The Calvinists Have Been Here . . . by William Birch

Today we have a guest post by William Birch, which was originally posted on his site. This article is a response to Gerald Harris’s recent article “The Calvinists are Here.”  If you comment, please comment in a similar manner as Birch’s article.  After all, in Birch’s words, “We are on the same team, people!”

Every now and again I am accused of misrepresenting Calvinism by a Calvinist brother. It often happens when I focus upon what I perceive to be certain implications of Calvinism rather than what Calvinists actually claim or believe. When I do so, the Calvinist is right to correct me; I cannot complain about implications I perceive about Calvinism when Calvinists themselves reject those implications as beliefs to which they do not hold.

A recent article has emerged from the Southern Baptist “non-Calvinist” camp, written by J. Gerald Harris, entitled “The Calvinists are Here.” (I am taking Harris’ quotes from the Founders Ministries site.) My first thought was, “The Calvinists have been here; where have you been?” Indeed, the history of Baptists have included Calvinists from its beginnings. Calvinists have not just arrived in the SBC either; they have been here since its inception.

If I may criticize the tone of the article, I want to make two main complaints: 1) the author appears baffled that Calvinists are in the SBC to a large degree (but this has been the case for years); and 2) the article appears as little more than random thoughts against Calvinism. As a matter of fact, that would have served as a better title. I had a very difficult task of locating a central theme; the article was all over the place, if you will (from Calvin and ecclesiology to Acts 29, Mark Driscoll’s sex book, and the SBC name change).

I find a problem with the very beginning of Harris’ article. John Calvin wrote more about the Holy Spirit than he did about predestination or election. That may surprise some people, but he could just as easily be known as a theologian of the Holy Spirit as he could for his more infamous writings on God’s decrees of election and reprobation. So, for Harris to suggest that predestination was “the foundation of his theology” is a bit amiss, in my opinion.

Moreover, I would not even suggest that predestination was the foundation of Calvin’s soteriology. The doctrine of predestination, for Calvin, was meant to be a comfort to believers who doubted their salvation. By grounding the believer’s election in eternity past — and that God would preserve such a one unto the end — brought hope and comfort to its adherents. (I have no intention of commenting on Calvin’s soteriology in this post, so do not look for it.)

Harris briefly explains the TULIP acronym and then moves to ecclesiology: “Many who embrace Reformed theology are motivated to allow it to influence their church polity by substituting congregational church government with an elder system of church government.” I have to wonder if he thinks this particular ecclesiological method is supposed to warrant suspicion of Calvinists or Calvinism. Paul wrote to Timothy, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you” (Titus 1:5 NASB). Paul did not instruct Timothy to let the several congregations choose their own elders. However one interprets Paul’s instructions to Timothy, he cannot insist that “an elder system of church government” is unbiblical.

From Calvin to TULIP, and then election to ecclesiology, Harris transitions to several statements about the growth of Calvinism and Calvinists in the SBC, noting its alleged “challenge” to the denomination. Again, this puzzles me on a historical level. The SBC hasalways contained Calvinists. I think what is bothering many non-Calvinists in the SBC is the growing numbers of Calvinists within its ranks. What non-Calvinists do not want is a “Calvinist take-over.”

But what of the Calvinists in the SBC? Do they not fear a “non-Calvinist take-over”? Do they not sense that they are a minority within the SBC? Harris writes, “While most of the Reformed pastors and churchmen I know are gracious and godly people with a profound devotion to the Word of God, Southern Baptists must decide if they are satisfied with what I would call the presumable encroachment of Calvinism in SBC life” (emphasis added). Is he suggesting that Calvinists need to leave (or be forced to leave) the SBC?

Are we non-Calvinists or Arminians in the SBC to be comforted by the fact that we have more numbers on “our side” then the Calvinists do on “their side”? But if we are to be one united denomination, then there can only be one side. We are one people, united Southern Baptists, made up of diverse parts — you know, like the body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 12:12)! (See Southern Baptists: Diversity in Unity.) Though we have a soteriological divide, significant as it may be to many, we are still one people: Southern Baptists. If we continue this “us vs. them” mentality, our unity will be destroyed.

Am I a Calvinist sympathizer? First, I am a Christian sympathizer. Second, I am a Southern Baptist sympathizer. Since born again Calvinists are my brothers and sisters in Christ first, as well as my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters second, then to a large extent, yes, I am a Calvinist sympathizer. I, by God’s grace, can disagree sharply with some core tenets of Calvinism, however, without either sacrificing my spiritual union with Calvinists or suggesting that Calvinists do not belong in the SBC.

That brings me to the following. Harris vies for the SBC name change “Great Commission Baptist Convention.” He then writes, “If that is the suggested name and if we dare vote for it to be our new appellation we dare not defame it with half-hearted evangelism and church plants that wither away in five years.” Where this latter idea came from I am at a loss to discover. If this comment is a slight on Calvinists or Calvinism with regard to evangelism or church planting, then the numbers and statistics against the tenor of this comment render it naïve at best and ludicrous at worst. Calvinists evangelize and Calvinists plant churches.

I am disappointed that articles like this still crop up in non-Calvinist circles. I can empathize with not wanting to see Calvinism spread, especially when one thinks that its core doctrines (Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, as well as high or low deterministic views) are false.

However, the growth of Calvinism in the SBC should inform all non-Calvinists to at least two very simple truths: 1) the younger generation takes theology very seriously (and for that we should be grateful); and 2) the growth of Calvinism in the SBC should not be a cause of alarm ecclesiologically or theologically.

Under the first point, I want to emphasize that Calvinists have performed in an outstanding fashion with regard to promoting a godly, biblically conservative theology. I would rather a young, conservative Southern Baptist student accept Calvinism than to take the road of liberal-leaning Wesleyan-Arminians such as Roger Olson and Jerry Walls, who reject inerrancy and the exclusivity of the gospel, among other beliefs (that will score me no points with some Arminians).

Under the second point, I want to comfort all non-Calvinists by pointing out what should be obvious. The SBC is constructed in such a way that it cannot inform a local church as to what soteriological position she should hold (either Calvinism or non-Calvinistic/Arminianism). In other words, the SBC is not dominated by either Calvinists or non-Calvinists/Arminians, and neither group can enforce its soteriology on the other.

So, relax! Love one another in Christ. Demonstrate from the inerrant word of God your position. But do not think for a moment that either group is going to somehow dominate the SBC and force all its members to hold to one particular soteriological construction. And for the sake of our union with Christ, while we are debating our theology, remember that we are all one in Christ. We are on the same team, people!


  1. says

    Great article. William displays an honesty and historical accuracy that is unfortunately rare. And I think he shows the difference between a non-Calvinist (William) who wants to cooperate and anti-Calvinists who don’t (Harris et al). Wish there were more non-Calvinists like William speaking up in the SBC.

    • says

      Exactly what in Harris’ piece was “anti-calvinist” and anti-cooperative?

      As close as Harris’ came to criticism was to say, “Southern Baptists must decide if they are satisfied with what I would call the presumable encroachment of Calvinism in SBC life,”
      a statement that is manifestly true.

      William Thornton, not to be confused with William Burch in this discussion.

    • Matt Svoboda says


      I agree 100%.

      This is a great article and it would be nice to see this type of rhetoric and humility from all non-calvinists.

      Those who pretend there arent active anti-calvinists (Harris et al) are only kidding themselves.

      It seems that recently the calvinists have been much more cooperative. Hopefully men and voices like William Birch win the day for the non-calvinists.

  2. says

    I agree with Tim. More writing like Williams’s post would go a long way toward unifying Calvinists and non-Calvinists in the common goal of reaching the nations with the gospel. Hopefully the more anti-Calvinists bloggers can learn from William’s example.

  3. says

    I would allow that Gerald Harris’ article was somewhat sprawling and disjointed but he merely made observations about the present SBC and calvinism and offers to his readers, many of whom aren’t heavily invested in blogs, a roll call of calvinists, calvinism, and recent SBC events concerning it and them, something that state papers should do. Does anyone think that ignoring it would be journalistically responsible?

    I’m having a hard time seeing what the objection is to what Harris wrote.

    He didn’t call SBCers to the barricades against calvinism. He didn’t call on Ranier to withdraw his new reformed curriculum. He didn’t call on Akin or Mohler to come clean. He didn’t call on Ezell to eschew calvinistic church plants. He pointed out and marshalled recent facts, events, and people on the issue that SBCers might want to be aware of.

    Harris’ said, “Many who embrace Reformed theology are motivated to allow it to influence their church polity by substituting congregational church government with an elder system of church government.”

    You said: “I have to wonder if he thinks this particular ecclesiological method is supposed to warrant suspicion of Calvinists or Calvinism.”

    Is this agreement with him? Harris states what is obvious to many of us about ‘many’ calvinist pastors. You offer a defense of the elder system. Harris should thank you for making his point in the middle of an articile criticizing him.

    You concluded, “the growth of Calvinism in the SBC should not be a cause of alarm ecclesiologically or theologically.” Thanks for settling that with a personal opinion, but folks like Harris, myself and others see things that are a cause for alarm, mostly ecclesiologically in my experience.

    One wonders if calvinists should be less sensitive. Harris’ piece was very mild.

      • Lydia says

        “William, I can’t believe you call Harris’ piece journalism”

        Wow Mark, that is below the belt.

        I think we could debate whether the BP is “Journalistic”, for that matter.

        • says

          Below the belt? You mean I am not allowed to make leading generalized insinuations? Why not, because I am not a newspaper editor?

          • Lydia says

            No, Mark, it has nothing to do with being an editor or newswriter. I just thought it was a bit insulting, overall. Harris is not a journalist and William used that word in another context anyway:

            “Does anyone think that ignoring it would be journalistically responsible?”

      • Dave Miller says

        I think we are all pretty much aware that Baptist Press is a Public Relations arm of the Executive Committee, not a true press agency. That’s not good or bad, but just reality.

        Maybe they should rename themselves BPR.

        • says

          Harris doesn’t work for BP but the Christian Index which is responsible for some of the reporting on NAMB that no one else would touch. Harris’ background is as a pastor, not a journalist.

          I asked, Mark, if anyone would call it responsible journalism if the CI, or BP, or any other SBC news outlet ignored the issues here.

          And, who will be the first to point out exactly what is anti-calvinistic in the piece?

          • says

            William, you’re serious? Do you not see the loose connections that attempt to broad brush Calvinists into the worst light possible?

            Contra your question: What exactly is pro-Calvinist or Calvinist neutral in the piece?

  4. says

    Let’s see, Harris’ said that the advisory board for the curriculum “for the most part looks like a Who’s Who of Reformed theologians.”

    Marty King, corporate communications director for LifeWay, told Baptist Press the entity deeply regrets that The Index published “false accusations without offering any evidence of their truthfulness.” King said The Gospel Project is not marked by Reformed theology but is “LifeWay’s response to churches asking for a more in-depth Bible study curriculum.”

    Hmmm, the list of Advisory Council members are almost to a man or woman, calvinists. Is the objection to Harris’ statement that he called the group a “Who’s Who of Reformed Theologians”?

    Does anyone think that LifeWay didn’t have Calvinism and Calvinists in mind, at least just a teeny weeny bit to have ended up with a staff of people heavily dominated by calvinists?

    My view on the curriculum is to scrutinize it and see how it presents things.

    Surely we have people at LifeWay who are savvy enough to understand that they would have to deal with certain responses on a project like this. If they didn’t see some of this coming, we need some people with a bit more SBC street smarts.

  5. Bill Mac says

    I appreciate this article very much. As I posted over at the Founder’s blog, the anti-Calvinism in this article is fairly tame, or at least nothing really new.

    The article itself is bad, but more because it is really, really bad writing. It seems to me to be simply a collage of cut and paste jobs from around the anti-Calvinist blogosphere.

    The Driscoll issue I think is somewhat legitimate. Because frankly I think Driscoll is proving himself to be untenable in many areas. The problem is the subtle conflation of his more (imo) cockeyed views with his Calvinism, thus providing more ammo for anti-Calvinists.

    Thanks again.

  6. says

    Thanks to Williams Birch for a reasoned and measured approach, and to Tim Brister for voicing the reasoned and measured appreciation of at least one advocate of the doctrines of grace.

  7. volfan007 says

    Timmy Brister,

    Is the goal of the Founders org. still to take over the SBC one church at a time? Is the goal of the Founders still to “bring the SBC back” to the theology of its “Founders?” I’d like to hear an answer to this from someone in your organization.

    I have dealt with over a 100 people, who could be described as Founder friendly type Calvinists. I have friends who are not aggressive Calvinists, but they are 4 and 5 pt. Calvinists. I get along fine with the regular, ole, 4 and 5 pt. Calvinists. I have people in my church, who are 4 and 5 pt. Calvinists. We get along great. I love them, and they love me. But, I’ve had so many encounters with aggressive Calvinists, who have told me that I’m not preaching the true Gospel, or called me a semi-Pelagian, or accused me of preaching a works salvation, etc; that I’m left wondering if Founders type, aggressive Calvinists would truly be willing to cooperate with someone like me????? I mean, I was told all of these things, and accused of these things, all because I’m not a Calvinist. Now, as I said, my 4 and 5 pt. Calvinists friends do count me as a Brother in Christ, and they believe that I preach the true Gospel. They dont count me as a heretic. But, my experience with many, many, many other, aggressive Calvinists would lead me to believe that me, and others like me, would not be welcome in a SBC controlled by Founders type people.

    Can you shed some light on my concerns? Could Founder types truly walk hand in hand with those of us, who are not at least a 3 pt. Calvinist?


    • volfan007 says

      Another thought….could Founders type Calvinists put non-Calvinists on SBC boards and committees? Would Founders types be willing to vote for non-Calvinists to be on the SBC committees on Committees? nominating committees? hire profs in the seminaries? etc?


