Why I’m Sending Back The Gospel Project

by Mike Leake on August 6, 2012 · 165 comments

It finally arrived.

A few days ago the UPS guy lugged in two hefty boxes.  Inside the boxes contained a treasure that I have been awaiting for months now.  I honestly, have never been so excited about a Sunday school curriculum.  I opened the box and with trembling hands pulled out the leaders guides to The Gospel Project.

In my feeble hands I was holding the most potent and subtle dose of Arminian/Traditionalist/non-Calvinistic kryptonite this world has ever seen.  From various sources I have been informed that this Gospel Project thing was a subtle way to indoctrinate our churches in the ways of Calvin.  As a Calvinist who desires everyone to unthinkingly bow their knee to the 16th century Reformer I was excited.

I have been dreaming for months about how this Gospel Project curriculum will teach our unsuspecting children the ins and outs of supralapsarianism.  How they planned on doing it I was not certain.  But I knew that the Calvinistic Illuminati, of which I’m merely a doting admirer, would be able to do it.  I was ecstatic to think that our naive teachers would be raising up little Billy’s and Sally’s to be Calvinistic warriors by the time I got them in our High School Sunday school class.

So with a smile that could only be matched by that of the Grinch after destroying a Cindy Lou Who Christmas, I took my sword (because Calvinists don’t use paltry knives) and opened the package.  I began pouring through the first few pages…

I was a little shocked to see a picture of Ed Stetzer and this Trevin Wax fella.  I was hoping for Calvin and Beza…but I had to remind myself that this indoctrination was going to be subtle.  Besides, who doesn’t trust Ed Stetzer?  And who could stare in the face of this Trevin Wax chap and think that he has an agenda.  He looks so innocent.  Well played, guys, well played!

I continued flipping through the pages.  On page 10 I see that they’ve quoted Helen Keller instead of Tim.  A little disappointed but I move on…then I see a lengthy quote by Bob Bergen.  Wait, a second!  I had Dr. Bergen in college.  I didn’t know he was a part of the Reformed conspiracy.  Man!  I should have hung out with him more.  I remember him more as a guy that just faithfully taught the Scriptures, loved Jesus, but didn’t really state his position on the whole Calvinism thing.  I had no idea he was part of the movement.

Then…oh the humanity…on page 15 I see a quote from C.S. Lewis.  Don’t get me wrong C.S. Lewis is a pretty good chap but he’s not somebody that we want our people to be reading if they are going to become thoroughly Calvinistic.  I mean they should have at least put a little disclaimer after his name letting them know not to read all of his stuff.  We can’t risk people picking up Lewis and reading him on their own because that may unCalvinize them.  I’m getting a little disappointed at this point and afraid that what I’ve got in my hands is more of a “gospel” type of thing than a Calvinistic agenda.

Tim Keller quote on page 17.  Whew.  Maybe they’re just getting us warmed up.  You know getting their foot in the door and then they’re going to slam this Reformed theology home.  I’m sure that as I keep going along I’ll be able to pick up some of the code words.

Session 2.  Nothing to push our agenda.  In fact they even say things that might make people think that God actually would want to save everybody.  Like that God “wants to be known” by all of creation.  Come on guys!  You’re sounding a little less Calvinistic than I had hoped.  And then another un-footnoted quote of C.S. Lewis.  Yeah, I see recommendations to listen to Piper.  That’s good.  I love Piper.  But I’m starting to feel a little cheated.

As I keep strolling through this curriculum I get more and more disenchanted.  More quotes from non-Calvinists.  A ton of dribble about God speaking, the gospel, creation, God revealing Himself.  All well and good but this isn’t going to help me make my congregation unsuspecting Calvinists.

It’s filled with heart-probing questions.

Pleas to turn to Christ.

Encouragement to be more involved in the local church.

Exhortation to fulfill the Great Commission.

Theological discussions on the authority, inerrancy, and sufficiency of God’s Word.

Those are all well and good but they are not going to help me covertly make everyone a Calvinist.  Okay maybe they’ll be more passionate followers of Jesus.  Maybe they’ll have a deeper theological foundation that will help them be more equipped to engage some of these hard topics like sovereignty and free will.  But I don’t want that!  I want what I was promised; a subtle, sneaky, covert, indoctrination of little kids and adults in the ways of Calvinism.

So I will be sending back my Gospel Project to the folks at Lifeway.  It’s obvious that they care very little about these deep and pressing issues that will define the SBC, like Calvinism.  They can keep their gospel-centered, Jesus-focused, great-commission fulfilling agenda.  I’ve got another movement that I want to see happen and it won’t happen by quoting Arminians and not even dealing with supralapsarianism.


Disappointed by the “Takeover”

P.S. If you Lifeway peeps can’t refund me money but need me to order some books or merchandise instead, I’ll take it in Al Mohler bobble-head dolls.  Hopefully he’s still part of the conspiracy.  But I’m not sure about much of anything right now.  So, cancel that.  Give me the Calvin bobble-heads.  You do sell those, right?


1 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm


There are actually recommendations that people listen to Piper in this material? That’s absolutely the first I’ve heard that this kind of promotion is present in The Gospel Project. Do they also advertise his work in the “Life and Works” Series? Maybe I’ve missed it. If they don’t advertise it in the rest of the curriculum, then why would they advertise it in The Gospel Project and not in the others, unless The Gospel Project was intended to promote the Reformed viewpoint?

Anyway, thanks for the satire. While I disagree with your reasoning, I am nevertheless glad you are sending it back. :-)

2 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

There is a section in the end about additional resources as well as a few sermon podcasts to listen to. Piper is one of them. But so is Criswell, guys I’ve never heard of, Paige Patterson, Jeff Iorg, Grant Osborne, and many others. It’s just simply saying, “Hey, here’s a good sermon…check it out”.

Nothing promoting a Reformed viewpoint.

3 Bill Mac August 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

If they are recommending Patterson, it seems clear that they are definitely trying to promote a non-Calvinist viewpoint.

4 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm

No, Bill, Dr. Patterson just had a great chapel message that fit into the lesson and we suggested that teachers listen to it to prepare.

We do that– use people when they have something strong that relates to the topic at hand.

It is CRAZY, I know. ;-)


5 Bill Mac August 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Ed: Thanks. I was just trying to show Rick that his point didn’t follow.

6 Clark Dunlap August 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Seriously? Thats your evidence? A sermon recc. for Piper? OR would you just rather all calvinistic baptists be removed from contributing to anything SBC? Just have to wonder.
Glad Stetzer isn’t as knee-jerk as that. (Actually I don’t think he’s Knee-jerk at all… didn’t want to give that impression.)

7 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I think that exchange was intended more in the light-hearted ribbing mode, Clark. Might do US all good to calm down at times.

8 Greg Harvey August 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm

We had a rule on Space Station Freedom Software Support Environment (contractor side) that when you’re trying to be funny when making a presentation or statement you’re supposed to raise your RIGHT hand. When you’re trying to be serious, you’re supposed to raise your LEFT hand.

We didn’t want to laugh at people who were trying to be serious because they tended to get offended even if what they said was funny…

9 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

consider my right hand raised.

10 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm

but my left one half way up too :-)

11 Christiane August 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

brilliantly written !

12 Christiane August 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

IF anyone wants to get ‘technical’ regarding a ‘Calvinist’ influence, there is a way:

Calvin wrote a children’s catechism, thought to be among his best writings. So, if there are concerns, people can simply compare John Calvin’s OWN teaching for children to the new ‘Gospel Project’.

It might take a bit of time, and people would have to be very, very ethical and fair in order to compare/contrast the two correctly,
but it might be an INTERESTING exercise.

And . . . if done well, it might bring some peace to those who are now troubled with concerns over ‘Calvinist indoctrination’ through the Gospel Project aimed at children.

(hint: it would also be a nice ‘assignment’ for a theology student)

13 dr. james willingham August 6, 2012 at 2:24 pm

What do you do, when one raises both hands?

14 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Dr. James,

That’s called a charismatic I think. :)

15 dr. james willingham August 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm


16 Darryl Hill August 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Les, you have a singular wit my friend. :-D

17 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Gotta give you that point, Les.

