STOP IT! A Plea for Grownup Conversation in the SBC

by Dave Miller on June 7, 2012 · 92 comments

The problem in the SBC is not primarily theological.  I believe our theological issues and discussions mask a deeper spiritual problem, a heart problem that is demonstrated in abundance as we speak to one another.

We all say we can live together and walk in unity, united around the BF&M, our sound and simple doctrinal statement to which all involved in this debate subscribe. Dr. Mohler, in his recent response to the traditionalist document, pointed out that we should be glad we are discussing something like the theology of salvation.  We are not arguing over whether the Bible is true or whether active homosexuals should be ordained to the ministry, as are many denominations that have abandoned inerrancy.  We are debating Calvinism and opposing soteriological systems. Reading both Dr. Vines’ and Dr. Mohler’s comments on this kerfuffle, we see a recognition from men on both sides that this is family debate.

But we are not treating this like a family debate. This is a new Hatfield-McCoy feud in which a lot of innocent people are getting shot in the crossfire.  I think the greatest threat to the SBC is not Calvinism, and it is not the traditionalist statement.  It is Baptists behaving like bullies and babies.  We are trying to push one another around and we are as quick to get our feelings hurt over the statements of others as toddlers on the playground.

In the words of the great Bob Newhart, STOP IT! We can treat each other better than we have to this point.  We can honor one another as brothers and debate with both zeal and love.  But if the SBC is going to grow and prosper, we have to STOP IT!  We have to lay aside the fleshly weapons of warfare and we have to walk in love, seeking unity.

1) We have a BLAME problem

Each side wants to show that the other side is really at fault.  Calvinists play the victim over statements like the Hankins document and non-Calvinists play the victim over charges of semi-Pelagian theology.  Read through the thousands of comments that have been left on this blog during the Calvinism debate.  How many of them reference the perceived injustice of the other side?  We are more about assigning blame than seeking solutions, I fear.

I have observed this phenomenon in marriage counseling often.  A couple are having problems and they come in and both declare their desire to work things out.  But in reality, their chief concern is to prove that the other is more at fault in their problems!  There is little I can do in counseling if the couple is more concerned about winning the blame game than dealing with the heart issues that are causing the problems.

I think many in the SBC are like this. And frankly, I think of lot of bloggers and commenters here are like that.  We all say we want to solve this, but I do not see evidence of that in many of our regulars – on both sides. I see Calvinists who seem a lot more interested in demonstrating the unfairness of the accusations leveled against them than in working toward unity.  And I see non-Calvinists, “traditionalists,” who seem more interested in painting Calvinists as “angry and aggressive” or in recounting their perceived injuries than in finding a way to work together.

I warn you that I’m about to offend a lot of people here.  But honestly, folks, as I watch this conversation, I see immaturity in conversation; blame, rancor and every work of the flesh that Paul warned against in Galatians 5:19-21.

Now the works of the flesh are evident…enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy…

I see two things:

  • Paul calls these attitudes and actions works of the flesh which are not appropriate for Christians.
  • These attitudes and actions are abundantly in evidence on BOTH SIDES in this Calvinist/Traditionalist debate.

Am I wrong?

So, to those who are engaging in the Blame Game…STOP IT!

2) We have a SCHISM Problem

I just finished a lengthy series of messages from 1 Corinthians.  Much of that book is written to combat the Corinthians’ schismatic tendencies.

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:12–13

If Paul wrote to modern Southern Baptists, he might say

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Mohler,” or “I follow Patterson,” or “I follow Blackaby (just threw this in, since I’m a huge Blackaby fan),” or “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Mohler crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Patterson?

Later on, in chapter 3, Paul gets to the root of the problem.

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?  1 Corinthians 3:1–4

What was the issue?  Maturity.  Those who participate in and revel in schism, who follow human heroes into division are not spiritual, but are walking as people of the flesh.  They are babes in Christ who are still on the bottle instead of growing up and eating spiritual meat and potatoes.  Instead of walking in the power of the Spirit they are “behaving only in a human way.”  That’s the SBC in a nutshell!

Note here that Paul did not blame himself or Apollos or Peter (and certainly not Christ).  But he blamed the natural human inclination toward schism and division.

And to those who are indulging their fleshly schismatic tendency to divide up into camps and scorn those of other camps, I say with, I believe, biblical authority… STOP IT!

3) We have a COMMUNICATION problem

Yes, we are lousy at discussing this topic, in general.  Any post here on Calvinism tends to descend into mudslinging within about 50-75 comments.  It seems that  we cannot even talk about the issue without resorting to pettiness and silliness.  And, of course, we all want to believe that “they” started it and that whatever we said was justified in response to “their” evil.

But I think it goes beyond that.  Simply, people who care deeply about whether or not regeneration precedes repentance seem to feel free to ignore the biblical commands about how we are to communicate with one another.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph 4:29

Every word I speak is to build up the body, not tear it down.  That does not mean we cannot discuss and debate theology.  A good and godly theological discussion builds up the body.  But it does mean that we have to honor one another with our words.

