Musings on Houston

The SBC Annual meeting in Houston seems destined to be one of the less confrontational in recent history. There is no GCR Report to debate, no Traditionalist document recently released to stir up passions, no major kerfuffles, no intense race for office as yet. It looks to be a peaceful time.

But looks can be deceiving. I’ve gone into business meetings thinking there was nothing of significance that could spark a debate and left the meeting an hour later feeling like I’d been hit by a hurricane. When Baptists gather for business meetings there is an unpredictable volatility attached. Perhaps some issue will arise in the next month that will nullify my predictions.

The most likely candidate for that would be, of course, Dr. Page’s Calvinism study committee. More about that later.

Here are the things I see happening this year. You need not remind me of the warnings in Deuteronomy 13 about prophecies that do not come to pass. These are my (somewhat) informed opinions – no prophetic mantle is claimed.

1) A new SBC 2nd VP will be elected – one who does not own a lime green suit. I’ve been asked if I’m running for reelection and the answer is no. While the president traditionally runs for two terms, the VPs do not. I understand that there is no term limit officially, but it is traditional. However, if David Worley will wear the lime green suit (it might fit him) I will arrange to have him nominated for 2nd VP.

2) A motion or resolution (likely the latter) will be made concerning the situation at Louisiana College. It will be properly ruled out of order. We are all entitled to our opinions on the situation there, but the SBC has no right to intervene, interfere or even opine on the subject. If the SBC took a stand on the LC issue (or any of the other Baptist colleges encountering stress) it would violate our cherished principle of autonomy. Dr. Page, the EC and the SBC are required to stay out of the affairs of a state convention and a college it owns. Autonomy is the least understood principle of Baptist life.

3) Dr. Page’s Calvinism study group will likely provide a report. It will probably focus on the need for mutual respect and cooperation – the keys to both Baptist and biblical behavior. I doubt there are going to be any radical systemic changes advocated. If such does occur, there will be fireworks, of course. Frank Page is not a provocateur and I doubt his study group will be either. We’ll see.

4) Houston will be brutally hot and humid.  It won’t matter to me. The one perk of being 2nd VP is a room in the convention hotel, which will mean I can stay in the air-conditioning 24/7. That’s my plan.

5) I suspect that there may be some test-case resolutions or motions offered by the self-identified Traditionalists. I have no idea what they will be, but I suspect they will be something on the order of the Sinner’s Prayer resolution last year. They will be designed to get the convention to go on record supporting their views. It would not surprise me if some sort of resolution concerning the spiritual condition of children appears – that has been a constant point of debate. On this site, several of the more prominent folks on that SBC extreme have promised that they are planning to go on offense. I tend to believe them.

6) The Q&A sessions for the various entity heads may be among the more tense and politically charged moments again. Let’s face it. In the last couple of conventions, the Q&A sessions have been some of the more interesting moments of confrontation. Attempts at “gotcha” questions. People stacking the deck at the microphones to make sure an entity head only had to field softball questions. Intense questions and intense answers.

Permit a momentary rant: the SBC is a huge entity, and the fact that our entity heads have to stand before the convention and take questions from the floor is one of our true moments of popular accountability. It should be treated with respect and integrity. Orchestrated attempts to control the mics and prevent an entity president from fielding tough questions are perhaps not illegal by our bylaws, but they are unfortunate.

No one ever died from fielding a tough question. Too many leaders act as if a contrary opinion is a personal attack. It is not. Those who voice dissent and even ask tough questions are not enemies of the organization. Leaders ought to face those questions head on, not dodge them with political shenanigans!

Who can forget the famous question Peter Lumpkins asked to Dr. Mohler a couple of years ago. Some thought Peter’s question was somehow wrong. Others did not like Dr. Mohler’s answer. But I think that was a great moment in SBC life. Peter would likely be described as one of the more vocal opponents of Calvinism in the SBC. But he got a chance to go to the mic and boldly challenge the de facto leader of the SBC Calvinist contingent. Peter asked his question. Dr. Mohler answered it.

I’m glad that the SBC is a denomination in which a powerful entity head has to take questions from one who might be considered a blogging antagonist!

The entity Q&A sessions are important. Let them unfold with integrity. People with issues ought to be allowed to address those issues.

7) Fred Luter will bring it!  I was at the fall Executive Committee meeting and Fred had prepared a president’s report. He was chided by the members of the EC. They wanted to hear him preach! He promised that his future president’s reports would be sermons. I’m pretty sure he’s going to use his president’s address to bring the Word in a powerful way. I won’t miss that part.

8) Hopefully, there will be increasing evidence of the growth of multi-racial participation in the SBC. There have been hopeful signs. Two major entity hirings recently have been African Americans. Obviously, Fred Luter is our president. We have a long way to go, but progress is being made. One thing we know – the podium will not be lily-white this year. Thank God!

9) The Pastor’s Conference is going to be good. However, I will be a bad boy and hang out in the display area, hit restaurants, and hang with friends during good portions of it. Am I unspiritual if I just can’t sit through that many sermons in one day?

10) I’m going to blog and tweet, but perhaps not as much as previous years. In recent years, SBC Voices has been the most active blog during the SBC. I hope to keep the site active during those days, but I’m going to have a couple of other responsibilities that will not permit me to devote the entire convention to working the blog.

