Troublemakers in the SBC: Do We Want Unity or Division?

Only July 12, the New Orleans Baptist Association published a statement titled, Which Way Forward, Toward Unity or Division?” It can be read in its entirety by CLICKING HERE. I understand the need for unity and the desire for unity. As Christians, one would think that this would be a given. As the old saying goes, union is one thing; unity is another.

Reference is made in the article to J.D. Greear’s move in stepping down in the SBC presidential race to help lay a foundation for unity in the convention. The article stated, “This act sparked surprise, relief, gladness, and even celebration.  We witnessed an act of grace motivated by a desire for unity.” Dr. Greear’s decision was a gracious one and was without question one that helped avoid other potential problems. It must also be stated, Dr. Gaines was prepared to do the same thing for the sake of unity. Both of these men are to be commended for their humble response to what was a very difficult position to have been placed in.

The article acknowledges positive strides in their association toward racial reconciliation and then moves its focus to the divide related to the theological issues specifically tied to the rise of Calvinism in the SBC and the issues the state convention and its college, Lousiana College has faced in recent years. They acknowledge disappointment in attacks against certain agency heads in SBC entities: “we are troubled by the critical editorials in our state Baptist paper against SBC agency heads David Platt and Russell Moore.”

The article asks a pointed question and then makes a definitive statement: “Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?

Leaders lead.  What kind of qualities do we want our leaders to demonstrate?”

I want to address the question, “Do we want unity or division?”

How we answer that question certainly addresses the thrust of the article and the statement, “Leaders lead.”

I will address the issue from the “other side of the tracks” and speak to the issue of Troublemakers in the SBC. The perception is that those who LEAD are going to do so for the sake of unity while those who do not work toward unity are not leaders but in fact troublemakers.

There are two types of troublemakers. There are those who take the bull by the horns and seek to make tough changes to the status quo. This is what the reformed leaders of this Calvinist revival in the SBC have done and are continuing to do. While I do not agree with WHAT they have done, I applaud their successful efforts and even acknowledge that they have the RIGHT to do what they have done. I might argue rather successfully that their methods were underhanded as far as being forthright in their intentions from the onset… but that would have been horribly unsuccessful so if I were in their shoes I might have done the same thing.

These guys are rightfully troublemakers. So were the reformers of the past. That is not being critical it is actually complimentary, even though I do not like what they have done.

The other type troublemaker is the one who seeks to maintain the status quo. In the Conservative Resurgence both of these groups existed as well. The liberals did pretty much then what the Calvinists have done today with one exception; they were not as successful! The conservative camp did pretty much then what the non-calvinist camp is doing now with ONE KEY exception; they were successful while the non-calvinist camp today has not been.

In the CR, there were LEADERS/Troublemakers who stood up and spoke out and the liberal faction in the seminaries was pushed back. There were two key factors that came into play there. First, the liberal faction did not manage to gain control of the larger group of entities and I am not sure that was ever their intention and so their influence was still rather limited. This group was not “bunkered down” as well as the Calvinists of today are. I believe this group today learned some important lessons from the CR and those lessons have proven effective in the new CR, Calvinist Resurgence today.

There is one other issue that stands out as we compare the problems we face today as compared to the CR. Liberalism in Biblical theology was an easier topic to popularize than Calvinism is today. People could grasp it. 80% plus of the people in the pew in the SBC have no idea how to even spell Calvinism much less understand what it teaches. There is no sense of “urgency” in this struggle although those who understand the issues KNOW that this is every bit as important a theological issue as has ever existed in the SBC. While it is true that Calvinism has been in the SBC since its founding, it has never held the level of importance it has garnered in the last decade and its influence has never been more prevalent than what it holds today where the direction of the convention is concerned.

There is a vacuum of leadership willing to stand up and speak out today against this Calvinist Resurgence. This is what is so surprising where this issue of Calvinism is concerned. Some have suggested that the CR of the 80’s and 90’s took a lot out of people and there is no “fight left in a lot of folks.” Well, to ask for “fight” in Christians is sort of a tough expectation in the first place but as Solomon said, “There is a time for everything under the sun.” There seems to be a move within the MEGA church pastors to not want to “rock the boat” and to stay in good graces so to speak with the new power brokers of the SBC. Calvinism is just not an issue that is garnering much attention among those who have the clout to do what it would take to stop its continued influence. It just is what it is.

So who are the troublemakers in the SBC today? Are the troublemakers those who are working feverishly to change the SBC? Are the troublemakers those who are actively involved in reforming the SBC and moving it to a Calvinist Convention?

Are the troublemakers those who have finally woke up and realized what has happened under their noses where this Calvinist Resurgence has been concerned? Are the troublemakers of today the unifiers of yesterday who had no clue what the reformers were doing until this “lady” was eight and a half months pregnant before anyone even noticed and realized that “she” was about to give birth?

Calvinism is a real issue. It is a real issue for both sides. It is not going away. It is an issue for those seeking to move the SBC in that direction. It is not going away when the majority of the entities of the SBC are being led by men associated with the Mohler machine. This is not an idle cry; it is a bold faced fact. This has not simply “just happened” This is the “eight and a half month” reality that could not be hidden any longer.

Now, let’s go back to the initial quesiton, “Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?”

The answer to that quesion sadly is going to be this: it depends on which side of the Calvinist issue one is standing. If it is not a big issue then the answer is going to be “No; it is time to seek unity and let this Calvinist Resurgence continue.” Leaders will lead in that direction. Those who do not follow are the troublemakers.

For those who see Calvinism as an indictment against the character of God because it contends God and God alone decides who does and does not get into heaven and they see it as a faulty philosophical theological system that is every bit as dangerous or even moreso as the liberal faction of the 80’s and 90’s then you can expect their leaders to lead and those who do not follow are the troublemakers.

Do we want our Convention split in two? Do we want to continue to read editorials in our state Baptist paper critical of SBC agency presidents?  Do we want unity or division?

Leaders lead.  What kind of qualities do we want our leaders to demonstrate? Do we want unity or division?

The answer sadly depends on which side of the issue one is standing.

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The Crux of Calvinism

At the heart of Calvinism is an answer to a very simple question. Is a person saved BECAUSE he repents and by faith believes in the finished work of Christ on the cross or is a person saved so that he can THEN by faith repent and believe in the finished work of Christ on the cross?