The passage continues.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:31–32

We are to put away wrath and anger, along with all malice.  And instead, we are to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving to each other.

It is amazing to me and saddening as well, how many people view obedience to these words as some sort of compromise.  I have been accused of lacking conviction and backbone because I have advocated these words. Why, in the SBC, is it considered a lack of conviction to care more deeply about unity in the Body of Christ than about a particular theological system.  If you pinned me down and made me confess, I’d call myself a Calvinist.  But I care far more about the Great Commission and about the unity of the Body than I do about that theological system.  It bothers me that some (again, on both sides) seem to care more about winning theological debate than winning unity among brothers!

Let me state my view as clearly as I can. We do not have a theological problem in the SBC.  We have an obedience problem.  We argue, bite and devour each other over theological topics, but in reality our mouths (or keyboards) are speaking out of the abundance of our hearts the anger, malice, pride and sin that dwells inside Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike.  It doesn’t much matter which side prevails in this debate unless we learn to talk like grownups, like mature Christians to one another. As long as we continue to demonstrate arrogance and malice in our conversations, God isn’t going to bless any of us and we will continue in our efforts to win control of the SBC to contribute to its ultimate demise.

What was Jesus most concerned with when he prayed to the Father the night before he died?  Did he express concern that his disciples would maintain proper and correct theology?  I think that matters to the Savior. Faulty theology leads to faulty methodology and an ineffective church.  But that is not the issue that seemed to be most on the Savior’s heart that night.

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. John 17:11

Jesus prayed that the unity of believers would reflect the unity of the Father and Son.  Folks, that ain’t happening in the SBC today.  But I still believe it is the heart of God. Look what Jesus says later in the same prayer.

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. John 17:20–23

Read that again, my friends, and maybe we will see why we are becoming less effective in evangelism.  It isn’t the easy-believism of the non-Calvinists with their altar calls, my Calvinist friends.  And it isn’t the so-called “Doctrines of Grace” my “traditionalist” friends.

We are NOT glorifying God by the unity of the Body of Christ that was won for us by the Blood of Jesus at the Cross!  It is when those who believe become one in Christ that the Father is glorified and the world will believe. When you read John 17, then observe the SBC and our interactions with each other, is it any wonder our evangelistic efforts are becoming less effective?

Yes, fine-tuning our theology can aid in the process of unity.  But much of what we are seeing in the Baptist world today is not noble, it is not godly – it destroys unity, it does not build it up.  We cannot glorify God while disdaining our blood-bought brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, to those who are talking trash in the Body of Christ, I say, “STOP IT!”

STOP IT!

It is more important that we build bridges than that we continue to build our walls.  If a doctrine is a fundamental truth, then, by all means, let us stand uncompromisingly.  And Calvinists, stand by your beliefs and advocate them.  Non-Calvinists, traditionalists, Arminians and anyone else, stand by your beliefs and advocate them.  Refine them biblically and argue them passionately.

But we must demonstrate a passion for the unity of the body of Christ that is as great or even greater than our passion for our doctrinal systems.  We need to eschew the kind of knowledge that puffs up and live in love with one another.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul deals with division in several ways.  In chapter 12, he confronts the doctrinal division over the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, especially tongues.  Imagine that – fighting over how the Holy Spirit works.  That would seem silly if we were not so passionately fighting over how to glorify God and evangelize souls – something we all believe in.

Then, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, he reminds the Corinthians that there is a better way.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.  1 Co 13:1–8

If we all love the Lord and the Word he gave, if we are all committed to the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, if we all are committed to walking in obedience to everything Christ said, then perhaps we should listen to what Paul said.

The greatest of these is love!

 

1 Wade Phillips June 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm

What would happen in the SBC if we each decided the following:

1 – I will always interpret what my brother in Christ says in the most charitable possible way, instead of immediately getting offended.
2 – I will think twice before I say or post something that could be potentially inflammatory.
4 – I will consider whether or not something I’m about to say or write my potentially be misconstrued in a way I did not intend.
3 – I don’t have to win every argument.

Wouldn’t that solve a lot of our problems?

2 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Plus, I will always place #4 before #3!

My guess is that what we would feel to us a little bit like a revival.

3 Wade Phillips June 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Yeah, thanks for catching that. Too much copying and pasting.

4 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Here I go, calling for kindness and then I point out your error! Oh well…

5 Wade Phillips June 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

If emoticons were allowed, I would place a smiley face here to let you know there was no harm done . . . .

6 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm

While I believe the problems I address in this post are widespread, and evenly divided among the different positions, I do not believe they are universal.

There are some bloggers on both sides of these issues who have walked the high road and acquitted themselves well in speaking the truth in love.

I also admit that I have failed in that quest more times than I want to count.

