United We Shall Stand (by Andy Hynes)

Andy Hynes is a PhD candidate at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Follow him @ABHYNES on Twitter.

You and I have our own theological positions and prejudices.  We have our own presuppositions that we bring to the texts we read and preach.  This will not change; you won’t convince me, and I won’t convince you to make drastic alterations.  In fact, usually what happens is I begin to dig my heels in and try to prove you wrong.  You begin to sling names and associations against me.  What in the world is this accomplishing?  How is the Kingdom being edified and furthered through this kind of banter?

There is a lot of current discussion about being civil with each other about all this chaos surrounding Calvinism and Non-Calvinism.  There are schools warring over this very issue, bloggers blogging over the issue, and administrators making outlandish statements about such things.  REALLY, is this going to accomplish anything?  Actually, it will accomplish something…a greater chasm and divide than already exists.

It also creates a terrible witness for the Gospel which, after all, is the one thing we say we want to promote!   

Guys, we aren’t talking about critical liberal issues but interpretive issues that have been debated for centuries.  We aren’t discussing heresy.  Calvinists are not wolves in sheep’s clothing, and vice versa.  We will not reconcile the differences.  We won’t even be able to sit down and negotiate peace terms.  But we can agree to disagree and MOVE FORWARD for the cause of Christ and His banner!

So if you aren’t changing and I am not changing, then what in the world shall we do?  I think Platt and Chan are hitting the nail on the head.  We must unite under the banner of disciple making.  After all, that command is given to ALL Calvinists and Non-Calvinists alike.  Clearly, Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8 are inspired verses of Scripture.  But do we treat them that way? There is not one theological system that is separated from this biblical imperative.

Don’t tell me that you know and that I am just beating a dead horse.  Because if I was then we wouldn’t be writing about this now, and you wouldn’t be preparing your comments for the bottom of the page.  We also wouldn’t have put together a peace treaty amongst Southern Baptist factions called “An Advisory Team on Calvinism.”

What do you have to say for yourself?  Don’t blame, or finger point, or act like you haven’t been part of the problem.  I have, and I have come to realize that.  So, are you willing to lay down theological prejudices and pursue making disciples?  Am I willing to do that?

Really, those aren’t legitimate questions.  The only real legitimate question is, “Am I willing to be obedient to Christ’s command?”  If we spent nearly as much time pouring and investing into the lives of those around us as we do in battling for our positions, I wonder what the outcome would be.

I recently went on a pastor-training trip with a Missions Professor, who is not a Calvinist, but he is a personal friend.  We traveled to the Ivory Coast to teach a History of Christianity course.  Would you believe that while on the trip we both had several opportunities to share the Gospel?  Would you believe that in sharing the Gospel we both shared the same Jesus?  Would you believe that we both know the Bible teaches repentance and faith?  The differences we share were and will continue to be set-aside for a GREATER purpose.  That is to champion Christ and to bring Glory to Him!

Comments

  1. Andy says

    I wrote this blog before I saw Dave’s from the 8th. I apologize for what may appear to be duplication.

  2. steve tanner says

    My sermon yesterday began with how to best confront the issues our nation faces. I mentioned abortion, homosexuality, invitro fertilization among others. I used an illustration of a pastor counsleling a man who had a sex change, lived for a number of years as a woman and then was saved; how do you disciple him/her?

    My solution to all this issues to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ by living it in our daily lives ( some have used the term missional). This is my vision, goal, plan for our association of churches. The first step is to disciple our church members by 1. discipling them to know for sure that are born again or have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus. 2. Practicing Church Discipline. We then will examine where we are in the process but I beleive we will see a big difference in the 80% of those in our area who do not know Jesus Christ.

  3. says

    I am really excited about what it seems to me God is doing with personal discipleship. It has become a major emphasis in our church and I’m seeing more and more churches become intentional with this.

    Thanks for the article, Andy.

  4. Rick Patrick says

    Andy,

    I do not believe the issue is so much a theological “Calvinism” debate, but a denominational “What Kind of Denomination Are We Building” debate. For example, some very practical questions include:

    1. Are we educating more Calvinists than we have pulpits willing to accept them?

    2. Are our seminaries and institutions being led by a higher concentration of Calvinists than is present among our churches?

    3. Is the church planting emphasis through NAMB reproducing churches with the same proportion of Calvinist to Traditionalist Pastors that is currently found in our denomination’s existing churches?

    4. Are Traditionalist churches funding, through their Cooperative Program gifts, a growing institutionalization of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention?

    5. Why do many Calvinist churches refuse to report all of their Annual Church Profile information? Would such complete financial disclosure reveal a relatively small level of investment through Southern Baptist missionary channels and a much larger investment in church planting through Acts 29, 20 Schemes and other Calvinistic missions endeavors?

    6. Are churches familiar with the situation of a new pastor arriving at a church with veiled or disguised reformed convictions who, over a period of time, seeks to transition a Traditionalist church to a Calvinistic one?

    7. How many leaders among our trustees and committees and entities in Southern Baptist life are led by those espousing Calvinism, which is by all accounts our minority view?

    8. Is our denominational cooperation not compromised or destabilized when a minority begins to lead the majority?

    Andy, I agree it is pointless to debate Calvinism theologically forever. We are not going to change anyone’s minds. Some may scoff at this idea, but I really don’t write much about “Calvinism.” I write a great deal about “The Impact of the Institutionalization of Calvinism Upon the SBC.”

