Will Calvinism Split The Southern Baptist Convention?

August 23, 2016

Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
Dallas, TX

**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.

Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.

Learn more about Leighton, HERE.
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**CORRECTION: Leighton mistakenly inversed the stats about Calvinistic pastors. 70-80% of pastors express concern over the rise of Calvinism while 20-30% support Calvinism according to the most recent studies.

Dr. Flowers discusses his views on how Calvinism will affect the SBC and reads this article from Dr. Bill Hadley: TROUBLEMAKERS IN THE SBC: DO WE WANT UNITY OR DIVISION? Posted on by 

Only July 12, the New Orleans Baptist Association published a statement titled, Which Way Forward, Toward Unity or Division?” It can be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE. I understand the need for unity and the desire for unity. As Christians, one would think that this would be a given. As the old saying goes, union is one thing; unity is another.

Reference is made in the article to J.D. Greear’s move in stepping down in the SBC presidential race to help lay a foundation for unity in the convention. The article stated, “This act sparked surprise, relief, gladness, and even celebration.  We witnessed an act of grace motivated by a desire for unity.” Dr. Greear’s decision was a gracious one and was without question one that helped avoid other potential problems. It must also be stated, Dr. Gaines was prepared to do the same thing for the sake of unity. Both of these men are to be commended for their humble response to what was a very difficult position to have been placed in.

The article acknowledges positive strides in their association toward racial reconciliation and then moves its focus to the divide related to the theological issues specifically tied to the rise of Calvinism in the SBC and the issues the state convention and its college, Lousiana College has faced in recent years. They acknowledge disappointment in attacks against certain agency heads in SBC entities: “we are troubled by the critical editorials in our state Baptist paper against SBC agency heads David Platt and Russell Moore.”

The article asks a pointed question and then makes a definitive statement: “Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?

Leaders lead.  What kind of qualities do we want our leaders to demonstrate?”

I want to address the question, “Do we want unity or division?”

How we answer that question certainly addresses the thrust of the article and the statement, “Leaders lead.”

I will address the issue from the “other side of the tracks” and speak to the issue of Troublemakers in the SBC. The perception is that those who LEAD are going to do so for the sake of unity while those who do not work toward unity are not leaders but in fact troublemakers.

There are two types of troublemakers. There are those who take the bull by the horns and seek to make tough changes to the status quo. This is what the reformed leaders of this Calvinist revival in the SBC have done and are continuing to do. While I do not agree with WHAT they have done, I applaud their successful efforts and even acknowledge that they have the RIGHT to do what they have done. I might argue rather successfully that their methods were underhanded as far as being forthright in their intentions from the onset? but that would have been horribly unsuccessful so if I were in their shoes I might have done the same thing.

These guys are rightfully troublemakers. So were the reformers of the past. That is not being critical it is actually complimentary, even though I do not like what they have done.

The other type troublemaker is the one who seeks to maintain the status quo. In the Conservative Resurgence both of these groups existed as well. The liberals did pretty much then what the Calvinists have done today with one exception; they were not as successful! The conservative camp did pretty much then what the non-calvinist camp is doing now with ONE KEY exception; they were successful while the non-calvinist camp today has not been.

In the CR, there were LEADERS/Troublemakers who stood up and spoke out and the liberal faction in the seminaries was pushed back. There were two key factors that came into play there. First, the liberal faction did not manage to gain control of the larger group of entities and I am not sure that was ever their intention and so their influence was still rather limited. This group was not “bunkered down” as well as the Calvinists of today are. I believe this group today learned some important lessons from the CR and those lessons have proven effective in the new CR, Calvinist Resurgence today.

There is one other issue that stands out as we compare the problems we face today as compared to the CR. Liberalism in Biblical theology was an easier topic to popularize than Calvinism is today. People could grasp it. 80% plus of the people in the pew in the SBC have no idea how to even spell Calvinism much less understand what it teaches. There is no sense of “urgency” in this struggle although those who understand the issues KNOW that this is every bit as important a theological issue as has ever existed in the SBC. While it is true that Calvinism has been in the SBC since its founding, it has never held the level of importance it has garnered in the last decade and its influence has never been more prevalent than what it holds today where the direction of the convention is concerned.

There is a vacuum of leadership willing to stand up and speak out today against this Calvinist Resurgence. This is what is so surprising where this issue of Calvinism is concerned. Some have suggested that the CR of the 80’s and 90’s took a lot out of people and there is no “fight left in a lot of folks.” Well, to ask for “fight” in Christians is sort of a tough expectation in the first place but as Solomon said, “There is a time for everything under the sun.” There seems to be a move within the MEGA church pastors to not want to “rock the boat” and to stay in good graces so to speak with the new power brokers of the SBC. Calvinism is just not an issue that is garnering much attention among those who have the clout to do what it would take to stop its continued influence. It just is what it is.

So who are the troublemakers in the SBC today? Are the troublemakers those who are working feverishly to change the SBC? Are the troublemakers those who are actively involved in reforming the SBC and moving it to a Calvinist Convention?

Are the troublemakers those who have finally woke up and realized what has happened under their noses where this Calvinist Resurgence has been concerned? Are the troublemakers of today the unifiers of yesterday who had no clue what the reformers were doing until this “lady” was eight and a half months pregnant before anyone even noticed and realized that “she” was about to give birth?

Calvinism is a real issue. It is a real issue for both sides. It is not going away. It is an issue for those seeking to move the SBC in that direction. It is not going away when the majority of the entities of the SBC are being led by men associated with the Mohler machine. This is not an idle cry; it is a bold faced fact. This has not simply “just happened” This is the “eight and a half month” reality that could not be hidden any longer.

Now, let’s go back to the initial quesiton, “Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?”

The answer to that quesion sadly is going to be this: it depends on which side of the Calvinist issue one is standing. If it is not a big issue then the answer is going to be “No; it is time to seek unity and let this Calvinist Resurgence continue.” Leaders will lead in that direction. Those who do not follow are the troublemakers.

For those who see Calvinism as an indictment against the character of God because it contends God and God alone decides who does and does not get into heaven and they see it as a faulty philosophical theological system that is every bit as dangerous or even moreso as the liberal faction of the 80’s and 90’s then you can expect their leaders to lead and those who do not follow are the troublemakers.

Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?

Leaders lead.  What kind of qualities do we want our leaders to demonstrate? Do we want unity or division?

The answer sadly depends on which side of the issue one is standing.

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Jake Fowler

Professor Flowers,

Quite frankly, this article breaks my heart. As you’ve stated in your article Calvinists have been a part of the SBC from its founding (and some may argue that the majority of the SBC was Calvinist at its founding). Why is it that now it has suddenly become a big deal? The SBC has been united despite differences on this issue for centuries. Why do you desire to be the catalyst to destroy the bond which God has established? Why can we differ on eschatology and pnuemetology (cessationism/continuationism) with no issue; however, when it comes to the intricacy of soteriology it becomes overwhelming? Its almost if the first president of the SBC, W.B. Johnson, were around today he would have to step down from running because of his particular view of atonement!

All in all, when you say things like “Mohler machine”, “For those who see Calvinism as an indictment against the character of God…”, “[Calvinism] is every bit as dangerous or even moreso as the liberal faction of the 80’s and 90’s”, it is made very clear that you do not desire to promote conversation between the differing views. But, to any reader who may pass by this comment, please know that there are some who desire unity. There are some who see that either side is within biblical orthodoxy and viability. There are some who are more desirous to see what God can do using us together for the sake of His name. I desire that we continue these conversations, yes. But that first and foremost we stop precluding the Biblical viability of the other side and unite with our Southern Baptists forefathers on conservative values, baptist distinctives, and that there is only one name by which anyone can be saved. And his name is not John Calvin or Adrian Rodgers. His name is Jesus Christ.

    Bryan Dawson

    Very well said, Jake. I appreciate your ability to refute Professor Flowers with grace and humility.

Jon Estes

If 80% or more of the people in the pews and pulpits are against (or would be against) Calvinism, learn from the CR. Get the word out of the destruction coming to the beloved SBC. Rally the grassroot people who will rise up and stand against. Vote in presidents who will select like minded people to the ConC who then will nominate like minded people who will eventually have the majority to not be a Calvinistic leaning denomination.

If the SBC is tired of the fight, then raise the white flag. SBCers know how to fight for what they want, even if what they want is not what God would have. Church splits for centuries support that.

I’m of the opinon that a battle will give those pesky Calvinists a larger platform to explain their position and as a result, the people in the pew might be more Calvinistic than Traditionalists want to face.

signed – Pesky

Norm

“Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents? Do we want unity or division?”

I respond with questions of my own:
Do we want a free press?
Will we shoot the messenger because we don’t like the message?
Can we not write substantive rebuttals to such “divisive” editorials?

Do I *want* to read editorials critical of leaders?

No. But do we all *need* to read them?

We must.

And we must be willing to investigate and repudiate before we castigate.

One other question: Will we sacrifice critical information on the altar of comfortable unification?

Like my father before me, I am not willing to have peace at *any* price.

History reveals that peace is costly.

Just ask the Prince of Peace. What a divisive leader he was, and look where it took him.

Jeff

Articles like this are the problem with this website. The loss has been conceded when a website exists solely to antagonize a particular belief, in this case Calvinism. If you want to persuade people, don’t keep defining yourself by what you don’t believe in. The websites attacked on this site (Gospel Coalition, Desiring God etc.) rarely talk about what they don’t believe, and it definitely doesn’t define them.

I grant you it’s much easier to attack a belief system rather than engage in honest interaction. That would entail empathize get with your brothers instead of demonizing (Mohler Machine is demonizing). Curious, though, I wonder how many people writing for this site are grateful for Mohler’s contribution in stopping Southern Baptist Seminary from going even more liberal?

In short, articles like this do nothing but make people who don’t believe in Calvinism more riled up and people who believe in Calvinism find it silly. This is mere politics.

    Rick Patrick

    “The websites attacked on this site (Gospel Coalition, Desiring God etc.) rarely talk about what they don’t believe, and it definitely doesn’t define them.”

    I respectfully disagree. Every time they discuss their alternative view of theodicy, free will, the Sinner’s Prayer, evangelistic altar calls, approach to moral issues, etc., the Calvinists are promoting the kind of reform that would overturn the beliefs and practices of Soteriological Traditionalists.

    For some reason, Calvinists don’t really even recognize they are doing it, but their semper reformanda does indeed attack the beliefs and practices of millions of Southern Baptists.

    As Calvinists promote their views and Traditionalists promote ours, the views themselves are in conflict. I do not view this as primarily an interpersonal conflict. Nor do I view it as discussing one subject, namely Calvinism, with people defending either the PRO or CON position. Rather, I view it as TWO theological systems being debated, namely Calvinism versus Traditionalism.

    I also disaffirm that this is mere politics. There are important differences between the two theological positions. This debate is idealogical and not simply a power struggle.

