7 Reasons Why I Am Enthusiastically Using the Gospel Project

  1. It’s about Jesus and the Bible.  I think that’s enough said on that one.
  2. It’s theologically deep.  Southern Baptists are a broad group.  You won’t have any curriculum produced by anyone that represents the broad spectrum of theology.  This is why the BF&M2000 is a “wide tent” in many areas.  To present every side is overkill, to present a general gloss is shallow.  This stretches us to ponder…
  3. It draws from a variety of sources throughout the church and church history.  There’s a Simpson’s episode where the Simpsons end up in heaven…a heaven that is divided into different parts depending on what Christian sect you were a part of on earth.  I think sometimes when we Southern Baptists loudly sing, “When we alllllllll get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!”, we secretly mean, “When we alllllll get to Southern Baptist heaven…”  Look, I’m Baptist by conviction and Southern Baptist by choice of cooperation.  That does not mean I want to sit back, plug my ears to other voices, and only have my people consider the teachings of Southern Baptists.  We have a deep well of various thoughts to choose from as we also seek to grow in wise discernment.
  4. It brings our minds and hearts to worship.  Prayers of responses, devotional hymns, check out these sermons, ponder these truths… this isn’t just imparting information this is worshiping our great and glorious God.
  5. I like the names I see listed on the Advisory Council.  I’ll admit, some of them I haven’t heard of…it’s a good chance to research and maybe find someone new from whom to gain some edification.  But those names I recognize—guys I’ve read or listened to their sermons—they are passionate about Christ, biblically sound, theologically devoted, church-focused, and missions/discipleship-oriented.
  6. I trust the editors.  Again…I’ve read books and blogs, have heard sermons, etc.  I would ascribe the same qualities to them that I would the Advisory Council.
  7. It’s what my church needs.  I’m trying to teach my people to know and love their Bible so they can grow in their knowledge, awe, and love of our glorious triune God.  I try to teach them not to build their theology based primarily upon what some man (or woman) has said, or based upon what traditions we hold, but to bring everything back to Scripture—what does the Bible say?  From what I see of the Gospel project, that is the ultimate goal—to bring people into a greater passion for God by giving them a greater passion for his Word through which he has revealed himself.

Comments

  1. says

    Mike,
    I share your excitement. Our entire church is going through the Gospel Project and I am very excited to see what the Lord does through this. So many people in our church are excited and saying things like, “We’ve been really waiting for something like this”. I had a group of teenagers last night share how excited they were about “this Gospel Project thing.”

  2. says

    I only wish they had it in Spanish. I’m sure it will come eventually if the initial response is any indication of how big this could be. I’ve looked over the preview materials a few times already and I think this is something that is non-partisan and will be a great resource for Calvinists and non-Calvinists to study the Word together, focusing more on what we have in common (the gospel) than what distinguishes us.

      • John Wylie says

        I’m not really surprised. ABP is an anti SBC agency and relishes any opportunity to besmirch the convention.

        • says

          I guess I just expect news agencies, espeically Christian ones, to try to be fair and balanced, even if they have a particular slant towards the liberal or conservative side.

          • Eric says

            I just read the article and found it very fair. They took no shots at either side, and just reported the facts.

            Thank goodness there is a press organization in Baptist life that covers all sides and not just what Nashville wants them to cover.

          • says

            Eric,

            In what way did they cover all sides? I agree that they present a fair summary of what people are saying against the curriculum, but they don’t give any of the responses that have been offered. The quote Green’s accusation but forget to mention that he offers no evidence. They report Caner’s concerns but not what anyone has said in response. So is the article fair? Yes, perhaps, in that it fairly and accurately reports the concern. Is it balanced? Not at all, it gives no hint that there are legitimate responses to the accusations.

          • Eric says

            Chris

            As a matter of disclosure, I am not reformed, but am excited about this new cirriculum, this is the best stuff I have seen out of Lifeway in a long time (perhaps ever). I have not noted any reformed leanings in TGP

            However back to the APB article, the following is a direct quote and the reason I found the article fair:

            LifeWay describes The Gospel Project as “a Christ-centered curriculum looking at the grand narrative of Scripture and how the gospel transforms lives.”

            Thousands of churches have participated in a pilot project by downloading four free lessons of the study, managing editor Trevin Wax said in a news release.

            “The launch of The Gospel Project is just weeks away, and we are so encouraged by the initial response,” Wax said. “Thousands of churches from a variety of denominations and affiliations have ordered the curriculum, and it is selling nearly twice what we originally forecast.”

            The press release said LifeWay is stepping up plans for a second printing of the curriculum to keep up with the demand.

            Originally started by pastors concerned about divisions in Southern Baptist life, SBC Today was acquired in July by Truett-McConnell and Caner was named as publisher.

    • Donald says

      Jared said “do you think the Baptist Hymnal is biased as well?”

      I’m guessing you asked because you have some huge insight as to how it really is, and we just don’t know it.

      Please, enlighten us.

      • says

        Donald, I guarantee you that your church sings hymns written by both Calvinists and Arminians (If ya’ll sing hymns). My point is that no one questions the “other beliefs” of hymn writers. The song “Amazing Grace” is the perfect example. If your church sings it, you’re singing a hymn written by a Calvinist. Why is there no outrage over the bias of the Baptist Hymnal? Because it doesn’t matter who wrote the hymn so long as we agree with the words.

        • says

          Max, Alan assigns negative motive that he can’t possibly know. Could it be that the editors of the new hymnal thought others hymns were better, more popular, dated, etc. or a whole host of other reasons, instead of them rejecting some hymns due to theological bias?