Nonetheless, I believe we have a huge problem in the SBC and it is NOT Calvinism and it is NOT Semi-Pelagianism or any other doctrinal/theological issue. It is pride and arrogance and schism and a lack of grace in dealing with one another.

Our most appropriate response is not more argument, but heartfelt repentance for our words toward one another.

7 Bob Hadley June 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Dave,

While I agree with the thrust of your article that there is a LOT of self and sinfulness interjected into the discussion here and everywhere, I must adamantly disagree with your initial statement and I want to state my view as clearly as I can; we DO have a theological problem in the SBC.”

To borrow from your counseling illustration, in order to even begin to find resolution, it is imperative that the individuals involved see the problems, own up to them and THEN and only THEN is there any possibility of reconciliation. None.

In a spirit of fairness, I accept your assertion; I simply have to disagree. Does that mean one of us is in denial??? :)

><>”

8 Christopher O'Neil June 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Jerry Vines defined our problem thusly: “there are some, not all, new Calvinists who are hostile, militant and aggressive. This kind of Calvinism is troubling our churches, hindering evangelism and missions, and disrupting the fellowship of our Convention. I would hope that men of good will, whether Calvinist or not Calvinist, would repudiate that kind of Calvinism.” He clearly maintained that he has “no desire that any Calvinist be unwelcome in the SBC.” (http://www.jerryvines.com/blog/it-is-time-to-discuss-the-elephant-in-the-room/)

The drafters of “A Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” repudiated “the goal of making Calvinism the central Southern Baptist position on God’s plan of salvation” and asserted that Southern Baptists “do not want Calvinism to become the standard view in Southern Baptist life.” And yet the drafters acknowledge that “Calvinists have been present in Southern Baptist life from its earliest days and have made very important contributions to our history and theology” and state that they “would be fine” if they could continue to “fellowshipp[] happily with [their] Calvinist brethren while kindly resisting Calvinism itself.” In his introduction, Eric Hankins explained, “There is no thought that this document reflects what all Southern Baptists believe or that it should be imposed upon all Southern Baptists.” (http://sbctoday.com/2012/05/30/an-introduction-to-%E2%80%9Ca-statement-of-the-traditional-southern-baptist-understanding-of-god%E2%80%99s-plan-of-salvation%E2%80%9D/)

According to Hankins and Vines, and according to the document itself, the problem is emphatically not with the Calvinist doctrine in and of itself, but with improperly aggressive Calvinists who wrongfully seek to make Calvinism the standard to which all Southern Baptists must ascribe. That is not a theological problem. It is, to use Dave Miller’s phrase, a schism problem. It is not about what Calvinists believe and whether such beliefs should be welcome within the Southern Baptist Convention; it is about how some Calvinists have behaved.

So far, that is how the proponents of this document have framed their intentions, and I take them at their word. If the intention is to debate the Calvinist theology and its place within the Southern Baptist community, somebody needs to come out and say so, and to frame the terms and stakes of the debate.

9 Bob Hadley June 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Christopher,

You wrote, “according to the document itself, the problem is emphatically not with the Calvinist doctrine in and of itself, but with improperly aggressive Calvinists who wrongfully seek to make Calvinism the standard to which all Southern Baptists must ascribe.”

I will share my thoughts with respect to your interpretation of the expressed intent of this document. When Dr. Hankins makes the comment with respect to “aggressive calvinists who seek to make Calvinism the standard to which all SB must ascribe” that is a direct reference to the theology, not specifically a reference to the aggressive nature of any particular individuals(s). It is not the aggressive nature that is the focus of complaint, it is solely the theology aggressively being put forth.

So, as I see it and as I have already stated, this is not about “Calvinists” it is about Calvinism. It is not personal nor does this discussion have anything to do with aggressiveness of personalities as such, but strictly the theological implications and areas of influence those implications are already being fleshed out and that is really the reason for the discussion we are now engaged in today.

Just my two cents.

><>”

10 Justin Kirksey June 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I’m not sure how “stop it” is good advice. This is a discussion that needs to take place. How many churches are struggling because key leaders have differences with each other yet pretend everything is ok? If we aren’t capable of discussing this in Christian love we can forget about unifying to reach the nations.

11 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Justin, I’m not sure you read my post.

I said that the discussion was necessary and needed to take place.

What I am challenging is the tone and tenor of the discussion. We NEED to discuss theology, but the way we are doing it is doing more harm than good.

12 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I have to admit that I find it frustrating when I write something and then someone challenges me by saying exactly what I said in the post.

If there was a way to force people to actually read the post before commenting, I would love to do it.

Here’s a quote from the article: “And Calvinists, stand by your beliefs and advocate them. Non-Calvinists, traditionalists, Arminians and anyone else, stand by your beliefs and advocate them. Refine them biblically and argue them passionately.”

13 Jeff Musgrave June 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Dave,
Don’t get too discouraged. Some people like it better when they say it, even if it just means repeating what was just said. I have been in many classes where people do this all the time. The main point just got reinforced is all.

