deficient than mine”! This was only in the first 16mins. Is there more of this stuff later on? Make it up? No, I didn’t make it up, he did and you just don’t get it! lol

        Les

        Andrew,

        So **I** just don’t get it. Oh, ok. Wait. More Lydia CD. Let’s see,

        Andrew on Mohler: Mind you, it’s a change from the usual “you just don’t get it” claim.” Oh, apparently “you just don’t get it” is off limits to Mohler. Hmmm.

        Andrew to and about me: “you just don’t get it!” Now I see Andrew. Those you disagree with don’t get to employ the ol’ “you just don’t get it” but YOU do. Yep, Lydia CD syndrome, or as I will coin it LCD.

          Andrew Barker

          Les: Sorry, not going to play any more on this one! You may copy and paste your own comments/jokes to your hearts content. :-)

    Lydia

    Andy, as to teaching Calvinism;, men of Integrity make it clear how they are using words and the framework they are using. If they were honest they would tell churches upfront they are Calvinist. They would not play games. But that sort of mentality is modeled by their hero/gurus.

    Some would have been hired anyway. Many would not have been. And we would not be having this discussion about so many young men taught to be deceivers for the sake of what they were told is the true Gospel.

      Andy

      I agree, IF they are calvinists, they should be clear that they are

        Jim P

        Many believers don’t even think about these labels. And if they do it is only out of necessity coming from pressure to be or pressure to be against.

        In Jesus’ day everyone was being pressured to be in one camp or the other. If you were not in ‘our’ camp you’re our enemy.

          Scott Shaver

          Jim P writes:

          “Many believers don’t even think about these labels….”

          I submit that most Southern Baptists (right up to the tenured elderly widows on the fourth row) DO THINK ABOUT THESE LABELS. They’ve had no choice but to “think” considering the turbulent state of their denomination in recent years.

          Belive me, the folks in the pew aren’t nearly as stupid nor silent as some preachers give them credit for being.

            Jim P

            Scott Shaver submits:

            Everything and anything he wants. He can submit all he wants about what preachers credit the folks in the pew…

            Crediting what other people are all about is a great pastime for those who like to contribute hostility…

              Scott Shaver

              Just following your lead there Jim P. No need to get bent out of shape.

              Remember the “love” and “deference” proof-texts?

    Lydia

    “Traditionalists will need those within their own ranks to stand up to those who would demonize all calvinists”

    Disagreeing is not demonizing. Although the Neo Cal movement would like for that to be the case.

    Pointing out the problems with SBC leaders partnering with Driscoll and Mahaney is also not demonizing. And I do understand why they would like for such to be considered demonizing. The guru’s think they have the right to say ‘move on nothing to see here’ and we are supposed to obey. But they have been teaching little boys in their 20s that evil Deeds are to be ignored.

    Sorry. No go. Now they can commence to demonize me which is exactly what they do. And I could care less because I have absolutely no respect for them whatsoever.

      Scott Shaver

      “No respect for them whatsoever”.

      I’ll go one up on that Lydia. Based on the last 20 years of SBC “progress”….I have absolutely no respect for the “traditionalists” who support them, prop them up and pay them. A pox on their house as well.

      That’s how convinced I am that the neo-Cal distortion of God’s revealed nature is another “gospel” which is NOT the gospel.

      Andy

      “Disagreeing is not demonizing.”.”
      “Pointing out the problems with SBC leaders partnering with Driscoll and Mahaney is also not demonizing.”

      I agree, but saying or implying that all calvinists are intentional decievers, or hate children, or are only hungry for power, IS demonizing. Saying, or intentionally implying that ALL the current SBC problems are the fault of the calvinists IS demonizing, and innaccurate. I’ve seen enough divorce situations to know that it’s rarely 100% one person’s fault, and as the marriage counseling advice goes: “The other person may be 90% at a fault, and you are only 10% at fault…but given the likelyhood that you can’t change that person, are you willing to take 100% responsibility for your 10%?”

      That is what is lacking in this conversation.

