When is too much? (by Micah Fries)

by Micah Fries on May 16, 2011 · 55 comments

One of the best, and worst, aspects of being a Southern Baptist is our firmly held belief that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Absolutely everyone should have a platform to share that opinion. The fact that I can write what I’m about to write and publish it on this blog is evidence of that reality. In fact, our polity allows us a unique position among other ecclesiastical bodies that make up the American evangelical landscape. This freedom gives us the confidence of always knowing that our voice can be heard, but I wonder if there are times when we take this freedom too far?

I was thinking along these lines the other day when I read Jerry Nash’s recent article, “Hold the hearse, I have an idea!” on SBCToday.com. To be fair, I strongly disagree with much of his position. With that said, I am honestly grateful that he has the freedom to voice that opinion. What concerns me most, however, is not the opinion itself, but rather how the opinion was expressed and where the opinion was published. SBCToday is a blog that has existed for quite some time now. It has gained some popularity and has produced a steady stream of content that is most often identified with the Baptist Identity movement in SBC life. In the spring of 2011, however, it was announced that “The Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary partnered with the founders of SBCToday to help provide technical assistance in hosting the blog.” The site got a fresh look and now utilizes many new authors as well as many of the former writers as well. This partnership is an interesting one which certainly provokes a few thoughts.

While I am thankful that Nash has a forum from which to share his perspective, I am also greatly concerned with the ethics behind an SBC entity, financed by Cooperative Program dollars, being closely connected with a site that is publishing a piece that clearly addresses a significant segment of the SBC population with harsh (bordering vicious) language. This piece treats with a great level of apparent disdain sister SBC agencies (namely NAMB) and evidently a seminary or two as the author aligns groups of people that he chastises in the article together with these selected SBC agencies. To clarify, my issue is not so much the fact that Nash holds these opinions. It is far more specific. The fact that he voices them in such a way that attacks so many Southern Baptists and agencies on a website directly connected to one of our seminaries is disconcerting to say the least!

It seems odd to me that the Baptist Center for Ministry (which is part of the NOBTS community) would partner with SBCToday, unless of course, that is the point. The folks at SBCToday are good folks, with strong opinions. In fact, I know most of them personally, and I count a couple of them as friends. I do wonder, however, if there is an unspoken message when one of our entities is in a partnership with the place that muses about an alternative Pastor’s Conference, endorses SBC candidates and is in the news as the place where Jerry Rankin was publicly called a liar (an apology was later offered for that misstep). Those seem like difficult positions to reconcile with any SBC agency.

If the Baptist Center of NOBTS wants to blog (and I am glad they do) surely they could have started their own work. Instead, we get a confusing message with this new partnership.

While there is obviously nothing in writing that forbids such a decision by an SBC entity, it would seem to me that ethical standards and general decorum would cause them to refrain from being so closely connected to the publishing of an article that is such a clear attempt to divide the convention – even though there may be those within the agency that personally hold to the same perspective. To be sure, there have always been divides in SBC life. In fact, in my opinion that is part of what makes us as strong as we have been throughout our history. Yet, to see division fostered (even encouraged and prescribed as a remedy) in a partnership with an SBC entity in a public forum is of great concern to me, and I would imagine it would also be of great concern to many Southern Baptists, whether they agreed with Nash’s article or not.

This kind of connection to an SBC entity would seem to open an unhealthy, and frankly, unfortunate door. This sort of writing can do little more than foster dissension, divisiveness and stunt our ability to effectively advance the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, considering the tenor and the content of the article, division is apparently the desired response. It is discouraging, however, to realize that an SBC agency seems to be involved in pushing that door open.

Furthermore, it seems an odd choice to me to publish this article (and many other articles recently on this website) that apparently says to prospective students that those who hold to some level of Reformed theological persuasion are not welcome at New Orleans Seminary. Could it be true that men like Charles Spurgeon, William Carey and Jonathan Edwards would not be welcome at this seminary or this vision for the SBC? The choice to publish so many individuals over the previous weeks who seem to be aggressively anti-Calvinistic is interesting, if not disconcerting; and I say this as one who is not a 5 point Calvinist, though I am certainly sympathetic to much of Reformed theology.

So, in closing, let me again reiterate that I am grateful for the freedom that Southern Baptists have to share their opinion, and as I previously stated, my concern is not with one SBC entity critiquing another entity. I am instead greatly concerned with uncaring, negative and even intentionally divisive efforts – particularly ones that appear to be connected at some level to an SBC agency. Might it be true that we should ask our entities to treat other Southern Baptists, and other SBC agencies, with a bit more grace than this – particularly when we disagree?