18 Chris Roberts August 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Accept their unconditional surrender?

19 Frank L. August 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Quite frankly, all this hand-raising makes me wonder if there is a Charismatic Conspiracy.

20 Clark Dunlap August 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm

So, I’m still wasting time trying to figure this out. Are we hearing fun made of the calvinists who will be dissappointed with the GP? Are we laughing (or supposed to be) at the non-calvinist who thinks the GP is too calvinist (which is as ludicrous as the first but for different reasons.)?
Are we laughing at Ed Stetzer, Danny Akin, etc. these paragons of Baptist Reformed theology? (OK, a little sarcasm from me.)

You know, sometimes when I write a blog, I think about it a while before posting. Just saying. ;-)

21 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I’d like to create matching Ed Stetzer and Trevin Wax bobble-head dolls. Sell them at the convention.

22 Joshua Breland August 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Is this how you are going to buy votes for your next election?

23 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I will put it next to another return we received.


24 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

and what about those bobble heads Mr. Ed….???

25 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Really? A doll with a disproportionally large head?

Like I need that.


26 Dee August 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Being thoroughly honest here…I never used the materials except the scriptures they were supposedly based on. As teacher, I read the scriptures then let God take me from there or found other tapes or materials to challenge my students. As a student, I remember most fondly those teachers who cared enough to put personal touches in their teaching. Those who only taught from the book did not impact me and were quite forgettable. …just my experience and preference here…wondering if I am typical or just peculiar?

27 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 1:44 pm


I think the best teachers are the ones that aren’t slaves to the quarterly. And I think most of them are written in the hopes that many teachers will take a similar tract to yours….in other words taking the material and making it their own. Using the examples and illustrations when helpful and scrapping them when they are not.

Having said that…I will probably use a good portion of that which is already in The Gospel Project. It’s very well written and I appreciate the illustrations and recommendations.

Believe it or not my main goal with this post is to say in a satirical and catchy way that The Gospel Project is truly a wonderful material that I am proud for our church to go through.

28 Frank L. August 6, 2012 at 4:05 pm


All this talk about “teaching” and “theology” in regard to Sunday School literature betrays a problem much greater than Calvinism or the lack thereof.

Sunday School is not the “teaching” arm of the church. Theological knowledge is not the goal of the Sunday School–at least not as I have understood Southern Baptist Sunday School work through the years.

Sunday School is about evangelism. That’s why I am excited about the Gospel Project. If the GP turns out to be a “seminary course instructed by seminary wanna-be’s” it will reach the dust heap along with all the other such curricula.

I know it probably sounds heretical and certainly counter-intuitive, but I think “theological training” and Sunday School are mutually exclusive.

What I’m hoping is to see some people “embrace” the gospel through the Gospel Project–not debate it.

Also, Mike, I really think your satire was excellent.

29 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm


BTW, I almost edited out the Helen Keller quote… glad you liked that!


30 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

you should have at least used it as a platform to introduce her long-lost cousin Tim. You guys botched so many chances to drop the C-bomb.

31 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm

You are very right…

I guess we did not live up to the agenda that we never had. (Pardon the bad grammar.)


32 Alan Davis August 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Too funny!! Enjoyed this very much.

Alan Davis

33 Rick August 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm

If worse came to worse, all you SB guys could drop the tongue in cheek stuff and just read Calvin, then you’d have a better idea of what you’re all disagreeing over. What do you say?

34 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I’m really confused by this comment.

Am I being accused of not reading Calvin? Is this because Rick has somehow discovered that I got a B in Calvin and the Reformed Tradition? Actually I might have gotten a C in the class. But I did read all the Institutes. I promise.

35 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I haven’t read them, so I guess anyone who calls me a Calvinist will have to include an asterisk.

36 Bill Mac August 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I’ve read everything I can get my hands on of Calvin.

And Hobbes.

I don’t think I’ve read anything by John Calvin. Odd for a guy I supposedly worship.

37 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I am Hobbsian… always been.

38 Rick August 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Mike @ 34, the comment was not directed at you — but now that you bring it up …… And so you guys want to be taken seriously that you get Calvin when you joke about Hobbes and make it all about comics? really guys? and you want me to believe you get it when you try to make the point that there are similar points between him and Arminius? seriously? And that you supposedly worship him as though it’s fun to joke about idolatry? Is that as serious as it gets here?

39 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Good stuff Mike. I’m also glad it didn’t take you a week to hit the “post” button so that your concerns with the material could be known. :)


40 Chris Roberts August 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm


41 Joshua Breland August 6, 2012 at 6:43 pm

lol There is so much material to quote it must be taking a week to gather it all. ;)

42 Cathy M. August 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Good job! You actually got me to google “supralapsarianism”! I tried to read about it, but I thought my head might explode. This is why all you pastors make the big bucks. :) Mercy.

43 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm


You should have written a tirade against “Traditionalism” and said,

Coming tomorrow: Interview with Mike Leake wherein he will cite specific concerns with TGP curriculum,”

and then keep delaying it saying it’s coming tomorrow.

44 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

You know I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I understand how sometimes you have big plans and let the cat out of the bag a little early and something doesn’t come through.

I’ve done this a few times but it’s not a big deal b/c I’m not a big deal.

45 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm


When I read SBC Today’s article about The Gospel Project I was bothered that they had little to say and even less to back it up. When their updates on the delay came out, I just kept thinking: this is why you don’t write posts this way.

The delay is more of an unprofessionalism issue than anything else. Think “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

46 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I’m disappointed. I really am. If you want unity, satire and sarcasm is not the way to achieve it. You are making a mockery of a brother in Christ. If you want to disagree with him, fine; it is your right. Even if you have to wait a week to voice those disagreements in print, that should not be too much to ask. You will likely be spending eternity with him, after all.

But to scorn and belittle in this way is shameful behavior. If you want to widen the chasm between the Cs and Ts, keep this up, Voices. We must be above this kind of behavior or our witness is damaged – to ourselves and before God if to no one else.

Jim G.

47 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm


Brother I think you are taking this a little too seriously. I didn’t see Mike mocking anyone at all, much less anyone in particular. This seemed to be quite light-hearted and fun. Not mean spirited or anything.

I in fact wrote something today on my blog with what I see as the TRUE problems in this dialogue. But either side using some satire in a “not mean-spirited” way seems to lighten the mood. At least that’s my $0.02.


48 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hi Les,

I disagree. We are to avoid even the appearance of evil. We all know whom both he and you were mocking, as made plain by your comment that you were glad it didn’t take him a week to hit the “post” button. It’s a direct jab at what went on over at SBC Today in the past week.

This post and the comment stream are anything but light-hearted and fun for anyone who wants to see true unity and this issue .

Jim G.

49 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Jim G,

Point well taken on what I said about taking a week. My comment was in a particular reference. I apologize for that.

But Mike’s post, I didn’t see any particular reference.


50 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 3:29 pm

It’s a direct jab at what went on over at SBC Today in the past week.

I’ve been checking up on SBC Today and I think it’s a stretch to say that something “went on” over there. It looks like a post followed by a couple posts saying that something would be “going on.”

51 Smuschany August 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm

If we are to truly “avoid even the appearance of evil” as you say, then the original post in which you claim this is reacting to wrongly, should also be avoided as, in my opinion, it is a self-centered cry for attention, based on preconceived opinions (do you honestly believe that pastor did not know before hand that he intended on returning it when he ordered). That is just as un-Christian as you claim this post is. Time to put your money where your hands type and condemn that post as well as this one. Will you? Clock is ticking!

52 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 8:36 pm


So, now you know people’s motives? Are you a mind reader? have esp? How can you possibly know what the Pastor actually did? How can you possibly know his motives? Do you even know the Pastor, who wrote the post at SBC Today?


53 Smuschany August 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm

And how can you then assume that Bro Mike meant anything other than humor with this post. You cant have it both ways. Either Mike and SBCVoices meant this as an attack and dis-unity, or he did not. Can you read his mind and motives?