The SBC is kind of like the old story of the six blind men and the elephant. Each touches a different part of the elephant and forms opposite opinions about what the elephant is. I sat through discussions and votes at previous SBCs and came away with certain strong impressions. Then, when we start talking about it here, I realize that some people at the same convention saw completely different discussions. I guess that is to be expected.

Last week, I asked who was going. Today, the question is what you think will happen. Please, let’s not turn this into another Traditionalist/Calvinist food-fight, okay? But tell us what you think might happen in Houston.

One question: I’ve not seen any announcements of nominations for the VP positions. Any of you know who is running?

 

Comments

  1. says

    “One question: I’ve not seen any announcements of nominations for the VP positions. Any of you know who is running?”

    This has surprised me as well. No word of any nominations for positions, nor any word of proposed resolutions.

    I will go ahead and announce that I am ready to submit a new Unity resolution which is designed to fix some of the lingering problems. Namely, it is hard for me to be unified with people if I have to travel so far to see them. In the future, all SBC annual meetings should be held within a four-hour driving range of Panama City, FL, thus making my participation easier and increasing unity.

    I’m told that a follow-up resolution has been proposed stating that if all future annual meetings must be held in a four-hour driving radius of Panama City, then it must be four hours due south.

    • Greg Harvey says

      You don’t really “run” for VP just like you’re not supposed to “run” for president. It’s more like you get the warm, embarrassed feeling–not unlike when you didn’t make it to the bathroom in time–that your friends “love you” by them conspiring to stick you with a mostly perfunctory title for a year. Amirite, Dave?

      • Dave Miller says

        Running would be the generic term, I guess. “Allowing your name to be place in nomination?”

        I only remember one candidate who really ran for office – and it was back in around 1990. As we came into the convention center, the moderate candidate had campaign workers handing out fliers advocating his election.

        Politicking happens, of course, but it is usually behind the scenes.

        As I have said a hundred times, the election of the 2nd VP is all about the nominating speech (thanks, Alan). This was tested in 2006 when a certain CA pastor was elected on the basis of a nominating speech written by someone who went on to be a speechwriter for politicians.

  2. Dave Miller says

    This is going to be an interesting SBC. I used to just go and hang out with my dad and his friends. Then, I’d go and hang out with people I knew. Then, I’d go and blog. This year, I actually have some responsibilities – though not significant ones – so it will be unusual.

    • Bart Barber says

      “Unusual” just in reference to your normal convention experience? Or in view of life in general? :-)

      (You left the door WIDE open with that last comment)

  3. Dave Miller says

    By the way, unless the results are so embarrassing that I want to pretend that this post never happened, I will try to do a “how’d I do?” post on these issues after the convention.

  4. says

    I don’t know what to expect I’ve never been. I’ve been to state conventions and some of the BGCT conventions in the 90s got dicey. I hoping this won’t be like that.

    • Dave Miller says

      Even our recent conventions, with their kerfuffles, have not rivaled the hostility of the conventions back in the CR days, nor, I would imagine, the BGCT conventions you reference.

  5. says

    I predict a lot of Tex-Mex will be eaten (I will do my part)! I predict that suit/sport coats will be a rarity – or should be! And for the big one – not much news will come out of Houston at all!

    • Rick Patrick says

      Houston will be boring, but undoubtedly better than Orlando’s GCR fiasco (cue woman from Ohio restoring order on the convention floor), Phoenix’s tortured explanation of the manner in which Southern Baptists have lied about homosexuality, and New Orleans’s adoption of the optional and informal descriptor GCB, which everyone declared to be vital prior to the meeting, only to see it vanish afterwards, never to be heard from again.

      It will be nice to have a convention without such foolishness. Then again, if Dave is right, there may be some new foolishness no one is even anticipating yet.

      • says

        I’m hoping that if Dr. Page’s Calvinism/Traditionalism/Baptist Task Force has a report that it either comes out soon, or is presented for consideration and discussion this year with nothing to vote until next year.

        We’re within a month of the SBC, and anything substantive needs more than just a release on Tuesday with a vote on Wednesday, if you want my opinion. Probably a couple of weeks prior would be adequate and preferable to a whole year rehashing the same words.

          • says

            Which is fine, too…

            I just don’t think we need a report from another committee that met in secret to be fully disclosed within 72 hours of voting. Too Congressional for my taste.

            A report that includes suggestions on how to work our way forward that is intended to be suggestions that we can build on? Another story entirely. We do need to go ahead and admit that whatever comes during that report, the discussion is far from over.

  6. Randall Cofield says

    Only in the current climate of the SBC could one of the most historically erudite and compelling answers by an entity head to a question from the floor be characterized as a “tortured explanation of the manner in which Southern Baptists have lied about homosexuality.”

    smh while :-)

    • Rick Patrick says

      We have not lied in any sense of the word, however eloquent the phrasing of the accusation.

  7. Volfan007 says

    Dave, David Worley…SBC 2nd VP…lol….wearing the famous lime green suit….priceless and lol.

    David

    • Dave Miller says

      You are confusing extreme and extremist. I’m speaking of points on a continuum. In the debate regarding soteriology, the 5-pointers comprise one extreme and the Traditionalists the other. Many Calvinists and non-Calvinists comprise the middle between those extremes.

      I think the middle between the extremes is the majority, but time will tell.

      • says

        Thanks for the clarification, Dave. I understand better what you were saying although I would say the Traditionalist view is the norm for most Southern Baptists. :)

          • says

            Just for grins, explain what you mean by “we’ll see, won’t we.” Seems to me the only way to know is to poll the local churches. Do you think that what happens at the annual meeting determines the theology of our local churches?