          • Max says

            Hi Jared – I’m sure the revision team for the 2008 Baptist Hymnal considered various criteria in song selection. But, I sure do miss certain hymns that I grew up singing over 50 years of SBC membership (call it traditionalist, nostalgic, or whatever). Songs referring to Christ’s death as an atonement for everyone and not just the elect – like “Whosoever Will” and “Whosoever Meaneth Me” didn’t make the cut by the revision team (our church members used to rise to their feet and weep when they sang those!). Neither did “Oh What a Wonder It Is”, with its “all who would believe in Him, He’d save them every one” or “Holy Bible, Book of Love”, which proclaims that Christ “died for everyone.” I’m sure the revision team was simply trying to make room for newer Christian music or publish only theologically-sound hymns, with no negative motives as you note … but I sure do miss those old songs. I understand that some churches are actually copying certain hymns from the 1991 hymnal and inserting them into the 2008 version.

          • says

            Max,
            Are you really going to make the childish “the devil made me do it” argument? You really want to try and lay blame of song selection at the feet of the publishers of the 2008 Hymnal?

            If you are missing singing certain songs in church, then look no further than your music minister and pastor. The fact that there is a 2008 edition of the Baptist Hymnal doesn’t mean your church had to buy it and use it. My church has several ’67 hymnals and about 2 dozen ’91s and only 3 2008 hymnals for reference. I use them all when selecting music for worship.

            i suggest you not make spurious claims about the publishers of the 2008 hymnal without proof and that you go directly to the office of Music Minister and ask why those are no longer sung.

        • says

          This is a misleading article because no hymn has been omitted completely. The selections in the 2008 hymnal were chosen to reflect what a majority of churches were singing: Come Thou Fount AND Beautiful One. Any hymns there are not in print are still available online at http://www.lifewayworship.com and more are being added. This allowed the publishers to get a product that would be useful to as many as possible while still retaining (online) songs that were less used. Also, they’ve added (or planned to do so) songs online that were removed in the ’56, ’67, & ’91 editions.

          To say there is a theological shift is a biased an uninformed (and not wanting to be informed) hit piece.

    • cb scott says

      Relating to the 1991 edition of the Baptist Hymnal published by the BSSB of the SBC.

      As a trustee serving on the Publishing Committee of the BSSB (Currently LifeWay) at the time of the publication of the ’91 Baptist Hymnal, I can assure one and all that there was no effort to produce a Hymnal with a specific soteriological bias other than to make sure it was consistently biblical in all things and presented the Gospel Story as revealed in the Scripture.

      The one specific concern we (trustees serving on the Publishing Committee) had and of which I was personally involved was to make sure certain liberals employed or contracted by the BSSB were not allowed to limit or remove hymns and gospel songs from the ’91 Baptist Hymnal that openly expressed the sacrificial blood atonement of Christ for sinners.

      That little tidbit is just another reason that all you young Pistol Fighters should be thankful for all of us Old Bandits and Desperadoes who fought the fight against liberalism back in the days of the CR Wars, both Trads and Cals together for the good of the SBC.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        CB: Did that mean not being able to sing “Amazing Grace” the the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun”? :) Just asking.

        • cb scott says

          Debbie,

          I have a very strong love for “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “The House of the Rising Sun” for some very personal reasons.

          Quite often I find my self, when remembering the past, singing that song —- privately, of course. :-)

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Very privately CB and me too. :)

          Amazing grace can also be sung to the tune of Gilligan’s Island.

          Now try getting that out of your head.

          Ha ha ha.

  3. John Wylie says

    Also I looked over lesson one last night in the free sample download and it looked pretty good to me. Also the quality of the material was outstanding.

  4. Jack Maddox says

    Nothing like ABP for a fair and balanced article concerning Southern Baptist – I was especially excited about reading the contributions from Molly Marshall and Bill Leonard, both are professors without an axe to grind : )

  5. says

    David, what drives me nuts about you guys is you claim The Gospel Project is biased based on the authors’ other beliefs, not based on the merit of the material. Yet, you come here and link to an article written by Bob Alan based on the merit of the article itself, instead of dismissing the article because of Alan’s beliefs. You do realize this reveals your own extreme bias and inconsistency.

    Which brings me to my next question. Are you a postmodernist? If not, then quit acting like one. Postmodernists are fine with inconsistency.

  6. Donald says

    Jared says “you claim The Gospel Project is biased based on the authors’ other beliefs, not based on the merit of the material.”

    Emir Caner is exactly right in his analysis which goes beyond “authors’ other beliefs”. One wonders if you read it.

    It included the dramatic imbalance for writers quoted (12:2), and Podcast promoted (3:0), “spiritual leprosy” analogy was traced to Calvin setting up a Calvinistic understand of the discussion from the start, a Presbyterian hymn is included, there are hints of ecumenism with 7:4 ratio of non-SBC to SBC and of those 4 the ratio was 4:0 reformed. He also pointed out the non-SBC views of Diodore and Fackre who are also referenced.

    Altogether he has demonstrated both the reformed bias plus an odd non-SBC emphasis.

    ALL from content. Wow, were you wrong or what?

    • says

      “ALL from content.”

      Not from content, from contributors. He doesn’t have an issue with what they say, just with who is saying it. The bias is his, not the material’s.

      • Donald says

        Chris,

        Good to see you are talking to me again (you still need to address that other issue).

        The point I was contesting is that the only beef with TGP is “the authors’ other beliefs”. Everything printed in the materal is “content”. Thus, Jared is wrong.

        • says

          I don’t follow.