      • Lydia says

        David, I think we would have to agree on a universal definition for “Calvinist” or “Reformed”, first, so we would know what a non Calvinist or non Reformed actually looks like. :o)

          • says

            Mark…I am saying there is no “universal definition” for Calvinist or Reformed….(as I kinda think you already knew before you asked the question). I’ve been trying to figure it out for years. I don’t much care what a person calls himself of herself as long as the person loves Jesus, shares Jesus, and believes all men and all women and all children are “whosoever” which “believe” are saved by faith in Him and have everlasting life with Him due to His abundant grace and unfathomable mercy. I didn’t know I was a non-Calvinist until a professing “reformed” individual told me I was. (Asking simple questions on Founder’s blog brought a hailstorm of information to that regard.) There is a language one cannot speak (is incapable of speaking) if one is considered non-Calvinist. They “just don’t understand because they cannot understand because they are not reformed.” That simple. No matter how well educated one becomes, how regenerated one knows one is, or how long one has loved Jesus and depended upon Him for righteousness in Him, one cannot penetrate this veil.

            Hope that helps clear up my “duck” statement.

      • cb scott says

        People on this blog may not like Vol’s question and that may be because it is Vol who brings the question to the table.

        Nonetheless, the question is a valid question. There is an abundance of data to cause any thinking person who has been actively involved in Southern Baptist life for the last twenty years to ask such a question.

        Vol is bold enough to ask this question without fear of those who will attack him for it, knowing full they will. I commend him for it.

        The question deserves an answer.

        • says

          CB, I would agree. But Lydia’s point is well made. How would one define non-Calvinist? 4,3,2,1,0 points? Or a Calvinist, 1,2,3,4,5?

          I think that would have to be answered. Or, is agreement with the BFM2K enough?

          • cb scott says


            Lydia’s point is well made. I still have a hard time with this term “Non-Calvinist” in reference to Southern Baptists. So,I agree with you about Lydia’s comment.

            Yet, I believe that Vol’s question is valid and deserves an answer as it relates to the “Founders” as a self promoting entity.

            There were 5 point Calvinist who were alive and well in the SBC before the Founders arrived on the scene.

          • says

            CB, right about there being 5 point Calvinists in the SBC prior. I was one of those. And I can’t speak for all 5 point Calvinists, but there are many of us who consider anyone who does not agree with all 5 points to not be a Calvinist.

            Perhaps they are Calvinistic to be sure. And not Arminian. But “non-Calvinist” does seem to be defined by the standard of “Calvinist.” Maybe that’s ok with NC….being defined by what one is not.

      • says


        For the last 25 years Calvinist have been rejected and excluded at every level of service and cooperation within the the SBC simply because they were Calvinist… and now that a few Calvinist are in a position to make some of the decisions on who will be appointed to these committees and who will not, David is suddenly deeply concerned that they might treat their non-Calvinist brothers as they have themselves been treated in the past.

        I’m sorry… but that’s funny.

        Grace for the Journey,

        • cb scott says

          Greg Alford,

          Before you die laughing, take the time to read Vol’s questions. Maybe read a few of mine also. Maybe read the whole thread. Maybe read the post.

          Vol’s questions are valid. Usually your comments are level and reveal a studied involvement in the substance of the issue at hand. I feel maybe you are just taking a shot from the hip here.

          One thing I will take issue with in your “hip shot” comment though. It is just not correct to state, “For the last 25 years Calvinist have been rejected and excluded at every level of service and cooperation within the the SBC simply because they were Calvinist…”

          That will not really stand scrutiny. Calvinists have been involved in the SBC during the last 25 years and before that also.

          • Jason G. says


            Is the SBC still promoting seeker-driven shallow worship? Does the SBC still support poor evangelistic strategies?

            What is wrong with those questions? Are they valid? Sure, in a sense. But the SBC never endorsed those things, outright. I guess one could say the SBC tacitly endorses those things by some who do those things being involved in leadership. But is that what defines the SBC? Are those things actively promoted by the SBC? Can you find those things in any of the official statement or documents of the SBC? The answer is “no”.

            Can you find individuals within the SBC who practice those things? Can you find individuals in leadership of the SBC who practice or practiced (past tense) those things? Yes, without question.

            So, though those original questions may be valid to some degree…they reflect a certain skewed understanding of what the SBC is about, because it doesn’t use the SBC’s own language to describe itself, nor does it reflect prevalent views of the people within the organization.

            Do you see where I am going?

    • says


      Don’t you know by now that there are no “aggressive Calvinists” in the SBC. That is simply a “bogeyman” of your own imagination 😉 On second thought, maybe the quick and rapid response to Harris’ article proves your point. As an “inconsistent Calvinist” myself (it’s really true, Debbie :-) ), I look forward to reading all the non-aggressive responses to come. Thanks and God bless,


        • says


          You can call me anything you like — just don’t call me late for dinner 😉 And, thanks for your quick and rapid response. God bless,


          • says

            Howell, come on man. Poison the well much? So, since we responded to Harris’ article quickly and rapidly, we’re aggressive Calvinists? I guess William Birch is an aggressive Calvinist as well.

          • says

            CB, what do you mean by “belong?” I don’t agree with them entirely. I do, however, appreciate their ministry. Tom Ascol is a rare, rare pastor/leader IMO, in a good way. I’m really an oddball in the SBC; not a 5-pointer, not a non-Calvinist either.

            The dividing issue with me beyond affirming the BF&M 2000, that I think is a threat to the SBC is a denial of either God’s 100% sovereignty or man’s 100% responsibility. It’s both. We may explain this differently, but we must outright deny synergistic salvation. Today, right now, I would hire some non-Calvinists to serve on my church staff. There’s also some Calvinists I wouldn’t hire.

          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            Thank you for your answer. And let me quickly state that I have hired many Calvinists of all stripes on staff. BTW, there are many good pastors in the SBC. And they were good pastors long before the Founders arrived on the scene.

            In addition, I believe that all members of true Southern Baptist church should not only be regenerated (born again) but also biblically baptized. Immersion is the only true biblical baptism and anyone who has not been biblically baptized should not be allowed to be a member with full privileges in a Southern Baptist church.

            Would you agree?

          • says

            CB, absolutely. I think most Southern Baptists and Founders ministries would agree with that statement. I realize John Piper has said otherwise, but various Calvinist leaders have responded. (Piper isn’t Southern Baptist). He’s benefited me immensely over the years; as has Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Charles Spurgeon, Russell Moore, John Macarthur, John Calvin, A. W. Tozer, etc.

          • says


            Let me start off by saying that I love you as a brother and, paraphrasing Sally Field, “I like you. I really like you,” even though we come at issues from a slightly different theological/methodological bent. I tried to respond in humor to your (apparently) homorless response to my comment directed at David. Please enlighten me as to who I called an “aggressive Calvinist” in my above comment.

            And, in all grace and love to you as a brother and someone I consider a friend, I really do not want it to be perceived — rightly or wrongly — that you are making my point, especially when I did not have you in mind when I wrote my response to Volfan. Thanks and God bless,


          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            I am going to go out on a limb and state something that I have believed for a long time.

            Being a Calvinist is not necessarily synonymous with being a Founder. There are a lot of Calvinists in the SBC who would not join the ranks of the Founders if you held a gun to their heads and said, “Sign up or die.”

            In truth, Vol had and still has a valid question that has not been answered. he has definite reason for the question. The question does have a legitimate basis. It does deserve an answer.

          • says

            Howell, my comment was humorous while being simultaneously serious. That’s how I understood your comment as well. You said, “Don’t you know by now that there are no “aggressive Calvinists” in the SBC. That is simply a “bogeyman” of your own imagination On second thought, maybe the quick and rapid response to Harris’ article proves your point.” Then, you thanked me for my “quick and rapid response,” which I took to mean I was an aggressive Calvinist since it’s the same words you used in your comment to David. No matter though. You have a right to be wrong. :)

    • says


      I’m sorry to hear of your unfortunate experiences with those who claim the doctrines of grace. I’m not going to doubt the reality of your experience and the sincerity of your concern. In fact, I was told at one time by a “5-point Calvinist” that unless I became one that God would never use me in ministry. So I guess I know a little where you are coming from.

      There’s a lot that could be said here, but let me go on record and say that yes, I would be happy to cooperate with those who would be “Calvinistic” (in your terms 3 points). Of course, there should be room for robust & substantive debate within like-minded, cooperating brothers, but we are together on the essentials of the gospel (see my other comment below).

      I hope that clarifies things a little.

    • Russ says

      Hey David I echo you experiences and thoughts. I have run into a lot a C brothers that will have not problem of spilling blood without giving it a second thought(the young restless reformed). I have also and am friends with 5 pters that are very gracious and loving. We all need to be loving in our discussion of even heated topics like C & A.

      I like how William ended this article

      “And for the sake of our union with Christ, while we are debating our theology, remember that we are all one in Christ. We are on the same team, people!”


  8. Jim G. says

    Hi all,

    This is going to be an interesting comment thread to say the least. I have lots of thoughts and will try not to jumble them together.

    First, the Harris piece was pretty scatter-shot in its makeup. I think it would have been a much better work had it been more focused and to the point. Also, I commend Billy (the way I know William Birch, and to not confuse him with “William” Thornton) for speaking his mind. I think he made some good points as well.

    But Tim Brister’s comment needs some correcting. It may “seem” rare that a non-Calvinist is level-headed and fair, but it is not. This is a caricature that needs addressed right now. Tim has just successfully painted opposition to Calvinism into two camps – the overwhelming majority that made up of crazy, half-cocked “hunting the bogeyman” types and the “rare” few with a level head. If this type of caricature is allowed to stand, any legitimate, theological, or ecclesio-political opposition to Calvinism (the “rare” type that Billy represents) will be much easier to ignore, and marginalize.

    Second, now that Billy (a self-defined classical Arminian) has spoken up against a “specific” rant on his own side of the fence, when will the Calvinists speak up about a “specific” rant on their own side (Al Mohler? Mohler? Anyone? Anyone?)? I know Dave Miller has, but he is the only one to my knowledge.

    Third, David has a real question that needs answered. Will the more aggressive Calvinists cooperate with the non-Calvinists if and when their stated aims become a reality? Cooperation is necessary now, but will it be in the future if the SBC becomes a Reformed convention? That leads me directly to point number 4.

    Fourth, I am going back to the Gospel Project. Of the 19 people publicly involved with the GP, all 19 are either Calvinist or lean that way. Where is the cooperation there? I mean, come on, James MacDonald, a good Calvinist, is part of the oversight team and he thinks Baptist ecclesiology is satanic. Yet he is publicly on board with a Lifeway project, but there are no publicly identified non-Calvinists. What does that say about cooperation? Is it better to have MacDonald than a committed Baptist non-Calvinist? There are plenty of non-Calvinists in the SBC who are qualified, so what’s the deal? I know Trevin said the question about Calvinism wasn’t asked, but did it need to be, given the oversight team and the publicly-identified curriculum designers’ prior relationship to them?

    That’s all for now.

    Jim G.

    • cb scott says

      Jim G.,

      “Going back to the project” puts you on the defensive. I agree with you. Vol has a valid question. You also made a valid observation about Timmy’s comment. I think Vol’s question deserves an answer and Timmy’s comment should not just get a pass.

    • says

      Jim G.,

      Yes, forget Harris’ article and re-focus on Calvinism and Calvinists since their are the real problem, right?

      First, you think Harris’ piece was scattered and could have been better. However, Trevin Wax answers questions directly and you are still giving him and the Gospel Project a hard time. Harris gets a pass for some reason yet you dig and dig into Wax’s comments.
      I’m not sure what needs correcting about Tim’s comment. Maybe he could have expanded and refined it more, but he actually said, “William displays an honesty and historical accuracy that is unfortunately rare.” Contrast this with even the title “The Calvinists are here” of Harris’ post which may be argued begins the historical inaccuracy.

      Second, what specific rant are you talking about? Would it be fair to gather some anti-Calvinist rants and ask you when you are going to respond to all of them?

      Third, which aggressive Calvinists? Who are they? Is there evidence of them not cooperating? Has there been evidence of the 10% of SBC pastors ruining off non-Calvinists? Or similar evidence of the 30% of seminary graduates running off non-Calvinists?
      It seems that it is actually the non-Calvinists who fear cooperating with Calvinists given the recent reactions to the Gospel Project and the non pro-Calvinist articles (like that one?) like Harris’ and even Bill Harrel’s decision to defund two seminaries. Whose cooperation shall we question again?

      Fourth, how many times has the theology of the authors’ of past material been questioned? Again, you’re digging into Wax’s words while the editor of a state Southern Baptist newspaper goes unaddressed. James MacDonald has been a best-selling author through Lifeway, but people are just now picking up on him because of Calvinism? Where was everyone before? MacDonald recently said that the very best he could do on the TULIP scale is 3.8 which is may describe some non-Calvinist SBCers. MacDonald’s comment on congregationalism was ridiculous. I, and several others, tweeted to him about it. A few Calvinist Baptist blogs, including 9Marks, answered MacDonald.

      Who is questioning whose cooperation again?

      • cb scott says


        Do you believe that within the ranks of the Founders there are many who could be described as “aggressive” Calvinists?

        • says


          If you could give me a list or some examples of those “within the ranks of the Founders” I might be able to answer you. Can you help me out here?

          Also, the Founders ranks, whoever they are, have been pretty silent lately.

          • cb scott says


            I find the word “silent” to be very relative here.

            But I think I can give you an example without becoming too personal toward any one person.

            Mark, whoever registered the domain tying the SBC to the Founders site was aggressive. it was an aggressiveness beyond the pale. It was not an accident. It was not something done without specific intent.

      • Jim G. says

        Hi Mark,

        I did not particularly care for Harris’ article.

        I don’t think you should let Tim’s comment pass either. Is honesty and historical accuracy rare? If it is, then most of us are either liars or distorters of history. He’s pointing a finger at you too, you know.