          • Dave Miller says

            I meant nothing nefarious or threatening. It was just a throwaway line.

            My position has been consistent on this. The only true majority in the SBC is the majority of voters at the SBC who decide issues.

      • Bart Barber says

        Picking a theological nit here…my apologies…it’s an almost Tourette’s-like compulsion on my part…I need therapy, I think.

        Anyway, I’m not sure that you could demonstrate safely that the 5-pointers and the Traditionalists represent the extreme ends of the soteriology debate. Once a person has adopted a 5-point position, there is the whole lapsarian debate that lies beyond. And beyond that one, for the supers, there are the issues related to hyper-Calvinism (eternal justification, denial of general offers of grace, etc.) On the other side, clearly there’s Arminianism looming beyond the Traditionalist position. Arminianism, taken further, tends to compromise the deity of Christ and the nature of God (whether we’re talking about Melchior Hoffman, Matthew Caffyn, or Rob Bell, the story is remarkably similar).

        I’d say that, even just within the ranks of the SBC, those on the one hand who are Traditionalists and nothing more and those on the other hand who are 5-point Calvinists and nothing more (are sublapsarian, etc.) actually occupy spaces near the center of a soteriological continuum that stretches far into dark, dangerous areas beyond us.

        • Dave Miller says

          My point was that there are a lot of us here between the 5-pointers and the Traditionalists. Most I know who hold Calvinism in some way don’t buy all 5 points. There are a lot if non-Cs who don’t take the Trad label.

          I was making a point, but perhaps it was not well made.

        • says

          Bart,

          I’d almost place the Trads to the left of Classical Arminianism…at least depending on which article we are discussing. In article two a classical arminian is actually closer to a Calvinist than a traditionalist.

          But if we are talking about article 9 then the Traditionalist would be closer to the classical Arminian position.

          Would Trads agree?

  8. William Thornton says

    Regret not being able to be there, although I have had offers now totalling $15 to help pay my expenses and am looking for flights/hotels/meals that will fit that budget.

    On Frank Page’s Calvinist study group: There will be a report but I get the sense that an opportunity has been lost here. I may be guilty of irrational expectations but I had thought this might amount to something helpful. Instead, the group met in secret, discussed in secret, and so far has reported in secret. I don’t know if any recommendations are to be published prior to Page’s report at the convention. Perhaps Frank has decided that this is a train wreck that is going to happen and he should just get out of the way. I hope not.

    • Dale Pugh says

      I, for one, am disappointed in what hasn’t come from the Calvinism committees discussions. I’m inclined to agree with you.

    • says

      The success or failure of the study group will correlate to the wisdom of their report and whether we follow it.

      I think that open meetings would have been counterproductive.

      • William Thornton says

        “counterproductive”…?

        Odd, seeing that many SBCers are perfectly willing to discuss this publicly, and incessantly.

        The ‘closed door’ approach is a symptom of what ails us in many areas of SBC life. The only profit from secret meetings is that the elite do not have to be open and transparent about their views, thereby avoiding having to own up to their words when future jobs, appointments, and elections are held.

        I’d apologize for my cynicism but came by it quite honestly as an SBCer.

      • Dale Pugh says

        I would say that “wisdom” in this case involves some transparency. I’m not saying that the meetings should have been public nor am I suggesting that they’re not being productive. What I’m concerned with is that there would be some disclosure of the discussions and openness about how they’re progressing. Right now it’s just one more study group and those of us who do care about the information aren’t getting any information.

    • Randall Cofield says

      I don’t think the tension on this issue is as high at the leadership level as it is at the blogosphere level.

      If leadership tension ever rises to the level of blogosphere tension, the SBC goose is cooked.

      • William Thornton says

        Page has repeatedly said that this is an area of great concern to him; hence, the committee.

      • says

        If the issue of calvinism is not causing tension at the leadership level then we need new leadership. The reason it is causing tension in the blogosphere is because real tension exists between the two camps.

        Any attempt to ignore this a great example of denial on steroids.

        • says

          The reason why it is not causing tension at the leadership level yet is because no one has identified a solution that would involve the leadership. If the hope is for the leadership to take actions that the grassroots do not and will not publicly propose and demand … that is not going to happen.

        • Andrew says

          What about those in the third camp (I believe the majority of pastors & SBCers who are neither Calvinists nor Traditionalists) who are caught in the crossfire? They feel the tension of wondering when we can get back to focusing on reaching the largest group, those “outside the camp” (Heb 13:13).

          (And we wonder why younger ministers don’t want to attend the annual meetings…smh).

        • says

          Also, lots of the issues are best addressed at the local level anyway. With the firings of Calvinist professors at Campbellsville and Louisiana College, it already is. You can also add churches needing to do a better job of screening potential pastors. Beyond that, what is it that you wish for the leaders to do?

          • William Thornton says

            I wish for them to provide leadership in this area where we are having far too much rancor.

          • says

            @William:

            That wish is almost impossible to grant because the ones generating the rancor are only going to interpret “agreeing with me and implementing my agenda” as “leadership.” If you make pro-Calvinist decisions, the traditionalists will complain. If you make pro-traditionalist decisions the Calvinists will complain. And if you call for unity and leave things pretty much the same, you will be accused of being part of the Calvinist plan to take over the SBC, or at least not being strong and principled enough to admit that such a plan is going on and try to fight to save the SBC.