As for the pastor who wrote that piece at SBCToday, it is like asking Karl Marx to write a fair review of Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”, even if he agrees to try, you know he wont. If he was against Calvinism before hand, then to ask for the material, then to make a public proclamation of why he was returning it, is indeed wrong and poorly motivated. If his intentions were to review and tell what he found, fine, that is one thing. But to make a big deal about his “returning” the “Calvinist filth”, he is betraying his motives in writing that article. If you hate mushrooms, and order a Supreme Pizza which you know has mushrooms, then you have no business complaining that it has mushrooms and making a big deal about returning it. If on the other hand you want to review new Super Deluxe Supreme Pizza, and you go “BTW if you happen to hate mushrooms, you may want to avoid this pizza as they put a lot on” that is different. The author of the article in question did the first option, not the second option.

54 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 9:01 pm


I can read. I read Leake’s post and Tony’s post. I like humor. I love to laugh and make others laugh. But, as I READ the 2 posts, they both looked a lot like ridicule to me. I’m not guessing anyone’s motives. I am READING what is written. Big difference.

And, once again, do you know this Pastor? Do you really know how things went down?


55 Smuschany August 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm

David, Pastor Green claims that he and his senior pastor went into reviewing the GP making the assumption “this curriculum would take a systematic theological approach, would tackle tough issues and give Christians tools to use in sharing the Gospel in everyday life.” He then claims to be surprised by “The advisory council, many of the writers and much of the supplemental sources cited throughout are from people who are Calvinists or Reformed Theologians who teach at Reformed seminaries.” Given that the very blog that he allowed his original piece to be posted at has been warning about the “Calvinist influence” on the GP for months…Given that the members of the advisory council and the writers were available for review on Lifeway’s GP page; it is hard to believe that these two men went into reading this material without any knowledge of what they claim they found.

56 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm


As the author of this post I can tell you that ridiculing Pastor Green was not my intent. As Southern Baptists we make a great deal out of authorial intent. And I’ve said on here my intention. That is the authors intent. If it came across as ridicule then it’s either a fault of the author in communicating (a great possiblity) or it’s the fault of the reader. Because my intention was not ridicule but satire and to make a point about how tremendous and Gospel-centered this curriculum is.

57 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm


I asked did you have the SBC Today post by Bro. Green in mind when you wrote this post?

I will accept your word about not meaning to ridicule him, and those people, who may believe like him. But, it did come across as ridicule.


58 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Believe it or not this isn’t a response to the guy sending it back. It’s a way of using satire to say The Gospel Project is really good and Christ-centered literature and it’s a shame if it gets lost in a tired debate.

59 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Then why not just say “The GP is really good”, etc. Why not extol the virtues of the GP rather than using the “sending it back” paradigm?

It’s still poor taste, no matter how you spin it.

Jim G.

60 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Yeah, I struggled with that same question myself. At the end of the day, and after seeking counsel, I determined that the most effective way to promote TGP and be heard was to use satire.

Perhaps, it was unwise. Or poor taste. Like I said that was a fear of mine but my conscience isn’t condemning me at this point.

61 Darryl Hill August 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Jim, I don’t believe this article was in direct reference to the article posted on the SBCToday. I think I saw a response here that referenced it, but not the original article. I understand your reaction though.

I will give props here, though, that there are specific examples cited, even if tongue-in-cheek. The article which you think this is making fun of made a statement about calvinistic indoctrination and overt references to calvinism but then gave ZERO examples. He even said the whole experience left him in shock for days. That article was originally posted back in mid-July and no examples were EVER given on that brother’s web-site. And as yet, we still haven’t seen any specific examples. Is that appropriate? Accusations without multiple witnesses and without evidence is not Scriptural at all. We are told not to even entertain an accusation against an elder which is not brought by multiple witnesses.

I’m starting to think that the reference to John Piper in the material, which was also referenced here, is among the “overt” attempts to indoctrinate people to calvinism. I’ve looked through 4 sessions and haven’t seen anything that would be described that way.

62 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Jim, I might point out that there are biblical examples, in the prophets mostly, where God employs sarcasm to make a point.

63 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I’m aware of that, Dave. We’re not God.

Jim G.

64 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

While I think satire can be done poorly and is dangerous and honestly makes me uncomfortable, I don’t think saying “we’re not God” is really a good argument. Dave could have said God uses parables. I doubt you’d have said “we aren’t God” in response.

65 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm


The fact that God used satire isn’t a good argument either. I responded in kind. God used satire in the prophets to help people see that they were transgressing his law and needed to repent.

This post, whether you feel convicted about it or not, uses satire to affirm the worth of a Sunday School curriculum less than a week after another blog ran a very highly commented post (by some of the very same people commenting on this post) by a pastor who did not give specific reasons for returning that exact curriculum. A second post was promised that has not yet come. That has ruffled some feathers.

Now, it does not follow that because God used satire to lead Israel to repentance we are free to use it to (from my point of view and this is how it came across at first reading) belittle those with whom we disagree. I know you said that was not your intent and I believe you. But even you must admit it can be taken that way, given the intense nature of the debate within the SBC.

Jim G.

66 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Jim, I wonder if you would be as offended if you agreed with the post.

Can you point to a place where you confronted someone for using humor to make a point you agreed with?

67 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Unless you consider it “belittling” to disagree with someone, I think you are making a false accusation against Mike when you say he belittled anyone.

That is, in my mind, a totally unfair accusation against Mike.

68 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Why attack my motives, Dave? And why deflect my point?

I told Mike I believed him, so I am no longer making the accusation. But he HAS to be able to see how this post could be taken. Am I honestly the only person who sees a connection between satirizing returning the GP because of supposed “Calvinist indoctrination” and someone who in real life said he would do just that less than a week ago in a very public setting? Do you really think that the use of such satire as a literary device does not belittle those who have a gripe against the GP? Do you not see how this can be taken?

This does not promote unity, unless unity is a laugh at the expense of those who disagree with you.

Jim G.

69 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Maybe it is a sign that my sanctification is unfinished, but I love satire. I didn’t see the post as mean spirited, though I will grant that that tends to be in the eye of the beholder.

I thought Mike made a good point powerfully, without belittling anyone. On the other hand, some of the comments have been a little more pointed.

70 Jared Moore August 6, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Jim, it blows my mind that you’re defending SBC Today from this article, but I’ve seen no defense from you for the editors and authors of The Gospel Project due to the article posted at SBC Today. I see a double-standard.

71 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Folks, if you want to discuss the virtues or failings of another blog. I’ve always thought it was cowardly when boo-birds on other blogs take pot-shots at us.

I want us to have a higher ethical standard than those blogs.

I think this is under Jared’s comment, but it is meant mire generally. If you want to criticise another blog, go there to do it.

72 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 3:46 pm

We write articles critical of the actions of government, the Convention, its leaders and programs. We even write articles critical of other articles on other blogs. Is it really unethical write something critical about something another blog did (or didn’t do)? If so, would we be obligated to ask the other blog to post our rebuttal on their webpage before we post it here?

73 Jim G. August 6, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Check your glasses, particularly your bifocals.

I’m not defending any blog. I’m saying this sarcasm is in poor taste because it belittles those who choose not to use the GP. I’ve given my own take on the GP, at least what I have seen of it (what was made freely available a while back – one moth’s worth, I believe). I’m not a double-standard kind of guy.

Jim G.

74 Chris Roberts August 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm


How does it belittle those who choose not to use the material? I don’t see anything that hints at that. What it does is poke fun at the idea that the material contains Calvinist indoctrination.

75 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm

Brothers and sisters,

I saw a piece a few days ago at The Gospel Coalition about Wales, and what God is doing there. Wales has a great Christian history and has had some of the most amazing true revivals anywhere. I encourage all to read this short piece.

Two short excerpts speak volumes:

Essential differences in politics, culture, and language have resulted in a distinct history of the gospel in Wales compared to its dominant neighbor, England. For example, John Wesley’s inability to speak Welsh meant that he largely delegated evangelism of the country to native speakers. As a result, the 18th-century Methodist Revival in Wales, under the preaching of men like Daniel Rowland and Howell Harris, took on a far more Calvinistic flavor than in England.