        Lydia

        Andy, authoritarianism is inherent in the doctrine. Those who toned it down over the ages did so with a social gospel. My argument is that Calvinism/Reformed would reflect 1500’s Europe or even 20th Germany or South Africa if it were viable to do so here and now. Because it is inherently authoritarian people follow it. Even if they are nice and don’t want to hurt others. Just look at all the ‘man of his time’ arguments we see to excue vile heinous behavior as if the Holy Spirit were on vacation during those times . It took a lot of guts to go up against that system as we see throughout history. People were hunted and persecuted for disagreeing with the authoritarianism. These things are illegal now but we see a lot of the same authoritarian tactics such as a focus on obeying leaders. Right after T4G and his ‘I am like Job lament’, Mahaney went back to his little SBC hotel church here and preached a sermon on obeying the pastor! The Neo Cal movement in the SBC is eaten up with authoritarianism. Of course they use different tactics to control people but it still boils down to controlling people. For the glory of God, of course.

        Sorry I just don’t see Jesus Christ in that movement at all

    Scott Shaver

    Andy observes:

    “What I see in the SBC is a reactionary fundamentalism that is just as harmful. Rather than Calvinists banding together against Arminians, it’s traditionalists banding together against Calvinists”.

    With all due respect Andy, welcome to new SBC of Patterson, Pressler and Mohler and the mentality of “Resurgence”.

    You can’t have a bonafide SBC “Resurgence” of any stripe (fundamentalist, traditionalist, Calvinist) without Southern Baptists killing each other off and reducing their own numbers and resources every 10-15 years. As I’ve said before, you could run the last 30 years of SBC history as a gag-reel on Looney Tunes if it weren’t so tragic.

Dennis Lee Dabney

For any national convention to attempt to saddle and “ride” two different theological horses (systems) may fair well as long as these horses were standing still. May even do well for a season as these horses walked together over a period of time. However at some point a decision for the riding hard into the future must be made by the Convention as these two horses naturally part one from the other.

Coexistence is one thing, attempting to ride two horses, is another.

Preach!

    Andy

    If this is true, why has it taken 150+ years? Why hasn’t it happened already?

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      How many theological systems
      do you hold as Scriptural ?

      How many did the apostles embrace?

      Preach!

        Andy

        Well, for one, it seems that early Christians could disagree about meat offered to idols without condemning one another. It also seems they had differing opinions about what holy days to celebrate.

        Also, you didn’t answer my question. :-)

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Andy,

          Your two illustrations are from the Holy Scriptures and we are instructed by the Spirit as our part in these matters.

          We do not need further instructions from men.

          Why aren’t the Scriptures enough? No need to answer.

          By the way, I didn’t answer your other question on purpose.

          Preach!

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Andy,

          Soteriology, eating meat along with Holy day.

          Don’t know about you, one of the above has everything to do with everlasting life.

          We need a robust debate to continue until Christ Jesus our Lord return for what truly belongs to Him.

          Preach!

            Andy

            “We do not need further instructions from men.”
            >>So why are you giving me instructions? Why in fact do we need anyone to “preach”? The fact is, unless we are simply reading scripture, we are instructing one another, in our own words, as to what we believe scripture teaches. Cals & non-calls both do this. Both seek to teach the scriptures faithfully.

            “Why aren’t the Scriptures enough? No need to answer.”
            >>They are.

            “By the way, I didn’t answer your other question on purpose.”
            >>SO TO CLARIFY, YOU…
            1. State that the two streams of soteriology cannot move forward together in a fervent gospel mission.
            2. Refuse to explain why they have not separated over the last 150 years of SBC history.
            3. Then, say, “We need a robust debate to continue.”

            You don’t seem interested in robust debate at this point.
            You are throwing out general statements the equivalent of “Just believe the Bible!”
            It’s kind of like yelling “Don’t use your hands!” at a soccer game, and then expecting one of the teams to admit that your statement has proven why they can’t win….when the reality is both teams already know and believe they shouldn’t use their hands.

        Andy

        Also, this is not exactly the right question for the topic at hand. The question is: which theological differences are important enough to separate over?

        Can a convention have Dispensationalists & Historic PreMillenialists? What about Amillenialists? Can it have both strict cessationalists and those more open to sign gifts? Can it have some who believe a single drink of wine is a sin and others who drink in moderation?

        Beyond that, can we have civil, non-demonizing fellowship with those we HAVE SEPARATED FROM, but who we still believe are Christians? (Infant-baptizing Presbyeterians & Methodists…Salvation-losing Nazarenes?)