        I’m talking about Mohler’s numerous rants, like him saying that only Reformed thought structures allow for the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, or the infamous one on the T4G video. All I asked for is ONE example of a Calvinist taking a brother to task for irresponsible speech and/or writing. I don’t ask for all, just ONE. I would like to see one. I thought Mohler would be the easiest. If Calvinists would hold Mohler accountable the way Billy held Harris accountable, it would go a long way, don’t you think?

        Why won’t you answer William T’s question?

        Jim G.

        • says

          I’ve disagreed with Mohler in the past. I think he is inconsistent on his position on alcohol, for example. However, I don’t keep up with him much now or when he did he regular radio show. Maybe I should have a look at the full context of the objections to some of his words.

          As for Calvinists in general, I and many other Calvinists have disagreed with Mark Driscoll and were not silent about it. I wish Driscoll would just renounce Calvinism so the hit-bloggers would stop linking every stupid thing he does or says to Calvinism. I’ve even replied to him directly on FB and twitter.

          Also, John MacArthur, a Calvinist, has been none to shy about taking Calvinists to task for their words and actions.

          Plus, Harris’ article is a bit more biting to some of us here in GA. I know several pastors who are not happy about the article in the least.

          Now to Brister. I’ll break his comment down.

          “Great article.” – Nothing here.

          “William displays an honesty and historical accuracy that is unfortunately rare.” – This seems to be the unacceptable comment. Tim could clarify his words. I just tweeted to ask if he would. I assume he is talking about SBC life and those in leadership/influential positions like Harris. You could go to Tim’s blog where he has address much SBC anti-Calvinism through the years. I doubt, Jim G., that you are even on his radar.

          “And I think he shows the difference between a non-Calvinist (William) who wants to cooperate and anti-Calvinists who don’t (Harris et al).” – Nothing troubling here as it seems to point out the obvious. The conclusion about Harris is clearly drawn from the article in question. If there is a problem with this comment maybe someone can point out an inference from Harris’ article that is either pro-Calvinist or Calvinist neutral.

          “Wish there were more non-Calvinists like William speaking up in the SBC.” – This is a healthy comment for those who wish to cooperate among the brethren.

          • Jim G. says

            Hi Mark,

            The “rare” and “like William” are the two that are objectionable. I don’t think there is anything rare about honesty or historical accuracy. It might seem that way, but it isn’t.

            Jim G.

        • Jason G. says

          So, Dave held Mohler accountable…in the same way William held Harris accountable (your own words).

          Isn’t that a draw?

          Perhaps you are using this argument in a disproportional manner. One person can answer Harris. Many people must answer Mohler.

          • Jason G. says

            BTW, Jim G. did I miss you holding Harris accountable or taking his post to task? Was that comment made somewhere that I missed?

          • Jim Gifford says

            Hi Jason,

            I certainly thought the Harris article was unhelpful. He never made a real point in my opinion. I would rather he hadn’t written it.

            As for Mohler, no, it isn’t a draw. The influence of Mohler is far stronger than the influence of Harris. I mostly agree with Billy’s article, so there are 2 for Harris, 1 for Mohler. :0)

            Jim G.

    • says

      I don’t think I characterized it other than a series of observations about a significant issue in SBC life. I think Harris, who is quite peripatetic in sBC circles, recognizes some problems with calvinists and calvinism in SBC life. I though he was restrained in the piece.

      Why don’t you pick something he said that you disagree with and we can have a real discussion? I don’t understand your reluctance here.

      • says

        My reluctance is that with your astute observation skills on other topics you seem to have no trouble picking out what you see as inaccuracies or problematic inferences. However, with Harris’ article you seem be willing to just let it go. Therefore, if I bring something up you may just dismiss it.

        I may still bring up an issue, but let me think on it. I believe there is also way too much to unpack in Harris’ article which may take a longer response which I’m considering at my place.

        • says

          Harris stirred up the hornet’s nest with his article. I’m asking those who object to it exactly what they disagree with, specifically. It seems unreasonable to ask someone, me, who thought his piece was reasonable to pick it apart. I though you guys would be eager to do that.

          • says


            Why don’t you do an interview with Harris asking direct questions and publish it in the manner of Trevin Wax’s interview? He was willing to take the criticism head-on and answer questions which portrays atleast a little transparency from “that side”. Do you think Harris would be willing to do the same?

            Again, who is attempting to cooperate?

          • says

            I already have a scintillating interview on my blog right now…

            Perhaps one of the riled-up calvinists could email Harris and ask your quesitons. I’d guess he would answer you.

  9. says


    You have expressed on of the problems that I see the SBC being forced into. As I see the SBC, our unity has been centered around the CP. While there is significant differences in our theological positions, we have been able to varying degrees work together for a common cause and that is to take the gospel message to our neighborhoods and then to the world.

    Today things are growing decidedly different. Theology and not cooperation is now the focus. The priesthood of the believer and the autonomy of the local church is changing, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. There are certain calvinists who are openly disappointed that the SBC got away from its Reformed roots, however defined they may or may not have been. It does not matter today. There is a definite sentiment that this will be changed and if it does get changed, the SBC will never be in the position it is today with respect to a lack of a Reformed flavor. Again, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, there is at least an element of truth to what I am saying in the minds of SOME… I am not saying all or even a majority.

    Here is the problem that I see in the horizon if this issue continues and I do not see a trainwreck can be avoided. If the non-Calvinist group manages to hold onto the convention, the convention will almost by necessity be forced to identify itself in non-Calvinist terms so as to attempt to avoid any further problems in this area so that the focus can be on keeping the main thing the main thing.
    (Which would be true for either camp)

    If the calvinists continue to grow and are successful in taking control of the direction of the convention, which MUST be an accepted reality to some, again whether anyone here wants to acknowledge it or not, the same problem will exist… who is or is not fit to serve on committees and in seminaries and entities etc… that is really what this whole issue is all about.

    My real point is that the SBC is being changed whether we like it or not because we are having to define who and what we are almost by saying this is not what we are going to be like in the future.

    The BF&M is headed for change. It is inevitable. It will be changed to eliminate the issue of regeneration leading to or preceding repentance and saving faith or it will be made stronger. Some have suggested the church government issue as a dividing line.

    Since theology has become a MAJOR issue today, as to what the gospel is and who is and is not truly saved etc… and we all have seen people making comments that those who are not following a certain theological persuasion are not worshiping the “God of the Bible” and are not saved etc… who should and should not be doing this or that in the SBC is headed for a battle and we all will lose.

    This is really a summary that I have come to in the last few weeks in sitting back and looking at this whole issue. I am afraid it is unavoidable at this point and that is indeed sad. Our identity is no longer in our cooperation; our identity is now being cast in our theological position and that has not really been the central focus as SB’s in the past, or immediate past for my generation.

    These are some random thoughts as i see them this early afternoon in Florida!


    • Frank L. says

      Bob, though I do not agree with all of your sub-points and analysis, I think your main point is well taken: there is a change to move from orthopraxy to orthodoxy as the “primary” hub around which SBC cooperation hinges.

      The more we use particular points of theology (the more we expand the BF&M) the narrower the tent must become.

      Theology has always been central to a Baptist congregation’s life, but not so much it seems to denominational life. For example you use the term “non-Calvinist” to describe the Convention of the past. I’ve been a SB pastor for going on 40 years and I never heard that term until recently until the last few years.

      Thank you for your comment. I think it has some good merit.

    • says

      Have not theological distinctions always been at the core of our union? After all, we’re cooperating Baptists, right?

      Just a thought…


      • says

        Not really. Our Baptist distinctions have allowed for varying degrees of theological differences and those differences have not been issues limiting cooperation at least at the church level.

        I am beginning to see that those theological differences have been at the center of entity activity probably for a while; we on the street are just now coming to grips with many of the arguments trustees have been struggling with for decades.


        • says

          “Our Baptist distinctions have allowed for varying degrees of theological differences…”

          Yes, but are not “Baptist distinctions” themselves theological in nature? I mean, don’t we have theological reasons for being credobaptists? I know that, for me, it’s theological and not just tradition…

          I mean, we don’t allow non-Baptists into our Baptist associations…


          • says

            It has been in the past, as I perceive it, only been necessary to be ” Baptist ” and that was enough. It now appears that the winds are a-changing however.

            Most all distincitons are theological in nature as I have many Presby brothers that I love but they are not BAPTIST and therefore are not part of the SBC…

            I happen to be a Baptist who is Calvinistic in his soteriology….that is a distinction that is important but not one that should lead to the ultimate division of the SBC

            Thanks for your time and God bless

  10. Lydia says

    “But Tim Brister’s comment needs some correcting. It may “seem” rare that a non-Calvinist is level-headed and fair, but it is not. This is a caricature that needs addressed right now. Tim has just successfully painted opposition to Calvinism into two camps – the overwhelming majority that made up of crazy, half-cocked “hunting the bogeyman” types and the “rare” few with a level head. If this type of caricature is allowed to stand, any legitimate, theological, or ecclesio-political opposition to Calvinism (the “rare” type that Billy represents) will be much easier to ignore, and marginalize.”

    Amen. Reminds me of politics when the liberal media points out the “good” conservatives who they think are level headed and rare….painting everyone else as the mean and hateful lunatic fringe.

    • cb scott says


      Therein lies the reason Timmy’s comment should not just get a pass as if it is completely factual and should stand without question.

      That comment, as structured, makes a false assumption and demands a false conclusion from those who would read it and would be expected to deem it factual without question or at least being desirous of an explanation.

  11. Dave Miller says

    Permit me a comment here about moderation.

    I allow people to comment under assumed names. However, I am a little more strict with your content if your name or identity is hidden, and I do not allow people to post under false email addresses.

    One such dishonest person got himself banned from commenting at SBC Voices this morning. Because of his constant disrespectful attitude, I had placed him on moderation – I had to review his comments before they appeared.

    But he has tried to circumvent that through deceit by using names like Orang Asli and Bintang Kejora.

    If you want to comment here, you don’t have to use your full, or even your real name. But your email needs to be correct. I have NEVER given one of those out to anyone, but a real email needs to be on your comment.

  12. says

    Church government by the elders does not necessarily follow from a commitment to Sovereign Grace. I am a committed Sovereign Grace believer, and I hold emphatically to congregational church government. Elders may lead, but only by permission and approval of the local church…and even then they are subject to review by the congregation. If the present day believers we would give some consideration to church history of the Baptists and the cause of Sovereign Grace in America, they would find that the Baptists have been firm adherents to Congregational church government…along with the Congregationalists from the days of the Puritans…and that over 200 Congregationalist churches, so C.C. Goen in The Great Awakening, became Baptists. The congregational church view arose with the Puritans and Separatists in England in the late 1500s and early 1600s. A close study of ekklesia in the NT is quite convincing as to where the voting power lies; it lies with the congregation – not the ministry. The very idea of ekklesia has inherent in it the idea of equality and the right to participate in the decision making process of the local church. Years ago, I looked at the 110+ instances of the usage of ekklesia in the NT. It is at this point that I would point that J.R. Graves, in my opinion, provided one of the best exegeses of Acts 19, expounding the differences between the ekklesia and the Oyklos (sp?) or mob that rushed into the stadium where the ekklesia was voting. In fact, I consider the article on ekklesia in Kittel’s by Karl Schmidt to be wanting due to his lack of knoweldge concerning Graves discussion. This is where one of the true contributions of Landmarkism exists. However, its view that the local church is the only kind that the NT presents cannot be sustained as E.C. Dargan’s work on the church indicates.

    The leeway for a wider acceptance of diverse theological views came with the liberal calvinism/sovereign grace views of the Regular and Separate Baptists in Va. in 1787. It is in the principles of Union between Separate and Regulars in the idea that the preaching that Christ tasted death for every man (Hebs.2:9) shall be no bar to communion. This was due to the fact that the few who held such a position had suffered for the cause of Christ during the period preceeding the obtaining of religious liberty, and from the the fact that participants felt ashamed that they had spoken so harshly against those they once called “brethren.” The obvious implications of all of this is that the original position was that of Particular Redemption/Limited Atonement. The General Baptists were the only ones known for a full-fledged atonement, and they were not very evangelistic or missionary minded. A lot of folks automatically assume that one has to have a general view of the atonement in order to be evangelistic and missionary. However, the facts actually show otherwise. Carey, Fuller, and Rice were five point calvinists as any reading of their writings indicate.

    An intellectual analysis of the original theology of Sovereign Grace proves that it is the one, most flexible and creative body of teachings in existence, that it can and will ignite a passion and zeal in adherents, that it is the equivalent of our modern paradoxical intervention/therapeutic paradox counseling, anticipating it by milleniums. Also there is another method of thinking and experiment involved in this pro-biblical theology, one that is synthetical, one able to take into account, to hold in tension, diverse and apparently contradictory ideas, poles of twofold ideas that, when held together, set up a tension in the human mind, enabling one to be balanced, flexible, creative, magnetic, and constant. One who has grasped the teachings of the Christian faith, and they all seem to be composed of apparently contradictory ideas (contradictory to our human way of thinking, ideas which cannot be reconciled and are not meant to be), which, when held in tension in the human mind and heart, enable one to be balanced, flexible, creative, magnetic, and constant, in short, a mature, attractive, winsome individual, male or female, that is the best advertising for the Christian Faith imaginable.

    • Bill Mac says

      I really think the elder issue is deliberately blown way out of proportion by many in the anti-Calvinist camp. Yes, many churches are adopting a plurality of elders who lead the congregation, not rule it. They are still congregational. While there may be some SBC churches who have adopted presbyterian style polity, I have never once seen a name put forward.

      So before I’ll accept the notion that many reformed SBC churches are abandoning congregational polity, I’ll have to see more proof than an offhand comment in a poorly written editorial. Let’s have some names, please. And keep in mind we have thousands and thousands of churches, so “many”, relative to the SBC, doesn’t mean 5.