Indeed, Calvinistic Methodism largely underpinned the remarkable history of spiritual awakenings from 1735 to 1905 that led to Wales being dubbed the Land of Revival. So “reformed” theology in Wales, unlike elsewhere in the British Isles, never generally adopted a cessationist position regarding spiritual gifts. So Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, though widely held to be the greatest Welsh (and British) preacher of the 20th century, was often considered “quirky” in his views on the Holy Spirit from an English reformed perspective—but not so in Wales. (Incidentally, like St. Illtud, Martyn Lloyd-Jones first ministered the gospel just a few miles down the coast from WEST—though in the opposite direction, at Sandfields, Port Talbot).


But there is good news amid the gloom! Since 2000, evangelical church attendance in the UK has steadily risen, with many congregations thriving and growing. Moreover, Bible-centered believers in Jesus Christ increasingly recognize that the situation is too grim to allow non-essential issues to divide them. As a result, new gospel church partnerships are springing up, with training and church planting high on their agenda.

Now I don’t point this out to say that Calvinism was the difference. But rather to point out that then and now the Welsh churches recognized “that the situation is too grim to allow non-essential issues to divide them.”

Cals and Trads preach the same gospel. While these debates rage, where is genuine revival?


76 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Oops on the blockquote thing.

77 Jennifer August 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I’m dying laughing here. As some others pointed out, I’m happy to read examples of what is in the curriculum. It just doesn’t sound like some vast Calvinist-wing conspiracy to me.

78 Greg Harvey August 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Are Calvinist wings like Buffalo wings? What flavors of sauces do you dip them in? And did I just see Ed Stetzer eating some? Were they any good? I’m sure glad you can order them from LifeWay!!

79 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm

With Calvinist wings, the flavor is chosen for you.

80 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I used to live in Buffalo… so, there you go. Proof.

81 Zack August 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm


Without commenting upon the substance of the post—since there are plenty here who are more interested in that than I—I wanted to applaud you on your sharp, well-written satire. This was fun piece to read.

82 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Thanks, I really appreciate the encouragement.

83 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm

It is well-deserved.

84 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Just because a bunch of Calvinists wrote it and edited it and advised in the creation of it does NOT mean that the Gospel Project will EVER reveal ANY sort of bias toward Calvinism WHATSOEVER.

ANYONE who would draw the RIDICULOUS conclusion that people who share a specific viewpoint toward theology working together to create theological literature would ACTUALLY allow their most DEEPLY held beliefs to reveal themselves through their creative writing efforts must be from ANOTHER PLANET because EVERYBODY knows that people do NOT write from their hearts, or out of their experiences or from their individual perspectives AT ALL. That NEVER happens when people write about God.

DUH! Why would people EVER make that assumption?

(Man, I love sarcasm.)

85 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

There is one big flaw in your comment here. You say, “their most DEEPLY held beliefs”. I think what unites this contributors is not the deeply held beliefs of Calvinism but the gospel and its implications for our lives. And that deeply held belief is stronger than their so-called adherence to Calvinism, their agenda is to promote the Bibles grand story of redemption through Christ. THAT is their most deeply held beliefs. And that is what ought to drive us to unity and support!

86 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

In fairness, it would be much easier to give this group the benefit of the doubt if they had foreseen this possible perception problem and included representation from the other half (at least) of the convention among the membership of their leadership team.

If, for example, in addition to the names that exist, I could also read the names Allen, Lemke, Yarnell, Patterson, Vines, Whitt, Hankins and Gaines, there would “no problemo” if you’ll pardon me for speaking in tongues.

Like my teenage son’s laundry pile, it just doesn’t pass the smell test.

87 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

So it’d be easier to give them the benefit of the doubt if they did nothing to cast doubt?

88 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Touche’…in such a case, I suppose there would be no doubt, of which to give them any kind of benefit. And yes, that’s what I want.

Remove all doubt about Calvinist leanings in The Gospel Project, or, and I have said this before as well, freely admit that it is indeed present, and just call it the Reformed Series.

The only thing that is unacceptable is to leave the “impression” that it might be trying to influence the denomination toward Calvinism without openly admitting such upfront, which leads to charges of a hidden theological agenda, ironically the very thing many are more than willing right now to believe of Calvinists anyway.

89 Frank L. August 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm


I’m generally sympathetic to your views, simply because I hate to see someone get hammered so badly.

However, you said, “”””Remove all doubt about Calvinist leanings in The Gospel Project, or, and I have said this before as well, freely admit that it is indeed present, and just call it the Reformed Series. “””””

To me–my personal opinion–this makes you look desperate. I’m not yet fully familiar with the GP (I’m going to order the preview pak), but I don’t see any evidence whatsoever that justifies calling it the “Reformed Series.”

90 Jason August 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm

I can understand this concern as there have been plenty of times where something didn’t “pass the smell test” with me either.

Now that some of the material is actually out, does it pass the see, read, and comprehend test?

I understand some reviewers have said no. I also understand some reviewers have said yes (even some non-calvinist ones). Without having read anything for myself, I wonder which is it?

91 hariette August 6, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Rick, do you really think that a group consisting of half “Arminian/traditionalist/modified traditionalists/semi-pelagian” writers and “Calvinists/4pt/4.9pt/Reformed” could possibly agree long enough on the time of day to write a curriculum that offers both sides of a position that is made of jello? C’mon, Rick. Seriously?

92 Casey August 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I would pay good money to hear this response re-enacted by a professional.

Max McLean?

93 John K August 6, 2012 at 4:28 pm

“ACTUALLY allow their most DEEPLY held beliefs to reveal themselves”

You mean:
There is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 8:5-6; Galatians 4:8-9).
God is three in one or a Trinity (Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19; John 14:16-17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Acts 2:32-33, John 10:30,17:11, 21; 1 Peter 1:2).
God is omniscient or “knows all things” (Acts 15:18; 1 John 3:20).
God is omnipotent or “all powerful” (Psalm 115:3; Revelation 19:6).
God is omnipresent or “present everywhere” (Jeremiah 23:23, 24; Psalm 139).
God is sovereign (Zechariah 9:14; 1 Timothy 6:15-16).
God is holy (1 Peter 1:15).
God is just or “righteous” (Psalm 19:9, 116:5, 145:17; Jeremiah 12:1).
God is love (1 John 4:8).
God is true (Romans 3:4; John 14:6).
God is spirit (John 4:24).
God is the creator of everything that exists (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 44:24).
God is infinite and eternal. He has always been God (Psalm 90:2; Genesis 21:33; Acts 17:24).
God is immutable. He does not change (James 1:17; Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 46:9-10).

The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Corinthians 2:11-12; 2 Corinthians 13:14).
Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1, 14, 10:30-33, 20:28; Colossians 2:9; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 1:8).
Jesus became a man (Philippians 2:1-11).
Jesus is fully God and fully man (Colossians 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 4:15; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus was sinless (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6; Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22).
Man was created by God in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
All people have sinned (Romans 3:23, 5:12).
Death came into the world through Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12-15).
Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).
Jesus died for the sins of each and every person in the world (1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus’ death was a substitutionary sacrifice. He died and paid the price for our sins, so that we might live. (1 Peter 2:24; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).
Jesus resurrected from the dead in physical form (John 2:19-21).
Salvation is a free gift of God (Romans 4:5, 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 1:8-10).
The Bible is the “inspired” or “God-breathed,” Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
Those who reject Jesus Christ, after they die, will go to hell forever (Revelation 20:11-15, 21:8).
Those who accept Jesus Christ, after they die, will live for eternity with Him (John 11:25, 26; 2 Corinthians 5:6).
Hell is a place of punishment (Matthew 25:41, 46; Revelation 19:20).
Hell is eternal (Matthew 25:46).
There will be a rapture of the church (Matthew 24:30-36, 40-41; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
Jesus will return to the earth (Acts 1:11).
Christians will be raised from the dead when Jesus returns (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
There will be a final judgment (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Peter 3:7).
Satan will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
God will create a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1).

