What’s Wrong With Seminary?

September 16, 2015

Allen Michael Rea | Pastor
Dunn Memorial Baptist Church, Baxley, GA

People are never without their opinions, especially when it comes to the way churches should function. Opinions without biblical support are nothing more than selfish desires. I find this true in the realm of preparation for pastors. It has been my experience that many pastors without seminary training see no need for training, and some even see those with training as sub-spiritual. On the opposite side, those who have been blessed to receive the training see it as indispensable. Do seminaries “ruin” potential pastors? I have witnessed a few pastors that seminary could have protected from ruin. The error comes in the arena of pride, which often coincides with laziness. Are some pastors too prideful to admit they need preparation or just to lazy to do it? Or both? [Note: I am NOT suggesting that failure to graduate from seminary disqualifies one from ministry.]

Pastors are a strange lot. (It is perfectly acceptable for me to critique them since I am one.) Church members are not without their strange ways. Many churches, and consequently church members, do not even know what to look for when it is time to seek out a pastor. Churches seem to be careless when it comes to the realm of biblical preparation. Churches do not feel the need to hold pastors accountable, because they are afraid that the pastor many actually hold them accountable. We are ALL under the authority of the Word of God. We are ALL commanded to study it (2 Timothy 2:15). The Judgment Seat of Christ will hold ALL pastors accountable for what they have said behind the Sacred Desk, the pulpit. Do not sit there and listen to unbiblical filth. If you tolerate such error, you are no better than the one preaching it. Pastors have a high calling. A high calling demands strict and disciplined preparation.

What’s wrong with seminary? Nothing, so long as it upholds the Word of God as infallible, inerrant, and sufficient. A correct view of the Word of God will keep one from all error. All seminaries are not good, and not all seminary graduates will make biblical pastors. Nevertheless, odds are if a man cannot tolerate preparation, then he is not willing to do the weekly work of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

What about you? Have you been to “seminary”? Do you rise early and stay up late with the Bible open? Can you recognize error when you hear it? The Bible is a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It cuts to kill and heal. Perhaps we should stop questioning seminaries and start questioning the calibre of men that are in the pulpits. It is highly unlikely that an unprepared man can prepare his sheep.

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dr. james willingham

The truth is that our original doctrine of ministerial qualifications is one of the major sources (unrealized by most preachers) of problems concerning seminary or no seminary. The issue is one of education and/or illumination, study and/or a direct gift from God. The truth is that it is a both/and resolution. We need education, all the education we can get or afford, so long as we do not let it control our views of the Bible. Instead we must let the Bible enlighten our understanding of what the world is saying which changes from generation to generation and, often, even more frequently than that. I believe in verbal inspiration, inerrancy, and illumination, but that doctrine is not guarantee of salvation. Just consider the Pharisees who held the same truth and also believed in the resurrection, and yet they joined with the Pharisees to crucify our Lord. A doctrine can easily be come a shibboleth which merely guarantees an outward conformity, and I do not mock orthodoxy. However, it is to be remember that Judas as well as several others were orthodox in their preaching and ministry until they came to the point of departure. God is His own guarantee that truth shall prevail. that is why we must wait on Him, especially as He uses only persuasion to bring people to His views, regardless of how seemingly unacceptable they are to fallen mankind.

Jeff P

I did not have seminary training when I entered the ministry. I am pursuing it on-line now. To me it comes down to do we have a teachable spirit and a desire to learn and grow. With or without formal education God can and will use that. There certainly is no lack of resources to further one’s knowledge outside of seminary these days. Things we cannot measure such as gifting are still more needed IMO. Things we can measure such as experience in a subordinate position in a good local church also should carry a lot of weight.

I love the education I can receive in an ongoing fashion. My intense personal study of the writings of great teachers of the past and my hands on experience in the local church however coupled with gifting are what laid the foundation for that more formal education enhancing my ministry.

We all learn differently. I managed and owned businesses prior to the ministry. That knowledge, practical hands on experience working with people, has been invaluable as well. It’s different experience but there are many carry over applications.

I don’t think there is one path that is an absolute so long as we seek to study and show ourselves approved. If I had been saved and desired the ministry as a teen I definitely would have gone the seminary route, but I was not. I went to work in life then in the church at 39. But wherever I was I always sought to learn, and for me, hands on worked best. Now that a more formal method has been added, for me, I have the best of both worlds.

    Scott Shaver

    In the long run, Jeff P, your chosen course will save you a lot of “unlearning”.

    Seminaries are nothing more than what the name implies, “seed beds” of thought (i.e. language, doctrine, history, philosophy, exegesis). The DNA structure of the “seeds” change with subsequent generations of preacher/professor/academics who can, if not held in check, can turn these “seed beds” into the green-houses of indoctrination and regimentation.

    Additionally, there is the kind of student who goes to seminary and remains enamored with doctrine and the theoretical until way past the time they should have been giving more thought to effective Christian practice.and reproduction. There is another kind of student who goes to seminary, enters the real world, and tests the “seeds” to draw convictions about which ones grow wheat and which grow tares in his/her continual pursuit of God. I find the latter seem to make the best “servants” of Christ IMO.

    Like knives, seminaries are tools. When the tang is broken or the metal is so cheap it won’t hold an edge, they’re good for nothing but the scrap heap.

Max

The best pastor/teacher I ever sat under once said it took him 14 years to un-learn everything he had learned in seminary! He had attended an SBC seminary during the days when the liberal influence was at its peak. I’m not against education (I even have some) … but when it comes to ministry, education doesn’t produce one ounce of revelation! There is a vast difference in preparing for the ministry vs. being called into it. I fear that we have more of the former than the latter in SBC ranks these days. It’s the anointing that breaks the yoke. Too many church folks are still in bondage to the world because they are sitting under ministers that are neither prepared or called, which do not spur them forward to a pursuit of God and holy living.

Andy

I agree that Every pastor should prepare himself and learn how to study the scriptures as best he can. Seminary has certainly helped me in that regard. I DON’T buy into the idea that every pastor needs a PHD, or DMin, or Even a MDIV. Different circumstances might motivate people to different ends…for example someone who has already had 4 years of biblical studies for a bachelors degree may not need another 90 hours of similar classes. That said, it DOES seem that there is a subtle difference in both the teaching and learning in graduate school…such that I know a High school administrator who once said that teachers teach better once they have been to graduate school…and it doesn’t even have to be a degree in education…they just learn how to learn and teach in a different way.

And of course, Seminary CAN breed a sense of superiority, as well as a the idea that one now knows all the correct views of everything so that they cease listening to those who see things differently than their favorite professors. Doctrine is good. A humility before God and men that basks in the amazing grace of the cross is better.