        My Church has the whole spectrum of Soteriology, from 5 point Calvinists to traditionalists to those who believe you can lose your salvation. We currently have deacons of all those stripes.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Andy,

          We do not need further instructions from men.”
          >>So why are you giving me instructions?

          For your information the above remark was taken out of context from my post.

          Furthermore Andy I am not instructing you on anything. As far as I am concerned you could have read the post and afterwards, “kept it moving”.

          Listen, the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ did not and does not need John Calvin and those who are regarded as the Father’s of the Reformation to interpret the clear rendering of Scripture. Nor do we need any other “ist” INSTRUCTING the Local New Testament on doctrine which is already settled in Heaven and committed to the Church by faithful menby the Spirit of God.

          All this about not needing preachers is not a fair estimation of my statements at all and you know it. Here you are grandstanding in order to make your point.

          So who are you trying to appeal to with this response ? I ask the question because your are talking pass me.

          So you don’t believe that a separation has already begun, then, that is your take on subject.

          Listen, whether you like it or not, the SBC, is either growing together or apart.

          Doctrine matters!

          Lord willing when I get to my desktop, we can further this discussion.

          PreachBlackManPreach!

            Andy

            You are right that I was attempting some humor there, but I was getting at a real point: The point is, you are using the idea of the sufficiency of scripture to bash a group of people who AGREE on the sufficiency of scripture. A great many of who AGREE that we don’t need John Calvin or a group with a certain label…who might be happy to do away with the label completely, except that the label has come to be used as shorthand for what they believe is solid scriptural truth.

            You are operating under the assumption that those who share the soteriology of Calvinism are man followers, while those who share a different soteriology are merely following the bible. The truth is, Godly men and women on BOTH sides agree that scripture is sufficient…AND godly men and women on both sides learn from teachers who have gone before them, seeking to test those teachings by scripture. Until you address those specific teachings with scripture, simply lobbing “we follow the bible and you don’t” remarks does nothing to advance “robust debate.”

            As you say, theology matters. I’m not saying there is no divide, I’m saying the last 150 years speaks to the idea that both sides can coexist and work on common mission together. Not everyone can do this, as we have seen, but different people will choose to divide over different things.

            Personally, I don’t see this as a issue over which to leave my church, even though there are many here who dissagree.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Andy,

              Why in fact do we need anyone to “preach”?

              You actually make my point for me in your haste to, as it were, “to see where I’m coming from”.

              My post had absolutely Nothing to do with whether we need Preachers!

              Rather than respond to the comment you took it upon yourself to “interpret” my response. What I said was actually what you heard thru this medium. Nothing more, nothing less. That is my entire point in this discussion. Scripture under Sola Scriptura is used to present Reformed theology. Those poor saints who had the Word of God before the Protestant Reformation wasn’t attempting to Build a system only obey and live by the Word of God.

              The SBC has and continues to give out the Word of God around the world like nobody’s business. However there are some critical issues from day one of this alliance regarding Reformed theology. The problems were and still are local, and they do exist and it concerns the local assembly here at home.

              This thread is in regard to transparency regarding the Lord’s will for His servants in His service.

              So don’t get brand new on me now Brother, you have read my post here and you may have even perused my blog. I have not only spoken in generalities but also with details in past post . By the way, why should I present unto you what you already know.

              Preach!

                Andy

                I apologize if I misunderstood your posts. I don’t remember what you have commented elsewhere on sbc voices, and don’t know what blog you are speaking of…so I only had this thread to go on. I honestly don’t know what other information you think I know.

                I also apologize that my attempt at humor has derailed the discussion toward preaching. I hoped to correct what I perceived to be unfair attacks on the piety of our Calvinist brothers, but I see that my adversarial approach prevented a fruitful discourse. I am sorry.

                Hopefullly we can have some more productive conversation next time.

                May God bless you and yours,
                -Andy

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Andy,

                  Paul called Peter out because Peter was trying to play “both side” from the “middle”.

                  Do I think when Paul called him out for his partially, due to his “fear” of what others “thought”, their fellowship ceased for a while? I don’t know, what I do know is this,

                  Peter was wrong and Paul his brother was right to address him to his face rather than allow him to continue in his “Error”.