14 Bob Hadley June 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Dave,

I love this statement: “If there was a way to force people to actually read the post before commenting, I would love to do it.”

If comprehension could be factored in, blogs might die altogether!

><>”

15 cb scott June 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm

“If comprehension could be factored in, blogs might die altogether!”

LOL. You are right Bob Hadley. it might become too boring.

16 Dale Pugh June 10, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Dave:
I don’t know if you’ve seen “Rush Hour”, but it reminds me of Jackie Chan screaming, “Can anybody understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?”
You did communicate, brother. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a nickel for every time someone misunderstood?
I agree with you. People sacrifice truth on the altar of emotion. We get wrapped up in our own thoughts, systems, approaches, etc. ad nauseum. We’re all guilty of it, and we all need to step back and take a deep breath.
Keep at it, brother! Maybe someday it will be heard…..

17 Dave Miller June 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Most definitely, I have seen Rush Hour.

18 Andrew Wencl June 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm

10 words: Stop it or I’ll bury you alive in a box!

19 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Looking for the like button.

20 Justin Kirksey June 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm

By saying this is an obedience problem instead of a theological one, it seems to imply that the discussion is unnecessary and simply an argument for argument’s sake. The whole discussion has been a positive for me, introduced me to like minded pastors, and caused me to think more closely about theological intricacies. I believe we are in the process of talking this out, with civil discussion far outweighing the childish stuff.

21 Justin Kirksey June 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Dave,
You seem in all your blogs to believe we are worse off as a convention for having this discussion. If you don’t then I have misunderstood. However, I assure I have read what you wrote and tried to interact with it. If you accuse me again I’m going to demand you “stop it”. :)

22 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Since what you wrote did not evidence a familiarity with what I wrote, I made an assumption.

23 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 4:39 pm

And yes, you have misunderstood me.

What I meant was what I wrote – that we have a problem with HOW we carry on these discussions.

24 Doug Mize June 7, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Thanks for this… Great read! I read some of the blogs about all this and I just want to say, “Would you like some Cheese with that Whine.” The drive behind much of this is not theology, but power and control. Great job here.

25 Squirrel June 7, 2012 at 4:46 pm

THEY STARTED IT!!!

Pfffft!

Squirrel

26 Doug Hibbard June 8, 2012 at 4:12 pm

You just think we’re all nuts, oh Squirrelly one.

27 Squirrel June 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm

You have no idea…

Squirrel

28 Justin Kirksey June 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm

How have I misunderstood? Are you not saying that we are now worse off for having this discussion?

29 Cody June 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm

No, he’s saying we’re worse off the WAY we are having the discussion. Read what he wrote.

30 Justin Kirksey June 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Cody,
What I am saying is that I would rather the discussion play out just like it has rather than not have it at all. As a traditionalist I am able to shrug off over simplistic labels just like many Calvinsts are if at the heart of the discussion in its entirety helps us understand everyone better.

31 Chris Roberts June 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm

A bitter feud can be better than an issue ignored, but better yet is the disagreement handled as brothers.

32 Alan Cross June 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Justin,

Dave is saying that the discussion is good, but we should handle it differently. He is addressing HOW we are engaging in the discussion. He was pretty clear.

33 Tommy Rucker June 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Great insight, Dave. It seems to me that our enemy is laughing with glee, because whenever we fight each other, we don’t have the energy to fight him! We have much more urgent business to conduct than to argue an issue where no one on either side is likely to change position.

34 adam June 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

What’s the goal of a discussion? Who are the participants in the discussion? How and where is the discussion supposed to take place? What is a “discussion”?

I think the more this issue keeps getting brought up, the worse it gets. We’re best to leave it alone. My recommendation: Let’s pretend we resolved it and thus treat each other as if we have.

35 Steve Potts June 7, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Perhaps part of the problem is that we argue on the internet and through doctrinal statements instead of talking face to face. There is something highly addictive about reading a “good” fight on a controversial topic, but it almost always leaves me feeling sad afterwards. Don’t get me wrong; these discussions on blogs like this can have real value, but it is easier to be kind of mean from time to time–more than we might be in person. Those on both sides of this debate are brothers and sisters in Christ (as far as I know). We should remember that Jesus will hold us accountable for every careless word we say (or tweet).

36 Chris Roberts June 7, 2012 at 5:37 pm

“Perhaps part of the problem is that we argue on the internet and through doctrinal statements instead of talking face to face.”

This is one reason why I look forward to a potential SBC Voices get-together at the convention. Then if I still can’t get along with Dave, at least I can take definite action, like slipping a laxative into his coffee.

37 Steve Potts June 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

OK, maybe I was wrong.

38 cb scott June 7, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Steve Potts,

Meet me at that Mexican Cafe in Forestdale by Papa Johns. We can plan an overthrow of the SBC there (or at least an overthrow of the BBA).