The truth is, we would do well to look for some basic competencies demonstrated, rather than a degree listed.

Finally, for an excellent treatment of what is missing, but needed in our pulpits…check out the very short book called “WHY JOHNNY CAN’T PREACH”. It shows how our families, schools, churches, society does not prepare young people to think and write critically, or to organize their thoughts in a coherent manner. One only needs to read a 150yr old letter written home by your average 17 yr old Civil war soldier, and compare it to a modern-day college-level writing assignment…to see a vast difference in the ability to put one’s thoughts down on paper.

Donald Holmes

It is vitally important that a great deal of prayer, meditation, contemplation and wisdom go into the choice of what Seminary to attend. The Seminaries also change over time, so what was true of one a decade ago may not be true today. My time at Seminary (SEBTS in the early 00’s) humbled my self-assessment of how much I already knew and provided me with numerous life altering moments as I learned.

Bill Mac

What’s wrong with seminary? Nothing, so long as it upholds the Word of God as infallible, inerrant, and sufficient. A correct view of the Word of God will keep one from all error.

I’m not sure this can be true. Just because you consider the bible to be without error doesn’t mean you can’t make errors interpreting it. Seem like a lot of inerrantists spend a lot of time arguing about soteriology, eschatology, baptism, communion, ecclesiology, etc.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    The issue isn’t in differences of interpretation, the difference is in a seminary’s affirmation of those things versus seminaries that do not affirm those things about Scripture. Despite interpretive disagreements, there needs to be an underlying commitment to Scripture as infallible, inerrant, and sufficient.

    Infallible, inerrant, and sufficient are claims about the nature of Scripture as a thing in itself. This is distinct from various differences in human interpretations of it. Seminaries, regardless of their various positions in the interpretive spectrum of doctrines, at least take Scripture more seriously than seminaries that don’t affirm those things about the Bible.

    I would never support or recommend a seminary that did not claim inerrancy, infallibility, and sufficiency of Scripture.

    Now, having said that, Southern Baptists have come to believe inerrancy is the most important thing one can say about the Bible. Perhaps this is due to the Conservative Resurgence (and sadly, some overblown tall tales that has been made of it over the years since).

    It is not. The most important thing one can say about the Bible is its supreme authority over our lives as believers. Upholding the Word of God as the Word of God, in that sense, is the more important affirmation. Plenty of Southern Baptists are happy to proclaim that they believe the Bible is inerrant, but at the same time they either 1) barely know anything about it because they don’t ever bother to read and study it, 2) hardly ever obey it and live as if they believed it had authority, or 3) both 1) and 2).

    “My name is Johnathan Pritchett.”

    See? Even I can write something inerrant. However, what I just wrote between the quotation marks has no authority. See the point? Inerrancy is important, but it is not the most important claim about the Bible.

      Scott Shaver

      Respectfully Jonathan, and as an SBC seminary grad:

      Then let the seminaries who insist on their unique language and definitions of your non-negotiables (i.e. “inerrancy, infallibility”) pay their own cost of overhead as well as that of sending like-minded and appropriately restricted missionaries. Better double up quick on Annie Armstrong and Lottie Moon :) As Snuffy Smith used to say, “Times A Wastin!”

      Bill Mac

      Johnathan: I understand your points, but what I don’t understand is how they relate to my point. The author says the correct view of scripture will keep one from “all error”. This is demonstrably untrue. That’s my only point.

        Andy

        This just goes to show that in ALL circumstances, without exception, one should NEVER, EVER make all-inclusive absolute statements that don’t allow for some exceptions…I mean, there’s never any reason to do it. It’s always a bad idea…without exception.

          Bill Mac

          Exactly. For example, someone might say “no one should ever wear a Gilligan hat”, but clearly you rock that look.

    Scott Shaver

    Welcome back to the dark side Bill Mac. Got your tin foil hat?

    “infallible, inerrant, and sufficient’ reflects the kind of shibboleth and sloganeering that got us to this low point in trust and cooperation. It’s so Paige Patterson, Paul Presser …and “yesterday” to employ the YRR language. You’re about 20 years behind, so you could probably best use that religio-politically loaded language among those who swallow the lie and deception.

Scott Shaver

Watch now….they’ll be back to their cyber peers within minutes claiming “Commenters at SBCToday” are challenging the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture.

This is how it all got started.

    Lydia

    “Watch now….they’ll be back to their cyber peers within minutes claiming “Commenters at SBCToday” are challenging the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture.”

    Scott, I have a hard time wrapping my head around the loaded language of “inerrancy” unless it is being used as “inspired”. Article 10 of the Chicago statement seems like total cognitive dissonance to me…from scholars, no less. At the same time, were those who chose what went into the canon, inerrant, in their choices? How can that be? And I plan to ask Jesus if the letter to Laodicea was lost on purpose or not included on purpose. :o)

    The problem with the whole cry of “inerrancy” is it shut down thought. It shut down questions and digging deeper. Then we are left not with guides who encourage questions and thinking but indoctrinators. We could take a lesson from the Jews in that respect. It is ok to question and think.

      Scott Shaver

      Very good question Lydia:

      For me it boils down to a conviction about divine preservation of the cannon. God’s always accomplished what He needed to accomplish on our behalf through flawed human instruments. Depends on exactly what God wanted to do at exactly the time (“fullness of time”) He did it.

      dr. james willingham

      Dear Lydia: Any doctrine can be used as an excuse to shut down thought, questions and stop digging deeper. However, that has more to do with the individual’s perception of truths taught by God’s word that with the word itself. Consider how inerrancy can be used as a needle to pierce our complacency about what the Bible really teaches, how it can expose careless readings and even more careless thoughts. Back in the 80s or a bit earlier, one preacher said, “God does not hear the prayer of a Jew,” basing it on the idea stated in Scripture that God does not hear the prayer of a sinner (Jn.9:31). The truth of the matter that is all that God does hear, that is, the prayers of sinners. If the fellow who made that statement had done his research in the Bible he would have found that it was the Lord’s enemies who made that assertion. Moreover, if the fellow had done his research in Baptist History, he would have found a book on the prayers of Jesus by B.H. Carroll in which there is a sermon on the text Ps.65:2 which states, “unto thee shall all flesh come.” Dr. Carroll noted as an instance of a sinner praying and having his prayer answered by God, the example of King Ahab. I forget the title of Dr. Carroll’s work, but it was printed by Broadman Press in the late fifties or early sixties. I have the book, but it is somewhere in the midst of a jumbled library of 15,000 volumes.