(Man, I love God.)

94 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm

John K,

I believe all of that. So do Presbyterians, Methodists and Evangelical Free churches, none of which print Sunday School literature I would support.

What we’re working on here is the absence or presence of specific theological bias WITHIN Southern Baptist literature.

95 John K August 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm

But your statement is about “most DEEPLY held beliefs”. In your sarcasm you are stating if I read you correctly it appears you say that Calvinist hold Calvin higher than God.

And if that is the case you are clearly saying Calvinist adhere to a different God than Baptist, Presbyterians, Methodists and Evangelical Free churches.

96 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

John K,

You are not reading me correctly. I’m not saying any of that. I do not believe Calvinists hold Calvin higher than God. I do not believe Calvinists adhere to a different God than Baptists, Presbyterians, etc.

If it helps, remove the word “most.” The point was not to contrast their faith in Calvinist theology with their faith in Christianity generally. It was simply to point out that when people believe things strongly, it shows up in their writing, which makes complete sense to me, to the point that I would even be disappointed if someone did not write based on their deeply held beliefs, even if they were not their MOST deeply held beliefs.

97 John K August 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Just wanted you to to know that the list of over 40 deeply held beliefs of any Calvinist way before calvinism is even considered, is more in perspective of placing truth to your sarcasm and the list could have been much longer. Maybe if folks stop with caricatures of Calvinist unity would follow. Just a thought I hope you consider.

98 Les Prouty August 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm


“What we’re working on here is the absence or presence of specific theological bias WITHIN Southern Baptist literature.”

So, if there could be no Calvinistic, would that not mean there is therefore a non-Calvinistic bias? I mean, what alternative is there?

Or, would you propose a ratio on biases even in the materials printed by Lifeway? As in entity personnel?


99 Rick Patrick August 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm


Sure, a team of writers who are “balanced” theologically, rather than leaning in only one direction.

100 Ed Stetzer August 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I think you cut and paste there… that would get you banned from my blog.

101 Adam Harwood August 7, 2012 at 1:42 am

John K,

That is a well written list of theological statements. I noticed that one of them affirms general (or universal) atonement.

It reads, “Jesus died for the sins of each and every person in the world (1 John 2:2; 2 Corinthians 5:14; 1 Peter 2:24).”

I affirm general atonement but understand why my brothers think I have misread the Bible.



102 Bill Mac August 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I don’t think I agree with Jim about this post. I think this type of humor can reveal the weaknesses of an argument if used fairly.

However in my experience Jim is fair minded and willing to engage in these debates without all of the bad arguments and low tactics that we decry from many of those on the non-Calvinist side (and they decry from us). I think criticisms from him ought to be taken seriously, even if ultimately we disagree.

103 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Here is another example of “unity?” Not. Once again, Voices is showing that they choose to ridicule, instead of promote unity. And, this is ridicule of the Pastor, who wrote the post at SBC Today…plain and simple ridicule.



104 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm

And, what makes it worse, is to see a high ranking employee of Lifeway join in…..


105 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm


How much of The Gospel Project have you read?

106 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm


I have read none of it. What does that matter? I’m not extolling the virtues of the GP, nor am I saying that it’s a bad, terrible thing. So, what does it matter if I’ve read it, or not?

I did read this post by Mike Leake, and the other one by Tony Kummer…..and, they are ridiculing fellow Believers, who believe differently than they do.


107 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Thanks for reading the post David. It’s the risk I took with satire but my motives were not to ridicule by any means. Now, I will be the first to admit that I think not judging The Gospel Project on its own merits is ludicrous and I’m saddened that such a great curriculum is not celebrated but is instead questioned because of a tired argument. The fact that we see men like D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler, and a host of others on the advisory council as “Calvinists” and not faithful teachers of the gospel is really sad.

So, there is one sense in which I am using satire to point out how horribly wrong it is that we are judging everything through the lens of Calvinism and non-Calvinism. But it’s point is not to ridicule or to single out one person. It’s to promote the Gospel Project as a Christ-centered curriculum that should be judged on its own merits and not in light of this silly argument.

108 Frank August 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Maybe I am missing something . . .

There have been several defenses of the use of satire, even calling it “God’s way” in one post.

Then, these same people take offense when it is pointed out that satire “belittle’s” the opponents.

You can’t have it both ways: the whole point of satire is to “belittle.”

Was it clever? Yes. Was it well written. Yes. Was it true? Seems so. Did it belittle opposing views? Yes, that’s the point of satire.

It is is also the reason I’m going to confess for enjoying it. I think it hit the nail on the head, but it was the head of brothers and sisters in Christ, so maybe “funny, cute, truthful, and belittling” do not serve the purpose of unity all that well.

109 Darryl Hill August 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm

David, there is nothing in the original post up there that even mentions the article over at SBCToday. But there have been multiple accusations against the GP curriculum, without a shred of proof.

There is one way I know to stop anyone from making satire out of your comments, though. Produce some kind of actual evidence of the accusations.

And as for the “coming interview” over on SBCToday which contains evidence of “calvinistic indoctrination,” “overt examples of calvinism,” and things which would make a pastor to fall into “shock for several days” I am waiting patiently for a full week now. When added to the total amount of time that this pastor’s accusations have now been online without any actual examples cited, we’re at 3 weeks and counting.

And as for what Bro Ed has added here, he is far from “joining in” on any “ridicule” here. But I tell you this David- you pour your heart and soul into making a quality product to help further the Kingdom of God and then have it dismissed as “calvinistic indoctrination” and see if it bothers you. How would you react? It seems Bro. Ed is taking it in stride and has not taken any cheap shots here.

110 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm


I have written no posts concerning the GP at SBC Today, or anywhere else. I am waiting to see about the GP. I have said that I’ve been scratching my head over the need to have EVERY person on the Advisory Council to be a Calvinist. Thus, it absolutely did make me wonder about the GP. But, I’m still taking a wait and see attitude. So, I dont know what you’re talking about.

I believe that this post is clearly a spoof of the post written at SBC Today by the Pastor, who sent the GP back. Mike Leake, can you tell us whether you had the SBC Today post by the Pastor, who returned the material, in mind when you wrote this? Did you write this post without any thought whatsoever about the post at SBC Today?

Darryl, Ed Stetzer did join in the “Atta boy” fun in this comment thread. It’s all above for you to read.


111 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Did I write this as an intentional spoof of the one at SBCToday? Absolutely not. Did I have that in mind? I would say yes. What I mean is that when I received our copies of TGP I went through it to see how well it was going to fit. I was aware that some pastor was sending it back and all the hoopla before anyone had even read it. I couldn’t find anything overly Calvinistic in there. I just saw a solid gospel-centered curriculum that I was really excited about.

I wanted to write on how wonderful it was and how its very Christ-centered. I had two ideas one was to just say, “wow this super curriculum”. The other was to pretend to be a disappointed Calvinist. It seemed high risk/high reward. But after seeking counsel from a few people I decided on the latter.

That’s it. No intentional of ridicule though I really don’t see the Calvinist takeover in the GP. But I’m reading with diff eyes.

112 Darryl Hill August 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

David, you didn’t say he joined in with the “atta boy fun” above. What you said just above was, “Voices is showing that they choose to ridicule, instead of promote unity. And, this is ridicule of the Pastor, who wrote the post at SBC Today…plain and simple ridicule.” And then you followed up with, “And, what makes it worse, is to see a high ranking employee of Lifeway join in…..” and that was referring to Ed Stetzer.

I rightly pointed out that Ed Stetzer did not ridicule anyone here, and that is true. After I pointed that out, you retreated to the position: “Ed Stetzer did join in the “Atta boy” fun in this comment thread.” That’s quite a bit different from plain and simple ridicule. So yes, he made a few jokes. He was having fun with this topic. I guess it’s either that, maybe he could cry about it, or possibly he could do what has been done to him and attack back. He decided to have fun with it and I think that’s just fine.

113 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 5:59 pm

David, you are always welcome here, but if all you want to do is insult me and this blog, your opinion has been registered.