1 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm

I appreciate Micah’s spirit here. I too (as I wrote) had a problem with the unfortunate spirit exhibited by Dr. Nash in his post at SBC Today.

On the other hand, I would say that SBC Today has published some wonderful articles as well – especially Dr. Lemke’s informative series recently (the spirit of which stood in direct and stark contrast to the spirit Dr. Nash exhibited) and the current article on preaching.

I agree with Micah that every voice needs to be heard, even those sounding in harsh tones.

I anticipate a lively discussion. I expect a reasoned discussion in which self-control is exhibited.

2 Doug Hibbard May 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

You also expect the Yankees to be unbound during the Millennial Reign. Some of your expectations are a little unlikely :)

3 bill May 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Ah yes, the bastion of divergent ideas and free debate…

4 Brent Hobbs May 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

I think Micah raises some good questions. I didn’t know NOBTS was supporting SBC Today. That’s really kind of disturbing to me, mainly because I don’t have a very high opinion of what goes on over at that blog.

5 tom jefferson May 16, 2011 at 3:18 pm

When the SBC splinters (and it will, just as the liberals said it would post -1979) some seminaries will go one way, others another way. Just like churches, associations, etc.

6 Frank L. May 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Tom, fortunately, because of Baptist polity our entities are NOT “just like churches, associations, etc.”

Our seminaries are not independent and cannot “go their own way.” In regard to our seminaries, it’s an all or nothing in regard to the relationship with the denomination.

Having said that, I do believe you may be right in part. Each seminary can have a different “flavor” of SBC theology to some extent–maybe even a great extent.

I think we see that even now. I was blessed to attend two of our seminaries: GGBTS and SWBTS. They were very different experiences in more than a geographical way. I was blessed by both but the approach to theology and such were noticeably nuanced–though well within the conservative context.

7 Josh C May 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm

That does seem to be an increasingly complex issue regarding entities and the blogosphere. I remember the recent hubub regarding one of the seminary’s professors sending out a letter regarding his views on patriotic worship and whether doing so was in capacity as a seminary professor, etc. Things like this having always certainly happened, as I’m certain many seminary professors or NAMB/IMB employees have been introduced with their job titles in speaking engagements or preaching, and have shared personal opinions that ‘In no way reflect the official position of Entity X”.

The difference now though is that blog posts are visible from anywhere and permanent (yes, people will screen shot or cache posts so that controversial stuff doesn’t just go “missing”). And when an entity such as NOBTS or SEBTS posts things, it certainly invites scrutiny as to its content and tones.

Good questions, Micah.

8 D.R. Randle May 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm

As a graduate of NOBTS, I am very disturbed by the news that the Seminary is supporting SBCToday. I wonder what the response would be if SEBTS or SBTS supported a blog that railed on non-Calvinism. I can imagine that not a few of the BI crowd would be threatening to “take it to the convention floor.”

I also wonder what would happen if myself and a few other NOBTS alumni expressed their irritation publically and to Dr. Kelley. Would anything change?

9 Job May 16, 2011 at 3:40 pm

This means that the “Particular Baptist versus General Baptist” showdown in the SBC is inevitable precisely because people with no small amount of influence and visibility, i.e. Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost, who promoted the “Jerusalem Conference between Particular and General SBC Baptists” idea on SBC Today.

Jerry Nash’s missive is not mere happenstance. Instead, it is part of staking out ground, with Lemke’s “maybe we can fix this” being “middle ground” or “moderate” and Nash’s “we can’t so you Particulars have to leave, even if it means taking Southern and (presumably) Golden Gate Seminary with you” being a right wing (or left wing) stance. So, everything within the spectrum of “the Particulars must muzzle themselves by ceasing to teach and propagate their beliefs if they want to stay” to “the Particulars must leave” is acceptable by a blog that can appropriately be viewed as representing the beliefs of NOBTS. The third option, “the General Baptists must accommodate the Particular Baptists”, is conspicuously absent.

The question must be asked is WHY. Particular Baptists have been in the SBC since the beginning. And despite claims that the Particulars are taking over the SBC, the General Baptists are the first to proclaim that less than 10%, and possibly no more than 5%, of SBC members, churches and pastors are Particular. And though some SBC officers and leaders are Particular, the vast majority are General.