Calvinism stands solidly on the latter. Calvinism contends that an individual who is lost has no capacity or ability to respond to the gospel message unless and until he is given new life at God’s sole initiative and the result of that initiative of grace on God’s part. At that point, the new born individual’s only response is one of repentance and believing faith. In this scenario, repentance and believing faith are in reality the new born’s first acts of sanctification.

The question must be asked, is repentance necessary for salvation? It is crystal clear that the Scripture establishes the fact that repentance brings forgiveness, which brings about conversion.

Notice what Peter said in Acts 11 when he recounted the event of the Holy Spirit falling on a group of gentiles: “17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” Peter did not say, “God gave them the same spirit that He gave us so that we COULD believe.” There is a major difference in these two concepts.

Consider the following passages of Scripture with respect to the importance of repentance to salvation, not salvation for repentance.

Acts 2:38 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.     We do NOT receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (which is essential to regeneration) before we repent; we repent and THEN receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 3 “19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,[a] 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Notice repentance comes before times of refreshing comes from the presence of the Lord. This alone would seem to negate the “regeneration prior to repentance position.

Romans 1:16 says, “the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes.” It does not say the gospel is the power of God unto salvation so that ALL may believe.” Salvation is the result of believing faith not the other way around.

Mark 1 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom[e] of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Acts 16  29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 3So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

John 3 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but[b] have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Confession comes BEFORE forgiveness which procedes new birth.

Rom 10:13   For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Paul did not write, everyone who is saved will call upon the Lord.”

Mark 16:16   Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Notice once again, believing precedes being saved.

Ro 10:9   Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. If one confesses, believes and repents he WILL be saved. We do not do these things BECAUSE we are saved.

Romans 10:10   “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved.”

Acts 2:21   And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

2 Cor 7:10   “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”    Repentance leads TO salvation, not the other way around.

John 1:12   “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Believing in Christ gives us the right to BECOME children of God. We do not become children of God and THEN believe.

 

Galatians 2:16   “16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

 

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A Response to Dr. Russ Moore’s Article, “2 Chronicles 7:14 Isn’t About American Politics”

Dr. Russell Moore has written an article titled “2 Chronicles 7:14 Isn’t About American Politics”. Moore’s article can be accessed by CLICKING HERE. In the article, he laments the use of this great text on patriotic holidays. He writes, “In so many sermons, the ‘people’ referred to in the passage are the American people, and the ‘land’ is the American land. The meaning of the text is understood as an invitation to 21st century America to ‘return to God’ and then enjoy God’s blessing once again.” I will agree with the statement that “people” is not a reference to the American people and “land” is not a reference to Americans. 2 Chronicles 7:14 was not written about American politics.

My disagreement comes in Moore’s next statement, “But the fact is 2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t talking about America or national identity or some generic sense of ‘revival.’ To apply the verse this way is, whatever one’s political ideology, theological liberalism.” I believe this text is probably one of the best references to revival in the Bible. Perhaps Moore’s criticism is part of this underlying current of criticism that American patriotism does not belong in the church. I disagree with that. The truth is, God did not ordain government and expect His people to remain insulated and isolated from it. Hope for America is not going to come from the White House; any hope or help is going to have to come from the church house.

While it is true 2 Chronicles was written to the people of the nation of Israel, one must remember God’s greater purpose for the nation was to be a light to the rest of the world. Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” With this I mind, the promise of God in 2 Chronicles is as applicable today as it was day it was written. One has to be careful in accepting Moore’s approach to this text because the same arguments can be made of all Scripture passages, including the Ten Commandments and the Great Commission. Jesus’ statements were made to Israel. Are we to dismiss those because they were addressed specifically to Israel as not applicable to the church today?

Here is the full text beginning at verse 12, “12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. 17 As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, and do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, 18 then I will establish the throne of your kingdom, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, ‘You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel.’

There are actually 2 promises made in this text. The first was to the people who would come to the temple to worship the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Verse 13 is an interesting verse. God knows that there will be times when He will bring judgment on His people because of their sin and rebellion. It is imperative that we understand that the primary purpose of this judgment is redemptive in nature. What is the redemptive remedy for this move on God’s part? Verse 12 gives us that answer. The truth is, God’s people, whether it be the nation of Israel in Solomon’s day or the church in our day, are all alike; we are rebellious more than we are righteous and God is still sending judgment to bring His people back to Him. Now, to try to make this text a message to America is one thing but to make it a message to the church in America is another. When the church in America turns to God in repentance, one of the benefits is its impact and influence in America or any nation where the church of God is planted.

In verse 17, God’s promise shifts from the people who come to the temple to worship Him to Solomon himself. God promised Solomon if he walked with God and keep His commandments, He would establish his throne forever as He had promised Solomon’s father, David. I believe the same is true of leaders today. Listen to the words David wrote in Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor  stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” When leaders look to God, God promises His provisions to those who are obedient to Him and seek to walk with Him. To argue that this is not applicable today, is a sad commentary.

The truth is, Christians are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. When our salt gets contaminated and our light contained, we need to turn to God and humble ourselves and pray and seek His face and turn from our wicked ways so that God in turn can hear our prayer from heaven and forgive our sin and in some manner begin a healing process for our land. Now that land may be our Jerusalem; it may be our Judea or Samaria and it may be beneficial to the uttermost parts of our world.

Moore makes a critical statement that itself is primarily baseless. He writes, “If we take this text and bypass the people of God, applying it to America in general or the Bible Belt in particular, as though our citizenship as Americans or Australians or Albanians is the foundation of the “covenant” God has made with us, the problem is not just that we are misinterpreting the text; the problem is that we are missing Christ.” While WHAT he says is correct, the implication is not because these messages are brought to the “people of God” (the church) by the men of God (the preachers). The messages, at least in most cases, are for the people of God to return to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to come into His manifold presence (which was what God expected from the children of Israel when they came to the Temple to worship with their presence and their offerings) because where God’s presence is, there are His power and His protection and His provisions. Now, God’s protection and His provisions are not to be measured in material things; these provisions may or may not be given to us according to our expectations but they are part of God’s promises to those who endeavor to walk with Him.

Let me end with Moore’s final statement, “He is the one who tells us who we are and tells us where we are going, because He’s promised us, in the short term, a cross on our backs, and in the long term, a crown of life.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 serves us as well today as it did in Solomon’s day because “My people” is a direct reference today to those who have been saved by God’s amazing grace and His marvelous mercy made available to us by faith in the finished work of Christ at Calvary.