        Lydia

        Dr J, We can go back and forth all day on inerrancy and doctrines that shut down thinking. I believe reading scripture through a strict determinist filter is “errant”. But I find studying scripture and its cultural context extremely rewarding. However, I think it is dry as dust and/or potentially lethal without the Holy Spirit’s guidance and wisdom.

          dr. james willingham

          Dear Lydia: Funny, how I feel a great deal more freedom with my so-called determinist view than most folks do who believe that they are as free as breeze to do what they please. Funny also, how the so-called determinists have produced so many works on inerrancy, along with, I might add, those who don’t agree with them. Remember that it was Dr. George W. Truett who declared in his address at the centennial celebration of Spurgeon’s birth, where he was introduced by the prime minister of the British empire, That Calvinism presses down on the brown of man the crown of responsibility. Cf. his Inspiration of Ideals. Nothing is ever as we think, when we have not done the research and reflection a subject requires. Therapeutic paradoxes, etc., a re hard to grasp, but they do work in many cases. God bless.

            Lydia

            “Funny, how I feel a great deal more freedom with my so-called determinist view than most folks do who believe that they are as free as breeze to do what they please. ”

            I realize human illustrations fall short of the mark when discussing this but I can’t imagine children would make better choices or become mature adults with deterministic parents who planned every aspect of their lives even down to how they think. And always telling them how “unable” they are. They would not learn, mature and gain wisdom as little robots of their parents. I believe determinism is fatalistic and hopeless. I believe we humans can effect positive change here and now in our little corners of the world. I believe we have the ability to reflect Jesus Christ back out into the world. I wish more young people were taught this— in church. .

            I do not see free will as being able to do whatever we please. I see it as being responsible for our choices. We have the perfect promised Counselor, the Holy Spirit. Jesus called His disciples, His “friends”. We are also referred to us as His siblings and heirs.

            I have always been curious what the Holy Spirit is for in a deterministic construct.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Lydia: Our son is our pastor. He has been pastored of the church since 1999, when he graduated from seminary. He was on his way to a university to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D., but the Lord called him to the ministry in ’94 shortly after he finished his Bachelor’s at UNC-CH. My daughter is employed as an assistant manager (she has been offered the position of Manager, but turned it down (she has been a manager with another company). I think it ironic that I should be discussing such an issue with a Lydia, when I want inscribed on my tombstone, Rev.3:20 and Acts 16:14. The Lord knocked at my heart’s door and then He opened it, all as described in those two verses. Anyway, I do not wish to highjack this discussion from its concern with the important issue of ministerial qualifications or how God qualifies a person for the ministry, be they male or female. Yes, I believe a woman may serve as a pastor, if, as an old Puritan declared (Matthew Poole), “she be specially called, gifted, and endowed.” In other words the same as a man’s qualifications. Admittedly, not likely to be as many (after all she is the exception). I must close, to get my wife, a heart patient up. We are both heart patients. God bless you and all who are God’s people that write for this blog.

                Lydia

                Dr, J, I am in no position to contradict your personal experiences. Nor would I, ever. What I was referring to was your comment about feeling free as a determinist. I could give you example after example of former determinist who came to a totally different conclusion as life happened to them. I watched one pastor tell a victim of heinous abuse that God would use it for His Glory as if it happened so He could be glorified. So not only did God use her for His purpose but He expected her to be joyful in that knowledge and humbled by it. The person who perpetrated the heinous abuse was a sinner like the rest of us. That pastor lied about God and I told him so.

                that is not freedom. That is bondage….,to evil that God preordains for His glory. A better example of our God is that we work to prevent evil and protect innocents because our God values people. He does not use them.

                Please take care. There is nothing more freeing than the love of caring for your family member who is ill because they are of incredible value. I call it mercy living. And it is a blessing.

                  dr. james willingham

                  Dear Lydia: Anyone can use a teaching of the Bible to excuse his or her acts of wickedness. I have known both Calvinists and Arminians who sought to justify themselves by the use of Holy Scripture, and I know people from both groups that committed great sins. When you have lived nearly 75 years, you see all king. I would remind you, without countenancing in the slightest degree, the instance of Judas, of whom our Lord said, “Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil.”(Jn.6:70). He betrayed our Savior, but the only person he blamed was himself , saying, “I have betrayed innocent blood.” The actual acts and actions of Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, “were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.”(Acts 4:27,28). The Father determined before in His counsel that they should do their evil against His Son that you and I should be redeemed. The asymmetrical aspect is simply that they do the evil by permission, while the good is done by a positive decree. God does not owe any mercy or grace to any sinner, but He does choose to show them such. In any case, I did not want the discussion on ministerial qualifications hijacked for a theological wrangle. In any case, it takes a miracle of mercy and grace to save any sinner as in the case of Lydia, the seller of purple. Even though she was attending to what was spoken by Paul, the Bible states concerning her, “whose heart the Lord opened.”(Acts 16:14). When I saw Jesus in my atheism knocking at my heart’s door, I ran the other way. However, He opened the door of my heart anyway so that I called upon Him to forgive me of my sins. He did just that, I believe, and I cried tears of joy for the first time in my life. I do call your attention to the fact that I made note of the fact that I wrote papers on the issue of Calvin and Augustine supposedly bringing Greek Pagan determinism into the Christian Faith. They did not. They cite the Bible and do not reference to the Greek philosophers on this issue. What do you say to that. Could it be that you have made your decisions on the issue from an insufficient basis of evidence?

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Matthew Poole’s declaration along with other notable worthy’s add absolutely nothing to Scripture.

                God has spoken and His Word is clear. The Lord Jesus Christ gives men to His Church to lead His people.

                Preach!

                  dr. james willingham

                  Dear Dennis: Ar eyou any kin to the noted Presbyterian Theologian of the 19th century, R.L. Dabney, who wrote, in addition to a number of theological works, a biography of Stonewall Jackson for whom he served as chief of staff so I understand?

                  The Separate Baptists of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association had eldresses who exhorted the congregations of the Sandy Creek Baptist church (a multi campus church or arms as they called them) One of the eldresses was Martha Stearns Marshall, sister of Shubal Stearns and wife of Daniel. When Daniel was arrested in Georgia for preaching the Gospel, she began preaching to the arresting officer who was convicted and converted thereafter and became a Baptist preacher who pastored for more than 50 years in Georgia and South Carolina, mostly South Carolina, Elder Samuel Cartledge. In any case, I sought to reconstruct the case for eldresses in a period when Baptists followed the Bible faithfully. The church records and the associational records are missing for that period, so I sought to reconstruct the case from Shubal and Daniels perspective, that is, from what works they might have read. Matthew Poole, being a Puritan and a commentator on the Bible might have been read by Stearns (and there was another Puritan Bible scholar who wrote on the subject, but I did not get access to his work). The point is that the Puritan, and Stearns was a Puritan Baptist, set forth the idea that there could be exceptions which recognized the evidence of the Bible which identified the prophetesses of the Old and New Testament.. Some early Christians called Mary Magdalene the Apostle to the apostles due to the fact that she would not have been able even to give testimony in a trial, and God would confirm His word by the mouth of a woman who was telling of the seed of the woman which crushed the head of the old Serpent, Satan.