So, it is clear that a certain group of General Southern Baptists want a fight, and it is apparent that NOBTS is lending its institutional support to seeking this fight, and that the desired outcome of the fight is the Particular Baptists’ being marginalized or expelled. But the thing that is neither clear or apparent is WHY? Why are they determined to have this fight? What is their motivation, and what do they hope to accomplish by having – and winning – this fight?

More than a few General Baptists haven’t shied away from making parallels between this fight that they want to have and the Conservative Resurgence. That is still more evidence that this isn’t a “live and let live” (among Christians who affirm BFM2000 of course!) movement.

The question: how do Particular Southern Baptists respond? Of course, the inappropriate response would be a “fight back” or a “fight fire with fire” method. Over against that, on Biblical grounds, I say that taking Jerry Nash’s “kind suggestion” of leaving is preferable to fighting back, and further the Particular Baptists should not indulge the General Baptists that are itching for a fight in their delusions that such a battle would be anything akin to the CR (which is precisely how not a few of them want to frame this fight) by giving them just what they are seeking.

Instead, Particular Southern Baptists should take the stance of asking for, promoting, indeed demanding unity, cooperation, Christian liberty, rapprochement, reason etc. that the Bible – and Southern Baptist history – allows, and reject any alleged “compromise” that refrains Particular Southern Baptists from treating their doctrines as Biblical truth and acting accordingly. If the General Southern Baptists respond to the refusal of the Particular Southern Baptists to either fight or be muzzled and neutered in the interests of some false “peace” by asking the Particulars to leave, then so be it.

10 Howell Scott May 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Who gets to determine when it’s too much? Who gets to decide when the freedom to voice our opinions has been taken too far? Is the fact that NOBTS has partnered with SBCToday the problem or is it because some of the posts on the re-lauched site do not reflect the opinions of some within the ruling class of the SBC, post-GCR? Is it the tone of Jerry Nash’s post or is it the substance of the post? Are we practicing guilt by association? Is anyone who contributes to SBCToday now suspect? Would that include Dr. Steve Lemke of NOBTS and today’s contributor, Dr. David Allen, Dean of the School of Theology at SWBTS? And, for those who do not think that Dr. Kelley is aware of what is going on, this is the man who stood up against the powers-that-be who tried to bully NOBTS into submitting to sole membership (which they eventually did). I would be highly surprised if Dr. Kelley was uninformed.

Are we concerned that CP funds are supporting SBCToday? Why? Because of the content or tone or both? If the anti-Calvinist, anti-GCR rhetoric were conveyed in more pleasant tones, would that be sufficient? Or, would the “attacks” need to cease and desist? Are we also concerned with Between the Times, SEBTS’s blog, which I presume is also supported — directly or indirectly — through CP funds? Do we not have as much heartburn when attacks against State Conventions — supposed partners in cooperative ministry — are phrased in more subtle terms — bad stewards of bloated budgets (Akin) and State Convention Executive villains who keep more CP funds vs. those heroes who give more to the national SBC entitities (Wright — not once but twice)?

There are lots of questions, but depending on your perspective, you will either see these questions as irrelevant and unreaonable or as relevant and reasonable. How one views the SBCToday blog and Jerry Nash’s post will come down to one of perspective, mostly having to do with the GCR, of which Calvinism and non-Calvinism is but a part. What many still fail to see is the unity that has been brought about by the GCR. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that one of my posts would be linked on SBCToday (full disclosure — The Big Tent post was linked this past weekend). I do not consider myself a BI guy, but I have found that I have far more in common as a Southern Baptist with those associated with SBCToday than I do with others within the Convention.

People can speak out against Jerry Nash all they want to and try to marginalize the views that he articulated but, at the end of the day, his views resonate with a lot more grassroots Southern Baptists than just those who read SBCToday or are a part of the BI movement. For those who don’t think so, remember the lady in Manhattan, after the landslide election of Richard Nixon in 1972, who said, “I can’t believe that Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.” Silent majority then, silent majority now.

11 Tim Rogers May 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Brother Howell,

Thank you for your words of reason.

Blessings,
Tim

12 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Frankly, I thought that Micah’s words were reasonable as well.

13 Frank L. May 16, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Howell, sometimes a little ignorance is helpful. Since, as I’ve stated, I do not know Jerry Nash, nor had I read much of what he had written previously, I could simply read his post with more of an open mind.

Like you, I resonate with what I read at SBCToday to a large degree. Admittedly, I don’t read much of that blog (or any blog for that matter. It is easier just to read this blog and let you guys do my research for me). But, when I do read SBCToday, I find myself very much in harmony with what they write.