 

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Louisiana College Elects 11th President, Dr. Rick Brewer

by Norm Miller

PINEVILLE, La. (LCNews)–Louisiana College trustees unanimously elected Dr Rick Brewer as its 11th president, March 5.

Brewer takes office at LC in Pineville on April 7, leaving his role as vice president of student affairs and athletics at Charleston Southern University, Charleston, S. Car., where he gained extensive senior-level administrative experience during his 28-year tenure there.

“God’s hand and external confirmation have been evident in bringing Cathy and me to Louisiana College,” Brewer said. “I am thankful that this new role found me. It was not even on my radar.”

Chairman of LC’s board of trustees and presidential search committee, Dr Tommy French, said, “When our search committee first read Dr Brewer’s resume, we believed he was God’s man for Louisiana College. Then after we met with him, we were convinced God sent him to us.”

“Louisiana College and Louisiana Baptists are blessed to have one whose multi-faceted credentials reflect stellar administration, studious academics, effective development, and an unswerving commitment to the advancement of God’s kingdom,” French said.

CSU president, Dr Jairy C. Hunter, said: “Dr Rick Brewer is a strong Christian leader with extensive experience in strategic planning and budgeting, enrollment management, student development, revenue development, athletics and Christian ministries.He has provided visionary and exemplary leadership for 28 years as a senior officer at Charleston Southern University.”

Born in New Orleans, where his father attended seminary, Brewer earned a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policies with cognates in Management and Higher Education Administration from the University of South Carolina, and an MBA and BS in History from Charleston Southern University.

He also completed post-graduate certifications at Harvard and Duke Universities.

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Administrative experience

While at CSU, Brewer helped envision a comprehensive, liberal arts campus environment, as well as lead initiatives to champion the significance of Christian higher education.

Brewer emphasized shared responsibility for the general administration for strategic planning, academic affairs, enrollment management, institutional advancement, external relations, financial management, legal affairs, student affairs, athletics, and technology.

He helped to double enrollment from 1600 to more that 3400 students, increase unrestricted giving and endowment support, and improve freshman retention from 50 to 78 percent.

Under Brewer’s leadership, the integration of planning, budgeting, and assessment with broad-based campus participation produced additional academic programs and facilities, including a state-of-the-art science building, athletic facility, and expansion of the School of Nursing building.

He served as director for external relations, assistant to the president, interim director of athletics; held vice presidential roles for planning, student affairs, and athletics; and was a member of the president’s cabinet since 1989.

Brewer was a SACS-COC QEP evaluator for a comprehensive, liberal arts university in 2011, and remains an evaluator for SACS-COC and the NCAA, having conducted both on- and off-site accreditation/certification assignments at several colleges and universities.

Academic accomplishments

“I have worked with Dr Rick Brewer for more than 25 years as a faculty member and colleague,” said Dr Linda Karges-Bone, CSU professor of Education. “His leadership style can be described as energetic, empowering, and empathetic. He applies both scholarly and spiritual gifts to moving individuals and organizations forward in a positive way, never losing sight of the value of each individual created in God’s image.”

Committed to the practice of shared governance and academic freedom, Brewer has effectively demonstrated direct involvement in SACS-COC accreditation leadership, curriculum design, development of new programs, implementation of distance education, support for the integration of technology campus wide, faculty search committees, and service with faculty and staff on numerous campus committees.

Brewer helped establish a global service-learning emphasis by providing the requisite funding to support faculty and students through strategic revenue enhancement initiatives. Brewer also established a partnership with the University of South Carolina’s Washington Semester program for CSU Honors students. “I am committed to creating an academic environment that supports intentional learners while providing transformational experiences,” Brewer said.

An adjunct professor in CSU’s School of Business Master of Business Administration program, teaching Management Theory, Organizational Behavior, and Transformational Leadership for the Marketplace, Brewer also serves as a member of the adjunct faculty in the University of South Carolina’s Wardlaw College of Education graduate programs in Higher Education Administration. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty in The Citadel’s Graduate School of Education

“At Louisiana College, my focus will be on leading the college into the future by building on its mission and vision for effectiveness in global Christian leadership,” Brewer said. “We will build upon the college’s excellent academic reputation while preparing graduates to navigate the challenges of the 21st Century marketplace. Collectively, we will promote a comprehensive, liberal arts education, challenging students to think critically, learn continuously, and serve creatively.”

“We will partner with LC’s faculty, staff and coaches to equip students with a holistic educational experience producing cultural thought leaders and thoughtful leaders, who practice servant leadership daily,” he said.

Financial development

Since 2001, Brewer’s leadership with internal and external constituents produced $75 million in strategic budget initiatives addressing faculty/staff salaries, new academic programs, additional faculty/staff positions, facilities improvements, campus enhancement, expansion of technology, and additional facilities.

With a participatory approach to higher education management, Brewer helped garner significant resource development, including $50 million for student scholarships, academic programs, and campus construction.

Brewer is a member of the university’s leadership team tasked with securing $3M in unrestricted financial support annually, as well as raising support for the construction of new academic and athletic facilities while also providing leadership for acquiring external revenue of more than $1.5M annually for the university’s NCAA Division I athletics program.

“Fiscal stability will be the driving force of my daily leadership and service at Louisiana College,” Brewer said. “Responding to changing financial circumstances while protecting the mission and institutional integrity will be my chief fiscal focus and responsibility as president.”

Ministry minded

An ordained Baptist Minister, Brewer has more than 40 years of continued local church ministry as a volunteer, part-time, or full-time worship leader; youth minister; and teaching pastor. He completed the South Carolina Baptist Convention Transitional Pastor training in 2012. Brewer also is an accomplished musician, playing the piano since age 5. “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs” is the theme for piano/vocal concerts he offers to churches.

“God has transformed my life under the leadership of Dr Brewer,” said Rev Jonathan David Davis, CSU’s campus minister, adjunct Christian Studies professor, and pastor of Summit Baptist Church on the campus of CSU. “He took an assistant football coach with no direction and no clear future and inspired me to make an impact for Jesus. While under Dr Brewer’s tutelage, I have been in two Master’s programs and now a PhD program. The whole trajectory of my life has changed. I no longer work to live, but I live to work so I can spread the love of Jesus. Dr Brewer inspired me to give everything I have for Jesus and not settle for anything less.”