            So that goes back to my original question/challenge to Bob Hadley: the leaders won’t take action unless someone identifies the actions that they want the leaders to take, whether it is one side making definite policy proposals aimed at limiting the growth and influence of Calvinism in the SBC or the other side making their own proposals to ensure and protect the ability of Calvinists to use legitimate honorable means to increase their numbers and influence. Until that happens, then we are going to get more appeals for unity, more study groups, and more sinners prayer/invitation resolutions and no real leadership, because unless an agenda to act on is presented, there won’t be any evidence that people want actual leadership as opposed to merely something to argue about.

          • William Thornton says

            @Job:

            I suspect there will some items offered by Page et al. Of course, it’s all voluntary and several levels of autonomous entities are involved together with notoriously recalcitrant pastors.

            Perhaps a bit of optimism is needed herer.

          • Dave Miller says

            And William, I think that is probably what they will focus on – ways to deal with the rancor. Not sure there will be any systemic structural changes – that’s not the issue. They will deal with the rancor – how to walk together in peace.

            That will be ignored by the more harsh elements on both ends, but perhaps there will be some real help for the rest of us.

        • Randall Cofield says

          Bob,

          If the leadership does not handle itself better than many in the blogosphere have, the SBC goose is cooked.

          I’m encouraged that our leadership has not over-reacted to this issue.

          ‘Course, some–as one very vocal participant from the Trad camp who emailed me privately–are interpreting this lack of over-reaction as our leadership (namely Mohler) being “yellow,” :-)

          Go figure….

          • Dale Pugh says

            People on blogs do tend to get a little “stupid” at times, and the rancor among Christians on both sides of the issue can be appalling. I would expect that those speaking publicly for an official SBC study group that does it’s work face-to-face is going to be much more measured and reasonable in it’s communications.
            From what I’ve seen of Mohler, “yellow” is hardly a fitting descriptor. I disagree with him at several points, but I doubt that, if I knew him, I would find him to be cowardly in any way. I believe the same would be true of every other member of the study committee. Such rhetoric is certainly not helpful to the discussion.

        • Dave Miller says

          The tension exists where we create it. No tension exists at my church where my staff has a wide array of views. Tension is created by treating the “other side” as a danger.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Dave,

            Granted, in some churches, like yours and that of Chris Roberts, the “other side” is not a danger.

            But you and Chris simply cannot export that perspective to all SBC churches everywhere. Any church that has been “burned” by a Calvinist split, or by subterfuge on the part of a less than forthcoming ministry candidate, or some other strain in the life of the fellowship due to people on either side who are just as soteriologically exclusive as Acts 29, will not be open to this kind of easy neutrality. Some churches will choose to be EITHER Trad OR Cal, but not both.

            They are not flawed creators of tension. They have simply resolved the conflict in a different manner than you have.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Tell it to the mother who wrote me thanking me for one of my articles and sharing the story of the emotional pain caused in her church by the Young Restless Reformed Youth Minister doing the very thing I’m talking about here. This story is being repeated many times over.

            Although it has not been an issue in three of the churches I’ve served, it has indeed been a problem in two of the churches I’ve served. I’m just saying let’s not act like it’s not a problem ANYWHERE just because it’s not a problem WHERE YOU ARE.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Same story I keep hearing repeated. Turns the youth group on to Piper, Driscoll, et al. Kids become little Calvinistas–cage stage. Goes home and tells Mom and Dad what he believes. Mom and Dad freak because it doesn’t even sound close to what they believe. They get upset, which is understandable, then go to the church to find out who changed the doctrine of the church.

            In two cases I know of, they didn’t do it during the regular Wednesday or Sunday youth group time, but during a special weeknight Bible study with some of the select kids. The word “insidious” was used. Again, if you’re going to teach Trad kids to be Cals, it needs to be open and on the up and up.

          • says

            “I’m just saying let’s not act like it’s not a problem ANYWHERE just because it’s not a problem WHERE YOU ARE.”

            It would also be worth saying let’s not act like it’s a universal problem when it’s far from it. Let’s also not act as though the problem is Calvinism or the attitude of Calvinist ministers. Let’s also not act as if Calvinists are the only ones causing trouble in churches when far more churches experience far more problems from far more non-Calvinist ministers.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Rick,

            Assuming the youth minister taught contra the BF&M (a rather large assumption I am willing to grant because of your lack of specificity), the problem to which you are referring is much larger than a youth pastor problem…

            It is a senior pastor/shepherding problem.

            If it is indeed happening “many times over,” then what you are facing is a crisis in senior pastor leadership.

            Blaming it on the young-uns is facetious.

            Grace to you, brother.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Well, as a Senior Pastor, I have discovered a way to make sure it never happens in a church where I serve…simply screen out Calvinists when selecting a Youth Minister. See, I can’t really fault him for teaching what he believes, but I can refuse to bring him on staff if what he believes is incompatible with the church.

          • Greg Buchanan says


            but I can refuse to bring him on staff if what he believes is incompatible with

            (edit) me and my view of scripture.”

            Now it is more clear I think.

          • Scott Shaver says

            Works for me. Especially if “my theology” reflects that of a majority of voting church members.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Rick,

            What about a Calvinist who believes right down the line the BF&M? No more, no less. Does not preach or teach outside the boundaries of the BF&M.

            Would he be “simply screen(ed) out”? Would he be “incompatible” with your church?

            Grace to you, brother.