                  Someone once said to Lottie Moon as she had done a good deal of preaching to the Chinese in her area, if she was ordained, to which she replied, “I was never ordained, but I was foreordained.” I know of a lady who founded a church, a right good sized one, so I understand, and she gave it to Southern Baptists (she had been a church visitor for many years, probably speaking to some 10,000 people in the St. Louis area, seeking to win them to Christ). In any case the Southern Baptists of the Association (some other part of Missouri) was most appreciative. They told her that she would never be recognized as the founder of the church, that it would be recognized as organized from the day of its entry into Southern Baptists.

                  The rule and the exceptions both constitute the truth, and John Robinson, the pastor of the Pilgrims, declared: “Who knows what new light is getting ready to break forth from God’s word. He had come to the view of congregational church government. The secular ekklesia was a governing body composed of all male citizens who had the right to participate in the deliberations o fthe assembly and to vote on the issues and to hold any elective office. The ekklesia of the New Testament is composed of men and women who are equals and have the right to take part in the business activities of the church. The term eldresses is used in I Tim5:2ff, but it is translated as “aged,” It might be noted that the term deacon in the masculine form is applied to Phoebe a servant/deacon of the church of Cenchrea (Roms.16:1). There are exceptions, when the woman might serve as a minister, that is, an eldress, just as she might serve as Margaret Thatcher served as Prime Minister of Great Britain.. where the woman is not recognized as a full partner, evils take place. There are those men who use the idea of their being the leaders to demand absolute submission even to the point of allowing for sexual abuse of children. There are ministers who demand submission from church members. The papacy is the epitome of such views, and we should all know the evils that have followed such a view and practice. In any case, it is the qualifications which God requires and provides that make the difference in male and female, namely, education/illumination.

                    Dennis Lee Dabney

                    Dr. Willingham,

                    Robert L. Dabney was born about an hour from my birth place her in Virginia. As far as I know, we are not related.

                    You have provided a few exceptions to male only leadership in the pastorate due to various circumstances. Now for the record, just a short time before my conversion, I attended a bible study conducted by a lady who called herself pastor. She had come into the area to minister and had a following of some woman and a few men. Shortly after my conversion I made up my mind to leave our home church to join this group. One night before I was about to leave the church I had an experience that I do not care to reference only to say that I was admonished firmly to get into the Word of God. I have not had such an experience since. After that encounter I spent a tremendous amount of time studying this subject and arrived at the conclusion that the Church is God’s family. The template is found in Genesis 2:18 and maintained until you arrive at the maps. Woman was given to man for a definite purpose. Absolutely equal in creation before God, equal in redemption in Christ, woman is actually superior to man at being a woman. Yet when it comes to role and function it is obvious Scriptural restrictions apply. God established the order between male and female in creation, man and women in redemption, to the praise of His glory. He distinguished male leadership by using time as an interval before the creation of women. It was during this period when He was all alone with man that He first gave Adam His Word, afterward He gave him work, and then and only then did He give him his wife. As you know woman came from man. Man is the glory of God and the women the glory of the man.

                    The situations noted cannot break the Holy Scriptures. It was Eve who took the initiative to eat from the forbidden tree and then in Genesis 3:17 taught her husband by her own words to sin against a Thrice Holy God who alone is God.

                    For any woman to stand and proclaim God has called her to the office of the pastor is in clear violation of the Holy Scriptures. There are many areas where she can serve and not violate the will of God.

                    1Timothy 5:2 was also referenced which deals with the “age” and not the ministry. The context is clear in subsequent verses. Paul does take up the ministry of the elder beginning in verse 17.

                    Preach!

                    dr. james willingham

                    Dennis: I am tired, being a heart patient caring for an invalid wife who is also a heart patient with two other serious problems of health, I should point out to you it is not the number, but the statements of scripture dealing with an issue, along with the exceptions which God has provided. You will find that giving a man to much control over a woman and their children can lead to tragedy. Everything is a matter of checks and balances. You should have dealt with the cases of incest that I have. Even the King as Samuel Rutherford in Lex Rex argued is subject to the law, one of the contributory sources of the American Revolution. I would also call attention to the fact that Roms. 13 commands obedience to the powers that be, while in Acts 5 Peter declared that we ought to obey God rather than men. The point is that you enjoy religious freedom (for now anyway), because virtually all of the Baptists were willing to become cannon fodder in the American Revolution. And a Baptist Chaplain, John Gano, might have baptized George Washington by immersion, and he was the last person to address the Continental Army before it disbanded. I live about an hours drive from where one of my ancestors participated in the American Revolutionary war battle of Guilford Courthouse. What seemingly slim statements did our ancestors take their stand for religious liberty in that awful struggle.

              dr. james willingham

              Dear Lydia: I tried to answer your last comment and could not seem to get it to post. In any case, it is strange to answer one who bears the name of the woman of whom the bible said, ‘whose heart the Lord opened,” Acts 16:14, one of the texts I would like to have inscribed on my tombstone (if I get one) along with Rev.3:20. As to determinism as you call the view I hold, which is that God has decreed all things that shall come to pass which differs from determinism which is a soul less heart less thing, while the beat of the heart of a Sovereign Loving Just God beats in the formation of every decree. My view is an asymmetrical one, meaning the sin and perishing is by permissive decrees (going back to Zanchius who wrote on the subject of Absolute Predestination and even John Calvin as Dr. Mohler said had to use the word permission with one of his parishoners (made for a lot of laughter in a Q and A in 2014 (I think it was). As to my children, our son is our pastor. He was on his way, after graduating from UNC-CH, to enter another university to work on an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Psychology, when God called him to preach. The church which he has served since 1999, when he graduated became our church home in 2013. My daughter from a previous marriage works as an Assistant Manager and had served as a manager with at least two previous companies. Space does not permit me to go into detail, but they entered in on their callings, gladly, willingly, and without the slightest bit of compulsion from their parents.