Civically oriented

Brewer’s extensive community service leadership experience includes: founding board member for the Volunteer Center of the Low Country, Charleston YWCA Study Group on Racism, Charleston United Way Loaned Executive, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Partnership Leadership Team, Dorchester County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, Summerville YMCA Board of Directors, South Carolina College Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, and the South Carolina Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board of Directors.

Vision and motivation

“My vision for Louisiana College will be to establish and project a national distinction for excellence as a Christian college devoted to preparing students for lives of learning, leading and serving,” Brewer said.

“It will be my role as president to tell the story of Louisiana College, cast the vision, build the case, and ensure the college remains committed to its Christ-centered mission and service to students by preparing them for lives of significant service for the cause of Jesus Christ in a variety of ministries and careers,” he added.

“I am confident that God will complete the good work he began in me when I embarked on my academic sojourn,” Brewer said. “And I am equally confident that the Lord will complete the good work he planted on this hill in Pineville back in 1906.”

“This promise from Philippians 1:6 is not just for me, but it includes the entire Louisiana College family as well,” Brewer noted. “This powerful institution is here for the glory of God, and God called me to serve him, too. Therefore, I am as humbled as I am elated that our Lord has brought us together to complete his purposes for both Louisiana College and myself

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Dr. Rick Brewer | Biograph

Dr. Rick Brewer is in his 28th year of service to Charleston Southern University (CSU). Currently serving as the Vice-President for Student Affairs and Athletics, Brewer has extensive senior-level administrative experience at Charleston Southern University emphasizing shared responsibility for the general administration for strategic planning, academic affairs, enrollment management, institutional advancement, external relations, financial management, legal affairs, student affairs, athletics, and technology. As a result of CSU’s ongoing planning process, the university has doubled enrollment from 1600 to over 3400 students, increased unrestricted giving and endowment support, and improved freshman-to-sophomore retention from 50% to 78%.  The integration of planning, budgeting, and assessment with broad-based campus participation has produced additional academic programs and facilities, most notably the addition of a state-of-the-art Science building in 2005, Athletic Facility in 2012, and expansion of the School of Nursing building in 2014.

A participatory approach to higher education management has allowed Brewer the opportunity to be involved in significant resource development efforts for the university.  His involvement has included serving as a member of the management team successfully completing the “Achieving Excellence” capital campaign securing $50 million for student scholarships, academic programs, and campus construction. Brewer is currently a member of the team tasked with raising support for the construction of new academic and athletic facilities while also providing leadership for acquiring external revenue of more than $1,500,000 annually for the university’s NCAA Division I athletics program. He is a member of the university’s leadership team tasked with securing $3M Unrestricted financial support annually. Brewer contributes to the goal of enlisting 400 business and community leaders for service on the University’s Board of Visitors, identifying and enlisting prospective donors for this pivotal group of institutional stakeholders.

Since 2001, Brewer’s leadership with internal and external constituents of the university has produced $75 million in strategic budget initiatives addressing faculty/staff salaries, new academic programs, additional faculty/staff positions, facilities improvements, campus enhancement, expansion of technology, and additional facilities. CSU has operated within a balanced budget for 29 of the past 30 years.

Throughout Brewer’s tenure at Charleston Southern University, he has played a vital role in shaping the university’s vision for a comprehensive, liberal arts campus environment, spearheading and executing countless initiatives that underscore what Christian universities are about. He has consistently taken on positions of increasing responsibility, and has brought to each his unique blend of commitment to excellence, administrative skills, and student-centered focus.  Rick has served as the Director for External Relations (1987-1989), Assistant to the President (1989-1995), Dean of Students (1995-2001), Interim Director of Athletics (1999-2001), and Vice President for Planning and Student Affairs (2001-2009) and Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics since 2009.  He has been a member of the President’s Cabinet since 1989 and has worked with the university’s Board of Trustees in a Senior Administrative capacity since that time.

Brewer is committed to the practice of shared governance and academic freedom. He has effectively demonstrated direct involvement with the university’s faculty in SACSCOC accreditation leadership, curriculum design, development of new programs, implementation of distance education, support for the integration of technology campus wide, faculty search committees, and service with faculty and staff on numerous campus committees.

Brewer serves as an evaluator for SACSCOC and the NCAA, having served in leadership capacities for both conducting on-site and off-site accreditation/certification assignments. Rick served as the QEP Evaluator for Campbell University in 2011. He has served as a Certifier for the NCAA including on-site visits to Lafayette College, Longwood University, University of Richmond, and Southern University.

Rick was intricately involved in establishing the university’s global service-learning emphasis by providing the requisite funding to support faculty and students through strategic revenue enhancement initiatives. Brewer also established the university’s partnership with the University of South Carolina’s Washington Semester program for CSU Honors students.  He is committed to creating an academic environment that supports intentional learners while providing transformational experiences.

In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Brewer serves as an adjunct professor in CSU’s School of Business Master of Business Administration program teaching Management Theory, Human Resource Management, Organizational Behavior, and Transformational Leadership for the Marketplace. He also serves as a member of the adjunct faculty in the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business and Wardlaw College of Education Master and Doctoral programs in Higher Education Administration. Dr. Brewer is also a member of the adjunct faculty in The Citadel’s Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Brewer is an ordained Baptist Minister with over 40 years of continued service to the local church as a volunteer, part-time, or full-time Worship Leader, Youth Minister, and Teaching Pastor serving churches in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. He also completed the South Carolina Baptist Convention Transitional Pastor training in 2012. Rick is also an accomplished musician playing the piano since the age of five.  “Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs” is the theme for piano/vocal concerts he provides for churches region wide.

Dr. Brewer’s extensive community service leadership experience includes: founding board member for the Volunteer Center of the Low Country, Charleston YWCA Study Group on Racism, Charleston United Way Loaned Executive, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce Business/Education Partnership Leadership Team, Dorchester County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors,  Summerville YMCA Board of Directors,  South Carolina College Football Hall of Fame Board of Directors, and the South Carolina Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board of Directors.

Rick has a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policies from the University of South Carolina with cognates in Management and Higher Education Administration and a Master’s in Business Administration and Bachelors of Science in History from Charleston Southern University. Brewer also attended the Snowmass Institute for Strategic Planning and completed the Harvard University Graduate School of Education Institute for Educational Management Executive Certificate program in 2008. Dr Brewer completed Duke University’s Non-Profit Leadership Executive Certificate program in 2012.