114 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 6:56 pm


My comments were not about you, personally. They are about Voices, and all who contribute to it. And, I find it interesting that I’m scolded for my comments, but the 2, ridiculing blog posts were “patted on the back.”


115 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm

David, the commitment to “unity” is mine personally. Other contributors have other agendas.

116 Bill Mac August 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm

David: SBCToday is the site that has “unity” in its purpose statement, not SBC Voices. How unified are things over there right now? You are for unity aren’t you? And yet I have seen plenty of virtual raspberries, ridicule, sarcasm and hyperbole come from you over the years. And even so, I don’t doubt your sincerity in wanting unity. You may not want to admit it, but there is more diversity of opinion at the post level on this site than any other SBC site in the blogosphere. You can’t keep crying “unity foul” everytime someone posts something you disagree with. This is not the official blog of the 2nd VP.

117 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Bill Mac,

I have seen many cries of unity in this blog by many different post writers and commenters. I’m not talking about Dave, personally.

I’m not crying foul over everything that someone writes that I dont agree with. I’m writiing about the last 2 posts being ridicule…..

Now, spin it however you want to.


118 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I think everyone needs to realize what a serious, focused person Mike is.

Mike in business casual attire.

119 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 7:11 pm

and that my friends is how we do Amazing Wonders Aviation at FB Jasper. That right there is Hank and Ernie Wrong two bumbling idiots trying to take flight and needing the kids help to do it. LOL.

120 Dave Miller August 6, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Shin guards?

121 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm


122 Andrew Wencl August 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

So the VBS material is Calvinist indoctrination too!?!? ;-)

123 Joshua Breland August 6, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Just when I thought the seas had calmed…MORE RIDICULE! This time, friendly fire ridicule which is still unacceptable. :)

P.S. That’s a pretty awful get-up.

124 Ken Hamrick August 6, 2012 at 7:18 pm

Whatever happened to the good ole days in the SBC when the majority of non-Calvinists got along well with the Calvinists, because both groups acknowledged that God is ultimately in control of the destinies of men? Sure, the non-Calvinists insisted that men do exercise free will in the salvation decision, but their unwavering spiritual conviction was that both principles are Biblically true regardless of whether or not they were able to philosophically explain exactly how the two work together. That humble willingness to accept the mysterious workings of a sovereign God as antinomy enabled both groups to get along very well.

The current anaphylactic reaction to Calvinism is a result of giving up the principle that God has the “Master choice” (as Tozer called it) in the destinies of men. The relatively new breed of Southern Baptist non-Calvinists, who reject that principle that has for so long held the convention together, cannot help but be repulsed by all things Calvinist. Preferred labels aside, the real struggle now is between determinists and libertarians. And while the supposed militant aggressiveness of the “New Calvinists” may have ignited the current controversy, the new libertarians are responding with equal aggression. As this view gains strength, the prospect of continued cooperation begins to look like a thing of the past.

125 volfan007 August 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm


I’m all for the cooperation that used to exist between Calvinists and non-Calvinists….when disagreement didnt lead to division….didnt lead to people being called heretics….didnt lead to being accused of not preaching the true Gospel. Yes, I’d love for us to go back to the unity that used to exist….when the only ones stirring up division were the Founders trying to convert the SBC one church at a time.


126 Ken Hamrick August 6, 2012 at 7:32 pm


Only libertarians would feel threatened by Calvinists wanting to “convert churches.” As a centrist, I understand that the Biblical truth is in the middle, and the truth is in no danger of being taken over by the extremes—as proven by the wisely constructed BF&M.

127 volfan007 August 7, 2012 at 9:40 am

lol…oh me.

128 Jason Harris August 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Wear shin guards and all your wildest dreams will come true!

129 Smuschany August 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

As a fellow HLG Alum, I just have to give you mad props for the part about Dr. Bergen. The fact that GP quotes him makes me want to read this curriculum even more! Great man of God! And great abuser of briefcases and desktops!

130 Mike Leake August 6, 2012 at 9:15 pm

LOL. Absolutely an abuser of briefcases and desktops. When did u graduate HLG? Or I guess HLGU now.

131 Smuschany August 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

2006, with a BA History. Unfortunately during my time there, I was…I hate to admit it…a nuttzo WoF guy…It was only in the last few months in talking with a few of the guys there in Nun-Cook, that I saw the light and went baptist…and reformed…AHH more proof that not only Dr. Bergen but HLG as a whole are apart of the Vast Calvinist Wing Take-Over Conspiracy! HAHA!

Seriously though, I really wish I could go back and do my time over there, so much I missed out on. Though it is my personal hope that I could go back and teach History there after my PhD. Hopefully by then they can expand to taking on a third History Prof!!

132 Bruce H. August 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I actually read every word of this post, sorry Dave.

133 Lasaro Flores August 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm

You know, brethren, I learned from own experience that the Doctrines of Grace DO NOT have to be called “Calvinism,” or even referred to as Reformed theology. After I was converted, most what I believe doctrinally was what most Southern Baptists taught; and of course, it was Arminian, even before I knew anything about Arminianism or Calvinism. For a few years, this is what I believed, i.e. free will, sinners do the choosing to be saved, that sinners have the ability to make a decision on their own to be saved, that sinners can resist the Holy Spirit to the point of not being saved; and all the other doctrines that the so-called “traditionalists” claim that all of these doctrine have been Southern Baptist from the beginning. But guess what happen? As I study the Word of God, even using Southern Baptist material, I began to notice that much of the “common doctrines” that were taught by Southern Baptists, especially with respect to salvation, just did not concord with the Holy Scriptures. I began to see that what are called the Doctrines of Grace were in the Bible EVEN BEFORE I knew anything about Calvinism and/or Arminianism. In fact, I resign my pastorate because I felt that the doctrines I had learned and believed on my own study from the Bible were not the doctrines that I heard from the pulpit or the literature we studied. I thought I was dishonest to the church and the denomination for believing the Doctrines of Grace; and that I should no longer be the pastor of a Southern Baptist church. You see, in order to differentiate what had transpired doctrinally to me, I had become a “Calvinist” simply on the basis of God’s Word. But then, I began to do my own research with respect to Calvinism and the history of Southern Baptists; and again, guess what? I was actually more of a true Southern Baptist than the Southern Baptists of today! Nobody, i.e. man, had to make me a “Calvinist,” God’s Word did it! I can drop the name “Calvinism” from the soteriology I believe now, and I will still believe them simply because that is what the Word of God teaches. To reject them, not only will I put my soul in danger, but I would be a falsifier to not preach them. I believe with all of my heart that if any sincere believer of the Lord Jesus Christ would submit to God’s Word, even if it contradicts “their” doctrines, they will humbly accept these glorious doctrine of “the gospel of the grace of God,” not because Calvin taught them, but because God teaches them in His inerrant and infallible Word, that is settled forever and is immutable, just as God Himself changes not. Why? Because these doctrine are the only ones that put proud and carnal man with his face on the dirt and gives ALL; and I mean, ALL THE GLORY TO HIM, who reigns from on high and will have mercy and compassion on whom He will; and man CANNOT do anything about it! That is the God who ALONE by His Grace ALONE through Faith ALONE in Christ Jesus ALONE saves anyone of us if He so wills. Hallelujah and Amen.

134 Dale Pugh August 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm

So, Lasaro, are you of the opinion that the Gospel is Calvinism and Calvinism is the Gospel? You believe that each point of Calvinism must be adhered to, I take it. That seems to be the basic theme of your comment, but I don’t wish to put words in your mouth.
May I ask if there are any points of Calvinism, any of the doctrines you espouse, which are not absolutely essential to the appropriate Christian position? If so, what might those more arbitrary beliefs be?
Also, as a Christian who does not agree with all that Calvinism teaches, I take it that I am insincere, putting my soul in danger (and by association also the souls of those to whom I minister), a falsifier, and lacking submission to the inerrant and infallible Word of God. Taking your statement to its most logical conclusion I must also be a person who does not seek to glorify God, but rather I seek to glorify myself since I do not agree with Calvinism at every point. Would that be a fair assertion of your position towards me and any others who might disagree with you at certain points in your Calvinism?
By the way, I’ve never met a true Southern Baptist Arminian. Never. There are those (myself included) who have points of agreement with both Calvinism and Arminianism, but not one Southern Baptist I have ever known could be labeled a true Arminian Maybe you have a different definition of Arminianism than the classic, historical definition.