    I certainly hope that the “Calvinism Advisory Team” is working on these kinds of organizational and denominational cooperation issues, and not trying to write a “Let’s All Get Along” treaty or deal with the issue as if the primary concern was theological. I believe the primary concern is in the area of stewardship, leadership representation, and vision for the kind of denomination we seek to build in the future.

    • William Thornton says

      I think Rick is on target here and about where I am in regard to Calvinism and the SBC, viz. it is less a matter of theology than about practical impact.
      On his specific points, I am mixed.

      1. Are we educating more Calvinists than we have pulpits willing to accept them? Wm: this presumes there is a Calvinist education, the goal of which is to churn out Calvinists. Would you kindly document that this is the case?

      2. Are our seminaries and institutions being led by a higher concentration of Calvinists than is present among our churches? Wm: Documentation, please. Danny Akin says SEBTS will be a Calvinist seminary over his dead body. Is SEBTS counted as being led by a Calvinist?

      3. Is the church planting emphasis through NAMB reproducing churches with the same proportion of Calvinist to Traditionalist Pastors that is currently found in our denomination’s existing churches? Wm: NAMB says that all plant have to affirm the BFM, and exhibit a level of cooperation, and other cooperative things. Can you point to some plants where this is not the case?

      5. Why do many Calvinist churches refuse to report all of their Annual Church Profile information? Wm: Do you have data here? I don’t doubt it and I am aware that reporting levels have fallen but have not seen data that indicates Calvinist churches are the cause.

      6. Are churches familiar with the situation of a new pastor arriving at a church with veiled or disguised reformed convictions who, over a period of time, seeks to transition a Traditionalist church to a Calvinistic one? Wm: I completely share your concern here.

      8. Is our denominational cooperation not compromised or destabilized when a minority begins to lead the majority? Wm: I am not counting noses as you may be but there is a fix to this – target Calvinists for defeat in election and nominations. If the association, state convention, or SBC wishes to distance itself from Calvinists, messengers certainly have the power to vote to accomplish that.

      I’m hoping that we are not at the place where these things become the agenda for Traditionalists.

      • says

        Well, Bro. Thornton, after I had said nice things about you on another blog, you would vote me down just because I hold the theology that would allow you to be a SBC minister and hold position. Don’t you know that calvinists were the folks who opened Southern Baptists up to allowing for differences? And wouldn’t you believe that Hyper Calvinists and regular five point Calvinists were the folks the brought us the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the modern missionary movement and then founded the SBC and the first seminary? All the while allowing for the folks who want to steal the whole shebang away from them. But I feel surely you would not be that mean. Are you? I ain’t advocating voting you down for office, and you did say you would vote for David though he says right plainly he is not a calvinist as most people think of such folks…just friends with them, friends to the point of writing on the blog of one of them and actually being the blogger on that blog or blog director or whatever they call the folks who do such stuff.

        • William Thornton says

          Let me restate that, Doc: If there are those who are concerned about too many Cs in too many offices we have a system that allows for a vote. I do not favor such a litmus test for office or a quota system.

      • Rick Patrick says

        William,

        1. I am not presuming any intentional “Calvinist” education and thus will not document one. My observation is not about an intentional process but an undeniable outcome. Whether intended or not, I believe we are graduating more Calvinists than our churches can employ.

        2. Yes, I count SEBTS, Southern, Lifeway, Midwestern… Some SBC leaders expressed condolences to Dr. Akin after his comment, telling him they had not realized that he had even been feeling ill.

        3. It’s too early to evaluate whether the new NAMB is planting churches soteriologically representative of the SBC. Ask me in five years.

        5. If the word “Grace” or “Covenant” is found in the church name, that church is 63.4% less likely to report all their information on the Annual Church Profile. (Just kidding–no research, just informed opinions.)

    • says

      The SBC’s taking steps to ensure that the number or percentage of Calvinist pastors, churches and leaders remain at or below some (very small) number is not cooperation, but institutionalized marginalization, which is the opposite.

      • Rick Patrick says

        Job,

        I agree that in certain matters today, Calvinists and Traditionalists are already not cooperating, but marginalizing each other.

        This goes both ways. A Calvinist church in our nation’s capital plants twenty REFORMED ONLY churches overseas. They have marginalized theologically traditional missionaries in their approach, which also circumvents the Cooperative Program missionary sending strategy.

        I am not eligible for membership in either Acts 29 or the Founders Ministries. They are not open to cooperating with me, rightly understanding that we are not on the same page.

        I will never understand why people expect Traditionalists to embrace the building of a Calvinist Kingdom, when Calvinists are not embracing the building of a Traditionalist Kingdom.

    • says

      Rick,

      I think you suspect the presence of a conspiracy to sneak Calvinism into the convention. What you fail to recognize is that the growth of Calvinism – to whatever degree it has, in fact, grown – has been a natural growth. People are reading their Bibles and seeing therein the truth about the sovereignty of God in salvation. The distressing part is that a small subset of the SBC finds this something that needs to be attacked, suppressed, and marginalized.