            Andrew Barker

            Dr. JW: “Funny, how I feel a great deal more freedom with my so-called determinist view” Would it be inappropriate to point out that how and what you ‘feel’ is not usually considered a good basis upon which to base doctrine. In fact, in many circles this would be referred to as ‘feel good’ Christianity and would be lampooned. I’m also at a loss to see why you refer to your Calvinistic/Reformed views as ‘so-called determinist’. Are you saying that Reformed doctrine is not deterministic? Surely, if you believe in election as being pre-determined and that people are predestined to be either elect or not as the case may be, that is determinism?

            I would remind you that one mans ‘therapeutic paradox’ is another man’s contradiction in terms. That, I don’t think, is too difficult to grasp.

              dr. james willingham

              Andrew: One can feel good about a belief without basing my belief on how I feel. In fact, I am driven by facts, but when I find the evidence is there then I rejoice over what I find as one who finds great spoil. God’s decrees whatsoever shall come to pass, while determinism per se is impersonal, indifferent, and inhumane. I would rather have a the personal heart of the all wise, sovereign, just, holy, loving God decreeing whatsoever shall come to pass or who works all things after the counsel of His own will as Paul states in Ephesians, than to think of the indeterminate determinism of no one being in control to make things to turn out fro good. In any case, I tried to answer Lydia as she wrote, but three times I have been unable to get my reply on here. I really want to return to the subject of ministerial qualifications and not use this for a wrangle over another belief.

                Andrew Barker

                Dr. JW: You are too tied up in your own rhetoric and I do not wish nor do I have sufficient time to engage at any great length with you. Lydia’s name is totally irrelevant to this discussion as is the fact that you find it strange that she holds the views she does.

                I questioned your use of the phrase “so-called determinist view.” As yet, despite copious printed words, you seem unable to provide a straight answer! I note your use of the phrase “indeterminate determinism”. Might I venture to suggest that this fits the description of Reformed Theology to a ‘T’!

                  Andy

                  Moderators!!!

                  I want to agree with Andrew Barker…I just want to know if that’s allowed? :-)

                    Andrew Barker

                    Andy: I think you may agree with me, but only if you’re a determined determinist.

                  dr.james willingham

                  To Andrew: I was being a bit ironic and even irenic with my phrase, “indeterminate determinism.” Having taught philosophy in college, I have some idea of what is involved in the phrase. As to the reformed theology, your remark is likely true for some of that venue, but I rather like the idea of Sovereign Grace (after all if grace reigns then grace is sovereign (Roms.5:21). This is neither the time nor the place to get into a wrangle on that issue, however. We are supposedly discussing ministerial qualifications.

                  As to Lydia’s name, I was answering one of the respondents that uses the name Lydia, I assume that is her name, and my point was that the Lydia of the Bible was and is relevant to the interchange between the lady and myself. Think what you please about my rhetoric.

                    Lydia

                    “As to Lydia’s name, I was answering one of the respondents that uses the name Lydia, I assume that is her name, and my point was that the Lydia of the Bible was and is relevant to the interchange between the lady and myself. Think what you please about my rhetoric.”

                    Dr J, I think I would enjoy sitting with you and discussing history but I have a hard time following your line of thought when it comes to theology. As to Lydia of Thyatira, she was found, along with others, seeking and praying to Yahweh. She believed in the One True God but did not know about Jesus Christ. Same with Cornelius. Their prayers were answered, perhaps? The Holy Spirit was working? I do believe they had a choice in how they responded, too.

                    Without human volition I am perplexed how anyone can be held accountable for their actions, good or bad. That would include repentance. If God, as the determinists believe, did not “predestine” them for salvation, how can He hold them personally accountable for their choices? It is as if God damned them, by randomly passing over them, then punished them again for being damned by Him.

                    I just cannot go there.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Dr JW: Well your irony was lost on me I’m afraid. As for keeping on topic ….. I will make no comment, but will point out the topic is actually what’s wrong with seminary. Blogs have a habit of wandering off topic so I don’t lose any sleep over that and it’s part of the package IMO.

                    I get the impression that you don’t like the term determinism as far as applying to Reformed theology, hence your comment “God’s decrees whatsoever shall come to pass, while determinism per se is impersonal, indifferent, and inhumane.” You see I have an issue with this line of argument when I hear you say ” loving God decreeing whatsoever shall come to pass” because to you that may sound comforting, because you count yourself as one of the elect. However, if God decrees that a person is not elect (or if he simply chooses not to elect) then I find your comments rather lacking in substance. How is God not being impersonal, or indifferent to such a non-elect person? Would it be a touch ironic to question if God was being inhumane?

                    I would suggest to you that while you may prefer not to use the label of determinism when referring to God’s decreeing whatsoever shall come to pass, that this is in effect very much a distinction without a difference!

                    Rhetoric, I can cope with although I do gloss over verbose passages :) Doctrine, that’s a different matter.

                    dr. james willingham

                    Andrew: I will the irony go as well as the running of your blog. Your apparently in charge, and you set the ground rules. Which is okay with me.

                    As to the determinism I would point our that without any determinism at all, a god who does not control is the one who gets blamed for what happens. When I was a child, I suffered the dreadful loss of both parents around age 4 due to divorce and wound up being raised by my maternal grandparents on a sharecropper’s farm in Arkansas. The person whom I blamed was God. When I turned about 12 or 13 I quit going to church and by age 14 was a professing, practicing atheist. My argument was this: How could there be a God and let happen to little children what had happened to me (and I knew of worse case scenarios, e.g., death, the horrible fears of war, and more). The only conclusion was that there could be no God who would allow such a thing to occur. I think it is funny how, when Jesus appeared to me at a Youth For Christ meeting in St. Louis, knocking at my heart’s door (I actually saw a vision/hallucination/ delusion {I believe it was a vision}, I wanted no part of Him. But on the way home, something or someone changed my mind so that I did call upon the Lord that very night and felt the burden lifted off of my heart. It is strange that the issue I had did not even occur to me that night, and it did not come back to bother me even when later tragedies happened. In a class for my doctorate, I spoke of god being in control of the events, not as causing the evil, but as in control of them, and the liberal students really creamed me good. Later, someone would say to a couple of well meaning people at a funeral home, who said the Lord had a hand in it (and they were not talking from my perspective at all), “Your God is my devil.” While I did not agree with the couples approach to a singular tragedy, I could appreciate where they were coming from. The person who came to my defense in the class was the Professor who had been Harry Truman’s pastor in Washington, D.C. He said, “I don’t know but what I agree with Mr. Willingham. I had a son who lived in off campus housing at one of our Baptist schools. One night the space heater leaked gas, and he was killed. If I did not believe that God had control of that event to make it turn out for good, I don’t know what I would do.” Like Dr. Ed Pruden and many of the Sovereign Grace ministers of Baptist history, I do not know what I would do in view of the many tragedies that have happened in my life. But as Paul said, the sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.