          • volfan007 says

            Randall,

            What’s wrong with Rick’s Church not wanting a Calvinist as thier Youth Pastor? There’s nothing wrong with that, whatsoever….just like there’d be nothing wrong with a Church, which didnt want a Worship Leader, who’d sing nothing but old hymns from piano and organ music. That’s just not the direction they’d want thier Church to go….

            David

          • Joe Blackmon says

            Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

            But….

            What if it was some guy who happened to be Calvinist, was up front about what they believed (i.e. they’re not trying to hide it and come in to change the church), and when they’d come to a passage about which Calvinists and Trads disagree they presented both sides and affirmed both sides as being within the bounds of orthodoxy?

          • Rick Patrick says

            Randall,

            Would he be “simply screen(ed) out”? Would he be “incompatible” with your church?

            Yes, of course. Welcome to the world of theological candidate screening. Pastors, Youth Ministers, Directors of Missions…all of these are being asked about their soteriology today IN ADDITION TO their acceptance of the BFM. We cannot afford NOT to ask these questions.

            Our congregation has suffered through this enough already. Imagine a youth group controversy in which parents call and are enraged that their kids are learning doctrines they disaffirm. It’s just not what we believe. It’s not what we want to teach our kids. The same exact thing has happened in the congregation where I will begin my ministry in a couple of weeks. They are not really Calvinists, and they don’t want anyone “reforming” the theology of their youth group.

            If you did not know, let me tell you, there are certain churches in our convention who have felt “burned” by Closet Calvinist Youth Ministers.
            This thing works both ways. These churches are no more open to a Calvinist Youth Minister than Piper’s church would be open to a Non-Calvinist Pastor. Theological screening over soteriology is becoming the norm, not the exception.

          • Scott Shaver says

            To requote:

            “What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.” Axiom still holds true.” NonCalvinists have every right to be as theologically prudent in the placement of people for which they have oversight as the Calvinists claim to be doing at places like Southern and Southeastern.

            Have never appreciated autonomy more than in the last 15 years as a Southern Baptist.

          • Donald says

            “If it is indeed happening “many times over,” then what you are facing is a crisis in senior pastor leadership.”

            There could very well be a crisis in senior pastor leadership as well as church lay leadership. But often search committees are not up-to-speed on the nomenclature used by reformed ministers to mask their Calvinism, nor the very real issue of pastors hiding their theology until they can move to reform the local church.

            Consider that one frequently posting pastor has stated, here on sbcvoices, that it is OK for a pastor to hide his Calvinism unless specifically asked. He cites his personal past experience of not being hired when he did bring up his theology and that at his present church he did not volunteer the info in order to get the job. All this justified due to the lack of “any issues” resulting from this questionable practice. It should be obvious that this mentality is a huge part of the current problem. I don’t remember any of the other frequently posting Calvinist pastors calling him out on it and I am left with the impression that the rest of you are in agreement that this is perfectly fine.

          • says

            Donald,

            Would I be correct in assuming you mean me? So to set the record straight, the two churches I interviewed with were both told my position on the issue. One church didn’t go any further, the other church called me anyway. Nonetheless, if a church does not ask about this or that point of theology, the pastor is under no obligation to take the initiative to tell.

            So I’m curious, how often does the “very real issue of pastors hiding their theology” actually take place? I’m sure it’s happened, but I’m not aware of a single incident.

          • Donald says

            “So I’m curious, how often does the “very real issue of pastors hiding their theology” actually take place? I’m sure it’s happened, but I’m not aware of a single incident.”

            Chris,
            I have privately sent you three local examples. You decided not to check out any of them, and so it is a bit shady to say that you don’t know of a single incident.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Donald,

            There could very well be a crisis in senior pastor leadership as well as church lay leadership. But often search committees are not up-to-speed on the nomenclature used by reformed ministers to mask their Calvinism, nor the very real issue of pastors hiding their theology until they can move to reform the local church.

            It is inexcusable–in all churches, at all times–for senior pastors, lay leadership, and search committees to be theologically uninformed.

            Hence, the real crisis and problem lies not with the so-called YRR kids, but with the senior leadership.

            Grace to you, brother.

          • Donald says

            “It is inexcusable–in all churches, at all times–for senior pastors, lay leadership, and search committees to be theologically uninformed.”

            I agree, but it is the state of things in some places. In those situations, the candidate is not excused from bringing up anything that might be an issue.

          • Randall Cofield says

            Tell it to the mother who wrote me thanking me for one of my articles and sharing the story of the emotional pain caused in her church by the Young Restless Reformed Youth Minister doing the very thing I’m talking about here. –Rick Patrick

            Rant on.

            Such postulates are the result of the church capitulating to a “therapeutic” culture in which “feelings” are elevated to a god-like status. If our feelings are hurt, if we suffer any “emotional pain,” there must be a culprit and the culprit must pay. We must never be challenged, never be confronted, never be made to “feel” uncomfortable.

            What ever happened to the church’s responsibility to teach the truth of God’s Word to its members? Teach them to stand on their own two feet theologically? Teach them to teach their children diligently the truths of our God and talk of them when they sit in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up? Teach the generations to be able and articulate defenders of the faith once delivered to the saints?

            Are we being somehow compelled to be and raise “theological dwarfs” who become emotionally traumatized by every wind of doctrine that blows in our churches? NO! WE ARE NOT!

            Therefore, if these so-called YRRs are teaching false doctrine (and it is yet to be established that they are), stop complaining and appealing to the denominational leaders to marginalize them through “proportionality” and fix the problem at its root by raising up generations capable of defending the faith.