                  Preach!

                    Jim P

                    Mr. Dabney,

                    You trivialize a deep ingrained problem in every one of us. By doing so, in the end, you ignore the problem in yourself, thereby committing the same ‘error.’

                    The Apostle Paul almost lost his life for that same ‘error’.

                    Andy

                    I agree with this. I disagree that every time 2 Christians disagree, there is an obvious sin that needs to be called out. I’m not about to go around calling people to repent of their eschatology views. I think it would be sinful for me to do that.

              Jim P

              The 3 epistles of John show why there will be divisions. There are two reason that are inseparably connected to each other:

              One is Orthodoxy and the other is Orthopraxy. One can’t goes forward without the other. If correct doctine is sacrificed correct practice will also be. If correct practice is sacrificed correct doctrine with follow.

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Jim,

                Paul didn’t have a life. It was hid in God and Christ.

                Have a good day,

                Preach!

                Scott Shaver

                Jim P.

                Have you shared your views on “Orthodoxy” and “Orthopraxy” with your reformed buddies?

                Sounds a lot like something they could benefit from.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              The NFL, NBA, MBL, and even soccer etc, as you elaborated on have many teams making each of their various leagues. Each of the leagues have their own set of governing rule. All and I mean All of the players are well acquainted with the “rules” to play by as well as the consequences of failure to comply.

              There aren’t any private interpretations of the rules of engagement for certain sect on the team to abide by, no new insight to discover, no new nothing. Even most fans know some of the basic information regarding scoring, penalties, and some of the governing rules.

              A touchdown is always six points, no need for further INTERPRETATION, and all of the other rules apply as the game is played.

              Now you mean to tell me that a league such the NFL taking in billions of dollars “making bank” year in and year out can get all of players on the same sheet of music and yet the Church of our Lord Jesus settles for every bodies FAVORITE 31 FLAVORS of “What Thus Saith The Scriptures.

              That’s a problem,

              Preach!

                Andy

                Hi again Dennis,

                It IS a problem, but even Peter wrote that some things in scripture were difficult to understand. As long as we are in our sinful flesh, people will disagree about theology. And not just rank pagans disagreeing with the real Christians. I believe two Godly men can disagree about certain theological issues and still both be seeking to follow scripture. Of course only one of them, or perhaps neither, is right; but that disenfranchised the other is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, at least not on SOME issues.

                On soteriology, trying to make sense of scriptures teachings about election and predestination may lead different people different directions. Held humbly, neither direction need lead those two people apart from accepting and partnering with one another.

                It CAN, and if they decide it must, they should go their separate ways amicably.

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Good morning Brother Andy,

                  Peter referenced those “things” belonging to eschatology in which he had written along with Paul’s letters which were inspired belonging to the whole counsel of God, thus considered Scripture.

                  When it comes to matters such as the nature of God, His Suffering Servant, the Spirit of Truth, the Sacred Scriptures, and the Doctrines of Christ. There are places where we may disagree with one another. However we are to agree with, “What Thus Saith The Scriptures”. Scripture interpret Scripture as you well know and believe.

                  Even when I disagree it is my obligation to love you even more. Now with that said, when certain words, take on new definitions, certain passages new meaning. Andy, that’s a problem.

                  Who amongst us is qualified to instruct us that’s not a problem, so we can just all get along, having been warned by the Spirit of God not to add or take away from His Holy Word. We can all still get along but in the meanwhile we need to work on the other.

                  Paul called Peter out on his partially when it came to him trying to please a particular group of men. Peter was absolutely wrong and he needed to be confronted so that the nonsense ended and fellowship commence.

                  How much more when it comes to greater doctrinal matters.

                  Also, no apology necessary,

                  May the presence of Lord sustain you and yours in all things, Christ.

                  Preach!

                    Andy

                    “Now with that said, when certain words, take on new definitions, certain passages new meaning. Andy, that’s a problem.”

                    “Who amongst us is qualified to instruct us that’s not a problem, so we can just all get along, having been warned by the Spirit of God not to add or take away from His Holy Word.”

                    I suppose it’s your statements like these, along with your earlier “The apostles doctrines are sufficient,” and “why aren’t the scriptures enough” that I don’t really understand. WHO, specifically, is adding to scriptures? In what ways are they doing it? How are they giving scriptures new meanings?