      Jeff

      Rick,

      There is a massive difference in them promoting their views and SBC Today defining itself by its condemning of Calvinism. There are 312 articles on this site about Calvinism.

      This is why it’s politics. In politics it’s popular to define yourself by your opposition to an opponent, as this site does (312 times). Sites that are attacked rarely do that. If they do, show evidence.

        Rick Patrick

        Jeff,
        You say the articles on our site are attacking Calvinism and the articles on their sites are promoting Calvinism.

        But I say the articles on their sites are attacking Traditionalism and the articles on our site are promoting Traditionalism.

        As Bob Hadley says in the original post, “The answer sadly depends on which side of the issue one is standing.”

          Jeff

          Rick,

          You are confusing categories. The sites I mentioned do not speak very often about view points they don’t believe. Instead, they speak about positions they do believe. Of course that promotes Calvinism and in doing so contradicts traditional theology in some areas. What this site does is speaks a great deal about its disagreement with Calvinism, more so than it actually speaks about what it believes. These are categorically different. If SBC Today wants to be defined by its opposition to Calvinism, that’s fine. It is categorically different from sites that are defined by their affirmation of Calvinism. 2 completely different things.

            Rick Patrick

            I respectfully disagree, sir. I am more than willing to yield that Calvinists possess a semantic advantage whenever the discussion is framed as you do here. However, every time Russell Moore talks about a “gospel” issue, when that term is understood to be defined as Spurgeon does (“Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else”) then Traditionalists, who are not at all confused, will perceive such articles as opposing our position.

            When David Platt or Matt Chandler or John Piper talk about their concerns with the Sinner’s Prayer, we view that as a clear critique of the traditional Southern Baptist evangelism practice which follows directly from our theological understanding.

            Again, I will grant you that Calvinists will not use the terminology of Calvinism when they write. They actually rather avoid the “C” word. But it comes out in their philosophical underpinnings. Traditionalists would fare better if we couched our conversation in more pro-Trad terminology and in less anti-Cal terminology. But with the current use of language in the debate, it is a difficult habit to break. I, for one, will seek to write in ways that promote Traditionalism and its views without making reference to Calvinism, whenever possible.

            I still maintain that the philosophies themselves are in conflict, such that the promotion of one necessarily attacks the other, and vice versa.

David Rogers

Jesus said, “You are either for ME or against ME,” not “you are either for Calvinism or against Calvinism.” I consider myself neither Calvinist nor non-Calvinist in the way they are being portrayed here, and at the same time both Calvinist and non-Calvinist. Not so much, as inferred in the article and podcast, because I am theologically uninformed or indifferent to theology, but because my study of the issues has led me to this position. There are quite a few of us out there. We have come up with the term antinomist to describe ourselves. Others call themselves compatibilists. I believe this article and podcast fail to take into consideration people like us.

    David Rogers

    I imagine most people who share my theological views on this topic will pass this post by and not comment. Why? Because, though, we may have a cursory interest in good theological discussion for the sake of theological discussion, and we are interested in evangelism and evangelistic methods, we are not generally interested in all the polemics. We are happy that there seems to be a good consensus forming among a sizable contingent of SBC leaders who have found a way to move forward on this issue together. But the title about “splitting the convention” draws my interest—and perhaps that of others who share my perspective—because that is precisely what we hope will not happen and we feel does not need to happen. And the fact that it is worded that way and that the topic is treated in such a way as to suggest the inevitabilty of division appears to be divisive in and of itself. I am not suggesting to never ever discuss the theological issues related to Calvinism. But I am suggesting that the way they are framed here is unhelpful and divisive.

      Robert

      David,

      “we are not generally interested in all the polemics.”

      The “polemics” are happening because there is real division between what Traditionalists and Calvinists believe in important areas of soteriology.

      “We are happy that there seems to be a good consensus forming among a sizable contingent of SBC leaders who have found a way to move forward on this issue together.”

      I don’t think that statement is accurate, I don’t see a consensus forming that is moving forward agreeing to disagree on completely different soteriologies. What I see is a small group that developed a plan and strategy to take control of and attempt to calvinize the SBC denomination. They have been very successful but now a backlash has developed, as some have figured out what is going on. Led by those calling themselves “Traditionalists” saying this is wrong because the small Calvinist minority does not represent what the majority of people in the SBC believe in the area of soteriology. Now perhaps my perception is mistaken, but that is how it appears to me.

      “And the fact that it is worded that way and that the topic is treated in such a way as to suggest the inevitabilty of division appears to be divisive in and of itself.”

      There is already division, the question is what will this division lead to?

      It also appears that if the non-Calvinist majority wakes up to what is happening to their denomination, they will strongly resist the calvinizing of their denomination. Sad to say, but it appears this denomination is going to split over Calvinism. This is not surprising however, as if you examine church history, whenever Calvinistic ideas have appeared there has always been division and confusion as a result. So far, the non-Calvinists always “win” and Calvinism goes into the background. We will see if that pattern occurs again with the SBC.

        David Rogers

        So do we need to divide over eschatological views, Trumpers v. neverTrumpers, and all the other issues on which BFM-affirming Southern Baptists have different opinions? My suspicion is that the majority of rank-and-file Southern Baptists prefer the views—and almost certainly the rhetorical style—of the broad center-range of leaders inside the extremes of the more strident voices on both sides of the Calvinism issue. And it seems to be that, as of late, the less strident voices are winning the day. And this is a goid thing.

          David Rogers

          “a good thing,” that is

          Robert

          David,

          “So do we need to divide over eschatological views, Trumpers v. neverTrumpers, and all the other issues on which BFM-affirming Southern Baptists have different opinions?”

          No.

          The common and in my thinking still useful distinction doctrinally speaking is between essential and non-essential doctrines. Eschatological views including millennial views (Premill/Postmill/amill; pre-trib rapture/mid-trib rapture/pre-wrath rapture/post trib rapture, etc.) are non-essentials and so there is room for disagreement among different believers.

          What makes the Calvinist/non-Calvinist debate much more serious and much more dicey is that it involves SOTERIOLOGY (i.e. doctrine of salvation, nature of salvation) views. When it comes to the nature of salvation we are in the area of essential doctrines. This is one of the reasons there is major contention between Catholicism and Protestants on the issue of justification through faith: it is considered a salvation issue, it is within soteriology.

          Now if you want to downplay or minimize doctrinal issues concerning soteriology/salvation that is your choice. But I view that as a big mistake.

            David Rogers

            In practically all areas of doctrine there are primary and secondary issues. For instance, in eschatology, a belief in the literal, bodily retun of the Lord is a bigget deal than whether it occurs after or before the Tribulation, or the Millennium. In the same way, there are aspects of soteriology that are primary—I believe substitutionary atonement, and justification by grace alone through faith alone to be among them—there are other aspects of soteriology upon which the Bible is not so clear and upon which a mistaken view does not lead to eternal damnation. There is a reason why Southern Baptists have historically agreed to disagree on Calvinism. I personally think it is one of the big things we have done right.

              Robert

              David,

              “In practically all areas of doctrine there are primary and secondary issues.”

              True, but we are not talking about “secondary issues” when we are talking about the nature of salvation, God’s plan of salvation, etc.

              “In the same way, there are aspects of soteriology that are primary—I believe substitutionary atonement, and justification by grace alone through faith alone to be among them—there are other aspects of soteriology upon which the Bible is not so clear and upon which a mistaken view does not lead to eternal damnation.”

              So who decides what is “secondary” when it comes to the area of salvation?

              There are also consequences of our ideas on God’s plan of salvation. For instance if I claim, as Calvinists do, that God **reprobates** most of humanity before they ever exist (ensuring their damnation, making sure they are damned, making it impossible for them to be saved) that claim contradicts scripture about God’s intentions regarding salvation and God’s promises regarding salvation (WHOSOEVER BELIEVES becomes vacuous and meaningless if only some can believe, if most are damned to hell by God himself before they are ever born). If I claim that God only loves the elect in a salvific sense, then that will impact my way of evangelizing, how I will present the good news about Jesus (I could not then say forthrightly or without guile that Jesus wants everyone to be saved). So these Calvinistic beliefs are not only wrong and unbiblical they will have real world consequences and results when you attempt to live them out.

              If you are wrong on your eschatological beliefs, that is not going to impact your gospel presentation, your evangelism very much, etc. But if you are wrong on your soteriological beliefs then everything important is going to be messed up. It will also impact your view on baptism (the Reformed historically have rejected believer baptism and practiced and espoused infant baptism instead) ecclesiology (how does a person become a member? By being elect or by a faith profession and baptism?) your view of saving faith (is it something irresistibly given to the elect or is it something that every person is responsible to have, so they are responsible for their faith or unbelief), your view of personal responsibility (does the person repent and believe or are they made to repent and believe by regeneration?) and also your views on the problem of evil (is all sin and evil predestined by God or is sin and evil the responsibility of people). Defective views on evil have major consequences when counseling believers who are suffering.

              Having defective views on the plan of salvation will also greatly impact how God’s character is presented. Does He really love all or only a small preselected group? If He reprobates people as Calvinists believe then He hates most of the human race and intentionally does the worst possible thing to human persons (i.e. sets them up so they must be unbelievers so they must be damned from eternity and it is impossible for them to be saved.)

              The claims of Calvinism lead to some head on collisions with the claims of scripture. E.g. Scripture says that Jesus died for the WHOLE WORLD. Calvinists who hold to limited atonement say that Jesus died only for the elect. Scripture says that God desires that all be saved: Calvinism says God desires to save only the elect. These are not “secondary issues” they are major issues and involve the doctrine of salvation.

                Jeff

                There are huge impacts eschatological views have on our gospel presentations. Do we believe the world as a whole is getting better, that Christ is slowly making the world a better place until He returns to rule forever, or is the world getting worse until His return. The view we have impacts how we view the world, society, and evangelism.
                As far as soteriology, we can differ but still be part of the body. Everyone who believes in a faithful reading of scripture believes God chooses who will be saved (Romans 8:29). Everyone also believes man must act and choose God (John 3:16.). The question is which causes which. Though it’s a big deal, it is on the same level as views on eschatology, that’s just not a debate that people are as interested in.
                There is also a debate about the relationship of the Trinity. We can disagree here and still be considered part of the faith.

                To summarize: 3 issues critical to the faith; salvation, and Christ’s return. We can disagree with certain aspects and it’s ok.

                  Jim Poulos

                  The critical issues of the reasons, and this is critical, for 1,2, & 3 John which all three projected out from the John’s Gospel was not about salvation issues and was not about eschatological issues.

                  The main issue (and I’m going to state it here because of the criticalness of it) was Who Christ was.

                  Who exactly ‘Who He was’ was what was tearing that 1st century Church apart the epistles were written to. And tha Church that did not survive because that didn’t embrace their lives around this critical issue even with those epistles.

                  Who ‘He was’ was that He was one with God and one with Man. The Jewish believers down played His unity with God, the gentiles believers downplayed His unity with man.