Rick’s wife, Cathy, shares his passion for servant-leadership in higher education. She plays a vital role in assisting the university’s Women’s Council—a select group of women who assist the university in resource development for academic scholarships and campus beautification projects. Rick and Cathy are members of Summerville Baptist Church where they have served on various committees and Rick has served as a deacon.

Rick and Cathy have two sons, Jason, a professional musician in Nashville, Tn. where he resides with his wife Krista and daughter Adalyn Kay; and Jonathan, a banker with Bank South in Lake Oconee, Ga. where he resides with his wife Catherine and son Knox Jameson.

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The IMB of the SBC Has a New President: Welcome Dr. David Platt

Well, the SBC has a new president of the International Mission Board. Hip Hip Hurray.

The trustees were aware that this appointment would draw a ton of attention, support and criticism. Well, of all the candidates they could have chosen, this one certainly hit that nail on the head.

 

platt

 

I am not going to reiterate all the criticism leveled at Dr. Platt. Let me say for the record, I have no question in my mind that Dr. Platt is a quality individual and one who is passionate about seeing people saved. I believe he believes passionately in what he sees as “the gospel.” I am confident he and I and the majority of Southern Baptists will not see that in the same light but it is what it is. He is now the new president of the IMB whether I like it or not.

I will make a couple brief comments. First, he admits that he SHOULD have given more to the Cooperative Program. I am sure he wants us all to contribute since that is now the primary source of his income. Anticipating this move, he could have encouraged his church to up their cooperative giving percentages BEFORE being selected instead of not doing so and now his goal is encourage us all to give sacrificially to the CP and no doubt to the LMCO.

Dr. Platt I understand believed it was more beneficial to by-pass the CP and give directly to the IMB. He apparently knew more about what the SBC needed than the rest of us do. Apparently he did not agree with the percentages of monies actually going to the IMB and so he took it upon himself to by-pass his state ministries and the seminaries and contribute directly to the IMB while all the SBC partners tried to walk forward in unity to fulfill the promises of GCR making the CP the primary funding vehicle for convention causes. David Platt chose his own way. What is sad is now he will be asking us to do what he himself did not see the need to do. Consider the following statements of guys who have stood up in defense of Platt’s poor choices related to his CP giving.

Pastor J.D. Greear said:

“It is true, David has wrestled with the CP, but not because he doesn’t believe in cooperating in mission. Because he does.

We all know the statistics, and they are discouraging. Of the $481 million given to the CP in 2011-12, only $96 million (20%) made it to the IMB. If you add in the North American Mission Board’s portion, it is only 29%. That gives even the strongest supporters of the CP an uneasy conscience. This is what David has wrestled with.”

Dr. Russell Moore said:

“I have friends who were concerned because David’s church, The Church at Brook Hills, though they heavily supported world missions, didn’t do so mostly through Cooperative Program channels. I understand that concern. If I didn’t know David, I might be just as concerned. I believe in the CP, and always have. As the president of an entity funded through the CP almost entirely, I would be insane to celebrate the election of someone I thought wasn’t committed to CP.

David believes in the importance of CP. He does not want the mess that we came out of before 1925: a missionary force having to spend inordinate time at home fundraising. The society model doesn’t work in reaching the world for Christ, and he knows that.”

 Dr. Hershael York, a professor at Southern Seminary in Louisville and trustee of the International Mission Board said:

“Going through this process has been healthy for David Platt. By his own admission he now sees the beauty and the usefulness of the Cooperative Program as a mission’s dynamo for a large denomination and would certainly do things differently.”

I do not understand how someone can be hired for a denominational position in the SBC and not be an ardent supporter of the Cooperative Program. I do not understand how the trustees of the IMB could simply pass on his record of not giving to the CP and hire him on an, “Oh now I see the beauty and usefulness of the Cooperative Program and would certainly do things differently.” No board of directors of any national corporation would make such a hire based on the kind of support Platt gave to the CP. Not one.

Let’s forget that for a moment. Let’s look at the Annual Church Report. Brook Hills apparently does not see the need to fill out and file those reports either. Now for the record, let me say up front, I do not believe the SBC ought to compel or require churches to fill out an ACP Report. Churches are an autonomous body and can do what they want to do and they should not be compelled to do what they do not want to do; I am not so sure that will be the case in the not so distant future. When it comes to an individual being qualified to serve in a SBC entity or as a trustee of one of those institutions, they ought to come from churches that file a completed and accurate ACP Report and members of those churches that cannot or will not fill out and file an ACP report ought to be excluded from the selection process. If that were the case, Dr. Platt would not be president of the IMB.

So, let’s see; Platt did not believe in the CP prior to becoming president of a CP funded entity; he was pastor of a church that did not fill out or submit an accurate ACP Report. I have not looked very deeply into this debacle but what I have seen does not bode well for this hire. I am sure time will add a couple more questions to this mix and I have not even mentioned his disdain for the use of the sinner’s prayer.

Simply amazing.

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A Word of Warning for the Trustees of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

I have been a Southern Baptist most of my life. I was saved at the age of 10 at a revival meeting in a Southern Baptist church in West Tennessee. I graduated from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. I am a proud product of Cooperative Program giving. I have been proud of my association with the SBC because of the Cooperative Program and the opportunity it affords so many to partner in sharing the Great Commission in so many ways. Sadly, this attitude is swiftly changing.

I am very concerned about the soon coming election of the next president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. If the trustees look to Louisville for their next president, our church’s giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering will follow our giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering: $1.

I am sick and tired of this ever-growing list of appointees being chosen to lead the entities of the SBC and their ties to Louisville and this Reformed revival in the SBC. I do not believe I will be alone in this position. In fact, I KNOW I will not be alone in this.

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Jesus and Total Depravity in Matthew 13

Calvinism claims men are totally depraved in that they have no ability to respond to God unless and until God regenerates them or gives them spiritual life to THEN be able to repent and believe and be converted or saved. It is one thing to claim “no man come to God unless the Spirit draw him” and claim the necessity for regeneration for man’s response to God. It is also one thing to claim the necessity for God’s drawing in revelation and reconciliation and it is another to claim that man has the innate ability in and of himself to “come to God on his own.” All too often, these scenarios get easily lumped together as if they are mutually synonymous when they obviously are not.