135 Rick August 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm

You glorify yourself not because you don’t agree with Calvinism; (it’s more likely that you don’t really understand it. If you have “points of agreement with the two” there is some element of each or both that you don’t understand. They are diametrically opposed to each other theologically). You glorify yourself if you think you came to God of your own free will or by some work, or by your decision to come, or by what you accomplished instead of by his grace.

“I take it that I am insincere, putting my soul in danger (and by association also the souls of those to whom I minister), a falsifier, and lacking submission to the inerrant and infallible Word of God.” Not necessarily but you sound arrogant and unteachable.

“I’ve never met a true Southern Baptist Arminian. Never. There are those (myself included) who have points of agreement with both Calvinism and Arminianism, but not one Southern Baptist I have ever known could be labeled a true Arminian.” — This pretty much says it all. I really believe this is the problem with the SBC… there are too many folks who don’t get the distinctions.

136 Dale Pugh August 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm

I believe, Rick, that you and I would likely disagree on more than just this issue. I wasn’t attacking Lasaro, but I was definitely asking some pointed questions.
Arrogant? Unteachable? I guess I’ll have to mull those over.
I think what says it all is your first paragraph–The typical “you just don’t understand it or you would agree with it” approach. Right. If I just understood the Bible then I’d think like you. And I’M arrogant and unteachable????

137 Dale Pugh August 7, 2012 at 7:46 am

Insecurity is the least of my weaknesses, though I will admit to being a sinner. My response to you proves nothing except that I’m indignant and incredulous at the kind of attitude that you display. I’m also indignant and incredulous at the kind of statement that Lasaro makes. Neither of you can see the fallacy in your own thinking, but then you have it all worked out. Good for you.
If you want to jump in and start throwing around unfounded accusations that someone “sounds” a certain way or “is” a certain way then be my guest. I can handle it. There are probably several other people on here who can handle it. Go ahead. Have at it. But don’t expect a substantive discussion. You show an inability to speak to the issues. Therefore, you feel you should take the approach that a personal assessment of another’s character is in order. That isn’t the way to make a statement.

138 Chris Roberts August 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm


Not to jump in, but I wanted to ask about the Arminian distinction. As I understand it, the only point that really distinguishes most Southern Baptists from an Arminian soteriology is on the issue of security. Most Arminians today don’t believe in security, whereas almost all Southern Baptists (and all who affirm the BF&M) do. But in his book “Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities” Roger Olson notes that the original, classical, historical Arminians – including Arminius himself – took a neutral stance on that issue. The original fifth Remonstrance basically said “we don’t know, we need to study this more.” That being the case, classical Arminianism as defined by Arminian Roger Olson can include both those who affirm and those who reject eternal security. This is why Olson himself has said that most Southern Baptists (including the book Whosoever Will) are Arminian in the classical sense. See, for example, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2010/09/a-good-new-non-arminian-arminian-book/

139 Dale Pugh August 6, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Yes, I’ve read his book. Of course, in Rick’s world (since I’m both arrogant and unteachable), I probably don’t have much in the way of reading comprehension. That being said, I would agree with you and Olson. My comment to Lasaro was a challenge to the “Calvinism is the Gospel” drivel that gets tossed around, which, by the way, I’ve never read from you. It would seem to me that, in Southern Baptist circles, the assurance issue would be a settled statement. I do understand that classic Arminianism would take the “we don’t know” approach. I’d say that most Southern Baptists “know”, thus, my distinction.

140 Dale Pugh August 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Oh, and let me add that, unlike Rick, I don’t see Arminianism and Calvinism as “diametrically opposed.” I believe that Olson makes that point in his book. I don’t have it in front of me to find the exact spot where he says that.

141 Chris Roberts August 6, 2012 at 11:21 pm


First I confess that I ignored most of the rest of the discussion; your comments about SBC’ers not being Arminian is what caught my eye, so what I said had no reference to anything else said by anyone else.

“It would seem to me that, in Southern Baptist circles, the assurance issue would be a settled statement.”

That’s the only difference I’ve been able to see. Where classical Arminianism leaves it open, Southern Baptists hold a definite opinion. But then I look at something like Wesleyanism which believes salvation can be lost, yet they are considered Arminian, so a definite opinion on security does not in itself invalidate the comparison. A while back over on SBC Today, a post was offered (I think by Lemke) to try and note ways that Southern Baptists are not Arminian, but I think he really strayed too far from what is in view. He noted various ways that SBC’ers differ from some who have been Arminians, though most of his discussion had little to do with soteriology. If I were to apply similar reasoning to the Calvinist label, then I wouldn’t be a Calvinist, since I’ve clearly disagreed with Calvin and other historical Calvinists on other issues. But since the labels are typically used with particular reference to soteriology, the Calvinist label fits me. I think that for whatever reason, many in the SBC simply dislike certain labels, no matter how well they fit, and thus argue against their use.

“I don’t see Arminianism and Calvinism as ‘diametrically opposed.’”

It would depend on what he means. There is much common between the two views yet I do think they are mutually exclusive: one cannot be both Arminian and Calvinist; they cannot both be right; etc. I do believe it’s possible for someone to believe a few points from this one and a few points from that one, yet I think such a person’s beliefs will be inconsistent. For instance, I know there are people who hold to four points of Calvinism, rejecting Limited Atonement. I know their convictions are genuine, yet I believe their conclusions are contradictory.

142 Rick August 7, 2012 at 1:51 am

I guess I should have added that you were insecure too Dale because I only wrote that you ‘sounded’ arrogant and unteachable; but thanks for proving that I actually had that right.

143 Dale Pugh August 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Sorry, man, didn’t mean to drag you into the above “conversation.” Yes, I see what you’re saying. And I would admit to being more prone to accept the Arminian label than the Calvinist label. I think Olson’s point was that Arminius was not attempting to refute Calvinism, per se. I’d have to look again at that section of the book to state it correctly. I suppose I see the distinctions as being based more on the qualifying characteristics of each view. Also, I don’t believe that Arminianism and Calvinism are the only two options available. The Reformation was way bigger than just those two viewpoints.

144 Rick August 7, 2012 at 2:03 am

The reply of the Synod of Dort to the heresies of Jacob Arminius were set forth as the TULIP acrostic. The responses were to show what Scripture actually taught as a response to the Arminian error. They are, as Dale stated correctly, mutually exclusive. It makes no theological sense to pick and choose parts of each over other parts of the opposing view. They both need to maintain their own 5 points to make any sense of the view. On rejecting limited atonement, even the Arminians reject unlimited atonement, on the correct assessment that not everyone is saved. They limit the atonement as much as the Calvinist does, just for different reasons. On irresistible grace, the Calvinist does not deny that we often resist grace; we only deny that we ultimately resist it if we are called to salvation by an almighty all powerful God.

145 Dale Pugh August 7, 2012 at 7:50 am

See Rick, you can make a substantive argument. Maybe we could have avoided all of the above had you just made your statement and moved on. Try doing that more often. And it was Chris who said that Arminianism and Calvinism are mutually exclusive, so unfortunately, I’m wrong again.

146 Dale Pugh August 7, 2012 at 8:24 am

By the way, Rick, I went over to your blog to get to know you a little better. I like your taste in music, brother. I also used to live in Bend. My wife is from the Madras area. I attended seminary in Portland at the satellite for Golden Gate. I pastored in Oregon for several years before moving back to Texas.
Arminianism is heresy? I wasn’t aware that the Synod of Dort made such distinctions for the whole of Christendom. Arminiansm and Calvinism are two distinctives within the Reformation, but obviously they aren’t the only two. How many points of belief in TULIP are essential to call one’s self a Calvinist? How many points of disagreement does it take to be in error or heretical? I’m interested in your distinctions here and I truly would like to comment with one another in a civil tone. I’ll admit to and apologize for my tone in our previous comments to one another. Please forgive me.