            If our pastors and churches will not learn to defend ourselves against false teaching by knowing the truth, rest assured, the “denomination” cannot save us from ruin.

            Rant off.

          • Rick Patrick says

            That mother WAS defending herself and her child from a doctrine she believes to be false teaching.

          • says

            And when a Calvinist defends himself from what he believes to be false teaching, what is your response?

          • says

            That was meant in reply to Rick Patrick’s “That mother WAS defending herself and her child from a doctrine she believes to be false teaching.”

          • says

            Dave, what you said is exactly what I’ve noticed – “The tension exists where we create it. No tension exists at my church where my staff has a wide array of views. Tension is created by treating the “other side” as a danger.

          • says

            @Rick:

            Blaming the Calvinist side for all the tension – making one side guilty and the other innocent – is a source of tension in and of itself.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            You can add the church I attend to this scenario of non-issue or contention too. In the 21 years we have attended, the small minority who tried to make it an issue are either no longer attending or having learned the truth on both beliefs have made it a non-issue.

          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Splits usually happen because of politics. Backdoor politics and rumor. Splits are not usually caused because of the truth. When eyes are on Christ and differing views on non-matters encouraged, there is rarely a split.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Job,
            I am certainly not blaming the ENTIRE Calvinist side, but when a Calvinist Youth Minister fails to reveal his Calvinism, and then sneaks it into his youth group teaching against the wishes of the parents, that church will forever be “on red alert, no Calvinists welcome.” They will never take the chance that it will happen again. Neutrality is now out the window, as this church has become, understandably, radically anti-Calvinized. I don’t blame all the Calvinists, but I must admit that this one has ruined it for any and all others.

          • says

            @Rick:

            “I am certainly not blaming the ENTIRE Calvinist side”

            That isn’t what I said (or wrote). Either actually respond to my points or don’t bother responding at all.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Job,

            I WAS interacting with your statement. I will try to be more clear so that you can see how.

            You wrote: “Blaming the Calvinist side for all the tension – making one side guilty and the other innocent – is a source of tension in and of itself.”

            I was merely pointing out that no one is doing what you said, namely, “blaming the Calvinist side,” at least not in its entirety. Rather, many are blaming / holding accountable CERTAIN Calvinists who are indeed blameworthy for their sin of dishonesty when they go into a church without identifying their Calvinist convictions and seek to reform that congregation, upsetting the unity of the fellowship.

            This subterfuge is indeed on the Calvinist side. (I have never heard of a Traditionalist going into a Calvinist church secretly and trying to “counter-reform” the congregation.) So, in this particular case, it really is one side causing the tension. However, and I cannot stress this highly enough, no one is saying that the ENTIRE Calvinist side is to blame–only the ones doing this dirty little trick.

            I was interacting with your statement primarily by modifying your subject, which was the act of “blaming the Calvinist side.” I was disagreeing with the fact that it does no good, because I believe it accomplishes a great deal when we hold these Stealth Calvinists responsible for their actions.

          • says

            @Rick Patrick:

            “This subterfuge is indeed on the Calvinist side.”

            There. That is better. And as I said, blaming all the tension on the Calvinists is a major reason for the tension. You can agree or disagree, but it will remain a fact.

      • cb scott says

        “If leadership tension ever rises to the level of blogosphere tension, the SBC goose is cooked.”

        Randall Cofield, That would be kinda bad, don’t you think? I just hope the SBC goose’s name is not Servetus. That would really be weird.

        • cb scott says

          I don’t think we have a problem though. I heard the SBC goose’s name is Aflac.

  9. says

    Anyone familiar with the composition fallacy? An example from the linked article reads:

    1. Individual F things have characteristics A, B, C, etc.
    2. Therefore, the (whole) class of F things has characteristics A, B, C, etc.

    I get the feeling that this is what is being implemented by some non-Calvinists toward Calvinists in the SBC. I.e. Some individual SB Calvinists do A, B, C, etc.; therefore, all SB Calvinists must do A, B, C, etc. so they all must be dealt with.

  10. Randall Cofield says

    Rick Patrick,

    I am certainly not blaming the ENTIRE Calvinist side, but when a Calvinist Youth Minister fails to reveal his Calvinism, and then sneaks it into his youth group teaching against the wishes of the parents, that church will forever be “on red alert, no Calvinists welcome.” They will never take the chance that it will happen again. Neutrality is now out the window, as this church has become, understandably, radically anti-Calvinized.

    It would seem to me that Calvinists have equally valid concerns relating to Trads. Yet, for the most part, we work shoulder to shoulder with them every day without becoming anti-Tradized…or breaking out in hives…

    Grace to you, brother.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Nope, you are anti-Tradized but won’t admit it. Acts 29 would not accept me as a church planter because I’m a Trad. Southern would not accept me on their faculty because I’m a Trad. Founders, PLNTD, 20 Schemes…the list goes on and on and on.

      You guys THINK you are cooperating with everyone else when really you are forming a big five point clique.

      • Dave Miller says

        Some 5-pointers are cliquish – as are some Traditionalists.

        I think most of us want to aspire to something that goes beyond the rivalry, competition and hostility that too often prevail.

      • says

        Rick, it seems you’re changing the argument from a Calvinist youth pastor sneaking into a church to feeling excluded by the organizations you listed. Yet, none of those organizations except Southern are official SBC. Why don’t you start a church planting network for Trad’s only?