                  Now that is an issue critical to the faith.

                  Jim Poulos

                  The critical issues of the reasons, and this is critical, for 1,2, & 3 John which all three projected out from the John’s Gospel was not about salvation issues and was not about eschatological issues.

                  The main issue (and I’m going to state it here because of the criticalness of it) was Who Christ was/is.

                  Who exactly ‘Who He was’ was what was tearing that 1st century Church apart that those epistles were written to. And that Church did not survive because they didn’t embrace their lives around this critical issue even with those epistles given to them.

                  Who ‘He was’ was that He was one with God and one with Man. The Jewish believers down played His unity with God, the gentiles believers downplayed His unity with man.

                  Now that is an issue critical to the faith.

                  A little better edited: sorry

      doug sayers

      I hear you David and appreciate your attempts to keep the peace but your position will, by default, fall into the larger group of non Calvinists, unless you agree that the eternal destiny of every human soul is irresistibly predetermined by God, alone, before anyone is born.

      Among those who believe in grace there are two teams. Those who teach salvation by grace and those who teach salvation by irresistible grace.

      I’m guessing that an antinomist does not teach that God punishes people in Hell for unpreventable sins and irresistible unbelief.

        David Rogers

        My point, precisely, is that there not just two “teams” on these issues. My answer to your questions is, it all depends on which side of eternity you are viewing them from. It is this type of binary thinking—on a vast array of issues—I believe, that is responsible for a good deal of unnecessary conflict in our world.

          doug sayers

          One has to wonder which other side of eternity you can view things from, David. And how from there it is just to punish folks for that which they have no control?

          We tell all men everywhere to repent because they can.

            David Rogers

            Doug,

            This probably not the best setting for discussing the specifics of the antinomist perspective. Both I and Dave Miller have some posts dealing with it in the archives at SBC Voices. But it is precisely because on the surface it appears contradictory that it is called antinomy. My dad—though I’m not suggesting he dotted every i and crossed every t just like me on this—used to say something similar: The door to heaven has two sides—one that says “whosoever will,” and another that says “chosen from the foundation of the world” (or something to that extent; not an exact quote).

              Robert

              David,

              “This probably not the best setting for discussing the specifics of the antinomist perspective”

              Well you have brought it up, so why don’t you briefly elaborate on the “antinomist perspective”?

                    Robert

                    David,

                    We need to limit our theology to what the Bible in fact reveals, not what we would like for it to be saying, or what we wish it revealed. For example your claim that there are two different realms (England and Narnia to use your terminology) coexisting is acceptable because it is in fact revealed by scripture (recall the incident where it was revealed to the prophet Elisha that there were a lot of angels present that he did not see at first according to the naked eye/the England perspective, cf. 2 Kings 6:8-23).

                    David attempting to be conciliatory you also claim that Calvinism and non-Calvinism are both simultaneously taught by scripture. I believe this claim is false.

                    It is true that scripture can be interpreted to fit with the Calvinist system, but scripture itself does not affirm uniquely Calvinistic beliefs. This is an important distinction to keep in mind.

                    Bible believing Christians would all affirm Calvinism if there were explicit verses presenting it (just as they all affirm the trinity and the nature of Jesus because there are verses presenting these beliefs). Just as we can all open up the Bible and point to verses where it says there is only one God, that the Father, Son, and Spirit are God, that Jesus came in the flesh, that He was God and was man. I can do this with a Catholic, an Eastern Orthodox believer or a Protestant with little difficulty.

                    With Calvinism on the other hand you cannot point to explicit verses affirming some of the system’s unique beliefs.

                    Some examples. Start with the sine qua non of the system, unconditional election. Can we point to any verses that discuss God in eternity choosing an individual for salvation or choosing a person to be passed over for salvation ***via a decree**? No, there are no such verses. Not having such verses the Calvinist will usually go to Romans 9 and interpret certain verses as presenting unconditional election (i.e. proof texting). But when these verses are examined according to the context of Romans 9 (which is dealing with the problem of Jewish unbelief in the first century, not God’s election of persons to salvation in eternity) they present that God is sovereign, that He makes choices, but it does not speak of His choices in eternity, does not talk about decrees, etc. The choices referred to in Romans 9 are all choices MADE IN HISTORY, not choices made in eternity.

                    Example – the system says that Jesus died only for the elect (but there is no Bible verse that says that Jesus died ONLY for the elect, they extrapolate from verses such as Him dying for His sheep to the conclusion that He only died for the sheep, but this is an extrapolation it is not scripture. Claiming that Jesus died for a group (say the church or His sheep) is not the same as saying he died only for the church, or only for the sheep.

                    Example -Calvinists claim that the grace of God in salvation is irresistible for the elect and yet no verses say that, and the available verses actually explicitly state that God’s grace can be resisted. Calvinists speak of this doctrine of irresistible grace yet there are not Bible verses presenting this belief.

                    Bible believing Christians would all affirm Calvinism if there were explicit verses presenting uniquely Calvinistic beliefs such as double predestination, limited atonement, and irresistible grace. But there are not, instead there are inferences from certain scriptures in line with Calvinistic beliefs (again the use of Romans 9 by Calvinists being the best example of how scripture is INTERPRETED from a Calvinistic framework to fit the Calvinist theology).

                    Inferences in support of the system or interpretations that fit the system are not at all like the Bible explicitly presenting these beliefs.

                    If Calvinism were explicitly presented by scripture then you could point to the verses and all Bible believing Christians would agree that that is what the scriptures present (as they do when you point out the verses presenting the trinity or nature of Jesus).

                    Historically Calvinism has never been affirmed by the majority of Christians in fact it is rejected by the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and by most Protestants (including most Baptists). If you examine church history there is no evidence of Calvinist beliefs being present, defended, promoted, taught, or even debated for the first four centuries. Only with Augustine in the fourth century do you first see any semblance of Calvinist beliefs in church history.

                  Robert

                  David,

                  Thanks for the links. My response is the same as Braxton Hunter’s which I will partly quote (Jim G. and Jonathan Pritchett also made the exact kind of responses I would make to your suggested theology)

                  Braxton wrote:
                  “Nevertheless, I am greatly troubled by the recent affirmation in Miller’s article (and now this one) that believers must just affirm contradictions. . . .. Yet, there is nothing contradictory in scripture nor can there be. The examples given all fail. The trinity is mysterious but not contradictory. The same is true of the dual nature of Christ. And there is certainly nothing contradictory about the existence of heaven and the existence of this present earthly world. . . . . . because we cannot, must not and should not ever affirm contradictions.”

                  We should never be affirming CONTRADICTIONS.

                  Any theology that affirms contradictions is necessarily wrong.

                  Braxton is absolutely correct, there is nothing contradictory in scripture nor can there be (because to affirm contradiction is to affirm error).

                  He is also correct that your examples of “apparent contradiction” (Jesus’ nature and the trinity) are not contradictory, but better viewed as mystery (as Jim G. stated it nicely “The Trinity and the incarnation are neither contradictory nor paradoxical. They are mysterious.”)

                  Affirming that there is only one God who exists in three persons is not contradictory because the categories of being (one) and person (three) are distinctly different categories. This is why logicians will add the phrase “in the same sense”. Contradictions occur when there are two contraries “in the same sense”. So for the trinity if you claimed there is one God and many Gods at the same time and in the same sense that would be a contradiction. As would the claim there is one person and three persons at the same time and in the same sense.

                  The same with Jesus, affirming that he is both God and man is affirming two categories are true of him, divine and human. I have dealt with cults who try to claim these are contradictions to support their false views. But Christians across all theological traditions (including Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant) have viewed these realities (the trinity, Jesus being both God and man) as mysteries not contradictions.

                  Trying to justify the affirmation of contradictions within Christian theology is an inherently flawed exercise as most Christian theologian and philosophers have attested. Occasionally a well-meaning person such as yourself and your friend comes along trying to make things easier by affirming two contradictory theologies (e.g. those who call themselves “Calminians”). But those who make this attempt do not sufficiently take the nature of contradiction enough nor do they recognize the actual contradictions that are present. In conjunction with trying to mix the unmixable, they will also claim that both theologies or positions are presented in scripture. This is also a mistake because it is not the case that both are presented in scripture but the case that one is presented in scripture and the other is read into scripture/or scripture is interpreted in such a way as to align with the preferred theology. I will say more about this in a separate post.

              doug sayers

              David, you are right about that; and I don’t mean to be a smart something or other. I will look at the posts. I like Dave Miller and I think your Dad was right; the two assertions are not contradictory. In spite of the fall, we each have been given the power of contrary choice regarding the Truth; believers, as a whole, are predestined to be in heaven. (Likewise, unbelievers, as a whole, are predestined to wrath.) But the crucial distinction is that the Bible does not teach, explicitly or by necessary inference, that any individual was irresistibly predestined to be a believer (or unbeliever). This is a mega inference that lies at the heart of the Calvinistic error.

              But even this is side stepping my challenge to any Calvinist sympathizer to show from Scripture, or by necessary reason, (as M Luther would say) how it is just to eternally punish someone for that which they did not do (Adams sin) or that which they had no control?

              I hope you will understand my persistence here. This is not a nice thing to say about God.

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                I strongly recommend Doug Sayers book “Chosen or Not” to seminary students and layman alike. It is theology as it was intended to be.

                Preach!

                David Rogers

                Doug,

                While I imagine other antinomists have thought more deeply about this particular question, my surface answer is eternal punishment, predestination, and prescience are all considered, from an earthly perspective, through the lens of chronology. But if you take time out of the picture—something we can only talk about and imagine in theory—it changes everything. Relationships that are normally viewed from a perspective of cause-effect must no longer be viewed the same way. Exactly how this works, I cannot say. His ways are higher than ours. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wrap my mind around it. But since Scripture appears to teach both perspectives, I choose to believe both simultaneously. Another way I have described my own belief system that may (or may not) be helpful is I am simultaneously a 4 1/2 point Calvinist and a 3 1/2 point non-Calvinist. The one point on which I am totally Calvinist and not at all non-Calvinist is perseverance of the saints. The point on which I am half and half is limited atonement, which may be looked at from both an actual and potential perspective. On the other 3 1/2 points, it all depends on from which side of eternity/time you consider them.

doug sayers

Thanks Leighton. You, Ronnie, and I are living proof that the flaws in the Calvinistic teaching of irresistible salvation and irresistible damnation can be successfully exposed and overcome. We managed to wriggle free from Calvin’s irresistible grip in spite of many respected contemporary leaders in and out of the SBC. The success of Dr’s Mohler, Sproul, Keller, Piper, MacArthur, etc is not merely their alignment with the 5 points. God has honored their commitment to His Scripture and His sovereignty. For this we should be glad.

A few thoughts on all this:

I suggest patience. All lies (including doctrinal errors) have an expiration date. This will be true of the erroneous inferences within the Calvinistic system.