Consider Jesus’ dialogue with the crowd of people who followed Him and His discussion that followed with His disciples in Matthew 13.

In verse 1, a “great crowd of people gathered together to listen to Him”. One would have to understand the vast majority of these people needed to be saved. Even though they were Jews, they were not all “the elect” in the Calvinist sense. At best, there were “the elect” in this crowd along with the “non-elect.” One must also remember that Jesus is laying the foundation for the gospel message and seeking to establish His authority as the Messiah for He has not yet gone to the cross nor is He addressing that aspect of His coming at this point. However, He does make some interesting comments that are significantly relevant to the discussion of total depravity and inability as posited in Calvinism.

In verses 3 through 8, Jesus gives the crowd a parable; He gives to them an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. He uses an agricultural story as a setting for His parable of the sower who went out to sow seed. His story will contain some aspects that will be easily understood and then some that will not be so obvious. One obvious aspect would be the purpose of the sower who goes out to sow and that is the necessity of the harvest. Anyone who goes out to sow seed does so with a harvest in mind; otherwise there is no reason to sow seed in the first place.

Calvinists will argue this sowing is tantamount to what they call a “general call.” They will argue the necessity of sowing the seed of the gospel because no one knows who is and is not the elect and no one knows who will and will not respond to the gospel message and be saved. This is an accurate statement. While it is true that this parable deals primarily with the ground that the seed falls on, it must be understood that without the sower who goes out to sow there is no opportunity for a harvest. The same is true in the spiritual realm as well; if the gospel is not proclaimed, then there is no possibility of a spiritual harvest for “there is no other name under heaven whereby men may be saved.” Every believer has a mandate to go and sow.

Everyone listening to this earthly story being told by Jesus will understand the different places scattered seed will fall. They will be familiar with the hard, packed ground; they will relate to the stony ground as well as the ground that is covered in thorns and weeds and they will understand that the importance of that seed falling on fertile soil that has the best chance of producing a harvest. As Jesus finishes His story, He gives them a mandate in verse 9: 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” This is a command for the crowd to consider what He has just said and then respond to it.

Calvinism will argue that there is a general call that is available to all men and then there is a special call of God where salvation is concerned that is given to a select group they call “the elect.” They will contend there is God’s general will that all men would repent but there is also this hidden will that God has that extends some special call for a select group to repent and these are those who will do so and be saved. This latter group is represented by the good soil that Jesus is talking about in this parable.

What is obvious at this point to anyone is the fact that some seed falls on bad ground and there is no growth nor is there any real potential for a harvest. The application that is not so obvious is what are the determining factors illustrated by the different types of ground and possibly even the implication of where the seed falls. What do the different types of ground represent and who is responsible for where what seed falls where? Remember one thing.

In a story there are obvious implications that are necessarily applicable but there may be aspects that are applicable to the story but not necessarily applicable to the implications being employed. A great example might be the human characteristics given to God. While references to God’s hands and His eyes for example may be used to talk about His activity in the world, there are certain aspects and limitations that apply physically that do not apply to God. There is always the caution to read enough into the illustration and then not read too much unto it as well. This may well explain the disciples’ question in verse 10: “Why do You speak to them in parables?” They no doubt were confused themselves and they knew the crowd would be.

Jesus answers His disciples. He tells them in verse 11, “It has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” This is an interesting answer. One might argue, “Here is Scriptural justification for the concept for total depravity and inability. Obviously it is God who has given this ‘special grace to understand the mysteries of the kingdom that He has not given to others’.” If Jesus had stopped there, one might find that argument valid. However, Jesus did not stop there. He went on to explain why they had been given the ability to understand the “mysteries of the kingdom” while others had not.

Jesus said, “12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Verse 12 offers some interesting commentary on Jesus’ illustration. What does He mean when He says, “For whoever has, to him more will be given”? In looking at the context, one would have to conclude that He is saying, “For whoever has ‘understanding’ more understanding will be given to him.” “Those who do not have an accurate understanding will lose out altogether.” This is an interesting perspective for it certainly brings to light the command He gave to the people as He finished the parable for “those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” The question at this point still remains; is God responsible for those who have “ears to hear” or are men responsible for their response to what they hear? Calvinism stands on the former while others will argue, the thrust of Scripture stands on the latter. At this point in Matthew 13, both positions can be substantiated.

Verse 13 begins to shed some light on Jesus’ position. He told His disciples, “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” One could argue that Jesus was saying He intentionally used parables so that they would continue to not understand or it could be argued that He was using a simple illustration that everyone SHOULD have been able to understand but they refused to accept the obvious meaning of the message and so they did not understand. In the former example, they were confused because Jesus did not want them to understand and in the latter, they failed to understand because they did not want to accept what He was saying. The latter explanation would seem to be the better interpretation for if He did not want them to understand the parable, which is a simple story to illustrate a spiritual principle, then it would stand to reason He would have simply NOT have given the story at all. If He does not want them to understand it, then there is no reason to tell the simple story in the first place. After all, the whole purpose for sowing seed is to reap a harvest! If Jesus had no intention of them understanding the story then it could be argued that He would have been guilty of the very lesson He was communicating in the first place.

Jesus is going to use an Old Testament prophesy from Isaiah to explain why some do not understand. This reference is a very interesting one. He will quote Isaiah 6:9-10. He said, “‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive;” obviously, Jesus was drawing their attention to the prophecy that would foretell of the people’s refusal to understand or accept the Messiah when He finally came. This is where Jesus’ use of the Old Testament sheds some serious light on the issue of total depravity as presented by Calvinism. Listen to what Isaiah wrote and Jesus quoted: “15 for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should (or would) heal them.”