        Also, how do you know Southern would not hire you? Did you apply?

      • says

        Each of the organizations you mention are not local churches. Calvinists and non-Calvinists in my church have no trouble cooperating with one another. I can’t speak for Traditionalists; not aware that we have any.

      • says

        Rick, I did notice in the preamble of all those Calvinist Confessions you point to how they declared their “Anti-Traditionalism.” Oh wait, that was the preamble in the Traditionalist confession declaring its anti-Calvinism. My bad :).

        Pro-Calvinism is not Anti-Traditionalism. That’s a huge difference between Calvinism and Traditionalism in the SBC. The Calvinists are largely Pro-Calvinism not Anti-Traditionalism, while the Traditionalists largely communicate their doctrines as Anti-Calvinism.

        • Rick Patrick says

          No, Jared. Two sides of a coin. The Founders purpose statement is to reform churches, by which they mean turn them toward Calvinism. You can deny it all you want. They are really trying to do this.

          You guys act like there is no Young Restless Reform movement, but there is, and they are trying to impact churches that are simply resisting. Then you get upset with those who resist and call us names and say we don’t want unity. Those who resist Calvinism, even very strongly, are not bad. They just don’t want their church and their denomination to become more Calvinistic. Nothing wrong with that.

          • says

            “Those who resist Calvinism, even very strongly, are not bad. They just don’t want their church and their denomination to become more Calvinistic. Nothing wrong with that.”

            Would there then be nothing wrong with those who do want them more Calvinistic? Thus even if a group did exist with the desire to advocate Calvinism in the SBC, there is nothing wrong with their efforts?

          • says

            Rick, the SBC is not the New Traditionalists’ denomination. Calvinists don’t view it as their denomination. That’s another big difference between the groups.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Chris, that’s the inescapable tension, isn’t it? Each side promotes their own view, which is fine, but by doing so, they oppose the alternative view, which causes the other side to cry out, “Why are you so against me?” All the while, the other side doesn’t see themselves as being against the first side at all.

            It is a genuine denominational power struggle. I believe it is naive to think it will go away if we all will just be nice. There’s more to it than that. These are substantial differences.

          • says

            Rick,

            Of course, the point has been well-made multiple times that only one side is really on the attack. So far, most of what comes from so-called “Traditionalists” continues to be almost entirely negative, telling us far more about what Trads do not believe than what they do believe. About all I know of Trads is the little bit given in that Statement (which is the closest thing Trads have come to a positive statement, and even it starts from a position of attack) and I know that Trads have a host of really bad arguments to raise against Calvinism.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Chris,

            Your notion that only one side is on the attack illustrates my point of each side failing to see how the other side views them.

            From my perspective, Calvinists are AGGRESSIVELY on the attack in the convention. They have a radical, passionate mission to spread Calvinism in our churches. They may view it as only spreading the gospel itself, but what I’m telling you is that, since that gospel message is bound up with their Calvinism, from this side of the aisle, it does indeed feel like Ascol and others are on the attack, which is to say they would love nothing better than to see my church become reformed.

            I am undone that your side thinks my side is the only one doing any attacking here. It’s not malevolent. It is what it is. But each side promoting their own views will necessarily challenge the other.

          • says

            “But each side promoting their own views will necessarily challenge the other.”

            But that’s the thing. On the whole, Trads aren’t promoting a view, they are opposing a view.

          • says

            Chris,
            “Trads aren’t promoting a view, they are opposing a view.”

            That seems right and is one of the things I was saying in my comment at 1am. Example: Just this mornng on another blog where posts are often “against Calvinism,” the first words are “Most Calvinists believe…” followed by an attempt to refute Calvinism on a point.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Chris,

            Please. We are promoting the view that God has given man what you call “libertarian” free will. We are promoting the view that God has only one will for each man, and that is that he be saved. We are promoting the view that man can resist the grace of God. We are promoting the view that God has created man with the ability to respond to the prompting initiative of God’s Holy Spirit. Theologically speaking, we promote all these things, but in making that case, it is necessary to deny your view. You may not realize it, but Calvinists deny our doctrines when espousing theirs as well.

            Now, with regard to denominational politics and the rising influence of Calvinism in the institutions of the SBC, that is another matter. When speaking against these things, I must admit we are challenging what we perceive as a reform agenda for the convention. Practically speaking, it is almost impossible to address these matters without assuming a “resistance posture.” But you need to understand, if we seem reactionary, it is only because the Calvinist side has proactively begun Calvinizing the SBC, in our view. We see ourselves as responding to what the Calvinists have done. This necessarily means addressing it and speaking against it.

          • says

            “You may not realize it, but Calvinists deny our doctrines when espousing theirs as well.”

            Of course I know this and I have no problem with disagreement. I don’t even have a problem with writing things to specifically challenge someone else’s view (for instance, see my post about Dr. Allen’s views at SBC Focus today). The problem is, the vast majority of posts coming from Trads are directed against Calvinism rather than promoting whatever it is that Trads believe. This is the difference. I know the broad outlines of Trad theology (which you have briefly sketched out here) but few of the details. For instance, I still do not know how Trads can avoid the charge of semi-Pelagianism. I do not know how Ron Hale can avoid full-blown Pelagianism when he says, “therefore, a just and holy God would not make a command that was impossible to obey!” – that statement seems to imply that fallen man is capable of obeying all of God’s commands. Left to itself, that is a very Pelagian idea. Multiple times I asked Ron to clarify. He didn’t say another word on the subject. I know Adam Harwood believes babies go to Heaven and babies need Jesus, but I don’t know why they need Jesus since according to Harwood they are not guilty of sin. So again, I know the broad outlines of Trad views, but that’s about it. But I could go on and on about the kinds of arguments Trads like to raise about Calvinism.