John E makes a fair point. It is better to win this with sound and civil exegesis than ecclesiastical whining and threats. If we want to protect the average believer (who will never read volumes of theology) from the Reformed mis-represention of God and the nature of faith then we must do it in a language they will understand.

It is most helpful to just keep hammering away at the basics. Their system presents the LORD as a God who holds people eternally accountable for unpreventable sins and irresistible unbelief. (If you think that is righteous then you will make a fine Calvinist.)

They believe that true repentance is irresistible.
They believe that saving faith is irresistible.
They believe being born again is irresistible.
They believe that eternal damnation in Hell is utterly irresistible for those who are not born elect.
They believe that Jesus did not die as the propitiation for every sinner in the world.

(All this with no explicit texts as proof.)

A real Calvinist would be obliged to think that it would be just for a father to promise to care for his newborn daughter if she requests his help… in writing; this is essentially what God would be doing to the reprobate, in their system.

An honest Calvinist will not refute these.

    Robert

    Doug,

    I agree with most of what you share in your post. However one statement of yours is false:

    “I suggest patience. All lies (including doctrinal errors) have an expiration date. This will be true of the erroneous inferences within the Calvinistic system.”

    My early Christian experience was in counter cult ministry with Walter Martin. So I am extremely familiar with false theologies, beliefs, and their history within church history. False ideas do not go away, instead they are recycled in new ways by later people. The Arian heresy was current in the first centuries of the church. It was fought against but it never went away, it came back in its modern incantation as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The false idea that we could become gods was first present in the Garden of Eden, its modern incantations include the new age movement and the Mormons (who are flourishing very well these days). Calvinistic ideas were first present in the time of Augustine and have reappeared at different times in church history since then with the modern incantation being the Calvinist resurgence of today.

    One of my theology professors in seminary put it humorously but accurately this way: “the new errors and heresies are just the old errors and heresies in space suits” (i.e. the same false ideas get recycled throughout church history, their modern version is in “space suits”). This is why studying church history is helpful as you can see how these modern false ideas came up before and how the church dealt with it before.

    For example the Catholics had a controversy regarding Calvinistic ideas. They split on it, debated it, dealt with it, and the non-Calvinists won the debate and Calvinistic ideas receded into the background in Catholicism. How many folks here have ever studied this part of Catholic history? You can learn a lot about how to deal with false ideas today by seeing how others dealt with these same false ideas in the past.

      doug sayers

      No doubt, Robert. Some lies and errors may have a long shelf life under the sun but the Final Judgment Day will be their expiration date.

    Josh

    We can all present the other side’s view in a certain way so that people in the crowd will disagree with them. But the fact remains that the views have been laid out, each by its own side, and the cals have/had been gaining momentum. The key thing the yrads have yo givure out is why and how to counter.

      Norm

      Josh: I let Calvin himself define Calvin. I have read significant portions of his Institutes. I therefore reject Calvin by hiw own hand and not by the definition of anyone else, be they a Clvinist or not.
      Mosr evregious and repugnant to me is Calvin’s baseless assertion that God sends people to hell “for his good pleasure.”
      Additionally, Calvin’s murder of Servetus also disqualifies him to instruct anyone a out theology. Calvin murdered Servetus. He deserves no more time or consideration from me.
      Contrariwise, I also have drawn my theology by exegetical methodology and not from the commentaries of anyone else. A believer with a Berean conviction will ultimately find Calvin’s assertions to be fallacious. The Holy Spirit will ensure that happens.

        Josh

        Well im glad you did your research on calvinism. You dont have to believe it and you have shown more due diligence than most people. I bmay be wrong but I believe you have your histort wrong and you have simplified. I believe it was the council of Geneva who executed servetus. The council was no friend of calvin at that time either. Yes, calvin did believe he should be executed and was instrumental in arguing at that at the trial. But no, he did not decide it. And that is how it was done at that time. They executed heretics. Right or wrong. That was the times and I dont think we can judge people too harshly for living in their times. If we arent careful, we could disqualify abraham, isaac, jacob, and. David. ….

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          For Christian belief and dealing with heretical teaching. This was during the Church age for Heaven sake, with The Spirit given and the canon complete.

          Not!

          Preach!

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            John Calvin shouldn’t be included in the same paragraph with Abraham, Isaac or David. He and others are responsible for one of the greatest distraction in all of true Christianity.

            Preach!

              Josh

              It wasnt a positive comparison. I was just pointing out that if we look at history the way some people do we can disqualify some great men. Not that Calvin was greater than Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. I think we in the 21st century tend to view history with chronological snobbery. The world does it and it seems to me like Christians can be caught up in it as well.

              Jeff

              John Calvin is not responsible for Calvinism. See Synod of Dort.

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                “Others” as stated sure was and he will be remembered as John Calvin and others.

                Preach!

          norm

          The Internet is replete with documented statements such as these from Calvin’s own pen: “If he [Servetus] comes [to Geneva], I shall never let him go out alive if my authority has weight.”
          “I hope that the verdict will call for the death penalty.”
          “Let Baudouin abuse me as long as he will, provided that, by the judgment of Melanchthon, posterity owes me a debt of gratitude for having purged the Church of so pernicious a monster.”
          “Honour, glory, and riches shall be the reward of your pains; but above all, do not fail to rid the country of those scoundrels [Anabaptists and others], who stir up the peoples to revolt against us. Such monsters should be exterminated, as I have exterminated Michael Servetus the Spaniard.”

          “They executed heretics. Right or wrong.”
          So, you are ambivalent regarding murder? May I point you to the Decalog? Make a decision, Josh, was it right or wrong? And I would encourage you not to appeal to the “times” in that day. Executing heretics was legal, but not moral, you know, kinda like abortion is legal in our day. That is a terribly weak argument since God condemns murder. Further, to excuse Calvin for murdering Servetus says that either the Holy Spirit was also ambivalent to murder, or perhaps Calvin was not in tune with God. Suppose you had a daughter who came to you and said she was pregnant but got an abortion, and her reasoning was that it was legal. Would you defend her actions of promiscuity and abortive murder as sinless because such were practices of our times? Or say you had a son who confessed his homosexuality to you. Would you defend his behavior — one God condemns — because homosexuality is just a reflection of our times?

          Happy theologizing!

            Josh

            1. Calvin didnt murder servetus. It was the law and he had nothing to do with making the law.
            2. There was no separation of church and state. Heresy was a capital offense.
            3.Abortion is a false equivalency. Killing babies has never been right. Killing heretics was practiced in the OT age
            4. You dont have to like calvin. His theology is derived (mostly) from the Bible and has been corroborated and argued by many people.

        Josh

        Norm,
        Furthermore, is God not holy and justice? Does He not delight in His justice? Does He despise doing justice? And baseless assertion? I am not sure if there are many scholars that would agree that it is a baseless assertion. It is driven out of a desire to be faithful with the text, just as I assume many others in your theological camp do.
        I am glad you are enjoy studying and would say that you probably are not as influence free as you seem to imply. Conversations, your culture, your pastors, your teachers, music, etc shape how we see the world and can shape how we read Scripture. Everybody has a bias when they go to Scripture and it is hard to get rid of. However, if you did manage to shed all of that, I believe it to be dangerous and possibly arrogant to not want others input. We stand on the shoulders of those that went before us, And people like Wesley and Edwards, and Calvin, and Augustine, and Rogers, and MacArthur etc help us. The Holy Spirit will help guide us but it is not a guarantee that we will get it right. Will you say that George Mueller and Edwards did not have a Berean conviction? Or MacArthur, or Whitefield, or William Carey, Lottie Moon (i think)?

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Your point was clearly stated and I didn’t insinuate you implied that Calvin was greater than the three.

          My point was my take, not on history, but rather of “one” along with his followers who’s responsible for the one of the greatest distraction in the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

          How much time has been spent, which is the equivalent of life, disputing texual inaccuracies?

          How much ink spilled refuting the error of Calvinism and it’s affect in local New Testament churches.

          That was and is my point.

          I accept yours as it was presented.

          Preach!

            Josh

            You can find my response below. For aome reason it didnt attach it to your comment

          norm

          You stray from the point, Josh, by asking rhetorical questions about God and judgment. I cited Calvin’s own hand about God sending people to hell for His good pleasure. Calvin said it pleases God to do that. So, my citing Calvin’s error in no way changes my view of God’s judgments and His holy right to make them.
          Calvin’s “baseless assertion” is made so by God’s two assertions in Ezekiel, where He states he takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked.
          You are most adept at putting words in others’ mouths and at trying to define an argument that they are not making, as you attempted to do to me.
          You have every right to your opinions, but I don’t intend to waste my time engaging someone who is more interested in debate tactics than finding the truth.

            Josh

            Thanks for your interaction. How woyld you handle the following verses?
            Ez 5:17
            Prov 1:25-26
            Rev 18:20
            Deut 28:63
            Ps 136:6
            Also, God does everything for His own glory. Does He take delight in bringing glory to Himself? I think we must have an answer that takes the full counsel of Scripture and that the answer has to be yes and no. The emotiona of God are complicated.
            And I was trying to ask does God delight in doing justice? Which He is just. You would say He would have to take no pleasure in administering justice, which He does because it He is just. Can He hate something in every way that He does because of who He is?

        Josh

        I have another post waiting in moderation. But i willl add… you do know that Calvin is not the only one who believes those things right? You can hate him and believe he is disaqualified and still be a Calvinist. It’s just a label. Lots of people have written about the theology. You can reject Calvin for persoanl disaualification but really like Jonathan Edwards for instance.

Jonathan Jenkins

I find this author’s condescension about the people of the pews of the SBC to be misplaced and borderline sinful. To say that, ” 80% plus of the people in the pew in the SBC have no idea how to even spell Calvinism much less understand what it teaches,” is arrogant. I can say for my people at the church I pastor, that they are in fact well aware of how to spell and interact with theological systems no matter their names. Maybe this author needs to come off his high horse with his anecdotal and disrespectful declaration of ignorance of people he’s never met and focus on making a proactive presentation of his position instead of writing as to why his position has won more support yet.

David R. Brumbelow

A man elected as president of the SBC cannot possibly know two or more people in every state convention in the SBC to appoint to committees, especially the Committee on Committees (or is it Committee on Boards) that then nominates the committee that nominates the all important trustees of our entities.

He appoints those he does know.

Then, and this is crucial, someone or some group quietly tells him, if you would like, we can complete the names of those you need to appoint. He wipes the sweat of concern off his brow and much relieved will say, thanks for your help.
To a large extent, that unnamed person or group are the ones who ultimately control the convention.

Yes, this happened in the Conservative Resurgence. Conservatives were happy to name to the conservative president solid conservatives that could be appointed from any and all state conventions.
This also happened in a more “moderate to liberal” direction in the years before the Conservative Resurgence.

This is also how the SBC can be quietly, behind the scenes, moved in a more, or less, Calvinist direction. The appointees do not necessarily have to agree with you on every point, as long as they lean in your direction.