      • says

        @Chris:

        I do not attribute it to being a natural growth due to people reading their Bibles, as SBCers have always been reading their Bibles. It is instead due to such things as Al Mohler being at Southern, and primarily the Internet giving Calvinist evangelicals (including but not limited to those in the SBC) opportunities for exposure, networking and organization that didn’t exist previously. So it isn’t “natural” but it isn’t some cloak and dagger conspiracy either. The problem is the tendency of some to depict what is really a bunch of guys getting together on Facebook, blogs or whatever to have conferences, plant churches, promote their books, etc. as being part of some coordinated movement to take over the SBC when it really is just like-minded people taking advantage of things that simply didn’t exist just a few years ago. Now granted, Mohler at SBTS is something beyond “just a few guys networking on the Internet”, so if one was concerned about the growth of Calvinism in the SBC that would be legitimate. But even there, Mohler is only as influential as he is because of a leadership vacuum in the SBC that Mohler didn’t create, especially since the vast majority of the seminaries, Bible colleges, national and state level convention leaders, etc. are not Calvinists.

        • says

          Job,

          I don’t think it is a coincidence that after the Conservative Resurgence called people back to their Bibles, Calvinism began to grow in prominence.

          That said, I think you have a point that the influence of Mohler and other voices in the SBC is being blown way out of proportion, attributing influence and control they do not have.

          • says

            @Chris Roberts:

            The Conservative Resurgence took place in the 1970s-1980s. The noticeable increase in Calvinism didn’t occur until over 20 years later, and many of its leaders and followers – especially among the YRR – were in grade school back then. Also, the growth of Calvinism in the SBC is only a part of the growth of Calvinism in evangelicalism in general. Also, as a 5 pointer myself, I would further state that not all the new Calvinists are as Bible-based as we want to believe.

            And to me, attributing the growth of Calvinism to people going back to their Bibles sounds very prideful.

          • says

            Baloney to all you folks.Calvinism is coming back, because prayer is being made for a Third Great Awakening, and that theology is the theology that produced the First and Second Great Awakenings and the launching of the Great Century of Missions. In fact, a Hyper Calvinist John Thomas wins the modern missionary movement’s first convert, Krishna Pal, and goes insane with joy, and so a five point calvinist, William Carey, has to baptize him. And let us be clear Carey had been witnessing to Pal, too, but Thomas did the deed. And that Hyper Calvinist was so full of care that he gave away most of his salary to provide for the starving. He also cared for the dying, and the Hindoos noted him for his compassion. All of which you folks can find on the Internet like I did last night. Rick and William, you all just happen to wind up in a denomination (counting SBC as such) founded by calvinists and continued by calvinists and which same people allowed for the folks to differ and you can even find out when and where. Just think. We are not only successors to those folks, some of us are their descendants. Just think. I had a friend who was a descendant of Elijah Craig, the fellow who led the committee that made the agreement with the colonial legislators of Va. that, in exchange of our freedom to practice our faith, the Baptist preachers would encourage the young men in their communities to to enlist in the patriots’ cause. Elijah must have been with his relatives who were preachers too, quite influential. There was one whole regiment of Craigs in the Revolutionary War in the Va. Militia. I know I wrote down their names, all 2000 of them, from a volume of the DAR. Every last member’s last name was Craig! And Elijah’s theology? He was a calvinist. Gasp. The fellow got us religious liberty. Yep, along with John Leland, Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Isaac Backus, John Gano, and a host of others, all calvinists. The General Baptists also advocated freedom of religion and can be listed first in England, but they were few in number…whereas the limited atonement baptists in Va. and NC were more numerous and had the votes to see that religious liberty was granted. And then they had the Second Great Awakening and launched the missionary effort. And created a policy allowing for William Thornton and Rick Patrick to be a part of such a great effort. Fellows, give me a break. Do you want the whole enchillada to the exclusion or marginalizing of the folks whose theology really does allow for such differences to exist?

          • says

            Job,

            “And to me, attributing the growth of Calvinism to people going back to their Bibles sounds very prideful.”

            ???

            Do you not think Calvinism is taught in Scripture? Why in the world would it be prideful to say that as people go back to their Bibles, people will believe what the Bible teaches? I suppose one clarification would be helpful – there are certainly many Bible believers who are not Calvinists, but theirs is an incongruous error – they deny parts of that which they otherwise affirm. The more one holds to the Bible, the more one will embrace what the Bible teaches. Nothing at all prideful in this.

          • says

            @Chris:

            Of course I know that Calvinism is taught in the scriptures. It is the sole reason why I am a Calvinist. I just believe that people were reading and believing their Bibles before the rise in Calvinism. I know, because I was one of them. I was first exposed to actual Calvinism – as opposed to caricatures of the system that I had encountered previously – by way of the Internet. Now it being a work of God’s providence that I become a Calvinist notwithstanding, had I never encountered the blogs, podcasts, Internet courses etc. I most certainly would not be a Calvinist right now, because there are almost no Calvinist churches in my area that practice believer’s baptism. But I still would certainly be reading my Bible. That is what I am trying to say.

      • Rick Patrick says

        Chris,

        For the one millionth time, I do not suspect a conspiracy. Rather, I observe a movement.

        This movement has gained ground in our convention rather quietly up until now, but it’s clear that the silence is being broken.

        You have churches defunding Southern. You have search teams screening Calvinists. You have a thousand scholars and pastors clarifying a more precise soteriology than that found in the BFM. You have the John 3:16 Conference. You have SBC Today. You have Louisiana College. You have Gerald Harris. You have David Hankins. You have Eric Hankins. You have Jerry Vines.