147 Donald August 7, 2012 at 1:16 am

prevenient grace is a biggie.

Note, at always, the biggest differences are hermeneutical. Even Calvinists at times come to right theological conclusions.

148 mike white August 7, 2012 at 9:35 am

you asked…
” How many points of belief in TULIP are essential to call one’s self a Calvinist? How many points of disagreement does it take to be in error or heretical?”
As to the first question, no one knows. All anyone has is an opinion. The label is not what is important.
As to the second question, it is not a matter of heresy. Since i believe all 5 points, whatever point you disbelieve is one where you are in error. But then of course, you would think I was the one in error. lol

149 volfan007 August 7, 2012 at 9:42 am


What you and others, who are into Augustinian Philosophy, just cant seem to get is that there’s a large group of us, Southern Baptists, out here, who are neither Arminians, or Calvinists. We do not go along with the Augustinian, philosophical frameword of systematic theology.


150 mike white August 7, 2012 at 9:54 am

David [volfan007],
What is your framework of theology?

151 volfan007 August 7, 2012 at 10:03 am


You wont like my answer, Brother. I’m not trying to be a smarty, or cute. But, I’m just a Biblicist. I follow what the Bible teaches. I do not try to make it fit into a deterministic framework. I try to let it just say what it says…without trying to make it fit into an Augustinian philosophical system like Arminianism and Calvinism. Or, if you dont like that I’ve called myself just a pure Biblicist….and BTW, by that I’m not saying that Calvinists and Arminians are not Bible centered….but, you could just call me a Baptist kind of Christian….because I believe that Baptists hold closer to the Bible than any other group, out there.


152 Ken Hamrick August 7, 2012 at 10:08 am


There’s also significant number of non-Arminian non-Calvinists who have no problem with Augustinian theology or unconditional election.

153 mike white August 7, 2012 at 10:15 am

What do you mean by deterministic framework?
And I think you must have some framework because there are some passages or verses that *seem* to contradict others. How do you handle those without any framework?

154 Ken Hamrick August 7, 2012 at 10:18 am


If you’re a Biblicist, then you’re a new Biblicist. I prefer to be an old Biblicist—one who is not disturbed by the Biblical truth that God is the ultimate determiner of the destinies of men, and one to whom Scripture is too important to sacrifice one revealed truth (God’s control) for another (man’s freedom) merely because I cannot find the solution to the seeming paradox.

155 Lasaro Flores August 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Dale, all I was doing was sharing my own experience in the way God reveal His glorious truths with respect to the Doctrines of Grace BEFORE I knew anything about Calvinism. As I said, from my conversion, all I knew was the “arminianistic” doctrines that were taught in Southern Baptist churches, i.e. free will, the ability of a sinner to make ‘a decision for Christ;’ and basically all the doctrines that opposed what are the ‘doctrines of grace.’ But God being pleased of His grace to teach me these glorious truths, that’s why I said that for me to reject them would be dangerous to my soul and I would be a falsifier for me not to preach them; for I believe what Paul exhorted Timothy: “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim.4:16). As far as saying that that the Gospel is Calvinism, or vice versa, perhaps I should be as bold as Spurgeon who said it, but if you recall, I said take the term Calvinism away from it, the Doctrines of Grace will still be true even if Calvin had not even existed.
Now, I will say this, because this happen to me, I was saved in Christ Jesus EVEN BEFORE I knew the Doctrines of Grace as I know them now. But it was due to the Free and Sovereign Grace of God that reached me where I was at, which taught me that even if a believer in Jesus Christ does not believe exactly as I do, because essentially what I heard in Southern Baptist churches was enough of the Gospel to be believed for one to be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, I found that even when the Doctrines of Grace are not preached as such, there is enough of their truths that God uses to save a sinner. You see, it is not the doctrines of themselves that save sinners ( for I would daresay that that there “Calvinists” that are not saved); but it is the Holy Spirit that brings sinners to regeneration , repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ (as in John 6:44, 65); for if He didn’t do it, no one would be saved! Therefore, I believe that the Doctrines of Grace are in effect because God applies them to the saving of a sinner, even when they are not preached as such by the preacher. That is why these doctrines are true; for in them the Absolute Sovereignty of God are manifested in the salvation of sinners, no matter what they believe at that moment. Sorry, I stopped for now; for I got too “long-winded.” For further discussions, my email is broflo@inbox.com or lasaro@allofgraceministries. net. God bless you, brother Dale, in Christ Jesus. Amen.

156 Mark August 7, 2012 at 8:32 am


I had not had a chance to comment as I was celebrating my anniversary!

Mike, your prose was brilliant! Well done.

Whether or not one agrees with the tone of the post, the evidence given should be enough to show that TGP is not a Calvinist indoctrination tool masquerading as Sunday School material.

157 Mike Leake August 7, 2012 at 9:22 am

Thanks, Mark and happy anniversary!

158 mike white August 7, 2012 at 9:52 am

As far as the ‘glorifying one’s self’ comments:
No one I know who professes Christ actually believes they glorify themselves or seeks to boast on themselves. I doubt that even the Pharisees of the Bible would think that way.

But what happens is that some people hold doctrines or beliefs that do not give all the glory to God because by their very nature the doctrines [and thus the people holding them] make salvation synergistic.

The basic idea of synergism is that God wants to save every person but by His own limiting of Himself [of His sovereignty], He has made it so He can only save the person who makes a free will choice for Him. And that those who reject Him, though God desires to save them, can not be saved, since God will not violate their free will.

Now when i say ‘free will’ here, it means Libertarian Free Will as opposed to the more generally accepted [by philosophers anyhow] of Compatabilistic Free Will.

159 Rick August 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Dale @ 146 — Thanks for the post Dale. As a graduate from Western in Portland, I struggled immensely with the Dispensational thrust of seminary, finally abandoning Dispensationalism for Amillennialism. That came at about the same time as my understanding that Western teaches the Arminian view of soteriology — and I shortly thereafter became a 5 pointer, seeing it as the most rational and complete perspective of Scripture, and addressing most comprehensively the whole of Scripture.

I knew that Chris had made the statement, and am not sure why, when I posted, I used your name, except that on occasion I am apt to make mis …. mista ….. mistak …. gosh it’s hard to say that word sometimes.

You said: “I wasn’t aware that the Synod of Dort made such distinctions for the whole of Christendom. Arminiansm and Calvinism are two distinctives within the Reformation, but obviously they aren’t the only two.” I’m not sure why you repeatedly take the stance that both points of view are equivalent Dale, but that is not correct. The Synod found the Arminian view to be in error theologically [i.e., heretical]. “a judgment, in which both, the true view agreeing with God’s word concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine is explained and, the false view [Arminianism] disagreeing with God’s Word is rejected.”

That was the basis for their TULIP response. The Wikipedia article is pretty sound historically, and it repeatedly categorizes the Arminian view as being in error. The Arminians were in protest of Reformed doctrine; they were not taking a favorable opposite point of view. This is why I mentioned earlier that you “do not understand” the distinction.

160 Rick August 7, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Dale — did you see this article I posted on my blog entitled, “Need Another Reason to Hate John Calvin?” This should be a fun read.

161 Mike Leake August 7, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Is it wrong for me to kindly ask you gentleman to take this discussion elsewhere. While it is discussing Calvinism it is saying little about the OP or The Gospel Project. I appreciate your civility in the discussion but it doesn’t belong in this particular thread.

162 Rick August 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Dale — my email address is twiliter@wbcable.net

163 Dale Pugh August 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

I’m done, Mike. Point taken.

164 Lasaro Flores August 7, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Sorry, Mike, for my comment with respect to Calvinism, which I took from your article about OP or the Gospel Project. As I read it, it made reference to Calvinism. All I wanted to do was share my own experience with these glorious truths as God dealt with me. Thank you and God bless you in Christ Jesus. Amen.

165 Mike Leake August 7, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Hey no problem. I was just not wanting to rehash another lengthy debate/discussion on Calvinism

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