  13. Ron says

    Dear Tim,

    Thanks for being the first commenter today. You said … that William (the guest blogger) displays an honesty and historical accuracy that in unfortunately rare.

    Now will you be honest and historically accurate about your organization known as … Founders Ministries?

    Reisinger’s book entitled: A Quiet Revolution (A Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in The Southern Baptist Convention) in includes the following letter from a pastor:

    “The primary goal of Founders Ministries is to assist and encourage preachers like the man who wrote the following letter published in the Summer 1997 Founders Journal:

    Dear Friends:

    I deeply appreciate the Founders Journal and its commitment to returning Southern Baptists to their historical theological roots. I have enclosed [a gift] to help with your ministry. Within the last couple of years, the Lord has given me a small degree of boldness to proclaim the doctrines of grace. I am beginning to sense what I am sure many of you dear brethren know all too well–that although the doctrines of grace are precious to us, they are hated and despised by others. I ask that you please pray for me. I have not experienced any open hostility, but I often feel faint. The Arminianism that we see both in and outside of the Southern Baptist Convention seems almost like a taunting Goliath that threatens to devour anyone who dares to challenge it. There is comfort, however, in knowing that, unlike David who had to fight alone, you brothers are out there. May the Lord bless and multiply your ministry.

    In Christ,
    T. H., Mississippi” (This letter is in the chapter entitled The Beginnings of Reformation in the Southern Baptist Convention; The Reasons for Our Hope).

    Tim … the truth is, you make your living by turning Southern Baptists toward the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace.

    I am not trying to be mean, I am just seeking to be honest and accurate.

    Your organization has worked very hard since 1982 to turn Southern Baptists toward Reformed theology and when somebody (like Mr. Harris) speaks openly and straightforwardly about the rise of Calvinism in the SBC … you seem shocked and saddened.

    I respect you for your drive and determination; I don’t think you are a bad guy. But I have a favor to ask — just be honest about the purpose of Founders Ministries and when some of us … push back … it doesn’t mean that we are out to run all the Calvinists out of the convention.

    It just means that … when you push your agenda … somebody is going to push back. That is life and that is life in the SBC.

      • Ron says

        You wouldn’t answer any of William’s (the commenter not the author of this piece) questions …. will you answer mine.

        Have you read the book …. A Quiet Revolution? And do you agree with the Founders agenda?

  14. volfan007 says

    To all those who think that aggressive Calvinists are boogeymen…. an aggressive Calvinist might call someone, who’s not a Calvinist, a semi-Pelagian, just because they’re not at least a 4 pt. Calvinist. An aggressive Calvinist might say that someone, who’s not at least a 3 pt. Calvinist, is preaching a works salvation. An aggressive Calvinist might say that a non-Calvinist doesnt preach the true Gospel, because 5 pt. Calvinism is the true Gospel. And aggressive Calvinist makes Calvinism a point of fellowship… in other words, they would not hire someone to be a prof. at their college or seminary, who was not at least a 4 pt. Calvinist….they’d not be able to appoint people to SBC boards and committees, who are not at least 4 pt. Calvinists, if they were the SBC President….aggressive Calvinists might even vote against people from being the new DOM of their Association, or something similar, all because the non-Calvinist is not at least a 4 pointer.

    Aggressive Calvinists are not boogeymen. They are real. I have met well over a 100 of them….dealt with them…been judged as a false teacher by them, because they say that I preach a works salvation….I guess that’s what they consider me, and people like me…all because I’m not at least a 4 pointer…and not into the system of Calvinism. I mean, if they really think that me, and others like me, are adding works to salvation, or not preaching grace and faith, then we’d have to considered a false teacher. And, I’ve met many Founders friendly type of Calvinists, who’ve made these kinds of statements to me. THEY were making it a matter of fellowship….because, I have many friends, who are 4 and 5 pt. Calvinists, whom I love dearly. I have 4 and 5 pt. Calvinists in my Church….they’re some of the ones, who amen the loudest when I’m preaching. My trouble is not with Calvinists….it’s with the aggressive kind.

    Again, I say to Timmy Brister and Tom Ascol, and to all other 5 point Calvinists. I can walk hand in hand with Calvinists, and I do. Would all of you Calvinists tell me that you could sincerely walk hand in hand with those people like me in the SBC? I mean, not say that we’re preaching a works salvation? that we preach the true Gospel? Would you be willing to say that you would hire non-Calvinist profs at a school, which you’re a trustee of, or the President of? Would you not only vote for non-Calvinists to be on SBC and local state boards and committees, but you’d also be able to recommend them?

    Or, is all of this cooperation talk really just talk? Or, does it mean that if we’ll all become at least 3 pointers, that we’ll cooperate with you? I would really like to know.


  15. Carter says

    I’d have no problem endorsing and working with non Calvinists. I do all the time. I am rarely enaged in persuading them that their beliefs are wrong but I hear mine mischaracterized uncharatiably frequently.
    While I am a calvinist, my pastor is not. I love him and have sat under his teaching and cooperated with him for nearly 30 years.
    I suspect I am more of the norm.
    Your questions about cooperation might profit from being turned the other way too. Might non calvinists struggle to support a cavinist pastor, seminary president, trustee or DOM? Might the boogeyman scare them so much that they must some how rise up and protect what is “theirs”.
    What an abomination!

  16. says

    To those who have addressed me about my comment, I hope to reply soon. I’ve spent the day with my family and especially my mother-in-law who recently lost her husband. Even now I’m riding over alligator alley in south Florida. My absence from the commentary should not be interpreted a lack of desire or unwillingness to respond.

    I will just say for now that my desire is that any Southern Baptist who clearly preaches and teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone, let’s roll together. If you call sinners to repent and believe in Christ crucified & risen & coming again, let’s roll. And if you can embrace a Trinitarian orthodoxy whereby salvation is purposed by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit, let’s roll. These are first order gospel matters I believe cooperating non-Calvinists and Calvinists can agree. And I can’t speak for Founders or other Calvinists, I imagine most if not all would share the same convictions (like Wesley & Whitefield or Spurgeon & Moody).

    (sorry for any typos)

    • volfan007 says


      Thanks for your reply, and I like what you’re saying.

      One more thing….does the Founders Organization still have as its goal to turn the SBC to Calvinism one church at a time? Is the Founders still seeking to convert the SBC “back to its Founders?” Calvinism? Or, has it changed its mission?

      Again, I know that you and I have had some strong disagreements in the past. So, I appreciate these words you have spoken today. And, maybe there is hope…real hope…for unity and harmony in the family of God called Southern Baptists. I’m for it.


      • Scott says

        While we’re asking questions, who wrote the “Reformed Red Flags” in West Tennessee? Was this document produced to try to smoke out Reformed pastors and have them removed from their churches? Has there been an attempt to get pulpit committees to have a pastor sign an agreement that he is not a Calvinist even though that document may not have been approved by the congregation? Has this document been the means of men losing their jobs?
        You guys like to talk about people being covert and having an agenda. Those agendas go both ways.

        • volfan007 says


          Yes, this was written to help Churches avoid the stealth, aggressive Calvinist coming into churches to try to convert them. Also, I know who wrote it. I wont tell his name, unless he wants me to tell it.


          • Scott says

            I think that these “stealth” Calvinists are a minority. The truth is, I know guys who have been honest with search committees and had the church turn on them about Calvinism after the fact. They got worked up about some other issue and Calvinism made a good excuse to run off their pastor. In the case of the Reformed Red Flags, (about half of those are a joke) what could happen is that they become an excuse for a carnal church member to get after their pastor. There could be tons of collateral damage. So honestly, I think that what would be better characterized as “stealth” is an anonymous letter going around to churches and taking out good men in the process.

          • cb scott says

            I don’t know much about “Stealth Calvinists” other than they probably move faster than a regular, Old Time B-29 Calvinist and can fly very close to the ground. I don’t think there were many of them around back in John Calvin’s day either. I guess if they had been around back then, things would probably have gotten a lot hotter for more than one guy in Geneva. “Cause those Stealth boys must be some really bad cats moving around in the darkness like a Ronin warrior and all without anyone knowing they are around.

            Nevertheless, I do know this to be true in Scott’s comment:

            “They got worked up about some other issue and Calvinism made a good excuse to run off their pastor.” Such issues … “become an excuse for a carnal church member to get after their pastor.”

            Rarely is it really over theology that a pastor is fired. It usually has to do with some systemic problem that was within the church body long before the pastor ever crossed the threshold of the church building.

            It is also true that the first ministry that many young pastors enter into is some kind of a “Family Chapel” situation with land-mines everywhere he may seek to make a step toward a biblical change and it really does not matter what stripe of Calvinist he is or if he is the blood descendent of Uncle Jacob Arminius himself.

            So getting fired usually has nothing to do with a guy’s soteriological dogma. It has to do with he was just the next guy to get fired in a long line of guys who got fired.

          • says

            David, what do think about Scott’s comment that sending out an anonymous “red flags” letter is a “stealth” tactic that takes good pastors out in the process?

          • Jason G. says

            I find it funny that a guy that wants to “help” churches “smoke out” people for being “stealthy” doesn’t want his name out there as writing the letter.

            Suspicious. Why the stealth? Why not be upfront about your beliefs? Why not put your name on the letter?

          • says

            Gentlemen, You too Jared, :) just kidding…

            The Red Flag piece you are referring to have NOTHING to do with smoking out Calvinist pastors. It was a piece written for a church that was looking for a pastor, to make them aware of some issues they might not otherwise be familiar with.

            You guys are always talking about the “strawmen” and now “bogeyman” so don’t be guilty of misrepresenting something yourselves.


          • says

            Bob, these documents were circulated to other churches “warning” them. Have you read the so-called red flags? Many of them are just stereotypes.

            Also, why do you praise the anecdotal concerns of non-Calvinists, but reject the anecdotal concerns of Calvinists?

            And, if you can recognize a straw man, why do you continue to write about the meaning behind the words of godly men? You think you know these men better than they know themselves: Tom Ascol and Trevin Wax.

          • Jason G. says


            David himself said they were written to help “churches”…plural. So, it seems you are mistaken.

          • says


            Yep. I have read them. That is why I made a comment on them.

            As for the “the anecdotal concerns” I am not sure what you are referring to.

            If you look at what I write, I comment on what folks SAY and I make observations about what they say and how things look. I see that you have no trouble doing that on things that I write, so we have to live by our own words.

            Also, let me say something. I am a master at words if I want to be. I can say just about anything I want to say in a number of ways. For example, Wax said, (and I am going from memory here) “We did not ask anyone if they were Calvinist. We asked them if they affirmed the BF&M 2000.”

            Now how am I supposed to understand that statement? Am I supposed to shut up and think, ok that ought to settle my “fears” not that I had any by the way. Or can I look at the FACT that at least 16 of the 18 folks named are more than what I call Casual Calvinists and think… that could have have happened by accident… sure that must have been it… since Wax said… “We did not ask..” and I need to accept him at his word?

            Well… that is not exactly what I did… BUT as CB will attest, I did accept his answer and believe him to be truthful in his statement that he did not ask if they were Calvinists. I have no doubt that he or no one else asked that question. Since folks were picked that they all knew… if I remember correctly, Wax did say the group of advisers were picked “because they could work well with Stetzer and his overall goal in the project” or something like that. listen… these guys ALL know each other. So of course they did not ask “if any was a Calvinist.”

            That would be like me going to Neyland Stadium on football Saturday in Knoxville and picking a panel to see if CB is a radical or not… they are screaming go Vols… wearing the Big Orange… I do not have to ask.

            Wax was correct. He did not ask that question. The fact that he did not have too went unanswered. The fact that I understood what he said or did not say is not making a strawman.

            You are a bright individual. Give me a break. You know better.


          • says


            I don’t know who you are but you need to take a chill pill dude… Your comment is seriously out of bounds… ,

            “David himself said they were written to help “churches”…plural. So, it seems you are mistaken.”

            I said the purpose of the article was to assist pastor search committees that wanted the article. I get a LOT of things circulated every day that I toss in the garbage.

            It was circulated to a number of churches, so I understand. I have no idea who did or did not receive the article. I do know it had nothing to do with smoking out Calvinist pastors. It spoke to search committees about issues and what to ask if they were interested.

            Even the contract at the end, was for a non-Calvinist prospective pastor IF he decided to go Reformed, he would agree to resign if that is what the church wanted him to do. they were suggestions for search committees that had NO IDEA what was going on in the big wide world we call the SBC.

            Since you seem to have a lot of respect for David’s opinion, ask him if I am being the least bit misleading in my comments with reference to the article. Again, ALL I said was it had NOTHING to do with smoking out Calvinist pastors already serving in a church…. which is the inference that was made and the reason for my comment in the first place.


          • Jason G. says


            “Chill pill”? Really? Come on, now, brother. I am not upset nor un-chilled. I don’t appreciate the attempt to paint me in a negative or angry light by your comment. That tactic is a little cheap.

            Now, my comment was not meant to upset you. I apologize if you felt it was a shot at you. It was an observation on your comment that seems inconsistent with what David said earlier.
            Your exact comment was:
            “The Red Flag piece you are referring to have NOTHING to do with smoking out Calvinist pastors. It was a piece written for a church that was looking for a pastor, to make them aware of some issues they might not otherwise be familiar with.”

            It appears you are saying in that comment that it was for one church with a specific issue.

            I simply said you were “mistaken”. I didn’t say you lied, I didn’t even say you were “wrong”. I said you were “mistaken”. Pretty tame language. Sorry, you were offended. If you could tell me how I am wrong or out of bounds, that would be great.

            Perhaps that was not what you meant. But it is what you wrote.