39 Steve Potts June 7, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Mexican food and denominational politics can be a volatile combination. Just look at what some binets and coffee did at Cafe du Monde in ’67! Maybe we could start the Society of Free Will Calvinists?

40 cb scott June 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm

LOL,

Exceptional! Well said, Steve. Well said.

41 Chris Roberts June 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Steve, I sense laxative *and* itching powder in your future.

42 Christiane June 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm

“Love is always patient and kind . . . . . it does not take offense,
and is not resentful. . . . ”
(from 1 Corinthians 13)

Among Christian people, there is very little room for ‘being offended by others’
. . . not when we have sought God’s forgiveness of our own sins
a forgiveness made possible through the terrible sufferings of Christ for our sake.

‘Being offended by someone’ no longer has much meaning in our lives when we think on the grace we ourselves have received.

43 Derek Browning June 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Rather than just saying “stop it”, we should propose a “start it” solution.

I propose we get teams of two (one Calvinist and one traditionalist) and send them door to door evangelizing. They can discuss their soteriology while walking from one door to the next. The semi-pelagians can stayyou in the car waiting for the sinners to come running to them.

Ready? Break.

44 Jeff Musgrave June 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

The mere fact that this discussion has been going on for so long (and I don’t mean just on blogs), should give us a clear indicator that we are not going to resolve it in our lifetimes either. Perhaps we can put our energies to better use if we STOP IT!

45 Mahlon LeCroix June 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Thank you Jeff for saying that. I bring up the length of this debate every time the debate is mentioned around me. Anyone who feels they got it figured out on EITHER side is only fooling themselves (personal opinion). Wouldn’t it be nice if our (SBC) energy was spent on other things more productive? “I am not sure that in heaven we shall be able to know where free agency of man and the sovereignty of God meet, but both are great truths.” Charles Spurgeon

46 Cory Davis June 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I think part of the maturity that Dave is talking about comes from historical perspective. The purpose of a debate over Calvinism is not so that one side can obliterate the other; it is so both sides can keep their views sharp continually and glorify God all the more. The point is not unity of thought (outside the local church) but unity of purpose – the glorification of Jesus Christ. The Baptists of New Hampshire in 1833 knew this. At one time, so did Southern Baptists.

47 Frank June 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Dave Miller,

May I say I am greatly offended by your comparing the discussion on this blog to the “Hatfields and McCoys.”

As a borned and bred West Virginian, I believe that your disparaging remarks against my forebears is just a low-down, nasty blow!

48 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I apologize.

49 SBC Layman June 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Dave, I like your post a lot better, but I was thinking similarly earlier this week:

http://thesbclayman.blogspot.com/2012/06/calvinist-or-not-could-you-possibly-be.html

We have to get to the place where we act like grown-ups and get our theological feelings off our sleeves. It makes us look small and petty when we can’t even tolerate a different thought than our own.

50 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm

The thing I observe is how inconsistent many are in getting their feelings hurt.

When someone on the other side says something, we are deeply offended and hurt, but when one on our side says something hurtful, we say “no big deal” and tell people not to be so sensitive.

51 SBC Layman June 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

You are right, and all sides have been guilty of letting their passions get away from them. We can’t even seem to fathom that we might be wrong. I’ve also noticed that this is only seems to be a problem for those who think themselves theologically informed. The vast majority of believers in our churches just don’t understand why everyone is so worked up over what they think is a non-issue.

52 Dave Miller June 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm

For the record, this post expresses my views and convictions. I do not speak for all of the contributors, nor will I censor their posts unless I see something egregious.

My opinion is not policy for SBC Voices.

53 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 12:13 am
54 Dave Miller June 8, 2012 at 12:17 am

I appreciate that step in the right direction!

55 Tim Rogers June 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Dave,

Let me get this straight. You said;

If you pinned me down and made me confess, I’d call myself a Calvinist.

and you desire us to honor that. Which I have no problem accepting and working with you.

But, when we place a document that expresses our conviction we are charged with promoting a heresy. And what is your position? you want us to stop it. This is not the time to stop it. it is the time to stand up and lovingly, passionately express our position.

56 Chris Roberts June 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Tim,

Please note the following comment thread where your concern is already addressed:

http://sbcvoices.com/stop-it-a-plea-for-grownup-conversation-in-the-sbc/#comment-93996

57 Tim Rogers June 7, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Chris,

If that is what you call, “my concern already addressed” you did not read my position. Where have you seen me or others in the movement that began last week publicly call Calvinism heresy? Also, where have we every accused any seminary president of not understanding a document they signed?

Then you try to tell me this statement was answered with the one you linked? No, that is not the way to do this.

58 Chris Roberts June 7, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Tim,

I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear. Your concern in your comment seemed to be that you thought Dave was calling for people to stop talking about these issues. In the comment thread I linked, someone else said something similar. Dave made it clear that people should keep talking about these things, but should do so in a civil manner. Dave does not want anyone to stop expressing their position, but he wants us to do so in ways that are civil.