                    Many think as is indicated by comments of some above, that one just has to believe that God’s decree cannot involve a permissive will concerning sin in which the sinner is solely responsible, but Baptists in the past have so believed and taught. The expressive and positive will of God is another matter. The good and its glory belongs solely to God. In any case, we are told explicitly that God determined before hand in Acts 4 what Herod and Pilate and the Jews and the Gentiles would do to Christ, and yet they did it freely, willingly, and they were judged on that basis. God does not give account to anyone, but look at what was accomplished in the worse evil that ever occurred, the crucifixion of Christ. What was accomplished was the greatest of all, our salvation, the salvation of sinners. Now if the worst could happen and God could bring good out of it, then the tragedies of my life can turn out for good due to his determinate counsel working through the sacrifice of Christ.

                    My theology grew out of biblical studies lasting for years and experienced in those tragedies (i.e., the murder of four members of my family). This is not a game with me, nor a mere mental exercise; it is based on close and astute study and research of the Holy Scriptures on the issues involved. Just consider what Joseph said to his brothers concerning their selling of him in to the terrible system of slavery: “You meant it for evil, but God meant for good, to bring it to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive.”(Gen.5):200. What I have urged is based upon reasoning according to and in accordance with scripture. Joseph summed up my view better than I could. I would suggest that your disagreement with me is really a disagreement with the written word of God. Predestination involves two elements, the expressive will of God and the permissive will of God. He permitted the selling of Joseph, but it was in pursuance of His purpose to save much people alive. The same applies to the evils in our lives, and the idea of decrees excusing us for the evils, the sins we commit, will not fly. The lost sinner will pay one day, and the saved sinner will pay today as David did even though God was pleased to use that experience to bring it to pass that our Lord should be descended from such a thing.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Dr. Willingham,

              I respect your opinion and appreciate your candor. However what I admire the most is how you have pulled back the curtain in your life just enough so we may see what the glue of cleaving to your lovely wife truly looks like from your vantage point.

              Your opening statement set forth the true essence of Biblical male leadership in the Church and head-ship in marriage by loving those Christ have committed to our care to LIFE.

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

              Preach!

Scott Shaver

“Inerrancy” certainly hasn’t prevented the last 20 years of SBC leadership from “ERROR”.

Paige is wanting now to undo what he helped put into place.

    Andrew Barker

    Scott: In the final analysis what a person really needs to be taught is how to read, absorb and work out for themselves, what the word of God is saying. It’s a bit like the old adage of give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime. There really is too much emphasis on teaching and doctrine from an academic viewpoint and not enough on the practical application. People are being fed but maybe not learning to feed themselves?

    But this involves a loss of control by those who are in a position of ‘leadership’ because as soon as you have people thinking, they may start seeing things differently from you and that isn’t always helpful. Especially if you’re convinced that ‘leadership’ is about being in authority over a fellow believer. Which it clearly isn’t! :)

      Scott Shaver

      Bingo Andrew. You have clearer perspective from across the pond into our backyard than those of us sitting in the wadding pool with rubber duckies;)

        Scott Shaver

        Which also, ironically Andrew, as described by you, is as far as any “Christian Reformation” especially “Baptists” need to go from Luther to Parousia?

          Scott Shaver

          The question mark at end should be a period Andrew (I whole-heartedly agree).

      Lydia

      Andrew, Good words. I think of it as seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in the entire process of studying scripture.

        Max

        “… seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in the entire process of studying scripture …”

        Indeed, Lydia! The Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth, not the teachings and traditions of men! Christianity Today reported that there are 40,000 Christian denominations and organizations on planet earth; most are separated by doctrines and methods of men. Who has a corner on the Truth? The Holy Spirit! When Southern Baptists quit fussing and fighting (if they ever do), they might rediscover that central premise of faith. Currently, there is much grieving and quenching of the Holy Spirit in SBC ranks and confusion reigns. Who is the author of confusion?

      Max

      “… as soon as you have people thinking, they may start seeing things differently from you …”

      The current SBC wrangling is driven by intellect, not Spirit. There is a battle for the mind going on in SBC ranks. Too many of our young seminarians are being indoctrinated by men, rather than illuminated by the Spirit.

        Jim P

        Separating intellect from ‘spirit’ is not something biblical writers would recognize.
        It’s a ‘modern age’ (enlightenment) phenomena.
        Along that thought, Max, the wrangling you suggest goes much deeper than intellect. It goes to the heart of God’s purposes.

          Lydia

          “Separating intellect from ‘spirit’ is not something biblical writers would recognize.”

          I agree but sadly that is how Calvinists read the scriptures. Separating them is a form of dualism and is exactly what Augustine brought into Christianity and Luther and Calvin propagated into a system. And it is very much part of Calvinistic thinking today as in “spiritual good/material bad”. It is Greek Pagan Philosophy. It is one of the problems with the definition of total depravity and Sovereignty in Calvinism. The intellectualism inherent in Calvinism is all about wordy explanations, circular reasoning for the cognitive dissonance and tons of mystery.

          “It’s a ‘modern age’ (enlightenment) phenomena.”

          Actually it goes back much farther than that. It is part and parcel of most ancient pagan religions. The enlightenment gets a lot of hits even though it lasted quite a long time and was all over the board philosophically. More important than the enlightenment is when man discovered the “practical” and was free to think and do as in inventions/discoveries that improved life and had nothing to do with caste or nobility. It is one reason America emerged as it did out from under what the enlightenment did in Europe in England in affirming the caste systems already in place.

            dr. james willingham

            Dear Lydia: Neither Augustine nor Calvin introduced the deterministic view into the Christian Faith from Greek Pagan Philosophy. I write that statement based upon two research papers which I did back in in 1971 and 1972. The first was on Calvin and Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, written for a graduate class on Aristotle at the University of South Carolina in the Spring of 1971. The second was for a seminary class in the Summer of ’72 written on Augustine’s concept of God and Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover. In neither case did these men take their views from Aristotle. In fact, the source to which they look for such teachings, teachings which the source led them to believe, was the Bible. For example, Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover is affected by nothing outside of himself, where as God is unchanging, based on what is outside of Himself, so speak, but He is also self-changing. Witness the incarnation in which Christ becomes forever united to his human nature. The Unmoved Mover concept would not allow for any such thing. It is very easy to assume that the Sovereignty concepts come from Greek Philosophy, and many scholars have said so. However, such statements will not bear scrutinu in the light the sources cited in Calvin and Augustine, the essential and primary source is the Bible. One might even say it is the sole source, except, Calvin does quote Augustine. Augustine was acquainted with pagan philosophy. After all, he was a teacher of Rhetoric, which involved a rather thorough knowledge of philosophy. In any case, he was a Manichean, a dualist, if you please, just before his conversion. Manicheanism (sp?) posits two controlling forces. The bible knows of only one, God. It does know of the devil who is permitted to promote his aims, so long as they serve the highest aim of all, the conquest of sin, self, and Satan in the death of Christ for our sins and His resurrection from the dead.