The wise here, should take heed.

http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2009/08/brief-history-of-sbc-conservative.html

David R. Brumbelow

Donald Morgan

Well stated Mr. Flowers. And yes, if the situation continues as it currently is, with the SBC leadership, Lifeway, and at least 2 seminaries pumping out Reformed Pastors, the denomination will split. That may not be a bad thing. It certainly will be in the Baptist tradition. In my humble opinion, the SBC may have outlived its usefulness and become a political bureaucracy anyway. Autonomy at the local level is not what it once was. Perhaps state conventions would be a better fit in as much as being much closer to the individual churches. And our entities could be supported just as they are now with, perhaps, a greater say in the operations than we see now.

    Josh

    I attend MBTS and I believe it is one of two seminaries you say are pumping out Reformed pastors. That may be true, but many of the professors are not Reformed so it’s not due to what they are being taught in class. I am more than half way through my MDiv and in one class only had a reformed interpretation been taught. Dr. Allen must be doing something right. Just look at the increase in enrollment.

      Josh

      It looks like to me that Trads are losing ground in the SBC. To blame it only on those teaching their theology is wrong. Ultimately the hearer has to decide if what we are hearing is true. We are trained in church (hopefully) and in seminary to interact with different theologies and decide what is true or not. That is what is happening right now. The younger generations are rejecting the Trad theology they grew up with. They have heard trad theology and have seen it and they are walking away from it.

        Rick Patrick

        Josh,

        If I were a betting man (which I’m not) I would guess that Donald had SBTS and SEBTS in mind. I agree with you that MBTS is not that far behind the other two in its promotion of Calvinism, despite all of the public protestations of leadership to the contrary.

        I can see why, from your perspective, the Trads are losing ground in the SBC. Over the past decade (prior to the falls of Darrin Patrick, Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney and Tullian Tchividjian) it was certainly true that Calvinism was all the rage. But now, I rather suspect that the pendulum is beginning to swing back.

        Former Calvinists like Leighton Flowers, Doug Sayers and Ronnie Rogers are just three examples of those converting away from Calvinism and back toward Traditionalism. I think we will actually see more people following their lead in the days ahead.

        In other words, the counter-movement of Traditionalism is growing. We had 100 people at the Connect 316 Banquet in Baltimore, 200 in Columbus and 300 in St. Louis. Granted, these numbers are still small, but the trend is significant. Only time will tell.

          Josh

          Dr. Patrick,
          I post date peak driscoll and from what I read it does seem like he was very influential. But I think you over estimate the influence if darrin Patrick and mahaney to the younger crowd. Ive heard far less conversation about them then piper, sproup, macaurthur, chandler and the dead historical guys. And tullian I think lost influence pre-fall with the sanctification argument. (I think one thing that the cals have going for it is that john owen and the priests and edwards cant do anything now to disappoint.)
          And yes, you have those guys that have moved from cal to trad but countless more have moved from trad to cal.
          As for the growth in your numbers I think that is to be expected as your brand becomes more known and the cal debate becomes more prominent. After all, synergism represents 70to 80% of sbc pastors. But as sebts and sbts, and even mbts to an extent continue to crank out cals, that number in the puppet and the pew will go down. Also, I suspect, as you do I think, that cals sre the biggest side church planting

          Josh

          Rick,
          We are from different regions of the country than I am and I am curious about the differences. In KC it is a battle between the reformed churches and the attractional church. The more trad sbc church is a distant 3rd. I suspect the south is different. Is that true?

        Josh

        It seems to me that to start winning back the younger generation the trads need to address those points. It isnt about how many seminary prez’s one has or who gets to speak at SBC conferences. We already know those Cal’s. And I dont buy the people in the pew believe x argument. If we polled them and taught everything they believed we would probably have to teach some blatant heresies. (Im not saying everybody, just saying many). Do you think most people have a robust view of the Trinity or can properly handle eschatology? Shoot, I dont have a great understanding and I love reading theology. Just my two cents.

          Rick Patrick

          I’m not saying that we allow those who are theologically less educated to do the teaching instead of those who are theologically better educated. However, I do believe that Southern Baptists in the pews have a right to dictate that we distance ourselves from Presbyterian doctrines such as the baptismal mode of aspersion, or sprinkling. Lay people have every right to say, “Every Southern Baptist Church should require that all of its members be baptized by the mode of immersion. If a church knowingly admits as members those who have never been scripturally baptized, as defined in The Baptist Faith and Message, then that church is not truly a Southern Baptist Church.” (This would define Matt Chandler’s church, for example, outside of the parameters of Southern Baptist life.)

          The lay people of our convention have a fiduciary responsibility to propagate Southern Baptist doctrine rather than doctrine that stems from those outside of Southern Baptist life. That’s just one example of an area where the people have the right to expect our doctrine to conform to the BFM2K.

            Josh

            Dr. Patrick,

            Thanks for clarifying. I agree with you somewhat. I agree that as Baptists we can all be against infant baptism. And we should be able to agree and put stipulations on what we fund. Baptist History is not my best subject but isnt the sbc a loose affiliation of church come together for missions. Making all sbc churches fall under bf&m 2000 sounds creedal to me and I didn’t think we were creedal. Dont get me wrong, I think I fall somewhere between presb. And bapists on this one personally, but I thought sbc was specifically not creedal. If we were, was everybody made to agree with the first london confession? (Also, I love chandler and DISAGREe with him on that one)

      Josh

      I think they are walking away because:
      1.-Calvinism as presented appears more doctrinal and theologically oriented than what their trad church has presented
      2. Calvinism rings truer to some doctrinally minded young people especially in discussions on depravity and sovereignty of God
      3. Hermeneutics: trad churches tend to have more of a historical grammatical herm that comes off as moralistic. Calvinist go for more of a redemptive historical herm and that is attractive to many

      Josh

      4. Many trad churches that the younger generation grew up in seem somewhat legalistic and interpret some passages by tradition
      5. The seeker sensitive side of syngerism is largely being rejected my mill, they need something much deeper
      6.the most popular calvinist books are deeper than the most popular synergistic books

Ken

Leighton:

You wrote, “Calvinism is a real issue. It is a real issue for both sides. It is not going away. It is an issue for those seeking to move the SBC in that direction. It is not going away when the majority of the entities of the SBC are being led by men associated with the Mohler machine. . . . This is not an idle cry; it is a bold faced fact. This has not simply “just happened” This is the “eight and a half month” reality that could not be hidden any longer. . . For those who see Calvinism as an indictment against the character of God because it contends God and God alone decides who does and does not get into heaven and they see it as a faulty philosophical theological system that is every bit as dangerous or even more so as the liberal faction of the 80’s and 90’s then you can expect their leaders to lead and those who do not follow are the troublemakers.”

Truer words were never spoken. I count myself among the group that sees Calvanism as an indictment against the character of God and a faulty theological system.

Unfortunately I also have concluded that because of a combination of political correctness and indifference (probably also an ignorance of the Calvinist movement) among SBC membership and most pre-Calvinistic leadership for about 20 years and the cowardice of the present non-Calvinist leadership, the die has been cast and a Traditionalist – believing SBC has been usurped by the Calvinists and is forever lost. Unless God directly intervenes, those who can foresee future peace between Calvinists and Traditionalists(with God everything is possible) are just fantasizing. I can’t see the day a bible believing traditionalist will ever adopt Calvinist theology as truth. Conversely, unlike self thinkers like yourself, most Calvinists will never change their beliefs.

For that reason I no longer consider myself a Southern Baptist after nearly 65 years as a member and I am convinced that the only recourse is for the Traditionalists in the SBC to leave it and form their own “Traditional Baptist Convention.”

Radical? Yes, Necessary? Yes.

I do see one slightly possible salvation, namely: if a man in the mold of Adrian Rogers(such as you, Rick Patrick, or Bob Hadley) (oh, how I wish that John Hagy were a Southern Baptist, he is more outspoken about the evils of Calvinism than any Baptist preacher I have heard) would volunteer to assume leadership of a movement to take the case to the entire SBC membership about the dangers of Calvinism, it may be possible to educate church memberships, resulting in corrective actions to refute the Calvinist agenda.

I say it is only slightly possible since I have been sounding the alarm in my own SBC church for years but I am a lone wolf crying in the wilderness. Unfortunately, our pastor and several deacons are Calvinists, although closet Calvinists.That is why I renounced my membership in the SBC.

Please pray with me in asking God to raise up a man who will take a leadership in warning SBCers to rally behind an “Onward Christian Soldiers” movement.

    David Rogers

    Ken,

    While it is difficult to know for sure how those who are gone and departed may have responded to this issue or that issue, I feel I have, perhaps, as good of a feel for what my dad would have done, with respect to many issues, as anyone. And I do not think he would have been in favor of leaving the SBC to form a Traditional Baptist Convention. So if a group of you ever do decide to do that, I would appreciate it if you look for another symbolic figurehead.

      Rick Patrick

      David,

      For my part, I do not envision a group of Traditionalists ever leaving the SBC. I certainly plan to die a Southern Baptist. I want to remain within the SBC and work to bring about a more soteriologically balanced leadership team proportionally reflecting the convictions embraced by Southern Baptist church members.

      While we do often speak of the “Hobbs-Rogers” tradition, we should probably go back even further and refer to it as the “Mullins-Hobbs-Rogers” tradition. We invoke your father’s name in honor because he joins these other two Baptists as the primary confessors of The Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, 1963 and 2000, respectively. I completely concur with you that your father would want us to remain Southern Baptists.

        David Rogers

        Rick,

        I appreciate that personal word of clarification and do not object to what you have stated here—though you and I no doubt have a few differences of perspective on related issues.

        Ken

        Rick Patrick:

        You wrote to David Rogers, “For my part, I do not envision a group of Traditionalists ever leaving the SBC. I certainly plan to die a Southern Baptist. I want to remain within the SBC and work to bring about a more soteriologically balanced leadership team proportionally reflecting the convictions embraced by Southern Baptist church members.”

        I know your goal and your hopes but I have difficulty accepting your hopes that your methods will ever produce the results you envision. IMO a few books, a few sermons, a few speeches, a few blog posts will not cut the mustard. There must be a program developed to reach the people in the pews with the warning of the evils of Calvinism.

        As for your claim that a group of people will not abandon the SBC, allow me to provide you with some SBC historical statistics which lead me to believe that your assessment may not turn out to be the case and show that there has already been a substantial number leaving the SBC over the last 10 years. I’ll add that I realize that statistics, especially historical ones, can be fraught with many dangers, so you must take them with a grain of salt,

        However, consider the fact that SBC membership declined from 16,000,000 in 2005 to 15,294,760 in 2015. Numerically those are not staggering numbers, but they do represent a 7.8% decline after many, many consecutive years of growth. That is in spite of the fact that a great push has been ongoing to add many ethnic groups who usually have no real theological or financial ties with SBC life, but only expectations for monetary assistance.