        After years of quiet Calvinist advance with no opposition, a group of people raise their hands and say, “This is how I see God’s Plan of Salvation.” They are immediately branded with a label referencing a fifteen hundred year old heresy.

        Which side is being marginalized here? Why do Brad Whitt and others feel “Young, Southern Baptist and Irrelevant?” Is a young man wearing a tie not allowed to preach at a Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference anymore?

        The movement to reform the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention has inspired a counter-movement to maintain Traditional church life. Oddly, the Reformers are claiming that it is the Maintainers who have started all the trouble.

        Not so. The trouble started years ago. There simply was not any push back at the time. There is now. And it is not going away. So we have to find ways to work it out and go forward.

        • says

          Funny that in the midst of your defense you mention wardrobe. Why does it matter if Brad wears a tie or not? I agree with you that there is a movement but I think it started in 1979 when the SBC started the removal of people who did not take the Bible as literal. Now we see the end result of that movement- people who develop their theology from the Bible rather than from tradition. I think it is good that you and others use the label Traditionalist for yourselves. You are more in love it seems with traditions- like the wearing of a tie that you just mentioned- than anything else. It bothers you that the battle for the Bible was won and now you see the result is a more theologically minded people who reject some aspects of your theology as unbiblical, yet they are willin to work with you as alongside you even as you demean them and accuse them of trying to “take over.” It’s funny to me as I read Baptist blogs that the Trads are usually the first to engage in conspiracy theories, suggestions to leave and become Presbyterian, and use of inflaming and vilifying rhetoric like the SBC Today blog on Servetus- as if the sins of one man somehow invalidate anything.

          Rick I would gently suggest to you- since you are actually a fairly reasonable and upright guy- that you call your Trad brothers aside an challenge them to focus more on working with their Reformed brothers and less on vilifying them. We might actually get something done if that were to happen. Calvinists did not start this disagreement but they are not going away and if they did the old SBC might actually go with them. Think about that.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Ryan,

            The tie was simply illustrative of one minor, but typical difference. I could also cite the New Calvinist preference for the ESV and the hanging on every word that proceeds from the mouth of Piper, etc.

            You ask me to take my Trad brothers aside and appeal to them to work with their Reformed brothers and not villify, but I really don’t view them as doing either. I don’t think Trads villify Cals. We just don’t want them running the convention, starting all the churches, hiring all the leaders and, in a word, REFORMING the Southern Baptist Convention.

            You say we should work together, but already, we go to different conferences, read different books, attend different seminaries, use different church planting networks, etc.

            “Calvinists did not start this disagreement.”

            We’re just going to have to agree to disagree about that.

        • says

          Rick,

          I hope you see the irony in claiming a Calvinist movement, but every example you give is of anti-Calvinist hostility – exaggerated a bit for effect.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Chris,

            I love irony more than chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven, but this is not irony. The antecedent of my list can be found in the sentence below:

            “This movement has gained ground in our convention rather quietly up until now, but it’s clear that the silence is being broken.”

            Yes, there is a Calvinist movement, which I mention at the first part of my sentence, referring to the thirty year history of the Founders Ministries, B21, Southern, T4G, Acts 29, etc. However, my list is designed to support the “silence is being broken” phrase at the end of the sentence.

            These are relatively new reactions to a three decade old reform movement. My point is that it seems like the people who are fighting back are starting it, but they’re really not, kinda like the football player on TV who swings first not being seen by the ref (in this metaphor the Calvinist) while the second one who swings back and says “Founders, we will not let you reform our churches” (in this metaphor the Traditionalist) is the one who gets caught and flagged.

            Chris, I can prove logically that Calvinists started it: No counter-reform movement can possibly precede a reform movement.

          • says

            Rick,

            Just as an FYI as I watch this ping pong match,

            “Chris, I can prove logically that Calvinists started it: No counter-reform movement can possibly precede a reform movement.”

            That’s not proof unless you can first prove the reform movement to start with.

            Carry on brothers.

          • says

            Rick,

            “This movement has gained ground in our convention rather quietly up until now, but it’s clear that the silence is being broken.”

            I also found that sentence pretty funny. You insist it’s not a conspiracy… it’s just something that was being done quietly, behind closed doors until being sprung on the unsuspecting masses…

    • says

      Ok, I’ll bite

      1. Are we educating more Calvinists than we have pulpits willing to accept them?

      Well, if it’s a Calvinist pastor who intends to push Calvinism over the gospel, I’d say even 1 is too many. And I know there are some Calvinists like that. I don’t think it’s most of them, but that would be a guess. However, as long as the Calvinist pastor preached the gospel (God is holy, man is sinful, Christ died as the perfect substitute, a person must repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ to be saved) I can’t see why it would be a big deal if they’re Calvinist. I know VolFan has talked about Calvinists he’s had guest preach in his church that you’d never know were Calvinists.

      2. Are our seminaries and institutions being led by a higher concentration of Calvinists than is present among our churches?

      I’ll plead ignorance. You probably know more about this than I do. I just really don’t know.

      3. Is the church planting emphasis through NAMB reproducing churches with the same proportion of Calvinist to Traditionalist Pastors that is currently found in our denomination’s existing churches?