The hearts of the people “have grown dull.” That is an interesting statement. The hearts of the people had “grown dull” because some of them were represented by the different kinds of soil. The differing types of soil represent different responses to the truths found in the Word of God. The hearts of the people had grown dull because their ears became hard of hearing and notice this next statement: “their eyes THEY HAVE CLOSED.” God is not responsible for those who refuse to hear Him! The people who closed their eyes are responsible for their own understanding or lack thereof! Their refusal to see and to hear is the reason they have not understood! The whole purpose of Isaiah’s prophesy was to point the children of Israel to Jesus! Again, the sole purpose of the Scripture was to produce a harvest; Isaiah’s prophesy was to point people to Jesus but God was saying through him many would refuse to see and refuse to hear and therefore fail to understand the significance of Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus continues, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Understand something. Jesus is not commending them for their understanding because God had given it to them and not to others, He is commending them for listening to Jesus’ Words and accepting them as truth and seeing the things He did and accepting the significance of those things. That is what Jesus told the disciples of John when they came asking, “Are You the One who is to come or should we seek another?” in Matthew 11:3.”4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: 5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Jesus’ final statement to the disciples of John lends credence to the importance of an individual’s response to Him and His ministry. This statement makes no sense in a total depravity/inability setting.

Jesus’ explanation of the different types of soil in verses 18-23 highlights the response of those who hear the Word of God. This is the clear implication of Jesus’ explanation. Each response builds until the final response, which is understood to be the expected response of all who hear. This is why Jesus told the crowd, : 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Revelation and reconciliation demand a response. Verse 23, “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

Jesus shares the parable of the wheat and the tares and then the parable of the mustard seed. Both of these parables deal with the acceptance of Jesus’ teaching among the people. There is the parable of the hidden treasure and then the parable of the hidden pearl. In these latest two parables, a reward awaits the one who is willing to sell all he has to secure the prized possession. Once again, it is the responsibility of the hearer of the Word of God to see its value and do whatever it takes to hold onto that truth. The parable of the dragnet echoes the parable of the wheat and the tares; there is a day that is coming when the unrighteous will be separated from the righteous and those who do not believe will be separated from those who do believe.

In verses 53-58, Jesus is rejected at Nazareth. After all the words of warning to see the things Jesus has been doing and to listen to the things He has been teaching and comparing them to the Word of God found in the Old Testament prophesies, most refused to see Him as the long awaited Messiah who had come to usher in this new kingdom God had promised.

The truth of this passage is this; the message is clear. This message has been revealed to all who are willing to listen to it and consider the merits of it in light of the Word of God that has given to men so that they might believe it and be saved by it.

“Blessed is the one who is not offended because of Me.”

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Why Do Some Repent and Are Saved While Others Do Not?

A question is often asked, “Why is one person saved and another not. Two people can hear the same gospel message and one repents and the other does not.” The question is then asked, “Why does one repent and the other not given the same set of circumstances?” The obvious inference in this question is what Calvinists consider to be the only plausible answer, “God effectually calls the one who repents and He does not extend that call to the one who does not.” This appears to be the only logical answer for the Calvinist. To try to argue differently, the most common retort is that one must elevate the individual’s choice above God’s choice and that is problematic for the Calvinist.

Understanding the implications of the argument, there is an interesting twist that really tosses the ball back into the Calvinist court in this argument. The same question can be asked about why one person who has been regenerated matures as a Christian and another does not. Why does one Christian stay on a milk diet while another matures to a meat diet. The same question can then be asked, “Why does one individual grow spiritually and walk with God while another does not?” Is God the One who decides who matures in his faith while another does not? It would seem that the only answer for the consistent Calvinist would be, “yes because God is sovereign He and He alone determines who does and does not grow spiritually just as He is the One who determines who is and who is not regenerated.” How can God be sovereign and deterministic in regeneration and not in sanctification?

If one argues that man’s choices are the determining factors in sanctification then why is it completely out of question that man is not equally responsible for his own choices concerning his conversion and regeneration?

I do not believe it is theologically conceivable to posit one position where regeneration is concerned and not extend the same theological postulate to sanctification as one ascribes to regeneration and vice versa. If God is solely responsible for one’s regeneration then why would He not be solely responsible for that person’s sanctification? It does not make sense that God would effectually call the lost to new life and then leave the quality of that life solely up to the new born spiritual babe.

Now on the other hand, if one is going to contend that sanctification is indeed synergistic and God’s response to us is in fact contingent on our choice in obedience to His Word then it would also seem theologically consistent to argue that God’s choice concerning my conversion would be also contingent on my choice with respect to my obedience to the revelation of His promises to me in His precious Word. It would certainly seem plausible from this perspective to suggest that God’s choice concerning my eternal destiny is in fact contingent on what I do with Jesus. It does not seem logically plausible to claim that regeneration is monergistic and sanctification is synergistic.

Sanctification is just as important a part of the salvific process as is justification. If one is synergistic then it would certainly seem feasible that other would be synergist and if one is monergistic then both justification and sanctification would be monergistic. It does not seem tenable to argue that regeneration is monergistic and sanctification is synergistic but that does appear to be the way Calvinism attempts to shape their theological position.

I do not see a Scriptural justification for the two differing views.

If conversion is synergistic, why does one person repent and believe and another not? The Calvinist position reduces this event to ONE moment in time. At the appointed time, God regenerates or “re-births” the elect individual. It is a predetermined or predestined choice made by God before the foundation of the world. This choice is made with no regard to anything the individual may or may not have done, including going to church, being raised up in a Christian home, or spending time reading the Word of God. These human efforts have no bearing on God’s choice in regeneration. The elect WILL be saved and that is the sole determining factor in who is saved.

I believe the Bible presents a very different picture of the salvific process. The answer to this question, “Why does one person repent and believe and another does not?” is rooted in the choices the two individuals have made in their lives and the reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit in those individual’s hearts up to this point. Two people may hear the same gospel message on a given Sunday and one repent and another not; understand something, both made choices! One chose to repent and the other chose to reject. These choices at this one moment in time could well be more the result of where these two individuals have been and what they have been through to this point. Now this does not discount the immediate impact of the gospel message and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, but even the response to those influences can be the product of events that have taken place and decisions that have been made in the past that lead up to the choice to repent or reject the gospel message in any given moment.

I believe the Holy Spirit can work in a person’s heart long before he may hear a gospel message that may well change his eternal destiny. I believe the Holy Spirit most certainly goes before us on personal evangelistic opportunities. I believe the sum total of one’s decisions in the past help shape our decisions in the present and in the future. I believe it is very possible for me to harden their own hearts to the gospel message as they choose to reject the claims of Christ on their lives. When an individual says “no” to the gospel message and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, I believe it can get easier and easier to do so down the road. I believe sin has a very deceptive side to it. Since our sin does not kill us on the spot, I believe men develop a false sense of security and think, it’s not a big deal. These folks conclude they do not need Jesus when in reality He is the greatest need they have in their lives. I believe this is the key to the story of the rich you ng ruler who came to Jesus in Mark 10.