          • Adam G. in NC says

            You may very well promote libertarian free will, resistable grace, etc., but to many these words sound like Jesus came into the world to save all mankind, but failed in his mission…and that is just as sickening of a thought to some as hard sovereignty is to others.

          • volfan007 says

            If a lot of Calvinists believe as Adam G, then we’re in big, big, big trouble in the SBC.

            There will be no unity, and there can be no unity, if Calvinists believe like Adam G. about the Non Calvinists in the SBC.

            David

          • volfan007 says

            Another thing, Adam G…..all of us, Bible Believing Christians, out here, in the SBC, who are NOT Calvinists, do not believe that Jesus failed in His mission. His mission was to die on a cross to pay the price for the sins of people. He did just that…being very faithful to the Father. And, He has offered salvation to everyone, who will believe, in surrendering faith. And, just because people can reject that offer….and pay the price for rejecting that offer… does not make Jesus a failure in His mission. Salvation is paid for….and salvation is offered…and, God is working in the hearts of people to show them that salvation is offered….SO, where’s the FAILURE? God is doing exactly what He chose and planned to do…..

            David W. of TN

          • Adam G. in NC says

            volfan, if you re-read my post you will (hopefully) be able to see that I was not saying that was MY OWN position, but was trying to highlight the differences in what each sect HEARS. One may very well say the same thing about sovereignty and determinism. Maybe I misspelled something.

            You know, it amazes me (somewhat) that the same old folks on here seem to always stand at the ready to throw a punch or implied insult to whomever they see as their enemy at the time. Same ones on every post.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Rick,

        Nope, you are anti-Tradized but won’t admit it….You guys THINK you are cooperating with everyone else when really you are forming a big five point clique.

        Well, good sir, I do believe I am more qualified than you to know what forms of “anti” I am. :-)

        I will share with you one area in which you can pencil me in as “anti”:

        I’m anti hyper-Traditionalism.

        And I ain’t in the boat by myself on that one…

        Grace to you, brother.

    • Debbie Kaufman says

      Or they could do as our church does, both are preached and taught. On Weds. night both views are given and let the people decide through the reading of scripture which they choose to believe. Both views are respected and when it is taught where not everyone believes it, we are free to disagree with respect. To say don’t teach what one believes on either side is just something that shouldn’t happen. That’s not unity. That’s peace at any price. A big price.

  11. Andrew says

    Gee I didn’t know I was reaking so much havoc in my church because I lean towards the Calvinistic side of Thinking. I guess I need to burn my Paige Patterson books to make it official.

    Sorry for my sarcasm but this discussion is absolutely ridiculous. Your trying to fight an enemy that does not exist.

  12. says

    Well, I hate to sound negative, but you guys ain’t never gonna settle this. I cannot see Calvinists deciding to stop teaching what they believe and thus “spreading” their theology all around. And they should not stop teaching what they believe. If I were a pastor, youth pastor or whatever kind of pastor, you can bet that I’m going to teach the bible and point out the doctrines of grace framework as I go along. I would recommend reformed reading. And, I would be up front going in…as all should be.

    Rick and others, you’ll continue to oppose Calvinists’ expansion and apparently seek to limit Calvinist influences where and as often as you can, unless I’m misreading you. You’ll continue to seek to teach the bible as you understand it and point out whatever framework you see…such as the Trad statement as you go along. And you’ll be up front about it…as you should be.

    Neither side of this is going to stop teaching and seeking to influence according to their theological bent. And they shouldn’t be expected to.

    So what’s the solution? Who knows. Maybe it’s just to stop arguing about it (Right!) and go about your respective ministry lives and do what you feel you have to do. Calvinists will continue to have meetings, conferences, organizations, etc. Non Calvinists, well you all may want to step up your game on that front.

    I will add this. The criticism that the non Calvinist’s are more a “negative” front, that is reactionary and “against Calvinism” seems a fair criticism. So, stop calling out Calvinists and Calvinism and positively present your biblical framework. Calvinists, be positive too and just continue to put forth your biblical framework. And trust the sovereignty of God Calvinists proclaim. If non Cs take over ALL the entities and start running you out of town, well trust God. If you continue to hold good place in leadership, well trust God.

    The two sides will never agree on these issues and you won’t be the first generation to not agree on these issues. But the two sides can love one another.

    Stepping down from the soapbox.

  13. Randall Cofield says

    Rick,

    Welcome to the world of theological candidate screening. Pastors, Youth Ministers, Directors of Missions…all of these are being asked about their soteriology today IN ADDITION TO their acceptance of the BFM.

    Here is the stark reality, Rick: The BF&M does allow for a Calvinistic soteriology, and that by design. And the BF&M is the theological document around which SBC churches agree to unify.

    Hence, churches following the “screening” process you are suggesting have necessarily placed themselves on the margins (if not outside) of the SBC.

    Grace to you, brother.

    • Rick Patrick says

      I disagree. Our position is also found in the BFM. You could call me a BFM-T and you a BFM-C. We both believe the BFM. No one is on the margins. But theological screening, within the BFM, is not going away.