      Probably not, and I would agree that’s not a good thing. I’m not sure what would be a solution to it, however.

      4. Are Traditionalist churches funding, through their Cooperative Program gifts, a growing institutionalization of Calvinism in the Southern Baptist Convention?

      I’m not sure. For the record, I don’t think, it would be a good idea to have a growing institutionalization of Calvinism in the SBC if that’s happening. Could I ask a question? What if it’s just happening because, well, it is–not because it’s a movement? I wouldn’t want to see folks with what you’re caling Traditionalist theological leanings marginalized but I also don’t think some sort of quota system (“The SBC is 30% Calvinist, so out of 10 professors here, only 3 can be Calvinist.”)

      5. Why do many Calvinist churches refuse to report all of their Annual Church Profile information? Would such complete financial disclosure reveal a relatively small level of investment through Southern Baptist missionary channels and a much larger investment in church planting through Acts 29, 20 Schemes and other Calvinistic missions endeavors?

      I’m not sure on this either. Has anyone asked? Such disclosure could reveal that for sure, but I wouldn’t know.

      6. Are churches familiar with the situation of a new pastor arriving at a church with veiled or disguised reformed convictions who, over a period of time, seeks to transition a Traditionalist church to a Calvinistic one?

      A man who comes in with such an agenda and isn’t up front about it has done wrong. But I also don’t think they have to have a cardboard sign that they carry around with them saying one way or the other where they stand in this debate. If a man is preaching that people need to pray to God for salvation on account of fatih in Christ and repentance from sin, I don’t know if I’d know they were Calvinist or not and I wouldn’t care.

      7. How many leaders among our trustees and committees and entities in Southern Baptist life are led by those espousing Calvinism, which is by all accounts our minority view?

      I’m not sure, but I also don’t think Calvinists should be barred from serving in those positions. Not saying you do think that, just making a statement.

      8. Is our denominational cooperation not compromised or destabilized when a minority begins to lead the majority?

      Well, it could be but I don’t think it necessarily has to be.

  5. PAUL W FOLTZ DD says

    in the words of Charles Spurgeon; ”Calvinism is the gospel.”
    WITHOUT IT THERE IS NO GOSPEL. IF ONE DOES NOT REALIZE HE IS LOST AND GOD CAN SAVE OR DAMN HIM, HE NEVER WILL BE SAVED,

      • parsonsmike says

        It doesn’t make any difference is Spurgeon said it or not.
        The Gospel is the Gospel and Calvinism is but a way to understand some truths of the Word. Calvinism is not the Gospel.
        i am a 5 pointer.

      • says

        Job, here is a fuller context quote and source:

        If anyone should ask me what I mean by a Calvinist, I should reply, “He is one who says, Salvation is of the Lord.” I cannot find in Scripture any other doctrine than this. It is the essence of the Bible. “He only is my rock and my salvation.”

        Tell me anything contrary to this truth, and it will be a heresy; tell me a heresy, and I shall find its essence here, that it has departed from this great, this fundamental, this rock-truth, “God is my rock and my salvation.” What is the heresy of Rome, but the addition of something to the perfect merits of Jesus Christ—the bringing in of the works of the flesh, to assist in our justification? And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here.

        I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

        I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.

        Source: http://www.spurgeon.org/calvinis.htm

        • says

          This was not one of Spurgeon’s better days.

          I strongly disagree that a child of God will ever go to Hell.
          I strongly disagree with some views of Arminianism.
          But to say they are heretics is a little extreme.

          Calvinism is not the Gospel.
          The Gospel is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and the third day rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
          David R. Brumbelow

        • says

          OK. Thanks guys. I have in my possession Spurgeon’s Lectures To My Students where he spoke very positively of the non-Calvinists and their work for the kingdom of heaven and stated that we 5 pointers could learn a lot from them, which is the opposite of condemning them as heretics. In that book, Spurgeon referred to Catholics as heretics but never General Baptists, Wesleyans, Arminians etc.

          So basically, Spurgeon’s “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism” didn’t even go as far as Jerry Falwell’s proclamation that limited atonement was heresy.

          • Dale Pugh says

            Read that sermon, Job, and you will find a few references to “Arminian heresy.” Spurge on says such while at the same time proclaiming John Wesley one of the greatest Christians of the age. Interesting.

    • Dale Pugh says

      A quick Google search of your name, doctor, reveals that you have also claimed that it’s time to leave the SBC (that was back in 2008). Are you still a part of an SBC church? If so, then you are in fellowship with many of us who are, in your estimation, damned to eternal perdition. That would be of little benefit to you and the proclamation of the Gospel, I would think.

    • says

      Paul,

      Calvinism is the gospel in that it gives an accurate explanation of the gospel, but there are many who have a pretty good grasp of the gospel without holding to Calvinism.

      Your final sentence is a little confusing, but you’re right that if a person does not realize he is lost, subject to the judgment that comes from God, and only able to be saved by God, then he will never be saved. He must know he is a sinner under the wrath of God, and he must go to Jesus in repentance and faith to be saved. I don’t think this would be disputed by either Calvinist or non-Calvinist.

    • says

      Now, dear Brother Foltz, why was Spurgeon friends with Arminians and frequently cited Wesley? And why did Whitefield go out of his way to seek reconciliation with Wesley and both would acknowledge that the other was likely to be closer to the throne than themselves? and why didn’t Jesus just kick old Judas out or not call him to be an Apostle?