                Jon Estes

                “Now you mean to tell me that a league such the NFL taking in billions of dollars “making bank” year in and year out can get all of players on the same sheet of music and yet the Church of our Lord Jesus settles for every bodies FAVORITE 31 FLAVORS of “What Thus Saith The Scriptures.”

                Poor analogy unless you want to have a SBC head office that dictates how each player (members of the SBC) believe and must live out the system. And if someone gets out of line, they get a penelty and maybe a fine (thinking fines in the sene of NASCAR – the real sport) or kicked out of the league.

                If you want to be SB, then, currently, we must agree that autonomy is what we support and not an NFL type office making the rules.

                Not long ago I had an interesting conversation that was pushing the idea of a child needs a community to be raised in. I asked her if her children could be in my community (Christian based) and she flatly refused due to my faith system. Interesting that her idea of community was what had to be. Having multi minded communities is not a bad thing if Jesus and His word is the foundation (even if interpreted a bit different on some subjects).

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Jon,

                  I’m sure you have an employee handbook or even church by-laws pamphlet handy.

                  How many different interpretation can Church staff or members come up with when the staff handbook and membership by-laws have already been stated and are clear. In other words it has already been interpreted for them.

                  Now someone may obviously have questions and that’s nature. But to read the handbook or the membership pamphlet and come up with another interpretation is a problem.

                  So in my poor analogy in your own words, that was the point.

                  Preach!

                    Jon Estes

                    Dennis –

                    Do you really think that most churches in their structural / practice documents deal with theological things such as traditionalism and Calvinism. None of the churches I have pastored do. As a pastor I have only beein involved where one church split. While we were going through this, the Florida Baptist paper or missions magazine asked me to write an article on our troubles. It was called Growing Pains Hurt.

                    The reason for the split was because the church was growing to fast and they wanted the evangelism to cease. I was told in a letter to stop evangelizing or leave. And I am of the reformed mindset.

                    Don’t get me wrong, their working documents stated clearly that the church existed for missions and evangelism and that the Pastor was to lead the church with that passion.

                    None of the accusations about Calvinists causing problems fly with me. All bark and no proof. I know I was told and many still believe I was the problem at that church and to them I was and always will be. I was far from perfect but missions and evangelism were the priorities.

                    I followed the organizations rules – problem was, they didn’t. This is probably a bigger problem than most know. Church traditionalism is killing the church.

                  Scott Shaver

                  Jon.. says “multi-minded communities is not a bad thing…..”

                  I whole-heartedly agree. I definitely choose not to be in a community (Christian or otherwise) that portrays the nature and character of God as being similar in deterministic dispositon to a diety from the Greek or Roman pantheons.

              Scott Shaver

              Andy:

              What about the historical trajectory away from Reformed Calvinism in the years following the inception of the SBC. Care to discuss that?

        Scott Shaver

        Best comment so far in entire thread, Dennis.

        UgoBoy. I like it.

      Lydia

      “If this is true, why has it taken 150+ years? Why hasn’t it happened already?”

      Why hasn’t what happened? Have you done any research into the evolution away from Calvinism in the SBC after the civil war? ( not the eradication)

      The problem with the Neo Cal movement is its deception and stealth from the very beginning. Have you read ” Quiet Revolution “. It is in there. Chp 4 is of particular interest. Basically, How to be a deceiver for Jesus. The tactics in that book pretty much became ingrained indoctrination for a generation. My question is what is going to be put in place to deal with the massive fallout from this deception in the years to come.

      Scott Shaver

      Andy:

      Maybe the reason it’s taken 150 years (according to your view) is that Reformed Calvinism didn’t come back knocking at the door of the SBC as a political force until the advent of Mohler, Patterson and Pressler…..and yes, Rogers.

    Chris

    Dennis,

    I think the “horse” should be the gospel. I don’t think either system gets to say that they are the only one preaching the gospel. If the gospel and Scripture is what leads us into the future, we should be able to go together. If we elevate differences above Scripture and the gospel, then we won’t be able to continue together. We will be like those churches who split over poor reasons and cause dishonor to the name of Christ.