I greatly appreciate your insight. You have made your biases known, and yet, you speak with a civility and clarity that I think helps move the conversation into a more positive zone, without any capitulation of your position.

14 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I understand what you are saying, Howell, but I think there is a key issue here.

Jerry Nash was given a place on blog which partners with an SBC entity and he called on Calvinists to leave the SBC.

Frankly, I have thought that most of the posts at SBC Today since the restart have been good, high quality and needed. I have no trouble with the partnership.

But, once that partnership exists and a post like Jerry Nash’s is allowed to be posted – that is a problem. That post “jumped the shark.” It just went too far.

15 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I know that there are people with an axe to grind against SBC Today. But I think that Micah and I share this view. The partnership is fine, but such a partnership puts posts like Jerry Nash’s out of bounds.

16 Greg Alford May 16, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Howell,

If the “Majority” of Southern Baptist are silent… then how do you (or anyone else for that matter) know which side they are on. Certainly not from reading the SBC______ blogs.

It has been my experience that denominational leaders and bloggers have a far greater appetite for divisive issues than the messengers to the Convention each year, who are the ones who will ultimately settle this issue. When you stand on the convention floor and attempt to make a case as to why a group as large as 10% of the convention need to be “kicked out” you had better be ready to make a compelling case… which I have yet to hear anyone make, including Jerry Nash.

Grace for the Journey,

17 Frank L. May 16, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Greg, I don’t particularly disagree with your post.

But, it does raise a question in my mind: does anybody suppose that Jerry Nash or anyone else is going to make the motion from the floor that any group be “kicked out?”

I find that a highly unlikely prospect. Also, I really think that is putting Nash’s post in such an extreme light that it completely distorts what he said.

This matter is being discussed more and more in blogs, but I think we are years away from any motion as you suggest.

18 Howell Scott May 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Greg,

Maybe my reference to Richard Nixon and the “Silent Majority” is not contemporary enough for some to understand. In any event, I’m not sure if, when using the pronoun “you” in your sentence about makeing a motion to “kick out” 10% of the SBC, that you are referring to me or Jerry Nash or to people in general. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have never made, nor would I envision any circumstances where I would ever make, such a motion based on the politics of the Convention in the GCR era.

I’ve gone back and re-read Bro. Nash’s post and he does not make that argument either (although, I suppose as Frank L. pointed out, one’s perspective may cause one to read into it things that are not there). As no one (apart from you) has suggested making a motion to kick out 10% of the Convention, there is no reason to present a compelling case against your straw man argument. Thanks and God bless,

Howell

19 Greg Alford May 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Howell,

I really had hoped more from you than that… But alas a terse and completely off base response from you is what I have come to expect.

Nash said “Let us agree to let the anti-SBC, anti-CP, anti-Association, anti-State Convention and pro-Primitive Baptist doctrines be blessed to go out and become whatever it is they want to be. I believe God would be honored if they left before destroying The Southern Baptist Convention.”

Let me just go ahead and dash Nash, the BI/Landmarkers, and all the other “Pure Church-ers” hopes and dreams… “An’t Nobody Leaving OUR SBC!”

Thanks and God bless you as well,

20 Howell Scott May 16, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Greg,

I am sorry for coming across terse — that was not my objective. If I wanted to be terse, my first response to you was not it. I did want clarification as to your response to me, particularly in the use of “you” in your assertion about standing on the Convention floor to make a motion to kick out 10% of the SBC. I would appeciate it if you would clarify, but if not, no big deal.

As I responded to Tom, I am not a BI/Landmarker, but an inconsistent Calvinist. To think that opposition to the changes taking place within the SBC is limited to only those who are labeled BI/Landmarkers is not to see the full picture. Thanks and God bless,

Howell

21 Debbie Kaufman May 16, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Amen Greg!

22 Tom Parker May 16, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Howell:

You said:”I do not consider myself a BI guy, but I have found that I have far more in common as a Southern Baptist with those associated with SBCToday than I do with others within the Convention.”

Sincere question, what is it that you feel the most in common with the SBCToday group?

23 Joe Blackmon May 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Well, I’m not Howell, and I’m not currently in a Baptist church, but I can think of several things that I agree with the folks who are in the BI camp about:

1) Baptism of believers by immersion.
2) The inerancy of scripture and the fact that those who reject inerrancy ought not be allowed to teach or serve in the SBC.
3) Women are restricted from leading or teaching men in the church.