59 Smuschany June 8, 2012 at 1:03 am

Tim on SBCtoday there is a guy in the recent Dr. Yarnell thread that has openly called Calvinism a “cult”. On Bro Lumkin’s blog, there are several posters who routinely call Calvinism a heresy. Please dont pull the “holier-than-thou” card. One could loose count of the number of folks in the “traditionalist” camp who have at one time or another called for the removal of Mohler, Akin, Stetzer, ect for their “calvinist” ties/leanings/ect.

You see here is the thing…All sides supposedly agree that true Semi-pelagian soteriology is heresy (or very close to it). If that is true, I would think that the “traditional” camp would jump to looking at Article 2 and seeing if there is a better way to phrase what they intended to say, rather than have it say something that by almost any casual observer to sound very close to semi-pelagian soteriology. Yet instead of going “oh, sorry folks, that was poorly worded, here is what we meant to say”, the “traditionalists” have double downed on the phrasing used. Can you honestly tell me, that had rolls been reversed on a similar theological issue, that you and your side would not be demanding answers? Before you answer, I again point you to the way some Calvinists, including entity heads, have been treated by those opposed to Calvinism in the SBC.

60 Tim Rogers June 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

Smuschany,

Just throwing that stuff out is not sufficient. I have nothing to do with Peter’s blog. He is his own man and he allows or does not allow whatever he decides there.

I do have some insight at SBC Today, though and I will be glad to address that issue, if you will point to what you are saying.

So, all I can say is show me where you are talking about and let us judge for ourselves.

61 Dave Miller June 8, 2012 at 12:09 am

I think as long as we continue to play the blame game, we will get nowhere.

I’ve seen plenty of harsh words on both sides of this thing.

I am not calling for people to stop talking about biblical doctrine, but I am calling for an end to harsh words and hyper-sensitive feelings over every word the other side says.

62 Dave Miller June 8, 2012 at 12:16 am

And, Tim, I called no one a heretic. In fact, on this site I have chided several for dropping the h-bomb.

63 Tim Rogers June 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

Dave,

Here is where your words do not match and the reason you and I have such a hard time with each other. I want to, I honestly do want to think the best in your intentions. But here goes.

From Jeph’s blog entitled “A Suggested Solution”

However, I am still of the opinion that if taken at face-value, the Traditionalist position on human sinfulness (article 2) and freewill (article 8) is nothing but outright semi-Pelagianism

From your comments in this thread to Jeph’s blog.

I appreciate that step in the right direction!

Now your comments to me concerning my initial comments and concerns over the “heresy” issue of Semi-Pelagianism.

And, Tim, I called no one a heretic. In fact, on this site I have chided several for dropping the h-bomb.

So, Dave, it may be that I missed it, but do you think you can show me in your response to Jeph where you “chided” him for dropping the “h-bomb”? Also, Dave, when you make those kinds of statements it reveals a dichotomy about you that makes me accuse you of trying to ride the fence.

64 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Tim,

I can say you have grossly misrepresented what I said. In the link I gave, I actually apologized for thinking that the document is essentially heretical. However, I still think the document—and here’s the key word—IF TAKEN AT FACE VALUE (i.e. PLAIN READING) can lead to that direction, and for this reason I have suggested an alternative interpretation/explanation of the document which would avoid taking that road.

I think the reason Dave commended me for my effort is that he took time grasping the point I’m trying to make.

-Jeph

65 Jim G. June 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Yes, Jeph, and you closed your post with the following (and I quote so there is no misrepresentation):

“In the final analysis, all these clearly show how problematic and completely unhelpful the Traditionalist statement is. Therefore, why support it at all?”

Now I fail to see how the words “completely unhelpful” and “why support it at all” are playing nice.

Jim G.

66 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Jim,

There IS misrepresentation because you quoted me (out of context) to make me appear to be throwing the h-bomb again when in fact I have already repented for it in that same article where I was quoted.

Now, if my conclusion didn’t sound nice to you, what is your point? Are you now asking me to PLEASE EVERYBODY in every word that I will say? Do you honestly think that’s possible?

-Jeph

67 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 12:29 am

Tim,

The Traditionalist statement would not be considered “unorthodox” if you’d follow my advice here:

http://righteousbutnotyet.blogspot.com/2012/06/suggested-interpretation-of.html

Please tell others.

68 cb scott June 8, 2012 at 11:11 am

Dave,

You have warned Jeph. His use of the word “unorthodox” in reference to the document, which by default, is also in reference to the men who wrote and signed the document is over the line. It is time.

69 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm

CB,

I think you’re being too personally subjective. If you have read what’s on the link I gave, you wouldn’t have commented that way.

-Jeph

70 cb scott June 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Jeph,

Your excuses continue to run thin. You have constantly castigated and berated the men who signed and wrote this document since your first comment in these threads.