There is another factor I believe comes into play in answering the question, why does one repent and another reject the gospel invitation and I believe it involves a procrastinating mindset. I believe there are many who come under the convicting Word and work of the Holy Spirit and know they need to respond and repent but decide to wait. Procrastination is most certainly one of the major vices the devil uses to accomplish his goals.

In conclusion, I believe the overarching thrust of Scripture point to a synergistic approach to conversion as opposed to the monergistic approach touted by Calvinism. I believe a person’s response to the gospel is more times than not, a product of the choices that individual has made and the influences that have permeated that individual’s life. Even the first time hearer of the gospel who repents may do so because the Holy Spirit has been at work in the individual’s heart preparing him or her for this monumental moment in their life. One final comment. Revival is sweeping the world today because the gospel is being taken into places that have not been open to it in the past. Muslims and Hindu are coming to Christ in record numbers today because the gospel is more readily available today than it has been in past years and decades.

Is this a response to God’s efficacious call or a result and response to a more prolific proclamation of the gospel, which the Bible says is the power of God unto salvation to them who believe? I believe it the latter and I pray for a continued out pouring of the Holy Spirit into the dark places of the world where the gospel is penetrating the hearts and lives of people groups all over the world.

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Proverbs 22:6 Training Up Our Children In the Way of the Lord

Proverbs 22:6 instructs us as Christian parents to “train up our children in the way of the Lord so that when they are old they will not depart from that way.” We are to instruct our children while they are young to know the promises and provisions of the Lord so that their lives at a tender age might be built on a solid foundation. While this is no guarantee that the child will become a Christian or he or she will even walk with God at all, what is true is this; they will not forget what they were taught as children.

The Calvinist position that places one’s conversion solely on God basically negates the importance of this mandate found in Proverbs 22. Nothing the Christian parent does or does not do in the way of raising their children will have any effect on whether or not that child becomes a Christian. The testimony of the parent and the witness in the home has no bearing on who does or does not receive God’s effectual calling. One must also understand that the prayers of the Christian parent for the salvation of their children is of no value either if God has in eternity past determined who will and will not be saved. One may certainly say his prayers are necessary but that cannot be the case if God has indeed made the choice, with no respect to persons, as to who will be saved and who will not.

The thrust of Scripture is that salvation comes to those who believe and those who believe do so, at least in part, to the influences of the testimonies of those around us and the foundation established by the promises found in the Word of God. One of the issue that I believe Calvinism fails to factor into its theological system is the active work of the Holy Spirit in the world. The Holy Spirit is actively at work as these Christian influences are being experienced. For example, as Christian parents effectively train up their children in the way of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is actively working to build a foundation that will enable that child to look to Christ and realize their need to repent and place their faith in Him. Does this guarantee that the child will do so, No but it does mean that child will understand the need to do so and the benefits and consequences that are associated with their ultimate choice.

Calvinism focuses on one moment in time in the concept of effectual calling and regeneration as if that is the sole beginning of conversion. This concept completely erases any need for or any value of any prior experiences because prior to regeneration those influences fall on a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes. In other words, they are totally of no effect until regeneration takes place and that happens when God effectually calls someone to life as many argue is symbolic of Jesus’ calling of Lazarus from the tomb. Prior to Jesus’ command for him to come forth, nothing that was said or done while he was in the tomb has any effect on him coming out of that tomb with the exception of Jesus’ direct command.

This simply is not an acceptable Scriptural position. Consider Jesus’ command to some of the disciples, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17.) Here one could certainly see man’s role and responsibility suggested as Jesus tells these disciples their responsibility is to go and get lost men and His responsibility is to save them. He does His part as we do ours. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 certainly underscores this mandate for before we baptize anyone, they must be saved. What is interesting in this command is the phrase “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” This no doubt qualifies the statement, “making disciples of all nations” which could be interpreted “all men from all walks of life.” Disciples are “learners” or “students” and “followers” not dynamic mature Christians. They must be taught the truths revealed in the Word of God as revealed to us!
While it is true, Calvinist or not, that no one but God knows who will and will not be saved, there is a mandate to “go and tell” and there is a mandate to lead and teach our family and our neighbors the truths found in the Word of God. Romans 10:14 says, “14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Understand “preacher” is really “proclaimer of the gospel” which is the mandate of all those who have been born again. We do need to go. We do need to tell. We do need to train and instruct our children and our neighbors because the Holy Spirit is working in those testimonies and that teaching and the sewing of seed that may or may not come to pass until some later time. It may not come to pass at all. Our responsibility is not to save; that is God’s. Our responsibility clearly is to be fishers of men.

May we all be about the Father’s business, making sure we make the main thing the main thing, which is telling people about Jesus who has come to seek and to save those who are lost! How does He do that? God’s Word tells us that He saves those who repent and believe and all who call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. I believe all are saveable if they will repent and believe by faith that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He say He will do.

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Matthew 23:37 Is Problematic For the Calvinist Concept

Matthew 23:37 is problematic for the deterministic stance calvinism posits:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

If calvinism is correct, then Jesus’ statement that He “often wanted to gather the children of Jerusalem together” is problematic in two areas. First of all, this passage implies that Jesus wanted to do something that He was not able to do and it even further implies that the people were not willing to do what He wanted them to do. If those who were not willing were not effectually called then they could not be “unwilling” because they had to choice to choose to be willing.

The truth is, Jesus “often wanted to gather them together BUT THEY were not willing.” That is what the text says. There is no caveat here that says, “Jesus wanted to gather them but didn’t because it was not God’s will and He could not have said “they were not willing” if He knew that God never intended to save them in the first place.

The only possible objection would be the statement, “Jesus is not talking about saving them.” In His humanity, he is pointing to the frailty of life and the fact of judgment that faces all who are lost and without Christ. This MIGHT work IF Jesus had not said, “How often I would have gathered you together.” Calvinism cannot comport with “Jesus wanting to often gather them together” with “they were not willing.” These two phrases cannot be reconciled in a calvinist concept. One of two things has to be true; one, Jesus was not willing together them together and so they were not willing or 2 had Jesus really wanted to gather them together they WOULD HAVE been willing. Verse 37 cannot be reconciled within the calvinist framework as it stands.

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