While I would disagree with some of them on some things, I could agree with those whole heartedly.

24 Tom Parker May 16, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I will wait for Howell to reply. It is his view that I am interested in.

25 Howell Scott May 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Tom,

Sorry for the delay in responding. In a general way, I would say that I have found common ground with some of the so-called BI folks through our belief in grassroots cooperative missions through CP. While others may disagree, I see that Southern Baptists have an identity and culture. That identity and culture is about cooperation through local associations, state conventions, and the SBC. I suppose it’s more of an ethos and how we view the SBC. That is very general, but I think that’s where it starts, at least for me.

As to doctrinal issues, I have described myself as an “inconsistent Calvinist.” For me, that means that I generally agree with the 5 Points, but that does not necessarily inform every aspect of my ministry — hence the inconsistency. While I may not agree on every fine point of doctrine with those who consider themselves BI (Joe is pretty much correct about my agreement with the three issues he mentioned), I have, through relationships and dialogue developed more of a mutual bond with those folks who identify primarily as Southern Baptists (after Christian, which I assume SBs of every stripe identify as first). For example, some BI folks might practice a more close communion than I would (which is okay), but I don’t think I would be called an idolator just because I practice a more open communion.

In the end, its about how I view what it means to be a cooperating conservative Southern Baptist and who I am more comfortable cooperating with. Hope that helps. Thanks and God bless,

Howell

26 Dave Miller May 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Howell, I would love to see a post-length description of that “SBC culture and identity.” I would love to see that fleshed out in a little more detail.

27 Debbie Kaufman May 16, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I just wonder why you don’t have a problem with the quote that Greg issued Howell.

28 Debbie Kaufman May 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm

And isn’t the purpose of the SBC for missions? If those that Nash wants to leave do in fact leave(which I think Greg responded well in that we are not leaving), that would be less than the 8 million, 4 million, 2 million, that there are now. Wouldn’t that pretty much nail the coffin of the SBC? And is it worth it? Calvinism? Really?

29 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 9:26 am

Debbie,

If Nash, and those who “Identify” with his Ideology, were successful in forcing out 10% of the churches that now cooperate with the SBC, or making them so unwelcome that they eventually leave,… Then yes, the Missions Work of the Southern Baptist Convention would Literally Implode.

But nonetheless… Nash, and those who “Identify” with his Ideology, would shout for joy even as they watched the convention burn. Why??? Because then the disease of Calvinism will have been cut from the body and they would finally have their “PURE” Southern Baptist Convention.

Never mind the fact that they cut out the heart to purify the body… a pure corpse is far better then living with the disease of Calvinism.

Grace for the Journey,

30 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 9:34 am

Greg, I’ve been pretty public about my dislike for Nash’s article. But there is a distinction which needs to me made here.

He is calling on those who stand outside his self-defined SBC to leave.

He has not, and nor has anyone I know of, talked about forcing the Calvinists and non-traditionalists to leave. His point, I think, was that it would better for them to leave than to keep trying to mold the SBC in their new image.

31 Greg Alford May 17, 2011 at 9:53 am

Dave,

I have been on the receiving end of his kind of “Rhetoric” for over 20 years here in Florida… and while no one down here in the Sunshine State has openly “talked about forcing the Calvinists and non-traditionalists to leave.” The have not exactly gone out of there way to make us feel welcome… actually just the opposite.

So, being a 20 year, battle scarred, veteran in this ongoing war against Calvinism… I’m not really interested in discussing semantics here. The man’s reputation is well known, and his intent it clear.

32 Mike Bergman May 17, 2011 at 10:02 am

Because then the disease of Calvinism will have been cut from the body and they would finally have their “PURE” Southern Baptist Convention.

When a person has the attitude, “We need to get rid of group x,” they’ll never have a pure convention. The only pure convention in their eyes would be the one filled with people who think exactly as they think. Their friends today will become their enemies tomorrow b/c once this speck is gone, they’ll find another to poke at.

It’s kinda like Paul’s warning in Galatians 5:15–they’ll bit and devour until they consume (and are themselves consumed).

Perhaps the best thing for us “Calvinist” types to do is be strong, meet thier rage with a smile, and be hospitable to them where they lack it, and in part prevent them from turning their vitriol upon the next soul down the line…

33 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 10:07 am

Greg, you call it semantics, I call it an important distinction.

34 Dave Miller May 17, 2011 at 10:11 am

I have no scientific data, but from what I have seen I wonder if the anti-Calvinist forces are stronger than average in Florida.