        Also, it is estimated that only about 50% of SBC church members attend a church worship service in any given week. That statistic jells pretty well with the experience of our small church, which has a membership of 256 and an average Sunday School attendance of approximately 140, or 55% of church membership (worship service attendance is not recorded). Again, that may be comparing apples and oranges but I think it puts growth vs. decline in perspective.

        Consider also the recent report by one SBC leader which states “by 2030, ½ of all SBC churches will close their doors, and 70% of all SBC churches are declining or plateaued.” Once again I realize that that doesn’t necessarily mean that the convention will lose all those members, some may just transfer to another SB church, but I think that it is safe to assume that there will be no SB alternative for some of them and will result in loss of SBC membership. It is also true that the number of baptisms has fallen dramatically.

        I believe those facts indicate that there have been “groups,” not necessarily concentrated groups but convention wide groups, leaving the SBC for the last ten years. And, as the dissatisfaction with Calvinism theology grows, there could be a sizable exodus.

        You also wrote to David: “I completely concur with you that your father would want us to remain Southern Baptists.”

        As I explained to David, in my original statement which resulted in a red flag being raised by you and David, which I have read many times over since your objection, namely, “if a man in the mold of Adrian Rogers (such as you, Rick Patrick, or Bob Hadley”), I had no intention of implying and not a grain of evidence to conclude that I was suggesting what David’s dad would do about the current SBC problem if he were alive. I will add to you that I cannot in even my wildest imaginations read into that statement that Adrian would have seceded from the SBC if he were alive today or that his name would be used for any reason in a movement to secede. David graciously acknowledged, following my explanation, that he now understood my intention.

        Now, you admonished me for being guilty of misstatements. Based on the facts I just presented, don’t you think that this is a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black?

        Finally, having said all that, let me say something that should probably make your day. This latest episode has caused me to conclude that for some reason I have a problem conveying my ideas in a manner that they can be universally understood by some on this blog. I always thought I had a reasonable command of the English language and grammar but, apparently, I was wrong. So, hopefully this will be my last post to this blog. No guarantees – just that I will try to adhere to that policy.

        I want to wish you good luck with your attempts to at least bring a modicum of fairness into the SBC. Your efforts are better than no efforts.

          Rick Patrick

          Ken,
          I appreciate your remarks and participation here. Thanks for sharing your views. You may very well be right about the splintering of the SBC someday.
          Blessings,
          Rick

        Mr. Torchy

        Brandishing the name of E.Y. Mullins as a figure-head for the “Trad” movement is misleading at best. Trads, like Cals, have rallied around the stack-pole of a poorly written 2000BFM which completely removed Jesus Christ as the ultimate criterion for biblical interpretation. E.Y. Mullins would have had none of that.

        Sorry the man is not around any more to speak for himself because those claiming his mantle certainly haven’t paid attention to his writings.

          Josh

          Mr. Torchy,
          I may be wrong but the reason that the Jesus was taken out as the ultimate criterion for Biblical interpretation in the BFM is because that is language that liberals have appropriate and has taken on a different meanin in some circles, including the groyup of liberals that left the sbc. Many peoplesay they use Jesus as a hermeneutical tool and use that to put the God of the Ot vs the God of the Nt. They use Jesus a use Him to come up with more liberal interpretations. So taking that language out of the bfm attempts to remove any potential ambiguity. Many people that dostort the Bible would agree with the languageof Christ as the criterion as interpretation.

          Josh

            Mr Torchy

            Which makes “liberals” more influential than Jesus among some paranoid leaders. I understand.

          Andy

          Actually, Mullins died in 1928. The First BFM in 1925 which he would have had influence on did NOT contain the statement you are refering to. It was added ONLY in 1963, then removed in 2000. (also, as a point of note, the word “ultimate” is not included in the 1963 statement.)

          Further, while those championing the 1963 addition will point back to Mullins as a supporter of their position, his actual reveal that Mullins was fully aware of those who sought to pit Jesus against the Bible, and rejected their charge of “bibliolatry.” [the following are from ‘E.Y. Mullins, Freedom and Authority in Religion, pp. 350-352.’]

          1. “…reason could not be trusted to preserve the truth about Christ after the incarnation and completed revelation. … This is not to put the literature in the place of the Redeemer, but only to assert that the literature is a necessary medium for the transmission to us of a knowledge of him. Thus, … the literature comes as the vehicle of objective truth about him and his salvation.”

          2. “The telescope is interposed between the eye and the heavenly body. The astronomer is not accused of worshiping the telescope or advised to pursue the science of astronomy without its aid. The telescope tells him what he could never discover without it. He relies upon it as an ‘authority,’ and carries forward the discoveries of science.”

          In other words, while both Mullins and Mohler would likely agree that scripture should be interpreted in light of Jesus, both would also say that Jesus must be understood through the revelation of scripture…there is no conflict. Scripture rightly interpreted will lead to Jesus. In my own mind, I can easily agree with both BFM’s, but their different contexts caused certain phrases to be used by opposite sides of the debate.

          Andy

          Also, just for fun, here’s Mullins on the topic of Election:

          “God’s choice of a person is prior to that person’s choice of God, since God is infinite in wisdom and knowledge and will not make the success of the divine kingdom dependent on the contingent choices of people. God does not fling out the possibility of salvation among human beings, say, like a golden apple, and leave it for people to use or not to use as they will. God’s own hands are kept on the reins of the divine government.”

          “Arminianism overlooked certain essential truths about God in its strong championship of human freedom. As against it, Calvinism ran to extremes in some of its conclusions in its very earnest desire to safeguard the truth of God’s sovereignty. We are learning to discard both names and to adhere more closely than either system to the Scriptures, while retaining the truth in both systems.”

          [God’s grace] “is efficacious with some and not efficacious with others because God’s grace is operative in the one case beyond the degree of its action in the other.”

          Mullins tried to chart a middle ground between C & A, but it seems he didn’t actually get around to discarding the calvinists view of election, though he elsewhere argued against limited atonement, and even irresistable grace.

            Mr Torchy

            Sorry Andy, I don’t remember using quotation marks. “Ultimate” is my embellishment of “the criterion”. Leave out ultimate and you arrive same place. In addition, your testimony of Mullins built from select excerpts belies his own discomfort with the determinism/fatalism of Calvinism’s most logical conclusions by its most ardent robot folk.

      Ken

      David:

      You wrote, “So if a group of you ever do decide to do that, I would appreciate it if you look for another symbolic figurehead.”

      I guess I could have been a little clearer in my post, but I assure you I wasn’t trying to conclude what your father would do in the current situation. I was merely using him to illustrate that a man with his honor, courage and conviction was needed to address the current problems in the SBC.

      Fact is, I consider him one of my SBC heroes.

      I’m sorry if I offended you but I must say that if he were my dad I would be honored that someone thinks so highly of him.

        David Rogers

        Ken,

        No worries. No offense taken. I can definitely see what you meant now. And with Rick’s further assurance, my main concern—that my father’s name might be associated with an SBC split—has been alleviated.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Ken,

    That man, though he may not appreciate hearing his name called at this hour, has already been raised up. He has been given the voice for such a hour as this. He’s not a fighter in that sense of the word, but a defender of truth. He speaks with clarity of spirit and of wisdom. Even Calvinist must agree, he approaches the difficulty of this discussion with grace and truth. He has my prayers in this connection no matter the outcome. I don’t believe he asked for this, “This”has required him.

    Preach!

    Robert

    Ken,

    “I do see one slightly possible salvation, namely: if a man in the mold of Adrian Rogers(such as you, Rick Patrick, or Bob Hadley) (oh, how I wish that John Hagy were a Southern Baptist, he is more outspoken about the evils of Calvinism than any Baptist preacher I have heard) would volunteer to assume leadership of a movement to take the case to the entire SBC membership about the dangers of Calvinism, it may be possible to educate church memberships, resulting in corrective actions to refute the Calvinist agenda.”

    I want to share something chilling from my past experience dealing with counter cult ministry. While dealing with cultists, thankfully some do convert to Christianity. And so you get a chance to debrief them and ask them about their experiences. One of the things I always asked former leaders was this question: “in your opinion, what is the best way to get control over a group?” The answer from multiple people was always the same: get control of the leadership. The thinking was that if you control the leadership you can control the group. A corollary question was: and in what manner would you do so? Again the answer was always the same: do so in an unobtrusive and stealth manner. Don’t fight in the open, patiently gain control by getting control of leadership, do so quietly, until you have control.

    So say I wanted to use these principles to take over the SBC denomination. How would I go about it? Get control of the leadership and do so in an unobtrusive way. So how would you do it? Get control of seminaries as they are the training grounds of future pastors. Work through pastors who are Calvinists to get control of congregations. If there is a church hierarchy of some kind (get Calvinists in those positions). And do all of it without fighting, without drawing attention to the efforts to get control. Once you have sufficient control, then any opposition will not matter as you will have sufficient control to marginalize them and ignore them and even overcome them in direct confrontation.

    Has any of this happened in the SBC???

      Lydia

      “Has any of this happened in the SBC??”

      Yes. But it begs the question. Why would Baptists, of all people, be so inclined to follow and not question leaders?

      Answer: our entire society is going that route. A lack of self government and independent thinking. They are enamoured with power and crave those with power. They secure their identity in a group with powerful leaders. We have become collectivists and all collectives have an oligarchy.

        Sam Eggartt

        Does this beg the question, or does it cause us to ask the question? Because those are two different things.

Ken

Robert:

That seems like a reasonable approach. But, how long do you think it will take to achieve the desired result using your and Rick’s approach, 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Gosh, I’m 84 years old, that’s why I am in favor of drastic action. I’d like to see some quicker improvement.

Andy

Question for Robert perhaps, and others who see this issue as perhaps important enough to split over:

What advice would you give to a married Christian couple who, after marriage, discovered they were on opposite ends of this soteriological spectrum? How should they relate? Where should they go to church? (I know this couple).
-would your advice be different if it were simply two friends in the same church?
-if it were two pastors in the same association?

    norm

    Andy: As usual, your tone is amiable and I am grateful.

    Though you raise an excellent question, I would posit that the issue is not about us, or couples, or pastors, etc. The issue is about the nature of Christ and Scripture, essentially. Theologically astute and Spirit-filled people disagree, obviously. And too often, the argument is “I am right and you are wrong.” But the real issue is larger than that.

    To answer your question, the ultimate arbiter is God’s Word. While we know that two opposing truth claims cannot both be true, we must necessarily induce that one or the other is wrong. Or, in light of God’s Word, both could be wrong. When the argument ceases to be about us on the horizontal, and we move from argument to truth-seeking, vertically, then all heads and hearts must look up. If we all were focused on God and what he wants from us, then we would have unity.

    All of that said, I must say that reading after former Calvinists, and then further studying the Word, I hold as I always have held that Calvin’s soteriology is just not biblical. I believe that Rogers, Flowers, Sayers, et al, as well as Allen, have used Scripture to prove that. Yet some will reject their findings which result from sound exegesis. It boggles my mind that what the three former Calvinists have elucidated is roundly rejected by some at this blog, and is rejoined by scurrilous debate and not sincere discussion, the latter of which you exemplify. Thank you.