          The original accusation from Green is that the content itself is Calvinistic. He has never substantiated that claim. Caner shifted the accusation, raising no issue with the content and focusing instead on the contributors. Thus, Jared is right. The issue has shifted away from content and to the contributors. Caner had nothing to say against the content, his only concern was with the writers of the content. He didn’t take issue with what any of the quotes had to say, or any of the lessons had to say, his only issue was with who said it. This is not about content.

          • Donald says

            “The original accusation from Green…”

            I’m was not discussing the original accusation from Green. I’m discussing the accusation from Jared: “…you claim The Gospel Project is biased based on the authors’ other beliefs” Since Emir went beyond the authors “other beliefs”, then Jared is wrong.

          • says

            Donald,

            Please show me where Caner quoted things the authors say that betray Calvinistic bias? He says the bias exists because the authors are Calvinists, not because they wrote Calvinism into the material. It’s about people, not content.

    • says

      Donald,

      Caner did nothing of the kind. All that he demonstrated is that there are a few Calvinists on the committee. I am not even sure how many there are. If you are not a 5 point Calvinist, then you are not a Calvinist. We need to stop calling guys who affirm 3 or 4 of the points “Calvinists.” The whole system falls apart if you don’t affirm all of TULIP. There is no such thing as a 4 point Calvinist if we are being truly honest about it. That is my understanding, anyway. If you are going to start counting points, then all Southern Baptists are some form of modified Calvinist, which I do not think is a fair designation.

      As for Caner’s other points, they are very strange indeed. It was shown in that thread that the statement on leprosy attributed to Calvin was used by many Southern Baptists in the past, including R.G. Lee, Criswell, and Adrian Rogers. Are we to assume that the only proper perspective is to listen to non-Calvinist SBC’ers who only say things that have never been said by other orthodox Christians? Of course not! Then what point is Caner even making here?

      This whole argument against TGP is absurd, in my opinion. That is not where the problem lies regarding Calvinism in the SBC, if there is a problem at all. Lifeway and TGP is not the issue.

      • Jim G. says

        Hi Alan,

        Then possibly we need a term that more accurately describes the theological situation of variously-pointed “Calvinists.” I have such a term and I did not invent it – theological determinist. A theological determinist believes that God has ordained in eternity all that comes to pass in time (including unconditional election). I know the terminology difficulty imbedded in “counting points” but if one affirms T, U, I, and P, then one is certainly a theological determinist.

        I think the trads object to the theological determinism that is common to ALL on the advisory board and the publicly-named curriculum writers that were published on the TGP website a few months back. Determinism is a better descriptor because THAT is the real sticking point. Neither the labels “Reformed” nor “Calvinist” is precise enough because they both bleed over into ecclesiological issues that are not the point and neither descriptor accurately encompasses all factions.

        Determinism is a completely different approach to the doctrine of God than trads hold. It is this very determinism that is the “point” of objection.

        Jim G.

        • Dave Miller says

          Not wanting to wade into this whole thing, but Alan made an intereting point.

          We tend to lump all people on one side as Calvinists. But that includes 5-pointers, 4-pointers, Amyraldians, compatibilists, and (what could otherwise be known as the biblical view) antinomists!

          We also tend to want to lump all non-Calvinists together and label them with one term.

          There are some pretty aggressive anti-Calvinists out there.
          There are nearly a thousand who identified with the Traditionalist document, but they cannot rightly claim to represent all non-Calvinists.
          There are non-Calvinists who come pretty close to classical Arminianism except for their belief in eternal security.

          We should not act like there are two groups in our convention – Calvinists and non-Calvinists. There is a continuum from extreme Calvinism on one end to classical Arminianism on the other and people divided at just about every point along the way.

          • says

            Dave,

            Some have in the past pointed out that this is where the terms monergism and synergism can be helpful. One would be hard pressed to find a soteriological position existing outside of those two categories (except for those people who simply reject any label they don’t like, no matter what).

        • Max says

          “Determinism is a completely different approach to the doctrine of God than trads hold. It is this very determinism that is the “point” of objection.”

          Jim G., you “point” to the heart of the problem well.

      • Donald says

        Alan said “All that he demonstrated is that there are a few Calvinists on the committee.”

        Alan,

        He certainly did more than just recognize that the committee is made up of mostly Calvinist. That fact was established long ago.

        • says

          Donald,

          My point is that if you are not affirming all 5 points of TULIP, you aren’t really a Calvnist. The whole system collapses. The other thing is that he used arguments related to guilt by association. He broadened the definition of Calvinism and then accused anyone who fit under his definition as those promoting an Calvinistic agenda by their mere presence – without providing a shred of proof from the words actually written.

          Then, we see things about hymns and non-SBC writers and all kinds of things that are not a real problem unless they promote something aberrant, which he fails to prove. It was a strange article.

    • Jason says

      Tell me more about the Presbyterian hymn? You know, the one written by Methodists and included in Baptist hymnals?

      • Donald says

        Jason,

        I was answering the charge that Caner “merely demonstrated…that there are a few Calvinists on the committee”. I am not familiar with the hymn in question.

        • Jason says

          Then perhaps you should not include it in your answer to the charge if you don’t know enough about it.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Donald: I’m glad you are pointing to the article. I hope everyone reads it. There was nothing there. Nothing about content. And I can see why they waited to post Dr. Green’s. That had even less information and read as if he was hunting for reasons and wrote anything down that came to mind. It was poorly written. So please point to these 2 posts.

    • says

      Donald, if the statements are in line with the BF&M2K, it doesn’t matter if an Arminian, Calvinist, Traditionalist, Wovenist, etc. said it. If we all can affirm it, there’s no bias present. If a Calvinist says, “Jesus saves.” It doesn’t matter if a Calvinist said it or not. It matters if it’s true, and if I agree with it. Does your church ever sing the song by the Calvinist John Newton titled “Amazing Grace”?