35 BDW May 16, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Historically, Southern Baptist identity and culture has enjoyed a very very strong relationship with southern culture & identity. No doubt.

But there have always been different constituencies and some diversity in terms of theology, politics, relationship w/ culture, etc. Most historians emphasize the different 19th century constituencies or traditions within the SBC – Tennessee, Georgia, Sandy Creek, Charleston, etc. I think that simple typology is helpful for understanding Southern Baptist identity.

36 Alan Cross May 17, 2011 at 12:37 am

Micah,

As the old editor for SBCOutpost, I am sure that the irony of this is not lost on you. As a former contributor to that notorious group blog, it certainly isn’t lost on me. :)

37 Dr. James Willingham May 17, 2011 at 1:00 pm

While the treatment Sovereign Grace believers receive is often pretty painful, and I have been on the receiving end of some of that treatment, it is no reason for leaving. My ancestors and predecessors who believed in Sovereign Grace were the founders and maintainers of the SBC. Indeed, they united Baptists (Separates and Regulars), convinced General Baptists to become Particular Baptists, secured religious liberty, and launched the great missionary movement. I have just as much desire to continue to win souls, to evangelize, to missionize, as any who do no agree with me theologically. I also have no desire to control or manipulate others. I do no want a top-down enforced theology, but one that is by persuasion of the evidence from the bottom up. There are some on the side lines just waiting to move into the vacuum left by a bust up. I, for one, am not leaving until they put me out. But I don’t think they will, and I don’t plan on putting anyone out (I detest the idea). Enforcement by heavy handed methods simply prove the weakness of one’ case, while it gives support to the opponents. Just study Roman Catholic history. I read somewhere a few years ago, where priests and other officials in the Roman Catholic Church went to Waldensian Barbes (what the Waldensians use to call their pastors) and got down on their knees in front of them and asked them to forgive them for the suffering that Catholicism had imposed on that poor people by the inquisition and wars. Since I believe in religious liberty, I do not hold with compulsion. My hope is to persuade, to win by the truth, by evidence. God grant that we win the whole earth and every soul in it beginning with this generation and continuing for a 1000 generations.

38 D.R. Randle May 17, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Let me offer three thoughts here:

1) In 20 years none of this will probably matter. The SBC will probably be more like 50/50 in regard to Calvinism v. non-Calvinism and those who are trying to rid the convention of Calvinism will truly recognize the damage that will be done in doing so and will have long ceased their campaign. Those who do identify as non-Calvinists will probably not care about a showdown and will be more moderate in their stance towards Calvinism. And finally the BI people will either be so small as to be insignificant, or will have already left the convention because they couldn’t get their way.

2) In 20 years when Calvinism is again the majority view in the SBC, it will be these anti-Calvinists who will be crying foul about the Calvinists trying to push them out and calling for “unity” and “civility”.

3) If the anti-Calvinists actually could debate the Biblical texts instead of just trying to shout down Calvinists and marginalize them as being non-Baptists, then they would do it. Their tactics to me show that they don’t think they can win the Biblical debate.

39 David R. Brumbelow May 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm

D. R.,
I’ve pretty much stayed out of this discussion. But when you imply the non-Calvinists cannot debate the biblical texts, I have to reply.

On several issues one side seems to love saying the other side has no biblical evidence, when they have more than ample evidence, the other side just rejects it.

For example, are you saying that non-Calvinists have no biblical evidence for believing in unlimited atonement?

For anyone who believes non-5 point Calvinists have no biblical evidence, you can check out their evidence beginning with the books:

“Whosoever Will” by David L. Allen and Steve W Lemke
“Salvation and Sovereignty” by Kenneth Keathley

David R. Brumbelow

40 Frank L. May 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

David,

I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I know some brilliant scholars who do not consider themselves “Calvinists.” The fact is that non-Calvinists and Calvinists use many of the same texts to defend their position.

To suggest the debate is biblical vs. non-biblical seems more of a red herring argument than an argument based upon fact.

I could say: I’m truly Biblical in my approach because I don’t consider myself Calvinist or non-Calvinist, but Biblical in my approach. Yet, saying that would simply be condescending.

I believe the debate on Calvinism is a thoroughly “biblical” debate with merit on both sides and the truth somewhere in between.

41 John Young May 17, 2011 at 4:19 pm

D.R. ,

You write:
3) If the anti-Calvinists actually could debate the Biblical texts instead of just trying to shout down Calvinists and marginalize them as being non-Baptists, then they would do it. Their tactics to me show that they don’t think they can win the Biblical debate.