Dave has warned you more than once. I challenged you several times. You have already made the excuse that your “communication skills” are not sufficient due to your being native to the Philippines. Personally, I found that rather thin, having read your comments here and your bio on the blog holding your information. I do not believe your communication skills are limited in the least.

I do think you are simply lacking in theological understanding and you have a poor attitude. You are the “living proof” example of the problem which was the foundation of the document being produced in the first place. Your are an example of the “Elephant in the Room” of which Jerry Vines has written. You are an example of the “tribal” and “elitists” type of “Calvinists” of whom Al Mohler has written.

Although, it is my opinion that you are not of a Calvinistic origin of the “Old” or the “New” among us. I would brand you as something else. I consider you to be part of a small group (very small and very loud) of “Half-baked, Hybrid-Calvinists” who know just enough of the soteriological dogma referred to as Calvinism to be dangerous to yourself, any local church of whom may enlist your bred in any type of ministry, to any known denomination which embraces New Testament Christianity, and specifically the Southern Baptist Convention.

Lastly, I want you to know that the very seminary in which you now study would now be a cesspool of liberalism had it not been for several of the men who have signed the document in question taking the stand they did back during the CR.

Frankly Jeph, you owe many of these guys more than you will ever be able to repay. So maybe it is time for you to stand down on your constant accusations against those who have signed and written the document. Many of them have forgotten more biblical and theological truth than you will ever learn and they have forgotten very little.

71 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 12:58 pm

CB,

And you’re the living proof of one who does not listen first before he talks. Your rantings are completely off the mark, because you didn’t even bother reading what’s on the link I gave.

Again, here’s the link,
http://righteousbutnotyet.blogspot.com/2012/06/suggested-interpretation-of.html

-Jeph

72 cb scott June 8, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Jeph,

An old professional soldier once told me something that I will “clean up” a bit and share with you here:

“Boy, if you are going to make an apology for having brought a mess into a man’s house, you had better make that apology in the house you brought the mess into and it the presence the man himself. Otherwise, it ain’t much and the stink is still in the house.”

BTW, the man (and others like him) who told me that is also a man you owe more than you will ever be able to repay.

If you are going to make an apology Jeph, do it here. This is where you made the accusations and insulted some good men.

73 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

CB,

I’ve already done it elsewhere in this site, but it seems it is already drowned with the wave of comments that are being posted here every minute. Where else can I post it so as to be seen by everyone except my own personal blog-site?

-Jeph

74 cb scott June 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm

OK Jeph,

If you have apologized, then cowboy up and live out the apology and stop making excuses and stop being belligerent over and over again when you post a comment here. Otherwise, your apologies are no more than your continuing to “make messes” in Miller and crew’s house.

75 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm

CB,

That’s what exactly what I’m doing now. What makes you think otherwise?

-Jeph

76 cb scott June 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Jeph,

At 12:29 am today, in this thread you made this comment.
Tim,

The Traditionalist statement would not be considered “unorthodox” if you’d follow my advice here: …”

If you cannot figure the rest out on your own I cannot help you and you are far from as bright as you seem to think you are.

77 Jeph June 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm

CG,

In the link I gave, I wrote:

“However, I am still of the opinion that if taken at face-value, the Traditionalist statement on human sinfulness (article 2) and freewill (article 8) is nothing but outright semi-Pelagianism[1] (as I’ve sufficiently shown here and here). Yet this time, I will try to take a more indulgent approach. Since I don’t want to believe that those who drafted and signed the document are all staunch heretics, I’ll be giving them the benefit of the doubt that they never had any intention for their position to appear as it now appears to be, i.e. semi-Pelagianistic—it just so happen that the document was poorly worded. Hence, though the letter of the document seems to promote semi-Pelagianism, the spirit of the document is nonetheless orthodox. Particular statements within the document which seems to side with semi-Pelagianism, therefore, can be interpreted in such wise that it does not cross the line of orthodoxy.”
http://righteousbutnotyet.blogspot.com/2012/06/suggested-interpretation-of.html

I think it’d be helpful to contemplate why God gave us a pair of ears and one single mouth instead of vice-versa.

-Jeph

78 Debbie Kaufman June 8, 2012 at 4:05 pm

CB: Why haven’t you signed the document?

79 Debbie Kaufman June 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I don’t believe I see Bart Barber’s name on this document either. I am just wondering why. There are others I could name that have not signed.

80 cb scott June 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Debbie,

I have no idea as to why my younger brother Bart has not signed the document. He may tell me at our next family reunion why he has not, but for the present, I do not know. As for me, I am awaiting a revision of Article 2. I trust that it is forthcoming.

But let me quickly state once again, the people I know who signed and contributed to the writing of the document are not Semi-Pelagians or any other kind of heretic even if they choose not to revise the document.