      Caner used the “to-the-man” (ad hominem) logical fallacy. It doesn’t matter who the curriculum quotes, so long as we can agree with the statements themselves. Pointing out the other beliefs of the individuals quoted is not proof. You’ve got to prove those other beliefs are present in the material. Furthermore, it doesn’t matter if more Calvinists are quoted than non-Calvinists, what matters are the quotes themselves. Frankly, I don’t care who they quote so long as I agree with the quote. After all, all truth is God’s truth in His world. The apostle Paul quoted pagan poets twice (possibly three times)! Surely, you wouldn’t argue he agreed with their idolatry as well! (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12)

      • Donald says

        “Caner used the “to-the-man” (ad hominem) logical fallacy.”

        Actually, Emir moved beyond the men to what actually appears in the printed material.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          Where exactly did Emir do that Donald? I must have missed it after reading it 3 or 4 times. I still could have missed it in my reading.

          • Jason says

            I too can’t find much where Emir “moved to what actually appears in the printed material”, assuming the printed material is TGP, of course.

            I did find this: “The opening illustration for session six, “Numb to the World,” speaks of “spiritual leprosy” and how the illustration relates to our sinful state.” This is followed by a statement linking John Calvin’s use of this analogy to the entire session.

            And, of course, I found the mention of the hymn at the end of session six. You know, the one that’s a Presbyterian hymn written by Methodists and included in Baptist hymnals.

          • Donald says

            “Copy and paste a quote here where Emir moved to the printed material to prove his accusations.”

            OK.

            First, putting us back into our immediate context.

            Jared said “you claim The Gospel Project is biased based on the authors’ other beliefs”

            I said that this is wrong, since Emir went beyond the authors “other beliefs”. I then said he used content from TGP.

            Please correct me if I am wrong (since I don’t have the material in front of me) but are the 14 quoted writers in the content? Are the recommended podcast in the content? Is the reference to spiritual leprosy in the content? Is the Presbyterian hymn in the content? Are the eleven 11 contemporary quotations in the content? Is either Diodore and Fackre mentioned in the content?

            If not, where are these things? They certainly are not part of the authors “other beliefs”.

            Oh, almost forgot. Here is a quote “if one were to list those quoted in the material, excluding Early Church Fathers, one would notice an imbalance towards Reformed and/or predestinarian authors” Emir is talking about choices made by the authors for material included in the CONTENT, not merely the authors “other beliefs”.

          • Jason says

            “Is the Presbyterian hymn in the content? ”

            I know I’ve already poked at this too much, but I just can’t help it.

            No, there is not a Presbyterian hymn in the content. There is, however, a hymn written by Methodists that happens to be included in a Presbyterian hymnal as well as Baptist hymnals and even other denominational hymnals.

          • says

            Donald:

            The hymn is “Break Thou the Bread of Life” which is #263 in my 1991 Baptist Hymnal… it was written by Mary Lathbury, who was the daughter of a Methodist minster, and Alexander Groves… who I can’t really find much info on.

            The sermon podcasts they used in the material can be found here:
            http://www.gospelproject.com/adults/additionalresources/

            They have guys like Piper and Dever, but they also have Criswell, Patterson, and Adrian Rogers.

            A list of who all is quoted would take a lot of time to put together, but it includes again guys like Piper and Carson, but then also Rogers, Herschel Hobbs, and Criswell.

          • says

            Donald, you’re killing me here. All of those accusations by Caner only prove his thesis–“The Gospel Project has a Reformed Bias”–IF the Reformed beliefs of those people quoted are included in the material. In other words, Caner is arguing TGP is Reformed-leaning because it has Reformed authors being quoted. He, however, has not provided any evidence from the material. For example, are we really to believe that if Calvin used an analogy, no one else can ever use it again unless they have a Calvinist agenda? There’s been several Southern Baptists that have used that same illustration. Are you prepared to accuse some heroes in SBC history of a Calvinist agenda as well? R. G. Lee, Adrian Rogers, etc.?

            I hope anyone reading this thread sees how ridiculous all these accusations are. All the accusers are really grasping at the air. That’s why there’s no direct quotes from The Gospel Project.

            Was the illustration connected to John Calvin in The Gospel Project, or did Emir Caner do that himself?

          • Donald says

            Jared,
            I apologize for “killing you” (I laughed out loud when I read that), but I have not set out to prove Emir’s thesis. I really didn’t set out to be a lone voice typing this many characters in the picking my one little nit. Your original accusation is false, as Caner did refer to the published content instead of just the authors “other beliefs”. Thanks for taking the time to chat.

  7. Steve says

    This is getting ridiculous. The Gospel Project materials are excellent and they are very balanced. It seems to me that some in the SBC are suffering from “Calvinphobia” (fear and loathing of any hint of Calvinism). This is sad. As I understand it there has always been a Calvinistic influence in the convention along with a variety of other influences. The great blessing of being part of the SBC is that we can maintain our commitment to core biblical convictions while working together despite a variety of differences. Fighting over nuances of Calvinism-Arminianism and looking at each other with suspicion instead of charity is so heart-breaking and frustrating. We need to be a group that seeks to attract people who love God and his Word rather than push people away.

      • Steve says

        So it’s not actually about Calvinism. Really? Then why are some going over the curriculum with a fine-tooth comb to detect any trace of Calvinistic thought? Sorry I don’t quite get your point. I’ve learned some good things from some 5 point Calvinists, just as I’ve learned good things from non-Calvinists. If the point referred to in the curriculum is consistent with the BF&M what does it matter whether it came from a life-long Southern Baptist, a Presbyterian, or a Methodist, etc.