          • says

            Bob, if Wax said that Reformed theology is not the intent, then it’s not the intent until you can prove otherwise with quotes from the material. You, of course, have yet to do this. I don’t know, maybe you can psychically tell me a pro-Calvinist quote from the material, since you obviously know something about the material we do not.

            I don’t understand how you can speak of integrity when you deny the authorial intent and words of your brothers in Christ. You are calling Ascol and Wax deceptive. So, Wax is a “Master of words”? I just took him as an honest, brother in Christ. What proof do you have that Ascol and Wax are deceptively using their words masterfully?

          • Jason G. says


            You wrote: “It was circulated to a number of churches, so I understand. I have no idea who did or did not receive the article. I do know it had nothing to do with smoking out Calvinist pastors. It spoke to search committees about issues and what to ask if they were interested.”

            So, was it only circulated to churches that were looking for a pastor? If it was circulated to churches that have pastors and are not looking for pastors, then it would seem that the goal was not ONLY to help churches looking for pastors.
            I think we both know full well it was not circulated only to pastorless churches.
            But…even if it was, when you title something “red flags” you aren’t just trying to “help” you are trying to influence and impact. True?

          • Scott says

            Guys, the idea that this was intended ONLY for churches who were looking for pastors is a crock. This paper has been used to hurt pastors and their families. There has been damage done. Say what you want to about Tom Ascol and the Founders, their names are on everything that they have written. The “Reformed Red Flags” were written by a coward with an agenda. Everybody wants pastors laying their cards out on the table. The people who were behind this document need to make themselves known and answer for the damage that they have done.
            While we are at it, no one ever talks about state missionaries who have also been responsible reprehensibly dealing with Reformed pastors who are having trouble with their congregations. You guys want to ask questions about agendas. Get yours out on the table first.

  17. says

    Tim Brister – I’ve enjoyed reading this Blog more than any other and not because of a ” point status ” but the willingness of all involved to answer head on questions . Until I got to your , ” I’m riding over Alligator Alley ” . As a pilot I would say to you that it is only important that you ride/fly over whatever it is , i.e. ocean , alligators or the Rockies and not ” in it “. I see sufficient agreement of sorts in the future ; but, I wonder how it can be accomplished at one SBC meeting and meet everyones criteria .

  18. Bill Mac says

    A serious question for all of our non-Calvinist brothers and sisters out there, who are concerned about the increasing prevalence of Calvinism in the SBC.

    What do you want from us? (Calvinists)

    Before you answer, let’s just take it as read that “agressive obsessive” is bad, whether it’s Calvinists, non-Calvinists, or whatever.

    Let’s also take it as read that being less than honest with pastor search committees is unacceptable.

    Finally let’s take it as read that clandestine takeovers aren’t what should be taking place.

    OK. Now, what else do you want? Do you want us to keep silent about the doctrines we believe to be true? How do you propose to stop people from embracing Calvinism? How do you propose to stop seminaries from graduating people who are Calvinists? How do you propose to stop Calvinists from being elected to positions of responsibility within the SBC?

    I frankly have no desire for Calvinism to take over the SBC. I also have no desire for it not to take over the SBC. I’m just watching it.

    But what do you want?

    • Jim G. says

      I’ll take a stab, Bill, but first I will say what I don’t want.

      I don’t want to silence Calvinism.
      I don’t want Calvinists to leave the SBC.
      I don’t want us to eat each other up like Sambo’s tigers.
      I don’t want to foster a spirit of disunity.

      Here’s what I do want:

      I want us all to realize that there are two “great traditions” in Christianity that predate the Protestant Reformation by 1000 years. There is the Augustinian tradition that has produced Calvinism and there is the free will tradition that has been present since the Old Testament. Baptists have representatives of both “great traditions.” Both are biblical. Both are exegetical. Both are legitimate. Where illegitimacy arises is when one is emphasized to the exclusion of the other. Popular thinking evangelicalism (of which the SBC is a subset) is almost exclusively Augustinian today, and it is trying to marginalize the free-will tradition. The free will tradition has been guilty of the same tactics in the past. We must love each other more than our respective tradition.

      I want to see our seminaries train our graduates that both traditions are legitimate. We should be able to speak across those boundaries of tradition. It should not be a point of separation. Understanding the other tradition in its context is the key to getting along and cooperating.

      I want to see our entities work together to foster this cross-traditional unity. Soteriological and providential differences are serious, but we must be aware it is a matter of emphasis, rather than us-against-them.

      I want to see both sides come to an understanding that inflammatory rhetoric does not solve anything. When state papers or seminary presidents add fuel to the fire, we need to hold these folks accountable. To be truly SBC, we must be willing to serve all, not just those who disagree with us.

      I want to see all who have been engaging in inflammation in the past come clean and repent. As they say, if the shoe fits….

      I need to go and put my kids to bed. There may be more in a little bit.

      Jim G.

      • volfan007 says

        Jim G.,

        I dont know who you are, but I like you, Brother. And, may I add my enthusiastic amen to your comment above? Amen, and amen, and amen.

        Bill Mac, I just dont want Calvinists telling the rest of us that we dont preach the true Gospel…and not make Calvinism a point of fellowship; to not exclude people who arent Calvinists.


        • volfan007 says

          AND, Bill Mac, not try to take over the SBC one church at a time….to not try to convert people and churches to Calvinism.


          • Matt Svoboda says


            Do you realize more non-calvinist SBC leaders have spoken out about excluding calvinists than the other way around?

            Calvinists are leading the charge of exclusion. They are simply trying to get a level playing field and now that they have been getting one the non-calvinists are throwing fits.

            That is reality, my friend.

          • volfan007 says


            I havent seen Calvinists being excluded by non-Calvinists. Tom Nettles and many other Calvinists have taught at SBC colleges and seminaries. Dr. Mohler, Dr. Akin, and Dr. Dockery were all put in charge of SBC seminaries and colleges! Calvinists have served on SBC boards and committees. Calvinists have been sent as missionaries at home and abroad for years.

            Matt, when I saw the backlash against Calvinists, was when the takeover agenda came into view. The backlash against Calvinists came when people saw churches having strife and division, because some aggressive Calvinist came in trying to convert everyone. The backlash against Calvinists came when people saw that Calvinists would not include people, who arent at least a 3 or 4 pointer.

            Now, have there always been people, who didnt like Calvinism. I’m sure there were. Were there always people, who made Calvinism an issue. I’m sure there were. But, Brother, when you look at all the Calvinists, who’ve been put into places of authority in the SBC…by non-Calvinists…then, I cant really buy into what you’re saying. In fact, I’ve noticed the opposite being true…in my experience…that aggressive Calvinists cannot get along with non-Calvinists; then they get mad when non-Calvinists bow their backs, and say, “No, that aint happening here.”

            I dont know the answer to this question, so maybe yall can help me. How many non-Calvinists have been hired to teach at Southern Seminary since Dr. Mohler became President? How many non-Calvinists have been hired by Dr. Akin since he became President of Southeastern? I honestly dont know, and I’d be interested in knowing the answer to this.


        • Bill Mac says


          I just dont want Calvinists telling the rest of us that we dont preach the true Gospel…and not make Calvinism a point of fellowship; to not exclude people who arent Calvinists.

          Certainly, and I hope that is reciprocated as well. I hope some of our brethren in the MBC are reading.

          to not try to convert people and churches to Calvinism.

          Let’s back the truck up here a moment. For as long as I have known you, virtually speaking, you have tried to convert people to abstentionism. You state your position, lay out the biblical evidence, and hope that you change the minds of moderationists. Am I wrong? I think you are wrong on that issue but I would not deny you the right to try to convince people of your doctrinal stand. Is that not what goes on, rightly, in 99.99% of the SBC blogosphere? If we hold a doctrinal position that we think is true, are you really telling us we shouldn’t try to convince others that it is true?

          As for converting churches, I think you mean by stealth, which I have already said is wrong. But churches are people and if more and more people become Calvinists, then inevitably more and more churches will become Calvinist. I very much doubt that it will take over the SBC but that is not in my hands, nor yours.

          • volfan007 says

            Bill Mac,

            I’m not saying that you dont hold to your views and express it. But, there’s some people, who seem obsessed with converting people to Calvinism. Its a mission to them. Do you know how much of my time is spent talking about alcohol? I bet if you put it into percentages, probably less than 1%. I do address it in blogs when people bring it up.

            Bill Mac, I have many, many friends, who are much, much more Calvinistic than me. Some are actually card carrying, 5 pointers! lol. We get along fine. I enjoy hearing them preach. We have no problems whatsoever. j

            The Calvinists I’m talking about are Calvinists to the Nth degree. They’re all about Calvinism. They’re mission in life is to convert people to Calvinism. And, they really think that if you’re not at least a 3 or 4 pt. Calvinist, then you’re not preaching the true Gospel; and they could not vote for you in state and SBC matters, hire you to teach, or to be on Church staff, or appoint you as a missionary.

            Let me give you an example of an aggressive Calvinist. My brother was at a church, one time. And, the Youth Pastor was very aggressive. He was teaching the Youth the 5 points. He was making a big deal out of every thing the church was doing, that he thought didnt go along with Calvinism. He was even against putting the plan of salvation on signs down the walkway to the baseball fields of this church, because he was afraid that it might lead people to a false salvation experience. He became very divisive in the church. The church was filled with strife…. and this was a good church.

            Now, I’ve known of other 4 or 5 pt. Calvinists, who’ve gone into churches as Pastor, or Youth Pastor, who’ve not caused such strife and division. They went in, and taught the Bible, preached the Gospel, and tried to win the lost. And, they did a great job. They didnt make their Calvinism into such a big deal, which made it a matter of fellowship.

            There’s a huge difference.


          • Bill Mac says

            Well as I said, I don’t think being aggressive or obsessed about anything is a good idea, and I am sure there are a fair share of Calvinists who fit that bill.

            During our last pastor search at the church I am a member of, we had a candidate preach who was clearly an enthusiastic Calvinist and that came out in his preaching. He was arrogant and authoritative and he didn’t get a second look. In fact one of our more naive (non-Calvinist) members thought he was terrific, and I had to tell her rather firmly that he wouldn’t be back.

            But we have also had arrogant and authoritative non-Calvinists try to get into the pulpit as well, and we sent them packing.

            The fact is that a lot of people are enthusiastic, aggressive, over-confident, and even arrogant. So whatever doctrinal position they adopt, they promote it in the way that people are saying Calvinists are doing. Yes, some Calvinists are doing it, but so are anti-Calvinists, absentionists, moderationists, and Yankee fans. We deal with them when we must and ignore them when we can.

          • Bill Mac says

            BTW, I am, as far as I know, the only avowed Calvinist in my church, and I have held positions of responsibility for decades. I don’t think I have ever converted anyone to Calvinism although I am not reticent about giving my interpretation of the various passages Calvinists use as the foundation for their doctrine. I am always careful to give the alternative interpretation as well.

            So I am by no means an aggressive Calvinist (and no one has accused me of it) but I am defensive when I continually read about the Calvinist “agenda”, “conspiracy” “indoctrination” “plot for domination” “takeover” “deception” etc.

            Few seem to be willing to give Calvinists the benefit of the doubt. They immediately jump to the most damning conclusion they can come to whenever Calvinists do or say anything. That has to stop.

            People are always railing against Mark Driscoll (for good reason I might add), and always make sure everyone knows he is a Calvinist. But as far as I know, the areas where he has come under criticism have not even been remotely related to Calvinism. But they use Driscoll as a club against Calvinists, with the not-so-subtle insinuation that all Calvinists have the potential to be sex-crazed, porn-vision-seeing, foul mouthed misogynist authoritarians. That needs to stop.

          • volfan007 says

            Bill Mac,

            I was thrilled to read Tim Brister’s response to my questions, earlier in this thread. I’m hoping that this will lead to good things.

            But, do you deny that the Founders Organization has not had an agenda for however many years they’ve been in existence? Have they not…in the past….been all about converting the SBC to Calvinism? I think so. I know so. Now, have they changed? I hope so. I’m still waiting to hear the official word from them, though. Do you know something I dont?

            Also, there are individuals, who’ve bonded together, who seemed to have a takeover agenda….not an official thing….but still a movement, nonetheless….


          • says

            David, for the record, I would love if my church adopted the Doctrines of Grace. You may view that as a “takeover” if they do end up adopting them, but I don’t. One cannot “takeover” a church without the majority. (BTW: I would never try to “force” anything. I would want our confession to reflect our current membership, instead of our confession forcing some to leave. If my church adopts the doctrines of grace, it will be by their own desire; thus, the work of the Spirit in their lives.)

            Concerning the above youth pastor you mention, why do you associate his actions with Calvinism if you know other Calvinists who do not act like that?

          • says

            I know I’ve been silent throughout this entire thread — intentionally so — but I’ve been reading each and every comment. I now want to comment.

            Bill Mac is spot on! Each of us promotes what he believes to be biblical theology and we each hope for the best: may the best case win (so to speak). For the “non-Calvinist” side (of which I am a willing participant), Harris’ article was not getting the job done well.

            Trying to convert churches by stealth is wrong, no matter what position you hold (Calvinism, Arminianism, Dispensationalism, Covenantalism, etc.). But read this carefully: my church back home in Virginia hired a Calvinist pastor. He is a 3-pointer (if such a thing exists: you get the drift): He holds to the “T,” “U,” and “P” of the TULIP. Though he’s briefly mentioned his view of Unconditional Election from the pulpit, he knows that he is just about the only one at Union Baptist Church who holds to it: the rest hold to Conditional Election. But he does not try to convince the congregation that his view is biblical and their view is man-constructed, man-centered, etc.

            I love my pastor, and so do the members of UBC. The union of Calvinists and Arminians really can work, but it takes a concerted effort — effort which people on both sides of this particular debate who want to dominate the SBC are unwilling to make.