      • says

        dr. james willingham:

        Though Judas Iscariot was called to be an apostle, he was also the son of perdition and as such had no place in the kingdom of heaven, which is why Judas Iscariot was sent away before the institution of the Lord’s Supper and before Jesus Christ’s high priestly prayer and commission (which was for the church and the church alone). So I think that the issues between Paul and Barnabas is a better example in this case, that being differences existing among the elect, and not those who are elect and those who are not. Iscariot was allowed to remain with the apostles for a time, but ultimately he was driven from fellowship, as unbelievers should be.

        • says

          Well, Brother Job, you have a point, and I agree you have the better part of the argument. Paul and Barnabas are better fits for this discussion. However, both Rick and William are sounding too huffy, wanting to set out on a vote down effort, something I do not want to do in their case and would not think of, if they did not sound so threatening. My desire is to follow my ancestors and predecessors in practice. Let the folks preach what they believe. God did not call me to straighten every one out, but He did call me to be faithful and maintain what He has given me the light to believe…and I will do that.

  6. Andy says

    Paul,

    So with that, anyone who does not hold to Calvinism is lost? That is the direct opposite position of many older men that, Calvinism is anti-Gospel. With what you are saying, the very Professor I went to Africa with is lost! I highly doubt that. Lostness is not based upon Calvinism. What you think about someones ability or inability to repent and place faith in Christ isn’t the issue. The issue is, DID THEY repent and place faith in Christ. And THEN did we DISCIPLE THEM!

    I am not saying you shouldn’t have a system. To say we don’t need systems is foolishness, I have one. BUT vilifying one or the other doesn’t edify Christ.

  7. Dale Pugh says

    Well, the Pope has just announced his resignation. Ed Stetzer has announced on Facebook his candidacy for the Petrine ministry. I say we rally around getting him elected. THAT would be positive!

  8. William Thornton says

    I appreciate Andy’s irenic thoughts on this. One of the reasons Rick is correct in regard to Calvinism/Calvinists and the SBC in a practical way is illustrated by Steve Tanner’s list of solutions (and I recognize that his thrust was broader than just the SBC) was (1) discipleship, and (2) discipline.

    The former we all praise and support, the latter has been one of the presenting issues with Calvinists and Calvinism in churches – the sometimes overly agressive , ill-conceived, and self-serving attempt by the pastor to implement church discipline. If Steve is not a Calvinist, I will be happy to expand my thinking on this.

  9. says

    Calvinism gets a lot right…but also gets some things wrong.

    In Calvinism you are turned inward for proof that you are one of the elect.

    That is wrongheaded and only leads to less assurance and less freedom.

    • says

      Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.
      2 Corinthians 13:5.

      work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

      Philippians 2:12

      Based on those and similar texts, I disagree with your statement.

      • says

        Job.

        What do you see when you examine yourself?

        That you are doing alright? Or that you are NOT up to it.

        Far too many (in the ‘internal examinations) see that they are doing pretty good…compared to that other guy. That’s the problem.

        ” to those who work, they will receive their just reward. To those who do not work but instead rely upon the one who died for them, by faith, their faith will be reckoned as righteousness.” (paraphrased from Romans)

        • says

          That’s a pretty weak paraphrase of Romans. The Bible again and again calls for an examination of fruit as the confirmation of the work of Christ. We bear fruit by the Spirit planted in us. No fruit, no seed. No seed, no salvation. This is not a matter of what we do by our power but what Christ is doing in us.

          Just yesterday I preached on this from Hebrews 6:9-12. The author’s assurance for his readers was based on their work as the evidence of their salvation.

    • says

      Steve,
      Like I posted on my blog…you really need to give Joel Beeke’s book A Quest for Assurance a thorough reading. You are painting with way too broad of a brush. You make this statement repeatedly on blogs that
      “Calvinism gets a lot right…but also….”

      If you’d even temper it a tad I’d have no problems with the statement.

      “Historically some Calvinists have erred in calling a believer to primarily look inward for proof election”…To that statement I’d give a hearty amen and encourage all my Calvinists and non-Calvinists brothers and sisters alike to be careful not to give too much weight to the subjective but that the greatest ground of our assurance is in the objective work of Christ.

      • says

        Mike,

        Yes, I do generalize. But we have to generalize or we wouldn’t be able to discuss anything.

        In general, Calvinists do not have a high regard for the real presence of Christ in Baptism or The Lord’s Supper, and therefore are forced to look inward for the assurance of their salvation. Either by looking at their feelings of being saved, their seriousness of obedience, their good works. None of these things will bring about assurance unless we delude ourselves or water down God’s law and make it manageable.

        • says

          I agree that we need to generalize but your generalization is terrible.

          Your second paragraph is helpful. At the end of the day I disagree with you on a few points…but it’s far more helpful than your cut and paste of, “Calvinists get a few things right…but miss it on assurance” mantra.

        • Bill Mac says

          In general, Calvinists do not have a high regard for the real presence of Christ in Baptism or The Lord’s Supper,

          In other words, Calvinists aren’t Lutherans. Neither are SBC non-Calvinists. We’re all OK with that.