        • Donald says

          “The precipitating issue…is the rise of a movement called “New Calvinism” among Southern Baptists. This movement is committed to advancing in the churches an exclusively Calvinistic understanding of salvation, characterized by an aggressive insistence on the “Doctrines of Grace” (“TULIP”), and to the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation.”

          • Steve says

            So let me see if I get this. There are some Calvinistic Southern Baptists who want to persuade others that Calvinism is more biblical and more in line with the SBC’s theological roots(in their view) and that view is apparently gaining influence in the SBC. As a result, there is push-back from some in the SBC who have non-Calvinistic views and believe that Calvinism is less biblically convincing and they want to stop the spreading influence of Calvinism in the SBC. So they are committed to finding any trace of Calvinism in the Gospel Project so that they can…what? What do the critics of the Gospel Project want to happen?

          • Donald says

            Steve,

            I can only speak for myself, but what I would want is for TGP to become more balanced and therefore better.

            What has precipitated much of the current context is the fruit of this New Calvinism. One part of which is the tendency of some to hide their beliefs and agenda from a church when they are being interviewed and then moving forward with an agenda to reform the church. What makes this more than just a few bad apples (I know of three churches locally) is that this is encouraged.

            On founders.org there is recommended a guide on how a Pastor can reform a non-Calvinist church. I have cut and pasted a few practical suggestions given. Please read these with the proper scenario in mind, a Pastor is taking a position at a non-Calvinist church with the intention of making the church Calvinist. Please explain how this could be done without hiding his current theological position and without hiding his intentions to “reform” the church.

            From REFORMING A LOCAL CHURCH by Ernest C. Reisinger
            ———————————————–
            Don’t try any reformation until you have earned some spiritual credibility with the church.

            The first suggestion is study the Biblical principle of accommodation.

            When should they be implemented? Don’t try to do too much too soon.

            The principle of restraint. Don’t tackle the whole church at one time. Choose a few men who are sincere, teachable, and spiritually minded, and spend time with them in study and prayer. They will help you to reform.

            Exercise common sense.

            Don’t use theological language that is not in the Bible, in the pulpit, such as, Calvinism, reformed, doctrines of grace, particular redemption etc. Most people will not know what you are talking about.

            Often you will find, particularly, in older churches, a statement expressing the doctrines which you desire to establish. Hide behind these articles of faith. Hide behind our Baptist fathers, such as Bunyan, Spurgeon, Fuller, Boyce, Dagg, Broadus, Manly, W.B. Johnson, R.B.C. Howell and B.H. Carroll.

            Use sound literature, not indiscriminately, but wisely. Little things at first, that is, pamphlets and books with some doctrinal and experimental substance.

            The principle of priorities must be applied. You can’t change everything at once—first things first.

            The principle of two churches must be before us at all times.

        • Debbie Kaufman says

          I’ve learned some good things from some 5 point Calvinists, just as I’ve learned good things from non-Calvinists.

          Amen! I’ve also gotten some pretty bad theology from Calvinists and non-Calvinists. :) Sorry Dave, smileys are my life, but then you aren’t reading are you. :)

  8. Debbie Kaufman says

    Donald: I fail to see who teachings on Christ and God the Father could be “more balanced.” I can’t for the life of me understand having full lessons of God in everything, Christ in everything can be “balanced.”

    Have you seen the Gospel Project material?

  9. says

    Okay… enough about what Caner and some other guy at a blog said… let’s do this:

    1) The point of my post wasn’t too get into the “it’s pushing reformed theology vs. it’s not” debate… there’s been enough recently about that by people who have failed to provide actual quotes from the literature. The point is to highlight the positive aspects of the lit (from my own opinion)…

    2) But since it’s been brought up again… let’s see the actual quotes from the actual literature that is pushing the reformed agenda. If you’re so sure it is, then I’m sure you’ve read through the work book and leaders guide and made notes of all these reformed undertones. So let’s see them.

    Oh… and since the spiritual leprosy thing keeps being brought up, let’s actually quote from that passage:

    Leprosy is a disease that adversely affects the nervous system. It gradually numbs a person’s extremities to the point at which pain is no longer felt. You might think that never feeling pain would be a good thing, right? After all, if you’re going to get a filling in a tooth, you’re thankful for that shot of Novocain! Btu what if the numbing from the Novocain was permanent? What if the sensation of pain never returned to your mouth? over time, you’d chew your tongue off!

    Pain serves a purpose. In fact, it is a gift from God and part of His created order. Pain tells a child not to touch a hot stove. It tells a carpenter to take aim with a hammer. Pain warns and guides. And that’s the problem with leprosy. Lepers are numb to pain…

    More horrible than physical leprosy is spiritual numbness–the inability to recognize our sin and how it harms us and the inability to recognize God’s grace and how it benefits us. Sin sears our consciences, leading us away from life–in all its beauty and complexity. The end result is spiritual death.

    In today’s lesson, we will look at the consequences of our disobedience to God’s Word. The Bible teaches that we have long suffered from spiritual leprosy every since human beings sinned. In our time together, we will discuss how disobedience cuts us off from the Source of life, our best efforts to fix ourselves are in vain and for our vanity, and even our best desires are insufficient to change us.

    The Gospel Project, session 6 “Numb to the Word: Disobedience Leads to Death”, written by George Robinson, assistant professor of evangelism and missions at SEBTS; pg. 56-57, copyright 2012 Lifeway Christian Resources

    So other than tracing the terminology of “spiritual leprosy” back to Calvin… what exactly is there that most Baptists would disagree with?

  10. Donald says

    “let’s see the actual quotes from the actual literature that is pushing the reformed agenda. If you’re so sure it is, then I’m sure you’ve read through the work book and leaders guide and made notes of all these reformed undertones.”