              Lydia

              Dr. J, Pagan philosophy is ancient going back to “angry gods” in the OT. I mention Augustine because his Pagan Philosophy melded into his Christianity and spread West like wildfire as it became then foundational default understanding. Calvin and Luther just took it some steps further. You can draw a direct line to these “heros of the faith” and justification for horrors. Really not that different from historical Catholicism. Horrors in the name of God? I know many have tons of rationalizations for the horrors, to trot out. Problem is, I am not buying them anymore. I don’t do “man of his time” arguments since I know there were others who gave their lives to disagree with them.

              We are reflect Christ’s love, justice and mercy back out into the world. These men were thugs.

          Max

          Being led by the Holy Spirit is “a ‘modern age’ (enlightenment) phenomena”?!
          The intellects of Biblical writers were influenced by the Holy Spirit.
          At the heart of God’s purpose is for us to preach the Gospel. Debating theology from our intellect is not preaching the Gospel by the Spirit.

            Andy

            Debating theology is sometimes necessary to clarify the Gospel, as Paul and other NT writers did MANY times. Also, it is sometimes necessary to clarity OTHER issues, as Paul and other NT writers did many times. Paul even said of one issue, in effect, “I have no word from the Lord, but here’s what I think.” God gave us brains. Debate, even intellectual debate, is not in itself the problem.

            In fact, if you believe so strongly, you should cease debating the theology of Holy Spirit leading with Jim P right now! :-)

              Jim P

              Nice slap in the face, thanks Andrew. You’re sure taking your cues well.

                Andy

                Jim, I’m sorry, I’m not sure how to read your reply…who you think I have slapped, and/or whether you yourself are being funny or not… Are you being funny? That’s all I was trying to convey with my last sentance: To lightly and humorously point out that Max is himself debating theology, while seeming to say that we should NOT debate theology.

                If However, you feel I have said something Inappropriate to either you or Max, I would like to make it right.

                  Jim P

                  Andrew, Thank you for your concern. It’s appreciated. I felt your note was directed at me in a wrong way and I responded in how I took it. I did misunderstand and I may have contributed to that misunderstanding.

                  Sorry and Thank you for your effort to resolve this, Jim Poulos

Dennis Lee Dabney

Bro. Allen,

Great read!

I was first against seminary, then like some of our politicians today, I’ve changed my position to now advocating for seminary. In what is called the so-called black church where I minister there’s one well known theological institution in which many of my kinsmen after the flesh consider a rite a passage into ministry. I rejected vehemently the liberal approach to inerrancy, dismissed the progressive undermining of the very foundation of the divine order of the local New Testament church regarding pastoral leadership. So initially, as you indicated, pride closed my eyes even to prospect of researching other institutions. I knew God required the “called” to reach all nations and not just my own community. A few years later, in which I wish I could redeem the time, I was lead to a seminary which prepares pastors and leaders from the Holy Scriptures to do just that.

I now see, (course this was many years ago), the added value of the required disciple in the life of the servant of God in a practical manner by receiving a good seminary training.

Now, just like college isn’t right for every student leaving high school, seminary isn’t for “everyone” entering the ministry and I believe in my life time I have met all of them who shouldn’t have ever darkened the front door of any school. In the words of that great theologian Festus who said, “Much learning doeth make thee “mad”. Lol.

My position is this, God qualifies the man through the “call”, and He also took the initiative in preparing him both before and He takes the oversight of his training after the “call” into ministry. Prayerful cooperation on the part of the man is crucial to “Where” to enroll, which leads to “Who” will instruct and arriving at “What” the curriculum centers around and consist of. In the scriptures He assigned the Teacher to the disciple. I believe that is still His method today.

Preach!

dr. james willingham

Gentlemen: I call your attention to the fact that a thesis in American Social & Intellectual History on the subject, “The Baptists & Ministerial Qualifications: 1750-1850,” might be of some help in your considerations. I wrote the item at Morehead State University, and I understand a copy of it is available in the Baptists collection/library of Wake Forest University. At least that is what I was told by one professor, while another claimed to have it on interlibrary loan from UNC-CH, but I doubt the latter. It might help to establish the rule, that the truth consists of a rule that is true as well as its exceptions when they are true.. Sort of a new scientific method, if one can work out an experiment that can encompass seemingly antithetical ideas, elements/truths. In any case, the point is not to regard a degree as the be all, end of all existence, but simply as a step in continuing education. One must, in this world, be ever alert, absorbing new ideas and knowledge like a sponge soaks up water. Research projects seem dull. I did one for six years and another for two years and accumulated literally thousands of 5×8 notecards (now one can do it even faster, if one has a hand-held scanner with a good organizing method to follow in the research. Now here is why you need such. The future coming at us is inexplicable and incomprehensible. If, as my disparate methods have indicated from a study of many sources, the truth is that we have already been going to the stars for anywhere from 50-60 years, traveling anywhere from 2-200 times the speed of light, and, if mankind is going to spread to the planets throughout the universe as our Lord seems to suggest, if I read the text right, Matt.24:31, and, if we are going to come to the point where we can make use of the zero point energies, the ether as Tesla called it, then we must realize that our Bible has anticipated such eventualities, and we must give ourselves to study, reflection, and thought, always, at the same time, taking into account the human factors (without which the rest is meaningless). Imagine preaching a sermon Mt.24:31 or one on I Chron.16:15 or even Jonah 3:9 where the old king of Nineveh says, “who can tell?” Just think of an unconditional prophecy by Jonah and how that it did not come true and he should have been stoned at the very least. Instead the unconditional prophecy of gloom and doom, “forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” (Jonah 3:4), But it did not turn out that way, and Jonah did not expect it to turn out that way (Jonah 4). The same could be said for many of the gloom and doom prophecies of the New Testament. Ever hear of shock therapy or therapeutic paradoxes or reframing or ideas that effect and affect human behavior, that ideas in conjunction can produce a tension in the human mind which enables one to be balanced, flexible, creative, constant, and magnetic, just the kind of believers God will be happy to send into space and occupy planets for the next 1000 generations of anywhere from 20,000-900,000 years, depending on how long the generations are or become. Take a guess at the mental capacity required and remember the one book that prepared Americans to build a great nation. Same could be said for our ventures into space, into the universe, if you please. After all, if the Book is inspired by Omniscience as we are taught by its own words, it follows that the wisdom which it engenders should be more than deep enough and wise enough to help us cope with any and all situations, providing that we have the wherewithal to grasp it, that is, the education (study), and illumination (the gift) to understand and comprehend what the Holy Writ is saying.