    As a more practical answer to your question, and I write this sincerely, I recommend Ronnie Rogers’ book, or Leighton Flowers published reasons for leaving Calvinism.

      Andy

      “When the argument ceases to be about us on the horizontal, and we move from argument to truth-seeking, vertically, then all heads and hearts must look up. If we all were focused on God and what he wants from us, then we would have unity.”

      I suppose the point I want to make, which somewhat gives away my own answer to my question, is that while I agree there is only one correct answer, and that either the Cals, or non-cals, will one day be shown to be wrong….we live in a fallen world with fallen minds influenced by sin. As such, two godly Christians can “look up”, “focus on God”, “seek truth”, and yet arrive at different answers to this question, both based on their understanding of scripture. I don’t think it’s as simple as saying, “if everyone would just seek God, there would be unity on all debated matters.” …as if only all those presbyterians would just read their bibles, they would become baptists! I don’t think it works that way.

      At that point, after a charitable and honest discussion, or series of discussions, in which each spouse respects the other and does not accuse them of not being a christian, or of intentionally ignoring scripture for selfish reasons, or of basing their theology on men and not God’s word, or of being motivated only by power, etc…then they can, and should agree to disagree on this issue without rejecting the other person as a person.

      The specific couple I have in mind would tell you that early in their marraige, this caused a few tense moments, the wife basically having full arminian (loss of salvation included) beleifs, and the husband being mostly calvinistic. So far as I know, niether has convinced the other, yet they are approaching 20 years of marriage and seeing their family in church and in their home on various occasions, even seeing them disagree on occasion about other things…their marraige is loving and would be a model for any young couple to aspire to. Their home is one that honors God in their child-rearing and welcomes in hurting people and ministers to them.

      I personally have seen this couple disagree amicably on this issue. I have seen a whole Sunday-school class of 15-20 adults have an open discussion and disagree amicably on this issue in my church, as well as personal discussions among the wider church body. I have seen late-night debates on this issue in my college dorm rooms by those on opposite sides of the issue, then seen those same people go out the next day and do open-air evangelism together.

      Obviously, I am not against debate. I like debate, or I wouldn’t comment here. But I think we are often to quick to reject our debate opponents as having any value, and too quick to assign malevolent motives to those who have different ideas than us.

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        This question makes the discussion about the Body and not the Head. The emphasis must be upon Christ Jesus our Lord and His Holy Word.

        His teachings are absolutely clear in this in house debate. Scripture from Genesis to Revelation refutes Calvinism totally

        The apostle Paul under divine inspiration has told us to follow him as he follows Christ. However if the apostle failed to follow Christ or our pastor cease from walking after Him, the Body of Christ is to follow the Head.

        The written word of God is clear, a child can read the word of God and arrive at simple basic bible truth. We have 66 Books where God has laid out His will. There’s no reason to cherry pick certain passages, taking words and phrases mentioned to justify this man-made belief system. In order for the true believers to follow this system one must follow men outside of Holy Writ.

        The Body of Christ while in this sinful world, while possessing an old sin nature, can by the Spirit of Truth follow the Head of the Church.

        Will they suffer persecution and even death?
        Will some be banished?
        Will they be misunderstood?
        Will they find themselves seemingly alone?
        Will the world hate them because they first hated Him?

        Preach!

          Andy

          Dennis, you haven’t really addressed the question. Assuming that calvinism’s view of Election is wrong, how do you then relate to those people who have that wrong view, especially if they are among the many calvinists that continue to preach Christ Crucified and invite people to come to Him for forgiveness? How do you relate to them in your church? How do you relate to them in your family? Do you assign the worst possible motives to them and assume they simply don’t care about truth or about following God’s word, or do you accept them as fellow sincere Christians who are simply understanding this issue wrongly?

          The simple fact is that, while many calvinists were pointed that direction by human teachers, many others saw it first in scripture by themselves, asking hard questions about hard texts, and while seeking to honor God and the bible, arrived at different conclusions than you.

    Robert

    Andy,

    I don’t like your questions and here are some reasons why.

    First of all, people ought to know their own beliefs well enough that they would know their differences before they get married (not find out after they get married as you present in your scenario). Especially in regards to their views on salvation. One of the principles in pre-marital counseling is to know AND DISCUSS significant differences they have BEFORE they get married (e.g. if one wants to have children and the other does not, that needs to be known and discussed before they get married). I always thought it wise to try to remove or deal with problems BEFORE they get married. Not think, “Oh well we love each other and so it will all work out . . . “ Seen too many situations where they saw the problems before they got married, ignored them, and they are paying for it now in myriads of ways. The classic case being where she saw that he was verbally abusive to her before they got married, figured it would go away when they got married and instead escalated into physical abuse when they were married. Like I used to tell folks when I was a college pastor: better not to be married at all, then to be in a difficult marriage with the wrong person.

    Secondly, for every positive case you present where it worked out, a negative case where it did not work out can also be presented. One example, I know a couple where they knew they held Arminian and Calvinist beliefs before they got married. That and other things contributed to their now being separated and having a very troubled marriage. If you asked them now, knowing their differing beliefs would cause such problems, would they have married, they would probably answer No. The point is for every one of your positive testimonials a negative one could be presented as well.

    Third, with marriages where they hold differing beliefs on significant beliefs (e.g. a Christian marrying a non-believer, a Catholic marrying a Protestant, etc.) a major but often neglected issue is what will happen with the children? It is easy to say, we will work that out when the time comes. But what happens when one parent wants their child baptized and another does not? Some people do not take into account the effect their differing beliefs will have on future children.

    Fourth, either these beliefs concern the nature of salvation and the plan of salvation or they do not. If they do, they are serious issues and touch upon essential doctrines.

    Lastly, there is a lot of comparing “apples” and “oranges” in your questions (a couple of friends are not in the same situation as a married couple, a couple of Pastors are not in the same situation as a married couple).

    Regarding how a Christian couple is to relate, the principles are the same, the same things make for a good and healthy marriage regardless of what they agree or disagree on.

      Andy

      Hi Robert, thanks for taking the time to reply.

      First, I totally agree with this point, but as we all know, it doesn’t always work out this way. Some couples don’t do their due diligence in preparing for marraige…and other who try to do their due diligence simply don’t think of covering every possible topic of disagreement. I was asking for after-the-fact, what then? It can happen in churches too… For example, in a church hiring setting, as I was interviewing for my current church 9 years ago, it didn’t come up; and I didn’t even think to bring it up. I wasn’t trying to hide anything, I just didn’t think of it as an important topic to bring up. I had not been in settings up till then in which it was a controversial topic. They were more interested in what I thought about hymns and Contemporary music.

      I am not saying these are not important issues. But I wonder, in your mind, if a couple doesn’t talk about calvinism before they get married, or if a church mutually agrees that calvinism is not an issue which will divide them, is it your conclusion that these people simply don’t care about doctrine? Or could there be some other reason, a positive reason going on? I believe the latter.

      And i truly believe that it would be a travesty and a harm and a great shame if my church decided to separate and have all the calvinists form a new church, or vice-versa.

    Andrew Barker

    Andy: Your question is predicated on an incorrect assumption that there is a similarity between the bond of marriage and that of the membership of a church. There is no such thing. Quite frankly if a couple meet and only find out after they are married that they are at opposite ends of the spectrum regarding soteriology, then there is something more amiss in their relationship than that of theological compatibility. For Christians marriage is a Till Death Us Do Part contract and if differences of opinion arise during the marriage they have to take second place to the marriage itself. No such constraints arise in church life.

    At present SBC membership is roughly 70 80 split non calvinist calvinist. But to all intents and purposes those running the SBC portray it as a calvinist organisation. So you have the situation where 70% of the membership are paying for something with which they do not wholeheartedly agree. If you think this is supportable I would suggest you are likely to be in a minority even though you are not a calvinist!!

      Andy

      “Quite frankly if a couple meet and only find out after they are married that they are at opposite ends of the spectrum regarding soteriology, then there is something more amiss in their relationship than that of theological compatibility.”

      —> I don’t know how you can know this. Perhaps it just wasn’t one of the topics that came up? Remember 20 years ago it was not a hot topic of conversation like it is now. Even when I was in college, it was one of those late-night dorm debates, but it wasn’t seen as polarizing…it was more akin to “how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?”. I don’t think we can make sweeping judgements about the health of a marraige based on one topic that may or may not have come up during courtship.

      —> Second, I realize the difference between church members and marraige, but recognize a over-arching principle of Christian charity that assumes the best about others.
      On a different note, I am curious as to what your advice would be to members of my church, in which the pastors are more or less generally calvinistic, many in the congregation are not, but many are, many don’t know where they stand. Would you advise all of the non-calvinists to leave? …or perhaps to work toward expelling the calvinistic pastors?

      —> Third, regarding the SBC, I don’t know what the solution is. It seems the calvinists have not taken steps to be open and transparent, or to consider those outside their circles…at the same time, anti-calvinists have draw lines in the sand. For myself, it matters very little. If I am in a good church, i don”t care that much whether it is SBC or not. Until recently, it was a strong consensus behind the IMB that seemed to be the common tie…now, perhaps not so much. I suspect it will continue to wane numerically and financially, as some churches decide to withdraw, and others decide to give less CP money.

        Andrew Barker

        Andy: It may surprise you but I’m not in the habit of going around giving people advice as to how they should or should not behave. Nor would I describe myself as anti-calvinist. I do disagree strongly with it but my main objection is when it is foisted on others. So if somebody is happy in a church, why change it? If they ask my advice or opinion I would point out the short comings of the Calvinist system. But you’re a prime example of a person who is happy to live with the contradictions that are inherent in the system and you’re not alone.

        The SBC as currently structured was funded during a period when Traditionalists were very much in the ascendency. The Neo Calvinists are a different breed to those who co-existed within the SBC in happier times and they are simply piggybacking on other people’s work ….and money. But although people are sometimes slow, they usually catch on and when they do, they will not fund something with which they fundamentally disagree. At the moment the trail is wagging the dog, but the dog may opt to have its tail docked if it doesn’t enjoy being wagged that much. Just how much wagging it will take? Your guess is probably better than mine. This is just my perspective from a non-SBC, non-baptist, free evangelical, church in Wales attending, worshipping believer.

Josh

In addition to all of the comments I would like to publicly apologize to Lydia. My interactions with you have not been honoring to Christ and I apologize and ask for forgiveness. I promise to try to keep my interactions with all of you on this board loving and Christ honoring.
Sincerely,
Josh

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Oh, I answered the question from the Head down.

    So much of our approach is as if our opinion, bias and preferences are divinely inspired and as if they matter.