    If you’re talking to me, go back and read what I’ve written. I’ve limited myself to nitpicking Jared/Alan where they said Emir only referenced the authors “other beliefs”: an obvious wrong statement that they (plus Chris) continue to defend. Well, I also briefly responded to Steve about why I believe that this all isn’t about Calvinism, in and of itself.

    • says

      I was talking to anybody… if people want to make assertations then they need to provide quotes in context to prove the point, otherwise it is blowing smoke and screaming fire where there is no fire…

      • Jim G. says

        Hi Mike,

        I did that several months ago, using the actual material, in a reply to a post here on Voices. While I don’t remember everything I wrote, I do remember saying that there were some Reformed catch-phrases in the freely-provided lessons among adults and students. While taken by itself it does not constitute much, the scope of the initial lessons are hardly anything about which trads and Cals severely disagree.

        The point, which I think everyone is skirting here, is that all or nearly all of the publicly-announced members of the advisory board and content-writers share a deterministic view of God’s dealings with creation. TGP promises to be a somewhat systematic overview of theological reflection over the life of the curriculum. What will be the content of the lessons when election, human freedom, salvation, and the like become the focus of the lessons? Can we realistically expect the overwhelmingly-determinist group of authors and advisors to present a theological view of providence with which they completely disagree (that is, anything non-deterministic)?

        This deterministic view of providence has far-reaching implications for other theological sub-disciplines (humanity, sin, Christ, salvation, and the church) as well as pastoral issues (dealing with evil, prayer, tragedy, and a host of others). My main concern is that when the topics are addressed where trads and Cals disagree – those influenced by determinism – what will we see? With such a virtual monopoly in leadership and authorship, we can be fairly sure where the teaching will go. That IS the reason why trads are balking.

        Jim G.

    • says

      Right Donald, I don’t blame you for not attempting to defend the positions that Green and Caner have taken. They are indefensible. Yes, Caner mentioned the word “content” in his analysis. You win. Unfortunately, for those who wish to know anything about the ACTUAL content, they’ll have to look elsewhere for it, because Caner doesn’t mention it other than 1 phrase and an incorrectly documented hymn.

      Now, the actual content and context of that phrase is listed above. How does it prove Caner’s thesis? Right. It doesn’t.

      So, the entire “scandal” created by sbctoday is nothing but a bunch of pomp and circumstance. That’s it. The entire complaint is about contributors, period. It’s not what they said. It’s what we “think” they might believe that makes this material so bad.

  11. says

    Dear Donald, can TGP get mo’ better?

    You said:

    I can only speak for myself, but what I would want is for TGP to become more balanced and therefore better.

    1. How is TGP unbalanced?
    2. What would you like TGP to be better than?

    • Donald says

      Mark,

      1. You’ve got me caught in a very unspecific sentence. I am referring to the theological imbalance of the contributors.

      2. I would like it to be better than it is now (see #1).

      Now, what really bothers me is the denial that there will be a theological bias to match the beliefs of the authors. How can the reformed NOT apply reformed hermeneutics? How can a bible teacher NOT teach what he considers to be truth? Who wants bible teachers that water down their lessons so that those with whom they disagree can’t tell the difference? Are we to believe that men of strong theological conviction will always sound the same as men of different theological convictions? The denials make no sense at all.

        • Donald says

          Jared,

          I really do get your point. I do not intend to convey that Calvinists are always wrong in their conclusions. I was recently reading Dr. Jay Adams (a REAL Calvinist, not one of you Baptist wannabe’s :-P ) and he was making a tremendously good point about a particular counseling situation. But, as he made his case he ultimately rested on his millennial views, of which I know him to be wrong. I was able to construct a biblical basis for his conclusions and therefore was able to apply them to my ministry. I have learned a great deal from Dr. Adams, as well as other Calvinist. I learned how to parent mostly from Tedd Tripp (another REAL Calvinist) and his book “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”. It is a source I use weekly in my ministry. In Seminary I studied under some Calvinist professors along with those more traditional in their theology. Those who agree with the issues I hold closest to my heart tend to be Calvinist, and my church is about 60% reformed.

          But, once again I will say that it is the denial of bias that is the big issue for me. It is this denial that makes folks suspect this is going to be more of the same stuff we have seen in local churches damaged by Calvinist trying to use stealth to “reform” a congregation.

          The SBC needs something like TGP, but we need to be able to trust it.

      • says

        Donald, what most people are asking for is specific proof of theological bias. Which brings me back to your statement, “Now, what really bothers me is the denial that there will be a theological bias to match the beliefs of the authors.

        It is a very slick debating tactic to make charges against something; not give explicit evidence of those charges; then, ask your opponent why they are denying the charges. You are attempting to shift the burden of proof by asking why something is denied that hasn’t been proven.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Donald: Again you have skipped over the question Mark asked. Your answer to Mark has nothing to do with the question of proof he asked you to provide. Again.

  12. Dean says

    Mike, thank you for the blog. I have read the reasons why you will use GP. I find it curios that no one is criticizing you for not saying a word about content. No one is criticizing you for saying you like it because of the names on the project. One should then be able to reject it for not liking the names on the project. I’m glad it reminded you of the Simpsons that’s what im looking for in literature. :) You said one thing that no one can argue with its for your church. I can’t argue with that. I want every church to have a pastor and literature that matches their theology. I don’t ever want a church to have another pastor that teaches theology they reject.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Dean: Mike’s entire post was about content. That is the content of the program. He even quoted in the comments an entire piece from the curriculum. I am reading your comment with unbelief.