            As for Dr. Danny Akin, let me inform you all about his views. He and I have spoken one on one about the Calvinist-non-Calvinist-Arminian divide and he and I see eye to eye on this matter: there is no reason why we cannot work side by side without trying to vie for “control” of the SBC.

            Both sides believe strongly in their soteriological and/or theological positions; no one is denying that. And since both sides think that their respective views are the closest to biblical theology, then of course each camp will want all others to hold to those views as well. The tension comes when we ignore that our “opponent,” if you will, feels just as strongly about his positions as we do ours — and out “opponent” has the right to his position, and to try to convince others of that position.

            Dr. Akin has a well-blended mix of Calvinist and non-Calvinist professors at Southeastern. I know quite a few professors — and have spoken with them personally — who are both Calvinistic and Arminian-ish, if you will. I could even name them for you, meaning, which ones are Calvinists and which ones are not (and even oppose Calvinism rather strongly).

            Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is far more concerned about the Great Commission than dividing over soteriological lines. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Dr. Akin, as should you all. He has no Calvinist or non-Calvinist agenda: he has a Gospel agenda — and I better get an Amen on that!

            God bless.

          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            Don’t take this wrong. Just let it sink in. Think about it.

            If your church is a NT church founded on the Word of the Living God, your church “is” “founded” on “Grace.” It need not “adopt” anything. You have been called and assigned to that flock to preach and teach the gospel of the Risen Lord.

            You preach, teach, and live out in the flesh the one and only biblical gospel. You be the hard working farmer of 2 Timothy 2:6. God will use what you plant and He will fulfill the “doctrine” (singular) of grace in those whom He will. You do that. If you do, you will have your hands full with the labor of God within the flock of which He has assigned you.

          • says

            CB, you’re right. I agree. If my church though wanted to affirm another confession in addition to the BF&M 2000, I would be on board if the church as a whole was on board. If we would stand to lose several people, I would encourage the majority not to encourage such a confession. I’m just not willing to lose Christians over non-essential issues.

            I agree with Birch. We should be able to work together, primarily w/ both Calvinists and Arminians in the same Southern Baptist churches serving unto the glory of God side-by-side.

          • Frank says

            “”sex-crazed, porn-vision-seeing, foul mouthed misogynist authoritarians.”””

            Finally, a definition of Calvinism I can understand!

          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            Now, if you will allow me, I will make another statement.

            Most of the people in your church and any church you ever serve will never care about Jacob Arminius or John Calvin.

            They won’t care about the Abstract of Principles, The London Confession of any year you can name, or the BF&M 2000 or the next one.

            What they will care about is if you love them sacrificially, if you live out the gospel before them, and if you preach the Word of God accurately and consistently.

            The things we debate here are the things of preachers and their trade. Most of our people care less about the things we debate here than they do who wins a Grammy Award on Television.

            Never let these issues deemed important here on this or any other Baptist blog become a driving force in your ministry. The driving force in your ministry is the call of Christ in your life to fulfill the Great Commission for the glory of God. Take the things you have learned of Christ and entrust those things to faithful people who will be able to teach those same things to other people also.

            Now don’t get swelled up at me Jared Moore for stating this to you. Just take it as good advice from one who has traveled down the road a little further than you.

          • Bill Mac says

            David: I don’t know much about Founders. I know they are Calvinists and promote Calvinism. So I know they would prefer that Calvinism spreads. Converting people to their way of thinking is something I’m sure Founders tries to do, as I am sure that everyone else tries to do. I don’t know that they are operating by stealth or anything unethical. From what little I know of Tom Ascol, he seems like a gracious and decent guy. I first became aware of him when the Caner brothers began their attacks on his blog, which was very shameful.

            I was very disappointed to see that SBC Today, in their Top Blog Posts, linked to the Calvinist Flyswatter, a rabid anti-Calvinist. SBCTs Top Blog Posts are usually pretty well weighted down with articles unfavorable to Calvinism, which isn’t really a problem. But the Calvinist Flyswatter blog suggests that God struck Tom Ascol with lightning as punishment for his work with Founders. That is reprehensible. The same type of thing happened a few years ago when Paul Proctor (a Calvinist I believe) suggested that God electrocuted pastor Kyle Lake in a baptistry because he was part of the emergent church. There is no place for this type of idiotic and un-Christian speculation in the SBC. This is the type of rhetoric that must cease, and must be denounced from both sides if there is any hope of unity in the SBC.

  19. says

    How can there be a “Calvinist takeover” if Calvinists are equally Southern Baptists with Non-Calvinists? You cannot take over what you’re equally a part of, can you? If you believe Calvinists are just as much Southern Baptist as you, then there’s no such thing as a “Calvinist takeover,” only other Southern Baptists gaining more influence. (You may speak of a “Hyper-Calvinist takeover,” but I’ve only met 1 Hyper-Calvinist in the SBC. He only visited my church 1 time, never to return, because I called everyone to repent and trust in Christ alone. There’s just not a Hyper-Calvinist problem in the SBC, even though most of SBC Christians live like they’re Hyper-Calvinists, regardless their doctrine of salvation.)

    • volfan007 says


      When I’m talking about a Calvinist take over, I’m talking about the aggressive kind, who want to convert the SBC one church at a time. I’m talking about the kind, who see it as their mission to make the SBC into a 4 or 5 point Calvinist organism.

      Do you see the difference?


      • says

        David, if there are Calvinists in the sbc like that, they are the extreme minority.

        I want to encourage you to treat them as the exception rather than the rule.

      • Jason G. says

        I have never met anyone who says they want to take over the SBC. Ever. Not once. So….who are all these guys?

        Seriously, the hyperbolic accusations must stop. Repeating them over and over does not make them more real. Volfan can say it over and over (which he does) but it doesn’t prove the point…it is simply an assertion.

        Founders isn’t trying to “take over”, that is absurd. Calvinists aren’t trying to take over. There is no secret conspiracy. I see no movement trying to make the SBC a Calvinist organism or organization. I see no “mission” to do so.

        Please name names if you are going to make these sort of accusations, David. The vague comments get old. Don’t be stealth, be up front.

        • cb scott says

          Jason G.,

          Throughout the years many people have stated they “wanted to take over the SBC” and we did. We did take it over, no doubt about it. Ask Lloyd Elder, Bill Leonard, Glenn Hinson, James Dunn, Foy Valentine, and many others.

          And for you to state that the “Founders isn’t trying to “take over”, that is absurd” may just be what is really “absurd” here.

          In any dialogue related to a plan to “take over” related to the Founder’s Ministries one must take into account the content of this work by Reisinger entitled: A Quiet Revolution (A Chronicle of Beginnings of Reformation in The Southern Baptist Convention)

          One must also consider several other things, one of which is why did the Founders use the name of the SBC as a registered domain that would take a person to their site on the internet. No one, to my knowledge, has answered that question and someone certainly knows why it was done. it was done by willful intent.

          At the same time, Jason G., you are right to make the general statement, “Calvinists aren’t trying to take over.” In general, that would be true because Calvinists have always been part of the SBC. Many Calvinists were involved in the CR. They were part of the conservative takeover to save the SBC from a slow and certain death at the hands of liberals who had become the leadership of the convention. Calvinists of all stripes were well represented in the CR. There is no doubt about that. I can name many. I was there.

          For you to say Calvinists do not want to take over is one thing. To say Founders do not want to take over brings a need for answers to many questions.

          David Worley (Vol) is not asking questions without a valid foundation. Yet, it seems that many want to ignore those valid questions and attack him for asking them. That is wrong. His questions deserve an answer. Like it or not, they do deserve an answer.

          • Jason G. says


            Yes, I should have been more specific that I was talking about never hearing calvinists say they want to take over. Of course the moderate/conservative fight had that language. I was thinking calvinism, not CR.

            So, with that cleared up.

            You really think that Founders is trying to “take over” the SBC?
            You really think there is a concerted plan to rule the SBC and make the SBC a reformed convention?
            I am not asking what Reisinger said in a 12+ year old booklet, I am asking if what you have seen from the ministry, and from Ascol, and from those pastors and churches REALLY leads you to believe that there is a planned and determined effort to take over the SBC. Is that really what you see?

            Yes, I thinkit is absurd to refer to one booklet as proof that the current group of Founders is trying to takeover the SBC. I see nothing in the language of the group on their website that leads me to believe that is their goal. So, you’ll have to be a little more specific to why you think that describes the current organization. (BTW, Ron, I do not think Nettles article constitutes any sort of take-over mentality.)

            David Worley is asking questions that have been answered. He is alluding to one work by one person from over a decade ago and then applying that thinking to Founders as a whole NOW. That is not fair. David is not playing fair. (Now he takes his ball and goes home.) You can’t say there are all these guys trying to take over the SBC and then when asked to name names you cite ONE BOOKLET from ONE GUY, who is dead BTW, from over a decade ago. I am not in Founders, but I do not believe that Founders exists to take over the SBC and kick out all of the non-calvinists. That doesn’t match anything I have ever heard Ascol say.

            So, I think my statement stands. I have never heard of any sort of movement or even a desire for the SBC to become calvinists. There may be some random guys somewhere, but I haven’t met them. Is there really a conspiracy? If so, tell us who it is that is conspiring.

        • Ron says

          Jason G,
          You can go to Founders website and read Dr.Nettles article entitled: Why Your Next Pastor Should Be Be A Calvinist.

          Dr. Nettles has been envolved with Founders from its inception.

          Could it be said that he is a anti-non-Calvinist?

          • volfan007 says

            Thanks CB and Ron. I’m growing weary of dealing with the people, who say that there’s no aggressive Calvinists, out there, who want to convert the SBC. I’m growing weary of trying to deal with all of these people, who come into every comment thread, and just attack, and parse every word, ask for names to be named, etc, etc, etc, etc.

            We keep giving the proof…from the websites and books, which have been written. We’ve given personal experience after personal experience after personal experience…and the denial is amazing to watch.

            Anyway, I appreciate you two fellas…CB and Ron….for being men of integrity and truth and courage.

            I think I’m just gonna bow out of this whole conversation, because I really dont see it doing any good.


          • cb scott says

            Jason G.,

            if the intent of the Founders ministry has changed since the writing of the Reisinger work, then a new work with the new focus should be written, don’t you think?

            I do not know if the Founders are intent on taking over the SBC at this time. You do not know if they are not either. That question has not been answered has it? Of course there is a twelve year old work that states that was a goal before, right?

            Also, and I know this is not popular to bring up, but why the SBC being linked to the Founders site? No answer has been given for that either.

            Ultimately, if the Founders has no intent on taking the SBC over one church at a time as in the past, why continue to exist? If the folks in the Founders want to work together with other Southern Baptists, why not just disband?

            Lastly, David Worley’s questions have not been answered? Opinions have been given, but no answers?

        • Lydia says

          Jason, The terms ‘take over” and “conspiracy theory” are part of the problem and why the nc and non nc cannot seem to have a real convo about it.

          Mohler made it clear in the GC video that he thinks those who are not Reformed or New Calvinist are not the real deal. Well, it was clear enough to those who do not consider themselves Reformed or New Calvinist. It was stunning to hear one of our seminary presidents make the comments he made in that video and I would consider it honorable of him if he made the exact same comments in the same context to the convention since it is his belief.

          That is not a take over bid OR conspiracy theory. It is what one of our well known entity leaders thinks about those non Reformed/Non Calvinists, many of whom help pay his salary. It really is quite stunning. I have seen his words parsed by his defenders to the point that we need a glossary of terms to listen to him ever again. But he said what he said. And I am sure he means it.

          All one has to do is read the Founders Mission/ Purpose statement to get it. There is no conspiracy theory or attempt at a forceful type of take over with votes, etc. That would never work in the SBC, anyway and they know it. It is one church at a time to convert to New Calvinism. And you start with training new pastors/planting new NC churches. They have made their agenda known. It is no conspiracy theory.

          I am reading a Quiet Revolution right now and agree with lots of it! In fact, I believe this who NC focus is partly a backlash to the shallow seeker movement. QR quotes Paige Patterson quite a bit which I found amusing. I think we have less of a “Calvinism” problem than a “Nicolatian” problem.

          • Bill Mac says

            And you start with training new pastors/planting new NC churches.

            Lydia: Do you think this is a bad thing?

          • Jason G. says

            Yes, Lydia.

            I would make some sort of passive aggressive comment meant for others about how you are a person of truth and integrity – but I would rather address the actual people with whom I disagree rather than make odd statements alluding to lack of integrity of others with whom I disagree. 😉

  20. Frank says

    One of the major sticking points surrounding “reform” theology is the connection with elder-style government. I don’t see the two as necessarily linked.

    Also, to try to use any one verse or couple of verses to suggest one form of government (congregational v. elders or vice versa) must necessarily exclude many other verses.

    It seems that the argument is thus: Calvinism is not Baptistic because it leads to elder rule. 1) our theology should be Biblical, not Baptistic; 2) the Bible seems to allow for a broad range of approaches to systematic theology; and 3) no particular form of church government seems to be precisely mandated in Scripture.

    The more significant under current in these “Calvinistic” discussions seems to be power. That’s why the personality of Calvin in over-powering Sevetus seems to be a major argument of non-Calvinists.

    But, a power struggle always requires at least two parties. Since God is “All” powerful, there is no “power” to be had by either party in the Calvinism debate, so it seems that the struggle really should not generate as much heat as it does.

    I’m waiting to go preach, so I have some time to kill. Now, I’m going to go pray that some of God’s power might fall on me from on high. I freely choose that God would will it to be.

  21. volfan007 says


    When you said this: “What they will care about is if you love them sacrificially, if you live out the gospel before them, and if you preach the Word of God accurately and consistently.” NO TRUER words could ever be spoken, Brother. And, I love you for saying this….love in a manly, Christian way; not in a strange, weird way. lol.

    CB, with the words you spoke above, SB’s could take over Hell, rather than the SBC!!


  22. Bill Mac says

    Founders can spread the influence of Calvinism in the SBC in a couple of ways.