Jon Estes

Seminary or not…If you can handle the Word but not lead the people walk away.

Seen to many preachers from both schools who think thepeople need t hearf what they have prepared to preach when they have no clue to where the people are spiritually… where they are hurting… what sin they are struggling with… Oh, we can preach circles around the other guys – if you don’t belive it, just ask most the preachers on this blog.

I grew up in church, raised as a PK… I learned in seminary how to handle the Word butnever learned how to lead or love as God loves the people. I have been hurt as a result and have blamed God for sending me places people do not want to hear His word. As I have gotten older and hopefully wiser, I am putting much of the seminary stuff behind me and reaching out to real people who I have been called to serve.

I still study diligently and am very mindful of my time but I refuse to use my office and position as a place to hover which keeps me from walking with the people I am called to serve.

I would not trade my days of seminary but I do not know if I can say it made me a better pastor.

Dennis Lee Dabney

The gift of pastor-teacher to the local New Testament Church unfortunately is recognized more often than not, by the action of preaching and not necessarily teaching. Preaching is important, crucial within the assembly, critical for reaching the lost without. I realize preaching is taken into consideration first, obviously in most instances; it’s the first action he’s involved in before the whole assembly.

The minister must be enabled by the Spirit to clearly articulate the Kingdom of God but even that doesn’t make him a gifted pastor by any stretch of the imagination. Some local churches did just that, “imagined” that the man chosen by the majority was a gift from the Lord, only to discover it was only their “imagination”. Many a congregation rather than receive the pastor the Lord had already raised up in their midst or the man He sent, they settled for a preacher who could preach. Many local churches have brought in, to their own hurt I might add, a great preacher only to discover when it came to shepherding; for all of the search committee calisthenics, allegedly in great prayer, only to receive a preacher in the pulpit, but off the stage, and amongst God’s people, a bull in the china shop.

Those who often wax eloquent in front of congregations before seminary and during, those who “bring the heat” before the homiletic class and may even be a favorite conference speaker, cannot make up the difference between the gifted pastors Christ has given His Church and those who are not but yet fill the office. This doesn’t mean a man not gifted to pastor cannot lead God’s people. Beloved, I only suggest before you hook your wagon to him, “Better find out exactly where he’s willing to lead, and you had better find out where he cannot go!”

We are told Moses had a God given desire to lead His people many years before he was called to do so. It was only at the point of the actual “calling” when he discovered he wasn’t able, he wasn’t qualified nor was he ready. The difference was God was ready for him, ready to lead His people through Moses’s obedience and not his opinion of himself or even of God. The Lord taught Moses and through him He taught His people.

The pastor’s love for God manifest itself to God’s people primarily through teaching and tending the flock with love and humility as demonstrated by Moses with Israel.

Preach!

    Andy

    So, Dennis, How can a congregation tell the difference. Nobody disagrees that there is more to it than preaching.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Andy,

Yesterday after church my wife and I went to see the movie War Room. In my estimation it was time well spent not only together but also with other Brothers and Sisters. I’m sure you’re aware the storyline consist of God answering His Word in fervent prayer.

I see no other way for the true remnant within the assembly to recognize the gifted man except by fervent prayer. However, even those who simply attend routinely or sparingly will take notice of the one God has raised up or sent. They will sense the Holy Spirit who has made him an overseer of the flock of God even if it’s not that flock. Now they may not understand what they are witnessing but will realize it is not of man. Some may even say we never heard the word of God taught with such understanding imparted. For some it will be brand new for other the Bible will come alive. The congregation will take notice that he never stops teaching even in the common things, such as brief meetings and routine greetings and in fellowship. In most cases the congregation will know almost immediately, “he is the man”.

However, that doesn’t mean they will receive him or that he will accept them. If there is a great doctrinal concern, a great doctrinal divide he will not take the position just to have somewhere to preach. The church also may reject him if he insist on “what thus saith Scriptures”, is how he will lead the assembly regarding a particular matter.

Andy, if they are seeking God’s will, paying close attention to His presence in their midst, they will hear God’s heart through God’s man.

Unlike the bull in the china shop, the gifted pastor steps from behind the sacred desk, he then steps down from the platform to care for the flock of God which Christ purchased with His own blood.

Preach!

Andrew Barker

Dr. JW: Your comment is way off the mark ….”Andrew: I will the irony go as well as the running of your blog. Your apparently in charge, and you set the ground rules. Which is okay with me.” I neither run the blog nor set ground rules, as I’m sure you’re well aware so I’ll leave it there ;) Neither do I wish to pass comment on your family experiences or history!

But you mentioned first off “As to the determinism I would point our that without any determinism at all, a god who does not control is the one who gets blamed for what happens.”

Well I’m sure most people would agree that God was responsible for creating and maintaining all the known universe. He determined that it would come into being and it’s only by his power that it remains. But that’s a far cry from saying that God is responsible either directly or indirectly for what we as individuals do. I happen to believe that being made in God’s image includes the ability to choose and also makes us individually responsible for those choices. If we are not free to choose in this way, I can’t see much difference between us and the rest of the animal kingdom.

The materialistic determinism of the atheist has some rather disturbing parallels with the theological determinism of Reformed/Calvinistic adherents.

dr. james willingham

I must close my writings on this blog. Am having some difficulties with my health. I would like to say to Lydia that the facts sin the case for both Calvin and Augustine do not bear out what you claim. The sources of their views are cited in their writings, and they are not the pagan philosophers but, rather, the Bible. To Andrew: I really do not know who runs the blog now. I thought from some of the things you said that you did. Just an honest mistake. Paradoxes and contradictions are two different things. The problem is the analytical approach all people tend to take in this day of the modern scientific method, which is suffering from the paralysis of analysis. I came across a good quote from a Calvinist whose hymn I suppose all of you have often sung, namely, John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace. He stated: “Before you engage in debate, you must take heed of your opponent. He is an eternal creature. If dhe is not a Christian, he warrants your deepest pity. kindness, and prayers. If, however, your theological opponent is a Christian, think of your future together in Heaven.” God bless.

Lydia

Dr. J, We can agree to disagree and all will be well between us. I have always appreciated your irenic tone and sharing of historical experiences. I pray the God of all comfort brings you and your wife peace.

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