      • Dean says

        Debbe would you quote me the content that Mike discussed. I’m sorry but he shared his opinion about the content but none of the content. I’m sorry for your disbelief but I stated what is obvious. I can say I think Jesus’ sermon on the mount is deep but that is not dealing with content. As for as gp, What makes it deep? How is it all about Jesus? It draws from a wide variety of contributors. Ok great who Rare they? The very fact that you somehow think this deals with content shows the complete inability for this topic to be discussed without bias. I’m sorry Debbie but if I see hints of Calvinism is not dealing w the content when trads write, it was shouted where show is on the content, then it’s deep is not dealing with content either.

  13. says

    Donald,

    What do you make of your church using the Calvinistic Abstract of Principles as its statement of faith? I confess I was very surprised to learn that when I noticed it a few weeks ago.

    • Donald says

      My church is mostly Calvinist. As we were organizing, I suggested the Abstract of Principles. I felt that those among us who are reformed would be very comfortable with the language and I had reconciled myself to it while at SEBTS after speaking with Dr. Patterson on the issue. When I first read it, I found some of the language very difficult but as I grew in my understanding of scripture and honed my skills at technical reading I came to realize that there was nothing in the Abstract that I cannot accept. Understand that I base my acceptance of the Abstracts on the words of the document, not on the intent of the author.

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Donald: If your church is mostly Calvinist, why are you in such battle mode against Calvinists? Why are you so bent against to destroy the Gospel Project, which has not been proven to have any Calvinist leanings? I don’t get it.

        • Donald says

          Debbie,
          I am not bent to destroy TGP. My desire is to see TGP become something much better. I am bothered by the reformed stacked deck. Mostly, the claim that there will be no bias just rubs me the wrong way. It also seems naive to think that there “just happened” to be a vast majority of Calvinist involved in TGP and I hate that that there appears to be a lack of open and honest dialog about why this is an issue for many. Using loaded terms like “secret conspiracy” just inflames those who see the obvious bent of the whole project, because it seems like so many are trying to simply dismiss what are valid and heartfelt concerns.

          I am riled up against those Calvinist Pastors who (using advice from founders.org to stealthily “reform” local churches) are wreaking much damage. I am eye witness to three such instances in my local area and it really ticks me off. I do not believe that Calvinism, in and of itself, is a problem.

          I am also riled up against those who calmly sit back and say there is no issue. I understand why my local DOMs are rabidly anti-Calvinist. The only fruit from Calvinism they have personally seen is damaged churches and hurt people. We are having a very difficult time joining our local association because we are perceived as being Calvinistic (family integrated, plurality of Pastors, Abstract of Principles, etc…).

          I know we can all get along, because it happens at my church every week. Right now, I am seeking another Pastor (to maintain a plurality of Pastors) and the leading candidate is reformed. Not an issue.

          I am not in an intentional “battle mode”, I just get caught up in moment at times.

  14. says

    Donald, I see you see you are fighting a losing battle. There is good reason for that.

    The initial accusation, which hung out to dry for over a month (if you begin with when it was posted on Pastor Green’s web-site) OR for nearly 3 weeks with SBCToday was this…

    1. The material has overt references to calvinism.
    2. The material is calvinistic indoctrination material.
    3. The material left him in shock for multiple days.

    Now, I will agree that Emir Caner SHIFTED the goalposts on us. He is not pretending to back up those claims, even though they were published on his site. Why? Because they are unprovable.

    Your narrow definition of “content” is funny, by the way. You stick to it in order to maintain that you are right in defending the attacks against the Gospel Project, but the meaning of content, when we’re speaking of a curriculum, is speaking of the actual WORDS ON THE PAGE intended to instruct the learner. When you analyze the actual content of TGP, you will find that it is not even close to what Green or Caner claim.

    The theological leanings of the contributors only matter IF they directly affect the content of the lessons and the theology presented. I wish some who are being critical would admit that no content that has been offered even shows a calvinistic bias, much less that it is calvinistic indoctrination. Dr. Caner should clarify that he disagrees with that assessment if he intends for his position to be different from that of his web-site.

    Look at the content quoted so far…
    Quote #1: “It is also an act of grace that God would reveal Himself to us personally. God was under no obligation to pull back the curtain and let us see aspects of His character and evidences of His power. He could have spoken the world in existence and then never spoken again, leaving us in ignorance about our Creator and our purpose.”

    This quote, according to Pastor Green, denies the love of God. Not only does it NOT deny the love of God, it is TEACHING the love of God in revealing Himself to man.

    Quote #2: “The point of the story is not about the type of fruit, as if the fruit juices would poison the minds of Adam and Eve. No, the poison of sin coursed through their veins before the fruit entered their mouths. ‘It was the not the nature of the tree that made it dangerous, the bearer of covenant curse and death, but what it stood for, obedience to the word of God.’”

    Pastor Green says that this quote implies that God is the author of sin, which he clearly is implying is a teaching of calvinism. This quote does not establish God as the author of sin. It is implying that Adam and Eve’s own desires were the source of sin. The Apostle James agrees, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

    Now, Emir Caner only quoted the material ONCE. Yes, ONE time. And his quote of the material consisted of ONE phrase, not even the context of the phrase, but just the phrase “spiritual leprosy.” He claims that this phrase originated with John Calvin and even implies (perhaps unintentionally) that Calvin himself is quoted in the material when he uses a quote of Calvin to make the case that TGP is calvinistic. It is very misleading. But as to the phrase itself, I can’t imagine that ANY traditionalist would disagree with the usage in TGP. It is merely speaking of man’s sinful condition.