    1. They can try to convince people of the doctrines of Calvinism and try to plant Calvinistic churches. This method seems entirely reasonable and ethical.

    2. They can actively promote the willful deception of churches by stealth Calvinist pastors who willfully deceive pastor-seeking churches and then subtly (or using strongarm tactics) convert them to Calvinism. This method is obviously unreasonable and unethical.

    The consensus that I have seen in the non-Calvinist blogosphere is that Founders is about the latter, not just the former. They use the “Quiet Revolution” book as proof of this.

    I’m quite certain all Calvinists reading this will affirm that #2 is unacceptable. I’m not at all certain that Founders is actively engaged in the second, and I’ve seen no evidence.

    A question for non-Calvinists: Do you think #1 is out of bounds? If so, why?

    • says

      Bill Mac,

      I have noticed that not one “Anti-Calvinist” has answered your question… so I will…

      The only thing that the “Anti-Calvinist” will say is acceptable for the Calvinist within the SBC to do is… “Confess from their pulpits that they are Heretics, resign in disgrace, and go sell used cars.”

      They have been seeking to “Purge the SBC” of all Calvinist for years now… and nothing less will ever be enough for them.

      Grace for the Journey,

      • John Wylie says


        Bill Mac didn’t ask the “AntiCalvinists” the question; he asked the “NonCalvinists” the question.

        Bill Mac,

        I think that #1 is certainly acceptable as it is out in the open. I’m going to tell this story at the expense of revealing my own ignorant past. When I took the pastorate at the church I pastor both the church and I espoused Landmark doctrine. I had been indoctrinated into this belief and was a strong promoter of it. As time passed and I was studying a particular subject, I came to believe in the universal church and, with that belief, Landmarkism was disproved. When I had this pparadigm shift I alerted one of my deacons and asked if I should resign. He said no just show from the Bible why you believe that. Well to make a long story short, this church is no longer Landmarker, but I did everything out in the open. When I addressed it in the pulpit I clearly told them that this was a departure from what I once believed and what the church’s position had been in the past. A calvinist has every right to do the same.

          • John Wylie says


            My point is that not all NonCalvinists are Anti Calvinists. Your comment basically bunched them all together. I’m a Noncalvinist not an Anticalvinist and please don’t label me that way. Bill Mac used the term “noncalvinists” which includes people like me. I wasn’t trying to be insulting to you, but please don’t call all noncalvinists “anticalvinist”.

          • says


            I am not calling anyone anything…

            I am however saying that a small, angry, and very aggressive minority of people in the SBC have been attacking their Calvinist Brothers for years now. These are the ones I refer to as being Anti-Calvinist…

            Most people who have been around the blogs for as long as I have can quickly identify these Anti-Calvinist from the rest who are (for lack of a better description) just Non-Calvinist…

            Anti-Calvinist use Calvinism as the acid test to identify those who should be excluded from fellowship/service/support… While the Non-Calvinist have no such acid test, and the issue of Calvinism does not enter into their consideration for fellowship/service/support.

            Therefore, “you shall know them by their fruit (conduct)”…

            Grace for the Journey,

          • John Wylie says


            On second thought nevermind, we’re obviously taking each other the wrong way. It’s not my intention to offend you. I was just looking for clarification and you provided it.

  23. Bill Mac says

    Since this has been brought up again on this thread, I’ll add my two cents about it. The cyber-squatting issue was wrong. They shouldn’t have done it and there is no defense for it. It was not, in my opinion, meant to assist the great overthrow of the SBC, but rather to simply drive more web traffic to their site. But it was wrong.

    But, they let it go and now it’s done.

    • cb scott says

      Bill Mac,

      Yes, the domain is now gone. Yet, in relation to this dialogue, the question of why? is still relevant.

      You, Bill Mac, have stated an opinion as to why the domain was named as such and that is well and good. No foul there. At the same time there is no foul in Vol’s questions as to why either.

      You have a right to an opinion and no one should attack you for it. Vol has a right to his questions and no one should attack him for presenting them. And I must add, there is foundation for his questions. The domain issue is just one of them.

    • says

      Bill Mac,

      I suspect you are 100% correct and I believe it was a smart move on their part to get something of great value that was available to them at the time. It is done today without even blinking an eye.


  24. Lydia says

    “But, they let it go and now it’s done.”

    Bill, Is it done? It speaks to integrity/trust issues. Did they seek permission of any entity in the first place?

    “And you start with training new pastors/planting new NC churches.
    Lydia: Do you think this is a bad thing?”

    That depends. If they are Mars Hill/SGM type places then it is a very very bad thing for the SBC. And there is plenty of evidence some of our leaders are pushing these types of churches by their support of them and association with them.

    And when one of our seminary presidents says what he said on the GC video and many young minds are listening and believing it because they revere him, it is a very bad thing when they plant a church thinking that only New Calvinists want to see the nations rejoice for Christ.

    • Bill Mac says

      Well, if someone does something wrong and cannot ever be trusted again, then we’re all in the wrong business.

      Founders is not A29 and is not SGM. They are not related so far as I know. It is a mistake to conflate Calvinists together.

      Mohler is not Founders as far as I know. What Mohler said was wrong.

      • Lydia says

        “Well, if someone does something wrong and cannot ever be trusted again, then we’re all in the wrong business.

        Founders is not A29 and is not SGM. They are not related so far as I know. It is a mistake to conflate Calvinists together.

        Mohler is not Founders as far as I know. What Mohler said was wrong.”

        Bill Mac, I might be wrong on this but is there somewhere Founders wrote publicly about taking the domain names and why and admitted it was a wrong thing to do? If so, that would help build trust.

  25. says

    There are people on both sides who are vicious. I had a DOM who told one of my deacons that my church ought to fire me, and my deacon said, “Preacher, I asked him, Why? He’s doing his job.” Then the DOM told me a lie about recommending me for a job, and later admitted that he was the one who lied. He got on to me once about preaching the doctrines of grace, and I pointed at the book behind his head on his shelf and said, “See the Book. It says it is in the Bible, and you had better preach it.” The book was The Memoirs of Luther Rice. The longest term pastor of the church (some 29 years) had built the church up to about 300+ in attendance, at that time, the largest perhaps in the country. I had people tell me I preached like him, used the same terms (he was a Sovereign Grace. They fired him for some minor issue, and he grieved himself to death and died. (I actually spoke with a preacher who was standing by his bed side, when he died. A fellow who had a hand in his being fired, chaired the meeting that fired me after 12.5 years (second longest in the history of the church). Church fired or ran off all in between for 40 years. Third longest, seven years was an Arminian, a good man, one of his converts (won in an RA camp in another part of the state) is now pastor of one of the largest Arminian FBCs and is quite a good preacher. The church also fired moderates, fundamentalists, conservatives, liberals and all in between during those years.

    As to telling, I have always been pretty open about what I believe, and I preach the doctrines of grace as invitations. My pastor back in the 40s was a Sovereign Grace minister as was my ordaining pastor who had been R.G. Lee’s Associate at Bellevue and the only person named in Dr. Lee’s will to preach his funeral. One of my ancestors is listed as a preacher of some note in Henry Holcombe’s History of Ala. Baptists, Elder Holland Middleton. And then I have family connections with the Craigs (my son’s first name from His great grandmother who named him before he was born) who were noted Sovereign Grace ministers in Va. and the folks who were active in securing religious liberty. Middleton also, it seems, might have been one of the executors appointed by the court to execute Daniel Marshall’s Will…and Marshall is a source of Sovereign Grace along with Shubal Stearns.

    There is much more to this than meets the eyes. There is one outside group that has sought to maintain control of the SBC, regardless of what theological party is in power. Usually their governance is indirect. the real aim is control, not visible representation. You all might want to read Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope for what they really prefer.

    There is also the issue of prayer being made for more than a half century for a Third Great Awakening, one that will win the whole earth. Read Edwards’ Humble Attempt which inspired Fuller and Carey in the 1700s. We really need to realize that there is a depth of wisdom in this biblical theology of grace that brings the utmost of cultural transformation, societal transformation, moral climate change, political improvement, and that it does so by opposites. Few really understand and grasp the depths of that with which they are grappling. But when they begin to really seek to understand the One whose very thinking is way outside the box, then we shall see wonders as never before imagined, blessings beyond words to describe. And with that I leave you for now…and will continue on the orthodoxy matter to try and develop the issue.

  26. Lydia says

    “Yes, Lydia.

    I would make some sort of passive aggressive comment meant for others about how you are a person of truth and integrity – but I would rather address the actual people with whom I disagree rather than make odd statements alluding to lack of integrity of others with whom I disagree. ”

    Jason G, I really do not understand what you are getting at here. Could you be more specific?

    • Jason G. says

      I was trying to be clever…it obviously didn’t work.

      My point to you was: Good post!

      The rest of the comment was a subtle jab at someone who doesn’t respond to comments brought up to him but rather simply applauds those who agree with him by calling them “persons of truth and integrity” implying that the person who disagreed with him is not those things.

      Sorry for the confusion. Good post!

      • cb scott says

        Jason G.,

        Don’t let it bother you. I am no person of truth and integrity. I am simply a mercenary. As for Ron Hale, I do not know a thing about him. He may be a person of truth and integrity. Most likely, he is come to think of it. He does make open and honest comments without seeking to be on one side or the other. Oh wait! That might make him a mercenary also. :-)

          • cb scott says

            Jason G.,

            Thanks. I just basically come here for the coffee. :-)

            I think we can agree that neither of us is intent on taking the SBC over, right?

          • Jason G. says

            I definitely have no intention on taking over the SBC, or being a part of any group that takes over the SBC.

            Plus, no one has asked me to do so. I think the secret conspiracy passed me by.

        • cb scott says

          Jason G.,

          I am with you. But I think it was a conspiracy to pass us by that caused us to be passed by.

  27. Lydia says

    “And, if you can recognize a straw man, why do you continue to write about the meaning behind the words of godly men? You think you know these men better than they know themselves: Tom Ascol and Trevin Wax.”

    Jared, that is pretty rich concerning you told me I was Reformed (New Calvinist, too, as he used that word in the GC vid), according to Mohler because I am in the SBC. So basically, you had to tell me the meaning of Mohler’s words.

    I suppose this strawman works both sides of the street. :o)

    • says

      Lydia, for the record, I only told you what I believed Mohler meant. Which, is only what you have said as well. You act as if you haven’t interpreted Mohler’s words, when you indeed have. I’m still for waiting for your definition of “Reformed.” Who was Mohler talking about? Does Reformed include 1-5 point Calvinists? If not, then tell me your definition of Reformed? He said, “New Calvinists” and also those who affirm similar ideas, but use another name. I think he includes you in this camp since Southern Baptists are Calvinistic because the BF&M 2000 is. Mohler works with those who self-identify as non-Calvinists all the time. So, please, tell me the definition of “Reformed,” instead of merely making fun of me every chance you get.

      Bob isn’t concerned with what Ascol or Wax meant. He adds meaning to their words, meaning that cannot be deduced from the actual words they wrote. Authorial intent should matter.

        • says

          Bob, your intent is to show that Ascol and Wax are “masters of words.” In other words, they’re being deceptive. I understand your intent fully. Is this not your goal?

        • Dave Miller says

          My observation is that much of the time we want authorial intent to matter when we write, but tend to disregard it in what others write.

          • Doug Hibbard says

            We also have to be careful that our guess at “authorial intent” does not differ from the actual “authorial words.”

            If I say “I want pizza” but you think my intent was that “I want cheeseburger” either you’re wrong or my wording was awful.

            I’m not sure who (if anyone) this applies to, but we get on really shaky ground when we appeal to an “authorial intent” that is not evident in the author’s words. I see this crop up in Baptists and politicians: the plain meaning of my words was not my “intent” so I cannot be responsible for what I said, only what I meant. But, when you try to guess at a meaning, you get the “You don’t know my heart/motives” response. Folks, all we see are words and deeds. If those two things do not show our heart/intent/motives, then the problem lies in our presentation, not in the receiver or interpreter.

          • says

            I think authoral intent seems to me to mean “he said what I think he said” or he did not say “what you think he said.”

            Most writers do not use the term to speak of their own work… I simply was saying I mean what I say and I say what I mean… that is unfortunately NOT the case with some folks.

            I used specific examples and reasons WHY I simply disagreed with what both men said. What is funny is when anyone tries to use that argument with what someone else wrote. But I would not know about that since this is really the first time I have run across that term, that I remember any way… oh maybe that is a statement that might garner some controversy?

            Jared… let me ask you a question… have I EVER misquoted you or insuated that you lied about anything you have written? Dave? No. We have disagreed on most of what we have written back and forth but I have I one time been unfair to either of your positions?

            Not intentionally. The same is true with these other two. I have opinions and reasons to back them up. You may not like the reasons I site but they are there and they do make sense at least to me.

            If you guys were on a soap box against something someone else wrote… like Lumpkins you eat him alive regularily… I frankly do not see the difference.


      • cb scott says

        Jared Moore,

        If a guy states that a dog is red, then you should take it at face value that the guy believes the dog to be red. The Mohler statements should stand at face value unless he interprets or changes them himself.

        Lydia took his statements at face value. She commented on them as they stood on face value. It was you who introduced the “BF&M 2000″ theory.

        • says

          CB, then tell me exactly how many points of a Calvinist Mohler included in his “Reformed” and “Reformed of another name” labels. It doesn’t matter who self-identifies as Reformed or Non-Reformed, it matters what Mohler meant. What you fail to realize CB is that I have as much right to try and understand what Mohler meant as Lydia and you. So, how many points of Calvinism must one adopt in order to be included in Mohler’s statement? What exactly did he mean?

          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            What you have a right to do is the same thing Lydia has a right to do or anyone else for that matter. You have the right to take the guy’s words at face value. Lydia has the same right.