This is sarcasm is it not?
If not; then this is a perfect example why some are predicting the likelihood of a split in the SBC.

John

42 D.R. Randle May 17, 2011 at 7:32 pm

David, Frank, and John,

Allow me to answer your questions. First, I specifically used the term “anti-Calvinist” not non-Calvinist when I spoke of those unwilling to debate. For more clarification, let me add that I am speaking specifically of those who want to rid the SBC of Calvinism. So far I have found very little to no Biblical evidence coming from those guys and much more marginalization and accusation that Calvinists are not Baptists – or ridiculously “Presbyterian” – (though sometimes I do find a few prooftexts with a complete ignoring of texts that teach a more Reformed view – particularly in regard to elder leadership).

So, David your questions are moot since I am not referring to all non-Calvinists, but just the anti-Calvinists we’ve heard from lately. And Frank, I never suggested the debate is between “biblical v. non-biblical”. I’m saying those who are anti-Calvinistic don’t want to have the debate at all. They’d rather marginalize and accuse than actually have to go toe to toe with those they want to kick out of the SBC.

Finally, Joe, this is not sarcasm. It’s an observation I’ve made. I personally don’t want a split, but I am tired of being told I am not a Baptist. And I especially hate it when people call themselves Biblical and then completely distort the textual evidence for a plurality of elders (and distort one’s view on how these elders function).

Hope that clears up the confusion.

43 Jason May 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm

That is helpful clarification.

IMO, the fact that there are “anti-X” people in the SBC (where the X refers to any biblically viable position that is in agreement with the BFM2000) is the real problem.

I don’t see calvinists wanting a split.
I don’t see non-calvinists wanting a split.
I see a subset of non-calvinists (called here “anti-calvinists”) wanting a split.

That isn’t the only issue…but those same “anti-calvinists” are also “anti-a bunch of stuff that isn’t unbiblical at all”.

44 Frank L. May 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm

You say it is not “biblical v. unbiblical” and then describe the view of those who have a different point of view as not being biblical. See your last paragraph.

That sounds like 1) you don’t remember what you say; 2) you say things you don’t mean; or 3) you mean things you don’t say.

That hardly clarifies the issue for me. I’ll stick to my opinion that the issue is a “biblical disagreement” with both sides claiming biblical warrant.

45 Jason May 17, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Or 4) you misread what I wrote.

I didn’t say the phrase “biblical v. unbiblical”. Not sure where that came from.
I simply described the problem as being that people cannot simply be “non-X”, but they are “anti-X”. The prime example being calvinism. I have no problem with people being calvinists or non-calvinsts. It is what it is. The issue is with the people who are ANTI-calvinists.

In my last paragraph I said those people that are anti-calvinists also tend to be against a lot of things. More of an observation based off of recent posts on this issue (see Nash).

Not sure how that is unclear or why it necessitated your condescending comments.

I didn’t say it was not a “biblical v. unbiblical” issue. Clearly it has to do with what people BELIEVE is biblical and non-biblical. True?

Of course both sides claim biblical warrant…is that even in dispute. Both sides want to be biblical. The question is: can people admit disagreement over biblical issues with other believers without making them the enemy or pretending that they have no biblical warrant for their views at all (being ANTI-x).

Not sure where the vitriol came from in your last comment, but I would appreciate a better tone from a brother in Christ, especially considering you quoted something I did not say and then held me accountable to your misquote and misunderstanding. The cheap shot was uncalled for…but noted.

46 Frank L. May 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Jason, show me the vitriol and I’ll gladly apologize.

You clearly implied in the last paragraph that persons who do not see things your way are “non-biblical, anti-biblical, or whatever word you want to use to describe destorting the biblical text.

Just because someone disagrees with how I see the biblical text doesn’t — in my mind at least — mean they are therefore “distorting the biblical text.” See your quote below if you want to know why I am confused at your position as it was stated. As you restated it, it appears you don’t believe what you wrote the first time.

“”And I especially hate it when people call themselves Biblical and then completely distort the textual evidence.”"

That quote does not look to me like an olive branch but a billy club. For me — and it is only my opinion of course — I don’t think that type of rhetoric is going to result in much of a dialogue between the two parties, whatever you call them.

Now add this statement of yours to the mix:

“”I didn’t say it was not a “biblical v. unbiblical” issue.” If you did not say it was “not” a biblical v. unbiblical issue” that means you said it “was” a biblical v. unbiblical issue.