          I have no doubt that some Calvinists have some problems with assurance. I’ve always thought that odd. One of the things that attracted me to Calvinism was that it seemed like my non-Calvinist brethren were always struggling with assurance, given the number of rededications, rebaptisms, and “are you sure that you’re sure that you’re sure” invitations that I have sat through.

          We all live in pockets of activity that do not necessarily represent the whole, and it colors our view of both our side and the other sides.

          I think I know what non-Calvinists are like, given that I was one for a long time and live and worship among them now. But when I voice what I think they are like, there are a dozen people ready to pounce and loudly exclaim that they aren’t like that at all. Same thing happens with non-Calvinists toward Calvinists. All it takes is to know a few reformed jerks and people have their opinions locked in. Unfortunately it is no trouble to find on the internet people who will reinforce your view.

          • says

            Actually, it is quite hard to find people with our view.

            People are highly invested in rationalism and therefore have a hard time believing that God can actually be present in mere earthly elements, even though He commanded that we do these things (Baptize, Lord’s Supper).

            If you don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in these things that He commanded, then the whole thing will revert to and revolve around you, and your whatevers. Because all of this has to touch down somewhere.

    • says

      Pink said, among other good things in his Studies on Saving Faith on assurance:

      “In considering the basis of the Christian’s assurance we must distinguish sharply between the ground of his acceptance before God, and his own knowledge that he is accepted by Him. Nothing but the righteousness of Christ-wrought out by Him in His virtuous life and vicarious death—can give any sinner a perfect legal standing before the thrice holy God. And nothing but the communication of a new nature, a supernatural work of grace within, can furnish proof that the righteousness of Christ has been placed to my account. Whom God legally saves, he experimentally saves; whom He justifies, them He also sanctifies. Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed to an individual, a principle of holiness is imparted to him; the former can only be ascertained by the latter. It is impossible to obtain a scriptural knowledge that the merits of Christ’s finished work are reckoned to my account, except by proving that the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s work is evident in my soul.”

      Where this idea that Calvinism leads to less assurance and less freedom comes from I canot imagine.

      • says

        It turn one inward.

        The last place we need to look.

        We need to look to the external Word, alone.

        Otherwise we will become prideful…or despairing. I see it all over the place.

          • says

            Yes.

            “…a supernatural work of grace within,…”

            How do you know? You have to look “within”.

            We don’t go there. We look to ‘the external Word’. The places where God acts for us, totally apart from anything that we do, say, FEEL, or think.

            There, we can have real assurance and the freedom that accompanies it.

          • says

            theoldadam,

            He went on to say,

            “Whom God legally saves, he experimentally saves”

            “whom He justifies, them He also sanctifies”

            “Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed to an individual, a principle of holiness is imparted to him”

            “It is impossible to obtain a scriptural knowledge that the merits of Christ’s finished work are reckoned to my account, except by proving that the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s work is evident in my soul.”

            Hardly seems like one “turned inward for proof that you are one of the elect” as you said above.

          • says

            Les,

            It all has to touch down somewhere. Either we trust in the tangible places where He acts for us and gives us His promises, or we will look elsewhere to our feelings, our works, our whatevers..for proof of what Pink was speaking of.

      • says

        And one more thing. Pink said,

        “It is impossible to obtain a scriptural knowledge that the merits of Christ’s finished work are reckoned to my account, except by proving that the efficacy of the Holy Spirit’s work is evident in my soul.”

        And this and all our Christian life is by faith, a gift from God. All of faith. Calvin himself wrote in the Institutes,

        “Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence toward us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

        And he wrote in “The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Presented to the Imperial Diet of Spires, A.D. 1544, in the Name of All Who Wish Christ to Reign,”:

        “Lastly, there was another most pestilential error, which not only occupied the minds of men, but was regarded as one of the principal articles of faith, of which it was impious to doubt, viz., that believers ought to be perpetually in suspense and uncertainty as to their interest in the divine favor. By this suggestion of the devil, the power of faith was completely extinguished, the benefits of Christ’s purchase destroyed, and the salvation of men overthrown. For, as Paul declares, that faith only is Christian faith which inspires our hearts with confidence, and emboldens us to appear in the presence of God (Rom. 5:2). On no other view could his doctrine in another passage be maintained, viz., that “we have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15).”

    • Matt says

      Um, that seems like a simplistic and uninformed historical statement. Instead, “This certainty [of assurance] is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith, founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.”

  10. Greg Harvey says

    I’m all in favor of every person who feels a call to ministry and who shared a commitment to the BF&M and consistency in attendance and service in a local Southern Baptist Church receiving theological, doctrinal, and career training from one of our Seminaries. In all honesty, if the person is the child of a pastor or a missionary, there is little he’ll pick up at seminary that he didn’t learn in the church unless his dad protected him from the fishbowl. But going through the process of getting prepared for ministry under the president and professors of a Southern Baptist Seminary is of great value in and of itself.

    But let’s be realistic: the local church needs to pay attention to soteriological concerns when calling a senior pastor and if your pastor search committee does not have theology and doctrine on its list of questions, you should ask them to remedy that.

    But wait, there is more: the committee should interview each of the members of the committee first and hone in on getting honest and direct answers. Then pick key leaders in the church that might not be on the committee and do the same with them. Then meet again afterwards and review what you learned and determine if you need to either reframe those questions or broaden the candidate base based on the demographics of the church.