            She quoted him. You determined that she must define his words. Therein is a problem, don’t you think?

          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            Read Doug Hibbard’s comment #149. I think he makes a good point. I think he meant Pizza is pizza. Cheeseburger is cheeseburger.

            And if a guy uses the word Reformed, he means Reformed. And unless he makes a specific statement as to what context he is using the word Reformed, we should take it at face value that he means Reformed as generally understood within the audience to which he is making his statements when using the word Reformed.

          • Jason G. says

            To be fair…”taking him at face value” is assigning value to his words, meaning she defined his words.

            He used words. She understood them by assigning value or definition. The problem that lies therein is that some people mean different things by certain words, ie. baptist, reformed, calvinist. Thus the problem we have in discussing this issue in general, and Mohler’s video specifically. Heck, we just saw someone recently quote a calvinist (Carroll) talking about the error of hyper-calvinism and someone read into that an understanding that fit his theory that calvinism IS hyper-calvinism, while ignoring the context of the original quote and the theology of the one speaking.

            Words have meaning, and when there is confusion over usage, the author’s usage trumps your usage.

          • Dave Miller says

            Sometimes, blogging is like jogging on a treadmill. You keep going and going but you get nowhere!

          • cb scott says

            “To be fair…”taking him at face value” is assigning value to his words, meaning she defined his words.”

            No. To take his words at face value means to take his word as generally understood within a specific context. She did not define his words. She simply accepted them as he stated them in context.

            Jason G., how do you generally accept Scripture? Do you seek to accept the words as presented in context or do you feel that it is your responsibility to define them yourself?

          • Jason G. says

            Yes, cb, but the key phrase is “generally understood within a specific context”.

            Generally understood is NOT an exact science. True?

            In the context, “reformed” is not universally understood, nor is “calvinism”. “New calvinism” definitely is not universally understood.

            To answer your questions, when I study scripture I seek to understood it as the author wrote it…I don’t care about contemporary usage of words, I want to know the author’s usage.

            So…to apply that same principle, we have to be careful to not read our understanding of certain words back into what the author wrote.

            That is PRECISELY the point Jared is trying to make. (Not to speak for him.)

          • cb scott says

            “To answer your questions, when I study scripture I seek to understood it as the author wrote it…I don’t care about contemporary usage of words, I want to know the author’s usage.

            So…to apply that same principle, we have to be careful to not read our understanding of certain words back into what the author wrote.”

            Well stated Jason G.

            And that is the point. We must take words at face value within context and not read our understanding back into what the author wrote.

            That is what Lydia did. She took Dr. Mohler’s words in context as generally understood.

            Now the other terms you mentioned: Calvinism and New-Calvinism? It seems that those terms seem to change around Baptist blogs with each new post. In truth, New-Calvinism and Non-Calvinist are terms I am rather at a loss in understanding.

          • Jason G. says


            The terms used make the discussion difficult. Which is why I think the criticism of Mohler is tough. People are taking what they think those words (calvinims, new-calvinism, reformed, etc) means and then they evaluate Mohler’s words based on THEIR understanding.

            It isn’t as simple as some people hammering him want it to be.

          • cb scott says

            Jason G.,

            You are right. Very right.

            There is a context for me wherein some terms used here are simple for me. Some of these terms escape me. That is not because I am stupid. I am not stupid, far from it. That’s no brag, just fact.

            The reason may be caught up in time. For me the word Reformed means a specific thing because of my age, background, experience and education. That is also true with the terms Calvinist, Calvinism or Calvinistic. In my experience those terms mean a specific thing.

            Terms like New-Calvinists or Non-Calvinists and especially Anti-Calvinists are terms that my experience, age and education all but disallow me to use in good conscience. I simply do not like the terms. Why? Because they erode concepts and ideas that I have taken for granted for a long time. They erode terms I understand. Therefore I rebel against their validity. Therefore I question their usage or their need to be defined or redefined.

      • Lydia says

        Jared, What is your authorial intent in the above comment? (wink) Is it to tell me that Mohler did not mean what he said and that he has a different definition than I do of New Calvinism/Reformed so I mistook his meaning that I do not want to see the nations rejoice for Christ because I am not an NC/Reformed? And I must take his “intent” into consideration even though he is paid well as a public communicator on many stages. Was that your authorial intent?

        I take back what I said in another thread about Mohler using the exact same words in the same context at the convention. Now, I think the the clip should be played for the convention and let’s see what people think New Calvinism/Reformed means.

        • says

          Lydia, you continue to ignore 2 things: 1) You cannot or will not define the term “Reformed” for me. You just somehow know that Mohler wasn’t talking about you. 2) Mohler also said, in addition to “reformed” and “new Calvinism,” that there are those who will believe basically the same thing and just call it something else.

          So, tell me how you “know” that Mohler wasn’t including you in his statement. Tell me how many points of Calvinism someone must affirm in order to be included in one of Mohler’s 3 words: “reformed,” “new Calvinism,” or “similar beliefs, different name.”

          If this is as cut-and-dry as you make it out to be, then why can’t you tell me what how many points of Calvinism Mohler meant?

          • cb scott says

            Jared Moore,

            You are pretty fair at composing statements. So I have an idea.

            List three possible definitions of “Reformed” as you might interpret it within the context of Dr. Mohler’s address.

            Allow Lydia to post a yes or no by each one. Then you will have your answer. What do you think?

  28. Bill Mac says

    I honestly thought we were making headway (at least on this blog) given the good discussion last week (or perhaps the week before).

    But given the last few Calvinist related discussions, beginning with the Wax interview, it is pretty clear that the handwriting is on the wall. There is just too much fear, mistrust and suspicion for there to be an accord between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

    Lifeway has been written off. NAMB has been written off. At least two of the seminaries have been written off. Billy Birch comes on here to extend an olive branch and he becomes the enemy and is written off. All victims of the great Calvinist takeover. Founders is portrayed as underhanded and devious usurpers. One rabid anti-Calvinist blog crows with glee that God smote Tom Ascol with lightning and one of the SBCs leading blogs gleefully links to it, even happily pointing out the humorous bits.

    Rather than fearing the great Calvinist takeover, I think it is more likely that we will see the great Calvinist purge. Oh well, I suspect they will still take our CP offerings.

  29. says


    I’ve been mostly an observer on this thread. I am not now in a SBC church. I occasionally worship with brethren in SBC churches and my organization partners with at least one SBC church. I have many friends in SBC churches and have pastored SBC churches in the past. So I care very much what happens in the SBC. All of evangelicalism should care as well, the SBC being the largest Protestant body in the US. There. Caveats out of the way.

    I think you are right…”There is just too much fear, mistrust and suspicion for there to be an accord between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.”

    Having followed several of these SBC blogs for months now, I have a hard time seeing how Cs and NCs will be able to pull off continuing to strive together for the gospel too much longer. I don’t know what that time frame looks like, but it is hard to see.

    When you have things like, “One rabid anti-Calvinist blog crows with glee that God smote Tom Ascol with lightning and one of the SBCs leading blogs gleefully links to it, even happily pointing out the humorous bits…” and apparently some Calvinists being deceptive in seeking their calls (though I have yet to see specifics. maybe I missed that somewhere), and the back and forth seems to be getting nowhere, well…

    I am a Calvinist. Without apology. If I were seeking a call in SBC churches, I would be up front. I suspect most are as well.

    But folks, I do get out among the so-called YRR sort of crowd, though I’m neither young nor restless. There is a serious disdain with the old way of doing church and specifically denominational work. And these churches (I’m speaking of SBC churches such as The Journey here in St. Louis and like churches in other cities) are growing and attracting huge numbers of 20s and 30s who are serious about their faith and not so much about a denomination. And these churches are by and large Reformed and preach the gospel. And they are energizing these younger groups to do ministry locally and globally.

    Meanwhile, and I know this is a generalization, as I see it a large number of pastors seem to view Calvinists as the enemy. Most Calvinists I know (and I know some associated with The Founders) just want to preach God’s word, disciple people, evangelize and generally pastor their churches. Most I know in the SBC don’t have a takeover mentality. But the suspicion I see looks to run deep.

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on too long I suppose. I don’t propose a solution, because I don’t have one. But It seems to me that if the pastors and leaders can’t get this together, decline is inevitable while the YRR slowly disappears from your churches and becomes the Older Rested Reformed…but not so much SBC.

  30. Lydia says

    Thanks, Bill Mac, found it after scrolling down at that link. Here is the offending part:

    “ITEM #6: A review of the Founders blog shows that after his “lightning rod” experience, Tom significantly cut down on his blogging. By stopping his own blogging he also stopped a lot of the “trash talk” of SBC leaders that were frequently the subject of comments on his blog.

    Only the uninformed or the foolish would dispute items 1 through 6.

    An unanswered question is, why did the Lord strike Tom down with a bolt of lightning? Was it because the Lord got tired of Tom’s promotion of lies and discord among brethren? Did Tom finally see the light (pun intended), realize the discord he was causing and attempt to lessen the trash talk that so frequently filled his blog?”

    This is despicable. Not to mention a bit ironic. Why would a non Calvinist think the Lord predestined him to be struck by lightening? If that is how it works, I deserve to be struck by lightening every day. (Luke 13)

    This is a perfect example of why getting involved with man made movements is so dangerous. We can have our opinions on issues but for crying out loud, don’t align yourself with mere humans and follow man’s ways. Be yoked to Christ. Listen to me… Preaching to preachers! I have a nerve. :o)

    • says


      Don’t miss the other part of what Bill Mac said above, “…and one of the SBCs leading blogs gleefully links to it, even happily pointing out the humorous bits.”

      SBC Today links to the blog with this kind of despicable content:

      “…by Charles in the Calvinist Flyswatter blog, voicing concerns that the advisory committee for LifeWay’s “Gospel Project” is disproportionately loaded toward the Reformed perspective. (Some may also enjoy reading the “faux Tom Ascol” Twitter tweets on the right-hand side).”

      From the “about” at SBC Today:

      “SBC Today was originally created by a group of pastors — Robin Foster, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Perkins, Oklahoma; Wes Kenney, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Valiant, Oklahoma; Tim Rogers, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Indian Trail, North Carolina; Joe Stewart, pastor of Sabino Road Baptist Church in Tucson, Arizona. As pastoral duties and personal responsibilities demanded, first Joe Stewart and then Robin Foster transitioned away from active participation. The blog’s resource management team added Scott Gordon, pastor of Claycomo Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and David Worley, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Greenfield, Tennessee to the team. In Spring 2011, this core group expanded the circle of participants to include a larger editorial board of contributing editors, with some technical assistance from the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. However, most of the original creators of the blog continue to be involved in and make contributions to SBC Today, and other like-minded Baptists have joined into this effort as well to form an editorial board of contributing editors who guide the content of SBC Today.”

      It is despicable that these folks are ok with linking to such a site. Oh I know. They have their caveats. But…

  31. Lydia says

    “It is despicable that these folks are ok with linking to such a site. Oh I know. They have their caveats. But…”

    Les, Just for grins, let me remind you that Dave had to change the name of your Calvinist Driscoll’s link because it was so gutter and disgusting. Yet, many here defend Driscoll as “preaching the true Gospel”. Would you give Ross that same consideration?

    I am an equal opportunity critic, btw. :o)

    • says

      Lydia, I am Reformed. No doubt. But I have never listened to or read anything from Driscoll. I have no use for him. So I will not defend him nor have I ever. I’m ashamed he gets lumped in with Reformed people…men I highly respect like Lloyd-Jones, Sproul, MacArthur, Alister Begg, etc.

      What I don’t understand is the utter silence by everyone at SBC Today on what the Ross guys have to say about Pastor Tom Ascol.

    • Bill Mac says

      I am a Calvinist and think Driscoll is off the farm. I don’t know if he preaches the true gospel because I wouldn’t listen to him if you paid me (well, I guess it depends on how much you paid me).

      I loved that PBS painter guy. Driscoll would have hated him.

  32. says

    The Bob Ross who blogs on theology is not the painter on tv. I met Bob over forty years ago, and we corresponded before we met. He was the son-in-law of the leading calvinistic landmark baptist preacher in eastern Kentucky, the Rev. John R. Gilpin. Then he and John fell out, and Bob switched theological horses for a while until Rev. Drew Garner did some things to help him out of his distress. There are egregious shrotcomings on both sides of the theological spectrum, and I suspect many of us have experienced PTSD from theological disappointments in our lifetimes. And, believe me, theological disappointments in people and their advocation of various doctrines along with their aberrations can be a devestating blow to one’s belief systems.

  33. Pastor Al Brodbent says

    Although I understand many of the observations and comments about J. Gerald Harris, I do object to the personal attacks on Bro. Harris. I loose attraction to any article that appears to be attacking a person verses dealing with the subject at hand.

    I probably should have been more patient in finishing the article but got shut down when I came up with the above perceptions. God Bless

    • Jason G. says


      It is highly possible I am too dense to have seen it, but can you point out to me where you felt there were personal attacks on Bro. Harris?

  34. Anthony says

    As a SBC Calvinist, I am so happy to see that not everyone sees as a thorn in the side of the denomination. I am happy to work side by side with non-Calvinist brothers and sisters, because despite our differing beliefs we can still cooperate for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom here on earth.

  35. Bill Mac says

    I hope William Birch won’t be offended at this, but it is astonishing to me to see the fallout from this from the anti-Calvinist wing of the blogosphere. Mr. Birch is being treated like Benedict Arnold. (I am NOT saying he was anti-Calvinist) Those quick to hail him when his writing works to their advantage are even quicker to vilify him when he shows an inclination that Calvinists are not necessarily the enemy.

    For week after week, SBCToday’s “Top Blog Posts of the Week” held often multiple links to Mr. Birch’s blog, for his refutations of Calvinism. But curiously this last installment had nothing from Mr. Birch’s blog. Nearly unprecedented.