So, I’m still a bit confused. For clarity I do NOT believe it is a “biblical v. unbiblical” (non-biblical, anti-biblical)” issue but an issue upon which two biblically sensitive people can come to differing conclusions.

For the life of me I do not see how this whole “Calvinism” thing has enough legs to keep going as it does.

Again, please point out the vitriol and I will apologize. Heck! I’ll just take your word for it and apologize anyhow. I am just trying to stumble into a little enlightenment.

Please do accept my apology for seeming vitriolic. I’m going to look that up because it doesn’t sound good :)

47 Jason May 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm

The quote to which you are referring: ““”And I especially hate it when people call themselves Biblical and then completely distort the textual evidence.””

That was not me, that was D.R. Randle. Perhaps that clears up some confusion.

As for clearing up the “I did not say” statement you referred to…you said I stated something that I DID NOT SAY. That is what I meant by “I did not say” something. I thought that one would be pretty obvious.

I think you might be confusing some of my comments with those of other people.

48 Jeff Musgrave May 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

Jason,
It appears that part of the problem is that your reacted to Frank as if his comment was a reply to yours. It is nested as a reply to DR above, so I think that may have been the jumping off point for the misunderstanding. Frank was addressing his statement and you reacted as if he had misrepresented yours instead.

49 Jason May 18, 2011 at 12:12 am

Yes, that is exactly what happened. I thought his first reply was to me…which is why it made no sense to me.

His second reply was then to me, but was still quoting from another person’s post.

This stream format can be challenging at times. This one was one misunderstanding after another.

50 Jason May 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

The reference to the calvinists as being “pro-primitive baptist” is unfair and out of bounds. It’s a cheap attempt at poisoning the well and guilt by association.

What I gather from this is that one-side continually and repeatedly uses this tactic. It gets old. The fact that believers can “bear false witness” in that regard and not care when others do it is pathetic. the fact that some not only don’t care, but also support and endorse it is appalling. To drop by and give a drive by endorsement of it and to call a post in support of it “words of reason” leaves me shaking my head.

Nash’s article was wrong on many fronts. It was indefensible. It was full of cheap shots and misrepresentation. For that reason alone I would think people would want to distance themselves from it. That is not even to mention the harsh tone, the divisiveness, the historical inaccuracies, etc. But it seems some people are more concerned with winning the argument, and like politicians they would rather have a good sound byte than truth. I would hope believers, pastor no less, would be above that sort of ploy.

This whole thing is disappointing to me. I can handle disagreements, but the way that this is going down is pathetic.

51 Frank L. May 18, 2011 at 12:21 am

Jason, or anyone else . . . thank you Jeff for clearing up the confusion, though now I’m actually not even sure I agree with myself :)

Still, I do not want to be vitriolic. So, I apologize to everyone for everything.

There, that should cover it.

52 Jason May 18, 2011 at 12:26 am

LOL

53 Jeff Musgrave May 18, 2011 at 12:29 am

The nesting of the comments can really get confusing sometimes. Look for the little lines on the left side of comments that are nested as they help you see what “level” they belong to. Two comments that line up at the left are both replies to the next higher up comment.

54 D.R. Randle May 18, 2011 at 11:52 am

Frank,

Regardless of the confusion between you and Jason, you did post this comment towards me, to which I would like to respond below it:

You say it is not “biblical v. unbiblical” and then describe the view of those who have a different point of view as not being biblical. See your last paragraph.

That sounds like 1) you don’t remember what you say; 2) you say things you don’t mean; or 3) you mean things you don’t say.

That hardly clarifies the issue for me. I’ll stick to my opinion that the issue is a “biblical disagreement” with both sides claiming biblical warrant.

Frank, it seems you continue to miss the point that I am speaking of the anti-Calvinists and not simply the non-Calvinists. The anti-Calvinists are a specific sub-set of non-Calvinists that I have observed using tactics that are unBiblical and arguments that are intended to marginilize, label, and accuse. So the questions for you are:

1) Are you an anti-Calvinist?

2) It seems like you are claiming that both sides (Calvinists and non-Calvinists) have legitimate Biblical evidence and that you think we both need to live in harmony. Is this true?

3) If the above is true and if you are not an anti-Calvinist, then why are you so adamently defending the anti-Calvinists? And why are you not standing against those tactics of marginalization, accusation, and labelling? It seems that if you would stand against them as a non-Calvinist you would do much more good to this debate than defending the anti-Calvinists or acting like they don’t exist.

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