    But, for heaven’s sake, ask in the interview. ASK. And then prayerfully consider the answer. God might insist you call someone that you wouldn’t have chosen on your own. What will you do if he does that? Agree with him or disobey him?

    That said: I think we make a bigger deal of these issues than God does. Or he is extraordinarily patient in calling us to correction at the very least to the extent that some are wrong.

    But given my dad is a traditionalist SB (small t, not capital T), I understand the concern Rick is raising. But the very nature of the ecclesiology of the Southern Baptist Convention is that the local church sifts through doctrine and the senior pastor of the local church ought to be the key administrator of that process. Which is why the search committee needs to sort through the candidate list based on the known (and surveyed) character of its existing leadership and their shared beliefs and values.

  11. Jess Alford says

    Here is something that may sound crazy, We Baptists should not only pull together, but the Catholics, United Methodists, and all other denominations for the greater good. I’m talking about the mess this country is in. It will take all of us to make a change.

    Let’s face it we Baptists cannot change this country by ourselves.
    Andy, I’m sorry for getting a little off track. Good Post.

  12. Jon says

    The very fact that the church has held to various views over the centuries tells me what you’re saying is true, and I very much appreciate the post. I don’t get the impression this will all be resolved, and I do feel it should just be laid aside. We need to reclaim something like a “mere Christianity” and consider that it’s all we really have. It should be enough.

  13. says

    First, to discuss Calvinism-related issues is simply to discus theology. An emphasis on issue relating to Calvinism is not a strange emphasis on some small corner of interest to the Church. Is soteriology something that is appropriate to discuss?—and how would one propose to discuss soteriology in any depth and still avoid Calvinism? Are the topics of sinners coming to faith and God’s grace in the process not worthy of emphasis?—and how would you propose that we discuss such things while avoiding the “C-word” and its issues? So then, it seems to me that the disdain for discussing Calvinism is just a dislike for discussing theology.

    However, looking at the comment streams here on Voices, one finds even in the Calvinism discussions that comments actually addressing the theology of the issues are only about one-tenth of the discussion. In the discussion, “Toward a Productive Discussion of Calvinism,” only about 25 of the 203 comments addressed a theological issue. Of those exchanges, none went very far.

    The reason for the current flare-up is not an increase in concern for theological truth, but only an increase in political concerns. Those who identify with Calvinism and those who identify with libertarianism/”traditionalism” sense a threat to the advancement, validity, and acceptance of their theologically-oriented political groups. But it should be clear by now that contending for the theological truth is not what is driving the conflict—sadly, what should be the most important part of the debate (and the greatest concern of both) is neglected and even denigrated as futile and a waste of time.

  14. Randall Cofield says

    A SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR AN OVER-BLOWN PROBLEM

    There are two factions driving this current kerfuffle: Hyper-Calvinists and Hyper-Traditionalists.

    Hyper-Calvinists are (supposedly) dividing churches, being anti-missional, refusing to work with Traditionalists, etc., etc.

    Hyper-Traditionalists are calling for a segregated SBC, fabricating scenarios whereby Calvinists are claimed to be in violation of the BF&M, “screening” for Calvinism, etc., etc.

    Hyper-Calvinists think their non-hyper Calvinistic brothers stand with them. They are wrong.

    Hyper-Traditionalists think their non-hyper Traditionalist brothers stand with them. They, too, are wrong.

    SBC Hyper-Calvinists are so minuscule in number they are kinda’ like the sasquatch–lots of chatter about ‘em, but precious little hard evidence is being produced to verify their existence.

    SBC Hyper-Traditionalists are likewise minuscule in number–they were only able to garner 800 signatures (out of 16m possible) on their soteriological statement; and very, very few of those signatories are actually Hyper-Traditionalists.

    BOTTOM LINE: The total number of extremists on both sides could be combined, placed in a thimble, and you would still have room to insert your thumb.

    SOLUTION: Marginalize the extremists

    We have a “Panel on Calvinism.” Form a second committee, and let’s call it the “Panel on Traditionalism.”

    Task the Calvinists with pushing the extremist Hyper-Calvinists to the margins of the SBC churches and institutions.

    Task the Traditionalists with pushing the extremist Hyper-Traditionalists to the margins of SBC churches and institutions.

    And let the rational Traditionalists and Calvinists UNITE around the task of making the glorious name of our Savior famous among the nations.

    ENOUGH ALREADY, DADGUMIT!!!

    “We need to marginalize those who need to be marginalized.”–R. Albert Mohler.

    • Jon says

      Randall, Mohler is not exactly what I would term moderate. He holds to some pretty extreme positions on things that are not representative of all Southern Baptists beliefs.

      • Randall Cofield says

        Jon,

        That seems to be the consensus among Hyper-Traditionalists.

        I’d simply point you to the fact that he sat on the committee which produced the BF&M2K–the document which delineates Southern Baptist beliefs.

        • Jon says

          Yes, I know. I don’t know that we are always aware of that, however. As I reflect upon the church through the centuries, I see mostly two things: we have held to many condradictory views, and efforts to impose uniformity have proven counterproductive. If we are Christian we should strive to be as catholic as possible. I don’t think confessionalism is the answer. I’m much more comfortable with ambiguity and dissent than with uniformity of thought, which necessitates a uniform structure of government.

  15. Jon says

    It’s wonderful he did that with equanimity. I’m glad. But he holds to some beliefs that come out of different quarters.