    The only other reference to actual CONTENT is to a hymn, which is allegedly a “Presbyterian hymn.” This is patently false. The hymn, “Break Thou the Bread of Life,” was written by a Methodist and is included in both the 1991 and 2008 versions of the Baptist hymnal. Aside from this, the lyrics of that hymn are not in ANY way calvinistic.

    Bottom line: the complaint is ALL about the theological leanings of the contributors, NOT about any content. The content is not calvinistic and is certainly not calvinistic indoctrination.

    • Donald says

      “Your narrow definition of “content” is funny, by the way.”

      Well, you and Chris agree as he has claimed that I never cease to amuse.

      “Donald, I see you see you are fighting a losing battle.”

      I begin to wonder if I am on the same battlefield. I intended to do a nitpicking flyby at a badly worded accusation. Too much spare time today….idle hands and all. I understood early that I was using a different definition of “content” that others, but there was a dichotomy drawn where there only existed non-content (focused entirely on the “other beliefs” of the authors) and content which would have to be all the written material. My argument is technically right, which is really all I ever intended despite what others wanted to make of my comments.

      My personal doubts about TGP are entirely about the beliefs of the authors. I stand by my claim as to inevitable bias. The TGP deck is simply too stacked. Perhaps I’ll be wrong. Few would be happier than me if that happens.

      I would love to hear the answers to my list of questions above and what a lack of bias would look like and how it would be possible considering human nature and the strong convictions of all involved.

      • Donald says

        Here is the list of questions, should anyone want to answer them for me:

        How can the reformed NOT apply reformed hermeneutics? How can a bible teacher NOT teach what he considers to be truth? Who wants bible teachers that water down their lessons so that those with whom they disagree can’t tell the difference? Are we to believe that men of strong theological conviction will always sound the same as men of different theological convictions?

      • says

        You know Donald, if the writers of this curriculum were writing a curriculum intended to educate people regarding reformed theology, then sure, it would be expected that they wouldn’t be able to convey that without their bias entering in.

        But what is the purpose of this literature? This is Sunday School material. Sunday School is not intended to teach tulip. A theology class would be expected to address something like that. My point here is that there is not a necessary reason for why the theological bias of the contributors would have to come out. For example, I can teach that man is sinful without teaching imputed guilt, which is something theologians argue about that is not necessary for understanding man’s lost condition. I can teach God’s sovereignty without teaching unconditional election. I can teach about the atonement without specifying that it is particular. I can teach about God’s drawing and calling being necessary for salvation without saying that regeneration precedes faith. I don’t think any trad disagrees that God must draw and call before anyone will come.

        I think the whole debate is being overblown anyway. I’ve been attempting to find common ground with trads who post over at SBCToday but they refuse to accept anything other than a secret calvinistic takeover is in the works.

  15. says

    “and what a lack of bias would look like”

    It would look an awful lot like The Gospel Project. :)

    Sure, everyone has a bias toward their own theological position. But conviction does not mean those convictions will be imposed in writings, particularly when materials go through the editorial process of something of this sort.

    • Donald says

      “It would look an awful lot like The Gospel Project.”

      Perhaps. I’ll be very interested at what it looks like in a year or so.

      • says

        This is another frustrating aspect of the debate: “Sure, maybe it doesn’t promote Calvinism *now*, but what will it do in the future?” So much distrust. And why? Because people hear folks like SBC Today and a host of others talking about Calvinism and Calvinists as the enemy. They have bought into things that are not true and as such have been taught to view Calvinists with suspicion because if Calvinists are doing something, they *have* to be doing it in an attempt to take over the convention!

        • Donald says

          “So much distrust. And why?”

          Don’t over simplify the issue. To the one perceiving, perception is reality. When you so casually dismiss the heartfelt issues of others you close doors.

          In your own context, your previous accusations of semipelagianism and “the other one” has convinced most on the other side that you are primarily interested in spin. I really don’t know your heart, but do have a hard time trusting you. You really ticked me off as I had to transition from liking the guy who spoke about unity in the newspaper before the convention to disliking the guy who was blasting my personal friends for being heretical semipelagianist.

          The real issues did not begin with “talking about Calvinism and Calvinists as the enemy”, but got there thru what has been experienced and the condescending and dismissive attitude that Calvinist (at least the loudest and most persistent ones) demonstrate when there is a discussion.

          Is there a secret conspiracy? I don’t think so, but I do think that there is a consensus and a certain pragmatism that I find distasteful in pastors. I also think that there is a tribalism that causes a Calvinist dog-pile on top of anyone who challenges the good intent of their leaders or who tries to point out those personal experiences that have helped to shape opinions. There is this never-ending demand for evidence, while dismissing our testimony and logical assumptions with cries of –“Red Herring!” “Begging the question!” “Strawman!” “Slippery slope!” “False dichotomy!” “Bandwagon!” “Cum Hoc!” “Weak analogy!” “Tu Quoque!”. The greatest desire seems to be winning the debate of the moment rather than understanding that our concerns are valid even if we could not gain a conviction with the evidence at hand. There is no difference between my perceptions and my understanding of reality – and this is true of everyone.

          Just sayin’ <== (this means you can’t get mad or come down hard on me for what I just said!)

  16. Steve says

    I really find this whole “battle” so sad. If Calvinistic (whatever stripe) Southern Baptists and non-Calvinistic (whatever stripe) Southern Baptists can’t show each other grace and learn from each other and build ministries together, then what hope do we have of reaching lost people for Christ and turning around our decline? The fact is after reading all this stuff about the Gospel Project: there is nothing fair about the attacks against the material. If there is a suble Calvinistic bias it’s so subtle most can’t find it. I think the curriculum is very well done and I don’t think it likely that the PCA is going to use it to teach Calvinism at their churches!