    Our error doesn’t matter when it comes to the Holy Scriptures. No scenario known unto man will alter His words. We agree with Him or find ourselves disagreeing with God. It doesn’t matter how you slice it or dice it. His Word will stand and endure while our words fail.

    The word of God isn’t changed by committee, vote or individual Christian understanding. Husbands and wives are to obey the Holy Scriptures.

    No matter who the believer is or what he or she has done for the furtherance of the gospel.

    Christians get it wrong from time to time. When we do that doesn’t mean we gather a following for the cause.

    Paul called out those foolish Galatians, because they began in the truth of God’s word only to be bewitched. What matters is the same truth of God’s Word once believed, as with the apostle Paul when he reintroduced the same Truth to those same believers who found themselves in Biblical error.

    I hope you at least agree with his method and approach regarding these matters. Because his method is our mandate in the local New Testament churches.

    Preach!

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      We as Christians can’t use the excuse of being in this evil world nor of having our minds renewed by transformation when it comes to Biblical Truth.

      Preach!

    Lydia

    Josh,

    I just saw this. That is kind of you to say publicly.

    I would only warn that disagreement is healthy to discuss. It sharpens iron. We have had an unhealthy approach to it in the SBC to the point of censoring and shaming. The young of this movement were badly prepared for reality outside the bubble. When we tie every word said or concept to a vague declaration of “Gospel” this or that we become cult followers not thinkers. The indoctrination of the YRR is not going to magically disappear. The fallout will be tremendous. We are starting to see more and more of its rotten fruit.

    In order to cut through some of the black hole of Calvinist non reasoning, I often use sarcasm or humor which most see as sin. Think of it as in the same vein as Paul suggesting some should emasculate themselves. :o)

    People can be Calvinist all day long as far as I am concerned. What I have a problem with is manipulation, deception and stealth. And doing such with other peoples money. OPM.

    I am seeing a huge case of it right now with the SBC sponsored CBMW and trying to erase their long history of promoting ESS to the degree it was promoted for years. This is the sort of manipulation and deception in the name of Jesus Christ that one should not overlook for the sake of unity.

Josh

Thanks and I do think much time and ink have been wasted. However, if we could do it right, good theologically debates are important. They should drive us to Scripture and and increase our live for our Savior. I believe that this topic has done just that for many people… On both sides. When whitefield was asked if he would see wesley in heaven he said no. That wesley would be much closer to the throne than him. If that sort of love were had between both sides than what a witness the ody of Christ would be!

    Lydia

    Josh, Nothing has been wasted. People’s horror stories are getting out. They deserve to be heard, too.

      Josh

      Agreed. And I am thankful that when there is sinful mistreatment that it does get out. But there have been many sinful, unloving, and unhelpful arguments made and had that are completely wasteful. That is what I was getting at.

        Lydia

        “But there have been many sinful, unloving, and unhelpful arguments made and had that are completely wasteful. That is what I was getting at.”

        Josh, how would anyone know what you term as those things without an example?

        For far too many years the YRR labeled disagreement with similar terms because their doctrine and methods were “biblical”. The Neo Cal movement has been one of redefinng words and concepts then declaring the other ignorant for not knowing their true definition. It is why love means really hate. It takes a while for people to catch on and when they do there will always be trust issues.

        That is why in this situation it would be very foolish to agree with a blanket statement that makes everyone guilty. Manipulatiors do that. I realize this fits with the doctrine, too. Moral equivalency, sin leveling, all guilty, etc.

        I honestly believe a lot of young men have been extremely indoctrinated and taught manipulation as the normal and do not know any better because that are parrots. There have been similar movements in history were young men were recruited enmasse to do the bidding of their leaders. It is not unusual.

        There are going to be trust issues as there should be.

        And I don’t need to agree because I think anything that has outed this deceptive and manipulative movement for what it is. .. is helpful. Truth is love. Deception and manipularion belong to the father of lies

          Josh

          1. It was a general statement and I assume most people agree with that based off of personal experience. Maybe I assume incorrectly. Maybe not.
          2. I do not know what you are referring to other than when you say that YRR’s call hate love. That is not what they do but I get where you are coming from.
          3. You are putting words in my mouth. I did not make a blanket statement that makes every one guilty. Are you accusing me of manipulating or just that it was manipulative and manipulators do that? If someone reads my statement, they will see that I did no such thing. I don’t see how manipulation fits with the doctrine. Moral equivalence? Sin leveling? I need some more context before I can respond to that. All guilty- I need some context but in general, yes, all are according to the Bible.
          4. I am sure some young men are indoctrinated. That is what happens to some young men… on both sides. One, that doesn’t mean that what they were indoctrinated with is incorrect. Two, it has been my general experience that the young men on the reformed side enjoy studying theology more than the young men on the trad side. But that is anecdotal and perhaps geographical. Taught manipulation? You have built a very specific image of a young man that I think most people, even Cal’s would not be a fan of. So I think we can all agree that this person you are speaking of is bad. Also, and why are Cal’s the most susceptible to this? Or do you think Trads are as well?
          5. And last, I am thankful when manipulation and deceptive practices are outed. I do think that we may have a different view of what constitutes proof of that.

          Josh

    Tom

    Josh: Theological debates are certainly ok, but IMO Calvinism is a major issue in the SBC that must be addressed.

      Josh

      Tom,
      And that is your right to believe and I agree with you to a point. Now, I am obviously a Calvinist and I think that Calvinism in the SBC is a good thing for many reasons. I do think it is something that needs to be addressed because of the obvious reason.. it has become a problem with many. And I do not know how to fix it. We just flat out disagree and think that the other side is wrong in many areas. Frankly, I am more concerned with the ecclesiology, hermeneutics, and other doctrines of many churches than their soteriology. And I don’t think I am the only youngish reformed guy in the SBC to have those concerns. And to give up the Calvinism battle would perhaps mean to lose those battles.

      Thanks,

      Josh

        Andy

        “Ecclesiology, hermeneutics, and other doctrines of many churches than their soteriology….And to give up the Calvinism battle would perhaps mean to lose those battles.”

        Josh, to clarify, are you referring things like church governance, church discipline, role of deacons, historical-redemptive vs Grammatical-historical interpretation, alter-call/sinners prayer issues, etc? And are you saying that it is the calvinists who generally get those issues right, so even if you disagreed with their soteriology, you would want think it best if their views were prevalent in the churches?

        Rick Patrick has also noted the other differences between the two groups, and I think they cannot be dismissed as not having an impact. Many younger people are seeing the calvinists side on these issues. Add to that the seeming traditionalist opposition to contemporary music (which is odd to me, since 20 years ago it was often the calvinsits who were opposed to contemporary music…) we saw in earlier articles and comments, and it is easy to see why young Christians are rejecting much of that tradition. Perhaps too quickly, and perhaps it is causing them to rush head-long into the soteriology without examining it on its own merits….but who can fault them for rejecting things like deacon-led churches and the “drums are bad” arguments?

        I know for myself, these kinds of things are part of what led me into calvinism: Much of the teaching i had heard in my teen & College years was simply extra-biblical. And when I heard men like Alitsair Begg preach, it seemed they were much more rooted in scripture, and much less likely to make extra-biblical assertions like those I grew up with: “Don’t question the pastor… don’t preach without a tie…don’t use a guitar in church…don’t play cards.” I’ve since moved back away from full acceptance of Calvinism to more of a “I have no idea” position. :-) But still agree with calvinists about many other issues.

          Josh

          Andy,

          I was mainly thinking about 3 areas but other beliefs that you named certainly show a difference that I think is different.
          1. Hermeneutics. I find many historical grammatic sermons to be extrememly moralistic and man centered. If we look at David and Goliath and the big take away is that we should face our fears than we have missed it imo. A redemptive historical herm has been attractive to people moving to the reformed churches as Christ seems to take a more central pace in the sermon

          Jim Poulos

          And your perspective is a core issue about hermeneutics in these debates, Josh.
          The correct interpretation is what will ultimately appeal to peoples conscience, the inner person, the ‘mind of Christ.’
          Over simplifying the meaning of scripture in effect missing and ‘twists’ that meaning.

          Here is a thought, the word ‘hermeneutics’ has its root meaning in the Greek god named Hermes. He is the god with wings in his helmet and wings on his shoes who would deliver messages from the gods on Olympus to men below. If he delivered the wrong message to men he would be placed in hades for a week for punishment until he learned about his responsibility.

          Josh

          2. Ecclesiology. I see two different types of churches with trad soteriolog that have driven people towards reformed churches. Attractant/seeker sensitiv. And what I will label the legalistic baptist church that seemed to hate audio adrenaline back when I was in jh/hs because rock music was bad. No dancing. No beer. Dress code. Not missional.Deacon led.this along with the herm approach that led to moralistic sermons. Now, people might disagree with this list but I think this is why many people are attracted to reform churches, which yes, they have problems too.

Dennis Lee Dabney

Brother I agree, great point.

Preach!

Jon Estes

Is Unity in the SBC on this topic possible?
Let me put before you something to ponder…
# 1 – Let’s say the soteriology of Calvinism is wrong but that those who hold to this position are active witnesses for the gospel of Christ (sharing it the same way a Trad would) and they see results (divine appointments) of people coming to the Lord…
How does this impact the missional heart of the SBC?
# 2 – Let’s say the soteriology of Traditionalists is wrong but that those who hold to this position are active witnesses for the gospel of Christ (sharing it the same way a Cal would) and they see results (divine appointments) of people coming to the Lord…
How does this impact the missional heart of the SBC?
I ask because shouldn’t we unite around winning the world to Christ, regardless of how we view someone with a different soteriological view.
Let the reformed position be nailed out in the local church which wants to deal with it. If they are happy with what is working for them, regardless of what I want… AMEN!
Is Unity in the SBC on this topic possible?
Not presently, at least from the words of what is written on this forum.

Max

I’m reluctant to drag Charles Finney into this mess, since the very mention of his name draws fire from some corners of SBC worse than dropping Calvin into a discourse. But the evangelist has some thoughts in this regard worth noting:

“It is evident that many more Churches need to be divided. How many there are that hold together, and yet do no good, for the simple reason that they are not sufficiently agreed. They do not think alike, nor feel alike … and while this is so, they never can work together. Unless they can be brought to such a change of views and feelings as will unite them, they are only a hindrance to each other and to the work of God. In many cases they see and feel that this is so, and yet they keep together, conscientiously, for fear that a division should dishonor religion, when in fact the division that now exists may be making religion a by-word and a reproach. Far better would it be if they would agree to divide amicably, like Abraham and Lot. ‘If thou will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, I will go to the left.’ Let them separate, and each party work in its own way; and they may both enjoy the blessing.” (Charles G. Finney, Revivals of Religion)

We are already seeing this division at the church level across SBC. A traditional SBC congregation down the road from me just had a nasty split – there was weeping and gnashing of teeth – nothing amicable about it! An amicable parting of the ways only happens where there are an amiable people. Southern Baptists have not been kind to each other in past divisions.

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