      Lydia

      “I think the “horse” should be the gospel. ”

      That is part of the problem. The gospel can mean anything because that word is so overused and misused by the Neo Cal movement. The gospel becomes everything and nothing at the same time. The word has been rendered meaningless.

        Chris

        I disagree.

        The Gospel means something very clear in the way I intend it. In its most basic form, 1 Corinthians 15 teaches that the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We are called to respond to this announcement of good news with repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

        Now sometimes people speak of the implications of the Gospel for my life. For example, one implication of the gospel is the way that Jesus sacrificed himself for the church. Ephesians 5 teaches that husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loved the church and gave himself for her.

        Scott Shaver

        Right on target Lydia with the overuse and abuse of the term “gospel”.

        In the hands of these guys the word could mean anything from a scripture verse to a Hershey’s bar.

        Waiting for them to start their own “gospel” clothing line with a caricature of Russ Moore as logo. :)

Dennis Lee Dabney

Chris,

What should be and is, could be a horse of another color.

Listen, I have over the years supported the SBC and their missionaries and Lord willing shall continue. I have some Calvinist brethren my wife and I support directly on the field.

The point is this, those who are leaving, many aren’t departing because of the gospel, but for other reasons including theology.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Jon,

All I am saying is this, the plain rendering of the text was good enough for the original audience who heard or refused to hear the Word of God when it was given.

If those said text were expounded the Spirit of God did so there in the environ or elsewhere where He saw fit.

Reformed theology has taken the process a step further.

The early Church remained steadfast in the apostles doctrine and so did others years after the apostles had gone the way of all the earth.

Sola Sciptura was used in part to package, Calvinism, TULIP, doctrines of grace.

Believe it or not the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ managed to fine without the additional dogma.

Preach!

    rhutchin

    “Sola Sciptura was used in part to package, Calvinism, TULIP, doctrines of grace.”

    If You mean to refer to Reformed Theology, you must add “a sovereign God,” to your list. Reformed Theology (Calvinism) begins with a right understanding of God. TULIP refers to an understanding of man and then necessity for doctrines of grace. The three produce what is called Calvinism.

      Paul N

      Reformed theology is warped as far as thr character of God is concerned. It is the about the worst of false doctrines.

        Chris

        “It is the about the worst of false doctrines.”

        About the worst? Really? We are up there with the people who deny the deity of Christ, the humanity of Christ, teach works based salvation, that you can lose your salvation, that everyone is born a blank slate unaffected by sin, that there are many ways to God, that everyone is already saved, that there is no judgment for your sin, that there is no such thing as sin, that the Bible is not really the Word of God, that Jesus was a little god and you can become one too, and so on and so forth.

          Scott Shaver

          Chris:

          I would say when they (any “ism”) departs from the clear teachings of scripture and superimposes redefined words and meanings……there are no degrees of “worst”. They’re all equally as bad because they have the same results….distortion and misrepresentation of the “gospel”.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Like I said, Sola Sciptura was used to package Calvinism.

Never mind what the poor saints believed before this era, it was termed insufficient then, as some would have us believe it is today.

Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

A number of years ago, I embraced Reformed theology to the degree I restocked my library with books not a few. This occurred over a brief period at the advice of two of my new Calvinist friends.

I purchased books from Westminster, Amazon, Christianbooks, faculty top picks. I had books these fellows didn’t have.lol

However when they began to “attempt” to present the Spring Flower while discrediting my Biblical understanding of the Scriptures, with great emphasis on the Sovereignty of God in spite of my degrees in theology, my apostolic fervor, conservative fundamentalist background, our fellowship took a turn for the worse.

They changed the definitions of well known greek words, and the meaning of well known verses, and finally the application of many passages. That’s when I said, “pull over”, I told them I could make it from here, let me out. Lol

Much was made of John Calvin and so little of the Lord Jesus Christ. Finally I called them out to their face and the gloves came off.

Afterwards I decided to pursue Church history beyond the typical survey of sorts if you know what I mean.

So from Beeke, Mohler, Sproul, Stott, MacArthur and the list goes on and on. No Piper. Dever, Jones, Sproul, Ferguson, Smeton etc. Many Puritan publications, etc, etc. Needless to say, large volumes of famous works.

So don’t judge PreachBlackManPreach by the cover, there’s more here than that.

Preach!