81 Alan Cross June 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm

The real issue, and what we fail to realize, is that we already have unity in Christ. Jesus has secured our unity in the heavenlies. Our unity is not in our agreeing with one another or in winning arguments or getting our way. It is in what Jesus has provided. Our job is to live in that reality. Since I know that I am already unified with all who belong to Christ, we can disagree with one another without tearing one another apart or trying to one up each other. We can ask questions and put forward our perspective and pray together and want what is best for one another.

For Baptists, it is almost as though all the commands for how we are supposed to treat one another go out the window when we have a disagreement. That makes us theological relativists – our praxis does not match our faith when we feel that our position is being challenged. If we cannot deal with one another in love in the midst of disagreement, then all of our theological acumen counts for little. 1 Cor. 13 is fairly clear.

82 Dave Miller June 8, 2012 at 12:10 am

Well said, Alan.

If you are in NOLA, I owe you a beignet!

83 Alan Cross June 8, 2012 at 12:31 am

I will be there. Hope to see you! You can’t eat just one, though.

84 Dave Miller June 8, 2012 at 12:33 am

Yeah, I was speaking in the ideal!

85 heath lloyd June 7, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Oh dave . . . thanks for your voice in this matter. Sadly I think it will be drowned out by our dear brethren who seem to love to argue and fight more than anything else.

I pray for our Convention, the leaders, the pastors and messengers and those who care enough to stay somewhat involved in what is going on, and for the members of our churches — that we will hunger and pray for, know and experience revival. May there be repentence of our pride and a revival of our first love.

Sadly, I think many would simply prefer to argue and fight one another than fight the devil; to argue on the internet rather than speak to a searching lost person; to talk politics at the convention rather than rejoicing and weeping with one another over what God is calling us to.

If we don’t want peace and harmony, we will not have peace and harmony. We will split into tribes. We will quote the book of Amos — “unless two be in agreement . . .” And we will continue to splinter and weaken.

Pray. Will you?

86 Dave Miller June 8, 2012 at 12:10 am

Yep. Thanks!

87 Paul Thompson June 8, 2012 at 12:23 am

I’m slow to get to these things sometimes (I can’t blame it on the pony express can I?) but always like the post that are well developed and thought through. Thanks for this good word. It is a tragedy that most of us don’t know how to debate with class. It is possible to be bold, assertive, and dogmatic without biting the ankle of those who oppose. In our over sensitive era, we have lost one of the reasons we form into conventions and associations. Are they not also places where doctrine is debated, refined and clarified? Good words…

88 Greg Harvey June 8, 2012 at 5:58 am

Dave: the Holy Spirit asked me to remind you of the time that God offered to Moses that he would destroy the Hebrews he was leading out of Egypt–an unlanded, unfaithful, bickering people–and use him to create a new nation. According to the Bible, Moses appealed to God not to do that and used the argument that God’s reputation would be harmed with the other nations if he did that. God relented according to Scripture.

I know this situation frustrates you. But God’s glory is increased when he uses imperfect representatives–clay jars as the verse goes–to hold and convey his greatest treasures. Not that we should bicker more so that glory can abound…

89 Doug Mize June 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Much of the problem lies with those who claim to be the ‘majority’ are really the vast ‘minority’ on many things. On the outside looking in, some have become cynical, divisive, and even angry. It is simply sad, but really nothing that deserves a lot of extra attention. Let’s just pray that the true majority will continue their passions by concentrating on true brotherly edification and fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission.

90 Stan McCullars June 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Dave,
That was one of the most edifying things I’ve read in a while.

Thanks! I needed that.

91 Job June 10, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Who gets to determine what is “grownup conversation” and what is not? That is the rub. Last week, my statements that the Calvinistic Baptists should take up the title “historic Baptist”, produce their own statement, and go about with other reasonable measures now rather than waiting for official motions to do such things alter the BFM and cut off church planting funds and then responding when it will likely be too late were deemed to be not grown up. Yet, denouncing the soteriological positions of the traditional Baptists as “semi-Pelagianism” is grownup conversation?

Semi-Pelagianism is heresy. Even the papists officially reject Semi-Pelagianism. The traditionalist Baptists may falsely accuse the Reformed Baptists of following a man-made system, but at least they stop short of playing the heresy card. So stating that all those pastors, seminary professors etc. produced and signed a heretical document is “grown up” while suggesting that we respond to a movement’s clearly stated goals isn’t? If the people willing to employ such terminology as “Semi-Pelagian” against the very same Southern Baptists that they profess to be appealing for unity and cooperation with are the judges and arbiters of what is grownup conversation and what isn’t, then I am afraid that we are all going to wind up in the ditch.

92 dr. james willingham June 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm

If Baptists would pay more attention to their history, especially the earlier parts of it, they might be surprised at how much materials they would find there that would promote unity, cordiality, amiability, peaceful words, and a wherewithal to persuade others in a way that others would like. You all really need a course in Baptist History that looks at documents like Leland’s (that’s John) writings whereby he says he felt like a gainer by the union of the Separates and Regulars. We are all gainers by appealing methods that respect the rights of others and depend upon the Lord to do the persuading.

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