    Scott Shaver

    Similar experience here Dennis.

    Late in my pastoral career found myself PURGING my own library of the stuff I’d wasted years examining for more “fruit” than poison. Mine was a genuine and continual effort across 20 years to give “Calvinism” a good ole Christian “benefit of the doubt”. After years of examination and personal experience, the negatives so far out-weighed the positives that the question had to be asked of myself: “How much of the backside of your life are you going to continue to waste trying to find biblical and practical justification for this approach to theology?”

    Probably made a mistake by not just throwing all those volumes in the dumpster rather than giving them to an avowed 5-point Calvinist whom I suspected would enjoy them and use them as cliff notes for the continued construction of his own preferred theology.

    Only set of volumes I kept is from 1850, still in the original bindings, the complete works of John Gill. I held on to those because of their potential value as antiques, but keep them safely boxed away from children and the gullible in a corner of my garage.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Scott,

I heard that Brother.

Personally speaking, the draw for me was in other doctrinal areas. Also the scholarly writers appealed to me in the area of homilectics and teaching. Many of the expositors helped this poor preacher and continue to do so.

Calvinism for me was a bridge too far and once I researched the history I couldn’t reconcile the point of what it means to be a Reformed “Baptist “.

I have all of the books and volumes and do still read and refer to them from time to time.

Preach!

    Scott Shaver

    Dennis:

    I venture that after the Magesterial and Radical Reforms, these modern day emphases (especially here in the West) have been more on deforming as opposed to “reforming” anything consistent with Holy Scripture.

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Scott ,

      Now there’s a great place to put an Amen.

      Can I get a witness!

      Preach!

    Lydia

    “Calvinism for me was a bridge too far and once I researched the history I couldn’t reconcile the point of what it means to be a Reformed “Baptist “.”

    I really do not get this part when it comes to the magisterial reformers. I often wonder if they are only assigned Calvin approved history books in Seminary? How in the world can they study this era in depth and not walk away seeing the man was a monster? It scares me for the future of our country. There is nothing good that can come from having a sociopathic despot as a hero

Dennis Lee Dabney

Lydia,

I didn’t realize the footprint was quite so broad in scope. Before seminary I was somewhat acquainted with the ongoing debate and many of his quotes from his works by those who made great contributions into my life. However the seminary I enrolled in both then and now doesn’t use any of his work as required curriculum. So I found myself sheltered from the tension of this intramural, in house debate for many years due to, also at the time, denomination affiliation.

It was only when I saw the great need for Scriptural Restoration of Local New Testament Churches, did I find myself in middle of this discussion as indicated elsewhere.

Preach!

Scott Hendrixson

Is Calvinism the theology of Calvin Klein or Calvin Cooledge? Calvin Klein is one of the few fashionable brands that design clothes that actually look good on short people. On the other hand Calvin Cooledge is a name with soul. I think he was a character from a 70s TV show; “Welcome Back Kotter” or something like that. Either way it sounds really awesome and I’m willing to give it a try.

But, seriously it seems the denominational fight is about control of the assets and going concern value of the institution. Why? Do we not worship in Spirit and Truth? Is our incomplete and sometimes flawed view of God so flawed that it must be directed by men using the assets and going concern momentum of the institution? Is their imperfect and sometimes flawed understanding of God so much better than that of the many members and other leaders? What do Jesus say to his followers who were concerned about the ministry of others? I wonder if persecuted Christians talk about this stuff.

    rhutchin

    Scott Hendrickson writes, ” I wonder if persecuted Christians talk about this stuff.”

    Probably. What better way to take your mind of persecution than to dive into a controversial issue of the Scriptures. The purpose of these discussions is to help people review the Scriptures on which they base all they believe and reinforce that which they believe. Writing down what and why you believe is a great way to strengthen that which you believe. Some are better at explaining that which they believe than others. The end we seek is a perfect understanding of the Scriptures. Dialogue with those who believe differently is one part of reaching this goal.

Jon Estes

“We Are Right and You Must Agree”

Yes we are and no… you do not have to agree.

I wouldn’t tell a lost person such a thing and have never told a fellow Christian such.

    Scott Shaver

    I notice most of your comments center around YOU.
    Are u the only “Calvinist” currently walking the planet?
    Get over yourself.

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